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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-12

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, 12/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece turns down Cem proposals
  • Turkey ready for war over 1996 Imia crisis
  • Vietnam, Greece discuss bilateral relations
  • Former Albanian president in Greece for treatment
  • Athens gets new English newspaper
  • Greek loan to Black Sea countries, Yugoslavia
  • Russian businessman to be extradited
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece turns down Cem proposals

Athens today rejected a five-point proposal from Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to thrash out differences between the two countries.

"The Greek government does not accept the Turkish proposal because it includes issues which are already being dealt with and reiterates the standing Turkish position for dialogue on all issues," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.

Cem handed over details of the proposal to Greece's ambassador in Ankara this morning. He proposes a high-level meeting to identify problem areas in the Aegean, formalise principles of good-neighbourly relations and bolster confidence-building measures.

Reppas said Ankara's suggestion for a high-level meeting to determine points of contention could only be held in regard to the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf.

"Everything else is about unilateral Turkish claims," Reppas said.

Reppas also rejected Ankara's proposal that national expert committees set up under a European Union initiative meet on a bilateral basis to continue the procedure.

"This is a European Union initiative and can only continue as such," he said.

Reppas said Greece respects the Madrid communique signed with Turkey last year, which set out basic principles governing relations between the two countries, and expected Turkey to do the same.

The Madrid communique is not a treaty but a political declaration, he said.

Turkey's proposal on confidence-building measures in the Aegean, he continued, was moot: "There is already a related proposal from NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana which is being discussed at the ambassadorial level".

Turkey ready for war over 1996 Imia crisis

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis told Parliament today that Turkey wanted war with Greece during the crisis in late January 1996 when Ankara openly disputed Greek sovereignty of the Imia islets in the Aegean.

Kranidiotis based his assessment on what he called the "recent revelations" about the role of the Turkish political leadership during the crisis and developments "in the meantime".

Admiral Guven Erkaya, Turkey's navy chief at the time of the crisis, said during a programme on Turkish television last night that former Turkish premier Tansu Ciller and her foreign minister Deniz Baykal were in favour of a military confrontation with Greece during the crisis.

Baykal was in favour of a confrontation from early on in the stand-off, the admiral said in reference to a meeting on January 29, 1996, but the idea "caused fear among the others".

He also revealed that Ciller was putting pressure on him to speed up the occupation of the smaller of the two Imia islets, in order to create faits accomplis before any diplomatic efforts bore fruit.

Replying to a a question tabled in Parliament by main opposition New Democracy deputy Alexandros Papadogonas, Kranidiotis said the foreign ministry had no information indicating that the Greek embassy in Washington had been notified beforehand about imminent moves by the Turks on Imia the night of the crisis.

He reiterated Greece's call on Turkey to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court at the Hague on the basis of reciprocity in order for the two countries to examine their relations.

"The Greek proposal for a step-by-step approach is realistic, since it provides for recourse to the Hague on the issues of the continental shelf in the Aegean and Imia," Kranidiotis said.

He underlined that the approach proposed by Greece had international backing, including that of both the European Union and the United States.

Asked by reporters to comment on Erkaya's statements concerning the Imia crisis, US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns replied:

"It would not be correct for a US ambassador to comment on these events. I would like to leave this to the Greek government."

Burns was speaking after a meeting this morning with Social Democratic Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas, who expressed the view that Erkaya's statements "do not reflect reality".

Tsovolas said they were aimed at "creating the appropriate psychological climate in order to put forward the false dilemma 'peace or war' and ultimately to shape the suitable conditions to get concessions from Greece outside the framework of international law and international conventions".

Vietnam, Greece discuss bilateral relations

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam, currently on an official visit to Greece, met today with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou for a discussion of bilateral relations.

The Vietnamese Minister, who also had meetings today with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, is to sign three cooperation protocols while in Greece, on double taxation, shipping and investment protection.

Former Albanian president in Greece for treatment

Former Albanian president Ramiz Alia has been granted a visa enabling him to fly to Thessaloniki on Friday night to undergo open-heart surgery, it was officially announced.

The 73-year-old last communist president of Albania, who has had severe heart problems for the past five years, will be operated on at the George Papanicolaou hospital on Saturday or Sunday by well-known Greek heart surgeon Panayotis Spyrou, who has performed similar operations on several Greek politicians.

Informed sources said that Alia was given a medical visa by the Greek Consulate in Tirana.

The sources said Dr. Spyrou, who saw Alia a few days ago in Tirana, said that "because of the seriousness of his condition, he should be operated on in Thessaloniki".

Albanian hospitals lack the technical equipment for such operations, the sources said.

Meanwhile, an ANA report quoting informed sources in Tirana, said that Nexhmije Hoxha, the 77-year-old widow of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, was "seriously ill and living in a small apartment located in an old military camp in a Tirana suburb".

Athens gets new English newspaper

International Herald Tribune publisher and chief executive Richard McClean and Greek daily Kathimerini chairman of the board Aristidis Alafouzos today announced that the newspapers have joined forces to publish a daily newspaper for distribution in Greece, starting early March.

The paper will inclue the entire edition of the International Herald Tribune plus a daily section in English from Kathimerini.

The combined newspaper will deliver an international look at world politics, business, culture and sport from the IHT while providing local coverage of the day's news in Greece, including economics, commentary and entertainment listings from the pages of Kathimerini, a press release said.

The IHT, founded in Paris in 1887, will be printed on the Kathimerini presses, combined with the daily supplements and distributed in the early hours to subscribers, hotels, airlines and newsstands. Greece thus becomes the 15th of the Herald Tribune's remote printside locations spread over three continents.

Greek loan to Black Sea countries, Yugoslavia

The government intends to grant a further 140 million dollars in export credits to the countries of the Black Sea region and Federal Yugoslavia to facilitate their purchase of Greek products, National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas said today.

A total of 125 million dollars in export credits has already been allocated from the credit facility programme.

Baltas was speaking at a press conference on the priorities of Greece's international economic relations.

Referring to the priorities for 1998, Baltas announced that the forum of ministers of foreign economic relations of the countries of central and southeastern Europe was being scheduled for May in Greece.

Russian businessman to be extradited

An Appeals Court today decided to extradite a Russian businessman who was arrested a few days ago at Athens international aiport after arriving from a European country.

The Russian authorities had requested the extradition of Andrei Kozlenov, 39, who is accused of embezzling precious gems worth 55 billion drachmas.

Kozlenov told the three-member Athens court that the safety of himself and his family would be in danger if he was extradited to Russia. He claimed that members of the Russian establishment wanted to take over his business because he refused to collaborate with them and for this reason they had kidnapped his son.

As a result, Kozlenov said, he had been forced to sign over a large part of his business. He denied embezzling the gems.

Kozlenov has the right to appeal his extradition before the Supreme Court.

WEATHER

Spring weather with rising temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.962 Pound sterling 464.990 Cyprus pd 535.680 French franc 46.761 Swiss franc 194.402 German mark 156.776 Italian lira (100) 15.880 Yen (100) 229.797 Canadian dlr. 198.797 Australian dlr. 194.194 Irish Punt 393.923 Belgian franc 7.595 Finnish mark 51.647 Dutch guilder 139.073 Danish kr. 41.134 Swedish kr. 35.037 Norwegian kr. 37.666 Austrian sch. 22.280 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.532

(M.P.)


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