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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 25/05/1997 (ANA)


  • Turkish military textbook disputes Aegean islets
  • Noordwjik talks continue
  • Romanian President concludes visit to Greece
  • Experts' committees to report soon
  • Non-aggression pact proposed anew
  • Possible Burns posting welcomed
  • Pangalos to visit Albania
  • Greece leads foreign investment in Bulgaria
  • Navy exercises in the Aegean
  • Greece sets record in gymnastics
  • Fines imposed for bourse scandal
  • Bourse sets new historic record
  • Gov't defends minister
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


    Turkish military textbook disputes Aegean islets

    A Turkish Military Academy textbook, reportedly withdrawn from circulation last May, disputes a score of Greek isles and islets in the Aegean and the Argosaronic sea waters, adding that Turkey should lay claim on them in order to change to its benefit the current equilibrium of powers, an ANA despatch from Istanbul said.

    Despite strong criticism by Turkish diplomats and politicians, the textbook reflects the same views which had been presented by the Turkish general staff to a selective group of US correspondents in Ankara, published in the Wall Street Journal.

    "Turkey has struck a victory of tactics in the crisis of the Ikizce Kardak (Imia) islets," the textbook notes, adding that "ensuring the same victory on a strategic level depends on whether (Ankara) will force Greece to the negotiations table on all Aegean-related issues."

    "Unless (Ankara) is able to bring into the limelight the unjust status quo in the Aegean, which is benefiting Greece, it will simply put under consideration its own sovereigh rights in the Aegean," the textbook adds.

    Revealing Turkish military leaders' efforts to change the existing status quo in the Aegean, the textbook resurfaces old Turkish theories according to which the Greek islands in the Aegean do not have a Continental Shelf.

    "It has been scientifically proven that the Aegean sea has been formed by the geological sink of a part of the East," the textbook alleges. "The islands of Thracian Sporades (Trakya) and Eastern Aegean (Bogazonu ve Saruhan) and the Dodecanese (Mantese) are natural anomalies of the continental shelf of the Anatolia. They do not have a continental shelf, they are part of the continental shelf."

    Noordwjik talks continue

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday that Greece disagreed with a proposal for a reduction in the number of European Commissioners, according to an ANA despatch from Noordwjik.

    Mr. Papandreou, who was accompanying Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Noordwjik, the Netherlands, for a special summit of government leaders convened by the Dutch EU presidency, said however that Athens agreed the powers of the Commission president should be expanded.

    On flexibility, Mr. Papandreou said the views of Athens were similar to those of London, adding that he would meet with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on the sidelines of the General Affairs Council next week to discuss the issue of the implementation of the principle of flexibility.

    Mr. Simitis on Friday said that although there was a ''willingness'' to agree on a revision of the Maastricht Treaty, it was unlikely it would be reached by EU members at the June summit in Amsterdam, since many issues remained unresolved.

    Romanian President concludes visit to Greece

    Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, who arrived in Thessaloniki yesterday morning, referred to the city's potential in becoming a trade and economic centre connecting north and south in Europe.

    Mr. Constantinescu was met at the airport by Macedonia - Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.

    At a meeting later, the two men examined the potential for further developing the two countries' trade relations, and particularly boosting the presence of Greek investors in Romania in the framework of the privatisation of many enterprises.

    Discussion also included the organisation of mutual business missions, and improvement in the cooperation of commercial and industrial chambers and universities.

    Referring to Romania's participation in the multinational force in Albania (ALBA) and its decision to join NATO, Constantinescu said his country was a pole of stability in the region and met all requirements for NATO membership. He pointed out that there is excellent cooperation between Greek and Romanian forces in the framework of ALBA.

    The two men later left for a brief visit to the monastic community of Mt. Athos.

    The Romanian president was due to return to Bucharest in the afternoon, ending a three-day visit to Greece.

    Experts' committees to report soon

    Greek and Turkish experts studying problems in bilateral relations are to present their respective reports to the Dutch European Union presidency, possibly as soon as Monday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a press conference Friday.

    Mr. Pangalos expressed the hope that the Turkish group's report would contain "positive and constructive positions". He said the two groups would study each other's reports, to be exchanged via the EU presidency.

    He also reiterated Greece's "fervent wish for a solution to problems with Turkey".

    Asked to comment on an interview with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel screened on Greece's Antenna TV station on Friday night, in which Mr. Demirel proposed the signing of a non-aggression pact with Greece, Mr. Pangalos said:

    "If the Turkish president's statements constitute an abandonment of the (Turkish policy of) casus belli, this will be a very significant development."

    He said, however, that if the abandonment of "casus belli" was accompanied by conditions such as a demand that neither country did anything to displease the other, such as Greece exercising its right to extend its territorial waters to the 12-mile limit, then this would be a step backwards, as it would be tantamount to asking Greece to adopt Turkey's position .

    Mr. Pangalos said that no politician, whether in Greece or Turkey, would want to assume the cost of a military confrontation. He also noted a warning from the US that it would intervene militarily to stop such a confrontation.

    The foreign minister drew attention to both countries' commitments to a number of international treaties obliging them to avoid military conflict.

    Asked to comment on reservations reportedly expressed by Cypriot leaders over a possible non-aggression pact between Greece and Turkey, Mr. Pangalos reiterated that any military action by Turkey against Cyprus would be considered by Greece as cause for war. However, he added that neither Greece nor Cyprus should dictate policy to each other, and that Greece should not become involved in the Cypriot election campaign.

    Finally, with regard to the proposed summer moratorium on military flights in the Aegean, the foreign minister reiterated that Greece was in favour of such a move, noting that there were still certain reservations on the part of Turkey.

    Non-aggression pact proposed anew

    Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Friday reiterated an old proposal for an agreement of good neighbourliness and cooperation to be signed between Greece and Turkey.

    Mr Demirel made the statement during an interview with the private television channel Antenna aired Friday night.

    Questioned on whether he would agree to the prospect of a non-aggression pact with Greece, Mr. Demirel said "Yes. In fact I had proposed such an agreement to (former prime minister) Mr. Mitsotakis. A good neighbourliness and cooperation pact."

    During the interview, he frequently repeated that problems in Greek-Turkish relations can be resolved through dialogue.

    "We are ready to improve our relations with Greece, starting a dialogue and taking all necessary measures. We keep our word on what we proposed in the past."

    In Turkey's view, he said, the sovereignty of 130 small islands and rocky islets in the Aegean is questionable. He said this issue must be handled first with dialogue and accused Greece of attempting to occupy the islets.

    Mr Demirel said the issue of the island of Gavdos was an isolated incident which must not be generalised. Questioned on the Imia islets and on why Turkey's claims to the 130 islets appeared in 1996, he said the issue has existed since the 1930s and 1950 s, adding that if Greece had not gone ahead with settling the islands, the January 1996 Imia crisis would never have occurred.

    "In our view, the sovereignty of these islands is open," he said. When asked why his country refuses to refer the issue to the International Court at The Hague, he said "let us discuss first and we might reach some conclusions. We might find some solutions."

    On the question of Turkey's refusal to clarify which are the so-called "grey zones", Mr. Demirel said "if someone wants to find out which ones they are then Turkey will certainly announce them."

    Questioned on Turkey's statement that Greece's extention of its territorial waters to 12 miles would be casus belli, the Turkish president said this has been so for many years.

    "Whether the Aegean Sea becomes a Greek lake is an issue of vital importance to Turkey," he said.

    Possible Burns posting welcomed

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Friday responded positively to reports that State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns will be appointed ambassador to Greece in the summer, saying he had a "personal liking" for the US official.

    US administration officials said on Friday that Mr. Burns was expected to be named ambassador to Greece in the summer, replacing Washington's present envoy, Thomas Niles. Meanwhile, Mr. Pangalos told a press conference on Friday that he would fly to Paris on Monday to attend an OECD ministerial meeting before travelling on to Lisbon on Wednesday to represent Greece at the NATO foreign ministers meeting.

    The agenda of the NATO meeting will focus on preparations for the Alliance summit in Madrid in early July.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Pangalos said no meetings had been scheduled on the sidelines of the Lisbon meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller or other counterparts, but did not rule out such meetings eventually taking place.

    Pangalos to visit Albania

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos is to visit Albania early next month, he announced at a press conference yesterday. He said his visit would probably take place on June 3, following the European Union Foreign Ministers' Council in Brussels.

    Asked whether he would meet with Albanian President Sali Berisha, the foreign minister said he would be meeting with all leaders, while if possible he would also visit Greek forces participating in the multinational force there.

    Meanwhile, commenting on press reports to the effect that Italy was involving itself in the Albanian election campaign, Mr. Pangalos said that the Italian ambassador in Athens had denied such an involvement, while the Italian envoy in Tirana had made a statement declaring that his statements quoted in the press had been distorted.

    The foreign minister dismissed the view that "Greek and Serbian circles" had caused the upheaval in Albania, saying that there were no real ultra- nationalist forces in Greece, apart from a few isolated voices.

    Greece leads foreign investment in Bulgaria

    Greek investment in Bulgaria represents 10 per cent of all foreign investment in that country, amounting to $120 million on March 31, 1997, Greece's commercial attache in Sofia, Giorgos Doudounis, said on Friday night.

    The data was presented at the one-day conference on the prospects of Greek enterprises in the neighbouring country, held in the framework of the 6th annual 'Thrace 97' trade fair in the city of Komotini, organised by HELEXPO.

    Greece comes first in the number of investments, but sixth in the overall sums invested, he added.

    Those attending the conference included Bulgarian Minister of Trade and External Economic Cooperation, Daniela Bobeva, diplomats, bankers and businessmen.

    Discussion also included the EU FAIR programme for cross-border cooperation between the two countries, where the need was stressed for transparent procedures that will facilitate the participation of all European companies in construction projects.

    Navy exercises in the Aegean

    The Hellenic Navy will hold exercises in the Saronic Gulf and the greater Aegean area on May 25 to 30, the Navy General Staff announced on Friday. The exercises are part of the annual training of the fleet, and had been scheduled for a long time.

    Greece sets record in gymnastics

    Greece's women's rhythmic gymnastics team on Saturday set a record by winning a silver medal at the 13th European RSG Championships in Patras, its best performance ever.

    The Greek team had initially hoped to place in the first eight but put on an impressive performance to achieve 38.550 points, placing second behind the Russian team.

    Third place went to Ukraine, followed by Spain, Hungary and Bulgaria.

    Fines imposed for bourse scandal

    Nine individuals and three listed companies were ordered by the Capital Market Commission to pay a total of 720 million drachmas in fines for involvement in the Delta Securities scandal of last November.

    Delta's inability to meet its cash obligations, amounting to 2.6 billion drachmas, brought its collapse and closed the Athens Bourse for the first time ever on November 9, 1996.

    Following a report by three independent auditors from abroad, the fines were reduced for charges including trading on insider information, distorting the market and spreading false and inaccurate rumours.

    Bourse sets new historic record

    The Athens Stock Exchange made history on Friday with the general index breaking two records as it surpassed the previous all-time high of 1,684.31 points, set in July 5, 1990, and breached the 'psychological' barrier of 1, 700 for the first time in histor y.

    The index closed at 1,727.70 points, up 2.60 percent, to show a total gain of 85.08 percent since the start of the year.

    The president of the Shareholders' Union, Dimitris Karagounis, told the ANA that "the rise in share prices is not merely a temporary phenomenon, rather it reflects the steady fall in inflation and interest rates, expectations of high corporate profits d uring 1997 and the stable economic policies pursued by the government".

    He also predicted the continuation of the upward trend in the medium- and long-term, despite temporary correction and setbacks.

    Analysts said that the 2,000 target for the end of the year remained realistic due to the upcoming new flotation of OTE's shares. They also noted that despite the spectacular jump of the market during the first five months of the year the average P/E ra tio remained at the very attractive level of 12 percent.

    Gov't defends minister

    The government on Friday strongly reacted to a demand by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga for the removal of Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou because of the views he expressed in favour of the decriminilisation of marijuan a use.

    "Ms. Papariga and the KKE would be advised to do and speak less so that they will be compromised less," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, while underlining that the positions expressed by Mr. Papandreou were his own personal views.

    Mr. Papandreou said in an interview with a Greek magazine that the use of marijuana should be decriminalised and people allowed to grow the plant for their own personal use.

    In many instances, Mr. Reppas said, politicians act as dictated by their conscience. What is important, the spokesman added, is "policy not individuals".

    Mr. Papandreou's press office later attributed criticism to his views from the media and politicians to "a slanderous attempt at distortion".

    An announcement said Mr. Papandreou's critics were trying to present the minister as supposedly "inviting young people to cultivate marijuana".

    "Not only does Mr. Papandreou not encourage the use of marijuana, he goes much further by rejecting alcohol and tobacco," the announcement added.

    The announcement underlined that Mr. Papandreou's view that users should become "disentangled" from their relationship with dealers was an old one which had been discussed in Parliament as well as at science conferences.


    Mostly fair throughout the country today with the exception of some areas in the north where local cloud is expected in the afternoon. Winds will be northerly, light to moderate, becoming strong in the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens will range from 17-30C and in Thessaloniki from 15-28C.

    Foreign Exchange

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.336 Pound sterling 437.869 Cyprus pd 531.672 French franc 47.005 Swiss franc 190.271 German mark 158.313 Italian lira (100) 16.061 Yen (100) 231.394 Canadian dlr. 195.007 Australian dlr. 205.185 Irish Punt 406.561 Belgian franc 7.670 Finnish mark 52.451 Dutch guilder 140.814 Danish kr. 41.602 Swedish kr. 35.272 Norwegian kr. 37.992 Austrian sch. 22.490 Spanish peseta 1.878 Port. Escudo 1.569


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