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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-28

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, 28/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis stresses need for development in tandem with social justice
  • Tsohatzopoulos heads for Iran today for talks
  • KKE, Synaspismos on measures to combat drug use
  • OA denies press reports of imminent lay-offs
  • Constantopoulos strengthens his position
  • More NATO troops arrive in Thessaloniki on their way to Kosovo
  • Humanitarian aid from Thessaloniki to refugees in Yugoslavia
  • Balkan Games results
  • Ancient Greek artifact acquired by Sydney museum
  • Former dictator Papadopoulos dies
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis stresses need for development in tandem with social justice

Summing up the conclusions of the Socialist International two-day sessions here on Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined the need for development to coincide with social justice, "with processes securing social cohesion and social solidarity."

Referring to Greece's position on the international scene, he said the country "has taken considerable steps in past years. It belongs to the circle of countries which are more developed...It has secured a development process also characterised by social cohesion and social justice.

"We have much fewer social discriminations and social rivalries than a great many other countries. This, of course, does not entail complacency. This does not mean that there are no difficulties and problems. But socialism also means that continuous inc isions are necessary, reforms are necessary, modernisation is necessary. It is a course which never ends and leads ahead," he added.

Shortly before leaving Buenos Aires for Rio de Janeiro, where he will represent Greece at a summit between the European Union and Latin America, Mr. Simitis held talks with Swedish Prime Minister and Swedish Socialist Party president Goran Persson.

The premiers discussed issues concerning the peace process in the Balkans, the contribution of Europe to the reconstruction of the Balkans, as well as cooperation between the two parties.

Mr. Simitis also met with the head of the government of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires, Fernando de la Rua, who is also a candidate for the presidency of the republic - elections will be held in October.

On Saturday, the Greek premier held talks with representatives of the Greek expatriate communities of Argentina at the residence of the Greek ambassador to Buenos Aires.

Nine distinct Greek communities are active in Argentina, with the largest in the capital.

The Greek community school in Buenos Aires has a kindergarten, elementary school and junior and senior high school and has a total of about 700 children. The remaining Greek communities operate a Saturday school only for the teaching of the Greek language and each of them has about 50-60 children.

Mr. Simitis was briefed on problems faced by Greek expatriates in Argentina by the president of the Federation of Greek Communities, Eduardo Karavias, and referring to Hellenism abroad, stated:

"I see here the problem overseas Hellenism has...a standing problem everyone who leaves the motherland has: On the one hand, he must and wants to succeedIon the other, he does not want to distance himself from Greece. He wants to maintain contact and his roots.

"...Greece has now ceased to be a country from which people leave.

Mr. Karavias also took the opportunity to refer to the upcoming "Conference of Hellenism's Youth in Latin America", to be held in Buenos Aires and expected to be attended by about 140 representatives from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay.

Tsohatzopoulos heads for Iran today for talks

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is due to arrive in Tehran today for an official visit, the first to Iran by a European Union defence minister since the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Iranian news agency IRNA stated on Saturday.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was invited by his Iranian counterpart, Vice-Adm. Ali Shamkhani.

During his four-day visit, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is expected to have talks with the leadership of Iran's armed forces.

KKE, Synaspismos on measures to combat drug use

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued a statement yesterday on the occasion of Saturday's World Day Against Narcotics, stressing that the government "instead of trying to turn off the 'taps' which create new users, is trying to conceal the roots of the evil and persuade the people, and youth in particular, to reconcile themselves to the problem."

KKE stated that the Greek people "know only too well that the hand which designated the targets for bombing in neighbouring Yugoslavia is the same hand that distributes the white powder in streets and squares".

The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) urged sweeping legislative reforms, saying that the policy to date had failed to combat the problem of drug abuse.

"The continuous increase in the number of deaths from narcotics shows the failure of a policy which confines itself to policing methods," a Synaspismos statement read.

Synaspismos called for legislative reform to make clear distinctions between various narcotic substances and to decriminalise drug use, within the framework of a comprehensive policy aimed at curtailing the spread of narcotics.

The party also urged greater support for existing detoxification and counselling centres, the creation of new ones, information campaigns emphasising prevention and specific measures for the rehabilitation of former addicts.

OA denies press reports of imminent lay-offs

State-run Olympic Airways yesterday denied reports published in one Sunday newspaper, namely, that the debt-ridden carrier was planning to sack staff in a drastic cutback of routes.

A statement from OA said the consulting firm Avmark had reported regularly back to the carrier exclusively on a breakdown of operating costs related to OA routes.

The Avmark reports made no reference to staff lay-offs or made the other conclusions reported in the newspaper, OA stated.

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, meanwhile, said the government would follow through on plans to place the management of the national carrier with the British Airways subsidiary Speedwing.

He called on Olympic Airways employees not to be "carried away by crocodile tears of those wanting Olympic Airways to be sold as it is."

Civil aviation employees have called a strike for Thursday over their concerns about jobs and pay in the wake of the announcement that Speedwing would take over management.

Mr. Mantelis said OA's cooperation with the biggest airline company in the world "is the only guarantee for the survival and development of Olympic Airways and effective guarantee for employees".

"This government has always demonstrated its concern about ensuring jobs," he said.

Representatives of Speedwing are expected in Athens this week to formally sign the contract giving them management of the ailing national carrier for the next 30 months, according to reports.

Meanwhile, representatives of the OA employees, the government and the carrier's management begin talks today in the wake of the objections voiced by employees' groups to the government's plans.

Constantopoulos strengthens his position

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos apparently strengthened his position at the party's helm following a two- day central committee meeting yesterday.

Heated discussions on the results of the recent Euroelections - judged a failure for Synaspismos - the party's policies, as well as proposals by Mr. Constantopoulos and party cadre Nikos Bistis were put to the vote.

Mr. Constantopoulos' proposal garnered 90 votes and Mr. Bistis' 27, while seven cadres cast blank votes. Consequently, it was decided that the party's policy will be based on the positions set out by the former.

More NATO troops arrive in Thessaloniki on their way to Kosovo

A Belgian aircraft will transport Belgian troops destined for the NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force to Thessaloniki today. Also expected today are US, Spanish and British planes carrying troops.

Belgian forces are also expected in the city via its port, along with US, Spanish and German troop carriers.

Yesterday, three NATO warships - French, German and Spanish - docked in the city's port. They were carrying equipment and supplies, as well as military jeeps and armoured personnel carriers. The Spanish vessel also disembarked 200 troops. Another two Spanish vessels were expected to dock in the port city later yesterday.

Eight C-17 aircraft landed at the city's airport on Saturday night, carrying some 230 US soldiers.

The force will escort to the war-torn Yugoslav province a US mechanised brigade which arrived in Thessaloniki on Friday night aboard a troop carrier. The brigade's mission is to set up Alliance army camps in the province.

Humanitarian aid from Thessaloniki to refugees in Yugoslavia

Business people from Thessaloniki have donated some 70 million drachmas for humanitarian aid to be sent to war refugees in Yugoslavia, responding to a call by the city's chamber of commerce.

Purchased foodstuffs will be packaged into 10,000 parcels each weighing 160 kg, and able to feed a family for one week.

A total of 5,000 parcels were given to the Greek non-governmental organisation "European Prospect" in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), 3,300 were given to the Orthodox Metropolis of Nis and the remaining 1,700 were given to the Metropolis of Korce, in Albania.

Balkan Games results

The Greek national athletics team came in second in both the men's and women's events at the Balkans Games, which ended here yesterday.

On the second day of the tournament, both the men's and women's teams won five gold, five silver and seven bronze medals.

In the men's competition, Greece came second with 149 points, while Romania was first with 169 and Turkey third with 126. In the women's competition, Greece was second with 126 points, with Romania again first with 161 and Bulgaria third with 107.

Gold medals were won for the Greek side by Panayiotis Sarris in the 200 metres race, a personal best, Panayiotis Stroumbakos in the 800 metres race, Alexis Papadimitriou in the hammer throw, Costas Papadopoulos in the decathlon and Christina Tambaki in the 100 metres hurdles.

Ancient Greek artifact acquired by Sydney museum

Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, set to host an exhibition of ancient Greek antiquities between July and October next year as part of events commemorating the 2000 Olympics, has announced the acquisition of a priceless artif act from New York's Merrin Gallery.

The artifact, a reddish ancient Attica cup with two handles, dates to the fifth century BC and is listed in excellent condition.

"This masterpiece will be exhibited permanently at our museum," an official for the Sydney museum said.

Former dictator Papadopoulos dies

Georgios Papadopoulos, the Greek army colonel who led the infamous 1967 military coup, died in an Athens hospital yesterday at the age of 80.

Papadopoulos died in the Laiko General Hospital following a lengthy illness.

He burst onto the international limelight after leading a group of Greek military officers in the overthrow of the government on April 21, 1967. In 1973, a year before the colonels' dictatorship was toppled, he was declared "president" of Greece, a position added to several ministerial portfolios and the title of regent he had assumed between 1968 and November 1973. On Nov. 25 Papadopoulos was deposed and placed under house arrest by the junta's shadowy military intelligence chief, Brig. Dimitris Ioannidis.

With the return of democratic rule to Greece in 1974, he was arrested and sentenced to death for treason. The death sentence was later commuted by the government of Constantine Karamanlis to life imprisonment, spending the remaining years of his life be hind bars.

In August 1996, he was transferred to a hospital for health reasons and remained there under police guard until his death yesterday.

Papadopoulos is survived by his second wife, Despina Gaspari, two daughters by his first wife and a son.

In August 1968 Papadopoulos survived an assassination attempt by Alexandros Panagoulis.

Although other members of the junta in later years applied for pardons from their sentences, Papadopoulos remained unrepentent, saying he would never request a pardon, because he believed his dictatorship prevented communism from prevailing in Greece.

WEATHER

Fine weather with a chance of local cloud and rain in the northwest of the country is forecast for today. Winds moderate westerlies and strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with cloud increasing in the afternoon and temperatures between 20-35C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          308.046
Pound sterling       490.246
Japanese yen (100)   253.853
French franc          49.110
German mark          164.709
Italian lira (100)    16.637
Irish Punt           409.036
Belgian franc          7.986
Finnish mark          54.180
Dutch guilder        146.182
Danish kr.            43.386
Austrian sch.         23.411
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           36.773
Norwegian kr.         39.482
Swiss franc          201.475
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          209.510
Aus. dollar          204.168
Cyprus pound         557.901
Euro                 322.142
(C.E.)
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