Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/09/1997 (ANA)
- Greek-Albanian relations at best stage ever
- Alternate FM unsurprised at Yilmaz comments
- Miller reiterates US interest in Cyprus issue
- Delays at airports
- Georgian President to visit Greece
- Armenian official discusses bilateral, regional issues
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greek-Albanian relations at best stage ever
Greece today presented Albania with two billion drachmas as urgent economic
aid for the Albanian state, with Athens saying relations with Tirana were
developing "in a most favourable manner".
"This is an element which Greece considers definitive for its foreign
policy," Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said.
Pangalos handed the money to visiting Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo
after their one-hour meeting at midday.
Milo, who is on a three-day official visit to Greece, the first by an
Albanian foreign minister since civil unrest wracked the neighbouring
country earlier in the year, also met earlier with Prime Minister Costas
Simitis and President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Pangalos said the Greek
president had extended an invitation through Milo for his Albanian
counterpart to visit Greece in the first half of 1998.
He said that, apart from the two billion drachmas, expert committees from
both countries would be meeting soon to thrash out the details of 18
million drachmas worth of Greek loans promised to Albania to aid in the
implementation of public works projects in Albania.
Pangalos and Milo called their meeting "the most favourable development in
Greek-Albanian relations in recent times", with Pangalos adding that a
friendship and cooperation agreement between the two countries would be
ratified by the Greek Parliament by March next year - with the prospect of
a new pact on cooperation in the education and cultural sectors - and
announcing a series of measures and initiatives that would further
strengthen ties between the two Balkan neighbours.
Among these, Pangalos said, were plans for contacts between the public
order ministries of both countries to "maintain law on both sides of the
border", a planned visit by the chief of the Albanian armed forces to
discuss the reform and reorganisation of the Albanian military with his
Greek counterparts, as well as the establishment of three new customs
points on the border with Albania and the beginning of talks on territorial
borders and the delineation of the continental shelf.
Pangalos said their discussion, which was also attended by Alternate
Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos
Kranidiotis, also ranged over the issue of a European prospect for Albania,
the Balkan summit in Crete in early November and on problems in the
Milo said that bilateral relations were at "their best point ever",
thanking the Greek people and government for "standing by Albania in its
"This was a historic stance and something the Albanian people are not
likely to ever forget," Milo said.
Milo called on Albanians residing and working in Greece to abide by Greek
laws and "act honourably".
At the beginning of the year there was an estimated 400,000 Albanians in
Greece, although that figure may have increased following the violence and
mayhem in the neighbouring country when thousands lost their savings when
'pyramid' investment schemes collapsed.
Milo invited back Greek investors who had fled Albania in the wake of the
unrest, assuring them that "the situation is now under the control of the
Albanian government and the Albanian people are ready to welcome them and
"We will take all the necessary steps to protect your businesses," he
Milo said the spirit of cooperation noted in his talks in Athens was "a
passing phase" but a "strategic choice in the interests of both countries
and their peoples".
Pangalos told reporters that Athens, in cooperation with the European Union,
was examining ways to create a regime to the benefit of both Tirana and
Athens regarding the issuing of visas for Albanian nationals.
"The system of entry into Greece from third (non-EU) countries is governed
by the Schengen treaty," Pangalos said, adding the two options were being
studied: one, the granting of multi-entry visas for those with jobs or
making frequent visits to Greece; and the creation of the status of a
'border resident', who would be able to move freely in the border region on
the presentation of an identity card.
"We will do everything we can to make the Greek-Albanian border region a
zone of growth," Pangalos said.
Turning to relations with other Balkan neighbours, Pangalos revealed that
he had called on the governments of Albania and Federal Yugoslavia to meet
on the sidelines of the Balkan Summit in Crete in November.
"I hope the two governments will consider the proposal in a positive light,
" Pangalos added.
Milo said that Tirana was hoping to upgrade its relations with the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and had been "sending messages of
understanding and cooperation" to Skopje.
The substantial number of Albanians residing in FYROM, he said, will have
to find solutions to their problems in the framework of international law,
stressing the need for the respect of the large minority's rights to
education, cultural expression and local government.
"Without the understanding of the Albanian population of FYROM, FYROM will
be unable to have stable prospects," Milo warned, adding that he hoped
Skopje would be able to contribute to the efforts for stability and peace
in the Balkan region.
Turning to Albania's recovery from the rioting and looting of earlier this
year, Milo said the disarming of insurgents in the south was proceeding at
a satisfactory rate and said that a large proportion of the arms looted
from military camps would have been recovered by the state by the end of
Finally, Pangalos said a planned visit by Prime Minister Costas Simitis to
Tirana next month was in the context of bilateral relations and unconnected
with visits to other Balkan capitals in light of the Crete summit.
"FYROM," he added, "is among the countries which have responded positively
to the invitation to participate in the Balkan summit, but it is not yet
clear whether it will be represented at the presidential or prime
Alternate FM unsurprised at Yilmaz comments
Greece said today that statements by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz
threatening the annexation of the occupied north of Cyprus were "no
"(These statements) are an indication of the 'dead-end' policy that Turkey
is following in issues which concern us, particularly Cyprus," Alternate
Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters.
"The international community is awaiting the respect of international law.
I hope Turkey realises that only if it follows the rules of international
law will it find a response to its course towards Europe," he said.
According to an ANA dispatch from Istnabul yesterday, Yilmaz has warned
that Cyprus' division would become permanent if the process of the island's
accession to the European Union (EU) continues.
"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," Yilmaz said.
He said that Turkey seeks Greek friendship, adding that if Greek-Turkish
relations improve, armament expenditures will be reduced.
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".
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
He made the statement after a meeting with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos
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
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
"The Cyprus issue is one of high priority for President Clinton," Mr.
He clarified that he was not bringing any specific proposal for a
resolution to his tour of the region.
Delays at airports
There have been long delays of Olympic Airways flights at airports around
the country today as the airline's flight attendants are refusing to work
The flight attendants' union is to hold a general assembly meeting this
afternoon to decide on future action.
Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mandelis this morning refused
to receive a delegation of union representatives who wanted to express
their objections to an Interior Ministry bill, saying the issue did not
come under his jurisdiction.
The management of Olympic Airways today issued a statement stressing it
wuold exhaust all legal means at its disposal to ensure that all flights
were carried out.
It said the union had, without prior notice, reneged on arrangements it had
agreed to during the summer of 1996.
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
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
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.
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
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