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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-15

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, 15/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Cyprus accepts UN call for proximity talks, Denktash backs down
  • US expects Denktash to participate in talks
  • Postponement of Clinton visit by a week was to Greece's benefit
  • Police neutralise bomb at Ford car dealership
  • Greek political analysts say opposition to Clinton visit limited
  • Government's will to wipe out terrorism unyielding
  • Catherine Deneuve visits Thessaloniki Film Festival
  • Greece, Russia sign cooperation protocol to aid growth of SMEs
  • Greece-Turkey economic rapprochement will serve vital interests,
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Cyprus accepts UN call for proximity talks, Denktash backs down

Cyprus and Greece yesterday welcomed an invitation by the UN Secretary General for proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides on December 3 in New York, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash took a step back the same day from his earli er acceptance of the invitation, claiming the format of the talks had been changed.

Earlier, US President Bill Clinton had welcomed the agreement by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash to hold proximity talks on ending the dispute over the divided island.

"These Cyprus talks can bring us one step closer to a lasting peace," President Clinton said in a statement released aboard Air Force One, on his way to Turkey.

In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said: "We express satisfaction. The talks must be substantive and sustained in order to yield results."

In Durban, South Africa, Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan assured him that the December 3 proximity talks to prepare the ground for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus issue would be carried out on the basic aspects of the issue and would be substantive.

Earlie, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the acceptance by President Clerides and Mr. Denktash of an invitation to proximity talks and said he was looking forward to having "substantive talks".

Direct talks between the two sides have not been held for the past two years because of preconditions set by the Turkish Cypriot leader for recognition of the illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.

US expects Denktash to participate in talks

The United States said yesterday it expected Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to participate in December 3 talks with President Clerides despite his reported reservations.

"We've seen the reports," said White House National Security Council spokesman David Leavy. "Mr. Denktash made a commitment to the secretary general of the United Nations to participate in proximity talks beginning Dec. 3. We fully expect him to live up to that commitment."

Mr. Denktash took a step back late yesterday from his earlier acceptance of the U.N. invitation to proximity talks, saying the format of the talks had been changed.

The talks would prepare the ground for what he called "meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement" of the protracted Cyprus problem.

Postponement of Clinton visit by a week was to Greece's benefit

Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that the postponement of US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens was to Greece's benefit.

Mr. Papandreou, in an interview published in "Sunday Ethnos", said that the postponement of President Clinton's visit was primarily owed to the need for "a better preparation of substantive talks over Greece's national issues", not to the protests over the visit.

US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens, initially scheduled for 13 November, was postponed a week for November 19.

"There is no room for sentimentalities in foreign policy... we may miss our cause depending on the way we express it. We should all realise that we can not play around with the country's national interests", Mr. Papandreou said.

The foreign minister criticised the attitude of the opposition, particularly of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, calling it contradictory.

"On one hand he (Mr. Karamanlis) condemns the protests, while on the other hand deputies of the main opposition party threaten to hurl tomatoes. This is not sober politics", Mr. Papandreou said.

In a related development, Mr. Karamanlis yesterday lashed at the government over its handling of the US president's visit saying that it had caused "national damage".

Police neutralise bomb at Ford car dealership

Bomb disposal experts yesterday neutralised a home-made explosive device placed inside a shoulder bag at the "Ford" car dealership on Alexandras Avenue in Athens.

They said the bag containing the time-bomb had been planted between a car and the glass wall of the car dealership.

Police had been alerted by an anonymous caller who telephoned Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" about the bomb.

According to police experts the same terrorist group behind the November 5 bombing attempt at "Nike's" sports goods store in Athens, may be behind yesterday's incident.

The bomb was neutralised through a "controlled environment" explosion, police said.

Greek political analysts say opposition to Clinton visit limited

Two Greek political analysts wrote in the Washington Post yesterday that opposition to President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens this week was limited to "a small minority on the left and a handful of right-wing extremists, who should not be labelled terrorists".

In their article headlined "Peaceful Greece", professors Theodoros Kouloumbis and Thanos Veremis said that protests against President Clinton's visit on November 19-20 were being staged chiefly by supporters of the Communist Party of Greece and Democratic Social Movement.

In addition, some far-rightists who looked back with nostalgia to Greece's 1967-1974 military dictatorship also backed the protests.

The junta was supported by the Johnson and Nixon administrations, the two writers added.

The country's other political parties might object on a case-by-case basis to US or NATO policies - including their bombing of Yugoslavia this year - but were neither anti-American nor anti-European, they said.

The analysts were responding to an article published earlier this month in the Washington Post by a former US State Department and Pentagon official, who claimed that Greek government officials may have links to the November 17 terrorist organisation, responsible for dozens of murders and attacks since 1975.

Mr. Kouloumbis and Mr. Veremis pointed out that Greek police were working with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to identify members of the elusive group, but with no success.

November 17 appeared to be an organisation with few members, and it struck at regular intervals, the writers said.

They also noted that Greece had enjoyed an established system of democracy since 1974, and was a member of the European Union and NATO.

In addition, the country ranked 20th around the world for its standard of living, and showed low rates of crime, suicide and drug abuse, the authors of the article added.

Government's will to wipe out terrorism unyielding

The public order ministry said yesterday that the government's will to wipe out terrorism was unyielding, and the authorities were conducting their enquiries toward that end.

At the same time, the issue of terrorism did not lend itself to public discussion, especially when media reports were off the mark, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement was released in response to a report in the Sunday Vima newspaper claiming that security forces had evidence leading to the November 17 terrorist group, responsible for dozens of killings and attacks since 1975.

According to the Sunday Vima, authorities have whittled down the number of suspects to 10, who are under surveillance. The newspaper said that information about November 17 and the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), another terrorist group, had eme rged from archives kept by the Stasi, the former East Germany's secret service.

It also claimed that police had located a member of November 17 who was injured in an attack on the German ambassador's residence and then sought treatment at a private clinic.

Catherine Deneuve visits Thessaloniki Film Festival

The 40th Thessaloniki Film Festival entered its third day yesterday with the screening of 29 films. Honouring the festival with her presence yesterday was renowed French actress Catherine Deneuve who gave a press conference.

Asked whether there was any prospect of her cooperating with award-winning Greek film director Thodoros Angelopoulos, the French star said "Angelopoulos is a great film director. He has vision of the universe and he passese this in his films. He has never asked me to cooperate with him. If he does so, I will study the scenario." The first two days of the film festival attracted an audience of about 9,000. Last night, the film that attracted the largest audience (about 600) was that of Michalis Kakoyannis' "O Vyssinokipos".

Greece, Russia sign cooperation protocol to aid growth of SMEs

Greece and Russia on Saturday signed a cooperation protocol to aid the growth of small and medium sized enterprises.

The pact was signed in Athens by Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Zafiropoulos and his Russian counterpart, Alexei Prokopiev.

Under the terms of the protocol, the two countries will share experiences and knowhow in the sector in order to help encourage the creation and growth of small and medium sized firms.

They will also devise measures to make products and services in the sector more competitive.

Greece-Turkey economic rapprochement will serve vital interests,

Politicians yesterday said that an economic rapprochement between Greece and Turkey was necessary for the promotion of vital interests for both countries. Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputy Vasilis Maginas, Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) deputy Yiannis Dragasakis, ruling PASOK party Eurodeputy Alexandros Baltas and former ND Minister Andreas Andrianopoulos were the main speakers at a conference organised by the International Economic Relations Institute.

They said that economic cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the construction, transportation, tourism, telecommunication, banking products and food production sectors would serve the interests of both countries and would further their friendship, while they supported Turkey joining the European Union, calling it a springboard for future cooperation between the two countries.

The speakers attributed failure for a successful rapprochement between the two countries to the absence of bilateral agreements and to the lesser significance of the existing ones.

Turkey, based on Eurostat data, is one of Greece's most significant trading partners, given the fact the trade between Greece and Turkey exceeded 630 billion ECU in 1998.

WEATHER

Unstable weather is forecast throughout Greece today with rain and storms in the west of the country and in the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese islands. Winds southerly, moderate to strong, becoming stronger overnight. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 12-19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with possible rain overnight and temperatures from 9- 15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          314.266
Pound sterling       508.479
Japanese yen (100)   300.259
French franc          49.652
German mark          166.524
Italian lira (100)    16.820
Irish Punt           413.545
Belgian franc          8.074
Finnish mark          54.777
Dutch guilder        147.793
Danish kr.            43.842
Austrian sch.         23.669
Spanish peseta         1.957
Swedish kr.           37.759
Norwegian kr.         39.700
Swiss franc          202.527
Port. Escudo           1.625
Can. dollar          214.272
Aus. dollar          202.051
Cyprus pound         563.039
Euro                 325.693
(C.E.)
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