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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-10-02

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, Greece, 02/10/1996 (ANA)


  • Greece, Cyprus reaffirm commitment to joint defence doctrine
  • Greece will be taking part 'as scheduled' in Cypriot military exercises
  • U.S. State Department and Archbishop of North and South America condemn Turkish terrorist attack on Patriarchate of Constantinople
  • Fishermen protest blocks main port


    Greeece, Cyprus reaffirm importance of joint defence doctrine, in joint communique

    Greece and Cyprus today reaffirmed the importance of their joint defence doctrine and issued a fresh warning to Turkey that any further advance southwards on the island republic would mean war, according to an ANA despatch from Nicosia.

    In a joint communique issued after talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Premier Costas Simitis who today winds up a two-day official visit to the island, Athens and Nicosia reiterated that the total demilitarisation of Cyprus could secure peace and stability not only on the island but also in the broader region.

    The communique also declared the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side for the commencement of negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, provided however that ''suitable and detailed preparations are first made in order to ensure that a substantial approach is made on the basis of fundamental principles''.

    ''During the talks between the two governments, there was a broad review of the Cyprus problem in the light of recent developments and it was ascertained that the present phase is particularly crucial and demands sensitive and careful handling,'' the communique said.

    ''It is within this framework that we confirm our dedication to finding a peaceful solution to the problem on the basis of the resolutions of the United Nations and of the Summit Agreements of 1977 and 1979, as well as the support of the good offices of the UN Secretary General,'' it added.

    The Greek and Cypriot sides also stressed the importance of the initiatives of the international community which backed the efforts of the UN, while at the same time calling for greater coordination of the initiatives.

    Noting that great progress had been made towards Cyprus' accession to the EU, the communique underlined the need for ''further intensification of joint efforts in order to secure Cyprus accession at the earliest''.

    Negotiations on Cyprus' accession are scheduled to begin six months after completion of the intergovernmental conference (IGC).

    During Simitis' visit, the two sides also discussed the issue of Greek Cypriots missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of the northern part of Cyprus and the problems of those trapped in enclaves in the occupied territory.

    The communique said the two sides had agreed to ''closely monitor'' the situation and take the necessary steps particularly in the direction of the UN.

    ''The meetings were held in an excellent climate and provided the opportunity to reconfirm the close cooperation existing between Greece and Cyprus in all sectors. Within this framework, the two sides committed themselves to further increase reciprocal contacts, ensure the exchange of full and comprehensive information and in general to continue cooperation at all levels,'' the communique said.

    At noon today, Simitis was made honorary citizen of Nicosia at a special ceremony held in the town hall of the divided capital.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Simitis stressed that Nicosia remained the last city in Europe divided by force.

    ''The (dividing) wall of shame is a disgrace, not only for Cypriots but for the entire international community, which has not shown the required will and courage in order to contribute to overturn the faits accomplis of the (Turkish) invasion and impose the law,'' Simitis said.

    ''We are determined to work hard in order for Cyprus to again find its independence, full sovereignty, unity and indivisibility of its territory and people,'' he added.

    Welcoming all international initiatives aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, Simitis said ''we are willing to listen to all thoughts and proposals with an open mind, provided the illegal occupation and division of Cyprus is not legitimized either directly or indirectly''.

    ''The main thrust of efforts however,'' he went on, ''must be made in the direction of the invader, which remains entrenched in its intransigent positions.''

    Simitis said that Greece and Cyprus would strongly oppose any attempt to ''shrink'' Hellenism.

    ''The joint defence doctrine is here, as strong as ever, and it will continue to exist for as long as Turkey persists in its expansionist policy, '' Simitis said.

    ''The strengthening of the Cyprus Republic's defences,'' the Greek premier added, ''has no other objective other than to protect free Cyprus from the proven and internationally condemned aggressiveness of Turkey, which is continually on the increase.''

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that no pressure had been exerted on Greece by the United States to scale down its participation in two joint defence exercises with Cyprus. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was replying to press questio ns while inaugurating the 9th International Defendory Armaments Exhibition in Piraeus. The two exercises, codenamed "Nikiforos" and "Toxotis", are scheduled to be held on Greek and Cypriot territory between October 4-8.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said all the services would be taking part "as scheduled" in the exercises which would "confirm the excellent level of coordination between the armed forces of the two countries, as well as their fighting capability and effectiveness" .

    "Experience will be gained from these exercises which will be used to additionally strengthen the deterrent capacity of the country's armed forces, a factor to which we attach particular importance and immediate priority," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos confirmed that his Cypriot counterpart was due to arrive in Athens on Thursday, with whom he will have talks on the military exercises and "on the more general coordination of activities in order to safeguard the joint defence doctrine which constitutes a strategic choice of the Greek government".

    The defence minister said he was planning to visit Cyprus but not during the exercises.

    Defendory '96 is being organised in Greece under the aegis of the national defence ministry in cooperation with the General Directorate for Armaments.

    This year, 27 countries are participating in the exhibition, displaying equipment in 605 stands. A total of 89 national delegations are expected to visit the exhibition.

    "Turkey ought to repair the damage caused to the Patriarchate building in Istanbul by the recent bomb attack, since Ankara is responsible for guarding the building," Press and Media Ministry Secretary-General Yiannis Nikolaou said yesterday.

    Meanwhile, the State Department yesterday condemned the hand-grenade attack against a Ecumenical Patriarchate building in Istanbul on Sunday night. "Our mission in Turkey has confirmed reports of a hand-grenade attack against the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. We absolutely condemn this act of violence. We are in touch with the Turkish government and the Patriarchate concerning the investigation of the incident," the relevant statement read.

    Meanwhile, Archbishop of North and South America Spyridon yesterday strongly condemned the bomb attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate late on Sunday night. Spyridon called on Ankara to imme-diately find and punish the culprits and on US President Bill Clinton and the political and religious leadership of the US to add their voices to the condemnation of those responsible for the attacks and to take action to protect the Patriarchate from repeated threats.

    Fishermen protest

    Professional fishermen today blocked ports around Greece to protest the government's decision not to allow them to purchase tax-free fuel.

    The owners of about 150 fishing boats operating in the Saronic Gulf blocked the entrance to Piraeus' harbour for passenger vessels, despite earlier promising Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis that their action would be purely symbolic.

    In addition to the fuel protest they were also demanding a freeze on their outstanding debts to the Agricultural Bank of Greece.

    The head of their union, Nikos Bonafatsos, met with Soumakis who, according to informed sources is not competent to deal with the issue of tax-free fuel, since professional fishing boats fall under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Ministry.

    Soumakis listened to the fishermen's demands but referred them to Finance Undersecretary George Drys who took the relevant decision in February.

    The head of the coastguard, Pericles Ousatzopoulos, and deputy prosecutor Leonidas Nikolopoulos are currently negotiating with the fishermen in an effort to get them to end their action, pointing out that the blockade constitutes a criminal offence.

    Fishermen also blocked the entrance to Thessaloniki harbour protesting the government's fuel decision and also demanding that a European Union directive prohibiting fishing within three miles of the coast and in depths of less than 50 metres not be implemented.

    The EU directive, according to the fishermen, would prevent them from fishing for gilthead bream.

    Thessaloniki Harbour Master Ioannis Makris told the ANA that if the protest continued until late afternoon, it would cause problems, since the passenger vessel ''Sappho'' was scheduled to leave the port for Chios at 18:00 hours local time.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of fishing vessels joined in the protest by remaining in port today throughout northern Greece, including at Kavala, Alexandroupolis, Thassos, Keramotis, Samothrace and Limnos.


    Sunny in most parts of the country with an increase in temperatures which will range from 14-25C in Athensand from 12-23C in Thessaloniki.


    U.S. dlr 240.098, Can. dlr.176.250, Australian dlr. 190.028, Pound sterling 375.630, Irish punt 385.340, Cyprus pd 514.751, French franc 46.534, Swiss franc 191.514 Belgian franc 7.652, German mark 157.526, Finnish mark 52.620, Dutch guilder 140.447 Danish Kr. 41.041, Swedish Kr. 36.261, Norwegian Kr. 36.959, Austrian Sh. 22.383, Italian lira (100) 15.773 Yen (100) 216.020 Spanish Peseta 1.871, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.


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