Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-01
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 01/12/1997 (ANA)
- Defence minister to attend NATO meeting
- Simitis meets with Chirac in Paris
- Albanian interior minister in Athens
- No visa scam, foreign ministry says
- Burns: Reunification of Cyprus important for the US
- Simitis to present Greece's WEU programme
- Defence Ministry: No change in Aegean status
- Cyprus hails announcement of specific date for EU accession talks
- Blair on Greek-Turkish relations
- Greek First Division soccer results
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Defence minister to attend NATO meeting
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos left this morning for
Brussels to attend tomorrow's meeting of Alliance defence ministers.
Informed sources said that despite Greek objections, Turkey had managed to
put the issue of the coordinating centre for air operations and exercises
on the NATO military committee's agenda for discussion.
The issue is expected to be discussed within the framework of talks on the
implementation of NATO's new structure next spring or autumn.
Turkey reportedly wants the operation of the centre separate from the issue
of the Flight Information Region, which would make it possible for Turkish
aircraft to enter the Athens FIR without submitting flight plans, on the
pretext that they were acting within the framework of the centre's
Greece does not consider that NATO has a defined area of operational
control since it no longer had a specific enemy, according to government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
He stressed that even under NATO's new structure, each member state would
retain responsibility for protecting its own territory.
Asked whether NATO's new structure would cancel out any of Greece's
sovereign rights, Reppas stressed that Greece maintained its right to veto,
as it had done with regard to Turkish participation in certain NATO
military exercises in the past.
"When NATO exercises are being planned, we will continue to raise issues of
concern to Greece, as we have always done," he said.
He noted that all member states had reached agreement on NATO's new
military structure, while the details would be worked out over the next few
Simitis meets with Chirac in Paris
Prime Minister Costas Simitis has talks today in Paris with French
President Jacques Chirac focusing on Turkey's participation in the proposed
European Conference for countries wishing to join the European Union.
According to informed sources, Simitis stressed that Greece could not
consent to Turkish participation in the conference as long as Ankara
refused to fulfil the preconditions which govern the relations of all
French presidency sources said talks between the Greek and French
delegations focused on the issue of EU enlargement, noting that France
supported the Luxembourg presidency's proposal that Cyprus and the other 10
candidate countries should have "a common starting point" but "a different
pace" in negotiations.
Meanwhile it was agreed that the reform of EU institutions should take
place before completion of the first round of enlargement, while there were
no major differences between the two sides on the issues of Economic and
Monetary Union and Agenda 2000.
Chirac and Simitis also discussed Balkan issues. According to French
presidency sources, Chirac expressed the desire for the rapid attainment of
an agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
on outstanding issues and congratulated Greece on the successful meeting of
Southeast European leaders of government and state on Crete last month.
Simitis is currently having talks with his French counterpart Lionel
Albanian interior minister in Athens
Albanian Interior Minister Neritan Ceka had separate talks today with
Public Order Minister George Romeos and Merchant Marine Minister Stavros
Soumakis, as part of his official visit to Greece.
The talks were also attended by Albania's ambassador in Greece Kastriot
Robo and the heads of the Greek and Albanian police forces, Athanasios
Vassilopoulos and Sokol Baraj.
According to reports, the talks were constructive and provided an
opportunity for a broad exchange of views and the further promotion of
Ceka's talks with Romeos focussed on ways to improve cooperation in matters
of training, while the possibility was examined of further cooperation
through the joint working committee which has already been formed to combat
drug trafficking, organised crime, and theft.
No visa scam, foreign ministry says
The foreign ministry today rejected press reports claiming that visas
issued by the Greek consulate in Gjirokaster, southern Albania, were up for
sale, stressing that all the legal procedures to issue a visa were being
A foreign ministry announcement said that Greece's consul general in
Gjirokaster was performing his duties well despite the difficult conditions
prevailing in the region.
Burns: Reunification of Cyprus important for the US
Nicholas Burns, the new US ambassador to Greece, arrived in Athens
yesterday to take up his post. On his arrival at Athens' Hellenikon Airport,
Mr. Burns declined to answer a reporter's question on reactions by the US
and European Union to tension between Greece and Turkey, saying he had yet
to meet with Greek government leaders.
"I don't think it is appropriate for me to respond in detail to questions
like that, but suffice it to say that the United States has a very deep
interest in making sure that our NATO allies in this region have a basis to
resolve their problems together , and that's what the United States has
tried to do for a very long time and will continue to do," he said.
Mr. Burns, who was officially appointed to the ambassador's post in
Washington on Nov. 10, was until then the US State Department's spokesman.
In an interview with the Athens daily "AVGI" published on Sunday, Mr. Burns
said the reunification of Cyprus was important for the United States, but
"Some day Cyprus can be reunited, become a united island. This is important
for the US, and we shall work hard in cooperation with the Greek government,
towards this end. we must be realists. These are difficult problems which
cannot be resolved overnight. They may not be solved in the next three
years. But we shall try very hard to resolve them," the newspaper quoted
him as saying.
Simitis to present Greece's WEU programme
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will tomorrow outline the main elements of
Greece's WEU programme when he addresses the Union's parliamentary assembly
which starts here today.
Greece officially assumes the rotating WEU presidency on January 1,
Mr. Simitis is expected to focus on the Greek presidency's programme, as
well as a summing-up account by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel this
morning - Germany currently holds the WEU's rotating six-month presidency.
The parliamentary sssembly is composed of 115 deputies, all representatives
of national Parliaments.
The session will also be addressed by WEU Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro
this morning and NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana on Thursday
Among reports expected to be discussed of particular interest are a report
by the Dutch deputy Blau on the issue of the WEU after the European Union's
Amsterdam summit and NATO's summit in Madrid.
Defence ministry: No change in Aegean status
Turkey will not acquire operational control in the Aegean with the new NATO
command structure, there is no joint sovereignty and no allocation, while
Athens will not give up its national positions on the Aegean, national
defence ministry sources categorically stated, in light of a NATO defence
ministers' session in Brussels tomorrow on the specific issue.
The same sources clarified that both NATO's founding proclamation and its
new strategic conception explicitly mention that in no case does the
alliance deprive member-states of sovereign rights and consequently, every
member-state has the exclusive resp onsibility for its defence and the
safeguarding of its sovereign rights.
Given that the veto principle applies in all of NATO's institutional bodies,
Greece is not committed and can veto activities it believes harm its
national interests, the sources stressed.
Among others, NATO's new structure anticipates establishment of four sub-
headquarters in the southern flank. One each in Spain, Italy, Greece and
Turkey, which will basically concern land forces and will have small staffs
for the navy and air force branches.
The new headquarters to be created will be responsible and will only
control NATO's activities and not national ones, in addition they will be
multinational NATO entities and not a national NATO entity.
The sources expressed concern regarding the issue of covering the
administrative posts of NATO's new administrative structure and the issue
of conducting airforce operations.
On the first issue, the sources stated categorically that Greece will not
accept the placement of a non-Greek commander of the sub-headquarters
proposed for basing in Larisa. On the second issue, they clarified that
security valves exist which secure na tional interests, namely, 127 MC/CS,
by which the regions to be defined for conducting operations must be
approved by the military committee and where the principle of unanimity
Additionally, the sources stressed that the Greek government will not agree
to whatever phraseology indicated to create problems at a national level in
connection with the document on the issue of the functioning and operation
of the Combine Air Operati on Center, something Turkey does not want linked
to the FIR.
Cyprus hails announcement of specific date for EU accession talks
Cyprus hailed the announcement of a specific date for the start of the
island republic's accession negotiations with the European Union which will
start on April 10.
Cyprus Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou told the state-run RIK
Network that that Nicosia now awaits official notification.
The finance minister said that unless other obstacles appear, Cyprus could
be a full member in two years' time, while its economy could be in the same,
if not in a better state than certain countries that are already full EU
Mr. Christodoulou said that due to the implementation of measures for
harmonisation with the European establishment, unfavourable repercussions
were experienced, particularly in public finances.
However, he said the situation will change when Cyprus becomes a full EU
member and acquires access to support funds and participates in decision-
making. Mr. Christodoulou offered assurances that the economy is in a
position to handle all the unfavoura ble repercussions until succession.
Blair on Greek-Turkish relations
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said an understanding on longterm
goals could help Greece and Turkey improve their relations.
"I would like to see Greece and Turkey approach issues with greater self-
confidencee, a more direct communication between the two governments, and
greater effort to discuss differences with sincerity and calm. An
understanding on some longterm goals cou ld help," he said in an interview
with the Athens Sunday newspaper "To Vima", in an article published
yesterday. "Proceeding on the basis of the principles of the Madrid
communique, and planning on where they would like their relationship to be
in 10 year's time, the two countries could find a more comfortable
framework within which to make smaller steps in specific difficult issues,"
Regarding Cyprus, Mr. Blair said Britain saw its EU accession in a positive
light, and expressed the hope that "a serious opportunity will be given to
the Turkish Cypriots to participate in the negotiations".
Greek First Division soccer results
Veria - AEK 1-2 Heraklis - Kalamata 2-1
Apollon - Xanthi 1-2 Panahaiki - OFI 0-2
Proodeftiki - Pyros 0-1 Ethnikos - Athinaikos 1-0
Kavala - Ionikos 2-3 Panionios - PAOK 0-3
Olympiakos-Panathinaikos play today Standings-points:
AEK 31, Panathinaikos, Olympiakos, Ionikos 27 Heraklis 23, PAOK 22, Xanthi
20 OFI, Apollon 17, Pyrgos 15,
Panionios, Panahaiki, Ethnikos 13
Cloudiness, rain and rainstorms are forecast throughout the country today
with an improvement in the afternoon starting from the west. Winds
southwesterly, moderate to strong in the east, turning to gale force in the
Aegean Sea. Athens will be overcast, rainy and windy with temperatures from
13-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 13-16C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.834
Pound sterling 460.447 Cyprus pd 531.712
French franc 46.521 Swiss franc 192.592
German mark 155.675 Italian lira (100) 15.895
Yen (100) 215.294 Canadian dlr. 193.004
Australian dlr. 188.128 Irish Punt 405.887
Belgian franc 7.546 Finnish mark 51.511
Dutch guilder 138.156 Danish kr. 40.898
Swedish kr. 35.498 Norwegian kr. 38.194
Austrian sch. 22.122 Spanish peseta 1.842
Port. Escudo 1.522