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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-24

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, 24/04/1997 (ANA)

MAIN NEWS HEADLINES

  • Athens' views on Greek-Turkish experts' committee
  • COREPER prepares for Association Council meeting
  • Commission sees Greece out of EMU start, despite improvements
  • Albanian premier's hopes for multinational force
  • Greek Ambassador not recalled from Tehran
  • High court circular against racial discrimination
  • Simitis-Kohl meeting in Bonn today
  • Halkidiki hotel information bureau
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Athens' views on Greek-Turkish experts' committee

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday further clarified form, operation and objective of the Greek-Turkish committee of experts proposed by the Dutch EU presidency. Mr. 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 of Turkey retracting its threat of war, accepting the legal framework which governs relations between the two countries and determines their common borders and Ankara's recognising of the International Court at the Hague as "a judicial mechanism having jurisdiction for the settlement of bilateral differences."

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

    The foreign minister stressed that Greece was prepared to do whatever it must in order not to exacerbate bilateral relations, but noted that "by itself, (a dialogue) is not sufficient to solve the problems."

    Turning to the Dutch EU presidency's proposal for a Greek-Turkish committee of experts to study bilateral problems, Mr. Pangalos stressed that "no problem will be recorded and consequently recognised as such, unless there is agreement between the two sides."

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

    Mr. Pangalos also expressed a 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," t his would constitute a gain.

    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 (EU) presidency."

    Asked whether this was in line with what had been agreed during recent talks in Malta between Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen, Mr. Pangalos stressed that the two ministers had not reached any conclusive agreement but had merely exchanged "thoughts and ideas".

    Mr. Pangalos said the government expected the Dutch presidency to convey Ankara's views to Athens within the next few days.

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

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

    On the economic aspects of the council session, Mr. Pangalos reiterated that Greece "retains its veto'' on the (fourth) financial protocol, adding that the lifting of the veto presupposed fulfillment by Ankara of the three conditions set by Athens.

    "If Turkey declares that it retracts its threat of war, recognises the institutional framework which determines 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," Mr. Pangalos said.

    COREPER prepares for Association Council meeting

    Meanwhile, the Commission of Permanent Diplomatic Representatives of EU members (COREPER) in Brussels yesterday continued discussions of the joint position on financial matters, to be presented at the Association Council meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

    According to reports, the 15 EU countries agreed on the text regarding the EU's political position towards Turkey, but many issues regarding the financial position remain open.

    Athens' representative said the government is not prepared to endorse the statement which would mean accepting the economic cooperation between the EU and Turkey.

    Under this cooperation, Turkey would receive financial aid amounting to Ecu375 million.

    Greece will not endorse the statement if the Dutch EU presidency does not receive a reply from Ankara on the EU's already stated Common Political and Economic position, which would ensure Greek interests in its relations with Turkey.

    Commission sees Greece out of EMU start, despite improvements

    The European Commission's report on European Union member-states' economic policies, unveiled here yesterday,noted that despite recent progress, efforts should be more than doubled to achieve convergence programme targets in relation to inflation, the public deficit and national debt.

    The European Commission ascertained that in connection with the "crucial" criterion of the fiscal deficit for entry into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in 1997 13 of the 15 EU member-states will fulfill the condition concerning its decrease to below 3 per cent of GDP set by the Maastricht Treaty and two will not, Greece and Italy.

    However, indicative of the progress achieved by the Greek economy is the decision taken by the Commission yesterday to lift the threat it had made against Greece, Spain and Portugal to suspend financing by the Cohesion Fund, ascertaining that these three countries ultimately succeeded last year in decreasing their fiscal deficits to levels set out in their convergence programmes with the remaining European economies.

    Greece's deficit decreased to 7.4 per cent of GDP (the convergence programme anticipated 7.6 per cent), Portugal's to 4.1 per cent (the target was 4.3 per cent), while Spain achieved its target exactly, which was a decrease to 4.4 per cent.

    The report anticipates that in Greece inflation will decrease to 6 per cent in 1997 and 4.8 per cent in 1998 (exceeding targets set in the convergence programme). The public deficit, as a percentage of GDP, will drop to 4.9 per cent in 1997 and 3.4 per c ent in 1998, while the public debt, again as a percentage of GDP, will amount to 108.3 per cent in 1997 and 104.9 per cent in 1998.

    Albanian premier's hopes for multinational force

    Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said yesterday that he is relying on the support of the multinational force in Albania for a blow to be dealt to criminal gangs which "use weapons for obscure purposes."

    In an interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA), Mr. Fino also appears to be hoping for some type "Marshall plan" to bring Albania into a European orbit.

    He listed the imposition of order, procurement of foodstuffs by certain regions and the functioning of local authority structures as his country's main problems. He also placed importance on the preparing for general elections.

    Mr. Fino further said that the immediate response by the international community, including the European Union, the OSCE and the UN, shows its great concern over events in Albania.

    "I am optimistic, however, that this time the aid provided by international organisations and friendly countries will reach a level allowing for Albania's full recovery at all levels, both institutional and economic. There is also word of a 'Marshall pl an' for Albania which would place the country in a smooth and irreversible European orbit," he said.

    Mr. Fino said the problem of disarming the people will remain for quite a long time, adding that he saw no threat posed by the majority of armed citizens.

    Greek Ambassador not recalled from Tehran

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

    Mr. Pangalos said the ambassador would return to his post in Tehran immediately after the Easter holiday this weekend.

    The European Union presidency recently suggested that member-states should recall their ambassadors from Tehran in solidarity to Bonn, after a German court accused Iranian political leaders of ordering the assassination of several exiled Kurdish disside nts 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.

    High court circular against racial discrimination

    Supreme Court prosecutor Ilias Spyropoulos has addressed a circular to appeals court prosecutors throughout the country underlining legal clauses against racial discrimination on the occasion of 1997 being proclaimed the European year against racism by th e European Union.

    The circular highlights the many provisions against racial discrimination in general, which have already been incorporated in Greek law, such as the European Human Rights Treaty, the UN treaty on the prevention and suppression of genocide, the internati onal treaty abolishing all racial discrimination and the European Social Charter, which rules that there should be no discrimination regarding sex, race, colour and religion.

    Mr. Spyropoulos ordered the strict implementation of these clauses, adding that in the event of disputes concerning the interpretation of international agreements, discussions should be organised by the heads of appeals and first instance courts.

    Simitis-Kohl meeting in Bonn today

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in Frankfurt yesterday from Vienna to begin his six-day visit to Germany, which is both of a private and of an official nature.

    In Bonn today he is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou is also expected in Bonn today.

    Mr. Simitis is also scheduled to meet with German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel following the latter's request, during his stay in Bonn, German diplomatic sources said.

    According to the same sources, Mr. Kinkel is to visit the Greek premier informally in the Greek embassy to be briefed "first hand" on the Greek government's plans regarding Greek-Turkish relations.

    The presence of Turkish opposition leader Mesut Yilmaz in Bonn tomorrow and his scheduled talks with Mr. Kinkel underline Germany's particular interest in an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, which could lead to Greece lifting its veto on EU fundi ng to Turkey.

    Halkidiki hotel information bureau

    An information bureau has been opened at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport by the Hoteliers' Union of Halkidiki, offering information on the region as well as hotel reservations and all special offers available. The bureau will be open every day until the end of September from 9.30am to 7.00pm.

    WEATHER

    Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today, especially in the western and northern regions of the country, Crete and the Dodecanese. Possibility of showers in the north. Winds will be northwesterly, weak to moderate. Almost fair weather in Athens where temperatures will range between 9-19C. May rain in the afternoon in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 7-16C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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. 193.539 Australian dlr. 209.396 Irish Punt 419.418 Belgian franc 7.631 Finnish mark 52.326 Dutch guilder 140.016 Danish kr. 41.368 Swedish kr. 35.226 Norwegian kr. 38.285 Austrian sch. 22.374 Spanish peseta 1.868 Portuguese escudo 1.570

    (Y.B.)


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