Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-17
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 17/07/1997 (ANA)
- Minister welcomes statements on Cyprus' EU accession
- Airspace violations by Turkish warplanes
- Czech Prime Minister's visit
- Greek contingent to return from Albania
- Hydrofoil runs aground in Paros harbour
- New State Dept. nominee spot comments on Greek-Turkish relations
- SAE letter to Clinton on Cyprus issue
- Old US base to serve as filmmaking centre
- New airport opens in Crete
- Parliament President receives young French philhellenes
- Greece prepares tight fiscal policy for 1998
- EU approves state aid for Greek shipyards
- FOREIGN EXCHANGE
NEWS IN DETAIL
Minister welcomes statements on Cyprus' EU accession
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today hailed the European
Union's position that negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the Community
should begin, as originally agreed, six months after the signing of the
At the same time, he welcomed statements by European Commission President
Jacques Santer and Commissioner Hans van den Broek, according to which
Cyprus cannot be held ''hostage'' as a result of Turkey's stance.
In particular, van den Broek told the European Parliament yesterday that
the Commission cannot hold Cyprus hostage due to lack of cooperation by the
Turkish side regarding a settlement of the protracted Cyprus problem.
Speaking at a press conference, Papandreou said also that Greece was in
favour of accession negotiations beginning simultaneously for all eleven
prospective member states.
The Commission has recommended that membership negotiations for an expanded
EU should begin with Cyprus, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia
and Slovenia next year.
As far as the EU's relationship with Turkey is concerned, Papandreou said,
this will be examined in detail during the discussion of the Commission's
''Agenda 2000'' report on enlargement, noting that a special report had
been drawn up on the further development of the Community's relations with
Within the framework of this discussion, Papandreou continued, it will be
examined whether Turkey will have a ''special'' relationship with the EU,
or whether this relationship will constitute an advanced form of Customs
Union (''Customs Union plus'', as it is referred to in Community dialect).
The Commission's report on EU-Turkish relations contains references to the
need for a relationship of good-neighbourliness (on the part of Turkey)
with Greece, as well as for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and respect
by Ankara for human rights and democratic institutions.
Papandreou noted meanwhile that the opinion expressed by the European
Commission regarding Cyprus' accession is ''very good'' and that Cyprus
fulfilled all the criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty.
A ministerial meeting will be held in Athens next week to discuss the
entire issue of EU enlargement, including policies pertaining to Community
The ''Agenda 2000'' is expected to be given the final seal of approval at
the EU summit in December.
Airspace violations by Turkish warplanes
A group of 10 Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes yesterday infringed Athens FIR
regulations and violated Greek airspace over the Aegean between the islands
of Limnos and Lesvos, sources said.
In each case, the Turkish warplanes were identified and intercepted by
Commenting on the violations, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said
that phenomena such as the recent Turkish violations of Greek airspace over
the Aegean are contrary to the spirit emanating from the joint communique
Greece and Turkey issued a joint communique on bilateral relations on the
sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, following talks between Prime
Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.
The violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes since the issuing of
the communique ''compromise'' Ankara, Reppas said.
The spokesman called on all forces in Turkey which support the spirit of
the Madrid agreement ''to work in order for this spirit to become a
constituent part of Greek-Turkish relations, so that it cannot be
undermined or overturned''.
Czech Prime Minister's visit
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus arrived here today on an
unofficial visit and had talks with Premier Costas Simitis before lunching
with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.
Although no statements were made after the meetings, informed sources said
discussion focused on issues related to the commencement of the procedure
for NATO and European Union enlargement.
Greek contingent to return from Albania
Withdrawal of the Greek contingent in the eight-nation protection force in
Albania will begin Monday, July 21, following completion of the force's
mission, it was announced today.
The gradual pullout of Greek troops will be completed on August 8.
The force, comprising troops from Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Romania,
Austria, France and Denmark was deployed in mid-April to protect humanitarian
aid arriving in the strife-torn Balkan country and assist OSCE observers
monitoring general elections last month.
Hydrofoil runs aground in Paros harbour
A Flying Dolphin sailing from Mykonos with 54 passengers ran aground in the
harbour of Paros today.
The accident happened as the captain was manoeuvring to secure the vessel.
Due to strong winds blowing at the time, the flying dolphin was swept into
A small passenger vessel, the ''Antiparos Express'', immediately went to
the assistance of the grounded vessel in an effort to refloat it.
There have been no reports of injuries among the passengers or crew of the
New State Dept. nominee spot comments on Greek-Turkish relations
New US Assistant Secretary of State-designate for European and Canadian
Affairs, Mark Grossman, assessed on Tuesday that solution to the Cyprus
issue and settlement of Greek-Turkey problems in the Aegean constitute two
considerable challenges for US foreign policy in the post-Cold War
Mr. Grossman made those comments during his confirmation hearing in front
of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said the Madrid communique
was a very good start and a further improvement in Greek-Turkish relations
must be built on it, adding that Turkey needs better relations with
Mr. Grossman, who completed his term as ambassador to Ankara several weeks
ago, will replace John Kornblum in the position.
Richard Holbrooke held the same post before Mr. Kornblum's term.
SAE letter to Clinton on Cyprus issue
The World Council of Overseas Hellenism (SAE) yesterday sent a letter to US
President Bill Clinton on the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion on
Cyprus, calling for the restoration of unity on the island republic.
In the letter, the SAE members also contratulated Mr. Clinton for his
initiative at bringing Prime Minister Costas Simitis in contact with
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel during the NATO summit in Madrid last
"As American citizens we demand the restoration of democracy and the return
of refugees to their homes," the letter read.
"We demand the end of the partition of Cyprus and the destruction of
Christian Churches in its northern section, and the punishment in
international courts of all those who perpetrated crimes from 1974 to the
present," the SAE members added.
SAE also sent a letter to Mr. Simitis asserting the undivided support of
Greek-Americans on national issues.
Old US base to serve as filmmaking centre
The area of the former US naval base at Nea Makri, eastern Attica, will be
transformed into a studio city in order to house all the country's
filmmaking activities under one roof, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos
Mr. Venizelos said the decision had been taken with the approval of Nea
Makri's mayor and following a suggestion by noted Greek director Theodoros
New airport opens in Crete
Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis yesterday inaugurated
the new installations of the "Nikos Kazantzakis" airport at Heraklion,
The inauguration is within the framework of an ongoing programme to
modernise and develop all the airports of the country at a total cost of 30
The works under the programme include the landscaping of surrounding areas,
the extension of runways and the construction of new parking areas.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Kastanidis reaffirmed the
government's commitment regarding the construction of a further runway at
Heraklion airport, the study for which has been delayed due to a fault
which appeared in the subsoil.
He said the final study would be given to him a month from yesterday,
containing solutions to the problem which arose.
Following the recent improvements, the airport area reserved for passenger
use now covers 23,000 square metres.
Some 3.5 million passengers use Heraklion airport annually.
Parliament President receives young French philhellenes
Forty-five high school students from France who excelled in ancient Greek
studies were received by Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis
The students are the winners of a competition organised by the French
cultural organisation Athena and the French ministry of education.
Mr. Kaklamanis briefed them on the workings of the "Youth Parliament", an
institution by which Greek high school students have a chance to hold their
own session in Parliament.
They will remain in Greece for two weeks and visit several archaeological
sites, including the islands of Patmos and Samos.
Greece prepares tight fiscal policy for 1998
The government will implement an austere fiscal policy in 1998 in order to
prepare the country for participation in Economic and Monetary Union,
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Papantoniou said that 1998 will be a tough year
for the Greek economy as participation in the single European currency
would depend on achieving targets set in the government's programme to
converge with other EU countries.
He said the government's efforts would aim at reducing inflation to below
3.0 percent from the current 5.5 percent and adjusting fiscal policy to
strict provisions contained in the convergence programme.
"1998's budget will be crucial," Mr. Papantoniou said.
He predicted that the budget deficit would shrink to 4.2 percent of GDP
this year and that economic growth would accelerate to 3.5 percent.
Inflation would be contained within official targets by the end of the year,
EU approves state aid for Greek shipyards
The European Union's executive Commission approved a debt write-off of
54.525 billion drachmas for Hellenic Shipyards at Skaramanga.
The decision followed clearance given by the EU's Council of Ministers on 2
June 1997 when it approved legislation allowing aid to certain shipyards
undergoing restructuring in Spain, Germany and Greece.
The aid corresponds to debts related to civil work carried out by the yard
on 31 December 1991 and debts accrued from interest due and penalties until
31 January 1996, the date the yard was partially privatised. The Commission
also approved investment a id of 7.8 billion drachmas for the Skaramanga
yard. On September 18, 1995, 49% of shares were sold to the yard's
Fair weather is forecast for most of the country initially today, turning
cloudy locally in the afternoon in central and northern Greece, with
possibility of scattered rainfall in eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Athens
will be sunny, turning cloudy in the afternoon with temperatures ranging
from 23-32 C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy throughout the day, with
temperatures ranging from 20-27 C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying
US dlr. 279.248 Pound sterling 468.680
Cyprus pd. 530.740 French franc 46.102
Swiss franc 189.021 German mark 155.734
Italian lira (100) 16.006 Yen (100) 241.145
Canadian dlr. 203.142 Australian dlr. 205.245
Irish Punt 420.013 Belgian franc 7.544
Finnish mark 52.675 Dutch guilder 138.320
Danish kr. 40.855 Swedish kr. 35.726
Norwegian kr. 37.329 Austrian sch. 22.135
Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.543