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