Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-15
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
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
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
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,
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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