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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-13

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 13/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Balkan crisis and Greek-Russian economic cooperation discussed
  • US State Department on air corridors over the Aegean
  • Prime Minister holds talks in Luxembourg
  • Conference on military law begins in Athens
  • ECOFIN adopts recommendations on Greek fiscal deficit
  • Patriarch cautions against isolation of Orthodox eastern Europe
  • Greek ministers at WEU Paris conference
  • Funds allocated for restoration of medieval village
  • Greek literature events in Brussles
  • Greek credits for Montenegro
  • International fur exhibition opens in Kastoria
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Balkan crisis and Greek-Russian economic cooperation discussed

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and his Russian counterpart Aleksandr Avdeyev held talks in Moscow yesterday which, among others, examined the assumption of a Greek-Russian initiative in the framework of the peace process to handle the crisis in the Balkans and Greek-Russian economic cooperation in the region.

Other issues discussed were bilateral relations, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. A protocol anticipating regular political consultations was also signed.

Mr. Kranidiotis underlined the "excellent" level of relations between the two countries and their great political significance, both due to their traditional and historical ties and their "very many common interests."

Greece especially appreciates the role played by Russia in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, Mr. Kranidiotis said, hailing Moscow's activation over the Cyprus issue.

Mr. Avdeyev said that Greek-Russian relations were a permanently a top priority in Moscow's foreign policy.

A large part of their talks centred on Greek-Russian cooperation in the economic sector in the Balkans and primarily energy and communications networks and infrastructures in the region, as well as the possible undertaking of a joint Greek-Russian initiative for peace in the region. In this framework, the two officials reaffirmed the two countries' interest in the construction of the Burgas- Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.

Mr. Kranidiotis also invited Russia to participate under an observer status in the inter-Balkan meeting to be held in Thessaloniki in June.

He briefed his Russian counterpart of the forthcoming opening of a branch of the Greek Culture foundation in Moscow and extended invitations on behalf of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov to visit Greece.

US State Department on air corridors over the Aegean

US State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday stated that he was unaware of any agreement regarding the use of air corridors over the Aegean by Turkish aircraft, stating only that the US continuously seeks manners in which to rebuild confidence between Greece and Turkey.

Replying to questions on whether the US was supporting Turkey against Greece "for strategic reasons", as the "Washington Times" wrote quoting Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Mr Burns stressed that "the US does not prefer one country to the other."

"I am sure Mr. Pangalos did not say something like this or his statements were misinterpreted," he added, "as Mr. Pangalos knows well that the US is a friend and ally of Greece as well as of Turkey, that we are neutral and that we use our good services to bring Greece and Turkey together without showing preferences.

"Greece is one of the United State's oldest allies and we are very pleased with the prime minister, Foreign Minister Pangalos.... we have an excellent relation with him, and we are sure this will continue."

Prime Minister holds talks in Luxembourg

Prime Minister Costas Simitis begins talks in Luxembourg today with his counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker on policies and economic developments in the European Union and issues linked to Greek national interests.

The two prime ministers are expected to focus their interest on EU institutional issues negotiated by the "15" in light of the extraordinary summit for EU leaders on May 23.

Today's meeting has special importance for Greek foreign policy, since at the end of June Luxembourg will succeed the Netherlands at the EU's rotating presidency.

On the occasion of his visit to Luxembourg, Mr. Simitis will visit the headquarters of three EU bodies this afternoon, the European Court, the Auditing Council and the European Bank.

Conference on military law begins in Athens

Addressing the inauguration of the 14th conference of the International Society on Military Law and War Convention yesterday, National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis referred to the need for the establishment and operation of a permanent international court to try to war crimes.

"The effort must be continuous and uninterrupted if we wish to consolidate the fundamental international conditions of humanitarian aspects in the international field," he said.

The ceremony was also addressed by the president of the conference's organising committee, Major-Gen. Athanasios Kosioris and the president of the society. The conference focuses on "investigating and prosecuting war crimes - national law and processes. Military and legal cooperation."

The conference is taking place at the War Museum's amphitheatre and will last until Thursday. Leading jurists from Greece, Albania, Algeria, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Britain, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the United States are attendingf the conference.

ECOFIN adopts recommendations on Greek fiscal deficit

The Council of European Union finance ministers (ECOFIN) convened in Brussels yesterday and ratified, without making amendments, a document containing recommendations adopted by the European Commission several weeks ago aimed to end the excessive budget deficit in Greece.

The document contains no new measure and no new settlement, apart from what is already known, because Greek fiscal deficit, despite pessimistic predictions, decreased by 0.2 per cent more than the target set by the Greek Convergence Programme. Namely, instead of a decrease amounting to 7.6 per cent of GDP, the deficit dropped to 7.4 per cent of GDP.

Participating in the discussion between the 15 economy ministers on the draft plan for the EU Budget for 1998, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said, among others, that his government is opposed to any decrease in its rersources in the future and particularly in connection with fiscal austerity which is supported by the overwhelming majority of EU countries and is threatening decreases in the resources of structural funds.

Mr. Papantoniou said an increase in the resources of the EU's budget, particularly after Economic and Monetary Union, must be independent from fiscal austerity policies as they are reflected in the national budgets of member-states, while the EU budget must also cover financially a series of actions and policies which are covered at present by national budgets, such as combatting unemployment by creating new jobs.

Patriarch cautions against isolation of Orthodox eastern Europe

An interview published in the Romanian newspaper "Adevarul" yesterday quoted Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos as saying that NATO's expansion towards the former eastern bloc countries should not create a new division between Catholics and Protestants in western Europe and Orthodox faithful in eastern Europe.

The comment was seen as support for predominately Orthodox Romania's efforts to become a NATO member in the upcoming wave of expansion.

"The maintenance of unity in Europe is the ultimate duty of all churches today," the Patriarch said.

"The view prevailing now in certain western circles is for return to a kind of isolation of the western world, considered by some as genuine Roman Catholicism or Protestantism," according to Vartholomeos, the spiritual leader of approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world.

"This aims at the creation of a new split in Europe, as well as the entry into NATO of only the countries with a Roman Catholic or Protestant tradition," he added.

Greek ministers at WEU Paris conference

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived in Paris yesterday to participate in the West European Union's three-day foreign and defence ministers' council.

Greece, which is to assume the rotating WEU presidency in January 1998, is to present the union's "Transatlantic Forum", which foresees contacts and briefings with the United States and Canada. An international seminar on the subject was held in Athens earlier this month.

Issues to be discussed will include implementation of the Berlin, Birmingham and Brussels Accords regarding the WEU's capacities and its relations with the European Union and NATO, as well as its role in the operation and planning of defence.

Funds allocated for restoration of medieval village

Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoi and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will visit the island of Hios today in order to sign an agreement for the restoration of the mediaeval village of Anavatos.

The agreement will be signed between the culture ministry and the municipality of Omiroupolis. One billion drachmas will be allocated for the restoration of the Anavatos village, built nine centuries ago.

Greek literature events in Brussels

Greek literature will be represented for the second year in a row during the Belgitude et Grecite event, focusing on problems in the translation and promotion of Greek prose in Francophone countries.

The event will be held in the Brussels Royal Library on June 6 and 7.

Speeches will be made by distinguished translators, including Jacques Lacarriere, Michel Grodin, Michel Volkovic and professor of literature in the University of Liege, Jacques Dubois.

The event is being organised by the Fonds Culturel Hellenique and the Greek embassy's press attache here, Yiannis Starakis.

Greek credits for Montenegro

A Montenegrin government delegation paid a three-day visit to Athens for talks with Greek-based bank representatives and Greek businessmen on the implementation of credits for the Yugoslav republic amounting to US$50 million.

The agreement had been worked out during Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's recent visit to Athens.

The Montenegrin delegation was comprised of the government's deputy prime minister, the finance minister and the minister of commerce.

Speaking in Podgorica, Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Dirlievic said the draft agreement on the loan for US$50 million was prepared at the General Bank of Greece. Further talks will be held on the loan issue in Podgorica on Wednesday, during a visit by a Greek business and banking delegation.

An agreement for the purchase of goods from Greece worth US$40 million is expected to be signed in Podgorica, while a list will be composed listing goods currently in short supply on the Montenegrin market. Podgorica has also agreed with the Apostolopoulos group on another loan amounting to US$10 million for the purchase of consumer goods from Greece.

In addition, Serbian press reports have commented on a recent agreement signed between the Mytilineos company and the Trepca mines in Kossovo, amounting to US$519 million.

The general director of Trepca, Novak Bielic, told the "Borba" newspaper yesterday that the mines will honour all the conditions set out in the agreement because only a third of the mines' potential will have to be activated for the implementation of the five-year agreement with the Greek side.

International fur exhibition opens in Kastoria

Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis inaugurates the 22nd International Fur Exhibition in Kastoria today.

The fur sector in the region, despite difficulties faced over the past five years, continues to constitute the primary activity for local residents, with roughly 2,500 businesses and an annual turnover of about US$150-180 million. Fur producers in the Kastoria region have set the target of an annual turnover amounting to US$600 million.

A total of 125 exhibitors from Greece and abroad will participate in the exhibition, due to last until May 18.

WEATHER

Mostly sunny weather throughout Greece today with locally northerly moderate winds getting stronger in the northern Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 15-29C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 14-28C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.336 Pound sterling 434.099 Cyprus pd 529.827 French franc 47.055 Swiss franc 188.138 German mark 158.651 Italian lira (100) 15.991 Yen (100) 226.176 Canadian dlr. 192.984 Australian dlr. 209.342 Irish Punt 408.248 Belgian franc 7.687 Finnish mark 52.530 Dutch guilder 141.033 Danish kr. 41.676 Swedish kr. 35.107 Norwegian kr. 38.210 Austrian sch. 22.550 Spanish peseta 1.876 Port. Escudo 1.574

(C.E.)


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