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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 general.

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 years.

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 neighbouring countries.

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 states.

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 clear.

"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 and influence".

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 parliamentary delegation.

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 Lucas Apostolidis.

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 Tsovolas.

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 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.

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 Fair.

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 Ministry.

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.

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

(M.P.)


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