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A.N.A. Bulletin, 02/02/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 803), February 2, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Right to extend territorial waters 'not up for negotiation', Greece tells Turkey

  • [2] Opposition

  • [3] Shipping exchange up 18.7%

  • [4] More shipping firms choosing to set up in Greece, merchant marine ministry says

  • [5] Simitis, Stephanopoulos confer on recent developments

  • [6] Pangalos categorical: we made no promises to Ciller

  • [7] Greece retains all sovereign rights over islets, Reppas says

  • [8] Evert calls on military leadership to resign

  • [9] Sfiriou comments

  • [10] KKE protests

  • [11] Defense Council examines islets incident

  • [12] Batu: Greece does not accept Turkish claims

  • [13] Germany relieved at end to crisis

  • [14] Holbrooke comments on Imia incident

  • [15] US Greeks send letter to Clinton over recent crisis

  • [16] Greece, FYROM agree to cheaper visa fees

  • [17] Vasso Papandreou sworn in as development minister

  • [18] Papandreou's condition improved, undergoes minor surgery to close tracheotomy

  • [19] Industrialists say Gov't moving in right direction

  • [20] Greek-Romanian firms set to co-operate in joint programmes


  • [1] Right to extend territorial waters 'not up for negotiation', Greece tells Turkey

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece said last night that threats of war by Turkey's caretaker premier Tansu Ciller, fast on the heels of the latest stand-off in the Aegean between the two NATO allies, were intended for domestic consumption and that Athens had never tolerated any dialogue on its right to extend its territorial waters.

    "Greece does not intend to follow Turkey down the dangerous road of impressive statements intended for domestic consumption," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    According to a Reuters dispatch from Ankara, Ms Ciller threatened Athens with war if it extended its territorial waters under the International Law of the Sea convention. Turkey is not a signatory to the convention.

    "The Greek officials' promise during this crisis not to increase their territorial waters to 12 miles better hold good ... If the territorial waters are taken to 12 miles - I will speak clearly - this is a cause for war," Reuters quoted Ms Ciller telling deputies of her True Path Party.

    Mr. Reppas said: "Neither during the last few days, due to the events in the Imia area, nor at any other time has the government tolerated discussions with anyone regarding Greece's right under international treaties to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles.

    "Our country's positions on this matter are well-known and remain unchanged. Greece considers this right as given and non-negotiable. It will chose itself how and when it will exercise this right.

    "Ms Tansu Ciller, with the repetition of her threats, simply confirms that Turkey is a country that does not respect international law and international treaties. And it constitutes a sad example of foreign policy, that of course has no place in international fora and the European Union.

    "This Turkish action will be dealt with by the responsible and decisive stance of the Greek government, which has proved it steadily defends its sovereign rights."

    [2] Opposition

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    In a statement, the New Democracy party called on the government to "confirm or deny here and now" Ms Ciller's claim.

    The Political Spring party also called on the government to provide explanations and immediately proceed to an extension of territorial waters to 12 miles, according to international law.

    "Otherwise, every hour that passes, it will be considered that our national right is weakened," the statement said.

    [3] Shipping exchange up 18.7%

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Inflows of shipping exchange totaled 1,621.1 million dollars between January and September 1995, compared with 1,387.1 million dollars in the same nine-month period of the previous year, marking an increase of 18.7 per cent, according to Bank of Greece figures released yesterday.

    In August and September 1995, inflows of shipping exchange were relatively low compared with the previous months, marking an increase of just 1.6 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Merchant Marine Minister Kosmas Sfiriou said that a study was under way to ascertain the reasons for the results recorded in the two months in question.

    [4] More shipping firms choosing to set up in Greece, merchant marine ministry says

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    According to the merchant marine ministry, shipping companies subject to laws 89/67 and 814/78 are establishing themselves in the country at an increasing rate.

    Some 919 companies subject to the above laws were established in 1993 with the figure rising to 1,011 in 1994 and exceeding 1,100 by December 1995.

    These companies employ a total of 9,000 people.

    At the same time, the ministry said, the Greek merchant fleet is being renewed with ships with an average age of 11 years in contrast to the previous decade when the average age of Greek merchant ships was 23 years.

    Today's ships are safer and equipped with modern communications and safety systems and have better hygiene and living conditions for seamen.

    [5] Simitis, Stephanopoulos confer on recent developments

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis held an unscheduled 25-minute meeting yesterday, after the swearing-in of Development Minister Vasso Papandreou.

    The meeting focused on current developments following the recent tension in Greek-Turkish relations and the unrest it caused on the Greek political scene, reliable sources said.

    The president's office issued a statement denying press reports that Mr. Stephanopoulos was dissatisfied with the government's handling of the Greek-Turkish crisis.

    "All that has been attributed to the President of the Republic by the mass media as regards his assessments on the handling of the Greek-Turkish crisis are not true," the statement said.

    [6] Pangalos categorical: we made no promises to Ciller

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Commenting on Ms Ciller's threats of war, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said during a television interview last night, that they were to be attributed to the need for domestic impressions.

    "This means that Turkey threatens to act as an international outlaw, in other words, that it will attempt, through violence, to stop Greece exercising a right emanating from the International Law of the Sea," he said.

    He reiterated that the extension to 12 miles was an inalienable right of our country, the exercise of which was left at the government's discretion.

    Asked to comment on Ms Ciller's claim of a "promise" by the Greek side that it would not extend its territorial waters, allegedly given to the US mediators on the night of the crisis, Mr. Pangalos stated "that is an interpretation on Ciller's part," adding "we had not decided to do so".

    "When Secretary of State Warren Christopher phoned me, he conveyed the Turkish view that we are the provocators in the Aegean, in the framework of a strategic plan to extend our territorial waters to 12 miles. I replied that was a false argument ...it was impossible that I would justify to the Americans the amusing arguments and the conspiracy of the Turks by saying that indeed, we are the aggressors, and are now extending our territorial waters," he said.

    Asked to comment on Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's claim that the lowering of the flags on the disputed island was included in the de-escalation agreement, Mr. Pangalos said Mr. Holbrooke "is inaccurate," reiterating that the US official had conveyed a Turkish demand to that effect, which Mr. Pangalos rejected. Eventually, he said, we decided unilaterally that "it would be better not to leave a flag without guard in the middle of the sea".

    [7] Greece retains all sovereign rights over islets, Reppas says

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece had and retains all its sovereign rights with regard to the rocky islets in the Aegean and will exercise those rights whenever it deems fit, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    He reiterated that there was "no margin" for dialogue with Turkey except concerning the issue of the delineation of the continental shelf in the Aegean.

    Referring to Tuesday night's stand-off between Greece and Turkey in the vicinity of the Imia islets, Mr. Reppas said the government had handled the issue in a very responsible manner and had obtained the best possible results.

    The spokesman responded to criticism of the government's handling of the Imia crisis by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert by accusing him of "putting on a show of patriotism".

    He also expressed the government's satisfaction over comments by Italian foreign ministry officials vindicating Greece's positions concerning the legal status of Imia, as well as over the positions expressed by leading figures in the European Union.

    Asked if Greece was satisfied with the stance adopted by its EU partners, Mr. Reppas replied that "they did the best they could".

    Clarifying that no date had been set for the forthcoming visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to Athens, Mr. Reppas underlined that the mediation of the United States for the defusion of the crisis in the Aegean had been undertake n on Washington's initiative.

    He said that an inquiry was under way at the national defense ministry to ascertain possible dereliction of duty on the night of the stand-off in the eastern Aegean.

    He clarified that the inquiry concerned possible responsibilities with regard to the landing of Turkish commandos on a rocky islet adjacent to Imia, the failure to retake the islet and as to when the commandos were spotted.

    He stressed, nevertheless, that the armed forces leadership enjoyed the full confidence of the government.

    Ministry sources said the results of the inquiry would be ready in a few days' time.

    Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas acknowledged that the landing of Turkish commandos on the islet was tantamount to seizure, albeit for a short time, of national territory, adding however that the islet was now once again under Greek sovereignty.

    He said that the commandos had landed on the islet for reasons of domestic consumption in Turkey and had taken place when talks were already in progress to find the most appropriate way to bring about disengagement of the Greek and Turkish forces.

    Mr. Reppas backed up his statement by citing the "third world" manner in which the Turkish mass media had presented the landing.

    [8] Evert calls on military leadership to resign

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Opposition leader Miltiades Evert, meanwhile, yesterday called on Greece's armed forces leadership to be "discharged, relieved or to resign" over the Imia incident.

    In statements to reporters after a 45-minute meeting with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Mr. Evert said that he had requested a meeting at the national defense ministry on Monday morning to be briefed at staff level about the Imia crisis.

    He added that depending on the content of the briefing, ND would decide whether or not to table a motion in Parliament early next week calling for the formation of a special parliamentary committee of inquiry to ascertain "who, if anyone, was responsible for the injustice suffered by Greece".

    Mr. Evert divulged he had asked the president to undertake initiatives on the issue, announcing also that he would begin visiting countries in order to brief international public opinion on the "injustice".

    Replying to questions on Mr. Holbrooke's forthcoming visit, Mr. Evert said that "before then, a common foreign policy must be formulated, because it is inconceivable for the government to say one thing and the (opposition) parties another".

    He went on to strongly criticize the government's handling of the Imia incident, saying "once again it proved to be too small to deal with major problems" and charged that Prime Minister Costas Simitis "did not tell the truth in Parliament".

    Reliable sources said that the New Democracy party will submit, early next week, a proposal for the setting up of a parliamentary committee of inquiry that will investigate the events at the time of the peak of the crisis early Wednesday morning.

    [9] Sfiriou comments

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Kosmas Sfiriou said yesterday that no Greek citizen or mayor was authorized to implement the government's foreign policy on the issue of Greece's rocky islets.

    He was replying to press questions on the possibility of the Greek flag being raised again on some rocky islet in the Dodecaneese.

    He said that the guarding of all the rocky islets in the region had been undertaken by the Coast Guard which as of Tuesday was patrolling the area between the islands of Kos and Kalymnos.

    Mr. Sfiriou did not make it clear whether a Greek citizen would be arrested for raising the flag on one of the islets, but was unequivocal with respect to any such attempt by Turks to raise the Turkish flag.

    "If any attempt whatsoever is made, the person responsible will be automatically arrested," he said.

    He added that nearly all the Coast Guard authorities in border areas had been reinforced with officers and frogmen.

    The government spokesman said in connection, meanwhile, that the programme for settling the rocky islets was in progress and denied that orders had been issued to obstruct Greek citizens from raising the Greek flag on islets.

    [10] KKE protests

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    A rally was staged by the Communist Party (KKE) to the US Consulate in Thessaloniki yesterday, to protest "the policy of subservience and imperialist designs in the Balkans and the Middle East".

    A KKE statement said "American imperialists and NATO have imposed on our country a regime of restricted national sovereignty in the Aegean," whose acceptance will result in "continuous dangers for our territorial integrity and independence".

    Meanwhile, according to the Turkish newspaper 'Milliyet' yesterday, the Greek island of Kastellorizo would have been the first target of the Turkish armed forces in the event that the Imia incident led to conflict.

    The newspaper said that at an emergency meeting of the Turkish military leadership on Tuesday night at an underground operations centre, it was decided to attack Kastellorizo first and then to land troops on the Dodecaneese islands.

    [11] Defense Council examines islets incident

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis yesterday chaired the Defense Council which, among other things, examined the situation created in Greek-Turkish relations in the wake of the crisis concerning the islet of Imia.

    Another issue probed was that of possible responsibilities regarding what had happened in the region during the crisis in light of the issuing of a relevant report.

    The meeting was also attended by National Defense Under-secretary Nikos Kouris and general staff chiefs.

    In another development, an announcement by the Navy General Staff categorically denied claims that the helicopter crashed as a result of interference, adding that the helicopter's main parts - engine, axles and blades - as well as vital parts were not subject to interference.

    In parallel, the Navy General Staff said the report of the helicopter receiving fire from the islet was totally groundless since the first indication of a fault was reported by the helicopter when it had distanced itself two nautical miles from the region and was flying close to the ship carrying it (the frigate Navarino).

    [12] Batu: Greece does not accept Turkish claims

    Istanbul, 02/02/1996 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Replying to questioners yesterday on whether Greece accepted that the islets in question belonged to Turkey, Turkish Assistant Foreign Under-secretary Inal Batu said: "No. We cannot say so. Greece claims that the islets belong to it. In other words, the problem continues to exist."

    "The crisis once again gave the entire world the opportunity to laugh at us (Greece and Turkey)," he said, adding that the end to the crisis was a "victory for common sense."

    He said the lesson he learnt from the crisis was that "differences should be resolved with dialogue."

    Mr. Batu had earlier told the newspaper 'Zaman' that "Greece, in practice, backed down on the crisis over Kardak (Imia), but has not backed off its positions on sovereignty over the islets."

    "Turkey is a serious state and will not make childish acts, such as hoisting its flag on rocks," he added.

    Mr. Batu said similar problems were faced in many parts of the world, but civilized countries overcame them with negotiations.

    Asked whether Turkey would accept negotiations if Greece were to ask for Istanbul, Mr. Batu said: "This is demagogy. How can a rock be compared to Istanbul? There is no resemblance with hoisting a flag on a deserted rock. It is not degrading for one to attend a discussion."

    Turkish General Staff Chief General Ismael Hakki Karadayi, meanwhile, has attributed the recent crisis between Greece and Turkey to a "strategic mistake."

    "I would not like to say that there was a mistake at this point, or at some other, or attribute the mistake to Greece," he said.

    "A big strategic mistake was made," he said, adding that "in no way did this change our own basic policy."

    Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, General Karadayi said "we are friends with Greece. Our happiness and prosperity, as well as stability in the region, depend on living with Greece in a friendly manner."

    Turkish analysts almost unanimously agree that caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller has emerged from the crisis with her standing considerably strengthened.

    They say her popularity has increased in the eyes of the people, her rapprochement with Socialist Party leader Bulent Ecevit has been facilitated, thus increasing her chances of forming a coalition government, while President Suleyman Demirel gave her a n extra week to form a government, even though her mandate had initially expired when the crisis broke out.

    Most analysts believe the rapprochement between Ms. Ciller and Mr. Ecevit will be crucial for the course of the domestic political situation in Turkey, adding that the rapprochement started and was facilitated by the Greek-Turkish crisis and the nationalist atmosphere created in Turkey.

    Mr. Ecevit was prime minister of Turkey when that country invaded the island republic of Cyprus; Turkish troops continue to occupy a third of Cypriot territory to this day.

    Ms Ciller phoned Mr. Ecevit on Wednesday morning to brief him on the course of the crisis and was complimented by the former prime minister.

    Ms Ciller, in close co-operation with the Turkish General Staff, observed a tough stance throughout the crisis and proposed dialogue and negotiations in order to appease international repercussions regarding her position.

    [13] Germany relieved at end to crisis

    Bonn, 02/02/1996 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    German political and diplomatic circles characterized the defusion of the crisis between Greece and Turkey and the relatively smooth course of Wednesday night's confidence vote in the Greek Parliament as a "relief".

    "A dangerous and difficult turn was overcome," said Social Democrat deputy and president of NATO's General Assembly Karsten Fogdt.

    President of the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee Karl-Hensch Hornhus stated that although the official German stance of neutrality has not changed, it recognizes that "with its prudent handling of the situation", the Greek government contributed to the defusion of the crisis.

    [14] Holbrooke comments on Imia incident

    Washington, 02/02/1996 (ANA - L. Papantoniou)

    Assistant US Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke yesterday commented on the recent stand-off over the rocky islet of Imia, saying it "may seem like a funny incident, but in reality it was very serious."

    Mr. Holbrooke made the statements during a speech at the National Press Club in the US capital.

    In relating an account of the incident, Mr. Holbrooke claimed there were specific warnings that the Turks were ready to retake the islet by force, something he said "was easy to accomplish."

    He added: "President Clinton immediately communicated by telephone three times with President (Suleyman) Demirel in Ankara and new Prime Minister (Costas) Simitis in Athens. These calls didn't under any circumstances solve the crisis, but showed that the president was personally involved and committed, thus anything that happened in the next eight hours had his authorizations."

    Mr. Holbrooke said that during the eight hours, US Secretary of State William Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili, White House National Security Adviser Tony Lake and himself, along with Washington's ambassadors in Ankara and Athens, were completely involved in an "extremely detailed and complicated procedure, which ended ... with both countries removing their warships and soldiers from the island."

    The assistant secretary of state said that during the same period, a military force (Turkish commandos) landed on a nearby islet, leading the US leadership to note an escalation in the crisis.

    Mr. Holbrooke said neither country offered guarantees to each other for avoidance of such incidents in the future, while both were willing to offer assurances to the United States that such actions would not recur. He said the US was instrumental in defusing the crisis. Mr. Holbrooke also stated that he received a briefing yesterday morning on a 1932 protocol agreement and revisions on a 1923 agreement related to the Imia islets, under Italian sovereignty prior to World War II.

    The diplomat said the incident and subsequent US mediation showed a new tendency in Washington's foreign policy and diplomacy, at least in the region he oversees.

    Mr. Holbrooke said he would soon visit Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, but would not focus on the Cyprus problem, saying the time was not right for promotion of a new initiative.

    "But it is the right time for a reduction of tension in the Aegean," he added. He also said the US is committed to commencing efforts for the solution to the Cyprus problem, "although many claim there are no hopes for a settlement."

    Mr. Holbrooke added that instability will continue in the eastern Mediterranean region as long as Greek-Turkish relations are not normalized.

    While saying both "Greece and Turkey are both major US allies," he said that Turkey remains on the front-line of a new Europe's borders.

    He claimed any country with common borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran, a number of former Soviet republics, Bulgaria, problems with Greece, and the Kurdish issue is a country with increased importance.

    [15] US Greeks send letter to Clinton over recent crisis

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    In a letter to US President Bill Clinton, the Hellenic-American National Council of North America says "Greece does not need a mediator to resolve its problems with Turkey. What it needs is a faithful friend who will obey international law and not exploit Greece for the sake of domestic problems in Turkey".

    "The common conviction of the Hellenic-American community in the US is that Greece should have the absolute support of international law in protecting even the last inch of its territory and not feel an unjustified pressure by you (the US President) and the government of the United States", the letter said.

    "Being US citizens, we are skeptical as to why the United States, a NATO member-state, creates instability in the region, supporting the actions of Turkey, also a NATO member-state, against another country which is also a member".

    The members of the Hellenic-American National Council expressed the hope that "the US will observe a steadfast position against Turkish provocative acts against Greece".

    In an open letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the political world and the Greek people, the council, which has also opened a branch office in Thessaloniki, terms the government's stance in the recent Greek-Turkish crisis "a withdrawal from sovereign rights".

    "Never in its history has the Greek nation made such withdraw-als from rights concerning the protection of national borders", the letter said.

    The letter expressed "radical disagreement" over the non-implementation of the right to extend territorial waters to 12 miles and "continuous intervention by foreign arbitrators and the guidance of Greek governments".

    "Greece's prestige must be restored at all costs", the open letter concluded.

    [16] Greece, FYROM agree to cheaper visa fees

    Skopje, 02/02/1996 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Greek and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) foreign ministry delegations yesterday reached a reciprocal agreement to lower the cost of entrance visas for citizens of each country.

    The agreement is expected to be signed today in Skopje.

    In addition, Greece's delegation met yesterday with FYROM Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski.

    Other issues discussed at the meetings were bilateral co-operation, the situation in the Balkans and Skopje's European orientation.

    A dispute over the neighboring country's name was not discussed, as both sides announced that they wanted to develop relations independent of the name difference.

    [17] Vasso Papandreou sworn in as development minister

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Former EU commissioner Vasso Papandreou was sworn in yesterday as minister for development, in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    The new development ministry, which encompasses the former ministries of tourism, industry, energy and technology, and trade, was formally established with the publication yesterday of the relevant Presidential Decree.

    Also sworn in were Mihalis Chrysohoidis and Fivos Ioannidis as undersecretaries of trade and industry, respectively.

    No statements were made after the swearing-in ceremony.

    [18] Papandreou's condition improved, undergoes minor surgery to close tracheotomy

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou's condition "has shown improvement" as he continued to undergo respiratory physical therapy and kinesiotherapy, a medical bulletin issued by the Onassion Cardiosurgery Centre said yesterday.

    This was the first time in approximately six weeks that the word "improvement" has been used in a medical communiqui with respect to Mr. Papandreou's condition, and sources said this indicated the former premier was on the way to recovery.

    The sources said Mr. Papandreou "walked on his own for a substantial period of time" along the corridors of the sixth floor of the Onassion, where he has been hospitalized since November 20.

    They also said that Mr. Papandreou had not required the use of a respirator - not even periodically throughout the night - for the fifth consecutive day.

    Also, the sources added, minor surgery on the right side of Mr. Papandreou's chest was being considered to improve his respiration, although this will be decided if it is deemed necessary by an American specialist who is expected in Athens in the next few days.

    It was announced later that Mr. Papandreou's doctors had yesterday closed the tracheotomy on a trial basis with the use of a special sheath following the improvement in his breathing.

    After the trial closure, the former premier's doctors said that they would finally close the tracheotomy if they ascertained that Mr. Papandreou's breathing function was satisfactory over the next seven days.

    [19] Industrialists say Gov't moving in right direction

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Federation of Attica and Piraeus Industries (SBAP) said in an announcement yesterday that the government's policy statements were moving in the right direction as far as they recognized the need to continue the stabilization policy and the causes of current problems related to development.

    According to SBAP's president, the government's targets and commitments were absolutely positive, but what was necessary was effectiveness and speed in implementing them, adding that they would be judged in practice.

    SBAP insists on the need to reduce state deficits, abolish bureaucratic counter-incentives in industry, support the competitive environment in the market, consistently follow a policy of denationalizations as part of a developmental - and not revenue - logic and furthermore urges the banking system to further reduce the cost of lending.

    [20] Greek-Romanian firms set to co-operate in joint programmes

    Athens, 02/02/1996 (ANA)

    Romanian and Greek entrepreneurs in the commercial, tourism and small business sectors will develop joint programmes under the European Union's umbrella, after the signing of a bilateral agreement yesterday in Kavala, northern Greece.

    Representatives from the 30 largest northern Romanian companies had meetings in Kavala with business leaders in eastern Macedonia to discuss possibilities for further import prospects and technology transfer from the Greek region to Romania.

    In addition, the Romanian delegation visited the Kavala Port Authority, and discussed with its president possibilities for using the city's old port and new port facilities for sea transport to third countries.

    The Romanian delegation also announced that they would offer assistance to Greek exporters through the port of Galati in northern Romania, as well as warehouse space for products slated for export to eastern European countries.

    End of English language section.

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