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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 <>


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


  • Prime Minister's talks in Romania
  • Romanian Prime Minister welcomes Simitis' visit
  • Moves to avert spread of unrest in Balkans
  • New Democracy party congress begins
  • Aid to Albania being sold
  • Government clashes with Olympic Metro
  • Sports Undersecretary meets IOC President


    Prime Minister's talks in Romania

    The Prime Ministers of Greece and Romania today declared their determination to step up bilateral cooperation at all levels and work together to make southeast Europe a region of stability, cooperation and economic development, according to an ANA despatch from Bucharest.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Romanian counterpart Viktor Ciorbea were speaking at a joint press conference after a second round of talks in Bucharest this morning.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, arrived in the Romanian capital last night on an official two-day visit.

    Replying to questions, Simitis announced his intention to visit all Balkan capitals, including Skopje, at the earliest opportunity.

    One of the ways Greece and Romania would achieve closer cooperation, Simitis said, was within the framework of tripartite collaboration between Athens, Bucharest and Sofia, which would enable the particiation of more ministries, such as tourism, transport and education.

    Simitis announced the signing soon of a bilateral cooperation agreement with Romania covering all sectors. Stressing the need for premier, the premier underlined that Greek-Romanian cooperation belonged to the framework of the two countries' common European perspective.

    On the prospects of European Union and NATO membership for other Balkan countries, Simitis said the same accession criteria should apply for all candidate states ''without differentiations and arrangements which would in effect exclude the Balkan countries''.

    ''Relations should not be developed at different levels, in other words, closer cooperation with certain countries and looser ties with others, such as the Balkan countries,'' Simitis said.

    He added that the same applied with respect to NATO enlargement, stressing that the relevant arrangements and procedures should not leave certain countries on the fringe, through the adoption of different treatment, discrimination and the creation of spheres of influence.

    Simitis also discussed with Ciorbea Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem, expressing satisfaction for what he called the great importance attached by Bucharest to respect for the principles of international law, the settlement of disputes through recourse to the International Court at the Hague and the implementation of UN resolutions for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Romanian Prime Minister welcomes Simitis' visit

    Ciorbea noted that Simitis' visit was the first by a foreign leader to Romania since recent elections.

    He also linked its significance to the meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Russia in Helsinki, underlining the importance of NATO membership for Romania.

    Ciorbea agreed with Simitis that Greek-Romanian trade relations had enormous possibilities for further development, with the aim, echoing statements by the Greek premier yesterday, of the volume of bilateral trade reaching 500 million dollars.

    Ciorbea said it had been decided to convene the Greek-Romanian joint economic committee in Bucharest in April to examine prospects for broadening economic cooperation, adding that this would be facilitated by the economic reforms already under way in Romania.

    He thanked Simitis for Greece's support in Romania's bid to join the EU and NATO and agreed with the Greek premier that there should be no exclusions or discriminatory treatment of candidate countries.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Ciorbea said Simitis had invited him to visit Greece, adding that he would do so after the scheduled visit of Romanian President Emil Constantinescu

    Moves to avert spread of unrest in Balkans

    Asked about the danger of the turmoil in Albania spreading to other countries with ethnic Albanian minorities, Simitis said Greece had been working since the outset of the crisis to avert such an eventuality and referred in this respect to Pangalos' visit earlier this week to Skopje and Belgrade.

    Replying to questions specifically on how Greece intended to back Romania's bid to join NATO, Simitis said that in the run-up to the Alliance summit in July, Greece would intensify its consultations with the NATO member-states ''in order to achieve the desired result''.

    Simitis also underlined the need for a plan providing for the membership of all Balkan countries in the Alliance, while Corbea expressed the conviction that Romania would be among the first group of countries to join NATO.

    The Greek premier was due to meet with Constantinescu later today, as well as with the leader of Romania's main opposition party, former president Ion Iliescu, the presidents of the Senate and Parliament and lastly with Patriarch Theoktistos.

    He will depart Romania for Athens at about 7.30 this evening.

    New Democracy party congress begins

    The main opposition New Democracy party congress opened in Athens's Peace and Friendship Stadium this morning with the resignation of incumbent leader Miltiades Evert, one of the four candidates in today's election for a new leader.

    The 3,600 congress participants are expected to have voted by 5.30 this afternoon in the first round, the results of which will be announced around 8 p.m. this evening. As none of the four candidates is likely to gain a clear majority, a second ballot is expected to be held this evening. The new party leader will probably be known by about 2 a.m. tomorrow morning.

    Outgoing leader Miltiades Evert was first to address the congress, calling for an end to introversion and personal agendas within the party, and a new spirit of collectivity.

    What the party needed now, he said, was a programme that inspired credibility. He criticised honorary ND president Constantine Mitsotakis and deputy Stefanos Manos for suggesting the party was in danger of splitting in two.

    He accused the government of depending on various vested interests, something the ND would never do, he said, because it was "the party of the people".

    Turning to foreign policy, he declared himself in favour of dialogue with Turkey on three conditions - that it respected territorial integrity, internatoinal conventions and the avoidance of force or the threat of force.

    He said the ND did not forget and would not abandon the Cypriots and northern Epirots, and honoured the name Macedonia, which it had never abandoned or given away.

    Kostas Karamanlis, the second of the four candidates to address the congress, spoke of a new beginning for the party, adding that the credibility of public life had been damaged.

    The ruling PASOK had made a conscious choice to "lower the quality of Greek society", he said, adding that PASOK was to blame for the country's decline and that it was a victim of its servility to vested interests.

    It was time for the ND to rid itself of misfortune, misery, introversion and personal vendettas, said Karamanlis. He refused to answer his critics, noting:

    "... on the day after, we will all be friends and colleagues again. I have always been a foot-soldier in the party and that is the greatest honour I could have."

    In conclusion, he called on everyone to rise to the occasion and do their duty to the country and the party.

    The third candidate to speak, Vyron Polydoras said he had come in for strong criticism for bidding for the ND leadership, which he did not intend to answer.

    ''I am and shall remain a footsoldier of this party,'' he said.

    ''My dream is for the problems to be solved and I believe that they can be solved only through New Democracy. The juggernaut of Maastricht is coming and the state must make the necessary manoeuvres to avoid a head-on collision. Because Greece comes first and then Europe,'' Polydoras said.

    Addressing delegates, Polydoras said ''we have not come here to pay off old debts, we came to look at the future of New Democracy.''

    George Souflias, the fourth and final candidate to address the congress before polls opened this afternoon, said that the person who would be elected to lead the party would have to unite it, to be able to work in a team and to lead the party to victory in the next elections. The next party leader would be the next prime minister, he stressed.

    Souflias accused the PASOK government of being bound by its ideological limitations, therefore a more responsible, dynamic and serious opposition needed to be exercised.

    It was time for an end to any confusion about ND's ideology. The party needed a leader who would be able to attract supporters from outside the party, a leader who was in touch with society. Greece could not be governed by slogans or wonderful solutions, he said.

    Souflias called for a new beginning in the party, so that ND could win the elections, fight for a free economy, for social welfare and to be a responsible force in foreign policy, to make Greece a leading player in the construction of a united Europe.

    Aid to Albania being sold

    Humanitarian aid delivered by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and Corfu Prefect Andreas Pangratis in the Albanian port of Sarande on Wednesday never reached the orphanage it was destined for, according to Sarande's former prefect and current prefectural councillor Dimitris Stefos.

    Stefos told a Corfu radio station that the food and other essential supplies brought on the Greek navy minesweeper Atalanti have been spotted being sold in some of the city's shops. He warned that unless the political situation settles down, all efforts to offer assistance will be wasted.

    Another 40 tonnes of food from the Municipality of Athens is still in storage on the island of Corfu. Following Stefos' warning and other similar allegations, it was decided to keep the goods on Corfu until a means of guaranteeing delivery were found.

    Government clashes with Olympic Metro

    A dispute between the government and Olympic Metro, the consortium building Athens underground urban railway came to a head this morning, as the Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Ministry has decided to cancel the agreement with the consortium for the construction of the Syntagma- Kerameikos section of the track.

    Olympic Metro is asking for 82 billion dr. more than agreed upon in the contract, a demand which Minister Kostas Laliotis says is unreasonable, according to an announcement after a meeting between the two sides.

    In November 1994, a supplementary contract had been signed under which the consortium was paid 65 billion drachmas. However, eighteen months ago further financial demands were made, causing delays to construction.

    If Olympic Metro does not back down from its demands, a new call for tenders will be announced for the specific section of track.

    Sports Undersecretary meets IOC President

    Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras will have talks in Lausanne at the weekend with International Olympics Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch on issues related to Athens' bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games as well as relations between Greek athletics and the IOC in general.

    Fouras departed this morning for Lausanne at the personal invitation of Samaranch.

    ''Fifteen days ago we returned from Lausanne having secured Athens' candidacy for the final selection (of the 2004 Olympics venue) on 5 September. Today, we are going to Lausanne at the invitation of the IOC president. An invitation which is particularly interesting, given that it follows the decision to include Athens in the short list of five candidate cities,'' Fouras told reporters shortly before leaving for Switzerland.

    Fouras expressed the hope that his meeting with Samaranch at the weekend would help Athens succeed in its bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games.

    The undersecretary is accompanied by Olympic Games Committee President Lambis Nikolaou.


    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.


    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


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