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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 14/04/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece says Iran ambassador will remain while issue examined
  • Greece's Albania contingent set to leave Wednesday
  • Greek-Bulgaria relations focus of talks today
  • Current accounts deficit totals 4.5 billion dollars
  • PM supports withdrawal of Flisvos casino licence
  • Theodorakis concert in Skopje warmly received
  • New Cyprus FM Cassoulides due in Athens Friday
  • Thessaloniki roundtable discussion on civilisation
  • Weather
  • Olympiakos wins Greek basketball cup
  • Greek soccer results
  • Foreign Exchange


Greece says Iran ambassador will remain while issue examined

The government said today that there had been no change regarding the issue of recalling its ambassador from Tehran, following a European Union presidency call that EU member-states should do so.

The EU suggestion came after a German court accused Iranian political leaders of ordering the assassination of exiled Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens was continuing to examine the issue ''in its details'' in order ''to see how it will handle'' the matter.

Greece late last week expressed reservations on ''the necessity of this measure'', drawing a reaction from Bonn, with the German Foreign Ministry expressing surprise at the fact that Greece was the only EU country not to recall its envoy from Iran and ''thus refusing European solidarity towards Germany''.

Reppas said that ''there is solidarity with Germany'', adding however that ''but there is no antagonism with Iran''.

Asked to comment on media reports claiming that a telephone conversation took place between German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and adviser to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Nikos Themelis, during which Kinkel reportedly used the phrase ''it's gone far enough'', Reppas said he was not willing to make statements ''on whatever is bandied about''.

Reppas underlined that ''cooperation is frequent and each side expresses its views''.

''There is not always agreement,'' the spokesman said, ''but there is a desire for agreement.''

Greece's Albania contingent set to leave Wednesday

The government said today that the Greek contingent participating in the multinational protection force in Albania would probably leave for the neighbouring country on Wednesday.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas did not however rule out the possibility of the contingent departing as early as tomorrow night.

Reppas said the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) would meet tomorrow morning for the sole purpose of giving its approval to the despatch of the contingent.

The spokesman clarified however that KYSEA would hold a scheduled meeting as planned on Friday.

According to the plans of the General Army Staff, the first company, comprising 120 men, of the Greek contingent is expected to arrive in the Adriatic port of Vlore on Thursday.

The 120, all full-time career soldiers, will most probably leave for Albania in a tank landing craft tomorrow night. The unit will be self- sufficient and serve with an Italian batallion.

The unit will be equipped with armoured personnel carriers, a modern mobile kitchen and sanitary facilities and advanced communications equipment.

The second company of Greek troops will arrive by C-130 transport plane in Tirana on Saturday. Lightly-armed, this unit will be part of the Greek batallion to be stationed in the Albanian capital.

The rest of the Greek contingent will arrive by tank landing craft in the port of Durres on 22 April, together with 20 jeeps and over 90 armoured personnel carriers.

The Greek troops will have the right of self-defence and, if attacked, will respond in accordance with United Nations provisions.

The estimated cost of the mission will be 2.5-3 billion drachmas for the 90 days initially foreseen for the stay of the multinational force in Albania.

Greek-Bulgarian relations focus of talks today

Greek-Bulgarian relations are being discussed in meetings between Ministers in both countries today. Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is to meet his Bulgarian counterpart in Sandanski, a region near the border between the two countries, while Bulgaria's caretaker Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev is to visit Athens today following an invitation from Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

The talks in Athens will centre on Bulgaria's desire to join NATO and the European Union, bilateral trade relations and cross-border programmes, according to the ANA correspondent in Sofia.

Stalev will also meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Parliament Speaker Aposotolos Kaklamanis, and will also visit Thessaloniki.

Tsohatzopoulos told his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Ananiev during a 90- minute meeting that Greece unreservedly supported Bulgaria's accession to NATO, according to a later ANA despatch from the border town of Sandanski.

It was also announced after the meeting that Greece and Bulgaria would in the near future sign a military economic cooperation agreement.

According to sources, the Greek side proposed that a contingent of the Bulgarian army medical corps should participate in the multinational protection force for Albania.

Ananiev reiterated Sofia's position on participation in the force but deferred the issue until after elections and the formation of a new Parliament in Bulgaria.

Current accounts deficit totals 4.5 billion dollars

The current accounts deficit reached 4.5 billion dollars in 1997, compared to 2.8 billion dollars in 1996, according to figures released today by the Bank of Greece.

The increase was mainly due to 1.2 billion dollar rise in the trade deficit and a 469 million dollar drop in the invisibles surplus.

In contrast, inflows of private capital increased this year to reach 7.2 billion dollars.

Exchange reserves meanwhile totalled 19.2 billion dollars at the end of 1996, compared to 15.7 billion dollars in December 1995.

According to the central bank, the high level of exchange reserves was maintained in March this year, reaching a record total of 19.4 billion dollars.

PM supports withdrawal of Flisvos casino licence

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today expressed full support for Development Minister Vasso Papandreou's decision to rescind the Flisvos casino licence and ruled out the possibility of the government paying compensation to the casino consortium which is seeking recourse to justice.

Simitis today visited the tourism sector of the Development Ministry and the Greek National Tourist Organisation (EOT), the first time a prime minister has called on state tourist services.

Theodorakis concert in Skopje warmly received

World famous composer Mikis Theodorakis received an enthusiastic ovation at the Popular Theatre in Skopje on Saturday night, repeating two parts from his symphony "Zorba the Greek" after prolonged applause from the audience.

The concert was attended by Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Kiro Gligorov, top members of Skopje's government, representatives of the diplomatic corps and 200 guests from Greece.

The concert, broadcast live by FYROM's state radio and state television network, as well as by Greek state radio, included participation by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Skopje, the Popular Theatre's Orchestra, a choir, mezzosoprano Sofia Mihailidou and bouzouki player Grigoris Tsistoudis.

Before the concert began, addresses were made by FYROM writer Meto Jovanovski, president of a friendship society between the two countries, and by Paraskevas Paraskevopoulos, a state deputy from the ruling PASOK party, who termed the event "an evening of friendship, peace and mutual understanding."

New Cyprus FM Cassoulides due in Athens on Friday

New Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides will visit Athens on Friday at the invitation of Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos for talks with the Greek government.

Greek Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis extended the invitation during a meeting on Saturday with the Cypriot foreign minister, during which they discussed Cyprus' prospects for accession to the European Union and the ongoing UN-sponsore d proximity talks.

Mr. Kranidiotis told the press after the meeting, that the next two to three years will be crucial to the Cyprus problem in relation to the island's EU accession course, reiterating that this course is progressing normally.

"We don't foresee an easy road, there will be difficulties, but I believe that there will also be opportunities," Mr. Kranidiotis said, stressing that those opportunities must be taken advantage of through a long-term strategy.

Mr. Kranidiotis also said a Cyprus solution must be based on the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides have signed, and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, adding that ideas discussed in the past affect discussion s for a solution.

The High Level Agreements provide for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in Cyprus.

Mr. Kranidiotis said the Greek Cypriot side was right to reject the "set of ideas" on the Cyprus problem, proposed by former UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali in their entirety, because they do not serve its interests.

Mr. Kranidiotis added, however, that this does not mean there are no positive aspects to the "set of ideas", and that the ideas could not affect future talks.

"This, however, does not mean we are throwing them in the waste basket. We need to modify them to allow the state to function and ensure they are in line with Cyprus' EU accession course," he said.

Mr. Cassoulides also noted that these ideas should not create any problems during a transitional period in relation to the international recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.

As far as common ground on the views of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides is concerned, Mr. Kranidiotis said both Greece and Cyprus will assess whether there is any when the proximity talks conclude, adding that it is too early at this stage to make t hat assessment.

Mr. Kranidiotis denied press speculation that he would announce his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections in Cyprus early next year. Mr. Kranidiotis is of Cypriot origin.

In fresh statements yesterday at Larnaca Airport before departing for Athens , Mr. Kranidiotis said no duplicity exists over the Cyprus issue between Athens and Nicosia. He said the policy on Cyprus is unified between Greece and Cyprus, close cooperation exists and targets and visions are common.

Thessaloniki roundtable discussion on civilisation

Speaking at a roundtable discussion at the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki on Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting of intellectuals from around the world entitled "Civilisation on the Threshold of the Third Millennium", Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos stressed the need for the principle of cultural equality among European Union countries to be included in Article 128 of the Maastricht Treaty.

Speaking during another discussion, the former president of the European Parliament, Simone Veil, expressed the conviction that cultural unification can be achieved in Europe.

Former UN secretary-general Javier Perez de Cuellar said culture is of particular importance for the development of peoples.

He said cooperation at an inter-state and local level is an imperative need for the development of the "culture of peace", adding that one cannot speak of development in regions where wars are underway.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, the president of the University of Europe Eleni Ahrweiler-Glykatzi, who directs the event, said "civilisation is not a question of borders but an issue of equality", adding that "the last word of ci vilisation in Europe is a dialogue with goodwill, namely that you must not only listen to what you say but also to what the person next to you says."

The meeting was ended yesterday with the adoption of the "Charter of Thessaloniki", which will contain 10 basic points.


Cloudiness with sunny spells, occasional rainfall and snowfalls in the mountainous regions are expected for most parts of Greece today. Some improvement is expected later in the day. Winds will be northerly moderate to strong, reaching gale force in the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with rain and local thunderstorms but the weather will soon improve. The temperatures will range from 5 to 13C. Similar conditions for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 0-10C.

Olympiakos wins Greek basketball cup

Olympiakos of Piraeus yesterday won the Greek basketball cup by beating Apollon of Patras 80-78. Half-time score 42-37.

Greek soccer results

AEK-Panathinaikos 3-0 Olympiakos-Veria 2-0 Panahaiki-OFI 2-0 Paniliakos-PAOK 0-2 Aris-Kavala 1-3 Xanthi-Ionikos 3-0 Athinaikos-Iraklis 2-0 Apollon and Kalamata play today

Standings: Olympiakos 71 AEK 65 OFI 56 Panathinaikos 54 PAOK 53 Kavala 51


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


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