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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 03/07/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece insists on 3-month freeze of Aegean military overflights
  • Tsohatzopoulos criticises Turkey's 'unilateral' decision
  • Athens protests Turkish claims of Greek support to Kurds
  • Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline discussed by Simitis, Stoyanov
  • Experts to examine Burgas oil pipeline issue this month
  • US strongly supports UN-sponsored direct Cyprus talks
  • France to support Greek membership in Schengen
  • Pharmacies closed as chemists strike continues
  • Athens bourse falls on profit-taking selling
  • Cicil aviation stoppages called off
  • Gov't announces new measures for merchant seamen
  • Drachma falls against dollar in first half-97
  • Police trained in anti-racism measures
  • Pioneer heart surgeon Denton Cooley honoured in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greece insists on 3-month freeze of Aegean military overflights

Greece stressed yesterday that it insisted on its proposal for a three- month moratorium on flights by Greek and Turkish military aircraft over the Aegean "to which Ankara has not responded in order for there to be reduced tension and a better climate in r elations between the two countries."

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on a unilateral decision announced by Ankara on Monday to limit its military activity in the Aegean between July 1 and Aug. 15.

"Turkey links the moratorium to conditions which in essence cancel out its effect," Mr. Reppas said.

Describing Turkey's decision as "a small, but positive move", which was "below expectations," Mr. Reppas called on Turkey to take further steps.

The positive elements of Ankara's proposal, Mr. Reppas said, relate to the fact that Turkish aircraft would not be armed when flying over the Aegean and Turkey's statement that it will respect international regulations.

Replying to questions, Mr. Reppas said Greek aircraft on training flights over the Aegean would not be armed, while in all other respects, flights would be in accordance with regulations in force.

He added that the Greek proposal for the avoidance of military activity in the Aegean during the summer months continued "to apply," but that Greek forces would remain in a state of preparedness in order to intercept any Turkish air activity, if any, over the Aegean. For the time being, he said, talks at the level of representatives at NATO had been discontinued, due to the fact that Turkey had raised issues "which cannot be the subject of dialogue."

On the issue of the Greek and the Turkish committees of experts set up to examine procedural approaches to problems between the two countries, Mr. Reppas said the government was waiting to hear from the new EU presidency, particularly regarding the procedure for the exchange of letters between the committees via the presidency which, he added, "cannot go on forever."

Tsohatzopoulos criticises Turkey's 'unilateral' decision

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos criticised what he called a "unilateral" decision by Turkey this week to reduce military exercises in the Aegean between July 1 and Aug. 15.

Speaking at Ioannina airport, where he welcomed German Defence Minister Volker Ruehe yesterday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "based on the (1988) Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement, we should normally stop all military exercises for two months in the summer. Turkey's proposal on the one hand comes with a reduced unilateral commitment on exercises - I don't understand why - while Greece proposes that the moratorium on military exercises be extended from two to three months."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also accused Turkey of "trying, by using unilateral commitments, to request the control of Greek flights over the Aegean.

"This, of course, we can never accept, and furthermore, it's not allowable institutionally and internationally, but (can only be accepted) only for its own FIR, as Greece is responsible for its own FIR," he added.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, however, that there was "a realistic base on which to continue discussions so we can find measures that will reduce the tension inherent today in violations and infringements (of air space)."

Athens protests Turkish claims of Greek support to Kurds

The Greek embassy in Ankara yesterday strongly protested to the Turkish foreign ministry over several claims appearing in the Turkish press that Greece was providing support to the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Ambassador Dimitrios Nezeritis told Turkey's Assistant Foreign Undersecretary Inal Batu that the claims were "unprecedented, dangerous and irresponsible."

"We consider it unacceptable that the Turkish authorities have not deemed it expedient to bring to our attention the information which they claim to have," Mr. Nezeritis protested, referring to what had been said by Turkish army Col. Husnu Dag in Diyarb akir last week.

The staff officer claimed that Greek officers are training the PKK in northern Iraq and that "a Greek officer was killed during operations."

Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline discussed by Simitis, Stoyanov

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov agreed yesterday to intensify talks regarding the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

Mr. Stoyanov admitted that talks regarding the construction of the pipeline had not yet reached an advanced stage.

However, the two men agreed that talks should proceed at the earliest to the benefit of Greece, Russia and Bulgaria, which are the three countries directly involved, Mr. Stoyanov said.

He also expressed satisfaction at a standing Greek-Bulgarian agreement for the opening of three border posts.

After talks with Mr. Simitis, the Bulgarian president said he was "extremely satisfied," describing his talks with the Greek government as "realistic."

Mr. Stoyanov said Bulgaria supported Greece's initiative for a Balkan summit in Crete in the autumn, as well as the Greek government's request for participation in the UN Security Council, describing it as a "matter of Balkan honour."

Concluding, he said Greece was a guarantee to Bulgarian efforts for accession to NATO and European Union structures.

Experts to examine Burgas oil pipeline issue this month

Details on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline will be discussed by experts' committees on July 17 and 18, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

Following a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Evgeni Bakardzhiev, Mr. Papandreou said discussions would include a technical study of the project and the structure of the consortium that will build it.

An initial agreement in the past called for the construction of an oil pipeline linking the port cities of Burgas and Alexandroupoli, but details have not been worked out yet.

It is expected to cover 280 kilometers and annual transfer capacity 30 million tons of crude oil.

Mr. Papandreou said he and Mr. Bakardzhiev also agreed to speed up the feasibility studies for the construction of roads linking both countries.

Mr. Bakardzhiev noted the positive attitude of Greece to regional development and trans-border cooperation.

The bilateral committee on tolls would meet in Bulgaria in mid-September, he said, and expressed the hope that by then the bidding for the oil pipeline will have progressed.

US strongly supports UN-sponsored direct Cyprus talks

The United States strongly supports efforts of the United Nations for progress on the Cyprus issue, US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday.

Commenting on the upcoming New York-area meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Mr. Burns said that new US presidential envoy on the Cyprus issue Richard Holbrooke would not be attending the July 9-13 talks, although State Department official Carey Cavanaugh would be present.

France to support Greek membership in Schengen

France intends to support Greece and Austria's membership to the Schengen Pact, the French foreign ministry spokesman said here yesterday.

The French Parliament, which was expected to vote on whether or not it accepted the two countries' membership, was dissolved and the issue postponed for the new session starting in October.

"I assure you that France stands in support of the extension of the Schengen Pact towards Austria and Greece," the spokesman said.

"When a country wants to enter into an international accord, it presents its membership application, which becomes an object of negotiations or agreements by governments, each of which initiates the necessary procedures to ratify the accord, according to its own constitutional procedures," he explained.

Pharmacies closed as chemists strike continues

Pharmacies in Athens and Piraues closed yesterday for a 48-hour strike in protest against a decision to lower profit margins on drug sales and against the non-payment of prescription drugs by social security funds.

Dozens of pharmacists demonstrating yesterday morning outside a Social Security Foundation (IKA) branch on Pireos St. stormed into the building demanding payment of prescription charges. IKA Governor Grigoris Solomos had issued an order to staff earlier yesterday not to accept any prescriptions.

Some pharmacies are operating emergency 24-hour services, both in Athens and in country areas.

Athens bourse falls on profit-taking selling

A bout of profit-taking in banking and industrial shares pushed the Athens Stock Exchange sharply lower, and the market finished 1.41 percent down. The general index closed at 1,503.59 points. Trading was subdued with 10.9 billion drachmas changing hands.

All sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 1.06 percent, Leasing eased 0.80 percent, Insurance dropped 2.58 percent, Investment fell 0.64 percent, Industrials were 1.77 percent off, Construction dropped 1.06 percent, Holding eased 0.75 percent and Misce llaneous fell 2.11 percent.

The parallel market index for smaller cap stocks ended 0.64 percent lower. Shares of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation resumed their downward trend after Tuesday's rebound to end at 6,370, losing 130 drachmas.

Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 143 to 51 with another 30 issues unchanged.

European Popular Bank, Doudos, Macedonian Plastics were top gainers, while Eskimo, Parnassos, Britannia and National Insurance suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 33,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,600, Alpha Credit at 18,700, Delta at 3,640, Titan at 13,485 and Intracom at 12, 100.

Civil aviation stoppages called off

Civil aviation employees have called off their work stoppages, president of the Federation of Civil Aviation employees' unions (OSYPA) Vassilis Alevizopoulos announced.

Gov't announces new measures for merchant seamen

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis yesterday announced a series of measures aimed at improving conditions for Greek merchant seamen, expressing a hope that they would further strengthen the shipping sector.

"The positive contribution of our merchant marine as a factor of strength to our national economy is common knowledge," Mr. Soumakis said.

The new rules outline the minimum number of Greek seamen and officers a Greek-flagged vessel must have, and also obliges merchant seamen and shipowners to contribute to the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT).

Other measures provide for higher unemployment benefits, which has been doubled and extended over a longer period, as well as for additional training to be provided through European Community funds.

Mr. Soumakis expressed the hope that shipowners would support the measures, and called on European Union fellow member-states to support the sector of international shipping.

The measures aim at maintaining Greek-registered ships under the same flag and encouraging more to be registered, in order to open more positions to Greek seamen.

Drachma falls against dollar in first half-97

The drachma depreciated significantly against the dollar, yen and pound sterling in first-half 1997, according to latest figures.

The drachma also slid against the basket of all European currencies, but to a lesser degree.

The parity of the US dollar in first half 1997 showed an 11.5 percent increase against the drachma, compared to a small increase of 1.51 percent in the same period last year.

The yen was up 11.1 percent, while the pound sterling rose 10.16 percent.

Police trained in anti-racism measures

Thirty Thessaloniki police officers have just completed a five-month seminar in issues related to racism and xenophobia, the results of which were summed up in a press conference in the northern city yesterday.

The seminar, taught by Thessaloniki University professors from the law, psychology, philosophy, education and literature faculties, concentrated on the problems faced by Albanians, ethnic Greek Albanians and repatriated ethnic Greeks from the former Sov iet republics.

Thessaloniki Police Director Major General George Plakas said the seminar reflected the police force's changing image. Seminar Director Professor Mika Haritou-Fatourou announced similar programmes would be held in other cities in Greece with universities.

Pioneer heart surgeon Denton Cooley honoured in Athens

Famed US heart surgeon Denton Cooley was in Greece yesterday to receive an award by the Athens-based Onassis Heart Surgery Centre.

Dubbed "the father of by-pass surgery", the 75-year-old Cooley conducted thousands of open-heart operations during his more than 40-year medical career.

Offering advice on avoiding heart ailments, he said that proper diet, exercise and the maintenance of low body weight throughout one's life were major factors.

"I'm not a strict vegetarian," he told his audience, adding that "it's all related to what you eat and drink. I have the same physical condition as I did when I was 20 years old. Now that I'm 75 I weigh as much as I did in the past, and shall continue to weigh the same even if I live another 20 years".

He also said that medicine was aiming at perfecting an autonomous mechanical heart, expressing reservation at the same time over the prospect for success of heart transplants from pigs to humans.


Fine weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds will be northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny and windy with temperatures between 23-34C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 21-33C.


Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.869 Pound sterling 453.046 Cyprus pd 530.026 French franc 46.406 Swiss franc 186.461 German mark 156.379 Italian lira (100) 16.066 Yen (100) 238.993 Canadian dlr. 197.706 Australian dlr. 205.741 Irish Punt 412.970 Belgian franc 7.580 Finnish mark 52.477 Dutch guilder 138.979 Danish kr. 41.089 Swedish kr. 35.232 Norwegian kr. 37.335 Austrian sch. 22.215 Spanish peseta 1.851 Port. Escudo 1.550


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