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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 15/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek troops get official go-ahead for Albanian force
  • Greece, Bulgaria agree to give fresh impetus to cooperation
  • US displeased at Greek stance on Iran
  • President to visit Strasbourg
  • Policy on rapprochement with Turkey unchanged, Athens says
  • Greece to propose initiatives for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation
  • Government unveils blueprint on social dialogue
  • Albanian FM thanks Greece for recent support
  • Premier stresses efforts to improve tourism
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek troops get official go-ahead for Albanian force

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today formally ratified Greece's participation in the multinational peace force in Albania, as the tank landing craft Samos arrived in Thessaloniki to transport the first 120 Greek troops, all officers and NCOs, to Albania.

Following the KYSEA meeting, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that according to the Italian command's final plan, the vanguard of the Greek force will leave for Tirana tomorrow morning after arriving in the Adriatic port of Vlore. The remainder of the total 760 men are expected to be in position by the end of the week.

The multinational force's mission is to secure the speedy distribution of humanitarian aid to the Albanian people. The Greek troops will have the right to defend themselves, and if attacked will respond in accordance with UN provisions.

Greece, Bulgaria agree to give fresh impetus to cooperation

Greece and Bulgaria today agreed to give fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation during talks between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Bulgarian counterpart Stoyan Stalev.

Earlier, Stalev, who arrived in Athens yesterday, had talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The Bulgarian foreign minister is currently the guest of honour at a luncheon being attended by Pangalos, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, ministry officials and a number of prominent Greek businessmen, many of whom already have business activities in the neighbouring country.

Replying to reporters' questions concerning the presence of Greek businessmen at the luncheon, Pangalos said the government attached particular importance to the potential of the Bulgarian economy and was encouraging Greek businessmen to establish activities there.

Stressing the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two Balkan neighbours, Pangalos assured Stalev of Greece's support for Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

Owing to the holding of general elections in Bulgaria next Sunday, Pangalos said he had not gone into ''technical detail'' during his talks with Stalev whom, he noted, would not be standing as a candidate.

Stalev underlined that Bulgaria was already on its way out of the acute economic crisis which it underwent last year, while attaching to the importance to the fact that Bulgarian foreign policy had remained ''active'' during this difficult period.

He described as ''very important'' Greece's support for Bulgaria's bid to join the EU and NATO and announced that Sofia would be participating in the two-day meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Thessaloniki in June.

Stalev also stressed the importance for Bulgaria of matters such as the stabilisation of public administration, the conveyance of energy and the upgrading of road networks, issues on which it was decided to step up cooperation with Greece.

Replying to reporters' questions on the planned Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline, Pangalos said the conditions and framework within which the project will be carried out have largely been clarified. He expressed the hope that a final agreement would be reached very soon.

Referring to his recent visit to the Caucasus, Pangalos said several countries in the region with large oil reserves, such as Azerbaijan and Turmenistan, desired ''multiple options for the export of their products'', indicating that some would be channelled to the Black Sea port of Novorossisk.

''Our idea is for the (oil) pipeline to go from Novorossisk to Burgas,'' Pangalos added.

The foreign minister also conveyed to Stalev the interest of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) in the imminent privatisation of telecommunications in Bulgaria.

He also assured Stalev of Greek support for Bulgaria's efforts to improve its road and rail network and announced the Greek government's decision to reduce the cost of visas for Bulgarians wishing to travel to Greece from 50, 000 to 30,000 lev.

US displeased at Greek stance on Iran

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns has expressed the Department's displeasure at Athens' decision not to recall its Ambassador from Tehran, according to the ANA's correspondent in Washington.

The other European Union member states have responded to a call from the EU presidency to recall their ambassadors after a German court last week accused Iranian leaders of ordering the killing of exiled Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.

"We are of course displeased that the Greek government has not gone along with the EU's unanimous vote and recalled its ambassador," he said, adding:

"According the evidents presented to the German people during the Mykonos trial, it is quite clear what happened regarding the murder of the people who were in the Cafe Mykonos. We therefore congratulate the countries of the European Union who acted decisively and we wish that all of them had done so."

President to visit Strasbourg

President Kostis Stephanopoulos will visit Strasbourg next Monday at the official invitation of the Council of Europe, it was announced today.

Stephanopoulos will address the Council's Parliamentary Assembly and reply to questions put by its members.

Policy on rapprochement with Turkey unchanged, Athens says

The government said today that its policy in pursuit of rapprochement with Turkey remained unchanged.

''Within the framework of this policy, the government is willing to examine certain procedural ways of discussing some of the issues in Greek-Turkish relations regarded by certain quarters as pending,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

At all events, the spokesman added however, ''all this presupposes respect for international law on the part of Turkey''.

Reppas denied reports that a decision had been taken for the formation of a Greek-Turkish committee to examine these issues.

Greece to propose initiatives for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation

Greece is to propose several important initiatives for the development of cooperation between European Union countries and 12 Mediterranean nations at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers, which opens today in Valletta, Malta.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who represents Greece at the conference, told the press yesterday that Athens will propose the convening of an informal meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference - probably on a Greek island.

Greece, he said, is also expected to play a significant role in the beginning of a dialogue on religion in the Mediterranean as part of a cultural cooperation between the 15 EU member-states and the 12 non-EU Mediterranean states.

Mr. Papandreou said this would open a "new significant level of initiatives in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation".

Greece's role, he said, focuses on a dialogue between Orthodoxy and Islam.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece would be invited to begin talks on these issues, he added.

He said the spirit of cooperation among Mediterranean countries had begun with the EU summit on Corfu during the Greek presidency in 1994, and was bolstered in Barcelona, at which it was decided that cooperation should centre on three axes: economic and institutional issues, culture and society as well as security.

Replying to questions, he said that the Middle East issue (Israel and the Palestinian areas) will not constitute a main issue at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference because the EU had decided to have Euro-Mediterranean cooperation promoted regardless of discussions between the two sides.

Gov't unveils blueprint on social dialogue

The government yesterday unveiled a 19-point blueprint with the topics of the proposed social dialogue on economic, investment and labour policy.

The text was sent to trade unions, agricultural organisations, local government, the Federation of Greek Industry (SEB), merchants and small manufacturers organisations, banks, chambers etc, in the form of a letter by the ministers of National Economy, Yiannos Papantoniou, and Labour and Social Security, Miltiades Papaioannou.

It includes topics such as securing real incomes under conditions of low inflation, changes in investmet incentives, developmental criteria for ailing enterprises, the promotion of efficiency in the public sector, work time and part-time employment, for eign workers, and employent policy in the European Union.

The stated aims of the dialogue include participation in the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU in time, control of profiteering, the introduction of the principle of 'funding investmenst on basis of attaining targets', strong economic presence and cooperation in the Balkans, quality and efficiency control of training programmes, privatisation of ailing enterprises, wage increases on the basis of an inflation plus national productivity clause, and the linking of new forms of work with social securi ty systems.

Albanian FM Starova thanks Greece for recent support

Albanian Foreign Minister Arjan Starova has addressed a letter to his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos expressing Tirana's gratitude for the aid and support offered so far by the Greek government.

Mr. Pangalos had sent a letter to Mr. Starova on March 28 listing the efforts being made by Athens to enable Albania to tackle the severe political crisis in the neighbouring country.

Mr. Starova stresses in his letter that the national reconciliation government of Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino "is making every possible effort to implement in practice the platform of national reconciliation planned by (Albanian) President (Sal i) Berisha, and approved by Albania's 10 most important parties, and we ascertain with satisfaction that the internal situation in Albania is showing some improvement and is moving ahead."

The Albanian foreign minister also expressed his appreciation for support given to his country by Greece, both at bilateral and international level, and for its readiness to be included in the international force to be sent to Albania.

Premier stresses efforts to improve tourism

Efforts to improve services in the tourism industry, including protection of the environment and its features particular to Greece, were announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis during a visit to the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) yesterday.

"Our objective," he said, "is to offer foreigners an attractive environment and at the same time improve the competitiveness of Greek tourism on an international level."

Emphasis will also be given to to necessary structural changes, particularly by promoting alternative forms of tourism such as eco-tourism and trekking, in order to extend the tourist season.

At the same time, the Prime Minister expressed full support for Development Minist er 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 resource to justice.

Mr. Simitis said the cabinet would soon discuss and table a bill in Parliament formally rescinding the Flisvos licence.

The same bill, he said, would provide for stricter controls of private casinos already operating in the country, while legislation will be introduced renewing the state's control of the Mt. Parnes casino, assigning its management to the private sector a nd offering a minority share package.

Mr. Simitis stressed that "casinos do not constitute a linchpin for development and moreover create social problems."

This, he added, was why licences had not eventually been granted for the operation of casinos in Epirus and Doirani, as had initially been planned.

WEATHER

Fine weather with a slight rise in temperatures expected for most parts of Greece today but is expected to change in the evening turning to cloudy with local rainfall starting in the north and the Ionian islands. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 3-15C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 0-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.534 Pound sterling 435.984 Cyprus pd 525.562 French franc 46.350 Swiss franc 182.984 German mark 155.863 Italian lira (100) 15.844 Yen (100) 212.209 Canadian dlr. 192.111 Australian dlr. 209.307 Irish Punt 416.045 Belgian franc 7.556 Finnish mark 52.120 Dutch guilder 138.642 Danish kr. 40.924 Swedish kr. 35.194 Norwegian kr. 38.569 Austrian sch. 22.141 Spanish peseta 1.851 Portuguese escudo 1.560

(M.P.)


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