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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-10

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 10/02/1997 (ANA)


  • Farmers call off protests util March
  • Teachers decide Wednesday on whether to continue strike
  • UN chief calls on Simitis for support to resolve Cyprus issue
  • Greece, Cyprus will not give up sovereign rights, says Apostolakis
  • Housing programme for repatriated Greeks a success
  • Swedish deputy finance minister in Athens today
  • Thessaloniki gets revamped local daily


    Farmers call off protests util March

    Farmers yesterday decided to call off their latest round of protests, after having the wind taken out of their sails on Friday when police deflated the tyres of 1,500 tractors parked on national roads in central Greece.

    Farmers' representatives said, however, that they would resume their protests again in March, on the anniversary of the bloody Kileler farmers' uprising in 1910.

    The decision to call off the second round of protests came after a rally at the Mikrothives junction in Thessaly, and following speeches at rallies in major farming towns by members of the government and ruling party PASOK.

    Sources close to the Thessaly Coordinating Committee, which led the decision to resume protests this month, said the farmers had put an end to their protests because they were discouraged by recent developments and lack of coordination by farmers.

    The government, meanwhile, had followed up on its sleight of hand to deflate the farmers' tyres by organising senior government members to speak at rallies in Karditsa and Larissa.

    Smaller-scale protests, however, continued throughout the weekend, although none came close to disrupting traffic on national roads, a move that the government was determined to avoid.

    In December, a 25-day blockade of road and rail links virtually cut the country in two, and caused extensive disruption to transport and export and other industries.

    The Thessaly Coordinating Committee on Saturday, meanwhile, demanded the government repair damage to their machinery, saying they would file charges against police for "extensive damage" caused to their tractors.

    Papandreou: Thessaly farmers no worse off than others

    In Larissa yesterday, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said protesting farmers were a minority of the farming community in Greece, adding that the Thessaly farmers were no worse off than farmers in other Greek regions.

    She admitted, however, that ruling party PASOK was in part responsible for the current situation because it should have started dialogue sooner.

    However, she added, the government refused to conduct talks "in a climate of blackmail and national road blockades."

    Ms Papandreou said the government was determined to implement its farming programme in the framework of the broader competitive climate in Europe and called on farmers to adjust to the new conditions.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that the government would not deviate from its present economic policy.

    "The new fall in inflation shows that the (existing) economic policy is yielding results and it would be a shame not to keep up this effort," the minister said, adding that "tax exemptions and illegal subsidies do not constitute the solution (to the problems facing the farmers) and will cause immense prob lems for the remaining farming community."

    Suspended sentences

    In a related development, a Volos court on Saturday sentenced nine farmers arrested in scuffles with police on Friday morning trying to prevent them from blocking the Athens-Thessaloniki road to six months in prison with three-year suspension.

    Teachers to decide Wednesday on whether to continue strike

    Federation of Greek Teachers (DOE) President Tasos Papaharalambous said last night that proposals made to teachers by Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis were "positive", adding that results of the six-hour long discussion with the minister and Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis will be communicated to the union which will decide on its next steps at general assemblies scheduled for today and tomorrow.

    A final decision on the future of the three-week strike by high school teachers, which is entering its fourth week today, and the two-week strike by primary school teachers will be taken on Wednesday when the general assembly of Greek teachers union presidents will take place in Athens.

    Untill then high schools and primary schools will remain closed this week pending any further decisions.

    Teachers' main claims are salary increases for teachers working in first- stage education, a reduction in the working week from 25 to 21 hours and the hiring of more teachers.

    Mr. Arsenis said that salary increases given to teachers corresponded to those given to university professors "at a time of fiscal difficulty".

    He said he had accepted the claim for a reduction in weekly working hours from 25 to 21 hours, but in three years' time, adding that the placing of replacements at schools will be limited as of September to allow for more hirings.

    UN chief calls on Simitis for support to resolve Cyprus issue

    Sunday newspaper "To Vima" published a letter UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has addressed to Prime Minister Costas Simitis in which he stresses that an extension of the present status quo in Cyprus entails serious dangers and is creating serious concern at the Security Council.

    Mr. Annan stresses that efforts aimed at achieving a solution to the Cyprus issue can succeed if both leaders (Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash) commit themselves to handling all issues in a collective manner an d on the basis of the mutual will to compromise.

    Mr. Annan requests from Mr. Simitis and Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, to whom he has also addressed a letter, to support his efforts to have the Cyprus issue resolved.

    "The data required for us to process a settlement are at our disposal. I am referring in particular to high-level agreements concluded in 1977 and 1979 and by which the two sides agreed to the establishment of a bi-communal and bizonal federation, decisions taken by the Security Council, the package of ideas and to other ideas probed in past years," it said.

    The letter further says that it has also been recognised that an overall settlement can be achieved through mutual concessions with overall negotiations between the leaders of the two communities, which must last as long as is necessary for a solution to be found and that it is vital now for both leaders to commit themselves to such a process.

    It went on to say that Mr. Annan had given emphasis to the fact he is ready to make whatever effort to help the two communities achieve an overall settlement, adding that without full cooperation from the two leaders and active support from Greece and T urkey the effort will not succeed.

    "I propose sending my special envoy Mr. Han Sung Joo to Athens on February 10 to proceed with the active support of your government so as to achieve the targets set out in this letter. I particularly appreciate your personal support," the letter concluded.

    Greece, Cyprus will not concede sovereign rights, says Apostolakis

    National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said yesterday that the Greek-Cypriot joint defence doctrine is a political philosophy, one that shows the determination of the Hellenic nation not to make concessions on national independence and natio nal sovereignty.

    Mr. Apostolakis was speaking in Crete during events marking the 100th year of the Cretan's revolution against Turkish rule of the island.

    "It is the will of both the Greek and Cypriot governments not to give the opportunity to anyone to dispute our sovereign rights," he said.

    Housing programme for repatriated Greeks a success

    The National Institute for the Reception and Resettlement of Expatriate and Repatriated Greeks (EIYAPOE) President George Iacovou expressed satisfaction over the organisation's efforts in Thrace to house Black Sea Greeks, during his farewell tour of the region.

    "The National Institute for the Reception and Resettlement of Expatriate and Repatriated Greeks has developed a very reliable housing plan and produces high-specification homes and at very speedy rates. It has also adopted modern building technologies permitting it to build settlements in record time," he said during a tour of the Apalou Alexandroupolis community and the municipalities of Sappes and Tycherou where houses are being built to house repatriated ethnic Greeks from the Black Sea region.

    Swedish deputy finance minister in Athens today

    Swedish Deputy Finance Minister Tomas Estrus will hold talks here today with his Greek counterpart George Drys within the framework of the Swedish government's efforts to clarify certain taxation issues as well as its proposal on a joint system for energy taxes and European policies in the taxation field.

    "Our aim in these contacts is the exchange of information and views on issues which will be discussed at joint meetings of finance ministers of the European Union's member-states," Mr. Estrus told Swedish radio before his departure for Athens.

    The European Commission is promoting a package of measures regarding the harmonisation of taxation legislation in EU states to combat tax evasion and to improve revenue-gathering by member-states.

    Thessaloniki gets revamped local daily 'Nea Macedonia'

    The first edition of Thessaloniki daily "Nea Macedonia" circulated in the northern port city yesterday in the face of opposition of former employees of the Journalists Organisation of Northern Greece (DOBE), the company which had published Thessaloniki-based newspapers "Macedonia" and "Thessaloniki", which both folded last June.

    The proprietors of "Nea Macedonia" are George Kouris, who also owns Athens daily "Avriani" and Katerina Vellidis, the proprietor of "Macedonia" and "Thessaloniki".

    An editorial in the newspaper said Nea Macedonia "is a new newspaper but it is also, not only in name but also in essence, the unbreakable continuation of the most historic newspaper of northern Greece 'Macedonia' which was founded by Costas Vellidis an d restructured by Yiannis Vellidis."

    "Macedonia" and "Thessaloniki" were forced to close over financial problems suffered by the Vellidis Group. The closure followed strikes by journalists over the Group's failure to pay pension dues.

    Speaking over the weekend, Mr. Kouris announced that he controlled 60 per cent of the new company named K.I. Vellidis S.A. and Ms Vellidis the remainder. He said it has absorbed a number of journalists from DOBE and planned to hire more.

    However, staff dismissed from "Macedonia" and "Thessaloniki" have reacted strongly, publishing a four-page edition of the old newspaper "Macedonia" in which they strongly criticised Mr. Kouris and Ms Vellidis, calling the new newspaper "a fake".

    They have taken their case to the law courts and are also seeking money owed to them by DOBE which is in the process of liquidation.


    Fair to overcast in most parts of Greece with northerly moderate winds getting stronger in the southgern Aegean sea. A small rise in temperatures expected during the day. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 4-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between -2 to 13C.


    Weekend Greek first division soccer results:

    Olympiakos - Heraklis 2 - 1 Athinaikos - Panathinaikos 0 - 2 Kavala - Pyrgos 1 - 0 Panahaiki - Ionikos 2 - 1 PAOK - Kalamata 2 - 0 Edessa - Aris 1 - 0 Xanthi - Kastoria 6 - 0 AEK - OFI 0-1 Apollon - Veria to be played today

    Standings: Olympiakos 48 AEK 42 Panathinaikos 42 OFI 37 Kavala 31 Pyrgos 30 PAOK 29 Veria, Panahaiki 28 Ionikos 27


    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 258.773 Pound sterling 422.294 Cyprus pd 519.808 French franc 46.128 Swiss franc 180.132 German mark 155.625 Italian lira (100) 15.838 Yen (100) 208.419 Canadian dlr. 191.218 Australian dlr. 196.728 Irish Punt 413.228 Belgian franc 7.544 Finnish mark 52.457 Dutch guilder 138.597 Danish kr. 40.791 Swedish kr. 34.895 Norwegian kr. 39.650 Austrian sch. 22.114 Spanish peseta 1.839 Portuguese escudo 1.549


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