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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 24/08/1998 (ANA)


  • Simitis, Klima press for political solution to Kosovo issue
  • Stephanopoulos calls for hightened awareness of human rights
  • Ionian Bank bids to be unsealed today
  • CD-ROM on "Thrace and the Greek Parliament"
  • Olive tree sent for 2000 Sydney Games
  • NATO exercise in Albania concludes
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Simitis, Klima press for political solution to Kosovo issue

Visiting Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima and Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday backed the sending of more observers to the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo, stressing the need for a political solution to be reached.

"Both countries are concerned at developments (in Kosovo), because if we have a negative continuation, this will lead to repercussions for the entire region," Mr. Simitis said.

He was addressing a joint news conference with the Austrian chancellor in Thessaloniki. Mr. Klima departed Greece yesterday after a three-day private visit.

"The situation has reached the point that special care is required by third countries. The position Greece has expressed, and with which the Austrian government agrees, is that more observers should be sent, and their safety should be ensured so that th ey may exert pressure for peaceful conditions, " Mr. Simitis said.

Mr. Klima said that the European Union would call on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to halt the violence in Kosovo. At the same time, the EU would not bow to pressure for Kosovo's full independence from Yugoslavia, he underlined.

Mr. Simitis urged Austria, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, to begin accession talks with Cyprus for entry into the 15-nation bloc "as early as possible."

Negotiations for EU applicants, including Cyprus, should begin before the end of a screening process that involves collecting data on the workings of each country, Mr. Simitis said.

The Austrian chancellor replied that screening for EU applicants, due to end in October or November, should be completed as soon as possible, as the outcome would have major repercussions on security, the combatting of organised crime and overall progre ss in Europe.

At the same time, the EU should not allow its interest to diminish in the five countries slated for the second wave of entry along with Cyprus, while care should be taken to forge closer ties with them in order to avoid discriminatory treatment, Mr. Kli ma added.

"We believe that the matter should evolve smoothly, and we are referring to the Mediterranean area," he noted.

Asked if the EU's Austrian presidency could specify a date for the beginning of entry talks, or if Vienna intended to launch any initiatives on improving ties between Greece and Turkey, Mr. Klima said Austria was always willing to back intiatives that c ould resolve outstanding problems, either between Turkey and the EU, or between Turkey and Greece.

Replying to a question on whether a refusal by Turkish Cypriots to take part in Cyprus' EU accession talks was a stumbling block, Mr. Klima replied that the Turkish Cypriot community's presence was desirable, but not essential. He also said that entry talks would be held with each of the six countries separately, and would focus on the extent to which each individual applicant met EU standards.

"However, reality shows that negotiations can be held in parallel with all six countries on specific matters of Community law," he said.

Mr. Simitis added that Greece's position on entry talks remained the same, which was that talks should begin simultaneously for the six applicants, but not necessarily on the same subjects.

Stephanopoulos calls for hightened awareness of human rights

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos called for an increase of citizens' awareness over the protection of human rights in Greece and elsewhere, during an address on the island of Ikaria over the weekend at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights.

He also expressed his high esteem for the work carried out by the Amnesty International organisation, saying that such efforts should to be assisted by all.

Referring to the establishment of the UN and its Human Rights Charter after WWII, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that "despite the fact that developments do not allow the international organisation to move along the course it mapped out, the UN is doing a great job".

Ionian Bank bids to be unsealed today

Sealed bids for the purchase of a 51 per cent stake of state-controlled Ionian Bank are scheduled to be opened today, with the two main bidders expected to be Alpha Credit Bank and the Latsis group.

With the possibility of a third, probably foreign bidder, the two Greece- based banking institutions have not released any details regarding the amount they are willing to pay for Ionian's control.

According to reports, however, the government has set a 220-billion- drachmas threshhold as the minimum for a 51 per cent share package in the bank, while National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou has said that the tender may be cancelled if bids are judged as not satisfactory. Developments regarding the Ionian Bank sale are expected to have a direct impact on the country's bourse.

CD-ROM on "Thrace and the Greek Parliament"

A CD-ROM entitled "Thrace and the Greek Parliament" has been released on a trial edition, containing a plethora of information about Thrace and surrounding regions as taken by Parliament's minutes from 1845 to 1995.

Parliamentary second vice-president, Panayiotis Sgouridis, who also first developed the idea, supervised a team comprised of his personal staffmembers in Parliament, which collected material over a period of three years. The material was then processed by Democritos University professor Christos Hamtzas.

Olive tree sent for 2000 Sydney Games

An olive tree has been donated by Greece to Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games.

The symbolic gift is to be planted in the Australian city's Olympic village.

Since its arrival two years ago, the tree has been under the care of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), as the country has strict rules regarding the import of any plants or seeds from abroad, in order to protect the island-continent's crops and ecosystem from possible plant diseases or parasites.

NATO exercise in Albania concludes

A weeklong NATO exercise in Albania, bordering the troubled Kosovo region, ended on Saturday.

Taking part in the exercise, code-named "Cooperative Assembly '98", were 14 nations including Greece, as well as observers from six countries, among them Russia.

The exercise, which began last Monday, was part of the NATO-sponsored "Partnership for Peace" programme.

According to the alliance, the exercise was aimed at demonstrating to Yugoslav leadership that NATO was ready to intervene at any time in the region, especially if tension escalated in Kosovo.

Greece took part with a C-130 transport plane, two F-16 jetfighters, two helicopters and a company of paratroopers. Greece also sent a medical unit to the exercise, which treated the residents of remote villages in the mountain range where the exercise was held. Among the services offered was dental treatment for dozens of young children, who saw a dentist for the first time.

The exercise was under the direction of NATO commander (southern wing) Adm. T. Joseph Lopez.

Adm. Lopez stressed that the exercise, as all Partnership for Peace manoeuvres, aimed at regional stability and was not directed against any party in Kosovo or Belgrade.

The exercise was scaled down when the US reduced its contingent by 70 per cent following the Aug. 7 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, where least 257 people were killed. Washington cited the risk of terrorist attacks against US targets in Albania.

The exercise included search and rescue operations, close air support, medical evacuation, air-drop procedures, and infantry peace support operations.


Mostly sunny weather today with scattered cloud in the northeast towards evening. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning stronger in the north Aegean in the evening. Temperatures in Athens will range between 20C and 36C; and in Thessaloniki between 20C and 33C.


Weekend rates (buying) U.S. dollar 300.090 British pound 490.782 Japanese yen (100) 208.518 French franc 49.880 German mark 167.182 Italian lira (100) 16.955 Irish Punt 419.616 Belgian franc 8.110 Finnish mark 55.016 Dutch guilder 148.294 Danish kr. 43.916 Austrian sch. 23.773 Spanish peseta 1.971 Swedish kr. 36.825 Norwegian kr. 39.011 Swiss franc 200.042 Port. Escudo 1.633 Aus. dollar 175.113 Can. dollar 195.821 Cyprus pound 569.408


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