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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 04/10/1999 (ANA)


  • Simitis says Turkey`s EU prospects entails responsibilities
  • Quakes created preconditions for different handling of problems
  • Greece, Cyprus cooperation on military and defence matters
  • Greek alternate foreign minister to visit Cyprus on Friday
  • Samaranch to accept invitation by committee investigating scandal
  • Moslem arrested for setting fire to mosque
  • Pangalos voices displeasure over situation at foreign ministry
  • New trend named 'Movement'
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Simitis says Turkey`s EU prospects entails responsibilities

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that Turkey's European Union prospects entailed both rights and obligations adding that the neighbouring country's candidacy could not be a bogus candidacy.

Speaking after talks with visiting Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, whose country currently holds the EU six-month rotating presidency, Mr. Simitis said that Greece viewed positively Turkey's forging of closer ties with the European Union, but pro gress depended on that country accepting a number of responsibilities.

"It is in Turkey's interest for this process to make headway. However, Turkey's European prospects entail both rights and responsibilities, both rights and obligations towards the European Union. It cannot be a bogus candidacy," he said .

"We are against tension, but the current climate must be converted into deeds and decisions on the part of Turkey, which will create a stable base. A candidate (for membership) country's relation with the European Union must be one that excludes the cre ation of tension," he added.

EU-Turkish relations will be on the agenda in December's summit in Helsinki.

The European Union summit in the Finnish city of Tampere on October 15 and 16 will tackle three main issues, asylum and immigration, the fight against cross-border crime and the forging of closer ties in the sphere of justice, Mr. Simitis also said after his talks with Finnish counterpart Lipponen.

Mr. Lipponen is touring EU capitals in order to review the topics to be discussed in Tampere with the leaders of the other 14 member-states.

Greek anxieties over illegal immigration held centre stage in the talks, also attended by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and other top foreign ministry officials. "More than any other European Union member-state, Greece is exposed to the problem o f illegal immigration from third poor countries due to being on the edge of Europe and its extensive sea borders. We therefore need tighter control for the protection of EU external borders and measures against illegal immigration," Mr. Simitis said.

He also stressed the need for the European Union to negotiate re-entry agreements with third countries.

Mr. Lipponen said he hoped that the Tampere summit would adopt decisions leading to greater security and justice in the EU, noting the need for closer cooperation in dealing with the problems arising from illegal immigration, cross-border crime and mone y laundering.

Mr. Simitis said similar attention should be given to the problem of youth crime, arising from unemployment.

The Tampere summit is expected to endorse the formation of a judges' network, to be named 'Eurojust', for improved access to justice and its institutions.

Quakes created preconditions for different handling of problems

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday visited the town of Derince where prefabricated houses sent by the Greek government, as earthquake aid to Turkey, have been set up.

"The humanitarian aid and solidarity help both sides to face problems continuing to exist in a different way," he said.

Replying to questions by reporters monitoring the visit, Mr. Papandreou said problems continue to exist, referring to the Cyprus issue. He added that humanitarian manifestations which followed the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece helped towards creating the preconditions for a different handling of existing problems.

Mr. Papandreou arrived in Istanbul yesterday at the invitation of the "Taxim Intellectuals Club" to address its members and guests regarding the new international environment in the region and on prospects in Greek- Turkish relations.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece have eased somewhat after each country rushed to the aid of the other after killer quakes struck each nation a few weeks apart.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck northwestern Turkey on August 17, killing some 16,000 people. A smaller quake that hit Athens on September 7 left 143 dead.

Buoyed by improving ties, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has expressed hope that Greece would lift its veto on Turkey's entry into the European Union.

Turkey's efforts toward membership of the European Union have been thwarted because of territorial conflicts with Greece and its poor human rights record.

Greece was among the first countries to send rescue crews and aid to Turkey, and Turkey did likewise after the Athens quake. Both countries have decided to form a joint emergency response team to deal with natural disasters.

Speech: Addressing later the Taxim Intellectuals Club in Istanbul, Mr. Papandreou made it clear that Greece wants to seize the opportunity created by the earthquake in Greek-Turkish relations, but believes that this cannot take place automatically and that specif ic actions should be taken which will provide a specific content to expectations that have been created.

"An important message resulted from the tragedy which we cannot ignore," he said, adding that "the peoples dared what we politicians considered to be impossible" and that "peace and cooperation will not come without support by the many."

Mr. Papandreou said the conviction exists in Greece that Turkey is processing plans for a change in the status quo in the Aegean or even for the Finlandisation of Greece and its domination through threats.

"If it is true that Turkey has no territorial claims, as Prime Minister Ecevit said recently, and all the speculation over the grey zones and the 'rock formations' is nothing but the expression of fears over possible Greek expansionism and the exclusion of Turkey from the Aegean, then the openings created in our relations will flourish," he said.

Mr. Papandreou said the implementation of rules anticipated by international agreements, international law and international forums is sine qua non for a solution to Greek-Turkish problems.

Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Papandreou said Greek public opinion sincerely does not understand Turkey's targets in Cyprus, adding that what is proposed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, either it is called a federation or not, constitutes double union.

Mr. Papandreou said this situation is really unacceptable and reminded that the only wall left in Europe after the fall of the Berlin wall, almost 10 years ago, is in Cyprus.

Today, Mr. Papandreou is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and deliver a speech at Istanbul University on the role of the society of citizens and of the two peoples in shaping the climate in Greek-Turkish relations. Mr. Papandreou will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

Greece, Cyprus cooperation on military and defence matters

Cooperation on military and defence matters between Cyprus and Greece is "perfect", the defence ministers of the two countries said yesterday in Nicosia, stressing at the same time that this will continue.

Visiting Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos told a press conference that Cyprus' defence capability is at a very high standard.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos concluded yesterday a four-day official visit to the island republic.

On attempts to settle the Cyprus problem, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted the unprecedented effort by the US to help reach a settlement but called for "great care" in dealing with any moves that may promote other goals.

"Any effort aiming at a just, democratic solution in Cyprus is welcomed and we have a responsibility to coordinate our moves," he added.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said both Greece and Cyprus see the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union in a positive light provided Ankara contributes to the peace effort and paves the way for substantive negotiations leading to a solution in Cyprus.

On defence matters, the Greek minister said he was certain Cyprus' armed forces were at the peak of their readiness and the art of war.

The two ministers watched earlier part of the annual military manoeuvres of the National Guard "Nikiforos - 99" and visited the Paphos air base "Andreas Papandreou."

Infrastructure work to complete the second phase at the base is still continuing, the Cypriot defence minister said, while Mr. Tsohatzopoulos described it as an "excellent military airport ready to take Greek aircraft when they participate in the annua l manoeuvres."

"We are obliged to boost our defences as a tool which will safeguard peace, " Mr. Hasikos said.

Greek alternate foreign minister to visit Cyprus on Friday

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos will pay an official visit to Cyprus on Friday, it was announced yesterday.

The agenda of the talks will include the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and the line the Greek side will adopt following the meeting US President Bill Clinton had with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit at the White House last Tuesday.

Mr. Rokofyllos, who is handling issues regarding Cyprus' EU accession course, will also discuss matters concerning cooperation and coordination between the two countries' foreign ministries.

Samaranch to accept invitation by committee investigating scandal

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch disclosed last night that he will accept an invitation by a US Congress special committee investigating the scandal concerning the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, as well as repo rts concerning the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.

He accepted the invitation by Senator Apton, but added that he will not cross the Atlantic and testify before the special committee before December 20 because the IOC plenum meeting in Lausanne will be taking place between 11-13 of the month. The commit tee's invitation was for October 14.

"I do not feel any nervousness because I am going to testify," he said.

Referring to progress in the preparation of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, he said there was no concern over some small delays.

Moslem arrested for setting fire to mosque

Police have arrested a young Moslem for setting fire to a mosque in Glafki in the Xanthi region at dawn on Tuesday. Aziz Medan, 20, who lives in Glafki, confessed and described the way with which he tried to burn down the mosque with the purpose of creati ng friction.

The fire started by gas cannisters and a quantity of spirit destroyed religious books, vestments belonging to the Imam and part of the floor. Locals who saw the fire managed to extinguish it fairly quickly before it could destroy the entire mosque.

The young Moslem will be brought before Xanthi prosecutor Aimilios Paltzoglou to face charges of wilfull arson of a place of worship.

Pangalos voices displeasure over situation at foreign ministry

In an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Vima tis Kyriakis", Former Foreign Minister and PASOK Deputy Theodoros Pangalos expressed displeasure over the situation prevailing at the foreign ministry following his removal, expressing his opposition to the turn reportedly appearing in Greek foreign policy, particularly with regard to Greek-Turkish relations.

Referring to main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis in his interview, Mr. Pangalos said he is "evidently inadequate" for the premiership.

On the other hand, he praised Prime Minister Costas Simitis and noted that "we are eight possible prime ministers in PASOK."

Mr. Pangalos said of the policy followed by the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister George Papandreou that "this policy of dialogue, friendship and the creation of impressions, without it being clear why these impressions are being created, is not com patible with all that PASOK had announced before the elections.

Without in principle being against Greek-Turkish rapprochement, Mr. Pangalos said "what response do all these hugs, sympathising and loving have as a move on the part of Turkey? Absolutely nothing. They don't even open Halki (the academy of theology) wh ich they have closed illegally."

New trend named 'Movement'

A new trend named "Movement" was created in the ranks of the Coalition of the Left and Progress party yesterday. In addition, the party has two more trends, the "Leftist Wave", composed primarily of former Communist Party of Greece (KKE) cadres, and the t rend affiliated to party leader Nikos Constantopoulos "Intervention."

Mr. Constantopoulos had expressed his displeasure over this development in past days after intention to create a new trend in the party appeared.

A document ratified at a meeting of about 100 Coalition cadres yesterday said the aims of the new trend are to strengthen the identity of the modern democratic renewal left, the activation of forces belonging to the wider region of the party's influence , forces of labour and culture, as well as intellectuals with whom the renewal left always had a productive relationship.

The announcement also said that at the Coalition's congress in November they should compose a force capable of preventing the party's further transformation, character and practice and to promote its programme renewal.

It further said that "our Europeanism, programme reforming, opposition to nationalism and our composition as a party of overall responsibility towards society have been seriously harmed."


Mostly fair weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday. Winds will be westerly, light to moderate. Mostly fair in Athens and Thessaloniki, with temperatures reaching 30 and 20 C respectively.


Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          303.889
Pound sterling       501.039
Japanese yen (100)   287.095
French franc          49.694
German mark          166.667
Italian lira (100)    16.835
Irish Punt           413.898
Belgian franc          8.081
Finnish mark          54.825
Dutch guilder        147.919
Danish kr.            43.846
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.361
Norwegian kr.         39.511
Swiss franc          204.040
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          207.507
Aus. dollar          199.700
Cyprus pound         561.770
Euro                 325.971
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