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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 26/11/1996 (ANA)


  • EU-Turkey Association Council meeting bumped to next year
  • Pangalos comments on Ciller meeting
  • New Corinth Canal bridge inaugurated
  • Greek registry's competitiveness discussed with London-based Greek shipopwners
  • Attempt to convert Byzantine era cathedral into mosque creates friction with Turkey
  • Athens unaware of possible Clinton visit
  • National Bank branch opens in Tirana


    Athens' reaction yesterday prevented any changes to a unanimous July 15 decision by the EU Council of Ministers concerning Greek-Turkish relations and further advancement of EU-Turkish ties.

    The July 15 decision calls for respect by Turkey of human rights, adherence to international agreements and resolution of Greek-Turkish differences. An official reply by Ankara is still pending.

    Additionally, the current Irish European Union presidency decided not to convene a Dec. 6 EU-Turkey Association Council meeting, as strenuously requested by Ankara and several EU member-states.

    Both developments became obvious after the end of long discussions concerning prospects for furthering the 15-member Union's relations with Turkey and during working dinner by the Union's 15 foreign ministers.

    On its part, the Irish Presidency said during the council of foreign ministers session that "an exchange of views took place based on the presidency's report ", and that it was decided that "contacts with Turkey will continue with a view to preparing the Association council at the beginning of next year."

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a press conference afterwards that two unofficial documents were at his disposal which, to the best of his knowledge, have been referred to in press reports. He said the one is a report and the other a plan containing conclusions.

    Mr. Pangalos said the documents were not discussed during the dinner and, consequently, no decision was taken on them. He said a long discussion took place on whether the EU-Turkey Association Council should convene on the Dec. 6 date.

    He added it was agreed that in the common position to be presented at the next Association Council, the document concerning relations between Greece and Turkey will be the July 15 document.

    He said the threat of force, mobilisation of military means and efforts to impose "hegemonic behaviour" over neighbouring countries cannot be accepted by the international community in modern times.

    Pangalos comments on Ciller meetings

    Furthermore, Mr. Pangalos noted that Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, despite meeting EU Council of Foreign Ministers president and Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring four times recently, refused to present Ankara's positions on its relations with Athens, as well as if Turkey intends to resort to the The Hague over its territorial differences with Greece - as in the case of the Imia islets for example - or whether in general Ankara intends to build good neighbourliness relations with Greece based on the principles of international law, international agreements and practice.

    Mr. Pangalos further said a note Ms Ciller sent to the EU Council stresses that Greek-Turkish relations constitute a bilateral issue and that the EU should not get involved in them.

    He said this Turkish position is unacceptable and cannot be accepted by the EU, adding that Turkey must realise that it cannot use the threat of force and put forward claims against an EU member-state.

    Mr. Pangalos also announced that the Irish EU presidency intends to invite, at its own initiative, Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to a dinner shortly after the end of the summit, due to take place in Dublin in mid- December.


    Replying to another question, he expressed his regret over the freezing of Malta's entry into the EU, but said "this cannot concern Cyprus.

    " Cyprus is a 'Maastricht country', which is to say that at this time, along with Luxembourg, if we were to implement Maastricht tomorrow morning, they would be the only two countries which meet the requirement s, if we read the commitments in a very formal manner.

    "I believe that negotiations with Cyprus will last only a few months, and will be the easiest entry negotiations the European Union has conducted," he concluded.

    New Corinth Canal bridge

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the new Corinth Canal bridge and a 14-kilometre auxiliary route projected to ease traffic in the area.

    The premier said the 31-billion-drachmas project was an "important and critical link in the Patras-Thessaloniki-Evzones highway axis."

    "The inauguration today underlines efforts to complete a number of modern highways linking the Greek road axis to the European road axis," Mr. Simitis said, adding that the project was part of the Inter-European networks.

    "This project is firmly linked to the country's social and economic development," he said.

    Greek registry's competitiveness discussed

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis met with several Greek shipowners in London yesterday for the first time since assuming his minister's portfolio. He later described the meeting as "an amazing and substantial experience."

    Mr. Soumakis said he discussed issues of competitiveness, training and adaptation to decisions taken by international organisations. The talks, he added, "led to a very good briefing for me in order for decisions to be taken that will reinforce Greek sh ipping."

    The main problem broached during discussions was the competitiveness of Greece's registry, which is now becoming vulnerable following the open registry policy being followed by other European Union countries. Mr. Soumakis said he will discuss the issue with the Panhellenic Maritime Federation upon his return to Greece.

    Pangalos visits Uzbekistan today

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins a two-day official visit to Uzbekistan today, followed immediately by an official visit to Japan, it was announced yesterday.

    Mr. Pangalos was to leave for Tashkent shortly before midnight last night from Brussels after attending the Council of EU Foreign Ministers meeting.

    An attempt by the Turkey's directorate of charitable foundations to convert the Byzantine cathedral of Agia Sophia in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon into a mosque is causing the reaction of the Turkish ministry of cult ure, press reports noted yesterday.

    The same reports say the ministry is claiming property rights over the church, after the directorate issued instructions for its conversion.

    The ruling Refah party has made it clear that "does not consider this initiative necessary."

    Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff Lieut.-Gen. George Antonetsis is due to visit Russia between November 27 - December 2.

    Athens unaware of possible Clinton visit, Reppas says

    The government has no knowledge of any development regarding a visit by US President Bill Clinton to Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday commenting on press reports that Mr. Clinton would be visiting Athens and Ankara next June.

    "Regarding a visit by President Clinton to Athens, the issue remains open," Mr. Reppas said, noting that Mr. Clinton had accepted an invitation to visit Greece extended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos when the two men met in Washington last May.

    Mitropoulos international competition gets underway

    The first international competition dedicated to the memory of renowned Greek conductor and composer Dimitris Mitropoulos, marking the 100th anniversary of his birth got underway yesterday.

    The five-day competition, which is set to become an annual event, is open to orchestra conductors of all nationalities up to the age of 40.

    Out of approximately 300 entries, the jury has selected 32 candidates in a preliminary round to take part in the finals in a November 28 concert at the Athens Concert Hall that will be open to the public.

    Three prizes will be awarded. The first prize is accompanied by an eight million drachmas (approx. $30,00) cash award, the second prize five million drachmas ($18,000) and the third prize three million drachmas ($10, 000).

    Mr. Lutz said that the response to the competition was so great that by the June 15 deadline for entries about 300 candidates had applied.

    Italy honours baritone Zachariou

    Baritone Nikos Zachariou was awarded last night with the medal "Knight of the Italian Republic" by the Italian ambassador in Athens.

    The singer began his career in 1943 in the Greek National Opera House and moved to the Scala of Milan in 1953.

    Other dignitaries that also received awards included businessmen Socrates Bourboulis and Armado Montiano.


    Representatives of foreign multi-nationals expressed serious complaints regarding the prevailing climate for foreign investment in Greece, while Greek businessmen were also critical of what they called the lack of "clear solutions in the development sector".

    Alexandros Andriopoulos, the managing director of Levi Strauss Hellas, accused the state of not providing effective protection for industrial and intellectual copyrights, reporting that the annual turnover of imitation brands and products in Greece amounted to 50 billion drachmas, seven billion of which was only for bogus Levi's jeans.

    Giorgos Galanakis, the president of Hayatt Regency Hotel and Tourist A.E., which recently implemented a large casino investment in Thessaloniki, protested that "at a time when prime ministers of the country visited America in search of investors, legislation regarding the sector has been changed three times and new changes are being prepared."

    1997 Europartenariat scheduled to be held in Piraeus

    EU Commissioner for Small-to-Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Christos Papoutsis said yesterday that the 1997 Europartenariat will be held in Piraeus next June.

    According to Mr. Papoutsis, the Europartenariat will contribute to the further globalisation of Greek SMEs that comprise the backbone of the Greek economy.

    National Bank branch in Tirana

    The National Bank of Greece opened its first branch office in Tirana yesterday while another branch is expected to soon open in Bucharest.

    The new bank branch will accept deposits in major currencies and in drachmas, as well as offering import and export financial services, loans and letters of guarantee, purchase as well as facilitating exchange and capital movement abroad.

    An announcement by the National Bank said the Tirana branch office will have an advantage of providing security for important and high-amount transactions and services.

    In a similar development, a new National Bank branch office opened in Stuttgart on Nov. 18. The new branch office, the fourth in Germany, provides all banking services and is equipped with the latest banking computerisation system.

    OGA to function as full-fledged insurance fund as of Jan. 1

    About 700,000 farmers will join the re-organised Agricultural Insurance Fund (OGA), which is to function on a fully reciprocal basis of contributions from January 1, as provided for by a draft law unveiled by Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday.

    The plan calls for seven tiers of insurance, the first providing for monthly pensions of 51,000 drachmas, and the seventh for 177,330. One-third of the cost will be paid by farmers' themselves, and two-thirds from the state budget. Farmers will be elig ible for a pension at 65, while the concepts of disability pension and labour accidents are introduced for the first time.


    Sunny to partly cloudy with rain later at night. Temperatures in Athens will range from 9-15C and in Thessaloniki from 6-13C.


    U.S. dlr 236.175, Can. dlr.176.040, Australian dlr. 191.466, Pound sterling 397.375, Irish punt 398.189, Cyprus pd 515.840, French franc 46.134, Swiss franc 185.187 Belgian franc 7.573, German mark 156.081, Finnish mark 51.854, Dutch guilder 139.118, Danish Kr. 40.664, Swedish Kr. 35.672, Norwegian Kr. 37.041, Austrian Sh. 22.178, Italian lira (100) 15.714, Yen (100) 210.215, Spanish Peseta 1.856, Portuguese Escudo 1.546.


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