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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-03

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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


Greek Press & Information Office
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  • [01] Inner cabinet meeting discusses developments in Greek-Turkish relations
  • [02] Seminar on WEU's future role begins in Athens
  • [03] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece could contribute to better EU-Turkey relations
  • [04] Parthenon Marbles issue to be brought to Blair's attention
  • [05] Sixth Greek-American advisory committee meeting held in Crete
  • [06] Synaspismos congratulations to new British PM
  • [07] Venezuela's IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium
  • [08] Gov't denies press reports of reshuffle
  • [09] Simitis visit to Luxembourg
  • [10] Karamanlis schedules tour of several cities
  • [11] ESHEA comments on World Press Freedom Day
  • [12] Gov't spokesman
  • [13] British Universities Fair in three Greek cities
  • [14] AHEPA delegation to visit Greece, Turkey and Cyprus
  • [15] Reserve commandos commence symbolic Dodecanese journey
  • [16] CoE political groups' leaders in Albania for high-level talks
  • [17] Two new museums in Thrace region announced
  • [18] Bulgarian parliamentary delegation to visit Mount Athos
  • [19] Greek officials to participate in Mauthausen memorial service
  • [20] Focus turns to public works projects in Epirus

  • [01] Inner cabinet meeting discusses developments in Greek-Turkish relations

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired an inner cabinet meeting yesterday focusing on the course of Greek-Turkish relations in the wake of meetings held earlier this week between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller, as well as the decision to have a bilateral "committee of experts" created.

    According to reports, Mr. Pangalos said his Turkish counterpart staged an "attack of charm and friendship" on him, adding that during their meeting in Luxembourg, Ms Ciller gave no specific reply, despite pressures from (European Union) partners as well, to questions he put to her.

    According to the same reports, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Athens must determine the framework of the special relationship between Turkey and the European Union, since Greece's partners in the EU do not desire Turkey's accession to the EU.

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis briefed members of the inner cabinet on developments over the Cyprus issue.

    Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters that during the inner cabinet's meeting no disagreements surfaced, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "everything was fine."

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Greece desires normalization in relations between the two countries, provided that all sides work with respect for international law and treaties and with a spirit based on the principles of friendship and good neighbourliness.

    Mr. Reppas said that provided these preconditions exist, then progress will be achieved in the committee of experts' work, reiterating that its results are not binding for the governments of the two countries.

    Describing processes to be followed, Mr. Reppas said that each side will have the possibility to set out its arguments and the other side to disprove them, adding that "provided that the Dutch (EU) presidency ascertains that in certain points there is common ground then it will request a process of meetings and discussions to follow between the committee's members and exclusively on the points where coincidence exists alone."

    Mr. Reppas said Greek arguments are strong and added that Athens' goal "is to at least reveal Turkey's false allegations and aggressive policy, and at most, to start a process for normalizing Greek-Turkish relations."

    He further said that the path is long, adding that what is desirable is that the committee of experts will have a report by mid-June with the common positions and proposals of the two sides, provided an agreement is reached on certain points.

    Replying to a question, Mr. Reppas said that each side will raise the issues which the experts will be able to examine, adding that "if for example, Turkey requests an examination of issues concerning the demilitarization of islands or the issue of the extension of territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, then Greece will disagree and such issues will not be discussed."

    Mr. Reppas said that Greece is considering the appointment of two jurists specializing in international law as its representatives in the committee of experts, but added that no decision has been taken as to who the two representatives will be.

    According to reports, the government does not want diplomats to be appointed as yet another indication that the committee will focus on issues of a procedural nature and that its conclusions will not be binding for either country.

    Replying to a question on whether members of the inner cabinet disagreed or distanced themselves from the policy, Mr. Reppas said that "there were no objections or distancing constituting a different aspect from policy being followed."

    According to reports, members of the inner cabinet set out views on how the process will be safeguarded to achieve positive and tangible long-term results and stressed that the problem must be approached with seriousness so that mistaken messages are not sent.

    Commenting on political developments in Turkey, Mr. Reppas said that fluidity and instability prevailing in the neighbouring country are aggravating developments because there is no official who can guarantee the process, but added that whatever politic al developments should not affect the work of the committee of experts.

    He said the government aims at minimum consensus with the opposition parties, and stressed that "with careful moves it will try to avoid national issues being raised in the venue of party rivalry."

    He announced that next week Foreign Minister Pangalos will brief Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras.

    The main opposition New Democracy party reiterated yesterday its accusations against the government saying that it (the government) was handling the issue of the committee of experts with "unacceptable and dangerous duplicity".

    [02] Seminar on WEU's future role begins in Athens

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos referred to Greece's contribution to a "clear-up" in relations between permanent and associated members of the West European Union (WEU), such as Turkey, in an address at the opening of the European Seminar in Athens yesterday.

    Earlier, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos received visiting WEU Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro at the ministry. Their talks centred on the situation in Europe, as well as the crisis in Albania.

    The seminar was organized in Vouliagmeni yesterday and today by the Greek presidency of the WEU's Inter-Atlantic Forum. The seminar was entitled "Future Role of the WEU in the New Enlarged Security Environment."

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece's contribution concerns the shaping of a framework safeguarding the operation of the European organization "with clear conditions" so that the WEU's activities will have clear preconditions for implementing and utilizing NATO's possibilities.

    He also referred to the demand of European peoples to widen their defense capacity beyond their national limits and to the need to consolidate an enlarged collective security, which will take on the shape of a "common defense sufficiency."

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos referred to the need for security and stability in parts of Europe such as the Balkans.

    "I hope processes for the enlargement of NATO with these regions will start in July (at the NATO summit in Madrid) and will continue at a stable pace," he said.

    WEU Secretary General Cutilheiro referred to Greece's contribution to the achievement of an agreement in the ranks of the WEU on April 15, concerning the possibility of Turkey and other associate countries participating in the WEU's military operations using NATO's arsenal.

    Mr. Cutilheiro made special reference to the need for mutual support between WEU member-states and to their commitment for solidarity.

    Referring to the reasons why a strong WEU is necessary, he said that it will help Europeans to take their defense seriously. Secondly, it will promote European integration on defense and security issues and, thirdly, it will constitute a guarantee in the event of crises.

    Mr. Cutilheiro also held a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    [03] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece could contribute to better EU-Turkey relations

    Athens, 3/5/1997(ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told the West European Union's Inter-Atlantic Forum seminar yesterday that Greece can contribute towards an upgraded relationship between Turkey and the European Union to the degree that Ankara satisfies conditions set by Athens concerning the latter's sovereign rights as well as status quo and stability in the region. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said committees of experts on Greek-Turkish relations pose no threat for Greece to the point that clear strategic targets exist, which are very clear and concern the consolidation of Greek sovereign rights and the development of the Cyprus issue as a precondition for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

    He pointed out at the Vouliagmeni seminar that the continuous strengthening of Greece's defense capability will guarantee a successful conclusion to all negotiations and consultations.

    [04] Parthenon Marbles issue to be brought to Blair's attention

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, will soon be asked to deliver on past promises by his Labour Party to Athens regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said he would again bring up the issue by sending a letter reminding Mr. Blair of Labour's past promises.

    "We are in communication with the Committee for the Return of the Marbles," Mr. Venizelos said, adding that he would address the letter to his British counterpart.

    Since the issue was first publicly debated, the Labour Party has said on many occasions that it would contribute its utmost for the return of the marbles, exhibited in the British Museum.

    The last promise by Labour was made last October via British Labour Eurodeputy Alfred Lomas, who submitted a relevant request to the European Parliament, adding his voice with those of 251 Eurodeputies from other European Union member-states and from all political groupings.

    At the time, Mr. Lomas called on the conservative government under John Major to examine the Greek request positively, because it "would constitute a major act of international solidarity."

    [05] Sixth Greek-American advisory committee meeting held in Crete

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Greek-American advisory committee is to hold its sixth congress in Irakleio on May 6-8 in order to discuss the security situation in the Balkans and the southeastern Mediterranean as well as bilateral defense co-operation between Greece and the United States.

    The Greek and US delegations will be headed by Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis and his US counterpart, Jan Lobal, respectively.

    The Greek side will present its positions on the safeguarding of peace and stability in the region, based on the respect of existing treaties and the status quo.

    The two sides will also seek areas for bilateral co-operation within the framework of the armament program and will examine the funding of particular programs as well as debts from previous loans.

    Talks will be held on four levels. In the first phase, the heads of the two delegations will hold discussions. This will be followed by a meeting of the working groups of the two sides on policy issues, and then by a meeting of the working group on security matters.

    Lastly, the committee for co-operation in the defense industry will meet. The main part of the congress will end on May 7.

    The previous two congresses were held in Washington in May 1996 and on Rhodes in April 1995.

    Based on the Greek-American agreement of mutual defense co-operation, the meetings are held alternately in the United States and Greece.

    [06] Synaspismos congratulations to new British PM

    Athens, 3/5/19977 (ANA)

    The president of the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party, Nikos Constantopoulos, yesterday sent congratulations to new British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

    In his message, Mr. Constantopoulos expressed hope for the development of relations between his party and the British Labour Party.

    [07] Venezuela's IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Venezuelan representative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Flor Isava, yesterday described the facilities of the Athens Olympic Stadium as "works of art".

    Ms. Isava was shown around the facilities by members of the Athens 2004 Committee, and said she was particularly impressed by the indoor basketball complex and the indoor swimming pool.

    "It is the best sporting complex I have seen," she said after her visit.

    The IOC member visited the main stadium, the tennis courts, the velodrome, the outdoor and indoor swimming pools and the basketball courts.

    Ms. Isava then visited the Acropolis and later planted an olive tree in the Olympic park's "Olive Forest". Each visiting IOC member plants a tree in the park. The olive branches will be used to make wreaths for the 2004 medalists if Athens is successful in its bid to host the Games.

    In another development, the president of the International Field Hockey Federation, Juan Angel Calcado, yesterday visited the Olympic Stadium and Karaiskaki stadium facilities.

    He inspected the areas where field hockey would be held in the 2004 Games and said the only improvements still needed are in the internal areas of the facilities.

    He also attended a match of the first Southeastern Europe Field Hockey Championships, and expressed his pleasure at the development of the sport in Greece.

    [08] Gov't denies press reports of reshuffle

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday refuted recent press reports that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will carry out a government reshuffle, and noted the premier's annoyance at such rumours.

    Mr. Reppas, however, confirmed reports that Mr. Simitis sent a letter to ministers and undersecretaries informing them of the list of positions in the public sector which are incompatible with the position of deputy.

    In his letter, Mr. Simitis said those ministers who hold such positions and do not wish to be candidates for deputy posts in the next elections must submit a written statement to that effect or to otherwise resign.

    Those who wish to be candidates in the next elections must have submitted their resignations from public sector positions to the cabinet's general secretariat by June 30, 1997.

    The incompatible positions include general and special secretaries in ministries, prefects, general directors in organizations and public firms and as heads of public institutions.

    In another development, PASOK's political secretariat and executive bureau are to meet under the chairmanship of Mr. Simitis in order to be briefed on developments in Greek-Turkish relations.

    The party's Parliamentary group is to meet on Wednesday and the cabinet on Thursday, while Mr. Simitis is to meet with the secretaries of the party's prefectural committees tomorrow.

    [09] Simitis visit to Luxembourg

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The prime minister is due to visit Luxembourg on May 13, as it will undertake the rotating EU presidency after the current Dutch presidency.

    On May 25, Mr. Simitis is to participate in the scheduled EU emergency summit meeting and in the summit meeting in June for the hand-over of the presidency.

    In another development, Mr. Reppas announced yesterday that Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet next week with his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen in Strasbourg.

    The two are expected to exchange views regarding the Council of Europe.

    He clarified that the meeting will concern issues of Greek-Turkish relations, adding that there is no particular agenda.

    [10] Karamanlis schedules tour of several cities

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy President Costas Karamanlis yesterday visited the local ND office in Aigio, telling supporters that "New Democracy is now entering a course that does not lead to the left or to the right but only straight ahead."

    "Our moves are neither hasty nor spasmodic," Mr. Karamanlis said, adding: "We will set our political agenda and drag the government to the right path."

    Mr. Karamanlis is expected to leave today for Halkida, and on Sunday he will head for Naousa.

    On Monday he will have a meeting at ND headquarters in Athens with the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens.

    [11] ESHEA comments on World Press Freedom Day

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day today called on Greek journalists to actively support their colleagues throughout the world who are being persecuted or tortured.

    ESHEA called on journalists to fight for the basic principles of freedom of the press, "which is the cornerstone of democracy".

    "Hundreds of journalists in dozens of countries are killed, persecuted, tortured, imprisoned," the ESHEA announcement said.

    "Five hundred journalists have been killed while carrying out their duties over the past 10 years, while in 1996, 58 journalists and other workers in the media were killed on the job and more than 100 were imprisoned and persecuted.

    "This is the tragic toll which coincides with World Press Freedom Day, which has been determined by the United Nations for May 3."

    [12] Gov't spokesman

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas praised the role played by reporters in providing objective information for citizens on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day celebrated today.

    "We must recognize the role of journalists who manage an important part of the daily lives of each of us. Their effort to provide objective information to citizens constitutes a commodity of paramount significance," he said, adding that the standard of press freedom is already high in Greece but there is always ground for improvement and enrichment.

    Referring to the same issue, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said "freedom of the press constitutes a paramount individual and social right and commodity."

    Mr. Spiliotopoulos said it is the duty of the state, press officials and the people to safeguard the freedom of the press.

    [13] British Universities Fair in three Greek cities

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The British Council in Greece is organizing for the seventh consecutive year the annual British Universities Fair in Athens, Thessaloniki and Irakleio.

    The fair in Athens will be held on May 17-18 in the Holiday Inn Hotel from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will inform prospective students and their parents on studying in British universities and colleges in Britain.

    Staff members from 72 universities and public and private higher education establishments will be present to answer questions and provide information on course content and entrance procedures and requirements.

    In Irakleio, the fair will be held for the second time in the Atlantis Hotel on May 14, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and in the Macedonia Palace hotel in Thessaloniki on May 20 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

    [14] AHEPA delegation to visit Greece, Turkey and Cyprus

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    A delegation of the national leadership of American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) for the United States and Canada will visit Athens, Istanbul, Thessaloniki and Nicosia this month.

    The delegation will meet with leaders of the Greek and Cypriot governments, US diplomats and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    [15] Reserve commandos commence symbolic Dodecanese journey

    Athens, 3/5/199 (ANA)

    Fifty reserve commandos left the port of Alexandroupoli in 10 inflatable speedboats yesterday in a symbolic journey towards the eastern Aegean island of Symi.

    The trip, being carried out for the third consecutive year, covers 706 nautical miles and is part of events to mark the anniversary of the German surrender in the Dodecanese in 1945.

    The route will include stops in Samothrace, Limnos, Moudro, Agios Efstratios, Lesvos, Psara, Hios, Samos, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi, Leros, Kalolymno, Kalymno, Pserimo, Nisiro, Tilos, Halki, Rhodes, Megisti and is scheduled to end in Symi on May 8, where celebrations will be held to mark the end of the journey.

    According to organizers, the event "aims to raise the morale of our border islands and the awakening of Greeks of large urban centres, which for so many years have been acting only as individuals and not as communities."

    [16] CoE political groups' leaders in Albania for high-level talks

    Strasbourg, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The presidents of the political groups of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will arrive in Tirana on Sunday, where they will spend two days meeting with that country's senior government officials, political leaders and deputies regarding preparations in view of forthcoming elections.

    The delegation will also have meetings with representatives of the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

    [17] Two new museums in Thrace region announced

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday made several announcements concerning the promotion of cultural heritage in Thrace during his visit to Alexandroupoli, his first stop in a tour of the region.

    Mr. Venizelos chaired a meeting at the town hall with the participation of deputies from Thrace, prefects, mayors, the Metropolitan of Alexandroupoli, Anthimos, and other local officials.

    He announced the creation of two museums, one for classical antiquities in Alexandroupoli and one for Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture in Didymotiho. He also announced the extension of the museum in Komotini, budgeted at one billion drachmas.

    Mr. Venizelos was due to continue his tour of the region with visits to Ferres and Didymotiho.

    [18] Bulgarian parliamentary delegation to visit Mount Athos

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    A 12-member Bulgarian parliamentary delegation, headed by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Todor Kovalciev, is to arrive in Greece on Monday in order to visit the Mount Athos monastic community.

    The delegation will travel to the Zographou Monastery, inhabited by monks of Bulgarian origin, in order to attend a celebration and the appointment of Abbot Amvrosios.

    However, the visit is being overshadowed by the tension which has developed between the monastery as well as the monastic community in general, and Bulgaria, due to the alleged theft from the monastery's library of an antiquarian book which was later transported to Sofia.

    The book, which concerns the history of the Bulgarian nation, was written roughly 300 years ago. It was kept in the monastery's library until it was allegedly stolen in 1984. The monastery at the time blamed the Bulgarian secret service for the theft.

    Following the fall of communism in the neighbouring country, the then abbot of the monastery sent two letters to Bulgarian President Zhelu Zhelev demanding the book's return.

    When the issue came to light, the Thessaloniki prosecutor's office conducted an investigation and brought charges against a Bulgarian national, Petar Mitanov, who was then director of the Zographou tax office.

    The case was due to come to trial on Jan. 7 this year, but was postponed.

    Last year, the book appeared in a museum in Sofia, where it was apparently donated by an anonymous donor. The monastery has since been seeking its return, backed by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

    The issue may be brought up with the Bulgarian delegation, which will meet with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, before departing for Mount Athos.

    [19] Greek officials to participate in Mauthausen memorial service

    Vienna, 3/5/1997 (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greek state representatives and Orthodox Church officials are to participate tomorrow in an event to honour the memory of the 3,700 Greek nationals who perished in the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen.

    A memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony will be held.

    During World War II, more than 200,000 people from all over Europe were held at the Mauthausen camp in northern Austria, with 122,797 dying before its liberation on May 5, 1945.

    After the war, the Austrian authorities converted the camp, 160 kilometres west of Vienna, into a museum and memorial.

    Each year on the anniversary of the liberation, tens of thousands of people visit the camp in order to remember the victims.

    [20] Focus turns to public works projects in Epirus

    Athens, 3/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Rio-Antirrio bridge will be ready for traffic in 2004, while the Aktio-Preveza underwater tunnel will be completed by the end of 1999, government officials stated, adding that construction of the Egnatia Highway is also proceeding at a quick rate.

    In a related development, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis will inspect over the weekend all major projects underway in Epirus - budgeted at 462 billion drachmas.

    Mr. Laliotis will participate in an open meeting of the Epirus regional council in Ioannina today.

    The integrated projects and public works program for Epirus includes roadways, infrastructure works, environmental protection networks and works contributing to local development.

    End of English language section.

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