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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-10

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 10/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos emphasises Cyprus' role in Greek-Turkish relations
  • Government spokesman: Madrid agreement
  • UN-sponsored direct peace talks on Cyprus open
  • Premier emphasises new role, challenges for NATO
  • Simitis voices hope for progress in Cyprus talks
  • Israelis, Palestinians meet in Vouliagmeni
  • Stephanopoulos hosts dinner for von Weizsaecker
  • Brigitte Bardot receives award in Athens
  • EU to grant Ecu13 million for fire protection programmes
  • Labour Undersecretary visits Britain
  • Greek bourse has healthy outlook despite inflation rise
  • EU in court action against Greece on property sales
  • Current accounts deficit rises sharply
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos emphasises Cyprus' role in Greek-Turkish relations

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos reiterated at a press conference today that the normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations presupposed a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.

Clarifying certain aspects of the Madrid communique, Pangalos said on the issue of Greece's right under international law to extend its territorial waters to twelve miles that ''when we exercise this right, we shall do so in a responsible manner''.

Pangalos described the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's reaction to the communique as ''responsible and substantial''.

''This stance is particularly positive and strengthens the government's foreign policy,'' Pangalos said.

ND leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday that the communique contained ''certain self-evident principles which are in the right direction''.

Karamanlis noted however that certain references were open to ''misinterpretation'' and would not necessarily deter Turkey from continually escalating its claims against Greece.

Asked whether the US initiative for the Madrid communique came as a surprise to the government, Pangalos said the initiative satisfied a request made by Athens, which (request) was shaped following the Imia events in late January last year.

Pangalos said the request included three conditions:

Firstly, that Turkey should abandon its threat of war and use of force, secondly, that Ankara should respect international law and international treaties, and thirdly, that a procedural way should be found for a way out of the impasse created by Ankara's disputing of Greek sovereignty of the Imia islets.

''It was in this direction that we initiated contacts and worked with the United States on the wording of a text which on the part of Turkey would contain these elements and which in turn would facilitate the smooth development of our relations,'' he added.

Pangalos underlined that Turkey had now withdrawn its threat of force, which had made any contact or serious discussion with Ankara on any issue impossible.

In addition, he noted, Turkey declared in the communique that it respects international law and international treaties.

The text of the communique, Pangalos said, had been drafted by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who had been in contact with the Turkish side.

''Following Turkey's satisfactory response,'' he added, ''new prospects have opened up''.

Government spokesman: Madrid agreement

The joint communique of Madrid contains positions which Greece has long put forward and Turkey did not accept to initial in the past, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said today.

The communique was issued after talks between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleiman Demirel on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday.

Simitis described it as a document of principles which would govern relations between Greece and Turkey.

Athanasakis reiterated that no specific issues were discussed in Madrid other than the ''framework of principles'', while again stressing that it was Greece's inalienable right to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean to twelve miles.

He added however that this was a ''procedure'' which would be followed in consultation with ''other sides'' and as provided under international law.

Meanwhile, speaking in Ankara this morning, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said the communique would to a large extent remove the possibility of military conflict in the Aegean.

Cem said the two sides had declared they would settle their differences in a spirit of good will and by peaceful means.

Acting government spokemsan Nikos Athanasakis said today that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a Cabinet meeting on Friday during which he will brief the Cabinet on the results of the NATO summit in Madrid and the Greek-Turkish joint communique he signed with Turkish President Suleiman Demirel.

UN-sponsored direct peace talks on Cyprus open

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan inaugurated five days of UN-sponsored direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, aimed at reviving negotiations for a settlement to the protracted Cyprus problem. He said he hoped he would not have to report another failure in the efforts for a Cyprus settlement.

Mr. Annan said this was the time to "press forward, in a positive spirit, in search of our common goal, a viable and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem."

Noting the difficulties faced by successive UN secretaries general in their efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, Mr. Annan stressed, "my aim is not to have to report, yet again, to the Security Council about another opportunity missed".

"No one understimates the immensity of the tasks before you", he told the two leaders, adding however, that the international community is confident in their ability "to forge a new constitutional and institutional structures, to allow the people of both communities to live together in peace."

Mr. Annan said if the two leaders agreed with the suggestions his special advisor on the Cyprus problem Diego Cordovez will share with them, on his behalf, they "will be sending a strong and unmistakable signal to the international community."

"You will be signalling your commitment and determination to reach a comprehensive settlement, for which the people of Cyprus have been waiting for too long," he said.

The UN secretary general expressed the view that "specific and concrete solutions" to fundamental aspects of the Cyprus problem, agreed upon by the two sides over the years should now be explored, without further delay, "in their proper context".

The UN chief stressed that "both sides should refrain from making any statements".

Premier emphasises new role, challenges for NATO

Prime Minister Costas Simitis hailed NATO's two-day summit, which ended yesterday afternoon in Madrid, as one of the most important summits in the history of the alliance.

"It shows a new direction for NATO, which has been dominated in the past by the United States, Canada and their allies," Mr. Simitis said, summing up the results of the summit.

"The binding prospect now is security, not in the narrow framework of the Euro-Atlantic alliance, but in a broad, universal framework," the premier said.

"This shows that NATO is evolving...There will always be those who dominate and those who follow, but in any case the new form of the alliance should have a new architecture," he said.

This new architecture, Mr. Simitis added, will be achieved by promoting cooperation with Russia and the Ukraine, by advancing new institutions such as the Euro-Atlantic cooperation and strengthening of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.

The premier emphasised the decision taken at the summit on the promotion of regional cooperation, and referred to the need for regional cooperation in the Mediterranean, as a means to enlarge NATO's relations and influence vis- a-vis other countries.

Mr. Simitis said Greece aimed at promoting a common security policy, adding that the focal point of Greek foreign policy was the resolution of disputes by peaceful means.

The summit launched the alliance's eastward expansion, the largest in its 48-year history, by inviting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join.

Simitis voices hope for progress in Cyprus talks

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday expressed hope for progress in the UN-sponsored direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

The direct talks are being held outside New York City, in the hamlet Troutbeck.

Mr. Simitis expressed the wish that the talks would lead to a just and viable solution to the 23-year-old Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions.

Israelis, Palestinians meet in Vouliagmeni

A non-binding, three-day meeting between Israeli and Palestinian personalities aimed at exchanging views on the future of the Middle East peace process began yesterday at the Athens seaside resort of Vouliagmeni.

The gathering is the product of a Greek government initiative.

The meeting is attended by Israeli and Palestinian parliamentarians, academics and personalities in the general sense, who will have the opportunity to discuss the serious problems in relations between the two communities. The meeting will be addressed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, while professor Theodoros Kouloumbis will coordinate the meeting.

In an announcement, the foreign ministry expressed satisfaction over the acceptance of its invitation by the participants.

"Greece is watching developments in the Middle East with particular interest, developments which affect stability and security in our region and beyond. This meeting is part of continuous efforts being made by our country towards all sides to promote th e peace process, which is at a particularly delicate and crucial phase at present," the foreign ministry announcement concluded.

Stephanopoulos hosts dinner for von Weizsaecker

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos hosted a dinner in honour of visiting former German president Richard von Weizsaecker yesterday.

Mr. Weizsaecker was accompanied by his wife, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Athens and the director of his private office.

Brigitte Bardot receives award in Athens

Actress turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot today expressed satisfaction after talks at the ministries of the environment and agriculture on the protection of animals.

Bardot arrived in Athens yesterday to receive an ecology award from the UNESCO federation of the Dodecanese in a special ceremony at the Old Parliament building last night.

In effusive mood, Bardot described Environment Undersecretary Theodoros Kolliopanos, as ''very intelligent'', after a one-hour meeting, while she exchanged kisses with Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas.

Kolliopanos said he had briefed Bardot on Greece's environmental protection programmes and efforts to protect the monk seal and loggerhead turtle, adding that the one-time film star had expressed satisfaction.

Bardot discussed the sterilisation of stray dogs and cats with Tzoumakas, who stressed that Greece was particularly sensitive on issues relating to the environment and animal protection.

She later visited the Athens Town Hall, again for talks on the protection of animals, this time with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Bardot is expected to leave Greece this evening.

EU to grant Ecu13 million for fire protection programmes

The European Commission has decided to grant about Ecu13 million for programmes concerning the protection of forests from fires and pollution following a proposal made by EU Agricultural Commissioner Franz Fischler.

The 107 programmes which will be funded on the basis of regulations approved by the Council of Ministers concern the protection of forests in Greece, Portugal, Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

In 1987 the European union implemented a programme for monitoring forests and the harm they are subjected to from air pollution and fires.

Programmes for member-states have been funded since 1992 and now the Commission has decided to intensify controls for forest protection, particularly in countries which are frequently faced with such problems.

Labour Undersecretary visits Britain

The governments of Britain and Greece have common concerns and generally adopt the same solutions on issues of employment and social policy, Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas said here yesterday.

During a two-day visit to Britain, Mr. Protopapas met with Minister of State for Employment, Social Security and Equal Opportunity, Andrew Smith, and Minister of State for Employment Issues, Ian McCartney.

Mr. Protopapas also met with the president of the Federation of British Industrialists, the secretary general of the Confederation of British Labour Syndicates and several ethnic Greek professors at the London School of Economics, from whom he requested help in the analysis of social and employment policy implemented by the British government.

Greek bourse has healthy outlook despite inflation rise

The Greek bourse has retained its positive prospects for the future despite a slight rise in the inflation rate in June, a Bank of America annual survey on the Greek market said.

The survey ranks the Athens Stock Exchange as the cheapest market in Europe with one of the lowest P/E (price/earnings) ratios, making stocks more attractive.

The average rate of increase in earnings per share also remains attractive, at 9.2 percent, it said.

According to a survey by Morgan Stanley Capital International, Greek blue- chips Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), Alpha Credit Bank and National Bank of Greece were among this year's 200 largest companies in emerging markets.

OTE moved up from the 26th position last year to 19th, while Alpha Credit and National Bank ranked 121st and 17th respectively, although they did not appear in the list in 1996, said the survey, published in Business Week, the US financial magazine.

EU in court action against Greece on property sale

The European Commission has started legal proceedings in the European Court of Justice against Greece on the grounds that Greek authorities are refusing the sale of property in border regions to citizens from other European countries.

The Commission argues that the Greek authorities' policy is incompatible with the European Union's provisions on free movement of capital, services and people within the EU.

Greek authorities allow the sale of property in border regions to foreigners on the condition that they are interested in starting business activities in the country.

Under the legal proceedings, the Commission expects a comprehensive answer within two months to the reasoned opinion it has sent to the government, otherwise it will file a complaint to the European Court.

Current accounts deficit rises sharply

Greece's current accounts deficit rose sharply during the first quarter of 1997 to reach 1,627 billion dollars, compared to 1,203 billion dollars in the corresponding period last year, marking an increase of 32.5 percent, according to figures released today by the Bank of Greece.

According to the figures, the current accounts deficit shrank in March to 753 million dollars from 898.5 million in the same month last year.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today, with some local clouds in northern Greece in the afternoon. Winds will be northwesterly, light to moderate. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 21- 34C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 19-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.427 Pound sterling 463.165 Cyprus pd 526.534 French franc 46.164 Swiss franc 187.369 German mark 155.704 Italian lira (100) 15.990 Yen (100) 243.536 Canadian dlr. 199.670 Australian dlr. 203.757 Irish Punt 417.434 Belgian franc 7.545 Finnish mark 52.487 Dutch guilder 138.285 Danish kr. 40.886 Swedish kr. 35.414 Norwegian kr. 37.319 Austrian sch. 22.132 Spanish peseta 1.844 Port. Escudo 1.544

(Y.B.)


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