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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-09-27

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, Greece, 27/09/1996 (ANA)


  • Pangalos calls latest Ciller proposal usual Turkish policy of `raising new issues` for negotiation
  • Top Clinton aide says U.S. to undertake initiative on Aegean, Cyprus
  • N.D. rejects proposal for Varvitsiotis as provisional party head
  • Greece expresses concern over developments in Palestinian territories
  • New Aegean minister promises development for region
  • Public sector changes afoot
  • Greece comments on Jehovah's Witness's rights
  • Preparation of 1997 budget 'difficult'
  • Britain issues travel advisory for Corfu


    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday snubbed Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller's proposal that for Ankara to take recourse over the Imia islets issue at the International Court at The Hague, the court should also deal with the issue of demilitarisation of all Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.

    "This is a known Turkish position. It is obvious that it is not possible for it to be accepted, for the simple reason that it would mean approval of the Turkish tactic to continuously raise new issues in order to negotiate them," he told reporters after meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and a subsequent dinner hosted by European Union foreign ministers for US Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

    He added that any discussion on the matter at the present time was unthinkable and required fulfilment of certain pre-conditions which were still very distant.

    "The Hellenic Army on the islands has been there since the events on Cyprus, because Turkey still occupies certain sections of the island. A pre- condition for any such discussion, and for us to listen to any such view - we are not even listening to this view of Ms Ciller - is the resolution of all Greek-Turkish differences, the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and the onset of a good climate of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and the two peoples. We are very far from such a point, this issue is not for discussion at this moment and any discussion in any way is inconceivable," he added.

    He said it was up to Turkey to initiate a process of improvement in relations.

    "Of course, what we desire, our ultimate aim, is indeed this good friendship and cooperation. But in order to arrive there, we must go through a long period of time with mutual efforts. It is Turkey that must initiate these efforts, having raised the latest issue over Imia. It is its own initiative, its own responsibility, it must remove it, by stating that it will seek recourse for any interpretations of the isssue to the International Court at The Hague," he said.

    Asked to comment on Ms Ciller`s reference to "the Turkish borders in Cyprus, " he said:

    "This is a confession which, I think, must please Greece. We have been saying for years that Turkey occupies Cyprus militarily, has replaced Turkish-Cypriot authorities and brought thousands of settlers to the island, thereby becoming the main interloc utor of the international and the Cypriot community at this moment. If Ms Ciller admits it in such an elegant way, I have nothing to add."

    The United States will undertake an initiative for a comprehensive solution of problems in Cyprus and the Aegean after the US presidential elections, President Clinton's close aide George Stephanopoulos stated yesterday, indi cating that the process might involve participation of former assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke.

    "We believe that through the efforts of Mr. Lake at the National Security Council , the US ambassador at the UN, Madeleine Albright, and perhaps the good offices of Richard Holbrooke, we shall find a comprehensive solution to the Aegean and Cyprus," he said at the Hellenic Leadership conference, which was concluded here yesterday with an award to Mr. Holbrooke.

    Regarding the Greek-Turkish dispute over the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, and in the wake of Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller's statement that the issue must be referred to the International Court at The Hague together with that of the demili tarisation of the Greece's eastern Aegean islands, President Clinton's national security adviser Anthony Lake yesterday expressed the view that what had to be referred was the Imia issue.

    "Regarding Imia, we believe that the International Court at The Hague must resolve the difference," he said. "President Clinton has made it clear to the Greek, but also - mainly - to the Turkish government that the US expects a solution with respect for territorial integrity and international treaties, and without the use, or the threat of the use of violence," he added.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos spoke to reporters yesterday about talks with his counterparts within the framework of his contacts at the UN, focusing in principle on his meeting with the Australian foreign minister, saying they discussed issues concerning relations between the two countries and the presence of the Greek community in that country.

    Mr. Pangalos said that very soon "someone from the Greek foreign ministry, either I or Mr. Papandreou, will make a prolonged visit to Australia and to all the Greek communities."

    He said they also discussed Greek affairs, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and Greece's relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Mr. Pangalos then referred to his meeting with his Romanian counterpart.

    "We discussed our bilateral relations. Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Romania immediately after their elections in early November. We also discussed the future Balkan meetings of the Initiative for Economic and Technical Cooperation in early October, the meetings of foreign ministers in January in Sofia, as well as the meeting of Balkan countries in Thessaloniki in June."

    The main opposition New Democracy party, reeling from a 3-point defeat in last Sunday's general elections, has reportedly rejected a new plan whereby ND vice-president Yiannis Varvitsiotis would become the party's provisional leader prior to the election of a new leader at an upcoming congress.

    ND leader Miltiades Evert resigned his position Sunday night after conceding defeat by the ruling PASOK party.

    The idea of electing Mr. Varvitsiotis as provisional leader was forwarded by a number of ND deputies and cadres, as well as by the Athens daily "Apogevmatini."

    Former minister Stephanos Manos, a candidate in the leadership race, insists that a final decision for the leadership issue should be given now and not six months later, believing that during the run-up to the party congress, the party will be damaged by intra-party confrontations, claiming Prime Minister Costas Simitis will be able to infiltrate ND's sphere of influence even further.

    Greece yesterday expressed concern over the latest dramatic events in the Palestinian territories and said it followed developments with particular attention.

    A foreign ministry statement last night also said the government unequivocally condemned the use of violence and expressed deep regret over the heavy loss of human life, addressing an appeal to both sides for self-restraint, the adoption of appropriat e measures for the de-escalation of tension and the avoidance of counter-productive actions.

    "Greece wishes for the speedy resumption of negotiations regarding the ultimate status of Palestinian territories and the peace process. It stresses, in particular, the need for implementing the agreement for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Hebron ," the statement concluded.

    New Aegean minister promises development

    ''The bolstering of the Aegean through development is a national need and is the top priority for the political leadership of the ministry,'' newly- appointed Aegean Minister Elisavet Papazoi said today.

    Papazoi made the statement while officially taking over the ministry on the Aegean island of Mytilene.

    ''We need supplementary funds for the Aegean... There must be initiatives to improve health services, transportation and agricultural productiong throughout the Aegean,'' Papazoi added.

    ''Our aim,'' she added, ''is not only to attain full absorption of European Union funds, but also to redistribute credits.''

    Public sector changes afoot

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis has asked his ministers to submit proposals for changes in the broader public sector ''which will be made following the relevant assessment,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    Meanwhile, replying to other questions, Reppas said if it was ascertained that the law had been broken with respect to the election campaign expenses of candidates, the law would be ''strictly'' enforced.

    Greece comments on Jehovah Witnesses rights

    ''In Greece there is a democratic system of government and no restrictions whatsoever are imposed,'' government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today commenting on a European Court of Human Rights ruling on the religious rights of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    ''It would be a good thing if the freedom exisiting in Greece existed also in all countries,'' Reppas said, adding that the government was not considering any legislative changes.

    The court yesterday ordered Greece to pay 4 million drachmas in legal costs to four Jehovah's Witnesses on the grounds that the state's restrictions on opening places of worship violated their freedom of religion.

    Papantoniou: new budget difficult

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou today described the preparation of the 1997 state budget as ''difficult''.

    Papantoniou was speaking to reporters after the first meeting at the Finance Ministry on the preparation of the new budget.

    ''The meeting was of a purely briefing nature concerning the course of legislative tasks and the preparation of the 1997 budget which is a difficult one,'' Papantoniou said.

    He declined to make any comment on ''the substance'' of the issue in view of the new government's policy statements next week and ''the procedure for the preparation of the budget which, by its very nature, is confidential''.

    British embassy issues travel advisory for Corfu

    The British Embassy in Athens today issued a travel advisory warning British citizens visiting Corfu by boat of the threat posed by thieves following the shooting death of a British man on the island on Thursday.

    ''On September 26 a UK resident of Corfu was shot and killed in Gouvia by criminals attempting to steal a boat. This incident, following on from an earlier incident in June when shots were fired at a tourist hotel, confirms the continuing threat posed by boat thieves. British citizens visiting Corfu by boat should overnight in harbours where the boat can be guarded. Where possible, visitors should avoid marinas between midnight and 6 a.m., '' the embassy announcement said.

    Keith Hendley, 57, was shot dead yesterday when he tried to stop several men from stealing the inflatable craft on his yacht anchored in the Gouvia marina in eastern Corfu.

    Police believe the perpetrators are Albanians who illegally entered Greece and are suspected of involvement in a number of boat thefts on the island.

    The President of the Corfu Hoteliers' Association, Dimitris Bramos described the advisory as ''regrettable, because the criminal act was not committed by the people of Corfu who have always treated the British with affection''.

    ''The tragic incident was due to the uncontrollable situation for which no Corfiot is responsible. The hoteliers of Corfu condemn the criminal act and hope that the British Embassy advisory will be reconsidered because, from a chance event which can happen anywhere on earth, it is not possible to treat a society in this manner,'' Bramos added.

    Corfu Prefect Andreas Pagratis expressed his ''outrage and sorrow over the dramatic incident in the Bay of Gouvia which unjustly cost the life of a British citizen''.

    Putting the emotional aspect aside however, he said, ''I hope that this incident will not be allowed to tarnish the tranquil, peaceful, safe and hospitable image of Corfu and its inhabitants, as experience by millions of tourists during the last 40 years.''

    ''I am certain that when the furore over the incidents dies down, the British government will re-examine its position towards the island, a position both harsh and absolute which ignores the strong and long ties of friendship and cooperation between Corfiots and British tourists,'' Pagratis said.

    Meanwhile, according to press sources, the police have sketches of the four men believed to be responsible for Hendley's murder.

    Public Order Minister George Romeos will chair a meeting on Sunday to discuss measures to be taken to tackle the problem of Albanian criminals on the island.

    The meeting will be attended by Finance Undersecretary George Drys, Corfu Prefect Andreas Pagratis, deputies representing the prefecture, and the chiefs of the island's police and coastguard.


    Rainy in most parts of the country with the possibility of improvement late at night. Temperatures will range from 18-27C in Athens and 15-22C in Thessaloniki.


    U.S. dlr 237.971, Can. dlr.173.798, Australian dlr. 188.182, Pound sterling 370.988, Irish punt 381.126, Cyprus pd 512.467, French franc 46.297, Swiss franc 190.147 Belgian franc 7.597, German mark 156.419, Finnish mark 52.080, Dutch guilder 139.426 Danish Kr. 40.696, Swedish Kr. 35.871, Norwegian Kr. 36.635, Austrian Sh. 22.241, Italian lira (100) 15.640 Yen (100) 215.145, Spanish Peseta 1.860, Portuguese Escudo 1.538.


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