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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 18/04/1997 (ANA)


  • PM Simitis to visit Bonn for talks
  • Santer to visit Athens
  • Greek troops to land in Durres
  • FM Pangalos briefs president
  • Opposition concerned over developments in Greek-Turkish relations
  • Pangalos: Turkey must make certain moves to improve relations
  • Pangalos says ready to meet with Ciller
  • G. Papandreou: "We have not entered into negotiations"
  • Greek-Israeli cooperation in energy and tourism
  • Estonian FM's talks in Athens
  • Herma column found near Parliament
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


PM Simitis to visit Bonn for talks

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Bonn on 24 April at the invitation of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, according to ANA despatch from the German capital.

Quoting German government spokesman Peter Hausmann, the despatch said Simitis and Kohl would have an approximately two-hour meeting which would focus on ''issues of European and security policy in view of the serious decisions pending for the European Union and NATO''.

Hausmann however did not rule out other issues also being discussed, since the agenda would be open.

Later the same day, after his talks with Kohl, Simitis will meet with the leader of Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) Oskar Lafontaine.

The following day, 25 April, Simitis will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Marburg in the state of Hesse for his contribution to jurisprudence.

Simitis graduated with distinction from Marburg University in 1959. His thesis was on the subject ''Good morals and public life''. Simitis later lectured in Commercial and Civil Law at Giessen University from 1971 to the fall of the military junta in Greece in 1974.

On 28 April, during his visit to Hesse, Simitis will have talks with the state's Social Democrat premier Hans Eichel. The rest of the premier's visit to Germany will be of a private/family nature.

Santer to visit Athens

European Commission President Jacques Santer will visit Greece in May to attend, for the first time, events celebrating ''European Day'' on 9 May .

Santer will visit Athens from 8-11 May and during his stay have talks with government and other officials.

''European Day'' marks the 9 May, 1950 decree issued by then French Foreign Minister Robert Schumann which began the process that led to the creation of the European Union.

Greek troops to land in Durres

The Greek tank landing craft Samos has been redirected by the multinational force's Italian command to dock at the Albanian port of Durres, instead of Vlore as originally scheduled, the ANA correspondent in Tirana reports.

The decision was made due to the fact that the security operations in Vlore have not yet been completed. The Greek ship is expected to arrive in Durres at 13.00 and the troops will be transported by road to Vlore.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) which focused on the government's handling of the crisis in neighbouring Albania.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had briefed KYSEA on the political and diplomatic steps taken so far and the despatch of the Greek contingent to Albania as part of the multinational protection force.

Reppas said Athens' position had been confirmed that in a subsequent stage, Greek troops would be sent to the border posts of Kakavia and Krystallopigi as well as southern Albania in order to secure the distribution of humanitarian aid.

According to sources, Tsohatzopoulos told KYSEA that Greece could propose the formation of committee made up of representatives from Greece, Italy and France to assist OSCE envoy for Albania Franz Vranitzky in his task.

FM Pangalos briefs president

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today briefed President Kostis Stephanopoulos on recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations, the Greek contingent in the multinational protection force in Albania and his recent talks with his Bulgarian and Cyprus counterparts.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pangalos said he had also briefed Stephanopoulos on Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou's talks with his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen in Malta ''and the known discussion with the Dutch presidency on clarifying procedural prerequisites for a judicial settlement of certain Greek-Turkish differences''.

Replying to questions, Pangalos said there had been no ''reaction'' from Ankara concerning the proposed ''committee of experts'', adding he did not know of any letter from Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller to the Dutch EU presidency on the same issue.

Pangalos may meet with Ciller within the framework of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation meeting in Istanbul on 28-30 April.

He underlined today however that the subject of the Istanbul meeting was not Greek-Turkish matters but rather economic and technological cooperation.

''Ms. Ciller will host the meeting and I will accept any informal contact with her,'' Pangalos said.

Commenting on concern expressed by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party that the proposed committee of experts would develop into an informal political dialogue, Pangalos said that this would not happen since the committee would be of a specific nature.

Announcing a meeting with ND leader Costas Karamanlis next week, Pangalos said he would try to reassure the main opposition party.

Opposition concerned over developments in Greek-Turkish relations

The main opposition New Democracy party today criticised the government over its handling of Greek-Turkish relations, saying that the formation of a committee of experts to study bilateral problems gave rise to "concern and fears", according to a party announcement.

"There is an obvious danger that the committee will become the agent of an unconditional dialogue without any specific legal framework. Then the government will be faced with the dilemma of whether to make inacceptable concessions or to break off the dialogue, inevitable result in a deterioration of Greek-Turkish relations," said the announcement.

It added that the government was being led into a dialogue with Turkey without even knowing its exact content or prospects, and referred to what it called conditions of secrecy, as well as dissent within the government.

Pangalos: Turkey must make certain moves to improve relations

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos reiterated last night that for a substantive improvement to be achieved in Greek-Turkish relations it is necessary for Turkey to find some way to state that it abandons its threat of war against Greece and to further state that it recognises and accepts the institutional framework governing relations between the two countries.

Mr. Pangalos was speaking after two-hour talks chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministry's entire leadership and focused primarily on developments in Greek- Turkish relations.

Pangalos says ready to meet with Ciller

He said that if Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller requests a meeting with him on the sidelines of the session for Black Sea Cooperation Pact Foreign Ministers, due to be held in Istanbul on April 30, he will accept the meeting which, he said, will be a very good opportunity for an exchange of views.

Mr. Pangalos said that both he and Mr. Papandreou will participate in the General Affairs Council and Turkey's Association Council in Luxembourg on April 28-29.

Replying to a question on a statement by Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo on Wednesday and reported by Reuters on the lifting of the deadlock on the islets issue, Alternate Foreign Minister Papandreou categorically denied that this issue was raised in the discussions and that such a statement was made on the part of the Dutch Foreign Minister.

Papandreou: "we have not entered into negotiations"

In statements earlier on his his talks with Mr. Oymen, Mr. Papandreou clarified that "we have not entered into negotiations with the other side and in particular we are not negotiating sovereign rights".

"However," Mr. Papandreou continued, "a dialogue helps towards a better understanding by both sides and enables one to focus on the dimensions of the problem".

Mr. Papandreou said that both sides appeared to accept "at least as a basis" the formation of a committee of experts, adding that his contacts in Malta with Mr. Oymen were simply a first step.

He reiterated that his talks with Mr. Oymen had not gone into the "substance" of issues, while asked whether he had discerned a different disposition on the part of the Turkish official towards Greece, Mr. Papandreou replied:

"I hope so. There is, however, a final conclusion to this initiative and I want to be optimistic but at the same time cautious".

Replying to other questions, Mr. Papandreou said it would be premature for one to forecast the next moves in the process.

Greek-Israeli cooperation in energy and tourism

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou commented here yesterday on what she called the great potential for developing economic relations with Israel, particularly in the energy and tourism sectors.

She made the statements after talks with the Israeli minister of Infrastructure, Ariel Sharon, and Tourism Minister Moshe Katzan.

"We particularly discussed the prospects for cooperation in the energy sector, as the Israeli government wishes to be supplied with natural gas from Greece. Israel is a country which can play an important role in the development of the region, and we ho pe that the stabilisation of peace will be achieved, so that this aim may be realised," she said after an initial meeting with Mr. Sharon.

The Israeli minister also noted his country's interest in expanding economic relations with Greece.

Talks with Mr. Katzan centred on cooperation in attracting tourists from countries of the Far East and the Americas.

Ms Papandreou said Greece intends to participate in the group set up by eight Middle East countries for cooperation in the tourism sector. She also invited Israeli businessmen to invest in Greece by participating in the tenders for the sale of land by the Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT).

It was agreed in the two meetings to speed up procedures for the signing of accords for the mutual protection of investments and the prevention of double taxation.

Ms Papandreou is expected to meet today with the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Diodoros, and tomorrow with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Estonian FM's talks in Athens

Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves, currently on an official visit to Greece, had separate meetings yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

After talks with Mr. Pangalos, Mr. Ilves described his contacts in Athens as "particularly important," underlining that the views of the two governments on the enlargement of NATO and the European Union were "very close."

Mr. Ilves, the first Estonian foreign minister to visit Greece, said his country's foreign policy was focused on efforts for accession to the EU.

Noting that Greece had never recognised Estonia's annexation by the former Soviet Union, Mr. Pangalos said Estonia was the first Baltic country to open an embassy in Athens.

Greece would in turn open an embassy in Estonia, he added.

During the talks at the foreign ministry, attended also by National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas, two agreements were signed - one relating to reciprocal investments and the second to marine transport.

Mr. Pangalos said Greece would support Estonia's bid to join NATO, adding that his talks with Mr. Ilves had covered the issue of the alliance's enlargement and the possible problems this might create for Russia.

On Estonia's efforts to join the EU, Mr. Pangalos said the Baltic nation satisfied all the prerequisites for membership.

Herma column found near Parliament

Archaeological excavations adjacent to Parliament in central Athens yesterday unearthed an inscripted Herma column complete with a bust of Chrysippos, one of the most important Stoic philosophers.

The most common monument to the Olympian god Hermes - the god of commerce and messenger of the other Olympians - a Herma was a stone pillar which usually had a carved bust on top and was placed on the side of roadways.

The column, 1.31 metres in height and made of Penteli marble, was found in excellent condition.

Chrysippos lived in the third century BC.


Higher temperatures and weather improvement is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Local cloudiness with possibile drizzle in eastern Macedonia, Thrace, the eastern Aegean islands and the Dodecanese. Winds will be northerly, weak to moderate. Athens will be sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures between 6-17C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-13C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.507 Pound sterling 438.861 Cyprus pd 526.157 French franc 46.368 Swiss franc 183.138 German mark 155.952 Italian lira (100) 15.834 Yen (100) 213.945 Canadian dlr. 192.329 Australian dlr. 208.290 Irish Punt 415.747 Belgian franc 7.560 Finnish mark 52.048 Dutch guilder 138.806 Danish kr. 40.952 Swedish kr. 34.922 Norwegian kr. 38.134 Austrian sch. 22.164 Spanish peseta 1.851 Portuguese escudo 1.556


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