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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-08

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, 08/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Clerides to enter talks with "open mind" despite provocations
  • US, France displeased with Turkish partial integration agreement
  • Cyprus cannot be held hostage by Turkey, EU reiterates
  • Kranidiotis in talks with Libyan counterpart
  • Vessel owner deposits 200 million drachma letter of guarantee
  • Greek triple jump champion slightly injured in road accident
  • Greece to host Optimist European sailing championship in 1999
  • Neolithic finds in Serres
  • Turkish town buys Greek salt from Lesvos
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Clerides to enter talks with "open mind" despite provocations

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said despite the latest spate of Turkish provocations, he would go to UN-sponsored talks in Switzerland "with an open mind and desire to be constructive" with the aim of finding a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem.

In an exclusive interview with the ANA in Nicosia, Clerides stressed that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had for the last two years insisted that he wanted to meet with him to discuss a Cyprus settlement, knowing that the European Union would begin negotiations for the accession of the island republic six months after the end of the inter-governmental conference.

The second round of UN-sponsored talks between Clerides and Denktash begin in Montreux, Switzerland on Monday. They are scheduled to continue until August 16.

Just five days before the talks were due to begin however, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot illegal regime in the occupied north of the island signed an agreement providing for their partial integration.

Both Nicosia and Athens have strongly attacked the accord. Clerides described it as an attempt to provoke the Greek Cypriot side into not attending the talks. Greece accused Turkey of undermining the peace talks, thereby "revealing its true face".

"Mr. Denktash's reaction at the present time causes me some concern however. I hope it does not indicate an effort to find pretexts for concealing his and Turkey's lack of political will for a settlement of the Cyprus problem," Clerides said.

Replying to questions on initiatives undertaken by Washington, Clerides said the US, as the country which exercises the greatest influence on Turkey, was expected to play "an extremely important role in persuading Ankara to contribute to efforts to find a solution".

Clerides added that the UN Security Council, in particular its five permanent members, as well as Russia, also had an important part to play.

"The same is true for the EU, since the Cyprus problem is already a European one from the moment that Cyprus is a candidate for accession and also given that EU member states such as Britain and Greece are directly involved in the problem. In addition, Turkey has a customs union agreement with the EU and is seeking to become a full member," Clerides told the ANA.

Asked whether the upcoming talks would affect Cyprus' efforts to secure EU membership, Clerides replied:

"First of all, we Cypriots want a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the reunification of our country and reconciliation among all Cypriots, if possible before our accession to the EU. We are well aware that a successful outcome to efforts for a solution would facilitate our European course. However, the issue of Cyprus' accession to the EU is independent of a settlement to the Cyprus problem."

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Athens today after talks with his Libyan counterpart, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis issued a strong warning to Turkey concerning the consequences of its recent acts.

"Statements such as those recently made by Turkish Premier Mesut Yilmaz (claiming that international law was not applicable in the Aegean) and the signing of the co-operation agreement between Ankara and the Turkish- Cypriot pseudo-state do not contribute to improving the climate between Greece and Turkey and do not help to resolve problems," Kranidiotis said.

"The Greek government condemns these actions and warns Turkey that such moves block its path to Europe," he added.

Describing the Turkish actions as "blackmail", Kranidiotis stressed that the policy on Cyprus' accession to the EU would continue without deviation "because this course will help resolve the Cyprus problem".

Kranidiotis said Greece had protested Turkey's recent actions at the United Nations as well as to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the EU, adding that it would raise the issue within the framework of the Community in the next few days.

"Turkey's behaviour is not in keeping with the spirit of the Madrid joint communique, the principles of which Greece will continue to respect. The question is: Is Turkey willing to be bound by its own signature?," Kranidiotis said.

US, France displeased with Turkish partial integration agreement

The US State Department last night expressed its displeasure over the partial integration agreement between Turkey and the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime.

New State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin termed the agreement as "unuseful" adding that the US "would not want to see steps obstructing the UN negotiating process or moving in the direction of the permanent partition of the island."

He said the US is aware of the content of the agreement and expressed Washington's displeasure.

"The US firmly supports the UN efforts for securing a settlement to the Cyprus problem," Mr. Rubin said.

The agreement, signed Wednesday in the occupied northern part of Cyprus by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and a Turkish Cypriot "official", provides for an association council to work towards the partial economic and defence integration of Turkey w ith the Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied northern part of the island.

Turkey has threatened it will unite the occupied north of Cyprus if the island republic begins membership talks with the European Union. The EU last month invited Cyprus to begin accession talks early next year along with five central European nations.

The French government yesterday also deplored the signing of the illegal agreement.

"We believe that the association agreement counters the efforts underway for the finding of a negotiated solution," a French foreign ministry statement said.

"France desires the reunification of Cyprus in the framework of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation, according to the UN Security Council resolutions, " Yves Doutriaux, a ministry spokesman added.

Paris is asking the two sides to "contribute" to the success of the forthcoming negotiations in Montreux, and stresses that the Cyprus problem "must be resolved before the completion of membership negotiations" with the island republic.

Cyprus cannot be held hostage by Turkey, EU reiterates

The European Union yesterday said accession talks with the Cyprus Republic would start in 1998 reiterating that Cyprus could not be held hostage by Turkey.

"Membership negotiations with Cyprus will begin within 1998, together with the five countries of central and eastern Europe," a European Commission spokesman told the ANA when asked to comment on the partial integration agreement.

The EU Commission spokesman clarified that the presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Commission had no knowledge of the text of the illegal agreement, and stressed that "the continuation of intercommunal talks and the finding of a just and viab le solution to the Cyprus problem is of the utmost priority for the European Commission". Concluding, the spokesman provided a reminder of External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek's recent statement that "Cyprus cannot be held hostage by Turkey" a nd that negotiations will begin as scheduled.

Kranidiotis in talks with Libyan counterpart

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis had talks today with his visiting Libyan counterpart Abdelaati el Obeidi focusing on preparations for the forthcoming meeting of the joint committee for bilateral co- operation.

After the talks, Kranidiotis announced that a committee would visit Libya in September to examine the issue of outstanding debts to Greek companies, mainly in the construction sector, while a Libyan committee would come to Greece to explore possibilities for closer co-operation in the economic, transport and trade sectors.

The Libyan minister said he had briefed Kranidiotis on the difficulties faced by his country resulting from the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council following the Lockerbie incident.

A total of 270 people died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airliner over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. A lengthy international investigation concluded that Libya was responsible for the attack.

He also reiterated Libya's support for "the independence of Cyprus, the freedom of its territory and the special role it can play in the region".

Vessel owner deposits 200 million drachma letter of guarantee

The company which owns the "Sea Symphony", the passenger ship which earlier this week struck a submersible bridge in the Corinth Canal, today deposited a letter of guarantee for 200 million drachmas in order to be allowed to continue its voyage.

The Maltese-flagged ship hit one side of the bridge on Wednesday, causing structural damage which has closed a popular short-cut with drivers heading for the nearby casino at Loutraki or Athens from the northern Peloponese.

There were no injuries among the crew and mainly Turkish passengers of the vessel, which had set out from Turkey with destination Italy.

The Corinth Canal management company said the company which owns the vessel, which is now docked in Corinth port, would have to deposit the letter of guarantee before being allowed to sail. In addition, it will also have to produce a certificate of seaworthiness issued by the ship's registry to which the vessel belongs.

The company today deposited the letter of guarantee with a competent Corinth court.

On the initiative of the company, the ship's 109 passengers have already been transported to Patras in order to continue their voyage to Italy.

Greek triple jump champion slightly injured in road accident

Greece's women's triple jump chamion, Olga Vasdeki, placed fourth in the final of the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Athens, was slightly injured today in a road accident.

Vasdeki was leaving the Athens Olympic Stadium on a motorcycle driven by her trainer and fiance, Panagiotis Markianidis. For reasons yet unknown the motorcyle overturned slightly injuring Vasdeki.

The athlete was taken to the Stadium clinic for first aid treatment.

Greece to host Optimist European sailing championship in 1999

Greece will host the Optimist European sailing championship in 1999, putting Greece on the map as a centre for international sailing events. In a vote to decide on the host for 1999, Greece got 16 "yes" votes and 4 "no" votes.

Neolithic finds in Serres

Excavations by archaeologists working in the ruins of a neolithic settlement near Promachonas, Serres in northern Greece have revealed parts of walls with wooden frames, ovens, pottery and benches dating back to 5000 BC.

The excavations are being conducted jointly by Greek and Bulgarian archaeologists, since the settlement spans the border between the two countries.

According to the director of the Kavala Department of Classical and Prehistoric Antiquities, the find is particularly significant since it reveals a great deal about the cultural relations which developed between the Aegean and the Balkan region.

Turkish town buys Greek salt from Lesvos

Businessmen in Pergamum, Turkey will buy 2,000 tons of salt from the Hellenic Saltworks SA at Polychnitos, on the island of Lesvos, the company's general manager, Dionyssis Xenos, said yesterday.

Mr. Xenos welcomed the businessmen on the island and said the only pending issue was the cost of transporting the salt to Dikeli, five miles from Lesvos, before the agreement was signed.

He said it was expected to be done by the end of August.

Late yesterday delegations from the chambers of trade from Dikeli and Lesvos met and discussed possibilities of further trade. They will also finalise their business exchanges during the reciprocated visit of Lesvos chamber representatives to Dikeli in September.

The Turkish side also expressed interest in know-how for mild sources of energy, and looked into Greek proposals for oil, containers to freeze fish, and insulating materials among others.

WEATHER

Fair weather is expected over most of the country, except central and northern regions which are likely to experience rain and storms. Athens will be sunny, with northerly winds and clouds in the afternoon, and temperatures from 23 to 35 C, while Thessaloniki will be mostly cloudy and possible showers in the afternoon and temperatures of 21-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 292.968 Pound sterling 469.009 Cyprus pd 531.939 French franc 46.167 Swiss franc 191.235 German mark 155.736 Italian lira (100) 15.924 Yen (100) 246.787 Canadian dlr. 210.746 Australian dlr. 215.267 Irish Punt 420.275 Belgian franc 7.540 Finnish mark 52.243 Dutch guilder 138.244 Danish kr. 40.869 Swedish kr. 36.209 Norwegian kr. 37.884 Austrian sch. 22.133 Spanish peseta 1.844 Port. Escudo 1.538

(S.S.)


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