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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-10-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, Greece, 22/10/1996 (ANA)


  • Greek and Polish presidents confirm excellent bilateral relations
  • Greece interested in defusing tension in Greek-Turkish relations
  • Reppas: Greece wants closer copperation with Israel
  • Police helicopter to monitor Greek-Albanian border
  • Turkey's provocative behaviour should concern E.U. and U.S., says Defence Minister
  • German foreign undersecretary says E.U. cannot be kept hostage to Turkey
  • Greek reservations over Franco-German IGC proposal
  • Charges laid in transit fuel scam
  • Thessaloniki port strike suspended


    The presidents of Greece and Poland,Kostis Stephanopoulos and Aleksander Kwasniewski, yesterday confirmed the excellent state of their bilateral relations, and discussed ways of further expanding cooperation in the trade an d investment sectors.

    "The excellent bilateral relations in the political sector leave great margins for developing economic, trade and cultural exchanges," Mr. Stephanopoulos said after talks with his host opening his three-day visit in the Polish capital -- the first ever by a Greek head of state -- expressing hope that the participation of prominent Greek businessmen in the delegation accompanying him would help in that direction.

    Besides Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the Greek president is accompanied by the presidents of the Association of Greek Industries, Iason Stratos, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yiannis Papathanasiou, Greek Shipowners Union , Ioannis Goumas, and Association of Greek Exporters, Christina Sakellaridou.

    The two heads of state also discussed developments in Europe, and Mr. Stephanopoulos reaffirmed Greek support for Poland's drive to become a member of NATO and the European Union.

    He set out to Mr. Kwasniewski Greece's positions regarding Cyprus and Greek- Turkish relations, stressing its desire for the application of the rules of international law and treaties.

    Replying to a relevant question, the Polish president said that his country was in favour of dialogue and peaceful resolution of all problems.

    He said that the problems of Greek-Turkish relations were between two countries belonging to NATO, which, apart from Europe, also ought to protect its member-states.

    The Polish president came out in favour of Cypriot entry in the European Union, adding that the maintenance of peace on Cyprus was in the interest of, but also an obligation of Europe.

    He also stressed the dynamic increase in trade exchanges between the two countries this year, but noted that Greek investment in Poland could rise to much higher levels.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Greece was always interested in initiatives to defuse tension and conflict in Greek- Turkish relations.

    He was responding to questions regarding Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis's proposal to extend the moratorium on Greek and Turkish military exercises in the Aegean. Mr. Reppas added that it was Turkey which did not want to avert tension, pointing to Ankara's repeated violations of Greek air space in the Aegean. He clarified that the Rozakis proposal was a personal opinion and was not the first time it had been formulated by the government.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Greece desired closer cooperation with Israel and would work to that end. Mr. Reppas was responding to an Israeli official's comments to a Cypriot newspaper that the Greek side was responsible for the non-realisation of Greek-Israeli defence cooperation.
    A Greek police helicopter will be transferred from Attica to Ioannina to monitor the flow of illegal immigrants through the Greek-Albanian border, Public Order Minister George Romeos said yesterday. Mr.Romeos added that the chopper would make daily rounds, in cooperation with special police forces and the region's military forces.

    The measure is considered to be imperative given the number of Albanian illegal immigrants who attempt to return to Greece despite being deported.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that both the European Union and the United States should realise that Turkey's provocative attitude was not only the concern of Greece but that it concerned them as well since the country played a d estabilising role in the region.

    Speaking in Larissa during his visit of army installations in the region, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was Greece's task to make the EU and the US realise this, at the same time stressing the possibility of a new hot incident in relations between Greece a nd Turkey.

    Tension between Greece and Turkey soared to an all time high in January after Turkish troops embarked on the Greek rocky isle of Imia in the Aegean.

    Elaborating on the possibility for a new hot incident, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos attributed it to increased evidence that Turkey was continuously being armed with new weapon systems.

    "Turkey is defining new goals and territorial designs," he said. "Through threats for use of violence it has even reached the point of disputing international treaties, such as the Lausanne Treaty," he added.

    Commenting on US President Bill Clinton's statement that Greek-Turkish differences should be deferred to the International Court at The Hague for a peaceful settlement, the minister said it was "a realistic proposal depriving Turkey from the ability to have new territorial designs."

    But he expressed reservation because he said Mr. Clinton made the statement in view of US elections in November.

    Visiting German Foreign Undersecretary Werner Hauer said yesterday in Thessaloniki that consultations for a Cyprus EU-accession should start six months after the end of the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference as initially planned.

    "The European Union cannot be kept hostage to a Turkish government which does not allow Cyprus as a united country to be a member of the European Union," Mr. Hauer said.

    The German official, who represented his government to the inauguration of the new premises of the German School in Thessaloniki, made the statement during an interview to the "Radio Paratiritis" radio station.

    Quizzed on Greek-Turkish differences, Mr. Hauer said Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' approach to the issue -- namely a recourse to an international arbitration court -- "is the only civilised way to settle such an issue."

    Representatives of 27 European countries and international organisations, including all European Union member states, Balkan countries, the US, Russia, Hungary, the Council of Europe, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) yesterday held in Athens the 4th session of the 'Initiative for Stabiliity and Good Neighbourliness in SE Europe' (or Royaumont Initiative, named after the Paris suburb where the 1st session was held in December 1965).

    The Greek delegation presented four proposals for studies, to be financed by the European Union, regarding relations between the EU and the countries of SE Europe in the fields of security, human rights, and the environment, the systematisation of the procedure for regional cooperation, and the creation of a think-tank network in SE Europe.

    The conference also discussed initiatives for the economic reconstruction in the region, and reviewed the provisions of the Dayton peace accord regarding confidence building measures and arms reduction.

    French Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, Admiral Philippe Durteste, will start an official visit to Greece tomorrow, at the invitation of Commander of the Fleet, Vice-Admiral Georgios Bezerianos. During his stay, the French official will visit fleet headquarters, and have talks with Chief of the Navy General Staff Vice-Admiral Leonidas Palaiogiorgos.

    First rapprochement between Greek and FYROM technicians

    The state institute for the protection of monuments in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has accepted an inventory of monuments of all historic periods located in the neighbouring state by mixed committees composed of its members and membe rs of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE).

    The decision was the most important agreement during a three-day visit paid to Skopje by a delegation of the TEE-Department of Central Macedonia (TEE- TKM), headed by its President Panayiotis Dentsoras, at the invitation of the institute of Skopje.

    It was the first rapprochement between the Greek technicians and their colleagues from FYROM and is part of a wider framework to promote common interests between engineers from Balkan countries through bilateral contacts developed by TEE-TKM.

    The cooperation proposal processed by TEE-TKM and the institute for the protection of monuments of FYROM refers to the protection of the two countries' architectural heritage.

    TEE-TKM had briefed relevant ministries and is expected to invite representatives of the institute from FYROM to Thessaloniki before Christmas.

    Greece is reserved over a joint proposal made last week by the foreign ministers of France and Germany, by which the Intergovernmental Conference on revising the Maastricht Treaty should initiate the possibility of all member-states "wishing and able" to cooperate in the sectors they consider essential, without member-states disagreeing to be in a position to raise objections, possibly using the right of veto currently in force.

    Greece's first reaction to the Franco-German proposal came yesterday from the country's representative at the Intergovernmental Conference Eurodeputy Yiannos Kranidiotis who briefed the presiding official of the group of personal representatives of Fore ign Ministers at the Intergovernmental Conference in a meeting in Brussels yesterday on Greek positions.

    In parallel, Mr. Kranidiotis yesterday delivered a letter by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to the Irish Presidency for his Irish counterpart Dick Spring, setting out the Greek government's views on issues of common foreign and defence policy and stressing Greece's interest in having clauses included in the draft treaty which consolidate the inviolability of the territorial integrity and borders of European Union member-states.

    Ground studies for a gold processing plant to be created in Halkidiki, northern Greece, by the Canadian company TVX HELLAS, will start from regions furthest away from the administrative limits of the Olympiada and Varvara communities, as tension in the area eased after last week's incidents.

    The decision was reached after repeated talks were held yesterday between Minister of Macedonia and Thrace Philippos Petsalnikos, Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou and Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopappas and members of the Coordinati ng Committee and local community leaders who had blocked the road leading to the entrance to the mines over the past 10 months.

    Local inhabitants fear the gold processing plant will harm the tourist industry in the area, the environment and cultural heritage.

    Charges laid in transit fuel scam

    A Piraeus prosecutor today filed charges against three petroleum trading firms for involvement in a fuel scam that has so far defrauded the Greek state of eight billion drachmas.

    The latest development in the ongoing investigation into a comprehensive fuel scam in which bogus fuel deliveries were consigned to non-existent ocean-bound vessels and yachts comes after six months of investigation.

    Also implicated in the scam are six customs officials who have been charged with issuing false certificates.

    The three firms allegedly involved in dodging taxes and duties of 823 million drachmas are: "Tot Hellas," "Oceanic International" and "Pioneer Commercial".

    Thessaloniki port strike suspended

    Loading operations at the port in this northern Greek city are continuing normally, following a decision by striking dockers for a one-month suspension of their strike.

    Loading operators began their series of rolling 24-hour strikes on Thursday to press a number of demands.

    Their demands for more workers, pension fund issues, productivity bonuses and workplace health and security issues were satisfied at a meeting yesterday with the president of the Thessaloniki Port Authority.

    Still outstanding are issues regarding extra bonuses and increased daily rates.

    Unionists said if these issues were not settled within the month, the strike would be resumed.


    Sunny to partly cloudy with rfain in the mountainous regions. Temperatures in Athens will range from 13-18C and in Thressaloniki from 10-15C.


    U.S. dlr 239.122 Can. dlr.176.874, Australian dlr. 190.201 Pound sterling 380.571, Irish punt 383.011, Cyprus pd 510.602, French franc 45.888, Swiss franc 188.113 Belgian franc 7.525, German mark 155.020 Finnish mark 51.846, Dutch guilder 138.210 Danish Kr. 40.509, Swedish Kr. 36.039, Norwegian Kr. 36.597, Austrian Sh. 22.052, Italian lira (100) 15.550 Yen (100) 211.455 Spanish Peseta 1.843, Portuguese Escudo 1.538.


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