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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-13

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
Ottawa, Canada
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  • [01] Greece, Russia consider economic, political co-operation
  • [02] No question of Greece negotiating sovereign rights, Tsohatzopoulos says
  • [03] State Department
  • [04] Time is ripe for full examination of FYROM name issue, Athens says
  • [05] Simitis visit to Luxembourg
  • [06] Conference on military law begins in Athens
  • [07] ECOFIN adopts recommendations on Greek fiscal deficit
  • [08] 'Unita' report on Greek-Italian co-operation in Balkans
  • [09] Patriarch cautions against isolation of Orthodox eastern Europe
  • [10] Greece sends aid to quake-stricken in Iran
  • [11] WEU Paris conference to be attended by Pangalos, Tsohatzopoulos
  • [12] Moroccan man charged with illegal immigrant smuggling
  • [13] IOC delegate
  • [14] Focus turns to preservation of monuments
  • [15] One billion drachmas allocated for restoration of mediaeval village
  • [16] Brussels event promotes Greek literature
  • [17] IOBE study on banking points to state-run banks' dominance
  • [18] Greece-Montenegro agreement the focus of delegation's visit to Athens
  • [19] Int'l fur exhibition set to begin today

  • [01] Greece, Russia consider economic, political co-operation

    Moscow, 13/05/1997 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulos)

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and his Russian counterpart Aleksandr Avdeyev held talks in Moscow yesterday which, among others, examined the assumption of a Greek-Russian initiative in the framework of the peace process to handle the crisis in the Balkans and Greek-Russian economic co-operation in the region.

    Other issues discussed were bilateral relations, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. A protocol anticipating regular political consultations was also signed.

    Mr. Kranidiotis underlined the "excellent" level of relations between the two countries and their great political significance, both due to their traditional and historical ties and their "very many common interests."

    Greece especially appreciates the role played by Russia in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, Mr. Kranidiotis said, hailing Moscow's activation over the Cyprus issue and thanked it for its positions and its activation.

    On his part, Mr. Avdeyev agreed with the ascertainments made by his Greek counterpart and said that Greek-Russian relations constitute a permanent and top priority for Moscow's foreign policy.

    A large part of their talks centered on Greek-Russian co-operation in the economic sector in the Balkans and primarily energy and communications networks and infrastructures in the region, as well as the possible undertaking of a joint Greek-Russian initiative for peace in the region. In this framework, the two dignitaries made statements reaffirming the two countries' interest in the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

    Mr. Kranidiotis also invited Russia to participate under an observer status in the inter-Balkan meeting to be held in Thessaloniki in June.

    He notified his Russian counterpart of the forthcoming operation of a branch of the Greek Culture foundation in Moscow and delivered invitations on behalf of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to Russian Prime Minister

    Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov to visit Greece.

    [02] No question of Greece negotiating sovereign rights, Tsohatzopoulos says

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated yesterday after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis that Greece would never enter into negotiations concerning its internationally recognized sovereign rights.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made the statement when asked by reporters to comment on a front-page article in Sunday's edition of the newspaper "To Vima".

    The article claimed Greece and Turkey were edging towards an agreement under which Athens would allow Ankara to use a number of air corridors over the Aegean between six and 10 nautical miles for its military exercises.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece was perplexed by Turkey's attempt to do away with the present status quo determined by international treaties.

    "There is a problem with interceptions, the settlement of which refers us to the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement which both sides have accepted. We have also agreed that the NATO secretary general should explore ways of implementing the same agreement," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He was referring to the memorandum agreement reached in 1988 by the then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz, respectively.

    Mr. Papoulias and Mr. Yilmaz agreed in the Athens seaside resort of Vouliagmeni to promote confidence-building measures (CBMs) between the two countries based on the principle of good-neighborliness.

    "The impression given (in the article) that Greece may reduce the responsibility it has in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) bears no relation to reality," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He added that "anyone can enter the Athens FIR" provided they state their nationality and submit a flight plan "and then the decision is up to Athens, which is responsible for the safety of flights in the region in question, just as Turkey has responsibility for its own FIR." "The message going out to anyone moving in the Athens FIR is that they should observe the relevant international rules," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Simitis discussed issues related to the Western European Union (WEU) in view of the joint meeting of WEU defense and foreign ministers which began in Paris yesterday. The meeting will focus on issues such as the transformation of the WEU into the European Union's military arm and the common foreign policy of the EU. According to informed sources, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also discussed NATO's new structure, the armed forces' armaments program and the draft law on conscription.

    Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also denied the claims in the article in "To Vima".

    He said no discussion was being held concerning the assignment of rights or air corridors, adding that "there is no basis for reality in this".

    "The government is not considering such an issue nor has such an issue been raised," the spokesman said. Mr. Reppas also reiterated that as far as Greece was concerned, the basis for any CBMs between Athens and Ankara would be the 1988 memorandum agreement.

    [03] State Department

    Washington, 13/05/1997 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday stated, when questioned, that he was unaware of any agreement regarding the use of air corridors over the Aegean by Turkish aircraft, stating only that the US continuously seeks manners in which to rebuild confidence between Greece and Turkey.

    Replying to another question as to whether the US is supporting Turkey against Greece "for strategic reasons", as an article in the "Washington Times" quoted Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos as saying, Mr. Burns stressed "the US does not prefer one country against the other."

    "I am sure Mr. Pangalos did not say something like this or his statements were misinterpreted," he added, "as Mr. Pangalos knows well that the US is a friend and ally of Greece as well as of Turkey, that we are neutral and that we use our good services to bring Greece and Turkey together without showing preferences.

    "Greece is one of the United State's oldest allies and we are very pleased with the prime minister, Foreign Minister Pangalos we have an excellent relation with him, and we are sure this will continue."

    [04] Time is ripe for full examination of FYROM name issue, Athens says

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece is examining "everything" within the framework of negotiations under UN auspices on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), including the possibility of a composite name, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    The spokesman however, who was replying to reporters' questions, declined to go into detail, due to the fact that negotiations were currently in progress.

    By 'composite name', Mr. Reppas was referring to the possibility of a name containing the word 'Macedonia' or some derivative.

    Mr. Reppas expressed the view that some agreement might be reached in the UN-sponsored talks and that the government was exerting pressure. The spokesman stressed that nothing had changed which could justify "dramatic tones", adding that "the time is ripe" for the issue to be addressed.

    "Any delaying tactics only harm the other side," Mr. Reppas said.

    Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas reiterated that "there is no way that a state can exist in our region with just the name 'Macedonia'."

    [05] Simitis visit to Luxembourg

    Luxembourg, 13/05/1997 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived here yesterday afternoon for talks today with his counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker on policies and economic developments in the European Union and issues linked to Greek national interests.

    The two prime ministers are expected to focus their interest on EU institutional issues negotiated by the "15" in light of the extraordinary summit for EU leaders on May 23.

    Today's meeting has special importance for Greek foreign policy, since at the end of June Luxembourg will succeed the Netherlands at the EU's rotating presidency.

    On the occasion of his visit to Luxembourg, Mr. Simitis will visit the headquarters of three EU bodies this afternoon, the European Court, the Auditing Council and the European Bank.

    [06] Conference on military law begins in Athens

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    Addressing the inauguration of the 14th conference of the International Society on Military Law and War Convention yesterday, National Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis referred to the need for the establishment and operation of a permanent international court to try charges related to war crimes.

    "The effort must be continuous and uninterrupted if we wish to consolidate the fundamental international conditions of humanitarian aspects in the international field," he said.

    The ceremony was also addressed by the president of the conference's organizing committee, Major-Gen. Athanasios Kosioris and the president of the society. The conference focuses on "investigating and prosecuting war crimes - national law and processes. Military and legal co-operation."

    The conference is taking place at the War Museum's amphitheater and will last until Thursday. It will be attended by leading jurists from Greece, Albania, Algeria, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Britain, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the United States.

    [07] ECOFIN adopts recommendations on Greek fiscal deficit

    Brussels, 13/05/1997 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The Council of European Union finance ministers (ECOFIN) convened in Brussels yesterday and ratified, without making amendments, a document containing recommendations adopted by the European Commission several weeks ago aimed to end the excessive budget deficit in Greece.

    The document contains no new measure and no new settlement, apart from what is already known, because Greek fiscal deficit, despite pessimistic predictions, decreased by 0.2 per cent more than the target set by the Greek Convergence Program. Namely, instead of a decrease amounting to 7.6 per cent of GDP, the deficit dropped to 7.4 per cent of GDP.

    Participating in the discussion between the 15 economy ministers on the draft plan for the EU Budget for 1998, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said, among others, that his government is opposed to any decrease in its resources in the future and particularly in connection with fiscal austerity which is supported by the overwhelming majority of EU countries and is threatening decreases in the resources of structural funds.

    Mr. Papantoniou said an increase in the resources of the EU's budget, particularly after Economic and Monetary Union, must be independent from fiscal austerity policies as they are reflected in the national budgets of member-states, while the EU budget must also cover financially a series of actions and policies which are covered at present by national budgets, such as combating unemployment by creating new jobs.

    [08] 'Unita' report on Greek-Italian co-operation in Balkans

    Rome, 13/05/1997 (ANA - S. Aravopoulou)

    Italy and Greece have every reason to worry even about the slightest destabilizing factors in the Balkans, the Italian newspaper "Unita" reported in a front-page article yesterday.

    "Italy and Greece, member-states of the European Union and allies, have every reason to worry about the existence of even the slightest destabilizing factors in the Balkans," said the article signed by former deputy, professor Theodoros Kokelidis.

    "First of all," the article added, "we must admit that both countries have the ability to make every effort to guarantee stability. An effort which must be strong, in the sense that both EU countries must be the region's protagonists."

    In his article, under the general title, "Common goals for Italy and Greece in the Balkans," Prof. Kokelidis presented a series of arguments for closer co-operation between Italy and Greece in the "volatile" Balkan region. Specifically, the professor said co-operation should focus on the preparation of an EU-backed program promoting investments in critical sectors for the development of the Balkan countries.

    Presenting the reasons which constitute the Balkan peninsula a crucial junction, due to the region's geographic location, for the develop-ment of the broader European region, the professor stressed the importance of coordination between the two countries in order to ensure the necessary criteria for legality through which to inject and develop free-market principles.

    "A difficult effort, calling for the contribution of both Italy and Greece," he said.

    "Both Greece and Italy have a duty to help the economic development of a suffering region on which other European people depend their prosperity," he said, adding that "both countries must exert pressure in order to encourage the EU to adopt a policy aiming at developing the Balkans."

    "The management of the Albanian crisis is a substantial example proving that a common role for Italy and Greece is feasible," he added.

    [09] Patriarch cautions against isolation of Orthodox eastern Europe

    Bucharest, 13/05/1997 (ANA/Reuter)

    An interview published in the Romanian newspaper "Adevarul" yesterday quoted Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos as saying that NATO's expansion towards the former eastern bloc countries should not create a new division between Catholics and Protestants in western Europe and Orthodox faithful in eastern Europe.

    The comment was seen as support for predominately Orthodox Romania's efforts to become a NATO member in the upcoming wave of expansion.

    "The maintenance of unity in Europe is the ultimate duty of all churches today," the Patriarch said.

    "The view prevailing now in certain western circles is for return to a kind of isolation of the western world, considered by some as genuine Roman Catholicism or Protestantism," according to Vartholomeos, the spiritual leader of approximately 250 million Orthodox Christians around the world.

    "This aims at the creation of a new split in Europe, as well as the entry into NATO of only the countries with a Roman Catholic or Protestant tradition," he added.

    "In this phase, Romania does not have many prospects (of entry), particularly if it is used as a tool to continue the division of the Orthodox world," the Patriarch noted.

    [10] Greece sends aid to quake-stricken in Iran

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry is to send 20 tons of medical and other aid in the next few days to Iran where an earthquake measuring 7.1 Richter devastated the country's eastern region, killing at least 2,400 people and leaving thousands homeless.

    The aid will be accompanied by a three-member surgical team of the non-governmental organization "Doctors of the World" which will provide its services in the quake-stricken area for at least one month.

    Due to the extent of the devastation in eastern Iran, a second shipment of similar size is already being planned.

    The government yesterday expressed its deep regret over the loss of life in Iran.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that Greece would express its support in any appropriate way possible.

    Humanitarian aid should not be linked to political choices, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday when asked to comment on the refusal of certain countries to send relief to North Korea. "What is needed is policy with a human face," Mr. Reppas added. North Korea is facing a major famine after extensive flooding in 1995 and 1996 destroyed entire crops.

    [11] WEU Paris conference to be attended by Pangalos, Tsohatzopoulos

    Paris, 13/05/1997 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived here yesterday in order to participate in the West European Union's three-day foreign and defense ministers' council, due to end to morrow.

    Greece, which is to assume the rotating WEU presidency in January 1998, is to present the union's "Transatlantic Forum", which foresees contacts and briefings with the United States and Canada. An international seminar on the subject was held in Athens earlier this month.

    Issues to be discussed will include implementation of the Berlin, Birmingham and Brussels Accords regarding the WEU's capacities and its relations with the European Union and NATO, as well as its role in the operation and planning of defense.

    [12] Moroccan man charged with illegal immigrant smuggling

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    One man was arrested yesterday and another is being sought by police on charges of transporting 38 Iraqi illegal immigrants into the country.

    Moroccan national Abdullah Burahi, 27, was arrested near the Ferres area near the Greek-Turkish border, while a Greek national believed to be his accomplice evaded arrest after he abandoned the truck he was using to transport the illegal immigrants.

    Burahi was driving ahead in another car, and police believe he was acting as a look-out. The Moroccan national told police he had picked up the 38 Iraqis from the border region of Soufli, where they had been transported from Turkey by a Pakistani nation al he identified only as "Ali".

    He said the illegal immigrants had paid a total of US$38,000 in order to be transported to Greece.

    Both the car driven by Burahi and the truck used to transport the Iraqis have been confiscated, while the 38 illegal immigrants and the suspect are to appear before a prosecutor in Alexandroupoli.

    In another incident, police yesterday apprehended another 50 Iraqi nationals who had paid Turkish illegal immigrant smugglers to transport them into Greece by rubber dinghies across the Evros river.

    [13] IOC delegate

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) member representing the Dominican Republic, Munoz Pena, yesterday visited ancient Olympia, while on Sunday night he watched the first match in the best-of-five basketball championship series between Olympiakos and AEK.

    Mr. Pena is currently on a three-day visit to Greece, in order to be briefed on Athens' candidacy for the 2004 Olympic Games.

    He is scheduled today to visit the Olympic Stadium facilities and Zappeio Hall, after which he will visit the National Archaeological Museum.

    [14] Focus turns to preservation of monuments

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greek National Tourist Organization (EOT) Secretary General Nikos Skoulas said his organization is committed to promoting, both abroad and in Greece, cultural events and theatrical activities at archaeological sites at the initiative of the culture minis try.

    Speaking in Rhodes yesterday at the fourth international conference on "Preserving Monuments of the Mediterranean", Mr. Skoulas said co-operation between tourism and culture will be promoted in all sectors to enrich the Greek tourist product in the frame work of the interministerial coordinating body on tourism, implemented by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou.

    He said such co-operation will give priority to promoting the country's cultural monuments through appropriate tourist utilization (exceptions will be made for monuments whose protection is more important than their utilization).

    [15] One billion drachmas allocated for restoration of mediaeval village

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos are due to visit the island of Hios today in order to sign an agreement for the restoration of the mediaeval village of Anavatos.

    The agreement will be signed between the culture ministry and the municipality of Omiroupolis. One billion drachmas will be allocated for the restoration of the Anavatos village, built nine centuries ago.

    [16] Brussels event promotes Greek literature

    Brussels, 13/05/1997 (ANA - M. Savva)

    Greek literature will be represented for the second year in a row during the Belgitude et Grecite event, focusing on problems in the translation and promotion of Greek prose in Francophone countries.

    The event will be held in the Brussels Royal Library on June 6 and 7.

    Speeches will be made by distinguished translators, including Jacques Lacarriere, Michel Grodin, Michel Volkovic and professor of literature in the University of Liege, Jacques Dubois.

    The event is being organized by the Fonds Culturel Hellenique and the Greek embassy's press attachi here, Yiannis Starakis.

    [17] IOBE study on banking points to state-run banks' dominance

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    A new study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) on Greek banking found that the nation's banking system is characterized by a high degree of concentration, with National Bank of Greece and the Commercial Bank being the main protagonists.

    Through these two banks the state controls a considerable part of all banking activities, IOBE noted.

    The concentrating nature of the banking market, resulting from the development of the banks' shares in the deposits and loans markets, is shrinking as over the 1985-1995 period concentration indicators posted a noteworthy decrease.

    Increased competition between banks to satisfy their clients, in conjunction with an expected future decrease in interest rates due to the Greek economy's convergence with the other EU nations and the subsequent decrease in uncertainty will force banks to provide credit with a longer duration and more stable interest rates.

    The study makes special reference to the major state-run banks and underlines that they must show increased flexibility and a faster adjustment to new conditions.

    [18] Greece-Montenegro agreement the focus of delegation's visit to Athens

    Belgrade, 13/05/1997 (ANA - M. Mouratidis)

    A Montenegrin government delegation paid a three-day visit to Athens for talks with Greece-based bank representatives and Greek businessmen on the issue of implementation of credit for the Yugoslav republic, amounting to US$50 million.

    The agreement had been worked out during Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's recent visit to Athens.

    The Montenegrin delegation was comprised of the government's deputy prime minister, the finance minister and the minister of commerce.

    Speaking in Podgorica, Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Dirlievic said the draft agreement on the loan for US$50 million was prepared at the General Bank of Greece. Further talks will be held on the loan issue in Podgorica on Wednesday, during a visit by a Greek business and banking delegation.

    An agreement for the purchase of goods from Greece worth US$40 million is expected to be signed in Podgorica, while a list will be composed listing goods currently in short supply on the Montenegrin market. Podgorica has also agreed with the Apostolopoulos group on another loan amounting to US$10 million for the purchase of consumer goods from Greece.

    In addition, Serbian press reports have commented on a recent agreement signed between the Mytilineos company and the Trepca mines in Kossovo, amounting to US$519 million.

    The general director of Trepca, Novak Bielic, told the "Borba" newspaper yesterday that the mines will honor all the conditions set out in the agreement because only a third of the mines' potential will have to be activated for the implementation of the five-year agreement with the Greek side.

    However, an ethnic Albanian leader in Kossovo, Ibrahim Rugova, once again warned the Greek company not to accept the agreement with Trepca unless it previously receives consent from "the Albanian authorities in Kossovo."

    Mr. Rugova also called on the Greek authorities not to approve the agreement because "such actions aggravate the already difficult situation in Kossovo and deal a blow to good relations with Greece."

    [19] Int'l fur exhibition set to begin today

    Athens, 13/05/1997 (ANA)

    Development Under-secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis will inaugurate the 22nd International Fur Exhibition in Kastoria today.

    The fur sector in the region, despite difficulties faced over the past five years, continues to constitute the primary activity for local residents, with roughly 2,500 businesses and an annual turnover of about US$150-180 million. Fur producers in the Kastoria region have set the target of an annual turnover amounting to US$600 million.

    A total of 125 exhibitors from Greece and abroad will participate in the exhibition, due to last until May 18.

    End of English language section.

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