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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-28

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, 28/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece again blocks EU funds to Turkey
  • High-level gov't meeting focuses on tourism
  • Greek memorandum submitted to the EU council
  • New Greek Army rapid deployment force formed
  • Reppas on Skandalidis statements
  • New Greek Primate to be elected today
  • British Euro-MP calls for return of Parthenon Marbles
  • OECD assured that Greece will fulfill Maastricht criteria
  • Piraeus port authority boss quits over wrangles with minister
  • OA pilots call off strike
  • Greek stocks nosedive on EMU jitters
  • Premier goes to Brussels for EU's weekend Euro summit
  • Bulgarian natural gas supplies to Greece jump
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece again blocks EU funds to Turkey

Greece cannot consent to the adoption of economic support for Turkey with European Union funds in light of escalating Turkish provocativeness and Ankara's refusal to resolve differences with Athens through legal chan nels, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said here yesterday.

"The escalation of Turkish provocativeness combined with the refusal of the Ankara government to resolve its differences with Greece through the legal course, namely, through resorting to the International Court at The Hague, leave no ground for Greece to consent to the adoption of economic support for Turkey by EU funds," he told a press conference.

Mr. Pangalos said that he brought to the attention of his counterparts, two recent examples of Turkey's provocative attitude towards Greece.

Specifically, in one of the memorandums concerning Turkey's attitude, submitted to the Council by Athens yesterday, it was revealed that about a month ago Turkish authorities notified Greece that they question the sovereignty of four Greek islets in the eastern Aegean. Namely, Fournoi, Agathonisi, Farmakonisi and Pserimos.

"After Imia, Turkey is escalating its aggressiveness against Greece," he said, adding that Ankara is also opposed to carrying out EU research of an environmental character on these four islands, claiming that they do not belong to Greece.

Mr. Pangalos said that under such conditions Athens cannot lift its reservations against the adoption of the financial protocol - 375 million Ecu - for Turkey.

As a second example of Turkish provocativeness, Mr. Pangalos referred to Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem's refusal, as communicated to Greece, to travel to Rhodes in two weeks in order to meet with his Greek counterpart on the sidelines of the West European Union's ministerial session. With this position, Turkey makes it clear that it does not desire dialogue with Greece and a peaceful solution to whatever differences, he said.

High-level gov't meeting focuses on tourism

An interministerial coordinating council yesterday decided on several measures for the upcoming tourist season in light of an expected increase in tourist arrivals for 1998.

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, who chaired the meeting, noted that directly or indirectly several agencies and ministries are involved in overseeing tourism activities, therefore, coordination is all important.

The coordinating body decided to increase medical personnel in the tourist regions, especially general practitioners and pediatricians. Two mobile medical units will be used for immediate response in critical cases, while by May 25 a tendering for the purchase of medical evacuation helicopters will be completed.

In addition, musuems will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, while a single admission policy will be expanded to all archaeological sites and a pilot programme of season tickets will be implemented.

Public Order Minister George Romeos said that police in tourist regions will be reinforced by 800 officers.

Greek memorandum submitted to the EU Council

Following the latest Turkish challenge of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean Greece submitted the following memorandum to the EU council: On March 26, 1998, the Embassy of Greece in Ankara undertook a demarche to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lodge a formal protest concerning recent violations of the Greek national airspace by Turkish military aircraft. In the course of this meeting, the Turkish official involved, namely the Head of the competent MFA section, raised to the Greek Embassy representative the subject of Greek helicopters landing on five islands, listing five names in Turkish. The Greek diplomat asked whether his in terlocutor was implying that these islands were Turkish, only to receive the answer that they had Turkish names. Further pressed to clarify the meaning of his statement, the Turkish diplomat maintained his refusal to indicate whether he was referring to Turkish territory, persisted in the use of the hitherto unknown Turkish names and added that these islands do not belong to Creece and that, by landing helicopters, Greece violates the status quo of the Aegean.

The premise of the Turkish statement was promptly rejected.

After some research and effort to correlate the Turkish names with existing islands proved that four of these names refer to islands which constitute Greek territory, namely:

The island of Fournoi (east of the island of Icaria)

The island of Agathonisi (or Gaidouronisi, south of the island of Samos)

The island of Farmakonisi (south of the island of Samos), and

The island of Pserimos (east of the island of Kalymnos)

These are middle-sized islands all with varying numbers of inhabitants. They are part of Greece by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), and the Peace Treaty of Paris (1947).

Greece considers that this is a new provocative action within the framework of the well-known and ill-advised Turkish strategy of the so-called <<grey areas>>, which aims at challenging Greek sovereignty in the Aegean Sea.

This new Turkish provocation is an additional proof of the expansionist policy of Turkey towards Greece, while at the same time underlines the total disregard by the political and military authorities in Ankara of the International Law and the Internat ional Treaties.

This recent event represents another effort by the Turkish side to create tension between the two countries. Needless to say unilateral claims by Turkey could not and will not create Turkish rights in the Aegean. They are bound, however, to poison the a tmosphere between the two countries and to prohibit any lessening of tension in the Greek-Turkish relations.

New Greek Army rapid deployment force formed

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday announced that a new rapid deployment force has been created within the Greek armed forces, the Second Army Corps, and is ready to deploy and operate as a unit in any part of Greece.

He made the announcement during a visit to the base of the Second Army Corps in Veria and added that the force has been operational since April 1, while the decision for its creation was taken by the government 14 months ago within a framework of military restructuring.

He also criticised Turkey for its destabilising role in the region while at the same time warning that any attempt to exploit hotbeds of tension would lead to crises and conflict.

Reppas on Skandalidis statements

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday defended PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis for statements he made during a speech last Saturday, saying the latter had simply overstressed the need to promote government policy.

Speaking during a party meeting of PASOK prefectural and local committees, Mr. Skandalidis referred to a jostling for power within PASOK, which he said endangered the party's hold on government and its work.

Mr. Reppas said all major PASOK cadres are backing government policy, while he again said that early elections were out of the question.

New Greek Primate to be elected today

Greece's 77 Metropolitans will ga-ther at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral this morning to elect the new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece to succeed Archbishop Serapheim, who died earlier this month.

Fifty per cent plus one of the votes is necessary during the first two ballots for a new Archbishop to be elected, namely, 39. A simple majority is required in the third ballot. In the event the two leading candidates receive the same number of votes a winner will be decided through a drawing of lots.

According to press reports, there are 10 candidates, while the favourites are Dimitriados Metropolitan Christodoulos, Alexandroupoli Metropolitan Anthimos, Thebes Metropolitan Ieronymos and Ioannina Metropolitan Theoklitos.

The election of a new Archbishop is an internal matter for the Church and the government is not interfering and has never interfered, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

British Euro-MP calls for return of Parthenon Marbles

British Eurodeputy Ken Coates yesterday extended his solidarity to the Greek people for return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Mr. Coates, who is also the president of the Bertrand Russell Foundation for Peace, addressed the issue of "The Civilisation and Freedom of Lord Byron against Lord Elgin" at a three-day series of events in honor of Lord Byron at the Athens Book Arcade.

He noted that Lord Byron strongly attacked what he called the action of Lord Elgin, calling him "a barbarian Scotsman."

Mr. Coates called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to promote an initiative to rescue Byron's ancestral home from destruction due to coal mining exploiutation.

According to reports, a coal mining company has bought the coal-rich estate on which the residence stands.

OECD assured that Greece will fulfill Maastricht criteria

Addressing the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) annual ministerial session in Paris yesterday on the issue of economic policy and structural adjustments, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou assured that "at the end of 1999, Greece will fulfill all the criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty, and will secure its entry to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) as at January 1, 2001."

Mr. Papantoniou said that economic policy on a worldwide and a European level in particular has developed positively in past years, stressing that this development also concerns Greece where inflation and deficits are decreasing with particularly fast rates and which intends to join the euro zone on January 1, 2001.

Piraeus port authority boss quits over wrangles with minister

The president of Piraeus Port Authority, George Klavdianos, announced yesterday that he had resigned from his post following disagreements with the merchant marine minister.

Mr. Klavdianos told a news conference that he had sent his resignation and an explanation to the prime minister.

He alleged that Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis had repeatedly made unwarranted interventions in the port's operation.

The resignation followed a verbal spat between the two officials on April 23 in the port of Piraeus.

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, speaking to journalists last night, rejected Mr. Klavdianos' accusations saying that "those that have been appointed to political posts and insist on not understanding and implementing the ministry's basic policy principles cannot continue being my associates."

OA pilots call off strike

Olympic Airways flights will reportedly return to normal today after the state-run airline's pilots' association called off its planned industrial action, following talks with OA's board yesterday.

A spokesman for the association said OA President Theodoros Tsakiridis reassured pilots that the loss-making carrier was not planning to cut back schedules.

Earlier, during another meeting with air staff, Mr. Tsakiridis told stewards that additional staff will be hired as soon as the Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment (ASEP) gives the green light.

The development means passengers flying OA during the upcoming May Day observance should encounter at least less problems in reaching their destination, compared to the past few weeks.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Olympic Airways, battling ailing finances and union unrest, will have to turn to strategic alliances with foreign airlines in the future in order to ensure its viability. "The governm ent is doing everything to make OA's revitalisation plan a success. Despite errors and delays, the situation is in a phase of adaptation," Mr. Reppas told his daily news briefing.

He said loss-making routes should be be dealt with through flight mergers.

Greek stocks nosedive on EMU jitters

Greek equities yesterday suffered heavy losses on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting market worries linked a weekend European Union summit to choose which countries will launch the euro currency.

Traders said sentiment was hit by speculation at the weekend of a new drachma devaluation, which led to massive profit-taking.

The general index ended 7.0 percent down at 2,300.71 points with all sector indices ending sharply lower.

Banks plunged 7.95 percent, Leasing was 8.0 percent down, Insurance fell 7.21 percent, Investment was 8.0 percent off, Industrials eased 7.07 percent, Construction dropped 8.0 percent, Holding fell 6.65 percent and Miscellaneous ended 6.06 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 5.31 percent off.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 90.5 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 223 to 28 with another 8 issues unchanged.

Hadzioannou, Lambropoulos, Allatini, Eskimo and Lanakam scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Aeoliki, Hellenic Sugar, Aegek, Pouliades, General Bank, National Bank, Bank of Greece and ETEBA suffered the heaviest losses at the daily 8.0 percent limit down.

National Bank of Greece ended at 48,392 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,380, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,450, Delta Dairy at 23,276, Titan Cement at 23,200, Intracom at 17,500 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 795.

Premier goes to Brussels for EU's weekend Euro summit

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will represent Greece at a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels at the weekend to choose which countries will launch the 15-nation bloc's single currency.

The summit on Saturday will debate recommendations submitted on Friday evening by the EU's economy and finance ministers (Ecofin), who will also meet in Brussels.

Ecofin's ministers will debate plans devised earlier by the EU's executive Commission, which include an evaluation of economic performance by member states in order to determine the countries ready to launch the euro on January 1, 1999.

Bulgarian natural gas supplies to Greece jump

Natural gas supplies to Greece from Bulgaria totalled 160 million cubic metres in 1997, up from only one million the previous year, Iuliana Demetrova, a spokeswoman of Bulgargas, Bulgaria's state-owned transport network, said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Rem Vyahirev, chairman of Russia's Gazprom, said he expected Greece's natural gas consumption to total three billion cubic metres in the next few years.

Mr. Vyahirev told the Athens News Agency yesterday that Greek authorities had expressed interest in increasing Russian natural gas supplies to support operation of thermoelectric power stations in Greece.

WEATHER

Fair weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Rain in the west and east late at night. Winds variable, light to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 10-24C. Scattered cloud in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-22C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 312.916 British pound 522.486 Japanese yen(100) 236.493 French franc 52.060 German mark 174.294 Italian lira (100) 17.648 Irish Punt 439.853 Belgian franc 8.449 Finnish mark 57.538 Dutch guilder 154.980 Danish kr. 45.717 Austrian sch. 24.796 Spanish peseta 2.056 Swedish kr. 40.541 Norwegian kr. 41.914 Swiss franc 209.649 Port. Escudo 1.700 Aus. dollar 202.606 Can. dollar 218.022 Cyprus pound 592.740

(C.E.)


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