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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/11/1996 (ANA)


  • IGC,other EU-related issues dominate Simitis-Prodi talks
  • Cyprus foreign minister in Athens, Tsohatzopoulos leaves for Nicosia today
  • Greece comes under strong pressure over E.U.-Turkey relations
  • Three more Greek-Bulgarian border crossings discussed
  • Merchant Marine minister to visit Greek shipping concerns in London
  • Details on interbank market tax released


    Developments in the European Union in relation to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as well as Mediterranean and Balkan issues were the main topics of discussion here yesterday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi.

    Italian mass media and the Greek side stressed that the meeting was particularly positive since an identity of views was ascertained, particularly on the IGC and the Balkans.

    Regarding the IGC, the two premiers agreed that procedural rules were needed that would simplify matters and lead to quick and effective decisions. Nevertheless, certain differences in approaches were identified, with Mr. Simitis stressing Athens' posit ion in favour of the principle of unanimity on issues of national interest.

    On Balkan issues both Rome and Athens almost had identical positions since Mr. Prodi believes that there should be a new Balkan policy.

    In the wake of its strong presence in Albania and the major problems faced by Tirana, he accepted many of the ideas and proposals put to him by Mr. Simitis concerning both Albania, and the Balkans in general, reports said.

    A broad field of cooperation was agreed for the examination of existing plans, and it was considered expedient to establish six-monthly contacts between the directors general of the ministries of foreign affairs and national economy of the two countries .

    Regarding EMU, Mr. Prodi said he considered his country's participation in the first group of countries imperative, while Mr. Simitis said Greece had decided to participate in the second group, with the aim of meeting precondition for convergence in 1998 through a drastic reduction in deficits, down to 4.2 per cent of GDP.

    On another topic, Mr. Prodi assured his Greek counterpart that difficulties in beginning construction of an electric hookup between Greece and Italy would be overcome.

    EU-Turkey relations

    Concerning Ankara, Mr. Simitis reiterated that any progress in EU-Turkish relations was currently dependent on Turkey's reply to a Council of Ministers' decision in July, which calls on Ankara to affirm its commitment to human rights and international agreements, among others.

    "The EU has adopted a decision in relation to these problems. Greece is awaiting Ankara's reply, which has still not been given, and is a basic precondition for any development. Without a move on Turkey's part, the EU must not shift from its views," Mr. Simitis said from the Italian capital.

    Regarding Greek-Turkish differences and Cyprus, he stressed that "we are in agreement with Italy that the rules of international law and treaties must be applied".

    Netherlands visit

    Diplomatic sources said yesterday that Mr. Simitis' scheduled visit to The Netherlands on Dec. 12, ahead of the Dublin summit, was expected with interest.

    According to the same sources, Mr. Simitis apparently enjoys increased respect among the Dutch leadership for his moderate stance during the Imia crisis in January and for his academic background.


    Meanwhile, replying to reporters' questions on statements by Ms Ciller that Greece and Turkey should enter into a general dialogue on all issues, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos invoked the Treaty of Lausanne.

    "There has been a very clear institutional framework for decades now - the Treaty of Lausanne - the consistent implementation of which solves many of what Turkey views as problems in the Aegean and this must be understood by all," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The minister clarified that "at the present time there is no issue of negotiations about the Aegean". "If there are concrete proposals, they must be put forward in a responsible way, via a specific procedure," he added.

    Explaining what had happened in Ostend, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Turkey had tried to get the meeting to accept that Ankara could participate, together with the WEU full members and moreover on an equal basis, in decision- making on initiatives which may be taken by the defence group concerning the dispatch of troops and humanitarian missions.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides met with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday evening and discussed developments in national issues, particularly the Cyprus problem, as well as other bilateral matters. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said his scheduled visit to Cyprus was also discussed.

    The Greek minister is scheduled to leave on a four-day visit to Cyprus today. Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Michaelides said the joint defence doctrine between Greece and Cyprus is a pertinent issue for the defence and existence of Cyprus.

    The Greek permanent representative came under strong pressure yesterday for a lifting of Athens' reservations regarding financing of Turkey from the Community budget and for consenting to the convening of the EU-Turkey A ssociation Council.

    As expected, the Greek side refused any discussion on the above issues, stressing that Turkey is obliged to give persuasive answers on how it intends to smooth over relations with Greece on the basis of a July 15 Council of Ministers' decision, and reit erating that until that occurs, Greece would not lift its reservations.

    According to well-informed diplomatic sources, the aim of pressures was to force Greece to abandon its insistence on implementation of the July 15 decision, and consent to exploration of other ways of dealing with the problem of Turkey's relations with the Community and Greece.

    Van den Broek cites need for improvement in Turkey's human rights situation

    Shortly after a meeting between EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek and Turkish Trade Minister Yilmaz, a spokesman told reporters that the Commissioner had asssured his interlocutor that the European Union considered its customs union with Turkey as of special signficance.

    Nevertheless, he made it clear that as long as Turkey did not record an improvement in human rights issues, and did not comply with the Council of Ministers' decision in July for the resolution of Greek-Turkish differences, the Commission was not in a position to undertake an initiative in the direction of freeing EU funds for Turkey.

    Tsohatzopoulos briefs Evert on new armaments programme

    The political and military leadership of the national defence ministry yesterday briefed main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert on the recently announced four trillion drachma defence programme aimed at bolstering the fighting cap ability of the armed forces.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters that the briefing had been restricted to the logic behind the programme, the conditions under which the programme will be implemented, including technical, financial and training issues, as well as the decision of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) to ensure transparency and inform the opposition parties.

    Gov't allocates seven billion to Mount Athos

    Funds amounting to seven billion drachmas will be allocated to the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece from a total package of 36 billion drachmas made available by the European Investment Bank (EIB), government spokesman Dimitri Reppas said yesterday.

    In the present initial stage, Mr. Reppas said, six billion drachmas will be disbursed, of which 2.5 billion will be given to Mount Athos.

    Further funds totalling 4.5 billion drachmas will be given to Mount Athos in the third phase of disbursement, he added.

    Mr. Reppas clarified that the funds would be managed by the monasteries of Mount Athos themselves, under the overall supervision of the national economy ministry.

    Meeting considers details for 3 more Greek-Bulgarian border crossings

    A plenary session of a joint Greek-Bulgarian committee was held in Komotini yesterday, focusing on details of creating three new border crossings in the prefectures of Rodopi, Xanthi and Drama to link eastern Macedonia and Thrace with southern Bulgaria.

    The meeting was attended by two delegations of experts headed by Foreign Ministry secretary general Constantinos Georgiou and Bulgarian Alternate Regional Development and Public Works Minister Nikolai Grigorov.

    The intention of both countries to cooperate and promote processes for building and operating the three new passages at the Drama-Goce Nelce, Xanthi-Rudozem and Komotini-Makaza points was also reaffirmed.

    Mr. Georgiou said the three new border passages confirm the excellent political and economic relations between the two countries, which aim at giving special economic, tourism and cultural development in the region.

    On his part, Mr. Grigorov said creation of the three new road passages is an important issue because they contribute towards opening the natural space of the two countries and cooperating in cultural and economic relations between two friendly countries .

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis will visit London tomorrow at the invitation of the city's Greek Maritime Cooperation Committee.

    Committee president Ioannis Hatzipateras invited Mr. Soumakis to attend a council meeting and an official luncheon in order to meet members of the Greek shipping community in London.

    Mr. Soumakis will have the opportunity of being briefed on issues concerning the committee's members and on general issues of interest to Greece's merchant marine fleet.

    He will also meet the British transport minister for talks on various maritime issues of concern to the two countries and on Greek positions in the European Union regarding shipping.

    Investment interest from Quebec

    Major Canadian companies in the telecoms, transport and construction of hydroelectric works sectors are apparently interested in investing in Greece. Representatives of such companies, which have visited Greece in the past, will make a new visit in the spring as part of a mission organised by the provincial government of Quebec.

    Representatives of companies showing interest so far - Teleglobe, Bellacanada, Bombardier and Hydro Quebec - will cooperate with a special advisory bureau for investments in Greece, created by the municipality of Montreal.

    The government will tax net income from deposits or loans between banks on the interbank market, the finance ministry announced yesterday.

    The tax will be collected in advance and begin to be assessed on transactions carried out as of 1 January 1997.

    For the purpose of implementing the decision, the present 50 per cent advance payment of banks' income tax will be increased to 60 per cent as of 1 January.

    Up to now, income from bank transactions on the interbank market were subject to a special tax regime, according to which profits from such transactions were deductible from the total taxable net profits of banks.

    OTE development programme announced

    An ambitious investment programme in the Balkans and the Black Sea region totalling some 100 billion drachmas over the next five years (1996-2000) was announced yesterday by Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) officials.

    The programme aims to keep OTE in touch with competitors in the area of cooperation and to turn Greece into a telecommunications network connecting western Europe to Africa via the Balkans.

    Officials said a mobile telephone system to be developed by OTE is scheduled to be completed during summer or autumn 1997. OTE's participation in services, construction programmes, technical know-how and its involvement in underwater cables make the org anisation an active participant in the world telecommunications market.

    Further promotion of Greek-Yugoslav trade examined

    Athens' ambassador to Belgrade, Panayiotis Vlassopoulos, met with Serbian Industry Minister Oscar Fodor here on Tuesday for talks on further promoting bilateral economic cooperation.

    An announcement by the Belgrade government said one of the most important areas of cooperation is investment of Greek capital in certain Yugoslavian programmes.

    Meanwhile, a five-day exhibition of Greek products will open in Belgrade today. Greek businessmen, primarily from northern Greece, will exhibit clothes, footwear, office equipment, sanitary items, vehicle spare parts, chemical products, raw materials fo r furniture, heating equipment as well as stationery.


    Sunny to partly cloudy with moderate southern winds in most parts of the country. Temperatures will range from 11-18C in Athens and from 7-14C in Thessaloniki.


    The organising committee for the Athletics World Championships '97, which will be held in Athens next August, has been reportedly inundated with calls for ticket reservations, although the actual tickets have not yet been printed.

    The committee has received requests to hold 51,000 tickets, costing a total of 371 million drachmas, and comprising 10 per cent of the total. The majority of requests have been made from Germany, Britain and the United States.

    Meanwhile, all athletes breaking a world record during the championships will receive a 25-million-drachma bonus, IAAF sources stated.


    U.S. dlr 235.005 Can. dlr.174.909, Australian dlr. 186.987 Pound sterling 394.102, Irish punt 395.114, Cyprus pd 514.848, French franc 46.309, Swiss franc 185.770 Belgian franc 7.601, German mark 156.637 Finnish mark 51.983, Dutch guilder 139.664 Danish Kr. 40.795, Swedish Kr. 35.547, Norwegian Kr. 37.202, Austrian Sh. 22.251, Italian lira (100) 15.608 Yen (100) 211.167 Spanish Peseta 1.862, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.


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