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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-19

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, 19/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 'No margin' now for new initiative on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Greece hopes for 'successful' outcome of Annan's Iraqi visit
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Right to extend territorial waters indisputable
  • Kranidiotis: Turkish Cypriots can gain from Cyprus EU membership
  • Papariga says plan to formally divide Cyprus, Aegean in the works
  • Gov't concern over Turkish nuclear waste processing plant
  • Lions club event for visiting Kalash tribe children
  • Jules Dassin well after operation
  • One million Greeks suffer from migranes
  • Simitis responds to tabled question on troubled Olympic Airways
  • Gov't spokesman on farmers' demands
  • National Bank of Greece courts Bulgarian bank
  • Greece to spend Dr 14 bln to advertise tourism in 1998
  • Europarliament demands tougher petrol standards
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

'No margin' now for new initiative on Greek-Turkish relations

Athens stressed yesterday that there was no margin for undertaking a new initiative to improve relations with Turkey.

"We consider that, at present, conditions for doing something different from what has been done thus far are not in place," said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, after a meeting at the foreign ministry that was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

The meeting dealt with Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem, as well as a recent five-point proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

"The other side must exhibit a behaviour that shows respect for the rules of good neighbourliness and abstain from the provocations, violations and infringements it has been engaging in lately, so as to contribute to a climate that will render fruitful the contacts between officials of the two sides," he added. Referring to a Turkish foreign ministry statement yesterday, Mr. Reppas protested that it was inconceivable that the (possible) exercise of Greece's lawful right to extend territorial waters to 12 nautical miles should be considered a hostile act or be construed as a threat.

"Greece's foreign policy is compatible with the international legal order, and so should Turkey's," he added, stressing that Greece would continue insisting on its veto of EU financial aid to Turkey.

Mr. Reppas specified that no meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers, Theodoros Pangalos and Mr. Cem, had been scheduled. He said any such meeting, which was possible and desirable in the framework of international organisations, had no relation to dialogue, and, indeed, with any form of negotiation on sovereign rights.

Regarding Cyprus, in view of an expected renewed US mediation, he said Greece would "contribute towards an effective tackling of the problem in the framework of this initiative".

Finally, responding to questions, he said the exact time and manner of the reply to the Turkish proposal could not be determined as yet.

Greece hopes for 'successful' outcome of Annan's Iraqi visit

Greece reiterated yesterday its opposition to any country producing, possessing or using chemical or nuclear weapons.

"Greece does not want somebody producing, possessing or, furthermore, using chemical or nuclear weapons," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters when asked to comment on the Iraqi crisis.

"There is no manifestation of the tripartite initiative of (Foreign Minister Theodoros) Pangalos, (Russian counterpart Yevgeny) Primakov and the French foreign minister for peace in the (Persian) Gulf, other than their telephone contact with the Iraqi government," Mr. Reppas added.

On Tuesday, visiting FM Primakov and his Greek counterpart, together with Hubert Vedrine, the French foreign minister, initiated efforts aimed at promoting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit to Iraq to persuade Baghdad to allow UN weapons inspections.

Mr. Reppas said Mr. Annan's visit to Iraq was a positive development, adding that the Greek government hoped for a successful outcome of the UN chief's mission, thus averting the use of force. He also underlined that UN Security Council resolutions shou ld be respected.

In an ANA dispatch from Alexandria, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said "there is an urgent need for a political and diplomatic solution", adding that (military) intervention would create more problems than it would solve.

Tsohatzopoulos: Right to extend territorial waters indisputable

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated yesterday that Greece's right to extend territorial waters to 12 nautical miles emanates from "internationally consolidated rights, such as the treaty on the Law of the Sea, which nobody can question."

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking here during his three-day visit to Egypt.

Replying to an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry, warning that unless the existing status quo is maintained on the extent of territorial waters in the Aegean, resolving Greek-Turkish issues will be impossible, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "Turkey's position can never be raised as a precondition for dialogue...In no way can this be done."

However, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Greece "does not have the intention of extending territorial waters now. However, according to what is anticipated by the treaty, it is possible that the safeguarding of absolute freedom of passage in the Aegean can be carried out. When Greece will decide such a thing is a matter of time.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' visit here focused on defence issues and cooperation in the military sector, as well as on the views of Arab countries regarding a possible US military strike against Iraq.

While in Alexandria, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also met with the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Petros and members of the Greek community.

Summing up the results of his visit to Egypt, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the two countries agreed to the implementation of joint cooperation programmes on the holding of military exercises in the southeastern Mediterranean and exchanges of military represe ntations to enable Athens and Cairo to contribute towards the consolidation of peace, security and stability in the region.

Kranidiotis: Turkish Cypriots can gain from Cyprus EU membership

Cyprus' economic prosperity is a strong incentive for Turkey to put an end to its occupation of one third of the island, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday.

The average Turkish Cypriot, he added, would greatly benefit from a settlement to the problem "if of course Turkey allows this" because they are comparatively few in number and have a low standard of living.

As such, Mr. Kranidiotis said, they would be given considerable assistance. "Despite the Turkish invasion and 23-year occupation, Cyprus' economy is going from strength to strength and already fulfils the Maastricht criteria for participation in EMU, in deed having a very low rate of unemployment," Mr. Kranidiotis said.

Due to its strong economy, he added, it is believed that very little time will be required to overcome whatever problems may arise during EU accession negotiations which begin next month.

Mr. Kranidiotis was speaking at an event organised to mark Greek and Cypriot cooperation in insurance studies.

Papariga says plan to formally divide Cyprus, Aegean in the works

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga focused on Greek-Turkish relations yesterday during a press conference at Zappeio Hall.

Ms Papariga said there is a plan to divide the Aegean's sovereignty and to legalise the division of Cyprus.

"What is left are the signatures," she said, adding the Greek and Turkish governments are bickering for reasons of internal political consumption and prestige.

Regarding the recent proposals by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem, she said they emanate from last summer's Madrid communique, which she noted KKE had strenuously condemned at the time. Ms Papariga also said that KKE was against taking recourse to t he International Court at The Hague for issues dealing with national sovereignty and borders, except in the case of the Aegean's continental shelf.

In regards to the ongoing Iraqi crisis, Ms Papariga said a "massacre" is being prepared for Iraq, while she criticised the government for its stance on the issue, as well as other opposition parties.

Gov't concern over Turkish nuclear waste processing plant

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday expressed the government's concern regarding an under construction Turkish plant for the processing of nuclear waste at Mersin, on that country's southern coast.

In reply to a question by main opposition ND deputy Anastasios Kamarios, he described the issue as serious, adding that the Greek government was closely following its construction and has drawn attention to the unacceptability of certain arrangements.

He also said the government had made representations to the Canadian government regarding the terms of the contract between Turkey and a Canadian firm.

Mr. Pangalos drew attention to the fact that the area where the plant was being constructed was earthquake prone and that according to information, construction did not meet international safety standards.

Lions Club event for visiting Kalash tribe children

The Lions Club hosted an event for a group of 10 visiting children of the Kalash tribe at the War Musuem in Athens yesterday.

The children arrived in Greece two months ago to visit northern Greece and several archaeological sites. Soldiers from Alexander the Great's army are believed to be among the Kalash tribe's ancestors. The Kalash occupy about 20 villages isolated from the rest of the world in the Hindu Kush mountain range of Pakistan and near the border with Afghanistan.

Athanasios Lerounis, who was among the first individuals in Greece to cultivate ties with the Kalash tribe, spoke at an event on Alexander the Great's campaigns in the Hindu Kush and the presence of Hellenic culture in the area.

Jules Dassin well after operation

France's veteran film and stage director Jules Dassin yesterday underwent a successful operation for the removal of an aneurism from a stomach aorta.

Doctors said after the operation at the Ygeia Hospital in Athens that the widower of actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri was in a satisfactory condition.

Dassin made big hits like "Never on Sunday", "Rififi" and "Christ Recrucified".

One million Greeks suffer from migraines

More than one million Greeks suffer from migraines and two-thirds of that number are women, experts said yesterday.

However, only 10 percent of Greeks suffering from persistent headaches consulted their doctors who could provide relief with the right combination of medications, they said.

Migraines are the most common form of headache and are often accompanied by nausea and extreme sensitivity to light. They can be triggered by stress, some forms of medication and emotional and hormonal imbalances prompted by lack of sleep, fatigue, the weather as well as excessive exposure to computer and television screens.

The unregulated use of some medications for headache relief could lead, paradoxically, to their triggering migraines, doctors said.

They warned against self-diagnosis and administration of pain killers to provide relief from headaches, saying that doctors should always be consulted first.

Simitis responds to tabled question on troubled Olympic Airways

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said that Olympic Airways (OA) will very soon be on the road to recovery, since the situation in the loss- making state-run national carrier is one "that must be confronted."

The prime minister said during his Parliament address and in answer to a relevant question posed by Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, namely, that OA's future is bleak, and that OA employees and management will not decisively help confront the problem.

Mr. Simitis announced that the government will exhaust all margins for dialogue with employees.

He added that by April 1, at the latest, "dialogue with employees will begin, if there will be no conclusion to dialogue, the government will take all necessary legislative measures."

Mr. Simitis noted that the government will take all the necessary measures to guard the role of the national air carrier as a viable and competative one for the benefit of the public and the employees.

Mr. Constantopoulos said the government had no recovery plans for OA or its relocation to the new airport at Spata.

Synaspismos' leader added that the government is responsible for the "bankruptcy of a monopoly, such as OA."

Mr. Simitis answered that there is a specific recovery plan that has been decided upon by relevant ministers, while "employees are attempting to force solutions that we are not going to accept."

Gov't spokesman on farmers' demands

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that the government cannot allocate huge amounts of money to satisfy farmers' demands, because such a move would lead the national economy to destruction.

Mr. Reppas added that the government is making every effort to satisfy the just claims of farmers, citing the case of the private stockpiling of olive oil, recently allowed by the European Union. The last of the blockades set up by farmers on roads in western and central Macedonia were dismantled yesterday.

The last of the tractors left the Malgara and Stivos junctions yesterday. Traffic on all national roads is now normal.

National Bank of Greece courts Bulgarian bank

National Bank of Greece, the country's largest, is the most suitable buyer for Bulgaria's Postbank, the Greek bank's chief executive in Bulgaria said yesterday.

Christos Kastanis told the Bulgarian press that National Bank of Greece's advantages were its policy of fully developing banking activities. At the same time it was the only European institution seeking to take part in the privatisation.

Japanese financial group Nomura and US-based AIG insurance group are also participants in the sale of Postbank.

National Bank of Greece sees its bid for Postbank bank as a strategic investment that would turn the bank into a major financial institution in the Balkans, the Greek banker said.

Greece to spend Dr 14 bln to advertise tourism in 1998

Greece's tourism advertising campaign budget totals 14 billion drachmas this year, the Greek National Tourist Organisation said yesterday in a statement.

The country's tourism agency said that it will spend 4.0 billion drachmas on its traditional advertising campaign in 1998 in more than 20 countries around the world, and another 10 billion on promotion.

Greek tourism authorities will focus their efforts on improving marketing and public relations.

Europarliament demands tougher petrol standards

The European Parliament yesterday shrugged off intense lobbying from the European Union's oil industry and demanded tougher standards than agreed by EU governments for oil and diesel quality.

Adopting a report by Finnish Green Euro-MP Heidi Hautala, the assembly, which has a power of joint decision with EU governments on the issue, said binding rather than target standards should be set for petrol and diesel for 2005.

The outcome of the vote had been uncertain until the end as some deputies wilted under lobbying from national oil companies, who said binding standards from 2005 would be expensive to implement. The Parliament also said exemptions, granted to countries unable to meet a ban on leaded petrol from 2000 for social or economic reasons, should be tightened up.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with light rain in Evia, Peloponnese, Crete, west Thessaly and the Cycladic islands. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to strong, turning to gale force in the east of the country and the Aegean Sea. Athens will be windy with few clouds and temperatures between 5-13C. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.508 Pound sterling 467.847 Cyprus pd 533.676 French franc 46.691 Swiss franc 193.703 German mark 156.463 Italian lira (100) 15.872 Yen (100) 226.057 Canadian dlr. 198.261 Australian dlr. 190.464 Irish Punt 387.872 Belgian franc 7.583 Finnish mark 51.594 Dutch guilder 138.855 Danish kr. 41.069 Swedish kr. 35.172 Norwegian kr. 37.517 Austrian sch. 22.245 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.529

(C.E.)


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