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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-06

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

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


NEWS IN ENGLISH

ATHENS, Greece, 06/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Alternate foreign minister welcomes Clinton re-election
  • Athens comments on EU economic report
  • October inflation falls
  • Greenpeace protest broken up
  • Simitis to visit Rome, Lisbon
  • Kyprianou fears 'blackmail' over Cyprus-EU entry
  • Foreign undersecretary concludes high-level contacts in Cyprus
  • Spokesman: Latest Turkish violation of Cyprus' sovereignty again unveils Ankara's intentions
  • Turkish warplanes violating Athens FIR intercepted on 15 occasions
  • President Stephanopoulos comments on gunboat accident
  • Greek-Jordanian maritime accord signed
  • Shipping exchange revenues increase in first-half '96

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Alternate Foreign Minister welcomes Clinton re-election

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today predicted that the US would undertake ''a new vigorous initiative'' on the Cyprus problem by February at the earliest, following the re-election of President Bill Clinton.

    Papandreou said that Clinton's statements on adherence to international rules, international law and UN resolutions concerning the region ''has indicated a turn in US policy in recent months, particularly following the Imia problem''.

    Greece and Turkey nearly went to war earlier this year when Ankara openly disputed Greek sovereignty of the uninhabited Aegean islet of Imia.

    Papandreou said that the thrust of US interest in the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations should be directed ''in the form of pressure'' to the Turkish side ''which bears all the responsibility for the Cyprus problem and its unacceptable claims in the Aegean''.

    ''We shall see however to what extent the US has the will to exert pressure on Turkey and to what extent there will be a substantial response from Ankara,'' Papandreou said, stressing that at the present time ''Turkey's foreign policy is represented by many faces and it is difficult for one to diagnose its true direction''.

    Reppas comments on EU economic report

    ''Positive steps have been made in the sector of the economy and the effort being made by the government, which will be reflected in the new budget, is to attain the targets set,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    The spokesman was commenting on the European Commission's twice-yearly review of economic conditions in the EU published today.

    According to the Commission, only Greece, Italy and Britain will fail to meet the deficit criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty as part of the prerequisites set for countries wishing to join a single currency in 1999.

    ''Greece's interest is not focused exclusively on its presence in the process of European integration, but also on its overall effort to upgrade its role and presence in the EU,'' Reppas said.

    Stressing that the government was making every effort to attain the economic convergence targets set, Reppas categorically denied that it was considering a devaluation of the drachma.

    October inflation falls to 8.3 per cent

    Inflation fell in October to 8.3 per cent from 8.5 per cent in September, according to figures released today by the National Statistics Service (NSS).

    The figure is the same as for October 1995 and resulted from a 0.9 per cent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) compared to a 1.1. per cent increase in the same month last year.

    The rise in the October CPI was mainly due to price increases of winter clothing and footwear, pork, lamb, goat meat, fruit, vegetables, furniture and household consumer goods.

    In addition there were price increases of gasoline, bus fares in the provinces and rents.

    These increases were offset by reductions in the prices of fresh fish, potatoes and heating oil.

    The NSS estimated that if the present good weather keeps up and there are no ''unexpected'' developments, inflation will mark a further drop in November.

    Greenpeace blockade at refinery broken up

    The captain of the Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise" and 17 activists of the international environmental organisation were arrested early Wedensday at the Motor Oil refinery installations at Aghioi Theodoroi, Corinth, charged with breaking the law by disrupting sea navigation.

    Greenpeace activists had chained themselves since Tuesday to mooring buoys and loading cranes, while the Arctic Sunrise blocked access to the refinery's port demanding stricter safety measures.

    The 17 activists were arested early in the morning on order of the Corinth Public Prosecutor, who had warned the protestors that they were breaking the law by obstructing marine navigation.

    The Arctic Sunrise's captain, David Enever, was arrested later after refusing to move the ship out of the area.

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis later told reporters that he had asked the Greenpeace activists to leave the Motor Oil installations peacefully.

    ''Unfortunately, on the instructions of the public prosecutor of Corinth, 14 persons, the captain and the person in charge of the ecology operation, Nikos Charalambidis, were arrested. Since yesterday morning, I personally had tried to persuade the protesters, underlining our sensitivity on environmental issues,'' Soumakis said.

    Expressing regret over the outcome of the operation, Soumakis added that in addition to his own efforts, the chief of the coastguard sent a fax to the (Corinth) Isthmus Coastguard Heaquarters informing that a group of officers were considering taking ''new security measures''.

    Soumakis said that the Isthmus coastguard chief forwarded the fax to the protesters who, however, were not persuaded.

    ''Excesses do not help, but the decision was taken by the public prosecutor, '' the minister added.

    Commenting on the arrests, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated that the government showed sensitivity regarding ecological issues and underlined that the motives of the persons arrested ''are certainly not ignoble''.

    Distancing the government from this morning's arrests, Reppas stressed that the entire procedure had been carried out on the orders of the public prosecutor.

    Reppas said that the government had already set up a 17-member committee to deal with issues related to the protection of the marine environment and called on Greenpeace to cooperate with the committee.

    Simitis to visit Rome, Lisbon

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Rome on November 20 and take part in the CSCE summit in Lisbon on December 2, according to his schedule for the next month announced today by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    On December 12 Simitis will pay a working visit to the Hague before flying the following day to Dublin to attend the European Union summit.

    Reppas said that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma would visit Greece on November 12-13, followed by Irish Premier John Bruton on November 14.

    Congratulating US President Bill Clinton on his re-election, Reppas said that with regard to his policy on Greece's national issues ''we shall judge his deeds''.

    The spokesman said that Simitis would be sending a congratulatory telegramme to Clinton later today.

    Kyprianou fears 'blackmail' over Cyprus' accession to EU

    Cyprus Parliament President Spyros Kyprianou today expressed concern that pressure would be exerted ''for Dayton-type meetings'' within the framework of initiatives being undertaken for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Saying that he hoped he would be proved wrong, Kyprianou also expressed fear that ''there will be blackmail connected even with Cyprus' accession to the European Union''.

    Kyprianou was speaking at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Apostolos Kaklamanis, following talks between the two men.

    Commenting on recent developments regarding the Cyprus problem, Kyprianou predicted that the British iniative for a settlement would eventually become one with an anticipated US initiative.

    ''Alertness and awareness is necessary on the part of all Greeks in order to confront initiatives which distort the physiognomy of Cyprus and fail to secure broad guarantees from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council,'' Kyprianou said.

    Kyprianou stressed that Turkey did not invade Cyprus only to subsequently leave voluntarily, but to establish itself permanently ''and everyone knows this but no one is prepared to acknowledge reality''.

    ''The Cyprus problem must once again become a world problem,'' he said, adding that it was in this direction that the Greek and Cyprus parliaments were moving.

    Foreign Undersecretary concludes high-level contacts in Cyprus

    Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis completed his visit to Cyprus with a new round of talks yesterday with Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides on the Cyprus issue and the course of the island republic's accession t o the European Union.

    Speaking to reporters at the end of talks, Mr. Michaelides said they examined many sectors in depth, adding that "we hope and expect intense consultations on the Cyprus issue to start soon."

    Stressing that a great deal of ground has been covered in connection with Cyprus' accession course, Mr. Michaelides went on to say that "just as in the past, future success is based on very close cooperation between Greece and Cyprus."

    Mr. Rozakis referred to the possibility of Greece's contribution to issues concerning support for Cyprus during the run-up to accession.

    Asked to comment on the initiative by the United States, Mr. Rozakis said so far, Athens has no specific information from an authoritative source on the kind of initiative Washington plans to undertake after the US presidential elections.

    Referring to the same issue, Mr. Michaelides said what the Cypriot side is aware of are official statements by US President Bill Clinton on the assumption of substantive initiatives and actions for a solution to the Cyprus issue.

    According to press reports, common strategy moves set out by Athens and Nicosia include issues concerning disinvolvement and military dialogue, as well as counter-proposals on confidence-building measures in the event they are raised in intercommunal ta lks.

    The reports said long-term planning includes a strong diplomatic campaign based on seeking a wide agreement framework with backing by the US and the European Union on the accession of Cyprus to the EU, and an end to Turkish aggression in the Aegean.

    In exchange for Turkey's compliance, Greece will offer its consent for a further rapprochement between Turkey and the EU.

    Nicosia and Athens agree that Turkey's stance is the key to lifting the deadlock and, more specifically, to what extent the disposition on a positive approach formulated by the diplomatic establishment in Ankara will be finalised as its official policy without backtracking.

    Mr. Rozakis is due back in Athens this morning.

    Spokesman: Latest Turkish violation of Cyprus' sovereignty again unveils Ankara's intentions

    The violation of Cypriot airspace by Turkish warplanes which subsequently landed in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island republic proves that there is no friendly disposition on the part of Ankara for rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. "There is no honest stance on the other side for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, since Ankara persists in its tactic of creating tension," Mr. Reppas added.

    Turkish warplanes violating Athens FIR intercepted on 15 occasions

    Turkish warplanes yesterday violated Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations and infringed on Greek national airspace on at least 15 occasions in various parts of the Aegean, sources said.

    Greek fighters intercepted the intruders in all instances, some of which developed into close engagements.

    Referring to the incidents, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described them as "common", in view of an on-going Turkish military exercise.

    President Stephanopoulos expresses regret over sinking of gunboat

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos said today that it was unacceptable to draw any hasty conclusions ''and create impressions in general'' regarding the sinking of a Hellenic Navy missile boat which was rammed by a passenger ferry on Monday night.

    Stephanopoulos was speaking on Samos where, together with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohadzopoulos, he watched the final phase of the ''Parmenion'' military exercise.

    The missile boat ''Kostakos'' was taking part in the all-service exercise when it was rammed by the ferry boat ''Samaina'' about 500 metres off Samos.

    A special navy committee chaired by a high-ranking officer is investigating the cause of the accident, as is a permanent admiralty court.

    Stephanopoulos expressed his deep regret over the ''tragic accident'' since which four crew members have remained missing.

    The president underlined that the country's armed forces enjoyed the full confidence of the entire Greek people and himself and congratulated all those who participated in Parmenion.

    Greek-Jordanian maritime accord signed

    Greece and Jordan signed a maritime cooperation agreement following talks which Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis had in Amman, his ministry announced yesterday.

    The agreement provides for the unrestricted access of the two countries' vessels to the ports of each nation as well as provision of all possible facilities to the vessels while in port.

    Shipping exchange revenues increase in first-half '96

    Shipping exchange inflows increased by 4.6 per cent in the first half of 1996 to total $1.1 billion, compared to $1.05 billion in the corresponding six-month period of 1995. According to figures released yesterday by the Bank of Greece, shipping exchange inflows amounted to $192 million in June this year, against $197.5 dollars in the same month of 1995, marking a drop of 2.8 per cent.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 236.334 Can. dlr.176.675, Australian dlr. 185.901 Pound sterling 390.610, Irish punt 390.650, Cyprus pd 513.638, French franc 46.178, Swiss franc 186.000 Belgian franc 7.583, German mark 156.220 Finnish mark 51.991, Dutch guilder 139.336 Danish Kr. 40.662, Swedish Kr. 35.738, Norwegian Kr. 37.170, Austrian Sh. 22.201, Italian lira (100) 15.553 Yen (100) 207.526 Spanish Peseta 1.857, Portuguese Escudo 1.546.

    (M.P.)


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