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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 07/04/1997 (ANA)


  • Papandreou proposes referendums on EU issues
  • Papandreou discusses Greek position on Albania force
  • Italian Undersecretay says governments agree
  • Government says no crisis with Italy
  • Greek Commissioner comments on Italy's role
  • Greek businesses in Albania damaged
  • Illegal immigrants deported
  • Albanian shot dead in Crete
  • German woman dies on yacht
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Papandreou proposes referendums on EU issues

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou proposed that Europe-wide referendums be held on major issues, as a heated debate among European Union Foreign Ministers continued today in Noordwijk over the question of re-shaping European institutions, according to an ANA dispatch from the Dutch resort.

Papandreou said such a move would be a step towards deepening EU institutions and could become a democratic procedure "that would go beyond national boundaries and give a precise indication of the desires of the peoples in EU member states".

Particularly with regard to the question of reducing the number of Commissioners (which now has 20 seats), Papandreou noted that the plethora of views on the issue were often conflicting. Greece has favoured equal representation of all member states. The issue is to be raised again at a General Affairs Council in Luxembourg at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, with regard to the question of employment, Papandreou reported there had been a "conflict between progressive and conservative forces". The former, he said, proposed the introduction of an employment chapter in the revised treaty as well as the formulation of a "social contract".

Informed sources say Britain and Spain were against such a move, while smaller states, including Greece, were in favour.

The current Dutch presidency of the EU council, facing a tight schedule to ready the revised treaty by June, are to call an ad hoc meeting for 23 May when they will present the completed plan for a new treaty of Maastricht.

Papandreou discusses Greek position on Albania force

Greece's position on the deployment of a multinational peace force to secure aid to Albania was received positively by Italian Foreign Undersecretary for European Affairs Piero Fassino in a meeting this morning with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, according to an ANA report from Noordwijk.

Papandreou, who met with Fassino this morning on the sidelines of a European Union meeting on the Albanian issue, reiterated Greece's proposal for a "mixed presence" of the Greek troops in various areas of Albania, a view which Fassino promised to discuss with his government.

According to informed sources, details of the force's deployment are almost finalised and it is expected to be ready to leave for Albania in about a week's time.

The foreign presence in Albania will be headed by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which will have a special representative in Tirana. The EU will liaise with the OSCE representative via its current presidency. The OSCE will also be in charge of observing preparations for the June elections in Albania, while the EU will oversee the distribution of humanitarian aid. Italy, meanwhile, is to head the mulitnational force.

In a separate meeting with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, Papandreou discussed Turkey's relations with the EU and Greece, following Kinkel's recent visit to Turkey.

According to informed sources, Kinkel told Papandreou that Turkey should be oriented towards Europe, although the improvement of its relations with Greece and positive developments in the Cyprus issue would do much to improve Turkey-EU relations.

The Turkey-EU association council is due to meet at the end of April.

Italian Undersecretary says governments agree

Italian Foreign Undersecretary for European Affairs Piero Fassino told the ANA in Noordwijk today that the Greek and Italian governments agreed in general terms on issues related to the deployment of the multinational force to Albania and that they were in continual contact with the other states participating in the force.

"The governments of Greece and Italy agree and are cooperating with regard to the deployment of the...force... which will be in charge of the distribution of humanitarian aid," he told the ANA, adding that deployment will begin on 14 April, although the final decision rests with the military.

Greece and Italy both supported the government of Prime Minister Bashkim Fino, which should eventually assume full responsibility for governing Albania, he added.

With regard to the European Union's general stance during the Albanian crisis, Fassino admitted that at first the EU had not fully realised the true dimensions of the crisis, but had later decided to commit itself more deeply, particularly with the decisions reached at the EU council meeting of 25 March.

Greece says no crisis with Italy

There is no question of a crisis in relations between Greece and Italy with regard to the placement of the Greek corps in the multinational force in Albania, according to acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis.

A discussion is currently under way in Rome on all related issues, he added, noting that Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou had clearly set out Greece's positions in his meeting with Italian Undersecretary for European Affairs Piero Fassino.

Greek Commissioner comments on Italian role

Greece's European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis commented today on Italy's stance regarding the deployment of the multinational force in Albania, an issue which he said did not lend itself to competition between member states of the European Union.

"The crisis in Albania is a dangerous one and is not an appropriate area of competition between member states of the European Union. Italy is trying to play such a role, while the Greek government has maintained a responsible stance, since it has neither become involved in such competition, nor has it become part of the Albanian crisis," said Papoutsis after a meeting this morning with the main opposition New Democracy party's new leader Costas Karamanlis.

"Any intervention or promotion of views by the European Union or international organisations should be made through institutional organs, and the initiative should be with the presidency of the EU Council and the European Commission," he continued, adding:

"If certain governments take their own initiatives, as Italy has done, that is something which they themselves must judge, as to whether it is of benefit to the general situation and general goals."

In response to a question regarding the outcome of the last elections in Albania and the position of President Sali Berisha, Papoutsis said:

"It is the Albanian people who will judge the future of the political situation...any solutions should be political ones, with a consensus of all political parties, and should be aimed at promoting careful action on the part of all interested parties."

Greek businesses in Albania destroyed

One in five Greek enterprises in Albania have been destroyed in the recent insurrection, when armed gangs or individual looters made off with whatever they could lay their hands on - even roof tiles, according to the ANA's correspondent in Tirana.

An inventory being carried out by the Greek Embassy's commercial section has so far recorded damages at 60 of the 250 Greek-owned businesses in Albania. An embassy staff member said the damage to each of these was valued at betweeen 200-400 million drachmas.

The Greek government is reportedly considering a special measure providing for part of a 20 billion dr. loan to Albania to be set aside for the restoration of property owned by Greek firms.

However, it is feared that continuing anarchy will make this task difficult, as well as the fact that business owners are taking advantage of the situation to declare non-existent losses. Most enterprises, including Greek- owned ones, remain closed due to continuing fears of attacks by robbers.

Illegal immigrants deported

Three hundred and twenty Albanian illegal immigrants have been arrested by Epirus police over the last three days and sent back over the border. Two Iraqis and a Turk were also apprehended by soldiers as they crossed into Greece from Albania.

Albanian shot dead in Crete

An Albanian has been killed and another two injured in a fight between two rival gangs early this morning in Crete.

Leonidas Girtsos, 33 was shot dead and Monder Girtso, 22 and Vangelis Kristo, 39 were injured in a shooting at Tymbaki, Iraklio. Four people have been arrested and another three are being sought in connection with the crime, which police attribute to a settling of accounts.

German woman dies on yacht

A German woman died after inhaling fumes from a fire which broke out on the Italian-flagged yacht Flying Moon in the port of Leros shortly after midnight.

Sabine Trakse, 42, who was nine-months pregnant with twins, was rushed to the local hospital in a comatose state. However, it was too late to save either Trakse or her twins.

The fire, which had been extinguished by the local fire brigade and the torpedo ship Konidis, later rekindled, sinking the yacht. An investigation is being carried out by the Leros port authority.


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.


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


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