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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 29/07/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece has "no reason" to comment on "para-Egnatia" statements
  • Meeting of Greek and Turkish committees of experts still possible
  • Ministerial delegation to visit Albania next Tuesday
  • Simitis chairs meeting on national issues
  • Tsohatzopoulos in talks with former US presidential advisor
  • Greece takes delivery of four new F-16 fighter jets
  • Stringent security measures for World Athletics Championships
  • Mirage jet crashes in sea, pilot missing
  • Greek envoy submits memorandum to US gov't on Turkish violations
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Greece has "no reason" to comment on "para-Egnatia" statements

Greece has no reason to comment on statements about an initiative for the construction of the so-called "para-Egnatia" highway made after a meeting between the presidents of Bulgaria and Turkey, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

Reppas said Athens did not believe the "para-Egnatia" project could go ahead, reiterating that what Greece was interested in was the completion of the Egnatia Highway and the opening of vertical road axes "so that the Egnatia acquires value and can help the neighbouring countries".

The spokesman was referring to statements made by Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel during an ongoing three-day visit by the former to Ankara.

The so-called "para-Egnatia" project, discussed in the past by Bulgaria, Turkey, Albania and FYROM, concerns the construction of a highway through the Balkans, linking Durres on the Adriatic with Istanbul.

Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said recently that the Egnatia Highway, being built on Greek soil, would be finished by the year 2000.

When complete, the Egnatia Highway will span the breadth of northern Greece, extending for 680 kilometres from the port of Igoumenitsa on the Ionian Sea to the Greek-Turkish border.

Reppas underlined that relations between Greece and Bulgaria were excellent, while noting that Athens desired friendly relations with all countries.

"The issue of the so-called para-Egnatia has been discussed in the past and the hopes of those who believed it might proceed proved to be groundless because due not only to a lack of funds but also of the necessary interest, " Reppas said.

Meeting of Greek and Turkish committees of experts still possible

The government today once again left open the possibility of a meeting between the Greek and the Turkish committees of experts set up recently to examine procedural matters related to Greek-Turkish differences.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said however that the issue would be dealt with "during the next period", without clarifying which period he was referring to.

Reppas said Greece had not yet replied to the second memorandum prepared and sent by the Turkish committee, via the European Union presidency, adding that "in the present phase, the procedure will continue through the exchange of letters".

The spokesman clarified that the issue of the Greek committee of experts' third memorandum had not been discussed at today's meeting of the foreign ministry leadership chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Ministerial delegation to visit Albania next Tuesday

A delegation of ministers headed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will visit Tirana next Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced today.

Noting that it had not yet been decided which ministers would participate, the spokesman said that Public Order Minister George Romeos would certainly be going.

Simitis chairs meeting on national issues

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting of the foreign ministry leadership focusing on national issues.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

According to sources, discussion centred on Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem, in view of the resumption of direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash scheduled for August 11-16 in Montreux, Switzerland.

Also discussed were the latest violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean by Turkish warplanes and the agenda for tomorrow's meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA).

No statements were made after the meeting.

Tsohatzopoulos in talks with former US presidential advisor

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met today with visiting former U.S. presidential advisor George Stephanopoulos, whom he briefed on developments in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, which he recently visited.

Tsohatzopoulos also pointed out the importance of being able to take part in initiatives on peace and stability in the wider geopolitical region, while the two men further exchanged "useful views" on the Cyprus issue and the aegean.

Stephanopoulos praised the role Greece could play in the wider region of southern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus, where there were regional tensions.

Questioned on the Cyprus issue, Stephanopoulos recalled U.S. President Bill Clinton's interest, which he said was indicated by the mediation of Richard Holbrooke who, he added, would do everything possible to advance the search for a solution, as the U.S. believed the time was appropriate for that.

Tsohatzopoulos said Cyprus was going through a critical period in view of its prospective EU accession, adding that the Holbrooke mediation indicated the severity of the problem, which had serious prospects for a solution.

He also described the U.S. government's initiative for a solution of the problem as being of "immense importance", adding that "on all the other issues, let us await the protagonists".

Greece takes delivery of four new F-16 fighter jets

The first four F-16 fighter jets of a batch of 40 ordered by Greece in 1992 arrived at the 111 Fighter Wing at Nea Aghialos base yesterday, while the government will tomorrow take the final decision awarding the tender for the modernisation of 39 Hellenic Air Force Phantom F-4 jets.

The four F-16 Block 50 -- two twin-seater and two single-seater jets -- were flown to Greece by US pilots via Ramstein, Germany.

The new aircraft are equipped with improved radar systems, a more powerful engine and an enhanced weapons platform as compared to the F-16s already in service with the Hellenic Air Force.

Greek pilots had visited the US to receive training for the new aircraft and they will in turn train colleagues here.

The official entry into service of the new aircraft will be marked by a special ceremony in late September to be attended by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

The government said yesterday that the final decision awarding the tender for the modernisation of 39 Hellenic Air Force Phantom F-4 jets would be taken at tomorrow's meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA).

On the basis of the tender terms, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, one of which is that the aircraft must be ready by the end of the year 2000, it had been decided that the bid of the German company -- DASA -- was superior to that of the US firm which participated in the tender.

Stringent security measures for World Athletics Championships

Over 9,000 policemen will be on duty equipped with the very latest equipment when the IAAF World Athletics Championships open in Athens on Friday, Attica police chief Ioannis Georgakopoulos said yesterday.

The giant security operation got under way last Friday and was immediately apparent to Athenians unaccustomed to seeing so many policemen and cars patrolling the capital.

Mr. Georgakopoulos said the operation would peak on Friday and continue until the end of the championships on August 10.

Some 7,500 officers, supported by approximately 1,500 police cadets, will be on duty during the games, while increased security measures will be taken for the Marathon and long distance walking races.

Mr. Georgakopoulos said the police would be providing security from the moment teams arrive at Athens international airport and are escorted to their hotels.

Police officers will accompany the teams as they travel to and from the Athens Olympic Sports Complex each day, while security at the hotels will be tight.

In particular during the games, Mr. Georgakopoulos said, the police will carry out stringent checks of people entering the hotels at which athletes will be staying.

Meanwhile it was announced that International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch will arrive in Athens on Thursday, eve of the start of the IAAF Championships, while nother prominent IOC member, Prince Albert of Monaco, is due on August 4.

Mirage jet crashes in sea, pilot missing

A Hellenic Air Force Mirage-2000 fighter plane crashed into the sea northeast of the island of Skyros yesterday morning as it was carrying out a training flight, and its pilot was missing, Airforce sources said.

Two helicopters and a C-130 plane joined nearby ships in a search operation for Lt. Ioakeim Pantelakis, an experienced pilot with 420 flight hours on Mirages.

Wreckage from the Mirage was spotted 25 nautical miles northeast of Skyros.

The jet-fighter took off with another Mirage from Tanagra airforce base on a routine training flight in interception and went crashing into the sea at 10:50, the sources said.

A committee of experts has been set up to investigate the causes of the accident.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that all Greeks were grieved by the tragic accident. He said that the tough training by the Greek Airforce to enable it to meet the responsibility it has to defend the country, also had its costs.

Greek envoy submits memorandum to US gov't on Turkish violations

Greece's Ambassador in Washington has submitted a memorandum to the US government setting out in detail the latest spate of violations by Turkish warplanes of Greek airspace over the Aegean, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

Confirming press reports of the memorandum, Mr. Reppas said it clearly stated Greece's position that "such phenomena not only fail to help but upset the climate which is being aspired to following the Madrid communique".

He was referring to the joint communique signed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel early this month on the sidelines of the recent NATO summit in Madrid, defining the principles which should govern Greek-Turkish rela tions.

"These phenomena (violations) may be sporadic but they must stop," Mr. Reppas said, clarifying that similar memorandums had not been submitted to other countries.


Sporadic showers over Macedonia and Thrace in the afternoon are expected today. The rest of the country will have fair weather initially, but it may rain locally over mainland regions later. Winds will be northerly northeasterly, mostly moderate, but becoming very strong locally in the Aegean in the afternoon. Athens will be mostly sunny with local clouding in the afternoon and temperatures ranging from 22-33 C, while Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with chances of afternoon showers and temperatures of 20-31 C.


Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.093 Pound sterling 474.549 Cyprus pd 530.700 French franc 45.971 Swiss franc 188.163 German mark 154.896 Italian lira (100) 15.943 Yen (100) 243.992 Canadian dlr. 205.939 Australian dlr. 210.165 Irish Punt 418.406 Belgian franc 7.504 Finnish mark 52.298 Dutch guilder 137.605 Danish kr. 40.712 Swedish kr. 36.109 Norwegian kr. 37.519 Austrian sch. 22.010 Spanish peseta 1.839 Port. Escudo 1.537



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