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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-13

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, 13/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Regional security and stability urged at tripartite Balkan meeting
  • Balkan experts to tackle Danube bridge stalemate
  • Elder Karamanlis transferred to ICU after mild heart attack
  • Firefighting equipment for Aegean islands
  • Simitis says gov't determined to implement its policy
  • PASOK Central Committee decision on local election nominations
  • Santer voices satisfaction for Greece's development course
  • Serapheim to be laid to rest today
  • Tsohatzopoulos warns of reaction against Turkish-Israeli axis
  • Pangalos says FYROM name issue must be settled quickly
  • Two border drug-related shootouts result in one death
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Regional security and stability urged at tripartite Balkan meeting

Bulgaria, Romania and Greece on Saturday stressed the need for security, stability and cooperation in southeastern Europe.

In a joint declaration issued after two days of talks on the Greek island of Santorini, foreign ministers Theodoros Pangalos of Greece, Nadezhda Mihailova of Bulgaria and Andrei Plesu of Romania also proposed the commencement of negotiations between Be lgrade and the Albanian community of Kosovo.

They further endorsed Romania's and Bulgaria's applications for European Union and NATO membership, and agreed on further advancement of the principles of good neighbourliness and respect of international law, as well as expansion of economic,technical and police cooperation among their three countries.

In the joint declaration issued after the talks, and also in statements, the three ministers outlined the desire of the countries of southeastern Europe to upgrade their position in the international scene.

The three ministers also said after their talks that any sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia over the Kosovo crisis should not be allowed to hurt the economies of neighbouring countries.

They warned that regional concerns should be taken into consideration by the international community if it acts against Belgrade.

"Any measures against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should take into account the political and economic stability of southeastern Europe and should not harm the interests of the states of the region," they said.

Balkan experts to tackle Danube bridge stalemate

The Greek, Romanian and Bulgarian foreign ministers have agreed to set up a team of experts to break the deadlock over where a bridge across the Danube that would link the region with western Europe should be built.

Bulgaria and Romania have been in disagreement for several years over where a second bridge across the Danube, which separates the two countries, should be built. They are currently connected by one bridge, which is heavily congested.

The 450-million-dollar project comes under a wider road network scheme to link the eastern Balkans, including northern Greece, with the markets of western Europe.

Greece said that insufficient infrastructure throughout the Balkans was one of the region's major problems, adding that the team of experts would look into what was needed and how to achieve it.

Elder Karamanlis transferred to ICU after mild heart attack

The health of former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis appears to be improving after suffering a heart attack early yesterday morning, according to a medical bulletin issued at 8 p.m. last night.

Mr. Karamanlis suffered the mild heart attack and was placed in the intensive care unit at a private northern Athens hospital.

The 91-year-old statesman, who was hospitalised last Tuesday with pneumonia, went into cardiac arrest at 2:25 a.m., before medical staff at Ygeia Hospital restored his cardiac functions 20 minutes later. He was transferred to the intensive care unit.

"The state of President Constantine Karamanlis is showing a definite improvement..." the evening medical bulletin read.

According to attending physicians, efforts may be made this morning to try and detach him from life support systems. His heart is showing a definite improvement and has sustained no harm as a result of the heart attack.

They went on to say that a breakdown might appear in other organs' functions, primarily due to his advanced age.

Firefighting equipment for Aegean islands

Aegean Minister Elizabeth Papazoi said yesterday that the government intends to equip all the islands with fire-fighting equipment by the year 2000 to enable them to gradually acquire their own volunteer firefighting stations manned with local citizens.

Ms. Papazoi was making a brief address at the start of a series of conferences to be held on Aegean islands at the Zimalis Foundation in Samos yesterday.

The conference was attended by volunteer forest firefighters, representatives of the fire brigade as well as local administration officials.

Simitis says gov't determined to implement its policy

Addressing the ruling PASOK's central committee on Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis sent a clear message to party officials and high-ranking cadres that he is determined to promote the government's policy.

During the same meeting, the central committee reached a decision by which PASOK cadres participating in rival tickets in October's prefectural and municipal elections will be automatically expelled from the party.

Mr. Simitis said that the government is explicit in its pursuits and will not negotiate its policy, adding that "some think that they can lay down terms but they are mistaken."

He further said that targets are not negotiable because the criterion is not the occupation of power but the interest of the country.

Mr. Simitis said that what is necessary is the combined strength of all for these targets to be achieved, with unity and agreement achieved through open processes.

On the question of loss-making Olympic Airways, the country's national carrier, he said that development is unbreakably attached with the transformation of the economy's state sector.

Addressing members of the so-called intra-party opposition, Mr. Simitis said that he does not accept that PASOK has been isolated from groups which traditionally supported it. He said that the government's policy is not indifferent over repercussions for working people, nor does it ignore the problems faced by citizens daily. He said that it wanted to resolve problems and secure better living conditions.

He also spoke of political reforms in all sectors and termed government policy as the sole proposal guaranteeing the country's development and entry into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), saying that it is desired by the overwhelming majority of the people.

PASOK Central committee decision on local election nominations

The PASOK central committee's decision against rival candidacies for upcoming local elections was ratified by all cadres considered as belonging to the so-called internal party opposition, except for one blank vote and one abstention.

The decision was taken following a proposal made by the executive bureau, which was presented by PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis and to which former deputy and substitute central committee member and former Athens mayor Dimitris Beis reacted strongly.

In his address, Mr. Beis said the candidacy of Coalition of the Left deputy and one-time leader Maria Damanaki for the mayorship of Athens was irregular with regard to PASOK's processes and claimed that this proposal follows Greek models and that in no European party are cadres dismissed for participating in elections as indipendent candidates.

Mr. Beis further said that the proposal for dismissals constitutes an effort to muzzle those who express opposition to government policy and are taking place to satisfy the plans of the present leadership group.

"All this leads to the shrinking of PASOK and are reminiscent of extraordinary court martial processes," he said.

In reply, Mr. Skandalidis said that such expressions were not compatible with the history of PASOK and considered what Mr. Beis said as never have being said.

In his address to the central committee, Mr. Skandalidis sent a message that all who will participate in municipal elections in tickets which are not supported by the ruling party will be dismissed from the party.

Santer voices satisfaction for Greece's development course

Visiting European Commission President Jacques Santer yesterday expressed satisfaction with Greece's developmental course, saying that economic growth in the country exceeded the average of other European Union countries.

Speaking in Hania after talks with the government in Athens and a tour of Crete, Mr. Santer also said that the position of the Commission and himself was that all differences between Greece and Turkey should be referred for a difinitive solution to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

But, he added, Greece's volition for this did not suffice, it was necessary that the Turkish side should also desire it.

Mr. Santer said the EU was continuing accession negotiations with the Republic of Cyprus and the dialogue with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

The Commission president recalled that President Clerides had proposed the participation of the Turkish Cypriots in the island republic's delegation negotiating Cyprus' EU membership, adding:

"I am very saddened that Mr. (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash did not respond to that proposal".

Mr. Santer said that he favoured a political solution for the Cyprus problem.

Mr. Santer is due to leave Crete today.

Serapheim to be laid to rest today

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Serapheim will be buried today in Athens with head of state honours.

The Archbishop died Friday at the age of 85 after 23 years at the helm of the Orthodox Church of Greece.

The Archbishop's body has been lying in state at the Athens Cathedral since Friday. His funeral will take place at 10 this morning, which will be followed by a procession through central Athens.

US President Bill Clinton addressed a message to the Archdiocese late on Saturday offering his condolences over the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Serapheim.

A similar message was also sent by Pope John Paul II.

The Athens Archdiocese issued a circular on Saturday by which the Metropolitan of Messinia Chrysostomos should now be referred to in church services. Chrysostomos will be the acting head of the Greek Orthodox Church until a new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece is elected on April 28.

Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maximos will attend Serapheim's funeral today at the head of a delegation of priests. The funeral will also be attended by other Patriarchs, religious leaders and many clerics from around the world.

Tsohatzopoulos warns of reaction against Turkish-Israeli axis

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday criticised what he called the creation of a Turkish-Israeli military-economic axis, saying such reasoning led to the reaction of other countries in the region, something which does not contribute to security.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told a meeting of overseas Greek youths in Thessaloniki that it was the inalienable right of every country to engage in trade and negotiations with any country it desired.

"But," he warned, "in the critical region we are located, it would be wise for one who looks at the economic interests alone to keep in mind that a collaboration between two countries through which the ability is provided for one to develop technologically advanced military weapons - such as Turkey is attempting through its cooperation with Israel - will create problems with the other peoples."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece fully accepted total freedom in commercial transactions.

But when those bilateral transactions evolved into relations of military significance, "everyone must comprehend that the rationale of axes in today's strategies lead to the counter-rallying of all the others, he warned.

The security of Turkey or Israel cannot be strengthened except only in the context of the collective security of the entire region, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

The Greek defence minister announced that after Easter he would meet with his Israeli counterpart to discuss the entire framework of Greek-Israeli relations.

Pangalos says FYROM name issue must be settled quickly

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos was quoted as saying that a solution to the problem of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name must be found in the next few months, adding that such a name must be acceptable to both sides.

The Greek foreign minister's comments were published in an article in the Skopje-based daily "Devnik".

He also stated that a compromise must be found which "will satisfy public opinion in both countries" without necessarily making them "happy", which he was quoted as saying is "impossible."

"The present reality in relations between the two countries and peoples, as well as prospects for the future are so powerful that it would not be wise to stay in the world of semantics and not reality," he added.

Mr. Pangalos said that all the discussions at the UN on names have now been exhausted, and added that he would be satisfied if a solution were to be found now, since "the election period aggravates the issue", referring to elections in FYROM this autumn .

On the question of foreign military presence on FYROM's territory, Mr. Pangalos said in principle he is in favour of the extension of a UN peacekeeping force's mandate. He added that if the US does not send its own military forces, then a multinational force could be created with the participation of Greece as well.

Replying to a question on the existence of a so-called "Macedonian" minority in Greece, Mr. Pangalos was explicit:

"There is no 'Macedonian' minority. Those who invent it have sick minds. There are people who speak a slavic idiom, but this does not also determine the existence of an ethnic minority. Language does not constitute a special characteristic of nationality in the Balkans," he underlined.

Two border drug-related shootouts result in one death

An Albanian national was killed and two people were injured in a shootout between police and drug smugglers on the Greek-Albanian border early Saturday.

A second Albanian was seriously injured and one police officer was slightly wounded.

In two separate incidents, four people were arrested, while two kilos of cocaine, five kilos of hashish, two Kalashnikov rifles and hand-grenades were seized.

Police arrested two Albanians, Andreas Michos, 34, and Ahmet Tzoni, 37, in Florina shortly after midnight Saturday and seized one kilo of cocaine. A taxi driver, Georgios Vrantzis, was also arrested.

Police pointed to Michos as the ring leader.

In a later incident at dawn, a gunbattle broke out between police and a gang of alleged Albanian drug smugglers in the border area of Agia Kyriaki, Kastoria.

In the exchange of fire, Albanian national Oltsi Teroli, 25, was fatally wounded and his compatriot Dala Skender, 29, was seriously injured and taken by police to a hospital in Kastoria, where he is under heavy guard. Three of their accomplices managed to escape and are believed to have crossed back into Albania. Police seized one kilo of cocaine, five kilos of hashish, two hand-grenades and two Kalashnikov rifles.

Greek First Division soccer results

Athinaikos-Kalamata 0-0 Iraklis-Ionikos 1-1 Veria-OFI 3-0 Olympiakos-Paniliakos 4-2 Panahaiki-Xanthi 2-1 Proodeftiki-Panionios 1-1 Apollon-PAOK 4-4 Ethnikos-AEK 1-3 Kavala-Panathinaikos 0-4 Standings-points, after 30th round: Olympiakos 79, Panathinaikos 73, AEK 66, PAOK 61, Ionikos 58, Iraklis 47, Xanthi 39, OFI 39, Veria 39, Apollon 36.

WEATHER

Scattered clouds throughout the country today with the possibility of rain in the northwestern regions. Moderate to strong winds in the east will keep temperatures high for the season. Athens and Thessaloniki can expect light cloud and maximum temperatures of 22 and 19 degrees respectively.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 315.258 British pound 527.982 Japanese Yen(100) 245.401 French franc 51.659 German mark 173.114 Italian lira (100) 17.535 Irish Punt 436.480 Belgian franc 8.393 Finnish mark 57.100 Dutch guilder 153.194 Danish kr. 45.442 Austrian sch. 24.611 Spanish peseta 2.046 Swedish kr. 40.144 Norwegian kr. 41.799 Swiss franc 208.474 Port. Escudo 1.671 AUS dollar 206.911 Can. dollar 221.573 Cyprus pound 593.811

(C.E.)


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