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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-15

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 15/09/1997 (ANA)


  • Shevardnadze begins Greek visit
  • New era in Greek-Georgian relations
  • Three illegal immigrants killed in minefield
  • Police round up 97 illegal immigrants
  • Gov't comments on Albright's Cyprus visit
  • ND leader accuses gov't of not daring to go ahead with reforms
  • Kranidiotis: Turkey creates artificial issue around S-300 missiles
  • Olive oil fights osteoporosis
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Shevardnadze begins Greek visit

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze begins a three-day official visit to Greece this morning with a meeting with Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos at 11.30, to be followed at 13.00 by talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Later this afternoon, the Georgian President is to meet with political party leaders, followed by a visit to Parliament where he will be received by Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis.

This evening he is to meet with representatives of ethnic Greeks repatriated from Georgia and then with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou.

Shevardnadze's first day in Greece ends with an official dinner this evening.

During his stay in Greece, the Georgian President will be awarded the Onassis Foundation's prize for International Understanding and Social Achievement. The awards ceremony is to take place Tuesday night at the Athens Concert Hall.

He is also to visit the monastic community of Mount Athos.

Shevardnadze met this morning with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and invited his Greek counterpart to visit Tbilisi.

The meeting was a chance, according to reports, "to confirm the traditionally close ties of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Georgia".

The Georgian president's visit, Stephanopoulos said, "is the opportunity for the greater expansion of ties in the economic and cultural fields".

He said the discussion - also attended by Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas - focused on bilateral relations and "found ways to strengthen them".

Shevardnadze said his Athens visit afforded him the opportunity to "establish new principles for effective cooperation in the future".

The two presidents discussed stabilty and security issues in the wider region, given the leading role played by Georgia in the Caucasus.

Shevardnadze said that he "was aware of the Cyprus problem", and that in his meeting with Stephanopoulos "attention was focused on how existing problems can be resolved peacefully".

"We agreed on more systematic contacts," he said, adding that he believed that Greece and Georgia could play a significant role in the peaceful settlement of problems in the region.

Shevardnadze is accompanied by a ministerial delation and businessmen, as well as representatives of the 80,000-strong ethnic Greek community in Georgia, which he called the "flesh and blood of the country".

Stephanopoulos applauded Shevardnadze's role in ending the Cold War as well as in the stabilisation of Georgia and the wider region, thanking him for declaring Greek an official language to be taught in Georgian schools.

New era in Greek-Georgian relations

Signing a friendship and cooperation agreement with Prime Minister Costas Simitis later, Shevardnadze said the pact signalled the beginning of a "new era in relations between the two countries and their peoples".

Simitis said after the meeting that Shevardnadze's visit to Greece was an indication that Greek foreign policy had yet another "pole", that of the Black Sea and the Caucasus.

He said that over the past five years relations between Greece and Georgia had become steadily stronger, noting the centuries-old links between the two peoples, such as the Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos and the sizeable ethnic Greek community in Georgia.

Stressing the activity of Greek business in telecommunications, banking and construction in Georgia, Simitis said that Greece aimed at expanding bilateral ties and trade.

He said he had briefed Shevardnadze on Balkan issues, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem and that there had been agreement on the need for relations between neighbouring countries to be governed by international law, international treaties be applied and the resolution of problems be guided by United Nations resolutions.

Noting Georgia's recent problems with the secessionist Abkhazia movement, Simitis stressed:

"In all these things, solutions should not be found through force but should be the result of understanding and communication and be pursued on the basis of international law."

Shevardnadze's receipt of the Onassis Foundation prize for international understanding, Simitis continued, is an indication of Greece's esteem for his peace efforts and his contribution to the efforts to "foster a climate of friendship and peace in Europe."

The Georgian president said the main focus of his talks with Simitis and Stephanopoulos were the efforts being undertaken by the two countries to secure peace amd stability in their regions and beyond.

"The essential principle is that of territorial integrity of states," he said.

He said his talks in Athens had focused on sectors which held promise for future cooperation between the two countries and spoke specifically of the telecommunications and transport sectors, as well possibilities of cooperation in ship-building, farming and banking.

Georgia has surpassed its economic problems, he noted, and has created "very favourable conditions to attract Greek investors which would undoubtedly help our country's economy".

Three illegal immigrants killed in minefield

Three illegal Iraqi immigrants were killed and 11 injured early today when they stepped into a marked minefield near the Evros river marking the Greek- Turkish border, police said.

Military bomb-disposal experts worked in the early morning hours to extricate the injured, six of them in a critical situation.

Police said the incident occurred at 02.30 local time when the immigrants, trying to cross into Greek territory stepped on the mine near the northern Greek region of Nea Vissa at Orestias.

Another 48 immigrants who were outside the minefield were arrested for illegal crossing. The injured were taken to Didimotichon hospital.

"It would have been a greater tragedy if the other immigrants entered the field which clearly marked with reinforced wire fences," a police spokesman said.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later expressed regrets at the deaths of the three and told reporters that the 11 injured were not in a critical condition.

"Illegal immigration is a great problem poisoning Greek-Turkish relations. The international community must concern itself and, in view of this terrible incident, the need for Turkey to assume its responsibilities has once again been highlighted," Reppas said.

Police round up 97 illegal immigrants

Meanwhile, another 97 Iraqi Kurds, all illegal immigrants, were arrested on the islands of Lesvos and Simi last night after crossing over from the Turkish coast.

The 54 arrested on Lesvos said they had stolen a wooden motorboat on the Turkish coast. The other 43 were arrested on different stretches of the coast of Simi as well as on nearby rocky islets.

Gov't comments on Albright's Cyprus visit

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas today expressed the certainty that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who made a brief stop in Cyprus today, would be briefed on the positions of all sides and that she would realise that all the Cypriot government's views on the issue were just.

Reppas noted that Albright had shown interest in the Cyprus problem even before assuming her current post, and had raised the idea of a military dialogue.

Meanwhile, with regard to statements by European Union Council of Ministers president, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jacques Poos on Cyprus' accession to the EU, Reppas recalled Poos' categorical declaration that accession procedures would begin as scheduled. The purchase of S-300 missiles from Russia would have no bearing on this process, he said, since the EU would come to a decision based on socio-economic criteria.

Commenting on reports that Russia would not be able to meet its commitments regarding the missiles, Reppas said Russia had given guarantees, and had confirmed its commitment in a telephone call yesterday between representatives of both governments.

Referring to Poos' statement regarding a crisis in Greek- Turkish relations, the government spokesman said that Greece would assume initiatives so that its proposal that member-states' borders be viewed as the borders of the EU itself, a proposal which had been accepted by the EU, would be respected.

ND leader accuses gov't of not daring to go ahead with reforms

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday night described the government's economic policy as "grim" saying it was heading towards a "dead end".

Speaking at a dinner given in his honour at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF), Mr. Karamanlis said that over the past four years "the people have been subjected to a merciless tax raid which has exhausted its limits and that of the people. "

Mr. Karamanlis criticised the government for not daring to go ahead with reforms that would limit what he called "wasteful" state expenditures.

Mr. Karamanlis said that industrial production indexes were "stagnant", unemployment was increasing and the agrarian economy was "faltering".

The New Democracy party leader called for drastic cuts in public sector spending, fewer and simpler taxes through the " adjustment" of the tax scales on assumed income based on life-style, strengthening of private and state investments through a "legal and stable framework" and incentives for investments in new sectors and a more flexible work market.

Mr. Karamanlis said what was of primary importance for his party was Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and criticised the government of not aiming at real convergence what, in other words, shortens the distance separating Greece from the European Union' s developed countries, but nominal convergence and even that, he said, without success.

Mr. Karamanlis said the main problem of the economy is the size, mission and functioning of the state, saying that "the state continues to control over 50 per cent of the country's overall economic activity, when it is confirmed worldwide that the state , as a producer, failed and indeed blatantly. Games to be held permanently in Greece.

Kranidiotis: Turkey creates artificial issue around S-300 missiles

Responding on Saturday to rumours that a crisis would be provoked in Cyprus so that negotiations will follow, and on the known statements concerning casus belli over the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said "we are ready to handle whatever issue arises."

In an interview with the newspaper "Exypno Chrima" , Mr. Kranidiotis said "I have the feeling that Turkey is creating an issue from nothing over the S-300s, because it has realised that it has been pushed into the corner, and indeed after the footdraggi ng tactic it followed in Montreux. Therefore, the fact that Turkey has been isolated has led it to creating an artificial issue around the S-300s and to disorientate the international community and international public opinion from the real problem."

Replying to a question on whether Greek aircraft will fly to Cyprus during the exercise codenamed Nikiforos, Mr. Kranidiotis said "the exercise has been scheduled to go ahead as normal. The Paphos airport will be inaugurated. These are included in the elementary effort for the defensive safeguarding of Cyprus."

Olive oil fights osteoporosis

The best natural defence against the onset of osteoporosis - a crippling bone disease that affects one in two Greek women over the age of 55 - is olive oil, experts from the University of Athens have claimed in a recent study. The study of 118 women and 32 men aged between 25 and 69, was presented on Greek television recently and claimed that the frequent consumption of virgin olive oil led to a decreased incidence of osteoporosis and to protection against heart disease and breast and ovarian cancer.

"The more olive oil these people consumed, the denser their bones were, the greater bone mass they had, which means that they had a lesser tendency towards osteoporosis and fractures," the head of the study, Athens University professor of nutrition and b iochemistry A. Trihopoulou said.

The study, which is the first to link osteoporosis with olive oil, has been called one of the most significant of the year by the respected publication, the British Medical Journal.

Experts say osteoporosis affects one in two Greek women over the age of 55 today and has increased markedly in recent years for reasons primarily linked to the dietary habits of a former era.


Almost fine weather is forecast for today, which will change abruptly towards the afternoon in the west, central and northern Greece to cloudy with possible rain or local storms. Light winds getting stronger in the evening. Athens will be sunny, turning cloudy in the afternoon with temperatures from 17-33C. Same in Thessaloniki with possible rain and temperatures from 16-28C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.365 Pound sterling 446.856 Cyprus pd 529.371 French franc 46.441 Swiss franc 188.738 German mark 156.136 Italian lira (100) 15.984 Yen (100) 230.303 Canadian dlr. 200.027 Australian dlr. 201.049 Irish Punt 418.505 Belgian franc 7.562 Finnish mark 52.080 Dutch guilder 138.627 Danish kr. 41.019 Swedish kr. 36.008 Norwegian kr. 37.934 Austrian sch. 22.188 Spanish peseta 1.851 Port. Escudo 1.538


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