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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-16

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, 16/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek, Turkish committees will not meet, Pangalos says
  • Athens accepts two CBMs
  • Greece supports Slovenia's bid for EU, NATO
  • More aid en route to quake-stricken Iran
  • Quake jolts northern Greece
  • Greece awaits UN initiative on Cyprus problem
  • G. Papandreou: No negotiation of Greek sovereign rights
  • Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries
  • Greece reacts to latest tension in Albania
  • Former ND premier praises Simitis' policies
  • Garbage strike continues
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek, Turkish committees will not meet, Pangalos says

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today rejected a proposal of the Dutch EU presidency for a meeting of the Greek and Turkish committees of experts set up to examine procedural issues relating to bilateral differences.

Pangalos said Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Van Mierlo proposed that the two committees should meet at the end of the month.

Expressing the view that such a meeting would serve no useful purpose, Pangalos spoke in terms of a ''mistake'' on the part of Van Mierlo.

Pangalos confirmed he had received a letter today from his Dutch counterpart proposing a meeting of the two committees between May 26 and 28.

''First of all, the process of exchanging views by correspondence must proceed,'' Pangalos said.

Pangalos also stressed that in order for Greece to lift its veto of EU financial assistance to Turkey within the framework of the EU-Turkey customs union, Ankara would first have to satisfy the three conditions set by Greece, irrespective of any process or initiative in progress.

Athens has repeatedly stated that Ankara must reject the use and threat of force, respect international law and international treaties and have recourse to the International Court at the Hague for the settlement of any claims it might have.

In the letter from Van Mierlo, Pangalos said, the Dutch presidency accepted a Greek proposal that views should be exchanged between the committees of experts in the form of memorandums.

He added however that Greece did not accept the presidency's proposal for a direct meeting of the two committees until the two sides had exchanged views.

Pangalos described Van Mierlo's proposal for a meeting of the two committees as ''naive'' and ''mistaken''.

Speaking to reporters after talks with his Slovenian counterpart, Zoran Thaler, Pangalos said:

''If the aim of the (EU) presidency is to exert pressure for the commencement of direct talks, in order to secure the release of the EU-Turkey financial protocol, then it is a naive approach, because Greece has repeatedly stated that it will not consent to the release of these funds unless Turkey satisfies the three conditions set by Athens.''

Pangalos assured however that the procedure regarding the committees would continue, adding that the letter of the Greek side would be sent to the Dutch presidency at the beginning of next week, on the condition however that the Van Mierlo proposal for a meeting of the committees is withdrawn.

Athens accepts two CBMS

Commenting meanwhile on statements last night by US Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon, who announced the five proposals submitted by NATO as confidence- building measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey, Pangalos said Athens had already accepted two but rejected the other three.

He said Greece had accepted the proposal for the extension of a moratorium on military exercises in the Aegean from June 15 to September 15, which Turkey had rejected.

Both countries have accepted the proposal for the monitoring by NATO of Greek and Turkish military flights over the Aegean, Pangalos said, noting that this was already being implemented.

With respect to the other three proposals, concerning the disarming of military aircraft taking part in training flights, the use of the IFF electronic system for the identification of aircraft in order to avoid engagements and the setting up of a centre for direct communication between the operations centres of Greece and Turkey, Pangalos said Athens did not accept them because in one way or another they disputed Greek responsibility in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).

Speaking later to reporters, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also said that Greece accepted to discuss only two of the proposals announced by Bacon.

''Greece has accepted to send on a four-month trial basis a picture of activity in the Aegean to NATO headquarters in Naples in order to confirm and prove the extent and frequency of violations of national airspace by Turkish aircraft which is taking place on an almost daily basis,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

He added that Greece had been sending the picture to Naples since February 6.

''When the four-month period expires, we shall see NATO's reaction and have contacts with the Alliance in order to examine the results of this effort and the conclusions,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

He also confirmed that Greece was willing to discuss extending the moratorium on military flights and exercises in the Aegean in the summer from two to three months.

Tsohatzopoulos said however that it was out of the question for Greece to discuss the disarming of Greek aircraft flying over the Aegean.

''There are instances when Greek aircraft are not armed when flying in national airspace. But when someone has not submitted a flight plan, you are obliged by international treaties to go out and confront the aircraft in question armed,'' he stressed.

Greece supports Slovenia's bid for EU, NATO

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had talks here today with his Slovenian counterpart, Zoran Thaler, focusing on the situation in the Balkans and bilateral relations.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pangalos described relations between the two countries as ''excellent'', noting that a number of bilateral agreements had already been signed, while other accords would follow shortly.

Pangalos stressed that Greece fully supported Slovenia's efforts for NATO and European Union membership.

Echoing Pangalos' assessment of the present relations between Greece and Slovenia, Thaler expressed the view that there was room for further development.

Pangalos announced that he would visit Slovenia in September.

More aid en route to quake-stricken Iran

A Hellenic Air Force C-130 transport plane took off from Elefsina this morning with 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid, mainly medical supplies, for quake-stricken eastern Iran.

The Greek government said a second shipment would follow in the next few days.

Quake jolts northern Greece

A strong earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale jolted western Macedonia today causing panic and minor damage to old homes, but no casualties, police said.

The tremor was recorded by the Thessaloniki University's seismological department at 10.01 local time and its epicentre was the coast of Lake Ohrid in the nearby Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). It was strongly felt in the northern Greek border cities of Florina, Kastoria, Kozani and Edessa. Inhabitants rushed out of their homes in panic.

According to reports from FYROM the quake caused minor damage to old homes in Ohrid.

In 1911, a stronger quake measuring 6,7 Richter shook the Ohrid region.

Greece awaits UN initiative on Cyprus problem

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting attended by the leadership of the foreign and defence ministries that focused on the latest developments on the Cyprus question as well as issues concerning the "committee of experts" and Greek-Turkish relations.

On the question of Cyprus, reports said the government is awaiting an initiative by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who intends to invite Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash over the summer for a start to direct talks.

On Monday, the UN secretary general's envoy, Sir Kieran Prendergast, will visit Athens for talks with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis. Sir Kieran will also visit Turkey.

The Greek side of the "committee of experts" has already started work to prepare the document it will send to the European Union's Dutch presidency, with Turkey doing likewise.

An in-depth discussion was held on Greek-Turkish relations and, according to sources, extensive reference was made to NATO's involvement in the creation of confidence-building measures between Greece and Turkey. Satisfaction was expressed over figures gathered by NATO in connection with national airspace violations by Turkish aircraft.

NATO headquarters in Naples had been receiving a Reconnaissance Aircraft Projector (RAP) image of the Aegean for about three months with the consent of both Greece and Turkey. Reports reveal that collected information absolutely vindicates Greece, which had pointed out the Turkish violations long ago. It is noteworthy that about 80 per cent of these violations take place even further than six miles inside Greek airspace.

According to reliable sources, the government intends to call on NATO to exert pressure on Turkey to stop airspace violations.

G. Papandreou: No negotiation of Greek sovereign rights

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday reiterated Athens' firm position not to negotiate any of its sovereign rights, saying the government never fails to clearly state Greek positions during international contacts.

He made the statement in response to a tabled Parliament question by main opposition New Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis regarding recent meetings by the foreign ministry's political leadership with their Turkish counterparts, as well as the "committee of experts" Athens and Ankara recently agreed to form.

Noting what he called a "provocative Turkish stance," Mr. Varvitsiotis said "the government was sliding into a Greek-Turkish dialogue without conditions and terms."

Mr. Papandreou said Athens had reacted immediately to the "unacceptable statements" of the Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Inal Batu, regarding the sovereignty of the island of Gavdos (south of Crete) with demarches and briefings to foreign governments.

Mr. Papandreou said "there is no negotiation of our national sovereign rights. At the meetings with our counterparts," he added, "we reiterate the clear Greek positions." "This dialogue cannot be confused with negotiations of our sovereign rights," he said.

Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas has denied as "absolutely false" press reports of a delay in the delivery of weapons systems to Greece from the United States.

"These reports have nothing to do with reality," he said.

Referring to weapons systems scheduled to be ordered, Mr. Reppas said a study of these systems is being completed but no contact has been made with anyone so far, either a government or agent. He added that very often certain reports on the issue reflect the aims of interested third parties.

Greece reacts to latest tension in Albania

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has taken steps to aid in the defusing of tension created in Albania due to the voting of a controversial electoral law backed by embattled Albanian President Sali Berisha.

Opposition parties in Albania and several western countries have expressed objections to the new electoral law.

Mr. Pangalos last night spoke with Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) special envoy Franz Vranitzky, Italian Foreign Minsiter Lamberto Dini, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Mr. Berisha.

He called on all to undertake efforts in order for elections in the neighbouring country to be held as stated at the end of June.

According to reports, Mr. Pangalos asked the Albanian president not to lead his country into the elections under the law, which was passed on Tuesday, and to accept a compromise that would satisfy all sides.

Former ND premier praises Simitis' policies

The government yesterday welcomed comments from a former ND prime minister that Prime Minister Costas Simitis' policies would make the country prosperous.

"It is good that support is offered from rivals to the prime minister in his effort to further improve the country's position," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday when asked to comment on a statement by former New Democracy prime minist er George Rallis.

Mr. Rallis surprised those attending the official launching of the archives of former president Constantine Karamanlis on Wednesday night by saying that if "(late PASOK founder and former prime minister) Andreas Papandreou...had followed the policy that Costas Simitis is following today, then Greece would have been a prospering country".

The comments caused dissatisfaction and discontent in the main opposition New Democracy party.

Garbage strike continues

The mounds of garbage already piled up in street corners in Athens will probably grow higher in the coming days, as municipal workers last night decided to extend their strike indefinitely, while also keeping the Ano Liosia landfill closed.

The decision came after an amendment under which part-time municipal workers would have received full-time contracts was withdrawn in Parliament, following objections by ruling PASOK party deputies.

Workers at the landfill are scheduled to meet today in order to decide upon the further extention of strike action.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today, except in the south and north where there will be scattered clouds. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny and hot with temperatures between 19-30C. Thessaloniki will also be sunny with some local clouds and temperatures from 15-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.900 Pound sterling 439.238 Cyprus pd 531.712 French franc 47.060 Swiss franc 187.751 German mark 158.462 Italian lira (100) 16.106 Yen (100) 231.910 Canadian dlr. 193.142 Australian dlr. 207.923 Irish Punt 410.589 Belgian franc 7.682 Finnish mark 52.467 Dutch guilder 141.062 Danish kr. 41.654 Swedish kr. 35.448 Norwegian kr. 38.152 Austrian sch. 22.536 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.573

(M.P.)


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