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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 21/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece continues Balkan initiative with Premier's visit to Romania
  • Prof. Konstas named Greek ambassador to Council of Europe
  • FYROM name not discussed between Gligorov, Pangalos
  • Pangalos' remarks on Turkey's Euro-orientation welcomed
  • Crucial New Democracy congress begins today
  • Journalists' Union opposes court action against two reporters
  • World Anti-Rcism Day statements

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece continues Balkan initiative with Premier's visit to Romania

    Greece yesterday continued its recent diplomatic initiative in the Balkans by embarking on an official visit to Romania.

    Speaking on his arrival at Bucharest airport, Mr. Simitis said he was happy to visit Romania as "in the fragmented Balkans, we must find a common course."

    After noting that Greek-Romanian relations are at an excellent level, the prime minister said his visit aims to aid this common course and contribute to the broadening of relations between the two countries, which is "the only manner in which to ensure stability and peace in the region."

    The Greek premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    Mr. Simitis was met by his Romanian counterpart, Viktor Corbea, who held an official dinner in the Greek prime minister's honour last night.

    During his speech, Mr. Simitis underlined Greece's full support for Romania's efforts to become a full member of the European Union, saying Athens will provide all possible help for Romania to also enter NATO.

    The prime minister also spoke of the "exceptional prospects" available for the expansion of bilateral economic and commercial relations, stressing that the aim for commercial transactions is to reach at least US$500 million.

    Mr. Corbea expressed his country's gratitude for Greece's support of Romania's efforts to enter the EU and NATO and said bilateral cooperation in regional organisations is a start which could lead to the founding of a stable partnership between the two countries based on a joint strategy of cooperation and information, as well as on regular discussions on all levels.

    The Romanian prime minister stressed the need for both countries to contribute to the creation of an area of stability and cooperation in southeastern Europe, which, he said, has been "a true powder keg" many times in history.

    Delegations from the two countries, headed by their prime ministers, are due to meet this morning in order to discuss issues including the construction of a highway connecting St. Petersburg with Alexandroupolis through Bucharest and Balkan cooperation in view of the meeting of southeastern European countries' foreign ministers, due to be held in Thessaloniki in June.

    After discusssions today, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Corbea will hold a

    Prof. Konstas named Greek ambassador to Council of Europe

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou attended a special ceremony at the foreign ministry yesterday on the occasion of professor Dimitris Konstas' appointment as Greek ambassador to the Council of Europe.

    Mr. Papandreou referred to the upgrading of Greece's role in the Council of Europe and the promotion of its national issues in Europe through the council.

    He also said the appointment of Mr. Konstas at this EU body will contribute towards further strengthening Athens' participation in issues concerning European developments in general.

    Mr. Konstas said Greece had an important role to play in shaping the European identity, in addition to promoting its national issues. He further said he will maintain permanent cooperation with Greek Eurodeputies to achieve the best possible results.

    FYROM name issue not discussed between Gligorov, Pangalos

    Greece said yesterday that the issue of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name was not discussed during Wednesday's lightning meeting in Skopje between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and FYROM President Kiro Gligorov.

    Replying to reporters' questions on the issue, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas underlined that during Wednesday's talks, FYROM officials never used the term "Macedonia" in reference to their country.

    In addition, the spokesman did not share the view that the two countries were on the verge of resolving the FYROM name issue.

    Meanwhile, no "radical developments" are expected from new direct negotiations between Greece and FYROM, to be begin on April 2 under the auspices of UN mediator Cyrus Vance, diplomatic sources said here yesterday.

    Greek objections to increased Turkish WEU participation reported

    Cooperation between NATO and the West European Union (WEU) is being obstructed due to Greece's opposition to Turkey's participation in preparation of WEU operations using NATO means, diplomats said yesterday.

    No agreement was arrived at yesterday morning during the WEU council meeting at an ambassadors' level, a diplomat said.

    Within the framework of better cooperation between the two organisations, NATO and WEU have been discussing the possibility of the former lending some of its personnel and material, such as communication and advisors, to the WEU for specific operations.

    Before such an agreement is reached, Turkey, which is only a WEU associate member but a full member of NATO, asked for "a guarantee" that it will regularly participate in the preparation of WEU operations using NATO means, a diplomat said.

    Greece, which is a full member of both organisations, has objected, despite increasing pressure from its European counterparts.

    During the past few months, Turkey has also asked to become a full member of the EU, even threatening to oppose NATO's expansion eastwards if it is not included in any new EU expansion.

    Pangalos remarks on Turkey`s Euro-orientation welcomed

    Remarks by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos concerning Turkey's European cultural characteristics, disputed at a meeting earlier this month of Europe's Christian Democrat parties, have created a deep impression in Turkey.

    A front-page story in the newspaper "Yeni Yuzgil" was entitled "Greece has opened its arms", terming Mr. Pangalos' comments as "an olive branch" to Ankara.

    The positive response Mr. Pangalos' remarks garnered exceeds by far the impressions created by his insistence on blocking financial protocols for Turkey until political issues raised in past decisions taken by the EU Council of Ministers are met.

    This turn in Turkish public opinion apparently leaves German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel somewhat exposed, after the German official lashed out at his Greek counterpart earlier in the week for insisting on blocking the financial protocols.

    A bold title in the newspaper "Milliyet" read: "A lesson from Pangalos for Kohl", while Mr. Kinkel, who is expected to arrive in Turkey next week, does not appear to be enjoying the same sympathy, despite the fact that he appeared to defend Ankara's interests.

    Mr. Pangalos' statement, coming at a crucial time for Turkey, helped in focusing attention of all on the major strategic issues where the interests of the two countries are identical and distanced it from short-term conflicts, which are continuing to cr eate tension.

    Some analysts are tempted to explain Mr. Pangalos' statement as "reciprocation" for secret concessions reportedly made by Turkey, accepting to have the issue of the Imia islets referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    This version, however, has already been denied by the Turkish foreign ministry.

    In a related development, Turkey reacted positively to a proposal by Athens for the holding of a meeting of foreign ministers from Balkan states.

    Turkish foreign ministry sources said the proposal, made in Thessaloniki by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, is welcomed.

    Crucial New Democracy congress begins today

    The main opposition New Democracy party's fourth congress will open at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliron at 8:30 this morning in order to elect a party leader from among four candidates.

    According to the programme announced by the organising committee, party leader Miltiades Evert will announce his resignation to the congress at 9:45 a.m.

    The four candidates will address the congress in alphabetical order and voting for the election of party leader is expected to start at 1 p.m.

    The results of the first round of voting are expected to be announced at 8 p.m. and the final results, after a run-off election is held, are expected in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    The four candidates, incumbent leader Miltiades Evert, as well as deputies Costas Karamanlis, George Souflias and Vyron Polydoras, are confident of qualifying for the second round of voting and of winning the party's leadership.

    A total of 3,607 delegates are expected to vote at the congress.

    Greek-Australian MP to help Blair's campaign

    Britain's Labour Party leader Tony Blair has asked Victorian Labor Party MP Yiannis Pantazopoulos to fly to London to assist on his election campaign.

    Mr. Pantazopoulos, who is of Greek descent, said he was "particularly honoured" by the invitation and would take up Mr. Blair's invitation if his commitments permit.

    Journalists Union opposes court action against two reporters

    The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) yesterday expressed opposition to two recent cases of prosecution against reporters on charges of espionage (publishing a classified state document) and harbouring a criminal.

    ESHEA said that the task of authorities is to safeguard documents which they consider classified, while it is the reporter's task to reveal information concerning serious issues to have public opinion informed. In this context, criminalisation of journa listic duty is inconceivable, it added.

    The second case of prosecution for harbouring a criminal concerns a reporter who published an interview with a wanted man. ESHEA stressed that taking interviews from wanted individuals is a practice known all over the world and in this case prosecution constitutes overzealousness.

    Baltas heads trade delegation to Australia

    A business delegation headed by National Economy Undersecretary Alexandros Baltas is currently in Australia to promote bilateral economic and trade relations in a bid to attract the interest of Australian business circles in joint ventures with firms in Greece, offering opportunities to branch out over the Balkans and the Mediterranean region.

    Mr. Baltas said prospects were "very good", noting that Greek exports to Australia were on the rise.

    First stop is Adelaide, to be followed by Melbourne, where the delegation will also attend the local Greek community's celebration of Greek Independence Day on March 25.

    World Anti-Racism Day statements

    On the occasion of World Anti-Racism Day today, Labour and Social Security Minsiter Miltiades Papaioannou said yesterday that the day "is not an excuse to recognise the equal opportunities of all people or to condemn discrimination against certain groups or nationalities."

    "It is the corroboration of all we advocate as concious members of a democratic society for the respect of the freedom, labour, life and dignity of all people who have a place on planet earth.

    "The recognition of fundemental rights and the respect of the difference in colour, language or culture of our fellow people is the only prerequisite for the peaceful cohabitation of peoples."

    Public Order Minister George Romeos attributed during an interview with the Athens News Agency an increase in racism to the presence of a large number of foreigners in the country and the contribution of some of them to higher crime rates.

    WEATHER

    Rainstorms, strong southerly winds, local cloudiness and a further drop in temperatures is forecast in most parts of Greece, mainly in Thrace, eastern Macedonia, the Aegean Sea, the Dodecanese islands and Crete. A slight weather improvement is forecast for later tonight. Athens will be cloudy and windy with temperatures between 7-12C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 4-10C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 262.741 Pound sterling 418.505 Cyprus pd 521.435 French franc 46.416 Swiss franc 183.074 German mark 156.622 Italian lira (100) 15.592 Yen (100) 213.826 Canadian dlr. 190.623 Australian dlr. 206.713 Irish Punt 411.482 Belgian franc 7.591 Finnish mark 52.110 Dutch guilder 139.093 Danish kr. 41.041 Swedish kr. 34.444 Norwegian kr. 38.932 Austrian sch. 22.259 Spanish peseta 1.844 Portuguese escudo 1.556

    (C.E.)


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