Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-11
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 11/09/1997 (ANA)
- Greece, Georgia to sign cooperation pact
- Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Thessaloniki
- US official in Athens for talks
- 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
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece, Georgia to sign cooperation pact
Greece and Georgia will sign a friendship and cooperation agreement on
Monday when Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze begins an official three-
day visit to Greece, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Kostis
Shevardnadze will meet privately with Stephanopoulos on Monday morning and
later with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
He is also expected to meet with Parliament of President Apostolos
Kaklamanis and the leaders of political parties as well as Development
Minister Vasso Papandreou and Greek business figures interested in
investing in the region of the former Soviet republic.
Shevardnadze will receive the Onassis Foundation's prize for International
Understanding and Social Achievement during his visit to Athens and will
also fly to Thessaloniki to visit the neighbouring autonomous monastic
community of Mount Athos.
Shevardnadze's visit is an indication of the increasing closeness of Greek-
Georgian relations: Athens and Tbilisi signed a defence cooperation
protocol in July, during Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos's visit to
the Georgian capital, while Shevardnadze recently announced that Greek
would be officially taught in Georgian schools. Some 60,000 Black Sea
Greeks are estimated to reside in Georgia.
On the business level, Greece's telecoms organisation OTE clinched in May a
14 million dollar contract for the construction of a fibre optics cable
system in Georgia, while Greek telecoms firm Intracom recently announced it
had won the contract to introduce a card telephone system in the country.
Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Thessaloniki
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit the northern port city of
Thessaloniki later this month on the invitation of the Thessaloniki
Cultural Capital Organisation, an announcement said.
Vartholomeos will officially begin his visit on September 28 when he is
received at the city's main Aristotelous Square with full head of state
President Kostis Stephanopoulos and a government delegation, Thessaloniki
Metropolitan Panteleimon, and other dignitaries will be present at the
Vartholomeos will be accompanied by the patriarchs of Romania, Bulgaria and
Georgia. The Patriarch will officiate at a service at the city's Ayios
Dimitrios church and is scheduled to have meetings with Macedonia-Thrace
Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, Thessaloniki Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos
and other local and regional figures.
Also on the programme are visits to the the exhibitions "Treasures from
Mount Athos", "Alexander the Great in European art", and the Cultural
Capital's book exhibition.
On September 30, Vartholomeos will lead volunteers planting trees at the
Seih-Sou forest near the city, which was almost destroyed in a fire earlier
this summer and, at the same time, decalre open the international
conference on the environment of Mount Athos.
On the same day, he will receive an honorary doctorate from the Aristotelian
University of Thessaloniki.
The Patriarch's visit will end on October 2.
US official in Athens for talks
The new United States special coordinator on the Cyprus issue Thomas Miller
arrived in Athens today for talks with Greek officials.
Miller arrived from Ankara and is to continue on to Nicosia, the final stop
on his tour of the region, aimed at preparing the US initiative in dealing
with the Cyprus issue undertaken by US presidential emissary Richard
He is to meet this afternoon with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos
and later with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.
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
"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
"In such a development, Greece will act accordingly and not be standing by,
" Mr. Reppas said.
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
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
He also drew attention to the EU's oft-repeated position that resolving the
Cyprus issue would contribute to a speedy conclusion of accession
"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
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
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
"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 Spiliotopoulos 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
Mr. Spiliotopoulos criticised Mr. Simitis for what he called "lack of
courage" and a "willingness to give in", saying he has prompted Ankara's
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
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
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.
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
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