Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-01
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 01/09/1997 (ANA)
- Greece on track for convergence
- Transport minister resigns
- Bomb planted at Greek Olympic C'tee HQ
- Alternate FM to visit Sarajevo
- Greece, Lithuania discuss bilateral relations
- Pangalos denounces Turkish post-Madrid policy
- Greece expresses grief at Diana's tragic death
- Book of condolences at British Embassy
- Athens can help Turkey's EU ambitions, Papandreou says
- Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey's behaviour self-defeating
- Skopje criticised for lack of willingness to find solution
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece on track for convergence
Greece, whose economic growth rate is higher than the European Union
average, is on track to align with other EU countries, National Economy and
Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said.
GDP growth in 1997 was forecast at 3.5 percent or slightly more against two
percent in the rest of the EU, said Papantoniou in a message to mark the
opening on September 5 of the annual Thessaloniki Trade Fair.
"The Greek economic train is running faster than other European economies.
If we keep this advantage in growth rates, we can reach Europe's level in a
reasonable period of time," Papantoniou said.
Inflation was currently around five percent against 12.3 percent three and
half years ago. The public sector deficit was forecast at 4.2 of GDP in
1997, sharply down from 14.5 percent in 1993.
Transport minister resigns
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today accepted the resignation of Transport
and Communication Haris Kastanidis, according to a statement by government
spokesman Dimtris Reppas.
Reppas said that both Kastanidis' letter of resignation, submitted at the
end of last week, and the prime minister's reply would be released later
Simitis met with Kastanidis earlier this morning for an hour. It is the
first resignation of a senior government minister since Simitis took over
in January 1996 from the late Andreas Papandreou.
Kastanidis is to be replaced by current Undersecretary for the Interior,
Public Adminstration and Decentralisation Tassos Mantelis, whose position
would be assumed by Messinia deputy Stavros Benos, added the spokesman.
In his letter of resignation submitted on Saturday, Kastanidis referred to
what he called leaks to the media regarding criticism by Simitis of delays
by the Transport Ministry. Kastanidis also mentioned certain "centres who
were trying to apportion blame for delays and obstacles to the government's
There were also certain vested interests, he added, that were undermining
his work, viewing his presence at the Transport Ministry as a hindrance to
their own goals.
Simitis' reply indicated that he was unconvinced by Kastanidis' arguments.
The prime minister made reference to transport problems, particularly in
Athens, which he said the government was obliged to solve. Raising these
issues at last week's Cabinet meeting, he said, should not be a problem for
Indirectly saying Kastanidis had overreacted, Simitis also said that during
his meeting earlier today with the former minister, no evidence had been
produced to indicate a leak of information at Kastanidis's expense.
The government spokesman observed that Simitis had not made specific
mention of any Cabinet member during its last session Friday, but had made
general reference to problems and priorities.
Meanwhile, Reppas indirectly agreed with Kastanidis' views with regard to
the existence of vested interests that were trying to influence the
"However, it is the ministers' duty to intensify their efforts to to
resolve problems," he said.
Kastanidis, he noted, had not asked for the prime minister's support but
had submitted his resignation. Reppas denied that anyone in the government
or among the prime minister's associates were in any way connected with the
press reports referred to by Kastanidis.
In conclusion, the government spokesman said the former Minister had made a
great contribution, particularly during the flotation of the Hellenic
Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and the modernisation of Olympic
Bomb planted at Greek Olympic C'tee HQ
The urban terrorist organisation "Anti-Power Struggle" this morning claimed
responsibility for an explosion late last night outside the headquarters of
the national Olympic Games Committee in the central Athens district of
The explosion caused a small fire which was quickly extinguished by the
fire brigade, but no one was injured, police said.
An unidentified caller telephoned the newspaper "Athinaiki" and the private
television station "Skai" claiming the group had set the explosive
mechanism, which was reportedly made of two gas canisters.
Eyewitnesses said they saw two young men drive off from the scene on a
Greece is one of the five finalist cities bidding to stage the 2004
Olympiad. The International Olympic Committee is to vote on Friday between
Athens, Rome, Stockholm, Cape Town and Buenos Aires.
Alternate FM to visit Sarajevo
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will visit Sarajevo tomorrow
to inaugurate two schools and a hospital, according to an announcement.
Papandreou will also meet with government officials during his visit to the
No further details were available.
Greece, Lithuania discuss bilateral relations
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis met today with Lithuania's
Deputy Minister for European Affairs Birute Abraitiene to discuss bilateral
relations and European issues, such as Lithuanian's hopes to accede to the
Pangalos denounces Turkish post-Madrid policy
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday called on the international
community to take measures against Turkey in order to make it respect
international legality, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "To
Responding to recent declarations by Turkish officials on Cyprus and
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's treats of war if Cyprus becomes a
European Union member, Mr. Pangalos said: "The international community, and
the United States in the first place, should take measures against Turkey,
show Turkey rules of conduct and if it does not respect them take economic
measures and measures concerning armaments against it".
Mr. Pangalos criticised Turkey for its stance following the Madrid
communique, stressing that there was now an issue of a political framework,
and revealing that, for this reason, the scheduled meeting next month
between the two countries' committees of experts would not take place.
"The Turkish government has to explain to us what its final position is in
relation to claims raised on Imia, as well as a number of other islands in
the Aegean under Greek sovereignty," stressed the minister.
Mr. Pangalos said he will raise "everything that followed Madrid" with his
Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, at a meeting requested by the Turkish
minister to take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and
will ask him "how he perceives the continuation of contacts".
Mr. Pangalos will also seek a meeting with Richard Holbrooke, the US
president's emissary on Cyprus, during his visit to the UN, in order to
discuss with him "the entire range of issues".
Nevertheless, he clarified that the government had no reason to deviate
from its policy, which he describes as "modest" and "constructive".
Statements by Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Ecevit threatening to
annex the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, Mr. Pangalos said, indicated
that "Turkey is a problem to international order".
Commenting on the issue raised by statements last week by Italian Foreign
Minister Lamberto Dini that there were "two governments" on Cyprus, Mr.
Pangalos said he was aware of the fact that at the US State Department, as
well as at "some European ministries", there is the perception that "no-one
should do anything to displease Turkey".
However, he clarified that Greece is not willing to accept a suspension of
Cyprus accession negotiations with the EU, stressing that if such an
attempt is made, Greece "has the right to block all EU developments
According to Mr. Pangalos, EU accession negotiations will be completed with
all countries at the same time and unanimously and admission will be
approved for all countries unanimously. He said Greece accepted the idea
that progress in the accession of Cyprus to the EU should be an instrument
of pressure for the achievement of a solution of the Cyprus problem, but
Greece expresses grief at Diana's tragic death
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday expressed his
grief at the tragic death of Britain's Princess Diana.
Princess Diana and her companion Dodi Al Fayed were killed in a car crash
in Paris early yesterday while the two were trying to evade photographers.
"The death of a celebrity always creates sorrow," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.
"Diana was a philanthropist."
"We are expressing our grief for Diana because the death of a human being,
especially in such tragic circumstances, is a most unpleasant event," Press
and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas told the Athens News Agency.
"People's private lives must be safeguarded and must be respected by all,"
said Mr. Reppas, referring to the news that the crash occurred when the car
in which Diana was travelling swerved to evade photographers on motorcycles.
Book of condolences at British embassy
The British Embassy in Athens has released a statement issued by Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook regarding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in a
road accident in Paris early yesterday.
"I am greatly shocked by this news. Our first thoughts must be with her
children and her family at this time of immense loss to them. I was
fortunate enough to have the opportunity of working with the Princess on
her international charity work. I believe what has happened is a tragic
loss at a young age of someone who had shown great courage and commitment
in drawing attention to a series of issues. For the next few days her
family and the nation must have time to come to terms with their immense
sadness and loss," said Cook.
The Embassy has opened a book of condolences at the British Ambassador's
residence, 2 Loukianou St., from 11.00 to 13.00 from today until Wednesday.
Athens can help Turkey's EU ambitions, Papandreou says
Turkey's road to the European Union passes through good neighbourly
relations with Greece, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said
Speaking in Komotini, Mr. Papandreou said Greece desired good relations
with its neighbour, relations that would be governed by principles and
Greece's prerequisites for Turkey's accession to the European Union, he
said, are respect for human rights, international and minority rights, the
acceptance of international treaties, active political will to resolve the
Cypriot problem and an end to expansionist designs on neighbouring
countries, particularly Greece, a member of the EU.
He noted that "unfortunately, with recent statements, positions have
appeared which are foreign to the spirit of the recent Madrid communique."
"If these statements are not chance statements, then Turkey is once again
distancing itself from a European prospective, and Ankara must realise that
Greece can help this prospect in Europe. If Turkey understands this, it
will also realise that it is not in its interests to maintain instability
and the shameful occupation of Cyprus, as well as designs in the Aegean,"
Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey`s behaviour self-defeating
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that the
sooner Turkey realised that its behaviour flouted international law, the
easier it would be for it to converge with Europe and the free world.
Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day conference on narcotics abuse in
Thessaloniki, Mr. Tsohatsopoulos told reporters that "all international
organisations on security, stability and cooperation, to which Turkey
belongs, cannot accept behaviour which is in essence a repetition of the
annexation used by Hitler in the Second World War, when he annexed a part
The actions of Turkey "which now attempts to annex (occupied) northern
Cyprus, cannot be accepted by the international community", he said.
"The sooner the Turkish side realises this, the easier it will be for it to
be eased into a prospect of convergence with Europe, with the free world
and with a prospect of inclusion in the procedures and practices of all
those countries which today dem and security, stability and cooperation,"
Skopje criticised for lack of willingness to find solution
In an interview published in yesterday's edition of the Sunday newspaper
"To Vima", Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos criticised Skopje for
"grossly violating the New York interim agreement" signed between Athens
Commenting on recent statements by President of the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia Kiro Gligorov, Mr. Pangalos accused the neighbouring
state of having rejected all the proposals on a mutually-acceptable name
put forth by the United Nations medi ator Cyrus Vance, at a time when
Greece was willing to discuss the proposals.
He clarified that the final official name for Skopje should be mutually-
acceptable and the name "Republic of Macedonia" could not be its official
name. He added that the final name to be given to Skopje has to be approved
by the Greek Parliament and the Greek people, not just the Greek government.
The foreign minister said he expected that the UN process under mediator
Cyrus Vance will be completed by the end of the year. In the event that the
talks fail, he saw two options: first, that the current name Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remains applicable; and second, Skopje
calling itself the name it wishes, which Mr. Pangalos believes is
Fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today with local
clouds in northern Greece especially in the afternoon. North winds
moderate. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 20C to
32C. Thessaloniki will be sunny with some local cloudiness and temperatures
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.567
Pound sterling 454.991 Cyprus pd 530.323
French franc 46.380 Swiss franc 188.773
German mark 156.071 Italian lira (100) 15.939
Yen (100) 234.995 Canadian dlr. 202.110
Australian dlr. 206.098 Irish Punt 417.434
Belgian franc 7.559 Finnish mark 52.040
Dutch guilder 138.572 Danish kr. 40.997
Swedish kr. 35.865 Norwegian kr. 37.726
Austrian sch. 22.176 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.537