Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/12/1997 (ANA)
- Ankara annexation of occupied Cyprus 'a terrible mistake'
- Greece wants Turkey playing by the rules and in the EU
- Simitis briefs parties
- President continues Ukraine visit
- Flight delays ahead in 24-hour strike
- Greece a springboard to Balkan investments
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Ankara annexation of occupied Cyprus a 'terrible mistake'
Greece told Turkey today that it would be a terrible mistake if Ankara
further "upgraded" its relations with the occupied northern part of
"This would bring Turkey into confrontation with the European Union,"
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to statements by
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Denktash said yesterday that the EU's decision to begin accession talks
with Cyprus spelled the end of UN-sponsored intercommunal talks on the
divided island republic.
Turkish premier Mesut Yilmaz warned earlier that Ankara would start taking
steps to integrate the northern part of Cyprus into Turkey if accession
talks between the EU and Nicosia began.
Reppas said that Turkey's relations with the occupied part of Cyprus were
already very advanced, both in the economic and military sectors and
stressed that Greece was ready to confront any further Turkish initiative
in this direction.
Commenting on statements by Denktash that the EU decision on Cyprus'
accession "discharged" him from the obligation to hold talks for the
settlement of the Cyprus problem, Reppas said this statement was illustrative
of the true intentions of Turkey "which was never ready to contribute to a
settlement of the Cyprus problem".
Greece wants Turkey playing by the rules and in the EU
Prime Minister Costas Simitis stated categorically today that Greece did
not want the exclusion of Turkey or any other country from cooperation with
the European Union.
Simitis was speaking after briefing opposition party leaders on the outcome
of the Luxembourg EU Summit over the weekend, in which Turkey failed to
make the list of candidates for entry due to its poor human rights record,
relations with Greece and its stance on the Cyprus issue, apart from
What Greece does want, and what was accepted by EU leaders in Luxembourg,
Simitis said, was that this cooperation should be based on "rules of the
game" which are accepted by all countries and pertain to "the terms,
arrangements, values, rule of law and in general all those principles which
consolidate peaceful cooperation".
The decisions of the EU, he added, in effect are asking Turkey and the
other countries to consolidate their cooperation with the EU "so that in
the future, problems are not created either with the EU or with member
The premier reiterated that Greece was not opposed to Turkey's European
vocation and on the contrary would support it if Ankara "played by the
Simitis said that Turkey would intensify its pressure throughout the long
process of negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the EU "in order to secure
favourable decisions for itself".
"Throughout this process what is needed is cool-headedness and cooperation
with the EU. We must stress that we want peace and cooperation in the
region and are opposed to the escalation of confrontation. If need be
however, we shall take all the necessary steps," he said.
Simitis called for unanimity in Greece, rather than exploitation of issues
for petty political purposes, and urged all political forces in the country
to back this policy.
Replying to questions concerning Turkish threats to escalate tension in the
Aegean, create a serious incident, or even annex the Turkish-occupied part
of Cyprus, Simitis said that if Ankara was to take such a step, it would be
"illegal, contrary to UN Resolutions and would harm its own prospects".
"Turkey would only be harming itself and would most likely make its
participation in the EU impossible," he said.
Any serious incident in the Aegean, he added, would be extremely negative
for Turkey and for this reason Ankara may choose to avoid it.
Simitis said however that it still remained a possibility which could not
be ruled out.
Asked about Turkey's position concerning a possible re-examination of its
relationship with the EU, Simitis said that the door to the EU was open for
Turkey, since its decisions made it possible for Ankara to participate in
the proposed European Conference for EU hopefuls, provided certain rules
were adhered to.
Simitis said there had been agreement with Karamanlis as well as the other
party leaders on a number of issues, such as that Greece should pursue a
policy of peace and maintain good relations with EU member states.
"There are different assessments as to tactics, but a common view was
ascertained regarding the handling of the issue with Turkey," he added.
Simitis briefs parties
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today began a series of meetings with
political party leaders to brief them on the outcome of the recent European
Union summit in Luxembourg.
The first to be briefed was main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader
Costas Karamanlis, who told newsmen later that such meetings were
"We had a positive development in Luxembourg, because our European partners
showed that they perceive and realise Turkey's bad faith and provocativeness
and, at least at this stage, they appeared determined to repel this
attitude," Karamanlis said.
"Greece should be vigilant and ready to defend our national rights and
interests," he said, adding that "this requires national understanding and
such an attitude on the part of the plitical parties and politicians that
will place the national issues above and beyond party disputes and
formulate a strategy that is cohesive, consistent, firm, serious and
Second in line was Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka
Papariga, who later said that "the interests of the hardcore of the EU
member states triumphed at the Luxembourg summit and not the principles of
"The Luxembourg decision was a tactical manoeuvre vis-a-vis Turkey because
the strong member-states want to better negotiate their economic and
commercial interests with Turkey in view of enlargement," she said.
Papariga expressed concern because, as she said, the European Union "does
not speak clearly and unreservedly about a single sovereignty of Cyprus in
the context of the accession process, and consequently we fear that this
procedure may be used to consolidate dual sovereignty".
She said the Luxembourg developments also had another side, as "they give
Turkey and the U.S. the opportunity to intensify their demands for an
overall settelement of the Aegean and Cyprus problems".
Papariga also said it was "one thing for Turkish Cypriots to participate in
the context of a single Cyprus delegation, and another thing to standardise
the participation of the Turkish Cypriots as a separate entity, and such a
danger is visible".
After his briefing by the Prime Minister, Coalition of the Left and
Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos put forward three suggestions for the
avoidance of friction in the Aegean and Cyprus, which he described as the
"sensitive and delicate points".
First of all, he said, it needed to be determined "which political
conditions would ensure that the European Union would consider as its own
issue a dispute of Greece's sovereign rights or threats aimed at Greece's
Second, the planning needed to be determined "with which the Greek
government would confront possible antagonistic and conflicting American
and NATO initiatives in the region, given that their focus differed".
Third, the procedure and tactics needed to be determined with which the
government would ensure the conditions so that "the present period of
mobility would not end without the formulation of positive political
results of de-escalation of the tension".
Constantopoulos said the EU summit decisions formulated a new framework
that demanded vigilance and caution, as a wide field of tough negotiations,
dangers and problems was opening up for the country.
Consequently, he said, Greece needed to have an in-depth strategy and
stress that EU-Turkish rapprochement was necessary and that Greece's
strategic goal was not for Turkey to be cut off and isolated from
At the same time, he added, Turkey needed to realise that the framework of
conditions put forward regarding human rights, guarantees and respect of
international law were in effect for everyone wishing EU membership.
President continues Ukraine visit
Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid
Kuchma today urged business circles in both countries to cooperate in order
to further develop bilateral economic ties.
Stephanopoulos met in Kiev today with Kuchma and prominent businessmen of
both countries as part of the Greek president's official three-day visit to
Ukraine which began yesterday.
He is accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and a
group of Greek businessmen who have invested in Ukraine.
Stephanopoulos said that Ukraine held a place of special economic
importance among the countries of central and eastern Europe since it had
"enormous economic potential".
"Ukraine has vast natural resources, a strong productive base and has shown
in practice that it wants to develop a free market economy," he said.
At the same time, he said, Ukraine has very highly trained manpower which
enables it to become, in the immediate future, "one of the most interesting
and attractive economies for Greece".
Stephanopoulos underlined that Greece desired the forging of closer ties
between the two countries, particularly in the economic sector, noting that
the know-how and experience of Greek companies served as a guarantee for
closer bilateral economic relations.
Earlier, Stephanopoulos met with the Ukrainian Parliament President
Olexander Moroz and addressed the country's national assembly on bilateral
relations and Greek foreign policy.
He observed that the presence of thousands of ethnic Greeks in Ukraine
would continue to constitute a strong bridge of friendship and cooperation
between the two peoples, both at a bilateral level and within the framework
of European developments in general.
Stephanopoulos reiterated Greece's support for Ukraine's efforts to adapt
to European and Atlantic structures and said both countries agreed that all
disputes between states should be resolved in accordance with the
principles of international law, respect for existing borders and sincere
efforts for peace and cooperation.
Greece's adherence to international legality and the principles of the UN
Charter, he said, had made the country particularly sensitive towards the
continuing Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and Turkey's persistent
refusal to respect international treaties governing the status quo in the
He said Ankara had even reached the point of disputing Greece's sovereign
rights, creating tension in the region and thus not leaving room for the
development of a network of harmonious relations and peaceful cooperation
in the sensitive region of southeastern Europe.
At noon Stephanopoulos left for Odessa.
Flight delays ahead in 24-hour strike
Transport in Athens and around the country will be disrupted Thursday as
both civil aviation and Athens' urban transport unions stage work
The civil aviation union (OSPA) is to hold two four-hour stoppages from
06.00 to 10.00 and 16.00 to 20.00 within the framework of the 24-hour
strike called for that day by the General Confederation of Trade Unions of
Athens' blue and green buses as well as the trolley buses are to be off the
roads for the entire 24-hours. The respective unions are demanding the
purchase of new vehicles and the recruitment of more staff.
Greece a springboard to Balkan investments
Greece was the safest and best springboard for investors interested in the
wider region of southern and eastern Europe, the Black Sea coasts and the
Caucasus, Macedonia-Thrace minister Philippos Petsalnikos told a press
conference in New York.
This was particularly true of the Macedonia-Thrace region following the end
of the cold war, with the northward shift of the centre of numerous
economic activities, he told reporters late last night.
Thessaloniki, he added, was in practice recognised as the centre of the
Balkans, visited frequently by heads of state, and a city that many others
ennvied for its cultural infrastructure, which was projected throughout
1997 during its term as Cultural Capital of Europe.
Petsalnikos, in the U.S. at the invitation of the State Department and the
US Information Agency (USIA), held talks in Washington with State
Department officials on the initiative for cooperation in southeastern
Europe, focussing mainly on transports and the development of trade. It is
noted that a Special Secretariat for Transports has been set up in
Thessaloniky by the Ministry.
He also discussed Greece's relations with neighbouring countries in the
framework of the new political and economic map being formulated in the
Balkans during a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for European
Affairs Marc Grossman.
Grossman concurred on the lead role Greece in the economic sector was
called on to play in the region, and also in relation to cooperation among
the Balkan countries, pointing out that it was time that "Turkey realises
that bilateral problems, such as the Imia issue, should be referred to the
International Court of Justice at The Hague".
Petsalnikos also had informational meetings with World Bank officials on
the prospects offered by northern Greece, and delivered a lecture at
Harvard University on inter-Balkan economic relations.
Light rain is forecast in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in
the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds will be
variable, strong to gale force. Athens will be cloudy with light rain and
possible snow on Mt. Parnes. Temperatures will range from 4-9C. Clouds and
sleet in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-5C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.720
Pound sterling 454.653 Cyprus pd 532.704
French franc 46.674 Swiss franc 193.336
German mark 156.319 Italian lira (100) 15.950
Yen (100) 211.445 Canadian dlr. 195.801
Australian dlr. 182.330 Irish Punt 404.538
Belgian franc 7.576 Finnish mark 51.784
Dutch guilder 138.711 Danish kr. 41.031
Swedish kr. 35.688 Norwegian kr. 38.093
Austrian sch. 22.211 Spanish peseta 1.848
Port. Escudo 1.530