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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-23

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, 23/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Romanian President's visit to Greece
  • Pangalos-Severin meeting
  • ND leader criticises government over contacts with Ankara
  • Defence Minister's visit to Yugoslavia
  • UN's Annan to meet with Kranidiotis next Tuesday
  • Burns expected to be named US envoy to Greece
  • Simitis meets with US Ambassador Niles
  • Greek-Turkish business conference
  • ANA to hold seminar for Mediterranean news agencies
  • Policeman charged with death of colleague at consulate
  • EU laws stiffen on illegal imports of endangered species
  • EIB to fund new marine environment control system
  • OTE mobile phone service begins December 1
  • Government begs to differ from IMF on economic policy
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Romanian President's visit to Greece

The presidents of Greece and Romania, Kostis Stephanopoulos and Emil Constantinescu, yesterday underlined the political will of the two countries to further broaden their already close relations, particularly in the economic sector. The aim, th ey said, is to promote the two countries' "strategic cooperation" in the Balkans and serve as "an axis of stability in our turbulent world".

Mr. Constantinescu, who is on an official three-day visit to Greece, had talks yesterday with Mr. Stephanopoulos on bilateral relations and the situation in the Balkans.

He later met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the premier's office during which bilateral relations, primarily in the economic sector, were discussed, along with developments in the Balkans and Romania's desire to be incorporated in Euro-Atlantic s tructures.

Earlier, Mr. Stephanopoulos briefed his Romanian counterpart on Greece's national issues and reaffirmed Athens' support for Romania's efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

Mr. Stephanopoulos, who visited Bucharest in November 1995, accepted a new invitation from Mr. Constantinescu to visit Romania.

In statements to reporters in the presence of the Greek and Romanian foreign ministers of the two countries, Theodoros Pangalos and Adrian Severin, respectively, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that Athens attached great importance to its relations with Buc harest, noting also that there was room for further improvement.

Mr. Stephanopoulos in particular referred to possibilities in the economic and cultural sectors, especially in view of Mr. Consantinescu's proposal for the establishment of cultural centres and university training centres.

His proposal will be discussed by delegations of the two countries which will meet in Athens.

Mr. Stephanopoulos also noted the excellent cooperation between Greece and Romania on all occasions when their presence was required in the Balkans, referring in particular to Bosnia and Albania. Reaffirming Greece's support for Romania's bid to join NATO in the first phase of the alliance's expansion to the countries of central Europe, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that Bucharest "has every right and all the prerequisites" for membership.

Greece, he added, will exercise all possible influence in this direction. Mr. Constantinescu underlined the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, adding that "it is our duty to find new ways and new solutions in order to give another dimension to these relations within the framework of the new European structure".

In addition, Mr. Constantinescu said he had discussed with Mr. Stephanopoulos the need to find "new forms" of economic cooperation in order to "make optimum use of the dynamism" of the two countries' economies.

Thanking Mr. Stephanopoulos for Greece's support for Romania's bid to join NATO and the EU, Mr. Constantinescu remarked that "a friend in need is a friend indeed".

Mr. Constantinescu also spoke of the need for "strategic cooperation between the two countries in the Balkans", saying such cooperation could be based on the joint position for the safeguarding of democratic values and collaboration in the economic sect or.

In a related issue, Mr. Constantinescu extended an invitation to main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis for an official visit to Romania, during their meeting last night.

Mr. Karamanlis accepted the invitation, and said he had "a very interesting discussion" with the Romanian president, which revealed "how close the two countries are, how many possibilities for cooperation there are on all levels and in the direction of stabilising the difficult region of southeastern Europe."

The ND leader also noted the possibilities for cooperation in the economic, commercial and political sectors. In the afternoon, the Romanian President attended a special ceremony held in his honour at the Athens Polytechnic.

Pangalos-Severin meeting

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday met with his Romanian counterpart Andrei Severin, who was accompanying Romanian President Emil Constantinescu on his visit to Athens, and signed a cooperation memorandum between the two ministries.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said he discussed issues not broached in the meeting between the two presidents, such as development of the intergovernmental conference and reinforcement of cooperation between the two foreign ministries. Discus sions included a proposed road axis due to be built in order to connect northern with southern Europe.

Mr. Pangalos reiterated that Greece will support Romania's efforts to begin entry negotiations with the European Union. He added that a decision has been taken for closer cooperation between the two foreign ministries, which will include the regular bri efing of Romanian officials regarding EU developments.

Mr. Severin underlined the good relations between the two countries and stressed their responsibility towards safeguarding stability and peace in southeastern Europe and the Balkans. The Romanian foreign minister thanked Greece for its support regarding Romania's bid to enter NATO and European organisations, and noted his country's interest in the development of the road axis.

ND leader criticises government over contacts with Ankara

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis lashed out against the government yesterday, saying it was ignoring some of the conditions that Greek governments had traditionally demanded for any type of dialogue with Ankara.

The main opposition leader was addressing ND's Parliamentary group meeting.

Mr. Karamanlis said that the dialogue with Ankara had not been properly prepared and that the conditions for it had not been defined.

"We are faced with the danger of being led to decisions that will be against our country," he said.

"This might incite tension between the two countries, possibly leading to crisis," he said, stressing the "major structural problems" which are currently facing the Turkish government.

Mr. Karamanlis said that internal party developments in ruling PASOK had an impact on Greek-Turkish relations, adding that New Democracy, which he called a credible party, was in a position to intervene and give necessary solutions.

Turning to domestic issues, Mr. Karamanlis said that in the past 16 years the economy had declined, with the exception of three years of ND's government between 1990-93.

Urging structural changes, he said that the recent International Monetary Fund report on the Greek economy had vindicated his projections.

Citing the findings of the IMF report, Mr. Karamanlis put forward a series of measures including cuts in taxation and public spending, reforms in the public sector and privatisations.

"The government," he said, "does not have a cohesive economic policy. Instead, it has a good communications tactic."

Mr. Karamanlis said his party both desired and supported social dialogue, "as long as it is constant, lasting and based on trust between the state and social partners. The state has a duty for social welfare," he said.

Turning to the education system, he accused the government of making attempts over the past four years to cancel a series of reforms which had been introduced by ND.

Commenting on other issues, Mr. Karamanlis said the government was lacking a cohesive policy in the issue of local government, adding that it would be inconceivable to proceed with a forced merger of local communities without taking into consideration the opinion of citizens.

"As a party, we have shown timidity instead of supporting our ideas, proposals, positions and views regarding the local self-administration institution. Now it is time to do it," he said.

Turning to internal party issues, Mr. Karamanlis announced his intention for party restructuring with the aim to show the difference between the ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy parties.

"It must be shown that we are not the same, that the course which the country is now following is due to fact that PASOK remains unchanged," he said.

Mr. Karamanlis said that ND restructuring also aimed at attracting members who enjoy the wide approval of their local communities, while expressing hope that the current debt of 6.3 billion drachmas would soon be covered.

Defence Minister's visit to Yugoslavia

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday concluded a two-day working visit to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia focusing on the creation of preconditions for securing peace, stability and security in the re gion with coordinated efforts by Greece and Yugoslavia.

In talks with his Yugoslav counterpart Pavle Bulatovic, the two men also discussed bilateral issues with emphasis on cooperation in the military, political and economic sectors.The Greek minister also met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, among others.

A framework was defined for future cooperation between the economic sectors of Yugoslavia and Greece which are engaged in the manufacture of weaponry systems, exchange of information in the scientific field, creation of preconditions for training Yugosl av military cadres and vice-versa, as well as participation of experts from both countries in planning and manufacturing new weaponry systems.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed the need for safeguarding equal terms for Yugoslavia's participation in European organisations without discriminations against this country.

He also referred to his proposal for a meeting of Balkan country defence ministers, explaining that it will be aimed at coordinating Balkan countries in tackling problems currently faced in the region.

Replying to questions from Greek reporters, Mr. Bulatovic confirmed in public for the first time Yugoslavia's interest in joining NATO in the future.

"This issue is not a taboo issue for Yugoslavia," Mr. Bulatovic said, adding that the issue is not ranked among Yugoslavia's priorities since its priority is accession to other international organisations.

He said that to this end debates should be held in the Parliaments of the two republics comprising the Yugoslav Federation and that both the positive and negative side of this accession should be analysed.

UN's Annan to meet with Kranidiotis next Tuesday

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan is to meet with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis here next Tuesday, a secretary general's spokesman announced yesterday.

Replying to questions, the spokesman said UN Assistant Secretary General Kieren Prendergast is expected to return to New York after his tour of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and will brief Mr Annan on his meetings.

Burns expected to be named US envoy to Greece

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns is expected to be named ambassador to Greece, administration officials said on Thursday.

Mr. Burns, 41, was being considered for ambassador to the Czech Republic but that posting was not going to be open until 1998 while the Greece posting is available later this summer, the officials said.

One source said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had pushed hard for Mr. Burns' appointment to Athens. She has said that trying to resolve the dispute between Greece and Turkey, two NATO allies, about Cyprus is among the regional problems she wants to focus on.

If Mr. Burns' appointment is approved by the US Senate he will replace outgoing ambassador Thomas Niles.

Mr. Burns has been State Department spokesman since January 1995. He was appointed by then Secretary of State Warren Christopher and has been serving Ms Albright temporarily until she names a permanent spokesman, expected to be James Rubin, one of h er closest aides.

Before his appointment as spokesman, Mr. Burns, a career diplomat, was senior adviser at the National Security Council on Russia and other ex- Soviet states.

As a diplomat, Mr. Burns has served in Cairo and the American consulate in Jerusalem.

He received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master's degree from the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He speaks French and Arabic. He is married and the father of three daughters.

Simitis meets with US Ambassador Niles

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met yesterday with US Ambassador in Greece Thomas Niles as part of the premier's "routine contacts" with foreign envoys, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

Mr. Reppas, who is scheduled to meet with Mr. Niles today, meanwhile expressed the government's total disagreement with a recent State Department report which contained criticism of the Greek press.

"In Greece, freedom of the press is respected and we must promote it," Mr. Reppas said, adding that the State Department report contained "false information".

"Journalism in Greece is exercised in a responsible manner and any problems that may exist do not entitle anyone to make judgements of the type contained in the State Department report," the spokesman said.

Greek-Turkish business conference

According to an Anatolian News Agency dispatch from Nicosia, Turkish, Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen are to meet here on Sunday at the initiative of entrepreneur and Greek-Turkish Cooperation Commission deputy chairman Sarik Tara.

The meeting will be attended by the Chairman of the Chamber of Industry Eren Ertan, Chairman of the Union of Turkish Industrialists Yavuz Zeytinoglu and well-known Turkish industrialist Rahmi Koc.

The tripartite meeting will be followed by the third conference of the Turkish committee for Greek-Turkish Business Cooperation with the Association of Young Greek Businessmen.

Meanwhile, an ANA dispatch from the island of Lesvos yesterday reported that prominent personalities from Izmir and other western Turkish cities set up an Association of Greek-Turkish Friendship, with Izmir University professor Ekrem Akurgal being elect ed chairman.

ANA to hold seminar for Mediterranean news agencies

The Athens News Agency (ANA) will organise a seminar on May 31 and June 1 entitled "National News Agencies in the New Communications Era" in the framework of the Mediterranean News Agencies Alliance.

The seminar will be attended by presidents, general directors and other senior officials from the national news agencies of Mediterranean countries. Specifically, the national agencies of Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, the Palestini an Authority, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Speakers include university communications professors, journalists, senior officials of international and European news agencies and telecommunications organisation representatives.

The seminar will be sponsored by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the subsidiary OTENET.

Policeman charged with death of colleague at consulate

Twenty-six year old policeman Dimitris Tzavelas, who had reportedly admitted to accidentally shooting to death fellow officer Nikos Markakis, the chief of security at the Greek consulate of Gjirokaster, was charged with manslaughter and illegal weapons us e.

He was taken by helicopter from Ioannina to Athens yesterday, under strict security.

Authorities who questioned the man for three-and-a-half hours before his transport made no statements, and neither did the Greek Consul at the Albanian town, Nikos Kanellos.

According to reports, he has since denied all charges against him. Sources said, however, that Tzavelas claimed that he had fired the gun accidentally during horseplay on Tuesday. Nevertheless, an ANA dispatch from Gjirokaster said this possibility is not considered as the most likely, as witnesses said that shortly af ter the shooting the policeman ran out of the building, asking individuals waiting to obtain visas who had fired a gun. He then accompanied his fatally injured colleague to Ioannina Hospital.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday defended his statement on Tuesday during a press briefing that the death was the result of Markakis' own gun being accidentally fired.

"We said what we had to say on the basis of the available evidence at the time," he said, adding that the investigation will clear up the matter.

Tzavelas is scheduled to appear before an investigating magistrate today.

EU laws stiffen on illegal imports of endangered species

The illegal import of endangered species of animals and plants into European Union countries will be punishable even by imprisonment, since as of June 1 new EU legislation will take effect.

According to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announcement, the world wildlife trade yields billions of dollars every year. This trade, at a percentage of at least 25 per cent, is illegal because it primarily concerns products from endangered species such as rhino horns, furs from feline species, reptile skins, ivory and many species of animals and plants.

The new legislation is taking effect only a few days before the 10th conference of the 136 countries participating in the agreement on the International Trade of Endangered Fauna and Flora Wildlife.

EIB to fund new marine environment control system

National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas yesterday signed a draft agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for a 4.3 billion drachma programme providing for the installation of a marine environment control system. The "Poseidon" programme is being 85 per cent funded by the Financing Mechanism of the European Financial Area countries (former European Free Trade Association). Under the programme, a marine environment control system will be installed for the seas around Greece , namely the Aegean, Ionian and Libyan.

The three seas have long served as natural crossroads for sea transport from the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East (via the Suez Canal) and the Adriatic.

It is hoped that the data collected during the implementation of the programme will help avert ecological disasters in the marine environment.

The programme is also expected to result in significant benefits for the Greek economy, particularly for fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, marine transport and other sectors.

OTE mobile phone service begins December 1

Cosmote, a mobile phone subsidiary of the Hellenic telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will launch a pilot operation programme on August 1 and start full operations on December 1, initially servicing 60 percent of the country.

OTE chairman Dimitrios Papoulias and chief executive Petros Lambrou said after signing a contract with Norwegian mobile telecommunications operator Telenor that the firm will outpace competition and impress Greek users with its services.

The investment totalled 84 billion drachmas in fixed prices, or 96 billion drachmas at current rates. Telenor paid 26 billion drachmas to acquire 30 percent of Cosmote.

OTE's chief executive said that the company had found an experienced partner in order to compete the two other mobile phone companies already operating in Greece (Telestet and Panafon). He added that Cosmote aimed at expanding its operations through partnerships in other countries. Telenor covers 70 percent of the mobile phone market in Norway.

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis told Parliament OTE would present its first mobile phone at Thessaloniki's international trade fair in September.

Government begs to differ from IMF on economic policy

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that a report by the International Monetary Fund on the Greek economy did not reflect the government's positions on the issue.

Mr. Reppas added that the contents of the report released on Wednesday were not recommendations or suggestions but merely the expression of views that had no influence on the economic policy of the government.

The IMF and the government had different views on the country's economic policy, he said, noting that the government's policies aimed at development, strengthening competitiveness and improving the income of Greek citizens in order to achieve better liv ing standards.

Mr. Reppas also said that the government's policy represented a middle way, and was moving in the right direction.

However, Federation of Greek Industries' Chairman Iason Stratos said the IMF report stresses the need for the rationalisation of the broader public sector and the liberalisation of markets

Mr. Stratos said that the report, released on Wednesday, coincides with debate on a more flexible labour market in Greece.

He noted that changes urged by the IMF, statements by the government, and the line taken by the main opposition New Democracy party show that there are no objections to the implementation of such policies.

WEATHER

Today's weather will be cloudy with scattered showers in the north and over the Aegean and Dodecanese islands. Sunny weather over the rest of the country, with cloud developing in the afternoon, along with a slight drop in temperature. Winds will be northerly. In Athens, the weather will be mostly fine, with temperatures ranging from 20-32C. IN thessaloniki the temperatures will range from 20 to 28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.404 Pound sterling 439.258 Cyprus pd 532.327 French franc 46.979 Swiss franc 189.720 German mark 158.174 Italian lira (100) 16.062 Yen (100) 231.414 Canadian dlr. 195.186 Australian dlr. 209.054 Irish Punt 407.434 Belgian franc 7.663 Finnish mark 52.473 Dutch guilder 140.705 Danish kr. 41.555 Swedish kr. 35.444 Norwegian kr. 38.174 Austrian sch. 22.483 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.571

(Y.B.)


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