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A.N.A. Bulletin, 27/02/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (823), February 27, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] EU foreign ministers refer Greek-Turkish dispute to courts, Agnelli says

  • [2] Turkey reviews relations with Greece

  • [3] Ciller

  • [4] Legal emphasis on Greek-Turkish dispute a positive development, Simitis says

  • [5] Opposition critical

  • [6] US State Dept.

  • [7] Ministerial responsibility bill to be examined this week

  • [8] Venizelos comments on poll

  • [9] Evros river at dangerous levels, authorities take all measures to prevent flooding

  • [10] Coalition leader in Sofia

  • [11] Tzoumakas stresses lot of Cohesion nation farmers at EU farm council

  • [12] Pangalos congratulates new FYROM foreign minister

  • [13] Name issue

  • [14] Greece supports streamlining procedures at EU internal market meeting

  • [15] Patriarchate comments on Estonian church issue

  • [16] Vartholomeos to visit Austria


  • [1] EU foreign ministers refer Greek-Turkish dispute to courts, Agnelli says

    Brussels, 27/02/1996 (ANA - P. Pantelis and F. Stangos)

    European Union Council of Ministers President Susanna Agnelli said yesterday EU foreign ministers agreed that Greek-Turkish differences should be resolved only by law and, consequently, the International Court at The Hague.

    In a statement read to the press after the EU Council of Ministers, Ms Agnelli said:

    "(The Council of Ministers) concerned with the situation in the Aegean Sea, which apart from Greece, concerns the whole of the Union and its relations with Turkey - calls for the continuation of self-restraint and the avoidance of any act which may increase tensions and any display of arms.

    - believes that territorial disputes and differences must be solved only by recourse to justice, that is, the International Court.

    - encourages Greece and Turkey to establish a constructive dialogue and a mechanism for the prevention of crises.

    - reaffirms the commitments included in the Council's decision of March 6, 1995, the separate components of which constitute a unified whole.

    - proposes to implement these commitments during the Association Council which will meet as soon as a new government is formed in Turkey."

    The 15 ministers participating in the meeting failed to reach a unanimous decision on making a statement on the recent Greek-Turkish stand-off due to Britain's veto, which did not wish there to be a legally binding EU statement that would cast doubt over the March 6 agreement.

    The March 6 agreement is comprised of three components: the customs union with Turkey, the approval of financial aid to Turkey amounting to 375 million ECU; and beginning negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the EU six months after the end of the inter- governmental conference (IGC), taking into consideration results reached at the IGC.

    British insistence on not casting doubt over this agreement reveals their desire for the customs union to work and for Turkey to be financially reinforced, as well as to maintain a strong political bargaining chip in the opening of negotiations for Cyprus' accession into the EU.

    Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that "it is a monstrous idea that Cyprus is punished because Turkey attacked Greece, and of course it cannot be valid."

    [2] Turkey reviews relations with Greece

    Istanbul, 27/02/1996 (ANA-A. Kourkoulas)

    The Turkish foreign ministry on Sunday night began a review of Greek-Turkish relations.

    Participating in the talks is Ankara's Ambassador in Athens Umit Pamir, recalled last week for consultations.

    Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said yesterday the first round of talks held Sunday had been attended by Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal and other senior ministry officials, while the talks would continue "as long as considered necessary".

    He stressed that it had not yet been determined when Ambassador Pamir would return to Athens.

    Mr. Akbel told reporters that Greece had recently been trying to "undermine Turkish interests", adding that Turkey would respond in kind.

    "If Greece displays hostility, that is what it will find; if it displays friendship, that is also what it will find," he said.

    However the Turkish spokesman did not specify what measures Ankara planned to take with regard to Greece or the European Union "in the event that such proved necessary".

    He nevertheless noted that the Turkey-EU customs union involved responsibilities both on the part of Turkey and the EU, adding that Turkey would be expecting to see the EU hold to its part of the bargain fully and promptly.

    [3] Ciller

    Ankara, 27/02/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller on Friday urged Greece to engage in a dialogue with Turkey in the dispute over the Imia islet.

    "Turkey's friendship should be sought. We held out our hand to Greece. If they do not take this hand and a dialogue is not realized, then the world public should know that whatever happens, whatever government it has, Turkey will not permit this," she told the Anatolian news agency.

    "Turkey's enemies should fear Turkey," she said.

    She did not elaborate but said Turkey's stance towards Greece on this issue would become clear soon.

    Ms Ciller is due to fly to Italy, the holder of the rotating EU presidency, for a one-day visit next week, her office said.

    [4] Legal emphasis on Greek-Turkish dispute a positive development, Simitis says

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Saturday that his brief European tour had a positive outcome, noting that for the first time Europe was beginning to position Greek-Turkish differences within a legal framework instead of dealing with it as a problem to be solved in bilateral political negotiations.

    "European leaders agreed that existing differences in views between Greece and Turkey should be solved with peaceful means within the framework of international law," Mr. Simitis told reporters on his return to Athens. "Such references to international law are being made for the first time and constitute a positive development."

    "In the past, Turkey's expansionist policy was regarded as a political problem which Greece was called to deal with through bilateral (Greek-Turkish) negotiations.

    "Now, the problem is beginning to be positioned in the legal framework which Greece always wanted."

    Mr. Simitis' three-city tour of European capitals last week was part of Greece's diplomatic counter-offensive after the Greek-Turkish stand-off in the eastern Aegean over the Imia islet and Turkish war threats against Athens.

    Mr. Simitis held talks with EU Commission President Jacques Santer and Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene in Brussels, with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Bonn and with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris.

    Concerning Turkey's expansionist designs, the prime minister said that all his interlocutors' views had been supportive of Greece's positions.

    Underlining that "this should not mean that problems have been solved or eliminated", Mr. Simitis stressed the necessity of what he called "continuity and consistency" on Greece's part so that "this small change in attitude would gain larger dimensions" .

    "The government will therefore work with consistency," he said.

    [5] Opposition critical

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on Saturday criticized Mr. Simitis, saying his European tour did not produce substantial results.

    Mr. Evert said that there was no position expressed on Greece's borders nor reference to the Cyprus-EU accession during the premier's tour. Speaking to reporters on his return to Athens from a three-day visit to Cyprus, Mr. Evert underlined that "Hellenism needs substantial solutions to its problems".

    "We have had enough of compliments and courtesies" from Greece's EU partners, the ND leader stressed, adding that "there was no position (made) on the borders, that is, that Greek borders are also EU borders, something which was underlined by a Europarliament resolution".

    He further said that no reference was made to the Cyprus-EU accession, "which is one of the first strategic plans of our country".

    "The third element that concerns me gravely," he added, "is Mr. Simitis' acceptance of a two-tier Europe."

    "This is a different strategy, a different policy, different to what the two previous governments have implemented," he said, stressing that if the Union accepted a two-tier Europe, Greece would be marginalized.

    He further called for the convening of Parliament at the government's initiative to discuss Greece's policy in view of the EU inter-governmental conference next month.

    Commenting on Mr. Simitis' statements, New Democracy spokesman Vassilis Manginas criticized the prime minister for "instead of stating primarily the Greek position, he has read out statements of other governments, such as the French government's statement of alleged territorial differences between Greece and Turkey which should be settled". Mr. Manginas said Mr. Simitis' "acceptance" (of such statements) was "unprecedented and dangerous for national sovereign rights," adding that ND "is not bound by this statement".

    He noted that "it is one thing to say or to be told that as long as Ankara finds it expedient it could refer to the International Court and a totally different thing to be told - and for us to accept - that there are territorial differences between Greece and Turkey".

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras criticized the prime minister of "making a disastrous mistake in accepting the (recent stand-off in the Aegean as a) Greek-Turkish difference instead of Turkey's difference with Europe".

    "Mr. Simitis has not yet realized that he is prime minister of a member-state of the European Union and not of a third country," Mr. Samaras said, noting that Mr. Simitis did not ask Europe for specific measures against Turkish aggression.

    "Mr. Simitis' inexplicable thanks to the European leaders, remind us of (Mr. Simitis' recent) thanks to the Americans and prove that Mr. Simitis either does not realize or he cannot shoulder the burden of his responsibilities as prime minister."

    He said that the "immediate convening of a council of leaders meeting to discuss the national issue is a demand and a national necessity".

    [6] US State Dept.

    Washington, 27/02/1996 (ANA/AFP)

    The US State Department on Friday said it was "very important for Turkey and Greece to avoid conflict".

    The announcement followed Turkey's summoning of the Turkish Ambassador to Athens last Thursday.

    State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the two countries "must work towards solving their problem" regarding the Aegean islet which caused the recent crisis in their relations.

    Avoiding comment on possible US intervention, Mr. Burns said it was "ultimately the responsibility of the two countries to solve their differences".

    He stressed however that Washington "firmly supports the EU-Turkey customs union".

    [7] Ministerial responsibility bill to be examined this week

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    The final draft of the law on ministerial responsibility is expected to be discussed by the relevant PASOK parliamentary committee within the week, it was announced Sunday.

    The bill will be tabled for discussion in Parliament after the committee examines it and will replace a bill drawn up during the dictatorship.

    Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos did not go into details on what the new bill contains but reliable sources said it demands a greater majority before the establishment of a special court to try ministerial charges.

    In the new bill, an increased and specific majority is needed for ministers to be referred to the Special Court. This majority is made up of the majority of government deputies and one in ten of opposition deputies.

    The interrogatory stage by the Special Court judge which is required according to the present bill is abolished in order to speed up preliminary and trial procedures. In this way, after the referral to court the trial date will be set, and a public hearing procedure will follow.

    The Special Court will only try ministers and undersecretaries, while accessories will be tried in regular courts. Deputies acting as prosecutors are to remain, despite opposition from the parties, as the Constitution states that "Parliament has the right to accuse", and therefore the appointment of prosecuting attorneys could cause problems.

    [8] Venizelos comments on poll

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    A poll published in Sunday's Eleftherotypia showed Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos second on the list of voters' preferences after prime minister Costas Simitis for the post of Vice-President of the ruling party, PASOK.

    "A message and a command emanate from the poll, and this command is for PASOK's unity, for the government's more effective action and use of all PASOK officials to the degree of ability, value and individual merits," Mr. Venizelos said.

    Mr. Venizelos said that "all of us are recipients of this message."

    Asked to comment on the eventuality of a party Vice-President post, Mr. Venizelos said this was a decision to be reached during PASOK's congress, to be held in July.

    "The congress will decide," he said, adding that such decision should be "operational, credible and project PASOK's potential and internal unity and mainly its political efficiency which is the demand of the entire Greek people, beyond PASOK's majority vote."

    Asked whether a potential Vice-President post would hold prime minister Costas Simitis, "hostage to the party," Mr. Venizelos said that "no senior PASOK official is hostage to the party."

    He added that "the party gives political and parliamentary support to the government and the government implements to the letter, in the framework of its constitutional expediency, the party's policy".

    [9] Evros river at dangerous levels, authorities take all measures to prevent flooding

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    A state of emergency continued to be in force in the Evros prefecture for the fourth consecutive day yesterday after heavy rainfall caused the waters of the Evros River to rise to dangerous levels.

    Authorities said that the waters had risen to 5.70 meters Sunday, a meter above the safety levels, and that they had proceeded to evacuate the 130-km region stretching from Ferres to Pithio of livestock, equipment, residents and troops.

    Local authorities said that they were on standby to deal with the eventuality that the river overflows protective banks and causes flooding. They said, however, that inhabited areas were not at risk.

    Recent heavy rains has already flooded 500,000 stremmata of arable land in the region: estimates of damages will begin tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, rail links between Alexandroupolis and Orestiada were restored yesterday morning after being cut on Friday by heavy rains at two points.

    [10] Coalition leader in Sofia

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos leaves for Sofia tomorrow for talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov.

    Mr. Constantopoulos, who is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of the ruling Socialist Party, will also meet with the parliament president and leaders of political parties.

    Talks are expected to focus on bilateral ties, the situation in the Balkans and European prospects for Balkan nations.

    [11] Tzoumakas stresses lot of Cohesion nation farmers at EU farm council

    Brussels, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas called for a satisfactory quality of life today for farmers, taking into consideration structural and natural inequalities that exist between areas, at the first meeting of the EU council of agriculture ministers on farm produce prices and relevant measures for 1996-7.

    Mr. Tzoumakas noted that according to statistics compiled by EUROSTAT, agricultural income per capita in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland was far below the European Union average, while quite a few other countries have triple agricultural income per capita.

    He added that the Council's decisions since 1992 have favored the more wealthy at the expense of the economically weaker countries.

    Mr. Tzoumakas also stressed that the Commission's proposals did not include matters of particular interest to Greece, which have been repeatedly raised. These matters include the increase in milk quotas, the implementation of measures to solve problems faced by sheep and goat breeders in underprivileged and highland areas and the reduction of the settlement time for the reinforcement in olive oil production.

    The Council discussed the use of hormones in the production of animals designated for consumption, to which Mr. Tzoumakas expressed Greece's opposition for reasons of public health.

    [12] Pangalos congratulates new FYROM foreign minister

    Skopje, 27/02/1996 (ANA - M.Vihou)

    Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has sent a congratulatory letter to new Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) foreign minister Ljubomir Frckovski on the assumption of his duties.

    The letter was conveyed by the head of the Greek diplomatic liaison office, Alexandros Mallias.

    The letter speaks of the improvement of relations between Greece and FYROM since the signing of the interim agreement in New York and stresses the finding of a mutual agreement on the name difference that will contribute to an increase in bilateral cooperation in all sectors, as well as benefiting peace and stability in the Balkans.

    Britain, France, Italy and Germany also congratulated Mr. Frckovski.

    [13] Name issue

    Athens, 27/02/1996 (ANA)

    At a press conference yesterday, Mr. Frckovski said the problem of the country's name could be solved "without a change in the constitutional name: there are no alternative solutions".

    He said that FYROM's position was "clear and cannot be overturned". He said that FYROM's obligation under UN resolutions was "to begin talks (with Greece) over the name, not to change the name".

    He said the climate after the signing of the interim accord with Greece was "auspicious" adding that political and economic co-operation should be sped up so that "outstanding issues can be resolved gradually".

    Meanwhile, the three-day exhibition of Greek products, organized in the Skopje exhibition centre by about 70 northern Greek enterprises, ended successfully yesterday.

    The exhibition was visited by roughly 15,000 people, including many officials. Among problems in the co-operation pointed out by the Greek businessmen were the lack of co-operation from banks, and the need for a reduction in tariff status, which is roughly 30 per cent for industrial goods.

    [14] Greece supports streamlining procedures at EU internal market meeting

    Rome, 27/02/1996 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakou)

    National Economy Under-secretary Christos Pachtas represented Greece at the European Union internal market ministers meeting in Rome on Saturday.

    The Greek delegation agreed that a simplification of legislation on internal market procedures would help reduce obstacles and increase competitiveness and employment in Europe.

    However, the Greek side was cautious regarding the abolition of the legislation, stressing the need to uphold Community interests, particularly in the social sector.

    Mr. Pachtas agreed with the need to simplify administrative measures, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    All agreed on the usefulness of the 'citizens first' initiative, aiming for European citizens' rights in the internal market, and said the initiative must be completed.

    Regarding the freedom of movement within EU member-states for third party nationals who have already settled in the EU, Mr. Pachtas stressed that this freedom must be granted after additional measures are taken to ensure the safety and legal protection of EU citizens.

    Regarding the creation of a free exchange zone between the EU and Mediterranean countries, there was consensus that the basic priority should be the development of the Mediterranean area, based on the promotion of forms of economic co-operation between t he two parties, as well as the provision of technical help on the part of the European Union.

    [15] Patriarchate comments on Estonian church issue

    Istanbul, 27/02/1996 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate's Holy Synod's unanimous decision to honor a 1923 decision founding the autonomous Estonian Orthodox

    Missionary Church as the "Orthodox Metropolitan of Estonia" was taken after pressure from Orthodox Estonians and to prevent them subscribing to Protestant dogmas, a Phanar statement said yesterday.

    "The Estonian Church was recognized as an autonomous church in 1923 under Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis. It was forcibly abolished when Stalin annexed Estonia to the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

    "With the declaration of an independent Estonian state after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, both the political authorities and the Orthodox Estonians asked the Phanar to implement the 1923 decision.

    "Repeated missions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the guidance of Metropolitan of Pergamos Ioannis, attempted to reach an agreement with Moscow on this complex situation, but without any results.

    "The implementation of the 1923 decision was a compulsory move for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which could not morally or ecclesiastically excuse any further inaction.

    "The drawing out of the unresolved situation pushed Orthodox Estonians, who do not want Moscow jurisdiction in their independent country, to Protestant dogmas, as has happened in the greater number of Baltic nations.

    "A last attempt at finding an agreement at the beginning of February had no result, and so the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Synod proceeded with the implementation of the 1923 decision," the statement said.

    Meanwhile, an AFP dispatch on Saturday, quoting the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency, said for the first time in more than a thousand years, the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch, spiritual leader of 300 million Christian Orthodox, was not mentioned during Friday's Angel's liturgy, officiated by Patriarch Alexios II of Moscow and All Russia.

    According to the Russian news agency, the unprecedented event was caused by the fact that the operation of an Estonian Orthodox Church was put under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate instead of the Russian Church.

    [16] Vartholomeos to visit Austria

    Vienna, 27/02/1996 (ANA - D. Dimtriakoudis)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is to make an official visit to Vienna in early October it was announced here yesterday.

    The patriarch, who is scheduled to arrive in Vienna on October 3, will have meetings with Austrian President Thomas Klestil and Chancellor Franz Vrantizky.

    He will receive an honorary doctorate from the law school of the University of Vienna, the oldest German-speaking university in the world, and will assist in conducting mass at St. Stephen's cathedral with Catholic archbishop, Christof Senborn.

    End of English language section.

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