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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)


  • Athens hopes international community can defuse Albanian crisis
  • Kraniditios: minority must be protected
  • Albanian archbishop calls for peace
  • PM: Albanian crisis `a problem of democracy, human rights`
  • German president to receive honorary doctorate
  • Front-runners for opposition leader race meet
  • Premier presents PASOK's new agricultural proposals
  • Amnesty Int'l: EU 'silent witness' to Turkish human rights violations


    Athens hopes international community can defuse Albanian crisis

    The government today expressed the hope that the international initiatives being undertaken to defuse the crisis in Albania would lead to consultations between the political forces in the neighbouring country for a resolution of the problem.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also expressed satisfaction over the fact that developments had not been as unfavourable as first indications may have suggested.

    On the visit of Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis to Tirana on Saturday, the spokesman noted it would be the first such visit by a minister since the crisis broke out.

    He clarified that Kranidiotis in meetings with Albanian President Sali Berisha and opposition party leaders would not be conveying the positions of some international organisation but those of the Greek government.

    Replying to a question on main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert call on the government to declare that it would protect the ethnic Greek minority in Albania using all means, Reppas said that the minority was not in danger and that it would be a grave mistake for the Albanian problem to be turned into one concerning the minority.

    He added however that Greece was prepared to deal with every eventuality but that what was important at the present time was for Athens to contribute to efforts to find a political solution.

    As far as the Greek government is concerned, Reppas said, any political solution presupposed two elements -- the formation of a government enjoying national confidence and the holding of ''objective and unimpeachable'' elections.

    Berisha's participation in a political solution appears to be taken for granted by the Greek government, with Reppas saying that ''Mr. Berisha is the President of Albania, that is, a factor which cannot be ignored''.

    Reppas said that any European Union economic assistance would be linked to a political solution and disbursed gradually according to the progress in procedures towards such a solution ''and of course it will be given to the government which charts a course for a way out of the crisis''.

    Greek humanitarian aid, Reppas added, would be given to anyone in need of it and provided it is requested. Athens, he stressed, would insist on these conditions and wished to avoid creating problems.

    In this respect, the spokesman made it clear that Greece did not want to appear that it wished to play any kind of role in Albania's domestic political developments.

    Asked whether Greece would be willing to participate in an international military force for Albania, Reppas replied that if such a force were set up, Greece would take part, but that the issue would be addressed if and when it arose.

    Reppas said also that National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had been in contact with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, on whom he had impressed the need for a political solution and the avoidance of military force so as to avoid creating conditions of civil war.

    Tsohatzopoulos said however that NATO had a role, which it should play if the strife in Albania elevated into civil war, which would then necessitate the intervention of an international force.

    At yesterday's meeting of the European Socialist Party, Reppas noted, Tsohatzopoulos had raised the issue of the release from prison of the leader of Albania's Socialist Party, Fatos Nano, and other political detainees.

    The resolution issued by the meeting contains a reference to this, Reppas added.

    Kranidiotis: minority must be protected

    Meanwhile, briefing the members of Parliament's External Affairs Committee today on developments in Albania, Kranidiotis said Greece's first priority was to protect the ethnic Greek minority in that country.

    When he goes to Tirana on Saturday, he said, he will convey Greece's concern about developments and the rights of the Greek minority.

    Kranidiotis told the committee that the situation was out of control in the neighbouring country and not being ''guided'' by anyone.

    ''The people in revolt are out of control and this exacerbates our concern, '' he said.

    Kranidiotis said the revolt was economic, social and political in nature and was unrelated to the ethnic minority.

    Noting that Berisha was displaying self-restraint, Kranidiotis said there had been no really violent clashes anywhere ''unless this means that Berisha is unable to strike''.

    Greece, he continued, had repeatedly stressed its concern about the economic situation in Albania, both to Berisha and to its EU partners, without however foreseeing the present development.

    ''The response of our partners was luke-warm and failed to avert the crisis, '' he said.

    Kranidiotis said Greece's borders were being tightly guarded and preparations had been made to prevent the possibility of a massive influx of illegal immigrants from Albania.

    ''Up to now, there is no such phenomenon,'' Kranidiotis said, adding that Greece was making preparations to send humanitarian aid to the neighbouring country and provide medical care for the wounded and refugees.

    In a related development, four deputies of the ruling PASOK party and a colleague in the opposition Coalition of the Left and Progress have proposed in a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis the setting up of an interparty committee.

    According to the proposal, the committee would go to Albania for talks with all official bodies and to express Greece's good will and support to Albanian citizens.

    Kaklamanis meanwhile has expressed Greece's sensitivity over developments in Albania in a letter to his counterparts in the EU member states as well as the president of the European Parliament.

    He also briefed the recipients of the letter on a relevant plenary session of Parliament which underlined Greece's policy as a force for peace, stability and cooperation in the region.

    Next Wednesday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will give a detailed briefing to the members of Parliament's External Affairs Committee on developments in Albania.

    Albanian archbishop calls for peace

    Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania today appealed to all sides in Albania to exercise self-control and display conciliation, according to an ANA despatch from Gjirokaster.

    In exclusive statements to the ANA, the Archbishop stressed that conflict and bloodshed should be prevented at all costs.

    ''At this difficult moment in time for the country... I have just a few words to say in all directions. No more bloodshed. No to conflict. No to weapons. No to hatred in the heart...

    ''Only with self-control, repentance, truth, forgiveness and conciliation can substantial peace be secured and the path open to a better future. We will not be forsaken by God -- the God of love and peace,'' Anastasios said.

    PM: Albanian crisis '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.

    German president to receive honorary doctorate

    German President Roman Herzog is to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Athens University Law School at a ceremony to be held on 11 March, according to an announcement by the German Embassy in Athens today.

    The embassy said Herzog would be honoured for his scientific work as a statesman and constitutional expert and for his achievements as a former president of Germany's Federal Constitutional Court.

    Front-runners for opposition leader race meet

    The four candidates for the leadership of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party met today for two hours to examine possibilities for jointly proposing changes to the party's statutes at its national congress later this month.

    George Souflias said after the meeting that a ''good discussion'' had been held, adding ''I believe that we will attain common positions on most issues''.

    Costas Karamanlis described the meeting as ''constructive and creative'', saying ''we can work towards improving institutional principles which is of great importance but of course it is even more important to strictly adhere to those principles on which we in this party agree''.

    Vyron Polydoras said that the meeting was held in a very good atmosphere and expressed the view that the contenders would reach agreement on a common proposal regarding most issues concerning the party's statutes.

    He added that a new meeting would be held next week, possibly on Wednesday.

    The fourth contender, present ND leader Miltiades Evert did not make statements after the meeting.

    According to sources, the four agreed that the party's national congress should be held every two years, the party leader should have a four-year term and that the vast majority of congress delegates should be elected directly by party members.

    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.

    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."


    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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