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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-26

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, 26/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • U2 fever takes over in Thessaloniki
  • Ministers comment on Greek-Turkish developments
  • Greek-Turkish relations still stalemated after New York contacts
  • Turkey to receive EU funds, but under certain conditions
  • Greece,Albania sign defence cooperation pacts
  • Pangalos sees prospects for cooperation with FYROM
  • Parliament President leaves for Australian tour today
  • Rare Byzantine artifacts on display in Moscow
  • Greek equities ease back in correction
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

U2 fever takes over in Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki's centre is jammed with traffic today as thousands of people converge on the city's foreshore for tonight's concert by the Irish rock group U2.

Dozens of buses have ferried in fans from all over the country and from northern border points, where ticket-holders crossed into the country on foot after a customs officials' strike closed the border to road traffic. Around 400 people have come from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 500 from Turkey and another 150 from Belgrade.

The customs strike also delayed the arrival of trucks containing scenery and equipment. However, everything is now in place for the concert, which will be opened by Greek singer Nikos Portokaloglou at 20.00.

The members of U2 are expected to take the stage at around 22.00, flying in about an hour beforehand from Crete where they have been holidaying.

The group's fee for tonight's performance, reportedly 650 million drachmas, is being subsidised by the Cultural Capital Organisation, the Culture Ministry, the General Secretariat for Youth and business sponsors, apart from ticket sales.

Immediately after the concert, the group will board a ship for Tel Aviv, where they are scheduled to hold their next performance.

Ministers comment on Greek-Turkish developments

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today warned the United States and Turkey that their stance was not helping towards progress in Greek-Turkish relations and reiterated that there was nothing to negotiate with regard to the Aegean.

"The Turkish leadership would do well to realise that if they continue in this way, the only thing they will achieve is to reveal that they are representatives of an anchronistic policy of destabilisation, using force and the threat of force," the minister told the press in Thessaloniki today.

With regard to the US' stance, Tsohatzopoulos expressed the hope that "those in charge today will find new approaches ... to events in the geopolitical region."

"Statements of a general nature via their representatives," he continued, "show that they prefer the easy way out, that is, to continue on the well- trodden path. However, there is no progress, no future in this, not even for them. They bear a responsibility, since they have assumed a political initiative to settle issues dividing neighbours, to work a bit more," he said.

Asked whether the spirit of Madrid was still alive, the minister replied:

"The spirit of Madrid is a statement of good intentions...(however)... Turkey's recent behaviour has anything but confirmed that spirit."

Speaking in Kozani today on the same issue, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the continental shelf was the only thing Greece recognised as a "pending territorial issue" with Turkey, an issue which Greece insisted should be decided by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"By insisting on its views, Turkey is continuing to isolate itself. (These views) do not set it on a course to the European Union," he said, adding the hope that Turkey would understand the international community's views and what its real interests were, which would also be in the interest of peace and cooperation between the peoples of the region.

Meanwhile, Papandreou said the Turkish Foreign Ministry's characterisation of Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos as "rude and psychopathic" was absurd and inacceptable.

"These characterisations essentially indicate the stalemate Turkey's stance has brought it to with regard to relations with Greece and the Cyprus issue, " said Papandreou.

Finally, he said that regarding next month's Balkan summit in Crete "we always hope, and we try to use every opportunity to resolve our problems, of course within the framework of international law and the defence of our national interests".

Greek-Turkish relations still stalemated after New York contacts

Athens 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 yesterday, commenting on meetings between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The fact that Greek-Turkish relations were in difficulties after New York was Ankara's fault, Mr. 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 "outstanding" 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," Mr. Reppas observed, adding that the government was in favour of holding bilateral meetings, such as at the upcoming NATO summit on Oct. 10, on confidence-building measures.

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

Mr. Pangalos said on Wednesday 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," the spokesman said.

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

Turkey to receive EU funds, but under certain conditions

The Europarliament yesterday set four terms for Turkey before approving Ecu35 million in funding.

Following a proposal by Greek Eurodeputy Katerina Daskalaki (New Democracy), the Europarliament's Foreign Affairs Committee froze a "special support" fund of Ecu3.5 billion and the "funding agreement" funds of Ecu35 million.

Following this approval, the parliament committee passed by a narrow margin (19 yes, 16 no) an amendment to this by Greek Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos (KKE) setting terms for releasing the funds to Turkey.

The terms are as follows: Respect for international law and human rights, recognition of the rights of the Kurds, contribution towards solving the Cyprus issue on the basis of United Nations resolutions and respect for the external borders of the Europe an Union and its member-states.

Greece,Albania sign defence cooperation pacts

Greece and Albania yesterday 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 .

Mr. 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 today 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 yesterday'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.

Pangalos sees prospects for cooperation with FYROM

Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos met late on Wednesday in New York with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Blagoje Handzinski.

Mr. Pangalos said after the meeting that they had discussed bilateral relations and FYROM's participation in the Balkan summit to be held on Crete in early November.

There are many prospects for bilateral relations, he said, noting the dramatic increase in trade and investments between the two countries.

"We have serious prospects for developing our relations," he said.

Replying to press questions, Mr. Pangalos said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's "disappointment" at the lack of progress in Greek- Turkish relations was due to Turkey's stance.

"In these contacts, the problem was the fact that Turkey insisted on its position and subsequently with this position, any progress is impossible," he said.

Parliament President leaves for Australian tour today

Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis leaves on an official seven-day visit to Australia today at the invitation of the Australian legislative assemblies.

This is the first official visit by a Greek parliament speaker to Australia. Mr. Kaklamanis will visit Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne for talks with federal and state leaders and representatives of the Greek- Australian community.

Australian Ambassador in Athens Dr. Robert Merrillees issued a statement emphasising the two countries' common interests, which now included staging the Olympic Games - Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004.

Rare Byzantine artifacts on display in Moscow

Rare objects and art work showing mediaeval Russia's cultural exchanges with the 1,000-year Byzantine Empire will go on display at the Church of Annunciation in the Kremlin.

The exhibition is part of Moscow's celebrations for its 850th anniversary. Artifacts are dated between the 11th and 17th centuries, and reflect the gifts brought into the Principality of Moscovy in exchange for protection of churches, monasteries and cities. They include pieces dated from Constantinople, Mount Sinai, Patmos and Mount Athos.

The exhibition was an initiative by the Greek embassy in Moscow and the culture ministry.

Greek equities ease back in correction

Greek equities eased back slightly during the last trading session of the week on the Athens Stock Exchange in what traders described as a normal correction after Thursday's new all-time record.

The general index closed 0.34 percent down at 1,734.12 points to show a 3, 19 percent gain in the week.

Trading was extremely heavy and turnover was a record 85.7 billion drachmas, reflecting a transaction of a large block of shares in AGET-Heracles worth 62 billion.

Sector indices ended mixed. Banks fell 1.0 percent, Leasing was 1.05 percent off, Insurance gained 1.60 percent, Investment fell 0.03 percent, Industrials increased 0.20 percent, Construction eased 1.57 percent, Holding fell 0.02 percent and Miscellaneous ended 1.28 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies was unchanged.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 149 to 82 with another 22 issues unchanged.

Hellenic Bottling, Vasilopoulos, Metrolife and Kambas scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily upper limit, while Sarandopoulos Mills, Chalyps Cement, Benroubi and Heliofin suffered athe heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 34,300 drachmas, Ergobank at 18,600, Alpha Credit at 20,175, Delta Dairy at 3,805, Titan Cement at 16,650, Intracom at 14,700 and Hellenic Telecommunications Oranisation at 6,850.

In the domestic foreign exchange market the US dollar fell by 0.95 percent against the drach, while the DMark gained ground.

The Athens Stock Exchange lived historic moments during the week with the general index hitting new all-time highs on Thursday reflecting the market's euphoria over economic prospects and favourable corporate results.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with scattered showers in the east and south. Winds northerly, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens will range between 15-22C, while in Thessaloniki from 12-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.147 Pound sterling 449.872 Cyprus pd 531.355 French franc 46.610 Swiss franc 190.161 German mark 156.627 Italian lira (100) 16.047 Yen (100) 230.075 Canadian dlr. 200.424 Australian dlr. 201.624 Irish Punt 408.605 Belgian franc 7.589 Finnish mark 52.548 Dutch guilder 139.083 Danish kr. 41.138 Swedish kr. 36.821 Norwegian kr. 38.815 Austrian sch. 22.251 Spanish peseta 1.857 Port. Escudo 1.540

(M.P.)


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