|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Clinton lauds Greece's role in Balkans, pledges to help better Greece- Turkey relations
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)US President Bill Clinton on Saturday acknowledged his country was wrong to support the military junta that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974.
"The United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War prevail over its interest -I should say its obligation- to support democracy. It is important we acknowledge that," he said in a speech winding up a 22-hour visit in Athens.
Addressing business and political leaders, he paid tribute to Greece's historical contribution to contemporary political values.
"Standing in the rain on the Acropolis this morning, I was even more grateful for the deep ties of history, kinship and values that bind American and other freedom-loving nations to Greece --ties that prove the truth of Shelley's famous line, 'Eimaste oli Ellines' (We are all Greeks). We are all Greeks, not because of monuments and memories, but because what began here two and a half thousand years ago has at last, after all the bloody struggles of the 20th century, been embraced all around the world," he said.
The US president said Turkey was unlikely to enter the European Union before resolving differences with Greece, particularly Cyprus, but, at the same time, rapprochement with its neighbour was one of five major challenges facing Greece and the United States.
"I believe it is very much in your interest to see Turkey become a candidate for membership in the European Union, for that will reinforce Turkish secular, democratic, modernizing path, showing Turkey how much it has to gain by making progress on issues like Cyprus and the Aegean matters, " he said.
"I know that many Greeks are anxious that if Turkey become a candidate for membership, the momentum in improving its relationship with Greece and actually solving these problems will slow. Having just spoken with President Demirel and Prime Minister Ecevit, I do not believe that will happen ... Greece has taken bold steps. In many ways, these steps have been harder for Greece than for Turkey. But both sides are now showing the vision necessary to move forward," he said.
He described the status quo in Cyprus (occupation by Turkey of 37 per cent of the island republic's soil) as unacceptable and pledged "to do everything in my power to encourage both countries to continue building on the progress you have made."
"I am going to keep working hard to promote a just and lasting settlement in Cyprus... I will keep pressing for a settlement that meets the fundamental interests of the parties, including real security for all Cypriots and an end to the island's division," President Clinton said.
The other challenges jointly facing the two countries included the stabilisation of Kosovo and the Balkans, the strengthening of democracy in Serbia, and the building of institutions that will promote economic development and prosperity in southeast Europe.
"Greece can lead the revitalization of the economy and the political and civic life of southeastern Europe, but the work will never be complete until Serbia is part of the process...
"I am pleased to announce that our two governments will fulfill a dream of Prime Minister Simitis by giving Greek and American companies a chance to jointly apply their technical knowledge to the region's challenges, from cleaning up pollution on the Danube to wiring Balkan villages for the internet...
The final challenge included the fight against terrorism.
"Our fifth and final challenge is to renew the old and profoundly important partnership between our two countries and our two peoples... We should continue in the United States to supply our NATO ally, Greece, with advance weaponry. We should be working together to fight global threats that know no borders, including the scourge of terrorism... The American people and the Greek people deserve justice and the strongest possible efforts by our governments to end this menace. I am grateful that we are work ing more closely to do just that," President Clinton said.
President Clinton also praised Greece's economic progress, referring to a "bustling, modern economy with a booming stock market and one of the fastest growth rates in Europe, on the verge of joining the EMU".
"If there were Olympic gold medals for economic revival, Greece would surely get the very first one," he remarked, and called for an expansion of Greek-American economic ties.
"American companies and investors are taking notice that Greece clearly is on the right economic path. I believe we can do better ... (and) double trade between our two countries in the next five years".
Finally, he paid tribute to the late Greek alternate foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, by calling for a Fulbright scholarship to be named after him.
Simitis address : Addressing the event before President Clinton, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Greece wished to further a relationship with the United States that offered considerable room for joint action in tapping new opportunities in the Balkans.
"We have, for instance, established a joint consultative council for scientific and technological cooperation in the Balkans. We have thus opened a path other than the fully useful and traditional of business investment. A path based on the recognition that knowledge, technology, joint action and open borders define the new world," he said.
Mr. Simitis said Greece has, in recent years, been consistently pursuing closer economic ties with other countries.
"This policy is combined with a steady pursuit. Peace and cooperation in the region, in a European environment which supercedes outdated nationalist conflicts and secures the supranationalist links dictated by the new era...
"Peace and cooperation in the Balkans means that axes and confrontations belong to the past ... The United States, with the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Initiative (SECI) and their contribution to the Stability Pact are working in this direction. How ever, efforts towards political stability and stable borders are also needed," Mr. Simitis said.
He expressed hope that such processes would also apply in relations with Turkey.
"Peace and cooperation with Turkey means application of international law and international treaties... It means that where there has been war, attack, catastrophe, the injustices must be redressed and the rule of international law must prevail. The Cyprus problem is a permanent source of tension as long as the concept of 'might is right' rules. I hope the talks that are about to begin will be substantive," he said.
Athens News Agency
 Simitis, Clinton agree on stepping up cooperation
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)Greece and the United States agreed Saturday that relations between the two countries were very good and that there was significant room for stepping up cooperation between them.
Speaking to reporters in a joint press conference after talks here, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting US President Bill Clinton said they had an open and friendly discussion on all issues ranging from bilateral relations to developments in the Balkans, to Greek-Turkish affairs, Turkey- EU relatio ns and the Cyprus issue.
"We had a very friendly and open discussion on all issues. We reaffirmed the historic relations of friendship that bind our two countries and peoples, a relationship that has been kept alive by the Hellenes living in the United States, by our common str uggles in the past, our partnership in NATO, by the political solidarity and cooperation we have for our common goals," Mr. Simitis said.
"On Greek-US relations, we agreed that there is significant room for improvement of cooperation between the two countries. Greece, due to economic growth of recent years, is creating new worthwhile opportunities for investments, trade, technological and other collaborations," he said.
On the Balkans, it is our conviction that the present state entails dangers. There is need for stability in the region, respect of existing borders, and intensification of the initiatives for reconstruction of the area and materialisation of the Stabili ty Pact," Mr. Simitis said.
Regarding Turkey, Mr. Simitis said he stressed the need for adherence to international law. He said steps had been made recently for rapprochement, but a "more convincing" response was needed on Ankara's part to Greece's initiatives.
"We agreed that Turkey's EU vocation helps its closer connection with a sphere of development and peaceful cooperation. But we stressed that its candidacy cannot be accepted without conditions that help confrontation of the existing problems," he said.
"On the Cyprus issue, we agreed that proximity talks starting (on Decemabr 3) must be substantive in order to lead to its resolution," the premier said.
Clinton : President Bill Clinton said he and Greek premier Simitis had a "very good meeting", noting that relations with Greece were important to him because of the "values and history we share".
He said they also discussed the road to reconciliation and lasting peace between Greece and Turkey, and expressed his pleasure that the two sides on Cyprus had agreed to hold UN-sponsored proximity talks.
President Clinton said Greece's economic growth will render Greece one of the most attractive places in Europe, and noted that the Americans were impressed by the rapprochement between the Greek and Turkish people after the earthquakes in both countries .
On Greek-Turkish differences, Mr. Clinton said they could be resolved through recourse to "the International Court of Justice at The Hague or a mutually agreed and internationally-recognised mechanism for the resolution of disputes".
"We look to Ancient Greece for inspiration, modern Greece for leadership," he said.
President Clinton also reaffirmed his stong support for Turkey's European Union accession but said that a bright future was unlikely to be achieved before the dispute with Greece over Cyprus is resolved.
"My feeling is that the more Turkey is integrated into Europe, and has the kind of dialogue we have seen recently with Greece; the more the climate improves, the more you can resolve these issues, the brighter the future for both countries will be. And as I told the Turks... I do not think that bright future is achievable until there is a resolution of the Cyprus issue, " Clinton said.
"These two countries need to go hand in hand into the future, and the festering disputes have to be resolved in order for that to happen," he added.
The Greek premier said on the same issue that during his meeting with Turkish premier Bulent Ecevit in Istanbul last week, he stressed that there must be some moves on Turkey's part.
"I believe President Clinton's visit will help in Turkey's perceiving that things are not that easy. We cannot just expect for something to happen without doing or contributing anything for our part," Mr. Simitis added.
Answering to a question over the incidents during demonstrations protesting his visit on Friday evening in central Athens, President Clinton said he deeply regretted the losses of businesses that were set ablaze.
"I deeply regret the Greeks who had their property injured and suffered losses through these demonstrations," he said.
"We have to -especially in Greece- reaffirm the right of people to protest in a democracy...I strongly believe the protests should be peaceful," Mr. Clinton said, adding that "the important thing is that we reaffirm the value of the relationship between our two countries." The demonstrations, President Clinton said, "doesn't affect our affection for and support for the people of Greece and the government of Greece. I hope most Greek citizens believe there is value in our relationship and our par tnership."
On the same issue, Prime Minister Simitis said Greece was a country "where everyone can express his views and opinions. But our constitution provides that these expressions of opinions and views should be made in a peaceful way and within the context of legality".
"I am sorry for the fact that certain people did not observe and respect this fundamental principle of law," Mr. Simitis said, adding that, "the friendship between our two peoples and the partnership, our parntnership with the United States, will not be determined by these protests, but by our common goals, our common objectives and pursuits."
Clinton-Stephanopoulos talks : President Clinton met with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos Saturday morning, before his talks with premier Simitis, in the presence of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Sources said that bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem, Greek-Turkish relations and Greece's role in the Balkans were on the agenda of the 45- minute talks. No statements were made after the talks.
Athens News Agency
 Measures to strengthen US-Greek relations
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)On the occasion of President Clinton's State visit to Greece, the United States and the Hellenic Republic announced on Saturday the following new iniatives and programs: - President Clinton and Prime Minister Simitis have formally launched the Initiative for Technology Cooperation in the Balkans (ITCB), which will bring together scientists, business leaders and government officials who are committed to modernising the region's technological infrastructure. Greece's location and advanced development make the country a natural connection to the emerging democracies and markets of Southeastern Europe. - The US Fulbright Exchange Program has established two new programs -Millenium Scholarships, which will provide assistance to up to 200 Greek students wishing to pursue Master's degrees in the US; and the Aegean Communities Exchange, which will create joint research programs by Greek and Turkish scholars. President Clinton recently announced that one of the Millenium Scholarships will be named in honor of Yiannos Kranidiotis, Greece's alternate foreign minister who died in a tragic air accident in September. - The Greek Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to allow the U.S. to resume humanitarian grain shipments through Greece to other countries in the region. This decision will allow the United States to provide much needed food assistance to many of the Balkan and other Central European countries. Grain shipments had been impeded due to Greek concerns about U.S. testing methods. The U.S. and Greece have since agreed upon survey and regulatory control activities designed to make the risk of disease negligable. - The US Embassy and the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) have reached an understanding confirming their desire to facilitate tourism and business associated with tourism between the two countries. The United States has committed to form a Visit USA Committee in Athens to promote tourism to U.S. destinations. In addition, both countries will work to preserve and enhance each other's cultural heritage, to encourage communication between Greek and American cities, and to continue bilateral consultations. - The US Department of Commerce will open a Commercial Service office in Thessaloniki to encourage investments in the Balkans and to assist companies in exploring commercial opportunities.
This decision was made in the wake of the conflict in Kosovo, in recognition of Greece's key role in promoting stability in Southeast Europe. It reflects Thessaloniki's position as a commercial hub for the region. - The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US State Department have agreed to hold annual high-level talks on a wide range of issues, as part of an effort to deepen and enhance communication, understanding and cooperation between our two countries. Discussions will focus on areas such as European regional issues, counter-terrorism and economic cooperation. - Due to the substantial progress made by Greece in addressing the intellectual property rights issue, the president has announced that the United States government will proceed rapidly towards a resolution of its World Trade Organization (WTO) case again st the Greek government for violating television copyright laws. While US industries estimate losses of 120 million dollars in 1998, strong action by the Greek government reduced that amount by over half this year. - The United States continues to be the top supplier to the Greek armed forces. In 1998 and 1999, the Greek government announced plans to buy more than 4 billion dollars in arms from the US and American businesses. There has been a substantial increase in US arms transfers to Greece during the past twelve months after Greece had purchases of six Patriot Missile Systems (1.2 billion dollars), up to 70 Lockheed Martin F-16s (2.4 billion dollars) and 70 AMC Humvees (8.5 million dollars). The US fully support s Greece's defense modernization plans, in the context of NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative.
Athens News Agency
 Karamanlis tells Clinton ND rejects unilateral concessions regarding Greek-Turkish relations
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)US President Bill Clinton met on Saturday with Greece's main opposition New Democracy party leader, Costas Karamanlis.
No statements were made after the meeting which took place early Saturday afternoon, but a few hours later Mr. Karamanlis told a press conference that his meeting with Clinton was "sincere" and "substan-tive".
Addressing the press at his party's headquarters, Mr. Karamanlis said New Democracy rejected unilateral concessions regarding Greek-Turkish relations, adding that he outlined to President Clinton "Greece's long-standing positions above and beyond political parties".
"We can defend our national interests only if we have a clear voice," Mr. Karamanlis said, adding that respect for Greece's sovereign rights, international law and international treaties was a necessary condition for the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations.
He said that Turkey should abide by the conditions already set by the European Union if it wanted its European prospects to materialise. Mr. Karamanlis said Greek-US relations could be further developed. "The policy of equal distances foll owed by the US in Greek-Turkish relations encourages Turkish intransigence," he said.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, the opposition said the island republic's European bid should be separated from efforts to find a solution to its political problem.
Regarding the Balkans, Mr. Karamanlis said he was opposed to any change of borders in the region, adding that any solution to the problems should include Yugoslavia.
Athens News Agency
 US president and daughter defy morning drizzle to visit Acropolis
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)US President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, on Saturday defied early morning drizzle and visited the Acropolis, accompanied by culture minister Elisabeth Papazoi.
President Clinton, who toured the ancient site and visited the Acropolis museum, said he was "enchanted".
Ms. Papazoi presented the US president with two olive tree branches, a symbol of peace, asking him to do all he can for world peace. Ms. Papazoi briefed President Bill Clinton on Greece's long-standing campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently housed in the British Museum, to be returned to their homeland.
Mr. Clinton said he fully perceived the need for treasures to be returned to their countries of origin, but added that if peoples demanded the return of their cultural heritage, it was probable that museums throughout the world would empty out.
He did, however, say he would take up the issue with British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he meets with him in Italy during a weekend meeting of European centre-left leaders in Florence on welfare reform and progressive governance, also to be attended by Mr. Blair.
Athens News Agency
 US First Lady discusses world issues with prominent Greek women over tea
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday hosted a gathering of 14 prominent Greek women in her hotel suite to debate world issues over tea.
First to speak was American-born Margaret Papandreou, ex-wife of late Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou, who raised the question of human rights in relation to the Cyprus problem and the Balkans, sources said.
"I want you to work for the unification of Cyprus," she told Hillary Clinton.
An improvement in human rights should be accompanied by a major reduction in arms.
"You must defend these rights," Ms Papandreou told the US president's wife, who is running for the Senate but has made no formal announcement.
In addition, the international community should not operate double standards: the children of Serbs should receive the same treatment as the children of Kosovars, said Ms. Papandreou, a women's rights activist.
Another guest at the session was Anna Diamantopoulou, Greece's Commissioner at the European Union, who brought up social problems including the international slave-prostitution trade whose operators were rarely convicted in court.
Daphne Simitis, wife of the Greek premier, told the group how comfortable she felt as a Greek visiting the Balkans and southeast Mediterranean, and how she believed that the countries could live well together.
Niki Tzavella, vice president of the Athens 2004 Olympics organising committee, said it was hoped the US would assist with the event on all fronts, including the business side.
Among Hillary Clinton's other guests were Niki Goulandri, Fani Petralia and Vivian Avramapoulou, wife of the Athens Mayor. Shortly before the gathering, Hillary Clinton held a meeting with UNESCO ambassador Marianna Vardinoyianni.
Mrs Clinton earlier presented an olive tree sapling to be planted in the Greeks Abroad Forest near Sounion, where the organisation "Plant Your Roots in Greece" is sponsoring a reforestation project.
"I would like to plant may trees in this wonderful and importrant country," Hillary Clinton said, and expressed regret that she did not have time in this brief visit to plant the sapling herself.
During a ceremony at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel where the American president and his family were staying, Mrs. Clinton said she would like to visit Greece again when she would have time to learn about this country "which I love" and see her sa pling and the other trees around it grow.
She spoke warmly of the Greek-American community and its contribution to the US economy and culture.
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos warned of the dangers entailed in the new millennium to the ecological balance of the planet from the forests that were being destroyed by fire and pollution.
He said the planting of the sapling was a symbolic gesture of friendship and contribution.
Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos yet again affirms Greece's potential in the Balkans
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)This weekend's visit by US President Bill Clinton has provided a clear affirmation of Greece's role as a factor for peace, security and cooperation among the peoples of the southeast Europe region, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yester day.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of celebrations marking National Armed Forces Day, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that this affirmation provided the framework for Greece to pursue a just solution to the Cyprus issue, the implementation of UN Security Co uncil resolutions not only for Cyprus but for all the peoples of the region, such as the Middle East and Lebanon, as well as the application of rules of international law in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.
He reiterated that Turkey's European vocation was in Greece's interests on a long-term basis and to the extent that Turkey was in a position to meet the terms and conditions which are valid for all European countries. National Armed Forces Day was celebrated in the presence of the defence minister, President of the Republis Kostis Stephanopoulos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos as well as the political and military leadership of the armed forces and other dignitaries.
Opposition parties : Sources close to former New Democracy prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said the visit by the US president would probably have positive results for Greece.
They said that US President Clinton had been 'clearer' about issues important to Greece than the last visit by a US president, by George Bush in 1991.
This development, they said, meant that the government's responsibility for the postponement and shortening of the US leader's visit was greater.
Mr. Mitsotakis, who met yesterday morning with visiting President of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides, said that Greece had to wrest from the Helsinki summit a commitment that Cyprus' accession to the EU would proceed regardless of a resolution of the political problem on the island.
Apart from the US factor, which was playing a leading role, he said, Europe's stance was important.
"For the first time in a long time, there are positive propsects, reasonable hope," he said. Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said that the government's "lack of boldness and imcompetence" had resulted in Greece being embarrassed on the world stage and losing a significant opportunity to promote Greek positions.
"The way in which the government handled the Clinton visit has resulted in a great fiasco," Mr. Spiliotopoulos said.
Speaking to an Athens radio station, former ND leader Miltiades Evert said the Clinton visit had been positive and that there had been no difference of opinion between ND leader Costas Karamanlis and the US leader on national issues when they met on Saturday.
He reiterated his standing position that Turkey's European prospects were linked to developments on the Cyprus issue.
President Clinton's visit to Greece has brought nothing new and certainly nothing new for issues important for Greece, Coalition of the Left and Progress party President Nikos Contanstantopoulos said in Thessaloniki yesterday.
Mr. Constantopoulos, who boycotted a state dinner for the US president on Friday night over violence at anti-American protests, called on the government to brief political party leaders on the substance of talks between the Greek and US sides during the 22-hour visit.
"During his stay in Greece, the US president fulfilled his public relations role without moving from standing US positions," Mr. Constantopoulos told a news conference in the northern Greek city.
He criticised the government for attempting to whitewash the visit for the ruling party's pre-election purposes and claimed that the US side had been displeased with the "sincere and clear speech by the president of the republic".
Mr. Constantopoulos also called for a meeting of the council of political leaders under the chairmanship of the president of the republic before the EU summit in Helsinki in early December.
Athens News Agency
 Storekeepers pick up the pieces after Athens riots
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)Downtown Athens was bustling with activity yesterday as storekeepers and banks rushed to mop up the effects of Friday's riot and get their premises ready for the start of business on Monday.
Athens' Panepistimiou and Stadiou streets - which bore the brunt of the violence which erupted in the wake of US President Bill Clinton's arrival in Athens - was filled with crews of workmen, electricians and painters working on replacing broken shop windows, and restoring the damage caused.
Estimates of damage were being collated by teams from the interior ministry, at work since early yesterday.
Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Saturday that businesses and shops damaged in the riots would be compensated. Thirty people have been charged on counts of arson, possessing explosive devices and resisting arrest in the wake of the riots by masked youths on Friday evening.
Michalis Mentis, head of the crews, said that in some cases complete restoration of the damage would require up to two months. Bank branches along the two streets were particularly hard hit, with some being completely gutted by fires caused by firebombs thrown by the marauding youths.
Some merchants were considering replacing their display windows with bullet- proof glass to prevent a repeat of the damage. The price of these window panes begins at about 100,000 drachmas per square metre.
Also needing repair and/or replacement were street benches, and store furniture and equipment such as cash registers, computers, seating and lighting.
Ergobank's Panepistimiou branch will require two months of full work before it is fit to open for business again, experts said.
The extensive damage suffered by the branch has prompted the bank's management to move retail services temporarily to another branch in the neighbourhood.
Merchants and bank representatives told the ANA that the damage caused on Friday appeared to be the most extensive in the past ten years.
"There was a lot of violence from the masked ones, whose age can't have been too high," George Keimenidis, a storekeeper on Panepistimiou Street, said.
"They looted the store and I think this was their aim," one proprietor of a shoe shop said. "It's no coincidence that apart from banks receiving the force of the senseless rage of the anarchists, the same rage and damage was imposed on specific shops, with goods such as shoes, clothing, mobile phones and cameras."
Athens News Agency
 Public order ministry says laws are made to be enforced
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)The public order ministry on Saturday said that the laws in a democratic country were made to be enforced, and they will be enforced in Greece, adding that it was the duty of police to implement them.
In a statement on the incidents Friday night in downtown Athens between MAT riot police and demonstrators protesting US President Bill Clinton's visit here that broke out when protesters were repelled by the riot police when they tried to break through a police cordon to reach the US embassy, the ministry said that a police ban on rallies and marches in several areas of the capital closed off for the duration of Clinton's visit had been made known several days before the US president's arrival.
"The decision for traffic restrictions in specific streets of Athens due to the official greeting of the US president had been made known since Tuesday, November 16. The decision was taken in the interests of the country and its international relations, at the same time ensuring the citizens' right of expression," a ministry statement said, adding that "it was the duty of the police force to implement the decision".
"Despite the self-evident democratic obligation of all to respect the decision, since the Constitution itself provides the ability for taking such decisions, a group of demonstrators -- as everyone saw on television -- attempted to violently break throu gh the police cordon at the beginning of Vassilissis Sophias avenue" leading to the US embassy, the statement said.
"The police forces repelled the demonstrators using teargas, and avoided -- as dictated by police ethics -- closing off the escape routes for the protestors and resorting to the use of violence, as such actions would have placed human lives in direct danger, as the bitter experience of the recent past shows.
"The organisers of the rally at Syntagma Square have immense blame, since with their stance they essentially assumed the risk of what eventually took place in the centre of Athens to occur.
"The Greek Police acted responsibly and in line with its obligation within the framework of the Greek democratic state," the public order ministry said.
"It must be understood that the laws of a democratic country exist to be enforced, and they will be enforced," the ministry added.
Athens News Agency
 Cyprus president to meet Greek premier
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, who arrived in Athens on Saturday for contacts with Greek political leaders, is due to meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis today.
The talks are expected to focus on the UN-sponsored dialogue on the protracted Cyprus problem, beginning December 3 in New York, and the upcoming European Union summit in Helsinki a week later.
Yesterday he met with former New Democracy party leader Constantinos Mitsotakis, who stated afterwards that the Cyprus problem was at a very crucial turn.
"For the first time after a long period there are positive prospects and reasonable hopes. Beyond the American factor, which will play a primary role anyway, Europe's stand acquires special significance," he said. He emphasised that the Greek government should ensure at the Helsinki summit that procedures for Cypriot entry to the EU should progress unimpeded and irrespective of the island's political problem.
"It will be the greatest service which could be offered to a solution of the problem at this hour," he said.
Mr. Clerides also met with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, after attending the reception on the occasion of Armed Forces Day celebrations.
The Cypriot president, who is accompanied by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, flew in from Istanbul, where he attended the OSCE summit.
Athens News Agency
 KKE, DHKKI statements on Clinton visit
Athens, 22/11/1999 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday said that US President Clinton's reference to the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations have no positive meaning, adding that the basic conclusion of Mr. Clinton's statements was that matters concerning Greece amid neighbouring countries were deterioting.
Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas said that Mr. Clinton's statemenmts in Athens were "hypocritical" and in total contradiction with the policies of the new ordrer.
Athens News Agency