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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 06/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 work.

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 collective effort.

"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 minister, said.

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 views.

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 Tsohatzopoulos.

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 secrecy.

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 future.

"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 said.

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 Europe.

The three secretaries are the following: Dimitris Constantinidis from Australia, Costas Georganas from Canada and Christos Karypidis from Sweden.

On his part, Mr. Lambrinidis expressed his regret that no woman was elected.

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 themselves.

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 tomorrow.

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 exchanges.

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 foreign firms.

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 morning.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(Y.B.)


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