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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis cites no change in Ankara's policy calls for `patience` in EU- Turkey relations
  • [02] Greeke quities nosedive 5.84 pct battered by turmoil abroad
  • [03] Forex revenue from shipping drops 5.5 pct Jan
  • [04] Fixed-income bond rate rises in auction
  • [05] Banks, brokerages request sale dossier in Cretabank privatisation
  • [06] International pilots' union inspects Greek airports
  • [07] Foreign commercial attaches visit Etoloakarnania
  • [08] Draft of final resolution mention Turkey only in enlargement paragraph
  • [09] Pangalos pleased with EU decision on Kosovo
  • [10] Papantoniou cites Athens' steadfast position on `Agenda 2000`
  • [11] Int'l environmental conference at Halki Theology Academy
  • [12] Opening of Patriarchical bureau in Athens officially announced
  • [13] Armenian defence official to visit
  • [14] Athens continues to urge dialogue on Kosovo
  • [15] Turkish violations south of Crete
  • [16] 8th Division delegation in Albania
  • [17] Athens to host meeting on Balkan peacekeeping force
  • [18] Greece holds crisis management seminar for Partnership for Peace programme
  • [19] Burns points to Denktash,Turkey for impasse in Cyprus talks
  • [20] Bosnian Serb President Plavsic meets with Greek leadership
  • [21] Gov't terms new teachers` exams `completely valid`
  • [22] OLME union president severely beaten during rally
  • [23] Two killed in mine-clearing operation
  • [24] Appeals court rules against mobile telephone provider's terms
  • [25] Greek-Albanian agricultural assistance agreement signed
  • [26] Conference of the National Bank group's off-shore branches
  • [27] Turks release Maltese vessel after missile hunt
  • [28] Moscou denies Turkish reports citing possibility of S-300 cancellation
  • [29] AMAN General Assembly

  • [01] Simitis cites no change in Ankara's policy calls for `patience` in EU- Turkey relations

    CARDIFF, Wales 16/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Prime Minister told his European Union counterparts yesterday that Turkey's internal situation and foreign policy have not changed and that patience and time is necessary for progress to be achieved in EU-Turkey r elations.

    He was responding to statements by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who referred to a need to strengthen ties between the European Union and Turkey.

    Mr. Simitis also said during the afternoon session that the EU had made considerable overtures to Turkey in Luxembourg, adopting a European strategy.

    Outlining the first day of the summit last night, Mr. Simitis said that Mr. Blair referred to a special role Turkey has, due to its geopolitical position, adding that certain "misunderstandings" must be lifted that were created for Turkey through decisi ons taken at the EU summit in Luxembourg.

    He added that Mr. Blair favoured the rephrasing of these conclusions to allow for "the lifting of misunderstandings."

    Mr. Simitis who took the floor immediately after Mr. Blair,said that the same conditions for rapprochement with the EU which apply to eastern European countries must also be the case for Turkey. He said that all EU member-states agreed with this position at the Luxembourg summit and that there is no reason for th ese decisions to change.

    Mr. Simitis said that Turkey was primarily to blame for the lack of progress in relations with the EU.

    "Turkey did not come to the European Conference and discontinued the political dialogue with the EU," Mr. Simitis said, clarifying that on the basis of the above Greece will not consent to a change in decisions taken at the Luxembourg summit.

    Reports said that Mr. Blair's view was clearly supported by France, the Netherlands and Belgium, while German Chancellor Helmut Kohl reserved his opinion until seeing the text of final conclusions first, which will be presented by the British presidency .

    Greece's positions were supported to a certain degree by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who said he did not see the reason why the Luxembourg summit's decisions must be changed.

    Mr. Simitis said that this development was expected, but added that during their meeting in London on Saturday Mr. Blair did not set out in the same way the views he expressed yesterday. He added that Greece will insist on its positions.

    Referring to other issues discussed, the Greek premier said these included member-states' economic policies, and added that an assessment of national programmes on unemployment will take place at the next EU summit in Austria.

    On the question of the issue raised by Germany on a change in the contribution of each country to the own funds of the EU's budget, Mr. Simitis said that it is still early for whatever decisions to be taken.

    The prospects of the EU and of strengthening its ties with European citizens were also discussed and Mr. Simitis said that this issue will be discussed at length at the informal summit in October during the Austrian presidency.

    Mr. Simitis said that the achievement of a "major target" was necessary before these individual settlements, saying that such a target was the initiation of a single foreign policy and defence identity for a united Europe.

    Lastly, Mr. Simitis referred to his meeting with Nelson Mandela yesterday, who arrived in Cardiff after an honorary invitation was extended by the summit. He expressed his appreciation to Mr. Mandela for his struggles for human rights.

    On his part, Mr. Mandela referred to the ethnic Greek community in his country and to its contribution to the country's development. He also said that he had a Greek lawyer during the period of his imprisonment.

    Mr. Mandela said that he will visit Greece with great satisfaction, accepting an invitation by President Kostis Stephanopoulos. The Greek premier also reassured Mr. Mandela that Greece will support South Africa's effort to host the Olympic Games.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Greeke quities nosedive 5.84 pct battered by turmoil abroad

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange yesterday plunged almost six percent in the first trading session of the week, badly hit by renewed turbulence in international markets.

    Traders said foreign investors raked in their profits fearing a possible crash in international markets.

    Trade was moderate to active at 53.6 billion drachmas. The general index ended 5.84 percent lower at 2,286.49 points, its lowest level in two months.

    Sector indices ended sharply lower. Banks dropped 6.81 percent, Insurance fell 4.25 percent, Investment ended 6.0 percent off, Leasing eased 5.17 percent down, Industrials fell 4.92 percent, Construction ended 5.58 percent lower, Miscellaneous fell 5.45 p ercent and Holding dropped 5.33 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 4.67 percent. The FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 6.12 percent down at 1,353.06.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 239 to 11 with another 4 issues unchanged.

    Desmos, General Warehouse, Endysi, Sanyo, Seafarm Ionian, Intrasoft, Giannousis, Halyps and Dane scored the biggest percentage gains.

    Hellenic Sugar, Pouliadis, Bank of Central Greece, Ionian Bank, Alpha Credit Bank, Ergodata, Athinea, Delta Inform and Remek suffered the heaviest losses, hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit down.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 37,350 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,750, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,760, Delta Dairy at 3,850, Titan Cement at 20,030, Intracom at 12,300 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7, 700.

    Domestic money/forex markets stay cool, shrug off upheaval abroad: Greek money and foreign exchange markets were calm yesterday, brushing off turmoil in foreign and domestic stock markets stemming from an economic recession in Japan and the plunging Japanese yen.

    The drachma was softer against most foreign currencies. At the central bank's daily fix, the Greek currency fell to 337.06 against the Ecu from 336.10 and 170.59 against the DMark from 170.32 on Friday.

    Bankers said the Bank of Greece had allowed the drachma to slip following the national currency's appreciation in the last few weeks against its central exchange rate mechanism parity.

    It was devalued by 13.8 percent on March 14 to ease ERM entry.

    Domestic interbank rates held steady, and foreign exchange outflows were minimal.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Forex revenue from shipping drops 5.5 pct Jan

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign exchange revenue from shipping declined by 5.5 percent in January, the merchant marine ministry said yesterday.

    Deposits by Greek seamen and shipping enterprises in Greek banks fell to 170 million dollars in January against 179.9 million dollars in the same month of 1997, the ministry said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Fixed-income bond rate rises in auction

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The average weighted rate in an auction yesterday of five-year fixed income bonds edged up to 9.04 percent from 8.6 percent in the previous tender, the finance ministry said in a statement.

    The offer was oversubscribed by 1.8 times. Submitted were bids totalling 271.2 billion drachmas against 150 billion drachmas of bonds up for auction, the ministry statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Banks, brokerages request sale dossier in Cretabank privatisation

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Several major domestic banks and one foreign bank have received a dossier ahead of an international tender to sell almost 100 percent of state-owned Cretabank, banking sources said yesterday.

    The deadline for bids is June 29. Two earlier attempts by the government since 1996 to sell the bank were abortive; in the second, the starting price was 30 billion drachmas.

    Bankers said that Alpha Credit Bank, Ergobank, Eurobank, Xiosbank, Bank of Pireaus, General Bank and an unnamed foreign bank had received a dossier on the bank's financial status prepared by international accountants Deloitte & Touche.

    In addition, P&K Brokerage and Euroxx brokerage had received Cretabank's dossier, and Bank of Attica is believed to have requested the information package, the sources said.

    Requesting the dossier is a non-binding expression of interest.

    The bank has 87 branches in Greece and employs 1,485 people. Its share capital totalled 41.9 billion drachmas at the end of 1997.

    The bank has a loans portfolio of 199.6 billion drachmas, deposits at 331.7 billion and assets totalling 406.8 billion drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] International pilots' union inspects Greek airports

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Eight officials of the International Pilots' Union are visiting Greece's civil aviation authority in order to inspect the country's air traffic control systems, sources said yesterday.

    The outcome of the inspections will determine whether or not Greece is placed on an airports blacklist compiled by the union.

    Greek air traffic controllers have so far refused to operate a new radar system delivered by Thomson of France due the civil aviation authority's refusal to grant them extra pay.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Foreign commercial attaches visit Etoloakarnania

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    A group of commercial attaches from embassies in Athens visited the prefecture of Etoloakarnania on a three-day tour to view the area's development potential, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (OPE) said in a statement yesterday.

    Led by National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas, the 21 diplomats toured the prefecture, the country's largest, on June 12-14, invited by OPE. Mr. Baltas said he hoped the exposure would help to promote the area's products internationally.

    OPE president Yannis Tzen announced the creation of an office in the local chamber in order to better promote local exports.

    Local trade officials outlined business initiatives in the region, mainly in manufacturing agricultural products and natural resources.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Draft of final resolution mention Turkey only in enlargement paragraph

    CARDIFF, Wales 16/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    A draft of final resolutions by the European Union summit, presented late last night here by the outgoing British presidency to EU member-states, contains no mention to Turkey, as the case was in all previous reso lutions at EU summits.

    Reference to Turkey is, however, made in paragraphs concerning the Union's expansion.

    Specifically, out of eight paragraphs (63-70), Paragraph 69 specifically refers to Turkey, stating:

    "The European Council also welcomes the Commission's communique of March 1998 on taking forward the European Strategy to prepare Turkey for Membership.

    "It agrees that, taken as a package, this provides a platform for developing our relationship on a sound and evolutionary basis...The Strategy can be enriched over time, taking into account Turkey's own ideas...

    "The Council further invites the EU Presidency and the Commission and the appropriate Turkish authorities to pursue the objective of harmonising Turkey's legislation and practise with the acquis, and asks the Commission to report to an early Association Council on progress made..."

    In other references on the UnionYs expansion, the British presidency said the Cardiff summit assessed the candidacy of the 12 countries and took the relevant decisions in the context of the "Agenda 2000" on further enlargement procedures.

    It adds that the maintenance of enlargement procedures with all 12 countries was a priority for the European Union, as its was also referred to in the Luxembourg summit conclusions.

    Meanwhile, French and Dutch diplomacy had the first say in yesterday's session of the EU summit, favouring an amendment of the Luxembourg summit decisions on Turkey.

    As far as France is concerned, President Jacques Chirac spoke in favour of British proposals as presented in the draft final resolutions.

    According to reliable sources, the French president also criticised a recent French National Assembly decision to officially recognise the Armenian genocide by the Turks in the early 20th century, saying the decision was wrong and could spark territoria l designs by Armenia against Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Pangalos pleased with EU decision on Kosovo

    CARDIFF, Wales 16/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday referred to a decision taken by the European Union regarding Kosovo, terming it "balanced".

    In briefing Greek reporters, he said the statement clarifies that there is no issue of supporting whatever effort aimed at Kosovo's independence, while in parallel, whatever use of military force by the government of a country against its population is condemned.

    This decision has a wider significance since it concerns all countries and not only Yugoslavia, he said, adding that for countries with similar problems there is no prospect of EU accession.

    Mr. Pangalos said that yesterday's session of EU heads of state and government focused primarily on problems faced by European economies, repercussions of the Asian crisis and the situation in Kosovo until early in the evening.

    Mr. Pangalos said that the main priorities of member-states are strengthening the competitiveness of the European economy and the undertaking of initiatives aimed at combatting unemployment. He added that the "15" also attribute great significance to the sectors of education and additional vocational training.

    Commenting on the recent worsening of the Asian crisis, Mr. Pangalos said that the first lesson that can be concluded is the absolute refutation of all those who assessed that the so-called "Asian tigers" can constitute a model for economic development.

    Mr. Pangalos said that during their luncheon at noon yesterday, the 15 heads of state and government had the opportunity of exchanging views on the EU's future and prospects. They agreed during the luncheon to have an informal summit convened in October to discuss the EU's prospects.

    Summing up on this issue, Mr. Pangalos said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must receive Felippe Gonzalez in Belgrade as an EU envoy.

    Regarding relations between Turkey and the EU, Mr. Pangalos said that the issue has not been raised for discussion for the time being, adding that the Ankara government is mainly responsible for the current situation in relations between the EU and Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Papantoniou cites Athens' steadfast position on `Agenda 2000`

    CARDIFF,Wales 16/06/1998 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday reiterated Greece's steadfast position that an agreement on funding the "Agenda 2000" must be overall.

    Speaking to Greek reporters, he said: "We do not accept individual agreements." He added that agreement must be reached on all issues and then negotiating the package must be concluded.

    Mr. Papantoniou's statement was made in light of the discussion on the European Union's own resources due to be held later in the day. Some of the major European powers, and primarily Germany, want a decrease in the 1.27 per cent figure, namely, the per centage of GDP with which every EU country contributes to the EU budget.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that the many uncertainties currently faced by the EU (cost of enlargement, repercussions from the implementation of EMU, possible consequences from the revision of CAP and the unknown cost of supporting employment policies) necessi tate wider fiscal margins than those pursued by the EU's northern countries.

    Mr. Papantoniou further referred to employment, development and the promotion and strengthening of social cohesion, which were discussed by the "15" during the European Council's first meeting.

    Referring to the address by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr. Papantoniou said that he placed emphasis on employment and social cohesion issues, adding that national action programmes on employment must take national individualities into consideration due to the diversity of problems faced by each country.

    He said that Greece places emphasis on initial education and training to enable young people joining the labour force to acquire elementary qualifications.

    On the question of stability and development, Mr. Simitis said in his address that securing economic stability is a necessary condition but is inadequate to tackle problems in their entirety, also stressing the importance of an increase in funds for str uctural funds and the strengthening of social cohesion.

    Mr. Simitis further referred to the need for social justice and underlined the great progress achieved by the Greek economy.

    Mr. Papantoniou said on his part that positions similar to those of Mr. Simitis were set out by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and socialist leaders from northern countries. He added that Mr. Simitis and Mr. Jospi n requested clear references to the social dimension of economic policy in conclusions to be drawn by the council today.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Int'l environmental conference at Halki Theology Academy

    ISTANBUL 16/06/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The opening an international ecological conference on the environment took place at the Halki Academy of Theology on Sunday in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and visiting Archbishop of Athens and All Gre ece Christodoulos.

    The annual conference is under the aegis of Vartholomeos and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in his capacity as honorary president of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

    The conference, which has become an annual event, is attended by theologians, environmentalists and experts from eastern and western Europe, the United States, Africa, the Middle East and Australia. It will last for four days and focus primarily on the promotion of environmental sensitivity.

    Among others, messages were addressed by Prince Philip, US President Bill Clinton and European Commission President Jacques Santer.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Opening of Patriarchical bureau in Athens officially announced

    ISTANBUL 16/06//1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece yesterday announced the opening of a Patriarchical bureau in Athens and coordination of efforts of respective Orthodox Churches to be represented in the European Union.

    The two church leaders, who headed their respective delegations at the official talks, also noted in an announcement that the Patriarch will visit Athens sometime after Easter.

    Members of both delegations noted the "brotherly and peaceful atmosphere" in which discussions over the future relations of the Autocephalus Church of Greece and the Patriarchate occurred.

    It should be noted that the Greek Church achieved independent status last century after the founding of the modern Greek state, while most of the regions in northern Greece - liberated during the early 20th century - are legally under the nominal auspices of the Ecumenical Patriachate.

    The status of those ecclesiastical bishopries as well as leadership issues have long created tensions between the two churches.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Armenian defence official to visit

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Armenian Defence Undersecretary Lieutenant-General M. Abrahamian will pay an official visit to Greece from June 17-20 to attend a graduation ceremony of Armenian cadets at the army's officer training academy in Athens.

    During his stay here, Lt.-Gen. Abrahamian will have talks with defence ministry officials on military issues of mutual interest.

    He will also visit a training centre for tank crews and several archaeological sites in the Athens area.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Athens continues to urge dialogue on Kosovo

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece is in favour of every possible effort being made for dialogue to resolve the Kosovo problem so that a solution may be found with peaceful means, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said yesterday.

    Mr. Athanassakis made the statement when asked to comment on the participation of two Hellenic Air Force F-16s in NATO air exercises, held as a warning to ethnic combatants in the troubled Serbian province.

    The spokesman, however, declined to say whether Greece would take part in any military operations against Serbia if these are ordered by NATO or any other international organisation.

    KKE : The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) yesterday issued a press release stating that the government is moving to entangle Greece in a war by a "planned imperialist incursion in Kosovo...(while) it is taking part in the criminal plans, supposedly in the name of defence of human rights."

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Turkish violations south of Crete

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Turkish warplanes yesterday infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations while flying in a region near the island of Gavdos, south of Crete, for scheduled exercises in international airspace, according to sources.

    The Turkish warplanes were identified and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighter jets.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] 8th Division delegation in Albania

    GJIROKASTER 16/06/1998 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    A delegation of the Hellenic Army's 8th Division, based in Ioannina, arrived here yesterday to reciprocate an earlier two-day visit by an Albanian army delegation.

    The courtesy call includes visits to World War II grave sites of Greek soldiers that fell during the Greek-Italian war.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Athens to host meeting on Balkan peacekeeping force

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Military experts from seven countries will meet in Athens from June 22-26 to discuss matters related to the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force to prevent conflict in the Balkans.

    The decision to set up the force was taken at a meeting of the defence undersecretaries of eight countries of southeast Europe and the United States in Tirana last month.

    The Athens meeting will be attended by delegations from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Romania. Representatives from the USA and Slovenia will be attending as observers.

    The meeting will focus on issues concerning the organisation and structure of the force's headquarters as well as legal and financial matters.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Greece holds crisis management seminar for Partnership for Peace programme

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The National Defence General Staff has organised a seminar on crisis management - entitled "Athens '98" - to be held from June 30 to July 3 within the framework of the Partnership for Peace programme.

    The objective of the seminar is to brief participants on the means available to the international community for averting or handling crises.

    So far, political and military representatives from a number of countries have said they will be attending, including from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Britain, Norway, Poland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Uzbekistan, Roman ia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic.

    The seminar will also be attended by representatives from NATO, WEU, UN and OSCE.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Burns points to Denktash,Turkey for impasse in Cyprus talks

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns said he considered Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, personally, and Turkey responsible for the impasse in the Cyprus peace talks, adding that the US would not recognise Mr. Denktash as a head of state.

    He also said the four islands in the Aegean recently disputed by Turkey were clearly Greek, and praised Greece's foreign policy in the Balkans, particularly on the Kosovo issue.

    In an interview with the Athens daily "Exousia" published yesterday, Mr. Burns expressed great respect for Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his government, said he had a close cooperation with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, and reiterated t he US position that the European Union should keep its door open to Turkey. Mr. Burns, a former US State Department spokesman who took up his Athens post six months ago, said the US and Greece were making progress in the building of "a good and successf ul relationship of confidence" at political, economic and mlitary level, noting recent visits here by the US Secretaries of Commerce and Defence, an expected visit by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later this summer, and Greek defence minister Akis

    Tsohatzopoulos's scheduled US visit on July 3-10, during which he would be received in Washington "with the highest honours".

    Mr. Burns said the US was closely collaborating with Greece on all problems in the eastern Mediterranean.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, "we (the US) believe that Cyprus must remain a united island. We believe in a unified Cyprus on a bi-zonal, bi-communal basis and we have not altered our views," Mr. Burns said. He said the US was "very disappointed with Mr. Denktash's reaction, and also that of the Turkish side, to the proposals tabled by Richard Holbrooke", the US Presidential emissary for Cyprus.

    "There is no doubt that the Turkish side was responsible for the collapse of the talks," Mr. Burns said, adding that the US was disappointed over the Turkish side's views that Cyprus' EU candidacy should be postponed or annulled and that the US side sho uld recognise Mr. Denktash as a head of state.

    "We shall not recognise Mr. Denktash as a head of state. We hope very much that the Turkish side will be more open to a constructive discussion with the Cyprus government on this problem," Mr. Burns said.

    With regard to Greek-Turkish relations, he said the US was an ally of both Greece and Turkey in NATO, and "we have a very deep friendship with both countries and wish to help those two countries if they can resolve some of the problems between them".

    In that spirit, he added, "we are particularly pleased that NATO secretary general Javier Solana succeeded in an agreement on promoting confidence- building measures in the Aegean. This is very important".

    "The US is also pleased that, as a part of that agreement, there will be a moratorium on military exercises in the Aegean this summer," Mr. Burns said, adding that this was a positive development which the US hoped would greatly help the situation and p romote a "strong and productive tourism season for Greece in the Aegean".

    Questioned on Turkey's recent dispute of Greek sovereignty on four inhabited islands in the Aegean (Fournoi, Agathonisi, Farmakonissi and Pserimos), Mr. Burns said the issue was brought to US attention by the Greek authorities, with which it had several discussions, and "there is no doubt that the US believes that those islands are inhabited by Greeks and are widely considered Greek. And we hope very much that this is comprehended by everyone in the region".

    Mr. Burns added that several months before that, Greek sovereignty of the Kalogiri islands had also been disputed. "The US definitely believes that they are Greek islands," he stressed, adding that the same also held true for the island of Gavdos.

    Questioned on high-level US pressure on the European Union to improve its policy towards Turkey, Mr. Burns said that the US, "although not a member of the EU, believes that it is very important for all of us to work to create a situation in the next cen tury in this region that will be peaceful and stable. Thus, we believe that Turkey has a European orientation".

    "We hope that the EU will keep its door open to Turkey for candidacy, although Turkey will have to fulfill the conditions for membership. We believe it is in the interests of all the EU countries to have Turkey cooperating with Europe in the next centur y rather than shut out. Turkey is an important country for geo-political reasons," Mr. Burns said.

    He added that Turkey's future and stability were "important for all of us in the West, and we believe that we should do everything possible in order to be open to closer cooperation with Turkey in the future, and this, naturally, includes the EU," he sa id.

    Asked to comment on reports citing Turkish officials as saying that after the EU's decision not to include Turkey among candidates for membership it was impossible for Ankara to take positive steps on the Cyprus issue, and on how this would affect the Holbrooke initiative, Mr. Burns replied:

    "I can assure you that ambassadors Holbrooke and (State Department special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas) Miller will continue to work with the Cyprus government and the Turkish Cypriot community in the direction of negotiations to resolve the problems between them. We will not abandon the effort. We shall continue to work towards the end. But we will not change our policy, we continue to believe in a federal bizonal, bicommunal approach to the Cyprus problem. We do not wish to see Cyprus partitioned. We want to see Cyprus united and peaceful."

    Turning to Greek-US bilateral relations, Mr. Burns said that the US had been a good friend of Greece in many instances in the past, citing the Marshall Plan as a good example.

    "I also believe that the US should have been a better friend of Greek democracy during the junta. I believe that we should not have supported the dictators," he said.

    "We must respect history and read it. We should understand the meaning of the history of the last 50 years, but we should not be hostages of that history. We must move forward and aspire to a better Greek-American relationship, a relationship that shoul d be based on our alliance in NATO, on the very close friendship between our peoples," Mr. Burns said.

    Turning to Greece's role in the Balkans and the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Burns noted that the US was closely collaborating with the Greek government on the Kosovo problem. "We've had intensive exchanges of views. Secretary of State Albright and Foreign Min ister Pangalos personally discussed this issue on two occasions in recent months, and I am in close contact with Mr. Pangalos and his staff on this matter," Mr. Burns said.

    "I believe that we are working very well with the Greek government and with the other allied governments in the effort to have a common position. And that position, naturally, is to try to do all that we can to avert the outbreak of a terrible crisis in Kosovo. To send a message that there should be a peaceful, and not a violent, solution to the Kosovo problems," he said.

    Mr. Burns added that the US was "very pleased with how the Greek government is working on this".

    "I see very few differences between us on this issue. We are very impressed by the fact that Greece has, in general, a very constructive policy on its northern neighbours. Greece has very good relations with FYROM and Albania. It is a country with influ ence in Serbia. Consequently, the Greek views on the issue are very important to us. Generally, I believe that Greece has the opportunity in the future to exercise great influence in the Balkans," he added.

    Questioned on his own relations with the Greek government and officials, Mr. Burns said that "we have developed very good coooperation relations with the Greek government".

    "I have great respect for the Prime minister had his staff and work closely with them. I also work closely with Foreign Minister Pangalos, whom I consider a very smart and serious person, with whom we do very good work together," he added.

    Mr. Burns further praised the new Greek ambassador in Washington, Alexandros Philon, as an "excellent diplomat", and said he also worked closely with several other ministers, including the finance minister "and have great respect for the quality of the leaders in Greece".

    "They all wish to build a stronger relationship between the US and Greece than we had in the past. I think we all agree that that relationship needs strengthening, and we are committed to that. We are starting to take steps to make this a reality," Mr. Burns concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Bosnian Serb President Plavsic meets with Greek leadership

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The visiting president of the Serb Republic of Bosnia,Biljana Plavsic, held talks yesterday with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    The Bosnian Serb president is on an official visit to Greece.

    Ms Plavsic's meeting with Mr. Kaklamanis focused on the situation prevailing in the Balkans and primarily developments in Kosovo. Both officials expressed concern over tension created in Kosovo, stressing that it must not become the hub from which a new Balkan conflict will start.

    Mr. Kaklamanis said that the crisis must be resolved with peaceful means and based on the principles of respect for human rights and the inviolability of existing borders.

    The Bosnian Serb leader also noted the positive role the Greek military contingent in Bosnia plays for the stability in the war ravaged region. In her meeting with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, she also thanked the non-governmental Greek organisation "Solidarity Caravan" for its help with the war's orphans as well as all those in need.

    In addition, Ms Plavsic invited the Greek minister to visit Pale.

    It should be noted that the Greek armed forces are active in preserving the stability in post civil-war Bosnia within the framework of NATO's SFOR.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted the interest of the Greek people for peace and democracy as well as stability in Bosnia and the improvement of the Serbian people's living conditions.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Gov't terms new teachers` exams `completely valid`

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that its new nationwide appointment exams for pu blic school teachers, the target of four days of pitched battles between police and protesters, was "completely valid" and would not be repeated.

    Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis told reporters that the situation of those candidates who had been prevented from sitting the examination by the protests would be "examined in the framework of the law".

    Participation in yesterday's final day of the exam was over 60 per cent, Mr. Athanassakis said. A total of 26,000 unappointed educators had taken the exam, of which between 5,000 and 6,000 would be hired for the new school year. According to the educati on ministry, a total of 46,400 teachers had registered to take the examination.

    Mr. Athanassakis rejected an argument that the government was "politically responsible" for the incidents, saying the violence was caused by small groups against whom the government was obliged to implement the law.

    Police and riot squads around country used tear gas and batons to disperse rowdy groups of unappointed teachers and supporters opposed to the introduction of the competition, changing the way appointments are made to public schools.

    The exam is expected to gradually phase out a decades-long waiting list based on graduation seniority and provide 20 per cent of new teaching appointments for the 1998-1999 school year.

    Tempers yesterday, the final day of the exams, were relatively cooler, with few incidents being reported. Unappointed teachers in Thessaloniki, meanwhile, told a press conference yesterday they would challenge the validity of the exam in the courts with "a barrage of lawsuits".

    According to the president of ASEP, the state body responsible for public sector hirings and appointments, ASEP has begun to receive written complaints from candidates who were hindered from taken the exam.

    "All the complaints have the same motif," Mihail Papadakis said. "That they were shoved and spat on, etc."

    Arrests : Nine people arrested during clashes in central Athens on Sunday appeared before an investigating magistrate and charged with a variety of offences, including disturbing the peace, possession of explosive materials, resisting arrest and arson.Another six p rotesters, arrested in earlier incidents, were expected to appear before a magistrate yesterday.

    Teacher unions rally in Athens : Teachers unions and labour supporters organised a rally at Kaningos square to demand the abolition of a new eduction law.

    About 5,000 demonstrators yesterday marched from Kaningos to the Parliament and finished their rally in front Athens University's main administration.

    Among the protesters a group of about 400 self-styled anarchists and extreme leftists attempted to burn a car and a bank branch.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] OLME union president severely beaten during rally

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    The president of the Union of (public) Secondary School Teachers (OLME) was severely beaten yesterday evening during a union-organised rally in central Athens.

    According to reports, Nikos Tsoulias was chased by a group of college students, self-styled anarchists and other individuals, who eventually caught him at the corner of Academias and Themistocleous streets, brutally punching him and hitting him with mot orcycle helmets and sticks.

    He eventually escaped with the assistance of several OLME associates, before being transported to a nearby hospital.

    The group of self-styled anarchists at the same area remained, shouting slogans and burning flags.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Two killed in mine-clearing operation

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    Two soldiers were killed and a third seriously injured yesterday near the Kipi border post in Evros prefecture when a mine exploded as they were clearing a minefield.

    Sergeant Stephanos Pitikakis and Private Christos Palyvidas died on the spot, while Private Ioannis Lygeros was in serious condition at an Alexandropouli hospital with injuries to his right leg.

    All three belonged to a special army mine-clearing unit.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Appeals court rules against mobile telephone provider's terms

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    An Athens appeals court has issued a decision of significant importance concerning consumer protection in the mobile telephony sector, according to an announcement by the consumer protection group "EKPOIZO".

    Specifically, the court considered as being abusive the general terms depriving a subscriber of the possibility to annul the mobile telephony linkage whenever he wishes without unfavourable consequences, as well as general terms permitting the unilateral adjustment of a tariff list and the imposition of an additional guarantee, following a collective lawsuit by EKPOIZO against the provider STET HELLAS.

    "Mobile telephony, regardless of the private economic criteria on which it is organised, belongs to the so-called public utility sectors, since it is emerging as a decisive means of communication in our daily lives. Therefore, the free access of consumers must be safeguarded, which means that consumers must decide for themselves on whether they will continue or not to remain subscribers. Consequently, contracts must have an indefinite duration, without this nature being undermined frequently and be unde rmined through the establishment of a minimum duration of time," the court's decision read.

    EKPOIZO called on the development ministry and the National Telecommunications Committee to provide quicker and more effective protection for consumers in the mobile telephony sector.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Greek-Albanian agricultural assistance agreement signed

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    A memorandum on Greek agricultural assistance to Albania was signed in Athens yesterday by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and his Albanian counterpart Lufter Xhuveli.

    Priority will be given to greenhouse systems, vineyards, market produce, tobacco and maize.

    Greece will also train 15 Albanian agricultural agents as well as provide rice and pasta products to the neighbouring country. The memorandum comes in the wake of a cooperation protocol on agriculture and foodstuffs, signed in Athens in January 1996.

    There are at present 200 Greece-based enterprises in Albania, dealing mainly in commerce, agriculture, industry and textiles. Three Greek banks and four construction companies are also active in the neighbouring country.

    According to Albanian figures, foreign investments in the country total US$320 million, with Greece representing 25 per cent. Greek exports to Albania in 1996 totalled $323 million compared to $126 million in 1993.

    Imports from Albania reached $35.8 million in 1996 from $15.4 million in 1993.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Conference of the National Bank group's off-shore branches

    Athens 16/06/1998 (ANA)

    A conference of the National Bank group's off-shore branches was held in Athens yesterday to assess performance in the first five months of the year, as well as to consider the group's strategy specialisation in secondary sectors, as well as coordination of international activities.

    National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas referred in detail to the group's overall strategy and to ways to implement it abroad.

    He further touched on ways to improve its foreign branches' profitability and effectiveness.

    Emphasis during the conference was placed on the efforts foreign branches of the bank should make in order to successfully deal with technical matters in relation to the introduction of the euro.

    An extensive discussion also took place on developments in the Balkans and the progress by National branches in the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Turks release Maltese vessel after missile hunt

    ANKARA 16/06/1998 (Reuters/AFP/ANA)

    Turkish customs officials stopped a Maltese-flagged freighter in the Dardanelles yesterday, searched it for anti-aircraft missile components that Russia has sold to Cyprus and released it after eight hours, accepting that the cargo was destined for Egypt.

    "After completing the necessary checks, permission has been given for the vessel to depart," Turkish State Minister Sukru Sina Gurel told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

    On his part, Turkish Shipping Minister Burhan Kara said after the vessel was released that "it is clear that the cargo is weaponry, but its type is not clear...since it is going to Egypt, it appears a statement will come from the Egyptian government."

    Earlier, Russian authorities had already dismissed reports that the Malta- flagged cargo ship was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missile components to Cyprus, according to Russian news agencies.

    The Itar-Tass news agency quoted a spokesman for a Russian weapons export firm as saying that the "Natasha-1" was not carrying S-300 batteries to Cyprus. Interfax reported that Moscow has not yet started the process of delivery to Cyprus of the missile system, purchased by Nicosia for US$420 million, according to a high-ranking Russian defence ministry official who did not wish to be named.

    The denial on behalf of Russia followed widespread reports by Turkey's Anadolu news agency, and later picked up by international wire services, that Turkish custom officials had discovered seven mobile batteries aboard the Maltese freighter while the sh ip was sailing through the Dardanelles Strait.

    The cargo ship, listing a cargo of tractors from Russia to Egypt, was stopped and searched by the Turkish coast guard 12 miles off the port of Gallipoli at the entrance of the Dardanelles.

    According to Anadolu, Turkish customs officials found seven mobile missile batteries in the ship's lowest hold in addition to 142 tractors, as specified in the ship's cargo ledgers, while the vessel's skipper had reportedly not declared the parts to Turkish authorities.

    Last August, Ankara had announced it would regularly inspect vessels passing through its waterways to prevent the shipment of S-300 missiles to Cyprus, while Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said on Sunday that Ankara would take retaliatory measures if the missiles were deployed on the island republic.

    Cyprus, which has purchased the missiles, expects they will be delivered and deployed on the island after the autumn, probably in November.

    Although the Dardanelles and nearby Bosphorus Straits are international waters governed by the 1936 Montreaux Convention, Turkey requires that ships with military cargo must give at least 24 hours notice before passing through the waterways.

    In addition, the Cypriot government accused Britain earlier this month of leaking scare stories to the press to prevent the missiles' deployment.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] Moscou denies Turkish reports citing possibility of S-300 cancellation

    MOSCOW 16/06/1998 (AFP/ANA)

    The Russian foreign ministry yesterday denied reports that Moscow might pull back from the sale of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Cyprus, if it could get a good share in TurkeyYs multi-billion weapons procurement programme, the Interfax news agency reported.

    Russia "knows nothing" about such intentions, FM spokesman Vladimir Rahmanin said in reply to the alleged comments of an unnamed Russian diplomat in Turkey, reported by the Turkish Anadolu news agency on Sunday.

    "Up to now, we have the intention to honour this contract" for the delivery of S-300 missiles to Cyprus, he added.

    He further stressed that Moscow "regards the contract as a commercial deal and could only re-examine it if the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities agreed to demilitarise the island".

    Anadolu reported that Russia would cancel the S-300 deal with Cyprus but only after it secured a favourable position in Turkey's defence contracts in return.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] AMAN General Assembly

    LIMASSOL 16/06/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    Cyprus will host a special seminar of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN) next year, to be organised by the French News Agency (AFP) in cooperation with the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    The decision was taken here yesterday by the General Assembly of the Alliance.

    CNA took over the one-year presidency of the Alliance from the Egyptian News Agency MENA.

    The seminar will take place 16-17 March 1999 in Nicosia and will aim at the technological upgrading and the improvement of the editorial work of news agencies.

    During the discussion that took place yesterday, reference was made to specific topics of the seminar, such as transmitting news reports via telephone lines and satellite, as well as on the Internet.

    Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmed, General Editorial Supervisor and MENA Deputy Editor-in-Chief, read the activities report of the Chairman of the Alliance and President and Editor-in Chief of MENA Mahfouz El-Ansari.

    Mohamed Amara, Editor-in-Chief of the Tunisian News Agency (TAP) read the financial report of AMAN's Secretary General and said contributions to the bank account, opened last year in Tunisia by member-agencies, reached 24, 000 US dollars.

    Three news agencies announced yesterday their contributions to the fund, namely AFP (5,000 dollars), the Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Lebanese News Agency (NNA), each contributing 2,000 dollars.

    Furthermore, a working paper was presented by CNA on the MEDNEWS bulletin in Arabic and English, in a bid to strengthen cooperation among member- agencies, through exchanges of news items.

    Athens News Agency

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