Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-05
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 05/09/1997 (ANA)
- Cabinet considers Balkans policy
- EU must take clear stance with Turkey - defence minister
- Albanian parliament president to visit
- PM to inaugurate TIF tonight
- Athens hopeful for today's vote on 2004 Olympic Games
- Stocks wait for developments
- Corfu coastguard confiscates Albanian weapons cache
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Cabinet considers Balkans policy
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a Cabinet meeting which focused
on the government's Balkan policy and the registration and legalisation of
foreigners in Greece.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, government spokesman Dimitris
Reppas said the Cabinet had noted the major progress made in recent months
with regard to Greece's relations with the neighbouring states.
He said an "impetus" had been created for the further development of these
relations, describing the neighbouring peoples of the Balkan countries as
"our natural fellow travellers into the future".
Reppas referred in particular to the development of cooperation in the
defence, education, economic and political sectors.
In the defence sector, he said, initiatives were under way for promoting
defence cooperation in the field of training.
In the sector of education, Reppas said comprehensive measures would be
taken for the further development of education in the Balkan countries with
the assistance of universities and other educational institutions.
Turning to the economic sector, Reppas said efforts would be made to more
rapidly implement the existing legal framework and establish the so-called
"free trade zones".
In addition, he continued, the government would seek cooperation with the
neighbouring states to decide on the water levels of the rivers running
through the Balkan countries and promote the creation of access routes to
the neighbouring countries with emphasis on Bulgaria and the north in
Reppas said efforts were also being made to establish a stronger presence
for Greek banks and undertakings in the Balkan countries over the next few
Referring to the inter-Balkan conference which will be held in Crete in
November, following a Greek initiative, Reppas said it would be an event of
major importance which would further upgrade Greece's relations with the
Reppas announced also that the Cabinet today gave the green light to plans
to register and legalise foreigners in Greece, noting that the decision did
not really differ from those taken in the recent past.
The only difference, he said, was the "single" nature which the process of
registering and legalising manpower would have.
Previous plans have foreseen two stages, the first which was scheduled to
be completed by the end of 1997 concerned the registration of manpower,
while the second provided for the carrying out of checks for the purpose of
granting residence and work permits to those foreigners who were entitled.
Reppas clarified that the new "single" procedure had been decided by the
government for political and practical reasons and was expected to have
been completed by the end of September 1998.
The duration of the residence permits to be granted would be the subject of
discussion, the spokesman added.
EU must take clear stance with Turkey - defence minister
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today urged the European
Union to take a clear stance towards Turkey, stressing that Ankara's
longstanding policy had brought it into conflict with all neighbouring
Addressing a meeting of Eurodeputies of the ruling PASOK party and the
German SPD party held in Vouliagmeni this morning, Tsohatzopoulos placed
the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations within the framework of the
charting by the EU of a Mediterranean and a security policy.
For decades, Tsohatzopoulos said, Turkey's strategy had been aimed at
attaining a position of primacy in the region "with the result that it has
come into conflict with all neighbouring states".
Tsohatzopoulos likened Turkish policy on Cyprus with Hitler's on Czechoslovakia.
In view of this, he said, the EU's policy towards Turkey must be crystal
"We must send a message to Turkey that we desire closer relations with it
in the economic and political sectors. There should be a strategy of coming
closer, the bridge being provided by the millions of Turkish migrants
living and working in Europe. At the same time though, there should be a
clear reply, that if Turkey persists in its expansionist policy, it will
not be able to come closer to Europe".
Turning to recent developments in the Cyprus problem, Tsohatzopoulos
underlined that in view of the island republic's accession to the EU, "for
the first time there appears to be a clear prospect which may open the way
for a settlement of the problem in accordance with UN resolutions, while at
the same time it provides the spark for the EU to exercise a Mediterranean
and a security policy in the region, thereby strengthening its presence
Although there is hesitation on the part of some, he continued, the problem
in any case exists.
"No one can overlook the fact that the Cyprus problem would be better
resolved if Cyprus is in the European Union," he said.
Meanwhile, Tsohatzopoulos went on, Ankara wants closer relations with
Europe and also to preserve the secular nature of the Turkish state.
"But this presupposes successes in the social sector. So we must speak
plainly to the neighbouring country. We must make it clear that a policy
(facilitating) Cyprus' accession to the EU can only be to Turkey's benefit.
Turkey has everything to gain by playing a stabilising role. We of course
can deal with the problem with the neighbouring country, but the problem is
not bilateral, it is a common one," Tsohatzopoulos said.
Tsohatzopoulos also called for more active political intervention by the EU
in the Balkans, the countries of Transcaucasia and the Middle East,
particularly with the objective of helping to promote the process of
democratisation in the countries of the former eastern bloc, confronting
any nationalistic tension which may arise and "stabilising" lines of access
to energy sources.
Albanian parliament president to visit
The President of the Albanian Parliament, Skender Gjinushi, will pay a
three-day official to visit beginning Sunday at the head of a six-member
During his stay here, Gjinushi will meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos
and his Greek counterpart, Apostolos Kaklamanis who extended the invitation.
He will also have talks with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, ruling
PASOK party Secretary, Costas Skandalides and Parliament Vice President
Gjinushi's programme also includes meetings with main opposition New
Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, Communist Party of Greece General
Secretary Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos
Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement President Dimitris
In addition, he will have talks with members of the Foreign Affairs and
Defence Committee and the Greek-Albanian Friendship Group.
PM 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
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
The fair this year hosts hundreds of exhibitors from all over Greece and
another 40 countries.
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.
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".
Stocks wait for developments
Greek equities moved in tight ranges on the Athens Stock Exchange
reflecting investors' nervousness ahead of a crucial vote on whether Athens
would host the 2004 Olympic Games and the prime minister's speech on fiscal
and incomes policy for 1998 at the Thessaloniki International Trade
Traders said the market seemed frozen and that hardly anyone was willing to
open new positions in the market. The general index closed 0.28 percent
higher at 1,541 points to show a 1.54 percent net gain on the week.
Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.11 percent, Leasing fell 0.24
percent, Insurance was 0.26 percent up, Investment eased 0.31 percent,
Industrials increased 0.57 percent, Construction rose 0.17 percent, Holding
fell 0.26 percent and Miscellaneous rose 0.88 percent.
Trading was moderate and turnover was 13 billion drachmas.
In the domestic foreign exchange market, the US dollar eased slightly
against the drachma.
Corfu coastguard confiscates Albanian weapons cache
A cache of weapons, including eight kilos of TNT, was found by the coast
guard aboard a five-metre speedboat in Greek waters off the Ionian island
of Corfu yesterday afternoon, according to sources at the Merchant Marine
The boat had been abandoned by its crew of Albanians who were bringing the
weapons to the island from the Albanian coast. They were spotted near the
Corfu coast by a coast guard patrol, who fired on them after they refused
to stop. The Albanians abandoned their boat in Albanian waters but it
drifted back into Greek terrritorial waters.
Apart from the TNT, a number of electronic detonators, slow-burning fuses
and six Kalashnikov rifle bullets were found on board.
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.
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