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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-30

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, 30/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece maintains veto on EU funds to Turkey
  • Common position by the EU '15'
  • Pangalos in Istanbul for BSEC summit
  • ND criticises government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Government to initiate process of social dialoge on May 14
  • Torrential rain in Athens causes extensive flooding
  • EU Commission President to visit Mt. Athos
  • Greek-Italian military coordination in Albania discussed
  • Public transport fares, mobile phone dues to increase
  • Eurostat service for media professionals
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece maintains veto on EU funds to Turkey

Greece yesterday maintained its veto on a European Union aid package to Turkey, continuing to block aid worth Ecu375 million until Ankara stopped threatening Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said Turkey had not taken the necessary steps allowing Greece to change its stance.

"Greece is facing a bilateral relations problem with Turkey, which is based on the fact that Turkey does not withdraw its threat of war, which the Turkish National Assembly has unanimously endorsed, in the event that Greece extends its territorial wate rs to 12 (nautical) miles in the Aegean, " Mr. Pangalos said.

"Turkey does not have the right to threaten," he noted, adding that "Turkey should realise that the problems it may have in relation to the Aegean must be resolved on the basis of the existing international law and international treaties, such as the Lausanne Treaty, the Italy-Turkey 1932 Agreement, the Italy-Greece 1947 Agreement and the Law of the Sea."

Mr. Pangalos said the Greek positions had not been accepted by the Turkish side, "mainly because Turkey is not capable of sorting out its domestic problems in relation to the course that it must follow."

"Certain circles," Mr. Pangalos said, "think that Turkey can exercise a hegemonic policy at Greece's expense" and continue to maintain an "imperial perception of their country's destiny."

The Greek foreign minister said he accepted a Dutch EU presidency proposal for the creation of two experts committees, a Greek and a Turkish one, which until June will communicate with each other via the Dutch presidency and after that through the Luxembourg presidency.

The committees will form the framework for talks on Greek-Turkish differences.

Common position by the EU '15'

The Council's common text, which was presented last night to Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, contains many references to Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

Specifically, it is mentioned that the strengthening of relations between the European Union and Turkey depends primarily on three factors:

Firstly, an improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey through the settlement of issues concerning them on the basis of international law, including mechanisms such as the International Court at The Hague, as well as through relations of good neighbourliness and the rejection of the threat or use of force. Secondly, an improvement in the situation of human rights in Turkey and, thirdly, respect for human rights and the finding of a political solution to the Kurdish problem.

On the Cyprus issue, the common position of the "15" said:

"On the question of Cyprus, the European Union's Council took a decision on March 6, 1995, on the start to accession negotiations with Cyprus in the framework of wider discussions also concerning Turkey. The Council decided that the negotiations with Cyprus will start six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference in accordance with its outcome. The Council stressed that the accession of Cyprus should be beneficial for all the communities on the island and will contribute to intercommunal peace and reconciliation.

" The Union is convinced that a solution to the Cyprus problem is urgent on this basis to delete the cause of continuous tension in Cyprus and the region. The lack of progress will be to the detriment of Turkey, the EU and relations between them.

"The Union urges Turkey to participate in the effort to find a solution together with the other countries through negotiations with direct talks between the sides this summer."

Speaking to German reporters, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the accession of Turkey to the EU is not predictable in the near future for four reasons, namely, tension in Greek-Turkish relations; its economic problems; problems faced by the Kurds and problems in Turkey's human rights situation.

Pangalos in Istanbul for BSEC summit

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos arrived at Istanbul airport this morning from Luxembourg to attend a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact meeting today, according to a report from the ANA's Istanbul correspondent.

Pangalos told reporters that he had a "substantial" meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller in Luxembourg last night, adding however that the discussion did not result in any progress towards satsifying conditions set by Pangalos for progress in Greek-Turkish relations.

"While there is life there is hope," added the Greek Minister, with regard to future prospects of talks with Turkey.

On her return to Istanbul from Luxembourg, the Turkish Foreign Minister said there was still some leeway for a step by step improvement in Greek- Turkish relations.

In statements to the Turkish press, Ciller said that Greece's veto continued to prevent the release of (EU) funds to Turkey, but that Turkey "could live without" the European aid package.

''We believe that the two countries will find the way to peaceful relations and cooperation which will be to the benefit of both peoples,'' Pangalos said after talks with Ciller, according to a later ANA despatch from Istanbul.

The meeting at an Istanbul hotel was held on the sidelines of the Black Sea regional cooperation forum.

Pangalos also reiterated Greece's belief that Turkey's place is in Europe.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) meeting was attended by foreign ministers or senior ministry officials from the organisation's 11 member- states, namely Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Armenia.

ND criticises government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations

The government said today that Turkey's inability to respond to Greece's proposal for dialogue subject to conditions illustrated the groundlessness of its claims and the aggressive nature of Ankara's foreign policy.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was replying to criticism from the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party concerning the government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations.

Reppas reiterated the prerequisites set by Athens for a Greek-Turkish dialogue, namely that Ankara rejects the use and threat of force, respects international law and international treaties and uses the procedures of the International Court at the Hague for the settlement of any differences.

Turkey's inability to respond to this proposal, Reppas said, illustrated the groundlessness of Ankara's claims.

Earlier, ND charged that the government was being enticed into a form of dialogue with Turkey without fulfilment of the prerequisites which the main opposition party has repeatedly urged.

''Greek reservations concerning the release of EU funds to Turkey are being neutralised by the formation of the committee of experts,'' ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

Greece and Turkey yesterday agreed to appoint two non-governmental personalities each to examine Greek-Turkish relations. The agreement was announced in Luxembourg at the end of the EU-Turkey Association Council meeting at which Athens maintained its veto of EU financial aid to Turkey.

''A serious dialogue presupposes a credible interlocutor,'' Spiliotopoulos said, adding that ''the political instability and manifest confusion in Turkey evidence the existence of many and conflicting power centres in the neighbouring country''.

As a result, Spiliotopoulos said, the Greek government did not know which centre would guarantee Ankara's adherence to any obligations it might undertake.

Reppas countered saying it was ''ridiculous'' for ND to play the role of accuser because ''when it was in power (1990-1993), its leadership and cadres proclaimed the need for Greek-Turkish dialogue without any terms and prerequisites''.

The spokesman clarified that the ''committee of experts'' to be formed would deal only with procedural matters and its findings would not be binding on either side.

''The operation of the committee does not constitute political dialogue, nor any kind of negotiation whatsoever. On the contary, it constitutes an effective way to reveal Turkey's policy and confront it in a determined and substantiated manner,'' Reppas said.

''We hope however that the process will prove to be beneficial for both countries, provided Turkey adapts itself to the principles of the EU and international law and order,'' he added.

Government to initiate process of social dialoge on May 14

The government decided today to officially initiate the process of social dialogue on May 14 with a meeting of ministers and government officials and the participation of representatives of social bodies, to be chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Announcing the decision, which was taken at a meeting this morning presided over by Simitis, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou declined to elaborate on the content of the government's views on social dialogue.

Attending today's meeting, which lasted 90 minutes, were ruling PASOK party Secretary, Costas Skandalides, Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office, George Paschalides and Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopappas.

Torrential rain in Athens causes extensive flooding

Torrential rain in Athens today caused flooding of basement flats and stores and put traffic lights out of order on a number of streets in the capital.

Worst hit were the suburbs of Glyfada, Voula, Ilioupolis and Argyroupolis, where the level of water on many streets was over 40 centimetres.

The fire brigade received dozens of calls for assistance, provided by ten teams of firemen.

In the seaside suburb of Voula, drains quickly became blocked, causing extensive flooding of roads which immobilized many cars. Traffic chaos in the district was made worse by the fact that traffic lights at many junctions malfunctioned.

The rain was also responsible for a pile-up in Kifissos involving three trucks and three cars. Fortunately no one was injured.

EU Commission President to visit Mt. Athos

European Commission President Jacques Santer is to visit the monastic community of Mt. Athos at the end of next week. According to sources in Thessaloniki, Santer is to fly to Karyes by helicopter on 10 May accompanied by National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas, and possibly by Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis.

There are currently three EU-funded programmes in progress at Mt. Athos for the maintenance and repair of the historic buildings. The provisional programme for Santer's visit includes a meeting with members of the community and a tour of the Megisti Lavra and Vatopedi monasteries.

Santer's visit to Greece is scheduled to coincide with events celebrating "Europe Day", which he will be attending for the first time. On May 9, 1950, then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman began the process that led to the creation of the European Union.

Also on May 9, Santer is to address the general assembly of the Industrialists Association of Northern Greece.

Greek-Italian military coordination in Albania discussed

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday discussed cooperation and coordination in efforts between Greece and Italy in Albania with his Italian counterpart, Beniamino Andreata.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday's meeting provided the opportunity for the terms of a successful cooperation to be discussed regarding the effectiveness of the multinational force in Albania and, in parallel, confirmation of the good cooperation between the military forces of Greece and Italy in the common effort in Albania.

"We ascertained the need for closer cooperation to enable us to contribute to the success of the targets of the European Union and the OSCE, concerning the successful holding of elections in Albania," he said.

Public transport fares, mobile phone dues to increase

Taxi fares, mobile telephone and postage dues, railway and bus tickets will increase over the next two months.

Specifically, increases of up to 50 per cent (in summoning radio taxis) will take effect for taxi fares as of May 1. The single tariff will increase to 62 drachmas from 58 and the double tariff to 200 from 113. The largest increase will concern calls for radio taxis, with an ordinary call increasing to 300 drachmas from 200, while a pre-arranged appointment rises to 400 drachmas from 300.

The starting price (200 drachmas), the chronometrical cost (2,000) and fares from airports and ports (300) remain unchanged.

Additionally, a fare from bus and railway stations will decrease to 150 drachmas from 160 as well as the cost for carrying luggage exceeding 10kg to 50 drachmas from 55.

As of tomorrow, mobile telephony dues (the average increase will be about 4 per cent) for the mobile telephony supplier Telestet will also increase.

Similar increases will also apply for the mobile telephony dues of the Panafon firm, as of May 12.

Lastly, at peak hours for the "City" package, local calls will be charged 84 drachmas per minute (from 80); national calls 250 drachmas per minute; from one mobile phone to a mobile phone 117 drachmas per minute (from 112) and for non-peak hours 84 drachmas (from 80) per minute.

As of July 1 increases of up to 25 per cent will be implemented for postal dues, 15 per cent for railway fares and 35 per cent for urban bus tickets (100 drachmas from 75).

Eurostat service for media professionals

The European Commission has created a statistical information service through Eurostat, aimed to assist journalists and the media.

The information service will be provided free of charge after an application, with an Ecu200 limit per application. It will provide information on issues concerning general statistical data, economic and financial matters, population and social conditions, energy and industry, commerce, services and transport, the environment, research and development.

Professionals interested in obtaining such Eurostat statistics can receive more information at: Eurostat Media Support, Ana Maria Martinez, Tel+ (352) 43.01.33.408, Fax + (352) 43.01.32.649, e-mail: ana.martinez&eurostat.cec.be

Additional information can be obtained through the internet at: http: //europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/press/index.htm

WEATHER

Local Cloudiness, scattered showers and rainstorms are forecast for most parts of Greece today including the northern Aegean and Ionian Seas. Winds will be southerly, weak to moderate. Athens will be rainy with a possible storm in the afternoon with temperatures between 10-17C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.403 Pound sterling 443.761 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.767 Swiss franc 185.335 German mark 157.629 Italian lira (100) 15.904 Yen (100) 215.125 Canadian dlr. 194.789 Australian dlr. 212.754 Irish Punt 407.117 Belgian franc 7.643 Finnish mark 52.391 Dutch guilder 140.140 Danish kr. 41.412 Swedish kr. 34.819 Norwegian kr. 38.361 Austrian sch. 22.399 Spanish peseta 1.871 Port. Escudo 1.568

(Y.B.)


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