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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-11-29

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, 29/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece promotes security, defence policy for wider region
  • Papandreou says Greece will protect both itself and Cyprus
  • Gov't flatly dismisses press claim of 'sunken nuke' off Crete
  • PM announces creation of new nationwide police organisation
  • US envoy outlines Washington's views on Turkey's EU prospects
  • Simitis, Karamanlis exchange barbs in weekend tours
  • Protocol agreement between Greek, Italian parliaments
  • Greek team takes first place at weightlifting championships
  • Stricter provisions for construction firms envisioned
  • SAE congress in Thessaloniki to begin Dec. 5
  • Large shark caught off Evros
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece promotes security, defence policy for wider region

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed on Saturday that Greece is promoting a wide-ranging policy of security and defence, while laying the foundations to curb crises in the wider geo-political region.

"Our country is promoting a wide-ranging policy of security and defence, to tackle crises in the wider geopolitical region, either in the Balkans or the eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East and, at the same time, Greece's role is highlighted as a force of peace, security, stability and cooperation in the region," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in Kavala, northern Greece.

"We are supporting this security policy, a policy which constitutes a target to be achieved in a similar radius by all neighbouring Balkan countries. They have also realised that the common future requires a common course in supporting a regional securi ty policy through which they will secure security and peace," he said.

"Moreover, Greece is completing a five-year course of equal accession to Europe's Economic and Monetary Union, with the fact that we will join the 'euro zone' next June, fully satisfying the criteria and terms anticipated for this process. Greece is really becoming an equal member of the European Union. However, the main conclusion is that the Greek economy is highlighting its strength in Europe and internationally as well, and in the Balkans, a fact leading neighbouring countries to request their association with our economy," he added.

"The armed forces' vigorous and highly effective social role in conditions of local and regional development for the entire region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. However, I should stress at the same time our full support in the creation of necessary communications infrastructures regarding the axes of transport; the networks which, not only along the breadth of Greece, along the breadth of the Egnatia (motorway) link the space covered by Greece but, primarily, with the communications axes to the north which will guarantee the neighbouring countries' common economic activity with us.

Concluding, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "we are strengthening the infrastructure and potential of the airport of Chrysoupolis (outside Kavala) and we are open to the parallel utilisation of military and civilian airports, either with existing airports or with abandoned and closed ones."

Papandreou says Greece will protect both itself and Cyprus

Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who returned on Friday from a trip to Cyprus where he held talks with the island republic's political leaders on Athens' stance vis-a-vis Turkey's bid for EU candidacy, stressed yesterday that Greece would protect both its own and Cyprus' interests at the upcoming Helsinki summit.

In an interview published in Sunday's edition of "Eleftherotypia", Mr. Papandreou said if Greece was forced to use its veto at Helsinki on the issue of EU Turkey's candidacy, the responsibility for this would lie with Greece's EU partners.

The outcome at Helsinki, he added, would have an effect on Greek-Turkish rapprochement presently under way but he said he hoped that talks over the next few days would bring results.

"I hope that the negotiations over the next few days will find partners ready to contribute to further strengthening of Greek-Turkish rapprochement, by guaranteeing Greek interests," he said.

"We have not given our final consent and nor are we about to until we guarantee our vital interests and confirm that Turkey's European course is to the benefit of the EU, Greece, Cyprus and of course Turkey," Mr. Papandreou said.

Mr. Papandreou began a visit to Stockholm yesterday, part of his round of contacts to brief EU member states on the Greek position ahead of the critical EU Helsinki summit in early December.

Gov't flatly dismisses press claim of 'sunken nuke' off Crete

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday denied a press report that a US nuclear warhead had accidentally been 'dropped' off the coast of Crete a few years ago, remaining there undetonated for years. "Whoever wrote this article was entrapped. The information is wrong...I can assure you that there has not been such an incident in recent years in Greece," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

The Sunday newspaper "To Vima" claimed yesterday that a nuclear-powered US warship sailing near the Souda anchorage had accidentally ejected a warhead into the sea northwest of Crete.

The Greek defence minister also denied reports of a Greek-US agreement on dealing with nuclear weapons, saying that a proposal had been made to discuss the issue, but that it was never concluded.

PM announces creation of new nationwide police organisation

Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced on Saturday from Crete the creation of several general police directorates throughout the country.

The general police directorate of Crete will include a special force dedicated to combatting illegal activities in rural areas, the premier said in the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos.

"Illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. Any such behaviour will be combatted. Crete will have the same level of security with that of the rest of the country," Mr. Simitis stressed.

In an unrelated development, 150 protesters handed the premier a memorandum requesting changes to their town's local administration merger into a larger municipality.

The mergers were mandated by the "Kapodistrias" plan, which led to the merger of approximately 14,000 communities throughout Greece to less than 1, 000 municipalities.

US envoy outlines Washington's views on Turkey's EU prospects

Washington hopes Athens will build on the recent good climate in bilateral relations with Turkey and give Ankara a positive response in its bid for European Union candidate status, according to press statements by US ambassador Nicholas Burns.

Mr. Burns was quoted in an interview published yesterday by the Sunday edition of the Kathimerini newspaper.

"I believe that if Turkey becomes a candidate country for the EU it will help and increase the possibilities of resolving the Cyprus issues and of peacefully and constructively dealing with Greek-Turkish problems," Mr. Burns said.

"This is why we believe that this development facilitates Greece's long- term interests. Our position is that Turkish should become a candidate, while we have always supported the accession of Cyprus which is already a candidate. We support both".

He said it was up to the European Union on how it would deal with the issue of Cypriot accession in the eventuality of a non-resolution of the political issue.

Mr. Burns added that it was standing US policy, and clearly expressed recently by Mr. Clinton, that Greece and Turkey had to refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague any differences they were unable to resolve through bilateral means.

Simitis, Karamanlis exchange barbs in weekend tours

Prime Minister Costas Simitis criticised yesterday what he described as the "far-right inclination" of his main rival, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

"We say no to divisions, no to discriminations, no to choices," he said.

Speaking yesterday in the town of Sitia, Crete, Mr. Simitis again criticised Mr. Karamanlis' phrase concerning "clean" Greeks which, as he said, constitutes "a return to the conservative party's far-right past."

Touring the Corinth prefecture on Saturday, Mr. Karamanlis made a strong personal attack on Mr. Simitis, focusing on issues of transparency as well as the elections.

Mr. Karamanlis accused Mr. Simitis of embarking on a delirium of accusations aimed at him.

"With this attack of his, Mr. Simitis proves that he is living in another era, the era of divisions, and this proves that he is a politician of yesterday, of the past," Mr. Karamanlis said.

Protocol agreement between Greek, Italian parliaments

Parliament President Apostolos Kakalamanis and his Italian counterpart Luciano Volante signed a protocol yesterday on widening prospects of promoting bilateral Parliamentary cooperation.

Issues such as Parliamentary diplomacy, combatting organised crime, the holding of joint cultural events and the exchange of visits at all levels, among others, are the focus of the cooperation.

"Despite remarks by US President Mr. Clinton to the Turkish leadership that it should make certain actions of rapprochement towards the Greek side...no step has been taken in this direction so far," Mr. Kaklamanis said.

He was replying to a question by Mr. Volante regarding developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue in the wake of Mr. Clinton's visit to the two countries.

On the question of Cyprus, Mr. Kaklamanis said there are no indications that something substantive will result from the impending meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

Greek team takes first place at weightlifting championships

The Greek men's weightlifting team more than pleased its hometown fans over the weekend at the world championships, held at an Athens seaside indoor stadium, by taking first place in the overall point standings.

Greek athletes won four gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals at the championships, held at the sold-out Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro.

Greece's Akakios Kakhiasvilis on Saturday set a world record in the snatch and won the gold medal in the men's 94-kg category. He lifted 188 kgs in the snatch to clinch Greece's first overall category victory at the championships.

Stricter provisions for construction firms envisioned

A committee set up by the public works ministry has drafted legal provisions which will more strictly regulate the private construction sector in Greece as well as creating a registry of contractors.

The bill has been forwarded to the relevant bodies for their observations. It comes on the heels of the collapse of an under-construction bridge in the Paiania district, east of Athens, last week that cost the lives of two workers and injured several ot hers.

The bill will relate to all "private sector construction projects" including residential buildings (both detached homes and apartment houses); industrial and commercial properties, such as premises for light industry, plants, warehouses and hotels; as well as public buildings, such as hospitals, schools, theatres and sports facilities.

The bill provides for the establishment of two registries of specialised personnel as well as a registry of "private construction project contractors".

SAE congress in Thessaloniki to begin Dec. 5

The congress of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will begin in Thessaloniki on Dec. 5 -8, a Greek-Australian leader said in Melbourne over the weekend.

Dimitris Dollis noted that despite a strike of the secretariat's employees, the conference will take place as planned, following the first congress of the SAE youth sector, scheduled for Dec. 1-2.

More than 1,100 participants are expected to attend the SAE congress from around the world, Mr. Dollis said.

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, several party leaders and Cyprus authorities will attend the congress' inaugural events.

An estimated 170 young ethnic Greeks from abroad will gather in Thessaloniki to discuss their problems, exchange thoughts, ideas and experiences with the Greek youth, according to a SAE announcement.

Large shark caught off Evros

A massive shark-like fish measuring some four-metres long and weighing 200 kilograms was caught by fishermen in the sea region off Mesimvria, Evros prefecture.

The fish, found dead in the nets of fisherman Panayiotis Koutsoulas, was initially taken to the fish depot at the port of Alexandroupoli and put on display.

According to an expert who examined it, this species of shark is harmless for man, has tasty meat and appears rarely in the specific sea region.

Greek first division soccer results

AEK Athens-OFI Heraklion 1-2 Aris Salonica-PAOK Salonica 0-0 Kalamata-Panionios Athens 1-3 Paniliakos Pyrgos-Iraklis Salonica 4- 3 Apollon Athens-Proodeftiki Piraeus 0-2 Kavala-Panachaiki Patras 0-0 Trikala-Xanthi 2-1 Playing today: Ionikos Piraeus-Panathinaikos, Olympiakos Piraeus-Ethnikos Astir Athens. Points: Panathinaikos, OFI 22, Olympiakos 21, Aris 18, Iraklis 15, AEK, Paniliakos 14, Xanthi 13, Ethnikos, PAOK 12, Ionikos 10,

WEATHER

Fine weather with local cloud and moderate to strong winds in most parts of Greece today. Athens will be cloudy with sunny spells and temperatures between 6-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          321.547
Pound sterling       518.737
Japanese yen (100)   309.226
French franc          49.755
German mark          166.869
Italian lira (100)    16.855
Irish Punt           414.402
Belgian franc          8.090
Finnish mark          54.891
Dutch guilder        148.100
Danish kr.            43.872
Austrian sch.         23.718
Spanish peseta         1.961
Swedish kr.           38.091
Norwegian kr.         40.182
Swiss franc          203.767
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          219.172
Aus. dollar          205.374
Cyprus pound         567.384
Euro                 326.368
(C.E.)
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