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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-02-08

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] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece will participate in Kosovo mission if Rambouillet succeeds
  • [02] Stephanopoulos to represent Greece in Hussein's funeral
  • [03] Athens reiterates guarantee for Cyprus' security
  • [04] Karamanlis elected as EPP vice-president
  • [05] Pangalos arrives in Sarajevo to begin 4-day tour of region
  • [06] Constantopoulos returns from Russian visit
  • [07] Wide-ranging Tsohatzopoulos address in Thessaloniki
  • [08] Gov't replies to latest press comments by Ocalan
  • [09] Pangalos: Nat'l elections in Oct. 2000
  • [10] Gov't offers partial debt resettlement prior to farmers' threatened road blocks
  • [11] Avramopoulos to officially visit Tirana today
  • [12] Bulgarian PM Kostov calls for 2 ND Euro-MPs to visit Kozloduy
  • [13] Coast guard,Turkish smugglers exchange gunfire off Kos

  • [01] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece will participate in Kosovo mission if Rambouillet succeeds

    MUNICH 08/02/1999 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed here the importance of enhancing and promoting the European Union's "defence identity" in order to strengthen the European pylon's role in NATO.

    Addressing a conference on European security on Saturday, he also said this orientation does not constitute a competitive manifestation towards the US.

    Referring to Kosovo in statements to Greek reporters, he made it clear that if an agreement is reached at Rambouillet on the Contact Group's draft interim solution, Greece will certainly participate in the guarantee for its implementation with allied military forces.

    "However, it must be clear that our mission and role must not be the shaping of an international protectorate or the dissolution of existing borders and the infringement of the sovereign rights of an independent country, such as Yugoslavia," he said.

    On the question of the legitimate basis of the alliance's actions, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed support for observation of the rule that there should be a mandate by the UN Security Council, adding that exceptions "trap the future."

    Referring to a possible strike against Serbian targets in the event of failure at Rambouillet, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that a decision by the Security Council is necessary.

    "If there is no decision by the UN, we (Greece) will not participate and we have stated this," he stressed.

    The new duties of "new NATO" must go together, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, with the assumption of new duties on the part of the Europeans. He said the content of the alliance's new strategy, to be decided at NATO's summit in Washington in April, primarily regards European security which includes, apart from western countries, the countries of eastern Europe and central Asia.

    This context includes the promotion of regional security institutions, which Greece supports, not only for the Balkan region but for the Baltic or the Black Sea as well.

    Replying to questions by Greek reporters, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed regret over the decision taken for no further wave of NATO enlargement to take place for the time being, apart from the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, who will become members at the Washington summit.

    "Greece insists on the view that priority must not have been given to central but to southeastern Europe where flashpoints are found," he said, adding that "the next step must certainly include Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia."

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the "yes" to NATO's new strategy which widens the alliance's character from "purely defensive" to "partially interventional" with the possibility of intervention "outside the limits of jurisdiction", if there is the question of preventing or averting flashpoints from flaring up, is linked to intervention at the Security Conference with the political framework raised and which is: the pursuit of peaceful solutions, respect for the principles of international legality and the inviolability of borders and the non-adoption of a practice of the inconsiderate use of military force as a policy means.

    A point on which Mr. Tsohatzopoulos placed particular emphasis was the need to promote cooperation between Europeans in the sector of the defensive weapons industry.

    "The European defence identity of the Europeans will remain an unfulfilled dream, probably for decades, if there is no progress in the sector of unifying the European defence industry," he said.

    In Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' view, upgrading the West European Union (WEU) to a military arm of the EU and a European pylon of NATO constitutes for the EU the logical consequence of undertaking its responsibilities.

    Speaking to Greek reporters, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos sided with the proposal made by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer for the post of "Mr. KEPPA" (the EU's representative in the common foreign policy and securit y policy sector enacted by the Amsterdam Treaty, to be concentrated in one person and the post of WEU Secretary- General.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Stephanopoulos to represent Greece in Hussein's funeral

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will represent Greece at the funeral of long-time Jordanian monarch Hussein. Mr. Stephanopoulos leaves today for Amman. The funeral is also scheduled for today.

    Yesterday, the Greek president expressed the "sincere condolences" of the Greek people towards King Hussein's family and the Jordanian people, adding that "King Hussein succeeded under adverse conditions to make his country a factor of stability in the region and to contribute to the promotion of the peace process."

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said King Hussein's death was the loss of a historic figure.

    "Humanity mourns for the loss of a historic personality. King Hussein played an important role in the Middle East and achieved with his policy, during his long reign, to secure the viability of the state of Jordan in a particularly sensitive and unstable region," the Greek PM said in a written statement.

    "He was a champion of a peaceful settlement of the Mideast problem and he became a protagonist in efforts for peace and stability in the Middle East. He ruled his country with prudence and was a leader of international stature...The Greek people stand by the Jordanian people in this difficult hour. In the name of the Greek people, the government and myself, I personally express towards the new King of Jordan Abdullah our deep condolences."

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos also lauded the late Jordanian monarch, while he expressed his hope that the new King Abdullah continues the peace initiatives of his father.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said Hussein's death is "a major loss, especially at such a crucial point in the Mideast peace process."

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) president Dimitris Tsovolas and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras also lauded Hussein's role in the peace efforts for the Middle East.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides departs today for Amman to represent the island republic in Hussein's funeral.

    King Hussein died early yesterday in Amman after a long bout with cancer.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Athens reiterates guarantee for Cyprus' security

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Greece guarantees the security of the Republic of Cyprus, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday from Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that he would meet today in Athens with Cyprus counterpart Yiannakis Chrysostomis to discuss Cypriot defence issues in the context of the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine.

    Stressing that the joint defence doctrine "is in force and will be safeguarded", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "we must learn to live" with the Turkish threat, adding that "there are no easy solutions to this matter."

    The Greek defence minister also expressed optimism that "we will soon have positive results from Cyprus' EU accession negotiations".

    Meanwhile, Mr. Chrysostomis said he expects his talks here in Athens with Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will have a good conclusion.

    Replying to a question on his arrival in Athens, Mr. Chrysostomis said an initial meeting has been arranged with Moscow regarding the S-300 missile system ordered by the Cyprus government.

    The issue of the Russian-made S-300s will be discussed in Athens.

    In his statement, Mr. Chrysostomis described his first visit to the Greek capital since his appointment last month as defence minister as a "working and familiarisation visit."

    "We have a lot of issues to cover with the Greek minister and I expect we will have a good conclusion (to our talks)", he added.

    Asked if a meeting with the Russian government has been arranged, Mr. Chrysostomis said "it has been initially scheduled," although he refrained from elaborating or replying to other questions until a press conference today.

    This morning the Cypriot minister will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and will then have a private meeting with his Greek counterpart, followed by talks between delegations from the two countries.

    After the press conference he will have a working lunch with Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and in the evening he will attend a reception hosted by his counterpart.

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides decided last December not to deploy the S- 300 missiles on the island republic and talks are currently being held concerning their deployment on Crete.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Karamanlis elected as EPP vice-president

    BRUSSELS 08/02/1999 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was elected vice- president of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) political grouping for the next two years, during EPP's 13th congress on Saturday.

    Mr. Karamanlis was elected with 177 votes out of a total of 251. Former Belgian PM Wilfried Martens was re-elected EPP President as expected. He has been EPP's president since May 1990. Six other political leaders were also elected as vice-presidents.

    EPP's action programme for June's Euroelections was also ratified during the congress.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Pangalos arrives in Sarajevo to begin 4-day tour of region

    SARAJEVO 08/02/1999 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos arrived here late yesterday afternoon on the first stop in his four-day tour of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia.

    Mr. Pangalos was due to visit the Greek force in Bosnia's (ELDYB) army base at Visoko last night. He will be meeting the FM of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation Jadranko Prlic this morning and at 10:30 the member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency, A. Delavic.

    Later, he will meet former Bosnian president and current member of the collective presidency Alia Izetbegovic before departing for Banja Luka.

    During his stay in Sarajevo, Mr. Pangalos is expected to discuss the issue of signing a bilateral economic cooperation agreement, such as an agreement on avoiding double taxation and an agreement on the protection of investments between Greece and the Bosnia-Herzegovina Federation.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Constantopoulos returns from Russian visit

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos returned to Athens yesterday at the end of a three-day visit to Moscow.

    On arrival, Mr. Constantopoulos referred to the political results of his visit to Russia, and pointed to the need of upgrading Greek-Russian relations at all levels. He added that on the crucial problems of Greek foreign policy, Russia's role and moves are a factor of stability and balance in the wider region.

    He also mentioned that it is imperative that a Greek-Russian Initiative on security in the Balkans be activated.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Wide-ranging Tsohatzopoulos address in Thessaloniki

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos outlined his views on political developments in the country, Greece's course in the EU and PASOK's congress next month within the framework of the party's pre- congressional dialogue.

    In a speech in Thessaloniki to 3,000 political and party supporters yesterday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos avoided fuelling intraparty conflicts and friction and did not observe a tough stance against government options, over which he has his own positions.

    Referring to political developments, he said the political system is currently under pressure, with the collective parties, as he termed the ruling socialist PASOK party and the main opposition conservative New Democracy party, faced with a cost and los ses and predicted the reformation of the political scene.

    "The reply to those who are attempting to move the political scene to the right must be a genuine and expansive centre-left in which PASOK will be the protagonist, the dominant force," he said.

    Commenting on PASOK's congress, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said transparency, credibility and joint agreements must prevail.

    "None of us wants there to be the slightest shadow," he said.

    At another point in his address, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos referred to Greece's course towards the EU, terming it positive. He spoke of conditions of security in the wider region and commented on the Athens Stock Exchange, saying that "it is counterproductive when money moves like a spindle and is not invested productively."

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Gov't replies to latest press comments by Ocalan

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated yesterday that Athens' position on the Kurdish issue is steadfast and clear.

    He was referring to a report in the Sunday newspaper "To Vima", including a statement by Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan calling on Greece to mediate for a solution to the Kurdish issue.

    "We have stated our positions in detail and with clarity. The truth and national interest were the exclusive criteria for whatever choice of ours so far. This will also continue in the future. Greece is a country which has played a leading part in the case of the recognition of the human rights of the struggling Kurds by the international community. It is entitled, therefore, to have such a position - A position of responsibility, a position of truth which helps the Kurds without flattering all those who are unable to see faraway.

    "Whichever different involvement in this case by Greece harms the struggle of the Kurds and restricts it as an issue of friction in Greek-Turkish relations, a thing which is also against the struggle of the Kurdish people. We will continue to observe the position which we have observed until now because we believe that it corresponds to our country's interests and favours the development of the Kurds' effort for the recognition of their rights," he said.

    Fugitive Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan lashed out yesterday at European countries, which he said were afraid of accepting him and had turned their backs on what he called the "genocide" of his people.

    Mr. Ocalan, sought by Turkey for leading a separatist campaign in which 29, 000 people have died, has been on the run since he left Rome on Jan. 16 after failing to gain political asylum. His present whereabouts are unknown. Rome's refusal to extradite h im to Ankara shook Turkish-Italian relations.

    According to the Athens weekly paper, Mr. Ocalan also called for an international peace conference for the Kurdish issue, suggesting one along the lines of the current Rambouillet meeting called to force a peace settlement in the southern Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Pangalos: Nat'l elections in Oct. 2000

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos emphasised Saturday from Corfu , where he attended a PASOK event, that national elections will take place in October 2000.

    He said that the only thing that can change this will be developments in the process of electing a president of the republic. He expressed satisfaction over recent statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis regarding President Kostis Stephanopoulos, sa ying that in his view the incumbent president of the republic is impeccable in fulfilling his duties.

    Mr. Pangalos used tough language in criticising main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis and farmers in Thessaly who are gearing for mobilisations, while speaking at a banquet of ruling PASOK's prefectural committee in Corfu on Saturday night.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Gov't offers partial debt resettlement prior to farmers' threatened road blocks

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    The agriculture ministry on Saturday sent a letter to the Pan-Thessaly Farmers' Coordinating committee outlining the government's positions on farmers' damands.

    In the letter, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis leaves open the possibility of some demands being accepted while rejecting others.

    The minister said the Cabinet had decided at a meeting on Friday to introduce some arrangement to facilitate the settlement of farmers' debts.

    The national economy ministry, he added, would on Wednesday decide on the technical and accounting details which would be "within a banking framework".

    Farmers are demanding lower debt repayment rates.

    While holding farmers jointly responsible for problems in the cotton- growing branch, Mr. Anomeritis pledges government support in the European Union for their demand for an increase in the upper limit on output.

    The minister said, however, that the farmers' demands with respect to wheat could not be satisfied since they were contrary to EU provisions.

    Mr. Anomeritis notes in the letter that the government is examining the possibility of increasing the subsidy given to stock farmers which would cost approximately 10 billion drachmas.

    Lastly, the minister said a legislative provision was being drafted providing for the prescription of offences committed by farmers in past protests.

    Farmers have warned of a repeat of protest action in 1997, when the country's road and rail network was paralysed by tractor blockades, unless their demands are met.

    On his part, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas warned that the government will not "allow anyone with illegal and anti-social behaviour to block roads..."

    Asked by reporters what the government will do to prevent farmers' road blocks, Mr. Reppas said the state, its organs and prosecutors "will do what is necessary" to face the possibility of problems emanating from road blocks.

    He also criticised the Thessaly farmers' group as cancelling out dialogue and promoting conflict, while ignoring farmers' real needs.

    The government spokesman also stressed that opposition parties are behind the mobilisations for "obvious political reasons."

    Finally, he urged disgruntled farmers in Thessaly to call-off their scheduled mobilisations and road blocks, before proceeding to dialogue with the agriculture ministry.

    Karamanlis: Gov't farm policy incompetent : On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis called on farmers and stockbreeders affiliated to ND not to block roads during today's scheduled mobilisations in Thessaly.

    Addressing a ND conference on agricultural policy in the town of Yiannitsa yesterday, Mr. Karamanlis cited reasons of principle and what he called his appreciation of the nation's farmers.

    However, several eponymous ND trade union cadres from the agricultural sector during their addresses before Mr. Karamanlis' speech and in statements afterwards, made it clear that farmers will take to the roads with their tractors today.

    In a statement, ND cadre from Thessaly Thanassis Nasikas let it be clearly understood that tractors will be placed on the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway and did not rule out the possibility of Thessaly farmers driving to Athens in their tractors.

    Mr. Karamanlis concluded the conference with his address. He accused the government of incompetence and inadequacy in exercising its agricultural policy. He also criticised Prime Minister Costas Simitis of failing to defend the interests of Greek farmers in the framework of the European Union.

    He reiterated a past commitment of his that issues concerning the Greek agricultural sector will constitute a top priority for ND when it comes to power, while he himself will undertake the promotion and resolution of Greek produce problems at the relev ant EU body.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that when ND comes to power the agriculture ministry will be renamed "Agricultural Development Ministry", while its headquarters will be moved from Athens.

    He further said that a "National Organisation for Promoting Products" will be created, whose purpose will be to support Greek farm and stockbreeding products in international markets.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Avramopoulos to officially visit Tirana today

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos is due to begin a brief official visit to Tirana today.

    During his short stay, Mr. Avramopoulos will meet with Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta and FM Paskal Milo.

    A meeting with Tirana's mayor is also planned in order to examine the possible undertaking of an initiative by Balkan mayors for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo issue.

    The Athens mayor will also be received by Orthodox Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Bulgarian PM Kostov calls for 2 ND Euro-MPs to visit Kozloduy

    SOFIA 08/02/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Bulgarian PM Ivan Kostov said on Saturday that he will invite two New Democracy Euro-MPs who recently tabled a draft resolution in the Europarliament calling for the closure of Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant to visit the faci lity.

    Mr. Kostov made the statement to state-run Bulgarian television, saying he will address the invitation to main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    The resolution was ratified.

    "We want them to see with their eyes and be convinced how strong and safe the station's security system is," Mr. Kostov said in Brussels, where he attended a European Peoples' Party congress.

    The European Commission insists that Bulgaria close down its four antiquated nuclear reactors at Kozloduy based on a timetable anticipated by Sofia's agreement with the European Restructuring and Development Bank (ERDB), Mr. Kostov announced, after meeting with EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek.

    According to the agreement concluded six years ago, a coalition government headed at the time by PM Luben Berov had undertaken the commitment to gradually close down the four reactors over the 1998-1999 period.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Coast guard,Turkish smugglers exchange gunfire off Kos

    Athens 08/02/1999 (ANA)

    Two coast guard patrols exchanged gunfire with the two-man crew of a Turkish vessel smuggling illegal immigrants late Friday off an isolated cove on the eastern Aegean island of Kos.

    The incident occurred when coast guard officers chased the Turks, who attempted to escape in their speedboat after being sighted disembarking 12 illegal immigrants, 10 men and two women - Indian and Afghan nationals.

    One of the smugglers was shot in the leg and taken for treatment to a local hospital. The second man and the 12 illegals were arrested by port authorities.

    Three coast guard officers were slightly injured during the incident.

    Athens News Agency

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