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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-07

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, 07/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Diaspora Greeks emerge more united from SAE convention
  • Cyprus parliamentary delegation arrives in Athens
  • Tsohatzopoulos defends consent to new NATO structure
  • Athens 2004 Olympics to play a uniting role, SAE told
  • Bahamas-flat ship collides, sinks
  • Arms cache found abandoned in forest
  • Weather
  • Foreigh exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Diaspora Greeks emerge more united from SAE convention

The Greeks of the diaspora emerged more united than ever from the week-long first convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), which ended in Thessaloniki Sunday, SAE president Andrew Athens told reporters.

Athens, who was re-elected to the SAE presidency at the convention's closing session Sunday, said the new presidium's efforts during its two- year term would focus on effective promotion of Greece's national issues, with Cyhprus as the top priority, through intercessions at the international decision-taking centres.

In that framework, the SAE president would meet with U.S. presidential emissary on the Cyprus issue, Richard Holbrooke, in a few weeks, while he would also discuss the problem with the new U.S. Ambassador in Athens, Nicholas Burns, at a reception the latter will host tonight at the Embassy in Athens for the Greek-American representatives who took part in the SAE convention.

The new presidium's priorities also included providing assistance to the Greek communities in the former Soviet Union with the establishment of health centres in the Ukraine, initially, followed by Kazakhstan.

Athens, who is to tour the Caucasus early next month in order to pinpoint the problems of the Greek communities there, said a special secretariat for the eastern countries would be set up to deal with the Greek communities' problems

The SAE presidium will also visit, at the end of January, the countries of Africa with Greek communities, which are facing acute problems, Athens said.

Both the SAE and the Greek government will also deal with the issue of education of the overseas Greeks. The SAE presidium called on the Athens government to commit itself to implemetnation of Law 2413/1996 concerning the education of Greeks abroad.

"On the education issue, there was no progress. Although the law was passed (in 1996), it was in force only on the books, as not even the school consultants have been appointed yet," SAE president for Europe, Angelos Aslanidis, told the press conference.

Questioned on the possibility of the establishment of an Undersecretariat for overseas Greeks, Athens said he would take the matter up again with the government, adding "we would prefer that such a Ministry should be set up".

Turning to the target of SAE becoming financially autonomous, AThens said the goal was to render the Council self-financing. "We shall find our own funds. In addition to private initiative, we will also seek the assistance of the Greek organisations throughout the world," he said.

The new SAE presidium is expected to meet early this week with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis

The new SAE presidium is scheduled to meet in Thessaloniki in early February.

The SAE convention was attended by 340 elected delegates representing an estimated 7 million Greeks of the diaspora around the world.

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) was founded in 1995 with the aim of uniting the millions of Greeks living abroad and forging closer ties with the motherland.

SAE is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation with regional councils representing North and South America, Africa-Asia, Oceania and Europe. It is supported by the Foreign Ministry's General Secretariat for Overseas Greeks, and serves as an advisory body to the Greek State on all issues pertaining to Greeks abroad. The SAE's activities further aim at strengthening existing networks and organisations serving Greeks worldwide and Greece.

The Chicago-born Athens was elected in 1995 as the Council's first president.

Cyprus parliamentary delegation arrives in Athens

A delegation of the Cyprus House of Representatives arrived in Athens Sunday to take part in a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Greek and Cypriot parliaments.

The meeting will review developments in the Cyprus problem and other national issues, while views will also be exchanged on matters under discussion in the various parliamentary associations.

The talks will also focus on Cyprus' European course in light of the imminent commencement of its accession talks with the European Union on April 2, 1998.

Tsohatzopoulos defends consent to new NATO structure

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has expressed surprise at criticism within PASOK of the government's decision to agree to the new structure of NATO, and claimed that the party's late founder Andreas Papandreou would have done exactly the same.

In an interview in Saturday's issue of the newspaper "Ta Nea", Tsohatzopoulos expressed annoyance that his critics had voiced their opposition without first being briefed on the issue.

However, he avoided throwing down the gauntlet and declined to comment on statements by Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis at Friday's Cabinet meeting opposing the government's decision to consent to the new structure.

He admitted however that Arsenis' criticism had hurt the government's image.

He said Greek-Turkish relations would not be affected by these developments in NATO. Emphasising that under the new agreement, Greece would be able to "intervene politically in issues of security" he added that there were guarantees against misinterpretation of the agreement.

He claimed that the agreement was a defeat for Turkey and that Greece's position in NATO was now better than ever.

"(Turkey) tried to impose a joint Greek-Turkish headquarters for land or airspace... the 15 other countries took a different view ... (and Turkey) was obliged to accept the proposal," he explained.

"Our participation in the new NATO today is what Andreas Papandreou would have done," he said, stressing that the government's decision came within the framework of the national strategy consolidated by PASOK during its 23 years' history.

This strategy, he said, had been "expressed in a decisive way by Andreas Papandreou, and many of us honoured that strategy by contributing substantially to it".

Athens 2004 Olympics to play a uniting role, SAE told

The role of the Olympic Games to be held in Athens in 2004 in uniting Greeks around the world with other nations and in promoting Greece as a "cultural superpower", was emphasised at Saturday mornings session of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) convention by Greek government ministers.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the 2004 Olympics were an opportunity for Greece to offer something different, without "resting on ancient laurels".

"Greek culture... and the deeper meaning of the Olympic ideal can be exploited as channels of understanding, rapprochement and cooperation between modern Greece and disapora Greeks and with all the peoples of the world," said Papandreou.

Greece, he said, should invest in those values, basic traditions and memories that are able to rally not only Greeks but all citizens in the world society who consider those values to be positive, important and eternal.

Greece's initiative to revive the Olympic truce, he said had been well- received by the international community, as evident in a recent unanimous resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.

Referring to Greece's ambitious plan for a "cultural Olympiad" to run parallel with the 2004 Games, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that although a small country, Greece continued to maintain all the characteristics of a "cultural superpower".

"(The programme) will not simply be a cultural embellishment for the Olympiad, but an autonomous institution to begin at the Olympic Games in Sydney at the dawn of the third millenium, in 2000," he said, adding that Sydney had shown a strong interest in the plan and an agreement had been signed with the premier of New South Wales.

Bahamas-flat ship collides, sinks

The container ship "Celtic Warrior" sank Sunday morning south of the islet of Agios Georgios, after colliding with the bulk carrier "Anagret".

All nine Polish crew of the Bahamas flagged "Celtic Warrior", sailing from Piraeus to Beirut, were rescued by the "Anagret" after the 2 am collision.

The Antigua flagged "Anagret" was sailing from Istanbul to Italy. No details about the accident were made available, however gale force winds and rough seas have forced the suspension of sea travel to most part of the Aegean Sea this morning.

Arms cache found abandoned in forest

A small arms cache has been found abandoned in the forest near Ieropygi community in Kastoria prefecture, Kastoria security police said Sunday.

They said 24 kalashnikov rifles and nearly 6,000 bullets were found by a police patrol in the region on Saturday.

Kastoria security police, who are conducting an investigation, said the weapons had been smuggled into Greece from neighbouring Albania.

They said investigations so far had failed to turn up clues to the identity of the smugglers, or why they abandoned the weapons in the forest.

WEATHER

The weather Monday will be cloudy, with light snowfall in the northeast and showers in the rest of the country, and improvement expected in the afternoon. Winds will be variable, ranging from strong to gale force in parts of the Aegean Sea. Athens will be overcast and rainy, while light snow is expected on Mt. Parnes and strong winds, with temperatures between 5-12C. Rain and sleet are forecast for Thessaloniki, with improvement in the afternoon and temperatures 3-7C.

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

(L.G.)


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