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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-07

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, 07/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Mediterranean parliament presidents meet in Athens
  • Defence Minister says Albania a lesson for West
  • Albania force: final decisions today
  • Kaklamanis, Kyprianou discuss Cyprus issue
  • Turkish speaker proposes unconditional dialgoue
  • US Ambassador: concern over Aegean developments
  • Eurosocialists wind up Thessaloniki meeting


NEWS IN DETAIL

Mediterranean parliament presidents meet in Athens

A two-day conference of the parliament presidents of 17 Mediterranean countries opened in Athens yesterday, following an initiative taken by Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

The conference aims to explore ways to upgrade the roles of national parliaments in the course towards European unification and the promotion of the Mediterranean region as one of peace for Europe.

During his opening speech, Mr. Kaklamanis said the Mediterranean region had felt all the drastic changes that had taken place over the past decade.

The conference is to explore the possibilities of creating a body similar to the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly or that of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation.

Defence Minister says Albania a lesson for West

The international community must be prepared to shoulder the cost of helping Balkan and former Soviet bloc states' transition to democracy for the sake of regional stability and security, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohat zopoulos said in an interview published in Saturday's issue of Le Monde.

"Albania is not in a position to assume on its own the cost of the transition (to democracy). If we don't realise that soon, there will be other Albanias," warned Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, adding the view that President Sali Berisha "bore most of the responsib ility for the failure" of the democratic process in his country.

None of the states sending troops to participate in the multinational force for Albania want to deploy their men in southern Albania, the stronghold of the insurrection, according to Mr. Tsohatzopoulos.

"We propose that the Greek forces be deployed in the centre, around Tirana. However, everyone wants to go there," he said, adding that "no one is in control of the south" of Albania and no one wanted to go there because of the greater risks involved.

According to the minister, the multinational force, whose mission will be to safeguard the distribution of humanitarian aid, will have to confront two "urgent matters".

"(Apart from ensuring delivery of the aid) we will have to gather the arms (looted during the insurrection) and in my view we won't be able to avoid paying for them, buying them back in some way," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Greece's "political solidarity" to Albania's Prime Minister Bashkim Fino as well as his government's promised economic assistance to th e country.

Greece has promised a loan of 20 billion drachmas to the Bank of Albania in order to finance restructuring programmes.

Asked if Greece would be willing to cooperate with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in order to avoid a potential regional destabilisation, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Athens had already contacted Skopje as well as its other neighbours "to stress that stability in the region depends on cooperation from all of us as well as on EU solidarity."

Asked if the Greek government also counted on cooperation from Turkey, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Ankara's willingness to participate in the multinational force was received positively but warned that "it should be made clear that the situation in Albania should not be used as pretext for a hegemonic intervention, the kind we have grown accustomed to expect from Ankara."

"The EU should realise," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed, "that Greece is not willing to allow disputing of its sovereignty or of its borders from Turkey."

"At the same time," he added, "we have no objection to Turkey's deepening its ties with the EU, to the extent that it accepts to acknowledge the territorial status quo and find a solution to the Cyprus problem."

Albania force: final decisions today

Speaking in Thessaloniki on Saturday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that final decisions regarding the deployment of the multinational force in Albania would be made by Monday.

Any differences with regard to tactics should not be blown out of proportion, he advised, in a reference to a difference of opinion between Greece and Italy. The minister nevertheless noted that that whatever solution is arrived at should be satsifactory to all sides.

Albanian Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano expressed the view that the composition of the peace forces should be mixed, and spread over in all areas of the country that were in crisis.

Kaklamanis, Kyprianou discuss Cyprus issue

President of the Greek Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis and President of the Cypriot House of Representatives Spyros Kyprianou held a meeting yesterday in Athens, after which they told reporters they exchanged views on the goals of the two-day conference as well as on the lack of progress in developments in the Cyprus issue. Asked to comment on a reported statement by US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles that the United States would intervene in the case of military conflict in the Aegean, Mr. Kaklamanis said:

"This is nothing new. What impressed me regarding Mr. Niles's statement was that he does not seem to consider the prospect of a positive initiative on the Cyprus issue."

Mr. Niles made the statement to the Greek Sunday newspaper "To Vima".

Asked whether he foresaw tension in the Aegean, Mr. Kaklamanis said "nothing has yet changed regarding ... the existence of a real threat in the Aegean...".

Mr. Kyprianou said a US political decision leading to positive developments in the Cyprus and the Aegean issues would be important.

"In other words," Mr. Kyprianou said, "the United States must feel the need for Turkey to change its attitude."

Turkish speaker suggests unconditional dialogue

President of the Turkish National Assembly Mustafa Kalemli said yesterday that there should be no preconditions set for the beginning of a Greek- Turkish dialogue.

However, he added, this position does not mean he rejected Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos's proposal for talks.

Mr. Pangalos said last week that talks were possible provided Turkey retracted its threat of war against Greece if Athens extended its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and provided Ankara accepted the status quo in the Aegean.

"The word 'dialogue' is Greek and means that both sides come together to discuss an issue and this does not presuppose any type of preconditions. Those who speak of dialogue must not say things which prevent it," Mr. Kalemli told the Athens News Agency.

He added that this does not mean he rejects Mr Pangalos's proposals. "We are ready to talk with whoever wants to talk with us. ... All we want is for Turks and Greeks to come together for discussions."

Mr. Kalemli said he was not aware of a Greek proposal for the creation of a Greek-Turkish committee of academics to study ways to resolve bilateral differences. However, he said the two countries' parliaments could help create a "friendship group" or ot her specialist groups to promote dialogue.

In his address to the conference of the presidents of 17 Mediterranean countries, Mr. Kalemli called on the parliaments of Greece and Turkey to mediate between the two governments.

Mr. Kalemli called on politicians in both countries to "work in a climate of mutual understanding and good will" in order to establish between the two countries the climate which had prevailed in Greek-Turkish relations during the Venizelos-Ataturk peri od.

He also told the ANA that Mr. Pangalos's position on Turkey's entry into the EU was "the best and the most realistic" of recent statements and positions taken over the issue.

US Ambassador: concern over Aegean developments

The United States' Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles yesterday said that his country would intervene in the case of military conflict in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey.

In an interview published in yesterday's "To Vima", Mr. Niles did not rule out the possibility of such an incident in the Aegean, while saying he was cautiously optimistic about progress in Greek-Turkish relations at present.

He also said the commencement of direct talks between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash could start by June 1.

Mr. Niles said the US will present an initiative on the Cyprus issue when the conditions for its successful implementation have been "maximised".

European socialists wind up Thessaloniki meeting

European socialists meeting in Thessaloniki over the weekend on Saturday confirmed their commitment to regional cooperation and safeguarding peace and stability in the region.

The European Socialist Party's (ESP) two-day congress ended on Saturday

"At a crucial time for the political and economic development of the Balkans, the congress expressed its full support in regional cooperation based on the avoidance of clashes, which is the only manner in which to safeguard peace and stability in the r egion," the conference's closing statement said.

"Within this framework, the active support by the European Union will be crucially important to stability and security, both in the Balkans and in the whole of Europe, and will aid in the procedure of European unification, " it added.

Speaking after the end of the conference, the European Socialist Party's vice-president, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, said his proposal for the creation of a Balkan security council and of an organisation to forsee and deal with crises in the Balkans was positi vely received.

The closing statement added that the third ESP congress, due to be held in Sweden this June, will use the conclusions of this congress in order to formulate a clear policy and an effective strategy for the Balkans. This will include a cooperation network for which the foundation was laid during this two-day congress.

ECOFIN:Greek reservations over deficit penalties

European Union finance ministers agreed that the announcement of a list of countries to adopt the single European currency will be made during the first ten days of May 1998, during an informal two-day meeting in the D utch town of Noordwijk.

The meeting also agreed on penalties to be imposed on member-countries of the euro zone that show excessive public deficits, larger than the 3.0 per cent anticipated by the Maastricht treaty.

Greek National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, speaking to the press after the meeting, said that the Greek side questioned the legality of the decision relating to the distribution of incomes made from the imposition of penalties against member-states with excessive public deficits.

Mr. Papantoniou said the decision undermines the established integrity of the EU budget and the equal participation of all member-countries in its implementation. He also said that the issue will be discussed during the next meeting of the committee of permanent representatives of EU member states and of the monetary committee.

The Greek delegation reacted strongly to a French proposal that funding by the Cohesion Fund to the poorer EU members be linked to their public deficits. The ECOFIN meeting did not take any decision on the matter.

George Papandreou represents Greece at IGC

European Union foreign ministers, meeting in the Netherlands yesterday, discussed the number of European Commissioners to be appointed after the Inter-governmental Conference (IGC). Greece was represented by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

The larger European countries attempted to overturn the principle under which each EU member is entitled to have at least one representative in the European Commission. Representatives of the more populous EU countries supported a restriction of the number of commissioners to 10-15 and the provision of an equal number of portfolios, adding (with the exception of France) that large countries should definately have a portfolio.

Greece, along with almost all less-populous EU countries objected to these proposals, stating each EU member should have the right to a commissioner with full responsibilities.

WEATHER

Rain over most of the country, with snowfalls in mountain areas, clearing gradually later in the day. Winds in the central and western areas will be moderate to strong northerlies, strengthening later on. Temperatures in Athens will be 6-13C and 3-7C in Thessaloniki.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.326 Pound sterling 430.230 Cyprus pd 525.145 French franc 46.652 Swiss franc 183.272 German mark 157.093 Italian lira (100) 15.841 Yen (100) 212.308 Canadian dlr. 188.877 Australian dlr. 204.590 Irish Punt 413.664 Belgian franc 7.612 Finnish mark 52.447 Dutch guilder 139.594 Danish kr. 41.233 Swedish kr. 34.512 Norwegian kr. 38.668 Austrian sch. 22.320 Spanish peseta 1.856 Portuguese escudo 1.562

(Y.B.)


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