Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/09/1997 (ANA)
- Shevardnadze, Runciman receive Onassis Foundation awards
- Greece, Georgia sign more cooperation pacts
- Athens welcomes Albright-brokered Cyprus talks
- US-Greece-Turkey meeting not ruled out for next week
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Shevardnadze, Runciman receive Onassis Foundation awards
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Britain's Byzantine scholar Sir
Steven Runciman were today among the laureates awarded the prestigious
biennial Onassis International Prizes in a glittering ceremony.
Shevardnadze was presented with the Onassis prize for "International
Understanding and Social Achievement", while Sir Steven shared the Onassis
prize for "Culture (Arts and Humanities)" with Aikaterini (Dolly)
Goulandris, founder of the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art.
The Foundation's prize for "The Environment" went to the International
Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Shevardnadze was awarded for having "personally and decisively contributed,
through his actions, to shaping a significant chapter of modern world
history" both as foreign minister of the former Soviet Union and as
president of the Republic of Georgia.
"The Foundation is honouring today a great statesman of the 20th century,"
said Stelio Papadimitriou, president of the Onassis Foundation, at the
awards ceremony attended by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
President Costis Stephanopoulos presented the awards, which were accompanied
by a 250,000 dollar cash prize each.
The first, second and third prizes of the Onassis International Cultural
Competitions for Theatrical Plays, introduced by the Foundation three years
ago, went to Manjula Padmanabhan of India for her play "Harvest", Dr. Anton
Juan of the Philippines for his play "Tuko! Tuko! or Princess of the Lizard
Moon", and Nagle Jackson of the United states for his play "The Elevation
of the Thieves", which were accompanied by cash prizes of 250,000 dollars,
200,000 dollars and 150,000 dollars respectively.
Papadimitriou praised Runciman as "a worshipper of Greek culture and
tireless student of the medieval world in Europe", who "first recognised
and propagated the cultural and humanitarian message of Byzantium, deeply
rooted in Orthodoxy and the tradition of Hellenism".
Dolly Goulandris was awarded "in recognition of her valuable contribution
to the support, development and dissemination of the museum idea", and for
her "more than 30 years of intensive effort to the collection of works from
the ancient Hellenic, and in particular the Cycladic, civilisation...thus
saving significant examples of Hellenic art by either preventing their
departure or arranging for their repatriation", Papadimitriou said.
IMO, the 155-country UN agency responsible for maritime safety and
protection of the marine environment, was awarded for, since its founding
in 1948, "at a steadily growing rate and in an increasingly efficient
manner, introducing measures which control the destructive effects of man's
activity on the sea from certain tanker operations and oil pollution".
IMO was represented at the ceremony by Willian O'Neil of Canada, Secretary
General of the organisation since 1990.
The Liechtenstein-based Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation was
set up in 1975 under the handwritten will of Greek shipping tycoon
Aristotle Onassis -- in which he bequeathed half his estate for this
purpose -- in memory of his son, Alexander, who was killed in a plane crash
at the age of 25.
Shevardnadze, in accepting the Onassis Foundation prize for International
Understanding and Social Achievement this morning, referred to Georgia's
historic links with Greece but also the need for humanity to rediscover the
art of dialogue, part of the heritage of the ancient Greeks.
Using the myth of the Golden Fleece as a metaphor, Shevardnadze said:
"Now, after the end of the cold war, humanity should once again cultivate
the art and culture of dialogue, in an effort to rise above reactionary
views regarding relationships between states and between people as being
relationships of power and submission..."
"This is an allegory of Georgia itself, the story of a country in which, in
every age, attempts were made to sieze its wealth, its peace, its very land,
its language, religion, its national sovereignty. All that constitutes our
"As far as our common myth of the golden fleece is concerned, we have no
quarrel with the Greeks. Although the ancient writers never said what
happened to the fleece and those who took it, you Greeks used it well. You
returned it to us and the world in the works of Homer, Aeschylus,
Sophocles... even the work of the Onassis Foundation, " he concluded,
expressing gratitude for the work done by the foundation in Georgia,
including financial support for the State University of Tbilisi.
Greece, Georgia sign more cooperation pacts
Greece and Georgia today signed four cooperation pacts during a meeting
between Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis and visiting Georgian
Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili.
Signed were a cooperation protocol in the area of State archives, a
cooperation accord on the development and protection of the environment,
and cooperation accords in the sectors of statistics and athletics.
Kranidiotis said after the hour-long meeting that he had Menagarishvili had
agreed on strengthening contacts between the two Ministries and coordination
of their activities in as many issues as possible.
He said that apart from their excellent bilateral relations, the two
countries were collaborating in the context of numerous international
organisations, particularly the BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation
grouping), which will hold its ministerial conference next month.
Kranidiotis said Georgia warmly supported Greece's positions on the Cyprus
issue and on Greek-Turkish relations, while Greece backed the territorial
integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. He also thanked the Georgian minister
for his country's support of Greece's candidacy for non-permanent member of
the UN Security Council for the 1999-2000 term.
Menagarishvili, who is accompanying Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze
on an official visit to Greece, thanked the Greek government for its
support on Georgian territorial integrity matters, adding that "the
existence of stability in the Caucasus region is of great interest" to
Greece and "this desire totally agrees with our desire".
Questioned on the Abkhazia problem and Russia's role, Menagarishvili said
that Russia was one of the main mediators for a peaceful settlement of the
problem and expressed his conviction that it was in a position to play a
positive role. He expressed satisfaction over the intensive efforts being
made by Russia in recent months, adding however that "the international
community, too, must play the largest role possible towards a settlement of
the Abkhazia problem".
He said that the recent commencement of direct dialogue between the Abkhaz
and Georgian sides created hope that positive steps could be taken towards
a peaceful settlement of the problem.
Greece and Georgia yesterday signed a friendship and cooperation agreement
during talks here between visiting Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze
and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Shevardnadze said the pact signalled the beginning of a "new era in
relations between the two countries and their peoples."
Athens welcomes Albright-brokered Cyprus talks
Greece today welcomed as a "positive development" the announcement by U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Cyprus President Glafcos
Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would meet soon to
discuss security issues concerning the divided island republic.
"The agreement reached on Cyprus following U.S. mediation for direct talks
between President Clerides and Mr. Denktash on security matters is a
positive development," said Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis.
Kranidiotis reiterated that the demilitarisation of Cyprus "is a fundamental
aim of our country", and expressed hope that the discussions on disarmament
"will be a first step in that direction".
He said that during his recent meeting with State Department coordinator on
the Cyprus issue Thomas Miller he had stressed that the "substance of the
problem is the withdrzawal of the Turkish (occupation) troops from
Kranidiotis expressed hope that the Turkish side would display the
"necessary desire" so that "we may truly proceed towards demilitarisation"
and that "peace and security will prevail on the island".
He further noted the importance of a statement adopted by the EU Council of
Ministers on general affairs, which he said in essence reaffirmed the
commencement of EU accession talks for Cyprus, without terms and conditions,
six months after the signing of the Amsterdam accord.
Congratulating both leaders for "their wisdom and foresight", Ms. Albright
described the development as "a substantial step", that would help "reduce
tensions and improve the overall atmosphere for serious negotiations to
tackle the core issues of the Cyprus problem".
Ms. Albright, on a quick stop-over from Lebanon, returning to Washington,
said both President Clerides and Mr. Denktash have informed State
Department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller and US Ambassador
to Cyprus Kenneth Brill of "their willingness to meet soon to discuss
The date of the Clerides-Denktash meeting has not been set yet.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the development was
"positive", adding the hope that the Turkish Cypriot side would agree to
take part in the dialogue.
Such a political decision, Reppas said, would send a message of good
Reppas said that Cypriot president Clerides hoped to forge a rapprochement
on issue of security through the meeting and that a similar expression of
goodwill was hoped for from the other side.
Responding to press questions, he said Athens hoped for the speediest
demilitarisation of the island republic and that Greece accepted anything
that could improve on the current situation.
"All these decisions," he added, "must be based on UN resolutions and
towards the effort to reach a just and viable resolution of the Cyprus
Greece's central stance is that troops should leave the island and that the
island should be demilitarised, Reppas said in response to a question on
the possibility of a NATO force being established on the island.
"At this point in time, we are not dealing with any other issue nor do we
have any other proposal," he said.
The beginning of a dialogue between Clerides and Denktash, he added, was
not linked to Nicosia's decision to purchase Russian-manufactured S-300
"That is a decision made by the Cypriot government which was taken for
reasons of defence and security and which nobody can overturn," he
US-Greece-Turkey meeting not ruled out for next week
Athens today refused to be drawn on whether Foreign Minister Theodoros
Pangalos would meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in New York next
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the proposal had been brought up
verbally by US State Department coordinator Cyprus Thomas Miller, who
visited Athens, Nicosia and Ankara last week.
"No written proposal has been outlined," Reppas said, adding that if the
meeting, to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, were to be
held with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, no preparations have
yet been made.
Reppas's comments came in the wake of statements from Washington last night,
when US State Department spokesman James Foley said he "could not rule out"
such a meeting.
Albright "had a very constructive meeting with her counterparts of Turkey
and Greece in Madrid. If the leaders are willing to return to the Madrid
spirit, then such a meeting could be constructive," Foley said.
Greece and Turkey signed a communique providing a broad blueprint for
bilateral relations at the NATO Madrid summit earlier this summit.
Reppas said that Turkish politicians had recently outlined positions that
were contrary to the spirit of the Madrid communique, resulting in the
cancellation of a meeting of expert committees from both countries working
on ways towards rapprochement.
"Greece will do its utmost to defuse (tension) in Greek-Turkish relations
in a way that is in accordance with international law and international
treaties. We will not be passive, we will be protagonists for there to be
progress in all issues," Reppas said.
Almost fine weather is forecast for today, except for the Ionian and
mainland Greece where it will be cloudy with the possibility of scattered
showers. Winds variable, light to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean
Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures from 17-29C. Possibility of
rain in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 16-25C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.252
Pound sterling 443.067 Cyprus pd 530.958
French franc 46.614 Swiss franc 189.616
German mark 156.726 Italian lira (100) 16.055
Yen (100) 229.529 Canadian dlr. 198.499
Australian dlr. 199.194 Irish Punt 417.830
Belgian franc 7.593 Finnish mark 52.524
Dutch guilder 139.178 Danish kr. 41.158
Swedish kr. 36.301 Norwegian kr. 38.033
Austrian sch. 22.264 Spanish peseta 1.856
Port. Escudo 1.542