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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-17

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, 17/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek, Turkish committees will not meet, Pangalos says
  • Athens accepts two CBMs of US proposal
  • More aid en route to quake-stricken Iran
  • Quake jolts northern Greece
  • Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries
  • Reactions to Greek-Turkish pop concert in Cyprus
  • Landfill worker disappears
  • International Museums' Day in Greece
  • 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 bilatteral 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 of US proposal

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.

More aid en route to quake-stricken Iran

A Hellenic Air Force C-130 transport plane took off from Elefsina yesterday 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 yesterday 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 had shook the region.

Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas 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.

Reactions to Greek-Turkish pop concert in Cyprus

Preparations are underway for a joint Greek-Turkish pop concert to be held on Monday on the Cyprus Green Line separating the island's Greek and the Turkish communities, while the event has caused a variety of reactions in Cyprus as well as in Greece.

The concert by Greek pop idol Sakis Rouvas and his Turkish collegue Ismail Cout is expected to draw about 6,000 youths from both communities and has received the endorsement on the United Nations as well as the Cyrpriot Government. However some of the republic's political parties and at least one citizens' group have been critical of the initiative in the light of occupation situation in northern Cyprus. Similarly in Greece a number of cultural figures have expressed their opposition to the concert.

UN security is being steped up around the area where the concert will be held in Cyprus' "no-man's-land", while the organisation's spokesman Valtemar Rokosovski denied recent press reports that the two nationalities in the audience will be separated saying that "there would be no reason to have this concert if we kept Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots apart".

Landfill worker disappears

The search for refuse collection worker George Drakides who disappeared this morning in the main Athens landfill in Ano Liossia continues, as fears mount that he has been covered by tons of refuse dumped in large quantities since services resumed today, after a recent strike.

The 50-year-old Drakides who was part of the crew of an Agia Paraskevi municipality collection truck, was last seen when a collegue went off and left him alone in the vehicle at 4.30 am. The collegue went to get help to tow the truck which had become stuck on the soft landfill surface.

Police and fire brigade crews with specially trained sniffer dogs have been searching the area but the only sign of Drakides found so far is his belt.

International Museums' Day in Greece

International Museums' Day will be celebrated in Greece with the usual free entry to all of the country's museums in order to invite people's interest to what Greek museums have to offer.

The theme for this year's celebration is "the struggle against the illegal trade of our cultural heritage", addressing a major problem for most countries that have a long history of civilisation to exhibit. The International Commission of Museums issued a resolution in which it calls for museums "to become vehicles for cultural exchanges to strengthen education in order to develop mutual understanding and peace and cooperation between peoples".

A few months ago the Ministry of Culture announced a pilot programme for the upgrading of services offered in ten of the country's largest museums. The programme involves making museums more vital and visitor-friendly through the introduction of various services beyond the dry exhibition of artifacts. Today the Minister Evangelos Venizelos in his message on the occasion of International Museums' Day said that "museums being these organised and complex spaces of culture, are the main institutions charged with the safekeeping and promotion of our cultural heritage".

WEATHER

Warm weather with light winds is forecast for Sunday, with some cloud developing over central and northern Greece in the afternoon and rain and storms in mountainous regions. Athens can expect a fine day with temperature 19-31C. Thessaloniki similar but with local cloud in the afternoon and temperatures ranging 16-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.130 Pound sterling 441.777 Cyprus pd 532.307 French franc 46.999 Swiss franc 187.796 German mark 158.219 Italian lira (100) 16.059 Yen (100) 232.981 Canadian dlr. 196.356 Australian dlr. 208.528 Irish Punt 410.053 Belgian franc 7.667 Finnish mark 52.407 Dutch guilder 140.715 Danish kr. 41.547 Swedish kr. 35.266 Norwegian kr. 37.988 Austrian sch. 22.475 Spanish peseta 1.874 Port. Escudo 1.568

(K.G.)


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