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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 16/04/1997 (ANA)


  • Athens satisfied with new WEU status on associate members
  • Joint Greek-Cypriot military exercise to go ahead as planned
  • Greek troops leave on Albanian mission
  • Explosive device planted on army vehicles
  • 'Lysistrata - the movie' to be filmed in Greece
  • Work stoppages by civil aviation employees
  • Pangalos calls for expansion of economic cooperation with Turkey
  • Greece calls for respect for territorial integrity, human rights
  • 2,176 traffic deaths in 1996
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Athens satisfied with new WEU status on associate members

The government commented today on a decision taken by the Western European Union (WEU) saying it removed all ''vagueness'' about the regime applying to associate members.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said the decision, taken by the WEU in Brussels yesterday, expressly stated that the participation of associate members in the union's operations, exercises and planning was within the limits defined by the regime governing such members.

''That is,'' Bikas clarified, ''decisions are taken by full members and there is no possibility of such decisions being blocked by associate members which simply have the option of acceding to the decisions of the full members''.

Diplomats in Brussels said yesterday that the WEU had agreed to a deal giving associate members Turkey and Norway a full role in any operations launched with NATO equipment.

Bikas underlined that given the fact that the WEU has no army at its disposal and the carrying out of any operations by the union foresees the use of NATO troops, the lack of unanimous agreement among NATO members would make it impossible to hold such an operation.

The spokesman expressed the view that yesterday's decision would contribute to strengthening the role of the WEU so that it can become the European Union's defence arm, ''something which remains Greece's firm position''.

Prior to the agreement, Ankara had threatened to veto the use of Alliance equipment and infrastructure by the WEU unless it was involved in the planning of any European operations.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later described Greece's consent to Turkish participation in WEU operations as ''the realistic handling of an issue which had remained pending''.

Noting that Athens could not have acted differently, Reppas underlined that the regime governing the WEU's relations remained unchanged.

Replying to reporters' questions on Greek-Turkish relations in general, Reppas said that Greece had repeatedly made goodwill gestures to Turkey and intended to make more ''corresponding to deeds''.

He stressed however that such gestures could not go beyond the limits set by the need to safeguard national interests, adding that Athens was awaiting similar gestures from Ankara.

At the same time, Reppas said Greece's veto of the fourth financial protocol within the framework of EU-Turkey customs union remained in place.

''This,'' he said, ''is because Turkey has not taken those steps expected by Greece''.

The spokesman also confirmed that Greece had in effect consented to the extension of the EU-Turkey customs union to cover also agricultural products.

He said Greece had not ''created any issue'' concerning the matter in question, adding that it was in Greece's interests for Turkey to be more closely tied to the EU since Greece would benefit from this relationship.

Joint Greek-Cypriot military exercise to go ahead as planned

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas today categorically denied any divergence of views between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos concerning the forthcoming joint Greek- Cyprus military exercise codenamed ''Toxotis''.

''There is no clash. On the contrary, there is excellent communciation and very good cooperation,'' Reppas said.

The spokesman added that Simitis and Tsohatzopoulos would meet tomorrow prior to the meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) on Friday, which will focus on the situation in neighbouring Albania.

Reppas said the joint Greek-Cyprus military exercises would be held as planned.

In a related development, former Cypriot president George Vassiliou said here today that he was opposed to the holding of the ''Toxotis'' exercise, since ''it serves no purpose''.

He expressed support for direct dialogue between the Greek- and Turkish- Cypriot communities on the divided island saying ''it is more sound to place emphasis on dialogue rather than the flights of aircraft''.

Vassiliou was speaking to reporters after talks with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and ruling PASOK party Secretary Costas Skandalides.

The leader of the United Democrats party had talks with Skandalides within the framework of contacts between PASOK and political parties of the Cyprus Republic.

Greek troops leave on Albanian mission

The first company of Greek troops participating in the multinational peace force in Albania left from Thessaloniki airport shortly after noon today on two C130s of the Greek air force. They were farewelled by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the chiefs of staff. Another three aircraft left carrying vehicles and equipment.

Early this afternoon another company is expected to leave from the port of Thessaloniki aboard the tank landing craft Samos for Albania.

The ''Samos'' left Thessaloniki for Albania at 13:40 local time with a further 120 troops.

Earlier, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and the Chief of the National Defence General Staff, Lieutenant-General Athanassios Tzoganis inspected the troops.

In addition to the troops, the ''Samos'' is also carrying 17 armoured personnel carriers, 23 jeeps -- three of which are armour-plated -- and ultra-modern telecommunications equipment.

Explosive device planted on army vehicles

An explosion rocked a train carriage loaded with army vehicles at a railway station in the suburb of Aghioi Anargyri, west of Athens early Wednesday, damaging two vehicles, but without injuries, police said.

The home-made explosive device went off at 01.45 local time as the carriage was parked at the railway station facing the 301 "Koskina" military camp at Aghioi Anargyri square on Democratias Avenue.

Police said the device was placed under one of the vehicles, which according to unconfirmed reports, were destined for Albania. Police investigating the explosion did not give further details.

Defence ministry sources later said that two small explosions occurred near an army camp causing slight damage to immobilised military trucks which were on a train platform.

The vehicles, the sources said, were on their way to Larissa in central Greece, for dismantling.

'Lysistrata - the movie' to be filmed in Greece

Aristophanes' Lysistrata is to be filmed in Greece by the director Roger Coggio, under the auspices of UNESCO and Education International.

Details of the project were announced at a press conference in Athens yesterday, addressed by French Ambassador Bernard Claude Kessedjian, who referred to Coggio's distinguished career.

Coggio is currently in Greece for a screening tonight of one of his previous films, Les Fourberies de Scapin, at the Pallas cinema on Voukourestiou St.

In a message to the conference, UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor said the organisation's support for the project was prompted by the comedy's message of non-violence.

Filming by George Arvanitis, collaborator on the films of Greek director Theo Angelopoulos, is to begin in September with a budget of $15 million, while the finished product is expected to be released in March 1998.

Work stoppages by civil aviation employees

The Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSYPA) yesterday announced work stoppages from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, claiming that the Civil Aviation administration has delayed compensation for night shifts, Sundays and holi days over the past five months.

Employees also want the Civil Aviation administration's state control safeguarded as well as a meeting with Transport Minister Haris Kastanidis to discuss the organisation's legal status.

Pangalos calls for expansion of economic cooperation with Turkey

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday called for a strengthening of economic cooperation with Turkey in every way.

"Greece must expand its contacts at all levels with that part of the economic and political establishment of Turkey which favours a different rationale of rapprochement between the two countries, far from extremism and sterile confrontations," he said d uring an address at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"There are two tendencies which conflict in Turkish diplomacy," he added.

"One, the 'old-type of diplomacy' supporting military power and its continuous proliferation. The second, a 'new-type diplomacy', is based on economic power and dominance in the sectors of raw materials, energy, transport axes, markets and new technolog ies. Greece has every interest in the prevalence of the second tendency," he said.

"But until that happens, it will necessarily continue defending its sovereign rights due to Ankara's illogical terrirorial claims," he emphasised.

Mr. Pangalos described economic diplomacy as the number one task of the Greek foreign ministry, and indirectly called for and increase in its budget.

Greece calls for respect for territorial integrity, human rights

Addressing the Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Valetta, Malta yesterday, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou placed emphasis on the need for respect for the territorial integrity of Mediterranean countries as well as respect for human rights.

Mr. Papandreou proposed to his counterparts from the other 26 countries participating in the conference to hold an informal meeting in Greece in order to discuss all issues concerning the Mediterranean basin and stressed that the creation of stability a nd security in the Mediterranean region will "bring one another closer together."

Referring to the economic sector, Mr. Papandreou said the target of creating a free trade zone is a challenge to strengthen the economies of all countries in the region.

In addition, he said the general conjuncture in the Mediterranean region is, unfortunately, not what all wish it to be and at this point he reiterated his proposal for an informal Euro-Mediterranean conference session in Greece.

2,176 traffic deaths in 1996

The human cost of traffic accidents in Greece might be described as taking on dimensions of an undeclared civil war between motorists, after figures for 1996 were released.

Specifically, a total of 2,176 people died, 3,304 were seriously injured and 29,777 suffered minor injuries on Greek roads in 1996, traffic police announced yesterday.

Commenting on the figures, Public Order Minister George Romeos said the main cause of accidents was the non-observance of traffic regulations, stressing that prevention would be far more effective than the policing of violations.

By far the largest number of traffic accidents - 9,384, or 88.12 per cent - took place in urban and semi-urban areas in 1996, while only 9.36 per cent occurred on the national highway network.

In 30,148 breathalyser tests, 3,621 drivers were found to be over the limit.


Rain accompanied by strong southwesterly winds are forecast for most parts of the country later today with snowfall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Weather conditions will start improving in the west from late in the evening. Athens will be sunny to cloudy with possible rain and temperatures betrween 5-15C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will range from 2-10C.


Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.112 Pound sterling 439.357 Cyprus pd 526.454 French franc 46.356 Swiss franc 183.689 German mark 155.928 Italian lira (100) 15.872 Yen (100) 214.103 Canadian dlr. 193.182 Australian dlr. 209.491 Irish Punt 416.640 Belgian franc 7.558 Finnish mark 52.215 Dutch guilder 138.746 Danish kr. 40.950 Swedish kr. 35.105 Norwegian kr. 38.597 Austrian sch. 22.157 Spanish peseta 1.852 Portuguese escudo 1.559


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