Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-22
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 22/04/1997 (ANA)
- Greece, Austria ascertain coincidence of views on most issues
- Stephanopoulos lauds CoE support during dictatorship
- President calls on neighbours to respect Greek minority rights
- Romanian agriculture minister holds talks in Greece
- Stolen coast guard patrol vessel returned
- Government on Cyprus overflights issue
- Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch services on Internet
- Encouraging estimates for '97 tourist season
- Several conferences set to be held in Crete
- Bank of Greece cites importance of monetary stability
- Steam engine line on old Athens-Lavrio rail
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece, Austria ascertain coincidence of views on most issues
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who kicked off a three-day official visit to
Austria yesterday with talks with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, said
there had been a broad coincidence of views on most issues discussed.
The talks centred on the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC). Both sides
stated their belief that the federal character of the EU must be maintained,
and for this reason small countries, such as Greece and Austria, must
continue to play their current role.
Mr. Simitis stressed that he and the Austrian chancellor had agreed that
the particular attention paid to economic indicators today should not be
restricted only to them.
"There must be a new effort for employment and a relevant chapter, as well
as relevant policies, in the new Treaty," he said.
Regarding Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the negotiations for
enlargement, both men agreed that the same rules must apply to the two
groups of countries that may join at different times.
Mr. Simitis said that they also discussed issues related to Turkey and
Ankara's relations with the EU, as well as the Cyprus issue, establishing
that there must be respect for international law and treaties.
Mr. Simitis said that progress in Turkey-EU relations, to be discussed at a
scheduled EU Association Council meeting on 28-29 April in Luxembourg,
would depend on Ankara agreeing to renounce the use of violence, conform to
International Law provisions a nd state that it would refer all its claims
and demands to the International Court at The Hague.
Mr. Simitis, who is accompanied by Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos
Kranidiotis, also met with Austrian President Thomas Klestil, as well as
Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel. The prime minister
leaves on a working visit to Germany tomorrow.
Stephanopoulos lauds CoE support during dictatorship
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos addressed a plenary session
of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg yesterday,
focusing on the CoE's positive role during the seven-year dictatorship in
Greece and its efforts to defend human rights. He also referred at length
to Greek-Turkish relations.
"I come before the Council of Europe with great respect, an organisation
defending the great ideals of democracy, individual and social rights, as
well as peaceful cohabitation and cooperation among countries," he
President calls on neighbours to respect Greek minority rights
Commenting on the question of minorities, he placed special emphasis on the
attention Greece pays to the issue of the rights of the Moslem minority in
He said the minority fully enjoys all privileges related to the teaching of
the Turkish language and the exercising of Islamic worship under the 1923
Mr. Stephanopoulos said the Moslem minority in western Thrace is the only
moslem group all over Europe, including Turkey, which is governed by the
Islamic law "Sharia", in connection with issues regarding family and
inheritance. He added that the law was applied by the minority's religious
leaders, the muftis, who are invested with certain judicial and administrative
"Greece would be pleased if its neighbours equally honoured their
corresponding commitments towards the Greek minority. Had this been the
case, its members in Constantinople (Istanbul) l would have been more than
the Moslems in Thrace, who currently number 115 to 120,000, instead of
totalling only 2,000 people, mostly elderly. This terrible shrinking is the
result of repeated and violent persecutions which they experienced during
the years between 1955 and 1964 and the state of fear under which they live,
as also mentioned in the reports of the Helsinki Watch organisation.
Likewise, the Greek population on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos,
instead of being limited to 200 to 300 elderly people, would amount today
to about 10,000 people and would enjoy the special status of administrative
autonomy anticipated by Article 14 of the Treaty of Lausanne.
"In addition, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the centre of Orthodox
Christians around the world, would not have been obliged to close its
printing office and its academy of theology," he said.
President Stephanopoulos said that Greece, being a Balkan country, is
particularly concerned by developments in the Balkans and especially by
recent events in Albania, as well as by difficulties faced by countries
such as Romania and Bulgaria in passing to a free market economy, adding
that these countries should be supported by European Union programmes.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, he said that peaceful coexistence in
southeastern Europe is threatened by "the systematic refusal of Turkey to
accept existing international law."
"Another well-known example of arbitrariness is Turkey's position in Cyprus,
where Turkish troops have been occupying the northern part of the Republic
of Cyprus for 20 years," he added.
He said Greece wishes a normalisation in its relations with Turkey, adding
that this wish "cannot reach the point of waiving rights of a sovereign
nature recognised for it by international law".
"Greece has proposed a step-by-step process which, through resorting to the
international court at The Hague, would certainly lead to a normalisation
of relations," he added.
Romanian agriculture minister holds talks in Greece
Agriculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis met yesterday with the
Romanian Agriculture Minister, Dinu Gavrilescu, who is on an official visit
to Greece. The two men discussed issues related to Greek-Romanian
agricultural cooperation and highlighted wha t they called the very good
economic and political relations between Athens and Bucharest.
Stolen coast guard patrol vessel returned
An inflatable coast guard speed-boat stolen early Sunday morning from
Preveza's port was surrendered yesterday to Greek authorities in the
Albanian port of Sarande.
The vessel was surrendered by suspected members of an Albanian organised
crime gang, following the intervention of Albanian Human Rights Party
deputy Thomas Mitsos and the leader of the insurgents in Sarande,
The vessel was towed toward Corfu, and was delivered to port officials in
international waters last night.
Government on Cyprus overflights issue
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that it is at the
discretion of the Cypriot government whether overflights of Greek fighters
will be included in an upcoming Greece-Cyprus joint military exercise,
He added that the exercise does not include such flights, but there is no
moratorium in force or restriction.
Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch services on Internet
All those connected to the Internet will have the opportunity to hear
extracts of Holy Week church services recorded in the Ecumenical Orthodox
The extracts will be broadcast via the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Internet
server, operating since last February.
Georgios Anogeianakis, a professor of the Thessaloniki University, which is
responsible for the linkup, stressed the importance of the broadcast,
saying it has "primary religious significance as it is very important for
Orthodoxy to enter every place on Earth and touch members of the same
religion and of other religions. But there is also the social dimension, as
all Orthodox churches all over the world, are liked through the Internet.
More than 20,000 people have visited the server site. The address is
The site includes manuscripts and 103 icons which can be reproduced.
Encouraging estimates for `97 tourist season
This year's tourist season is expected to see an over all increase of
roughly 5 per cent in tourist arrivals compared to last year, Greek
National Tourism Organisation (EOT) officials told a conference in Athens
Tour operators based in Germany cited encouraging messages regarding an
increase in arrivals from that country, expected to rise by roughly 7 to 10
per cent. The main destinations appear to be Crete, Rhodes, Halkidiki,
Mykonos and Santorini. Corfu, however, appears to be facing problems, due
to the crisis in neighbouring Albania.
A slight increase of British tourists has also been predicted. This is
thought to be partly due to the appreciation of the pound sterling against
the drachma, making the Greek tourist package cheaper.
Visitors from Scandinavian countries are expected to total approximately 1,
040,000, up from 1,024,000 last year.
In 1996, 20 per cent more Americans visited Greece than in the previous
year, and a similar increase is expected for 1997. Preferred destinations
for US tourists are Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes and northern
Half of all American visitors to Greece are from the US East Coast, 30 per
cent are from the central US and 20 per cent from the West Coast. The
average American tourist spends 13 days in the country and spends 450,000
drachmas, excluding the price of t he holiday package.
For the first time since 1990, Canadians are expected to return to Greece
in the same numbers. The original prediction of a 14 per cent increase in
arrivals from Canada has already been exceeded - 75 per cent of charter
flight seats of the two largest Canadian tour operators have already been
Several conferences set to be held in Crete
A series of conferences are to be held in Crete over the next few months
aimed to coordinate efforts in view of the forthcoming tourist season,
Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) Secretary General Nikos Skoulas
Meanwhile, the German tour operator TUI is to present its international
programme to 2,500 travel agents on Crete in October, following an
agreement reached between Mr. Skoulas and TUI's consultant director.
The Golf Federation is also expected to hold its international conference
this November in Crete, where EOT is planning to create four golf
Mr. Skoulas has called on the heads of EOT offices abroad to invite large
foreign tourist organisations to hold events in Greece.
Bank of Greece cites importance of monetary stability
A further drop in inflation aimed at achieving conditions of monetary
stability remains the primary goal of Greece's monetary policy, Bank of
Greece sources said yesterday.
The same sources said inflation is expected to drop to 4.5 per cent by the
end of the year. They added that a further drop in inflation would be
pursued next year with inflation projected to fall to 3 per cent in
The statements were made a day before Bank of Greece Governor Loukas
Papadimos is due to present a report on Greece's monetary policy.
Achieving monetary stability is one of the conditions which Greece has to
meet in order to participate in the European Monetary Union (EMU).
Steam engine line on old Athens-Lavrio rail
A small steam-driven train is to run from Kalyvia to Kouvara in Keratea on
the old Athens to Lavrio rail line every weekend starting on May Day.
The initiative for re-opening the line was taken by the "Friends of the
Railway" group in cooperation with the Kalyvia community. The four
kilometre-long stretch of tracks will eventually connect the area of
Markopoulo with Lavrio through the steam train.
The effort, funded by the environment, town planning and public works
ministry is aimed at informing the public on the establishment of this
environmentally-friendly means of transport.
Strong winds, cloudy skies and scattered showers are forecast for most
parts of Greece today especially in the Ionian and northern Aegean seas.
Winds will be southerly, strong to gale force. Athens will be partly cloudy
with possible drizzle and temperatures between 14-20C. Same in Thessaloniki
with temperatures between 9-16C.
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 157.401 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