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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-12-13

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, 13/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Hopes that Turkey's EU candidacy will improve regional cooperation
  • Clinton congratulates Simitis
  • Demirel: 'Road to better relations with Greece has opened'
  • Papandreou interview with Reuters
  • Highlights of EU statement on Turkey's candidacy
  • Karamanlis: Helsinki cummit recognised unilateral Turkish claims
  • Clerides calls on T/C community to join EU accession talks
  • Greek First Division soccer results/standings
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Hopes that Turkey's EU candidacy will improve regional cooperation

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday welcomed Turkey's upgrading to European Union candidate status, during a press conference following the 15- nation bloc's summit here.

Mr. Simitis expressed a hope that Turkey's candidacy will contribute to better cooperation in the region and mark the beginning of new relations between Turkey and the Union, as well as between Ankara and Athens.

"Greece repeatedly has stressed that it aims for the friendship and cooperation with Turkey and its other neighbours," Mr. Simitis said.

EU leaders on Friday accepted the three conditions set by Greece, namely, that a solution to the Cyprus problem be independent of any EU decision regarding the island republic's EU accession course; that Turkey's various territorial claims against Greece be referred to the International Court at The Hague within a specific timeframe if a resolution isn't found; and that the same conditions apply to Turkey as to the other candidate states, while emphasising the need for an enhanced dialogue on human rights with a view to Ankara meeting the Copenhagen criteria on entry negotiations.

Commenting on Mr. Ecevit's statements on the Union's invitation to Turkey, Mr. Simitis said he was not worried about the statements, adding that "the determining factor for Turkey's relations with the EU is the decision of the summit".

Regarding the issue of Turkey's claims in relation to seeking recourse to The Hague, Mr. Simitis reiterated that the only difference in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey is that of the sea's continental shelf.

Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Simitis said the Union's decision for the island republic is positive because "it limits the ability of (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash, at least in the immediate future, to walk out of the New York (proximity) talks".

Clinton congratulates Simitis

Finally, US President Bill Clinton over the weekend congratulated Mr. Simitis for over what he called his "responsible" stance in Helsinki.

In a letter to Mr. Simitis, Mr. Clinton expressed "respect and appreciation" for the Greek PM's stance, adding that under Mr. Simitis' leadership, "your country can look forward to playing a leadership role in the region for the achievement of stability , prosperity and peace."

Mr. Clinton also thanked the Greek premier for the hospitality shown to him during a visit to Athens last month.

Demirel: 'Road to better relations with Greece has opened'

The road to better relations with Athens has opened, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel stressed here yesterday during a television interview.

"...Turkey has committed itself to resolving whatever border differences with Greece by peaceful means," the Turkish president noted.

Athens standing position in the face of various Turkish claims over the past 25 years has been that the only outstanding difference raised by Ankara of any substance is delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf.

"Turkey, as a member of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has committed itself that, if it has a border problem, it will resolve it by peaceful means," Mr. Demirel said.

"There was a marked rapprochement following the earthquakes, I want to thank everybody for that development. This positive climate should continue and will continue," he said, adding: "there should be greater trust between the two countries to eliminate the differences between them."

Papandreou interview with Reuters

In an exclusive interview with the Reuters news agency from Helsinki, the Greek minister praised Washington's role in providing assurances to both Greece and Turkey that nudged them toward better relations.

He also said the EU expected Turkey would not execute Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, sentenced to death earlier this year, but would use the EU accession process to improve the situation of its Kurdish population.

Mr. Papandreou said US President Bill Clinton's last-second call to Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit on Friday had been useful in helping sway Ankara to accept the EU's terms.

The minister said the Helsinki decision committed both Greece and Turkey to deal with some very difficult issues, including solving the long-standing Cyprus issue.

Mr. Papandreou added that he believed the Turkish Cypriots, who have so far boycotted Cyprus' negotiations for EU membership, had a new incentive to get involved.

"What we have now is a situation where Turkey is a candidate and therefore is part of the wider European family...Cyprus is on its way to membership, and this was enhanced yesterday also with the EU statement that whether or not there is a settlement, this is not a precondition for accession. So, I think the Turkish Cypriots will want to be aboard for the accession process, " Mr. Papandreou added.

Highlights of EU statement on Turkey's candidacy

The European Union announced on Saturday the terms for Turkey's candidacy for EU membership.

The following is the full text of the relevant paragraphs of the conclusions of the Helsinki EU summit:

4. The European Council reaffirms the inclusive nature of the accession process, which now comprises 13 candidate states within a single framework. The candidate states are participating in the accession process on an equal footing. They must share the values and objectives of the European Union as set out in the treaties. In this respect the European Council stresses the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter and urges candidate states to make every effort to resolve any outstanding border disputes and other related issues. Failing this they should within a reasonable time bring the dispute to the International Court of Justice. The European Council will review the situation relating to any outstandin g disputes, in particular concerning the repercussions on the accession process and in order to promote their settlement through the International Court of Justice, at the latest by the end of 2004. Moreover, the European Council recalls that compliance with the political criteria laid down at the Copenhagen European Council is a prerequisite for the opening of accession negotiations and that compliance with all the Copenhagen criteria is the basis for accession to the Union. ....

9. (a) The European Council welcomes the launch of the talks aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on 3 December in New York and expresses its strong support for the U.N. Secretary-General's efforts to bring the process to a successf ul conclusion. (b) The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors.

12. The European Council welcomes recent positive developments in Turkey as noted in the Commission's progress report, as well as its intention to continue its reforms towards complying with the Copenhagen criteria. Turkey is a candidate state destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other candidate states. Building on the existing European strategy, Turkey, like other candidate states, will benefit from a pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms. This will include enhanced political dialogue, with emphasis on progressing towards fulfilling the political criteria for accession with particular reference to the issue of human rights, as well as on the issues referred to in paragraphs 4 and 9 (a). Turkey will also have the opportunity to participate in Community programmes and agencies and in meetings between candidate states and the Union in the context of the accession process. An accession partnership will be drawn up on the basis of previous Europe an Council conclusions while containing priorities on which accession preparations must concentrate in the light of the political and economic criteria and the obligations of a member state, combined with a national programme for the adoption of the acquis. Appropriate monitoring mechanisms will be established. With a view to intensifying the harmonisation of Turkey's legislation and practice with the acquis, the Commission is invited to prepare a process of analytical examination of the acquis. The European Council asks the Commission to present a single framework for coordinating all sources of European Union financial assistance for pre- accession.

Karamanlis: Helsinki cummit recognised unilateral Turkish claims

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday criticised the government over the outcome of the EU summit in Helsinki, particularly over what he termed "recognition of unilateral Turkish claims as Greek-Turkish differences."

He said that although the reference to Cyprus was positive, it lacked a "clear-cut and specific timetable" and expressed serious reservations on the arrangements concerning the Greek-Turkish issues, which he called "unpleasant".

Addressing a gathering of ND women cadres, Mr. Karamanlis said results of the summit would for decades affect Greece's course in the European family vis-a-vis Turkey.

Mr. Karamanlis said no mention was made of any prerequisites and conditions vis-a-vis Greek-Turkish relations.

He stressed that the single issue of difference with Turkey regards the Aegean's contin ental shelf, saying however, that an endless list of claims on more than 150 islands in the eastern Aegean could now be decided by 15 foreign judges.

Finally, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voiced its opposition to the Helsinki decisions, adding that the government's "boasting is an effort to raise a smoke screen in order to hide the fact that an agreement was signed in Helsinki that comes at the expense of Greece's sovereign rights and the Cyprus issue".

As for the Cyprus problem, the KKE statement noted that it was "clear that Cyprus was the big loser since the division of the island was being advanced with or without its accession to the EU."

Clerides calls on T/C community to join EU accession talks

Cyprus will spare no effort to find an agreed, just, viable and workable solution to the island republic's political problem despite the fact that the European Council doesn't consider such a solution a precondition to Cyprus' EU accession.

This was stated on Saturday in New York by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides who reiterated his invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the current delegation negotiating the island's accession to the EU.

Mr. Clerides read to the press a written statement on the conclusions of the EU Summit in Helsinki just before meeting UN Secretary General's special adviser Alvaro de Soto, within the framework of on-going proximity talks between the sides.

"Despite the fact that it also provides that the solution of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition to the accession of Cyprus to the EU, I wish to emphasise that we will spare no effort to find an agreed, just, viable, and workable solution compatible with the acquis communautaire and the code of human rights," Mr. Clerides pointed out.

He also reiterated that his "invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the delegation negotiating Cyprus' accession to the EU is still open" and welcomed Turkey "in the ranks of the candidate countries".

The Cypriot government started that substantive accession negotiations with the EU in November 1998.

Greek First Division soccer results/standings

Kalamata-Apollon 1-1 Olympiakos-Paniliakos 2-1 Kavala-Panionios 3-7 Ionikos-Iraklis 1-1 Aris-Ethnikos Asteras 1-1 PAOK-Xanthi 5-0 Trikala-Proodeftiki 0-0 AEK-Panahaiki (Monday) OFI-Panathinaikos (Monday) Standings: Olympiakos 30, Panathinaikos 26, OFI 25, Aris 19, Paniliakos 17, Iraklis 16, AEK, Ionikos, PAOK, Panionios 15.

WEATHER

Rainy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today. Winds westerly, southwesterly, moderate to strong. Mostly sunny in Athens with temperatures from 7-17C. Possibility of scattered showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          321.378
Pound sterling       522.109
Japanese yen (100)   314.643
French franc          49.770
German mark          166.920
Italian lira (100)    16.861
Irish Punt           414.528
Belgian franc          8.093
Finnish mark          54.908
Dutch guilder        148.144
Danish kr.            43.900
Austrian sch.         23.726
Spanish peseta         1.962
Swedish kr.           38.059
Norwegian kr.         40.265
Swiss franc          204.312
Port. Escudo           1.629
Can. dollar          218.101
Aus. dollar          204.178
Cyprus pound         565.837
Euro                 326.467
(C.E.)
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