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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 26/05/1997 (ANA)


  • Papandreou, Oymen discuss Greek-Turkish relations
  • Changing the Aegean a Pandora's box, defence minister says
  • Greek, Cypriot defence ministers confer
  • Greek expert committee to submit findings today
  • Businessmen hold significant meeting in Istanbul
  • Event in Mitilini on EU-Turkey relations
  • Greek humanitarian aid to Bulgaria
  • Athens hosts UN conference on Mideast
  • Olympiakos gets the soccer championship cup
  • Greek first division soccer final results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Papandreou, Oymen discuss Greek-Turkish relations

Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Onur Oymen said today Turkey did not question any state's sovereignty nor the status of any island which had been given to Greece under the terms of any treaty.

Speaking at a conference on Greek-Turkish relations that began in Athens this morning, also addressed by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Oymen said:

"With regard to islands where there are no relevant agreements, we should hold a discussion in which each side will submit its documents."

The Turkish Undersecretary spoke in favour of bilateral contacts to resolve problems, noting that Greece's invocation of international law, particularly the UN Charter, called for peaceful resolution of differences and for dialogue.

"You cannot solve your problems with Turkey by means of international law, by means of veto and embargo." said Oymen, adding that no measures of this kind used against Turkey had ever been successful.

Referring to a dinner last night with Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, Oymen observed that ways to bring about closer relations had been examined.

"I hope that these will be acceptable to our governments. It is time to turn over a new leaf and to put aside our differences even just for the time being," he added.

Oymen also called for a review of issues such as the huge amounts spent by both Greece and Turkey on defence expenditure. The work of the experts' committee recently set up to examine bilateral problems, the Undersecretary continued, would also create a positive climate for Cyprus, which he said could not join international organisations without the agreement of Turkey and Greece, according to the Zurich and London treaties.

Finally, Oymen raised the question of what he called the "Turkish" minority in Thrace as an issue for discussion.

Addressing the conference's opening session earlier, Papandreou referred to the Simitis government's commitment to a step by step improvement in relations with Turkey, expressing "cautious optimism" that this most recent effort would succeed.

While noting it was "too early to say" whether bilateral relations were already on a different track, Papandreou noted that the EU-proposed committee of experts had begun a process which had created "both expectation and scepticism".

With regard to Turkey's relationship with the European Union, Papandreou drew attention to both the political and economic criteria Turkey would have to meet.

"...there are baseline economic conditions and standards that are required at the first level of accession. More importantly, however, at the second level, each state must accept universal norms of international civil behaviour; respect for, and reliance upon, international laws and treaties for settling disputes or conducting transactions between states; respect for and reliance upon democratic processes within their respective states, respect for and protection of the human rights of each of their citizens."

He reiterated Greece's desire to strengthen Turkey's European orientation.

"Opinions that have circulated in Europe, that in the case of Turkey cultural and religious criteria should be applied, find us completely and emphatically opposed. The EU is not a closed Christian 'club'," he emphasised, stressing that existing problems were political and connected to the need for proper behaviour in international relations.

With regard to the Cyprus issue, the Minister called for a commitment by Turkey to be more forthcoming on all aspects of the Cyprus issue.

"Turkey must realise that it is thoroughly in their interest that things change in Cyprus, that this change is necessary. A positive outcome of the Cypriot question will benefit Turkey in many ways... it will better their relations with the EU.. and while the Cyprus question is not a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey, it will affect our relations in a tremendously positive manner. It will eliminate a hanging fear of Turkish expansionism and be another trust block put in place in the building of reassurance that we are trying to create. A resolution to the Cypriot, therefore, will serve as a major psychological catalyst in repairing Greek- Turkish relations.

Papandreou assured the Greek nation that the government would not seek peace "at all costs".

"Our territorial integrity and our sovereignty will not be compromised. But we also believe that the Greek people want to seek peace and cooperation with all neighbouring countries, including Turkey," he said, despite what he called "ambiguous and mixed feelings" on the part of Greeks towards Turkey, misgivings which had been intensified by the Imia incident and statements (by Turkey) concerning so-called "grey areas" and islets.

He stressed that Greece's reservations on the financial protocol provided for in the April 29 EU-Turkey Association Council were placed in the spirit of the basic principles determined by the 15 member states in light of the obstacles needed to be overcome in order for the "European road" to be opened to Turkey.

"As long as our perception and fear is that Turkey harbours territorial claims against us, and that it is not willing to accept and use international law and its channels to arbitrate any questions of interpretation, then it is a matter of principle and a matter of concern for us," he emphasised.

Changing the Aegean a Pandora's box, defence minister says

Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today warned Ankara that a change in the status quo in the Aegean could open up "Pandora's box" and lead to a revision of the international status of the Bosporus Straits.

In an interview with the Athens daily 'Ta Nea', the minister stressed that Greece will decisively answer any military attempt to change the status quo in the Aegean and defend its national sovereinty.

"Ankara should be made aware of the fact that its pursuit to revise the status quo in the Aegean could boomerang and open up Pandoras' box for a revision of the international status quo of the Bosporos Straits - not necessarily by Greece," Tsohatzopoulos said.

Tsohatzopoulos rejected Ankara's allegation that Greece considers the Aegean "a Greek lake," saying that "Greece will never impose restrictions - economic, legal, political - on the sea routes or straits, even when it exercises its inelienable right to expand, in accordance with international law, its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles."

The implementation of the Law of the Sea and extension of territorial waters to 12 miles would ensure safe passage in the Aegean and would consolidate channels of free trade by sea and air, he said.

He branded a Turkish military textbook's claims to 130 Greek islands in the Aegean as 'a midsummer night's dream', saying Greece would decisively respond to any military attempt to change the status quo in the Aegean.

"The legal status of all the islands, isles and rockly islets which are under Greek sovereignty in the Aegean and southeastern Mediterranean, is indisputable," he said.

Turning to the Cyprus issue, Tsohatzopoulos described as "inconceivable," Turkish President Suleyman Demirel's statement during a Greek T.V. interview that Cyprus does not have the right for free accession to the European Union.

Regarding the experts' committee, a Dutch EU Presidency initiative to bring experts from Turkey and Greece to consider problems between the two countries and try to find common ground for dialogue, Tsohatzopoulos said: "It will contribute to the choice of procedures establishing which party is right, as well as which party accepts international law and which violates it."

"The epicentre of a Greek-Turkish rapprochement," the minister said, "should be the shared conviction that military ultimatums and armed conflict constitute an utterly absurd and inconceivable order of things."

"Differences," he added, "must be resolved through dialogue, on the basis of international legality and relevant laws governing independent, sovereign states."

Greek, Cypriot defence ministers confer

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Cypriot counterpart Costas Iliades discussed bilateral defence cooperation in a meeting inAthens this morning.

"We also had the opportunity to examine interpretations and options which need to be clarified in order to help implement national strategy in the event of any threat to Greece or Cyprus," said Tsohatzopoulos.

The Cypriot Minister said there was complete agreement between Athens and Nicosia on all issues irrespective of developments.

"Everything that has been planned is in progress," he concluded.

Greek expert committee to submit findings today

The Greek committee of experts examining problems in Greek-Turkish relations are to send their findings to the Dutch presidency of the European Union today, according to a statement by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas. He said the contents of the report would not be made public. The Turkish side is also to present its own conclusions to the EU presidency.

Reppas contended that statements made over hte last few days by Turkish President Suleiman Demirel and Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Onur Oymen "detracted from the rapprochement process" begun with the respective committees of experts. This process, he added, was aimed at showing that the only way to co-exist was by adhering to international law and treaties.

Businessmen hold significant meeting in Istanbul

More than one hundred businessmen from Greece and Turkey began a two-day meeting in Istanbul to discuss bilateral economic relations.

Turkey's State secretary Abdullah Gyul said after a closed-door session that Greece and Turkey are two countries important for the region and that the development of their cooperation will benefit both.

The Turkish minister noted that both governments support the business meeting and expressed the hope that such initiatives will contribute to the resolution of differences between the two countries. The meeting attend a business delegation from Cyprus and from the Turkish-Cypriot community.

Event in Mitilini on EU-Turkey relations

PASOK's Europarliamentary group organised an event on "EU - Turkey relations" in Mytilini, Lesvos island, yesterday.

Euro-MP Paraskevas Avgerinos described the current period as "crucial for Greece and decisive for Europe and its vision", stressing that this vision was endangered "by fascists, chauvinists, racists and xenophobics".

He stated support for EU membership of Balkan countries as a necessary condition for the consolidation of the Union in the area.

Speaking under the title, "European Union - Turkey - A Problem of Values", Euro-MP Dimitris Tsatsos said the State in Turkey was deeply divided ideologically, a pseudo-parliamentary democratic system prevailed, and there were important problems concer ning the country's international profile, indicated by President Suleyman Demirel's recent interview where he claimed that international law is not binding on his country".

Eurodeputy Yiannis Roubatis said "Greece has no reason to reject Turkey's approach to Europe, and condemns the use of racial, religious and cultural reasons for such a rejection".

Minister for the Aegean Elisavet Papazoi referred to "the environmentally friendly mask worn by Turkey before international fora", mentioning in particular the problem of the gold processing unit near Bergama, now thankfully being led to a solution, and to the dangers posed by the proposed operation of nuclear power plants in southwestern Asia Minor and near Sinop on the Black Sea.

Greek humanitarian aid to Bulgaria

The first dispatch of food, medicine and other essentials leaves for orhpanages, nursing homes and hospitals in south Bulgaria from the port of Thessaloniki today. The aid has been collected by a joint effort by Doctors of the World, Greek Radio ERA, Greek Television 3, and employees of the Greek Radio and Television through regional and city fundraising events.

Athens hosts UN conference on Mideast

A UN-sponsored two-day conference on the Middle East,entitled "The Peace Process: The Challenges Ahead", begins in Athens today to examine the peace agreements signed in Oslo and Cairo and the progress which had been achieved in implementing them, the final status of the Palestinian territories and economic prospects.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will address the opening session.

Taking part will be analysts from the Palestinian territories, Israel, the Arab world, the United States and Europe. Representatives from the Greek and international mass media will also be present.

Olympiakos gets the soccer championship cup

The Greek soccer championship ended yesterday with Olympiakos Piraeus winning the title after ten years in the cold.

In yesterday's last match, Olympiakos trounced Kavala 6-0.

Olympiakos will play in the Champions League next season while AEK Athens, who finished second in the league, will play in the Cup Winners' Cup. OFI Crete and PAOK Thessaloniki will represent Greece in the UEFA Cup.

Greek first division soccer final results

Olympiakos - Kavala 6 - 0 AEK Athens - Xanthi 2 - 1 Veria - OFI Crete 2 - 0 PAOK Thessaloniki- Kastoria 6 - 0 Iraklis Thessaloniki-Panathinaikos 0 - 2 Panahaiki Patras-Pyrgos 1 - 1 Kalamata - Ionikos Piraeus 2 - 0 Apollon Athens-Aris Thessaloniki 1 - 2 Athinaikos - Edessa 5 - 2

Final Standings: Olympiakos 84 AEK 72 OFI 66 PAOK Salonique 66 Panathinaikos 64 Kavala 55 Pyrgos 45 Ionikos 44 Apollon 42 Veria 41 Kalamata 41 Athinaikos 40 Heraklis 39 Panahaiki 39 Xanthi 39 Aris 35 Edessa 28 Kastoria 8


Fine weather and a further drop in temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece today with the exception of some mountainous areas in the north where local cloud and sporadic rain is expected in the afternoon. Winds will be light to moderate, becoming strong in the afternoon. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 16-29C. Thessaloniki will also be sunny with some local cloudiness and temperatures between 15-25C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.336 Pound sterling 437.869 Cyprus pd 531.672 French franc 47.005 Swiss franc 190.271 German mark 158.313 Italian lira (100) 16.061 Yen (100) 231.394 Canadian dlr. 195.007 Australian dlr. 205.185 Irish Punt 406.561 Belgian franc 7.670 Finnish mark 52.451 Dutch guilder 140.814 Danish kr. 41.602 Swedish kr. 35.272 Norwegian kr. 37.992 Austrian sch. 22.490 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.569


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