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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-10

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, 10/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Foreign, defence ministers confer
  • Ankara to blame for lack of progress, Athens says
  • Greek interest in Belgrade-Thessaloniki road axis
  • Athens condemns latest Dini statements regarding Cyprus
  • Greenpeace defendants acquitted in Thessaloniki
  • Greek inflation rises to 5.6 pct yr/yr in August
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Foreign, defence ministers confer

Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the potential for defence cooperation in the Balkans and the Caucasus were the focus of a meeting this morning between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, attended by senior officials from both ministries.

According to a statement by Pangalos after the meeting, emphasis was placed on the importance of defence cooperation for the country's diplomatic relations, while Tsohatzopoulos also mentioned the "real cooperation" with the foreign ministry's political leadership which he said helped boost Greece on the international front.

Pangalos declined to comment on criticism by US State Department spokesman James Foley of statements by Greek and Turkish officials regarding "casus belli", but said:

"I don't think Greece's declared position on the Cyprus issue amounts to a threat of war in our bilateral relations with Turkey. The Cyprus problem is one of a violation of international legality. Statements made to avert a worsening of the situation are necessary. With regard to our bilateral relations, we have made a commitment, through the Madrid communique, not to use the threat of war. I hope that this at least will be adhered to, since everything else has deteriorated in many ways and on many levels."

Pangalos expressed satisfaction that the Turkish government had decided to participate in the inter-Balkan conference in Crete on November 3.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel reportedly announced today that Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz would attend the meeting.

Asked to comment on contradictory statements by European officials with regard to the Cyprus issue, particularly by German Foreign Minster Klaus Kinkel and his Italian counterpart Lamberto Dini, Pangalos referred to the European Union's legally binding commitment to start accession talks with Cyprus six months after the signing of the new treaty, that is, in April 1998.

He also drew attention to the EU's often repeated position that resolving the Cyprus issue would contribute to a speedy conclusion of the accession talks.

"It appears, however, that Mr. Kinkel has interpreted this statement in a more absolute manner," said the minister.

As no one knew how long these negotiations might take, Pangalos said Kinkel would do well to avoid making statements that referred to events likely to take place two or three years away.

"After all, he doesn't know if he will still be in office then," observed Pangalos, adding that Cyprus' accession to the EU was a question for all member states and was not just up to Kinkel.

"It is Greece that will determine when Cyprus will join the European Union, " he said, noting that it was usual for the most interested member state to determine the accession of a new member.

Referring to Dini's view that there were "two entities" in Cyprus, Pangalos said his Italian counterpart "appeared to have some difficulty with diplomatic terminology", as no one knew quite what he meant by "entity".

The Minister said Cyprus' accession to the EU was not linked to a resolution of the Cyprus problem, while the "entity" negotiating with the EU was a state, "and states do not negotiate de facto situations, but a legal framework".

"That is what the Cypriot government is doing on behalf of all Cypriots, including the Turkish Cypriots, who will decide if they accept the legal provisions agreed upon."

He pointed out the contradiction in letting Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash "have a say in Cyprus' accession to the EU and yet declare, as Kinkel has, that Turkey itself has no hope of joining the EU."

The Defence Minister meanwhile, commenting on the controversy surrounding the installation of S-300 missiles in Cyprus, reiterated that every United Nations member state had the inalienable right to secure its defence.

Tsohatzopoulos added that this sacred right meant much more to a small country, a sector of which was under the occupation and threat of violence from another country.

He stressed that the missiles in question were purely serving the purpose of defence.

"Whoever criticises a small country for arming itelf with anti-aircraft systems is condemning it to remain defenceless and a hostage to any threat, " he said.

Such threats, continued Tsohatzopoulos, were continually being made by Turkey, whose officials frequently declared that Turkish air force planes could be over Cyprus in six minutes.

Ankara to blame for lack of progress, Athens says

The failure of the spirit of the Madrid communique to carry over into Greek- Turkish relations is entirely Ankara's fault, Athens said today.

Asked to respond to statements by the US State Department spokesman Jim Foley criticising the use of the term 'casus belli' by both sides, Reppas told reporters that Ankara's stance was such that it was not facilitating progress in bilateral relations.

According to an ANA dispatch from Washington, Foley said references by both sides to war were "out of bounds".

Reppas noted that Foley's statements were made in connection with the Cyprus issue and noted the spokesman's comment that the US government recognised only one government in Cyprus, that headed by President Glafcos Clerides.

"The Greek government believes that its policy, which is in accordance with international law and treaties, does not create problems. On the contrary, it contributes decisively to rapprochement between the two sides, showing a consistency that the other side does not," he said.

Reppas stressed that when there are positions on changing the status quo, whether in Cyprus or in the Aegean, Greece would not stand idly by.

"In such a development, Greece will act accordingly and not by standing by, " Reppas said.

Greek interest in Belgrade-Thessaloniki road axis

A consortium of five Greek construction companies has expressed interest in the construction of the Belgrade-Thessaloniki road axis, according to Yugoslav Public Works Minister Benuslav Ivkovic.

The project, budgeted at US$650 million, will be tendered by the end of 1997 and awarded by March 1998.

Mr. Ivkovic was speaking at a conference on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki fair, entitled: "Technical Projects: Prospects for Cooperation in the New Markets of Southeastern Europe".

Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Undersecretary Christos Verelis told ANA afterwards that a number of bilateral contacts made during the conference would lead shortly to the signing of cooperation agreements with the foreign ministry.

Earlier, representatives from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Albania presented their proposals regarding "Corridor 8", a proposal to connect the Albanian port of Durres in the west to the Black Sea ports of Burgas and Varna.

The representatives said the project had yet to receive commitments for financing. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has only approved funding of ECU24 million for the Durres-Tirana section.

Mr. Ivkovic called the project "pointless", doubting it would ever be constructed and that it would take such a long time that it wouldn't affect construction of the Egnatia Motorway, already under way, which will span northern Greece, from the Ionian port of Igoumenitsa to the border city of Alexandroupoli, when completed.

Athens condemns latest Dini statements regarding Cyprus

Athens again responded yesterday to statements by Italy's Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini regarding the existence of "two entities and two governments" in Cyprus, during his visit to Washington, saying the statements had been made for reasons of "expediency".

"The European Union has a policy on the issue (of Cyprus) which has been expressed officially by the president of the Council of Ministers Jacques Poos," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said

"The European Union has not discussed any other proposal, the political position on the Cyprus issue has been taken unanimously, is being implemented and will brook no change," Mr. Reppas said.

According to a Cyprus News Agency dispatch from Washington, Mr. Dini, speaking to the press on Monday prior to a meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said there are "two governments, two entities and borders" in Cyprus.

Asked by a Turkish reporter if the part of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since its 1974 invasion of the island needs to be recognised as an "independent state", Mr. Dini replied he had never said such a thing.

"But I think it has to be recognised that there are two entities in Cyprus, " noting "if there were not two entities there would not be negotiations... for a federated state. This is the point I made," the Italian minister added.

Asked to say whether the "two entities are equal", Mr. Dini replied: "No, I wouldn't say equal entities. There are two entities. They exist, they co- exist. There are borders and two different governments and that is a state of fact."

Athens and Nicosia strongly protested statements by Mr. Dini in Rome last month after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, that "there are two republics, two governments and two entities in Cyprus".

Repeated statements by both the Prime Minister of Italy, Romano Prodi and the country's foreign ministry said Mr. Dini's statements were misrepresented by the media and that Italy recognises only the Republic of Cyprus and that a Cyprus solution should be based on UN resolutions.

Only Turkey recognises the illegal regime, unilaterally set up in November 1983, and the UN itself has called on all states not to recognise the self- styled entity and "not to facilitate or in any way assist the aforesaid secessionist entity."

In statements later, Foreign Undersecretary Kranidiotis said Mr. Dini was "incorrigible". "Despite the efforts under way by the international community and by Greece...(Mr. Dini) persists in clashing with the international community and with the decisions of the European Union itself, " Mr. Kranidiotis said.

These decisions, he noted, recognise that "in Cyprus there is one legitimate government, one Cypriot government with which the talks on the accession of the island republic to the Community must be held".

There are two communities on Cyprus, Mr. Kranidiotis said, "but these find themselves under the same legal international entity, the Republic of Cyprus, which is represented by the Cypriot government."

Greenpeace defendants acquitted in Thessaloniki

A court in Thessaloniki yesterday unanimously acquitted eight members of the international environmental advocacy group "Greenpeace", all charged with resisting authority.

The offences were allegedly perpetrated five years ago when the defendants attempted to prevent the unloading of toxic substances at the installations of the Hellenic Fuel and Mineral Oils Group (EKO) in Thessaloniki.

Three Greek nationals were among the eight defendants who stood trial at the hearing. The remaining five were tried and acquitted in absentia since they had not been delivered subpoenas in time.

According to the indictment, in September 1992 the activists had suspended themselves from the anchor chain of a tanker and had remained there for five days to prevent the unloading of 2,000 tonnes of suspected toxic materials.

Greek inflation rises to 5.6 pct yr/yr in August

Greek consumer price inflation accelerated to 5.6 percent year-on-year in August from 5.4 percent the previous month, reflecting rises in energy prices, housing, fruits and dairy produce.

The National Statistics Service (NSS) said that electricity and petrol prices burdened the consumer price index by 0.07 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. Consumer price inflation was 8.0 percent in August 1996. NSS said it expected the inflatio n rate to ease in September. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas admitted there was a slight deviation from this year's inflation target but stressed it was a temporary phenomenon.

WEATHER

Mostly fine weather will prevail throughout the country today except in northern Greece where there will be local clouds in the afternoon. Local fog in the Ionian Islands and mainland Greece in the morning. Winds will be northerly, light to strong. Temperatures in Athens will range between 20- 35C, in Thessaloniki from 18-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.333 Pound sterling 448.166 Cyprus pd 529.172 French franc 46.297 Swiss franc 190.032 German mark 155.665 Italian lira (100) 15.984 Yen (100) 237.435 Canadian dlr. 204.253 Australian dlr. 206.336 Irish Punt 421.223 Belgian franc 7.540 Finnish mark 51.921 Dutch guilder 138.210 Danish kr. 40.898 Swedish kr. 36.194 Norwegian kr. 37.875 Austrian sch. 22.128 Spanish peseta 1.846 Port. Escudo 1.535

(M.P.)


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