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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-12

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, 12/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 Tuesday.

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 Dimitris Reppas.

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 added.

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 Cabinet meeting.

"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 yesterday.

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 Wednesday.

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 initiative.

He expressed regret, however, that the gathering did not produce a joint communique, calling on both delegations to continue their efforts before they leave.

"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 yesterday.

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 Forecasts (ITEP).

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.S.)


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