Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/12/1997 (ANA)
- EU hardens stance towards Turkey
- Juncker: Turkey years away from EU membership
- Dini: Turkey not mature enough to enter EU
- Washington accuses Turkey of 'needless provocation' in the Aegean
- Karamanlis calls for int'l protection of Ecumenical Patriarchate
- Expansion of museum exhibition on Greek civilisation
- Reppas proposes protocol to safeguard rights amid information
- V. Papandreou optimistic on businesses' adaptation of Euro
- Shipowners call for more measures to increase competitiveness
- Balkan chamber officials urge closer economic ties
- Greek stocks slump on international turmoil, rate jump
- Commission proposes financial penalties against Greece
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
EU hardens stance towards Turkey
The European Union yesterday hardened its stance on the issue of negotiations
for Turkish membership in future.
"Turkey does not fulfill the political conditions for being admitted to the
negotiating table by reason of its human rights situation, the situation
with the Kurds and its relations with Greece and Cyprus," Luxembourg's
Foreign Minister Jacques Poos said during a press conference, ahead of the
opening of the EU summit in the Grand Duchy today.
"Turkey has not given the signals asked by the European Union for a
normalisation of its relations with Greece," he added, stressing that the
Luxembourg presidency considered that Turkey was a candidate for admission
to the EU and did have European prospects, but had not accepted a package
of compromise proposals submitted by the Luxembourg presidency.
Following this development, he said, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude
Juncker and his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz had decided during their
fruitless three-hour meeting on Wednesday that the invitation of Turkey to
an official dinner at the EU summit on Saturday would be cancelled.
Responsding to reporters' questions whether Greece had threatened to use a
veto regarding the proposed European Conference, Mr. Poos said that the
Greek side had never used the word veto.
Juncker: Turkey years away from EU membership
Turkey still needs years to become a member of the European Union, Mr.
Juncker said in an interview published in today's issue of the "Luxembourger
Wort" newspaper, but released ahead of publication by the Austrian News
He also noted that he was not prepared to let the issue of Turkey's
European prospects dominate the EU summit in Luxembourg.
Mr. Juncker also said that during his meeting with Turkish counterpart
Yilmaz, he requested that Turkey revoke threats of using military force in
case the EU starts negotiations with Cyprus.
"Turkey did not do this," he said.
Mr. Juncker made a brief stop on his way back from Athens on Wednesday
night, where he sent an unequivocal message to Turkey that its accession to
the EU depended the fulfillment of certain conditions.
"Above all, it must cease impeding Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Turkey must make it clear that Cyprus can become a member of the EU," he
said after meeting Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima.
The president of the EU Council also stressed that Turkey must accept the
European legal regime and recognise the jurisdiction of the International
Court at The Hague in its differences with Greece regarding the Aegean
A third indispensable condition was progress in the human rights situation
in Turkey. "There can be no compromise on this issue, and no special
arrangement for Turkey," he said.
Dini: Turkey not mature enough to enter EU
An ANA dispatch from Rome quoted Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini as
saying that Turkey was still not mature enough to enter the European Union,
but this was not a reason to isolate it.
"We know very well that Turkey is not ready. It is certainly not at the
same level of political and economic maturity, so as to participate in the
EU with the other member-states that have submitted membership applications.
It will need an adjustment co urse, which will certainly be longer than
that of the other countries," he said.
Meanwhile, Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen used strong language
regarding Turkey yesterday.
"A country wishing to be considered as a candidate for EU membership cannot
have territorial designs against another member-state of the Union," he
said at a meeting of the European Policy Council in Copenhagen.
He also referred to Turkey's demands on a group of Greek islands, its
efforts to impede Cypriot membership, and the situation of human rights and
minorities in the country.
"Turkey got a customs union cooperation with the EU. Now, it must give
something too," he said.
EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek also stated in
Luxembourg that Turkey had not made the steps required for a normalisation
of relations with Greece and a resolution of the Cyprus issue.
Washington accuses Turkey of 'needless provocation' in the Aegean
The United States on Thursday accused Turkey of provocative air movements
near Greece in the northwestern Aegean Sea and said such incidents
needlessly raised tensions between the two NATO members.
The flights, even if they remained within international air space, were
"needlessly provocative and totally unnecessary," State Department deputy
spokesman James Foley told reporters.
"Military activity of this kind undermines confidence and needlessly
exacerbates tensions between our two NATO allies," he said.
Foley said he was referring to Turkish air movements in the northwestern
Aegean near the Greek city of Thessalonki that were confirmed by NATO
"We call on Turkey to stop such actions," he said.
These flights in the northwestern Aegean, he said, even if they were
carried out in international airspace, did not contribute to the effort for
an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.
"They were needlessly provocative. Military activity of this kind
undermines confidence and needlessly exacerbates tensions between our two
According to diplomatic sources, US Assistant Secretary of State for
European Affairs Mark Grossman addressed the issue personally during the
day, contacting both Athens and Ankara.
The Greek government yesterday described as "provocative" the recent
infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by the Turkish
"Such acts do not contribute to a de-escalation of tension and the
restoration of normal relations between Greece and Turkey," government
spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said.
He added that such provocations did not serve Turkey's interests and that
Ankara must finally realise that it cannot act as a destabilising factor in
According to national defence ministry sources, the 18 Turkish warplanes
infringed on air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR from 2 p.m. until
The same sources said 52 violations of Greek national airspace in the
region between the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Kos and Rhodes were
In all cases, the Turkish violators were recognised and intercepted by
Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000 and F-16 fighter planes, while in two cases
the interception process developed into engagements.
Karamanlis calls for int'l protection of Ecumenical Patriarchate
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said yesterday
that the international community must defend the Ecumenical Patriarchate
from attacks and threats.
Mr. Karamanlis was speaking in Thessaloniki to cadres of the European
Peoples Party's (EPP) Parliamentary group and to the presidium of the
European Union of Christian Democrats. Members of both groups are attending
a meeting on Orthodoxy organised by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate is receiving threats and sustaining terrorist
attacks, and we must all mobilise ourselves," Mr. Karamanlis said,
stressing the fact that the School of Theology on the island of Halki, the
Patriarchate's religious training academy, has been closed by Turkish
authorities since 1971.
A message by the Ecumenical Patriarch was conveyed to the meeting.
Expansion of museum exhibition on Greek civilisation
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday announced the restructuring
and expansion of an exhibition on Greek civilisation through the ages at
the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, after a meeting with museum
The cost of the renovation will not exceed five billion drachmas, he said.
Instructions were also given on procedures to expand the basement of the
museum to 12,000 square metres.
Reppas proposes protocol to safeguard rights amid information age
Press Minister Dimitris Reppas proposed the creation of a protocol on the
rights of man amid the expanding society of informatics, during his speech
yesterday at the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media
The conference is taking place in Thessaloniki with the participation of
ministers, government members and representatives of international
organisations from 40 European countries and nine international organisations.
CoE Deputy Secretary General Hans Christian Kruger also addressed the
Mr. Reppas said the creation of the protocol is dictated both by the
European Union's strong legislative concern in the establishment of a
European television scene without borders and efforts being made by the
Council of Europe to consolidate freedom of cross-border broadcasts between
He said the protocol must consolidate freedom of access to information,
transparency and respect for human dignity. In this context, governments
must take care to avoid big economic concentrations in the sector of
procurement, access and content to info rmatics networks and transparency
in both relations between purveyors and between them and the state.
V. Papandreou optimistic on businesses' adaptation to euro
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday expressed optimism that the
country's businesses and citizens would quickly adapt to changes to be
ushered in through the introduction of a common European currency, the
Speaking at an event of the European Union of Firms and Businessmen (EEEE)
and the Institute for the Study of the Greek Economy, she stressed that
those who will face the greatest difficulty will be the private citizens
without experience in managing a transitional double system of calculation
between the old and new system.
The minister also referred to a need for an institutional preparation of
the state and the formulation of rules for converting transactions from
drachmas into euros.
She stressed the importance of the correct preparation of banks and
businesses, and the need to avoid passing costs to the consumer.
Shipowners call for more measures to increase competitiveness
Members of the Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) reacted positively to
statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Merchant Marine Minister
Stavros Soumakis that there is no question of the merchant marine ministry
This was stressed by EEE President Yiannis Lyras during a press conference
"It is true that rumours concerning the abolition of the merchant marine
ministry and the incorporation of its services into other ministries have
created concern among us, since we are not aware of the government's
thoughts," he said.
Referring to the decrease of the Greek shipping registry being recorded
lately, he said measures taken by the government are inadequate in relation
to the measures taken by other European Union countries to strengthen their
registry and to attract shipp ing firms to their country.
Mr. Lyras stressed that "we must be competitive compared to other countries
and I hope that the government will recognise that the measures it has
taken are ineffective and will revise its policy on this issue to put an
end to the loss of ships from the national registry," he said.
Mr. Lyras said that from November 1996 to November 1997 there has been a
"leak" of 160 ships, namely, 19 per cent of the Greek-flagged merchant
fleet, adding that this was clearly due to issues of competitiveness.
Balkan chamber officials urge closer economic ties
Balkan countries have to tighten economic links among themselves in order
to attract foreign investors and reap the benefits of progress being made
in the political arena, Nikos Zahariadis, secretary general of Greece's
national economy ministry said yest erday. Addressing a meeting in Athens
of the Balkan Chambers Union, Mr. Zahariadis said that political steps
taken at an inter-Balkan conference in Crete in November would remain in
abeyance without economic backup.
Balkan cooperation should rest on equal status for each country, respect
for rules of the international marketplace, and autonomy in foreign policy,
Taking part in the meeting are chamber representatives from Albania, the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Cyprus, Romania, Yugoslavia, Turkey
and Greece. Bulgarian officials were unable to attend due to adverse
According to Andreas Kyriazis, president of the Central Union of Greek
Chambers, socio-economic conditions in Balkan states had improved in recent
months. Stability and progress in some cases was clearly discernible, but
closer economic ties were need ed in order to make the Balkans a regional
power, said Mr. Kyriazis, who is also president of the Balkan chambers'
Discussed at the meeting was how European businesses could make better use
of the EU's Phare and Tacis programmes, which provide funding for direct
investments in the Balkans and the creation of joint ventures.
According to an EU official, the programmes had helped to fund more than 2,
000 business plans for joint ventures in the Balkans, eastern Europe and
the former Soviet republics.
Eligible for funding are feasibility studies, plans for the transfer of
knowhow, and events to promote economic ties in the region.
Finally, a senior official of Commercial Bank of Greece told delegates that
the bank had initiated the creation of a Balkan bank forum, whose first
phase will include participation by 50 banks.
Greek stocks slump on international turmoil, rate jump
Greek equities came under strong pressure yesterday to end sharply lower on
the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said the Greek market was hit by the shockwaves of new turmoil in
international markets which had dampened sentiment and driven up rates on
the domestic money market.
Interbank rates soared to 16 percent after falling to 9.8-11.0 percent the
previous day, while the Bank of Greece reported outflows totalling 300
million Ecus from the market.
The general index lost 5.12 percent of its value to end at 1,486.39 points.
Trading was extremely heavy with turnover at 49.5 billion drachmas, boosted
by arbitrage trading.
Sectors indices suffered losses. Banks fell 5.04 percent, Leasing dropped
3.41 percent, Insurance plunged 4.52 percent, Investment was 4.10 percent
off, Industrials dropped 4.91 percent, Construction was 6.85 percent down,
Holding fell 6.16 percent and Miscellaneous eased 5.09 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 4.35 percent, while
the FTSE/ASE index dropped 5.21 percent to 852.05 points.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 220 to 17 with another 8 issues
Ideal, Radio Athina and Macedonian Plastics scored the biggest percent
gains, while Intracom, Galis, Alte, Petzetakis, Avax, Balkan Export, Nikas,
Selonda and Hellas Can suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 25,320 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,400, Alpha
Credit Bank at 16,550, Delta Dairy at 3,310, Titan Cement at 12,470,
Intracom at 13,500 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,
Commission proposes financial penalties against Greece
The European Commission has decided to refer Greece to the Court of Justice
and to request the court to impose financial penalties for failure to apply
rulings concerning two infringements arising from EU rules on recognition
The first case concerns the failure by Greece to implement a directive
which set up a general system of recognition of higher education qualifications.
The second case concerns the requirement for a Greek certificate to open
private schools or to be a director or teacher in such schools.
In the absence of a satisfactory answer from Greece to the reasoned opinion
the Commission decided to refer the case to the Court yet again and to
request the court to impose a financial penalty on Greece.
Fair weather with some cloudiness will prevail throughout Greece today,
with light rain in the northwest of the country. Winds westerly, southwesterly,
light to moderate. Athens will be mostly sunny with few clouds and
temperatures between 5-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with some morning fog and
temperatures from 3-12C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.996
Pound sterling 457.391 Cyprus pd 532.208
French franc 46.562 Swiss franc 192.651
German mark 155.883 Italian lira (100) 15.925
Yen (100) 214.292 Canadian dlr. 194.353
Australian dlr. 185.003 Irish Punt 403.149
Belgian franc 7.558 Finnish mark 51.695
Dutch guilder 138.369 Danish kr. 40.910
Swedish kr. 35.658 Norwegian kr. 38.331
Austrian sch. 22.158 Spanish peseta 1.845
Port. Escudo 1.527