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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-12

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 12/05/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece not prepared to negotiate sovereign rights
  • Time is ripe to address FYROM name issue, Athens says
  • Bank of Greece cuts intervention rates
  • Council of Hellenes Abroad to meet in December
  • Greece to send aid to quake-stricken in Iran
  • Simitis: Turkey must match words to deeds
  • EU Commission to help Mount Athos
  • Friday's marijuana haul largest ever in Greece
  • One killed, two arrested in shoot-out with drug smugglers
  • Woman's body found near Russian hitman's house
  • Olympiakos Greek champions after 10 years
  • Greek First division soccer results/standings
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greece not prepared to negotiate sovereign rights

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated today after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis that Greece would never enter into negotiations concerning its internationally recognised sovereign rights.

Tsohatzopoulos made the statement when asked by reporters to comment on a front-page article in yesterday's edition of the Sunday newspaper ''To Vima''.

The article claimed Greece and Turkey were edging towards an agreement under which Athens would allow Ankara to use a number of air corridors over the Aegean between 6 and 10 nautical miles for its military exercises.

Tsohatzopoulos said Greece was perplexed by Turkey's attempt to do away with the present status quo determined by international treaties.

''There is a problem with interceptions, the settlement of which refers us to the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement which both sides have accepted. We have also agreed that the NATO Secretary General should explore ways of implementing the same agreement,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

Tsohatzopoulos was referring to the memorandum agreement reached in 1988 by the then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz respectively.

Papoulias and Yilmaz agreed in the Athens seaside resort of Vouliagmeni to promote confidence-building measures (CBMs) between the two countries based on the principle of good-neighbourliness.

''The impression given (in the article) that Greece may reduce the responsibility it has in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) bears no relation to reality,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

He added that ''anyone can enter the Athens FIR'' provided they state their nationality and submit a flight plan ''and then the decision is up to Athens, which is responsible for the safety of flights in the region in question, just as Turkey has responsibility for its own FIR.''

''The message going out to anyone moving in the Athens FIR is that they should observe the relevant international rules,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

Tsohatzopoulos and Simitis discussed issues related to the Western European Union (WEU) in view of the joint meeting of WEU defence and foreign ministers which begins in Paris today.

The meeting will focus on issues such as the transformation of the WEU into the European Union's military arm and the common foreign policy of the EU.

According to informed sources, Simitis and Tsohatzopoulos also discussed NATO's new structure, the armed forces' armaments programme and the draft law on conscription.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also denied the claims in the ''To Vima'' article.

He said no discussion was being held concerning the assignment of rights or air corridors, adding that ''there is no basis for reality in this''.

''The government is not considering such an issue nor has such an issue been raised,'' the spokesman said.

Reppas also reiterated that as far as Greece was concerned, the basis for any CBMs between Athens and Ankara would be the 1988 memorandum agreement.

Time is ripe to address FYROM name issue, Athens says

Greece is examining ''everything'' within the framework of negotiations under UN auspices on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), including the possibility of a composite name, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

The spokesman however, who was replying to reporters' questions, declined to go into detail, due to the fact that negotiations were currently in progress.

By 'composite name', Reppas was referring to the possibility of a name containing the word 'Macedonia' or some derivative.

Reppas expressed the view that some agreement might be reached in the UN- sponsored talks and that the government was exerting pressure.

The spokesman stressed that nothing had changed which could justify ''dramatic tones'', adding that ''the time is ripe'' for the issue to be addressed.

''Any delaying tactics only harm the other side,'' Reppas said.

Replying to other questions, Reppas reiterated that ''there is no way that a state can exist in our region with just the name 'Macedonia'.''

Bank of Greece cuts intervention rates

The Bank of Greece announced today that it would lower its intervention rates on the interbank market as of Tuesday due to the drop in inflation.

The interest rate at which the central bank lends to banks will be reduced by one percentage point as a response to the drop of 1.4 percentage points in inflation in the first four months of 1997.

The rediscount rate for bills will consequently be 14.5 per cent from the previous rate of 15.5 per cent, while the Lombard rate will be 19 per cent, down from 20 per cent.

The overdraft penalty rate will drop from 25 per cent to 24 per cent.

Council of Hellenes Abroad to meet in December

The first general meeting of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will be convened in Thessaloniki in the first week in December, SAE general secretary Stavros Lambrinidis announced in the northern Greek port city today.

The decision was taken by the SAE presidium which has been meeting in Thessaloniki since Friday.

At a press conference today at the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, the presidium members expressed satisfaction at the contacts they had with government officials in Thessaloniki.

Since Friday, the presidium has had talks with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Minister for Macedonia-Thrace Filippos Petsalnikos, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Education Undersecretary Ioannis Anthopoulos and the members of the standing parliamentary committee for overseas Greeks.

Earlier today, they met with National Economy Undersecretary George Drys.

The talks focused on issues related to conscription, education, culture and the satellite broadcast of Greek programmes to overseas Greeks.

Greece to send aid to quake-stricken in Iran

The foreign ministry is to send 20 tonnes of medical and other aid in the next few days to Iran where an earthquake measuring 7.1 Richter devastated the country's eastern region, killing at least 2,400 people and leaving thousands homeless.

The aid will be accompanied by a three-member surgery team of the non- governmental organisation ''Doctors of the World'' which will provide its services in the quake-stricken area for at least one month.

Due to the extent of the devastation in eastern Iran, a second shipment of similar size is already being planned.

The government today expressed its deep regret over the loss of life in Iran.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that Greece would express its support in any appropriate way possible.

Simitis: Turkey must match words to deeds

Speaking on Greek-Turkish relations on Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated that Greece was not putting its sovereign rights up for negotiation and was not questioning the status quo in the Aegean.

"The government's policy aims to reinforce our positions," he said.

"Greece differs from Turkey because it has a clear policy and positions based on international law and international treaties, while Turkey is an element of destabilisation in the ... area."

He reiterated that if Turkey proves it respects international law and withdraws its expansionist intentions, then Greece will aid its course towards Europe.

Turning to the forming of the committee of experts to discuss procedural issues in Greek-Turkish relations, Mr Simitis said Greece aims to promote an improvement in relations with Turkey, stressing however that the committee will not constitute the begi nning of political dialogue, nor will it have any mediatory qualities.

"This dialogue has two possibilities," he reiterated. "Either it will be a turning point in Ankara's policies, in which case it will pave the way for a peaceful course of both countries within the framework of the European Union, or Ankara's true intent ions will be revealed."

"It is the Turks and not us who have the problem of proving that words match deeds," he said.

EU Commission to help Mount Athos

European Commission President Jacques Santer has announced a Commission decision to provide aid to Mount Athos during a visit to the autonomous monastic community on Saturday, in recognition of "its great importance to Europe".

He praised the spiritual tradition of Mount Athos, which he said could be a model for the Europe of the future, and expressed his belief that the provision of aid will be to the benefit of Europe as a whole.

Mr. Santer added that the monastic community's cultural heritage and history have contributed to the creation of "a unique type of society which is based on spiritual values."

Friday's marijuana haul largest ever in Greece

Police said on Saturday that the four tonnes of marijuana confiscated from a container in a Piraeus port storage area in Piraeus Friday night was the largest drug haul ever in Greece.

Initial reports on Friday put the haul at three tonnes.

The drugs, packed in 286 cardboard boxes, were found after police authorities received a tip-off claiming a large shipment of marijuana was due to arrive in the country from Cambodia.

The container, which according to its documents was carrying a cargo of plates and flower vases, was unloaded from the "Mare" on March 19 and was immediately placed under surveilance.

One killed, two arrested in shoot-out with drug smugglers

One Albanian was killed and two arrested during a shoot-out at dawn on Saturday between police and drug smugglers at Kalami, Plataria in Thesprotia, northern Greece.

The gunfight erupted after three Albanians had reached the Greek coast by speedboat and were hiding 20 sacks - a reported 500 kilos - of marijuana which the police believe were to be picked up later by accomplices. However, special police forc es and drug squad officers from Athens were lying in wait. Two coastguard vessels also took part in the operation.

The other two Albanians are being held at Igoumenitsa coastguard headquarters.

The Greek authorities are now trying to determine whether the speedboat used by the Albanians is the same as that used in recent attacks against coastguard boats in the Ionian Sea. A later dispatch from Ioannina said the boat had been stolen from Corfu.

Two Kalashnikovs were found in the speedboat which had been used by the Albanians to fire at the police.

Woman's body found near Russian hitman's house

The decomposing and dismembered body of a young woman was found on Saturday in a shallow grave three kilometres outside the southern Athens suburb of Saronida, police said.

The body was found near the house of a suspected Russian hitman, Alexander Solonik, who was found murdered in the northern Athens suburb of Varibobi in early February.

The makeshift grave contained a suitcase with the woman's torso and a travel bag with her head and limbs. The woman's internal organs had been wrapped in a towel.

A coroner set the woman's age at roughly 20.

Police suspect the dead woman may be Svetlana Kokivi, 19, a former Miss Russia who was reported missing three months before the discovery of Solonik's body. Kokivi is believed to have been having an affair with Solonik.

Olympiakos Greek champions after 10 years

Olympiakos Piraeus clinched the Greek soccer title for the first time in 10 years on Sunday with a 2-0 win over AEK Athens.

With two rounds to go Olympiakos, unbeaten for 17 matches, head the standings with 78 points, 12 ahead of AEK. AEK trailed the leaders by nine points before the match and needed a victory to keep their slim hopes alive.

Greek First division soccer results/standings

Olympiakos-AEK 2-O Panathinaikos- Kastoria 7-0 OFI-Ionikos 4-0 PAOK-Xanthi 4-1 Veria-Kavala 0-1 Athinaikos-Paniliakos 3-0 Iraklis-Aris 1-2 Kalamata-Edesaikos 1-0 Apollon-Panahaiki 2-0

Standings: Olympiakos 78 AEK 66 OFI 65 Panathinaikos 60 PAOK 60 Kavala 55 Paniliakos 44 Ionikos 41 Iraklis 39


Sunny weather in most of Greece today with rising temperatures. Winds will be northerly moderate to strong especially in the northern Aegean. Athens will be sunny with moderate winds and temperatures between 17-30C. Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 15-28C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.544 Pound sterling 435.548 Cyprus pd 529.907 French franc 46.818 Swiss franc 187.205 German mark 157.797 Italian lira (100) 15.968 Yen (100) 220.293 Canadian dlr. 193.797 Australian dlr. 208.876 Irish Punt 408.188 Belgian franc 7.652 Finnish mark 52.372 Dutch guilder 140.472 Danish kr. 41.507 Swedish kr. 35.059 Norwegian kr. 38.117 Austrian sch. 22.446 Spanish peseta 1.871 Port. Escudo 1.569


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