Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-23
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Greek team in Euroleague final
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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German mark 157.430 Italian lira (100) 15.826
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