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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-24

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, 24/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece lays statesman Karamanlis to rest today
  • Miller, Kranidiotis agree on UN framework for Cyprus
  • President reiterates need for adherence to international law
  • Priorities of Greece's presidency of the Council of Europe
  • Government condemns attack on Jewish agency
  • Greek basketball team fails in try for European trophy
  • Former German ambassador visits Athens
  • Greenpeace condemns Turkish nuclear power plan
  • Greek state telecom gets third flotation in autumn
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece lays statesman Karamanlis to rest today

Greece today lays to rest its elder statesman, Constantine Karamanlis, who died early yesterday of heart failure at the age of 91.

Karamanlis, the man who guided Greece into the European Community and took the helm of the country for the smooth return to democracy after the collapse of the military dictatorship, died after two weeks in hospital with a lung infection compounded by heart and kidney complications.

The news of Karamanlis's death drew tributes from the gamut of Greece's political parties and from prominent figures and dignitaries throughout the world.

Both President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis hailed Karamanlis's contribution to shaping modern Greece and leading it from military rule to "its rightful place among the family of European nations", as Mr. Simitis said.

The prime minister and the Cabinet will be present at the funeral today, as will President Stephanopoulos. The presidency of the republic has opened a book of condolences for Karamanlis.

A three-day national mourning was declared yesterday, while Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said that all government and public services will not operate today.

Karamanlis, whose political career spanned five decades, will be buried in the grounds of the institute bearing his name in the Athens suburb of Filothei, following a private service to be attended by close friends, family and colleagues, in accordance with Karamanlis's wishes, entrusted in writing to close associate Petros Molyviatis.

People wishing to pay their final respects to the late statesman will be allowed into the courtyard of the chapel of Aghia Filothei, but not inside for the funeral service, which begins at 6:00 p.m.

The funeral and burial will be broadcast by the state television network ET, by decision of the Karamanlis family.

Miller, Kranidiotis agree on UN framework for Cyprus

The US State Department's special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller, said yesterday that the American initiative for a resolution of the island's political problem was under the aegis of the United Nations and aimed at the attainment of a bizonal, bi communal, federal scheme. He made the statement after talks with foreign undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in Athens, where he arrived as part of a tour of the region in preparation of a new visit to Cyprus by President Clinton's special emissary Richard Holbrooke next month.

Mr. Miller said that Mr. Holbrooke, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and himself were fully convinced that the current period was the most appropriate for an intensive effort to resolve the long protracted problem, as solutions for a number of oth er equally difficult issues, such as the Northern Irish, the Middle Eastern, and the Bosnian questions were on course.

Asked if the American initiative aimed at a resumption of dialogue between Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Mr. Miller replied affirmatively, saying the American side had indications that the two leaders did d esire a resolution of the problem. He described the resumption of such talks as a matter of substance, while regarding the possible participation of other interested parties, he said "this is a procedural matter".

He announced that on May 1 Mr. Holbrooke and himself would return to Cyprus for intensive discussions whose duration could not be foretold.

Mr. Kranidiotis stressed that Greece supported the American initiative, noting that the US was a big and powerful country able to exercise its influence on the other side. He reiterated Greece's position that the iniative should be in the framework of UN efforts and Security Council resolutions as points of reference.

"Mr. Miller provided us with assurances to that effect," he said, adding that the quest for a bizonal, bicommunal federation should enjoy the broadest possible support. Mr. Kranidiotis noted further that the resumption of bicommunal dialogue was an obligation of the two sides specified by UN resolutions.

Earlier, the government said that it was opposed to the idea of a Dayton- type conference on the Cyprus problem in reply to reporters' questions following recent speculation in the Greek press.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens believed a proposal for such a conference would not be constructive and would not facilitate efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas clarified that such a proposal had not been officially put to the Cyprus government.

President reiterates need for adherence to international law

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday reiterated that Greece, for reasons of justice and the general interest of all peoples, proposed the resolution of current or future disputes on the basis of respect for international law and recognition of the standing of international treaties.

His reference, made in Budapest at an official dinner hosted by his Hungarian counterpart Arpad Goncz, was considered as an indirect but clear address to Turkey.

If this proposal is not accepted, "undesirable situations will be perpetuated, and tensions, for which Greece is not responsible, will be maintained," he said. "For we are not willing to accept baseless claims which are put forward with the aim of altering the established for decades status quo in the Aegean," he added.

The president also reiterated Greece's support for Hungary's bid to join the Euro-Atlantic structures.

Mr. Stephanopoulos also pointed out Greece's initiatives in the Balkans for a normalisation of the situation in Kosovo, while in reference to Cyprus, he stressed that Greece sought a fair solution to its political problem and its unimpeded realisation of full membership of the EU.

Priorities of Greece's presidency of the Council of Europe

Priorities of the Greek presidency of the Council of Europe, which begins on May 5, include upgrading the Parliamentary Assembly, and human rights, with the operation of a new Human Rights Court (through the merger of the Human Rights Commission and the court into a single body), Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told a press conference yesterday.

In the framework of human rights, Greece will promote a new institution aimed at operating by the end of the presidency and concerns the institution of Human Rights Commissioner.

Another priority of the Greek presidency is illegal immigration and the refugee issue. Greece will propose cooperation among all member-states in tackling illegal immigration and will promote a policy in the refugee sector.

Moreover, another priority is the policy towards states desiring to join this international organisation. The Greek presidency will examine the possibilities of promoting the applications of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and, in parallel, will address the application submitted by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Government condemns attack on Jewish agency

The government yesterday condemned a bomb attack, apparently targetting the offices of a Greek Jewish agency, which caused material damage but no injuries. "The placement of incendiary devices at the offices of the Jewish Council in Athens is condemned by all Greeks. Such acts are alien to the sentiments of our people and do harm to the country. The government is intensifying its efforts so that the police can track down the attackers," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in a statement.

Two makeshift bombs exploded in the building housing the main offices of the Central Jewish Council in Athens, causing a fire.

The Jewish Council offices are housed on the sixth floor of an apartment building on the corner of Sourmeli and Acharnon streets in downtown Athens.

One bomb was placed on the stairs between the fifth and sixth floors and the other in the elevator, the attackers having calculated the time needed for it to reach the sixth floor.

The elevator door is exactly opposite the entrance of the Jewish Council offices.

The makeshift devices, consisting of gas cannisters, exploded, causing small fires.

Four fire engines and 15 firemen immediately rushed to the building and put out the blazes.

An anonymous caller had meanwhile phoned the police about the bombs without claiming responsibility on behalf of any group.

Greek basketball team fails in try for European trophy

AEK Athens last night failed to win the European Basketball Championship, losing 58-44 (28-20 at half-time) in the final to Kinder Bologna in Barcelona.

Former German ambassador visits Athens

The Federal Republic of Germany's ambassador to Athens from October 1969 to April 1972 Peter Limbourg, who was forced to leave Greece as a persona non grata by the 1967-1974 military dictatorship, is visiting Greece.

Mr. Limbourg incurred the displeasure of the Colonels' junta for his assistance to George A. Mangakis' secret exit from Greece on a German warplane, an action which forced the German government to recall him from Athens.

Greece awarded to Mr. Limbourg the Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix in 1974 for his contribution to the restoration of democracy.

Mr. Limbourg was the only ambassador to Athens during the 7-year dictatorship to be regarded as a persona non grata by those in power, while his relations with those opposed to the illegal regime were those of friendship.

He finished his career at the post of ambassador to Brussels in 1980.

Mr. Limbourg will be received by the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday, while later in the day political leaders and diplomats will give a dinner in his honour at an Athens hotel.

Greenpeace condemns Turkish nuclear power plan

Greenpeace, the international environmental protection organisation yesterday condemned a plan by Turkey to build a nuclear power plant located between Cyprus and Rhodes.

Greenpeace released the statement in Athens to mark the twelfth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the former Soviet Union. The first nuclear reactor at the Turkish plant has a scheduled start-up date in June 2006, and the second re actor a year later, Greenpeace said. An international tender called in 1997 to find a contractor for the new plant is expected to produce a winner in June this year.

Turkey plans to install ten nuclear reactors by 2020, totalling 10,000 megawatts, the statement said.

Greenpeace also held an exhibition on Turkey's nuclear programme yesterday, and the threat it poses to Greece, Cyprus and the whole Mediterranean region.

Greenpeace's Athens director, Stelios Psomas, has been waging a campaign against Turkish nuclear energy for many years.

The group has called on Turkey to call off the tender, saying the country has other ways of obtaining energy. Mr. Psomas also charged the European Union and other countries with hypocrisy in connection with subsidies for the Bulgarian nuclear plant.

Greek state telecom gets third flotation in autumn

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will float 10-15 percent of its stock on the Athens Stock Exchange in the autumn, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday. He w as speaking after a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and senior OTE executives.

The float, which is the third for the state telecom on the bourse's main market, is slated for September or October, Mr. Papantoniou said.

A change to the law will be made in the summer allowing the firm to have more than 25 percent of its shares listed.

A healthy performance by the Athens bourse augured well for the listing, he said.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather is forecast for Greece today, mostly turning to rain late in the day. Winds variable, strong to very strong. Athens and Thessaloniki will be overcast with rain expected in the evening, and temperatures reaching 20 and 19 C respectively.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 309.316 British pound 515.265 Japanese yen(100) 236.939 French franc 51.459 German mark 172.514 Italian lira (100) 17.443 Irish Punt 434.893 Belgian franc 8.353 Finnish mark 56.893 Dutch guilder 153.115 Danish kr. 45.235 Austrian sch. 24.510 Spanish peseta 2.030 Swedish kr. 40.295 Norwegian kr. 41.664 Swiss franc 208.236 Port. Escudo 1.686 Aus. dollar 201.614 Can. dollar 215.958 Cyprus pound 589.248

(L.G.)


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