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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/04/1997 (ANA)


  • Simitis starts talks in Vienna
  • PASOK deputies criticise gov't handlings on relations with Turkey
  • Italian-Greek cooperation stumbles on hindrances, says Gov't
  • The second part of the Greek contingent departs for Albania
  • Last year's protesting farmers accuse government of persecution
  • Greece calls for continuation of Middle East peace process
  • Papandreou meets with Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
  • Liani-Papandreou dismisses press reports
  • Messages on 30th anniversary of military coup in Greece
  • Illegal sales of lambs as Easter nears
  • Humanitarian aid to Albania
  • Illegal drug trade in Greece estimated at 350 billion drachma
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Simitis starts talks in Vienna

Talks in Vienna today and tomorrow between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Austrian leaders are expected to centre on developments in the Cyprus problem, Turkey's relations with Greece and the European Union and regional issues, according to ANA despatches from the Australian capital.

In an earlier interview with the ANA, the Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima had expressed support for starting negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the EU six months after the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Conference. If there is a delay in the IGC's sessions, the first phase of Cyprus' accession negotiations is expected to fall within the Austrian presidency of the EU, during the second half of 1998.

Of interest to both Greece and Austria is the future of smaller EU member states following the reform of the EU following the conclusion of the IGC. Today's talks in Vienna will also include discussion of the EU's Balkan policy.

Simitis, accompanied by Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis, is to have meetings with Austrian President Thomas Klestil, Chancellor Viktor Klima, as well as Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel. On Wednesday morning, the prime minister leaves Vienna for a working visit to Germany.

PASOK deputies criticise gov't handlings on relations with Turkey

Criticism by 32 deputies of the ruling PASOK party of the government's handling of relations with Turkey was "to no purpose", said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas today.

He was commenting on a letter the deputies had sent to Prime Minister Costas Simitis protesting what they called the government's "acceptance of a dialogue between Greece and Turkey".

The government, he added, was defending the nation's interests in a positive way and needed no reminder from third parties. Reppas reiterated that Greece's sovereign rights were not an issue for dialogue or negotiation.

Asked whether the issue would be discussed by collective bodies, the spokesman said discussion in the absence of any specific developments would be premature, and that the government would make its final decisions once the effort being made by the Dutch presidency of the European Union crystallised.

Italian-Greek cooperation stumbles on hindrances, says Gov't

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas admitted this afternoon that there were hindrances in the Greek-Italian cooperation in the framework of the security force overseeing the humanitarian aid distribution in Albania.

"We want a more substantial cooperation in order to overcome problems and speed up our pace so that we will be able to respond to our role," Reppas said, adding that the Greek-Italian cooperation was developing under difficult conditions.

The second part of the Greek contingent is leaving for Albania today while the first part of the Greek force remains at Fieri, awaiting the green light from the Italian command to move to Vlore.

Reppas also commented on an incident, Saturday, in which a Greek coast guard speed-boat was stolen from the Ionian port of Preveza and was later spotted within Albanian territorial waters.

The spokesman said the government would not launch a military operation to recover the boat.

"We are not willing to launch a military operation in which the lives of Greek soldiers may be put at risk," he said, adding that the Greek government was leaning on the help of members of the ethnic Greek community in Albania to achieve this.

The second part of the Greek contingent departs for Albania

Another 520 Greek troops left Thessaloniki aboard the Greek navy's Samos and Chios this morning, to participate in the multinational peace force in Albania. They are expected to arrive in either Durres or Vlore, depending upon orders from the Italian command, on Wednesday morning. The ships are also carrying 92 armoured and other army vehicles.

Two other Greek companies arrived in Albania last week, one by air to Tirana and the other aboard the Samos, which was to have docked in Vlore but was redirected to Durres. These troops were transported overland from Durres to Fieri where they are awaiting the go-ahead from the Italians to proceed to Vlore.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is to visit the troops in Albania on 28 April.

Meanwhile, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, who saw the troops off this morning, said the Greek mission would remain neutral and impartial and will not interfere in Albania's domestic affairs. The purpose of the mission, he reiterated, was to oversee the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Last year's protesting farmers accuse government of persecution

Farmers in Thessaly have accused the government of persecution of farmers in the form of continued trials of those involved in last year's protests against the government's agricultural policy.

The coordinating committee of Thessaly farmers has called for a meeting on the issue on 30 April in Larissa, to which they have invited representatives of lawyers' unions in Athens, Larissa and Thessaloniki, those representing farmers facing trial and other organisations in Thessaly.

They have also decided to send a delegation to Parliament on 9 May to brief political parties on their problems and to hold a press conference.

A rally is to be held outside the Larissa courthouse where on 23 May, the committee itself as well as individual farmers are to go on trial. The committee charges that the government "is trying to send a message to the entire people ... that the same fate awaits all those who stand up and fight for their rights."

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.

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.

Liani-Papandreou dismisses press reports

Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, the widow of late PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou currently embroiled in an inheritance battle with three of Papandreou's children, has issued a statement in response to what she characterised as "fabricated" press reports.

Some newspapers reported today that Liani-Papandreou is threatening to reveal secrets about the Papandreou family, prompted by a dispute over property inheritance.

Liani-Papandreou said she had made no statements to any journalist, nor had she authorised any third party to speak for her, therefore any statements attributed to her in the press were "imaginary or fabricated."

With regard to a book she is about to publish, Papandreou's widow says it is "a book about Andreas Papandreou by his wife.. it's sole objective is to protect his memory and his place in history".

"If some people are seeking petty political dimensions (to the issue) or appearances on 'reality shows', let them look elsewhere," she concluded.

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.

Illegal sales of lambs as Easter nears

As Orthodox Holy Week begins, two instances of illegal sales of lambs have already been discovered.

A flock of 179 lambs smuggled over the border from Albania were found in Florina on their way to a slaughterhouse in the village of Lemos. Farmer George Reppas bought the animals in Albania and sold them to Lambros Lykomanis, of Trigono, Florina. The two men had obtained a false certificate of sale signed by the mayor of Antartiko, another village in the prefecture of Florina.

In Thessaloniki meanwhile, another 260 lambs were slaughtered without the required veterinary supervision, at a farm owned by Constantinos Asteriou, near Thessaloniki. The meat (about two tonnes) had been loaded onto a refrigerated truck owned by butcher Ioannis Marougas for transport to Athens where they were to be sold.

Humanitarian aid to Albania

A Greek air force C-130 left for Tirana today carrying the first instalment of 18 tonnes of food and medical aid for the Albanian people. The remainder is expected to be delivered over the next few days.

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.


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.


Monday's closing rates - buying

US dlr. 267.979 Pound sterling 437.988 Cyprus pd 527.665 French franc 46.691 Swiss franc 184.681 German mark 157.247 Italian lira (100) 15.881 Yen (100) 214.004 Canadian dlr. 191.833 Australian dlr. 208.241 Irish Punt 417.533 Belgian franc 7.634 Finnish mark 52.060 Dutch guilder 139.971 Danish kr. 41.327 Swedish kr. 35.154 Norwegian kr. 38.017 Austrian sch. 22.367 Spanish peseta 1.864 Portuguese escudo 1.563


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