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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-03

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, 03/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece condemns attack on Ecumenical Patriarchate
  • Reppas comments on Cyprus-EU talks
  • Kaklamanis highlights plight of disabled
  • Thessaloniki to host UNESCO environment conference
  • New NATO structure ensures national interests
  • PM Simitis outlines Greek priorities for WEU
  • European defence industries discuss cooperation
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece condemns attack on Ecumenical Patriarchate

Greece today strongly condemned the overnight grenade attack against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in which a Greek Orthodox cleric was injured.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Greek government was strongly protesting to the competent Turkish authorities that they were not taking the necessary security measures "therefore enabling fanatics to commit such acts".

Reppas stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was the spiritual heart of hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians all over the world and should be protected so that it can carry out its mission.

The spokesman said no-one had yet claimed responsibility for the grenade attack and that the Greek consulate in Istanbul was in contact with the Turkish authorities regarding the issue.

The attack was earlier condemned by the archbishopric of Thessaloniki which branded it "a cowardly attack by fanatic Moslem groups".

The foreign ministry meanwhile summoned the Turkish embassy's charge d'affaires and handed him a demarche protesting the grenade attack.

At the same time, foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas, in a statement, also strongly condemned the attack, saying that it followed a series of similar incidents "which originate from the climate of extreme nationalism and militarism being cultivated in the neighbouring country".

He said Greece wished to express its deep concern over such incidents and expected that "at least this time, the perpetrators of this cowardly act would be apprehended and that effective measures would at last be taken to protect the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate condemned the attack in a statement issued in Phanar after an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod.

"This act of violence is not compatible with the general perception concerning tolerance and the protection of the rights, institutions, individuals and freedoms of conscience and religion," the statement said.

It added that the Patriarchate had the right to demand the protection of the law and of the officers of law in the country in which it was situated and is peacefully conducting its spiritual activities.

The statement expressed satisfaction at the Turkish government's condemnation of the attack and expressed the hope that the perpetrators would soon be arrested.

The Patriarchate was the target of an almost identical attack about one year ago.

Reppas comments on Cyprus-EU talks

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today that Cyprus will be represented by its legal government at the negotiations for accession to the European Union which begin on April 10, 1998.

Prospects for the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the accession talks were being dealt with "in a positive way" by the Cypriot government, he said.

Comments regarding the participation of Turkish Cypriots, made by EU Commissioner during a recent visit to Cyprus, in no way constituted recognition of the Turkish Cypriot regime, he stressed.

"Mr. Van den Broek was expressing certain views but these do not imply recognition of the pseudo-state under any circumstances," he said.

Kaklamanis highlights plight of disabled

Results of two surveys of the problems faced by the disabled in Greece and of other people's attitudes to them were presented to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis today by members of the National Federation for the Disabled, on the occasion of

Its president, Yiannis Vardakatasanis, drew attention to the fact 64.5% of those polled were in favour of establishing special agencies to promote the needs of the handicapped, while 90.7% were in favour of increased state funds to meet those needs. Incentives for employers to recruit disabled people were approved by 86% of the respondents.

PASOK deputy Panayotis Kouroublis, also a member of the Federation, said:

"We claim the right to live with dignity and not to be pitied by our fellow human beings."

He said the political system and parties had not proved themselves capable of taking a stand on the issue, a view shared by 57.4% of those surveyed.

Kaklamanis said it was time for an end to the reactionary views that considered disabilities to be a "punishment for sins".

Thessaloniki to host UNESCO environment conference

An international conference entitled "Environment and Society: Education on Sustainable Growth" is to be held in Thessaloniki from December 8 to 12 by UNESCO in cooperation with the Greek government, under the auspices of the President of the Republic.

UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor is to attend the opening session, along with the Ministers for the Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Costas Laliotis, Culture Evangelos Venizelos and Development Vasso Papandreou.

The conference, to take place at HELEXPO's "Ioannis Vellidis" Conference Centre, is to be addressed by experts on the environment and education, particularly the contribution of environmental education and the programme of the UN committee on sustainable growth.

New NATO structure ensures national interests

The 16 member-states of the NATO alliance decided yesterday to ratify NATO's new military structure, despite difficulties they were faced with.

Greece, after about 20 years, restores its equal participation in NATO with the other member-states, although Greek-Turkish differences are not resolved with NATO's new structure and neither is one country favoured against another.

This was stressed by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos at the close of yesterday's session of NATO defence ministers. He clarified that with its equal participation in NATO, Greece can safeguard its national rights in the framework of the Alliance with reinforced possibilities, which it did not have to date.

More specifically, he said a headquarters will function in Naples on NATO's southern flank and one regional subheadquarters each in the four Mediterranean member-states: Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

These subheadquarters, whose main weight rests with the landbased army, will also have necessary manning on the part of the navy and the air force.

This means that Greece obtains NATO's headquarters in Larisa, which is absolutely equal to the headquarters stationed in Verona, Madrid and Izmir, while Turkey, out of three headquarters it possesses to date will be limited to one. The headquarters in Larisa will have a Greek commander and 55 per cent of its staff will be Greek nationals. It will have operational responsibility for the entire national space. At the same time, it will constitute the base for Greece's participation in NATO's policy of peace, security and cooperation in the Balkans and the Black Sea region.

However, apart from national space, the regional subheadquarters will not have predetermined limits of operational responsibility (which have been officially abolished since 1992). The role of subheadquarters will be one of coordinating and will implement decisions taken by the Military Committee with the cooperation of each member-state. This means that in the case of every exercise, training or operation, Greece will have the right of veto at the Military Committee or the Political Committee (Council of Ministers).

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece's national interests were fully safeguarded with the new and more flexible security system which replaced the permanent limits of operational responsibility. He offered assurances that any involvement by NATO was ruled out in the national sovereign rights of any member-state and, of course, Greece. He said this constituted an irrefutable reply to those who hastened to criticise the agreement accepted by Greece yesterday.

The agreement decided yesterday on NATO's new military structure will be ratified by the Alliance's session of foreign ministers on Dec. 16-17. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that after its ratification the phase of adjustments would start, which are related to the way the agreement will be implemented.

He said it will be a phase expected to be equally difficult and laborious. For this phase Greece requested and succeeded in having the revision process start immediately after ratification.

Tsohatzopoulos rejected opposition party criticism about a decrease in Greece's sovereign rights in the Aegean which, he said, "merely shows ignorance. NATO does not resolve problems of national sovereignty. National sovereignty belongs fully to member-states and its defence remains the foremost duty of its armed forces. This is explicitly recognised with the agreement on NATO's new military structure," he concluded.

PM Simitis outlines Greek priorities for WEU

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday marked Greece's upcoming assumption of the rotating Western European Union (WEU) presidency with an address to the organisation's Parliamentary Assembly here.

It was the first time a Greek premier has spoken before the body since Greece became a full member of the WEU in November 1992.

His address focused on two issues - the need to consolidate Europe's security and defence identity through the development of the WEU's operational capabilities, and the convening of an enlarged WEU summit to take crucial decisions on the future of the EU's defence wing.

Outlining the Greek presidency's priorities for its six-month term, which begins on Jan. 1, Mr. Simitis said these were strengthening the WEU's institutions and cooperation with the EU on a daily basis; the further intensification of institutional cooperation between the WEU and NATO; the development of the WEU's operational capabilities; and strengthening the WEU's institutions vis-a-vis third countries, particularly regarding non- WEU Mediterranean countries, including Cyprus, as well as Russia and the Ukraine.

Mr. Simitis stressed that the development of the WEU's operational capability was the only way to ensure that the Union would be politically credible in the eyes of NATO and the EU.

In some parts of Europe, he said, including the Balkans "and the greater area extending to the Middle East", the level of peace, security, good neighbourly relations and respect for international law is still inadequate.

European defence industries discuss cooperation

The defence services of France, Germany, Belgium,Denmark, Norway and Britain are presenting their armaments programmes at the Military Museum in Athens during a two-day seminar organised by the Greek Army General Staff's armaments directorate that began yesterday. The target of the seminar is to inform the Greek defence industries on the prospects for their participation in procurement tenders in the countries of the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG).

A WEAG senior official, head of the armaments programme in Germany, told the opening session that there was need for cooperation among the armed forces of Europe in the context of European unification. He also stressed the need for ridding the European armed forces of their dependence on the armaments industry "across the Atlantic".

"There needs to be a European organisation of armaments, as the defence industry in Europe is scattered, serving the needs of each member state individually, and is unable to compete with the U.S. industry," the WEAG official said.

WEATHER

Unstable weather with rain and storms in most parts of the country today. Winds westerly, southwesterly, strong to gale force. Athens will be partly cloudy with spells of sunshine and possible showers in the afternoon with temperatures will between 10-17C. Rain and brief storms in the evening in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.548 Pound sterling 464.077 Cyprus pd 531.712 French franc 46.495 Swiss franc 193.157 German mark 155.595 Italian lira (100) 15.890 Yen (100) 214.629 Canadian dlr. 193.698 Australian dlr. 187.111 Irish Punt 405.232 Belgian franc 7.543 Finnish mark 51.445 Dutch guilder 138.076 Danish kr. 40.884 Swedish kr. 35.490 Norwegian kr. 38.250 Austrian sch. 22.110 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.523

(M.P.)


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