Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-15
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 15/01/1998 (ANA)
- Burns says upgrading, modernising Greek-US relations his priority
- Greece,India agree to support each other's UN bids
- Athens reacts to latest Turkish provocations over Aegean
- More Turkish violations of Greek airspace
- Protest to Istanbul Prefecture over Greek sexton's murder
- Premier optimistic over Greek economy's future
- Second annual solidarity meeting of Greek, Turkish journalists
- US Secretary of Commerce to visit Athens
- AMTECH scheduled for end of the month
- Bank of Greece reports capital inflows after intervention
- Drachma not overvalued, report says
- Commercial Bank of Greece on the Internet
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Burns says upgrading, modernising Greek-US relations his priority
US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns made his first public address
yesterday since assuming his post in December, saying he will work toward
modernising and upgrading relations between Greece and the United States,
casting problems of the past to oblivion.
Addressing an event organised by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce
at the Athens Concert Hall, he also referred to what he called an outright
distortion by many Greek media outlets of his recent statements regarding
Greek national airspace.
"A number of newspapers and later television and radio commentators alleged
that I had proposed some kind of Aegean compromise that would reward
sovereignty of the Kaloyeri islets to Greece in exchange for a reduction of
the air space that Greece has long claimed. In fact, I neither said that
nor would I ever imagine it. The two issues are not and should not be
linked. The story had no basis in fact. But the result was a debate that
could only sow suspicion, create distrust and detract from discussion of
the real issues. We have serious issues to debate. Let's not waste our time
and efforts on imaginary ones," he emphasised.
Mr. Burns termed a "challenge for our countries is to create an enduring
peace between Greece and Turkey and to help achieve a united Cyprus",
adding that "we Americans want to see a peaceful, stable eastern Mediterranean
where the potential for conflict is eliminated and the people of the region
can live in permanent peace."
He went on to say that "clearly, Cyprus and Greek-Turkish differences are
among the most difficult and complex diplomatic problems anywhere in the
world", while offering assurances that US President Bill Clinton, US
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and special presidential mediator
Richard Holbrooke "will do what they can to help."
"We do understand the history and emotion that lie behind these issues. And
we stand prepared to offer our good offices should the countries involved
so desire," he said.
"But neither we (the US) nor any other country wants, can or should impose
solutions. In the final analysis, the peoples of this region must
themselves settle their differences, and they must do so peacefully," he
said, adding that "peace will not be possible, however, without a decision
by all sides to take ambitious steps, even risks, to resolve the current
Mr. Burns praised business associations between the two countries (Greece
and Turkey) which he said showed courage in developing bilateral relations
"providing that inspiration" for governments to follow "the long walk
Mr. Burns said five challenges must be met "if Greece and the US are to
achieve an effective and modern agenda needed to solidify and enhance our
"Unfortunately, we permitted our relationship to deteriorate for too long",
he said and proposed for their improvement that the two governments "should
commit to a much more active exchange of visits and meetings between our
cabinet- level officials" - since 1993 only two US cabinet secretaries have
"Greeks and Americans need to clear the air of the suspicion and distrust
that have sometimes crept into our relationship. I believe our two
governments have effectively resolved that problem during the past few
years but it is still prevalent among a few in the Greek press where
conspiracy theories and sometimes even outright distortion can be found,"
Mr. Burns said "the second challenge to Greece and the US is to recognise
that the business of this Chamber of Commerce - trade, investment and
economic cooperation - will be in the future the vital core of our
He said that "it is disappointing that our two-way direct trade amounts to
only US$1.5 billion annually, which places Greece at the bottom of
America's trade with members of the European Union."
"I believe we should challenge ourselves to double US-Greece trade during
the next five years and to attract substantially greater American
investment to Greece," he added.
"The third challenge for our countries is to create an enduring peace
between Greece and Turkey and to help achieve a united Cyprus," he
"The fourth challenge is to reaffirm and reconstruct our commitment to each
other's security," he added and announced the arrival in Greece next week
of Gen. Dennis Reimer, the US Army Chief of Staff and a member of the joint
chiefs of staff to further this cooperation.
Mr. Burns further said that Greece and the US must work together to combat
terrorism and in this context said "that is why it is so encouraging to
note the arrest yesterday by Greek authorities of suspected terrorists."
"The fifth and final challenge for Greece and the United States - the most
fundamental and important of all - is to transform our entire relationship
from the old to the new, from an antique agenda to a modern and mature one
based on mutual respect and enlightened self-interest," he said.
"No matter how deep Cyprus and Greek-Turkish differences have become, our
efforts to resolve them should not deflect us from also broadening our
agenda to include enhanced cooperation in the Balkans and the Black Sea
littoral and the Middle East, where Greece enjoys many natural advantages.
They should not prevent us from finding a way to combine American and Greek
expertise in Bosnia to help others make peace. Most important, they should
not prevent us from overcoming the stereotypes we have about each other to
find a new, higher plane to work together in the future," he added.
Greece,India agree to support each other's UN bids
Greece and India yesterday expressed mutual support for each other's bids
for membership on the UN Security Council.
Speaking to Greek and Indian reporters after completing his official
contacts in the Indian capital yesterday, President Kostis Stephanopoulos
said Athens supported New Delhi's bid to become a permanent member of the
Security Council, and announced that the Indian leadership had assured him
of support for Athens' pursuit for a non-permanent member seat on the
Setting out Greek views on international affairs during an address at the
Rajiv Gandhi Institute earlier, Mr. Stephanopoulos criticised the inability
of the UN to impose its principles, but also the powerful of the earth,
"whose interests prevail over the pursuits of international law ".
He cited the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus as a glaring example
of such inability.
He also noted that the EU has, in certain cases, such as that of the former
Yugoslavia, adopted hasty and mistaken decisions which are largely due to
different interests between member-states, hampering the formulation of
common goals and policies.
Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that NATO expansion eastwards must not give the
impression of a parallel shifting of the boundaries of US influence, or
cause concern and suspicion on the part of Russia, whose objections must be
given due consideration.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that
Greece is under threat of war by Turkey if it exercises its right under the
Law of the Sea to extend its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical
He rejected a Turkish proposal for direct, unconditional dialogue with
Athens, saying that such an option "has no chance of success" as the
neighbouring country "proposes dialogue on differences it manufactures
The Greek president said he hoped that reason and prudence would prevail in
Turkey, and that differences would be referred to the International Court
at The Hague.
"Besides, I stressed to my Indian interlocutors (in relation to India's
external problems, namely, the Kashmir issue) that efforts for the creation
of faits accomplis, the threat or use of military force and terrorist acts
are to be fully condemned."
After visiting the National Museum of India, the Greek president met at the
Taj Mahal Hotel with Indian business leaders, to whom he set out the
potential for expanding the two countries' economic relations, stressing
Greece's course of convergence with other European economies.
He also noted the role Greece is playing in the deregulated markets of the
countries of the Balkans and eastern Europe, as well as the opportunities
arising in the framework of the organisation of the Olympic Games of 2004
He also announced that a Greek-Indian agreement for the mutual promotion
and protection of investments was in the stage of preparation.
Athens reacts to latest Turkish provocations over Aegean
Turkey seems to forget that it has itself been observing and respecting the
present legal status quo in the Aegean for decades, which also includes
airspace of 10 nautical miles, foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said
yesterday, while commenting on relevant statements by the spokesman of
Turkey's foreign ministry.
Netjati Utkan said in his statement that "Greece wants to realise its
expansionist designs in the Aegean and distort international treaties
determining the status quo in the Aegean".
During his regular weekly briefing, the Turkish official also referred to
statements by the National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos with regard
to Greece's national airspace and rocky islets in the Aegean, casting doubt
on the sovereignty of several Greek islands.
"There are no islands, islets and rocky islets that belong to Greece other
than those which were given to that country by the Lausanne and Paris
treaties", he said.
Mr. Bikas responded that the Turkish foreign ministry needed to study the
Lausanne Treaty more carefully.
More Turkish violations of Greek airspace
The Turkish air force infringed on Athens FIR regulations yesterday on two
instances. Greek radar picked up two Turkish aircraft south of Rhodes and
one southeast of Limnos.
Defence ministry sources said a total of 12 Turkish aircraft entered Athens
FIR without submitting flight plans and were intercepted by Greek air force
Later yesterday it was announced that Hellenic Air Force fighters had taken
off to intercept a second group of 20 Turkish warplanes that infringed the
Athens' FIR and violated Greek airspace between Hios and Lesvos and Lesvos
and Limnos. Between 11 :30 a.m. and 2 p.m., six Turkish F-16s, six F-4s and
two RF-4s (aerial photography) entered the Athens FIR without warning and
carried out 16 violations of Greece's national airspace between Limnos and
Hios and between Rhodes and Kos. All were intercepted by 10 Greek Mirage
2000s and F-16s,while in two cases the interceptions developed into
Protest to Istanbul Prefecture over Greek sexton's murder
Greece yesterday lodged a written protest with the Istanbul prefectural
authorities over recent attacks against Greek institutions and Orthodox
churches as well as Turkish officials' refusal to see the Greek consul
general, foreign ministry sources said.
The demarche was sent by the Greek Consul General to the Istanbul
Prefecture after Consul General Fotis Xidas was "unable to come into
contact with the Prefect of Istanbul" last night, the sources said. In the
demarche the Greek authorities stressed their "concern over the repeated
incidents against foundations of the Greeks of Turkey and the refusal of
the Turkish authorities to receive the Consul General or the Consul of
In the latest incident, an ethnic Greek sexton at the Aghios Therapon
Church in Istanbul was found dead on Tuesday in a church well after an
unexplained fire at the church. He was found with a cracked skull after the
fire was extinguished.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday expressed the
government's condemnation over the fire as well as other such incidents in
Turkey against Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate staff and property, whose
causes have continuously remained une xplained. He also accused Turkish
authorities of inefficiency.
The Orthodox churches in Istanbul, and particularly churches in areas
without a large Greek community, have been the target of systematic attacks
by a gang that steals icons and other ecclesiastical objects, the sources
Questioned later on the issue, Mr. Reppas declined to attribute responsibility
to the Turkish political leadership, saying it would be premature to say
that it was even indirectly involved.
Nevertheless, he observed that the climate of fanaticism being cultivated
by the behaviour of Turkey's political leaders perhaps facilitated circles
that were trying to create tension in relations between the two countries.
Mr. Reppas noted, however, that a strong demarche had been lodged with
Turkey's ambassador in Athens, who was summoned to the foreign ministry
Premier optimistic over Greek economy's future
Prime Minister Costas Simitis appeared optimistic over the future of the
Greek economy during the cutting of the traditional New Year's pie "pitta"
at the Foreign Press Correspondents' headquarters late yesterday afternoon.
"We can look forward to the future with confidence. We will achieve our
targets and Greece will play the role which we have planned and will join
the European Union on an equal footing," he said.
"Upheavals in the international economy, the problems which we all face in
our day-to-day life and tension in Greek-Turkish relations must not create
the impression for us that we are not moving ahead. We are proceeding
steadfastly on the course we have set out despite whatever difficulties we
encounter," he added.
Referring to the economy in particular, Mr. Simitis said "the performances
of our economy are better from year to year. Our competitiveness and
productivity are improving and at the same time a programme of projects is
underway in the country which it h as never before witnessed and will have
many positive repercussions on employment."
Second annual solidarity meeting of Greek, Turkish journalists
The second annual solidarity meeting of Greek and Turkish journalistswill
be held in Izmir, Turkey between Feb. 6-8 on the issue "The Media and
Nationalism", according to an announcement yesterday by the group
Journalists in the Aegean and Thrace for Peace.
The first meeting was held last year on the island of Hios, on the first
anniversary of a crisis over the Imia islets which brought the two nations
to the brink of armed conflict.
It was decided to repeat the conferences every year, either on a Greek
island of the Aegean or a town on the Asia Minor coast in order to examine
issues related to the role of the press, particularly the Turkish daily
"Hurriyet", in fueling the Imia crisis.
Questions to be examined at this year's meeting include the press and
minority groups in Greece and Turkey, anti-nationalist movements in both
countries, Greek-Turkish tension and the role of "third parties", as well
as the role of front-page headlines in creating tension between Turkey and
US Secretary of Commerce to visit Athens
US Secretary of Commerce Richard Daley is to visit Athens next Saturday for
talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ministers on the need to boost
trade between the two countries, currently standing at US$1.5 billion.
Mr. Daley, the first secretary of the Clinton administration to visit
Athens, said in a press conference here yesterday that he will also promote
the participation of US firms in tenders announced by the Greek government
for state procurements.
He also named the sectors of telecommunications and environmental
protection as areas of investment potential.
Mr. Daley will leave for Turkey on Sunday.
AMTECH scheduled for end of the month
The Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce is again organising the annual
"AMTECH" trade fair at a downtown Athens hotel from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. Some
of the largest telecoms and computer firms are scheduled to take part at
Bank of Greece reports capital inflows after intervention
The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, intervened once again in
the domestic interbank market yesterday by draining liquidity at rates
around 20 percent resulting in further capital inflows totalling 260
The central bank offered 14-day repos at 20 percent draining more than 300
billion drachmas off the interbank market.
Despite the intervention the money market remained nervous.
Overnight interest rates fell as low as 11 percent during the day to
finally settle at higher levels.
The drachma was firmer against the Ecu and the DMark but fell by 0.27
percent against the US dollar.
Drachma not overvalued, report says
The Greek drachma is not overvalued and any expectation of a devaluation of
the currency is not justified, a National Bank of Greece report released
The report, conducted by university economics professors Gikas Chardouvelis
and Dimitris Mallariaropoulos, argues that the valuation of the drachma is
nearing levels of long-term balance with 21 foreign currencies which are
Greece's main trade partners.
The survey also sees a significant gap among the current and expected rate
of inflation in the country.
Despite the fact that inflation has fallen steadily in recent years,
current inflation rates have proven higher than expected, it says. This
development is strengthening anti-inflationary prospects in Greece.
Commercial Bank of Greece on the Internet
The Commercial Bank of Greece,a state-controlled bank and one of the
biggest in the country, has opened its own website on the Internet to
inform clients and consumers on the bank's services and banking products.
The bank's address is www.combank.gr.
Partly cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with showers in
the west of the country. Local fog in the morning. Winds will be southerly,
light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens will range between 6-17C, while
in Thessaloniki from 2-11C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.537
Pound sterling 464.871 Cyprus pd 533.299
French franc 46.713 Swiss franc 192.384
German mark 156.409 Italian lira (100) 15.896
Yen (100) 218.151 Canadian dlr. 199.769
Australian dlr. 185.901 Irish Punt 392.653
Belgian franc 7.581 Finnish mark 51.657
Dutch guilder 138.825 Danish kr. 41.073
Swedish kr. 35.563 Norwegian kr. 37.857
Austrian sch. 22.235 Spanish peseta 1.846
Port. Escudo 1.529