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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 23/04/1997 (ANA)


  • Pangalos gives clarifications on committee of experts
  • Pangalos says Greece has not recalled its ambassador from Iran
  • Simitis concludes Austria visit
  • Premier to visit all EU member states by end of summer
  • Closer cooperation between Greece and Romania in combating crime
  • Pangalos: 'Committee of Experts' strictly of a procedural nature
  • Kranidiotis says: "Committee" should not cause concern
  • Albright-Van den Broek discuss Greek-Turkish issues, Cyprus
  • US State Dept. supports initiatives on Cyprus, Greek-Turkish issues
  • Greek troops arrive in Albania
  • Rwandan arrested for drugs
  • Weather
  • Greek team in Euroleague final
  • Foreign exchange


Pangalos gives clarifications on committee of experts

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today further clarified matters relating to the form, operation and objective of the Greek-Turkish committee of experts proposed by the Dutch EU presidency.

Pangalos reiterated the general political framework within which Athens is acting in order, as he said, "to ward off Turkish efforts to turn Greece into a country under its tutelage."

This framework, he said, consists in Turkey retracting its threat of war, accepting the legal framework which governs relations between the two countries and fixes their common borders and Ankara's recognising the International Court at the Hague as "a mechanism having jurisdiction for the settlement of bilateral differences."

Greece wishes to proceed to the normalisation of its relations with Turkey "with all sacrifices... on the condition that this does not impinge on our sovereign rights," Pangalos said.

The minister stressed that Greece was prepared to do whatever it must in order not to exacerbate bilateral relations.

Addressing those countries which have advised Greece to enter into a dialogue with Turkey in order to resolve differences, Pangalos said that "by itself, this procedure is not sufficient to solve the problems."

Turning to the Dutch EU presidency's proposal for the formation of a Greek- Turkish committee of experts to examine the procedural aspect of certain problems between the two countries, Pangalos stressed that "no problem will be recorded and consequently recognized as such unless there is agreement between the two sides."

In effect, this means that Athens is not prepared even to indirectly recognise all the so-called problems and the claims put forward by Turkey against Greece.

Pangalos expressed the view that the formation and functioning of the committee held no danger for Greece. On the contrary, he said, if some agreement were reached as to the recording of "certain mutually acceptable general rules of behaviour," this would constitute gain.

Explaining the manner in which the committee will function, Pangalos clarified that the two teams of experts would convey their views to the Dutch presidency which, after studying the respective texts, would note the points on which views converge.

At least in the present stage, he added, the two teams would not hold joint meetings but "will exchange their views as many times is necessary through the presidency."

Asked whether this was in line with what had been agreed during recent talks in Malta between Foreign Undersecretary George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen, Pangalos stressed that the two ministers had not reached any conclusive agreement but had merely exchanged ''thoughts and ideas'' which had been noted by both sides.

Pangalos said that the two ministers then returned to their countries and the various proposals were examined by the two governments.

"On this basis, Greece concluded with the shaping of an overall position concerning the Dutch proposal which it subsequently sent to the presidency, " he added.

Clarifying that Turkey had acted in similar fashion, Pangalos said the government expected the Dutch presidency to convey Ankara's views to Athens within the next few days.

Asked to explain the meaning and purpose of such a procedure, Pangalos said the Dutch presidency had requested "transparency of procedures" and Athens had no reason to refuse this.

"Of course, we believe that things are quite clear and require no further clarifications, but on the other hand, given that such a request was made, we do not think it is in any way prejudicial," he added.

Pangalos however left open the possibility of a joint meeting of the two groups of experts at some later stage provided "common ground" has been ascertained by the two sides.

"If common ground is indeed ascertained, it will be a significant political development and there will be no need for the experts to handle it since we shall have to handle it politically," Pangalos said.

Turning to the forthcoming EU-Turkey Association Council, Pangalos reiterated that the meeting had been convened on the responsibility of the Dutch presidency "and therefore there is no issue of the member-states giving their consent or not."

He underlined however that member-states could choose to agree or disagree with the text of the joint position.

Referring to the joint position of the "15" member-states prior to the Association Council meeting on 29 April, Pangalos said the views contained therein "cover the greater part of Greece's problems and positions."

On the economic aspect of the council, Pangalos reiterated that Greece "retains its veto" of the (fourth) financial protocol, adding that the lifting of the veto presupposed fulfilment by Ankara of the three conditions set by Athens.

"If Turkey declares that it retracts its threat of war, recognizes the institutional framework which determines the borders between the two countries and accepts international mechanisms of jurisdiction for the settlement of problems, then Greece will have no objection to consenting to the release of the financial protocol," Pangalos said.

Pangalos also reiterated that both during the council sessions and the dinner to be given by the Dutch presidency in honour of his Turkish counterpart, Tansu Ciller, he would have the opportunity for "a broad exchange of views and make an effort to approach the problems" with the Turkish foreign minister.

"This is what our partners expect of us also," he added.

Pangalos noted however that he would not be having a private meeting with Ciller in Luxembourg due to lack of time, but that such a meeting could take place on the sidelines of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation meeting in Istanbul the following day.

Pangalos says Greece has not recalled its ambassador from Iran

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today that Greece had not recalled its ambassador from Teheran, clarifying that the envoy had gone to Brussels to attend a meeting and was now in Athens on his regular leave.

Pangalos said the ambassador would return to his post in Iran immediately after Orthodox Easter celebrations this weekend.

The European Union presidency recently suggested that member-states should recall their ambassadors from Teheran after a German court accused Iranian political leaders of ordering the assassination of exiled Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.

Greece has expressed reservations on the necessity of the recall measure, drawing a reaction from Bonn, with the German foreign ministry expressing surprise at the fact that Greece was the only EU country not to recall its envoy from Iran.

Simitis concludes Austria visit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis concluded an official visit to Austria this morning after three days of talks that revealed coinciding views on major regional issues as well as a desire to expand economic and trade relations, both bilaterally and in other markets, the ANA's Vienna correspondent reports.

In the first visit by a Greek prime minister to Austria in fourteen years (the last was by Andreas Papandreou in 1983), the Austrian leadership was briefed on the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations, while emphasis was given to bilateral cooperation within the European Union, particularly in view of the Intergovernmental Conference. Agreement was reached on all major issues, while the desire was expressed for the two countries to work together to consolidate their interests and to secure their influence in future developments.

Simitis leaves Vienna this morning for an official visit to Germany, where he will remain until the end of this week.

Premier to visit all EU member-states by end of summer

Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that Greece's European Union partners were dealing with Athens positively despite the existence of certain difficulties. Mr. Simitis announced that he will visit all EU member-states by the end of the summer, with the exception of Denmark. Politics require discussion and an exchange of views, he noted.

Commenting on the working visit he has been paying to Austria since last Sunday, and due to end this morning with his departure for Bonn, Mr. Simitis said his purpose was the best coordination between the two countries within the framework of revising EU's Maastricht Treaty.

Mr. Simitis said Greece and Austria, being two smaller EU countries, have an interest in consolidating the interests of small countries and securing their influence in developments. To this end, he agreed with his Austrian interlocutors (Chancellor Vikt or Klima, Federal President Thomas Klestil, Parliament President Heinz Fischer and Deputy Chancellor and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schussel) on such issues as each country having one commissioner, while a common Greek-Austrian position exists on the process of decision-making.

The two countries also agree on a strong social policy for the EU and for this reason want a special chapter on employment included in the EU's new treaty.

Mr. Simitis said he also discussed the EU's future problems, such as Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), the avoidance of different speeds for countries and the problem of resources in relation to enlargement, because Greece maintains that structural pol icies must continue.

Mr. Simitis said that many common points of contact were found during his talks in Austria and this also applies to Greek national interests, where Austria supports Greek positions. This fact shows that every contact and understanding helps.

Closer cooperation between Greece and Romania in combating crime

Public Order Minister George Romeos held prolonged talks with visiting Romanian Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu yesterday and both agreed to closer cooperation between the police forces of the two countries in order to combat drug trafficking, organised cr ime and illegal immigration.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. Romeos stressed the immediate need for cooperation among Balkan countries. "Tripartite or even greater cooperations are necessary on some of the serious issues preoccupying our neighbouring countries, following the discussions he said.

Mr. Dejeu said his country was facing serious problems with economic reform and organised crime. "For this reason, cooperation with the other countries is necessary since we will have mutual information, cooperation and methods in this way to facilitate the effective handling of these problems," he said.

Pangalos: `committee of experts` strictly of a procedural nature

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that a proposed Greek- Turkish "committee of experts" would be of a "strictly procedural nature" and its objective would be "to ascertain whether there are misunderstandings on each side and to facilitate the procedures which might possibly arise."

Stressing that political will was required on the part of Ankara, Mr. Pangalos said that Athens intended to pursue with all means the settlement of problems within generally accepted frameworks, such as international law, the International Court at The Hague, respect for peace and refraining from the use of threats.

Mr. Pangalos was speaking to reporters after briefing main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on foreign policy issues.

"Turkey would be doing us no favours by having recourse to The Hague. In reality, it would be the action one would expect of a bad neighbour. A move illustrative of good intentions would be if Ankara abandoned its Imia claim and said 'we made a mistake, we recognise that Imia is Greek,' as indeed it is," Mr. Pangalos said.

After the 75-minute meeting, Mr. Karamanlis expressed concern and reservations about "the framework and content of government handling" with respect to the proposed committee of experts.

Mr. Karamanlis said ND would follow developments closely and impede any handling by the government which was not in the nation's best interests and led to increased tension in Greek-Turkish relations.

Kranidiotis says: "committee" should not cause concern

The setting up of a Greek-Turkish "committee of experts" should not be a source for concern since Athens follows a firm policy on Greek-Turkish relations, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis reiterated yesterday from Vienna, where he is accompanying the prime minister on his official visit.

The government has laid clear conditions for the normalisation of Greek- Turkish relations as well as regarding the EU-Turkey Association Council, Mr. Kranidiotis said.

He said Athens had suggested to the Dutch EU presidency that the committee aimed to clear certain procedural issues, stressing that "under no circumstances should the committee assume a character of dialogue and certainly not of arbitration."

"If created, the committee's work should be procedural and aimed at the exchange of ideas regarding the procedure which should proceed the resolution of Greek-Turkish issues," he added.

According to Mr. Kranidiotis, the committee would discuss the issues that each side considers as Greek-Turkish differences, "but Greece is especially cautious and does not consider that all the items on the Turkish list constitute Greek-Turkish differen ces.

"Greece," he said, "believes that the issue mainly concerns the continental shelf."

Albright-Van den Broek discuss Greek-Turkish issues, Cyprus

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek yesterday discussed the Greek-Turkish differences and the Cyprus problem at the US State Department.

Speaking to the ANA after the meeting, Mr. van den Broek declined to disclose any details of the discussion, saying only that Washington and Brussels agree on the need to improve the current situation, and are working towards this end.

"The European Union agrees with the US on the need to safeguard Turkey's western orientation, but we cannot overlook serious issues which must be resolved. We have a common interest to prevent an explosion in the Aegean, where things almost went out of control last year and, likewise, the situation in Cyprus, which became particularly tense last summer," he said.

He noted that the EU supports the current UN initiative on Cyprus "in this crucial year, as the start to negotiations for Cyprus' EU membership and presidential elections in the island republic approach".

"We would like direct talks before the end of the year. The UN, in combination with the US and the EU, are working on the political essense of the problem, which is the creation of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state. We in the European Commission have tried to send the message to the Turkish Cypriot community that Cypriot membership of the EU will confer significant benefits to them and to Turkey, and that the EU is prepared to help regarding their concern on the security issue and ties with Turkey, as long as the latter is not a member of the EU. But for a lifting of the impasse, there must be political will on the island itself," Mr. van den Broek said.

Regarding the Aegean, he expressed the view that "differences have been left as they are, because the rest of the world considers them a bilateral problem, but when things get out of hand, it will no longer be a bilateral problem, particularly when we are talking about two members of the same alliance".

US State Dept. supports initiatives on Cyprus, Greek-Turkish issues

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday that "the US supports all initiatives for progress (in Cyprus and on issues related to Greek-Turkish differences), but the responsibility lies with Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and the other parties involved in these differences."

Mr. Burns added that Secretary of State Albright has a keen interest in this part of the world.

Greek troops arrive in Albania

The Greek troopships Samos and Chios docked in the Albanian port of Durres at noon today with the main body of Greek forces participating in the multinational peace force overseeing the distribution of humanitarian aid.

The final 110 troops in the Greek contingent, along with another 73 military vehicles, leave from Thessaloniki for Durres on Tuesday 29 April, also aboard the Samos and Chios.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is to visit the Greek troops in Albania on Orthodox Easter Monday, 28 April.

Meanwhile, the second shipment of humanitarian aid from Greece to the people of Albania leaves for Tirana tomorrow aboard a Greek air force C- 130. The total amounts to 18 tonnes of food and medical aid.

Rwandan arrested for drugs

A Rwandan was arrested after he entered Greece at the Doirani border post in Kilkis this morning for smuggling into the country half a kilo of pure heroin which he had swallowed in the form of 50 egg-shaped pellets each weighing ten grammes.

The 30-year-old man, who bears a forged British passport identifying him as William Dendom, obtained the drugs in Istanbul and travelled to Greece via Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). He was due to fly to London to hand over the drugs. Police, acting on a tip-off, arrested him as he crossed the border by taxi.


Local Cloudiness and scattered showers are forecast for most parts of Greece today, especially in central, western and northern Greece and the Ionian Sea. Winds will be southwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures between 12-21C. Possible rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 7-15C.

Greek team in Euroleague final

The Olympiakos, Pireaus basketball team qualified for the final of the Euroleague last night after beating Slovenia's Olympia 74-65 in the Final Four semifinal (half-time 37-32). Olympiakos will play Barcelona on Thursday night in the final.


Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.893 Pound sterling 440.646 Cyprus pd 528.736 French franc 46.674 Swiss franc 184.418 German mark 157.430 Italian lira (100) 15.826 Yen (100) 214.044 Canadian dlr. 193.593 Australian dlr. 209.396 Irish Punt 419.418 Belgian franc 7.631 Finnish mark 52.326 Dutch guilder 141.225 Danish kr. 41.368 Swedish kr. 35.226 Norwegian kr. 38.285 Austrian sch. 22.374 Spanish peseta 1.868


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