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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 06/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece: Crisis in Albania `a problem of democracy, human rights`
  • Tirana says ethnic Greeks not instigators of violence
  • Pangalos: Greece wants to help
  • Press Minister meets with Albanian Socialist Party delegation
  • Premier presents PASOK's new agricultural proposals
  • G. Papandreou discusses Cyprus problem with French counterpart
  • Amnesty Int'l: EU 'silent witness' to Turkish human rights violations


    Greece: Crisis in Albania 'a problem of democracy, human rights'

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the current crisis in Albania was "a problem of democracy, peaceful evolution of political life and human rights," and that it was not an issue that concerned Greece in particular.

    "It is not an issue that concerns Greece in particular, and it is certainly not an issue connected only with the Greek minority. I am in constant contact with the European Union. All the necessary actions for the protection of the Greek minority have been made and I hope that the situation will evolve smoothly," he stated.

    "In a telephone communication I had with Mr. Berisha last (Tuesday) night, he assured me that there will not be a climate that will lead to negative consequences for the Greek minority. And he also asssured me - and there is also a relevant statement of the Albanian government - that the Greek minority has no relation to the issue," he added.

    He said that the EU was promoting a political solution.

    Greek ethnic minority

    Mr. Simitis Tuesday night reiterated to Mr. Berisha Athens' concern for the safety and property of the ethnic Greek community in Albania and stressed how important the minority issue was for Athens' relations with Tirana.

    On reports of concern voiced that a campaign of ethnic cleansing might be attempted against the Greek minority, the spokesman Dimitris Reppas ruled this out as a possible target of the Albanian side.

    The minority has the same problem as the Albanians, he said, noting that Mr. Simitis had impressed upon Mr. Berisha the need to guarantee the security of the ethnic Greeks who, he added, "must remain where they are today and prosper."

    Mr. Reppas reiterated the Greek government's position that a political solution should be given to the crisis in Albania through dialogue with the participation of all political forces in the neighbouring country.

    The spokesman said National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had also contacted his Albanian counterpart, who had agreed on the need for a political solution.

    Mr. Reppas said that Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had underlined to his counterpart the importance of the Albanian army not being used in any initiative which would exacerbate the situation.

    Tirana says ethnic Greeks not instigators of violence

    The Albanian government has denied press reports that the riots throughout mostly southern Albania had been instigated by members of the ethnic Greek minority, according to a dispatch from the ANA's correspondent in Gjirokaster.

    The Albanian government spokesman stated that the instigators were "leaders of the former communist party of Albania, ex-policemen and members of the former 'Sigurini' (ex-leader Enver Hoxha's secret service) who are being funded by foreign secret servi ces".

    Meanwhile, no independent or opposition newspaper was published in Tirana yesterday.

    Pangalos: Greece wants to help

    In an interview yesterday with the "Voice of America", Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos expressed regret at the "dramatic developments in Albania," stressing that "Greece does not want to impose solutions, merely to help."

    Mr. Pangalos told the "Voice of America" that Premier Simitis will call on the European Union to undertake an initiative aimed at uniting the Albanian people and to contribute to the return of stability in the country.

    "Greece is not ready to accept an infinite number of refugees even though it is always willing to offer humanitarian aid, especially regarding the operation of schools, hospitals and organisations," Mr. Pangalos said.

    The foreign minister further suggested that a meeting be held in Athens with the participation of all Albanian political leaders with the aim of finding a solution to the current situation.

    Press Minister meets with Albanian Socialist Party delegation

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas last night met with an Albanian Socialist Party delegation and reiterated the Greek government's positions that a solution to the situation in Albania should be found through discussion.

    He also stressed the government's intense interest in contributing to the rehabilitation of democratic institutions and of normality in the neighbouring country.

    Premier presents PASOK's new agricultural proposals

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday called on members of the ruling PASOK party`s farmers` associations to work towards the restructuring and upgrading of the role of agricultural cooperatives.

    Speaking at a nationwide meeting of the associations in Piraeus, and in view of forthcoming elections in the cooperatives, he called on farmers to elect those who will be able to secure the effective functioning of cooperatives, and will ignore considerations of political clientele.

    He said the government was adopting a series of measures "aimed at either directly support producers, or promote restructuring and the creation of more dynamic prospects for the farmers."

    These measures include:

    -Social dialogue, through the setting up of the Agricultural Policy Council.

    -a policy for new farmers,

    -an agricultural land policy, aiming at better management and securing viable agricultural concerns,

    -the drawing up of a Farmers` Register,

    -the training of farmers,

    -additional measures for reducing production costs,

    -the promotion of development programmes and investments in agriculture and fisheries, amounting to 1.4 trillion drachmas in the 1994-99 period, while total funds devoted to the regions amount to 2.7 trillion drachmas, or about one-third of the second Community Support Framework.

    European Socialist Party to issue resolution on Albania

    The European Socialist Party is to issue a resolution today on developments in Albania, which, according to sources, stresses that the imposition of a state of emergency cannot solve the problem and that only polit ical dialogue and the avoidance of violent activities can restore peace and order.

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who participated in yesterday`s session, spoke to reporters afterwards and referred to "a civil war with unknown consequences and prospects, not only for the Albanian people, but also for stability, cooperation and peace in southeast Europe and the Balkans."

    Meanwhile, Greek Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said during a Commission session yesterday that Albania`s problem was purely political and that pressure ought to be exerted for a truly democratic dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition.

    G. Papandreou discusses Cyprus problem with French counterpart

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed sastisfaction over European activity on the Cyprus issue, following talks in Paris with his French counterpart Michel Barnier.

    Mr. Papandreou said Greece is not opposed to the European Union's contacts with the Turkish Cypriot side, but on conditions which, he said, were understood by his interlocutor.

    Mr. Barnier assured Mr. Papandreou that the Turkish Cypriots' participation will not be of decisive importance for the accession of Cyprus, neither does it constitute in any way an indirect recognition of Rauf Denktash's state.

    Amnesty Int'l: EU 'silent witness' to Turkish human rights violations

    Amnesty International yesterday hailed Europarliament initiatives aimed at improving the state of human rights in Turkey, but criticised the European Commission for not proposing sufficient and specific measures to battle the violations, despite the severity of the situation.

    In a press conference held yesteday, Amnesty International described the 15 EU member-states as "silent witnesses" of the violations occuring in Turkey and made fresh appeals for specific EU measures, including the promotion of special training programm es for security forces in Turkey and the appointment of European observers in sensitive regions.

    According to the organisation's most recent report, the human rights situation in Turkey "has been deteriorating since 1990. Tortures have become systematic. Over the last two years, there has been an increase in complaints of children being tortured, of disappearances, of illegal detention."

    Hermes Expo '97 opens in Atlantic City in April

    The commercial exhibition Hermes Expo '97 will be held in Atlantic City in the US for the fifth consecutive year on April 13-14, with the expected participation of over 150 Greek-American, Cypriot and Greek-Canadian exhibitors.

    The exhibition aims to strengthen business relations between Greeks in north America and to promote them in the Greek and American markets.

    The trade fair will include exhibitors such as banking institutions, insurance companies, tourist offices and products such as food, beverages, clothing, ceramics and jewelery.

    Distinguished personalities from the Greek and American economic and commercial sector will explain issues concerning professionals of Greek origin, as well as their prospects for investment in the Balkans.

    A mini Greek cinema festival will be held during the two-day exhibition, while at the official dinner, awards will be presented to Greek businessmen who have made a significant contribution to the Greek business and commercial world in the US and Canada .

    Greece has lowest per capita contribution to EU

    Greece's gross per capita contribution to the European Union's budget in 1996 amounted to 114 ECU, the lowest of all 15 member-states, according to an EU report issued every four months.

    The report said the largest contribution was made by Luxembourg, with 457.8 ECU, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Sweden, France, Finland, Ireland and Italy.

    The countries just above Greece on the list were Britain, Spain and Portugal.


    Fine weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with some local cloudiness in the eastern and southern regions and strong winds in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 7-17C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 3-15C.


    2004 Olympics candidacy today

    Athens' official candidacy to host the 2004 Olympic Games is to be presented to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) 14-member Selection Committee in Lausanne today.

    The presentation will be made by President of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Committee Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki. "This is an important milestone for our candidacy," she told Greek reporters in Lausanne.

    A day before the official presentation, the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Committee sent an olive branch to all competing Committees in a bid to stress the principles of peace and friendship.

    The IOC Selection Committee will announce the shortlist from the 11 candidates tomorrow.

    According to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the shortlist will contain four candidacies.


    Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 266.154 Pound sterling 429.119 Cyprus pd 520.800 French franc 46.078 Swiss franc 179.269 German mark 155.436 Italian lira (100) 15.602 Yen (100) 219.053 Canadian dlr. 194.333 Australian dlr. 208.930 Irish Punt 416.045 Belgian franc 7.539 Finnish mark 52.163 Dutch guilder 138.196 Danish kr. 40.761 Swedish kr. 34.732 Norwegian kr. 38.138 Austrian sch. 22.078 Spanish peseta 1.840 Portuguese escudo 1.548


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