Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-09
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/07/1997 (ANA)
- Reactions to Greek-Turkish agreement
- Government spokesman's comment on accord with Turkey
- Opposition parties' views
- Greek think-tank calls for tighter economic policies
- Greece backs Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for NATO accession
- Fires still burning at several sites
- Pharmacies to close in protest of revised drug price-list
- Albanians escape from Halicarnassus prison
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Reactions to Greek-Turkish agreement
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said today that the joint
communique on Greek-Turkish relations was the result of persistent efforts
lasting several months.
The communique was signed yesterday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and
Turkish President Suleiman Demirel on the sidelines of the NATO summit in
Simitis described it as a document of principles which will govern
relations between Greece and Turkey.
In statements to the private Greek TV channel "Star", Papandreou said that
two of the three conditions set by Greece, namely the non-use of force and
the recognition of international treaties, had been incorporated in the
text of the communique.
The third condition, concerning the mechanisms for resolving problems, was
currently the subject of examination by the committee of experts.
Greece and Turkey recently each set up a committee of experts to examine
procedural approaches to resolving differences between Athens and
Papandreou said the joint communique contributed to creating a different
climate in relations between Greece and Turkey "without this meaning that
specific problems have been resolved, such as that of the continental shelf
or the Cyprus problem which poisons relations between the two countries".
Government spokesman's comment on accord with Turkey
Meanwhile, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis described
yesterday's communique as "a particularly positive development" which could
"open up a new era in Greek-Turkish relations".
The communique, he added, contained issues which Greece had continually
raised "and which are now covenanted and jointly signed by Turkey at the
Athanasakis stressed that there had been no discussion of specific issues
pertaining to Greek-Turkish relations, noting that Greece's position on
these issues remained unchanged.
"This also includes Greece's position on the financial protocols (providing
for EU funds to Turkey) within the framework of Ankara's customs union with
the Community," Athanasakis said.
Replying to reporters' questions, the spokesman said the extension by
Greece of its territorial waters to twelve miles was Athens' inalienable
right emanating from international law.
He stressed also that Greece's position on the issue of the Imia islets
Greece and Turkey nearly went to war in January last year after Ankara
openly challenged Greek sovereignty of the uninhabited rocky islets.
As far as Greece is concerned, Athanasakis continued, the only specific
issue referred to in the communique is the refraining from using force,
"something which concerns Turkey".
He underlined also that the Madrid communique did not open any dialogue
regarding the various separate issues comprising Greek-Turkish relations.
Athanasakis said Simitis had briefed President Kostis Stephanopoulos on the
communique by telephone and would further inform him, if necessary, after
returning from Spain.
Simitis will also brief the Cabinet which is scheduled to meet on Friday,
as well as any political party leader so requesting, the spokesman
Replying to other questions, Athanasakis said Nicosia had welcomed the
Simitis-Demirel communique, expressing the hope that it might have a
positive effect on UN-sponsored direct talks between Cyprus President
Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, due to begin
today in the United States.
The spokesman reiterated that the settlement of the Cyprus problem was the
"key" for Greek-Turkish relations.
Opposition parties' views
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) today expressed concern about the joint
communique on Greek-Turkish relations, claiming that it was not aimed at
resolving differences between Athens and Ankara but at extending US
influence in the Aegean.
Although the text contains declarations about respect for international
treaties and international law, the KKE said, there are also points which
Ankara can interpret as it pleases.
In particular, the KKE cited the reference to each country's "vital
interests and concerns in the Aegean''.
"These ambiguous elements may pave the way for a dialogue on confidence-
building measures which, within the framework of the known US plan, also
serves the expansionist designs of the Turkish government," the KKE
The Communist Party underlined however that it was in favour of dialogue
with Turkey, "provided there is a declaration affirming respect for the
borders and sovereignty of each country".
The Coalition of the Left and Progress called for the immediate convening
of a meeting of political party leaders in order to be briefed in detail on
the course of Greek-Turkish relations.
A statement issued by the party's political secretariat said the joint
communique could serve as a step towards the normalisation of Greek-Turkish
relations, adding that "the relevant declarations will be judged in
The Coalition urged the government to make use of the Madrid development
"in a way which contributes to paving the way for a substantial dialogue,
while protecting the country's interests".
At the same time however, the Coalition criticised the government, charging
it with "an absence of strategy, the usual double-talk and the assigning of
these issues in their entirety to the initiatives of third parties".
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas described what
he called "the US-inspired and guided" joint communique as "overturning the
substance of the existing legal situation in the Aegean" and "a prelude to
the partitioning and joint sovereignty" of the sea.
Tsovolas said he would tomorrow request an extraordinary session of the
parliament plenary in order to discuss the latest developments.
The DHKKI leader claimed the communique contained specific commitments
which were contrary to the treaties of Lausanne, Paris and Montreux as well
as the international Law of the Sea.
Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras meanwhile termed the communique
"painful" for Greece and "painless" for Turkey.
Samaras charged that the reference in the communique to "refraining from
unilateral acts" in effect cancelled out Greece's legal right to extend its
territorial waters to twelve miles and at the same time consolidated "the
unacceptable new status quo of so-called grey zones which the government of
Costas Simitis has accepted for Imia, resulting in (Turkey's) disputing of
the sovereignty of hundreds of rocky islets in the Aegean".
Greek think-tank calls for tighter economic policies
Greece's socialist government should tighten its economic stabilisation
policies in order to align with other European Union countries and take
part in economic and monetary union, the Institute for Economic and
Industrial Research (IOBE) said.
In a quarterly report on the economy, IOBE urged the government to shore up
existing policies aimed at convergence because the country still fell short
of targets set in the Maastricht treaty.
Even a shift to more lax criteria for a unified EU economy or postponement
of a single EU currency could leave Greece behind, it said.
"Greece would face the added risk of being the only country excluded from
the Euro," said the report, although welcoming government statements that
existing economic policy would remain in place.
It strongly criticised the manner in which social dialogue on employment
and social insurance was being conducted.
"To date, the social dialogue has emerged as a simple exchange of widely
known views among the social partners (government, employers, employees)
... Social consensus per se has taken precedence over the ultimate target
of extensive and truly effective structural reforms", it said.
IOBE called for swift, bold action in ""politically thorny problems" mainly
to ensure maximum flexibility on the job market.
It further called for deep changes in the social security and taxation
systems, public administration, public utilities, the health system, and
Noting that the government enjoyed the confidence of markets due to its
cautious macro-economic policy", IOBE warned: "This auspicious climate is
already tending to be weakened mainly due to serious delays in structural
IOBE also criticised a controversial recommendation of a lump-sum tax on
business profits contained in a recent government-sponsored report by a
committee headed by Professor Ioannis Spraos. It attributed the proposal to
"solely political aims".
IOBE anticipated GDP growth in excess of three percent this year, and
inflation running at 5.5-5.6 percent.
It also warned there was no room for complacency over inflation, despite a
declining trend. Greater caution and wider consensus was needed on incomes
IOBE criticised the government's "hard drachma" policy for its adverse
repercussions on production and employment, but said markets had indicated
an outright devaluation of the drachma was unlikely in the near future.
It further criticised the government for "minimal progress" in reducing
public spending and creating new deficits in public sector utilities and
Greece backs Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for NATO accession
NATO leaders, in an historic move to erase Europe's Cold War division,
invited Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the alliance
yesterday and held out real membership prospects to other former communist
A NATO summit climaxed a day of wrangling by reassuring Slovenia, Romania
and the Baltic states that they would be considered seriously in future
expansions and pledged that all the new democracies had the right to join
the defence body.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis backed Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria for
membership in the alliance, saying that the Balkan countries should have
equal treatment with the central and eastern European countries.
"In our view, the enlargement process should eventually embrace all
European countries, interested in joining the alliance and fulfilling a
number of criteria. The stability of our continent is greatly dependent
upon NATO's enlargement," Mr. Simitis said.
Fires still burning at several sites
Forest fires were still raging in northern Evia, Ilia, Arcadia, Messinia
prefectures as well as on the island of Ios yesterday, according to
They added that eight Canadair and four Grumman firefighting planes, army
contingents, firefighters as well as dozens of forestry service and fire
brigade vehicles were deployed at the various fronts.
Officials told ANA that the massive fire in Seikh Sou urban forest in
Thessaloniki, which broke out on Sunday, had been contained after burning
an estimated 1,700 hectares of forest land.
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas - whose ministry is responsible
for forests and fire prevention - said that after the fire was completely
extinguished, aerial photographs would be taken of the area, while soil
retention works and extensive reforestation would also be carried out. In
Evia, the fire was subsiding although it had not been contained.
Pharmacies to close in protest of revised drug price-list
Pharmacies in Athens will remain closed for as many as five days, starting
tomorrow until next Wendesday, after a dicision taken yesterday during an
Attika Pharmaceutical Association's meeting.
Pharmacies in the rest of the country will go on strike on Thursday and
Friday. During the strike, pharmaceuticals could only be bought from
druggists that are open overnight.
Pharmacists are demanding a withdrawal of the government's revised drug
pricelist, which trims their profits on pharmaceutical products.
Meanwhile, the hospital doctors' strike ends today, with a decision pending
on further action.
Doctors at the Social Security Foundation (IKA) have called a strike for
July 14 and 15 over institutional and economic demands.
Albanians escape from Halicarnassus prison
Three Albanians serving long prison sentences for crimes ranging from
attempted murder to robbery escaped from the Halikarnassus prison in
Heraklion early today.
The three prisoners were named as Tsela Piza, 27, Kouri Paskim, 22 and
Melik Brahza, 29, who were serving sentences of 17 to 23 years.
The trio made their escape after sawing through the bars of a window and
climbing down to the street using a rope and bedsheets tied together.
Police on Crete have launched a manhunt for the three Albanians while an
investigation into the circumstances of the escape is currently under way
at the prison with the participation of a Heraklion public prosecutor.
Mostly sunny weather is forecast for most parts of the country today. Local
clouds in central and northern Greece with intermittent storms in the north
in the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be mostly
sunny with temperatures between 22-33C. Sunny to partly cloudy in
Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-30C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 273.941
Pound sterling 463.978 Cyprus pd 530.720
French franc 46.301 Swiss franc 187.205
German mark 156.121 Italian lira (100) 16.029
Yen (100) 243.268 Canadian dlr. 198.698
Australian dlr. 203.598 Irish Punt 416.104
Belgian franc 7.566 Finnish mark 52.481
Dutch guilder 138.692 Danish kr. 40.989
Swedish kr. 35.285 Norwegian kr. 37.339
Austrian sch. 22.184 Spanish peseta 1.848
Port. Escudo 1.545