|Wednesday, 14 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Cyprus accepts UN invitation for proximity talks, Denktash backs down
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Cyprus and Greece yesterday welcomed an invitation by the UN Secretary General for proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on December 3 in New York, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash took a step back the same day from his earli er acceptance of the invitation, claiming the format of the talks had been changed.
Earlier, US President Bill Clinton had welcomed the agreement by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash to hold proximity talks on ending the dispute over the divided island.
"These Cyprus talks can bring us one step closer to a lasting peace," President Clinton said in a statement released aboard Air Force One, on his way to Turkey.
In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said: "We express satisfaction. The talks must be substantive and sustained in order to yield results."
In Durban, South Africa, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan assured him that the December 3 proximity talks to prepare the ground for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue would be carried out on the basic aspects of the issue and would be substantive.
Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the acceptance by President Clerides and Mr. Denktash of an invitation to proximity talks and said he was looking forward to having "sub-stantive talks".
Direct talks between the two sides have not been held for the past two years because of preconditions set by the Turkish Cypriot leader for recognition of the illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.
Clinton statement : Welcoming the announcement for the talks, President Clinton said in a statement: "These Cyprus talks can bring us one step closer to a lasting peace. The negotiated settlement is the best way to meet the fundamental interest of the parties - including real security for all Cypriots and an end to the island division."
"The Cyprus problem has been with us for far too long. This will not be resolved overnight. But today we have new hope. I ask the parties to approach this opportunity with good faith and the determination to build for all the people of Cyprus a future that is brighter than the past," the US president said aboard Air Force One. President Clinton left Washington early yesterday for Turkey at the start of a 10-day eastern Mediterranean trip.
The last face-to-face meeting between Mr. Denktash and President Clerides took place in 1997 under U.N. auspices.
Mr. Annan said in a statement he looked forward to welcoming both leaders "for what I expect will be substantive talks."
American intervention has been considered key in reviving stalled talks on Cyprus.
National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, traveling with President Clinton, called the announcement "an important and encouraging step."
"What we expect to see when the parties come to New York on Dec. 3 are substantive talks about core issues,'' Mr. Berger said.
A State Department official speaking on condition of anonymity said the core issues included security and land and water rights.
While U.S. officials would like to see the two sides agree to a federal style government with separate zones representing the Greek and Turkish communities, they were cautious about predicting a satisfactory outcome given the long-running differences.
The Turkish side insists on a confederation agreement based on the principles of two states. That demand has been unacceptable to the Greek Cypriot side, because it would imply international recognition of the self- declared Turkish state on the occupied northern Cyprus.
US expects Denktash to participate in talks : The United States said yesterday it expected Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to participate in December 3 talks with President Clerides despite his reported reservations.
"We've seen the reports," said White House National Security Council spokesman David Leavy. "Mr. Denktash made a commitment to the secretary general of the United Nations to participate in proximity talks beginning Dec. 3. We fully expect him to live up to that commitment."
Mr. Denktash took a step back late yesterday from his earlier acceptance of the U.N. invitation to proximity talks, saying the format of the talks had been changed.
"The new invitation is not an acceptable invitation," Mr. Denktash told Reuters.
"Now we hear from New York the format for the agreed proximity talks has now been changed." He had earlier told a local television channel that he would attend the talks in New York in December.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday he and his special adviser for Cyprus, Under-Secretary-General Alvaro de Soto, would meet the two leaders separately.
The talks would prepare the ground for what he called "meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement" of the protracted Cyprus problem.
Mr. Annan, on a visit to China, said in a statement he had spoken with the two leaders who had agreed to start the proximity talks, in which the sides do not meet face to face.
"Now that the parties have agreed, I am looking forward to welcoming them for what I expect will be substantive talks," he said. But Mr. Denktash balked at the U.N. statement looking forward to "substantive talks."
He said: "The agreed format for the proximity talks was a neutral, simple, short invitation for the parties, no names, no titles, whereas now they want us to go into substantive talks. Whereas we were going to prepare the grounds for substantive talks ." (ANA, Reuters, AP dispatches)
Clerides says UN chief assures proximity talks will be substantive: DURBAN, S. Africa (CNA/ANA) - Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan assured him that the December 3 proximity talks to prepare the ground for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue would be carried out on the basic aspects of the issue and would be substantive.
"The UN secretary general called me today before he left for China and he proposed the start of proximity talks under his auspices for December 3 in New York, in order to prepare the ground for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem. The secreta ry general assured me that the talks will be carried out on the basic aspects of the problem and will be substantive, " Mr. Clerides said in a statement here, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit.
"I also had telephone contacts with US Secretary of State Albright, who in her turn assured me that the talks would be substantive on the basic aspects of the problem, and with US special presidential envoy Moses, who read to me President Clinton's sta tement which reconfirmed that the talks would be held without preconditions, they will focus on the basic aspects, and that the US will cooperate closely with the secretary general to ensure that the talks yield results," Mr. Clerides said.
Athens News Agency
 Greek rescue team goes to the aid of quake-stricken Turkey
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Greek search and rescue workers arrived in Turkey on Saturday after an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale hit the neighbouring country.
The team, which flew to Istanbul in three C-130 transport planes, was due to take off again for Bolu, the quake-stricken province.
Heading the operation was Dimitris Katrivanos, the interior ministry's secretary general for civil protection.
Greece sent 25 search and rescue workers with four relief vehicles, 11 medical staff and two mobile units, four earthquake experts, and three sniffer dogs.
More medical aid was due to follow in a second dispatch by air.
Accompanied by two ministry officials, Katrivanos said in Istanbul that the Greek team was the first to arrive from countries that Ankara had petitioned for assistance.
The earthquake on Friday evening centred on the town of Duzce, which is located about 150 kilometres east of Istanbul and has 300,000 inhabitants. The quake left more than 370 people dead and hundreds injured.
Turkish officials told Katrivanos that early estimates indicated 50 percent of buildings in the town had collapsed.
Also on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem announced that he had spoken on the phone to his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, immediately after the earthquake struck.
The Greek Red Cross on Saturday sent a rescue team to Turkey to take part in the rescue effort. The agency is due to send a consignment of humanitarian aid to northwestern Turkey, where the earthquake struck, in coming days.
Greece late on Friday expressed its solidarity with Turks after the earthquake hit the neighbouring country earlier the same evening.
Athens News Agency
 Reaction to change of terminologyDURBAN, S. Africa, 15/11/1999 (CNA/ANA)
The United Nations have chan-ged the terminology of their statement dated November 13 about the invitation Secretary General Kofi Annan extended to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to start promixity talks on the Cyprus problem in New York on December 3.
The original statement of Mr. Annan released from the UN headquarters in New York, dated November 13, had described Mr. Clerides as "President" and Denktash as "Mr".
However, a second statement released from the United Nations said that the secretary general had spoken with "HE Mr. Clerides" and "HE Mr. Denktash".
UNFICYP (UN forces in Cyprus) spokeswoman Sarah Russel asked by CNA yesterday to clarify the change said the terminology used in the second statement was "the standard UN way of referring to Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash as the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus."
Ms Russel said the second statement was released after consultations between UNFICYP and the UN headquarters in New York.
She told CNA that Annan's Deputy Special Representative in Cyrpus James Holger had spoken last night over the phone with Mr. Denktash after the Turkish Cypriot leader took a step back from his earlier acceptance of Mr. Annan`s invitation.
Ms. Russel was not in a position to give details about Mr. Holger's communication with Mr. Denktash.
"We will have to wait until tomorrow to see how things turn out", she added.
On his part, President Clerides told CNA last night that the change of terminology does not bother him noting that US President Bill Clinton rightly described him in a statement yesterday on his way to Ankara as President of Cyprus.
Asked by CNA to comment on the change of terminology, he said:
"It does not bother me at all. The secretary general has to invite to negotiations the representatives of the two communities, according to UN resolutions because the talks are held between the representatives of the two communities. President Clinton rightly referred to me as president.".
Athens News Agency
 Dignitaries at OSCE summit scheduled to meet Patriarch Vartholomeos
ISTANBUL, 15/11/1999 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Dignitaries in Istanbul for the summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are scheduled to visit the Orthodoxy Ecumenical Patriarchate here.
U.S. President Bill Clinton and European Commission President Romano Prodi will have separate meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on 17 November, while Czech President Vaclav Havel, Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, among others, will also be received by the Church Prelate.
Athens News Agency
 Postponement of Clinton visit by a week was to Greece's benefit, Papandreou says
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that the postponement of US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens was to Greece's benefit.
Mr. Papandreou, in an interview published in "Sunday Ethnos", said that the postponement of President Clinton's visit was primarily owed to the need for "a better preparation of substantive talks over Greece's national issues", not to the protests over the visit.
US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens, initially scheduled for 13 November, was postponed a week for November 19.
"There is no room for sentimentalities in foreign policy... we may miss our cause depending on the way we express it. We should all realise that we can not play around with the country's national interests", Mr. Papandreou said.
The foreign minister criticised the attitude of the opposition, particularly of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, calling it contradictory.
"On one hand he (Mr. Karamanlis) condemns the protests, while on the other hand deputies of the main opposition party threaten to hurl tomatoes. This is not sober politics", Mr. Papandreou said.
In a related development, Mr. Karamanlis yesterday lashed at the government over its handling of the US president's visit saying that it had caused "national damage".
"The country's image is damaged by this inconceivable postponement (of the visit) only three days prior to the scheduled date," the ND leader said, charging the government with inability to "handle national affairs".
Athens News Agency
 Rallies staged at the weekend in protest over Clinton visit
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Protesters against President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens on November 19- 20 staged demonstrations around the country at the weekend. On Saturday, around 6,000 demonstrators marched to the US embassy in Athens in a protest organised by the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace and groups mostly aligned with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and other opposition parties.
The marchers chanted their opposition to US intervention in the Aegean and other parts of the world. No violence occurred.
In Thessaloniki on the same day, two small marches by the non-parliamentary left and other individuals each burned an American flag outside the city's US Consulate.
In Kavala, demonstrators including students, pensioners, trade unionists and resistance fighters staged a rally and march in the town's centre.
In Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, scuffles broke out on Saturday between demonstrators and two US seamen.
Seeing anti-American banners at the rally, the American holidaymakers reportedly tried to raise their own in favour of Clinton, and lower the anti-US banners.
Demonstrators claimed the two men also tried to deface a local monument and threatened to set fire to a car.
The men were led to the town's police station where residents brought charges against them.
The KKE issued a statement condemning the two's behaviour, also accusing the government of creating an anti-Communist climate.
Yesterday, the KKE held a commemoration in Thessaloniki for those executed in a former jail in the city before and after Greece's civil war as part of protests against Clinton's visit.
Youth plan march to US embassy on Friday : Youth movements of major political parties plan to stage a protest march to the US embassy on Friday, timed to coincide with the arrival in Athens of President Clinton.
A rally in Kaningos Square will culminate in the march to the embassy.
Among the youth movements to endorse the protest were those of the ruling PASOK party, Communist Party of Greece, Coalition of the Left and Democratic Social Movement.
The groups issued a statement on Saturday calling for the march to be orderly and peaceful.
The statement said the youth movements were protesting against US intervention in the Balkans and elsewhere in the world.
Another demand was for the government to refrain from allowing Greek territory to be used for acts by the US against other countries, the statement said.
Athens News Agency
 Police neutralise bomb at Ford car dealership
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Police disposal experts yesterday neutralised a home-made explosive device placed inside a shoulder bag at the "Ford" car dealership on Alexandras Avenue in Athens.
They said the bag containing the time-bomb had been planted between a car and the glass wall of the car dealership.
Police had been alerted by an anonymous caller who telephoned Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" about the bomb.
According to police experts the same terrorist group behind the November 5 bombing attempt at "Nike's" sports goods store in Athens, may be behind yesterday's incident.
The bomb was neutralised through a "controlled environment" explosion, police said.
Athens News Agency
 Greek political analysts say opposition to Clinton visit limited
WASHINGTON, 15/11/1999 (ANA-T.Ellis)Two Greek political analysts wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that opposition to President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens this week was limited to "a small minority on the left and a handful of right-wing extremists, who should not be labelled terrorists".
In their article headlined "Peaceful Greece", professors Theodoros Kouloumbis and Thanos Veremis said that protests against President Clinton's visit on November 19-20 were being staged chiefly by supporters of the Communist Party of Greece and Democratic Social Movement.
In addition, some far-rightists who looked back with nostalgia to Greece's 1967-1974 military dictatorship also backed the protests.
The junta was supported by the Johnson and Nixon administrations, the two writers added.
The country's other political parties might object on a case-by-case basis to US or NATO policies - including their bombing of Yugoslavia this year - but were neither anti-American nor anti-European, they said.
The analysts were responding to an article published earlier this month in the Washington Post by a former US State Department and Pentagon official, who claimed that Greek government officials may have links to the November 17 terrorist organisation, responsible for dozens of murders and attacks since 1975.
Mr. Kouloumbis and Mr. Veremis pointed out that Greek police were working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to identify members of the elusive group, but with no success.
November 17 appeared to be an organisation with few members, and it struck at regular intervals, the writers said.
They also noted that Greece had enjoyed an established system of democracy since 1974, and was a member of the European Union and NATO.
In addition, the country ranked 20th around the world for its standard of living, and showed low rates of crime, suicide and drug abuse, the authors of the article added.
US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns has stated that suggestions of links between terrorists and the Greek government are groundless, and do not represent US policies or views. The government has also rejected the allegations.
Athens News Agency
 Government's will to wipe out terrorism unyielding
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)The public order ministry said yesterday that the government's will to wipe out terrorism was unyielding, and the authorities were conducting their enquiries toward that end.
At the same time, the issue of terrorism did not lend itself to public discussion, especially when media reports were off the mark, the ministry said in a statement.
The statement was released in response to a report in the Sunday Vima newspaper claiming that security forces had evidence leading to the November 17 terrorist group, responsible for dozens of killings and attacks since 1975.
According to the Sunday Vima, authorities have whittled down the number of suspects to 10, who are under surveillance. The newspaper said that information about November 17 and the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), another terrorist group, had eme rged from archives kept by the Stasi, the former East Germany's secret service.
It also claimed that police had located a member of November 17 who was injured in an attack on the German ambassador's residence and then sought treatment at a private clinic.
Athens News Agency
 Catherine Deneuve visits Thessaloniki Film Festival
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)The 40th Thessaloniki Film Festival entered its third day yesterday with the screening of 29 films. Honouring the festival with her presence yesterday was renowed French actress Catherine Deneuve who gave a press conference.
Asked whether there was any prospect of her cooperating with award-winning Greek film director Thodoros Angelopoulos, the French star said "Angelopoulos is a great film director. He has vision of the universe and he passese this in his films. He has never asked me to cooperate with him. If he does so, I will study the scenario." The first two days of the film festival attracted an audience of about 9,000. Last night, the film that attracted the largest audience (about 600) was that of Michalis Kakoyannis' "O Vyssinokipos".
Athens News Agency
 Greece, Russia sign cooperation protocol to aid growth of SMEs
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Greece and Russia on Saturday signed a cooperation protocol to aid the growth of small and medium sized enterprises.
The pact was signed in Athens by Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Zafiropoulos and his Russian counterpart, Alexei Prokopiev.
Under the terms of the protocol, the two countries will share experiences and knowhow in the sector in order to help encourage the creation and growth of small and medium sized firms.
They will also devise measures to make products and services in the sector more competitive.
Athens News Agency
 Greece-Turkey economic rapprochement will serve vital interests, speakers say
Athens, 15/11/1999 (ANA)Politicians yesterday said that an economic rapprochement between Greece and Turkey was necessary for the promotion of vital interests for both countries. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputy Vasilis Maginas, Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) deputy Yiannis Dragasakis, ruling PASOK party Eurodeputy Alexandros Baltas and former ND Minister Andreas Andrianopoulos were the main speakers at a conference organised by the International Economic Relations Institute.
They said that economic cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the construction, transportation, tourism, telecommunication, banking products and food production sectors would serve the interests of both countries and would further their friendship, while they supported Turkey joining the European Union, calling it a springboard for future cooperation between the two countries.
The speakers attributed failure for a successful rapprochement between the two countries to the absence of bilateral agreements and to the lesser significance of the existing ones.
Turkey, based on Eurostat data, is one of Greece's most significant trading partners, given the fact the trade between Greece and Turkey exceeded 630 billion ECU in 1998.
Athens News Agency