Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-06
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 06/12/1997 (ANA)
- Prime Minister brooks no public disagreement over policy
- Minister briefs president on NATO structure
- Opposition leader says government policy "passive"
- Four charged after Patission riot last night
- SAE president re-elected
- Italian Greek-speakers meet in Thessaloniki
- Call for Internet links between young diaspora Greeks
- Bill on Olympics 2004 committee after Christmas
- Illegal immigrants picked up on Samos
- Conference on EU residence, work opportunities
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Prime Minister brooks no public disagreement over policy
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday stressed the need for a uniform
policy and urged solidarity among his ministers, following opposition to
the government's decision to consent to an agreement on NATO's new
structure, openly expressed by Education Mi nister Gerasimos Arsenis.
At the same time, Simitis warned Arsenis that in the future he will not
tolerate disagreements over policy in public, such as the one over the NATO
command structure, saying they are unacceptable and hamper the government's
According to government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, who briefed reporters in
detail on yesterday's Cabinet session, Simitis described National Defence
Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' handling of the issue at the NATO session in
Brussels as appropriate and in line with the government's aims.
The prime minister said there was a wide range of views within PASOK, but
that the government had a specific policy and mission, while its success
depended on ministers supporting its positions and respecting ethics and
"Phenomena of individualist tendencies are not flattering for the
government, are hampering its work and are unacceptable," he said.
Arsenis defended his position, saying that he had a different view on the
NATO issue and asked for discussion on the steps to follow.
"It is possible for everyone to state his view for the prime minister to
judge his ministers and decide on his options," Arsenis, a former defence
Simitis replied that he was responsible for the final decisions, and that
the government had to respond to the expectations of the Greek people.
Regarding the NATO issue, he said there were a lot of technical issues to
be discussed in the forthcoming period and different views could be aired
in party organs.
Tsohatzopoulos next briefed the Cabinet on the decisions reached in NATO,
noting that they were in line with the details determined by joint
consultations involving the defence and foreign ministries.
"Greece is being upgraded in the military structure of the alliance,
whereas before, we were unable to intervene in decisions. It was an
inequality which has ended," he stressed, noting that Turkey's request for
an air or naval headquarters was rejected .
"Any insistence on a non-decision in NATO would be tantamount to the
perpetuation of a situation which was detrimental to our country. The new
NATO structure has no relation to either Greek-Turkish relations or
confidence-building measures," he said.
Arsenis replied that the issue of NATO regional headquarters was not a
technical one, but had a national dimension and concerned arrangements that
brought Greek-Turkish relations to the forefront. He expressed the view
that a solution of Greek-Turki sh problems ought to precede any new NATO
arrangements in the area.
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos replied that any postponement, as the
education minister suggested, would not have made any difference, and that
Greece could not remain outside NATO.
After the Cabinet meeting, Arsenis told reporters that he stood by his
He described the discussion at the meeting as "good", and thanked his
colleagues for having been given time to explain his positions.
"I stand by my positions," he said, adding "this discussion should have
taken place before December 2", a possible reference to the date on which
the government agreed to consent to the new NATO structure. Replying to
questions, Arsenis said the is sue of his removal had not been raised.
Minister briefs president on NATO structure
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was briefed on the new
military structure of NATO this morning by National Defence Minister Akis
After their one-hour meeting, the Minister stressed that the new structure
put Greece on a more equal footing in all areas of the Alliance and at the
same time "absolutely ensured" the interests of the nation.
The new structure strengthened Greece's role in supporting neighbouring
countries through its new position in NATO, which was developing into an
organisation of collective security, he said.
Opposition leader says government policy "passive"
Winding up his party's Parliamentary group session yesterday, main
opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis accused the government of
a passive policy on national issues, leading to an increase of pressures on
Greece as well as negative repercuss ions.
He said it was inconceivable that the government would brief the public on
the Madrid agreement with Turkey, signed last July, only after several
months and at the initiative of the main opposition. Also, referring to
NATO's new command structure, he accused the government of grey points and
Karamanlis said the country was at a critical national conjuncture, and if
developments in national issues and the economy were combined , the future
did not look good. He accused the government of concocting economic
indicators and the budget. He spoke of liberating the economy's resources
and creative forces, limiting waste in the public sector, tax reform,
attracting investment and rest ructuring public administration. He added
that nothing had been done in that direction because the government was
trapped and a prisoner of ideological fixations and its party machine.
Karamanlis further accused the government of failing to approach t he aim
of the country's participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) with
its policy, referred to a dangerous divergence from the EU. Earlier, former
ND leader Miltiades Evert had charged that on the basis of today's figures,
if the country joined E MU, its productive web was in danger of collapsing
and inflation and unemployment would rise to tremendous heights.
Former national economy minister Stefanos Manos replied that when the
country joins the euro, inflation will become a thing of the past. He said
joining EMU should be the country's first priority.
Four charged after Patission riot last night
Fifteen people were arrested last night outside a student residence on
Patission St. after about 50 youths caused widespread damage to property
using rocks, Molotov cocktails and clubs. Four of those arrested appeared
before the public prosecutor this morning on charges of using explosive
devices, arson, damage to property and disturbing the peace.
One store was completely destroyed by fire while a National Bank branch was
severely damaged as were other nearby shops, some of which were looted, and
vehicles parked in the area.
It took 40 firemen in 15 fire trucks to extinguish the fires. Riot police
used teargas to disperse the gang of youths.
SAE president re-elected
Andrew Athens from Chicago was re-elected as president of the World Council
of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), polling 243 votes against 55 received by National
Council President Theodoros Spyropoulos, also from Chicago.
After the announcement of the results for SAE's new presidium in Thessaloniki,
the Greek government's secretary-general of expatriate Greeks, Stavros
Lambrinidis, said the elections provided a great impetus for SAE's
"I will be the president of all, and I need Mr. Spyropoulos' help to enable
us to fulfill our difficult task. I thank the Greek government and Mr.
Lambrinidis in particular, the inter-party Parliamentary Committee headed
by Mr. Niotis and all the partie s. Above all, the Greek people, who have
embraced us expatriates here at our home in Thessaloniki," Athens
Costas Pappas from Germany was elected deputy president of SAE; Christos
Tomaras was re-elected president of the Americas region; Constantine
Vertzagias from Australia was elected president of the region of Oceania;
Stephanos Tamvakis was re-elected pre sident of the region of Asia and
Africa and Agathangelos Aslanidis was re-elected president of the region of
The three secretaries are the following: Dimitris Constantinidis from
Australia, Costas Georganas from Canada and Christos Karypidis from
On his part, Mr. Lambrinidis expressed his regret that no woman was
Earlier, Athens, who has been president of SAE since its establishment in
December 1995, expressed the hope that the organisation would have the
means to become financially independent of the Greek state by 1999.
Responding to criticism from his rival for the post, Mr. Spyropoulos, that
he had not displayed enough force in supporting Greek issues in the United
States, Athens stressed that the only way achieve anything was through a
calm presentation of arguments .
Spyropoulos called for complete independence from partisan influences and
particularly from the general secretariat for expatriate Greeks.
Proposals have been made for amendments to the SAE charter so that the
selection of representatives is made by the local community organisations
Other issues on yesterday's agenda included discussions of ways to promote
the Greek language among diaspora Greeks, particularly the younger
generation, through the sending of teachers, books and other teaching
materials from Greece.
Referring to the SAE's finances, Lambrinidis said the secretariat would be
making a careful examination of the first financial report and would be
sending copies of its findings to all participants. In response to comments
on the balance sheet of th e first two years, he said it had been drafted
in English since the SAE's president was a US national.
A message from US President Bill Clinton was also read out by the US consul
general in Thessaloniki.
Italian Greek-speakers meet in Thessaloniki
Greek-speakers fron Saliento and Calabria, two southern Italian regions,
met yesterday in Thessaloniki for the first time, to perform traditional
folk tunes dating back to the era when the area was the "Magna Graecia" of
the ancient world.
The initiative for this extraordinary meeting was taken by the administration
and the members of the cultural society "Makedonos", who organised a one-
day meeting on "Greek-speaking people of southern Italy and Ai-vali".
The event includes musical events in Thermi and Thessaloniki today and
Call for Internet links between young diaspora Greeks
Relations between young diaspora Greeks and with Greece were the focus of
this morning's session of the first ordinary meeting of the World Council
of Hellenes Abroad currently being held in Thessaloniki.
The use of the Internet as a vehicle for communication between young Greeks
around the world was proposed by several speakers including Secretary
General for Overseas Greeks Stavros Lambrinidis, and as way of preserving
and learning the Greek language.
Lambrinidis announced a series of measures including Greek language
programmes on the Internet to link schools abroad where Greek is taught. He
referred to current support for university libraries and announced
scholarships for Greek schools in Georgia as well as financial support for
Greek teachers of the diaspora. A further programme is being planned for
Ukraine and South Africa in the form of cultural programmes and student
Greek-Australian cancer researcher Vasso Apostolopoulos said the Internet
should be used to show young diaspora Greeks what life in Greece was really
like, since her own experience had shown her that it was completely
different from that described by her parents. She also suggested cultural
exchanges, including a proposal that the exhibition of Mt. Athos treasures
currently on show in Thessaloniki be taken to Australia.
Academic Eleni Glykatzi-Arhweiler observed that true culture was to be
achieved through a sound foundation in one's own language and culture as
well as a deep knowledge of a foreign language in order to appreciate the
achievements of others.
"It is a privilege to have been born Greek," she said, "and it is first of
all up to the family and then the school to encourage children of Greek
parents to love their language."
Bill on Olympics 2004 committee after Christmas
The organisational structure for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games will
correspond to that of Barcelona, according to a decision taken by the
Cabinet yesterday and following a proposal by Interior Minister Alekos
Papadopoulos, who had chaired five institutional committee meetings.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced that a National Olympic
Games Committee will be established in which all national, political and
social forces will be represented, adding that it will have more of a
symbolic role and will convene two or three times a year.
Reppas said the government will pay particular attention to transparency
issues, while control will be continuous and will also be assigned to
He further said that particular emphasis will also be placed on preparation
for the Olympics' organisational backing, adding that a relevant bill will
be tabled in Parliament after Christmas.
Reppas said the manning of the organising committee will take place with
competitive and open processes and that the cabinet meeting did not discuss
persons who will be on the committee.
Illegal immigrants picked up on Samos
A Turk was arrested this morning by the Samos coast guard for transporting
13 Iraqi illegal immigrants to the island from the Turkish coast.
A coast guard patrol boat came upon Polat Hussein, 25, as he was putting
the Iraqis ashore on the coast at Aghia Paraskevi in the early hours of the
He has been taken to Samos coast guard headquarters along his passengers,
six men, six women and one child, to face the public prosecutor.
Just a few hours earlier, another Turk escaped after dropping off 21 Iraqis
(five men, seven women and nine children) on the beach at Prasso.
Conference on EU residence, work opportunities
Opportunities available for European citizens to live, study and work in
other European Union member states is the subject of an international
conference that opens in Athens today at the House of Europe and continues
tomorrow at the Nafplio Cultural Centre before returning to Athens for the
last two days.
The conference, organised by the House of Europe in Athens, the European
Union and FIME, includes participants from Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden,
Spain, Portugal, Russian and France, as well as Greece.
Cloudiness and rain will prevail throughout the country today. Snow is
forecast for the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds
will be variable, moderate to strong. Light rain in Athens where temperatures
will range between 10-17C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures
will be from 5-11C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.687
Pound sterling 458.979 Cyprus pd 532.228
French franc 46.551 Swiss franc 192.949
German mark 155.764 Italian lira (100) 15.893
Yen (100) 213.022 Canadian dlr. 193.876
Australian dlr. 185.405 Irish Punt 404.240
Belgian franc 7.552 Finnish mark 51.524
Dutch guilder 138.240 Danish kr. 40.926
Swedish kr. 35.474 Norwegian kr. 38.450
Austrian sch. 22.140 Spanish peseta 1.844
Port. Escudo 1.525