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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 12/12/1997 (ANA)


  • EU hardens stance towards Turkey
  • Juncker: Turkey years away from EU membership
  • Dini: Turkey not mature enough to enter EU
  • Washington accuses Turkey of 'needless provocation' in the Aegean
  • Karamanlis calls for int'l protection of Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • Expansion of museum exhibition on Greek civilisation
  • Reppas proposes protocol to safeguard rights amid information
  • V. Papandreou optimistic on businesses' adaptation of Euro
  • Shipowners call for more measures to increase competitiveness
  • Balkan chamber officials urge closer economic ties
  • Greek stocks slump on international turmoil, rate jump
  • Commission proposes financial penalties against Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


EU hardens stance towards Turkey

The European Union yesterday hardened its stance on the issue of negotiations for Turkish membership in future.

"Turkey does not fulfill the political conditions for being admitted to the negotiating table by reason of its human rights situation, the situation with the Kurds and its relations with Greece and Cyprus," Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jacques Poos said during a press conference, ahead of the opening of the EU summit in the Grand Duchy today.

"Turkey has not given the signals asked by the European Union for a normalisation of its relations with Greece," he added, stressing that the Luxembourg presidency considered that Turkey was a candidate for admission to the EU and did have European prospects, but had not accepted a package of compromise proposals submitted by the Luxembourg presidency.

Following this development, he said, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz had decided during their fruitless three-hour meeting on Wednesday that the invitation of Turkey to an official dinner at the EU summit on Saturday would be cancelled.

Responsding to reporters' questions whether Greece had threatened to use a veto regarding the proposed European Conference, Mr. Poos said that the Greek side had never used the word veto.

Juncker: Turkey years away from EU membership

Turkey still needs years to become a member of the European Union, Mr. Juncker said in an interview published in today's issue of the "Luxembourger Wort" newspaper, but released ahead of publication by the Austrian News Agency yesterday.

He also noted that he was not prepared to let the issue of Turkey's European prospects dominate the EU summit in Luxembourg.

Mr. Juncker also said that during his meeting with Turkish counterpart Yilmaz, he requested that Turkey revoke threats of using military force in case the EU starts negotiations with Cyprus.

"Turkey did not do this," he said.

Mr. Juncker made a brief stop on his way back from Athens on Wednesday night, where he sent an unequivocal message to Turkey that its accession to the EU depended the fulfillment of certain conditions.

"Above all, it must cease impeding Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Turkey must make it clear that Cyprus can become a member of the EU," he said after meeting Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima.

The president of the EU Council also stressed that Turkey must accept the European legal regime and recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague in its differences with Greece regarding the Aegean islands.

A third indispensable condition was progress in the human rights situation in Turkey. "There can be no compromise on this issue, and no special arrangement for Turkey," he said.

Dini: Turkey not mature enough to enter EU

An ANA dispatch from Rome quoted Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini as saying that Turkey was still not mature enough to enter the European Union, but this was not a reason to isolate it.

"We know very well that Turkey is not ready. It is certainly not at the same level of political and economic maturity, so as to participate in the EU with the other member-states that have submitted membership applications. It will need an adjustment co urse, which will certainly be longer than that of the other countries," he said.

Meanwhile, Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen used strong language regarding Turkey yesterday.

"A country wishing to be considered as a candidate for EU membership cannot have territorial designs against another member-state of the Union," he said at a meeting of the European Policy Council in Copenhagen.

He also referred to Turkey's demands on a group of Greek islands, its efforts to impede Cypriot membership, and the situation of human rights and minorities in the country.

"Turkey got a customs union cooperation with the EU. Now, it must give something too," he said.

EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek also stated in Luxembourg that Turkey had not made the steps required for a normalisation of relations with Greece and a resolution of the Cyprus issue.

Washington accuses Turkey of 'needless provocation' in the Aegean

The United States on Thursday accused Turkey of provocative air movements near Greece in the northwestern Aegean Sea and said such incidents needlessly raised tensions between the two NATO members.

The flights, even if they remained within international air space, were "needlessly provocative and totally unnecessary," State Department deputy spokesman James Foley told reporters.

"Military activity of this kind undermines confidence and needlessly exacerbates tensions between our two NATO allies," he said.

Foley said he was referring to Turkish air movements in the northwestern Aegean near the Greek city of Thessalonki that were confirmed by NATO radar.

"We call on Turkey to stop such actions," he said.

These flights in the northwestern Aegean, he said, even if they were carried out in international airspace, did not contribute to the effort for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

"They were needlessly provocative. Military activity of this kind undermines confidence and needlessly exacerbates tensions between our two NATO allies.

According to diplomatic sources, US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman addressed the issue personally during the day, contacting both Athens and Ankara.

The Greek government yesterday described as "provocative" the recent infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by the Turkish warplanes.

"Such acts do not contribute to a de-escalation of tension and the restoration of normal relations between Greece and Turkey," government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said.

He added that such provocations did not serve Turkey's interests and that Ankara must finally realise that it cannot act as a destabilising factor in the region.

According to national defence ministry sources, the 18 Turkish warplanes infringed on air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR from 2 p.m. until sundown yesterday.

The same sources said 52 violations of Greek national airspace in the region between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Kos and Rhodes were also recorded.

In all cases, the Turkish violators were recognised and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000 and F-16 fighter planes, while in two cases the interception process developed into engagements.

Karamanlis calls for int'l protection of Ecumenical Patriarchate

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday that the international community must defend the Ecumenical Patriarchate from attacks and threats.

Mr. Karamanlis was speaking in Thessaloniki to cadres of the European Peoples Party's (EPP) Parliamentary group and to the presidium of the European Union of Christian Democrats. Members of both groups are attending a meeting on Orthodoxy organised by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

"The Ecumenical Patriarchate is receiving threats and sustaining terrorist attacks, and we must all mobilise ourselves," Mr. Karamanlis said, stressing the fact that the School of Theology on the island of Halki, the Patriarchate's religious training academy, has been closed by Turkish authorities since 1971.

A message by the Ecumenical Patriarch was conveyed to the meeting.

Expansion of museum exhibition on Greek civilisation

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday announced the restructuring and expansion of an exhibition on Greek civilisation through the ages at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, after a meeting with museum officials.

The cost of the renovation will not exceed five billion drachmas, he said. Instructions were also given on procedures to expand the basement of the museum to 12,000 square metres.

Reppas proposes protocol to safeguard rights amid information age

Press Minister Dimitris Reppas proposed the creation of a protocol on the rights of man amid the expanding society of informatics, during his speech yesterday at the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy.

The conference is taking place in Thessaloniki with the participation of ministers, government members and representatives of international organisations from 40 European countries and nine international organisations.

CoE Deputy Secretary General Hans Christian Kruger also addressed the conference.

Mr. Reppas said the creation of the protocol is dictated both by the European Union's strong legislative concern in the establishment of a European television scene without borders and efforts being made by the Council of Europe to consolidate freedom of cross-border broadcasts between its members.

He said the protocol must consolidate freedom of access to information, transparency and respect for human dignity. In this context, governments must take care to avoid big economic concentrations in the sector of procurement, access and content to info rmatics networks and transparency in both relations between purveyors and between them and the state.

V. Papandreou optimistic on businesses' adaptation to euro

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday expressed optimism that the country's businesses and citizens would quickly adapt to changes to be ushered in through the introduction of a common European currency, the euro.

Speaking at an event of the European Union of Firms and Businessmen (EEEE) and the Institute for the Study of the Greek Economy, she stressed that those who will face the greatest difficulty will be the private citizens without experience in managing a transitional double system of calculation between the old and new system.

The minister also referred to a need for an institutional preparation of the state and the formulation of rules for converting transactions from drachmas into euros.

She stressed the importance of the correct preparation of banks and businesses, and the need to avoid passing costs to the consumer.

Shipowners call for more measures to increase competitiveness

Members of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) reacted positively to statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis that there is no question of the merchant marine ministry being abolished.

This was stressed by EEE President Yiannis Lyras during a press conference yesterday.

"It is true that rumours concerning the abolition of the merchant marine ministry and the incorporation of its services into other ministries have created concern among us, since we are not aware of the government's thoughts," he said.

Referring to the decrease of the Greek shipping registry being recorded lately, he said measures taken by the government are inadequate in relation to the measures taken by other European Union countries to strengthen their registry and to attract shipp ing firms to their country.

Mr. Lyras stressed that "we must be competitive compared to other countries and I hope that the government will recognise that the measures it has taken are ineffective and will revise its policy on this issue to put an end to the loss of ships from the national registry," he said.

Mr. Lyras said that from November 1996 to November 1997 there has been a "leak" of 160 ships, namely, 19 per cent of the Greek-flagged merchant fleet, adding that this was clearly due to issues of competitiveness.

Balkan chamber officials urge closer economic ties

Balkan countries have to tighten economic links among themselves in order to attract foreign investors and reap the benefits of progress being made in the political arena, Nikos Zahariadis, secretary general of Greece's national economy ministry said yest erday. Addressing a meeting in Athens of the Balkan Chambers Union, Mr. Zahariadis said that political steps taken at an inter-Balkan conference in Crete in November would remain in abeyance without economic backup.

Balkan cooperation should rest on equal status for each country, respect for rules of the international marketplace, and autonomy in foreign policy, he said.

Taking part in the meeting are chamber representatives from Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Cyprus, Romania, Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece. Bulgarian officials were unable to attend due to adverse weather conditions.

According to Andreas Kyriazis, president of the Central Union of Greek Chambers, socio-economic conditions in Balkan states had improved in recent months. Stability and progress in some cases was clearly discernible, but closer economic ties were need ed in order to make the Balkans a regional power, said Mr. Kyriazis, who is also president of the Balkan chambers' assembly.

Discussed at the meeting was how European businesses could make better use of the EU's Phare and Tacis programmes, which provide funding for direct investments in the Balkans and the creation of joint ventures.

According to an EU official, the programmes had helped to fund more than 2, 000 business plans for joint ventures in the Balkans, eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.

Eligible for funding are feasibility studies, plans for the transfer of knowhow, and events to promote economic ties in the region.

Finally, a senior official of Commercial Bank of Greece told delegates that the bank had initiated the creation of a Balkan bank forum, whose first phase will include participation by 50 banks.

Greek stocks slump on international turmoil, rate jump

Greek equities came under strong pressure yesterday to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said the Greek market was hit by the shockwaves of new turmoil in international markets which had dampened sentiment and driven up rates on the domestic money market.

Interbank rates soared to 16 percent after falling to 9.8-11.0 percent the previous day, while the Bank of Greece reported outflows totalling 300 million Ecus from the market.

The general index lost 5.12 percent of its value to end at 1,486.39 points. Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 49.5 billion drachmas, boosted by arbitrage trading.

Sectors indices suffered losses. Banks fell 5.04 percent, Leasing dropped 3.41 percent, Insurance plunged 4.52 percent, Investment was 4.10 percent off, Industrials dropped 4.91 percent, Construction was 6.85 percent down, Holding fell 6.16 percent and Miscellaneous eased 5.09 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 4.35 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 5.21 percent to 852.05 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 220 to 17 with another 8 issues unchanged.

Ideal, Radio Athina and Macedonian Plastics scored the biggest percent gains, while Intracom, Galis, Alte, Petzetakis, Avax, Balkan Export, Nikas, Selonda and Hellas Can suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 25,320 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,400, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,550, Delta Dairy at 3,310, Titan Cement at 12,470, Intracom at 13,500 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 000.

Commission proposes financial penalties against Greece

The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice and to request the court to impose financial penalties for failure to apply rulings concerning two infringements arising from EU rules on recognition of qualifications.

The first case concerns the failure by Greece to implement a directive which set up a general system of recognition of higher education qualifications.

The second case concerns the requirement for a Greek certificate to open private schools or to be a director or teacher in such schools.

In the absence of a satisfactory answer from Greece to the reasoned opinion the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court yet again and to request the court to impose a financial penalty on Greece.


Fair weather with some cloudiness will prevail throughout Greece today, with light rain in the northwest of the country. Winds westerly, southwesterly, light to moderate. Athens will be mostly sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 5-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with some morning fog and temperatures from 3-12C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.996 Pound sterling 457.391 Cyprus pd 532.208 French franc 46.562 Swiss franc 192.651 German mark 155.883 Italian lira (100) 15.925 Yen (100) 214.292 Canadian dlr. 194.353 Australian dlr. 185.003 Irish Punt 403.149 Belgian franc 7.558 Finnish mark 51.695 Dutch guilder 138.369 Danish kr. 40.910 Swedish kr. 35.658 Norwegian kr. 38.331 Austrian sch. 22.158 Spanish peseta 1.845 Port. Escudo 1.527


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