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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-21

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, 21/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece calls for continuation of Middle East peace process
  • Ms. Papandreou meets with Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
  • Premier meets with Austrian leadership in Vienna today
  • Anniversary of Armenian genocide commemorated
  • Second batch of Greek contingent leaves for Albania today
  • Cyprus solution necessary for better Greek-Turkish ties
  • Messages on 30th anniversary of military coup in Greece
  • Conscripts' service at border regions extended
  • Development of eastern Macedonia and Thrace discussed
  • Cultural Capital programme of events unveiled
  • Coast guard speedboat stolen by Albanian gunmen
  • Illegal drug trade in Greece estimated at 350 billion drachma
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece calls for continuation of Middle East peace process

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday underlined the necessity for the Middle East peace process to be continued, speaking at the end of her four-day official visit to Israel and the autonomous Palestinian territories.

Ms Papandreou stressed that the continuation of a tense situation in the region has negative consequences on the economies of both Israel and the Palestinians, as well as on the wider region of the Middle East.

She also noted that the Greek side will promote the peace process, aimed at mobilising the European Union in this direction.

On Saturday, Ms Papandreou met with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and discussed the course of the peace process and the possibilities of economic cooperation between Greece and the Palestinians.

Speaking after a meeting with Ms Papandreou in Ramallah, Mr. Arafat said "we are very happy to have the Greek delegation here. I cannot forget all you have offered us in the past, in the present and in the future.

"Ms Papandreou's presence here greatly promotes Greek-Palestinian relations. As you know, there is a European effort for peace, which began in Malta, which we must reinforce."

Questioned on the course of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Mr. Arafat noted that "the most important thing at present is the respect of what we have agreed on. Without doubt, the European initiative is very important for the promotion of the peace proce ss and the protection of the peace," he said.

Ms Papandreou said "We discussed their just struggle. Greece is always by the side of the Palestinians". "They are struggling to find justice and we will support them, as always, on a bilateral level and within the framework of the European Union.

"We believe it is necessary for the peace process to continue for the good of the peoples who live here and for the good of the whole region."

During their meeting, the two discussed the prospects of cooperation between Greek and Palestinian businesses in the tourism and commerce sectors, and the promotion of exports.

They also reached an agreement to provide scholarships for Palestinian students to study in Greek tourism schools and for Palestinian researchers to be trained in various sectors.

There was also an agreement for the establishment of a permanent Greek- Palestinian committee to promote cooperation in specific investment programmes.

Ms Papandreou meets with Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

On Friday, Ms Papandreou visited the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and met with Patriarch Diodoros. The Greek development minister stressed the importance of the Patriarchate, which she said "constitutes a source of strength for Hellenism".

Patriarch Diodoros stressed that the Patriarchate is fighting to safeguard centuries-old traditions.

The Patriarch briefed Ms Papandreou on the seizure of areas belonging to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem by several groups of local Muslim residents. He said he has been assured by Jordanian authorities that the issue will be resolv ed shortly.

During Ms Papandreou's meetings with Israeli officials at the begining of her visit to the region, the Israeli government expressed particular interest in the supply of natural gas from Greece. Discussions on tourism included the possibilities of cooperation between Israel and Greece to attract tourists from the Far East and the United States.

Premier meets with Austrian leadership in Vienna today

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday began a three-day official visit To Austria, accompanied by Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and other officials, The premier is to meet today with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, President Thomas Klestil as well as Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel.

On Tuesday, the Greek premier will visit the federal Parliament, where he will hold talks with its president, Heinz Fischer. The prime minister is scheduled to leave for an official visit to Germany on Wednesday.

Mr Simitis' talks in Vienna will concentrate on political developments in the European Union and the wider region, as well as on bilateral relations.

The two sides are expected to discuss the course of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and the prospects for EU expansion, focusing on the opening of Cyprus' EU accession negotiations six months after the end of the IGC.

Mr. Simitis is expected to also raise the issue of Turkey's relations with Greece and the European Union, as well as EU policy on the Balkans.

Anniversary of Armenian genocide commemorated

Several Parliament deputies and Greek Euro-MPs yesterday attended events marking the 82nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

Representatives of the Armenian community in Greece referred to the Cyprus problem, stressing their willingness to contribute to coordinated actions towards an immediate solution.

The 1915 Armenian genocide was carried out by Ottoman forces in eastern and southeastern Turkey against civilian populations. Approximately 1.5 million ethnic Armenians perished in the pogroms.

Second batch of Greek contingent leaves for Albania today

The second part of the Greek contingent of a UN-mandated multinational force that will oversee the distribution of humanitarian aid in Albania is leaving today.

The 520 men will board two Hellenic Navy vessels at the port of Thessaloniki and will land at either Vlore or Durres, depending on security concerns.

The first part of the Greek force, meanwhile, remains at Fieri, awaiting the green light from the Italian command to move to Vlore.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will visit the Greek contingent on April 28.

Cyprus solution necessary for better Greek-Turkish ties

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday reiterated that the peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem is the basic precondition for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

He also noted that in addition to the promotion of Cyprus' EU accession, Greece "is also promoting all the procedures that would ensure the participation of the Turkish Cypriot side in the (pre-accession) dialogue, without this, of course, meaning eithe r a recognition of the occupied pseudo-state in northern Cyprus, or any type of special status to the Turkish Cypriot side. They do, however, have the right to be informed on developments that will arise in Cyprus after accession to the EU".

Messages on 30th anniversary of military coup in Greece

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday issued a message on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the April 21, 1967 military coup which resulted in a seven-year dictatorship in Greece.

"The 30 years that have passed since the imposition of the military dictatorship provide us with an opportunity to attribute once again the honour owed to those who resisted the oppressive regime with courage and democratic ideals and, of course, to the great majority of the Greek people, who never strayed from their democratic beliefs," he said.

In his message, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said "the great achievements of the post-dictatorship era are the restoration of democratic legality, establishment of popular rule, the strengthening of political normality and political stability as well as the effective defence of national sovereign rights."

The Main opposition New Democracy party stressed in a press release that fortification of democratic institutions and the support of social cohesion, as necessary conditions for a required national renaissance, must be continuous.

Conscripts' service at border regions extended

Conscripts' compulsory service at border regions is to be extended from six to nine months, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday.

He specified that final amendments would be included in a bill to be tabled in Parliament after Easter (April 27). Other changes include a reduction of military service by three months for those who sign up at the age of 18.

Development of eastern Macedonia and Thrace discussed

The ruling PASOK party's regional council meeting, held in Kavala yesterday, presented its goals in developing eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

The meeting was attended by leading PASOK party members from Athens, Thessaloniki, Drama, Kavala, Xanthi, Rodopi and Evros.

Speaking on the region's development, Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said "there are funds from the Community Support Framework, provided the money goes to investments which will have prospects for development."

National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said the development of eastern Macedonia and Thrace is "a question of national priority for the government and for PASOK."

"Our aim is for this region to become a springboard for the markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea region and the Mediterranean countries. This is the new role the area is called on to play, aided of course, by the government, " he said.

Cultural Capital programme of events unveiled

The programme of Thessaloniki's Cultural Capital '97 events for the next eight months was released yesterday.

Missing from the original schedule are events which have been cancelled due to a lack of space as well as funding cuts.

The programme, budgeted at 7.2 billion drachmas, includes more than 700 events, featuring an exhibition of relics from Mount Athos, with accompanying publications, concerts and lectures.

Musical performances include concerts by Leonidas Kavakos, Gwyneth Jones, Jenny Drivala, Philip Glass, Joan Baez, B.B. King and Van Morisson. Shakespeare's "King Lear" will be staged by London's National Theatre and Aristophanes' "The Birds" by the Ath ens-based Karolos Koun Theatre.

Coast guard speedboat stolen by Albanian gunmen

A Greek coast guard speed-boat was stolen yesterday morning from the Ionian port of Preveza.

The vessel was later spotted within Albanian territorial waters by the Hellenic Navy minesweeper 'Tyfon' and by another coast guard vessel.

The two vessels were attacked by kalashnikov-wielding hooded gunmen from an abandoned building near the area where the stolen boat was anchored.

A speed-boat with four commandos left Corfu shortly afterwards to retrieve the coast guard vessel.

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis suspended the Preveza harbour- master following the incident.

Illegal drug trade in Greece estimated at 350 billion drachma

The annual turnover in the illicit drug trade in Greece is estimated at 350 billion drachmas, Health and Welfare Undersecretary Manolis Skoulakis said at a conference in Thessaloniki on Saturday, stressing the importance of preventive measures.

Speaking at the same conference, Organisation for the Fight Against Drugs (OKANA) president Mary Malliori announced the establishment of prevention centres throughout Greece in the next three years.

WEATHER

Humidity and a further rise in temperatures are forecast for most parts of the country today, with some local cloudiness and possible rainfall in the northwestern regions in the evening. Winds will be southerly, becoming strong in the Ionian Sea, and moderate in the east. Athens will be party cloudy with temperatures between 10-22C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 7-18C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying

US dlr. 270.366 Pound sterling 440.893 Cyprus pd 530.404 French franc 46.693 Swiss franc 184.889 German mark 157.247 Italian lira (100) 15.940 Yen (100) 214.634 Canadian dlr. 192.760 Australian dlr. 208.916 Irish Punt 418.441 Belgian franc 7.623 Finnish mark 52.053 Dutch guilder 139.964 Danish kr. 41.342 Swedish kr. 35.222 Norwegian kr. 38.052 Austrian sch. 22.354 Spanish peseta 1.864 Portuguese escudo 1.577

(C.E.)


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