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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-07

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, 07/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Wide-ranging Simitis-Schroeder talks in Bonn today
  • Athens adamant on 'Agenda 2000', CAP issues at Conclave session
  • Culture ministry buys book on Alexander
  • Reppas heads gov't delegation to Cyprus
  • Tsohatzopoulos talks with Indian leadership
  • Draft bill on NGOs
  • Three arrested on antiquities smuggling charges
  • Abducted businessman found alive in car trunk
  • First division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Wide-ranging Simitis-Schroeder talks in Bonn today

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to hold scheduled talks in Bonn today with new German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and German Social Democrat Party (SPD) President Oskar Lafontaine.

The premier and foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos arrived in Bonn from Brussels last night. Pangalos will attend today's meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Schroeder. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis will attend the meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Lafontaine .

Mr. Simitis landed in Frankfurt on Friday night where he held a private meeting with new German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

Talks between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Schroeder are expected to focus primarily on European issues, in light of the Vienna summit on Dec. 11-12 and Germany's assumption of the EU's rotating six-month presidency as of Jan. 1 - expected to focus on crucial issues, such as "Agenda 2000", Union resources and the future of funds (cohesion and structural funds, and Common Agricultural Policy), all of direct concern for Athens.

The aforementioned issues and Bonn's determination to decrease its contributions to the overall EU budget will constitute a special topic of discussion at a scheduled meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Lafontaine, as the latter is also the new German finance minister.

According to reports from the Greek delegation, Mr. Simitis will initially place emphasis on the EU's future, such as the issue of maintaining the target of economic and social convergence between EU member-states after the introduction of the single 'euro' currency, as well as the importance of continuing Europe's political unification.

According to the same reports, the assumption by the EU of an "integrated policy in the Balkans" will be among the issues the Greek premier also intends to raise in his talks with Mr. Schroeder.

On matters of particular Greek concern, such as progress in accession negotiations between Cyprus and the EU and EU-Turkey relations, Mr. Simitis is expected to request from the new German leadership a disassociation of successful EU-Cyprus accession talks from the thorny issue of resolving the island republic's political problem, as Nicosia is blameless for the existing impasse and in light of its 'positive contribution' on the Cyprus issue.

Apart from this, Mr. Simitis is also expected to insist on the need for pressuring Ankara to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at The Hague as a framework for resolving its whatever differences with Athens.

According to the same sources, Mr. Simitis will reiterate that Greece, "despite the fact it desires the stabilisation of Turkey's European prospects, cannot accept the upgrading of its relations with the EU, namely, that it (Turkey) becomes an equal can didate-country just like the other 11 candidate-countries, unless there are necessary concessions that emanate from the preconditions set in Luxembourg (summit)."

Finally, another 'sensitive' topic includes the issue of a compulsory Nazi occupation loan and compensation for victims of the World War II occupation of Greece.

Athens adamant on 'Agenda 2000', CAP issues at Conclave session

The issue of "Agenda 2000" and the European Union's fiscal prospects in light of EU enlargement, in particular, constitute the focal point of discussions held at the EU's Council of Foreign Ministers (Conclave) yesterday.

Greece was represented by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Mr. Papandreou said that yesterday's negotiating was substantive which, however, did not reach any specific conclusions since Greece, Spain and Portugal made it clear that they will not accept whatever idea, either of stabilising EU expenditures over the next five years or a partial renationalisation of the EU's common agricultural policy.

He said that the sole official proposal on the negotiating table is the "Agenda 2000" and that all the other proposals which have been publicised at times cannot constitute a basis for negotiations. The Greek side supports the Commission's proposals and will not accept any decrease in funds anticipated by the "Agenda 2000."

On the question of the Cohesion Fund, Mr. Papandreou said that Greece, as is also the case with the other countries benefitting from the Cohesion Fund, rejects any idea of abolishing the possibility of funding in the event that a country becomes a member of the euro zone.

Mr. Papandreou said that the issue of enlargement will be discussed today and added that, on the issue of Turkey in particular, believes that Turkey's position and status must be clarified in the process of EU enlargement to avoid misunderstandings which would create the image that Turkey is a candidate country on equal terms with the other candidate countries of eastern Europe and Cyprus. According to certain reports, Italy might also raise the Ocalan case for discussion today.

Replying to a question by the press on Mr. Santer's letter on the issue of EU funding to Turkey, Mr. Papandreou said that this letter came as a reply to a letter by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, there is no new element and Greece has repeatedly set out its positions on the issue of Turkey's financing by EU funds.

Culture ministry buys book on Alexander

The culture ministry has purchased a rare book on Alexander the Great at an Athens auction for 8.8 million drachmas.

The ministry bought a first or second edition of Curtius Rufus' (Quintus) "Historia Alexandri Magni", published in Rome in 1471.

To date, there was no copy of Curtius' 150-page "Historia Alexandri Magni" in Greek libraries, nor any other early Curtius publication.

The book was written in the 1st century AD in 10 tomes, the first two of which have been completely lost, as have sections from the remaining tomes.

The previous owner of the "Historia" had bought it at a 1994 Christie's auction in London.

Reppas heads gov't delegation to Cyprus

Press & Mass Media Minister and Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas arrived in Cyprus last night for a one-day visit, heading a delegation of a "Coordinating Committee to Promote National Issues."

Upon arrival, Mr. Reppas said nothing has changed regarding the issue of the S-300 missiles' deployment on the island republic. He added that there is an on-going debate that is necessary "to re-adapt our tactics", as he said.

Reiterating that Athens' position is identical to Nicosia's decisions, he said the Cyprus issue should not be limited to the missiles issue.

The committee comprises officials and high-ranking members of the mass media ministry, the press and information office and representatives of the foreign ministries of Greece and Cyprus.

Delegations from both sides will hold talks today to coordinate cooperation in the field of informing public opinion on national issues.

The talks will be chaired by Mr. Reppas and Cyprus government spokesman Christos Stylianides.

Mr. Reppas will be received by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides this morning. He will also meet the President of the House of Representatives, Spyros Kyprianou.

Tsohatzopoulos talks with Indian leadership

India's interest in Cyprus developments and New Delhi's position regarding a political solution for the island republic was expressed on Saturday by Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee and opposition leaders, during National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' official visit here.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also met one-time Indian leader Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Sonia, who along with Mr. Vajpayee stressed New Delhi's lengthy relations with Cyprus within the non-aligned movement, calling for a "united future for the island republic."

Mr. Vajpayee said his country, although a nuclear power, is willing to contribute to stability and world peace by signing the treaty for a comprehensive ban of nuclear tests.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed the need for collective assessments about the power and the time to use such weapons.

Draft bill on NGOs

The Greek government is promoting a draft bill on the initiation of the role of non-governmental organisations, an important step in promoting the concept of voluntary social contribution.

This was stressed in a message by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Saturday on the occasion of "World Volunteers Day".

The active participation of citizens, as volunteers, will allow new opportunities for peace to be promoted in regions in which outbreaks of violence are commonplace, a message by Mr. Papandreou read.

Three arrested on antiquities smuggling charges

Three people were arrested on Saturday in Athens for possession and smuggling of antiquities.

According to reports, police followed taxi driver Nikolaos Nanos and butcher Emmanouil Petsagourakis to a meeting in the Nea Philadelplia district where they intended to sell a marble sculpture head, dated between 500 AD and the 1500s.

A third suspect, surveyor Georgios Panakis, was arrested later in a Vathis square coffee shop.

Police reportedly received information about the trio's alleged activities three months ago.

Nanos is wanted for illegal gambling and health insurance fraud. His taxi was a stolen car with an altered chassis number, while its documents were issued under a false name.

Abducted businessman found alive in car trunk

An abducted Athens businessman was found in the boot of a car alive yesterday morning, capping off a mysterious kidnapping which has not yet been fully unravelled.

The car was parked outside the Leventis motel just north of the seaside town of Agios Constantinos, central Greece, during the night.

Police said businessman Georgios Leonidopoulos was taken to police headquarters in Athens following his release from the vehicle's trunk. According to reports, he told police that he had been kidnapped by three Albanians and a Greek.

First division soccer results

Apollo Athens-Aris 1-3 Ethnikos-Xanthi 1-1 Iraklis-Panionios 2-0 OFI-Ethnikos Asteras 1-1 Paniliakos-Proodeftiki 1-2 Kavala-AEK 2-1 Saturday: Panathinaikos-Ionikos 2-4 Veria-PAOK 1-2

Monday: Panelefsiniakos vs. Ionikos

Standings, points after 12 rounds: Olypiakos 28, AEK 26, Panathinaikos 25, Xanthi 24, PAOK, OFI, Aris 20, Iraklis 18, Ethnikos Asteras 17, Panionios, Paniliakos, Ionikos 16.

WEATHER

Western, central and northern Greece and the islands of the eastern Aegean can expect cloud and sporadic storms on Monday while the rest of the country will be mostly overcast. Moderate southerly, southwesterly winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with chance of rain at night and temperatures ranging from 11C to 14C. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy, with chance of rain or snow in the nearby mountains at night and temperatures between 6C and 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.407 British pound 465.486 Japanese yen (100) 235.154 French franc 49.767 German mark 166.859 Italian lira (100) 16.859 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.091 Finnish mark 54.895 Dutch guilder 148.071 Danish kr. 43.894 Austrian sch. 23.719 Spanish peseta 1.961 Swedish kr. 34.849 Norwegian kr. 37.654 Swiss franc 204.183 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 173.292 Can. dollar 181.496 Cyprus pound 561.968 xx

(L.G.)


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