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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 01/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis sends message to Turkey
  • Greek-Turkish tension, NATO's eastward expansion dominate Simitis-Solana talks
  • Gov't says any Turkish settlement of Famagusta weakens prospects for Cyprus solution
  • Papoutsis stresses need for strengthening of European institutions along with EMU
  • Finance ministry projects lessening of public debt as percentage of GDP
  • EOT forecasts increase in number of Italian tourists this season
  • Premier disputes claim that gov't isn't properly absorbing EU funds

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Simitis sends message to Turkey

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis today sent a clear message to Turkey to abandon its visions for the revival of the otthoman empire, warning that the cost of any design against Greece will be much greater for the party who holds the designs than the unlawful gains that it is after.

    Speaking during a visit to the First Army in Larissa, at the start of a three-day tour of Thessaly, Simitis said Turkey has turned into "the greatest destabilizing factor in the Aegean, the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, Caucasus and the Middle East."

    He also accused the neighbouring country of making a "raw" effort to revise the international treaties which define the status quo of the region.

    Stressing that there are no bilateral differences, Simitis went on to say that the status quo in the Aegean is "absolutely clear" and that it has been determined by the history of thousands of years and with greater precision by the international treaties.

    Reiterating Athens' position that it will not enter dialogue with Turkey on issues of sovereignty and the country's sovereign rights, the premier sent a message of friendship to Turkey saying that a climate of good will, good neighbourliness and useful cooperation will be to the benefit of both countries and calling on its neighbour to show similar spirit.

    "Until then," the premier said, "Greece will remain firm in its position that the total of the country's diplomatic and defense measures is directed towards ensuring national integrity and averting Turkish designs through a powerful force of aversion."

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Mr. Simitis said Greece did not have illusions that its European Partners will "automatically endorse the Greek positions."

    Turning to other issues, Simitis said the country's Armed Forces constituted the central axis of Greece's defence strategy adding that the modernisation of the armed forces was a priority aim.

    The premier also refered to Greece's "equal participation in the european unification," adding that Greece's marginalisation in the European Union would have destructive economic and social consequences.

    Greek-Turkish tension, NATO's eastward expansion dominate Simitis-Solana talks

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks here yesterday with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana focusing on tensions in Greek-Turkish relations and efforts to restructure the alliance.

    The premier first held private talks with Mr. Solana, while the meeting was subsequently attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Mr. Solana's proposals for defusing tensions in Greek-Turkish relations were discussed at length, although Mr. Simitis said arrangements already existed to deal with the situation.

    Specifically, the premier cited a memorandum agreement reached in 1988 by then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz, respectively. In 1988, Mr. Papoulias and Mr. Yilmaz agreed in the Athens seaside resort of V ouliagmeni to promote confidence-building measures(CBMs) between the two countries based on the principle of good-neighbourliness.

    "In time, discussions can be held," Mr. Simitis added.

    Mr. Solana said that what was important was to work on the issue before the NATO summit on July 8-9.

    According to sources, Mr. Solana underlined during yesterday's talks that in view of NATO's eastward enlargement, the problems which exist between alliance members must be dealt with.

    The same sources said Mr. Solana appeared to insist on his proposal concerning an extension of a two-month moratorium on Greek and Turkish military exercises in the Aegean during July and August.

    At the present time, the Greek side does not appear willing to discuss the issue given Ankara's general stance towards Athens, reports state.

    For this reason, Mr. Solana intends to return to Greece and Turkey before the July summit, while the sources said the NATO chief was insisting that a solution be found by July.

    When asked by reporters if Ankara was in agreement with his proposals, Mr. Solana replied that any agreement should be formulated on the basis of the Vouliagmeni memorandum as well as on ideas put forward last summer.

    "I shall make every effort to secure agreement from both sides because this is my job," Mr. Solana said.

    Asked whether radar pictures of the situation in the Aegean would continue to be relayed directly to NATO headquarters in Naples beyond the four-month period agreed, Mr. Simitis said this would continue if necessary in order to brief the alliance on dev elopments, "because it is a positive thing if the allies are better informed."

    Mr. Solana described his talks as "extremely constructive" since he had ascertained that Athens' positions were very positive concerning the building of a new NATO, in a reference to proposed new military structures, new missions, new members and the al liance's new relationship with Russia.

    In these sectors, Mr. Simitis underlined, important decisions must be taken at the Madrid summit in July, adding that talks would continue.

    Gov't says any Turkish settlement of Famagusta weakens prospects for Cyprus solution

    Commenting on press reports alleging that hundreds of Turkish extremist "Grey Wolves" members have been arriving from Turkey to Cyprus in order to settle in empty Famagusta houses, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Athens will denou nce this move, "which shows lack of will on the part of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots to promote initiatives for a solution to the Cyprus problem."

    Famagusta has been uninhabited since 1974 when the island was invaded by the Turkish army.

    Papoutsis stresses need for strengthening of European institutions along with EMU

    European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis yesterday stressed the need to give a new impetus to "social Europe" and the need for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) to go hand-in-hand with the strengthening of democracy and European institutions.

    Speaking at the Panteion University in Athens, Mr. Papoutsis said the importance of the challenges Europe is facing at the eve of the 21st century "makes it necessary for the European States to choose a common road and identify common responses".

    "The rejection of European unification would lead to a deadlock and to a political and economic marginalisation," Mr. Papoutsis said. "The consolidation of the European institutions is a guarantee for the smaller countriesIsecuring the conso lidation of the European Commission's autonomy, its right of initiative and the participation of at least one Commissioner from each member-state," he said.

    Mr. Papoutsis, who is commissioner for tourism, small- and medium-sized enterprises and energy, said "the danger lurking behind the debate on the flexibility clause is the institutionalisation of a multi-speed Europe".

    "This process must not apply to the first pillar which constitutes the backbone of the Community, the structural policies and other common policiesI" he said.

    Finance ministry projects lessening of public debt as percentage of GDP

    Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis reiterated yesterday that the government's fiscal policy will not slacken.

    He said budget indicators and the public debt remained at anticipated levels in 1996, with the debt amounting to 33 trillion drachmas in 1996, or 111 per cent of GDP, while it is expected to decrease to 107 per cent in 1997.

    Mr. Christodoulakis said the overall positive macro-economic climate is the result of fiscal containment and this should not be interpreted as an indication of slackening, adding that "the correct fiscal course should be continued and intensified, not s lackened."

    EOT forecasts increase in number of Italian tourists this season

    Addressing the opening ceremony of the International Tourism Exhibition held here on Thursday, Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) President Yiannis Stephanidis forecast a 5-6 per cent increase in arrivals of Italian tourist s to Greece in 1997.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Milan Mr. Stephanidis said the increase will bring to about 800,000 the number of Italian tourists expected to visit this year.

    Elaborating on changes in both the European and international tourism industry, Mr. Stephanidis said "mass tourism" will soon be replaced by quality tourism.

    EOT's president noted that Greece's tourism strategy aimed at the modernisation of the country's tourist product, finishing construction of tourism infrastructure works and placing special emphasis on cultural tourism.

    Premier disputes claim that gov't isn't properly absorbing EU funds

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that "implementation of all (EU funding) programmes without exception will be promoted in 1997, except those requiring a certification processI"

    Mr. Simitis was replying to a question by Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who accused the government of delaying in absorbing European Union funds and of wasting such funds.

    He said the picture provided by Mr. Constantopoulos, namely, "of regional abandonment, a state of emergency and poverty," has nothing to do with real developments, adding that the largest programme the country has ever known on its regional development is currently underway with projects exceeding one trillion drachmas, while programmes on combating unemployment are also underway and the result of this policy is that 150,000 jobs have been created in past years.

    Mr. Constantopoulos insisted that "the problem is in an explosive situation and for as long as it goes on the cost will multiply in terms of lost time, money, opportunities and political credibility."

    WEATHER

    Almost fair weather in western regions initially. Cloud with rain in the rest of the country, and sporadic storm in the south. Some passing snowfall on high ground. A certain improvement in the afternoon. Winds northernly to northeasterly, very strong to gale force, reaching strong gale force in the open sea, but abating gradually in the Ionian Sea. Lowest temperatures, 6C in Athens, 2C in Thessaloniki, 8-9C on the islands.

    SPORTS

    Cyclades '97 yacht race in July

    This year's fourth consecutive open sea yacht race "Cyclades '97" will be accompanied by music and other festivities including a photography competition, organisers told a press conference.

    Entrants to the competition will be restricted to the captains and crew of the participating yachts. The first stretch of the race, from Phaliro to Milos (81 nautical miles), will be held on July 5, to be followed by Milos- Ios (48 n.m.) on July 7, Ios- Serifos (43 n.m.) on July 10 and Ios-Serifos (55 n.m.) on July 12.

    Sports subsidies slide

    Subsidies for 35 sports federations in 1997 will be slightly decreased this year, according to a relevant table unveiled by the sports secretariat yesterday.

    The total amount of subsidies is 10.46 billion drachmas, compared to 10.62 billion drachmas last year.

    He said there will be a separate amount covering international sports events taking place in Greece and a prediction that federations whose athletes have distinguished themselves in Olympic Games will receive bonuses. The largest amounts will be allocated to basketball (1.4 billion), volleyball (1.1 billion), swimming-water polo (1.8 billion), soccer (1.2 billion), athletics (800 million), wrestling (730 million) and weightlifting (600 million).

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.376 Pound sterling 428.802 Cyprus pd 519.213 French franc 46.142 Swiss franc 178.262 German mark 155.585 Italian lira (100) 15.624 Yen (100) 218.597 Canadian dlr. 192.329 Australian dlr. 204.154 Irish Punt 416.045 Belgian franc 7.545 Finnish mark 52.314 Dutch guilder 138.429 Danish kr. 40.823 Swedish kr. 35.103 Norwegian kr. 39.025 Austrian sch. 22.107 Spanish peseta 1.845 Portuguese escudo 1.550

    (M.S.)


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