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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/01/1998 (ANA)


  • FM: Turkey should take air space dispute to Hague
  • WEU official in Athens on Thursday
  • Russia determined to deliver S-300 missiles to Cyprus
  • Papandreou meets Short in London
  • PM springs surprise visit on hospital
  • New Greek ambassador to Paris
  • Eight illegal immigrants arrested
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


FM: Turkey should take air space dispute to Hague

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today that Turkey should have recourse to the International Court at the Hague if it disputed the ten- mile limit of Greek air space.

Pangalos told a press conference that the limit of Greek air space had been determined by presidential decree in 1931 and consolidated by international practice up until 1973, at which time Turkey began to dispute it.

Up to 1973, Pangalos said, Turkey itself recognised the extent of Greek national air space as being ten nautical miles.

Commenting on the Turkish argument that there is no international agreement establishing Greece's right, Pangalos said "there may be no agreement, but Ankara cannot overlook the fact that not challenging a right for a long period is tantamount to the creation of a legal right".

"Nothing prevents Turkey from challenging the extent of Greek national air space before the International Court at the Hague," Pangalos said, adding however that Ankara would not do so because this would force it to recognise the jurisdiction of the Court.

Regarding the extent of Greece's territorial waters, Pangalos once again referred to Athens' right to extend them from the present six to twelve miles in accordance with the provisions of the Law of the Sea convention.

He noted that Greece had not taken practical steps to implement this right but had repeatedly stated that "when we decide to do so, we shall do it in a responsible manner as a major sea power".

Pangalos said the practical consequences of Greece extending its territorial waters were very minor and "under no circumstances of the dimension intentionally given by Turkey".

At another point in the press conference, Pangalos said it was wrong to claim that there were no bilateral contacts between Greece and Turkey, adding that he had a long conversation with Turkey's new ambassador in Athens Ali Tinaz Tuygan.

Describing the envoy as a "very likeable" and "interesting" person, Pangalos said he had reiterated to Tuygan that Greece harboured no hostility towards Turkey, nor did Athens wish to see Ankara distanced from European integration.

Pangalos added however that it was wrong for Turkey to continuously seek abroad the causes for the problems it was facing.

"Even if Greece disappeared from the map, Turkey would still not attain the target it has set in Europe, because it placed the 'bar' too high...," Pangalos said.

Developments in the last few days, Pangalos continued, confirm that Turkey is experiencing serious problems in the field of political freedoms and democracy.

Ankara, he said, was wrong to believe that it could establish an "autonomous relationship" with Europe which was not connected with the problems Turkey had with Greece.

Replying to reporters' questions on the committees of experts set up by Greece and Turkey to examine procedural aspects of efforts to resolve bilateral differences, Pangalos said Greece had from the outset conducted itself "honourably" - appointing "real experts" to the committee while Turkey had appointed political figures.

"From the very outset, Greece insisted that the experts should focus on the procedural aspect of Greek-Turkish problems, while Ankara wanted substantial talks on all issues," Pangalos said.

He added that Greece would raise the issue of the committees of experts at next Monday's General Affairs Council, underlining that Athens believed the process should continue under two conditions - namely, the preservation of its European dimension and the need for encouraging signs from Turkey concerning a meeting between the members of the two committees "which will be of a procedural nature".

The idea of the committees of experts was proposed by the EU and accepted by Greece and Turkey. To date, the committees have been exchanging memorandums and replies via Brussels.

According to Pangalos, it is of crucial importance for the two sides to agree on the way in which each dispute will be settled "in the event that we disagree during our talks".

WEU official in Athens on Thursday

Western European Union (WEU) Parliamentary Assembly president Luis-Maria de Puig arrives in Athens on Thursday for a two-day visit at the invitation of the Greek government.

While here, de Puig will meet with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, foreign ministr Theodoros Pangalos, national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

The WEU official and Pangalos will give a joint press conference at noon on Friday.

Russia determined to deliver S-300 missiles to Cyprus

The Russian government will fulfil its obligations concerning the implementation of the contract for the supply of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Cyprus during 1998, Moscow's envoy in Athens, Valentina Matvienko said today.

"No threat from Turkey or any other country can change our decision. If the Cyprus governments wants (the missiles), Russia will fulfil its obligations, because these (weapons) systems are of a defensive nature and it is Nicosia's undeniable right...," Matvienko said.

Russia, she continued, will find the most appropriate way to send the missiles to Cyprus.

Asked how Russia would react if Turkey carried out its threat to attack any ships carrying the missiles, Matvienko condemned Ankara for resorting to threats.

"As we enter the 21st century, politicians and diplomats should not be using the language of war threats. I do not think (Turkey has) such a capability and I believe that the international community has many ways to put in its place any state which violates international law and uses the language of threats," the envoy said.

Matvienko concluded by saying that if necessary, Russia had the capability to take corresponding measures in the event its national interests were threatened.

Papandreou meets Short in London

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou had talks with British International Development Secretary Clare Short today on the European Union's cooperation with and assistance to the 70 Asian, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries under the Lome Convention, according to a report from the ANA's London correspondent.

As current president of the European Union Council, Britain is giving priority to supporting ACP countries, most of which are members of the Commonwealth. Greece wants increased political dialogue with ACP states regarding the administration of financial aid.

Negotiations between the EU and ACP states for the next Lome Convention begin next month. The existing convention, signed in December 1989, has a 10-year commitment period.

Britain is promoting sustainable development for these countries, centred on the fight against poverty. It favours more resources being made available as well as support for development programmes.

Human rights is another issue that both Greece and Britain agree should be given priority. Papandreou confirmed Greece's support for every effort made by Britain in this direction.

PM springs surprise visit on hospital

Prime Minister Costas Simitis surprised staff and patients at the Athens General Hospital today when he arrived for a spot-check on Greece's biggest hospital.

Simitis chatted with patients on camp-beds and listened to their complaints.

"You need to place emphasis on health and hospital issues, Mr. Prime Minister," one was reported as telling Simitis, who replied:

"That's why I'm here."

Simitis, accompanied by health ministry officials, toured the outpatients clinics, operating theatres and laboratories.

It was his second surprise visit in as many months. In November, he visited the state Social Security Foundation (IKA) medical centre in Neos Kosmos, where he commented on delays and absent doctors, although he characterised the centre's operation as "satisfactory".

New Greek ambassador to Paris

Ilias Klis, head of the Greek-Turkish relations section at the Foreign Ministry, has been named as Greece's new ambassador to Paris, replacing Haralambos Korakas, who is retiring, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos announced today.

Klis, a career diplomat, has previously served as head of the Middle East and North Africa section at the Foreign Ministry and as Greece's General Consul in Istanbul.

Pangalos said Ambassador Klis' placement would assume his post most likely in March.

He said the appointment was in "recognition of Mr. Klis' contribution to the Ministry".

Eight illegal immigrants arrested

Eight Albanians were arrested by a military patrol at dawn today as they tried to smuggle 74 kilos of hashish into Greece, police said.

They said the Albanians, who were arrested near Kastoria on the Greek- Albanian border, were also found carrying a pistol and several bullets.

In another incident, Thessaloniki security police confiscated 14 kilos of Indian cannabis from armed Albanians after a shootout.


Rain is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Snow in the north and possibly in the mountainous regions of central Greece. Winds southwesterly, strong to gale force. Rain also expected in Athens with temperatures between 10-14C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7- 11C.


Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 287.085 Pound sterling 468.918 Cyprus pd 532.684 French franc 46.680 Swiss franc 191.749 German mark 156.290 Italian lira (100) 15.894 Yen (100) 222.416 Canadian dlr. 199.471 Australian dlr. 190.385 Irish Punt 393.011 Belgian franc 7.577 Finnish mark 51.665 Dutch guilder 138.706 Danish kr. 41.043 Swedish kr. 35.543 Norwegian kr. 37.884 Austrian sch. 22.221 Spanish peseta 1.845 Port. Escudo 1.529


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