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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-22

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, 22/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 said.

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 western Thrace.

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 Lausanne Treaty.

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 duties.

"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, "Cevat".

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, codenamed 'Toxotis'.

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 Patriarchate's Cathedral.

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 http://www.epnet.gr

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 yesterday.

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 Greece.

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 sold.

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 said yesterday.

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 courses.

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 1998.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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