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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-21

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, 21/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos calls for a successful Albanian election
  • IMF: good economic progress but work still needed
  • Official suspended for banning Kazantzakis
  • PM Simitis to visit Sweden
  • Albanians kidnap two Greeks
  • Armenians deputies visit Greek Parliament
  • Iraqi ambassador condemns Turkish invasion
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Turkish threats a crucial priority for Athens
  • Greece to send EU presidency memo on Greek-Turkish differences
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos calls for a successful Albanian election

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today called on all political forces in Albania to make every effort towards a successful outcome for the June 29 elections, promising that Greece "will continue to offer every possible assistance on the diplomatic, economic and humanitarian front."

In a statement issued this morning, Pangalos warned against allowing "partisan concerns to thwart" what he called "the historic opportunity offered by the elections". He said the "international community would have to review its position with regard to Albania if the elections foundered."

" If the elections were not held under free and fair conditions," Pangalos said he feared "the end of Albania's troubles would not be at hand."

There are no plans for Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to visit Albania, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today replying to reporters' questions.

Commenting meanwhile on the situation in the neighbouring country, Reppas said it was the responsibility of the political forces of Albania to give a solution to the problem which exists.

On the presence of the multinational protection force in Albania and its role, Reppas said ''no one is prepared to whitewash unilateral actions and it is not possible for the international community to legitimize handling which serves the plans of individuals or parties''.

''The international community will not remain indifferent,'' Reppas said.

The spokesman expressed the hope that the political parties in Albania will in the next few days find a way to communicate.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that Greece intended to raise the issue of whether its military contingent should remain in Albania in the event that the political parties of the neighbouring country fail to reach agreement on the electoral law and the terms under which elections scheduled for next month will be held.

''We went to Albania to support the agreement and not to be used by one side or the other,'' Tsohatzopoulos warned.

IMF: good economic progress but work still needed

The Greek economy has showed a marked improvement with growth rates accelerating and inflation falling to 20-year lows, upgrading the country's position in international financial markets, the International Monetary Fund said.

But the IMF, in its preliminary survey on the Greek economy drafted by a delegation of experts after a recent visit to Athens, urges the government to take measures in all sectors of the economy and particularly the social insurance system, employment, incomes policy and public sector hiring.

The IMF underlines that "participation in European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the gradual convergence of income towards EU living standards are now a realistic target".

The IMF experts recommend government restraint on wage increases, a more austere incomes policy, a decrease in the number of public sector workers, cutbacks in subsidies to state social insurance funds and public sector spending, swifter privatisation and lower subsidies to state enterprises to be offset by a higher pricing policy.

They also recommend an increase in the years of service as a base for pensions in the public sector, cutbacks in early retirement schemes, a review of pensions for the disabled, monitoring of recruitment and pay in the public sector, flexibility in working hours, a lower minimum wage for the young, and deregulation of recruitment and dismissals.

The IMF experts applaud the monetary and foreign exchange policies followed by the Bank of Greece and note that interest rates should fall gradually in line with the decrease in the inflation rate.

Finally, they forecast that the central government deficit will exceed this year's budgetary target by 0.5 percent of GDP and that inflation will not fall below five percent in 1997.

Official suspended for banning Kazantzakis

A school counsellor has been suspended in Larissa, central Greece for sending a circular to the schools of the region telling teachers not to use the works of Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis whom he described as ''blasphemous''.

Education Undersecretary Yiannis Anthopoulos today condemned the action of counsellor Achilleas Pitsilkas, saying he had already ordered an official inquiry.

At the same time, Anthopoulos said a ministry directive had already been sent to schools instructing them to continue using the works of Kazantzakis as teaching material.

Anthopoulos described the action of Pitsilkas as ''a return to the Dark Ages'', stressing that Kazantzakis should not be ''recrucified''.

The title of one of the Cretan-born writer's most famous novels was ''Christ Recrucified'' or, in the English translation, ''The Greek Passion''.

A prolific writer and translator of many classics, Kazantzakis, who died in 1957, also directed the Greek ministry of public welfare and held the post of minister of state.

PM Simitis to visit Sweden

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will pay a working visit to Sweden from June 3-5, according to an ANA despatch from Stockholm.

After arriving in Stockholm, Simitis will travel to Malmo to attend a conference of European socialist and social democrat parties which is being held just a few days before the European Union summit.

According to the programme for the premier's visit, Simitis will arrive in Stockholm on June 3 and the same day attend a dinner given in his honour by Swedish Prime Minister Goran Person.

The following day, Simitis will have talks with Person and Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen. Later the same day, he will attend a meeting of Sweden's Social Democrat party cadres.

On June 5, in the morning, the premier will be received by King Carl Gustav XVI and immediately after leave for Malmo.

Simitis will be accompanied on his first visit to Sweden as premier by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Albanians kidnap two Greeks

Two livestock breeders were kidnapped by eight armed Albanians in the prefecture of Thesprotia, northern Greece, last night and were forced to drive their kidnappers to the Albanian border.

Leonidas Tsepas, 41 and George Prokopiou, 23, were held up while on their way to their stockyards. According to police, the kidnappers have taken the men into Albania and are demanding a ransom from their families.

Armenians deputies visit Greek Parliament

The members of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organisation, headed by Karapet Roubinyan, had talks today with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

During the meeting, both sides underlined the close ties of friendship linking the two countries and confirmed their will for the further broadening of bilateral cooperation for the benefit of both peoples.

''We feel to be not only friends but allies of the Armenian nation and we must preserve, strengthen and transfer this relationship to coming generations as a joint defence stance against the expansionist policy of Turkey,'' Kaklamanis said.

Echoing Kaklamanis' views, Roubinyan underlined Turkey's negative stance towards Armenia against the background of Erevan's efforts to resolve differences with Azerbaijan.

''We are determined to continuously condemn this policy of Turkey at all international organisations,'' Roubinyan added.

Iraqi ambassador condemns Turkish invasion

Baghdad's envoy to Greece, Issam Khalil, today issued an appeal to the international community and the Greek government and people to condemn the Turkish thrust into northern Iraq and demand the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from the region.

Khalil said the reason given by Ankara for the incursion, namely that it is pursuing Kurdish PKK guerillas, was merely a pretext.

''Turkey's action constitutes a blatant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and integrity as well as of international agreements, laws and the principles of good neighbourliness, despite the fact that Turkey has declared it supports these principles,'' Khalil told a press conference.

Khalil warned Ankara it should be aware that Iraq was entitled, according to international law, ''to reply accordingly to Turkey's aggressive act'' and demand compensation for the loss of life and material damage incurred.

''Turkey must stop acting like a phoney policeman and realize that the era of old and sick empires has gone forever,'' the envoy said.

The duty of Turkey's political and military leaders, Khalil said, is to protect their country's borders from attack and not to invade other states, irrespective of pretexts.

Khalil called on the international community to condemn the policy of ''double standards'' in international relations and Turkey's aggressive policy.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday condemned Ankara's cross-border thrust into northern Iraq against Kurdish guerillas, saying it was unprecedented for a country to claim it was solving its domestic problems by invading another state.

"Turkey must provide explanations about its action," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Commenting on the Kurdish problem, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it required a political, not a military solution.

"In such cases, whoever opts for a military solution bears full responsibility for the cost as well as for the condemnation from international public opinion," he said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added that any country aspiring to join the European Union should respect the principles of international law.

Tsohatzopoulos: Turkish threats a crucial priority for Athens

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said that confronting the Turkish threat was a crucial national priority for Greece.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told a Foreign Press Association luncheon that Ankara had recently shown a more "aggressive orientation" against Greece, adding that this orientation included "territorial claims."

Greece, however, "has a stabilising role in the region contrary to Turkey, the role of which is destabilising and perilous," he said.

He said the sea delineation between Greece and Turkey was clearly defined in the treaties of Lausanne and Paris.

Regarding Greece's sovereign rights to extend its territorial sea waters to 12 nautical miles, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said: "It is Greece's inalienable right. It is a matter of tactics, timing and circumstances to make such a decision."

Referring to recent press speculation about the rumoured creation of air corridors in Greek airspace over the Aegean in order to facilitate Turkish military training flights, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece is in a position to secure corridors for safe passage on the sea, under the sea and in the air, but with a simultaneous extension of territorial waters to 12 nautical miles.

Regarding the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), he said the same rules apply for the aircraft of all countries, and there will be no special exceptions.

Responding to a question on confidence-building measures in the Aegean, he said there has been no relevant negotiations with Turkey, and there is no need for additional measures to those envisaged under the 1988 Papoulias- Yilmaz agreement.

He also referred to the Greek proposal for extending the moratorium of flights over the Aegean from two to three summer months, stressing that it was a goodwill move on the part of Greece.

The defence minister also reiterated that for Greece there is no issue regarding the sovereignty of uninhabited islets in the Aegean, as there is clear mention of them in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, and that any disputing of their status should be referred to the International Court at The Hague.

He described the Cyprus issue as a vital national problem for Greece, adding that the strengthening of Cyprus in combination with the prospect of its EU membership constituted two basic factors for positive developments on the issue.

Regarding the order of Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missiles by Cyprus, he said it exclusively concerned the right of a threatened small country to defend itself. The missiles are intended to protect the new airport at Paphos, which is expected to be ready at the beginning of 1998.

Greece to send EU presidency memo on Greek-Turkish differences

Greece is to send a memorandum outlining its positions on Greek-Turkish differences to the Dutch European Union presidency soon, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said here yesterday.

Greece is also expecting a memorandum from Turkey in order to be able to decide on procedures which must be followed in relation to the "committees of experts".

On the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers' council for the Intergovernmental Conference, Mr. Papandreou met yesterday with members of the Dutch foreign ministry dealing with Greek-Turkish issues.

Speaking to the press, he said the Dutch EU presidency is aiming for an interim report on Greek-Turkish differences to be issued by mid-June, underlining that Greece has no objections, although he clarified that "everything will depend on the content of the Turkish memorandum."

WEATHER

Mostly sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with scattered clouds only in central and northern Greece. Winds will be light to moderate. A slight rise in temperatures in Athens ranging from 18-34C. Thessaloniki will be sunny with local cloudiness in the afternoon and temperatures between 16-31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.443 Pound sterling 440.924 Cyprus pd 530.918 French franc 46.832 Swiss franc 190.112 German mark 157.763 Italian lira (100) 16.048 Yen (100) 235.997 Canadian dlr. 194.928 Australian dlr. 207.080 Irish Punt 411.581 Belgian franc 7.638 Finnish mark 52.374 Dutch guilder 140.318 Danish kr. 41.424 Swedish kr. 35.341 Norwegian kr. 38.006 Austrian sch. 22.409 Spanish peseta 1.876 Port. Escudo 1.569

(M.P.)


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