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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-16

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, 16/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 golden fleece."

"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 Cyprus".

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 security issues".

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 faith.

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 problem."

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 missiles.

"That is a decision made by the Cypriot government which was taken for reasons of defence and security and which nobody can overturn," he stressed.

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 week.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.P.)


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