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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 04/12/1997 (ANA)


  • Inflation forecast at below 5.0 for end-1997
  • Simitis desires regional peace, stability
  • Greece retains sovereign rights - Tsohatzopoulos
  • Cabinet to discuss NATO, Arsenis tomorrow
  • Opposition calls for explanations
  • President opens SAE meeting in Thessaloniki
  • Athens court indicts Roussel for perjury
  • Albanian sought for double murder
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Inflation forecast at below 5.0 for end-1997

Inflation is expected to drop below 5.0 percent in December, according to the estimates of the National Statistics Service (NSS), announced by its General Secretary Nikos Karavitis today.

Announcing figures for November, Karavitis said inflation stood at 5.1 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in October.

He said the rise was expected and due to the addition of heating oil to the consumer price index.

On the basis of current indications, the NSS estimates that inflation will most likely stand at 4.9 percent by the end of the year.

Simitis desires regional peace, stability

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today accused Turkey of "envisioning instability and war".

"All those in the region who envision changes of borders, changes in the status quo, in essence envision war. In the civilised world today, differences are resolved through recourses to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, not with recourse to war or the threat of war," Simitis told reporters in Thessaloniki.

"No civilised country that envisions its entry into the European Union has the right to put up obstacles against the corresponding course of other peoples, and no civilised coutnry violates human rights domestically and abroad, the way Turkey does with its occupation troops in Cyprus. Respect for international law, international treaties, is the only basis for viable and just solutions," the premier said.

Earlier, addressing the first general assembly of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), Simitis said the Greek government had proved in action that not only did it desire, but was also in a position to promote peace and stability, in cooperation with the other peoples of the region.

Replying to press questions after his address, Simitis defended National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' consent to the agreement on the new NATO administrative structure reached in Brussels on Tuesday, which is due for ratification by Alliance foreign ministers on December 16.

"Mr. Tsohatzopoulos acted in accordance with the decisions and guidelines set out by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which, by law, is the authority for such decisions. The decisions taken fully comply with the instructions given," Simitis said.

He charged that "certain individuals are seeking a policy of national isolationism, namely, that Greece should withdraw".

"But," he said, "that would put all the weapons in Turkey's hands".

"We, however, want a strong Greece, a Greece with a voice and a presence, a Greece that determines developments. And this is done with initiatives, with the determination of new policies".

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, in his address to the SAE delegates, called for national unanimity "at a time when we are facing pressures and threats", and indirectly criticised the government's handling of national issues.

Meanwhile, ruling and opposition party deputies today called on Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to brief all the relevent parliamentary committees on the NATO agreement before December 16.

The request was contained in a letter to chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence Lefteris Veryvakis signed by PASOK deputies Pantelis Kapsis and Stelios Papathemelis, while similar letters were sent by ND deputy Spilios Spiliotopoulos, and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) deputy George Rokos.

At the same time, ND former leader and MP Miltiades Evert called for an off- the-agenda discussion at political party leaders' level on the text of the agreement signed concerning the NATO subheadquarters. The call came during a morning meeting of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence.

Pangalos told the committee the agreement a "memorandum of understanding" that would be ratified by the NATO foreign ministers at their December 16 meeting. He said that the issue could be discussed on December 9 during an off-the-agenda discussion on the course of Greece's convergence with the EU, a proposal which Evert disagreed with.

Greece retains sovereign rights - Tsohatzopoulos

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed today that the defence of sovereign rights, national independence and national security would remain within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Greek armed forces under NATO's new structure.

He added that the armed forces would continue in the future to exercise its jurisdiction "without any intervention or restriction from anywhere".

Tsohatzopoulos was speaking at the Artillery Academy at Megalo Pefko.

He reiterated that the Greek government had safeguarded all the country's interests "with substantial safety valves".

He described as "difficult" the period of talks up until the implementation of NATO's new structure, while reiterating that the Greek armed forces, the Greek state and the Greek people retained exclusive jurisdiction for defending the country's sovereign rights.

Tsohatzopoulos noted that the government's policy on issues concerning the Western European Union and NATO had been approved by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), had the support of the Greek people "and through steady and specific steps, Greece will gain new advantages for the upgrading of its role".

Cabinet to discuss NATO, Arsenis tomorrow

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas did not rule out the possibility of the premier summoning Arsenis to provide explanations concerning the positions he expressed on Greece's signing of the new agreement on NATO's new structure.

The spokesman, however, acknowledged the right of anyone to express and defend their own views.

But he stressed that "when someone participates in a body, that person undertakes certain commitments and it is their personal responsibility to be in line with the choices of the bodies in which he participates."

Replying to questions, Reppas underlined that the majority of ruling PASOK party MPs supported the government.

He accused those who had criticised the government's decision to sign the agreement of wanting a policy of national isolationism "which is not the choice of the government".

Reppas said the issue of NATO's new structure had not ended, since there were many details and technical matters which had to be discussed and decisions taken.

He said that the issue would be discussed at tomorrow's Cabinet meeting, during which the premier would brief ministers on his recent talks in London and Paris, while Tsohatzopoulos would brief the Cabinet on the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels earlier this week.

Opposition calls for explanations

Speaking in Thessaloniki, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said the government's policy with respect to NATO regional headquarters raised questions about the situation in the Aegean.

"The policy being followed by the Simitis government, and moreover covertly - and this is extremely important - is a policy which intentionally or unintentionally leads to major questions about the situation in the Aegean, " Karamanlis said.

Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga, meanwhile, called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to brief Parliament on the content of the agreement on NATO's new structure.

In a question tabled in Parliament, Papariga claimed that the agreement in effect meant that the right to defend the country's borders and territory had been assigned to the United States and NATO, and that the new situation "objectively facilitates the Turkish government".

Papariga also asked the prime minister if the agreement would be brought to Parliament for ratification, in accordance with Article 28 of the Constitution.

Coalition of the Left and Progress President Nikos Constantopoulos described as "unacceptable" the government's image on the issue of NATO's new structure, referring to criticism of the agreement by the former defence minister and current education minister, Gerasimos Arsenis.

Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas described the government's policy on the issue as "servile and dependent". He charged that the government was sacrificing "national interests on the altar of powerful interests".

Tsovolas said the government should bring the NATO agreement to Parliament for ratification.

President opens SAE meeting in Thessaloniki

The first ordinary meeting of World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) after its inception in December 1995 was opened in Thessaloniki today by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

The ceremony was also addressed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, ministers and political party leaders, while a greeting was read out from Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

The prime minister stressed the role of the SAE as an initiative on the part of the Greek government to act as an "umbrella group for Greeks everywhere".

The SAE, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, was formed by 265 representatives of Greek organisations around the world invited to Thessaloniki by the Greek state to found an organisation to promote dialogue and cooperation between Greeks abroad and Greece.

Simitis emphasised that overseas Greeks were the "voice of Greece around the world" and urged them to rally their forces to make that voice stronger.

Stephanopoulos spoke of the mother country's pride in the "presence and action of Greeks abroad" and urged them to preserve the Greek language which he said was in danger of disappearing, particularly in countries such as the Ukraine.

He also responded to recent criticism from some Greek organisations abroad with regard to the SAE's operation and just how representative it is, as well as with regard to the role of the Church.

"While I myself do not accept a primary role for the Church in issues affecting overseas Greeks, the Church is a valuable institution for them," he said, urging both "believers and non-believers" to avoid discord as it had no place within the SAE.

"The SAE is not a means to satisfy ambitions, it is an invaluable institution to which we are all being called upon to offer our services... As in every new institution, oversights and mistakes may be made with regard to representation, but these will be discussed here and resolved," he concluded.

The Ecumenical Patriarch commented on the issue in a message read out by Austrian Metropolitan Mihail.

"The Mother Church is not concerned that its work might be misunderstood, but is saddened only by the fact that some of its flock do not benefit from the possibilities and opportunities it offers, due to unjustified opposition arising mainly from ideological differences," he said.

The conference continues until Sunday.

Athens court indicts Roussel for perjury

An Athens Appeals Court has issued an indictment referring Thierry Roussel, father of 12-year-old Onassis heiress Athina, to stand trial before an Athens criminal court on charges of perjury, slander and defamation against the board of the Onassis Foundation.

By doing so, the Court reversed a lower court acquittal of Roussel on the same charges.

The indictment, dated November 28, said that there was "substantial evidence" against Thierry Roussel to be referred for trial by a Court of Misdemeanors for perjury, slander and defamation in connection with false allegations of mismanagement of the Onassis Foundation's assets by its four board members.

The same ruling also indicted Roussel's Athens-based lawyer Prof. Nestor Kourakis on charges of defamation for the same allegations.

No dates have been set for the hearings.

"I hope he will be man enough to come to Greece and be present at the trial, " Onassis Foundation president Stelio Papadimitriou told reporters.

"I have no personal dispute with Thierry Roussel," Papadimitriou said. "But he has insulted what is most sacred for us, the Foundation, which I consider to be above us and above Athina, and that is why I have reacted in this way."

Albanian sought for double murder

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the Albanian national Vladimir Varfi for the murder of two of his compatriots.

Varfi allegedly killed Louan Houfi, 38, on May 23 this year in Markopoulos, Attica and Artur Kouko, 23, on January 1 in central Athens. Police say both crimes were a settling of accounts over drug dealings.

Varfi had also seriously injured Houfi's girlfriend Suzanna Rapai, 28.

Interpol has been called in to assist in the investigation, as it is feared Varfi has fled abroad.


Unsettled weather with rain and storms will continue in most parts of Greece today. Winds southwesterly, strong to gale force. Athens will be partly cloudy with spells of sunshine and temperatures between 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7-13C.


Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.726 Pound sterling 463.383 Cyprus pd 531.712 French franc 46.501 Swiss franc 192.676 German mark 155.635 Italian lira (100) 15.884 Yen (100) 214.411 Canadian dlr. 194.293 Australian dlr. 186.020 Irish Punt 405.728 Belgian franc 7.545 Finnish mark 51.509 Dutch guilder 138.111 Danish kr. 40.886 Swedish kr. 35.559 Norwegian kr. 38.470 Austrian sch. 22.112 Spanish peseta 1.841 Port. Escudo 1.523


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