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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-22

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, 22/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Pangalos willing to meet Cem, but negotiations 'out of question'
  • Claims of Florina power plant improprieties dismissed
  • Communist Party public debate on 'Anti-imperialist Front'
  • Ministerial committee leaves for Albania
  • Greek constitutional expert Dimitris Tstatsos in Albania
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Pangalos willing to meet Cem, but negotiations 'out of question'

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today he was willing to meet with Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem but that negotiations were out of the question. In an interview published in the Sunday newspaper "To Vima", given last Thursday, Pangalos also attacked dissidents within the ruling PASOK party's youth group, saying the party should ignore internal opposition and concentrate on broadening PASOK's electoral base.

Asked whether Greece's rejection of a five-point proposal by Turkeyo on bilateral relations meant that these relations would be frozen in the immediate future, Pangalos replied:

"First of all I wouldn't use the term 'rejection' so easily. In reality we gave a response characterised by a different view of Greek-Turkish relations, more in line with what we have often maintained and also in line with international practice. I did not reject the idea of a meeting with Mr. Cem."

The foreign minister emphasised the terms of the declaration signed in Madrid last July between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleiman Demirel as being a condemnation of the threats of war made on various occasions by Turkey against Greece.

"Before the Madrid declaration, our position, at least, was that we could not meet with the Turks while the threats and the threat of violence still held," he said, adding:

"I say to Mr. Cem that I am ready to meet with him, not however, to negotiate. I see our next opportunity (to meet) as being the forthcoming meeting in Rhodes of foreign ministers of Western European Union member and affiliated states. It will be an opportunity for us to sit down and talk."

Pangalos defined the possible content of such talks as being an "open discussion in which each minister, as is natural, can say whatever he wants and will not be restricted by agendas, by colleagues or by the press, but will be able to speak as he wishes".

He ruled out however, the idea of negotiations.

"The Turks want political negotiations on what they see as problems in the Aegean, which in reality are Turkish claims against Greece," said Pangalos.

He reiterated Greece's position that the only bilateral issue requiring resolution was that of the Aegean continental shelf, adding that Turkey was free to refer any other claims it might have to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Turning to the issue of dissension within PASOK, highlighted by events surrounding the PASOK youth congress currently under way, he said that a complete absence of discord only existed in an "artificial paradise".

Emphasising that his relations with Prime Minister Costas Simitis were and had always been "excellent", he described it as natural for relations within a government to include "an expansion of views" and "questioning" of issues.

Anything else, he said, happened only in an "artificial paradise", such as that which existed during the leadership of the party's late founder, Andreas Papandreou.

"Andreas Papandreou had a charisma that proved to be fatal for a great number of the nation's problems. He could make you forget what was unpleasant ... and to feel happy simply by the fact that you were close to him."

It was these personal attributes of Papandreou, he said, which had condemned him to an "indescribable loneliness", particularly during the latter part of his life.

"(Simitis) and I ... are not like that... There is a new type of politician, oriented towards the open society that will develop within the 21st century, although not without opposition from Greek society because we are not used to democracy, we are only now learning about it," he concluded.

Calling the dissent within the leadership of PASOK's youth organisation "an unpleasant and disappointing phenomenon", he dismissed what he said were the "antics" of youth leader Tonia Antoniou as of little concern to citizens.

Claims of Florina power plant improprieties dismissed

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas has dismissed claims of improprieties in the procedures followed in approving the construction of a Public Power Corporation (DEH) plant in Greece's northwestern town of Florina.

"The govenrment ensured terms of transparency and objectivity by promoting the selection, through international tender, of an independent assessor in order to check whether the price agreed by DEH was reasonable and competitive. The independent assessor concluded that the price was 5-6 per cent lower than the internationally acceptable level, and therefore competitive," he said.

The spokesman stressed the importance of the investment, part of Russian- Greek agreement, both to the development of a border area and the tapping of domestic energy sources.

"Critics also ignore the political importance of respecting the agreement with Russia," he added.

Communist Party public debate on 'Anti-imperialist Front'

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) held its first public debate this weekend on the formation of an "Anti-imperialist Anti-monopolistic Democratic Front", with guests political figures and mainly trade unionists who belong to other political camps, or are former KKE members, or are no longer active in politics.

Sources said KKE aims to form alliances in particular strata of the country's public life, which would be open to participation to anyone provided they agreed on the need for coordinated action against the policies of the government, the EU and NATO.

The party recently approved a policy of selective support for candidates in the municipal elections later in the year that do not necessarily belong to it.

Disagreements are acceptable, but in due course it is expected that the need for a minimum of common position will be understood, the party sources said.

Poliburo member Dimitris Koutsoubas said that "the formation of the front is not based on an agreement on socialism".

"Activity in trade unions, local organisations, and all sorts of movements is necessary for the formation of this front, and would include issues of foreign policy, NATO and the EU, and, of course, the fields of education, privatisations, the fight against drugs, and local government," said Koutsoubas.

PASOK Central Committee member and former health minister Dimitris Kremastinos, who was among the attendants said the debate was timely, and that a serious effort should be undertaken for a better and more efficient welfare state.

Ministerial committee leaves for Albania

An inter-ministerial committee headed by National Economy Undersecretary Alexandros Baltas left for Tirana today for talks with the Albanian government and to attend the 6th meeting of the Greek-Albanian joint inter- ministerial committee on economic cooperation.

The 30-member Greek delegation is due to meet with Albanian prime minister Fatos Nano and several ministers during its visit, which is to run through Wednesday.

The meeting aims at upgrading and developing trade relations between the two countries, while the details of a pending Greek loan to Albania and its management will also be examined.

Greece has pledged 18 million in loans to Albania to aid in the implementation of public works projects.

Last September, it also allocated two billion drachma (7 million dollar) to Albania in urgent financial aid.

Mr. Baltas will further meet with Archbishop Anastasios of Albania while in Tirana.

Greek constitutional expert Dimitris Tstatsos in Albania

"Europe is closer to Albania, but Albania, too, is one step closer to Europe," Europarliamentarian and Greek constitutional expert Dimitris Tsatsos told a press conference in Tirana today.

Mr. Tsatsos, a constitutional law professor and member of the European Parliament's committee on institutional reforms, also praised the members of the Albanian parliamentary commission drafting the country's new constitution after the overthrow of the communist regime.

He said the commission's work so far had been "exemplary", and its members' manner of operation "praiseworthy", adding that "the democratic nature of the constitution is a condition for the country's accession to the European Union".

Mr. Tsatsos today concluded his Tirana visit, in advisory capacity, that also included talks with President Rejep Meidani, Nano, the Albanian parliament's foreign affairs committee president, the reforms minister, the minister of State, the parliament president, and representatives of rthe Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

MR. Tsatsos is due to visit Tirana again in mid-April.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Partly cloudy in the south of the country. Winds will be northerly, light, turning moderate in the Aegean Sea. Athens will sunny with scattered cloud. Temperatures will range between 5-18C. Fine weather with reduced visibility early in the morning in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be 3-17C. The same is forecast for Monday.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.021 Pound sterling 466.676 Cyprus pd 533.875 French franc 46.761 Swiss franc 194.298 German mark 156.761 Italian lira (100) 15.901 Yen (100) 224.093 Canadian dlr. 200.642 Australian dlr. 192.379 Irish Punt 389.261 Belgian franc 7.596 Finnish mark 51.677 Dutch guilder 139.088 Danish kr. 41.136 Swedish kr. 35.367 Norwegian kr. 37.625 Austrian sch. 22.280 Spanish peseta 1.851 Port. Escudo 1.531

(L.G.)


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