Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 02/07/1997 (ANA)
- Greek, Bulgarian presidents meet, agreements signed
- German defence minister begins visit in northern Greece
- Shevardnadze receives Onassis prize
- Tourism hit by hard drachma policy - study
- Drug arrests in northern Greece
- Greek reservations on Turkish decision for moratorium in the Aegean
- Cyprus in next European Union enlargement
- Greek economy in non-inflationary growth course
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greek, Bulgarian presidents meet, agreements signed
Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov arrived here today on a two-day state
visit and immediately embarked on talks with Greek counterpart Costis
Stoyanov, who heads a ministerial delegation, was also expected to meet
with Prime Minister Costas Simitis shortly after noon and with political
party leaders in the evening.
After the conclusion of the official leg of his visit on Thursday, Stoyanov
will to to Thessaloniki and from there by helicpoter to Mount Athos for a
brief visit on Friday, departing in the afternoon for Sofia from Thessaloniki.
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Bulgarian Deputy Minister
for Foreign Affairs Stefan Tafrov later signed the agreement for the
construction of the Kulata-Promachonas border bridge in the presence of
Stephanopoulos and Stoyanov.
The talks between the Greek and Bulgarian presidents focused on bilateral
relations, the situation in the Balkans and the greater region and
Bulgaria's efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures which Greece supports.
The two presidents reconfirmed the political will of Athens and Sofia to
implement agreements concerning the management of the waters of the Nestos
River, the opening of three new border posts.
They also expressed their belief that the construction of the Burgas-
Alexandoupoli gas pipeline should proceed at the earliest since this would
be to the benefit of the three countries directly involved, namely, Russia,
Bulgaria and Greece.
Stephanopoulos stressed that Stoyanov's visit to Greece, the first by a
Bulgarian head of state since 1989, would facilitate progress in relations
between the two Balkan neighbours which, he added, were already at a very
He said that Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union would help
consolidate peace and stability in the region and show that the Balkans
could be part of the Community and contribute to the economic development
and integration of Europe.
Stephanopoulos said there was great margin for developing even closer
economic relations and increasing exchanges between the two countries,
noting that Greek-Bulgarian relations could serve as an example of
cooperation and friendship for all the countries of the region.
Stoyanov expressed gratitude for the understanding shown by Greece for
Bulgaria's problems, particularly Athens' support for the reform programme
being implemented by Sofia.
''Our relations were always excellent, but after 1989 things changed as did
objectives. And we shall need the help of our friends regarding our
accession to NATO and the EU,'' Stoyanov said, adding that the reform
programme could make Bulgaria ''more attractive'' to its neighbours.
Stoyanov also stressed the need for an ''intensification'' of Greek-
Bulgarian talks and referred to the possibility of cooperation between the
two countries ''on major joint plans'' as well as in the culture sector.
Replying to reporters' questions, Stoyanov said the domestic situation in
Bulgaria and Greece had never affected relations between the two neighbours.
''Particularly now that the political situation in both countries is
completely normal,'' he added.
Asked about the possible threat posed by the Kozloduy nuclear power plant
near the border with Greece, Stoyanov said that the way in which the plant
was now operating created ''no problem'', maintaining that ''the dangers
(posed by Kozloduy) are no more than those existing at similar plants in
Stoyanov is expected to arrive in Thessaloniki tomorrow afternoon.
At 9 pm local time, he will attend a dinner given in his honour by
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.
Also attending the dinner will be the members of the ministerial delegation
which Stoyanov is heading.
Speaking after talks with Stephanopoulos today, Stoyanov hailed Thessaloniki,
the present cultural capital of Europe, adding that ''we shall see examples
of Bulgarian culture'' in the port city.
German defence minister begins visit in northern Greece
Germany's Defence Minister Volker Ruehe begins a three-day visit to
Ioannina, northern Greece today at the invitation of his Greek counterpart,
Akis Tsohatzopoulos, within the framework of regular contacts between the
two countries, an ANA despatch from Bonn said.
According to the German Defence Ministry, the talks between the two
ministers will include issues such as NATO's enlargement eastwards and
coordination between the two countries in the Western European Union
Germany on July 1 assumed the presidency of the WEU for the second half of
the current year, while Greece will take over on January 1, 1998.
Tsohatzopoulos and Ruehe are also expected to discuss the situation in
former Yugoslavia and Albania, Greek-Turkish relations and bilateral
Shevardnadze receives Onassis prize
The Board of Directors and the Committee for the Onassis International
Prizes and the Onassis International Cultural Competitions today announced
the names of the 1997 Laureates, which included Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze was awarded ''The Onassis Prize for International Understanding
and Social Achievement'', which is accompanied by a 250,000 dollar
Sir Steven Runciman and Dolly Goulandris were each awarded ''The Onassis
Prize for Culture'' (Arts and Humanities) and will share the corresponding
cash prize of 250,000 dollars.
The International Maritime Organization -- the UN agency responsible for
maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment from pollution
by ships -- was awarded ''The Onassis Prize for the Environment'' and will
also receive 250,000 dollars.
The Awards Ceremony will take place at the Athens Concert Hall on September
16 and prizes will be presented by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
The first, second and third prizes of the Onassis International Cultural
Competitions for Theatrical Plays were awarded respectively to Manjula
Padmanabhan of India for her play ''Harvest'', Dr. Anton Juan of the
Philippines for his play ''Tuko! Tuko! or Princess of the Lizard Moon'' and
Nagle Jackson of the USA for his play ''The Elevation of Thieves''.
The three awards carry cash prizes of 250,000, 200,000 and 150,000 dollars
Tourism hit by hard drachma policy - study
Greece needs to rationalise the drachma's parity in real terms against the
national currencies of Italy, Spain and Portugal, the country's three main
tourism competitors in southern Europe, the Tourism Research and Forecasts
Institute (ITEP) said.
ITEP - a think tank representing the interests of the domestic tourism
industry - argues that the hard drachma policy is responsible for a steady
decline in tourist arrivals in Greece in the last few years.
In its first survey, entitled "The impact of foreign exchange policy in the
tourism sector", ITEP proposes a 10 percent devaluation of the drachma in
order to boost tourist arrivals by 10.3 percent annually.
The number of tourists visiting Greece fell from 10.7 million in 1994 to
9.7 million in 1996 resulting in a drop in the occupancy rate of domestic
hotels. Tourism foreign exchange revenues fell from 3.9 billion dollars in
1994 to 3.7 billion last year.
The survey, however, allowed a note of optimism for the future.
It predicted a rise in tourist arrivals to 11.7-12.6 million by 2000, and
an increase in tourism revenues to 15 billion dollars if the government
relaxes its foreign exchange policy and tourism infrastructure is
Drug arrests in northern Greece
Police in Ioannina, northern Greece today arrested four Athenians suspected
of being involved in an attempt to smuggle 345 kilos of marijuana into
Several cars which failed to stop at a police checkpoint yesterday were
chased by the police, their occupants throwing out sacks of marijuana
weighing a total of 345 kilos.
The cars managed to shake off their pursuers but police believe the four
arrested today were the occupants of one of the vehicles.
According to initial reports, all four have been involved in transporting
narcotics from the Greek-Albanian border in the past.
They were identified as Pantelis Tsourlos, 31, his wife, Erasmia, 23, her
brother Petros Grivas, 20 and his girlfriend, Efthalia Tassi, 20.
Meanwhile, local police from the village of Nestori, Kastoria found a mule
wandering through a wooded region loaded with four sacks containing 50
kilos of marijuana.
The police believe the marijuana was smuggled into Greece from neighbouring
Albania. No arrests have been made.
The marijuana was confiscated and the mule will be sold by auction.
In a related incident, five Albanian illegal immigrants, including two
minors, were arrested in Kastoria for drug trafficking.
The five were arrested when they went to collect a parcel containing 17.5
kilos of marijuana which had been hidden in a nearby wooded area.
The police had already found the marijuana and had placed the area under
The three adults arrested were identified (phonetic spellings) as Ganela
Artan, 22, Spyros Nika, 30 and Salin Sereti, 24.
Greek reservations on Turkish decision for moratorium in the Aegean
Greece indirectly pointed to Turkey yesterday as making moves aimed only at
creating impressions after Ankara's announcement earlier to "limit" Turkish
military exercises in the Aegean between July 1 and Aug. 15.
Athens stressed that it supported confidence-building measures (CBMs)
"which do not falsify sovereign rights and international duties assigned to
A lengthy government announcement issued late last night termed as
unacceptable "Turkey's demand for 'reciprocity' in briefing Turkish
authorities in connection with Greek aircraft flights over the Aegean, a
fact which conceals its (Turkey's) real aims.
"The region of the Aegean constitutes a region of Greek responsibility and
Flight Information Region (FIR) management and includes in its entirety the
considerable part of the Greek state. The IFF/SIF system does not provide a
solution. The problem is not the identity of the aircraft but their
attitude," the government announcement read.
On the question of abstention from exercises during the summer months,
Greece accused Turkey of "backtracking" on the commitment which the two
countries assumed with the 1988 Papoulias-Yilmaz agreements, and which was
confirmed through the NATO Secretary General in June 1996 regarding
abstention from exercises. This mutual commitment, the government added,
includes all of July and August.
Athens further charged that Ankara was now announcing a "unilateral
commitment" which comes to an end on Aug. 15, while Greece will observe in
full the two-month commitment in accordance with the agreement which had
In connection with armed warplanes, the Greek government said that Hellenic
Air Force aircraft "in any case do not carry weapons in their training
missions, but will continue to carry out those missions which concern the
security of navigation in the Aegean in the way imposed by regulations."
The government announcement stressed that every decrease in tension in the
Aegean contributed to an improvement in security and the climate in the
region and was welcome. In parallel, it reminded that "tension in the
Aegean is due exclusively and solely to the aggressiveness shown by the
Turkish side, with territorial claims, by disputing law, rules and
agreements which define the existing status and with daily pressure created
by violations of air traffic rules, as well as violations of national
However, the government notes as positive Ankara's statement that it will
"pedantically observe the implementation of international rules in its
activities on the sea and in the air," which emanated from the Papoulias-
The government said it expected that in these activities in international
waters and in the international airspace of the Aegean, the Turkish side
will observe international rules and regulations in their entirety and not
Greece has charged for years that Ankara's warplanes violate the Athens FIR
and Greek airspace.
Greece, it said, expressed the hope that the effort undertaken by the NATO
Secretary General will continue on shaping mutually acceptable measures
which will decrease tension in the direction of the Papoulias-Yilmaz
agreements in a climate of respect for internat ional law and the status
quo in the region and that the Turkish government's intention is moving in
this direction, as it should do, and not in the direction of creating
Cyprus in next European Union enlargement
Cyprus will be part of the first phase of the next European Union
enlargement, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign
Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis stated yesterday.
However, they ruled out any institutionalised presence of the Turkish
Cypriot community as a separate entity at the forthcoming accession
negotiations Cyprus is expected to start with the EU in 1998.
Speaking after a meeting here yesterday with Cyprus Foreign Minister
Kasoulides, Mr. Kranidiotis said: "Our meeting was particularly important
in view of the direct talks on Cyprus" to be held in New yrok later this
month adding that they also discussed ways to accelerate the Cypriot
application for EU membership.
Greek economy in non-inflationary growth course
The Greek economy is entering a period of lower inflation and interest
rates with relatively strong growth, according to the latest survey on the
short-term economic and financial outlook by Alpha Credit Bank. The survey
indicates that nominal convergence indicators have started approaching
those in the other countries of the European Union, raising the probability
that Greece will be amongst the second group of countries entering European
Monetary Union (EMU) from January 2001.
This tends to boost market confidence as well as to strengthen the resolve
of economic policy makers in pursuing EMU objectives, it added.
The bullish sentiment in the Athens Stock Exchange continues for a fifth
month in a row, with the market stabilised around 1700, having weathered
well the overshooting of the all-times-high of 1684 registered in 1990.
Since the beginning of the year, growth mutual funds assets have grown by
90 per cent.
Foreign investors have returned to the market, which ranked in May among
the best performing markets in the world, the survey said.
Fine weather is forecast throughout the country today with some local
clouds in northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds will be variable,
moderate to strong, especially in the Aegean Sea at night. Athens will be
sunny with temperatures between 22-34C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 19-31C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.502
Pound sterling 453.165 Cyprus pd 527.149
French franc 46.316 Swiss franc 186.238
German mark 156.111 Italian lira (100) 16.032
Yen (100) 237.038 Canadian dlr. 197.110
Australian dlr. 204.977 Irish Punt 412.434
Belgian franc 7.567 Finnish mark 52.393
Dutch guilder 138.701 Danish kr. 41.013
Swedish kr. 35.176 Norwegian kr. 37.101
Austrian sch. 22.189 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.545