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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-18

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, 18/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Klaus continues talks in Athens
  • Simitis chairs a Cabinet meeting
  • Reppas comments on international sports agreement
  • EU position on Cyprus' accession welcome
  • Greek contingent in multinational force to return from Albania
  • Greek-Argentine agreement on nuclear energy signed
  • Czech Prime Minister on unofficial visit
  • US State Dept. on Ecevit visit to occupied Cyprus
  • Athens condemns latest airspace violations by Turkey
  • SAE gets permanent offices in Thessaloniki
  • Europarliament draft resolution on Greek forest fires
  • WEATHER
  • FOREIGN EXCHANGE

NEWS IN DETAIL

Klaus continues talks in Athens

Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus continued his unofficial visit to Greece today participating in an international political and economic seminar on Crete.

The seminar, organised by the Group for International Study and Evaluation A.G. (GISE) and Alpha Credit Bank, will focus on issues pertaining to foreign policy, security and international economic relations.

On the first day of his visit yesterday, Klaus had talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

During the talks, both sides underlined the lack of any serious problems in bilateral relations and the good prospects for their further development.

The two sides also agreed on an exchange of official delegations led by the premiers of the two countries by the end of the year or early 1998.

Particular attention was given to economic and trade cooperation, where there are excellent prospects for development.

Reiterating Greece's support for the Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union and NATO, Simitis underlined the importance which Athens attaches to Balkan states becoming members of these organisations for peace and stability in the Balkans.

Simitis also briefed his Czech counterpart on Greece's foreign policy priorities in the Balkans and the need for a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Klaus briefed Simitis on the latest developments in his country, including the catastrophic flooding which has devastated one third of the Czech Republic, resulting in dozens of deaths and enormous material damage.

Simitis chairs a Cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a Cabinet meeting which focused on formulating policy for guiding Greece into the "information society."

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the premier had submitted a four- point political framework for making full use of informatics and resolving any problems which might arise.

The framework provides for the creation of a suitable material and technical infrastructure to facilitate access by as many Greeks as possible to the Internet information superhighway, a role to be largely undertaken by the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

At the same time, the framework envisages the modernising of public administration with the aid of new technology, particularly through the implementation of the ''Cleisthenes'' programme for the computerisation of ministries.

The third aspect concerns the completion and speeding up of the implementation of the statutory framework for protecting citizens' rights. According to Reppas, this has already begun following the recent passing of the bill on securing the confidentiality of information of a personal nature.

Lastly, the framework submitted by Simitis foresees the creation of a ''critical mass'' of users of the new technology, to be achieved through educational, initial and ongoing training programmes.

The purpose of this, Simitis told the Cabinet, is ''to avoid the creation of new forms of discrimination and social inequality with respect to those familiar with the new technology and the unqualified''.

Within the same framework, the Cabinet unanimously decided to speed up the modernisation of OTE and make it compulsory for each ministry to submit an action plan by September 10 concerning the modernisation of their services.

The plans submitted will have to be implemented by November at the latest, Reppas said.

Reppas comments on international sports agreements

Greece will honour the agreements it has signed with international sports organisations, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday, responding to press reports claiming an 8 billion drachma shortfall in the budget for the World Athletics Championships to be held in Athens next month.

At the present time, Reppas said, just days before the staging of the championships, ''we must all help to ensure the best possible promotion of Greece''.

"We shall deal with any problems which may exist afterwards," he added, noting that all the political parties were participating in the Athens '97 organising committee.

EU position on Cyprus' accession welcomed

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday 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, Mr. van den Broek told the European Parliament Wednesday 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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 lingo). 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.

The "Agenda 2000" is expected to be given the final seal of approval at the EU summit in December.

Greek contingent in multinational force to return from Albania

Withdrawal of the Greek contingent in the 8-nation protection force in Albania will begin Monday, July 21, following completion of the force's mission, it was announced yesterday. The gradual pullout of Greek troops will be completed on August 8. The multinational 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.

Greek-Argentine agreement on nuclear energy signed

Greece and Argentina yesterday signed a bilateral agreement providing for cooperation in the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed for Greece by the president of the Greek Atomic Energy Commission, Prof. Anastasios Katsanos, and on behalf of Argentina by Buenos Aires' ambassador to Athens Francisco Jorge Bullrich. The agreement aims at promoting cooperation in developing basic research, applied research, technology and know-how in the peaceful application of nuclear energy. Argentina has a highly developed nuclear programme covering nuclear fuel and the construction and supply of nuclear reactors. Prof. Katsanos clarified, however, that Greece had not changed its policy opposing the establishment in the country of nuclear reactors for power generation.

Czech Prime Minister on unofficial visit

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus arrived here yesterday on an unofficial visit and had talks with Greek counterpart 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.

US State Dept. on Ecevit visit to occupied Cyprus

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday appealed to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to use his forthcoming visit to the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus for promotion of a positive atmosphere that emerged from the signing of the Simitis - Demirel communique and the Clerides-Denktash talks last week.

"The situation in Cyprus this summer is calm, in contrast to last year. There are positive signs emerging from last week`s talks in Troutbeck, where (Cyprus) President Clerides and (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Mr. Denktash spent some time together. We consider that trends in Cyprus are positive, and very much hope that Mr. Ecevit will use this visit to strengthen this constructive and positive trend," he stated.

Although he avoided criticising Mr. Ecevit for the visit to the occupied areas, Mr. Burns said in reply: "I didn't say we agree with the visit".

Commenting on Mr. Ecevit`s recent threat that Turkey would annex Turkish- occupied northern Cyprus if accession negotiations started with the EU, Mr. Burns implied that he does not agree with this position, stressing that "this is perhaps the reason why we are asking him to be positive and constructive."

Referring to the joint communique signed in Madrid between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Mr. Burns said: "We hope that in the Madrid spirit Greece and Turkey will proceed to some practical steps to improvet heir relations with each other. The US expects from Greece and Turkey to respect each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Athens condemns latest airspace violations by Turkey

Incidents such as the latest Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean are contrary to the spirit emanating from the joint communique of Madrid, government spoke-sman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

The violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes since the issuing of the communique "compromise" Ankara, Mr. Reppas said. 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 spokesman called on all forces in Turkey which support the spirit of the Madrid communique "to work in order for this spirit to become an integral part of Greek-Turkish relations, so that it cannot be undermined or overturned."

SAE gets permanent offices in Thessaloniki

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will inaugurate the permanent headquarters of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Sunday evening in Thessaloniki.

The ceremony will be attended by SAE president Andrew Athens, Macedonia- Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Secretary General for overseas Greeks Stavros Lambrinidis.

The new offices are at the building of the Macedonia-Thrace Bank.

Europarliament draft resolution on Greek forest fires

The European Parliament yesterday adopted a draft resolution on the recent fires in Greek forests, which burned tens of thousands of stremma of forest and farm land, proposed jointly by Greece's Eurodeputies.

The draft resolution calls on the European Commission to provide economic relief to residents who lost property in the recent fires, as well as to help with reforestation and fire-protection measures.

WEATHER

Sporadic showers are likely in northwestern regions in the afternoon. Winds will be southwesterly, up to moderate in the west, and northerly, of the same intensity, in the east. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 22-33 C, Thessaloniki will have light clouding, increasing in the afternoon, with temperatures of 18-30 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.883 Pound sterling 466.419 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.142 Swiss franc 188.812 German mark 155. 838 Italian lira (100) 16.041 Yen (100) 240.957 Canadian dlr. 203.519 Australian dlr. 205.696 Irish Punt 420.013 Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 52.762 Dutch guilder 138.439 Danish kr. 40.908 Swedish kr. 35.946 Norwegian kr. 37.636 Austrian sch. 22.132 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.545

(M.S.)


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