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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/05/1997 (ANA)


  • Tsohatzopoulos: Turkish threats a crucial priority for Athens
  • Netanyahu: Turkish-Israeli military deal should not alarm Greece
  • Greece condemns Turkish invasion of northern Iraq
  • Tsohatzopoulos says fortifying Greece's defence, a priority
  • Greece to send EU presidency memo on Greek-Turkish differences
  • Athens comments on new NATO structures
  • Tsohatzopoulos to visit Yugoslavia today
  • Romanian president to visit Greece this week
  • Greek beaches are the cleanest in Europe, says EU Commission report
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Tsohatzopoulos: Turkish threats a crucial priority for Athens

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said that confronting the Turkish threat was a crucial national priority for Greece.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told a Foreign Press Association luncheon that Ankara had recently shown a more "aggressive orientation" against Greece, adding that this orientation included "territorial claims."

Greece, however, "has a stabilising role in the region contrary to Turkey, the role of which is destabilising and perilous," he said.

He said the sea delineation between Greece and Turkey was clearly defined in the treaties of Lausanne and Paris.

Regarding Greece's sovereign rights to extend its territorial sea waters to 12 nautical miles, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said: "It is Greece's inalienable right. It is a matter of tactics, timing and circumstances to make such a decision."

Referring to recent press speculation about the rumoured creation of air corridors in Greek airspace over the Aegean in order to facilitate Turkish military training flights, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece is in a position to secure corridors for safe passage on the sea, under the sea and in the air, but with a simultaneous extention of territorial waters to 12 nautical miles.

Regarding the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), he said the same rules apply for the aircraft of all countries, and there will be no special exceptions.

Responding to a question on confidence-building measures in the Aegean, he said there has been no relevant negotiations with Turkey, and there is no need for additional measures to those envisaged under the 1988 Papoulias- Yilmaz agreement.

He also referred to the Greek proposal for extending the moratorium of flights over the Aegean from two to three summer months, stressing that it was a goodwill move on the part of Greece.

The defence minister also reiterated that for Greece there is no issue regarding the sovereignty of uninhabited islets in the Aegean, as there is clear mention of them in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, and that any disputing of their status should be referred to the International Court at The Hague.

He described the Cyprus issue as a vital national problem for Greece, adding that the strengthening of Cyprus in combination with the prospect of its EU membership constituted two basic factors for positive developments on the issue.

Regarding the order of Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles by Cyprus, he said it exclusively concerned the right of a threatened small country to defend itself. The missiles are intended to protect the new airport at Paphos, which is expected to be ready at the beginning of 1998.

Netanyahu: Turkish-Israeli military deal should not alarm Greece

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday that military cooperation between Israel and Turkey should in no way alarm Greece.

The meeting concluded Mr. Pangalos' visit to Israel.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said an overall issue exists with the exercises between Israel and Turkey and Greece and Israel.

"If Turkey accepts the proposal for a four-month moratorium then there will be no exercises in the Aegean," Mr. Pangalos said. Referring in particular to the military exercise between Greece and Israel, Mr. Pangalos said on the one hand there was an issue concerning the date it will be conducted and on the other it is exclusively a sea-rescue exercise.

Moreover, Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy assured Mr. Pangalos that his country is not doing anything behind the back of Greece, referring to military cooperation between Israel and Turkey.

In a statement imnmediately after his meeting with Mr. Pangalos, Mr. Levy said relations between Israel and Greece are very good and that the agreement his country has signed with Turkey is not directed against other countries.

Mr. Pangalos said he "took note" of what his Israeli counterpart said.

On the question of the peace process in the Middle East, Mr. Pangalos confirmed the deadlock created and said that during his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister strongly supported his positions.

Mr. Pangalos said that Greece would raise the issue at the next Council of EU Foreign Ministers and will brief his counterparts on his contacts in Gaza and Jerusalem. Additionally, Mr. Pangalos said he discussed the situation in the region with Mr. Levy, the course of the peace process and bilateral relations between Greece and Israel. The two ministers decided to establish a Greek-Israeli committee to probe possibilities of joint investments in the Balkans.

Mr. Pangalos announced that he had extended an invitation to the President of Israel Ezer Weizman to inaugurate a Holocaust monument to be built in Thessaloniki.

Mr. Pangalos paid tribute to the memory of victims of the World War II Holocaust by visiting the Yad Vashem Memorial and Museum.

"For the most innocent of the innocent and in their memory, let us bring peace and understanding," Mr. Pangalos wrote in the visitors' book.

Greece condemns Turkish invasion of northern Iraq

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday condemned Ankara's cross-border thrust into northern Iraq against Kurdish guerillas, saying it was unprecedented for a country to claim it was solving its domestic problems by invading another state.

"Turkey must provide explanations about its action," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Commenting on the Kurdish problem, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it required a political, not a military solution.

"In such cases, whoever opts for a military solution bears full responsibility for the cost as well as for the condemnation from international public opinion," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added that any country aspiring to join the European Union should respect the principles of international law.

Tsohatzopoulos says fortifying Greece's defence, a priority

Fortifying Greece's defence is a national priority, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday, adding that the country's developmental course is compatible with its defence capabilities.

Replying to questions, he referred to the armed forces' armaments' programme and to efforts to upgrade the Greek military indusry as well as its participation in providing weapon systems to the armed forces.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the armaments programme was in progress and would be completed within the next seven years.

He said that a contract was in the process of being signed for the purchase of one S-type frigate from the Netherlands, while procedures for the evaluation of two offers are taking place for the modernisation of the F-4 "Phantom" fleet of warplanes.

Replying to a question, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the future of Greece's domestic arms industry was bright, as it currently made up only 4 per cent of the armed forces' supplies, compared to 30 per cent for Turkey's domestic industry.

Greece to send EU presidency memo on Greek-Turkish differences

Greece is to send a memorandum outlining its positions on Greek-Turkish differences to the Dutch European Union presidency soon, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here yesterday.

Greece is also expecting a memorandum from Turkey in order to be able to decide on procedures which must be followed in relation to the "committees of experts".

On the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers' council for the Intergovernmental Conference, Mr. Papandreou met yesterday with members of the Dutch foreign ministry dealing with Greek-Turkish issues.

Speaking to the press, he said the Dutch EU presidency is aiming for an interim report on Greek-Turkish differences to be issued by mid-June, underlining that Greece has no objections, although he clarified that "everything will depend on the content of the Turkish memorandum."

Athens comments on new NATO structures

Greece is determined to block procedures for NATO's new structural reorganisation if the same terms and conditions are not applicable to all member-states, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

Elaborating on Greece's positions, the minister spoke of the regime after the country's return to NATO during the New Democracy government in the late 1970s.

For 15 years, he said, Greece was a second-class member, as NATO's old structure allowed Turkey to use a veto on a series of important issues, such as the founding of the Larisa headquarters and the installation of a joint rapid defence force in Thessaloniki.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said NATO's new structure was simpler and had been adapted to the new state of events.

In a related development, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos held a meeting yesterday with outgoing NATO Commander-in-Chief for Europe, US Army Gen. George Julland.

Tsohatzopoulos to visit Yugoslavia today

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos begins a two-day working visit to Yugoslavia today at the invitation of his counterpart Pavle Bulatovic.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will today visit the Yugoslav army's Institute of Technological Studies and tomorrow have talks with Mr. Bulatovic, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and other high-ranking government officials.

His talks are expected to focus on the peace process in former Yugoslavia as well as peace and stability in the Balkans in general.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos may also discuss bilateral cooperation in the defence sector, particularly regarding training issues.

Romanian president to visit Greece this week

Romanian President Emil Constantinescu is scheduled to begin an official three-day visit to Greece on Thursday at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Mr. Constantinescu will have private talks with both Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis expected to focus on bilateral relations and the situation in the Balkans.

Romania, which has traditionally close ties with Greece, has requested and received support from Athens in its bid to join the European Union and NATO.

Greek beaches are the cleanest in Europe, says EU Commission report

Greece has the cleanest shores for bathing among all European Union member- states, according to the latest European Commission report on the condition of Community coastlines and beaches.

According to a report's findings, Greece got an outstanding 99.9 per cent "clean bill" from measurements carried out at a total of 1,690 beaches and stretches of coastline.

In contrast to the tiny 0.1 per cent of Greek beaches which failed to comply with EU cleanliness specifications, the corresponding percentages for other member-states such as Britain (46.8 per cent), France (24.6 per cent), Spain (18.8 per cent) and Bel gium (33.3 per cent) were extremely high.

The European Commission said its report on water quality covered a total of 13,000 coastal expanses and beaches and 6,000 bathing areas in (fresh water) rivers and lakes.


Mostly sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with scattered clouds only in central and northern Greece. Winds will be light to moderate. A slight rise in temperatures in Athens ranging from 18-34C. Thessaloniki will be sunny with local cloudiness in the afternoon and temperatures between 16-31C.


Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.443 Pound sterling 440.924 Cyprus pd 530.918 French franc 46.832 Swiss franc 190.112 German mark 157.763 Italian lira (100) 16.048 Yen (100) 235.997 Canadian dlr. 194.928 Australian dlr. 207.080 Irish Punt 411.581 Belgian franc 7.638 Finnish mark 52.374 Dutch guilder 140.318 Danish kr. 41.424 Swedish kr. 35.341 Norwegian kr. 38.006 Austrian sch. 22.409 Spanish peseta 1.876 Port. Escudo 1.569


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