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

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

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No. 1177), May 5, 1997

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] 'Committee of experts' membership expected to be unveiled this week
  • [02] Thessaloniki's Jewish victims in WWII honoured at ceremony
  • [03] Stephanopoulos urged Ankara to accept validity of international law, treaties
  • [04] Naousa
  • [05] G. Papandreou
  • [06] Domestic issues, Greek-Turkish relations to be discussed by PASOK
  • [07] European Seminar on WEU's future concludes
  • [08] Tsohatzopoulos departs for Warsaw
  • [09] Kranidiotis' office denies UN invitation for Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots to meet
  • [10] Ethnic Greek schools slowly starting up in Gjirokaster
  • [11] 65 traffic fatalities recorded in Greece since April 24
  • [12] New Labour Gov't 'no' to return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [13] Public works for Epirus announced
  • [14] Euro-MP Coates addresses event on initiative against unemployment

  • [01] 'Committee of experts' membership expected to be unveiled this week

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    The official announcement of individuals who will compose the so-called "committee of experts" is expected to be the first move on the part of both Athens and Ankara, and will likely take place in the next few days.

    The meetings of the committee will start immediately afterwards and will be aimed at, according to initial planning, preparing a joint report on processes proposed to resolve Greek-Turkish problems.

    The Dutch EU presidency announced last week the decision by Greece and Turkey to appoint a committee of experts each.

    Turkish diplomat Sukru Elegtag and jurist Suat Bilge are reportedly Ankara's representatives. On the part of Greece, the names of the professors Dimitris Fatouros and Costas Ioannou are being discussed.

    What is of primary importance is an agreement on the processes on handling the issues of the Imia islets and the continental shelf of the eastern Aegean through the international court at The Hague.

    Greece, which is steadfastly pursuing this path, is widely expected to raise these issues with the committee. According to all indications, the European Union's member-states also agree with Greek positions and would be pleased to see Turkey consenting to having these issues examined by the international court at The Hague. European governments have on many occasions urged Turkey since the Imia crisis broke out in January 1996 to move in this direction, but were either met with Ankara's negative stance or its reservations.

    The Greek government, as was also ascertained during the inner cabinet meeting last Friday, will not negotiate the country's sovereign rights, replying in this way to concern expressed by the opposition in recent days.

    Special reference was made to Greece's right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. According to reports publicized this week, Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller had requested from Greece at the EU-Turkey Association Council in Luxembourg to make a statement that Athens waived this right, in order to enable Ankara to withdraw its threats of war. The Greek government refused to make such a statement.

    Developments in past weeks have shown that two new factors have surfaced. Firstly, that a new climate has been created between Greece and Turkey. The meetings and talks between the two countries' foreign ministers and contacts between officials of the two governments are taking place in a very good climate. Turkey, and even its military leaders, are avoiding to use harsh words in referring to Greece.

    The reason for this is known. Greece, in contrast to major powers in the EU, has stated that Turkey's position is in Europe and this has created positive reactions in the neighbouring country.

    The second factor concerns the position observed by Greece's EU partners. In recent times both smaller and larger EU countries have approached Greek positions more than in the past and this is due to the briefing campaign started by the government since the beginning of the year.

    It is also due to the fact that the dialogue process which has started between Greece and Turkey has highlighted the just arguments of Greece to a great degree in connection with the Aegean and Greek-Turkish problems in their entirety.

    [02] Thessaloniki's Jewish victims in WWII honoured at ceremony

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Jewish victims from Thessaloniki that died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II were honoured by the city's Jewish community yesterday in the presence of several government officials, deputies and representatives of local government.

    During a memorial ceremony at the Monastirioton synagogue, six concentration camp survivors lit six candles for the Jewish victims that were exterminated in the Nazi camps.

    Earlier, the president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, Andrea Sefiha, lit a symbolic candle for the approximately 50,000 Jews from Thessaloniki who perished at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

    Addressing the ceremony on behalf of the government, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the ceremony was a "resurgent denunciation of racism and xenophobia."

    Mr. Venizelos referred to the Jewish population's contribution to the economic, political and cultural development of Thessaloniki from the time of the Apostle Paul to the present.

    Jews consider Thessaloniki a holy city since thousands of their Sephardic ancestors took refuge in the capital of Macedonia after being driven out of Spain in 1492.

    According to a census conducted in 1940, Jews living in Thessaloniki amounted to 49,000, but in 1945 they did not exceed 1,950. The total number of Jews led to concentration camps amounted to 46,061. Some 86 per cent of Jews living in Greece before World War II were exterminated, raising the number of Jewish victims all throughout Greece to 67,151.

    In another development, the Jewish community of Athens yesterday also honoured the Jewish victims of WWII. A ceremony was held at the Athens Third Cemetery.

    Also present were Public Order Minister George Romeos, who represented the government, and representations from political parties and the cultural world.

    [03] Stephanopoulos urged Ankara to accept validity of international law, treaties

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Saturday urged Turkey to accept the validity of international law and treaties governing relations between Greece and Turkey so that efforts to improve these relations would bear some results.

    Speaking at an event at the Halkida Infantry School, the president said that while Greece wanted improved relations with Turkey, under no circumstances would it abandon its sovereign rights or to make any concessions on that issue.

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, also addressing the event, celebrating the feast of St. George, the patron saint of the infantry, reiterated that Greece would support an improvement in Turkey's relations with the European Union provided that it accepted international law, respected existing borders and contributed towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis was also present at the event.

    [04] Naousa

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    Speaking from the city of Naousa yesterday morning, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean was non negotiable, while the leader of the main opposition cautioned that the normalization of Greek-Turkish relations should not become " unequal" or "one-sided."

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was quoted as saying "to all parties involved," that there is "nothing negotiable in the Aegean."

    Greece last week maintained its veto on an EU financial package aid to Turkey on the grounds of the latter's continuing threat of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.

    [05] G. Papandreou

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece is in favour of Turkey's European orientation providing the neighbouring country stops its threats of violence, co-operates for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, respects international law and human rights and creates good neighbourly relations with Greece, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said during an address at a debate on Greek-Turkish relations held at Harvard, and entitled "Greece in the Intergovernmental Conference."

    On the Cyprus problem, Mr. Papandreou stressed that the course for its settlement was independent of the procedure for Cyprus' accession to the European Union. He added that the negotiations for Cyprus' accession will start, as already decided, six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    The alternate foreign minister further stressed the need for intensified and coordinated efforts for restoring economic stability in the Balkan countries.

    [06] Domestic issues, Greek-Turkish relations to be discussed by PASOK

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    The course of Greek-Turkish relations and the issue of social dialogue are the primary issues to be discussed at the government and ruling PASOK party level, while Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair his party's political secretariat today to discuss issues of domestic and foreign policy.

    Mr. Simitis will also chair an Executive Bureau meeting to discuss the course of national issues and internal policy issues, focusing primarily on social dialogue. The Executive Bureau will also discuss PASOK's plan of action over the next two months. According to reports, another issue expected to be discussed are the archives of PASOK's founder Andreas Papandreou.

    The Executive Bureau members will discuss details concerning the event PASOK will organize on June 22 to honour the memory of Andreas Papandreou, and at which Mr. Simitis will be the main speaker.

    The meeting of PASOK's Parliamentary group on Wednesday is of particular interest. According to reports, Mr. Simitis is expected to reply to criticism over the government's domestic policy, and primarily that concerning social dialogue, and to those expressing concern over Greek-Turkish relations, particularly in the wake of the decision to create a "committee of experts".

    In a recent joint statement, 32 PASOK deputies have expressed objections over the prospect of a Greek-Turkish dialogue because this could mean the legalization of Turkish claims against Greece, which the government does not accept and has stated that there is no question of negotiating sovereign rights.

    In a related development, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will brief Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on the course of Greek-Turkish relations today.

    [07] European Seminar on WEU's future concludes

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    The European Seminar focusing on the Western European Union's future role in the new enlarged security environment ended on Saturday in Athens after two days of talks on how to redefine Europe's security structure.

    Greece currently holds the rotating presidency of the WEU.

    In addressing the seminar, Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis said "following the historic events of the past eight years, there is no longer a specific political-military threat on a world level. However, there are threats arising from situations such as developments in the Balkans, the rise of nationalism, terrorism, uncontrolled immigration from the southern Mediterranean region and eastern Europe, as well as from the international drug trade."

    There is to be a meeting of WEU defense ministers in Washington next month to review the activities of the outgoing Greek presidency of the WEU.

    "As a country we have tried to give the WEU the characteristics of a dynamically developing defense organization which will become more and more active in the future," Mr. Apostolakis told the closing session of the seminar.

    [08] Tsohatzopoulos departs for Warsaw

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos left for Warsaw yesterday on an official visit at the invitation of his Polish counterpart.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was due to attend a dinner given in his honour by the Polish minister last night.

    The two ministers and respective delegations will have official talks this morning. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will then meet Polish Foreign Minister D. Rozati, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold talks with the Polish government's vice-president.

    [09] Kranidiotis' office denies UN invitation for Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots to meet

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    An announcement on Saturday by the office of Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis stated that "during yesterday's (Friday's) inner cabinet meeting, the foreign under-secretary briefed its members on developments over the Cyprus issue.

    "However, it is not true that Mr. Kranidiotis mentioned that there was an invitation by the (UN) secretary general to the two sides for a meeting as soon as the (UN-sponsored) proximity dialogue is completed," as it had been reported.

    In Nicosia, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides also denied that he had received such an invitation, saying he did not expect an invitation at the time.

    [10] Ethnic Greek schools slowly starting up in Gjirokaster

    Gjirokaster, 05/05/1997 (ANA/P. Barkas)

    Ethnic Greek schools are slowly beginning to fully operate again in the Gjirokaster area. The turnout of pupils is still limited, while staff and school equipment are also in short supply.

    Lessons are difficult at the elementary school in Gjirokaster as the building has sustained serious damage, while attending pupils run the risk of being attacked on their way to and from class.

    Today has been set as the final date for the reopening of compulsory education schools.

    [11] 65 traffic fatalities recorded in Greece since April 24

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    Traffic accidents throughout Greece from April 24 until yesterday claimed 65 fatalities, including 100 serious injuries.

    Some 516 traffic accidents were recorded. According to officials, the death toll for the Easter holiday was the worst to date.

    [12] New Labour Gov't 'no' to return of Parthenon Marbles

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    Britain's new heritage secretary yesterday ruled out returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece, only days after his Greek counterpart Evangelos Venizelos said he would reinstate the long-standing Greek request.

    "We decided it was not a feasible or sensible option. We won't do it," Chris Smith said on BBC television.

    He was quoted by a Reuter's dispatch as saying that the marbles were an integral part of the British Museum collection, visited by millions of people each year.

    Mr. Smith said returning the marbles could encourage other countries to demand the return of their treasures, thereby unleashing a worldwide swapping system of precious art works.

    The Greek demand was first put to British government by late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri and was met with sympathy by the Labour party, then in opposition.

    The marbles, dating back to the 5th century BC, were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with permission from the local Ottoman administrators.

    Elgin removed the frieze and other parts of the massive Parthenon temple dedicated to the ancient goddess Athena.

    After the landslide win of the Labour Party last week, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said he would again bring up the issue by sending a letter reminding new premier Tony Blair of Labour's past statements on the issue.

    "We are in communication with the Committee for the Return of the Marbles," Mr. Venizelos had 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."

    [13] Public works for Epirus announced

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    Public works for Epirus, budgeted at 462 billion drachmas, were announced by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis in Ioannina on Saturday.

    Mr. Laliotis told a meeting of the Epirus Regional Council that the Egnatia Highway across the north of Greece should be completed by 2000.

    He said six sections of the highway were already under construction, another six were soon to be contracted out, while plans for another eight sections were progressing.

    The minister said funding for all projects had been secured.

    "Epirus in the 21st century can and should play a leading role in developments in Europe and the Balkans," he said.

    According to a recent Eurostat bulletin, Epirus ranked among the regions of the European Union with a GDP per capita of less than 50 per cent of the EU average.

    [14] Euro-MP Coates addresses event on initiative against unemployment

    Athens, 05/05/1997 (ANA)

    British Labour Party Eurodeputy Ken Coates made an address at an event organized in Athens by the Coalition of the Left and Progress yesterday on the initiative against unemployment, undertaken by Eurodeputies from various political groups at the European Parliament. Mr. Coates is the coordinator of the initiative.

    He supported the development of a European movement which will bring the problem of unemployment to the epicentre of the interest of both citizens and governments, referring to 20 million unemployed registered in European Union countries, and even more so outside it, after the end to the Cold War era.

    He said that his society was three times richer than at the end of World War II, but is not capable of looking after its citizens. He added that in the framework of the European Parliament he tried to promote programs for combating unemployment together with colleagues from various political parties and indeed twice, in 1994 and 1995, the European Parliament ratified these programs but European governments did not accept them, refusing to agree to common action and common expenditures to create job s. In addition, he said, they did not accept the proposal for a decrease in working hours.

    Mr. Coates said that parties belonging to the European Parliament's left were approached and an effort was made to reach an agreement on common action. He said that despite internal disagreements in the parties, an agreement was reached on the basic issue, namely full employment, and the remaining issues were left aside.

    End of English language section.


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