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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-08

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, 08/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Defence Undersecretary heads WEU delegation to US
  • Greek position on troop deployment in Albania
  • Fears of arms smuggling from Albania
  • Greek-controlled businesses in Albania suffer losses
  • Turkish foreign ministry on Greek-Turkish dialogue
  • Dutch Minister optimistic over Greek-Turkish relations
  • Minister proposes EU referendums
  • Draft presidential decree for trade office in Skopje
  • Pangalos: Ankara's threat to veto NATO expansion not serious
  • Papoutsis cautions against 'competition' in Albania
  • Interior Ministry tries to clear up law confusion
  • Greek-Turkish local government meeting in Cesme
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


NEWS IN DETAIL

Defence Undersecretary heads WEU delegation to US

Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, currently heading a Western European Union delegation to the US within the framework of the WEU's Transatlantic Forum, said the visit was designed to find ways the European Union's defence wing could work together with NATO towards peace, stability and security in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, the ANA's New York correspondent reports.

"Greece assumes the WEU presidency on 1 January 1998. The purpose of our visit here is to have contacts with various US officials and to answer any questions... the American public might have about the WEU's intentions, chiefly with regard to NATO," the Undersecretary said in an interview in New York yesterday.

He stressed there were no differences of opinion between the two defence organisations.

"We are particularly interested in the ways these two organisations can cooperate... we simply want to ensure that the way in which expansion towards the east will occur, the way new countries are included in the Atlantic Alliance, will result in as few 'tremors' and concerns as possible on the part of Russia, which of course is interested in what happens around it," explained Apostolakis. He added that progress had been made and the details were expected to be worked out easily.

Greece position on troop deployment in Albania

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 yesterday with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

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

Mr. Fassino told ANA that Athens and Rome were in agreement and cooperating closely regarding the deployment of the multinational force. He added that the deployment of the force will begin on April 14, stressing that the final decision will be reached by military officials.

Meanwhile in Athens, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said there was no question of a crisis in relations between Greece and Italy with regard to the placement of the Greek battalion in the security force for Albania.

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

Fears of arms smuggling from Albania

Greek authorities are increasingly concerned that weapons looted during the recent insurgency in southern Albania are finding their way into the hands of this country's underworld.

The arrest yesterday of two Greek nationals at the Albanian border in possession of three Kalashnikov assault rifles, three hand grenades and ammunition, underlined authorities' fears.

According to reports, Christos Makridis, 34, a depot master for the interstate bus company KTEL, along with 64-year-old farmer Vasilios Gotsis, have been charged with illegally importing and possessing arms as well as trading in arms.

An estimated 600,000 military weapons are currently circulating in Albania after being taken from military camps during the unrest.

Greek-controlled businesses in Albania suffer losses

One in five Greek enterprises in Albania have been destroyed during the recent insurrection and after widespread looting.

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, while an embassy staffmember said the damage to each of these was valued at betweeen 200-400 million drachmas.

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

Turkish foreign ministry on `Greek-Turkish dialogue`

The Turkish government yesterday said Ankara is open to any proposal on the development of Greek-Turkish dialogue.

"We are open to all possibilities," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said in reply to a question on latest developments concerning Greek- Turkish issues.

Mr. Akbel said the proposal for creation of a "committee of wisemen", which was turned down by Athens, constitutes one of the ideas which could help both sides, adding that similar proposals can appear in the future.

Referring to statements by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on the creation of the "committee of wisemen", Mr. Akbel said he read the statements in the press, but refused to comment on them, saying that "carrying out dialogue on such an important iss ue through the press is contrary to the traditions of the Turkish foreign ministry."

"Turkey's stance on Greek-Turkish issues remains the same," he said, adding that Ankara is in favour of all Greek-Turkish issues being tackled at the same time.

The reports said that Ankara does not want problems to be examined one by one, while Athens insists that contacts should start from the issue of the Imia islets.

Dutch FM optimistic over Greek-Turkish relations

EU Council of Ministers president and Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo told a press conference yesterday that he was optimistic that progress could be made in Greek-Turkish relations during the c urrent Dutch presidency.

Referring to Greece's objections regarding the establishment of a "wise men's committee" to resolve Greek-Turkish differences, Mr. van Mierlo said "the problem is more complicated," adding that "clarifications are necessary."

Meanwhile, Dutch diplomatic sources said the Dutch presidency, taking into consideration Greece's remarks as expressed during Mr. van Mierlo's recent visit to Athens, would re-examine the content and the form of such a committee.

The sources said Ankara had agreed with the idea of a "wise men's committee."

Minister proposes EU referendums

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou proposed that Europe-wide referendums be held on major issues, as a heated debate among European Union Foreign Ministers went on yesterday over the question of r e-shaping European institutions.

Mr. 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".

With regard to the number of Commissioners (now 20), on which there is a plethora of often conflicting views, Greece has favoured equal representation of all member-states. The issue is to be raised again at a General Affairs Council in Luxembourg at th e end of this month.

Draft presidential decree for trade office in Skopje

A draft presidential decree anticipating establishment of a Skopje-based economic and trade attache's office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has been submitted to the Council of State.

The draft was signed by the interior and foreign ministers and the national economy and finance undersecretaries.

According to the presidential decree, every general or special clause contrary to the presidential decree's content will be abolished.

Pangalos:Ankara`s threat to veto NATO expansion not serious

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that he considers Turkey's threat to veto NATO expansion to former communist countries if Ankara does not gain European Union membership as "frivolous".

Speaking at a joint news conference with Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, Mr. Pangalos rejected any connection between NATO expansion eastwards and Turkey's attempts to join the EU.

"I take everything that Turkey does and says very seriously, but on this particular point I see that no one takes them seriously," Mr. Pangalos said.

"I tend also to see no relationship between NATO and the enlargement of the European Union. That is a separate process."

In January, Turkey threatened to block NATO expansion unless it obtained membership in the EU.

During his talks with Mr. Zieleniec, Mr. Pangalos expressed his support for the Czech Republic's efforts to join the European Union and NATO, and at the same time briefed his Czech counterpart on developments in the Balkans and the Cyprus issue.

Papoutsis cautions against 'competition' in Albania

European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis commented yesterday on Italy's stance regarding the deployment of the security force in Albania, an issue which he said did not lend itself to opposition 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 neithe r become involved in such competition, nor has it become part of the Albanian crisis," said Mr. Papoutsis after a meeting with main opposition New Democracy party 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.

Interior Ministry tries to clear up law confusion

Interior Undersecretary Tassos Mantelis has sent a letter to other ministers asking for their cooperation in clearing up confusion that often arising from the existence of numerous and overlapping laws.

Interior ministry research has shown that in the period 1975-1993, a total of 35,153 regulatory acts were issued, - 2,178 laws, 14,248 decrees and 17, 638 ministerial decisions. Many of them were conflicting, while others used difficult language.

The fact that laws constitute just one-fifteenth of all acts, is considered indicative of a strengthening of executive vis-a-vis legislative power.

Mr. Mantelis has also asked his colleagues for their views on an OECD recommendation for the establishment of criteria and principles regarding the drawing up of regulatory acts.

Greek-Turkish local government meeting in Cesme

Local government representatives from Greece and Turkey yesterday concluded a five-day meeting in the Turkish coastal town of Cesme concerning joint environmental concerns and ways to confront them.

It was the first high-level meeting of its kind, with the participation of prefects from Lesvos, Hios, Samos and representatives of local government associations and their Turkish counterparts.

A joint resolution issued at the close of the sessions emphasised the need for more meetings of this kind which "create a good climate in the region, as opposed to tension which hinders growth, education and infrastructure works in the two countries".

The resolution calls for an improvement in the political climate between the two countries based on respect for international law and conventions and the inviolability of borders as defined at the end of the Second World War.

Meanwhile, there is to be a meeting in Izmir on May 24-25 of entrepreneurs from the northeastern Aegean and members of the Young Businessmen's Association of the Aegean, based in the Turkish city.

The Izmir meeting, decided on the sidelines of la st week's meeting, aims to promote better cooperation between Greek and Turkish entrepreneurs within the framework of the Turkey-European Union customs union, as well as the opening up of new markets.

WEATHER

Today's weather will be partly cloudy with some snowfalls, mostly in the northeast and scattered showers over the Aegean. Strong to gale force northerly winds will begin to abate this evening. Temperatures in Athens will be 5-10C and in Thessaloniki from 3-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.205 Pound sterling 434.198 Cyprus pd 527.546 French franc 46.590 Swiss franc 182.285 German mark 156.835 Italian lira (100) 15.908 Yen (100) 212.893 Canadian dlr. 191.595 Australian dlr. 208.003 Irish Punt 416.243 Belgian franc 7.600 Finnish mark 52.384 Dutch guilder 139.376 Danish kr. 41.168 Swedish kr. 34.710 Norwegian kr. 38.571 Austrian sch. 22.283 Spanish peseta 1.856 Portuguese escudo 1.563

(Y.B.)


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