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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-08

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, 08/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Foreign undersecretary's visit to Albania
  • Foreign Minister interviewed on CNN
  • Athens wants normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations
  • Athens on the shortlist for 2004 Olympics
  • Athenians leave town for carnival weekend
  • Greece begins dispatch of aid to Bulgaria
  • High school teachers to strike for 8th week

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Foreign Undersecretary's visit to Albania

    Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis had what he called a "useful" meeting with Albanian President Sali Berisha in Tirana this afternoon, although he reported that Berisha appeared determined to meet the rebellion in the south with force if insurgents did not lay down their weapons by tomorrow morning's deadline.

    "We asked for an extension of the deadline," said Kranidiotis, adding:

    "We supported a political solution to the crisis and made it clear that this would determine relations between Albania and the European Union."

    In meetings earlier with members of the Albanian opposition, the Undersecretary noted that while Berisha was in favour of elections within 45 days with a prime minister acceptable to all sides, he insisted on a government of his Democratic Party. However, the opposition wanted an interim government which would change the electoral law before holding elections.

    Foreign Minister interviewed on CNN

    The effect of the Albanian crisis on Greek interests, along with continuing efforts to solve the Cyprus issue and Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over that country's name, were discussed in an interview with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on CNN yesterday.

    Pangalos expressed the view that the rebellion in the south of Albania was not due to the fact that part of the population there was Greek.

    "The rebellion is due to ... political instability in Albania and the authoritarian behaviour of the government...(and) the big financial scandal, " he said, referring to the collapse of pyramid investment schemes.

    Greece's concerns, he went on, were to protect the ethnic Greek minority.

    "Up to now we have a positive reponse from the Albanian government. ... President Berisha...made a public declaration saying there is no ethnic motivation in the troubles nor any distinction among the different religious or language groups in Albania," he explained.

    The Minister also stressed that Greece could not afford any more illegal immigrants from Albania, noting that almost one in three Albanian families lives from from incomes earned in Greece. To contain any further immigration, specific measures, such as the mobilisation of the police force at the border, were being taken, he added.

    Turning to the Cyprus issue, Pangalos emphasised that a solution was long overdue and that he felt there would be progress this year.

    "I think that at the end of this year, Cyprus will start accession negotiations with the European Union... Although a solution is not a condition for the beginning of the negotiations, if there was a solution, the negotiations would be much easier and Cyprus' place in the EU would be much clearer," he commented, adding:

    "The problem... is to oblige in some way the govenrment in Ankara, through international pressure, to take a decision on the Cyprus issue, to contribute positively to a solution. That is the point."

    He expressed the view that proximity talks would start immediately and face- to-face talks (between the leaders of the two communities) eventually "if there is a positive development, before the end of the year."

    Finally, with regard to the dispute over the name of FYROM, Pangalos drew attention to Greece's currently excellent relations as FYROM's second- largest trading partner.

    "The problem is that we want a name that will distinguish this new country from our Macedonia. Macedonia is an important part of Greece, as you know, and Greek Macedonia is more than fifty percent of the geographical area ...(of Macedonia) ...So we want to keep this name in a clear way as the name of Greek Macedonia. We want their name to be specified in some way and this is what the negotiations are about," he concluded.

    Athens wants normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations

    The government reiterated yesterday that Greece was in favour of Turkey's European orientation and the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Europe and between Athens and Ankara.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on remarks by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos last night after talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    Replying to a question by a Turkish reporter on Turkey's position in Europe, Pangalos said ''Turkey certainly belongs to Europe. It is a big part of European history and Greece will never change its position on this, because if Turkey is not a part of European history, then neither is Greece a part of European history...''.

    ''Any misinterpretation of Mr. Pangalos' statements is impermissible, since Turkey participates in European institutions,'' Reppas said.

    The spokesman noted however that Turkey should respect the principles which in Europe have become vested.

    On Albright's urging of a Greek-Turkish dialogue, Reppas said Athens had never refused political dialogue ''the subject of which however cannot be our sovereign rights''.

    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.

    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.

    Athens on the shortlist for 2004 Olympics

    Athens cleared the first major hurdle in its bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games when it was yesterday put on a shortlist of five cities which will continue to vie for the event until September, according to an ANA despatch from Lausanne.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) chose Athens, Rome, Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Stockholm from eleven candidate cities originally bidding for the games.

    The final decision for the venue will be decided by the IOC plenary on 5 September.

    Athenians leave town for carnival weekend

    Despite the poor weather forecast, over 90,000 cars will have passed through the highway tollgates out of Athens by late tonight carrying Athenians to various parts of the country for the final carnival weekend and "Clean Monday", the first day of Orthodox Lent.

    Extra bus and train services have been laid on, while coastal ferry services have seen a 20% increase in passengers to the islands this weekend.

    Over 3,500 traffic police have been called up to deal with the weekend traffic, while extra traffic lanes have been opened up on the Athens- Corinth and Athens-Lamia highways.

    Greece begins dispatch of aid to Bulgaria

    An air force plane took off from Elefsina for Sofia yesterday morning carrying 20 tonnes of medicines, part of a total 400 tonnes of food and medicines being sent by the Greece's local government associations as humanitarian aid to the Bulgarian people. The Defence Ministry is subsidising the intiative with 160 million drachmas.

    Shipments will continue until June.

    High school teachers to strike for 8th week

    High school teachers on Thursday 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.

    WEATHER

    Strong northerly winds and a drop in temperature are expected today over most of the country. Snow will fall in the north, with scattered showers in the west, clearing later form the northwest. The rest of the country will see increasing cloud. Rain is expected in Athens this evening, with temperatures between 5-12C. Temperatures in Thessaloniki will range between 2-8C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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

    (Y.B.)


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