Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-21
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 21/04/1997 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
Patriarch Diodoros stressed that the Patriarchate is fighting to safeguard
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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