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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-27

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, 27/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens calls on Rome to clarify position on Cyprus
  • PM Simitis confers with econ minister on budget targets
  • EU calls Denktash demand on Cyprus' accession talks 'unacceptable'
  • Athens, Nicosia bitterly condemn Denktash war threats
  • Dozens fall victim to gastroenteritis
  • Two quakes shake Dodecanese islands
  • Prediction of destructive earthquakes possible, scientists claim
  • Rembetika chanteuse Bellou dies
  • Cretans proudly display monster vegetables
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens calls on Rome to clarify position on Cyprus

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today described as "provocative and unacceptable" statements made by Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini who called for the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in European Union membership talks.

At the same time, the Cyprus government called on Italy to retract Dini's statements.

Speaking in Parliament, Papandreou said Dini's statements were "completely contrary to EU decisions" and created "a major problem for Rome's relations with the Community".

Papandreou stressed that the EU's positions on the Cyprus problem were "crystal clear" and that Greece was awaiting clarifications and explanations from Italy regarding Dini's statements "so that there will be no serious problems in our bilateral relations".

Papandreou also dismissed as "ludicrous" statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who threatened war if Cyprus joined the EU.

"(Denktash's statements) illustrate the weakness of Turkey's strategy on the Cyprus issue," he added.

"Turkey has adopted a position which is unacceptable to the international community," he said, while expressing the hope that Ankara would realise "the road which it has chosen leads to a dead end".

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had called his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi to express his displeasure over the Dini statements.

Athens has called for the retraction of the statements at the highest diplomatic level, Reppas said, adding that there may be a statement from the Italian premier within the day.

He indicated, however, that a statement from the Italian foreign ministry earlier today had gone some way to appeasing Athens.

According to an AFP dispatch from Rome, the Italian foreign ministry said Italy had not changed its position on the Cyprus problem and recognised only the Republic of Cyprus, despite there being two "entities" on the island.

The statement added that Dini's comments had been misquoted and that he had only referred to "two entities" and made no reference, as reported, to "two republics, two governments and two entities".

Dini's statements, Reppas said, were far from reflecting the decisions taken by the competent European Union bodies.

The spokesman reiterated that Greece regarded the Cyprus issue and the Cyprus-EU accession talks as crucial issues for Greek foreign policy.

"Greek-Italian relations would go through a crisis if Italy followed a policy that opposed the European Union policy on the issue," Reppas said.

In reply to press questions, the spokesman said that the Cyprus' accession course was not in dispute and that the EU decisions on the issue would be implemented.

The Cypriot government has a standing position that Turkish Cypriots should be represented at accession procedures as part of the Cypriot representation, Reppas said, and said those continually bringing up the issue were "breaking down unlocked doors".

Meanwhile, the Luxembourg EU presidency yesterday reiterated the European Union's firm position on the Cyprus-EU accession talks.

PM Simitis confers with econ minister on budget targets

Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks today with National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on the course of the economy, the execution of the 1997 state budget and economic targets for 1998.

They also discussed the main themes of the speech on the economy which Simitis is due to deliver at the Thessaloniki International Fair next month.

Also attending the three-and-a-half hour meeting was Simitis' economic adviser, Tassos Yiannitsis.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Papantoniou said 1998 would be a crucial year for the Greek economy with respect to the country's entry to economic and monetary union (EMU).

Simitis' speech in Thessaloniki would be against this background, Papantoniou said, adding that the speech would set out the targets and outline the government's economic policy for 1998.

"We must all look in the direction of (economic) convergence in order to attain the targets," Papantoniou told reporters.

He declined to be drawn on fiscal policy for 1998 saying:

"The general framework will be determined by the prime minister and I shall announce the specific elements of economic policy when I table the budget."

Papantoniou stressed that bringing inflation down and curtailing the public deficit remained the primary targets of the government's economic policy.

EU calls Denktash demand on Cyprus' accession talks 'unacceptable'

The European Union yesterday strongly condemned Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's stance concerning Cyprus' EU accession to the Union, branding it "unacceptable".

"The position adopted by Mr. Denktash, who poses as a condition for the continuation of (UN-direct) talks the freezing of Cyprus' accession negotiations is unacceptable," an EU Presidency statement read.

The six-month EU rotating presidency currently held by Luxembourg has been notified of the Cordovez report to the United Nations Security Council concerning the direct talks at Glion-sur-Montreux, underlining its regret over the fact that direct talks did not result in more substantial results, calling on the leaders of the two communities to continue their talks, the statement said.

Regarding the "accession agreement signed between Turkey and the self- proclaimed Northern Cyprus", the statement noted that "it is not valid for the international community and could not cast doubt on the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus."

The presidency statement stressed that the EU "shares the UN Secretary General's view that the decision to start negotiations for Cyprus' accession should constitute a positive factor in efforts to reach a political agreement beneficial for the island's two communities".

The presidency reaffirmed that these negotiations "will begin early next year under any circumstances".

It concluded by calling "on Turkey, especially, to show constructive behaviour", saying that this would contribute decisively to strengthening its relations with the European Union.

Athens, Nicosia bitterly condemn Denktash war threats

Greece and Cyprus yesterday slammed statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who threatened with war if Cyprus joined the European Union.

"Mr. Denktash's statements are indicative of his lack of willingness and his inabililty to contribute to the finding of a solution to the Cyprus problem," the Greek government spokesman said, while Nicosia warned that if Turkey declares war against Cyprus, this would also mean a declaration of war against Greece.

If Turkey declares war against Cyprus, this would also mean declaration of war against Greece, Cypriot government spokesman Manolis Christofides stressed yesterday, pointing out that such an action would constitute a casus belli.

Athens has often said that it would step in if Turkey advances in Cyprus, noting it would be a cause for war.

Mr. Christofides added that if Mr. Denktash's threats for war are directed towards the EU, "because he considers it responsible for his own intransigence, then this is a clearly quixotic attitude."

Asked whether Mr. Denktash's threats make the arrival of the Russian-made S- 300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus all the more necessary, the spokesman repeated that the Russian missiles are defensive weapons.

He also reminded that President Glafcos Clerides' proposal for demilitarisation of the island still stands.

Dozens fall victim to gastroenteritis

Dozens of people in Kastoria, northern Greece have been rushed to hospital suffering from gastro-enteritis after the town's main water supply was contaminated with sewage.

Doctors at the town's hospital said about 50 people had been admitted since midnight.

Kastoria Prefect George Kapachtzis told the ANA that the water had been contaminated due to a fault in the main supply network which operates parallel to the town's sewage network.

He said the fault had since been repaired and supply was now back to normal.

Two quakes shake Dodecanese islands

Two strong earthquakes shook the Dodecanese islands early today but police said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The first earthquake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, was recorde at 06.50 local time, with an epicentre was 330 kilometres southeast of the Greek capital in the sea south of the island of Kos.

Seismologists at Thessaloniki University said the second quake, again measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, had been recorded, at 09.57 with the same epicentre.

Speaking to the ANA on the sidelines of the ongoing World Seismology Conference in Thessaloniki, Professor of seismology Vassilis Papazachos said the tremors were surface quakes.

"The fact that both quakes were of the same strength makes us somewhat cautious. It would be better to wait and see how the phenomenon develops," he said.

Prediction of destructive earthquakes possible, scientists claim

Greek and foreign scientists attending the 29th World Congress on Seismology in Thessaloniki concluded that the only reliable method of prediction is to observe seismic indications over a three-year period in order to identify the stages leading to an earthquake.

Citing an example, Giorgos Houliaras, of the National Observatory in Athens, said that an area where a large earthquake is about to strike exhibits certain recognisable signs.

In Thessaloniki, Kozani, Egion and other areas, he said, showed that a "seismic calm" precedes accelerated seismic activity that leads to a strong earthquake. This activity lasts between 2.5-3 years and culminates in a destructive tremor, he said.

This model was supported by other scientists from Russia, Germany and elsewhere.

Rembetika chanteuse Bellou dies

Sotiria Bellou, one of the last great singers of a distinctive style of Greek song known as rebetika, died today in hospital after a long illness.

Bellou, who suffered from cancer, would have been 76 on Friday.

With themes such as unrequited love, betrayal, the woes of living on the fringe of society and narcotics, the lyrics of rebetika songs have been likened to the blues.

Popular in Greece in the first half of this century, the distinctive style slowly disappeared from the music scene as the last great composers and singers died.

The diminutive Bellou, who lost her voice a few years ago, sang the songs of famous rebetika composers Vassilis Tsitsanis, Yiannis Papaioannou, Manolis Chiotis and Apostolos Hadzichristos.

Cretans proudly display monster vegetables

Following recent cases of giant artichokes, egg-plants and cucumbers, the fertile Cretan earth has yielded two enormous fresh beans, one 93 centimetres long and the other 90 centimetres.

The beans were grown by Antonis Koufoyiannankis, a retired merchant who has a vegetable garden in the community of Platanos near Chania, western Crete.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I found the beans," he said, explaining that the normal size for a bean is 30 centimetres.

"I suppose the giant beans are freaks of nature," Koufoyiannakis said.

The giant bean discovery follows the proud presentation of a 3.3 kilo egg- plant by a 53-year-old farmer in Heraklion, Crete last week.

Another Cretan farmer achieved fame two weeks ago when he appeared on television with a metre-long "xylangouro" - a cross between a cucumber and a marrow which normall grows up to about 50 centimetres.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today except for central and northern Greece where it will be partly cloudy. Winds westerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 18-33C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 16-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 281.024 Pound sterling 455.427 Cyprus pd 530.819 French franc 46.483 Swiss franc 189.621 German mark 156.538 Italian lira (100) 16.042 Yen (100) 238.189 Canadian dlr. 201.803 Australian dlr. 209.902 Irish Punt 417.731 Belgian franc 7.583 Finnish mark 52.368 Dutch guilder 138.979 Danish kr. 41.108 Swedish kr. 35.730 Norwegian kr. 37.537 Austrian sch. 22.261 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.545

(M.P.)


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