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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 22/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Karamanlis elected new ND leader
  • Greece, Romania to step up coopeation
  • Pangalos: Turkey's place is in Europe
  • Greece to assist reorganisation of Albanian army
  • Athens denies claim of secret Greek - Turkish deal
  • Minister says tourism sector must become more hospitable
  • Greece, Armenia sign agricultural agreement

    Karamanlis elected new ND leader

    Costas Karamanlis, a nephew of the former president of the republic by the same name, was elected late last night as new leader of the main opposition New Democracy party during the party's fourth congress, putting an end to seven months of internal uncer tainty sparked by the party's defeat in last September's general election.

    Mr. Karamanlis, who succeeds Miltiades Evert, was elected in a second round ballot by an overwhelming majority of 2,350 out of 3,398 valid votes (70 per cent) cast by party delegates and deputies, against 1,048 for contender George Souflias. Thirty-eigh t blank ballots were counted.

    In a first statement after his election, Mr. Karamanlis said that there were no victors nor vanquished. Referring to his rival Mr. Souflias, he stressed his respect for the former minister and that he never viewed him as an opponent, "but as a friend an d associate."

    Mr. Karamanlis was born in Athens on Sept. 14, 1956. He studied at Athens University's Law School and at the private Deree college, continuing with postgraduate studies in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States.

    He has been repeatedly elected as a New Democracy deputy for Thessaloniki since 1989. He is unmarried.

    Costas Karamanlis continued his education in the US from 1980-84, where he gained a masters degree and a doctorate in political sciences, international relations and diplomatic history.

    Mr. Karamanlis was elected president of ND's parliamentary work group for foreign affairs in October last year.

    Greeece, Romania to step up cooperation

    Greece and Romania yesterday 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.

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

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

    Replying to questions, Mr. 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, Mr. Simitis said, was within the framework of a tripartite collaboration between Athens, Bucharest and Sofia, which would enable the participation of more ministries, such as tourism, transport and education.

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

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

    Relations with the EU "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," Mr. 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 sp heres of influence.

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

    Mr. Corbea noted that Mr. 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. Mr. Corbea agreed with Mr. Simitis that Greek- Romanian trade relations had enormous possibilities for further development, with the aim, echoing statements by the Greek premier on Thursday, of the volume of bilateral trade reaching US$500 million.

    Mr. Corbea 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 Mr. 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, Mr. Corbea said the Greek premier had invited him to visit Greece, adding that he would do so after the scheduled visit of Romanian President Emil Constantinescu to Athens in May.

    On the crisis in Albania, Mr . Simitis stressed that Greece had from the outset insisted on a political solution to the problem in the neighbouring country, which should be provided by all the political forces in Albania.

    Noting that Greece had not asked for the removal of Albanian President Sali Berisha, Mr. Simitis underlined that Athens was in favour of a peaceful settlement of the crisis "but does not want to get directly involved in one scenario or another."

    Address to businessmen

    Speaking to Greek and Romanian businessmen later in the day, Mr. Simitis said that the Balkan countries should "build a new world," adding that the entrepreneurs should also assume initiatives in order for this goal to be reached."

    Referring to Greek investment interests in Romania, Mr. Simitis said that "the Greek enterprises, which have both the organisation and knowhow, are looking forward to their substantive participation in the modernisation effort currently being held in Ro mania."

    Stressing the importance of the sectors of transport and telecommunications, Mr. Simitis said that the inter-European road axis and especially the road axis linking Bucharest to Alexandroupolis "open new perspectives for the increase of economic and trad e transactions."

    The premier said the participation of both countries in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation was an additional factor in the framework of Greek- Romanian cooperation.

    Stressing that obstacles in the cooperation of the two countries, which existed in the past due to the differences of economic systems between the two countries, no longer exist, Mr. Simitis said his visit to Romania "aims precisely at directing efforts t o build a new tomorrow for the Balkans."

    Pangalos: Turkey's place is in Europe

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has stressed that if Ankara abandoned its counterproductive tactics and disputes of Greece's territorial integrity, Athens would make every effort towards a solution of differences and strengthening Turkey' s European course.

    "We do not insist on Turkey referring disputes to the International Court at The Hague, an announcement of the decision concerning referral will be sufficient," he said in an interview to the "Yeni Guzgil" newspaper, published yesterday.

    "On the issue of the continental shelf, we could, after a certain preparation, ask a third party to examine where justice lies," he added.

    He issued an appeal to the Turkish people "not to permit war, and not to be trapped in the aggressive designs of some of its leaders."

    "In Ankara, they continuously use the threat of war against Greece as a diplomatic weapon. This is an unacceptable situation," he charged, noting that "we expect a statement from the Turkish foreign ministry, the presidency of the republic, or some othe r official source, clarifying that there is no issue of war between our two countries".

    "We are asking Turkey to confirm it respects international treaties," said Mr. Pangalos, noting that in her letter to European foreign ministers, Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller referred to "absence of borders in the Aegean."

    "This is a mistaken approach, it is a behaviour disputing Greece's territorial integrity and the borders in the Aegean," he added.

    Regarding Cyprus, Mr. Pangalos referred to the need "to break the wall erected in Nicosia between the two communities."

    "Let's abolish the wall in Cyprus, even before talks beginIEvery Friday (for instance), let people move as they wish. For those in the north, who face the problem of unemployment, the possibility for temporary work could be givenIAt the end of the week, people may get together, dance, or even get married," he said.

    He charged that the current European view of Turkey suffered from superficiality, saying characteristically, "this issue of the family photograph is nonsense and it belittles the Turkish people".

    "Islam is part of EuropeIwe lived together for years, your culture is part of our culture, and our culture has been united with yours. There can be no issue of accepting a cultural distinction," he said, stressing, "Turkey's final goal must be unification with Europe.

    Gov't denies of secret Greek-Turkish deal

    Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis yesterday denied reports in the Turkish daily "Milliyet" that a secret Greek-Turkish meeting was held during which Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller agreed to refer the Imia issue to the International Cou rt of Justice at The Hague. "Milliyet" claimed that in return, Athens agreed to support Turkey's candidacy for full entry into the European Union. Replying to a question, Mr. Athanasakis also denied that Greece has been pressured regarding Turkey's relati ons with the EU, reiterating that it is Turkey that which must be pressured to make the necessary moves. The spokesman reiterated that it is Turkey which must refer the Imia issue to the International Court at The Hague, "which is a move it can and must do unilaterally as it does not need an agreement, given Greece's acceptance of the general jurisdiction of the International Court."

    Ankara welcomes proposal for meeting of Balkan nations' FMs

    Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said yesterday that a proposal made in Thessaloniki by Prime Minister Costas Simitis concerning a meeting between the foreign ministers of Balkan countries has not yet been officially conveyed to Ankara.

    Commenting on the meeting scheduled in Thessaloniki, Mr. Akbel said "it is not a formal inter-Balkan meeting, but there is no reason why Turkey should not participate in the meeting."

    Athens to assist in reorganisation of Albanian army

    Greece yesterday responded positively to a request by the Albanian government for assistance in restoring its disorganised and antiquated armed forces.

    Tirana made the official request late Thursday night to the Greek national defence ministry.

    Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis yesterday confirmed that the government would approve the Albanian request. However, he added that the issue would require further examination and consultations with the Albanian side.

    Asked whether this request was related to a possible participation by Greece in a multinational force in Albania, the spokesman said this would depend on developments, noting that Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino was to meet shortly with the foreign ministers of the European Union member- states.

    At the moment, he added, there was virtually no army in Albania.

    Tirana has asked for initial assistance in the sectors of military management, including medical supplies, fuel and medical teams.

    On Tuesday, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, referring to the request which had been expected from Albania government, cited Greece's particular responsibility in the Balkans and as a neighbour of Albania, as well as Athens' interest in th e safety of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania

    Tsohatzopoulos says no EU foreign policy to deal with problems in Balkans

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos spoke yesterday on what he called the European Union's inability to forge a common foreign policy and to deal with problems which arise, such as those faced by countries of eastern Europe and the Balkans.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, speaking during the opening of the Mediterranean conference of the Socialist International Youth yesterday, said the EU is unable to solve the peoples' problems, paying attention exclusively to economic issues and figures.

    Fouras to meet with Samaranch in Lausanne

    Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras is to meet with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch in Lausanne this weekend in order to discuss issues related to Athens' bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games and relations between Gre ek athletics and the IOC in general.

    "Fifteen days ago we returned from Lausanne having secured Athens' candidacy for the final selection (of the 2004 Olympics venue) on September 5. Today, (yesterday) 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 shortlist of five candidate cities," Mr. Fouras told reporters shortly before leaving for Switzerland.

    The IOC shortlist includes Athens, Rome, Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Stockholm, chosen from eleven candidate cities originally bidding for the Games. The final decision for the venue will be made by the IOC plenary on September 5.

    Europarliament committee praises Athens' latest economic indicators

    A six-member delegation of the European Parliament's economic, monetary and industry committee yesterday expressed satisfaction at Greece's economic indicators, particularly those related to Maastricht Treaty targets.

    The committee, which is currently visiting Greece, is headed by its vice- president, PASOK party Eurodeputy George Katiforis.

    The Euro-MP noted that according to the competent government ministers with whom the committee has met, the convergence criteria for Greece's participation in Economic and Monetary Union will have been satisfied during 1998.

    This would mean that the Greek drachma will join the single European currency P Euro P together with the second group of EU member-states at the latest by the year 2001.

    Minister says tourism sector must become more hospitable

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday presented "a tourist conscience campaign" at a downtown Athens hotel aimed at providing foreign visitors with a more hospitable environment during this year's tourist season.

    The central slogan of the campaign, due to start in the country on March 27, will be "The Greek Tourist Organisation (EOT) Warns: Smiling is Good for the Health and Our Economy."

    Ms Papandreou said employees and managers in the sector must become more professional in their dealings with tourists and look upon them as guests, and not as currency.

    Greece, Armenia sign agriculture agreement

    YEREVAN 22/3/1997 (F. Myrtsidou) Greece and Armenia yesterday signed a five- year agriculture cooperation agreement.

    The agreement was signed by Agiculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis and Armenian Agiculture Minister Vladimir Bovshishian. The two countries have agreed to cooperate in stockbreeding, the production of animal feeds, agricultural research, bio-techn ology, fishing, fishfarms and forestry.

    Mr. Geranidis expressed his understanding for the problems Armenian agriculture is facing and pledged Greece's support both on a bilateral level and relating to the European Union and other international organisations.

    The Armenian minister stressed his country is in urgent need of wheat and of correct management of its water resources. He added that the privatisation process for businesses in the agriculture sector has been completed by 90 per cent.

    Current accounts deficit soars

    The Greek current account deficit reached a record US$4.75 billion between January-November 1996, compared to US$3 billion in the corresponding eleven-month period of 1995, according to figures released yesterday by the central bank.

    The bank said the record deficit was due to a 5.7 increase in the tra-de balance, resulting from a US$872 million rise in imports against a US$32 million drop in exports, compared to 1995.

    During the same period of 1996, invisibles also fell by US$812 million , the Bank of Greece said.


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