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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-14

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, 14/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Erbakan's statements prove Turkey not inclined to solve Cyprus problem, Athens says
  • Terrorist group claims responsibility for Polytechnic bomb
  • Greece does not seek revision of Maastricht criteria
  • Quake rattles Konitsa
  • Major hashish haul uncovered
  • Massive armaments programme unveiled
  • Foreign minister says gov't will not call for suspension of military exercises in Aegean
  • WEU political committee assembly approves report guaranteeing member- states' borders
  • Two arrested for transporting illegal immigrants

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Reppas: Erbakan's comment shows Turkey not inclined to solve Cyprus problem

    Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's statements claiming the existence of two separate states in Cyprus prove that Turkey has neither the intention nor the good faith for a settlement of the problem, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    ''Such statements are indicative of an effort to consolidate faits accomplis and legitimize the pseudo-state of (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash,'' the spokesman said when asked to comment on Erbakan's remarks.

    ''In Cyprus, there is on the one side legality and on the other the Turkish occupation forces,'' he added.

    Replying to other questions, Reppas indicated that the government was not considering the possibility of consenting to a temporary halt to flights by military planes over Cyprus.

    ''In order for there to be any development, Turkey must make efforts to de- escalate the tension. But the neighbouring country is doing exactly the opposite,'' Reppas said, adding that with respect to the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine, Athens was not willing to make any concessions.

    Asked to comment on the US State Department's southern European representative Carey Cavanaugh's visit to Athens earlier this week, Reppas noted that the Greek government did not view the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations as a single package.

    ''From Cavanaugh's talks here in Athens, it emerged that Washington is expected to put forward specific proposals early next year,'' the spokesman said.

    Greece, he continued, remained firm in its position both on the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations, namely that ''we expect Turkey to display good intentions and either stop disputing Greek sovereignty of the Imia islet or to have recourse to the International Court at the Hague on the issue.''

    ''If Turkey does not display good intentions, Greece will not recognize the right of any third party to undertake an initiative on matters pertaining to Greek-Turkish relations,'' Reppas said.

    Group claims Polytechnic bomb

    An organisation calling itself the ''Militant Guerrilla Formation'' has claimed responsibility for planting the bomb that went off in the Athens Polytechnic University Wednesday afternoon.

    The group took responsiblity for the blast in a brief proclamation to the Athens daily ''Eleftherotypia'' sent late last night and appearing in today's issue of the newspaper.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later told reporters that the bomb attack has created a ''distorted picture'' of events organised to mark Sunday's anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against the military junta then ruling Greece.

    He added that it had created ''fear and confusion'' among citizens with respect to their participation in the events.

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said that there was no question of the legal framework governing university asylum being changed.

    The Polytechnic building in downtown Athens has frequently been used as a refuge by self-styled anarchists who engage in street battles with the police before and during the annual anniversary events.

    Under present legislation, police are unable to enter university premises without the consent of the given institution's board of administration.

    On this year's events, Reppas said the government wanted them to be peaceful and reflecting ''the real meaning'' of the student uprising.

    Meanwhile, speaking in Parliament today, Public Order Minister George Romeos said that responsibility for the anniversary events lay with the Polytechnic board of administration and the National Students' Union.

    He added that the police had taken all the necessary measures to prevent incidents around the Polytechnic this year.

    Reppas: Greece does not intend to revise Maastricht criteria

    The government does not intend to seek a revision of the criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty for economic convergence among the EU member states due to the 16 billion dollar defence programme announced on Wednesday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    ''The government is responding to the particularities entailed by the existence of a threat to the security and integrity of the country and the need to face it by upgrading the deterrent capability of the armed forces, and wishes, in this light, its partners to appreciate the country's efforts to attain the convergence targets,'' Reppas said in reply to reporters' questions.

    Simitis said after a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Policy and Defence (KYSEA) yesterday that Greece would spend almost two trillion drachmas on defence up to the year 2000 and a further two trillion by 2007.

    The premier said that the Greek people would have to make sacrifices but ruled out the possibility of Greece failing to meet the economic convergence targets set in the Maastricht Treaty as a result of the massive defence programme.

    Simitis underlined that Greece was facing the ''major challenge'' of securing its equal participation in the EU but at the same time was facing a threat and provocativeness from Turkey.

    Quake rattles Konitsa

    A strong earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale shook the area of Konitsa, northern Greece at dawn today, causing minor structural damage to buildings but no injuries.

    The quake was recorded at 05.03 local time by the National Observatory in Athens and the Geophysics Laboratory of Thessaloniki University, which pinpointed the epicentre at 215 kilometres south-southwest of Thessaloniki near Konitsa in the prefecture of Ioannina.

    The tremor, which generated some alarm among the inhabitants of the region, caused cracks in the walls of houses in the village of Kleidonia and a partition wall collapsed in the primary school in the village of Vassilikos forcing it to close temporarily.

    According to seismologist Vassilis Papazachos of the Geophysics Laboratory of Thessaloniki University, today's tremor was just one of several in the aftermath of seismic activity which began in the region with a quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale on July 26.

    Since then, quakes measuring 5.6 and 4.8 were recorded in the same area on August 6 and August 20 respectively.

    Papazachos advised local inhabitants to remain calm, saying the quake was within the normal course of events given the pattern of seismic activity in the region.

    Hashish found on boat

    Customs officers in Chania today discovered a further 240 kilos of hashish hidden in a special compartment of a yacht which has remained moored in the Cretan port since early 1994 when it was confiscated after yielding over 6 tonnes of the narcotic.

    Today's find came during an exercise being conducted by Chania customs officers aboard the yacht -- the ''Gypsy Falcon'' -- which had been confiscated on 3 January 1994.

    Then, the yacht developed a mechanical problem a few miles from Chania and had to be towed to the port for repairs. During a routine search of the vessel, customs officers discovered an initial quantity of 440 kilos of hashish.

    A subsequent search revealed a further 6 tonnes.

    Two Croats aboard the yacht at the time, which was on its way from Yemen to Slovenia, were sentenced to life imprisonment but have lodged an appeal which was due to be heard on Crete at the end of November.

    Massive armaments programme unveiled

    Greece will spend almost two trillion drachmas on defence up to the year 2000 and a further two trillion by 2007, Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced yesterday immediately after a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Policy and Defence (KYSEA ).

    Mr. Simitis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the Greek armed forces would purchase an AWACS early-warning aircraft, 60 new warplanes, training aircraft, transport helicopters and aircraft as well as modernise its F-4 "Phantom" fighters. In addition, new tanks will be purchased, while those already in service will be modernised.

    The four-trillion drachmas (approximately US$16 billion) armaments programme will also involve the purchase of modern munitions and the acquisition of new anti-aircraft systems and warships, including submarines and nine surface vessels - three torpedo boats, two corvettes and four gunboats.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Simitis said that the Greek people would have to make sacrifices and stressed that "there must be no waste."

    However, he ruled out the possibility of Greece missing the economic convergence targets set in the Maastricht Treaty as a result of the massive defence programme.

    Noting that the necessary funds for the programme would be raised through foreign borrowing, Mr. Simitis said that a large part of armaments would be supplied by the Greek defence industry.

    He underlined that the country's armed forces had to be bolstered in order to face "the threats..." and that emphasis would be placed on upgrading the military qualitatively in order to counterbalance the "opponent's" numerical strength.

    Foreign Minister says gov't will not call for suspension of military exercises in Aegean

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told Parliament yesterday evening that the foreign ministry does not intend to call for a suspension of military exercises in the Aegean for the remaining months, other than in the so-called tourism period extending fro m June to September.

    Replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy party deputy Costas Karamanlis on the government's intentions concerning an extension of a moratorium on military exercises in the Aegean, Mr. Pangalos said the proposal existing is for it to be ex tended throughout the entire tourism period, namely in June through September, as well and not only in July and August as was the case this year.

    WEU political committee assembly approves report guaranteeing member-states' borders

    A report unanimously ratified at a meeting of the West European Union's (WEU) political committee assembly in Paris yesterday confirms the guaranteeing of borders of WEU member-states, while calling for a speedy and just solu tion to the Cyprus issue.

    The report, focusing on the WEU's future role, was proposed by main opposition New Democracy party deputy Mihalis Liapis and strongly supported by PASOK deputy Iosif Miheloyiannis. The meeting was also attended by the assembly secretariat member Frangis kos Verros.

    Article 8 of the report "calls on the Council to impose implementation of the principle of territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of WEU member-states."

    The report terms the status quo prevailing on Cyprus unacceptable and calls for a speedy and just solution to the Cyprus issue. It further reiterates as being certain that a start to Cyprus' accession negotiations to the European Union will take place s ix months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    Two sentenced for transporting illegal immigrants

    Two men were given stiff prison sentences by a Xanthi court today after being found guilty of using the hearse of the Xanthi mufti's office to transport illegal immigrants.

    Jevar Jemali, 50 and Reya Yiasar, 32, both residents of Xanthi, northern Greece, were each sentenced to 4.5 years in prison and immediately taken to Komotini jail.

    The two had borrowed the hearse on the pretext that they wanted it for the funeral of a relative. They were arrested on the Komotini-Xanthi road when police found four illegal immigrants from Iraq in the vehicle after it had been stopped at a roadblock.

    The illegal immigrants are to be deported and the hearse was returned to the mufti's office.

    WEATHER

    Sunny throughout the country, with temperatures in Athens ranging from 11- 22 C and in Thessaloniki 9-18 C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 236.126 Can. dlr.179.913, Australian dlr. 185.950 Pound sterling 389.777, Irish punt 390.650, Cyprus pd 513.757, French franc 46.354, Swiss franc 186.025 Belgian franc 7.604, German mark 156.662 Finnish mark 52.011, Dutch guilder 139.703 Danish Kr. 40.807, Swedish Kr. 35.504, Norwegian Kr. 37.319, Austrian Sh. 22.272, Italian lira (100) 15.562 Yen (100) 211.782 Spanish Peseta 1.861, Portuguese Escudo 1.549.

    (M.P.)


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