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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-12

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, 12/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos concludes productive three-nation Caucasus tour
  • Edirne Chamber delegation pays visit to Alexandroupolis
  • Greece considering request to recall envoy from Iran
  • FYROM FM: Pangalos'Skopje visit introduced "European rationalism to the Balkans."
  • Cyprus-EU accession could pave the way for a solution to the problem, says Kranidiotis
  • G. Papandreou to Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Malta
  • Arsenis addresses meeting of Balkan youth groups
  • ND leader Karamanlis attacks gov't policies
  • ND executive committee elected
  • IATA: Athens airport the most improved in the world
  • Social dialogue to begin after Easter, Reppas says
  • Greenpeace activists acquitted in Motor Oil blockade
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos concludes productive three-nation Caucasus tour

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos completed his tour of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan yesterday, with Baku as his last stop and after holding talks with political and religious leaders in all three countries.

In Yerevan, Pangalos met with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian, Prime Minister Robert Kocarian and Parliament President B. Arakcian, as well as with the Patriarch of Armenia Karekin I.

Pangalos and his Armenian counterpart, Aleksandr Arzumanian, examined the course of bilateral relations and regional problems faced in the Caucasus region. They agreed to continue contacts in the framework of the tripartite cooperation between Greec e, Iran and Armenia. Pangalos also signed a bilateral agreement on post office and consular cooperation.

Replying to questions by reporters on relations between the two countries and Turkey, he said "Turkey's threats against Greece are unethical and illegal since they are contrary to international law, agreements and international practice.

Pangalos said it should be realised in Ankara that the Ottoman empire is dead once and for all and there is no way to revive it.

In Tbilisi, Pangalos met President Eduard Shevardnadze, Parliament President Z. Zvania and the Patriarch of Georgia Ilias II.

Pangalos and his counterpart, Irakli Menagarishvili, signed seven agreements concerning telecommunications, road transport, air transport, agriculture, customs, tourism and shipping. They also initialled a friendship and cooperation pact.

On the sidelines of his visit, a delegation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the HELLASCOM subsidiary signed a US$14 million agreement with the Georgian communications ministry on building an optical network crossing through all the territory of Georgia and linking up with the corresponding network of Armenia, and possibly Azerbaijan later on.

In Baku he met Azerbaijan President Haidar Alief and Prime Minister A. Rasizade.

Pangalos and his counterpart Hasan Hasanov signed three agreements on consular and cultural cooperation and a cooperation protocol between the two ministries.

All aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem were also discussed. The possibility of Greek assistance was discussed in the light of the good relations Athens maintains with both sides in the framework of international initiatives to resolve the problem i n the region.

Before his Caucasus tour, he officially visited the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Edirne chamber delegation pays visit to Alexandroupoli

Members of the Edirne Chamber of Commerce in eastern Thrace yesterday paid an initial visit to their Greek counterparts in Alexandroupoli, with a view to exploring potential for cross-border business cooperation.

Alexandroupoli Chamber President Nikos Dasteridis said good cooperation between the neighbouring cross-border prefectures is a must. He added that a business delegation from the Greek border city will soon visit firms in Edirne to study existing trade possibilities.

Edirne Chamber President Bulent Alamut agreed, stressing that "with close cooperation as neighbours, we shall press the two governments towards the development of friendly relations and mutual confidence, so that they may follow our example."

Greece considering request to recall envoy from Iran

The Greek government said yesterday that it was considering recalling its ambassador from Teheran following an EU suggestion that member states should do so after a German court accused Iran's leaders of ordering the killing of exiled Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas clarified however that the Greek ambassador at present remained at his post, adding that Athens had expressed certain reservations over the recall suggestion.

FYROM FM: Pangalos' Skopje visit introduced "European rationalism to Balkans"

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski described Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' recent visit to Skopje as an "introduction of European rationalism to the Balkans," an ANA despatch from Bonn said yesterday.

Replying to reporters' questions after talks with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, he noted that progress in the relations between the two countries since the signing of the New York interim accord in September 1995 had been considerable.

"After years of stagnation, very significant progress has been recordedIWe note the very impressive increase in trade exchanges, the rise in Greek investment, while transportation and transports are conducted without any problems, and with the visit of the Greek foreign minister to Skopje something which was inconceivable a few years ago was realised," he said.

Asked by ANA whether he shared Pangalos' view that a solution had to be found to the issue of the name that took account of both the integrity of the new state and Greece's concern over possible territorial claims against its northern province of Ma cedonia, Crvenkovski said: "We are participating in negotiations in goodwill and with constructive disposition, but there are limits we cannot exceed, and these do not only concern what you called integrity of our state, but also the identity of our people and the constitutional foundations of our state..."

Cyprus EU accession could pave the way for a solution to the problem, Kranidiotis says

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that Cyprus' European Union accession prospects could act as a catalyst for the settlement of the political problem on the divided island, according to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia.

Referring to the EU decision of March 6, 1995 concerning the procedure for Cyprus' accession, Kranidiotis said "the clear and unequivocal fixing of a time schedule for the commencement of negotiations can and should serve as a catalyst for a just an d viable solution of the Cyprus problem".

"This decision means that the course towards accession is a reality and the Cyprus issue moves out of inaction and takes on new impetus," he added.

Kranidiotis, who left for Cyprus yesterday, was speaking at an event organised by the Union of European Journalists on the issue of "Cyprus- Turkey-EU".

The foreign undersecretary continued by stressing that the EU decision showed that Cyprus' accession was a domestic affair of the Community and could not be vetoed by any third country.

Kranidiotis described as "arbitrary" the effort by "certain EU partners" to link the island republic's accession with a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

"The message being sent to Turkey is quite clear. Its constructive cooperation in resolving Cyprus' political problem and improving Greek- Turkish relations will make a positive contribution to European policy," Kranidiotis said.

Cyprus' newly-appointed Foreign Minister, Yiannakis Cassoulides echoed Mr. Kranidiotis' statements, saying "if Turkey really wants the Turkish Cypriots to fully benefit from accession and at the same time improve its own relations with the EU and Greece , then it must display good intentions and cooperate for the attainment of a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem".

G. Papandreou to Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Malta

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to attend the Euro- Mediterranean Conference in Malta on April 15 and 16, which is a follow-up to the Barcelona conference.

The gathering aims to further develop links between the EU and third countries around the Mediterranean.

Within this framework, the EU has approved a "financial protocol" for such countries, with the exception of Libya, which is not participating, and Cyprus, Malta, and Israel, due to the relatively high living standards in these countries.

Arsenis addresses meeting of Balkan youth groups

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday addressed the first meeting of student unions from Balkan countries, while at the same event he replied to reporters' questions concerning Greek soldiers being sent to Albania.

"Iit is natural for Greece, which is a country neighbouring Albania, to also have a considerable contribution to an international effort to help Albania to create elementary security conditions for the inhabitants themselves," he said, adding:

"Borders are not walls which separate peoples but are bridges which unite peoples. For this reason the minorities living in our borders must be elements of association and cooperation with the neighbouring countries and not flashpoints of disputes and c onflicts," he said.

Arsenis went on to say that Greece, being a member of the European Union, is in a position and desires to constitute a link between the common efforts made by Balkan countries in this direction and their cooperation with the EU.

He said he would positively view an initiative for the formation of a "Balkan Youth Centre", adding that it would be a forum through which youth in the region will be able to take necessary initiatives and promote a climate of cooperation.

Youth representatives from all Balkan countries participated in the meeting.

ND leader Karamanlis attacks gov't policies

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday launched an attack on the government's policies in a number of sectors while addressing the party's Central Committee which was meeting to elect a new Executive Committee.

Karamanlis said ND was the party which believed in "social dialogue" which, he added, must be sincere and substantial "not spasmodic".

Accusing the government of following policies aimed at serving petty party interests, of being responsible for "waves of retirements" and "waste which has inflated the problem", Mr. Karamanlis urged "innovations which are however not at the expense of l ow salary earners and those receiving low pensions".

If the country does not enter "an orbit of development", Mr. Karamanlis said, the government would have to tackle the problem of unemployment by resorting to "subterfuges".

Karamanlis expressed the view that due to the shortfall in state revenue in March, the budget either risked being "overturned" or there would be "a new tax offensive and new fiscal measures will be announced".

Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Karamanlis asked the government to clarify its position, speaking of "rumours" that Athens had already entered into a dialogue with Ankara.

Karamanlis stressed that ND was not opposed to dialogue with Turkey in principle, but on the condition that Ankara respected international treaties and international law.

ND executive committee elected

The main opposition New Democracy party's executive committee was elected during a central committee meeting yesterday.

More specifically, out of the 12 executive committee members elected, five are affiliated to party leader Costas Karamanlis, four to former prime minister and honorary ND leader Constantine Mitsotakis and three to former party leader Miltiades Evert.

The five Parliamentary members elected are Achilleas Karamanlis with 75 votes; Dora Bakoyianni, 60; Yiannis Kefaloyiannis, 60; Vassilis Michaloliakos, 59, and Fani-Palli Petralia, 43.

The seven non-Parliamentary members elected are: Lefteris Zagoritis, 71; Evripidis Stylianidis, 43; Kyriakos Vridaias, 43; Meropi Spyropoulou, 40; Dimos Katsiyiannis, 40; Thomas Kourtis, 39, and Nikos Melissaris, 33.

At the proposal of Mr. Karamanlis, members entitled to vote had the right to give up to three crosses of preference for Parliamentary members and up to four for non-Parliamentary members.

IATA: Athens airport the most improved in the world

The Information and Research Service of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has evaluated Athens airport as the most improved airport in the world on the basis security, speed in processing passengers and staff efficiency.

The Greek capital's airport is followed by those in Inverel and Melbourne, both in Australia, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

The commendation also praises Greek efforts in improving the conditions in air traffic through installation of new radars.

Social dialogue to begin after Easter, Reppas says

Social dialogue between the government, unions and employers will begin in earnest after the Easter break at the end of the month and following the receipt by social partners of the text of the government's positions, to be sent out next week, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

Reppas said the prime minister briefed the Cabinet on Thursday's discussion on the issue at the joint party-ministerial committee.

The committee will reconvene in two to three weeks' time to consider the issue of social insurance, he added.

The government is attempting to find a balance between social partners and is not going in to the dialogue with prejudice or demands, he said.

On workers' "privileges', Mr. Reppas said there was no decision to abolish anything and that everything was up for discussion.

Concluding, the spokesman said that the dialogue would once again demonstrate that ruling PASOK was a socialist party. ANA

Greenpeace activists acquitted in Motor Oil blockade

A court in Corinth yesterday acquitted 17 Greenpeace activists who had participated in the sea blockade of the Motor Oil refinery at Agioi Theodoroi last November.

The 17 activists were protesting against oil pollution from the facility following an oil spill last August, caused when lightning hit a Motor Oil off-shore unloading unit of crude oil from a tanker.

The eight Greek and nine foreign defendants were found not guilty of trespassing and obstructing the operation of a public service company. However, the British captain of the Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise", David Enever, that took part in the prote st, was found guilty of disobeying coastguard orders. Mr. Enever received a suspended four-month sentence and was set free following an appeal.

One worker was killed during the August incident, which led to some 300 tons of crude oil being released into the sea.

Motor Oil, jointly owned by the Saudi-based Aramco and the Vardinoyiannis group, was fined 150 million drachmas for the accident.

"The court's decision shows that the activity of Greenpeace for the protection of the environment can be described as neither legal or illegal, it is simply necessary," said director of Greenpeace's Greek bureau, Ilias Efthymiopoulos.

WEATHER

Unstable weather conditions throughout most of the country with clouds and local rain in the northwest, Macedonia and Thrace. Scattered clouds in rest of country. Winds southwesterly moderate to strong. Some cloud and moderate winds in Athens. Rain expected in Thessaloniki in the afternoon.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying

US dlr. 268.673 Pound sterling 436.817 Cyprus pd 526.192 French franc 46.394 Swiss franc 183.123 German mark 156.042 Italian lira (100) 15.820 Yen (100) 213.240 Canadian dlr. 192.746 Australian dlr. 211.787 Irish Punt 416.144 Belgian franc 7.565 Finnish mark 52.247 Dutch guilder 138.835 Danish kr. 40.978 Swedish kr. 35.002 Norwegian kr. 38.589 Austrian sch. 22.190 Spanish peseta 1.854 Portuguese escudo 1.561

(M.S.)


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