Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/07/1997 (ANA)
- Prime Minister briefs Cabinet on Madrid accord
- Cabinet unanimously endorses Madrid communique
- Opposition criticism to joint communique increases
- Kranidiotis to tour Middle East
- Turkey not ready for accession talks, EU report states
- Pangalos attends Israeli-Palestinian meeting near Athens
- Aerospace medicine makes its debut in Athens
- SEB, gov't to organise Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Conference
- Tourism study claims drachma devaluation would increase arrivals
- Greece helps Cyprus expand its EU business presence
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Prime Minister briefs Cabinet on Madrid Accord
Prime Minister Costas Simitis briefed the Cabinet during a four-and-a-half
hour meeting yesterday on the joint communique issued by Greece and Turkey
regarding bilateral relations.
Mr. Simitis told reporters that "everything went very well," noting
unanimity on what was decided.
The premier said he had explained in detail the policy followed in Madrid,
adding that it simply marked "the beginning of a path which will be very
long and difficult."
All the ministers attending the Cabinet meeting had the opportunity to
express their views on the communique, Mr. Simitis said, adding that the
road to peace and to a strong Greece would be difficult.
"In Madrid we took the first step," he said.
Echoing the premier's comments, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos
also said "every-thing went well" and that there had been no objections.
The communique was issued after talks between Mr. Simitis and Turkish
President Suleyman Demirel on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on
Mr. Simitis has described the communique as a document of principles which
will govern relations between Greece and Turkey.
Cabinet unanimously endorses Madrid communique
The content of the joint communique met with unanimous approval from
Cabinet members in yesterday's meeting, according to government spokesman
Nevertheless, he said that although Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis
noted that before the communique was issued, it should have been discussed
by the Cabinet, he did not question confidence in the government or ask for
the communique's retraction.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also declared there had been agreement within the
Cabinet on the issue.
Mr. Reppas noted that the defence minister had told Cabinet that in fact,
policy had not changed and that the government's positions were compatible
with its policy statement.
That policy, Mr. Reppas added, was aimed at peace, security and good
neighbourly relations. Thus, the government was assuming initiatives, on
the condition that international treaties were respected. "Nothing was
discussed (in Madrid) which is not con tained in the text of the communique,
nor can there be an interpretation on the contrary," he stressed, adding
that adherence to the text could positively influence processes which are
already in motion (experts' committee on bilateral relations and dialo gue
on confidence-building measures within the framework of NATO).
Meanwhile, the spokesman also emphasised that Greece's proposals for a step
by step approach to bilateral issues (such as the continental shelf and the
Imia islet) still held.
There was no political dialogue on all issues with Turkey, he added. With
regard to yesterday's Cabinet meeting, the government spo-kesman said the
discussion had been interesting, useful and of a high standard, while it
had been agreed that Gree ce should undertake initiatives.
Mr. Reppas said the Cabinet meeting also touched in an indirect way on
opposition to the communique voiced by 22 PASOK deputies.
The 22 deputies on Thursday reacted strongly to the communique, saying
Greece was "gradually slipping into choices that result in recognition of
Turkish claims, legalisation of Ankara's expansionistic status and an
expiation of its policies."
Mr. Reppas, who said the criticism did not reflect the truth, echoed the
views which have been voiced earlier in the meeting, when he said that such
actions could create difficulties for foreign policy.
The party's political secretariat is considering the issue, Mr. Reppas
Asked to comment on Athens FIR violations by Turkish aircraft on Thursday,
Mr. Reppas said this was an indication that the normalisation of Greek-
Turkish relations would not be without problems.
Quizzed as to whether it was likely that an agreement to refer the dispute
of the Aegean continental shelf to arbitration would be signed by the
experts' committee, Mr. Reppas said there was an on-going process.
"We are waiting for the Turkish experts to answer to the second Greek memo.
Then, either it will be the end of the first round, or else an agreement
will be reached for further discussion of procedural issues," he said.
Speaking to reporters, meanwhile, in Thessaloniki, Interior Undersecretary
Tassos Mantelis said that those who had expressed disagreement with the
Madrid communique would eventually be convinced of its importance.
Focusing on six fundamental principles designed to ease tensions, the
communique aims at restoring bilateral relations between the two countries.
The agreement calls for respect for each other's sovereignty, international
law and treaties and resolution of disputes through peaceful means.
Opposition criticism to joint communique increases
Discussion at yesterday's Cabinet meeting and statements by Mr. Simitis and
government spokesman Reppas on the joint communique apparently failed to
satisfy the opposition which, with latest statements, is requesting
additional information and dialogue.
The main opposition New Democracy party again requested through party
spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos, "briefing for the Greek people" by the
government on the formalities and the conditions of the Greek-Turkish
communique's issuance in Madrid.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress and the Democratic Social Movement
(DHKKI) insist on an extraordinary parliamentary plenary session as well as
of a meeting of the party leaders council.
On its part, the Political Spring party is continuing its attack on the
government over the communique, as well as directing criticism at the
"The prime minister and the government are continuing to remain silent on
issues we raised. This means that either they want to conceal substantive
aspects of the document of principles which was signed in Madrid, or that
they are unprecedently unable t o reply," Mr. Spiliotopoulos said.
Having repeatedly expressed support for Greek-Turkish dialogue, Synaspismos,
through its leader Nikos Constantopoulos, sees an agreement which can be
utilised in the Madrid communique and which will be judged politically and
historically by "where and h ow it will be promoted."
He said the prime minister is obliged to brief Parliament immediately and
convene the party leaders council on the content of the agreements,
discussions which were held beforehand and the moves which will follow.
DHKKI, which disagreed with the communique from the very beginning,
claiming that it opens Greece's sovereign rights in the Aegean to dispute
and paves the way for its future joint sovereignty and partitioning, raised
the issue again yesterday, calling in turn for "briefing for the parties
and the Greek people on the content of the agreement."
Kranidiotis to tour Middle East
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis will tour a series of Middle
East capitals from July 15 to 20 "in the framework of Greece's desire to
engage more actively in the Mideast peace process, both in the framework of
EU initiatives as well as on a bil ateral basis," a foreign ministry
announcement said yesterday. Mr. Kranidiotis will successively visit Cairo,
Alexandria, Beirut, Damascus and Amman, for talks with government
officials. His visits also aim at upgrading bilateral relations with these
coun tries, the announcement added. Mr. Kranidiotis will also meet church
officials and representatives of the ethnic Greek communities.
Turkey not ready for accession talks, EU report states
Turkey's political and economic state at present does not allow for the
opening of accession negotiations leading to European Union membership,
according to the "Agenda 2000" report, an ANA dispatch from Brussels said
Agenda 2000 is the as yet unreleased report by the EU committee on
expansion, which is expected to be presented to the European Parliament on
In referring to Turkey, the report says that despite the fact that it
satisfies the standard features of a democracy, such as an elected
government and a Parliament, Turkish administration cannot guarantee its
adaptation to EU acquis, at least at present.
Pangalos attends Israeli-Palestinian meeting near Athens
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday called on Israelis and
Palestinians to continue efforts fo r understanding each other's views in
the Middle East peace process.
Mr. Pangalos was addressing the end of a three-day, non-binding meeting
between Israeli and Palestinian personalities, which was held at the Athens
seaside district of Vouliagmeni following a Greek foreign ministry
He expressed regret, however, that the gathering did not produce a joint
communique, calling on both delegations to continue their efforts before
"A basic condition for any development, especially for a solution to
complicated problems, is the continuous effort to understand the views of
the other side," he said.
The non-binding meeting between the two sides began in Vouliagmeni on
Wednesday. It was the product of a recent tour of the Middle East by Mr.
Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.
The meeting brought together academics, official representatives and other
personalities from Israel and the Palestinian Self-Rule Areas.
The inability to issue a joint communique was due, in part, to the Israeli
side's desire for a simple reference supporting the continuation of the
peace process, since the meeting was unofficial. On the other hand, the
Palestinian side wanted to include specific references detailing what they
view as causes leading to the impasse in the peace process, as well as the
need to include a reference calling for an end to the building of Israeli
settlements in the West Bank.
Aerospace medicine makes its debut in Athens
Olympic Airways will begin distributing brochures on precautions to be
taken for passengers in special health categories, it was announced
The airline will distribute them on all flights, to warn pregnant women and
people with high blood pressure, heart problems and respiratory ailments
about health problems they may encounter while on flight.
The initiative was announced during a press conference yesterday by the
newly-founded Hellenic Society for Aerospace Medicine, where it was noted
that of over one billion people travelling throughout the world annually,
25,000-30,000 present health prob lems during flights, such as nausea,
extreme perspiration, dyspnoea and chest pains. Between the years 1977 and
1984, it said, 500 passengers died in-flight.
SEB, gov't to organise Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Conference
The Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) has undertaken to organise the
third Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Conference in cooperation with the
development ministry and with support from the Union of Employers and
Industrial Federations of Europe (UNICE).
The Euro-Mediterranean Conference, due to be held in Athens on Oct. 6-7, is
aimed at shaping positions on issues concerning Mediterranean industry,
such as foreign investments and trade, modernisation of small- and medium-
size enterprises, energy as well as the environment, infrastructures,
education and training.
Tourism study claims drachma develuation would increase arrivals
The drachma should be partly devalued against the currencies of Italy,
Portugal and Spain, if the downward trend in tourist arrivals to Greece is
to be reversed, according to the Institute for Tourism Research and
In a report on foreign exchange policy and its repercussions on tourism,
which was released yesterday, ITEP attributed the drop in tourist arrivals
to what it called the overvaluation of the drachma against the currencies
of Greece's EU rivals in the se ctor.
ITEP claimed that a possible devaluation of the drachma by 10 per cent
would increase arrivals by 10.33 per cent.
According to ITEP, reduced arrivals during the 1992-1995 period resulted in
a loss of income for the nation calculated at US$2.5 billion dollars, as
well as a loss in jobs.
Greece helps Cyprus expand its EU business presence
Greece can help Cyprus to expand its business presence in the European
Union until the island, which already has customs union with the 15-nation
bloc, gains full membership.
"Greece is a key base to develop activities by Cypriot firms in the broader
European economic area. Its presence and experience in EU countries can aid
Cypriot business decisively," Greece's economic and commercial attache in
Nicosia Chrysanthi Passadi, said.
Athens has worked hard on a political and diplomatic level to promote
Cyprus' entry into the EU, and talks with Brussels on full membership are
due to begin by early next year.
"Greece's assistance can help Cypriot firms to secure easier access for
their products and services in Community markets, maximise the benefits,
and better utilise the advantages," Ms. Passadi told the Athens News Agency
in an interview.
Greece ranks fourth among countries exporting to Cyprus, accounting for
7.21 percent of the value of the island republic's imports in 1996 against
7.18 percent in 1995 and 6.81 percent in 1994.
Trade between the two countries has marked a rising trend in recent years,
totalling 171.6 million Cyprus pounds in 1996 from 153.4 million in 1995,
and 136.9 million in 1994, Ms. Passadi said.
Cypriot exports to Greece, the island's fourth largest foreign market, were
37.6 million Cyprus pounds in 1996 from 33.4 million a year earlier.
Partly cloudy weather is forecast in most parts of the country today with
rain expected in central and northern Greece in the afternoon.
Winds will be variable, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens will
range between 21-35C, while in Thessaloniki from 20-33C.
Friday's closing rates in drachmas - buying
US dlr. 273.901
Pound sterling 464.931
Cyprus pd 529.093
French franc 46.138
Swiss franc 188.386
German mark 155.898
Italian lira (100) 15.985
Yen (100) 240.639
Canadian dlr. 199.392
Australian dlr. 204.253
Irish Punt 419.219
Belgian franc 7.549
Finnish mark 52.457
Dutch guilder 138.463
Danish kr. 40.918
Swedish kr. 35.460
Norwegian kr. 37.148
Austrian sch. 22.158
Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.546