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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-11-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 28/11/1997 (ANA)


  • Simitis-Blair talks focus on Cyprus, disagree on Turkey's role
  • Pangalos touches on EU-Turkey relations, Cyprus, in CNN interview
  • Most EU citizens against Turkey's accession
  • Tsovolas briefed by Iraqi consul general
  • ABNA conference discusses satellite communication channel
  • More than 68,000 new members enlist in PASOK
  • Greek equities end higher in scant trade
  • Six deputies want to abolish bank penalty rates
  • Greek companies' exhibition in FYROM
  • Parliament debate on alleged rigged football matches
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Simitis-Blair talks focus on Cyprus, disagree on Turkey's role

Greece and Britain remain firm in their views on the possibility of Turkey's participation in a proposed European Conference.

Following 90-minute talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said Britain desires Turkey's participation, while the Greek side stressed that such preconditions do not exist because Turkey's participation necessitates acceptance of the rules governing the European Union.

Replying to questions by British reporters, Mr. Simitis said Greece accepts the need for cooperation between the EU and Turkey, on condition that the principles of international law are accepted, an issue which does not concern Turkey alone but all the countries of Europe.

Mr. Simitis expressed the view that there was time for the issue to be resolved if, of course, these general rules governing relations between all countries are accepted.

The two leaders also held lengthy talks on the Cyprus issue and reconfirmed the agreement that negotiations for the accession of the island republic to the EU must get underway, while a solution to the Cyprus issue was not a precondition since the two issues were not connected.

Mr. Blair told Mr. Simitis that during the British EU presidency, starting on January 1, negotiations for the accession of Cyprus to the EU will start, while referring to the political issue he said Britain agreed that UN resolutions must be implemented and negotiations must be conducted in this framework.

A large part of the discussion, which Mr. Simitis termed "very friendly", concerned developments in the EU and primarily the course towards Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), namely, whether criteria would be applied as anticipated by treaties.

Mr. Simitis said that there was agreement with Britain on all these issues, as well as on the issue of the "Agenda 2000", while on the issue of EU enlargement Greece maintained that negotiations must start with all the candidate-countries, while Britain had the view that two phases must exist. However, they agreed that countries would not be excluded and there would be no distinctions.

Mr. Simitis said that it was agreed during the discussion on Balkan issues on that a message must be sent to countries in southeastern Europe that they constitute a part of Europe and that the course of Europe cannot exist without participation and lin s with these countries.

Mr. Blair said he would visit Greece before Britain takes over the EU presidency to present the positions he had supported and to enrich existing views on tackling the challenges of the future.

Pangalos touches on EU-Turkey relations, Cyprus, in CNN interview

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos,interviewed on the US cable channel CNN yesterday, set out Athens' views regarding Turkey's relations with the European Union and with Greece.

Speaking on the programme "This Morning," the Greek minister was asked when Greece would support Turkey's bid for membership of the EU.

"First of all, we took a unanimous decision just two days ago that Turkey will not join the EU in the near future for obvious reasons - its economic capabilities, its social structure and its political system," he said.

Mr. Pangalos stressed that the EU was not simply a common market but a joint enterprise built up over the years and aimed at creating a greater European community, something which was not so easy to achieve.

In reply to a question as to whether Turkey's joining the EU would bring about greater stability in the region, the minister said:

"I believe that Turkey could contribute positively to stability in the region if it began behaving like everyone else. By that, I mean, for example, that all of us in Europe have accepted the procedure of the International Court of Justice in The Hague... Turkey has not done that.

"Therefore, that is one of the things the Turks have to do if they do not want to be rejected. They must learn to live like everyone else in the EU."

Turning to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Pangalos observed that the independence of the Republic of Cyprus had been guaranteed by Turkey itself, Britain and Greece. However, asked why Greece did not use its influence in the region to resolve the issue, he said:

"...Cyprus has been invaded by the Turks, not by Greeks. This question should be put to the Turks."

"I have hopes for a way out if the United States, who is the major player in the region, since you mentioned (US presidential emissary Richard) Holbrooke earlier, uses its advantage with regard to military supplies and military aid and asks the Turks to make a move on the issue."

Most EU citizens against Turkey's accession

The majority of EU citizens are against Turkey's membership in the Union, according to a poll conducted by the European Commission (Eurobarometer).

The poll showed that 45 per cent of respondents were against, and 32 per cent in favour. Among Greeks, 13 per cent are in favour and 80 per cent against. Belgians and Germans are shown to be the other most ardent opponents.

Regarding Cyprus, 40 per cent of those questioned are in favour and 34 per cent against. The island republic occupies eighth place in the preferences of EU citizens regarding the membership of prospective members, after the Czech Republic, Hungary, Icel and, Malta, Norway, Poland and Switzerland.

Tsovolas briefed by Iraqi consul general

Democratic Social Movement's(DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas met yesterday with the Iraqi consul general in Athens for a briefing on developments in the Persian Gulf as well as problems created for the Middle East country's population as a result of a con tinuing UN embargo.

Speaking to the press after his meeting with Iraqi diplomat Hazan Altayar, Mr. Tsovolas said "the deprivation of medicines and basic foodstuffs faced by the people of Iraq proves that some great powers of the west lack compassion."

He also called on the international community and organisations to intervene in order to stop what he called the callousness and to allow the immediate supply of non-combatants with food and medicines.

ABNA conference discusses satellite communication channel

A conference of the general directors from the Balkan news agencies belonging to the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA) was held in Thessaloniki yesterday.

Among issues discussed was a proposal by the Thessaloniki-based Macedonian News Agency (MNA) for the creation of a satellite communication channel between the Balkan news agencies and the possibility of ABNA taking on new members. MNA currently holds the ABNA presidency.

The meeting was attended by the general directors of Anadolu (Turkey) Mechmet Guler; the Athens News Agency, Andreas Christodoulides; ATA (Albania), Frrok Cupi; BIP (Bulgaria), Stefan Velev; MNA, Spyros Kouzinopoulos; ROMPRES (Romania), Constantin Bade a; TANJUG (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), Zoran Jevdjovic and assistant general director Maria Velkovska.

More than 68,000 new members enlist in PASOK

PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said yesterday that new members signed in the ruling party have now reached more than 68,000.

Based on the 150,000 members PASOK previously listed, the new members represent a 40 per cent increase, assuming that veteran members will renew their membership cards, he said. The deadline for the new membership drive is Dec. 31, while PASOK's leadership expects more members to sign up.

In reference to a proposal by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos for a joint PASOK-New Democracy candidate in next year's Athens municipality race, Mr. Skandalidis rejected the idea, saying an Avrampoulos candidacy would in no way be PASOK's choice.

Greek equities end higher in scant trade

Greek stocks again finished higher yesterday but turnover remained thin in lacklustre trade. The Athens general share index closed up 1.07 percent at 1,436.66 points with 13.6 billion drachmas changing hands.

Sector indices rose across the board. Banks gained 0.08 percent, Insurance increased 1.14 percent, Leasing edged up 0.26 percent, Investment rose 1.79 percent,

Construction crept up 0.55 percent, Industrials soared 2.11 percent, Miscellaneous increased 1.37 percent and Holding jumped 3.13 percent.

The parallel market for smaller cap stocks finished 2.51 percent higher. Of 232 stocks traded 129 advanced and 78 declined with 25 remaining unchanged. Recording the largest percentage gains were Mouriadis, Klonatex (preferred), Metrolife, Elve Appar el and Klaoudatos, which all ended at or near the eight percent upper volatility limit.

The day's biggest losers were Balkan Export (preferred), Agrinio Metals and Plastics, Viosol (preferred), Tzirakian Profil (preferred), which closed at or near limit down at eight percent.

Among blue chips National Bank of Greece finished at 25,350 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,900, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,580, Delta Dairy (common) at 3, 320, Titan Cement (common) at 12,600, and Intracom (common) at 13, 000.

Six deputies want to abolish bank penalty rates

Six deputies of Greece's ruling PASOK party proposed an amendment abolishing the right of banks to impose penalty rates on their loan customers.

The deputies - Leonidas Tzannis, Anastasios Saatzoglou, Ioannis Kourakis, Panagiotis Tsertikidis, Ioannis Thomopoulos and Demetrios Georgopoulos - argued that the imposition of penalty rates had led to widespread social problems among borrowers who were unable to make repayments for reasons beyond their control.

The amendment is expected to be debated in parliament next week.

Greek companies' exhibition in FYROM

The first exhibition of Greek companies in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), scheduled between Dec. 3-6, is expected to contribute to an improvement of trade and friendly relations with the neighbouring country, HELEXPO managing director Antonis Kourtis said during a press conference in Skopje yesterday.

Mr. Kourtis thanked the director of Skopje's exhibition centre, Tome Talefski, for his help and cooperation in organising the event, and said "the first indications of the interest exhibited by Skopje businessmen show that the results will vindicate our efforts".

Additional events include a performance of Sophocles' "Ajax" at the city's theater on Dec. 4, a forum on business cooperation on the same day and a fashion show the next day.

Parliament debate on alleged rigged football matches

Parliament will debate a tabled question submitted by 123 deputies of all parties, except the Communist Party, stressing that allegations of match rigging in the Greek soccer championships was one of the main causes of football violence.

"It is a common belief among supporters that the championships in all divisions and the team standings are not judged on the pitch but are cooked up in backstage deals," the statement reads.

"Every Sunday fans witness appalling mistakes by referees, which, of course, are not human mistakes, and in most cases influence the outcome of crucial matches," the statement added.

Three players and a policeman were injured during a violent flare-up after the Ionikos-Olympiakos match last Monday, when fans invaded the pitch.

Commenting, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described the claims in the statement as exaggerated and unfounded by evidence, promising that they would be looked into and any blame due apportioned.

He also said that a broad meeting including sports officials and representatives of the public order and justice ministries, and called by Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday, was in the context of such efforts.

The closed meeting was also attended by 17 of the 18 first division soccer club chairmen, with the exception of Giorgos Vardinoyiannis, from the Panathinaikos club.

Meanwhile, the meeting of sports officials produced a number of decisions to counter football violence.

These include that sports justice will be conducted by civil judges, strict application of existing legislation, and that referees will acquire professional status.

It was also decided to place emphasis on prevention and effective policing through the installation of closed-circuit television on football grounds, beginning with the Olympic and the AEK stadiums in Athens, as well as stricter controls on fans on their way to the grounds. Penalties for fans arrested will also be stiffened.


Cloudiness will prevail throughout Greece today with rain forecast in the west and south. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be overcast with possible afternoon showers and temperatures from 12-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9-14C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.764 Pound sterling 459.475 Cyprus pd 531.216 French franc 46.465 Swiss franc 192.289 German mark 155.496 Italian lira (100) 15.872 Yen (100) 216.534 Canadian dlr. 192.805 Australian dlr. 186.541 Irish Punt 406.343 Belgian franc 7.539 Finnish mark 51.483 Dutch guilder 137.997 Danish kr. 40.853 Swedish kr. 35.361 Norwegian kr. 38.033 Austrian sch. 22.092 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.523


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