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A.N.A. Bulletin, 06/02/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 806), February 6, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address:


  • [1] Athens goes on diplomatic offensive, Holbrooke cancels visit to the region

  • [2] Opposition reactions

  • [3] Holbrooke cancels visit, meets George Papandreou

  • [4] Evert: Ankara a destabilizing factor in the region

  • [5] Ciller: Turkey prepared in advance for recent stand-off over Imia

  • [6] Turkish workers want peace, friendship with Greeks, labor leader says

  • [7] Papoutsis: EU will not accept violations

  • [8] Iakovos calls on US to put values before interests

  • [9] Clerides to see Simitis, Stephanopoulos during Athens visit

  • [10] Greece protests Turkish attack on fishing boats

  • [11] Papandreou spends birthday in hospital but outlook positive

  • [12] Premier to visit Papandreou tonight

  • [13] Simitis meets with Parliamentary Group presidium

  • [14] Executive Bureau

  • [15] Papadopoulos finds understanding of Greek positions at Davos

  • [16] Diplomats in Tirana for talks

  • [17] US experts visit Athens airport

  • [18] Theodoros Karatzas named new National Bank governor

  • [19] OTE share float imminent, Simitis says

  • [20] Current accounts balance in the red

  • [21] Stolen Mycenaen treasure returns home

  • [1] Athens goes on diplomatic offensive, Holbrooke cancels visit to the region

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's visit to Athens was not possible at the present time and said Athens would be launching a diplomatic campaign to gain the support of Greece's NATO allies and EU partners.

    The prime minister said Mr. Holbrooke's visit was not possible since the proposed date of the visit conflicted with other obligations of the Greek government.

    In Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Holbrooke said he was postponing his planned visit to the region.

    "However, there will be other meetings between Greek and US officials," Mr. Simitis told reporters after an Inner Cabinet meeting.

    "I wish to note that there will be other contacts between Greece and the United States, between Greek ministers and US secretaries," Mr. Simitis said, noting President Kostis Stephanopoulos' forthcoming official visit to the US in May.

    Mr. Simitis added that there was a possibility of his visiting the United States, accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. In the event that his visit would not be made possible, Mr. Simitis said Mr. Pangalos would visit the United States.

    Mr. Simitis said a diplomatic campaign "in order to establish a better relationship" was of prime necessity.

    "We believe that we will be able to formulate a better climate... in order to ensure a much greater support during potential future conflicts, incidents and disputes," he added.

    The prime minister said that despite some positive displays from the EU, Greece's NATO allies and EU partners kept equal distances from Greece and Turkey concerning the Imia incident.

    "They were reluctant in recognizing our (sovereign) rights and in supporting us decisively," Mr. Simitis said, adding that this climate should change.

    "We must win their support with arguments and action," Mr. Simitis said.

    In the next few weeks, he added, the government will focus on re-establishing "close contact" with its NATO allies and EU partners. "Averting future crises is based on co-operation and alliances and it is such co-operation and alliances we must promote. It should be made clear to all that Greece is present."

    Mr. Simitis said that he will visit Italy, the current holder of the EU rotating presidency and the EU Commission in Brussels. His programme also includes Bonn, Paris and London, while Mr. Pangalos will also launch a diplomatic campaign on the remaining European capitals.

    He said, however, that the EU's noted "distance" from Greece during the recent Aegean crisis, was due to "a non-active presence by Greece in the formulation of EU's political developments."

    "We must participate more," the prime minister said. "We must give our views on EU concerns and assume an active role."

    According to Mr. Simitis, the European Union "feels that Greece is keeping its distance."

    "Therefore, (EU partners) they believe they too could keep their distance," he said.

    Turning to the Aegean crisis, Mr. Simitis said it brought to the surface the need for a body to plan foreign and national defense policies and deal with crises.

    He further announced the decision of the Inner Cabinet to establish a secretariat to deal with long-term foreign policy planning and the handling of crises.

    Referring to EU-Turkish relations, Mr. Simitis said the Inner Cabinet decided to "examine Greece's position towards Turkey, based on the specific issues, and in the framework of the EU."

    He also said Greece would promote the idea of a Balkan Council.

    Concluding, Mr. Simitis said that at the forthcoming EU inter-governmental conference (IGC), Greece will defend "the recognition of EU borders and the mutual assistance clause so that our borders will be secured."

    Mr. Simitis also said that Mr. Pangalos, in order to expand dialogue with all Greek political parties, would continuously inform the permanent parliamentary committee on foreign affairs.

    Speaking to reporters following the end of the Inner Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that Greece will undertake all the necessary initiatives to expose Turkey's aggression in light of a condition in the EU-Turkish customs union calling for the necessity for relations of good neighborliness.

    Mr. Reppas said Greece would use all available means to pursue this cause, stressing the high level of Greek-US relations.

    Mr. Reppas said contacts between Greece and the United States will continue.

    He reiterated Greece's position on its sovereign right to expand its territorial waters to 12 miles in the Aegean.

    He added that the Imia islets were within the borders of the Greek sovereign territory, saying that anyone who chose to visit or live on the islets would have no problem doing so.

    In relation to an incident Saturday evening, during which a Turkish coast guard ship fired machine gun rounds against two Greek fishing vessels, Mr. Reppas said the foreign ministry had taken "all necessary action" in order to protest.

    He said the government did not see the Saturday incident as an escalation of the crisis between Greece and Turkey, but said that "it does not ignore the fact that such incidents are taking place during a critical period."

    "The government analyses such incidents and makes its conclusions," he added.

    [2] Opposition reactions

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Reacting to Prime Minister Costas Simitis' statements yesterday, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Vassilis Manginas accused the government of "administering to its internal crisis" and said that the prime minister should visit foreign capital s now and not in a few weeks' time.

    He said that what was necessary was a prompt reply, calm and decisive, by the prime minister himself to provocative statements by Turkish caretaker premier Tansu Ciller and "not colorless statements revealing indecision."

    In a similar statement, Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras accused the prime minister of political hypocrisy for remaining silent in the face of Ms Ciller's statements and for "pretending" to be displeased with the US and Mr. Holbrooke, forgetting the public thanks he addressed them. He also criticized Mr. Simitis for refusing to convene the Council of Political Leaders.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that in essence the government was "caressing" those responsible for the crisis, falsely claiming that they kept equal distances, while it was known that both NATO and the European Union had responsibilities in the crisis.

    The KKE also said that the right to defend national sovereignty and independence was not safeguarded by Brussels but, rather, endangered since it had been proved that the EU did not guarantee them and had an interest in a change in the postwar border status.

    An announcement by the Coalition of the Left and Progress said the government's position was inexplicable on the issue of convening the Council of Political Leaders, adding that the country's necessary diplomatic campaign required a clear policy and maximum domestic understanding.

    [3] Holbrooke cancels visit, meets George Papandreou

    Davos, Switzerland 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs Richard Holbrooke has canceled his scheduled visit to Athens and Ankara.

    After a meeting with Greek Education Minister George Papandreou yesterday, where both are attending the World Economic Forum, Mr. Holbrooke said: "We have decided on our own that this is not an opportune time for us to visit the region because of the f act that there is no government in Turkey, number one. We had expected that there would be a government in Turkey, and they are still trying to form it."

    He added that the trip had also been canceled "because of the general heightened tensions in the area and, finally, because I have some follow-up work to do as a result of the trip Secretary of State (Warren) Christopher and I just took to Bosnia and Belgrade and Zagreb. And so I'm going to stay in central Europe and re-schedule my trip at a later day.

    "Minister (George) Papandreou and I have just had a very good discussion and I look forward to visiting my friends in Greece at some other time," Mr. Holbrooke concluded.

    [4] Evert: Ankara a destabilizing factor in the region

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert yesterday stressed Ankara's destabilizing role in the region, adding there should be no doubt that Turkey held claims on the Greek islands.

    "No one in Europe or the United States is justified in harboring delusions regarding Turkey's intentions towards Greece, as Ankara is for the first time putting forward claims on Greek islands, actively confirming its dangerous role of destabilizing factor in the region," he said yesterday.

    In a statement apparently prompted by US and European Union recommendations for dialogue with Turkey, Mr. Evert said:

    "Dialogue is naturally the best means for resolving differences between states, but not (for) arbitrary claims on the territorial integrity of a country."

    Greece, he added, had proved its respect for international law and its desire for peace, and he warned Ankara "not to forget the tragic fate of all those who harbored designs on foreign territory and rights, and especially (not to forget) Greek history ."

    Turkey, he said, should "be aware that the Greek people, united, have the determination and strength to defend our country's integrity, and this has been proved by Greek history."

    Mr. Evert held a meeting with US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles focusing on recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations after the Imia incident.

    Today, he will meet with the Italian Ambassador to Athens, while ND officials are planning to visit the United States to brief and mobilize the members of the Greek community on developments in Greek-Turkish relations.

    Meanwhile, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga told a press conference that dialogue between the two countries would be possible "only if Turkey proclaims respect of the borders and sovereign rights in the Aegean."

    Ms Papariga called for Greece's recourse to international organizations, demanding they take a specific stand regarding respect of international law.

    She also called on the Greek government to shut down the US base in Souda, Crete and refuse Greece's participation in NATO's multinational force in Bosnia.

    Ms Papariga said that Greece was effectively isolated despite its membership in various alliances, and called on the government and people to "resist the allied choices" which would then give the country a new dynamic that would have popular support.

    She blamed the US as having essentially caused the crisis in the Aegean, and disagreed with those who said that Greece had suffered a national humiliation in the Imia incident.

    Ms Papariga further expressed displeasure over the presence "for some months now, of an American warship in the Aegean, which has given no explanations on its presence here."

    [5] Ciller: Turkey prepared in advance for recent stand-off over Imia

    Istanbul, 06/02/1996 (ANA- A.Kourkoulas)

    In statements to the daily Hurriyet yesterday, Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller admitted that her country had been preparing for two months before last week's Greek-Turkish crisis to raise an issue concerning is lets and islands in the Aegean, and that this process was still in progress.

    "Turkey is preparing to raise an issue concerning the regime of these islets, we are preparing 3,000 files for 3,000 islands.

    "This preparation began two months before the Kardak (Imia) crisis...

    "Until now, Turkey subconsciously accepted that these islets in practice belonged to Greece. We shall change this ... We also have rights in these islands, and we shall raise this in a diplomatic campaign," she was quoted as saying.

    An intelligence service official, meanwhile, claimed yesterday that Syria and Greece were colluding to undermine Turkey.

    "Greece and Syria want to weaken Turkey through artificial crises," he said, adding that "the two countries, on the basis of the agreement they have, now and then create crises with Turkey".

    The Turkish Press Council, a body set up by media proprietors and journalists to protect ethics, has accepted that the Turkish journalists who raised the flag on the Imia islet last month which precipitated the crisis "exceeded the limits of their duty, " but rejected the view that "the incident constituted an incitement to violence and stirring of passions," as "they aimed solely to defend Turkey's legitimate rights". Earlier, the academic staff of Ankara University had accused much of the Turkish media of "incitement to war".

    In a statement before the cancellation of Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's visit to Ankara yesterday, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel welcomed the "friendly efforts" for a start to a Greek-Turkish dialogue.

    "We believe that problems with Greece can only be solved through dialogue. For this reason, we are facing with satisfaction the friendly efforts undertaken for a start to Greek-Turkish dialogue," he said.

    [6] Turkish workers want peace, friendship with Greeks, labor leader says

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Turkish workers want friendly relations with Greece and peace in the region, a senior Turkish labor leader said on Greek radio yesterday.

    Bayram Meral, president of the Turkish general confederation of workers TURK-IS, said in an exclusive interview on '94.1 Epikinonia' radio station that "the Turkish and Greek people want peace and friendship in our region".

    "The Turkish workers are interested in their everyday problems but also in the level of Greek-Turkish relations, which we want to be friendly relations," Mr. Meral said. "We do not like war, nor those who have pro-war perceptions."

    "The Greeks are neighbors, friends, there is no problem among our peoples. If our governments have problems, let them solve them," he said.

    Mr. Meral said Turkish workers had lost many of their rights from the 1980 "military intervention in the political life of our country", and had struggled since to regain them and "acquire our rights to freedom of speech and thought... (and) the economic rights of the working people".

    [7] Papoutsis: EU will not accept violations

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greek EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said yesterday that the European Union would accept neither the violation of Greece's sovereign rights nor the violation of international treaties by Turkey.

    Mr. Papoutsis also referred to the illegal military occupation of 40 per cent of Cyprus, adding that practices followed by Turkey were distancing it from Europe.

    "The Turkish leadership must not forget that it is accountable to international organizations for the continuing illegal military occupation of 40 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and for the continuing violation of human rights in Turkey," he said.

    Mr. Papoutsis said it was evident that nationalist hysteria in Turkey over the past few days, threats and expansionist designs against Greece would preoccupy the European Union.

    "Moreover, I believe that these practices are not in line with the Turkish leadership's commitments towards the European Union in light of the customs union," he said.

    [8] Iakovos calls on US to put values before interests

    New York, 06/02/1996 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos bitterly criticized US foreign policy on Sunday and called on Washington to change its course in light of last week's Imia crisis.

    "Enough of promises and other announcements about peace, justice and equality of peoples. There is a need for America, being the only remaining power in the world, to demonstrate its strength concerning human and moral values and not just policies governed by interests. It is time to change direction, one which will be more self-respecting, more American, more honorable and more international," the Archbishop said.

    Iakovos was speaking to the press regarding Washington's role in last week's Aegean crisis at a "Day of Hellenic Letters" celebration in the Astoria district of New York City.

    Asked to respond to a comment in his speech in which he referred to US foreign policy as "wretched," in light of the recent Imia incident, he said:

    "I do consider it wretched, because American policy needs to recover, after so many tribulations that we Greek-Americans have suffered on the Cyprus issue, as well as on the issues of Constantinople, Imvros, Tenedos etc. We must remember that, of all human values, moral values and principles come first."

    Asked if he believes US President Bill Clinton was pro-Turkish, he added:

    "Mr. Clinton is simply an American friend and follows the policy of interests, which he learned very well from the English and other allies in Europe."

    Iakovos stated that he believes the Greek government did not properly handle the situation over Imia because "every government should have in mind the wretched Turkish foreign policy, which all these years has betrayed everything that is American, democratic, human and free."

    Responding to an observation that the expatriate community in the United States often takes a different position on national issues from the Greek government, as well as what stance the Greek community in the states should take during this November's presidential elections, the Archbishop stated:

    "First of all, of course, I do not want the expatriate community's stance and actions to be connected with the Greek or US government. We are intelligent enough; we have enough educated individuals among us; we have a new generation, born and raised here, and we must prove that we have our own entity and existence."

    The Archbishop also disputed a report that he will visit the White House next Sunday, saying he has not been invited.

    [9] Clerides to see Simitis, Stephanopoulos during Athens visit

    Nicosia, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides is due in Athens tomorrow for talks with President of the Republic Kostis Ste-phanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday.

    Mr. Clerides will invite Mr. Simitis to officially visit Cyprus on a date to be specified during their meeting on Thursday, Cyprus government spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    President Clerides is also due to meet with party leaders during his visit to Athens.

    He will return to Cyprus on Saturday.

    Meanwhile, former Cyprus president George Vassiliou, speaking at a Free Democrats Movement conference, praised the Greek government's decision to avoid war during the recent crisis in Greek-Turkish relations as "a wise move".

    Cypriot Liberal Party President Nikos Rolandis also expressed his appreciation at the Greek government's decision in an open letter to Mr. Simitis. In the letter, he says the Greek stance safeguarded national interests and avoided a destructive war.

    [10] Greece protests Turkish attack on fishing boats

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday made a strongly-worded demarche with the Turkish Embassy in Athens after a Turkish coast guard vessel fired at two Greek fishing vessels sailing in Greek waters off the coast of Alexandroupolis on Saturday evening.

    [11] Papandreou spends birthday in hospital but outlook positive

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Former prime minister Andreas Papandreou celebrated his 77th birthday yesterday in hospital but doctors said is his condition continues to steadily improve he may be allowed to return home at the end of the month. The founder and leader of the ruling PASOK party has been in hospital since November 20.

    A medical bulletin issued by the Onassion Centre said Mr. Papandreou had presented a slight fever, attributed to minor surgery last week to close a tracheotomy. Doctors said they were not worried about the fever, adding that a fistula was implanted in h is arm to facilitate dialysis and limit the risk of infection.

    Mr. Papandreou has been breathing on his own without the aid of a respirator for five consecutive days since the temporary closure of the tracheotomy, and doctors said if this continued for the next couple of days the tracheotomy would be permanently sealed.

    A CAT-scan performed on Sunday showed no new concentration of pleuretic liquid in Mr. Papandreou's left lung and only a small quantity in his right lung, which does not seem to worry his physicians.

    Mr. Papandreou was visited yesterday by several members of his party to wish him a happy birthday, while dozens of bouquets and telegrams also arrived at the hospital.

    Hundreds of telegrams wishing the former prime minister a speedy recovery and a happy birthday arrived at the hospital yesterday.

    Mr. Papandreou was visited yesterday morning by EU commissioner Christos Papoutsis, PASOK deputy Alexandros Akrivakis and PASOK Executive Bureau member Manolis Daskalakis.

    During the course of the evening yesterday, those visiting Mr. Papandreou included the members of the PASOK Parliamentary Group and Press Minister Dimitris Reppas, who attended a small informal birthday party held in his hospital room last night.

    [12] Premier to visit Papandreou tonight

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit PASOK president Andreas Papandreou at the Onassion hospital at 8:30 this evening.

    [13] Simitis meets with Parliamentary Group presidium

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with the presidium of PASOK's Parliamentary Group in Parliament last night. Procedural matters in view of today's Parliamentary Group meeting, and its preparation, were discussed.

    [14] Executive Bureau

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that the government's handling of the recent crisis with Turkey was not discussed during a meeting yesterday of PASOK's Executive Bureau.

    "On the contrary, we discussed the political judgments of each of us arising from the events, with the aim of contributing in the best possible way," Mr. Skandalidis said during a press briefing after the meeting. "Party bodies do not judge, but contribute with their views to the best application of policies."

    Mr. Skandalidis stressed that party bodies were facing an important week, as the Parliamentary Group is to meet today, while the prime minister will brief the Executive Bureau on Wednesday and the Central Committee will convene on the weekend.

    Neither National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis nor former foreign minister Karolos Papoulias attended the Executive Bureau meeting.

    [15] Papadopoulos finds understanding of Greek positions at Davos

    Davos, Switzerland, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    A delegation of Greek businessmen and diplomats, headed by Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and Education Minister George Papandreou, had a series of meetings on national issues on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here yesterday.

    In an interview with Greek Television Channel 1, Mr. Papadopoulos said he found it encouraging that participants were willing to consider the recent Greek-Turkish crisis "not as one resulting from a difference over a small rock in the Aegean, but reflecting most important issues related to Greek sovereignty". He conceded, however, that this initial positive stand, required time until it was transformed into official positions of countries.

    Referring to other matters, he stressed that Greece ought to follow, "in the most decisive manner possible, the new course of globalization in the economy, otherwise it would be in danger of facing economic adventures not worthy of the Greek people".

    On the question of how far the adoption of a single foreign policy by the European Union would benefit Greece in future, Mr. Papadopoulos wondered to what extent such a policy would be the result of the balancing out of particular problems of member-states, and whether - especially in the case of a country not wielding a veto - it would mean the imposition of the views of the countries in the 'hard-core', which are now, and will obviously be in future, in hegemonic positions".

    [16] Diplomats in Tirana for talks

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Two high-ranking Greek diplomats leave for Tirana today for discussions on bilateral relations and the general situation in the region.

    The general director of the foreign ministry's political affairs division, Alexandros Filon, and Dimitris Kypraios, the director of the Balkan affairs section, will have talks at a general director's level with their Albanian counterparts.

    [17] US experts visit Athens airport

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    A group of US government Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) specialists arrived in Athens on Sunday in order to examine security issues related to Greek airports.

    The group is responsible for composing a report for Washington, which will determine whether the US federal government will issue a traveler's advisory.

    Sources said the committee's report, expected to be given to Greek officials on Friday, would be favorable.

    The same sources let it be understood that, compared to other airports in Europe, Athens' Hellenikon airport was among the safest.

    According to reports, processing of a presidential decree has been completed on a new security department for the civil aviation service which will be created and be accountable directly to the governor.

    Greece's civil aviation service has also addressed a letter to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), requesting training for selected members and their inclusion in a series of training programmes.

    In another letter, it calls on ICAO to have members participate in seminars underway as well as joint co-operation with major civil aviation services from other countries for staff exchanges aimed at training Greek personnel.

    [18] Theodoros Karatzas named new National Bank governor

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    The government yesterday named Theodoros Karatzas as the new governor of the National Bank of Greece.

    An announcement from the press ministry said the government thanked incumbent George Mirkos for the services he rendered during his tenure.

    Theodoros Karatzas was born in Athens in 1930 and has worked as a lawyer since 1955, specializing in international transactions, investments and shipping.

    In 1985 he served as Secretary-General at the national economy ministry. On December 15, 1988 he resigned his post as national economy under-secretary due to the political crisis following the Koskotas scandal.

    On September 14, 1995, Mr. Karatzas was appointed a member of the board of the company to be created to assume the exploitation of the Spata airport.

    A proposal on his appointment to the National Bank will be submitted to the relevant committee in Parliament.

    [19] OTE share float imminent, Simitis says

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    Part of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) shares will be floated on the Athens Stock Exchange, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters after a meeting of the Inner Cabinet yesterday. Mr. Simitis said a draft bill will be directly submitted to Parliament. He said 6 per cent of OTE shares are expected to be floated on the Athens Stock Exchange within the next three months.

    [20] Current accounts balance in the red

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    The current accounts balance show-ed a deficit of 3.3 billion dollars over the January-October period in 1995, following a surplus of 400 million dollars in the corresponding period in 1994.

    In October 1995, the current accounts deficit amounted to 651 million dollars, compared to a surplus of 163 million dollars in the corresponding month in the previous year.

    The deterioration is attributed to an increase of 3.1 billion dollars in the trade deficit, and a decrease by about 600 million dollars in invisibles.

    The shortfall also reflects the increase in the drachma parity against the dollar. Exchange reserves amounted to 15,672 million dollars at the end of October, an increase of 240 million dollars.

    According to the Bank of Greece, the widening in the trade deficit over the 10-month period in 1995 was the combined result of increased expenditure for imports (23.9 per cent) and a moderate increase in exports receipts (12.8 per cent).

    [21] Stolen Mycenaen treasure returns home

    Athens, 06/02/1996 (ANA)

    The 'Aidonia treasure', the priceless collection of stolen Mycenaen jewelry saved from being auctioned off in the US, arrived in Athens yesterday and were officially turned over to Greece in a ceremony at the National Archaeological Museum.

    The treasure, stolen from the Aidonia region near Corinth by antiquity smugglers in the 1970s, is made up of 308 artifacts, including 13 gold rings, cameos and other items of semi-precious stones. The treasure was destined for the auctioneer's hammer in 1993 when Greece filed a suit against the Michael Ward gallery in New York.

    Michael Ward, currently US President Bill Clinton's adviser on cultural matters, subsequently donated the collection to the Greek Heritage Protection Association in Washington following an out-of-court settlement with the Greek state.

    The association formally handed over the collection to Greece in Washington last week, where the collection was briefly exhibited before being sent to Greece.

    The 'Aidonia treasure' will go on show at the Archaeological Museum in Athens in two weeks' time, before it moves permanently to the Nemea Museum.

    Culture Minister Stavros Benos said during yesterday's ceremony that "the Aidonia, a symbol of the culture created by Mycenaeans in the second millennium B.C., have come home".

    The ceremony was also attended by main opposition New Democracy party MP Dora Bakoyanni, a former culture minister under whose term in office the legal battle to receive the stolen treasure began.

    End of English language section.

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