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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-04

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, 04/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkey should conform with international law, says Stephanopoulos
  • Seminar on WEU's future role ends
  • Athens supports Turkey's european orientation
  • Athens says nothing negotiable in the Aegean
  • Rare Byzantine treasures exhibition
  • Britain ruled out return of the Parthenon marbles
  • Venezuelan IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium
  • Riot in Korydallos prison
  • Briton arrested for drugs
  • Major public works under process in Epirus
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkey should conform with international law, says Stephanopoulos

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday urged Turkey to accept the validity of international law and treaties governing bilateral relations, so that efforts to improve those relations would bear some results.

Speaking yesterday morning at an event at the Halkis Infantry School, the president said that while Greece wanted improved relations with Turkey, under no circumstances would it abandon its sovereign rights or to make any concessions on that issue.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, also addressing the event celebrating the feast of St. George, patron saint of the infantry, reiterated that Greece would support an improvement in Turkey's relations with the European Union provided that it accepted international law, respected existing borders and contributed towards the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Meanwhile, on Friday Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired an inner cabinet meeting focusing on the course of Greek-Turkish relations in the wake of meetings held earlier this week between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller, as well as the decision to have a bilateral "committee of experts" created.

According to reports, Mr. Pangalos said his Turkish counterpart

"attacked him with charm and friendship", adding that during their meeting in Luxembourg, Ms Ciller gave no specific reply, despite pressures from (European Union) partners as well, to question she put to her.

According to the same reports, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Athens must determine the framework of the special relationship between Turkey and the European Union, since Greece's partners in the EU do not desire Turkey's accession to the EU.

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis briefed members of the inner cabinet on developments over the Cyprus issue.

Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters that during the inner cabinet's meeting no disagreements surfaced, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "everything was fine."

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Greece desires normalisation in relations between the two countries, provided that all sides work with respect for international law and treaties and with a spirit based on the principles of friendship and good neighbourliness.

Mr. Reppas said that provided these preconditions exist, then progress will be achieved in the committee of experts' work, reiterating that its results are not binding for the governments of the two countries.

Describing processes to be followed, Mr. Reppas said that each side will have the possibility to set out its arguments and the other side to disprove them, adding that "provided that the Dutch (EU) presidency ascertains that in certain points there is c ommon ground then it will request a process of meetings and discussions to follow between the committee's members and exclusively on the points where coincidence exists alone."

Seminar on WEU's future role ends

The European Seminar, focussing on the Western European Union's future role in the new enlarged security environment, ended yesterday in Athens after two days of talks on how to redefine Europe's security structure. Greece currently holds the rotating presidency of the WEU.

Addressing the seminar, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said:

"Following the historic events of the past eight years, there is no longer a specific political-military threat on a world level. However, there are threats arising from situations such as developments in the Balkans, the rise of nationalism, terrorism, uncontrolled migration from the southern Mediterranean region and eastern Europe, as well as from the international drug trade."

There is to be a meeting of WEU defence ministers in Washington next month to review the activities of the outgoing Greek presidency of the WEU.

"As a country we have tried to give the WEU the characteristics of a dynamically developing defence organisation which will become more and more active in the future," Apostolakis told the closing session of the seminar.

Athens supports Turkey's european orientation

Greece is in favour of Turkey's European orientation providing the neighbouring country stops its threats of violence, cooperates for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, respects international law and human rights and creates good neighbourly relations with Greece.

This firm Greek position was reiterated by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, speaking at a discussion on Greek-Turkish relations during a Harvard University professors seminar in Boston on the theme "Greece in the Intergovernmental Conference".

On the Cyprus problem, Mr. Papandreou stressed that the course for its settlement was independent of the procedure for Cyprus' accession to the European Union. He added that the negotiations for Cyprus' accession will start, as already determined, six months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

The Alternate Foreign Minister further stressed the need for intensified and coordinated efforts for restoring economic stability in the Balkan countries.

Athens says nothing negotiable in the Aegean

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said today that Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean was non negotiable, while the leader of the main opposition cautioned that the normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations should not become "unequal" or "onesided."

Speaking from the city of Naoussa this morning, Tsohatzopoulos was quoted as saying "to all parties involved," that there is "nothing negotiable in the Aegean."

Reiterating a Greek firm position, the Minister said Greek-Turkish relations would improve only if Ankara respected Greece's terms. Ankara, he said, should observe the international treaties and acknowledge the existing status quo in the Aegean. It should also contribute to the finding of a solution to the Cyprus issue, he added.

Greece last week maintained its veto on an EU financial package aid to Turkey on the grounds of the latter's continuing threat of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean.

Leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, meanwhile said this morning in Naoussa, that while, "normalisation of Greek- Turkish relations is desirable and correct, we will never allow it to become unequal and onesided..."

Rare Byzantine treasures exhibition

Rare treasures dating back to the Byzantine era will leave Mount Athos for Thessaloniki where they will be displayed in the framework of the city's title as Europe's 1997 cultural capital.

The exhibition, "Relics of Mount Athos," slated for June 21 is expected to draw the attention of more than one million visitors.

This is the first time that treasures of the Byzantine tradition from the all-male monastic community will be displayed outside Mount Athos.

A total of 579 items, ranging from gold-leaf icons to rare manuscripts will be sent from monasteries dotting the Athos peninsula.

The treasures are estimated to worth more than 20 billion drachmas.

Britain ruled out return of the Parthenon marbles

Britain's new Heritage Secretary Chris Smith today ruled out returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece. His statement comes as an an answer to his Greek Counterpart's statement last week that he would resurface the long- standing demand for the marble's return.

"We decided it was not a feasible or sensible option. We won't do it," Smith said on BBC television.

Smith was quoted by a Reuter's despatch as saying that the marbles were an integral part of the British Museum Collection, visited by million of people each year.

Smith said returning the marbles could encourage other countries to demand the return of their treasures, thereby unleasing a worldwide swapping system of precious art works.

His statement, however, does not appear to be in line with past promises the Labour Party has made to Greek governments.

When late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri first requested the return of the classical sculptures to Greece and put the issue to the British government she was met with the sympathy of Labour party, then in opposition.

The marbles, dating back to the 5th century BC, were removed from the Parthenon by the British diplomat Lord Elgin with permission from the local Ottoman Turkish administrators.

Elgin removed the frieze and other parts of the massive Parthenon temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.

After the landslide win of the Labor Party last week, Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said he would again bring up the issue by sending a letter reminding Mr. Blair of Labour's past promises.

"We are in communication with the Committee for the Return of the Marbles," Mr. Venizelos had said, adding that he would address the letter to his British counterpart.

Since the issue was first publicly debated, the Labour Party has said on many occasions that it would contribute its utmost for the return of the marbles, exhibited in the British Museum.

The last promise by Labour was made last October via British Labour Eurodeputy Alfred Lomas, who submitted a relevant request to the European Parliament, adding his voice with those of 251 Eurodeputies from other European Union member-states and from al l political groupings.

At the time, Mr. Lomas called on the conservative government under John Major to examine the Greek request positively, because it "would constitute a major act of international solidarity."

Venezuelan IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium

The Venezuelan representative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Flor Isava, on Friday described the facilities of the Athens Olympic Stadium as "works of art".

Ms Isava was shown around the facilities by members of the Athens 2004 Committee, and said she was particularly impressed by the indoor basketball complex and the indoor swimming pool.

"It is the best sporting complex I have seen," she said after her visit.

Ms Isava then visited the Acropolis and later planted an olive tree in the Olympic park's "Olive Forest". Each visiting IOC member plants a tree in the park. The olive branches will be used to make wreaths for the 2004 medalists if Athens is successful in its bid to host the Games.

In another development, the president of the International Field Hockey Federation, Juan Angel Calzado, on Friday visited the Olympic Stadium and Karaiskaki stadium facilities.

He inspected the areas where field hockey would be held in the 2004 Games and said the only improvements still needed are in the internal areas of the facilities.

Riot in Korydallos prison

Order was restored at the juvenile wing of Athen's Korydallos prison shortly before midnight yesterday after clashes broke out between 20 Albanian and gypsy inmates. The clashes quickly led to a general riot, with the rampaging youths causing extensive damages.

Two prison staff held hostage were eventually released. At least three inmates were reported injured.

Briton arrested for drugs

A Briton has been arrested at the Evros customs post for smuggling heroin. Curray Hook Taylor, 33, who entered Greece by train from Turkey, had swallowed 26 egg-shaped containers each holding 15 grammes of heroin.

Following a tip-off, customs officials had the suspect X-rayed at Didimoticho hospital.

Taylor, who told police he had been paid in Istanbul to deliver the drugs in Athens, has been remanded to appear before the Orestiada public prosecutor.

Major public works under process in Epirus

Public works for the prefecture of Epirus budgeted at 462 billion drachmas were announced by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Kostas Laliotis in Ioannina yesterday.

Laliotis told a meeting of the Epirus Regional Council that the Egnatia Highway across the north of Greece should be completed by 2000. He said six sections of the highway were already under construction, another six were soon to be contracted out, while plans for another eight sections were progressing. The Minister said resources for all projects had been secured.

"Epirus in the 21st century can and should play a leading role in developments in Europe and the Balkans," he observed.

According to a recent Eurostat bulletin, Epirus ranked among the regions in the European Union with a GDP per capita of less than 50% of the EU average.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather over most of the country today, apart from scattered cloud developing in the afternoon over mainland areas. Winds will be west- northeasterly, light to moderate.

Temperatures in Athens will range between 12-25C and in Thessaloniki from 9- 24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.522 Pound sterling 439.754 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.860 Swiss franc 185.365 German mark 157.996 Italian lira (100) 15.968 Yen (100) 214.867 Canadian dlr. 196.515 Australian dlr. 213.216 Irish Punt 409.041 Belgian franc 7.659 Finnish mark 52.473 Dutch guilder 140.472 Danish kr. 41.515 Swedish kr. 34.809 Norwegian kr. 38.398 Austrian sch. 22.456 Spanish peseta 1.874 Port. Escudo 1.575

(M.S.)


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