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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 10/10/1996 (ANA)


  • Stephanopoulos pleased with official talks in Finland


    Visiting President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said Greece is not calling on its European partners to support one side or the other, but is calling on its friends to express support for respect and implementation of rules of international law.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos was replying to a Finnish reporter during a press conference in Helsinki yesterday on whether he requested Finland's intervention in resolving Greek-Turkish problems.

    President Stephanopoulos said Finland's position on the issue of Greek- Turkish relations has been modified, saying that not much effort was required for us to agree absolutely.

    On his part, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari several days ago had said that Greek-Turkish differences can be tackled through dialogue between the two countries.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said Athens has no problem in discussing issues with Turkey, but there can be no dialogue at present unless Ankara does not withdraw its claims on Greek sovereign rights first, and threats of war, which it hurls against Greece at times. He said that as time goes by, Greece's position is being better understood. He said he is also pleased with Finland's positions on the Cyprus issue, since Helsinki supports Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Finland believes that the process of Cyprus' accession to the EU will create favourable preconditions for a solution to the Cyprus issue as well.

    President Stephanopoulos said the Finnish side raised the Baltic countries' request for accession to the EU and called for support from Greece.

    Referring to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and replying to a relevant question, President Stephanopoulos said he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about a solution to the problem of that landlocked state's name.

    Appealing to the United States, President Stephanopoulos urged Washington to remind FYROM of the commitments, stressing that so far Greece has fulfilled all its commitments.

    In his opening statement, Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed satisfaction over the results of his talks in Helsinki, saying that differences with Finland are non-existent, while there is ample ground for the two countries to improve their relations, primarily in the commercial field. Balkans and Greece's relations with all its neighbouring countries.

    He also referred to the need for the EU to shape a common foreign policy and security and defence policy, expressing optimism that the problems currently being faced can be resolved in a satisfactory way, despite the fact that the shaping of common fore ign policy and security and defence policy is rendered difficult by various factors having their source in the different historical experiences of each member-state, different economic possibilities and, of course, differences in conceptions which each co untry has on external dangers it might be facing.

    Strong tremor hits Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA/CNA/Reuters) P More than 50 people were injured in Cyprus when a powerful tremor hit the east Mediterranean region at 13.11 GMT yesterday.

    Most injuries occurred in the southern coastal town of Limassol when residents tried to leave buildings.

    One man, who was recovering from surgery in the intensive care unit of Limassol hospital, died in the afternoon, however, doctors have not established any link between the man's death and the earthquake.

    The quake, whose epicentre was 40 kilometres west of the coastal town of Paphos, measured 6.1 points on the Richter scale, and was also felt as far as Egypt, where one person also died. It was also felt in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Dodecanese islands and Turkey.

    More than 100 aftershocks were recorded, measuring 3.5 to 5.5 points on the Richter scale.

    Last year the western town of Paphos was hit by a strong earthquake which left two elderly people dead and many injured.


    Hungarian FM in Athens on Monday

    VIENNA (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis) P Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovac will visit Athens on Monday and is expected to confirm the excellent level of relations existing between Greece and Hungary. Mr. Kovac will fly on to Nicosia afterwards.

    Apart from bilateral relations, talks Mr. Kovac will have with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis will focus on efforts b eing made by Hungary to join European and Atlantic institutions. His visit to Greece is taking place about five months after the one paid to Athens by Hungarian President Arpad Genc at the end of May, and exactly 40 years after the restoration of diplomat ic relations between Greece and Hungary which had been severed before World War II.

    In Nicosia, Mr. Kovac will have talks with Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides, President Glafcos Clerides and Parliament President Spyros Kyprianou, and will visit Hungarian soldiers participating in the Austrian detachment of the UN peacekeeping force .


    Tsohatzopoulos reiterates Greek position on dialogue with Turkey

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Greece's standing position yesterday that Athens will not enter into any unconditional dialogue with Ankara.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made the comments after briefing Prime Minister Costas Simitis and in response to press questions concerning a letter National Defence General Staff chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis addressed to his Turkish counterpart yesterday express ing his regret over a Turkish F-16's crash and a hope that the missing second pilot would be found.

    The US-made Turkish warplane fell southwest of the eastern Aegean island of Hios on Tuesday while violating the Athens FIR and after it had been intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighters.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said understandable reactions of a humanitarian nature regarding the saving of human life should not be misinterpreted as having any political extensions.

    "We cannot draw political conclusions from humanitarian initiatives," he said, reiterating that there was no dialogue with Turkey, nor are there any pressures.

    Violations continue

    Five pairs of Turkish warplanes violated air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR yesterday, south of Greece's easternmost island of Kastellorizo, according to reports.

    In all cases the violators were intercepted by Greek aircraft, with close engagements in some cases reported.

    Two Turkish soldiers requested political asylum yesterday, 24 hours after an Alexandroupolis court ordered their extradition to Turkey, together with an underaged juvenile friend. The three crashed with a vehicle through a Greek border pos t on Monday, citing poor conditions in the Turkish army.

    In requesting the asylum, the two soldiers cited their "opposition to the socio-political regime prevailing in Turkey.

    Commission adopts van den Broek report on EU relations with Ankara

    "BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) P The European Commission yesterday adopted a report by External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den B roek on the development of the UnionYs relations with Turkey.

    Reliable sources said the report, whose main points will be released today, despite accepting in general terms that the human rights situation in Turkey remains problematic with deterioration in certain cases, and that Ankara's behaviour towards Greece presently does not seem to be aimed at a de-escalation of tension, essentially comes out against the freezing of credits to Turkey, thus conflicting with a recent resolution adopted by the European Parliament.

    In his address, Greek Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis stressed that the Commission ought to side with the Europarliament's view in order to put pressure on Turkey to realise that the strengthening of its relations with the EU is not possible with out respect for human rights and if it does not stop its provocative actions against Greece.

    He called for an end to instances of EU "double-talk" regarding Turkey, emphasising that the Union must play a prominent role in the solution of the Cyprus problem and stop watching in embarrasment the dimplomatic efforts of the United States to impose its own terms.

    Mr. van den Broek accepted several of the amendments to the text of the report proposed by Mr. Papoutsis and several other commissioners. The final text, which will be submitted to the Europarliament for briefing purposes, clearly states that the de-esc alation of tension in the Aegean must be realised on the basis of the principles of international law, and that the Union must remain firm regarding the maintenance of an open dialogue aiming at a permanent and fair solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Papandreou speaks at London School of Economics

    LONDON (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis) P Speaking at the London School of Economics yesterday, Foreign Undersecretary George Papandreou developed the theme "Politics as Education", influenced, as he said, on recent experiences within the ruling party following th e death of his father, PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou.

    "I set out personal thoughts on how politics ought to be treated in the very different society we are entering, which views politics as an educational process, very different from the traditional manner of exercising policy," he said.

    The undersecretary today is due to inaugurate the Greek Section at LSE P the research section of the Modern Greek Studies Department.

    "Generally, I consider that the the creation of chairs of Greek studies is very important. We make important contacts with educationalists and researchers to the benefit of our country and to the mutual benefit with the countries we cooperate," he said.

    Souflias rejects Evert`s overtures

    The main opposition New Democracy party`s leadership woes appeared to be far from over yesterday when a leading party member turned down a proposal from ND president Miltiades Evert to participate in senior party bodies and characterised Mr. Evert's tenur e at the helm of ND as "temporary".

    George Souflias, former education minister and the defeated ND candidate in last week's leadership election, rejected proposals by Mr. Evert that he remain spokesman for ND deputies and to participate in the party's Political Council.

    Mr. Souflias stressed that there should be a genuine democractic representation of the ND rank and file at the congress.

    Petsalnikos to visit Australia

    MELBOURNE (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis) R Greece's Minister for Macedonia and Thrace Philippos Petsalnikos will visit Australia at the end of the month to take part in the annual "Dimitria" festival, organised by the Victorian PanMacedonian Union.

    Mr. Petsalnikos will arrive in Sydney on October 30 for a two-day visit and will then visit Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

    Senate to discuss resolution condemning Turkey

    Shadow justice minister Senator Nick Bolkus, a former federal immigration minister, has tabled a resolution in the Australian Senate calling on the government to condemn the "provocative and expansionist policy of Turkey in the Aegean" as well as stressin g that the islet of Imia belongs to Greece.

    "It is necessary that this proposal be approved by the Australian Senate so as to act as pressure on Turkey to abandon its provocation. At the same time, however, it puts pressure on the Australian government to more vigorously support Greek positions i n the Aegean," Senator Bolkus said. "The refusal of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to take a position is worrying. It sends the wrong message to Ankara."

    The senator, who is of Greek origin, said there were international treaties which clearly show that Imia was a part of sovereign Greek territory.

    "Unfortunately," he continued, "Turkey has lately ignored international treaties and repeatedly provoked Greece. Recently the European Parliament called on Turkey to respect international legality. I, too, call on the Australian government to condemn in the most vehement fashion Turkish provocations in the Aegean."

    Thessaloniki police investigating reports of baby-selling rings from


    Thessaloniki's Chief of Police Kostas Economou told reporters yesterday that he was awaiting a briefing from Interpol regarding reports in the Bulgarian press of the existence of a network selling Bulgarian babies in Greece.

    Bulgarian newspapers recently reported police officials in the town of Burgas saying they had uncovered a network dealing in selling infants from Bulgaria in Greece.

    Mr. Economou added that the Thessaloniki police had dealt with such a case once before, in September last year, when a young Bulgarian couple and three Bulgarian women were arrested and charged with acting as middlemen selling infants from Bulgaria to c ouples in northern Greece.

    European insurance firms' general assembly in Thessaloniki

    A three-day general assembly of the Comite Europeen Des Assurances (CEA) will get underway in Thessaloniki today.

    The CEA constitutes the Federation of Insurance Unions from 25 European countries, which it represents officially in international organisations. It also plays a decisive role in all issues connected to private insurance in the EU's unified market.

    About 150 leading insurance agents from around Europe will participate in the general assembly, scheduled to be held at the Makedonia Palace Hotel. Decisions will be taken concerning the current rapid developments in the insurance sector, with an emphas is being placed on the consequences the future establishment of a single currency will have on private insurance.

    The event is being organised by the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece.

    Xiosbank drops interest rates on loans

    The administration of Xiosbank has decided to reduce interest rates on consumer and housing loans by one to one and a half percentage points.

    Specifically, Xiosbank's new interest rates are as follows:

    - Xios Stegi (housing loan): 16 per cent (from 17 per cent).

    - Housing loan of limited action (for the first year): 9 per cent (from 10 per cent).

    - Repairs loan with prior notification: 18.5 per cent (from 19.5 per cent).

    - Multi-loan (consumer loan): 23 per cent (from 24 per cent).

    - Xiosbank Visa (credit card): 26.5 per cent (from 27.5 per cent).

    The above interest rates do not include a 1 per cent contribution anticipated by Greek law.

    The Greek telecommunications firm Intracom yesterday sealed a US$3.5 million contract with the US-based Hughes Co. to participate on the development of a new air-to-sea missile for NATO member-states, the Sea Sparrow (ESSM).

    Under the terms of the contract, Intracom will develop and manufacture the missile's telemetric guidance system (WCT) and will participate in the initial stage of the preliminary design of the ESSM, as well as coordinating other Greek subcontractors wor king on the missile. The development programme for the missile involves another 10 NATO countries and is budgeted at $2 billion.

    The contract was signed by an Intracom official and the managing consultant of the German firm RamSys, which is coordinating the European portion of the programme. The signing was attended by officials of the national defence ministry, as well as US and German officials.

    Conference of European chambers concludes

    The two-day fourth Conference of European Chambers of Commerce reached a successful conclusion yesterday, with the participation of 300 delegates from 31 European countries and representatives of 1,200 chambers representing 14 million members.

    The conference, focusing on "Business in the 21st century-Technical Aid and Support from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry", concluded that the European business community is faced with two main challenges: the global expansion of the economy and enl argement of the European Union, which will include countries from central and southern Europe.

    Giorgos Yiourgas was elected president of the work group for tourism, succeeding Bernard Theman from France.


    Partly cloudy with occasional rainfalls in most parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 16-24C in Athens and from 15-19C in Thessaloniki.


    U.S. dlr 238.179, Can. dlr.175.703, Australian dlr. 187.885, Pound sterling 372.595, Irish punt 381.722, Cyprus pd 511.416, French franc 46.033, Swiss franc 189.665 Belgian franc 7.731, German mark 155.600 Finnish mark 52.130, Dutch guilder 138.706 Danish Kr. 40.656, Swedish Kr. 36.188, Norwegian Kr. 36.559, Austrian Sh. 22.127, Italian lira (100) 15.672 Yen (100) 213.528 Spanish Peseta 1.852, Portuguese Escudo 1.542.


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