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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-25

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, 25/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Albania sign defence cooperation pacts
  • Athens sees virtue in continuing contacts with Ankara
  • Greece, US resolve to settle issues through int'l law
  • US reiterates view that Imia should be put to int'l arbitration
  • Athens says Balkan summit another chance for Greek-Turkish talks
  • Queues at borders as customs staff strike
  • AEK team sold
  • Black Sea countries working towards free trade zone
  • Commercial venture firm created
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, Albania sign defence cooperation pacts

Greece and Albania today signed three protocols of cooperation in the defence sector, providing for assistance from the Greek military in reorganising Albania's armed forces, supplies from the Greek defence industry and the training of Albanian army troops.

The protocols, which are a continuation of existing military agreements, were signed by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Albanian counterpart Sabit Brokaj, who is currently visiting Greece.

Brokaj said his country recognised the contribution of Greek troops towards the multinational effort to overcome the recent crisis in Albania.

The Greek minister referred to the historic bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, adding that he hoped the military cooperation would strengthen Albania's democratic course.

The details of the accords, to be discussed tomorrow by senior officers from both countries, provide for the legal status of Greek troops in Albania to reorganise specific units as well as to offer assistance in setting up the administration of security forces, the modernisation of airports and the construction of infrastructure projects for naval bases.

At today's meeting it was agreed to promote initiatives to secure peace and stability in the region, and to hold regular meetings on all levels so that agreements already signed would be carried out speedily.

Athens sees virtue in continuing contacts with Ankara

The Greek government sees a convergence of views with Ankara as "difficult to impossible" following Tuesday's talks in New York, but is in favour of continuing talks, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today, commenting on meetings between Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright this week.

The fact that Greek-Turkish relations were in difficulties after New York was Ankara's fault, Reppas said, adding that any potentially positive developments in future would depend on a change in Turkey's political stance. However, he said he did not rule out a change in Turkey's stance before the Balkan summit in Crete scheduled for early December.

Meanwhile, he stressed that Greece would not agree to refer all "pending" bilateral issues to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

"Turkey does not recognise (the court's) jurisdiction, nor has it expressed the will to do so," Reppas observed, adding that the government was in favour of holding bilateral meetings, such as at the upcoming NATO summit on 10 October, on confidence building measures.

"There is a desire for rapprochement and dialogue, but not at any cost," Reppas said, adding that statements yesterday by Pangalos referred to the impossibility of communicating with someone who wanted a commitment to make compromises in advance.

Pangalos said yesterday it was impossible to talk to "robbers, murderers and rapists".

"Mr. Pangalos was not talking about a specific country or politicians but about those who have placed themselves in a position of bad faith so that no communication is possible with them," said the spokesman.

"As for the specific words used by the Foreign Minister, the phrase 'the rape of Cyprus' has repeatedly been used," he added.

Meanwhile, with regard to Pangalos' references to a section of the "diplomatic and military establishment in Turkey that has come up with the idea of questioning Greece's borders in the Aegean", the spokesman said:

"The Greek government does not make distinctions between Turkish officials, but wants a reliable interlocutor to deal with issues raised by Greece and the European Union, so that Turkey can overcome its isolation and join the international community."

He referred to a past statement by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who he said had admitted that Turkish officials had made conflicting statements.

Greece, US resolve to settle issues through int'l law

There is acommon conviction by Athens and Washington that issues must be resolved peacefully with reference to international law and using international organisations and mechanisms anticipated for this purpose, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday after successive meetings with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US special presidential envoy on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke.

Ms Albright appeared reserved in statements she made after the meeting.

Replying to a question on what the outcome of the meeting was, she said: "We shall see how much we will be able to proceed today."

Referring to the meeting she had later with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, she added "I hope we will have a series of productive meetings."

After his meeting with Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Pangalos said:

"We discussed the Cyprus issue. Mr. Holbrooke informed me that he is approaching the issue and I spoke to him of the contacts I had (at the UN General Assembly). It was a very useful discussion for both of us."

On his part, Mr. Holbrooke said "I am very pleased over the very positive stance concerning cooperation in the Aegean, which the government of Mr. Simitis and Mr. Pangalos is showing. I believe that we are on the eve of important developments in Europe."

Mr. Holbrooke said Washington supports the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and desires a decrease in tension in the Aegean, which Mr. Pangalos discussed with Ms Albright.

"We are very pleased that President (Glafcos) Clerides and (Turkish Cypriot leader) Mr. (Rauf) Denktash are starting talks this week (tomorrow) on security issues. A development which Mr. Miller promoted during his trip to Nicosia. I have not scheduled a personal visit to Cyprus but I want to stress that the US is participating and will continue to participate actively in these issues," Mr. Holbrooke said.

Replying to a question on his views on how a solution to the Cyprus issue is being promoted, he said "there are all the elements for progress, but the will of all the leaders in the region is necessary and I do not think that hasty assessments are helpful. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I see the issue from its realistic aspect."

US reiterates view that Imia should be put to int'l arbitration

Washington yesterday reiterated its position that the Imia issue should be referred to the International Court at The Hague or another form of international arbitration, indirectly pointing to Ankara for the current "stale mate" in Greek-Turkish relations.

"As you know, our view is that it is appropriate for such a matter (Imia) to be referred to the International Court at The Hague or another international forum," US State Department spokesman James Rubin said after US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's successive meetings with Greek and Turkish foreign ministers Theodoros Pangalos and Ismail Cem yesterday.

Ms Albright expressed disappointment for the lack of progress in the separate meetings.

"The secretary regrets that there was no progress to end the stalemate between the two countries," Mr. Rubin said.

He added that discussions focused on bilateral relations rather than the Cyprus issue.

There was a limit to what Washington could do to help in the situation, he said, but both sides had to show statesmanship and decisiveness.

He also expressed the hope that during the rest of Ms Albright's stay in New York the next 10 days there would be some progress made.

Asked to comment on the content of the talks, he said: "We don't think it's necessary to go into details, it's not useful."

Commenting on a forthcoming meeting between Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers Costas Simitis and Mesut Yilmaz in Crete this November, he expressed hope that there would be a better development.

Athens says Balkan summit another chance for Greek-Turkish talks

A scheduled Balkan summit on Crete in early November may provide Greek- Turkish relations with another chance, Athens said yesterday, after an unproductive meeting between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers on Tuesday.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the meeting between Theodoros Pangalos and Ismail Cem brought "no result".

"I hope that the summit of Balkan nations in Crete, where there is a scheduled meeting between (Prime Minister Costas) Simitis and (his Turkish counterpart Mesut) Yilmaz will bring results," Mr. Reppas said.

Mr. Reppas said the failure of the Pangalos-Cem meeting to make any headway was entirely due to Turkey's stance, which, he said, "on the one hand laid out a general political position, and on the other, refused to take the step which would lead it to de al with the issue of (the Aegean islet) of Imia".

Queues at borders as customs staff strike

There were problems and delays in the movement of people and goods to and from Greece through its northern borders today, when customs personnel began a 48-hour strike.

There were long queues of trucks, cars and tourist coaches at customs posts in Western and Central Macedonia.

Some 50 trucks, 50 coaches and about 300 cars were queued up at the Promahonas border point.

A skeleton staff at the posts were only allowing through vehicles carrying diplomatic bags, medicines, livestock or fuel.

AEK team sold

Businessman Michalis Trohanas announced today that his SoE corporation has sold its 79% holdings in AEK Athens soccer club to the English National Investment Company (ENIC).

ENIC, partly owned by cigarette manufacturers Richmond, acquired AEK in a four billion dr. deal signed at dawn today giving SoE 2.7 billion for its majority share package and providing another 1.3 billion dr. for complete payoff of AEK's debts, which were taken over by ENIC under the sale contract.

AEK is the first Greek soccer club to be sold to foreign concerns.

Black Sea countries working towards free trade zone

A draft proposal calling for a new free trade zone on the Black Sea was approved by the economic committee of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which concluded its meeting in Athens yesterday. The plan will have to be approved by BSEC's plenary meeting in Moldava in December, before proceeding. The plenary session will also discuss a BSEC stock and trade exchange, telecommunications and transportation. During the meeting, Theodoros Kassimis, a deputy for the main opposition New Democracy, was elected president of the economic, trade, technical and environmental committee of BSEC's plenary session. BSEC members include Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

Commercial venture firm created

An international commercial venture to undertake large-scale business deals has been founded at the initiative of the Commercial Bank, the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Organisation for the Insurance of Export Credits (OAEP).

The bank's broader aim is to forge deeper business relations between the countries of the Balkans, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Black Sea region.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with scattered showers in the west and south. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the east. Possibility of drizzle in the evening in Athens where temperatures will range between 14-24C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 9-20C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.317 Pound sterling 451.043 Cyprus pd 531.315 French franc 46.628 Swiss franc 190.385 German mark 156.672 Italian lira (100) 16.056 Yen (100) 233.021 Canadian dlr. 200.999 Australian dlr. 201.525 Irish Punt 410.966 Belgian franc 7.590 Finnish mark 52.514 Dutch guilder 139.138 Danish kr. 41.158 Swedish kr. 36.787 Norwegian kr. 38.708 Austrian sch. 22.262 Spanish peseta 1.857 Port. Escudo 1.543

(M.P.)


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