National Bank issues English-language bulletin
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis, van Mierlo agree on handling of Albanian crisis
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Dutch President of the European Union
Council of Ministers Hans van Mierlo, who is visiting Tirana today, last
night expressed full agreement on the handling of the Albanian crisis after
two hours of talks in Athens.
Mr. Simitis stressed the need for the democratisation process to proceed in
Albania and that the use of violence would have negative consequences.
"The strengthening of democracy in Albania will facilitate and speed up
procedures for the provision of aid by the European Union to relieve the
suffering Albanian people," he said.
Both men described the proposed OSCE mission to the country, headed by
former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky, as "very useful" and expressed
the support of the EU to this initiative.
They also noted that in their separate telephone conversations with
President Berisha, the latter referred to the prospect of proclaiming early
elections in his country.
Mr. van Mierlo expressed the view that the crisis could be controlled and
noted that Mr. Berisha attributed great significance to the economic aid
the EU could provide. He said he was fully in agreement with what Mr.
Simitis said, and particularly emphasised that the full identity of views
among all EU member-states on how to handle the crisis boosted the
prospects for lifting the impasse soon.
He added that Mr. Berisha had categorically assured him that there was no
problem for the ethnic Greek minority in his country and that he did not
consider them in any way responsible for the current situation.
In Tirana yesterday evening, President Berisha, after talks with Albania's
opposition parties, agreed to suspend military activity against armed
rebels and offer them an amnesty.
Meanwhile, briefing the members of Parliament's External Affairs Committee
yesterday on developments in Albania, Foreign Undersecretary Kranidiotis
said Greece's first priority was to protect the ethnic Greek minority in
When he goes to Tirana tomorrow, he said, he will convey Greece's concern
about developments and the rights of the Greek minority.
Mr. Kranidiotis also held a meeting yesterday with a delegation of ethnic
Greeks from Albania, to whom he reiterated Greece's complete support.
Papandreou warns Albania troubles may spread
Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou has warned that
trouble in Albania could spread through the Balkans.
Asked in an interview published on Thursday by the newspaper "Le Monde" if
he believed the crisis could spread outside Albania's borders, Mr.
Papandreou replied: "Yes...and we Greeks want the crisis contained within
the borders of Albania and not to spread to the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, to Bulgaria or to Kosovo.
"We have also asked Mr. Berisha to make sure the Greek minority in southern
Albania is not involved in this conflict, which is none of its concern. In
times of crisis, minorities are too often chosen as sacrificial lambs," he
Reports of Berisha distributing weapons
There were persistent reports yesterday that the Berisha government was
distributing 5,000 weapons to members of the ruling Democratic Party in the
Gjirokaster and Sarande areas, as armed rebels began to organise with the
help of former military officers.
Gjirokaster appeared to be becoming the base for military operations to
stamp out the uprising in the surrounding towns. The town has been
surrounded by army forces and three tanks patrol the central roads.
Defence of the towns still under the rebels' control appeared to be
commanded by demobilised soldiers and officers. The situation, however,
appeared to be calm.
In another development yesterday, two Albanians who were wounded in the
unrest were transported to a Corfu hospital for medical treatment.
Albanian soldiers seek asylum in Greece
Seven unarmed Albanian soldiers in civilian clothes yesterday crossed the
border and asked for political asylum in Greece.
They are the first to do so since the beginning of the armed revolt in the
south of the country earlier this week.
Two Albanian airmen landed a military plane in Italy on Tuesday and asked
for political asylum.
Greece has important role to play in Europe, Albright says
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during a meeting with Foreign
Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday, spoke of bilateral relations,
Greece's role in Europe and in the Balkans, and Greek-Turkish relations.
"Greece has an important role to play in rebuilding Europe. We will
continue to work together on issues such as Bosnia and the Balkans," she
"The US is ready to help, if it can, in resolving long-standing differences
between our allies, Greece and Turkey, in the Aegean and elsewhere. We will
also discuss opportunities which exist to promote a solution between the
sides in Cyprus and we will make a review of the situation in Albania.
Relations between Greece and the US are strong and are becoming all the
stronger," she said, welcoming Mr. Pangalos at the State Department.
Ms Albright said Washington has "a great interest in the Cyprus issue",
describing it as a "top priority" and saying 1997 is "a year of opportunity
to resolve it due to the prospect of Cyprus' accession to the EU."
Referring to the Aegean, the Secretary of State said "it is very important
for Greece and Turkey to discuss these issues. We are concerned over
increased tension in the Aegean. The region is strategically important and
we think that the best way to have the issues resolved is through dialogue
between the two countries."
Commenting on the Albanian crisis, Ms Albright said the US "is concerned
over the wave of refugees and we believe that the sole solution is a
Mr. Pangalos described the meeting as "very useful", adding that Greece's
relations with the US "are steadfast and continuous."
The foreign minister extended an invitation to Ms Albright to visit Greece,
which was accepted.
Speaking on Greek-Turkish relations, Mr Pangalos said "the position of the
US that a dialogue is necessary is known. They explained to us of course
that with this word they do not necessarily mean negotiations, as Turkey is
Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said "We will not take spectacular
initiatives. This is not the job of foreign ministers."
Pangalos called on Turkey to "stop threats and claims against Greece. You
can find an important ally in Greece, because we know each other well. We
have great interests in being together."
Premier to visit Romania
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Bucharest on March 20-21 at the
invitation of his Romanian counterpart Victor Ciorbea, Greece's ambassador
to Romania, Christos Alexandris, announced yesterday. Making the announcement
dur ing talks with Romania's Minister for European Integration, Alexandru
Herlea, Mr. Alexandris reiterated Greece's full support for Romania's
efforts to join NATO during the first stage of the Alliance's enlargement.
"In the sector of military cooperation, after the USA, Romania is a
preferential partner for Greece," Mr. Alexandris said.
Palestinian police officers to be trained in Greece
Greek and Palestinian officials yesterday examined ways of cooperating on
matters related to public security, combatting terrorism and drug smuggling
and strengthening the Palestinian police.
Talks in Athens between Public Order Minister George Romeos and Palestinian
Authority Interior Undersecretary Ahmad Al Tamimi focused in particular on
the training of Palestinian police officers in Greece.
Mr. Tamimi is currently in Greece at the head of a Palestinian delegation,
following an official invitation extended by the Greek government, for
talks aimed at promoting cooperation in a number of sectors.
Mr. Romeos responded positively to Mr. Tamimi's request for the training of
Palestinian policemen, accepting an initial six officers to be trained in
High school teachers strike, 8th week
High school teachers yesterday decided to continue their strike for the
eighth consecutive week. The government spokesman reiterated that the
stoppage was unjustified since it had already met most of the teachers' pay
demands and there was an almost complete convergence on institutional
He added that the problem of the strike could be solved without resorting
to the old emergency practice of civil conscription, as it seemed that an
increasing number of teachers had begun returning to classrooms. Meanwhile,
Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis reiterated the ministry`s aim to begin
a process of reform in September.
"The reform of education does not only require political will, which is in
place, it does not only need resources, which are in place, it also needs
the support of teachers, who must look forward and not backwards," he
National Bank issues English-language bulletin
The National Bank of Greece yesterday issued the first edition of its new
English-language bulletin entitled "Economic and Financial."
The new bulletin is directed at the bank's major clients and foreign
institutional investors and refers to developments in the Greek economy and
to fiscal markets.
Special reference is made to the course of certain basic economic
indicators, with the bulletin stating that the balance of payments deficit
is under control and inflation is following a downward trend. Special
emphasis is placed on the gradual decrease in the deficit from 14.2 per
cent of GDP in 1993 to 7.6 per cent in 1996 and an anticipated 4.2 per cent
On the question of exchange policy, the publication stressed that stability
is expected to be maintained in the drachma parity against a package of
currencies, while at the same time it predicts that it will increase in
value against the mark and decrea se against the dollar.
Fine weather is forecast throughout the country with some local cloudiness
in eastern and southern Greece. Moderate to strong winds in the southeastern
Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny to overcast with temperatures between 8-
16C. Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 4-
Athens 2004 Olympics bid presented
Athens' official candidacy to host the 2004 Olympic Games was presented to
the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) 14-member Selection Committee
in Lausanne yesterday.
The presentation was made by President of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
Committee Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki, who offered the Committee members
CD ROMs containing information about the city of Athens.
"It is a fictitious journey to Athens seven years prior to the hosting of
the Olympic Games in Greece's capital," Ms. Angelopoulou-Daskalaki
She further announced the organisation of events in all Greek cities which
have a historic relation with the spirit of the Olympics.
The events will last from 2001 through 2004.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.592
Pound sterling 431.222 Cyprus pd 521.792
French franc 46.174 Swiss franc 179.825
German mark 155.709 Italian lira (100) 15.666
Yen (100) 220.036 Canadian dlr. 195.424
Australian dlr. 210.150 Irish Punt 416.739
Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 52.229
Dutch guilder 138.384 Danish kr. 40.839
Swedish kr. 34.873 Norwegian kr. 38.539
Austrian sch. 22.125 Spanish peseta 1.841
Portuguese escudo 1.553