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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 03/05/1997 (ANA)


  • Inner cabinet meeting on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Seminar on WEU's future role begins in Athens
  • Defence Minister: Greece and EU-Turkey relations
  • Parthenon marbles to be raised again in UK
  • Venezuelan IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium
  • Simitis to visit Luxembourg
  • ESHEA comments on World Press Freedom Day
  • British Universities Fair in three Greek cities
  • Two new museums for Thrace
  • Bulgarian parliamentary delegation to visit Mount Athos
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Inner cabinet meeting on Greek-Turkish relations

Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired an inner cabinet meeting yesterday focusing on the course of Greek-Turkish relations in the wake of meetings held earlier this week between Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller, as well as the decision to have a bilateral "committee of experts" created.

According to reports, Mr. Pangalos said his Turkish counterpart

"attacked him with charm and friendship", adding that during their meeting in Luxembourg, Ms Ciller gave no specific reply, despite pressures from (European Union) partners as well , to questions he put to her.

According to the same reports, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Athens must determine the framework of the special relationship between Turkey and the European Union, since Greece's partners in the EU do not desire Turkey's accession to the EU.

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis briefed members of the inner cabinet on developments over the Cyprus issue.

Mr. Kranidiotis told reporters that during the inner cabinet's meeting no disagreements surfaced, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "everything was fine."

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Greece desires normalisation in relations between the two countries, provided that all sides work with respect for international law and treaties and with a spirit based on the principles of friendship and good neighbourliness.

Mr. Reppas said that provided these preconditions exist, then progress will be achieved in the committee of experts' work, reiterating that its results are not binding for the governments of the two countries.

Describing processes to be followed, Mr. Reppas said that each side will have the possibility to set out its arguments and the other side to disprove them, adding that "provided that the Dutch (EU) presidency ascertains that in certain points there is c ommon ground then it will request a process of meetings and discussions to follow between the committee's members and exclusively on the points where coincidence exists alone."

Mr. Reppas said Greek arguments are strong and added that Athens' goal "is to at least reveal Turkey's false allegations and aggressive policy, and at most, to start a process for normalising Greek-Turkish relations."

He added the hope that the committee of experts will have a report by mid- June with the common positions and proposals of the two sides, provided an agreement is reached on certain points.

Commenting on political developments in Turkey, Mr. Reppas said that fluidity and instability prevailing in the neighbouring country are aggravating developments because there is no official who can guarantee the process, but added that whatever political developments should not affect the work of the committee of experts.

He said the government aims at minimum consensus with the opposition parties, and stressed that "with careful moves it will try to avoid national issues being raised in the venue of party rivalry."

He announced that next week Foreign Minister Pangalos will brief Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras.

Seminar on WEU's future role begins in Athens

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos referred to Greece's contribution to clarifying relations between permanent and associated members of the West European Union (WEU), such as Turkey, in an address at the opening of the European Seminar in Athens yesterday.

Earlier, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos received visiting WEU Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro at the ministry. Their talks centred on the situation in Europe, as well as the crisis in Albania.

The seminar was organised in Vouliagmeni yesterday and today by the Greek presidency of the WEU's Inter-Atlantic Forum. The seminar was entitled "The Future Role of the WEU in the New Enlarged Security Environment."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece's contribution concerns the shaping of a framework safeguarding the operation of the European organisation "with clear conditions" so that the WEU's activities will have clear conditions for implementing and utilising N ATO's possibilities.

"I hope procedures for the enlargement of NATO with these regions will start in July (at the NATO summit in Madrid) and will continue at a steady pace," he said.

WEU Secretary General Cutilheiro referred to Greece's contribution to the achievement of an agreement within the ranks of the WEU on April 15, concerning the possibility of Turkey and other associate countries participating in the WEU's military operations using NATO's arsenal.

Defence Minister: Greece and EU-Turkey relations

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told the West European Union's Inter-Atlantic Forum seminar yesterday that Greece can contribute towards an improved relationship between Turkey and the European Union to the degree that Ankara satisfies conditions set by Athens concerning the latter's sovereign rights as well as status quo and stability in the region.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said committees of experts on Greek-Turkish relations pose no threat for Greece to the point that clear strategic targets exist, which concern the consolidation of Greek sovereign rights and progress in the Cyprus issue as a condition for improved Greek-Turkish relations.

Parthenon marbles to be raised again in UK

Britain's new prime minister, Tony Blair, will soon be asked to deliver on past promises by his Labour Party to Athens regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said he would again bring up the issue by sending a letter reminding Mr. Blair of Labour's past promises.

"We are in communication with the Committee for the Return of the Marbles," Mr. Venizelos said, adding that he would address the letter to his British counterpart.

Since the issue was first publicly debated, the Labour Party has said on many occasions that it would contribute its utmost for the return of the marbles, exhibited in the British Museum.

The last promise by Labour was made last October via British Labour Eurodeputy Alfred Lomas, who submitted a relevant request to the European Parliament, adding his voice with those of 251 Eurodeputies from other European Union member-states and from al l political groupings.

At the time, Mr. Lomas called on the conservative government under John Major to examine the Greek request positively, because it "would constitute a major act of international solidarity."

Venezuelan IOC rep tours Athens Olympic Stadium

The Venezuelan representative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Flor Isava, yesterday described the facilities of the Athens Olympic Stadium as "works of art".

Ms Isava was shown around the facilities by members of the Athens 2004 Committee, and said she was particularly impressed by the indoor basketball complex and the indoor swimming pool.

"It is the best sporting complex I have seen," she said after her visit.

Ms Isava then visited the Acropolis and later planted an olive tree in the Olympic park's "Olive Forest". Each visiting IOC member plants a tree in the park. The olive branches will be used to make wreaths for the 2004 medalists if Athens is successful in its bid to host the Games.

In another development, the president of the International Field Hockey Federation, Juan Angel Calzado, yesterday visited the Olympic Stadium and Karaiskaki stadium facilities.

He inspected the areas where field hockey would be held in the 2004 Games and said the only improvements still needed are in the internal areas of the facilities.

Simitis to visit Luxembourg

The prime minister is due to visit Luxembourg on May 13, as it prepares to assume the rotating EU presidency after the current Dutch presidency.

Meanwhile it was announced yesterday that Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet next week with his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen in Strasbourg.

ESHEA comments on World Press Freedom Day

The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day today called on Greek journalists to actively support their colleagues throughout the world who are being persecuted or tortured.

ESHEA called on journalists to fight for the basic principles of freedom of the press, "which is the cornerstone of democracy".

"Hundreds of journalists in dozens of countries are killed, persecuted, tortured, imprisoned," the ESHEA announcement said.

"Five hundred journalists have been killed while carrying out their duties over the past 10 years, while in 1996, 58 journalists and other workers in the media were killed on the job and more than 100 were imprisoned and persecuted.

British Universities Fair in three Greek cities

The British Council in Greece is organising for the seventh consecutive year the annual British Universities Fair in Athens, Thessaloniki and Irakleio.

The fair in Athens will be held on May 17-18 in the Holiday Inn Hotel from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will inform prospective students and their parents on studying in British universities and colleges in Britain.

Staff members from 72 universities and public and private higher education establishments will be present to answer questions and provide information on course content and entrance procedures and requirements.

In Irakleio, the fair will be held for the second time in the Atlantis Hotel on May 14, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and in the Macedonia Palace hotel in Thessaloniki on May 20 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Two new museums for Thrace

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday made several announcements concerning the promotion of cultural heritage in Thrace during his visit to Alexandroupoli, his first stop in a tour of the region.

He announced the creation of two museums, one for classical antiquities in Alexandroupoli and one for Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture in Didymotiho. He also announced the extension of the museum in Komotini, budgeted at one billion drachmas. Mr. Venizelos was due to continue his tour of the region with visits to Ferres and Didymotiho.

Bulgarian parliamentary delegation to visit Mount Athos

A 12-member Bulgarian parliamentary delegation, headed by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Todor Kovalciev, is to arrive in Greece on Monday in order to visit the Mount Athos monastic community.

The delegation will travel to the Zographou Monastery, inhabited by monks of Bulgarian origin, in order to attend a celebration and the appointment of Abbot Amvrosios.

However, the visit is being overshadowed by the tension which has developed between the monastery as well as the monastic community in general, and Bulgaria, due to the alleged theft from the monastery's library of an antiquarian book which was later tr ansported to Sofia.

The book, which concerns the history of the Bulgarian nation, was written roughly 300 years ago. It was kept in the monastery's library until it was allegedly stolen in 1984. The monastery at the time blamed the Bulgarian secret service for the theft.

Following the fall of communism in the neighbouring country, the then abott of the monastery sent two letters to Bulgarian President Zhelu Zhelev demanding the book's return.

When the issue came to light, the Thessaloniki prosecutor's office conducted an investigation and brought charges against a Bulgarian national, Petar Mitanov, who was then director of the Zographou tax office.

The case was due to come to trial on Jan. 7 this year, but was postponed.

Last year, the book appeared in a museum in Sofia, where it was apparently donated by an anonymous donor. The monastery has since been seeking its return, backed by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The issue may be brought up with the Bulgarian delegation, which will meet with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, before departing for Mount Athos.


Mostly fair weather over most of the country today except in the eastern and southern regions where there will be intermittent rain. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong. The weather in Athens will be fair, with temperatures ranging from 11-22C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki, where temperatures will be from 9-21C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.522 Pound sterling 439.754 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.860 Swiss franc 185.365 German mark 157.996 Italian lira (100) 15.968 Yen (100) 214.867 Canadian dlr. 196.515 Australian dlr. 213.216 Irish Punt 409.041 Belgian franc 7.659 Finnish mark 52.473 Dutch guilder 140.472 Danish kr. 41.515 Swedish kr. 34.809 Norwegian kr. 38.398 Austrian sch. 22.456 Spanish peseta 1.874 Port. Escudo 1.575


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