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A.N.A. Bulletin, 03/02/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 804), February 3, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Greece begins diplomatic offensive over Turkish provocation

  • [2] Gov't 'displeased' with US statements

  • [3] Kaklamanis informs EU counterparts

  • [4] Papandreou 'concerned'

  • [5] Opposition moves

  • [6] Greece, FYROM discuss progress of interim accord

  • [7] Negotiations over name expected to start this month

  • [8] Pangalos moves to block EU funds for Turkey

  • [9] Papandreou 'continues to improve'

  • [10] Holbrooke: "I'm not going to negotiate"

  • [11] US maintains neutrality on Imia islets sovereignty

  • [12] Batu reiterates Ciller's war threats

  • [13] PASOK supports Gov't handling

  • [14] Inner cabinet to convene for first time on Monday

  • [15] Vartholomeos, Kohl receive honorary degrees from Louvain university

  • [16] New Austrian ambassador to Athens named

  • [17] Unionists, employers fail to bridge differences on collective agreement


  • [1] Greece begins diplomatic offensive over Turkish provocation

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday summoned the envoys of the European Union "troika," to tell them that Greece would raise the recent Turkish provocation at all European bodies.

    Mr. Simitis later held separate talks with US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles and Russian envoy Valery Nikolayenko, with whom he discussed bilateral relations and the deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations following the recent crisis in the Aegean, although these meetings had been arranged shortly after Mr. Simitis became prime minister, the sources added.

    Mr. Simitis expressed Greece's strong displeasure at recent statements by US officials, during an hour-long meeting with Mr. Niles.

    After the meeting, Mr. Niles said he did not know when Mr. Holbrooke would be visiting Athens, despite the fact that he had expressed virtual certainty in recent days that the US official would visit Greece some time in February. Mr. Niles said he was not sure whether Mr. Holbrooke's schedule would allow the visit, adding "we are working on it."

    Earlier, Mr. Simitis met with the ambassadors of Italy, Spain and Ireland, the 'troika' of present, previous and future EU presidents.

    When asked about the 1932 agreement between Italy and Turkey delineating waters in the eastern Aegean, Italy's envoy Enrico Pietromarchi replied that the duty of ambassadors was "to help clarify the situation" and "the legal aspect and the facts must be clarified."

    To other questions concerning the positions of the Greek government on the rocky islets of the Dodecaneese, Mr. Pietromarchi said that an ambassador was not in a position to reply, adding that the issue must be examined by the EU member states. Russia's Ambassador Valery Nikolayenko said that the solution to problems in Greek-Turkish relations must be found by peaceful means and "complete respect for international law."

    Mr. Nikolayenko reiterated Moscow's position that the sovereign rights and territorial integrity of each country must be respected, stressing that all the agreements pertaining to the rocky islets in the Aegean should be respected, including those covering the islet of Imia.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday expressed displeasure at statements Thursday by the US State Department spokesman, Nicholas Burns, on the issue of the Aegean islet of Imia.

    Mr. Pangalos said that Mr. Burns' statements reflected the official US position, "which in the matter in question is identical with the Turkish position... something which we do not accept."

    He was speaking to reporters after talks with the representatives of the main groups of Greek Eurodeputies, whom he briefed on the latest developments in Greek-Turkish relations.

    Replying to questions Wednesday, Mr. Burns said that "on the question of Imia/Kardak (Turkish name for the islet), we do not recognize either Greek or Turkish sovereignty, and we would like both governments to work that question out in a mutually satisfactory way."

    Mr. Pangalos said it had been known for some time that the US kept "an equal distance between Greece and Turkey... a fact which we have repeatedly refused to accept."

    "In this contention, the Greek side is citing international law and treaties, while the other side (Turkey) is using force and threats as its means of presence in international relations.

    "For this reason, we believe that the US should condemn the aggressor and the party issuing the threats, which in this case is Turkey," Mr. Pangalos said.

    He declined to confirm whether Athens had lodged a demarche with Washington over Mr. Burns' statements, saying that the State Department spokesman was "simply reiterating things which the Americans have repeatedly told us at all levels."

    Mr. Pangalos said that Washington's position, that Greece and Turkey should resolve their dispute through negotiations, was identical to the Turkish position, adding that Greece did not accept this.

    The foreign minister confirmed that the issue of Mr. Holbrooke's visit to Greece would be discussed by the inner cabinet on Monday.

    [2] Gov't 'displeased' with US statements

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the inner Cabinet chaired by Mr. Simitis would decide on Monday whether Mr. Holbrooke would visit Greece and what issues would be discussed. Mr. Reppas expressed the government's displeasure at statements by Mr. Holbrooke and State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns who said the US did not recognize either Greek or Turkish sovereignty of Imia.

    He also denied that Greece had undertaken commitments not to extend its territorial waters from six to 12 miles, saying that the two US officials "are not telling the truth."

    Mr. Reppas expressed the view that Washington's positions in not recognizing Greek sovereignty of Imia "lay the foundations for our region to become a hotbed of upheaval."

    The spokesman said that Greece did not accept any disputing of its sovereignty of the rocky islets in the Aegean and underlined that any improvement in Greek-Turkish relations was dependent on a settlement of the Cyprus problem within the framework of international law.

    Mr. Reppas said that the climate in the international community towards Greece in the aftermath of the crisis was positive, made special mention of the stands of the Italian and Russian governments, and added there was always room for enhancing the country's international support.

    Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas said it was "wise to prepare for any eventuality, given the stance adopted by Turkey," adding that "unfortunately" Greece's borders apparently were not the borders of the European Union, and noting that there was a distance between the words and deeds of the Union.

    The spokesman criticized the stance adopted by main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert, saying that Mr. Evert's only aspiration was "to cultivate his public relations instead of helping the country."

    [3] Kaklamanis informs EU counterparts

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis has sent a letter to his European Union counterparts, the European Parliament and the parliaments of the permanent UN Security Council members and of Cyprus, condemning Turkey's policy of provocation and the war climate it is nurturing.

    The letter details the background to the latest crisis in Greek-Turkish relations over the rocky islet of Imia and points out that Turkey displayed similar provocative behavior over the ratification of the international convention on the Law of the Sea by the Greek Parliament.

    Mr. Kaklamanis also underlines the threat to peace and security in the region posed by Turkey's expansionist policy.

    He points out the serious political implications of Turkey's provocations, both within the framework of NATO and in the Balkans, stressing Ankara's blatant violation of the rules of international law and the principles upon which the EU functions.

    [4] Papandreou 'concerned'

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Ruling party PASOK Executive Bureau member Manolis Daskalakis, who visited party president Andreas Papandreou at the Onassion Hospital Thursday night, reported yesterday that the former premier expressed concern over the recent Greek-Turkish crisis.

    Mr. Daskalakis said that when he informed Mr. Papandreou of an increase in PASOK's popularity, he commented: "When the country is facing problems, what good is the party's rise to me?".

    Speaking to reporters shortly before a PASOK Executive Bureau meeting, Mr. Daskalakis added that Mr. Papandreou's comment was that of a national leader, not a party leader.

    [5] Opposition moves

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party said yesterday that the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations over the Aegean islet of Imia was continuing and reiterated that certain acts of the government constituted a "national betrayal."

    Speaking after a meeting convened by ND leader Miltiades Evert with the participation of diplomats and experts on international affairs, party spokesman Vassilis Manginas said that Mr. Arsenis had not yet replied to a request by Mr. Evert to be briefed at staff level on the details of Tuesday night's stand-off in the Aegean.

    Mr. Manginas indirectly criticized Mr. Pangalos, saying that "statements and interviews by ministers must stop immediately because diplomacy via the television is dangerous."

    Political Spring party leader, Antonis Samaras, on his return from Leros, near the Imia islet, held a meeting with his advisers on national defense issues.

    In later statements, Mr. Samaras requested an extraordinary EU summit meeting, at the initiative of the Greek government to discuss Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Samaras called on Mr. Simitis to end his separate contacts with the ambassadors and call for an extraordinary meeting forcing EU partners to recognize and proclaim Greek borders the EU's frontier. He further said that he will have a series of meetings with diplomatic and military experts, before submitting specific proposals regarding the policy to be followed in Greek-Turkish relations.

    He also requested the immediate re-establishment of the Overseas Greeks Undersecretariat in order to coordinate the moves of overseas Greeks.

    In a statement later, Political Spring party parliamentary secretary Stephanos Stephanopoulos called on the prime minister and the foreign minister to convey a message to Mr. Holbrooke that he is "undesirable" to the Greek people, as are his designs, ideas and measurements of the Greek islets.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga requested a meeting with the prime minister in order to be briefed on the recent crisis in Greek-Turkish relations.

    The meeting will take place next week.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos requested the immediate convening of the political party leaders council, under the chairmanship of President Kostis Stephanopoulos, in order "to deal with Turkish aggression."

    Mr. Constantopoulos expressed his request in a letter he sent to Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    In his letter, Mr. Constantopoulos refers to a "package of proposals for national consensus," including the establishment of a permanent foreign policy council, the drafting of national strategy on Greek-Turkish relations, the denunciation of Turkish provocations in international fora and the diplomatic preparation for the consolidation of Greece's national borders as Community borders in the coming EU Intergovernmental Conference.

    [6] Greece, FYROM discuss progress of interim accord

    Skopje, 03/02/1996 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Foreign ministry representatives from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) signed a protocol agreement here yesterday to reduce the cost of entrance visas for residents of both countries.

    The cost of an entrance visa for Greeks traveling to FYROM and for FYROM citizens traveling to Greece will fall from 5,000 drachmas to 1,000 drachmas.

    According to FYROM's foreign ministry, 20,000 FYROM residents have visited Greece since a September 13 interim agreement was signed in New York between Athens and Skopje.

    "We ascertained the satisfactory application of the interim agreement and a memorandum for practical measures, while useful opinions were exchanged on improving practical measures in certain points," said Ambassador Alexander Filon, the head of Greece's delegation.

    Both sides also examined possibilities for further co-operation in the economic sector, trade and the environment, as well as in international organizations.

    Mr. Filon said contacts will continue with representatives from other FYROM ministries. He also said discussions took place in a cordial and sincere setting.

    [7] Negotiations over name expected to start this month

    United Nations, 03/02/1996 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Discussions between Greece and FYROM's permanent United Nations representatives will start at the end of the month in New York, well-informed sources claimed yesterday.

    Diplomatic circles in New York expressed optimism that a solution to the name issue will be found, citing the fact that both sides have announced the need for adoption of a name "for every use," for the landlocked nation.

    [8] Pangalos moves to block EU funds for Turkey

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has instructed Greece's permanent representation at the European Union to block EU funding to Turkey, as part of diplomatic moves by Greece in the wake of the latest crisis in Greek-Turkish relations.

    The issue will be raised in principle at the Council of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) meeting on February 22, where Greece will express reservations over extending EU moneys to Turkey under the EU-Turkey customs union agreement.

    The EU Council of Ministers will decide on the issue at their meeting four days later.

    In his address in Parliament during the debate on the government's policy statements, Mr. Pangalos had stressed that Turkey's attitude would have direct and serious repercussions on its relations with the EU, adding that Greece, which had made a bold gesture towards Turkey in lifting its veto for customs association, would revise its position.

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert addressed a letter to his party's Eurodeputies, meanwhile, calling on them to exercise their influence to prevent in every way funds and in general any aid for Turkey by the EU.

    "A country which does not respect the values of Europe cannot possibly enjoy special privileges," the letter said. "The unacceptable and provocative action by Turkey to violate our national territory must be met with a response at all levels."

    [9] Papandreou 'continues to improve'

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    PASOK president and former premier Andreas Papandreou's condition "continues to improve," a medical bulletin issued yesterday by the Onassion Cardiosurgery Centre said.

    Mr. Papandreou, currently on his sixth consecutive day off breathing apparatus, had his tracheotomy closed Thursday on a trial basis by physicians. The tracheotomy would be permanently closed in the next few days provided no breathing problems arose, sources said. "The breathing function presented no problems after the removal of the tube from the tracheotomy," the medical communiqui said. Mr. Papandreou was scheduled yesterday for dialysis, while he underwent respiratory physical therapy and kinesiotherapy as normal earlier in the day.

    [10] Holbrooke: "I'm not going to negotiate"

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    In statements yesterday to the Mega television station, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke shed more light on early-morning US mediation efforts during the Greek-Turkish crisis over Imia, as well as on his proposed visit to the region.

    Asked what topics will be discussed during the proposed trip, Mr. Holbrooke said: "I'm not going to negotiate the islands or to talk about confidence-building measures. I'm going to talk about the general situation in the area. I'm not going to negotiate."

    In response to a question on whether removal of the Greek flag from Imia was part of a negotiated deal, the assistant secretary of state said "we didn't pressure the Greek government.

    "President (Bill) Clinton talked to Prime Minister (Costas) Simitis and, incidentally, today President Clinton sent Prime Minister Simitis a personal letter of appreciation for his statesman-like actions," Mr. Holbrooke said, adding:

    "Secretary (of State Warren) Christopher and I talked to Foreign Minister (Theodoros) Pangalos and Secretary (of Defense William) Perry talked to Defense Minister (Gerassimos) Arsenis. In all the conversations, and in similar conversations with Ankara, we said this is not an issue to go to war over, and we feel strongly about that.

    "And the Greek government took its own actions on its own volition, and we acted, as we would call in America, an 'honest broker'," he said.

    "The Turks guaranteed us that if the situation were resolved and that there was status quo ante, they would put no flags, no men, no armaments into battle... And that's where we are now. We conveyed the Turkish assurances to Athens, and the Athens government, the Greek government, took its own steps, not under American pressure," Mr. Holbrooke said.

    Asked what assurances Athens gave, he said: "The Greek government said to restore the status quo ante without any compromise to its positions, and on that basis we conveyed that to the Turkish government, and the issues were resolved in a way that we think - and by 'we', I include President Clinton and Secretary Christopher - ... is mutually beneficial and reduces tensions in the region. This is not an issue to go to war over."

    [11] US maintains neutrality on Imia islets sovereignty

    Washington, 03/02/1996 (ANA-L.Papantoniou)

    State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday said the US did not recognize either Greek or Turkish sovereignty over the Imia islands and called on both governments to co-operate on the issue "in a mutually acceptable and satisfactory manner."

    "We have decided not to state our position on sovereignty and we will try to co-operate with the Greeks and the Turks, perhaps via mediation, to solve this problem," he said.

    "The best way to solve the problem is for Greece and Turkey to do it together," he added.

    Asked whether US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's initiative was aimed at partitioning the Aegean, Mr. Burns said:

    " ...Mr. Holbrooke will speak on all Aegean-related problems, in particular the problem which we solved a few days ago. He will not suggest any partition scheme for any country. In simple terms, he will elaborate on a few US ideas on how Greece and Turk ey can overcome this problem."

    Meanwhile, in Rome, the Italian foreign ministry clarified yesterday that it had not issued any official statement acknowledging that Greece's position on the issue was legally correct.

    [12] Batu reiterates Ciller's war threats

    Istanbul, 03/02/1996 (ANA-A.Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Inal Batu reiterated yesterday that extension of Greece's territorial waters to 12 miles in the Aegean would be cause for war. "We have repeated a thousand times that the unilateral extension o f Greece's territorial waters to 12 miles would be a casus belli," he said.

    In another development, diplomatic sources were quoted as saying that the ongoing political crisis in the country diminished US optimism for the commencement of a "fruitful" political dialogue between Athens and Ankara. According to a press report in the Turkish 'Milliyet' newspaper, the US will propose a package of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean when US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke visits the region soon.

    According to Milliyet, the CBMs include the setting up of a direct warning mechanism and dialogue system to prevent possible armed conflict, as a preliminary step to a final political settlement to the differences between the two countries. The CBMs would also promote the establishment of a continuous channel of dialogue between the prime ministers of the two countries, a sort of "red telephone line." Furthermore, the US-proposed CBMs call on the defense ministries and general staffs of both countries to take military measures that will minimize potential conflict between the two countries. The newspaper says that the US is willing to undertake a supervisory role in the region, with the approval of both sides.

    In another development in Turkey, the Turkish National Security Council decided to establish an "Aegean Committee" aiming at solving the Aegean issue and opening dialogue with Greece. The committee will comprise General Staff officials, defense ministry and navy officials and academics. The committee will focus on the issues relating to the agreements, centering on "ambiguities" and interpreting the term "neighboring islands," Turkish press sources said.

    Meanwhile, the academic staff at Ankara University denounced the Turkish mass media of "triggering war" to the Turkish media's watchdog organization.

    [13] PASOK supports Gov't handling

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    The ruling PASOK party Executive Bureau yesterday expressed support for the government's handling of the issue. "The recent crisis caused by the Turkish government is indicative of the aims and aspirations of Turkish expansionism. It confirms our permanent position that the threat to our country's integrity, sovereignty and security comes from the east," a statement said. "The Greek government faced the crisis by protecting the peace and without giving up any of our sovereign rights. We do not accept lessons in patriotism from those who led the country to dependence and subservience. "We wish to declare to all that any attempt at overthrowing the existing status quo in the Aegean will meet with our resolute opposition. We are ready to defend our sovereign rights determined by international law and international treaties in force with all means. No negotiations can take place or be imposed on the country concerning these indisputable rights, for which Greeks everywhere are, at any moment, ready to win the war if there is no other way."

    [14] Inner cabinet to convene for first time on Monday

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday announced the composition of the inner cabinet, which will meet for the first time on Monday.

    The inner cabinet will be made up of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis.

    Mr. Reppas said that Monday's meeting would focus on issues pertaining to national strategy, the sale of a small package of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) shares and the visit to Athens of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.

    [15] Vartholomeos, Kohl receive honorary degrees from Louvain university

    Brussels, 03/02/1996 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was awarded an honorary doctorate yesterday by Louvain University for his support of the European idea and his efforts to unite churches.

    German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was also awarded an honorary doctorate during the ceremony. Louvain University awards honorary doctorates to two personalities and two scientists every year. The ceremony was attended by Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, the president of the Belgian senate, former Belgian prime minister Leo Tindemans and European Commission President Jacques Santer. During his speech, the Patriarch stressed that brotherly co-operation between the churches is of particular importance for the unity of European peoples in a united Europe. He added that he is personally working towards that goal, and expressed his conviction that the process of European unification will not undermine the power of the Orthodox Church "if it truly seeks the 'safe' and the 'complete' as it ought to".

    The Turkish ambassador to Belgium held a dinner on Thursday night for the Ecumenical Patriarch, while he also attended a dinner held by Greek Ambassador to Belgium last night. The Patriarch is due to officially open a chapel in the Belgian Metropolis in Brussels today and will depart on Sunday.

    [16] New Austrian ambassador to Athens named

    Vienna, 03/02/1996 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Hans Sabaditsch is the new Austrian ambassador to Athens and Nicosia.

    Mr. Sabaditsch, a career diplomat, is due to present his credentials to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos during the next few days.

    He succeeds Georg Calice, who has been Austrian ambassador to Athens for the last five years and will now return to the foreign ministry in Vienna.

    Relations between Greece and Austria are particularly close and friendly, and have been marked over the past few years by Greece's support of Austria's entry into the European Union, with the final, and successful, negotiations being completed during the Greek presidency.

    Since January 1, 1995, when Austria became a member of the EU, new prospects have been created for the broadening of Greek-Austrian economic relations and closer co-operation in various sectors.

    [17] Unionists, employers fail to reach bridge differences on collective agreement

    Athens, 03/02/1996 (ANA)

    The third consecutive meeting between employers and unions over the 1996 national collective bargaining agreement ended in deadlock again yesterday.

    "We are nearing breaking point," said General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Protopapas after the meeting, while Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Jason Stratos said the institution of the agreement was likely in danger.

    SEB initially proposed two six-monthly 3 per cent increases, which GSEE rejected as out of the question, counter-proposing a 10 per cent increase.

    The Traders and Small Manufacturers Confederation (GSEBE) proposed two 4 per cent increases, which GSEE described as "interesting", causing the walk-out of Communist party affiliated unions, ESAK.

    A GSEE meeting next Tuesday is considered crucial for the future of negotiations. No date has been fixed for the next meeting between the two sides.

    End of English language section.

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