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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 20/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Foreign Undersecretary briefs Albanian envoy on visit to south
  • PM chairs inner cabinet meeting before leaving for Romania
  • Former MP Andreas Lentakis dies
  • FYROM press welcome FM Pangalos visit and talks in Skopje, Belgrade
  • Thessaloniki to commemorate Jewish Holocaust victims
  • Ukranian parliamentary delegation in Thessaloniki
  • Registered unemployment figure marks slight increase


    Foreign Undersecretary briefs Albanian envoy on visit to south

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today called Albania's Ambassador in Greece Hysen Tsabei to his office to brief him on the results of his two-day visit to southern Albania earlier this week.

    A foreign ministry announcement said Kranidiotis expressed puzzlement over an Albanian demarche concerning his visit to Gjirokaster and Sarande, saying the only possible explanation was that there had been some misunderstanding.

    The Albanian foreign ministry lodged the demarche with the Greek Embassy in Tirana, protesting meetings between Kranidiotis and insurgents' representatives in southern Albania.

    The demarche noted that the rebel representatives had no institutional competency for such meetings.

    Kranidiotis reiterated to Tsabei that all the formal steps had been taken prior to his visit, in addition to the fact that he had personally informed Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino just a few days beforehand.

    He also underlined that his visit had been within the framework of multilateral efforts by Greece, not only at an international level but also within the European Union, aimed at defusing tension in Albania through peaceful means and supporting the efforts of the new government of national reconciliation.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas meanwhile described Greek foreign policy on the Albanian crisis as ''positive''.

    He said this was the general assessment of the inner cabinet meeting today chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis which focused on foreign policy and the economy.

    The spokesman added that Greece would be stepping up its efforts in order to maintain the country's upgraded role in the region.

    In a related development, Reppas said a formal written request was expected from Tirana possibly later today seeking help from Athens in re-organising and restructuring the Albanian army.

    PM chairs inner cabinet meeting before leaving for Romania

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting of the inner cabinet to examine a wide range of government policy issues, with emphasis on foreign affairs and the economy.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said there was no disagreement on the issues raised on the basis of an agenda proposed by Simitis, while adding that ''various views'' were put forward on the matters discussed.

    Reppas said there would be a clear picture of the economic situation in mid- April and predicted a continuation of the downward trend of inflation which, he forecast, would drop to 5 per cent in the summer.

    The meeting also dealt with issues concerning changes in the public sector, the modernisation of public administration and the government's legislative work.

    Commenting on the government's task in general, the spokesman spoke of two phases which had already ended -- the first, characterized by planning and the second, which was accompanied by social tension and labour action.

    In the present third phase, he said, emphasis would be placed on implementing government policy, the close monitoring of the budget and macroeconomic magnitudes, the course towards European integration, the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and NATO enlargement.

    Former MP Andreas Lentakis dies

    Former deputy Andreas Lentakis died suddenly this morning of a heart attack. He was 62. Lentakis was for years a member of Greece's Left, before joining the newly formed Political Spring party in 1993.

    Born in Ethiopia, Lentakis first became active in politics while studying at Athens University's School of Archeology and History. He later became involved in the struggle against the 1967-74 military dictatorship, for which he was imprisoned and tortured.

    He became Mayor of Hymettos in 1978 and was relected twice, before being elected president of the United Democratic Left (EDA). Lentakis later became a prominent member of the Coalition of the Let and Progress, before declaring himself an independent deputy in 1993. Later the same year he became a founding member of Political Spring.

    Lentakis also wrote many books on political and social issues. He leaves a wife, Fotini Savoulidou, and two sons.

    FYROM press welcome Pangalos visit, talks in Skopje, Belgrade

    Yesterday's visit to Skopje by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos received a positive response from the press in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), according to the ANA's correspondent in Skopje.

    "Albania brought Athens and Skopje together", observed the pro-government Nova Makedonia, referring to the objective of Pangalos' visit, which was to discuss illegal immigration from Albania to neighbouring states as a result of the current crisis there. The newspaper also noted that the two sides agreed with regard to maintaining existing borders as well as respect for minority rights. It said that a Greek proposal for international economic aid to the Balkans was also discussed.

    Nevenka Mitrefska, under the headline "Psychological barriers are down", called Pangalos' visit "a courageous step by Grece and a truly European gesture". It contended that disagreement over FYROM's name "should not be an obstacle to cooperation".

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday paid a short official visit to Skopje, where he held four hours of talks with FYROM's political leadership before departing for high-level talks in Belgrade.

    The foreign minister's trip to Skopje and Belgrade was part of Athens' initiative to promote peace, stability and development in the region, in light of the recent political crisis in Albania.

    Mr. Pangalos' visit was the first ever to FYROM by a Greek minister, since the landlocked state declared its independence in 1991. Greece objects to the use of the name "Macedonia" by the neighbouring country, an issue which is the subject of ongoing UN -mediated negotiations between the two nations.

    In Skopje, Mr. Pangalos met FYROM President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister Branco Crvenkovski, Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski and the ministers of defence and the interior. Mr. Pangalos told a press conference afterwards that "the situation in the region made it necessary for the Greek government to have direct consultations" with FYROM.

    The Greek foreign minister later flew to Belgrade for talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, which ended late in the afternoon and focused on the Albanian crisis as well as on ways of dealing with the crisis.

    Mr. Pangalos stated afterwards that there was agreement on three points: To seek promotion of security and political stability through the restoration of democratic procedures in Albania; that there should be strict policing of borders to avert side-eff ects from the crisis -- such as smuggling, arms and drugs running -- and that there should be cooperation between the two countries' ministries of defence and public order.

    He also reported it was agreed there should be frequent contacts among Greece, Yugoslavia and FYROM, with a view to formulating a common position at the meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Thessaloniki on June 9, and the need to promote an internatio nal initiative that will help the former communist countries of eastern Europe in their transition to social cohesion, democracy and political freedoms. Mr. Pangalos added the spilling over of the Albanian crisis into the Serbian province of Kosovo a nd other areas of Yugoslavia should be averted at any cost.

    Regarding his stopover in Skopje, Mr. Pangalos described his reception as "enthusiastic", and added that the talks focused on the protection of Greek exports and the sizeable Greek private investment in FYROM, cooperation in the fields of river water management and crime, as well as the issue of the name for the former Yugoslav republic.

    "The issue of the name is being discussed at the UN, and we could not substitute for the UN and its procedures. But the intention to promote the search for a commonly acceptable solution was strongly expressed at all levels, by the foreign minister, the prime minister, and by President Gligorov himself," he said before leaving Belgrade, adding that he would be briefing the EU on the results of his trip to both capitals.

    Thessaloniki to commemorate Jewish Holocaust victims

    An initiative by two prominent overseas Greeks is under way aimed at improving relations between Greece and Israel without disturbing Greece's traditional friendship with the Arab world, according to a report from the ANA's Melbourne correspondent.

    President of the World Hellenic Parliamentary Commission Dimitris Dollis and World Council of Overseas Greeks (SAE) President Andrew Athens, who met recently in the US, plan to hold celebrations in Thessaloniki to honour Greek Jews who died during the Nazi occupation, as well as Greece's Jewish community, which goes back to ancient times. Until World War II, Thessaloniki had the largest Jewish population in Greece, mainly dating from the 15th century.

    Plans for the celebrations, to begin on 29 June, were discussed by Dollis with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and government officials in Israel.

    The move was decided upon in view of the rise of xenophobia, racism and religious intolerance in general.

    Registered unemployment figure marks slight increase

    Registered unemployment in February this year marked a slight increase according to reports provided by the monthly labour force bulletin and the Organisation for the Employment of Human Resources (OAED).

    In February 1997, unemployed individuals registered with OAED totalled 226, 273 compared to 221,192 in February 1996. In the past year there were 5,081 more unemployed. However, the rate of increase appears to be slowing down between February 1995 and February 1996 when unemployment increased by 0.91 per cent, while between February 1996 and the corresponding month this year the increase was 0.24 per cent.


    Cloudiness, southerly winds and scattered rainstorms are forecast for western, central and southern Greece with snowfalls in the mountainous regions. Athens will be mostly cloudy with rain and a possible rainstorm in the afternoon with temperatures between 11-16C. Similar weather will prevail in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 8-12C.


    Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.326 Pound sterling 420.112 Cyprus pd 522.189 French franc 46.376 Swiss franc 182.106 German mark 156.528 Italian lira (100) 15.597 Yen (100) 213.885 Canadian dlr. 191.258 Australian dlr. 207.402 Irish Punt 412.672 Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 52.060 Dutch guilder 139.014 Danish kr. 40.999 Swedish kr. 34.305 Norwegian kr. 38.948 Austrian sch. 22.245 Spanish peseta 1.845 Portuguese escudo 1.554


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