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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 07/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Simitis, van Mierlo agree on handling of Albanian crisis
  • Papandreou warns Albania troubles may spread
  • Albanian soldiers seek asylum in Greece
  • Albright: Greece has important role to play in Europe
  • Premier to visit Romania
  • Palestinian police officers to be trained in Greece
  • High school teachers strike, 8th week
  • National Bank issues English-language bulletin


    Simitis, van Mierlo agree on handling of Albanian crisis

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Dutch President of the European Union Council of Ministers Hans van Mierlo, who is visiting Tirana today, last night expressed full agreement on the handling of the Albanian crisis after two hours of talks in Athens.

    Mr. Simitis stressed the need for the democratisation process to proceed in Albania and that the use of violence would have negative consequences.

    "The strengthening of democracy in Albania will facilitate and speed up procedures for the provision of aid by the European Union to relieve the suffering Albanian people," he said.

    Both men described the proposed OSCE mission to the country, headed by former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky, as "very useful" and expressed the support of the EU to this initiative.

    They also noted that in their separate telephone conversations with President Berisha, the latter referred to the prospect of proclaiming early elections in his country.

    Mr. van Mierlo expressed the view that the crisis could be controlled and noted that Mr. Berisha attributed great significance to the economic aid the EU could provide. He said he was fully in agreement with what Mr. Simitis said, and particularly emphasised that the full identity of views among all EU member-states on how to handle the crisis boosted the prospects for lifting the impasse soon.

    He added that Mr. Berisha had categorically assured him that there was no problem for the ethnic Greek minority in his country and that he did not consider them in any way responsible for the current situation.

    In Tirana yesterday evening, President Berisha, after talks with Albania's opposition parties, agreed to suspend military activity against armed rebels and offer them an amnesty.


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

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

    Mr. Kranidiotis also held a meeting yesterday with a delegation of ethnic Greeks from Albania, to whom he reiterated Greece's complete support.

    Papandreou warns Albania troubles may spread

    Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou has warned that trouble in Albania could spread through the Balkans.

    Asked in an interview published on Thursday by the newspaper "Le Monde" if he believed the crisis could spread outside Albania's borders, Mr. Papandreou replied: "Yes...and we Greeks want the crisis contained within the borders of Albania and not to spread to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to Bulgaria or to Kosovo.

    "We have also asked Mr. Berisha to make sure the Greek minority in southern Albania is not involved in this conflict, which is none of its concern. In times of crisis, minorities are too often chosen as sacrificial lambs," he said.

    Reports of Berisha distributing weapons

    There were persistent reports yesterday that the Berisha government was distributing 5,000 weapons to members of the ruling Democratic Party in the Gjirokaster and Sarande areas, as armed rebels began to organise with the help of former military officers.

    Gjirokaster appeared to be becoming the base for military operations to stamp out the uprising in the surrounding towns. The town has been surrounded by army forces and three tanks patrol the central roads.

    Defence of the towns still under the rebels' control appeared to be commanded by demobilised soldiers and officers. The situation, however, appeared to be calm.

    In another development yesterday, two Albanians who were wounded in the unrest were transported to a Corfu hospital for medical treatment.

    Albanian soldiers seek asylum in Greece

    Seven unarmed Albanian soldiers in civilian clothes yesterday crossed the border and asked for political asylum in Greece.

    They are the first to do so since the beginning of the armed revolt in the south of the country earlier this week.

    Two Albanian airmen landed a military plane in Italy on Tuesday and asked for political asylum.

    Greece has important role to play in Europe, Albright says

    US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during a meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday, spoke of bilateral relations, Greece's role in Europe and in the Balkans, and Greek-Turkish relations.

    "Greece has an important role to play in rebuilding Europe. We will continue to work together on issues such as Bosnia and the Balkans," she said.

    "The US is ready to help, if it can, in resolving long-standing differences between our allies, Greece and Turkey, in the Aegean and elsewhere. We will also discuss opportunities which exist to promote a solution between the sides in Cyprus and we will make a review of the situation in Albania. Relations between Greece and the US are strong and are becoming all the stronger," she said, welcoming Mr. Pangalos at the State Department.

    Ms Albright said Washington has "a great interest in the Cyprus issue", describing it as a "top priority" and saying 1997 is "a year of opportunity to resolve it due to the prospect of Cyprus' accession to the EU."

    Referring to the Aegean, the Secretary of State said "it is very important for Greece and Turkey to discuss these issues. We are concerned over increased tension in the Aegean. The region is strategically important and we think that the best way to have the issues resolved is through dialogue between the two countries."

    Commenting on the Albanian crisis, Ms Albright said the US "is concerned over the wave of refugees and we believe that the sole solution is a peaceful settlement."

    Mr. Pangalos described the meeting as "very useful", adding that Greece's relations with the US "are steadfast and continuous."

    The foreign minister extended an invitation to Ms Albright to visit Greece, which was accepted.

    Speaking on Greek-Turkish relations, Mr Pangalos said "the position of the US that a dialogue is necessary is known. They explained to us of course that with this word they do not necessarily mean negotiations, as Turkey is seeking."

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said "We will not take spectacular initiatives. This is not the job of foreign ministers."

    Pangalos called on Turkey to "stop threats and claims against Greece. You can find an important ally in Greece, because we know each other well. We have great interests in being together."

    Premier to visit Romania

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Bucharest on March 20-21 at the invitation of his Romanian counterpart Victor Ciorbea, Greece's ambassador to Romania, Christos Alexandris, announced yesterday. Making the announcement dur ing talks with Romania's Minister for European Integration, Alexandru Herlea, Mr. Alexandris reiterated Greece's full support for Romania's efforts to join NATO during the first stage of the Alliance's enlargement.

    "In the sector of military cooperation, after the USA, Romania is a preferential partner for Greece," Mr. Alexandris said.

    Palestinian police officers to be trained in Greece

    Greek and Palestinian officials yesterday examined ways of cooperating on matters related to public security, combatting terrorism and drug smuggling and strengthening the Palestinian police.

    Talks in Athens between Public Order Minister George Romeos and Palestinian Authority Interior Undersecretary Ahmad Al Tamimi focused in particular on the training of Palestinian police officers in Greece.

    Mr. Tamimi is currently in Greece at the head of a Palestinian delegation, following an official invitation extended by the Greek government, for talks aimed at promoting cooperation in a number of sectors.

    Mr. Romeos responded positively to Mr. Tamimi's request for the training of Palestinian policemen, accepting an initial six officers to be trained in Athens.

    High school teachers strike, 8th week

    High school teachers yesterday decided to continue their strike for the eighth consecutive week. The government spokesman reiterated that the stoppage was unjustified since it had already met most of the teachers' pay demands and there was an almost complete convergence on institutional demands.

    He added that the problem of the strike could be solved without resorting to the old emergency practice of civil conscription, as it seemed that an increasing number of teachers had begun returning to classrooms. Meanwhile, Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis reiterated the ministry`s aim to begin a process of reform in September.

    "The reform of education does not only require political will, which is in place, it does not only need resources, which are in place, it also needs the support of teachers, who must look forward and not backwards," he said.

    National Bank issues English-language bulletin

    The National Bank of Greece yesterday issued the first edition of its new English-language bulletin entitled "Economic and Financial."

    The new bulletin is directed at the bank's major clients and foreign institutional investors and refers to developments in the Greek economy and to fiscal markets.

    Special reference is made to the course of certain basic economic indicators, with the bulletin stating that the balance of payments deficit is under control and inflation is following a downward trend. Special emphasis is placed on the gradual decrease in the deficit from 14.2 per cent of GDP in 1993 to 7.6 per cent in 1996 and an anticipated 4.2 per cent in 1997.

    On the question of exchange policy, the publication stressed that stability is expected to be maintained in the drachma parity against a package of currencies, while at the same time it predicts that it will increase in value against the mark and decrea se against the dollar.


    Fine weather is forecast throughout the country with some local cloudiness in eastern and southern Greece. Moderate to strong winds in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny to overcast with temperatures between 8- 16C. Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 4- 13C.


    Athens 2004 Olympics bid presented

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

    The presentation was made by President of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Committee Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, who offered the Committee members CD ROMs containing information about the city of Athens.

    "It is a fictitious journey to Athens seven years prior to the hosting of the Olympic Games in Greece's capital," Ms. Angelopoulou-Daskalaki said.

    She further announced the organisation of events in all Greek cities which have a historic relation with the spirit of the Olympics.

    The events will last from 2001 through 2004.


    Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.592 Pound sterling 431.222 Cyprus pd 521.792 French franc 46.174 Swiss franc 179.825 German mark 155.709 Italian lira (100) 15.666 Yen (100) 220.036 Canadian dlr. 195.424 Australian dlr. 210.150 Irish Punt 416.739 Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 52.229 Dutch guilder 138.384 Danish kr. 40.839 Swedish kr. 34.873 Norwegian kr. 38.539 Austrian sch. 22.125 Spanish peseta 1.841 Portuguese escudo 1.553


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