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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-08

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, 08/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Olympics will strengthen Greece's international standing
  • Samaranch: "The best was the winner."
  • Angelopoulos-Daskalaki to continue
  • Yannakis: Athens "ahead from the start"
  • Reactions at home
  • Simitis reiterates warning to Turkey on Cyprus
  • Turkey calls for Greek demilitarisation in the Aegean
  • Cem criticises Greek counterpart
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Olympics will strengthen Greece's international standing

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in his Thessakoniki International Trade Fair press conference yesterday that the assumption of the 2004 Olympic Games by Athens will have a positive effect on Greece's national issues and particularly relations with Turkey.

"The Olympic Games are an event that will allow us to strengthen Greece's standing in the international community. They will allow us to promote Greek positions on our national issues and give us the opportunity to promote the policy of peace and friend ship towards everybody. I don't think they will influence Turkey as far as her policy is concerned. Turkey is being influenced for some time now by the policy we follow, by the initiatives that we undertake, by the continually growing acceptance of our views in the framework of the European Union. It is not the Olympic Games that mark a change in this course. It is some time now that acceptance of our views has risen considerably, and will continue so, the Olympics are a means for this, however we have ma ny means at our disposal and we use them".

Mr. Simitis was also asked whether the Games will have repercussions on the economy and whether projects underway in rural areas will be restricted to enable the completion of projects which are essential for the Games. He replied that according to estimations already made, "the Olympic Games will make a positive contribution to the country in general and to the Greek economy."

Mr. Simitis recalled that 80 per cent of necessary installations were already in place and functioning, adding that funds required for the remaining projects "can be secured through regular channels."

He said that organising the Olympiad will also have repercussions which will not be immediately measurable, such as an increase in tourism before, during and after the Games.

On the question of the completion rates of projects in rural areas, Mr. Simitis stated categorically that development projects will continue to be carried out throughout the country.

"The Olympic Games are a milestone, a process which will contribute to the achievement of certain political and economic targets. It is not our main mission, our primary target. Our primary target is to shape other conditions for economic growth. We have repeatedly stressed that we want strong rural regions," he said.

"It is not necessary for us to divert resources from elsewhere to support the Olympic Games, since that would mean diverting our policy in a direction which is not compatible with our views. Our policy has the primary target of promoting all of Greece, of strengthening the rural regions. And we will continue this policy," he added.

At this point, Mr. Simitis referred to the third Community Support Framework which, he said, will provide considerable resources for the country and rural regions in particular.

Commenting on projects for the Olympic Games, Mr. Simitis announced that an agency will be created to assume responsibility for all related issues. He said the government would ensure "that nobody will ever be able to claim that this organisation (of the Olympiad) is involved in any way in processes which are not transparent, processes operating in favour of a few who might exploit the need for projects and supplies."

Samaranch: "The best was the winner"

International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch told a news conference Saturday that the victory of Athens, which last month staged a well-run world athletics championships, would have a major impact on Greece.

He said the IOC members may have felt they owed a debt to the Greeks after turning down their bid for the centennial Games in 1996 which went to Atlanta. Those Games turned out to have major organisational problems.

"The best was the winner," he said. "I was in Athens for the world track and field championships and the opening ceremony in the old stadium was one of the best opening ceremonies -- Olympic or non-Olympic -- that I have seen in my life."

"We fully trust our Greek friends. Maybe it will be very important for Athens and also for Greece...Maybe the IOC members had in mind that there was bitterness in the country when they lost in 1990. There was a kind of historic debt."

"They had an opportunity to do something about the debt and did it."

The 2004 campaign was sometimes controversial with some candidates criticising their rivals and accusations made that some cities broke Olympic rules by offering gifts to the members who voted for the venue in a meeting of the IOC's session. But Mr. Samaranch said he believed it had been a successful selection process.

"In the last few days there have been some nervous people," he said. "In general the process was much better than some years ago."

Asked to comment on Athens 2004 Bid Committee president Gianna Angelopoulos- Daskalaki, Mr. Samaranch said:

"She is a first class individual and a great leader. Yesterday she made a very good presentation for Athens, but she was not alone. She is surrounded by capable, professional people. The Greek candidacy had the full support of the government, the city of Athens and the national Olympic committee. It was a good team with a very good leader."

Congratulating Mrs. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, he said:

"You deserved the Games. I believe they will go down in history and pehaps the new IOC president who will be there to see them (Mr. Samaranch's tenure ends in 2001) will say they were the best ever."

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki to continue

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos has asked Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who led the Athens 2004 bid committee, to chair Athens' Olympic Games Organising Committee.

Speaking in Lausanne after Friday night's announcement by the International Olympic Committee that Athens would host the 2004 Olympiad, Mr. Avramopoulos told journalists:

"I believe Mrs. Angelopoulos deserves to continue with this effort and today I officially propose that she herself assumes the important post of president of the organising committee for the 2004 Olympic Games."

Yannakis: Athens "ahead from the start"

The Athens 2004 Bid Committee's deputy president Yannis Yannakis told the ANA he believed Athens had been ahead from the start.

"It was apparent from the beginning that Athens was ahead. Our candidacy was excellent and our proposal was unique... In all the committee's missions, to Cancun,to Bangkok, to Lausanne in March, to Guam, to Pusan, Monte Carlo and Winnipeg, we were the best."

He said he saw no reason why the Games' logo, which symbolised the flame of Athens emerging from an altar, should be changed.

Commenting on criticism from Rome's Primo Nebiolo, who also heads the International Amateur Athletics Federation, Mr. Yannakis said:

"We will be asking for input from ... members of the International Olympic Committee and Mr. Nebiolo as well."

During last month's athletics world championships in Athens, Mr. Nebiolo exploited every chance to decry the organisation in a clear attempt to convey to IOC members that the Greeks were not up to staging top international sports events.

Asked after Friday's vote whether he still felt the same, Mr. Nebiolo replied: "Why don't you ask them if they can organise anything?"

When the third European candidate, Stockholm, dropped out after the third round of voting in Lausanne, almost all their votes switched to Athens rather than to Rome.

"That was a clear snub by the Europeans to Nebiolo," one experienced Olympic observer said. "They were sending him a message."

Reactions at home

In Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the victory was "above all a declaration of faith in the country's future", as well as "gratitude for Greece's past contribution to world civilisation and to universal athletic ideals".

Speaking at the Thessaloniki International Fair yesterday, he emphasised the economic benefits to be gained from staging the Games. At the same time he gave the assurance that the whole country would gain, drawing attention to projects scheduled for nor thern Greece from the third Community Support Framework.

Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis also stressed on Saturday that funds scheduled for works in the provinces would not be diverted to Athens.

Meanwhile, he said 120,000 jobs were expected to be created in construction works over the next seven years for the new airport at Spata, the Athens underground Metro system and the 53.5km Elefsis-Stavros-Spata ring road which will link the new airport with the Olympic sports complex and the Olympic village at Thrakomakedones, at the foot of Mt. Parnitha.

Most Olympic events would take place at two main complexes. The existing Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens, in the northern suburb of Maroussi and the Faliro coastline at and around the Peace and Friendship Stadium and eastwards towards the Faliro Delta .

New installations are planned in Galatsi, Goudi, Peristeri and Nikaia, where a 5,000-seat weightlifting centre is to be built. Equestrian and archery events will be held in the northern district of Tatoi, while the rowing events are to take place on the northern Attica coastline at Schinia.

Simitis reiterates warning to Turkey on Cyprus

Greece will go to war if Turkey attempts to overturn the existing status quo in Cyprus, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday at a press conference following the opening of the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, in Greece' northern capit al.

The prime minister addressed a clear warning to Turkey that any intervention in Cyprus would constitute cause for Greece to go to war, stressing that the country supports the deployment of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft misiles on the island. However he reiterated Greece's support for a proposal by Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides calling for the island's demilitarisation, stressing that in the meantime that Cyprus has the right to enhance its defence capability.

Commenting on the FYROM name issue, Mr. Simitis called on Skopje to implement its side of the interim agreement signed between the two countries.

Turkey calls for Greek demilitarisation in the Aegean

Turkey yesterday rejected a European Union (EU) proposal that it take its differences with Greece to the International Court at The Hague in exchange for Greece's dropping its veto, and said it had asked the EU to press Greece to demilitarise the eastern Aegean islands.

At a press conference yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said that "it was impossible for Turkey to proceed with such negotiations" as going to the international court in exchange for Greece's dropping its veto for EU funds to Turkey.

"The funding from the EU is a specific obligation on the part of Europe which arises from the principles governing the Customs Union. It is useless on the part of the EU to force conditions for a promise it has not kept," Mr. Cem said.

The foreign minister also criticised Greece for "double standards", claiming that it was trying to thwart the Madrid communique under which both countries must try to solve their differences by peaceful means.

Mr. Cem also said that it had called on the European Union to demilitarise the islands of the Aegean, and had sent a request to the effect to the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Luxembourg.

"The EU must immediately take into account the case of the eastern Aegean islands, which are armed despite international treaties," Mr. Cem said.

Cem criticises Greek counterpart

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem yesterday criticised his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos over comments in a press interview, saying that "what Mr. Pangalos is saying about Turkey is not serious and does not merit a response".

Mr. Pangalos had said in a recent interview that if Turkey did not abide by international laws it should be punished by an embargo and other sanctions.

In a written statement yesterday, Mr. Cem said Greece was bothered by the "new government" Turkey was promoting and added, "To any specific gesture of good will from Greece, we shall respond with even greater good will".

WEATHER

A mostly fine day is forecast for today with local cloud developing in the afternoon in eastern and northern Greece and moderate to strong northerly winds, reaching very strong in the Aegean Sea but expected to ease later in the day. Athens and Thessaloniki can expect a mostly fine day with mild to moderate winds and temperature ranges 18-29C and 16-27C respectively.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 283.563 Pound sterling 449.793 Cyprus pd 530.323 French franc 46.443 Swiss franc 190.102 German mark 156.255 Italian lira (100) 16.034 Yen (100) 234.588 Canadian dlr. 205.185 Australian dlr. 206.782 Irish Punt 418.981 Belgian franc 7.566 Finnish mark 52.179 Dutch guilder 138.751 Danish kr. 41.053 Swedish kr. 36.244 Norwegian kr. 38.051 Austrian sch. 22.206 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.542

(Y.B.)


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