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A.N.A. Bulletin, 08/08/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 958), August 8, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Athens meeting puts Yugoslavia, Croatia on road to normalizing relations

  • [2] Historic meeting

  • [3] Gov't harshly condemns Turkish military report eyeing some 100 isles

  • [4] Turkish military report

  • [5] Opposition reaction

  • [6] Evert sends letter to Santer, criticizing Ankara's reported plan to convert Agia Sofia into a mosque

  • [7] Parliament honors Olympic champions

  • [8] Evert to tour Evros today

  • [9] Samaras criticizes Gov't over early election speculation

  • [10] Commission sternly warns Greece to eliminate restrictions on the free movement of capital

  • [11] Development investments rise in '96

  • [12] Public revenues up 12.99 percent between January-July


  • [1] Athens meeting puts Yugoslavia, Croatia on road to normalizing relations

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Following talks hosted by the Greek government yesterday, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman concluded an agreement promoting solution of a series of problems between the two Balkan countries.

    The two presidents had met for several hours of negotiations at the Athens seaside resort of Vouliagmeni.

    In the joint communiqui issued in Belgrade yesterday evening after the end of the talks, both men expressed their readiness to proceed to full normalization, restoration and development of relations, based on mutual respect of their independence and sovereignty, and in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Both nations also undertake to promote a climate of mutual confidence, work for peace, stability and development in the region, and proceed to the creation of appropriate conditions for the free and safe return of all refugees to their homes; ascertainment of the fate of missing persons; return of properties, or the granting of the appropriate compensation.

    The two sides also stated their readiness to continue talks on the outstanding issue of the Prevlaka Peninsula, agreeing to respect the security of the region, monitored by UN observers at present.

    Both presidents expressed their support for implementation of the Dayton peace accord.

    The communiqui adds that the two countries' competent ministers will continue talks for the restoration of transport and communications.

    It was also stated that the two countries' foreign ministers will meet in Belgrade at the end of August to finalize the agreement.

    Both Mr. Tudjman and Mr. Milosevic thanked Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the Greek government for their hospitality.

    [2] Historic meeting

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Mr. Milosevic arrived at the Astir Hotel in Vouliagmeni by helicopter at 10:40 a.m., followed five minutes later by Mr. Tudjman, who arrived by car. The Serbian and Croatian foreign ministers, Milan Milutinovic and Mate Granic, respectively also took part in the talks.

    Mr. Simitis said before the Milosevic-Tudjman meeting that "Greece is always willing to contribute to such discussions because it believes that the target of all of us must be peace, stability in the Balkans and friendship among the peoples."

    He expressed a hope that the meeting would give results "which will contribute to the better co-operation among all our peoples."

    Speaking to reporters shortly after the meeting between the two presidents, Mr. Simitis said the first meeting of the two leaders at a bilateral level since 1991 was "a most important step towards the improvement of relations between the two countries".

    He expressed the view that restoration of relations would serve as a starting point for better co-operation and friendship between Serbia and Croatia.

    "We worked for this meeting and provided every assistance in the belief that we would be serving the friendship and co-operation of the Balkan peoples," Mr. Simitis said, raising once again Athens' plan for a meeting of Balkan foreign ministers next year in Greece.

    "Today's meeting between Messrs. Milosevic and Tudjman was particularly useful in this direction," he added.

    Asked by reporters whether the meeting had been held at the request of Croatia and Serbia or was the result of a Greek initiative, Mr. Simitis replied that it had taken place following consultations among all sides.

    Sources said the meeting was made possible after protracted diplomatic consultations, which began about 25 days ago, involving the prime minister, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and the ambassadors of Yugoslavia and Croatia in Athens.

    Foreign ministry officials said last night that the Greek government was especially satisfied with the final result of the meeting, as it would strengthen a climate of constructive dialogue in the whole of the Balkans, proving that Greece was in a position to play a positive role in resolving differences in the region.

    In a related development, Mr. Milosevic also met privately with Mr. Simitis, and according to a Tanjug news agency dispatch, the talks took place in a very friendly atmosphere and concerned the further development of bilateral relations

    It was also ascertained that the steadily friendly relations between the two countries constituted an important factor of stability in the entire region, adding that there were good prospects for furthering co-operation in the economic field.

    [3] Gov't harshly condemns Turkish military report eyeing some 100 isles

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday called on the Turkish government to immediately condemn a report by its military, drawn up after a Greek-Turkish stand-off in late January, which disputes the sovereignty of roughly 100 Aegean isles.

    Excerpts from the report were published in Tuesday's edition of the Turkish daily "Cumhuriyet".

    Mr. Reppas said that if the report was genuine, Turkey's stance, which constitutes the continuation of an aggressive policy against Greece, justifies Greek positions and the concern Athens has expressed at times to various international bodies such as the European Union.

    "The European Union, our allies, must understand that problems in Greek-Turkish relations are caused by Turkish aggressiveness with claims on Greece's national sovereign rights and territories," Mr. Reppas said.

    The government spokesman added that the EU "must understand that the maintenance of conditions of calmness, stability and security in the region is also their responsibility and it must take a stand on the issue."

    He called on the Turkish government to abandon such "outrageous views", adding that agreement could be found through the use of procedures foreseen by the International Court at The Hague for specific problems, such as the continental shelf or the Imia issue. He also said Turkey would have to take the initiative, "as it is the one believing problems in these areas exist."

    In addition, Mr. Reppas called on Ankara to stop playing the role of international trouble-maker.

    "Turkey must show that it is ready to solve this problem so that it can follow a policy of good neighborliness with all countries in the region, including Greece."

    The government spokesman stressed that Turkey's problem is not a bilateral one, but one of international law.

    "Greece is ready to face any provocation effectively and decisively, as it has done in the past and no one must doubt this," he said.

    Mr. Reppas added that Greece will discuss this problem within the framework of the European Union and in its diplomatic relations with all countries, in order for the nature of Turkey's foreign policy to be revealed once again.

    [4] Turkish military report

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    According to Cumhuriyet, the Turkish military report states that "the Aegean islands not referred to in any treaty, and which were not taken by Greece during the Balkan wars, as well as the islands, islets and rocks lying less than six miles from the Turkish coast legally belong to Turkey, the state which succeeded the Ottoman Empire".

    "Turkey retains its sovereignty over these islands, apart from those given to Greece under Article 12 of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)," the report maintains, accusing Greece of claiming islands not mentioned in that treaty or the 1947 Treaty of Paris, settling the status of the Dodecanese.

    "Greece has succeeded in disputing Turkish sovereignty of Kardak (Imia), which is Turkish territory according to international law Turkey must persuade Greece to sit at the negotiating table with regard to the regime in the Aegean and remind itself of its forgotten rights over which Greece is raising unjustifiable claims".

    [5] Opposition reaction

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Concerning the reports, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said yesterday that the Turkish army report illustrated once again Ankara's "blatant aggression against Greece in the Aegean".

    Mr. Evert called on the government "to realize the serious danger" and convene a meeting of the political party leaders, chaired by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, at the earliest "in order to confront, at a national level, Turkey's increasing provocativeness".

    He also criticized "those in Greece who supported unconditional dialogue with Ankara" and called on them to realize "what Turkey's real intentions are."

    The fact that the report had been drawn up after the Imia crisis, Mr. Evert said, "shows that the compliance of the Greek government has encouraged Turkish provocativeness."

    On his part, Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras reacted strongly against the report, saying "I directly ask Mr. Simitis, has he undertaken the commitment to the European Union to have recourse to The Hague for the new Turkish provocations?"

    He said Ankara continues to attempt to designate the whole of the Aegean as a "gray area", and added that the government should recognize this intention "and stop making Turkish aims easier with its inaction and its willingness to make concessions."

    Mr. Samaras stressed that "it has been proved that neither the lifting of the veto nor the European Union's murky and without any face value statements can stop Turkish expansionism."

    [6] Evert sends letter to Santer, criticizing Ankara's reported plan to convert Agia Sofia into a mosque

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert has sent a letter to European Commission President Jacques Santer protesting Ankara's reported intention to convert the Byzantine church of Agia Sofia in Istanbul into a mosque.

    "Reports concerning Turkey's intention to convert Agia Sofia into a mosque has created a sense of indignation and bitterness among the Greek people," Mr. Evert says in the letter, also sent to the President of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Wilfred Martens and UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor.

    "I believe, as Greeks, that Agia Sofia, which for centuries was the world symbol of Christianity, belongs not only to Hellenism, but remains above all an indelible monument of world heritage. The symbol of an era, which marked history and the course of mankind," Mr. Evert said.

    "Unfortunately," he continued, "Turkey is now trying to distort this historical legacy."

    According to Turkish press reports, Turkey's Minister to the Prime Minister, Jemil Tudc, has initiated legal procedures to convert Agia Sofia, currently a museum, into a mosque.

    Athens has already reacted strongly, saying that an eventual conversion of Agia Sofia would be "an unprecedented international provocation and a major problem in Turkey's relations with the western world."

    [7] Parliament honors Olympic champions

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Parliament yesterday honored Greece's Olympic champions at a special ceremony attended by the country's political and military leadership.

    The 46 Greek Olympic finalists, including four gold and four silver-medal winners, arrived in Athens on Tuesday to a heroes' welcome. Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said the athletes had surpassed themselves in honoring Greece, demonstrating that the country not only had a brilliant past but also a very bright future. Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed that "their medals and successes mirror the Greece of tomorrow"

    "They succeeded because they had the will. Nothing is won without sacrifices and struggles," the premier said.

    Mr. Simitis underlined in particular that the success of Greece's athletes in Atlanta served as a message to Greek youth "as well as to all of us who want a strong Greece."

    "They competed in a spirit of collectiveness, not only in the cases when they won but also in those when they lost," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert said that "at a time of disappointment, geocentricism, decay and exhaustion of society, these young people brought us a message of joy, hope and belief."

    "From now on, a new effort is underway which should be based not only on the athletes' goodwill and determination but by all political parties," Mr. Evert said, adding that a four-year "Olympic action plan" should be scheduled.

    Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras noted that the successes of the Greek team "did not have the corresponding support by the state, but were due to their personal effort, immediate environment and unprecedented passion."

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said the medallists should continue to set an example and help Greek youth turn toward athletics. The KKE leader also called for an increase in state funding for sports.

    The ceremony ended with the athletes receiving medals and special awards from the prime minister, the leaders of political parties and the Parliament president.

    In a related development, Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras said yesterday that Greece is very close to hosting the 2004 Olympic Games. The sports under-secretary said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch visited the Greek stand in Atlanta and was "particularly enthusiastic" about Athens' candidacy file for hosting the Olympics.

    [8] Evert to tour Evros today

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert was due to embark on a tour of the Evros border region today, in order to discuss problems created in the area's stockbreeding by recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.

    Mr. Evert will be briefed on the issue by a delegation of veterinarians this morning, and is then scheduled to visit the areas affected by the disease, where he will meet with stockbreeders.

    In the early afternoon, the opposition leader will participate in a conference in order to discuss measures for dealing with the disease and the prefectural council's proposals for recovery of stockbreeding.

    Mr. Evert is scheduled to return to Athens this afternoon.

    [9] Samaras criticizes Gov't over early election speculation

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras yesterday accused the government of being "untrustworthy" for not refuting or confirming rumors regarding early elections.

    [10] Commission sternly warns Greece to eliminate restrictions on the free movement of capital

    Brussels, 08/08/1996 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Commission announced its decision yesterday to begin proceedings to refer Athens to the European Court over restrictions still placed on the free movement of capital.

    A Commission announcement said Greece continues to set restrictions on payments abroad exceeding ECU 20,000 (roughly six million drachmas). In addition, the announcement stressed that Greek residents are still obliged to convert incomes from foreign investments into drachmas to such a degree where they make no further investments. The European Commission estimates these restrictions violate Article 73 B of the Treaty of European Communities, which bans adoption of any restriction in the payment and movement of capital between EU member-states.

    EU agencies responsible for the movement of capital had informed Greek authorities of their intention to refer Athens to the Euro-Court last October.

    The Greek side replied a month later, noting that the legislative framework regarding the obligation to convert income from foreign investments into drachmas changed in 1994, while it judged that the limit of ECU 20,000 should continue to be enforced in order to fight tax evasion and organized crime.

    Within 40 days of receiving the European Commission's "official opinion", Greece must either proceed with necessary legislative changes or provide reasons for not doing so. If Athens' arguments are accepted by the Commission's agencies responsible for the free movement of capital, then procedures referring Greece to the European Court will be interrupted.

    [11] Development investments rise in '96

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou announced yesterday that investments totaling some 228 billion drachmas had been approved this year under a development law. In all, a total of 201 investment applications were approved, of which 86 relate to integrated business plans under Article 23a of the law, worth 170.3 billion drachmas; 115 special investments under Article 23b, worth 57.7 billion drachmas.

    Total investment grants amount to 82 billion drachmas, compared to 56 billion drachmas in 1995, marking an increase of 46.4 per cent.

    The number of business plans approved this year increased by 36.5 per cent over 1995, while the total estimated cost rose by 35.6 per cent.

    Corresponding increases for special investments were 92 per cent and 94 per cent respectively.

    [12] Public revenues up 12.99 percent between January-July

    Athens, 08/08/1996 (ANA)

    According to figures released by the finance ministry yesterday, public revenues in the first seven months of 1996 were up 12.99 per cent, compared to the same period last year. A budget target calls for an increase of 13.6 per cent.

    End of English language section.

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