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A.N.A. Bulletin, 12/02/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 811), February 12, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] PASOK decides to hold extraordinary congress in July

  • [2] Simitis: Imia crisis a well-placed time-bomb

  • [3] Appeal for unity

  • [4] Skandalidis

  • [5] Arsenis: Premier should release tapes of talks with Clinton to dispel all rumors

  • [6] ND reaction

  • [7] Papandreou's health 'improving steadily'

  • [8] Evert announces European tour

  • [9] Papariga says Greece should opt out of NATO

  • [10] NATO spokesman clarifies Solana statements

  • [11] SAE delegation says US stance on Aegean satisfactory

  • [12] Turkish naval, air exercise in the Aegean begins today

  • [13] Turkey 'displeased' at Commission statement of solidarity with Greece

  • [14] German alternate foreign minister in Athens today for talks

  • [15] Balkan peace conference calls for Turkey to abstain from war threats

  • [16] EU official inspects work on Egnatia Highway

  • [17] Conference on Greek-Albanian relations ends


  • [1] PASOK decides to hold extraordinary congress in July

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    The ruling socialist PASOK party's Central Committee decided last night to hold an extraordinary congress on July 11-14, after a weekend of marathon consultations.

    PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said the decision was taken by the overwhelming majority of Central Committee members, with only three "no" votes and three blank ballots.

    Mr. Skandalidis underlined the party's undivided support for the government, saying that as of today work would start for a united and strong PASOK.

    He said the congress would be "a congress of principles and statutory changes".

    Throughout the day the Executive Bureau and senior party cadres had made efforts to find a compromise formula.

    On Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the message that should come out of the weekend's meeting should be clear: "that PASOK supports the government, supports the hope for renewal, unity and victory."

    [2] Simitis: Imia crisis a well-placed time-bomb

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Saturday that the recent Greek-Turkish crisis in the Aegean over the islet of Imia was "like a time-bomb deliberately set to explode at the most difficult moment, at the time of the government's policy statement in Parliament, before it even won a vote of confidence".

    Addressing the Central Committee meeting on Saturday, Mr. Simitis noted that there had been inexcusable thoughtlessness on the part of some during the crisis, which "nearly led us into the trap of Turkish provocativeness".

    "The real dilemma during the crisis was whether we would transfer the stand-off from the ground where we possessed overwhelming superiority - that of international legality - to the ground of armed confrontation," he said.

    "Had armed conflict broken out, we would have had, initially, a local victory for Greek arms," he said, "but subsequently, we would have been led to bilateral negotiations, under the shadow of blood, and away from the light of international legal order. "

    [3] Appeal for unity

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Mr. Simitis made a strong appeal for unity, and used tough language against his internal party opponents, and those "seeking to create a picture of problems between the government and the party".

    "Everybody should understand that we cannot afford to play with this new government because if we lose the chance, we lose it definitely. Personally I will not allow it. PASOK will not allow it," the premier said.

    The message from the meeting, Mr. Simitis said, "should be clear; that is, PASOK supports the government, supports the hope for renewal, unity and victory."

    "We are all being called upon to prove that PASOK can be united, that it can face the challenges of the future...

    "We are being called upon to prove that we can bridge the increasing gap between citizens and the community of politicians, the breach between parties and public opinion, about which so much has been said, and for which we, too, bear not an insignificant share of responsibility," he said.

    He added that the coming party congress provided a great opportunity to achieve these goals.

    [4] Skandalidis

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    In his speech to the PASOK Central Committee on Saturday, secretary Costas Skandalidis said that although certain mistakes had been made in the handling of the recent Greek-Turkish crisis in the Aegean, the aversion of an armed conflagration and the protection of peace had been achieved without giving up any of the country's sovereign rights.

    "Turkey directly disputes sovereign rights of ours, and our territorial integrity. The crisis over Imia was a telling example of the increasing designs and the long-term aims of Turkish expansionism. These aims are joint sovereignty in air-space, joint exploitation of the sea-bed, and demilitarization of the islands," he said.

    Greece, he stressed, will negotiate not a trace of its sovereign rights and its territorial integrity, while, at the same time, maintaining its inalienable right to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles when it so chooses.

    He said that the country will pursue the security of its borders in the framework of the European Union.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, Mr. Skandalidis emphasized that it remained the cornerstone of Greece's national strategy, reiterating former premier Andreas Papandreou's position that any Turkish advance on the island would constitute a casus belli for Greece.

    Turning to Greece's dispute with FYROM, he said there were prospects for resolving the problem according to steadfast Greek positions, adding that this, together with a continuous improvement of relations with the other Balkan countries, would enable Greece to play a decisive role in the region.

    Mr. Skandalidis said he considered as necessary the development of relations with central European countries, Russia, and those bordering Turkey, such as Syria, Iran and Iraq, while strengthening its support to the movements for self-determination and independence of peoples in the broader region.

    Turning to internal party matters, he said the presence of Andreas Papandreou constituted an important guarantee for the unity, continuity and prospects of the movement.

    Referring to internal party friction, he claimed these were practices which fed the designs of PASOK's opponents, but the election of a new prime minister should not be viewed as a battle which ended with victors and vanquished.

    He appealed to party members to avoid undue exposure to the mass media, work for the party, and respond to the demands of the times.

    He added that the government and the movement each maintained full autonomy: "Unimpeded, the government implements PASOK's programme and is judged accordingly, while in no way does the movement govern," he said.

    [5] Arsenis: Premier should release tapes of talks with Clinton to dispel all rumors

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to make a public statement on the content of his discussion with US President Bill Clinton during the Imia islet crisis during his address to the Central Committee session yesterday.

    Speaking yesterday at PASOK's Central Committee conference, Mr. Arsenis said such a statement would clarify impressions created as a result of statements by US officials and foreign press reports, which implied that the agreement to disengage included other conditions.

    He said he believed absolutely what Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had conveyed to the Government Foreign Affairs and Defense Council (KYSEA) on the night of the crisis after talks he had with US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.

    Mr. Arsenis said he believed the agreement did not include the taking down of the Greek flag, a commitment not to extend territorial waters to 12 miles or an agreement to reduce military forces in the Aegean.

    Mr. Arsenis attributed the recent tension to economic interests in the region.

    "Seek the causes of the crisis in the paths of oil," he said, adding that "multinational companies also make foreign policy".

    Mr. Arsenis said that Turkey had won the propaganda war through its calculated use of the media during the Imia crisis because it was prepared and Greece was not.

    He attributed great significance to strengthening the joint defense doctrine between Greece and Cyprus, adding that he was aware that pressures were being exerted on the government to have it abolished, calling on the prime minister to withstand these pressures.

    On the question of the party's congress, Mr. Arsenis said it should take place as soon as possible.

    Mr. Arsenis said all issues should be discussed at the congress for decisions to be taken and to avert the party being isolated and the phenomenon of PASOK supporting one thing and the government doing another.

    He called for support for the government, agreeing with the prime minister that "the problems lie ahead of us."

    [6] ND reaction

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Reacting to Mr. Arsenis' address, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Vassilis Manginas made the following statement:

    "It is inconceivable for the national defense minister to call on the prime minister to publicly clarify whether or not he ceded sovereign rights during the recent crisis in the Aegean, and in this way directly questioning his moves. The prime minister should clarify the issue immediately and give an explicit reply to the Greek people."

    "Either Mr. Arsenis should resign for raising doubts over the prime minister's commitments concerning our country's sovereign rights, or Mr. Simitis did indeed assume commitments and in which case he himself should resign immediately," he added.

    Replying to Mr. Manginas, Mr. Arsenis said ND was trying unsuccessfully to create a problem where there was none, adding that not only was he in agreement with Mr. Simitis but was also a member of the Government Foreign Affairs and Defense Council (KYSEA) when it took its unanimous decision.

    "However, to distance whatever uncertainty, insidious comments in the foreign press and the Greek press and to dissolve every doubt, I requested from the prime minister to announce the agreement we reached at the KYSEA himself and that this is the Greek position which is neither subject to misinterpretation nor data which do not bear reality to the government's position or the prime minister's position and the KYSEA's position. I did this to have the Greek position clarified," he added.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said categorically that "one sole agreement was reached with the Clinton administration: the agreement to withdraw armed forces from the two Imia islets. Nothing else."

    "Rumors which emanate from 'ghettos' outside of Greece cannot be recycled by anyone within the country," he said.

    [7] Papandreou's health 'improving steadily'

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    The health of PASOK president Andreas Papandreou is improving steadily, according to a medical bulletin issued by the Onassion Cardiology Centre yesterday.

    The former prime minister is continuing to undergo physiotherapy and blood dialysis. Yesterday he held discussions with associates on political developments, and was briefed on the PASOK Central Committee meeting held in Athens over the weekend. His physicians are optimistic that all being well, it should be possible for Mr. Papandreou's tracheotomy to be closed permanently sometime in the middle of the week.

    Six American doctors who returned to the United States after examining Mr. Papandreou told the Greek medical team that Mr. Papandreou's recovery was a medical miracle, helped by the character and strength of the patient himself.

    [8] Evert announces European tour

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said he would visit European capitals this week to brief European partners on Greece's positions in connection with the Imia islet issue.

    Speaking in the city of Pyrgos yesterday, Mr. Evert strongly criticized the Simitis government for its handling of the recent crisis in the Aegean and, indirectly, former prime minister and honorary ND leader Constantine Mitsotakis, who had criticized h is stance over the Imia incident.

    Mr. Evert said Hellenism had made quite a few concessions in the past and that a great deal had been lost so far.

    "Enough is enough," Mr. Evert said, adding that ND believed in dialogue with all of Greece's neighbors. However, he said it would refuse such a dialogue if a compromise were to be attempted.

    Mr. Evert expressed the view that Turkey would continue its provocations and for that reason the country should be prepared in the military, diplomatic and social sectors.

    Returning to Athens at the end of his tour of the Ilia prefecture, Mr. Evert made a stopover in Patras and addressed a conference of former party deputies and statesmen from the Peloponnese, the Ionian islands and Aetoloakarnania at a downtown hotel.

    [9] Papariga says Greece should opt out of NATO

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece Secretary-General Aleka Papariga said on Saturday that Greece could not safeguard its sovereign rights and national independence within the framework of NATO.

    In a statement at Macedonia airport in Thessaloniki shortly before leaving for the city of Edessa, Ms Papariga said measures should be taken in time to prevent the country from joining NATO's multinational force.

    "Forming a common army with a country threatening you is absurd and the Greek government should give a reply to this," she added.

    [10] NATO spokesman clarifies Solana statements

    Brussels, 12/02/1996 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    A NATO General Secretariat press spokesman has strongly denied Greek media reports that NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told reporters in London recently of a new crisis between Greece and Turkey, which supposedly required Mr. Solana's immediate presence in Athens and Ankara.

    These reports were "absolutely wrong", said the spokesman, who told the ANA that Mr. Solana's actual statement was that as NATO Secretary-General he had a comprehensive and on-going overview of NATO issues in general and that, as in the past, he would stay in contact with the authorities in both allied states to help smooth out the situation when necessary.

    [11] SAE delegation says US stance on Aegean satisfactory

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    World Hellenism Council (SAE) president Andrew Athens, who arrived in Greece yesterday, heading a delegation to open the Council's office in Thessaloniki, expressed his satisfaction with a White House statement on the Aegean, confirming the US commitment to respect for international treaties, the territorial integrity of states signatory to those treaties and their internationally recognized borders.

    The SAE delegation members, who will be holding meetings with government and other officials in Greece, stressed the full co-operation of US presidential adviser George Stephanopoulos and his support over the recent incident in the Aegean. They also emphasized that US President Bill Clinton was fully briefed on the issue, more so than his predecessors.

    [12] Turkish naval, air exercise in the Aegean begins today

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's armed forces will be observing from a discreet distance the sea and air exercise by Turkish forces in the Aegean's international waters.

    The exercise, which begins today, was planned before the recent Greek-Turkish crisis began.

    Specific instructions have reportedly been given in the event that Greece's air or sea space is violated, not an unknown occurrence during similar exercises in the past.

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis has stated that the Greek public should be briefed only by the proper government sources and not by circles outside Greece, indicating that information from abroad was inaccurate and might well be serving other interests.

    Mr. Arsenis also said that Greece has been notified of the Turkish exercise and has issued a permit.

    Defense Under-secretary Nikos Kouris noted that any Turkish provocations could well be part of a plan to wage psychological warfare, a possibility the Greek forces would confront with self-restraint.

    Sources at the national defense ministry said that Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras will be briefed today on the recent Imia incident, after an invitation by Mr. Arsenis.

    [13] Turkey 'displeased' at Commission statement of solidarity with Greece

    Ankara, 12/02/1996 (ANA - A.Kourkoulas/AFP)

    The Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday expressed displeasure at the European Commission's declaration of full solidarity with Greece in its recent dispute with Turkey.

    "The Commission's announcement was made without a serious analysis of the Greek-Turkish dispute and is mainly based on the fact that one of the sides (Greece) is a member of the European Union," the ministry statement said, adding that those who expressed such views thereby excluded themselves from playing a positive role in resolving the issue.

    On the other hand, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel called a statement by his US counterpart "a confirmation of Turkey's positions", saying the US State Department spokesman had suggested referring the dispute over the rocky islet of Kardak (Imia) to the International Court of Justice or some similar body.

    Well-informed sources in Turkey claim that - despite denials by Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller - on the night of the Imia crisis she had agreed during conversations with US officials to a possible referral of the issue to an international court.

    The same sources have expressed their displeasure at Ms Ciller's handling of the crisis, both with regard to the latter negotiations with the US and her declarations of a "threat of war".

    Meanwhile, the Turkish press reported on Saturday that Ms Ciller had convened a meeting of senior military officials to discuss the situation following the crisis and the possible consequences of the dismissal of the Greek Chief of Staff, Admiral Christos Lymberis.

    According to the same reports, news of the meeting, which was not attended by Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal or other political officials, was aimed more at keeping the Greek-Turkish dispute in the news as a distraction from the continuing inability of Turkey's party leaders to form a government.

    [14] German alternate foreign minister in Athens today for talks

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos is to meet his German counterpart Werner Hoyer in Athens today to discuss issues related to the European Union's inter-governmental conference (IGC), which begins on March 29 in Turin, Italy.

    Mr. Hoyer will also meet with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on Tuesday.

    Today's discussions are expected to include an examination of EU enlargement, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the proposal for the ratification of the EU's external borders and mutual assistance.

    In a statement before his departure for Athens, the German minister noted what he called a climate in Greece indicating "a new beginning" with regard to European affairs, in the new government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis. He added that the visit was not officially related to the recent Greek-Turkish crisis. Mr. Hoyer also stressed the improved atmosphere in bilateral relations in an interview on the Deutsche Welle's Greek programme today, in which he referred to the Greek-Turkish crisis, the Cyprus issue and the question of war reparations Greece is demanding from Germany, something which he says is out of the question for Germany.

    Europe should definitely intervene in the Greek-Turkish dispute, he said, adding that the EU's external borders should be clarified. In the event of a dispute between Greece and Turkey, then all civilized means should be used to resolve the situation, which he characterized as particularly unpleasant.

    With regard to Cyprus' accession to the EU, Mr. Hoyer indicated that Germany feels this should occur once the political problem has been solved. "We are committed to beginning accession negotiations with both Cyprus and Malta six months after the IGC. During those negotiations, political developments will be taken into consideration," he commented, adding: "I am optimistic and convinced, I would say, that with the prospect of accession to the EU, the existing problems will be solved."

    [15] Balkan peace conference calls for Turkey to abstain from war threats

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    Balkan peace groups meeting in Thessaloniki passed a joint communiqui at the conclusion of a three-day conference yesterday, calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from former Yugoslavia.

    Resolutions were also passed concerning the Greek-Turkish crisis and the Cyprus issue.

    The communiqui expresses concern for the imposition of the new world order in the Balkans, contending that military alliances such as NATO and the WEU were not the means to achieve solutions of benefit to the region's peoples.

    It characterized the presence of 60,000 NATO and other foreign troops in Bosnia as a "form of foreign occupation, in which the Balkan peoples find themselves under the supervision and tutelage of the great powers".

    It attributed the war in former Yugoslavia to the intervention of foreign powers and called for a collective security system in the Balkans based on inter-Balkan understanding.

    A resolution was passed calling on Turkey to stop using the threat of war in its attempt to call into question Greece's territorial rights, and for Turkey to conform to international conventions and law. It also urged Greece to exhaust all possible diplomatic avenues before mobilizing its armed forces.

    The resolution also urged Balkan peace organizations and pacifist groups in Turkey to work together towards averting any further incidents in the Aegean or any other part of the Balkans.

    With regard to Cyprus, a resolution was passed calling the Cyprus issue one of invasion and occupation of a sector of an independent member-state of the United Nations and thus an international problem. It expressed opposition to any mediation by the United States, stressing that even European Union efforts should not detract from the international character of the problem. The only peaceful, viable and just solution, it added, was one based on securing the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the Cyprus Republic. The conference, organized by the Greek peace group EEDYE, was attended by delegates from peace organizations in Albania, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    [16] EU official inspects work on Egnatia Highway

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    European Union Cohesion Fund Director Francois Vertrynge said work on the Egnatia Highway was proceeding at a speedy rate after making an inspection visit to northern Greece and meeting Greek officials and Kavala mayor Lefteris Athanasiadis.

    Mr. Vertrynge was briefed on the Kavala detour project and said he would support the establishment of a new customs office at Exohis, Drama, which would link Bulgaria and eastern Macedonia by road.

    Speaking to reporters, Mr. Vertrynge said there was no problem in absorbing funds from the European Union for environmental scale projects.

    He said Cohesion Fund amounts had been absorbed for the Spata airport and the Egnatia highway and as a result no credits existed for a new port at Kavala for the time being.

    [17] Conference on Greek-Albanian relations ends

    Athens, 12/02/1996 (ANA)

    A two-day conference on Greek-Albanian relations organized by the Aimos Peninsula Studies Foundation ended in Thessaloniki on Saturday.

    Addressing the conference, international law professor Stelios Perrakis referred to the course of Greek-Albanian relations after the fall of communism, stressing that improvement in relations would constitute a factor of peace in the Balkan peninsula.

    Other speakers focused on the issue of Albanian illegal immigrants and said the problem should be resolved through the registration and legalization of a number of them.

    Another issue stressed was the need for Greek investments in Albania, and the south in particular, to contain the exodus of the ethnic Greek minority.

    End of English language section.

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