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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 29/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Tsohatzopoulos dismisses Turkish claims over Greek airspace
  • Simitis rejects criticism over Olympics committee composition
  • Rozakis elected to European Court of Human Rights
  • Defence minister pleased with contacts in Czech Republic, Slovakia
  • Simitis on arms procurements
  • Mass executions by Turks during '74 Cyprus invasion reported
  • Europarliament's head to meet with Greek gov't leadership
  • 'Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus' programme unveiled
  • ESHEA work stoppage
  • Press Ministry's Secretary General on official German visit
  • Romanian to head Greek national football team after World Cup
  • Increase in cost of US visas
  • Interbank rates drop on Bank of Greece intervention
  • Government determined to restructure public enterprises
  • Greek tourism industry cautiously optimistic on 1998 outlook
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Tsohatzopoulos dismisses Turkish claims over Greek airspace

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, currenlty on an official visit to Slovakia, described claims by the Turkish foreign ministry on the extent of Greece's national airspace as ridiculous.

Commenting on the Turkish ministry's accusations, which also point to Greece as responsible for tension in the Aegean, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed that Greece's national airspace was and will remain 10 nautical miles.

He further noted that what should be of concern to Turkey was that Grecee's territorial waters could be extended to nautical 12 miles in accordance with the Law of the Sea, which will mean that the national airspace will also be extended.

However, this eventuality was not currently being considered by Athens, he said.

The defence minister called on the neighbouring country to direct its efforts towards a serious path in fulfilling European Union expectations, preparing itself with regard to improving its human rights record, in dealing with the serious Kurdish problem and democracy.

The minister reiterated that stability in the entire region was connected to a positive outcome of the Cyprus problem, as well as acceptance by Turkey of the terms which would prevent Ankara from continuing what he called its destabilising behaviour.

Simitis rejects criticism over Olympics committee composition

Prime Minijster Costas Simitis yesterday dismissed as "ridiculous claims" reports that he had received pressures from ministers regarding the composition of the 2004 Olympic Games organising committee.

Replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni, the prime minister said: "I selected persons who will be able to act in a broader perspective, and not party representatives as proposed by ND, or people who have expressed the intention to work professionally for the organisation of the Olympic Games." The premier also stressed that the organisation of the Games is a national effort which does not only concern the parliamentary majority, it concerns the whole of the Gre ek people and cannot come under any expediency.

"The composition of the Olympic Games organising committee must not be restricted to a specific political and social area or activity, it must be meritocratic and fully transparent, supported by all people," he said.

Rozakis elected to European Court of Human Rights

Prof. Christos Rozakis, a former foreign undersecretary, was elected yesterday as one of the 30 new judges of the New European Court of Human Rights.

After the announcement of the results, the president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Leni Fischer, said the new judges "are being called upon to protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of hundreds of millions of people."

Defence minister pleased with contacts in Czech Republic, Slovakia

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday his trip to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which ended yesterday, had given the opportunity to promote prospects of cooperation in the fields of security and cooperation in Europe and the new NATO.

He expressed the opinion that the Czech Republic must be integrated now in almost all of NATO's functions, while Slovakia is aspiring to participate in one of the next phases of enlargement of the alliance.

"These are political initiatives of Greece which establish its role and upgrade its special weight and help in dealing with issues that concern ourselves," he said.

Winding up his visit to Slovakia yesterday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had successive meetings with Prime Minister Vladimir Meclcar, Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova and Parliament VP Rudolf Filkus.

He also attended the opening of the Greek embassy in Bratislava.

Simitis on arms procurements

Prime Minister Costas Simitis told parliament yesterday that the government placed special importance on the timely delivery of defence armaments without special processes attached.

"The timely delivery of defence armaments 'without special processes', licences and other obstacles constitutes an element which we examine for its purchase, and in every case we search the market of several countries and not only one," he said in reply to a question by main opposition New Democracy party deputy Marietta Yiannakou-Koutsikou.

Ms Yiannakou-Koutsikou called on Mr. Simitis to find alternative sources for the procurement of armament systems and for the government to secure assurances from countries providing armaments for the release of hi-tech systems.

Mr. Simitis said the allocation of defence funds is rational and is based on proposals by the armed forces' general staffs.

On the question of possibly purchasing the four-country European fourth generation "Eurofighter 2000", he said it is being considered, taking into consideration that the procurement of a new type of aircraft increases the cost of their maintenance.

Mass executions by Turks during '74 Cyprus invasion reported

A Turkish-language newspaper yesterday published an eyewitness report of human rights violations and executions committed by the Turkish armed forces and Turkish Cypriot paramilitary units in Cyprus during the 1974 invasion.

The newspaper "Ozgur Politika", published in Bonn, which supports the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), reported that Turkish soldiers and Turkish Cypriots killed about 100 old men, women and children at the Mora village near Nicosia during ethnic cleansing campaigns.

Eyewitness Mustafa Ongan, a soldier in the 48th Turkish artillery regiment during the invasion, said that he remembers the executions and a mass grave site, since he helped bury the bodies.

Mr. Ongan, who came forward citing remorse, saying he is willing to point out the site if he receives international guarantees for his safety.

He said that Turkish officers ordered executions, rapes and turtures. Mr. Ongan quoted Turkish officers as saying "we must kill these dirty infidels, otherwise, we must feed them."

Europarliament's head to meet with Greek gov't leadership

European Parliament President Jose Maria Hill Robles begins a three-day official visit to Greece today at the invitation of Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

During his visit ending on Saturday, Mr. Robles will hold talks with the country's leadership on issues concerning relations between the Parliaments of member-states and the European Parliament, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), relations between the European Union and Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations in particular.

Mr. Robles will meet today with Mr. Kaklamanis and afterwards with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. In the evening he will attend a dinner given in his honour by Mr. Kaklamanis.

Tomorrow he will hold talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis after which he will meet main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis. Mr. Robles will participate in a special meeting of Parliament's European Affairs Committee and at noon he will be received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

He will also have a working luncheon at the foreign ministry with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

In the afternoon, Mr. Robles will meet Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Governor of the Bank of Greece Loukas Papadimos.

Mr. Robles is also scheduled to meet Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas and Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras.

'Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus' programme unveiled

Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi yesterday unveiled the "Thrace-Aegean-Cyprus" programme at a press conference in Thessaloniki.

The programme aims at promoting cooperation in the sectors of culture, the environment and sports, as well as provide support to common activities in the fields of tourism, economy, production and transport.

"We consider our obligation to maintain our cultural identities and continue the cultural campaign through these border areas to the countries of the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Middle East," Mr. Petsalnikos said.

For her part, Ms Papazoi said the environment and culture had been selected as one of the main axes of the programme because the basic aim is development of "our cultural area and maintenance of the belief that the environment constitutes the dominant factor in development."

ESHEA work stoppage

A two-hour work stoppage called yesterday by the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) was observed by most editors and reporters across the country, while a demonstration was held in front of Parliament.

The 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. work stoppage targeted a tax bill amendment regarding journalists' tax and expenses benefits.

ESHEA President Aristides Manolakos said that although National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou initially agreed with the proposed amendment he later backtracked.

Press Ministry's Secretary General on official German visit

Press Ministry Secretary General Yiannis Nikolaou paid a visit to the headquarters of the German press and information service here, while he was due to meet last night with government spokesman and the head of the German press services Peter Hausmann.

Mr. Nikolaou was briefed on the organisation of the German services by the agency's various department heads.

In addition, Mr. Nikolaou and his associates will hold a meeting today with the directors of the Greek press bureaus in Bonn (St. Stathoulopoulos), Munich (N. Sotiriou) and Hamburg (Th. Frangiadakis) and the head of a German firm, Peter Schutze, which s pecialises in communication policy.

The meeting will probe possibilities of promoting Greece and the European aspect of Greek government's policy.

Romanian to head Greek national football team after World Cup

Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu said yesterday he would quit his country's national team after the upcoming World Cup in France and take over the Greek national squad for the run-up to the 2000 European finals.

"Today, I advised the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO) in writing of my agreement to work with the Greek national team," he said by telephone. "I had previously only spoken of possibly cooperating with the Greek Soccer Federation."

Mr. Iordanescu, 48, offered no details on his contract.

"I have a single priority at the moment - leading Romania at the World Cup finals in France," he said.

Mr. Iordanescu coached Romania at the last two World Cup finals, taking them to the quarter-finals in 1994 in the US. However, at the 1996 European championships in England they performed dismally, losing all three matches.

Romania, which qualified for this year's World Cup finals by sailing through their group undefeated, has been drawn with England, Colombia and Tunisia for the opening phase.

Increase in cost of US visas

The cost of applying for U.S. visas will increase to $45, or 13,000 drachmas, as of February 2, 1998.

A U.S. consulate announcement advised those planning to visit the U.S. to submit their applications promptly.

Charges for other consular services are also being increased.

Interbank rates drop on Bank of Greece intervention

The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank,yesterday intervened in the domestic money market, draining liquidity in an effort to defend the national currency.

The central bank drained 220 billion drachmas at rates of 19 percent pushing interbank rates substantially lower.

The overnight rate fell to 11 percent while short-term interest rates fell to 17.5 percent from 19.5 percent on Tuesday.

Bankers reported capital inflows totalling 100 million Ecus at the drachma's fixing after outflows totalling 400 million Ecus in the previous two days.

The Greek currency was 0.13 percent and 0.18 percent up against the Ecu and the DMark respectively, although it fell substantially against the US dollar following a sharp recovery of the greenback in international markets.

Government determined to restructure public enterprises

The Greek government will proceed with a restructuring of all loss-making public enterprises regardless of the political cost, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters yesterday.

Reiterating the government's determination to restructure the country's public sector, Mr. Reppas said that the government could not stay indifferent to a sad reality.

The government, he said, would take measures in order to improve public enterprises' balance sheets or ensure they return back to profitability.

Greek tourism industry cautiously optimistic on 1998 outlook

Tourist arrivals and stayovers will be slightly higher in 1998 but foreign currency revenues will remain stable, the Greek Union of Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said yesterday.

The union's chairman Spyros Kokotos told a news conference that Greece's tourism industry was less optimistic on 1998's outlook than the government.

He said that a rise in tourist arrivals should be attributed to stable hotel prices at 1994 levels.

Mr. Kokotos urged both the government and the industry to stay alert and not rely on a slight improvement in statistics.

The chairman of Greek tourism enterprises criticised the government's new development law for not fully acknowledging the needs of a developing tourism policy. He called the new measures insufficient.

SETE proposed higher spending in promoting Greek tourism abroad stressing that Greece spended less in advertising compared to other competitors, like Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Portugal and Spain.

WEATHER

Cloudiness, brief showers and sleet in the mountainous regions is forecast for Greece today. Winds northerly, northwesterly, light to moderate, turning strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with spells of sunshine and temeperatures between 2-9C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.158 Pound sterling 464.335 Cyprus pd 535.680 French franc 46.932 Swiss franc 193.842 German mark 157.257 Italian lira (100) 15.942 Yen (100) 226.474 Canadian dlr. 194.511 Australian dlr. 192.349 Irish Punt 393.943 Belgian franc 7.622 Finnish mark 51.951 Dutch guilder 139.535 Danish kr. 41.285 Swedish kr. 35.442 Norwegian kr. 37.920 Austrian sch. 22.361 Spanish peseta 1.856 Port. Escudo 1.537

(C.E.)


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