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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-09

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, 09/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece refutes Turkish claims
  • OA cancels five flights
  • Gov't extends hand to disaffected farmers
  • Greek, Turkish journalists concerned over tension
  • Turkish freighter refloated
  • Commission president Santer to visit Athens
  • 12% increase in British tourists projected
  • Quake recorded
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece refutes Turkish claims

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas today confirmed a report that Greece had sent a non-paper to NATO refuting Turkish claims that Greece was giving support to Turkey's Kurdish minority.

The report, which appeared in Sunday's issue of the Athens daily "Kathimerini", said the non-paper also presented NATO with data indicating that Turkey was undermining the normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations.

With regard to the referral of bilateral differences to the International Court of Justice, Reppas said Greece's position was unchanged.

As reiterated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in parliament last Wednesday, the only issue that the two countries could jointly refer to the International Court was the question of the continental shelf, he said.

If Turkey recognised the Court's jurisidiction, something which Reppas did not think likely, then it would be able to take recourse to that Court over any issue it wished.

"It is not necessary (for Turkey) to raise these issues by means of irregular military action," he added.

OA cancels five flights

Olympic Airways announced the cancellation of five flights today and merger of two other flights in a bid to ease problems caused by the ongoing dispute between the government and the Union of Flight Attendants and Stewards.

It said two flights from Athens to Thessaloniki and one flight each to Chania, Paris and Rome were cancelled, while its Geneva-Zurich and Stuttgard-Frankfurt flights were merged, while assistance would be sought from Olympic Aviation in carrying out OA flights when possible.

Travellers are advised to contact local airports to confirm flights.

OA managing director Theodoros Tsikiris said Sunday that OA would unilaterally set up flight plans if no agreement was reached with the Union at the end of the two-month deadline.

Gov't extends hand to disaffected farmers

Protesting farmers today continued a week-long blockade of national highways in norther Greece as the government set up a team of troubleshooters in a bid to end the standoff.

The team, headed by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and comprising Finance undersecretary George Drys, Agriculture undersecretaries Dimitris Sotirlis and Vassilis Geranidis, and governor of the Agricultural Bank of Greece Petros Lambrou, invited protesting farmers' representatives to the Ministry for talks on Thursday.

The farmers have said they will intensify blockades this week and continue their protest until their demands are met for state subsidies and cheaper petrol for agricultural use.

Farmers are blocking the national road arteries at several points in the prefectures of Thessaloniki, Pieria and Imathia, causing serious disruption to traffic and forcing drivers to use side roads.

They plan a two-hour blockade near the Greek-Yugoslav border post at Evzoni beginning at 2:00 p.m. today.

Greek, Turkish journalists concerned over tension

A group of Greek and Turkish journalists today expressed concern over the "perpetuating tension" in relations between Greece and Turkey and called on the two sides to avoid any provocative military or other actions.

A resolution issued after a three-day meeting in the Turkish city of Izmir, which ended last night, said:

"We consider negative for both countries, the implication in Greek-Turkish relations of foreign military formations regardless of how they are manifested, as they entail the danger of war or an arbiter's role".

More than 250 journalists, politicians and intellectuals attended the "2nd solidarity meeting of Greek and Turkish journalists" organised by the "Journalists in the Aegean and Thrace for Peace" movement, in a follow up to the first meeting last year on the Greek island of Chios.

The resolution expressed "deep concern over the perpetuating tension in relations between Greece and Turkey".

It reiterated the journalists' "firm position that the problems between the two countries can and should be resolved through the application of the rules of international law, bilateral treaties, and full respect of the existing borders".

It called on both sides to "finally decide to avoid every provocative military or other action".

The resolution said that "any hesitation on the path of dialogue, often the result of pressure from nationalistic circles in both countries, and every hesitation in respecting international law only intensifies the crisis and gives rise to interventions by third parties that serve only the arms dealers at the expense of the standard of living of the two peoples".

Regarding the Cyprus problem, the resolution stressed "the need for demilitarisation of the island and solving its internal problems to the benefit of the two communities".

At another point the resolution stressed that "the minorities in Greece and Turkey could form a bridge of friendship among the two countries," adding that "we feel compelled to demand the implementation of any human rights that are violated today".

The delegates said that the next solidarity meeting would be held in Alexandroupolis, Thrace next year.

Turkish freighter refloated

Greek tugboats refloated a Turkish freighter that had run aground in the shallows off the islet of Matrhaki, northeast of the island of Corfu, harbour officials said today.

They said the Ecuador-flagged "C. Osman", which ran aground last Friday while en route to the Yugoslav port of Veka, was refloated late last night by two Greek tugs after transferring part of its cargo to a Greek cargo ship.

Meanwhile, the Piraeus harbour authority said that the 2,037-ton Greek tanker "Aegean VI" ran aground this morning in the sandy shallows off the island of Poros.

The tanker's nine-member crew were all safe, and efforts were being made to refloat it.

Commission president Santer to visit Athens

European Commission president Jacques Santer will pay a formal visit to Greece from April 9 to 13, an ANA dispatch from Brussels said today.

While in Athens, Santer will meet with the state and political leadership of the country.

He will also be the keynote speaker at a banquet in the context of an international conference on "Greeting a new Business Age" being organised in Athens by The Economist magazine on April 9.

Santer is further scheduled to visit the island of Crete, where he will meet with representatives of the local authorities and producers.

It will be Santer's third official visit to Greece since assuming the helm of the Commission in January 1995.

12% increase in British tourists projected

Greece expects a 12 percent increase in tourist traffic from Great Britain, according to recent figures from the Greek National Tourist Organisation in London.

Bookings in December 1997 were up by 35 percent compared with the same month in 1996, with bookings for January 1998 already over the December figure.

The most popular destinations for holidaying Britons were: Athens (up 195 percent), Lefkada (up 72%), Cephallonia (up 62 percent), Skiathos (up 61 percent), Corfu (30 percent), Rhodes (22 percent) and Zakynthos (20 percent).

Quake recorded

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded at 16.00 today, its epicentre located 20 km. east of Athens in the sea bed near the port of Rafina, according to an announcement by Athens seismologists.

The tremor was felt in Rafina, Loutsa and Athens, particularly the northern suburbs. No damages have been reported.

WEATHER

Cloud and scattered showers are forecast for most parts of Greece today, with light snowfalls in mountainous regions. Northeasterly stong to very strong winds will reach gale force in parts of the Aegean Sea. Athens partly cloudy, with possible light rain and temperatures from 3-10C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with temperatures between 1-6C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.164 Pound sterling 464.514 Cyprus pd 533.339 French franc 46.882 Swiss franc 194.635 German mark 157.113 Italian lira (100) 15.903 Yen (100) 227.158 Canadian dlr. 197.507 Australian dlr. 190.772 Irish Punt 393.665 Belgian franc 7.613 Finnish mark 51.802 Dutch guilder 139.386 Danish kr. 41.237 Swedish kr. 35.156 Norwegian kr. 37.706 Austrian sch. 22.333 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.535

(M.P.)


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