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A.N.A. Bulletin, 07/02/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 807), February 7, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Paris acknowledges Greek sovereignty of Imia islets, 'Greek borders are EU frontiers', official says

  • [2] The decision was supported by Eurodeputies who had voted in favor of the Turkish-EU customs union last December.

  • [3] Italy

  • [4] Austrian chancellor

  • [5] European Parliament foreign affairs c'tee

  • [6] Gov't acted to defend sovereign rights, Simitis tells PASOK MPs

  • [7] Reactions

  • [8] Pangalos, Arsenis speak to deputies

  • [9] ND disagrees with Gov't decision to not see Holbrooke

  • [10] Demarche handed to Boutros-Ghali

  • [11] Helicopter wreckage, crewmen's bodies found

  • [12] President's reception postponed

  • [13] Military leadership says three plans of action for Imia were discussed

  • [14] Opposition

  • [15] Coalition leader asks Stephanopoulos to convene meeting of political leaders

  • [16] Baykal: neither side happy with outcome of Imia incident

  • [17] Simitis visit to Papandreou postponed

  • [18] Slight increase in inflation for January

  • [19] Reppas comments on National Bank of Greece governor appointment


  • [1] Paris acknowledges Greek sovereignty of Imia islets, 'Greek borders are EU frontiers', official says

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's diplomatic offensive to get support from its EU partners over maintaining peace and the status quo in the Aegean, despite Turkish war-mongering following the stand-off over the Imia islets, got off to a positive start yesterday.

    France said yesterday that it unequivocally recognized Greece's sovereignty over the Imia islets, while Conservative and Labor party MPs in London signed a petition calling on the British government to uphold the integrity of the treaty recognizing Greek sovereignty.

    In Rome, a senior Italian government official said that the 1932 Italian-Turkish treaty settling the regime of the Dodecaneese island group was valid and remained in force.

    In Brussels, meanwhile, Greek Eurodeputies argued convincingly and got the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee to agree unanimously to tell next week's plenary session in Strasbourg that it considers the financial implementation of the customs union agreement with Turkey conditional on respect for human rights.

    [2] The decision was supported by Eurodeputies who had voted in

    favor of the Turkish-EU customs union last December. Paris, 07/02/1996 (ANA- J. Zitouniati)

    A senior French foreign ministry official told Greek charge d'affaires Frangiskos Verros that Greece's borders were the European Union's:

    "France clearly recognizes that Greek sovereignty over the islets is indisputable and that Greek arguments have a legal basis. It considers that Greece's borders are also the borders of the European Union, and that the EU must deal with this issue," Secretary-General of the French foreign ministry Claude Martin said.

    Mr. Verros briefed the French official on the issue of the islet disputed by Turkey, drawing particular attention to Monday's statements by Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller casting doubt on the Greek sovereignty of thousands of Greek islands and islets.

    Mr. Martin added that France had specific ideas on how the European Union could mediate and oversee a procedure for the prevention of similar situations in the Aegean in future.

    The Greek official stressed that any such procedure could not lead, directly or indirectly, to dialogue with Turkey when, as France recognized, Greek sovereignty was not in dispute.

    Finally, he stressed that behind the Turkish provocations, there was a permanent policy of disputing the status quo in the Aegean, as determined by the Lausanne (1923) and Paris (1947) peace treaties.

    [3] Italy

    Rome, 07/02/1996 (ANA- L. Hatzikyriakos)

    "The Italian-Turkish agreement of 1932, settling the regime of the Dodecaneese is valid and remains in force, but Rome does not wish to become involved in the Greek-Turkish dispute," the head of the Italian foreign ministry's press office Gabriele Menegati told the ANA yesterday.

    The 1932 agreement included a delineation of territorial waters east of the islet of Imia. The Dodecaneese island complex was ceded to Greece by Italy in 1947.

    The Italian official added that there was "full continuity in the international agreements signed by the fascist Italy of that era and today's democratic Italy," citing the Latin phrase "Pacta sunt servanta".

    In London, British MPs submitted an early day motion in the House of Commons calling on John Major's government to ensure the upholding of international agreements on the sovereignty of Greek islands in the Dodecaneese.

    The initiative to submit the motion was taken by MPs Ian Twinn and Eddie O'Hara, and has already been signed by six Conservative and four Labor party MPs, with at least another 100 MPs expected to join the petition.

    In the motion, the MPs expressed "grave concern" over Ankara's claims regarding the Imia islets, and note that the agreement signed in 1932 between Italy and Turkey solved the problem of sovereignty in the Dodecaneese region.

    They added that sovereignty was handed over to Greece in the Paris Treaty of 1947. "We call on Her Majesty's Government to ensure these international treaties will be upheld and respected by all nations, for the sake of peace in the region," the motion says.

    [4] Austrian chancellor

    Vienna, 07/02/1996 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    On the occasion of the recent Aegean crisis over the islet of Imia, Austrian Chancellor Frantz Vranitzky insinuated to the ANA that NATO is incapable of solving differences between two member-countries.

    He also expressed his wish to hold discussions with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the important issue of the European Union's borders.

    In his statements to ANA, Mr. Vranitzky stressed that at a time when in Austria, various circles (upholding Austria's entry into NATO) speak of the alliance's "wonderful functioning", the episode of Imia proves once again that in a conflict between two member-countries, the mediation of a third member-country is needed.

    Referring to the idea of Greek borders constituting EU borders, Mr. Vranitzky stressed he himself is the leader of an EU member-state situated on the external Union borders. "Austria, like Greece, is in a different position to other EU countries, which are surrounded only by EU member states," he said.

    He added that he considers this matter to have, fundamentally, greater dimensions than the issue of the rocky islets in the Aegean.

    [5] European Parliament foreign affairs c'tee

    Brussels, 07/02/1996 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee will declare at next week's plenary session in Strasbourg that it considers the financial implementation of the customs union agreement with Turkey to be conditional on respect for human rights.

    At the same time, it will address a letter to this effect to the Foreign Economic Relations Committee.

    The decision was taken unanimously yesterday and supported by Eurodeputies who had supported the ratification of customs union last December.

    PASOK Eurodeputy Yiannis Roubatis said the Council of Ministers was acting unacceptably in refusing to accept the European Parliament's active participation in all phases of the special financial aid to Turkey, anticipated in the customs union agreement.

    He called on the Foreign Affairs Committee to demand an immediate and continuous briefing for the European Parliament on the state of human and minority rights in Turkey.

    Moreover, he said, it should demand that the agreement on financial protocols to Turkey should not be accepted unless these basic preconditions were met.

    New Democracy Eurodeputy Panayiotis Lambrias said the financial implementation of customs union with Turkey irreversibly necessitated respect for the entire spectrum of human rights and Turkey's behavior in line with law, being a state of justice, both on its home front and in the international community.

    He said the European Parliament should reaffirm and consolidate this political position and demand from the Council of Ministers to render it active in regulations concerning the financing of Turkey, through the suspension of relevant programmes when Turkey's contempt of its basic commitments was ascertained.

    Mr. Lambrias invoked Turkey's repeated "acts of audacity" immediately after the upgrading of its relations with unified Europe, which heightened with the dramatic incident on Imia and threatened peace in the Aegean, while Turkish provocations continued with threatening statements by Turkey's caretaker prime minister.

    He said the Council of Ministers should realize at last that Turkish designs not only dealt a blow at Greek-Turkish relations but also harmed the entire European Union and threatened its external borders.

    [6] Gov't acted to defend sovereign rights, Simitis tells PASOK MPs

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday told ruling PASOK deputies that the government's decisions during last week's stand-off with Turkey in the Aegean had been taken to defend the country's sovereign rights "and not negotiate that which has been conclusively settled by international law."

    The prime minister said Greece "neither claimed nor granted anything, but neither provoked or backed down".

    Greece, he said, should respond decisively in "this present transitional period of both great opportunities and grave dangers".

    Mr. Simitis said the question which had to be answered during the crisis was whether Greece would enter a generalized confrontation or disengage military forces.

    He said a confrontation could have lead to open conflict which, even if the result was victorious, would mean negotiations with the Turks and whose content and extent would depend on the magnitude and extent of the confrontation.

    Mr. Simitis said that a powerful Greece would not be created solely on the battlefields, but by respect for human life, support of the economy, the avoidance of disasters, showing resolution, prudence, calm and flexibility to the international community , as well as the capability of a long-term strategy.

    Referring to the mayor of the island of Kalymnos, whose unilateral decision to raise the Greek flag on the neighboring islet of Imia precipitated the Turkish reaction, the prime minister said a mayor could not set out a country's foreign policy.

    Mr. Simitis did not conceal his annoyance at the fact that on the night of the crisis, European partners did not show support for Greece, but conceded that the government's handling was not as satisfactory as it should have been.

    Greece's position, he said, should have been presented in a more convincing manner, been more comprehensive.

    On the question of the process to be followed at yesterday's Parliamentary Group meeting, Mr. Simitis said the discussion would be worthy of the occasion, free, prudent and serious.

    He said the government was not a Simitis government but a PASOK government. He said it was a government of all, adding that harm being done was not being done to him personally but to PASOK.

    Mr. Simitis said the government was a government of continuity, but at the same time a government of change and renewal.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that Mr. Simitis clarified to the parliamentary group that if the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) had decided last Tuesday night to opt for conflict rather than disengagement, the Cabinet would have been convened to take the relevant decision.

    Mr. Reppas reiterated that KYSEA's decision for disengagement had been unanimous, adding "we are not in general and vaguely against war, which is necessary if you cannot solve problems by other means."

    Mr. Reppas announced that the inner Cabinet would meet next week to discuss defense policy issues, adding that the government was examining the issue of the formation of a foreign policy council.

    He also reiterated Mr. Simitis' statements concerning the establishment of a council of Balkan countries and the formation of a planning body to handle emergency situations and confirmed that the government would undertake a diplomatic offensive.

    During the next few days, Mr. Reppas said, details would be announced concerning Mr. Simitis' trip to European countries, while it had not yet been decided if the prime minister will visit the United States.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Reppas said that the government was concerned by the fact that the European Union had not undertaken any major initiative during the latest Greek-Turkish crisis.

    The conclusion, he said, is that Greece does not have a strong presence "nor has it gained the appropriate position within the framework of the EU."

    Mr. Reppas rejected the proposal of Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras for the formation of a government of national unity, saying such proposals were aimed at creating an impression and failed to address the real problem.

    Asked about Mr. Simitis' expression of thanks to the US and the cancellation of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's visit to Athens, Mr. Reppas replied that the thanks were extended "in the sense that the US was a useful third party," while Mr. Holbrooke's visit had been canceled "for technical reasons."

    Asked whether Greece intended to impose sanctions on Turkey, Mr. Reppas said that "interventionary influence" would be exercised in the EU "so that the funds of the finance protocol flow to Ankara subject to conditions."

    The government spokesman said the prime minister will hold a meeting tomorrow with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left and Progress leader, Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday.

    "With unity, collective work and consensus we will achieve positive developments, not just for PASOK but for the entire country," Mr. Reppas said.

    He added that "we seek to create a new political vision from which both we and the Greek people will derive inspiration in order to achieve the goal of the powerful Greece."

    [7] Reactions

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Addressing the Parliamentary Group, Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that the recent Greek-Turkish crisis over the Imia islet was a planned move for escalation (of tensions) to force Greece to change its policy.

    "The issue has not closed," he said. "It has just opened."

    Mr. Skandalidis said a European orientation was part of Greece's national strategy, adding that "certain alliances must be de-mystified".

    He added that the "doctrine of 'we seek nothing we give away nothing' is not enough".

    "We seek every inalienable Greek right," he said.

    Addressing the Group, deputy and former European affairs minister George Mangakis lashed out against Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis, saying that they should have exhibited "political sensitivity" an d that transferring responsibility to the military leadership "is morally and politically unacceptable."

    Deputy Yiannis Haralambopoulos accused the government of not showing decisiveness on the military level.

    He said he supported the settlement of the crisis via diplomatic channels, adding that during the crisis the government should have convened the Political Leaders Council.

    Another PASOK deputy, Nikos Galanos, said the appointment of Mr. Pangalos as foreign minister was a mistake "since Mr. Pangalos has different views, which he expressed publicly, on national issues, such as the Skopje issue."

    Deputy Ioannis Skoularikis called "a contradiction in terms" the fact that the prime minister was extending thanks publicly to the United States, while not accepting the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke to Greece.

    Deputy Nikos Sifounakis said some of the government's handling were accompanied by "childish mistakes," while deputy Stelios Papathemelis called for the establishment of a national strategy body, similar to the US National Security Council, and the establishment of a body to counter Turkish propaganda.

    Deputy Antonis Drosoyiannis supported the government's handling of the crisis, saying that he would inform Mr. Simitis of the close relations between the Kalymnos mayor, who originally raised the Greek flag on the islet, with a top government official.

    "He is responsible for the acuteness of the crisis," he said.

    [8] Pangalos, Arsenis speak to deputies

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told the deputies that there was a qualitative difference in the most recent Turkish threats, stressing that until now Turkey had contested control of FIR in the Aegean, while now it was now proceeding with territorial claims, even if it is only over a rocky islet.

    In his speech, National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis stressed that the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense took the decision to defuse the crisis in full knowledge that the withdrawal of the flag had not been brought up as an issue.

    In closing, Mr. Simitis said the party's unity had been demonstrated by the discussion. He added that the discussion, in which some expected dissension and differences to be a primary feature, had been characterized by mutual respect between members, as well as by the attempt at a common course. The meeting ended late last night.

    [9] ND disagrees with Gov't decision to not see Holbrooke

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert yesterday expressed disagreement with the government's decision not to see US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who Monday canceled a planned visit to the region later this month.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Monday that Mr. Holbrooke's visit to Athens was "not possible at the present time" since the proposed date of the visit "conflicts with other obligations" of the Greek government.

    Mr. Holbrooke had said, after the Imia islet incident, that he would be coming to Athens and Ankara to discuss the Greek-Turkish crisis.

    Mr. Evert told reporters before a meeting of his party's Executive Committee that "Greece has nothing to fear and is obliged to invite all foreign (officials) - Europeans and Americans - and explain its positions to them."

    The ND president elaborated on his party positions regarding the Greek-Turkish crisis in a meeting later yesterday with the Italian Ambassador to Athens.

    Italy is the current holder of EU's rotating presidency.

    Meanwhile, Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras called on the government yesterday to seek an extraordinary EU summit meeting "to acknowledge that Greek borders are also European Union borders."

    "This is the only response, but we must act quickly and not wait for the inter-governmental conference, at which other matters will also be discussed," Mr. Samaras said on arrival at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport. Mr. Samaras, who repeated his call f or a national unity government, said in reply to questions on the postponement of the Holbrooke visit that it was necessary for the US "to receive a message, because Mr. Holbrooke and US foreign policy know very well that Greece is right."

    [10] Demarche handed to Boutros-Ghali

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    At the United Nations, Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Christos Zacharakis, handed a Greek government demarche to the UN Chief Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

    The demarche refers to Turkey's caretaker prime minister Tansu Ciller's provocative statements as well as Ankara's recent reinforcement of the occupation troops in Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, the World Council of Overseas Hellenism announced yesterday that president Andrew Athens' scheduled arrival in Athens last night had been postponed due to adverse weather conditions in the United States.

    The visit is to be re-scheduled most likely for the weekend.

    Mr. Athens' programme included talks on issues of concern to Greeks throughout the world, including the recent Greek-Turkish crisis, according to sources.

    During his visit, Mr. Athens will be received by the president and meet with the prime minister, the foreign ministry leadership and the president of Parliament.

    He was also due to go to Istanbul on February 19 to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    [11] Helicopter wreckage, crewmen's bodies found

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    The bodies of the two missing crew of the helicopter which crashed into the Aegean wreck near the islet of Imia last week were found yesterday when naval vessels located the wreck near the islet.

    The vessels "Thetis" and "Pytheas" located the wreck three miles northwest of Imia, at a depth of 95 meters.

    An underwater camera revealed that two of the three crew members were in the wreckage. The body of the pilot was found last week.

    Efforts were underway to raise the helicopter.

    [12] President's reception postponed

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    A scheduled reception today by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos for the armed forces and security forces has been postponed. An announcement by the president's office cited the discovery of the remains of a navy helicopter with the bodies of two officers on board as the reason for the postponement. In the statement, President Stephanopoulos says the cancellation is "an expression of the Greek people's deep sadness for the loss of the three brave Hellenic Navy officers."

    The reception was re-scheduled for February 19.

    [13] Military leadership says three plans of action for Imia were discussed

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    A national defense general staff announcement yesterday said three plans of action were discussed last week by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) after it was reported that Turkish soldiers had landed on a tiny islet in the Imia chain.

    In response to a press report in the Sunday paper "To Vima" that General Staff chief Admiral Christos Lymberis supposedly told Prime Minister Costas Simitis during the height of the crisis that chances for the rocky islet's recapture were "minimal," the

    National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) replied that three plans existed and were discussed.

    Specifically, the military said the options included immediately ordering a nearby navy vessel to fire on the Turkish commandos or wait for daybreak before commencing aerial bombing of the islet. The announcement said both options were rejected with the reasoning that they could lead to wider armed conflict.

    A third option called for the use of Greek special forces to oust the Turks.

    Asked how long such an operation would take, Admiral Lymberis said three hours or more, depending on the location of a vessel transporting the unit from the island of Kos, according to the military's report. The joint chiefs chairman also said the special forces could not be transported in 45 minutes, in reply to a question during the early morning crisis.

    Finally, the announcement stated that the islet's possible recapture was included in the military's planning.

    [14] Opposition

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, in a written statement yesterday, main opposition New Democracy's national defense parliamentary oversight committee accused Admiral Lymberis of publicizing secret military information.

    "Anger and a deep sense of sadness have overtaken every Greek citizen concerning the government and the country's military leadership," the ND announcement said, and adds that Mr. Simitis' prestige cannot be restored even with Admiral Lymberis' replacement.

    Political Spring party representative Notis Martakis said yesterday that the publication of conversation and positions regarding national defense was "unacceptable and outrageous".

    [15] Coalition leader asks Stephanopoulos to convene meeting of political leaders

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday met with President Kostis Stephanopoulos to ask for his intervention in bringing together all political forces to agree on a common policy to deal with national issues.

    During the meeting, Mr. Constantopoulos expressed concern over the lack of planning and strategy in the handling of national issues.

    He also criticized opposition parties of creating a negative framework for the handling of national issues and was also critical of the government's refusal to establish a foreign policy council and convene a party leaders council.

    Referring to the cancellation of US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke's visit to Greece, he said: "The real issue is not who is coming to Greece, but what the Greek government is going to support and how it will defend our positions."

    He said he was opposed to potential US arbitration for a solution to Greek-Turkish disputes.

    The Coalition leader also turned down a proposal by Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras asking for the formation of a national unity government.

    [16] Baykal: neither side happy with outcome of Imia incident

    Istanbul, 07/02/1996 (ANA-A.Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal referred to the Imia incident as "artificial tension" emanating from the fact that "neither side is satisfied by the outcome of the crisis."

    Addressing the parliamentary group of the Republican People's Party (CHP), Mr. Baykal called on Greece to contribute to "the normalization of the situation in the Aegean."

    "We are making efforts to normalize the situation in the Aegean and we hope that Greece is doing the same," he said.

    Mr. Baykal said a final settlement should be found to the recent crisis, adding that "a solution must (also) be found for the disputed sovereignty of the islets and rocky islets."

    Meanwhile, the Turkish National Defense General Staff yesterday denied that chief of staff Haki Karantayi has sent a letter to his Greek counterpart.

    "There is no written or verbal message from the chief of staff," officials said in Ankara yesterday regarding Greek press reports that he has sent a letter to his Greek counterpart, Admiral Christos Lymberis.

    [17] Simitis visit to Papandreou postponed

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Yesterday's planned visit by Prime Minister Costas Simitis to PASOK president Andreas Papandreou at the Onassion hospital was postponed, as doctors considered that the patient needed to rest due to fever.

    [18] Slight increase in inflation for January

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Inflation rose to 8.4 per cent at the end of January compared to 8.1 per cent at the end of December, according to figures released today by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).

    ESYE said that the consumer price index (CPI) fell by just 0.1 per cent in January, compared to a 0.4 per cent drop the previous month.

    January prices were influenced by a 1.6 per cent increase in foodstuffs and a 2.2 per cent rise in alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. Increases were also recorded in the indices for transport and communications, fuel, insurance and housing.

    The price of clothing and footwear dropped, mainly due to the winter sales.

    The ESYE does not foresee a drop in inflation in February, without ruling out a slight increase.

    [19] Reppas comments on National Bank of Greece governor appointment

    Athens, 07/02/1996 (ANA)

    Commenting yesterday on the replacement of George Mirkos by Theodoros Karatzas as governor of the National Bank of Greece, announced Monday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the decisions for such changes were made by the prime minister in consultation with the competent ministers. He refused to comment on reports that Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had disagreed with the move.

    Meanwhile, the union of banking employees (OTOE) said in a statement yesterday that at a time when the country was facing many and complex problems, which could deeply affect the economy, "stability and co-operation is needed at a political and social level, securing the successful dealing with dangers and the development of the economy with social sensitivity and prospects".

    It called on the government and the national economy minister in particular for dialogue on questions regarding the criteria for the selection of bank governors, procedures for the evaluation of their work, and the securing of continuity in a competitive environment.

    End of English language section.

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