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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-09-12

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, 12/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Miller reiterates US interest in Cyprus issue
  • Holbrooke: Cyprus and the EU
  • State Department: Greek-Turkish meeting
  • Annan rules out new round of talks
  • Yilmas reiterates threat over Cyprus' EU prospects
  • Visiting Albanian FM begins official contacts today
  • Albanian Socialist Party Secretary
  • Georgian President to visit Greece
  • Armenian official discusses bilateral, regional issues
  • Simitis briefed on 2004 Olympics
  • Government plans for Olympics
  • Greek stocks sink in overbought market
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Miller reiterates US interest in Cyprus issue

The United States has decided to work hard towards resolving the Cyprus problem, according to an announcement yesterday evening in Athens by the US State Department's special coordinator on the Cyprus issue, Thomas Miller.

He made the statement after a meeting with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Mr. Miller, who is in Athens as part of his visit to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, said he will work in close cooperation with US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke.

The US official noted that his country was still in the early stage of the effort to find a solution to the problem, which he described as a complex and serious, and one that has no relation with Bosnia.

Replying to a question as to why the US allowed a build-up of tension over the purchase by Cyprus of the Russian-made S-300 missile systems, escpecially since it was known that installation of the missiles was not to take place in the near future, Mr. Miller said the US had expressed concern over the issue from the beginning.

He added, however, that it was important that interested parties focus their attention on the core of the Cyprus problem.

Speaking on the same issue, Mr Kranidiotis reiterated that the Cyprus Republic has the self-evident right to defend its territory, and underlined that Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides had long ago submitted a proposal to demilitarise the island.

The foreign undersecretary said he told Mr. Miller of the need to exert appropriate pressure on Turkey to comply with international legality towards a solution of the protracted Cyprus problem, and expressed his disappointment over the stance adopted by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash at the recent direct Cyprus talks in Montreux.

Mr. Miller arrived from Ankara and is to continue on to Nicosia, the final stop on his tour of the region.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said after his meeting with Mr. Miller that there had been "an exchange of useful opinions" on the prospects for a resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said he hoped that the joint effort by Mr. Miller and Mr. Holbrooke would be met positively by all sides, so that in the time it takes Cyprus to accede to the European Union, a positive solution could be found.

"The Cyprus issue is one of high priority for President Clinton," Mr. Miller reiterated.

He clarified that he was not bringing any specific proposal for a resolution to his tour of the region.

Holbrooke: Cyprus and the EU

Meanwhile, according to an ANA dispatch from New York, Mr. Holbrooke said that the US was a strong believer in Cyprus joining the European Union.

He added, however, that the US position "is very clear".

"We think a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation should join the EU," Mr. Holbrooke said after meeting with the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos, who is currently visiting Washington.

Mr. Holbrooke noting that this is a subject he has discussed at length with EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek.

"Turkey should also be a member although that is down the road at a future date," he said.

The US position on Cyprus' accession to the EU would be discussed at length with European officials when Mr. Miller visits Brussels next week.

Mr. Holbrooke said Mr. Miller's mission was of an "exploratory character" and that he would be visiting himself "later in the year".

Asked whether the deployment of the S-300 missiles, purchased by the Cyprus government, would create a danger, Mr. Holbrooke appeared to downplay the issue.

The missiles, he said, "are a long way off. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it".

State Department: Greek-Turkish meeting

A possible meeting between the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey in November at the Balkan summit meeting on Crete is a very positive development, the US said yesterday.

According to an ANA dispatch, such a development would "contribute to the promotion of dialogue between the two sides and could contribute to negotiated solutions, US State Department spokesman Jim Foley said.

"Each time the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey meet, the US is deeply satisfied and encourages both sides," he added.

Referring to Mr. Miller's visit to the region, Mr. Foley said the US State Department official had called on Turkish officials he had met with to "lower the tones" because it did not aid in creating a constructive climate.

Mr. Foley pointed out that the issue of "rising tone of rhetoric in the region which the US think is very counter-productive" was brought up in discussions.

"As he will do in his visits also to Athens and Nicosia, he urged a general toning down of the rhetoric and expressed the US government's support for continued efforts to achieve peaceful solutions", Mr. Foley said.

Annan rules out new round of talks

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday ruled out new rounds of talks on Cyprus taking place this year under UN auspices, due to the holding of presidential elections on the island republic in February.

"I do not think that we can anticipate new talks this year due to the elections which have been scheduled in Cyprus," Mr. Annan told a press conference in New York.

"I believe it will be more realistic and rational for them to take place after the elections because I think that these elections are already casting a shadow on the talks," he added.

Mr. Annan expressed his regret over the failure of talks held in Switzerland last month. However, after disclosing that Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides had proposed a return to the negotiating table, he said that "he had hoped that the Turkish side would be ready to make the same gesture."

Yilmaz reiterates threat over Cyprus' EU prospects

Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz has warned that Cyprus' division would become permanent if the process of the island's accession to the European Union (EU) continues, according to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul.

"If the Greek side, hiding behind the EU and inviting Russia to Cyprus, forces us towards a solution in accordance with its own views, the present situation in Cyprus will become permanent," Mr. Yilmaz said.

He said that Turkey seeks Greek friendship, adding that if Greek-Turkish relations improve, armament expenditures will be reduced.

Mr. Yilmaz was quoted by the Turkish Anadolu news agency as saying that the Cyprus issue could be solved if Greece abandons what he claimed were "demands on the Aegean".

Meanwhile, an ANA dispatch from Brussels quoted German Eurodeputy Werner Konrad (a Christian Democrat) as saying that "parallel negotiations" should be held between "two legally recognised Cypriot governments".

In statements he made in Stockholm, Mr. Konrad claimed that "the EU ought to know that the accession of Cyprus to its group, without a previous political settlement on its political problem, practically means the division of the island". It would be "more honest", he said, "if the northern section's status is cleared up before accession talks begin" for the island, to allow Turkish Cypriots to decide for their future freely and independently, not "as representatives of Turkey".

Visiting Albanian FM begins official contacts today

Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo arrived in Greece yesterday for a three-day official visit.

He is scheduled to meet with the president of the republic, the premier, the foreign ministry's leadership and political party leaders.

Yesterday, he was received by the leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), Dimitris Tsovolas.

"Relations between our two countries need to be closer and more sincere for the good of the peoples of Greece and Albania," Mr. Tsovolas said after the meeting at Parliament.

Mr. Milo said Greece's policy towards Albania had "proven itself to be a policy of safe support for Albania, a fact that is further indicated by the relations developing between the two peoples which will tolerate the passing of time and create a new im age, not only for our two countries but for the Balkans."

Albanian Socialist Party Secretary

Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said yesterday Greece's presence in Albania helped considerably during that country's recent political turmoil.

He spoke after holding talks here with Albanian Socialist Party Secretary Panteli Maiko.

According to Mr. Skandalidis, Mr. Maiko praised the success of the recent visit paid by a government delegation to Albania.

Mr. Maiko, who is responding to a previous visit paid by Mr. Skandalidis to Albania, said the preconditions exist at present for the realisation of what the two peoples want. He also stressed the hospitality offered to Albanians workers living in Greece.

Georgian President to visit Greece

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 Stephanopoulos.

Mr. Shevardnadze will meet privately with Mr. Stephanopoulos on Monday morning, and later with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

He is also expected to meet with President of Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis and the leaders of political parties, as well as Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Greek business figures interested in investing in his country.

Mr. Shevardnadze will also receive the Onassis Foundation's prize for International Understanding and Social Achievement during his visit to Athens and will also fly to Thessaloniki, before travelling to the autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos.

Mr. 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' visit to the Georgian capital, while Mr. Shevardnadze recently announced that the Greek language would be officially taught in Georgian public schools. Some 60,000 Black Sea area ethnic Greeks are estimated to reside in Georgia.

On the trade and economic level, the Greek telecoms utility OTE clinched in May a US$14 million contract for the construction of a fibre optics cable network in Georgia, while the largest private Greek telecoms firm Intracom recently announced it had wo n the contract to introduce a card telephone system in the country.

Armenian official discusses bilateral, regional issues

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis held talks yesterday with Armenian First Foreign Undersecretary Vartan Oskanian on issues concerning bilateral relations between the two countries, both at political and economic level.

According to a relevant announcement, progress in the framework of Black Sea cooperation was discussed, prospects for tripartite cooperation between Iran, Armenia and Greece, issues concerning Armenia's relations with the European Union, as well as deve lopments in the Caucasus region, with emphasis on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mr. Kranidiotis briefed Mr. Oskanian on Greek foreign policy issues, the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations and developments in the Balkans.

Simitis briefed on 2004 Olympics

Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday to discuss Athens' successful bid to host the Olympic Games of 2004.

Coming out of the meeting, Mr. Fouras declined to give any details, except to convey Mr. Simitis' pleasure that the Athens bid had met with success. According to reports, Mr. Simitis asked the sports undersecretary during their meeting to begin contacts with possible candidates for the Olympics organising committee. Mr. Fouras later met with a representative of the national economy ministry and the prime minister's legal counsel.

Government plans for Olympics

The agreement that will be signed between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Athens will include an element of choice by the government, spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

Responding to questions following the publication yesterday of the Olympic founding charter and its terms, Mr. Reppas said that the text was a framework within which one could make adjustments to specific points, providing the opportunity to better serve Greek interests.

The text of the agreement may possibly be introduced to Parliament for discussion and voting, after passing through parliamentary committees.

He said that the government had made no decision yet on any issue related to the organisational committee for the 2004 Games.

Greek stocks sink in overbought market

Greek equities remained under strong pressure for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday to lose further ground.

The market was overbought after a sharp advance in prices during the first two sessions of the week and investors needed a breather, traders said.

The general index closed 1.73 percent lower at 1,641.04 points, with most sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 2.17 percent, Construction dropped 2.58 percent, Leasing eased 1.68 percent, Insurance ended 0.56 percent off, Investment ended 1.49 perce nt down, Industrials fell 1.73 percent, Miscellaneous eased 0.58 percent but Holding bucked the trend to end 0.15 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies dropped 2.10 percent.

Trading remained heavy and turnover was 20.2 billion drachmas. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 184 to 42 with another 15 issues unchanged.

WEATHER

Mostly fine weather will prevail throughout Greece today except in the eastern regions of the country where there will be local clouds. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens will range between 19-29C, while in Thessaloniki from 17-27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.250 Pound sterling 445.706 Cyprus pd 528.141 French franc 46.463 Swiss franc 189.670 German mark 156.200 Italian lira (100) 16.004 Yen (100) 235.650 Canadian dlr. 201.932 Australian dlr. 202.428 Irish Punt 421.283 Belgian franc 7.566 Finnish mark 52.175 Dutch guilder 138.687 Danish kr. 41.027 Swedish kr. 35.900 Norwegian kr. 37.871 Austrian sch. 22.201 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.540

(Y.B.)


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