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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-15

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, 15/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Stephanopoulos, PASOK EB briefed on Madrid communique
  • Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process
  • Greek assistance to Bosnia the focus of meeting with US officials
  • Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord
  • IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy
  • Government pushes for more rapid decentralisation
  • Greek-Turkish peace event in Pergamus
  • Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April
  • Dollar posts record high against drachma
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

Stephanopoulos, PASOK EB briefed on Madrid communique

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday briefed President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on the Madrid communique, issued jointly by Greece and Turkey last week.

Mr. Simitis later in the day chaired a meeting of the Executive Bureau of the ruling PASOK party, which focused on Greek-Turkish relations as well as on other political developments.

The Madrid communique to improve relations between Greece and Turkey was issued between the two NATO allies on the sidelines of an alliance summit in Madrid.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the Greek president, Mr. Simitis said their talks covered the details and prospects of the communique.

Mr. Simitis also briefed Mr. Stephanopoulos on the results of the NATO summit.

Meanwhile, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said after the Executive Bureau meeting that in his address, the premier referred to all issues, namely, modernisation of the economy and society, Greek-Turkish relations, employment, Economic and Monetary U nion, modernisation of the state, transparency and other issues. He added that he briefed Executive Bureau members in detail on the latest developments concerning Greek-Turkish relations.

Mr. Skandalidis said the discussion will be concluded at a new meeting on July 28 and that after the summer holidays final decisions will be taken on the party's winter strategy.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Madrid communique was simply a declaration of principles, while its effectiveness depended on future action by the two countries.

Mr. Reppas said the communique was not an agreement but a joint statement "bearing the meaning of a non-agression pact."

Stressing that the text's effectiveness depended on future action by the two countries, Mr. Reppas expressed hope that Turkey "will contribute to the formulation of a climate of security and stability in the region."

In Athens, the communique was unanimously endorsed by the Cabinet last week, but also prompted criticism by 22 ruling PASOK deputies.

The "22" reacted strongly to the communique, saying Greece was gradually slipping into choices that result in recognition of Turkish claims.

Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process

The UN Security Council (SC) has called on the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to continue with negotiations until the protracted Cyprus problem is solved and has reiterated its support to these efforts.

In a statement to the press yesterday, SC president Peter Osvald of Sweden welcomed the completion of the first round of UN-led direct negotiations and asked the two sides to be constructive.

Diego Cordovez, the UN Secretary General's special advisor on the Cyprus problem who led the talks, briefed earlier yesterday the SC members on the outcome of the first round of the four-day negotiations between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cy priot leader Rauf Denktash, held at Troutbeck, near New York, between July 9 and 12.

In his statement after being briefed by Mr. Cordovez, Mr. Osvald said "the Council is very pleased to learn that these talks were held in a positive and constructive atmosphere."

"Security Council members urge the leaders of the two communities to uphold a sustained process of direct negotiations until the instruments that will constitute a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue have been concluded," he added.

The statement also noted the SC members "urge the two parties to respond constructively to the suggestions made by the secretary general's special advisor on Cyprus, so that further progress can be made in the next round of talks."

It concluded that "Security Council members reaffirm their active, firm and full support to the efforts of the secretary general for a continued and sustained process of negotiations."

A second round of negotiations is scheduled to talke place near Geneva, Switzerland, between August 11 and 16.

Following the conclusion of the first round of talks, Mr. Cordovez told the press that the leaders of both sides were cordial and expressed good will, despite the thorny problems that remain unsolved.

Mr. Cordovez said that Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash had frequent private meetings, meals, and took walks in the forest around Troutbeck. He quoted as an indication of the friendly atmosphere that for the first time in three years they agreed on their own initiative to meet in Nicosia before the next round of talks in Geneva, to discuss human rights issues.

The UN secretary general's envoy expressed the hope that the change in the system and process of the talks, which was adopted for Troutbeck, would be continued in future rounds and help towards finding a solution. He supported this hope by the fact that the two leaders were not asked to give a final reply on any issue, as in the past.

Instead, Mr. Cordovez said, the two leaders were expected to study the UN proposals, discuss them with their own people and come to the next round of talks with specific stances.

In this way, he explained, the outcome of various rounds will be accumulative, and the talks will not be starting from scratch every time, as in the past.

Greek assistance to Bosnia the focus of meeting with US officials

Greece pledged yesterday to help Bosnia-Herzegovina in the fields of transportation, communications and health as well as to contribute to minesweeping operations within the framework of NATO's "Train and Equip" programme.

The measures were announced after a Greek-American meeting yesterday in Athens chaired by Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

The US delegation at the meeting was headed by a US official responsible for the programme, who laid out the points for cooperation between Greece and the United States, as well as praised Greece's participation in the programme.

The two delegations decided in this first phase of talks to establish an experts committee to consider the needs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to determine the technical aspect of Greek participation.

Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord

Egypt and Greece will sign a cooperation agreement focusing on security, providing mainly for the deportation of criminals, a police source said yesterday here.

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegation had visited Athens on July 3-6 for talks regarding the agreement, which is to be signed during the forthcoming visit of Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos to Cairo.

The date for the minister's visit has yet to be confirmed.

In the meantime, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis is due to visit Cairo today for talks to improve Greek-Egyptian cooperation in various sectors.

IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy

Two International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, who ended their visit to the Greek capital yesterday, made positive comments on Athens' Olympic Games candidacy.

Bulgarian IOC delegate Ivan Slavkov said: "I feel especially pleased whenever I visit Athens, since the days I played water polo. I consider the Greek candidacy very strong, and I believe that in the event of Athens' victory, the Bulgarian people will also be very pleased."

Paul Wallwork, of Western Samoa, said: "I see that Athens is changing for the better, compared to my last visit. The Greek candidacy is thorough, carefully planned, and based on an authentic technocratic perception".

Four other IOC members, Messrs. Rene Esomba (Cameroon), Jan Stabo (Norway), Roy Anthony Bridge (Jamaica) and Francis Ngvesko (Uganda) are beginning their official visit to Athens today.

Meanwhile, replying to press questions, government spokesman DimitrisReppas said it was customary for members of the International Olympics Commitee (IOC) to visit cities seeking to host Olympic Games and that these visits have the nature of well-intentioned public relations.

Government pushes for more rapid decentralisation

Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos told ministry secretaries general and regional directors yesterday to accelerate a plan for reorganising regional administration and to decentralise services from Athens.

In a one-day meeting at the Zappeion Hall, Mr. Papadopoulos described the new plan as "a law that nobody has realised how radical it is, given the fact that we are shifting the stage of applying public administration from ministries to the region, a virgin and fertile ground so that Greece may at last acquire a proper public administration and the state may operate properly."

The law was voted by Parliament last May in order to "upgrade the role of the regions and complete decentralisation on the peripheral level and that of local government," Mr. Papadopoulos said.

During the meeting it was decided that meetings would be held every two months, to accelerate and improve the application of this particular law.

Interior Undersecretary Tassos Mantelis, who attended the conference, said that public administration should become more effective, "with emphasis placed on faster, better, and cheaper services."

He added that "we don't have any time left. We must take decisions now and apply everything, to prepare Greece and public administration for the year 2001."

Greek-Turkish peace event in Pergamus

Residents of the Greek island of Lesvos joined the people of Pergamus in northwest Turkey over the weekend for a series of events focussing on peace and friendly relations between the Greece and Turkey.

Events opened on Saturday evening with children's dance groups from both regions performing in the ancient city's centre, where the old Greek quarter was located.

The event was attended by many locals and about 300 tourists from Lesvos, Hios, Thrace and Serres. Many of them included ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor who had been born or had parents born in Pergamus.

A concert by the state-controlled ET-3 was given that night at the city's ancient theatre, with the audience waving Greek and Turkish flags.

Events ended Sunday evening with the planting of an olive tree in the city's modern quarter by Lesvos Prefect Alekos Mathiellis and Pergamus Mayor Sefa Tashkin.

Officials attending the ceremonies included the prefects and mayors from many Greek islands and Alexandroupoli, tourism-sector businessmen, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Stratis Korakas, the Greek Consul General in Istanbul Fotis Xydas and the Greek Consul in Izmir Andreas Fryganas.

Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April

Greek retail sales volume rose by 2.5 percent in April compared to the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said.

Retail sales volume was 1.7 percent higher in the first four months of 1997 from the same period in 1996.

Dollar posts record high against drachma

The US dollar shot up to a new record close against the Greek drachma in the domestic foreign exchange market reflecting the greenback's spectacular gains in international markets.

The dollar was a record 281.27 drachmas at the central bank's daily fix, up 5.16 drachmas from last Friday. Commercial banks were selling the dollar at 285.489 drachmas.

The US currency has shown a 13.63 percent rise since the beginning of the year.

Sterling also rose sharply to 474.20 drachmas, up 5.52 drachmas from its previous close.

The British currency broke new six-year barriers against the DMark last week in international markets, surpassing the 3.0 mark level.

The German currency has come under pressure due to the uncertainties over the future of European monetary union and talk of a more lax interpretation of the Maastricht treaty.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast throughout the country initially today, turning cloudy locally in the afternoon in northern and central regions. Athens will be fair with moderate northerly winds. The same for Thessaloniki, with local clouds in the afternoon.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.426 Pound sterling 472.777 Cyprus pd 530.344 French franc 46.233 Swiss franc 189.943 German mark 156.310 Italian lira (100) 16.104 Yen (100) 245.820 Canadian dlr. 204.704 Australian dlr. 206.548 Irish Punt 422.628 Belgian franc 7.571 Finnish mark 52.823 Dutch guilder 138.842 Danish kr. 41.023 Swedish kr. 35.938 Norwegian kr. 37.527 Austrian sch. 22.218 Spanish peseta 1.855 Port. Escudo 1.548

(L.G.)


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