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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 29/11/1997 (ANA)


  • Simitis stresses Athens' resolve over Euro-Conference
  • Pangalos on CNN: Parthenon Marbles will eventually return to Athens
  • New US Ambassador's arrival
  • SAE to hold first ordinary meeting
  • EU environment ministers focus on Mediterranean islands
  • ISTAME meeting on EU enlargement
  • Lesvos reception centre for illegal immigrants
  • Equipment for Albanian police
  • AIDS cases in Greece
  • Fouras: "Refereeing to blame for violence"
  • Weather
  • Stock Exchange


Simitis stresses Athens' resolve over Euro-Conference

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said after talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair in London that Greece was prepared to block Turkey's participation in the proposed European Conference for countries wishing to join the EU.

Citing reports from Ankara, Mr. Simitis stressed that not even Ankara accepted participation in the proposed Conference unless it secured "candidate-member" status. At the most recent EU summit in Luxembourg, he said that he had asked each of the EU leaders if they were ready to accept Turkey as a candidate-member, and in each case he received a negative reply.

Mr. Simitis left on Wednesday for London and Paris for talks with his counterparts Tony Blair and French Premier Lionel Jospin on EU developments.

Explaining Greece's positions, Mr. Simitis told a press conference after his talks with Mr. Blair that Turkey had to accept the terms which are generally accepted by all the countries.

"We have built the EU on certain principles," he said, adding that in order to avoid problems between the countries, the simplest way was for each country to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of The Hague.

"Why have countries such as Slovakia and Hungary accepted this process and yet Turkey refuses to do so?" he asked.

Referring to Turkish statements on the accession of Cyprus, Mr. Simitis stressed that it was not acceptable for a candidate-country to threaten to block the accession of another country or to make comments about another country.

Mr. Simitis also noted that Turkey had repeatedly spoken about the "permanent partition" of Cyprus, underlining that this position was contrary to UN resolutions, which are also accepted by the EU, since the UN accepted that there is only one state entity on Cyprus.

The Greek prime minister also observed that it was unprecedented that Turkey's military leadership has a say in whether Ankara participated in the European Conference, underlining that decisions of this type should be taken by elected governments.

Mr. Simitis said Mr. Blair considered Greece's positions to be "reasonable" but had expressed the view that it was important for Turkey to participate in the European Conference and for these issues to be subsequently addressed.

Experience has shown, Mr. Simitis continued, that the operating rules of a club must first be accepted before one becomes a member of such a club.

Mr. Simitis stated quite categorically that Mr. Blair fully agreed that negotiations for Cyprus' accession to the EU should begin as scheduled on April 10, 1998 and that the issue should not be confused with the island republic's political problem.

Turning to NATO's new structure, Mr. Simitis said that it was accepted by Greece but not by Turkey, and therefore, constituted a difference between the Alliance member-states and Turkey.

He expressed the hope that agreement would eventually be reached, underlining that the new structure of NATO meets modern requirements and must develop since NATO cannot have the same operational structure which it had during the Cold War era.

Mr. Simitis expressed satisfaction at his talks with Mr. Blair, noting that the British presidency of the EU, which begins on Jan. 1, will be positive.

Pangalos on CNN: Parthenon Marbles will eventually return to Athens

In an interview with the US-based CNN network in London, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that keeping the Parthenon Marbles in Britain was "a crime against culture and humanity."

Speaking on the programme "Inside 'Europe", scheduled for broadcast tonight at 9:30 p.m., the Greek foreign minister said that the ruling British Labour Party had changed its position on the issue since coming to power. Despite this, Mr. Pangalos said he felt British public opinion would one day sway in Greece's favour.

"I'm finally convinced that British citizens, who are so close to ancient culture, one day willIwant to see these marbles together with the Parthenon."

Mr. Pangalos said it was "not relevant" for the British government to claim that returning the ancient friezes would throw the entire international museum scene into confusion and uncertainty.

The Parthenon Marbles were removed from the Acropolis in the early 18th century by Lord Elgin, a British diplomat then attached to the Ottoman empire. Elgin later sold the exquisite friezes to the British Museum in London.

New US Ambassador's arrival

Newly-appointed US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns is due to arrive in Athens tomorrow, accompanied by his wife and three daughters.

Mr. Burns, who was officially sworn in at a State Department ceremony on November 10, began his diplomatic career as a Vice-Consul in the Middle East in 1983.

He later worked for six years in the White House as special presidential adviser on Soviet (and later Russian) affairs on the National Security Council. He also served as adviser to President George Bush on Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, accompanying the president on his official visit to Greece in 1991.

Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, Burns served as State Department spokesman.

He speaks French and Arabic and is currently learning Greek.

SAE to hold first ordinary meeting

Thessaloniki will next week become the focus of interest of overseas Greeks when it hosts the 1st Ordinary Meeting of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad.

The 330 elected members of the Council who will be taking part in the sessions will be reviewing the council's activities since its establishment in 1995 and elect a new presidium.

The sessions will be officially opened by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday, SAE president Andrew Athens said that he would be seeking re-election to the post. He added that the SAE had given the opportunity to overseas Greeks to show that they can work together and help each other.

Among other things, he referred to the recent inauguration of the first medical diagnostic centre in Tbilisi, Georgia for members of the ethnic Greek community in the region and said the SAE would continue its efforts to provide medical and pharmaceutical assistance to ethnic Greeks in the former Soviet Union. He also underlined the importance of the council's efforts to strengthen ties between the United States, Greece and Israel.

Athens described the formation of an interparliamentary committee, made up of deputies of Greek descent, as "a very important force which at the same time provides a means of promoting national issues".

EU environment ministers focus on Mediterranean islands

Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Undersecretary Theodoros Koliopanos yesterday proposed a comprehensive environmental management and financial programme for Mediterranean islands, during a Euro-Med Conference in Helsinki.

EU environment ministers and their counterparts from 12 Mediterranean member-states of the Euro-Med cooperation conference approved a short-term and medium-term action programme through which funds from the EU's MEDA programme will be allocated.

Mr. Koliopanos said that decisions and the declaration of the conference offer new possibilities for cooperation in the Mediterranean, where Greece can and must play a leading role.

He added that Greek companies could benefit from the export of environmental technology to countries of the southern Mediterranean basin.

The conference focused on the managment of water resources, solid waste and coastal areas, as well as with desertification and environmentally critical areas.

ISTAME meeting on EU enlargement

The Institute of Strategic and Development Studies - Andreas Papandreou (ISTAME) has organised a two-day international meeting for next week on "European Union Enlargement and Southeastern Europe".

The meeting, which opens on December 5 and has been organised by the Institute's scientific committee for foreign policy and defence, will be attended by 34 representatives of Socialist and Social Democrat parties. Also participating will be representatives of institutes from 21 Balkan and European countries.

During the meeting, participants are expected to put forward their positions on various aspects of EU enlargement which affect political, economic and social developments in southeast Europe.

Lesvos reception centre for illegal immigrants

The record number of illegal immigrants arriving on Lesvos this year has prompted the prefectural authorities on the island to set up a reception centre - the first in the eastern Aegean.

The centre will be housed in an abandoned school in the community of Alifandes, Mytilene and will be repaired within the framework of the armed forces' social work programme and specifically by engineers performing their military service.

The cost of the work will be covered in total by the public order ministry. When completed, the centre will relieve pressure on local police stations.

"Our aim is to create acceptable living conditions for these people who most of the time have fallen victim to Turks taking advantage of their plight, and in particular to protect the health of both the illegal immigrants and those guarding them," said Lesvos Prefect Alekos Mathiellis.

According to authorities, 696 illegal immigrants have arrived on Lesvos since the beginning of the current year, compared to 48 last year and 167 in 1995.

Equipment for Albanian police

The Greek Police yesterday handed over equipment and supplies to their Albanian counterparts at the Kakavia border post. The supplies come under the agreement signed by the two countries' public order ministers in Ioannina recently, aimed at assisting the restructuring of the Albanian police force.

Previous aid shipments included police cars, motorcycles and desks. More vehicles and other equipment requested by the Albanian police will be delivered next week.

AIDS cases in Greece

A total of 1,638 AIDS cases were recorded in Greece between 1982 - the first year that official recording was commenced by the health ministry's centre for Infectious Diseases (KEEL) - and June 6 this year, KEEL announced yesterday.

KEEL statistics showed that 59 confirmed AIDS cases were recorded in the first half of 1997, compared with 208 cases for all of 1996, and 162 cases in 1993. The overwhelming majority of cases were males, according to the figures released by KEEL.

Only one case of AIDS was recorded in 1982, with the number inceasing to 4 in 1983, 5 in 1984, 15 in 1985, 23 in 1986, 61 in 1987, 73 in 1988, 104 in 1989, 143 in 1990, 181 in 1991 and 197 in 1992.

There were 1,615 surviving AIDS patients in Greece as of June 30, 1997 (1, 420 men and 195 women).

Fouras: "Refereeing to blame for violence"

Violence at soccer games was primarily the result of poor officiating and the poor adminstration of sports justice, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said yesterday in Parliament.

Mr. Fouras said he would meet with all referees of first division soccer games in order to remind them of their responsibilities.


Cloud and scattered showers are forecast throughout Greece today. Winds will be east-northeasterly, light to moderate. Showers in Athens where temperatures will range from 13C to 17C, and cloud in Thessaloniki with a high of 15C and low of 12C.

Stock Exchange

Greek equities ended the week sharply higher reflecting investors' renewed confidence in the course of the economy and signs that interest rates may resume their decline.

The general index closed 2.60 percent higher at 1,474.02 points to show a net gain of 2.45 percent on the week. The index was relatively steady during the month showing a 0.97 percent decline on the aftermath of an international market turmoil at the end of October.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 21.1 billion drachmas.


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