Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 02/04/1998 (ANA)
- Defence Minister winds up Russian visit
- 'Children of November' claim bomb
- Russian Cyprus emissary in Athens
- Talks begin again at Olympic Airways
- Euro-Mediterranean conference begins
- Navy chief to visit Albania
- President to visit Hungary
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Defence Minister winds up Russian visit
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said today that speculation
in the Greek press about the possibility of Greece eventually taking
delivery of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles ordered by Cyprus was
"a theoretical scenario which does not reflect reality", according to an
ANA despatch from Moscow.
"The government of Cyprus has purchased S-300 missiles which are to be
installed (on the island) by October," Tsohatzopoulos told reporters before
winding up an official visit to Russia.
Commenting on Turkish threats to Nicosia not to install the missiles, which
Cyprus needs to bolster its defences, Tsohatzopoulos said the Russian
government "has made it clear that it guarantees the transportation and
installation of the system, unless there is a general agreement for the
demilitarisation of the island republic".
Replying to reporters questions about Russia's ability to provide after-
sales support and spare parts for the system, which is also competing with
US Patriot missiles for a lucrative Greek tender, Tsohatzopoulos said:
"Anyone concerned about the capability of the Russian defence industry has
only to come here and see the reality for themselves. We who are interested
in cooperation on weapons systems have ascertained that Moscow would is
fully able to cope with requirements and is willing to give the guarantees
which we need in order to take decisions".
Asked whether Greece expected pressure from its NATO allies not to purchase
Russian arms, Tsohatzopoulos acknowledged that the procurement of weapons
systems from Moscow might cause some displeasure in arms-producing
"But within the framework of the free market, the sole criteria should be
quality, reliability and cost. Greece is entitled to procure the systems
which suit it best, without any restriction. We must understand that there
are countries in NATO such as Germany which have Russian-made arms. The
dividing lines have been abolished in Europe once and for all and
cooperation is now being promoted on a pan-European level among the defence
industries of Europe," he said.
Replying to other questions about purchasing arms from Moscow, Tsohatzopoulos
said Greece may be interested in purchasing Russian long- and medium-range,
vessels for the rapid transportation of up to 500 troops such as hovercraft
and electronic technology in the field of guided missiles.
Tsohatzopoulos returns to Athens later today.
'Children of November' claim bomb
A group calling itself the "Children of November" has claimed responsibility
for a makeshift gas-cannister bomb attack that damaged the political office
of labour undersecretary Christos Protopapas and the former office of
labour minister Miltiades Papaioannou in the same building yesterday
afternoon, police said today.
An unidentified caller told an Athens private television station that the
makeshift bombs, which caused extensive damage but no induries, were the
work of the "Children of November" terrorist group.
The first bomb went off at the 6th floor political office of Protopapas in
a downtown Athens building on the corner of Sina and Acadimias street.
A second explosion rocked the third-floor office, in the same building,
vacated three months ago by Papaioannou.
Russian Cyprus emissary in Athens
Russia's special emissary for Cyprus Vladimir Tchijov today did not rule
out a meeting with his American counterpart Richard Holbrooke while they
were on coinciding visits to the island republic over this weekend.
"If we find ourselves in the same place at the same time, it would be
normal to have such a meeting," Tchijov told reporters in Athens during a
joint press conference with Greek foreign undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis
after talks between the two men.
Tchijov, who is on a tour of the region, arrived here last night from and
leaves for Nicosia tomorrow for a visit running through Sunday.
Holbrooke, the US troubleshooter who brokered the Bosnia peace deal, was
due in Nicosia tomorrow to revive the stalled intercommunal talks. He will
hold separate meetings, first with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and
then with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides. Holbrooke was due to leave
Cyprus on Monday.
Asked whether he would discuss the planned deployment of Russian-made S-300
anti-aircraft defence missiles on Cyprus, Tchijov said "only if the
question is raised by the Cypriot side".
Tchijov said that apart from talks with Clerides, he also had a "programmed
meeting" with Denktash.
He said that "Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has
a role to play in the settlement of the Cyprus problem".
Speaking at the same press conference, Kranidiotis described Russia's
positions on the Cyprus issue as "constructive" and said its role and
stance were "particularly substantial".
Kranidiotis reiterated that the Cyprus problem was at a "crucial turning
point" and said that "efforts for its settlement should be intensiified".
He called on the permanent members of the UN Security Council to exercise
their influence on the Turkish side "to come to the negotiations table"
Kranidiotis said that "the conditions put forward by Turkey and its demands
for a change in the basis of the talks cannot be accepted either by Greece
or the international community", pointing out that all the Security Council
resolutions and those of international and European organisations "have set
out the intercommunal dialogue as the basis, and stress the need for
a solution to be sought in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal
Tchijov described his Athens talks as "useful and constructive" and
stressed that his country "will continue playing an active role in the
efforts for a settlement of the problem".
"We consider it Russia's duty to play such an active role," Tchijov said,
adding that when he returned to Moscow he would submit to foreign minister
Yevgeni Primakov "proposals for further action".
Replying to questions, Tchijov dismissed the view that the S-300 missiles
issue complicated his mission, saying that, on the contary, "this issue has
contributed to the Cyprus issue with respect to the time element".
Talks begin again at Olympic Airways
The administrative board of Olympic Airways will meet with workers'
representatives at 17:00 local time today for a fresh round of negotiations
on the government's plan to revitalise the company.
According to initial reports, the discussion will focus on the implementation
of labour regulations along the lines of those of foreign airline companies,
issues pertaining to collective labour agreements and the proposed
abolition of the personnel's meal bonuses in order to cut expenditures.
Euro-Mediterranean conference begins
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today said that the optimism
over the prospects for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation at the first of the
meetings on the issue 2.5 years ago had not been realised.
Papandreou was speaking at the opening of the two-day roundtable conference
"The European Union's policy in the eastern Mediterranean", being held in
"The main reason for the lack of progress," Papandreou said, "lies in the
political sector. The Mideast peace process is presenting serious problems
and affecting the Barcelona process."
He stressed that Euro-Mediterranean cooperation could play a role and
contribute to the peace process.
He added that when cooperation at government level was not progressing,
contacts at the social level could help create an atmosphere to facilitate
"Greece wants to and can be a bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean,"
A roundtable conference on "EU policy in the Eastern Mediterranean - Is the
Barcelona Process working?" will be held in Athens April 2-3, it was
The controversial issue of the European Union's economic and strategic role
in the Eastern Mediterranean basin as a major player in its development and
political stability will be debated at the conference, a spokesman for the
organisers told the ANA.
Guest speakers will include national economy and finance minister Yannos
Papantoniou, former US ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter, EU Council of
Ministers special envoy to the Middle East peace process Miguel Angel
Moratinos, former Cyprus president George Vassiliou, European Commission
advisor Thomas Jansen, NATO Political Affairs Division officer for
Mediterranean countries Alberto Bin, Cairo's Ibd Khaldoun Centre for
Development studies chairman Saad Eddin Ibrahim, and diretor of the East
Jerusalem-based Palestinian Centre for the Dissemination of Democracy and
Community Development, Riad Malki.
It is organised jointly by the Lambrakis Research Foundation, the Hellenic
Foundation for Europe and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the Philip Morris
Institute under the auspices of Greece's Foreign Ministry and will focus on
the d evelopments surrounding the Mediterranean since the launching of the
EuroMediterranean Process (EMP), or partnership programme, at the Barcelona
Conference in November 1995 -- aiming to promote closer financial and
economic cooperation with a view to free trade and economic modernisation.
Navy chief to visit Albania
The Chief of the General Naval Staff, Vice Admiral George Ioannidis, will
embark on a three-day official visit to Albania tomorrow.
During his stay, Ioannidis will have talks with his Albanian counterpart on
issues of mutual interest.
President to visit Hungary
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos will pay an official three-
day visit to Hungary at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart Arpad
Goncz, it was announced here today.
In his visit, from April 22 to 24, Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by
foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.
Mostly fair weather with risimng temperatures is forecast for most parts of
Greece today. Local rain in parts of the southeastern islands. Local fog in
the morning. Winds westerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with
temperatures between 5-19C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Wednesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 319.424
British pound 537.307 Japanese Yen(100) 239.717
French franc 51.640 German mark 172.906
Italian lira (100) 17.536 Irish Punt 434.992
Belgian franc 8.394 Finnish mark 56.961
Dutch guilder 153.557 Danish kr. 45.392
Austrian sch. 24.582 Spanish peseta 2.039
Swedish kr. 39.997 Norwegian kr. 41.845
Swiss franc 209.282 Port. Escudo 1.689
AUS dollar 211.539 Can. dollar 225.382
Cyprus pound 595.021