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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 26/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Athens reserved over Turkish general's overtures
  • Turkish fighters violate Greek airspace
  • No Simitis visit to FYROM before name decision reached
  • Greece ready to participate in protection force for Albania
  • Fino thanks Greece for support
  • Dutch reporter shot in Albania brought to Corfu
  • Foreign Ministry reacts to Albanian statement
  • Transport commissioner Kinnock to visit Greece
  • US businessmen seek trade cooperation in Greece
  • German-language info on Greece available on Internet


    Athens reserved over Turkish general's overtures

    The presence of the Turkish armed forces chief General Ismail Hakki Karadayi at the Greek independence day celebration in Ankara yesterday is being viewed by diplomatic circles as an important political gesture towards promoting Greek-Turkish relations, the ANA's Istanbul correspondent reports.

    It was the first time in a decade that the Turkish Chief of Staff had attended the Greek Embassy's independence day reception. The Turkish press gave extensive coverage to the story, also emphasising the low-level representation of the foreign ministry at the reception, which was attended by an assistant undersecretary.

    Informed sources say Karadayi, who is considered to be a moderate and stabilising force and had indirectly criticised the Ciller goverment's handling of the Imia crisis in early 1996, was sending a message to the political leaders of Turkey's diplomatic service.

    The general is also seen to be responding to recent gestures by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, gestures which were positively received by the Turkish public but met with a lukewarm response from the Turkish foreign ministry. There was a high turnout by politicians, the military and business circles at independence day receptions held by the Ankara embassy and the Istanbul consulate.

    Karadayi reportedly spoke to Greek Ambassador Dimitris Nezeritis of the need to resolve bilateral differences "so that future generations will not be burdened by these problems". He also drew attention to the ease with which Greeks and Turks developed friendly relations on the social level.

    General Karadayi, referring to his presence at the reception, said that Greece and Turkey were "neighbours in the same apartment building" and that there were more things uniting than dividing the two countries..

    "We are under the same safety umbrella, we are members of NATO," he said, adding that the two countries should "sit down and talk before the arguments get beyond certain points. We haven't got anywhere with arguments".

    The general extended an invitation, via the Greek military attache in Ankara Constantine Balanos, to the Greek chief of staff to visit Turkey. He also indicated that he himself was willing to visit Greece.

    Athens' reaction to Karadayi's statements was reserved, as government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called the general's attendance at the reception a "polite gesture". Reppas said that while the statements were positive, he hoped they also expressed a more general political direction.

    He added that Greece expected similar political initiatives to show these were not empty words, while the important thing was for Turkey to express fully and concisely its positions on the entirety of Greek-Turkish issues.

    In response to a question regarding the possibility of Prime Minister Costas Simitis visiting Ankara, Reppas linked the issue with a resolution of the problems between the two countries.

    With regard to Cyprus, he stressed that the European Union had committed itself to starting accession talks with Cyprus six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference. Greece, he said, would be undertaking initiatives so that the EU respected that commitment.

    Turkish fighters violate Greek airspace

    A pair of Turkish F-16 fighter jets today infringed Athens FIR regulations and violated Greek airspace on three separate occasions in the region east of Rhodes, according to press sources.

    The Turkish fighters were identified and intercepted by Greek Mirage 2000 aircraft.

    According to the same sources, a Turkish minesweeper today illegally entered Greek territorial waters east of the islet of Imia.

    The Greek gunboat ''Armatolos'' which was patrolling the area at the time and a coastguard vessel forced the Turkish minesweeper to leave Greek territorial waters.

    No Simitis visit to FYROM before name decision reached

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will not be visiting the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) before a final outcome is reached on that state's name in the UN-sponsored talks, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    He added that bilateral summit talks would be held once the necessary groundwork had been laid in bilateral relations, which needed improvement. He called on Skopje to show its willingness to improve those relations.

    Reppas indirectly ruled out a visit to Skopje by Simitis in order to discuss the Albanian crisis. He referred to the recent visit by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on the same issue, adding that if the need arose, Greece would then decide on what action to take.

    Greece ready to participate in protection force for Albania

    Greece, Italy, France and Austria yesterday expressed here their readiness to participate in a foreign protection force in Albania to secure humanitarian aid arriving in the strife-ridden country.

    The four nations were the only EU countries willing to participate in such a force, although all EU members approve of the sending of humanitarian aid, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said after an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Rome yesterday,in which Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino participated.

    French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said the sending of troops was a very sensitive issue and needs further discussion, while Austria announced it will only send military observers.

    However, a protection force from only two countries was judged as being unable to escort humanitarian aid to Albania. Thus, a delegation comprised of a representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and military advisers of certain EU countries has left for Tirana in order to examine developments and inform their respective organisations. Within the OSCE's legal framework, a protection force is expected to be formed.

    Fino thanks Greece for support

    Mr. Fino at the meeting thanked Greece for its support and help.

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said after the meeting that "we had the opportunity, both Italy and Greece, to stress our support to Mr. Fino. I also had the opportunity to underline the friendly relations between Greece and Albania and our unlimited suppport in all help and long- term cooperation for the reorganisation of Albania.

    "I stressed common ties, which (stem) from common borders and the (Greek) minority and the mutual interest for security in the region," he said.

    Mr. Papandreou added that Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and himself had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Fino personally, inviting him to visit Greece.

    Council of Foreign Ministers

    The European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers agreed Monday on the actions which must be taken to provide humanitarian aid to Albania.

    Speaking to Greek reporters, Mr. Papandreou, who represented Greece at the meeting, said the 15 foreign ministers agreed on the dispatch of an "advance team" to Albania which would pave the way for the arrival of a large "advisory committee" to draw up a plan for Albania's transition into political, social and economic normality.

    Dutch reporter shot in Albania brought to Corfu

    A Dutch reporter who was shot yesterday morning in Albania was hospitalised in Corfu after being transported by sea from Sarande.

    Vilma Gundabel, 32, whose condition was described as critical, was operated on at Corfu General Hospital.

    According to a companion, she was shot by an unidentified individual while speaking on the telephone. He said Ms Gundabel's reports over the past month had been critical of Albanian President Sali Berisha. The Dutch reporter has been working in Albania for the past five years as correspondent for a number of international media outlets.

    Foreign ministry reacts to Albanian statement

    The foreign ministry said on Monday that a press release issued by the Albanian embassy in Athens following a conversation between Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino contained "inaccurate statements and unacceptable characterisations, which have been repeatedly answered by the Greek side."

    "It seems that there is a gap of communication between the Albanian government and the embassy in Athens," the announcement stated.

    The foreign ministry expressed the hope that the positive cooperation between the two countries will continue, and reiterated that Mr. Kranidiotis' visit to Albania "was made known in advance to the Albanian government and was carried out with its conse nt and in accordance with established practice.

    "The consulate general of Greece in Gjirokaster and the consul general carry out their duties under particularly difficult circumstances, aiming at cooperating with the local Albanian authorities, at encouraging the suffering Greek minority and at secur ing the effective distribution of Greek humanitarian aid," the announcement continued.

    "All missions of Greek vessels, military or civilian, in Albanian territorial waters was carried out in full knowledge of Albanian authorities and after the granting of permission.

    "The Greek government undertook from the outset of the Albanian crisis concrete measures both at bilateral and multilateral levels for a peaceful solution," the foreign ministry said.

    "The Greek government has expressed its support to the government of national reconciliation led by Prime Minister Fino and its determination to assist its efforts, and...will continue this policy," the statement concluded.

    Transport commissioner Kinnock to visit

    European Commissioner for transport, Neil Kinnock, is due to arrive in Greece tomorrow at the invitation of Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis.

    Announcing the visit today, Soumakis said both he and Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis would be having talks with Kinnock.

    Kinnock will also be meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Soumakis said.

    US businessmen seek trade cooperation in Greece

    More than 250 US businessmen will be represented by their state trade directors at an exhibition entitled "Multi-state/Catalog Exhibition" to be held at the Ledra Marriott Hotel in Athens on March 27 and 28.

    The event, sponsored by the commerical section of the US embassy in Athens, will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    The US firms are seeking commercial cooperation and/or representation in Greece. Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to obtain information on the products and services of an additional 100 US companies through their catalogs, which will be avai lable during the event.

    Those interested in discussing cooperation ventures with the state trade directors can make arrangements through the commercial section of the US embassy, 91, Vassilissis Sofias Ave., Athens 10 160 P Fax: 72.18.660.

    German-language information on Greece available on Internet

    The Greek Press and Information Office in Hamburg has introduced an experimental programme with German-language pages on the internet.

    The office aims to provide information on Greece in several sectors, including the economy, media, tourism, culture and politics.

    This programme marks the first German-language access to a web site of an official Greek service. Its address is:


    Local cloudiness and rainfall is forecast for eastern Macedonia, Thrace, the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese islands. The rest of the country will be cloudy with drizzle. Moderate to strong winds with rainfall and snowfall in the mountainous regions of western Greece. Athens will be partly cloudy with light rain and temperatures between 8-13C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 2-10C.


    Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 264.269 Pound sterling 424.973 Cyprus pd 522.943 French franc 46.360 Swiss franc 180.767 German mark 156.304 Italian lira (100) 15.622 Yen (100) 215.135 Canadian dlr. 191.714 Australian dlr. 208.518 Irish Punt 416.402 Belgian franc 7.575 Finnish mark 52.358 Dutch guilder 138.900 Danish kr. 40.960 Swedish kr. 34.694 Norwegian kr. 39.460 Austrian sch. 22.221 Spanish peseta 1.844 Portuguese escudo 1.557


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