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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/07/1997 (ANA)


  • FM says Madrid communique "a major political development"
  • Kakavia border post operating normally
  • Greece responds sharply to Ecevit statements
  • Preparations under way for return of Greek troops from Albania
  • Clerides cites need for quick Cyprus solution, `common future`
  • Greece proposes regional security body covering Balkans, Caucasus
  • Athens still adamant on FYROM issue
  • Athens` Olympic bid aired on CNN


FM says Madrid communique "a major political development"

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos described the recent Greek-Turkish joint communique as a "major political development" that created a "new situation, qualitatively", and enabled direct talks on bilateral issues concerning the two countries without intermediaries.

Pangalos stressed, however, that there could be no political rapprochement with Turkey or discussion on issues of cooperation before the matter of Ankara's claims on the Imia islets was settled through recoruse by the latter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, adding that at no time during the talks that preceded the communique was the issue of Greece's right, under international accords, to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles brought up.

The six-point communique, issued on July 8 by Premier Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel after a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid and described by the government as a 'declaration of intentions', said the two countries would pursue efforts to promote bilateral relations based upon: "A mutual commitment to peace, security and the continuing development of good neighbourly relations", "Respect for each other's sovereignty", "Respect for the principles of international law and international agreements,", "Respect for each other's legitimate, vital interests and concerns in the Aegean which are of great importance for their security and national sovereignty", "Commitment to refrain from unilateral acts on the basis of mutual respect and willingness to avoid conflicts arising from misunderstanding", and "Commitment to settle disputes by peaceful means based on mutual consent and without use of force or threat of force".

In an interview published today by the Athens daily "Ta Nea", Pangalos said the "declaration of intentions" issued in Madrid had eliminated the threat of war, and was made at the highest possible level, by the Turkish President himself, who also headed that country's National Security Council, and "makes it clear that Turkey accepts the international treaties as the basis for discussion".

Although this did not mean that Ankara would "prospectively interpret or implement international law and the international treaties in they way it should or in the way they are implemented by the international community", there was nevertheless a "new situation, qualitatively" in the context of which Greece could "directly discuss with Turkey without the mediation of a third power, such as the U.S. or the European Union, particularly on matters concerning the two countries"

"This does not mean that we will negotiate rights we consider non- negotiable or will accpet a political discussion on matters that require legal handling,", he said. "There is no such commitment".

What it does mean, Pangalos said, ''is that as representatives of two mature countries, the representatives that is of Turkey and Greece will be able to meet and discuss all issues pertaining to the two countries''.

Responding to criticism of the Madrid communique voiced in Greece, Pangalos said the idea that the Aegean was a ''closed region'' which belongs entirely to Greece and where no one else has the right to have interests ''is precisely the slander which the Turks use to manipulate their public opinion, (fomenting) aggression against Greece''.

''But one coast of the Aegean... belongs to Turkey. And this Turkish coast has a coastal zone and obviously some right with respect to the continental shelf. So why all this surprise that Turkey has vital interests in the Aegean, interests which exist de facto,'' Pangalos said.

Replying to other questions in the interview, Pangalos clarified that the commitment to refrain from unilateral actions referred to actions of a military nature which could be taken by the other side as being aggressive and could lead to an escalation, as in the case of Imia.

Referring to the Imia incident, Pangalos said ''from one moment to the next'' the politicians lost control of the situation and there was a breakdown in contact between the two governments until then US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke ''appeared on the scene and resolved the dispute''.

Kakavia border post operating normally

The government said today that the main border crossing into Albania at Kakavia was operating normally today and had remained closed for only a few hours last night due to the ''special situation'' which arose following the arrest of an alleged druglord.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Foreign Ministry had received information about the movement of ''various groups of Albanians'' following the arrest of an Albanian suspected major drug dealer and it was decided to shut the Kakavia border post for a few hours last night.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Costas Simitis was to chair a meeting of ministers today to discuss problems associated with the presence of Albanian illegal immigrants in the country and the illegal activities of Albanians, particularly in the northwest of Greece near the border with Albania.

Reppas said increased security measures had been taken in border areas as a result of the recent illegal activity of Albanian criminals, which has included kidnappings of Greeks and robberies.

Greece responds sharply to Ecevit statements

The government today described statements by Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Ecevit as ''completely inopportune, incompatible with efforts for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and inconsistent with Turkey's effort to come closer to the European Union''.

''Such behaviour compromises Turkey and is seen by the international community as belonging to the past,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

He was responding to statements by Ecevit, who as prime minister ordered the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, at an invasion anniversary ceremony in the occupied part of the island republic yesterday.

Ecevit said integration with Turkey of the self-proclaimed ''Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'' (TRNC) -- recognised only by Ankara -- was inevitable after the European Union gave the green light last week to the Cyprus Republic for accession negotiations, while excluding Turkey.

''The 'TRNC' will live forever as an independent state, but its foreign policy and defence will be handled by Turkey,'' Ecevit said.

Reppas said the EU had fixed ''in the most official and categorical manner'' the timetable for accession negotiations with Cyprus.

Asked whether a statement made by Greece in the past that any further Turkish military expansion on Cyprus would be a cause for war still held, Reppas replied that ''any move by Turkey against Cyprus will constitute a cause for war'', while stressing that ''at the present time, a positive approach to things is preferable''.

Greece, Reppa said, is implementing a policy which is based on international law.

''Athens wants calm and stability in the region but at the same time it is ready to confront any phenomenon and is on alert,'' he said.

Preparations under way for return of Greek troops from Albania

Preparations got under way today for the return home of the Greek contingent which served with the Multinational Protection Force in Albania within the framework of OSCE decisions for the safe distribution of humanitarian aid and the smooth holding of general elections.

The Hellenic Navy tank landing craft ''Chios'' is expected to dock at Vlore tomorrow to take the armoured personnel carriers used by the Greek contingent back to Thessaloniki.

The return of the Greek troops is expected to have been completed by August 8.

Clerides cites need for quick Cyprus solution, `common future`

President of the Cyprus Republic Glafcos Clerides reiterated the Nicosia government's desire for a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem "the soonest possible" and stressed the need for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to envisage a common future.

In a message to the people of Cyprus on the occasion of a July 15, 1974 coup against the Cypriot government staged by the military junta then ruling Greece and the bloody Turkish invasion of the island republic that followed five days later, President Clerides described these "tragic events" as "the darkest periods of Cyprus' history".

Noting the consequences, such as the number of people killed, the missing, the refugees and the violation of fundamental human rights, he stressed that at the same time "the illegal colonisation and adverse conditions created" in the Turkish-occupied north forced "many of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in the occupied area to emigrate".

"They are quickly disappearing as a community," he pointed out.

President Clerides stressed that the two communities "must envisage and plan a common future" and noted that "as we enter the 21st century we must abandon the mentality and practices which have brought about so many ills to Cyprus".

He said a fair solution must be found that "will heal the wounds of the past" and establish "a climate of confidence, mutual understanding and cooperation."

Greece proposes regional security body covering Balkans, Caucasus

Upon completing a four-day tour of the Caucasus with the visit to Baku on Friday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told the ANA that he had set out to his counterparts ideas and proposals for establishing a regional security organisation covering the Balkans and the Caucasus.

In Baku, the Greek defence minister met with Azerbaijan's President Haidar Aliyev and the country's top political and military leaders.

He reported that the response was positive, and that there would soon be clear and specific agreements for the promotion of such proposals. It had been agreed, he added, that units of the Hellenic armed forces would also participate in exercises in the Black Sea and the Caspian.

Athens still adamant on FYROM issue

Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said yesterday that Greece was still seeking satisfaction of its well-known and permanent positions in UN-sponsored negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter's name.

"The international community must understand that we do not accept doubts or confusion regarding our identity," he said in his opening address to the World Conference of Pan-Macedonian Associations in Thessaloniki.

The minister defended the now defunct embargo imposed by Greece on FYROM.

"The decision was neither easy nor painless, but it was necessary, and led to the abandonment (on FYROM's part) of irredentist claims, to a change of symbols and the signing of the New York interim accord, which in turn, led to a speedy and substantive improvement of relations between the two countries," he said.

Athens` Olympic bid aired on CNN

The president of the Athens 2004 Olympic candidacy committee, Gianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, told CNN on Friday that the Greek capital holds the prospect of a "virtually new city" as regards public transport, telecoms, the environment, accommodations and sports installations.

"Most sports installations are already in place, and we have the financial guarantees for completing all additional necessary projects well before 2004," she added.

Replying to a remark that Athens faces difficult traffic problems, Ms Angelopoulou-Daskalaki said that any existing difficulties will be effectively met with large projects already underway, such as the underground metro, which she claimed will be ready in 1999, the city's new airport at Spata (scheduled for completion by 2000) and a number of circular roads. These projects, she said, will drastically change the situation regarding public transport in Athens.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to select the host city of the Games of 2004 in September.


Fair weather is forecast over most of the country, with local cloud expected in central mainland and northern Greece in the afternoon and evening. Winds northerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 22 to 36 C, and Thessaloniki should see some light cloud in the evening, with temperatures 20-33 C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.347 Pound sterling 468.224 Cyprus pd 532.565 French franc 46.180 Swiss franc 189.026 German mark 155.893 Italian lira (100) 16.030 Yen (100) 242.504 Canadian dlr. 203.459 Australian dlr. 206.782 Irish Punt 418.307 Belgian franc 7.551 Finnish mark 52.878 Dutch guilder 138.518 Danish kr. 41.001 Swedish kr. 35.986 Norwegian kr. 37.847 Austrian sch. 22.162 Spanish peseta 1.854 Port. Escudo 1.547


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