Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-10
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 10/09/1997 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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