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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-29

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, 29/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece stands firm on EU-Turkey association agreement
  • Black Sea group meeting starts in Istanbul
  • Premier: Greece ready to improve relations with Turkey
  • Premier outlines targets of Greece's economy
  • Simitis invites Kohl to visit Greece
  • Pangalos Christens baby daughter of murdered Greek Cypriot
  • Defence Minister visits Greek troops stationed in Albania
  • Greece rated EU's poorest country
  • Greek Raiding Forces reservists to cross Aegean
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece stands firm on EU-Turkey association agreement

The European Union-Turkey Association Council convenes in Luxembourg today to be attended on behalf of Greece by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and on behalf of Turkey by Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller.

Greece, which is not opposed to Turkey's European orientation and pursues rapprochement with the neighbouring country and has made a series of goodwill gestures towards Ankara, has stated that it will not lift, at today's Association Council, its veto for the financial protocol unless Turkey responds to the preconditions set by the EU itself.

The Dutch EU presidency has made intensive efforts to have Ankara persuaded to make a statement with which it will accept the conditions set by the "15". The statement, if made, will have the nature of a positive response to the Greek side which has requested from Turkey respect for international treaties governing relations between Greece and Turkey and the lifting of threats of war and the use of force.

In the light of these developments and internal political fluidity in Turkey due to the feud between the generals and the government of Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, an exploratory meeting between Mr. Pangalos and Ms Ciller cannot be ruled out in Luxembourg today despite the fact that such a meeting has not been scheduled.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Ms Ciller and Mr. Pangalos which might be arranged at the last moment. Mr. Akbel said that the Dutch presidency is working actively to secure success for the session and added that "we are maintaining cooperation with the Netherlands and we believe that if there is support from the Greek side, the efforts might succeed."

Mr. Pangalos and Ms Ciller might meet in Istanbul tomorrow on the sidelines of the Black Sea Cooperation Organisation's session which started with the participation of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Greece.

Mr. Pangalos is expected to arrive in Istanbul tomorrow.

The session, under the sponsorship of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, is expected to be attended by senior officials from member-states, as well as the presidents of certain countries participating.

Black Sea group meeting starts in Istanbul

Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact started in Istanbul yesterday with the participation of Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Greece.

The meeting, under the sponsorship of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, is expected to be attended by senior officials from member-states, while the presidents of some of the countries participating are also expected. More than 600 people are expected in all.

The Turkish presidency started on October 25, 1996, and over this period a conference for Transport Ministers was organised in cooperation with the initiative group from central Europe. The role of Greece, being an important economy and a European Union member-state, as well as the role of Russia as a major power in the region, are emerging from the course of the Black Sea Cooperation Organisation's work.

Greece, Russia and Turkey, which took the initiative to establish the organisation, constitute the main poles of the emerging regional cooperation system, analysts say and stress the great potential contained in this regional cooperation. The meeting wi ll pay particular attention to energy, transport, telecommunications and environmental issues.

Premier: Greece ready to improve relations with Turkey

Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated on Friday that Greece would, subject to conditions, be willing to discuss issues with Turkey at a bilateral level aimed at improving the climate of relations between the two countries.

At the same time, the premier underlined the preconditions for such a dialogue, namely that Turkey abandons all threats or use of force and accepts "the activation of an international body with jurisdiction" for resolving differences.

Mr. Simitis made clear however that the party whose territorial integrity was being disputed did not have any obligation to enter into negotiations.

On the contrary, he said, the party which puts forward the relevant claims is obliged to have recourse to the International Court at the Hague and await its decision.

The premier was addressing an audience at Marburg University where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Premier outlines targets of Greece's economy

Prime Minuister Costas Simitis said in a speech at Marburg University in Germany that the Greek government's economic convergence programme being implemented since 1996, would gradually lead Greece by 1998 to the fulfilment of conditions for the country's accession to EMU.

Mr. Simitis based this assessment on the Greek economy's progress during the last three years, particularly the curtailment of the public deficit by 6.5 per cent, the drop in inflation from 12 per cent in December 1993 to 6.8 per cent in February 1997 and the rate of growth of GDP which now stands at 2.5 per cent, from -1 per cent in 1993. The premier noted that this progress had been achieved without any wage freezes or dramatic increase in unemployment.

Among the government's targets for 1997, Mr. Simitis said, was a further drop in the public deficit to 4.2 per cent, GDP growth of 3 per cent and inflation of 5 per cent.

Although the prospects for the Greek economy were good, Mr. Simitis told his audience, the country's increased defence spending may place pressure on the main indicators of public finances.

Premier Simitis concluded a six day visit to Germany yesterday with talks with the Prime Minister of the Federal State of Essen Hans Eichel and a dinner with local industrialists, businessmen and bankers.

Simitis invites Kohl to visit Greece

Prime Minister Costas Simitis has extended an invitation to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to pay an official visit to Greece which has been accepted. Mr. Kohl has never officially visited Greece during his 14 years in office. According to informed sources the visit might take place this year.

In an interview to the German radio DLF Mr. Simitis rejected criticism addressed to Greece by Germany for failing to recall the Greek ambassador from Tehran when the verdict was issued on the murder of four Kurd politicians in Berlin, attributing respon sibility to the Iranian leadership for having given instructions to the perpetrators.

Mr. Simitis exercised criticism over the hasty character of recalling ambassadors which was demanded by Germany, as well as for the absence of necessary processes in the framework of the European Union in connection with the issue.

Pangalos christens baby daughter of murdered Greek Cypriot

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, state officials, political leaders and hundreds of people attended yesterday the christening of Anastasia Isaac, 8-month old daughter of a Greek Cypriot brutally beaten to death last summer by Turkish extremists.

Mr. Pangalos went to Cyprus on Sunday to represent the Greek government, which has undertaken the child's upbringing.

Anastasia, which literally means resurrection in Greek, was given her father's name during a ceremony at the church of Agios Georgios, in the south-eastern coastal town Paralimni, attended by hundreds of Greek Cypriots who had watched Tasos' brutal murder on TV.

The Greek minister called on all countries dealing with the Cyprus problem not to accept the fait accompli on the island.

He reiterated Greek support and said Athens will continue its efforts for a peaceful and viable solution to the Cyprus question.

Mr. Pangalos also called on everyone to continue working towards the "resurrection" of the island, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

Tasos, 24, was killed by Turkish extremists during a peaceful anti- occupation march on August 11, 1996, and his daughter was born September 17. Mr. Pangalos was returned to Athens last night.

Defence Minister visits Greek troops stationed in Albania

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday visited Greek troops of the multinational aid protection force in Albania, on the occasion of the Orthdox Easter.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos arrived in Tirana in the afternoon and visited Greek troops stationed near the Albanian capital.

Due to bad weather conditions, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos cancelled his trip to the southern port of Vlore where a company of the Greek contingent is stationed.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also met with Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino and his Albanian counterpart as well with Orthodox Archbishop Anastassios.

Mr. Fino extended an invitation to Mr. Tsohatzopolulos to pay an official visit to the neighbouring country. The date of the visit will be set through diplomatic channels.

The two men discussed issues related to the multinational force.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is scheduled to meet in Rome today with his Italian counterpart on the Albanian issue.

Greece rated EU's poorest country

Greece is the poorest country in the 15-nation European Union and Luxembourg the richest, while Epirus is the poorest region in the EU and Hamburg the richest.

This data was included in the special bulletin published by the EU statistical service on the "rich and poor" in the EU with data referring to 1994.

The bulletin stated that in 1994 the average income per capita in the EU in Ecu and Agricultural Potential Units (APU) amounted to 16,644. On the basis of 100 for the EU, Greece has an income per capita of 65 (7,193 in Ecu and 10,799 in APU). Portugal h ad an income per capita of 67 (7,224 in Ecu and 11,348 in APU), while Luxembourg has an income per capita of 169 (30,446 in Ecu and 28,069 in APU).

Eight regions in the EU exceed the average income per capita 1.5 times. Epirus is the poorest region with an income per capita of 43 (5,211 Ecu and 7,112 APU), followed by the French overseas territory, the Azores and the Northern Aegean.

Greek Raiding Forces reservists to cross Aegean

For the third consecutive year, reservists of the Greek Raiding Forces will cross the Aegean in inflated boats with the help of the Association of Open Sea Yachtsmen.

According to the programme, 70 reservists in 12 inflated boats, capable of speeds of up to 40 mph in calm seas, will leave Sounion for Alexandroupoli from where they will sail for Kastellorizo on May 2.

The crossing of 1,100 nautical miles is part of celebrations marking the surrender in 1945 of the last units of Nazi armies in Europe, according to Lt. General (Ret.) Nikolaos Mangafossis, President of the Raiding Forces and Sacred Regiment Veterans.

The celebrations will culminate on May 8 in Rhodes, where the boats will arrive on their return trip from Kastellorizo.

After setting out from Alexandroupoli, the boats will stop at Samothrace, Lemnos, Aghios Efstratios, Plomari in Mitylini, Psara, Chios, Samos, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi, Leros, Kalymnos, Psarimos, Nisyros, Tilos, Chalki, Rhodes and finally, Ro on Kastellorizo.

WEATHER

Unstable weather with local cloudiness and sporadic rain with some sunny spells is forecast for most parts of Greece today, especially in the western regions. Moderate southerly winds. Athens will be partly cloudy with possible rain in the afternoon and temperatures between 112-21C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with local rain and temperatures between 10- 17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.717 Pound sterling 438.325 Cyprus pd 529.113 French franc 46.719 Swiss franc 184.631 German mark 157.500 Italian lira (100) 15.881 Yen (100) 214.609 Canadian dlr. 193.896 Australian dlr. 209.957 Irish Punt 418.128 Belgian franc 7.640 Finnish mark 52.467 Dutch guilder 140.060 Danish kr. 41.319 Swedish kr. 35.315 Norwegian kr. 38.321 Austrian sch. 22.382 Spanish peseta 1.871 Portuguese escudo 1.570

(C.E.)


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