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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-05

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, 05/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • US official optimistic in view of visit to Cyprus
  • Prime Minister to inaugurate TIF tonight
  • Greece denies US protests over missiles for Cyprus
  • Minister:strike by Turkey on Cyprus missiles a "casus belli"
  • Athens hopeful for today's vote on 2004 Olympic Games
  • Parliament passes education bill as teachers march in protest
  • Greek stocks slump in pre-Olympics jitters
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

US official optimistic in view of visit to Cyprus

New US State Department Special Coordinator on Cyprus, Thomas Miller, yesterday expressed optimism over prospects for a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem despite tremendous existing difficulties.

In an interview, Mr. Miller said that time is working against a solution to the protracted Cyprus issue and added the US wants to focus on the substance of the problem.

Mr. Miller gave the interview to reporters from the Athens News Agency, the Cyprus News Agency, Turkish Anatolia News Agency and the newspaper Turkish Daily News, in view of his upcoming visit to the region, scheduled to take place September 7-20.

He pointed to security, constitutional arrangements and the three fundamental freedoms as some of the main issues that should be addressed, and supported secret diplomacy in efforts for a settlement in Cyprus.

He said he will use his experience from the Middle East peace process when dealing with the Cyprus question, noting that neither side will achieve everything it wants and pointing to the importance of rapprochement between Greece and Turkey.

The US diplomat, who will work closely with the US President's Cyprus Emissary, Richard Holbrooke, said he has "a couple of ideas" about his trip, but his first objective is "to do a lot of listening" as he has just taken up his post.

Asked what he considers the main obstacles in solving the Cyprus problem, Mr. Miller noted that "whenever there is a problem as difficult as the Cyprus problem has been, there is usually not just one obstacle" and said "security, constitutional issues, or some of the other categories obviously have to be worked more."

He referred to the freedoms of settlement, movement, property and sovereignty as issues that must be discussed, noting "the core issues are out there for the two sides to deal with".

The American diplomat said the experience he had gained as executive assistant to the US President's special representative for the Middle East, between 1983-1984, will help him in his efforts on Cyprus. "While the elements are very different, t here are a couple of considerations that I got out of the Middle East peace process that will perhaps be applicable here", he said.

Mr. Miller stressed that one of the considerations is that "in a good compromise, good solution, endurable and lasting, neither side walks from the table with everything it wants."

Asked what approach would be best to solve the Cyprus question, Mr. Miller said this is one of the issues he will be exploring during his visit.

He said he understands Turkish concerns over a Cyprus government decision to buy the Russian anti-missile system S-300.

"We made our concerns about the S-300 missiles known publicly at the highest levels of the Cypriot government and we talked to the Russian government about this. So I think our record on this is pretty clear," Mr. Miller added.

Mr. Miller expressed US support for direct talks between the two sides, but said the UN is responsible for deciding on another round of talks, after the two rounds held July and August, in New York and in Switzerland.

The UN-sponsored talks ended in failure after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash' refusal to negotiate a settlement because of the European Union's decision to start membership talks with Cyprus next year.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

Prime Minister to inaugurate TIF tonight

Prime Minister Costas Simitis goes to Thessaloniki this evening to inaugurate the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) at the HELEXPO grounds tonight, and delivers his annual major policy speech on next year's economy tomorrow night.

Mr. Simitis is expected to arrive at the Thessaloniki international airport at 19:45 today, and will be welcomed by Cabinet members, heads of the armed forces, city officials and HELEXPO directors.

The inauguration is scheduled for 20:00 today and will be attended by Cabinet members, visiting ministers from other countries, church representatives and ambassadors among others.

Tonight, HELEXPO-TIF directors will hold a dinner in honour of the prime minister at the governor's mansion at 22:30.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Mr. Simitis will give his annual keynote speech on economic policy during a dinner held at 20:15. The speech, a major policy address on next year's economy, will be broadcast nationwide.

On Sunday, the prime minister will visit HELEXPO headquarters at 10:00, tour the pavillions and give a major press conference Sunday afternoon.

The gates of the 62nd TIF will open to the public at 10:00 on Saturday.

For the first time this year, pavillions will remain open all day until 22:00 on Saturdays and Sundays, during the first two weekends of the fair.

The fair this year hosts hundreds of exhibitors from all over Greece and another 40 countries.

Greece denies US protests over missiles for Cyprus

The Greek government said yesterday that it had received no protest from the United States concerning Nicosia's plans to install Russian-made S-300 missiles on Cyprus.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement following remarks by US Ambassador to Cyprus Kenneth Brill on Wednesday who reiterated that Washington's position had not changed regarding the missiles.

The US is opposed to Nicosia's plans to install the missiles as part of efforts to bolster Cyprus' defences. Deputy State Department spokesman James Foley said on Wednesday that the US had expressed its opposition from the outset.

Commenting meanwhile on the checks being carried out by Turkish authorities on vessels passing through the Bosporus Straits, Mr. Reppas reiterated that the Treaty of Montreux must be adhered to.

The treaty stipulates that inspections of vessels are only permitted for sanitary reasons.

Mr. Reppas said that Greek interests had not been harmed by the checks, adding however that "Greece will join other countries whose interests have been harmed in the event that Turkey carries out checks other than those permitted by the treaty".

Replying to Turkish criticism about the absence of Greece's Chief of Armed Forces General Staff, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis, at an anniversary event at the Turkish embassy in Athens on August 30, Mr. Reppas said it was not a government decision and politi cal conclusions should therefore not be drawn. "Greece desires the normalisation of its relations with Turkey within the framework of specific rules," the spokesman said.

The foreign ministry said later that the Treaty of Montreux laid down "clear obligations" regarding the free passage of vessels through the Bosporus Straits, "which is of interest to all the signatory states". Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said th e "arbitrary" interpretation given by Turkey was not compatible with these obligations.

Mr. Bikas was replying to statements by his Turkish counterpart Sermet Atancali on Wednesday that Turkey was determined not to allow navigation through the straits to endanger its national security.

Mr. Atancali's statements follow a search last week by Turkish authorities of an Egyptian-flagged cargo vessel in the Bosporus Straits carrying missile parts.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told reporters on Tuesday however that the vessel's consignment documents showed it was an Egyptian order.

Minister:strike by Turkey on Cyprus missiles a "casus belli"

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos warned yesterday that a Turkish attempt to strike Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on Cyprus would be a cause for war.

"The Joint Defence Pact is in full readiness to be implemented in case of any threat or act of violence against the Republic of Cyprus, which means that any attack by Turkey against Cyprus is casus belli," he said in an interview on the "London Greek

Radio", during a visit to the British capital where he met with counterpart George Robertson. A Joint Defence Pact was agreed by the governments of Cyprus and Greece in 1993, stating that Greece will come to the aid of Cyprus if the island is attacked mi litarily. Asked how Greece reacts to Turkey's threats to attack the S-300 missiles, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, "I would advise our neighbours not to slide along dangerous avenues manipulating foreign matters". Cypriot Governent Spokesman Manolis Christofide s expressed satisfaction with the Greek minister's statements, noting that it was important to Cyprus "that in critical times, if there are any, agreements are kept".

Athens hopeful for today's vote on 2004 Olympic Games

The members of Athens bid committee for the 2004 Olympic Games, who are in Lausanne for today's crucial voting which will decide the host city, stressed last night that "Athens is willing (to host the games), well- prepared, and has a unique proposal for the 2004 Olympics".

A few hours away from the International Olympic Committee's (IOC)verdict on the city that will stage the Games in 2004, the members of the committee remain optimistic on Athens' chances to win.

Committee members yesterday were joined by seven Greek Olympic gold medallists, who arrived in Lausanne to support Athens' bid. The seven are Pyrros Dimas, Nikos Kaklamanakis, Ioannis Melisanidis, Kahi Kakhiasvili, Leonidas Kokkas, Leonidas Sabanis, and Tasos Boudouris.

Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday expressed optimism about the outcome of the IOC vote in Lausanne awarding the 2004 games to one of the five candidate cities.

Delegations from all five cities -- Athens, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Rome and Stockholm -- have travelled to Lausanne to await the result which is expected to be announced this evening.

"We have reached the closing stage before the crucial vote. We have worked hard, methodically and systematically. But the vote will be secret and nobody can make accurate forecasts. Today (yesterday) will be the last rehearsal for Athens' presentation, which I believe will be impressive and of a high quality. Quality is in any case the great advantage of our candidacy, something which has been confirmed by all the IOC members who have been in contact with us," Mr. Fouras said.

Mr. Fouras underlined that Athens' presentation would be based on the city's advantages, namely good infrastructure, the changes which have been made in the Greek capital and "its proven ability to stage similar sports events, as clearly illustrated by the recent World Athletics Championships".

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou was also due to fly to Lausanne yesterday to attend the final announcement ceremony.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated that Athens' bid for the 2004 Olympic Games was not a government decision but "the desire of the Greek people".

Commenting meanwhile on remarks by a Turkish IOC member, which were construed as being positive for Athens' candidacy, Mr. Reppas said it was "a very friendly gesture which is appreciated by Greek citizens".

Mr. Reppas also indirectly confirmed that the bid committee had been in contact with former king Constantine, an IOC member.

Stressing that the government had no contact with the ex-king, Mr. Reppas said that the bid committee had communicated with all IOC members in order to brief them on Athens' bid dossier "without making any distinctions among the members".

Parliament passes education bill as teachers march in protest

Teachers and students marched to Parliament in protest yesterday as the ruling PASOK party passed a controversial bill abolishing the waiting list for postings of teachers to public elementaries and high schools throughout Greece.

Teachers from all levels of schools and students rallied at Kaningos before marching to Parliament at 1300 yesterday.

Nikos Tsoulias, president of the Union of Secondary School Teachers in public schools (OLME), said the teachers rejected a decision to strike during the start of the new academic year, preferring instead to inform public opinion about their demands.

A group of university students tried to break through the heavy cordon of police and special forces surrounding Parliament, and scuffles broke out when rioters started throwing rocks, bottles, tomatoes and bitter oranges against the police.

Attacks were also made by students against TV cameramen, windows broken and the air let out of tyres, but the incidents were short-lived and rioters left on their own.

By late afternoon, the rally had dispersed.

Greek stocks slump in pre-Olympics jitters

Greek equities suffered a dramatic change of course on the Athens Stock Exchange to end sharply lower, reversing a three-day advance.

Traders said the market looked increasingly nervous ahead of a crucial vote on whether Athens would host the 2004 Olympic Games.

Also making players edgy was announcement of the government's fiscal and incomes policy for 1998 to be presented by the prime minister at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Saturday.

The market brushed off the government's proposals on launching a new derivatives market and measures to better regulate the Athens bourse.

The general index closed 1.82 percent lower at 1,536.69 points with all sector indices losing ground.

Construction plunged 3.61 percent, Banks fell 2.29 percent, Leasing was 1.93 percent off, Insurance eased 1.63 percent, Investments dropped 2.20 percent, Industrials fell 1.76 percent, Holding was 2.12 percent lower and Miscellaneous dropped 3.10 percen t.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.86 percent lower.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 186 to 30 with another 18 issues unchanged.

DANE, Parnassos, Bank of Athens and Thessaliki scored the biggest percentage gains, while Fintexport, Athinea and Demetriades suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 33,200 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,850, Delta Dairy at 3,995, Titan Cement at 14,320, Intracom at 12,400 and OTE at 6,470.

In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar rose slightly against the drachma.

WEATHER

Local cloudiness is forecast for most parts of the country. Mostly fair weather in western Greece, eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese. Winds northerly, moderate to strong, turning to gale force in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures to range 16-29C. Temperatures in Athens will range from 20 to 28C, in Thessaloniki from 18 to 27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying

US dlr. 284.337 Pound sterling 449.773 Cyprus pd 531.117 French franc 46.487 Swiss franc 189.561 German mark 156.407 Italian lira (100) 16.041 Yen (100) 236.542 Canadian dlr. 205.384 Australian dlr. 207.611 Irish Punt 417.493 Belgian franc 7.575 Finnish mark 52.120 Dutch guilder 138.845 Danish kr. 41.085 Swedish kr. 36.091 Norwegian kr. 37.857 Austrian sch. 22.226 Spanish peseta 1.855 Port. Escudo 1.543

(Y.B.)


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