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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-11

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, 11/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens blames Ankara for lack of progress
  • Tsohatzopoulos-Pangalos meeting
  • Defence Minister comments on S-300 controversy
  • Opposition party's view
  • Industrialists welcome economic policy priorities
  • Decisions regarding 2004 Olympics shortly
  • Angelopoulos-Daskalaki says no to politics
  • NBA stars in Athens
  • Greek stocks slump in correction after Olympics euphoria
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens blames Ankara for lack of progress

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

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

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

Mr. Reppas noted that Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 be standing by, " Mr. Reppas said.

Tsohatzopoulos-Pangalos meeting

Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and the potential for defence cooperation in the Balkans and the Caucasus were the focus of a meeting yesterday between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

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

Mr. Pangalos declined to comment on criticism by Mr. Foley, 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 inter national 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 eve rything else has deteriorated in many ways and on many levels."

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

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Omer Akbel reportedly announced yesterday that Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz would attend that conference.

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, Mr. Pangalos referred to the European Union's legally bind ing commitment to start accession talks with Cyprus six months after the signing of the new IGC treaty, namely, in April 1998.

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

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

As no one knew how long these negotiations might take, Mr. Pangalos said Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Dini's view that there were "two entities" in Cyprus, Mr. 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."

Defence Minister comments on S-300 controversy

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.

Mr. 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 itself with anti-aircraft systems is condemning it to remain defenceless and a hostage to any threat, " he said.

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

Opposition party's view

Main opposition New Democracy party spokesperson Aris Spilioutopoulos said that Turkish intransigence and provocations were not likely to be contained as long as the government continued its policy of creating impressions.

Mr. Spiliotopoulos' remark follows recent statements by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit that Turkey will take "all necessary political measures" against Greece and Cyprus over the purchase of Russian made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles."

Mr. Spiliotopoulos criticised Mr. Simitis for what he called "lack of courage" and a "willingness to give in", saying he has prompted Ankara's "audacity."

The Political Spring party spoke of "pale reactions of a defensive nature by the government" in the face of Turkish provocativeness on the occasion of a meeting between Mr.Tsohatzopoulos and Mr.Pangalos.

Industrialists welcome economic policy priorities

Policy priorities set out by Prime Minister Costas Simitis last week at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) live up to the present and future needs of the Greek economy, a Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) statement by SEB President Iason Stratos noted yesterday.

Confirmation that a decrease in the deficit will be pursued through a decrease in state expenditures and not through an increase in taxes met with a positive response. It was stressed that Greek taxpayers are already being taxed with particularly high percentages which must be decreased.

Incomes policy announced in the public sector must be applied with consistency.

In addition to a restriction in utility (DEKO) tariffs, what is also necessary is an improvement in productivity and the curbing of their operational cost, SEB stated.

The announcement by SEB said that the strengthening of Greek companies' competitiveness must be pursued, since for real convergence to be achieved economic growth rates must be speeded up.

However, Mr. Stratos pointed out that "the government must examine its "hard drachma" policy, given that the competitiveness of Greek industry has decreased by 20 per cent over a period of five years."

The announcement on the new EU support framework for the year 2000 was also considered positive.

The announcement concluded that social consensus on the major options of the future constitutes a substantive factor of success. And social dialogue being conducted in the current period constitutes an opportunity for a rapprochement in views.

Decisions regarding 2004 Olympics shortly

No decisions whatsoever regarding the 2004 Olympic Games have been made or even discussed, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas underlined yesterday.

Referring to the composition of the all-important organising committee, which has been the focus of widespread press speculation, Mr. Reppas said the government would make its decisions shortly, after it has reached conclusions as to the type of organisation, those who will lead it, as well as its financing policy.

He said he was unaware of any particular candidate to head the organising committee but that the government would make the "right choice". The committee, he said, would be representative.

He added that Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki had offered her "technical" services and would meet with the prime minister today.

In addition, Mr. Reppas said the government would have the final word on all issues regarding the 2004 Olympics as it had undertaken the responsibility of guaranteeing the holding of the Games.

He denied that the issue of new taxes to meet the cost of holding the Games had been raised and said it was not an issue.

Greece will respect the framework presented by the International Olympic Committee when it comes to signing the contract with the city, he said, adding that the final draft would have provisions favourable to Greek interests.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki says no to politics

Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the president of the Athens 2004 bid committee, said yesterday she did not want to head the organising committee for the 2004 Olympics, saying the committee should have a "collective leadership".

In an radio interview, Mrs. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said she would not refuse to offer assistance to such a committee. However, when asked if she would head a proposed Olympic Games undersecretariat, she said she had no desire to re-enter the political arena.

Mrs. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is a former member of parliament with New Democracy and a former municipal council member.

"Politics are over for me for good. I simply did my duty as a Greek citizen and offered what I could to my country. There are still Greeks who are ready to make a contribution without expecting something more in return," she said.

NBA stars in Athens

Two of the NBA's top players, the Seattle Supersonics' Sean Kemp and Kenny Anderson of the Portland Trail Blazers arrived in Greece on Monday for a promotional campaign by a multinational athletic footwear company.

Yesterday morning the two basketball stars showed a few of their techniques and style during a seminar at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro. Later, they gave a press conference at a central Athens hotel, with topics ranging from the NBA,the US national men's 'Dream Team' and the likelihood of playing for a European bascketball team.

Greek stocks slump in correction after Olympics euphoria

Greek equities eased after a sharp two-day advance on the Athens Stock Exchange that was fuelled by Athens becoming host city of the 2004 Olympic Games.Traders said the market needed a healthy correction before resuming its upward trend with the aim of re aching the historic 1,800 level in the new few weeks.

The general index closed 1.10 percent down at 1,669.93 points, after a net gain of 10 percent in the previous two sessions of the week.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 1.52 percent, Leasing dropped 2.93 percent, Insurance eased 1.18 percent, Investment was 1.57 percent off, Industrials fell 0.51 percent, Construction rose 0.68 percent, Holding was 0.18 percent higher and Miscellan eous ended 0.55 percent up.

Trading was heavy and turnover was 29.9 billion drachmas. Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 173 to 48 with another 18 issues unchanged.

Viochalco, Parnassos and Xylemporia scored the biggest percentage gains, while Bank of Athens, Sato, Vis and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses.

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation fell 140 drachmas to end at 6,900. National Bank of Greece ended at 35,800, Ergobank at 18,110, Alpha Credit at 20,250, Delta Dairy at 4,175, Titan Cement at 15,950 and Intracom at 13, 600.

WEATHER

Mostly fine weather will prevail throughout the country today apart from in central and northern Greece where there will be local cloud. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong, turning to gale force in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens will range between 20-29C, while in Thessaloniki from 18-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.522 Pound sterling 447.154 Cyprus pd 529.827 French franc 46.436 Swiss franc 190.117 German mark 156.106 Italian lira (100) 16.004 Yen (100) 236.493 Canadian dlr. 203.955 Australian dlr. 205.160 Irish Punt 420.965 Belgian franc 7.562 Finnish mark 52.151 Dutch guilder 138.617 Danish kr. 41.015 Swedish kr. 36.079 Norwegian kr. 37.865 Austrian sch. 22.186 Spanish peseta 1.851 Port. Escudo 1.540

(Y.B.)


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