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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-17

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, 17/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • WEATHER
  • 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 Amsterdam Treaty.

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 Turkey.

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 finances.

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 Greek fighters.

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 of Madrid

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 shallow water.

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 flying dolphin.

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 era.

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 Greece.

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 week.

"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 said yesterday.

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 Angelopoulos.

New airport opens in Crete

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis yesterday inaugurated the new installations of the "Nikos Kazantzakis" airport at Heraklion, Crete.

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 billion drachmas.

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 yesterday.

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, he added.

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 workers.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(Y.B.)


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