Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
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
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
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
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
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
Tsovolas said the government should bring the NATO agreement to Parliament
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
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
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,"
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
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
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
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,
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