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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-19

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, 19/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • UN mediator, Papandreou confer on Cyprus problem
  • FM Pangalos leaves on two-day visit to Israel
  • OTE signs $14 million contract with Georgia
  • Greece betters its record for EU law adoption
  • Premier's first confrontation with new opposition leader today
  • Greeks remember Turkish genocide of Black Sea Greeks
  • Tsohatzopoulos: 'nothing to negotiate with Turkey'
  • Athenians remember pacifist Lambrakis
  • Rate of development higher than expected
  • Weather
  • Greek first division soccer
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

UN mediator, Papandreou confer on Cyprus problem

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with visiting UN Undersecretary-General Sir Kieran Prendergast this morning to discuss the impact of Cyprus' accession to the European Union on the problem of the divided island.

Prendergast arrived in Athens yesterday and met with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in the evening to discuss the possibility of success in talks between Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash under UN auspices.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said he intends to invite Clerides and Denktash to New York, probably in early June, for "face-to-face" negotiations.

Today's meeting between Papandroeu and Prendergast examined how a prospective Cyprus entry to the European Union could act positively on the problem of the division as well as on Greek-Turkish and European-Turkish relations.

Talking to reporters later, Papandreou said he hoped that tonight's bicommunal concert by Greek and Turkish pop idols, Sakis Rouvas and Burak Cut, would not be marred by any incidents.

The United Nations-sponsored concert in UN-policed no man's land in the divided capital of Nicosia is set to go ahead amid unprecedented security measures.

Papandreou noted that while it was "positive" that the youth of both communities could meet for a cultural event, there already had been "more substantial" contacts between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, through women's groups, unions and others.

Talking to reporters later, spokesman Dimitris Reppas expressed the government's concern about whether there could be a positive outcome of direct talks on the Cyprus issue under UN auspices.

The Cypriot government has stated that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has simultaneously called for direct talks while not showing any inclination whatsoever for rapprochement, Reppas said.

This fact must be stressed to the UN secretary-general and taken into consideration if the effort for progress in direct talks under the UN chief's auspices is to make any headway.

Reppas added that the completely negative stance of the Turkish side to date caused the government concern over what positive outcome, if any, could be expected.

FM Pangalos leaves on two-day visit to Israel

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos leaves today on a two-day visit to Israel that will include meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Greek-Israeli relations in the economic and military sectors will be the central focus in talks Pangalos will have with Netanyahu and his Israeli counterpart David Levy today and tomorrow.

Athens announced earlier this month that it would hold joint military exercises with Israel in the Aegean at the end of next month, the first since the two countries signed a defence agreement two years ago.

The 10-day exercises will take place near the island of Rhodes.

Pangalos's visit follows an official trip last month by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou prompted by Israeli interest in natural gas from the planned Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline.

Pangalos is also scheduled to meet with Arafat in Gaza later today.

OTE signs $14 million contract with Georgia

The Greek Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and construction company HELLASCOM has signed a 14 million dollar contract with Fortnet of Georgia for the installment and operation of fibre optics networks in the former Soviet republic.

The contract, for the construction and operation of a cable system of fibre optics body in Georgia, will connect the biggest cities in the country and at the same time be part of the inter-continental fibre optics network TAE (Trans Asia-Europe). The system will stretch from Poti (a Black Sea harbour) to the capital Tbilisi and then split in two towards Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The project will be fully funded by OTE in the form of lending on a 10 year repayment period. Hellascom has undertaken the construction of the project.

The project is one of the biggest investments ever in Georgia in the telecommunications sector.

Greece betters its record for EU law adoption

Greece has marked a substantial improvement in adopting EU laws into national legislation during the last few months, according to Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

The country now stands sixth among European Union member-states in adopting Community law, from tenth just a few months ago, Papandreou told reporters.

Papandreou made the announcement following a meeting late last week between Greek authorities and the EU's General Secretariat responsible for harmonising Community law matters accompanied by a 20-member delegation from the European Commission.

Discussions highlighted the improvement made by Greece in adopting Community law, particularly in the sectors of industry, commerce, the merchant marine and labour. The agriculture sector - the most tightly controlled sector in EU legislation - also made progress.

On the other hand, the telecommunications sector lagged behind due to "political sensitivity", although the climate of mutual cooperation between Greece and the EU remained positive.

From the 110 directives under discussion at the meeting, 20 had already been adopted into national legislation, while another 72 were being processed, leaving only 19 directives pending.

Premier's first confrontation with new opposition leader today

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will have his first confrontation today with the main opposition New Democracy party's new leader Costas Karamanlis in an off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate on the economy sought by Mr. Karamanlis.

According to reports from both sides, Mr. Karamanlis intends to strongly criticise the government's economic policy. Reports from Mr. Simitis's close associates say that the prime minister will avoid a confrontation, in the belief that the economy must not constitute a topic of party confrontation.

Mr. Simitis is reported to be preparing to focus on the fact that there must and can be a fertile and substantive dialogue between parties on major problems faced by the economy for participation in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

Mr. Simitis will refer to the government's policy on all sectors of the economy and will stress that the policy being applied has already produced results. He will further say that the policy being applied is the sole one which can prepare the groundwork for Greece's participation in EMU.

Reports said that Mr. Karamanlis will accuse the government of "lacking the will and resolution" to restructure the state to facilitate a structured development policy.

Mr. Karamanlis, although being aware that the economy is presenting positive results in certain sectors, primarily in the figures sector, maintains that necessary policies have not been developed to enable convergence with European countries.

Greeks remember Turkish genocide of Black Sea Greeks

A memorial service was held in Athens yesterday for the estimated 353,000 Black Sea Greeks who perished in the course of a campaign launched in 1919 by the subsequent founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.

May 19, today, has been designated as Memorial Day for the Genocide of Pontian Hellenism.

In a message on the anniversary, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said "the memory is still alive. Turkey today is perpetuating the crime of invasion and occupation of Cyprus. It is continuing to threaten in the Aegean, with illegal, illogical, and historically groundless claims...

"Vis-a-vis this reality, we have the duty to maintain our resolute stand. No sovereign right of Greece is negotiable, and we are ready to support this decision of ours by every possible means...

"At the same time, we are not abandoning the effort for a peaceful rapprochement of the two peoples, which will blunt the very negative climate," he said.

In a message marking today's anniversary, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis stressed the state's duty to stand by "our Black Sea brothers who are being repatriated as well as those who are still living in countries of the former Soviet Union".

Tsohatzopoulos: 'nothing to negotiate with Turkey'

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated in Thessaloniki yesterday that there was nothing to negotiate in Greek-Turkish relations.

Referring to reports on Greek-Turkish dialogue, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said:

"There is nothing to negotiate. Don't worry. We are ready to talk, but not (on) Greece's sovereign issues."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece has the strength to say "no" to Turkey over "air corridors" and "grey zones" and warned that "the Greek armed forces will give a 'flexible' reply to whoever makes aggressive actions which it will remember for decades."

Athenians remember pacifist Lambrakis

Athenians yesterday marched from Marathon to the city centre to mark the 34th anniversary of the assassination of leftist deputy and pacifist Grigoris Lambrakis.

The march ended wth a rally last night at the Pedion tou Areos park in downtown Athens, addressed by the daughter of Che Guevara, Aleida. A cultural festival followed.

Grigoris Lambrakis was murdered in Thessaloniki in 1963 by extreme rightist elements. His story later became the focus of the bestseller "Z" by Vassilis Vassilikos and later popularised in the film of the same name, directed by Costa-Gavras.

Rate of development higher than expected

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said in Thessaloniki yesterday that results of the government's development policy are "very positive and in certain cases unexpected."

"We have development rates which are higher than those we had hoped for," Ms Papandreou said at a conference on economic development organised by local PASOK party officials.

Ms Papandreou said interrelated convergence and development programmes are being consistently implemented, adding that this was taking place for the first time in Greece. She further said that preparations have also started for the implementation of the

Third Convergence Programme.

WEATHER

Fine weather with light winds is forecast for today, with local cloudiness in central and northern Greece in the afternoon and rain and possible rainstorms in the mountainous regions of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Athens will be sunny with some local clouds and temperatures between 17- 31C. Same in Thessaloniki with some local clouds and possible rain and temperatures between 16-29C.

GREEK FIRST DIVISION SOCCER

Xanthi-Olympiakos 3-5 Aris-Kalamata 0-0 Ionikos-Iraklis 2-0 Panahaiki-Athinaikos 3-0 Paniliakos-AEK 0-2 Kastoria-Veria 1-2 Edessaikos-Apollon 0-1 Panathinaikos-OFI 1-1 Kavala-PAOK 0-3

Standings: Olympiakos 81 points AEK 69 OFI 66 PAOK 63 Panathinaikos 61 Kavala 55 Paniliakos 44 Ionikos 44

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

(M.P.)


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