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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-06

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, 06/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Holbrooke: US won't pursue fruitless Cyprus mediation indefinitely
  • WEU military chiefs meet in Athens today
  • Romeos says reactions against immigrant workers 'unjustified'
  • Simitis to attend EU socialist PMs' meeting
  • OA talks enter crucial final days
  • Stephanopoulos inaugurates museum exhibition in Crete
  • Gov't responds on Turkish involvement in fires and bombings
  • Radio programme for foreign workers
  • Papaioannou: No raise in pensioning age limits, contributions
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Holbrooke: US won't pursue fruitless Cyprus mediation indefinitely

Special US presidential emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke warned yesterday that Washington would not continue its efforts for a resolution of the island republic's political problem if it concludes next month that the two sides are unwilling to budge from their current positions.

"The United States will not spend the rest of the century trying to achieve a settlement between the two sides if they do not desire one," he said before departing from Larnaca airport and after two days of talks with the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

"When we come back in a month's time we shall look for proof of a genuine desire to push forward, otherwise, there is no point in continuing this sort of proximate diplomacy until it becomes void and sterile," he added.

"If the two sides wish to enter into, not exactly a marriage, but a settlement, a federation, each one should make some moves. If one side or the other does not wish to budge, there is nothing we can do to force them, " he stressed.

On Saturday, Mr. Holbrooke, known for his tough negotiating tactics, acknowledged that "the diplomatic situation has been at a difficult stage" and its solution involves leaders outside Cyprus as well.

The US diplomat reiterated Washington's position that the US does not and cannot recognise the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish- occupied part of Cyprus, while he repeated the view that both Cyprus and Turkey "are part of Europe."

He said he had no specific announcement to make with regard to an agreement between the two sides.

"That would not have been possible in a trip this short," Mr. Holbrooke said at a press conference after repeated meetings with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

He said having been asked by the two leaders to return, he intended to be back around the first of May while his aide, US State Department special coordinator on Cyprus Thomos Miller, would in the meantime continue efforts in the region.

All outstanding issues between the two sides were discussed, the US envoy said, also he declined giving any details.

He noted, however, that he has the full backing of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, whom he briefed earlier yesterday about his talks in Cyprus, along with the White House and the State Department.

Commenting on Cyprus' European Union accession process, Holbrooke said the "EU invited Cyprus to join the EU accession talks" and backed the idea that both Cyprus and Turkey are "part of Europe."

"The US believes Cyprus should be a member of the EU because Cyprus is part of Europe. President Clinton made that clear, there is no ambiguity in that, " he stressed.

The US, he added, also believes Turkey is part of Europe, and its application for EU membership "should receive a favourable consideration."

Referring to a demand by Mr. Denktash for recognition of his puppet regime, Mr. Holbrooke said "Denktash made it absolutely clear he wishes to have future contacts in the light of the EU invitation to be on a state-to-state relationship."

"Our position is equally clear: We do not recognise the independent sovereign TRNC (self-declared Turkish Cypriot regime). We cannot do that, that is not our position," he pointed out.

"We recognise the Republic of Cyprus and we recognise Glafcos Clerides as its president. It has an international character," he added.

Describing Mr. Denktash as a "tenacious advocate" of his position, Mr. Holbrooke said "he did not yield an inch, nor did I expect him to."

Replying to other questions, he said the US "opposes partition" in Cyprus.

Asked if one should expect tenacious action from the UN Security Council, Mr. Holbrooke said "Annan looks at Cyprus with great attention, I guarantee you that Annan is going to be a heavily engaged person, Annan and his team are far more engaged than their predecessors."

Commenting on bicommunal contacts, Mr. Holbrooke said "movement should be free across the line," and noted that Cyprus is "the last place in Europe where people are divided by a line and it troubles us all."

He appeared satisfied with the fact that during his stay on the island, a meeting between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot businessmen took place, stressing that the contacts between the two populations should not be destroyed due to disagreement over issues such as relations between states and sovereignty.

WEU military chiefs meet in Athens today

Military chiefs from Western European Union (WEU) member-states and associate members meet in Athens today for their regular six-month session, as Greece currently holds the organisation's rotating presidency.

A dinner will be held this evening in their honour by Greek National Defence General Staff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis. The following issues are likely to be debated at the meeting:

  • The future role and powers of the WEU's planning group
  • The powers of a three-star general as permanent chairman of the WEU's military committee, and as director of its military staff
  • Participation by associate member-states in meetings of the military committee's group on WEU's policy on exercises
  • Possible participation by members of WEU's military committee in NATO's military committee, and WEU's rules on exercises

Turkish military chief Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi arrived in Athens yesterday after a flight from Istanbul. He subsequently left for the Vouliagmeni seaside resort, where the WEU session will take place. The British and Norwegian military chiefs were also expected yesterday.

The remaining military chiefs of staff are expected to arrive today.

Romeos says reactions against immigrant workers 'unjustified'

Public Order Minister George Romeos on Saturday criticised reactions against immigrant workers in several rural communities around Greece, following a recent increase in crime, saying they were "unjustified".

Residents in several communities and villages over the past few days announced that they will curtail, restrict or even outlaw the presence of undocumented and illegal foreign workers in their areas, attributing a dramatic increase in crime to the presence of foreigners and migrants, mainly Albanian nationals.

"The measures taken by the ministry and the activity of the police will bear fruit and will soon restore the sense of security, dealing with all criminal activity," he said upon arriving in Thessaloniki.

Mr. Romeos said he has invited local authorities to list the problems they are facing so they could be solved with the cooperation of the police, rather than trying to solve them on their own.

"Working on their own could lead them to having to deal with incidents worse than those they are currently facing", he warned.

Turning to recent reports that a new ministry bill will free police officers' hands in using their service weapons, he said police had the right to use arms but with due care".

"I don't think we have reached the point where we can give police a free hand to use their weapons in any situation," he said.

Simitis to attend EU socialist PMs' meeting

The European Union's socialist prime ministers, including Greek Premier Costas Simitis, will meet in London Tuesday to focus on several issues, including unemployment, European unification and the impact from a recent econom ic crisis is southeast Asian markets.

The meeting will also focus on joint action by European socialists.

Mr. Simitis, who remained in London on a private visit after the end of the EU-Asia ASEM II meeting, will also meet with some of his European counterparts, while on Tuesday afternoon he is scheduled to give a press conference to Greek reporters before departing for Athens.

OA talks enter crucial final days

The latest round of talks between Olympic Airways' management and employees ended yesterday after successive meetings with representatives of OA- affiliated unions during the day, while employees' representatives told reporters that there had been progress and there was hope for an end to the impasse.

In a related development, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that the government's legislation on revitalising the ailing national carrier would be submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, with debtate and a vote scheduled on Thursday.

Speaking in London, Mr. Simitis said that there would be no change to the legal framework of the bill, but "interesting proposals" by the employees would receive "serious consideration."

He also reiterated that the government was committed to reforming the loss- making national carrier.

Tabled by Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis in Parliament last Tuesday after a two-month deadline on talks between management and employees expired, the bill provides for a three-year freeze on salaries at December 1997 levels, aboli tion of a number of bonuses and other fringe benefits, as well as a number of changes to labour relations, including more flexible working hours.

Employees' representatives said that yesterday's talks had focused on specific regulations relating to a number of sector-specific unions involved in OA. The issues of finances was still unresolved, they added.

The union of flight attendants and a number of other unions have scheduled press conferences today to outline their positions.

Finally, a 24-hour nationwide strike - called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) - to protest the government's plans to restructure state- run utilities and enterprises (DEKOs) and to demand that OA respect collective labour agreements, will be held on Thursday, the day the OA bill faces a Parliament vote.

Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday that the government bill to revitalise OA will become law despite protests.

Addressing a ruling PASOK economic seminar in Hania, Mr. Christodoulakis said that employees of the airline who agreed to the changes in OA's operation would keep their jobs.

However, staff members who aired their opposition in writing would be fired.

Stephanopoulos inaugurates museum exhibition in Crete

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Saturday visited Crete, where he inaugurated the exhibition "Eastern Mediterranean-Cyprus-Crete" at the Irakleion Archaeological Museum.

The exhibition consists of 350 rare artifacts dating from the periods between 1600-600 B.C.

Mr. Stephanopoulos was welcomed at the airport by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, deputies and local officials.

The president also attended a conference of the Union of Prefectural Local Government, which issued a resolution on the basis of a recommendation by Mr. Venizelos, calling for the establishment of a permanent 'Cultural Olympiad', with the wide participation of the provinces throughout the four- year period between the sports Olympics.

"You have not lost time in realising, after the assumption of the 2004 Olympic Games by Athens, the significance of the success of this event, and of the Olympic Games assuming for the first time a form which they did not have until today..." he said.

"In ancient times, the Olympic Games were combined with cultural events. Now the task befalls upon Greece to prove again that sports and culture are concepts fully compatible," Mr. Stephanopoulos added.

Gov't responds on Turkish involvement in fires and bombings

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Athens is examining information published in a front-page Athens newspaper article yesterday, which points to the involvement of Turkish saboteurs in several forest fires and bombings around Greece over the past few years.

The article, published in Sunday's "Eleftherotypia", quotes what the newspaper termed a confidential report by the "investigation department" in the Turkish prime minister's office, citing secret ties between the official Turkish state and that country' s large criminal underworld during the premiership of Tansu Ciller.

"All of this (information) is being investigated carefully along with other information that has come to our attention in the past," Mr. Reppas said.

On his part, PASOK deputy and former public order minister Stelios Papathemelis said the report vindicates the information authorities had since 1995.

According to Eleftherotypia, the Turkish document states that "fo-rest fires and bomb explosions on Greek islands were the work of Turkish intelligence services."

Replying to questions on the issue, Mr. Papathemelis said the report contained "the exact information" that the Greek government had collected.

"At the time, some government officials did not take it (information) seriously," he added.

The Turkish document Eleftherotypia refers to cites a "camp" near Lamia, hinting that Kurdish separatists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were trained there. The Turkish document claims that the camp was "one of the main targets and had been attac ked."

The document further claims that a number of PKK members were arrested in Turkey during the same period, only to be subsequently sent to Greece to set fires to "Aegean and Mediterranean islands", as well as to plant bombs in popular tourist regions, such as Crete, Rhodes and mainland Greece.

During the same period, Eleftherotypia quotes the Turkish report as stating, bomb attacks had taken place at PKK bases in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, while there were "assassination attempts against PKK cadres in Russia and other countries."

Finally, the Eleftherotypia article notes that in November 1996, Turkish right-wing extremist Haluk Kirtzi admitted in a television interview that Turkish intelligence services were responsible for a number of forest fires around Greece. Just weeks after some of the fires, several press reports in Turkey also referred to Ankara's involvement.

Radio programme for foreign workers

A new, nine-language radio programme for foreign workers in Greece was inaugurated yesterday by Greek State Radio-2 (ERA 2, FM 91.2 MHs). The programme aims to provide information, news and other useful advise.

The special programme, which ERA considers as debuting at a crucial period, will be broadcast on Sundays at 1 p.m.

Papaioannou: No raise in pensioning age limits, contributions

The government is not considering a raise in the age limit for pensioning or an increase in social security contributions, as taxes and contributions are already high, Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said yesterday from Patra.

He said the social security system in Greece and elsewhere is in crisis because of two main reasons: demographics and changes in labour relations, on the one hand, and extensive contribution evasion, on the other.

"We cannot afford to have 300 social security funds, when other countries have only two or three...We should realise that," he said.

Mr. Papaioannou reiterated, however, that the government was in no-way considering raising the pensioning age limit or contributions, while he further referred to the unemployment problem and his ministry's programmes to tackle joblessness.

Greek First Division soccer results

Panathinaikos-Olympiakos 0-2 Kalamata-Iraklis 3-1 Athinaikos-Ethnikos 1-1 Ionikos-Kavala 2-0 AEK-Veria 1-2 OFI-Panahaiki 1-0 Paniliakos-Proodeftiki 0-1 Xanthi-Apollon 1-0 PAOK-Panionios 6-1 Standings-points: Olympiakos 76, Panathinaikos 70, AEK 63, PAOK 60, Ionikos 57, Iraklis 46, Xanthi, OFI 39.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with scattered clouds in the mainland. Winds variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with scattered clouds and temperatures from 10-25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 318.730 British pound 530.859 Japanese Yen(100) 236.711 French franc 51.320 German mark 171.988 Italian lira (100) 17.442 Irish Punt 432.710 Belgian franc 8.337 Finnish mark 56.621 Dutch guilder 152.644 Danish kr. 45.134 Austrian sch. 24.428 Spanish peseta 2.027 Swedish kr. 39.759 Norwegian kr. 41.648 Swiss franc 208.012 Port. Escudo 1.678 AUS dollar 209.510 Can. dollar 224.132 Cyprus pound 591.232

(C.E.)


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