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Athens News Agency Bulletin, February 14, 1995


(Apo to Ellnviko Grafeio Tupou kai Plnroforiwv, Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca)


CONTENTS

  • [1] PASOK expected to decide on candidate for president tomorrow

  • [2] Reactions

  • [3] COREPER to meet on premier's letter today

  • [4] Premier meets with Michaelides on latest developments

  • [5] Venizelos outlines Greek reservations on customs union formula to French press

  • [6] No change to electoral law, Skandalides says

  • [7] Coalition leader urges Papoulias to change Greek policy in Balkans

  • [8] Papathemelis set to sign co-operation accords with China

  • [9] Papantoniou says '95 bodes well for economy

  • [10] US, British diplomats


  • [1] PASOK expected to decide on candidate for president tomorrow

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Ruling party PASOK is expected to make known its candidate for President of the Republic tomorrow, when prime minister and party leader Andreas Papandreou chairs a meeting of the party's Executive Bureau.

    The decision to convene the executive was made after a meeting yesterday between Mr. Papandreou, PASOK Central Committee Secretary-General Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and Under-Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office Antonis Livanis. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos declined any comment afterwards, saying that talks with the prime minister focused on issues of intra-party procedures.

    Opposition party Political Spring -- which put forward the candidacy of Kostis Stephanopoulos on Sunday -- yesterday requested that procedures for the election of the president be speeded up, saying that prolonged speculation harmed the country and the economy.

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis received Political Spring's Parliamentary Group Secretary Stephanos Stephanopoulos who requested processes be moved forward. "Prolonged speculation only causes harm both to public administration and the economy," he said. Mr. Kaklamanis said he would wait to see the position of the ruling party in mid-week.

    Replying to a questioner on possible dates for the presidential elections (three will be required), Mr. Kaklamanis said it would depend on the day he would be given the prime minister's proposal for the presidency.

    Political Spring's candidate Kostis Stephanopoulos said yesterday morning that he accepted his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic but called on other parties to support his candidacy before the election process got under way. "My candidacy proposed by the Political Spring party is a great honour for me. However, it must be supported by other parties before the start of the election process for it to produce results. Otherwise, my proposed candidacy will be unsuccessful and I will be unable to accept it," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    [2] Reactions

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party deputy and former minister Dora Bakoyianni yesterday said the prospect of early elections was distant, alleging that an initial agreement existed between PASOK and the Political Spring party on the election of a President of the Republic.

    "The possibility of elections is receding and it is evident that the choice of Political Spring is a political choice of support for the government. I believe that the same reasons that obliged Mr. Samaras to bring down the New Democracy government are also valid today in his supporting the PASOK government," she told reporters.

    Referring to ND's choice of Athanassios Tsaldaris for president, she said he was an excellent parliamentarian, a party member, had served as Parliament President and was a man of great prestige.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Politburo member Dimitris Gontikas once again ruled out the possibility of his party collaborating in any way with PASOK, Political Spring or ND in electing a President of the Republic.

    Collaborating in any way, he said, would be tantamount to abandoning the struggle to defend the people's interests. It would mean pardoning these parties for their great responsibilities for the policy applied against the people in past years.

    Commenting on the prospect of early elections, Mr. Gontikas said no problems would be resolved in the event of elections but they would not be a disaster for the country. He avoided any comment on whether KKE would nominate its own presidential candidate.

    Commerce, Energy and Technology Minister Costas Simitis and PASOK deputy Vasso Papandreou yesterday said in Thessaloniki that the possibility of a solution for the President of the Republic was discernible. "It appears there is a possibility for a solution but we must examine it properly," Mr. Simitis said. "I believe PASOK's decision will be such that it will rule out any possibility of early elections. Parliament can elect a president," Ms Papandreou said.

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis reiterated his view that the present Parliament would elect a president. "I always believed this and I believe it even more now," he said. Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said yesterday the looming agreement between Political Spring and PASOK signalled the prevalence of conservative orientations and norms.

    He said the agreement was not taken by chance nor was it circumstantial. "It is evident that if and provided this effort is completed, it will mean the prime minister takes the photos and the president of Political Spring develops the photos," he said. Mr. Constantopoulos said that in seeking a candidate for President of the Republic, issues concerning foreign policy should in no way be assessed by domestic political developments.

    [3] COREPER to meet on premier's letter today

    Brussels, 14/02/1995 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The Council of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) is holding a special session this afternoon to decide on Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's letter asking for improvements in the outline agreement on Cypriot negotiations for full membership and Turkey's customs union with the EU.

    The Commission and the French presidency are also due to brief the plenum of the European Parliament (EP) on the agreement in Strasbourg. The plenum will discuss the resolutions prepared by EP's political groupings, which make Turkey's customs union conditional on that country providing proof of respect for human rights.

    External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek will present the Commission's positions, while French president of the Council of Ministers Alain Juppe is expected to refer to the reaction of the governments of the 14 member states, taking into account EP reactions, linking the customs union to respect for human rights in Turkey.

    It should be noted that the EP plenum will vote on the customs union Thursday, and it is considered likely that the French presidency will try to prepare for the vote with some agreement among the 15 states in today's COREPER meeting.

    The reply to Greek demands from the permanent representatives of the 14 members is expected this afternoon, depending on the instructions from their governments. If discussion produces some compromise solution, it is possible that the final agreement on Cypriot negotiations and Turkey's customs union will be ratified by the special Foreign Ministers' Council tomorrow.

    If an agreement is not arrived at this afternoon, and depending on EP's vote Thursday, the issue is likely to be referred to COREPER again and be discussed anew by the Foreign Ministers' Council on March 6 and 7, which will take place concurrently with the EU-Turkey Association Council.

    Meanwhile, according to a Reuters dispatch from Ankara yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister and deputy Prime Minister Murat Karayalcin said his country hoped to overcome Greece's threatened veto of the customs union, but not at too high a price.

    "We are not of the opinion that the customs union should be achieved at all cost. We see it as an outcome of obligations carried under agreements Turkey and the EU have signed," he was reported to have told the Anatolian news agency. Mr. Karayalcin was speaking before leaving on a four-day trip to Denmark, Finland and Sweden to seek Nordic support for the customs union before the meeting of the Association Council on March 6.

    "We are receiving considerable assistance from EU term president France. We hope and believe the Association Council will decide in favour of customs union... We must achieve democratisation and raise the standards of human rights. But they are separate (from the customs union," he said.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller told a press conference in Istanbul Sunday that "Europe cannot commit the error of not concluding the customs union with Turkey... Turkey is a country which nobody can ignore... It represents a market of 60 million people and is necessary to Europe".

    [4] Premier meets with Michaelides on latest developments

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou held 30-minute talks with Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides last night on latest developments and Turkey's customs union with the European Union in conjunction with Greece's request for a date to be set for negotiating Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    No statements were made after the meeting. Alternate Foreign Minister George Alexander Mangakis met earlier with Mr. Michaelides, who briefed him on results of his contacts with EU counterparts and assessments on the start to accession negotiations.

    "The governments in Athens and Nicosia are making joint efforts to achieve solutions corresponding to our national aims," Mr. Mangakis said afterwards. "There is a general effort for the good of Cyprus and Hellenism in general," Mr. Michaelides said.

    Asked whether the issue of Cyprus' accession to the EU should be separated from the issue of the Greek government's position on Turkey's customs union with the EU, Mr. Michaelides said a process had started some time ago, adding that it was being promoted as a wider package. Cyprus, he added, applied itself and focused its contacts on issues concerning itself, adding that contacts he held with European Commission members did not include issues concerning Greece.

    Replying to questioners on what the Greek government's position would be at today' COREPER meeting, which might include discussions on the Cyprus issue and Turkey's customs union with the EU, Mr. Mangakis said decisions were being taken on resulting factors with a view to achieving solutions corresponding to national issues.

    [5] Venizelos outlines Greek reservations on customs union formula to French press

    Paris, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos yesterday presented at length the Greek positions regarding Cypriot full EU membership and Turkey's customs union with the EU, during a working breakfast with French diplomatic reporters.

    Referring to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's letter concerning improvements to the Brussels outline agreement on the two above issues, he said they consist of differentiated wordings of special significance which could be easily accepted if Greek sensitivities were understood. He added that these points had already been discussed with several countries and been accepted, and for this reason he was optimistic they could be included in the final agreement.

    The premier's letter contained four points, he said: Firstly, a more precise determination of the schedule regarding Cypriot entry negotiations, with the specification that they will begin, and not that they could begin, six months after the 1996 intergovernmental conference. Germany had accepted this point.

    Secondly, the promotion of pre-entry dialogue between Cyprus and the EU on the model of other candidate countries of central and eastern Europe, with participation in ministerial councils, summit meetings etc.

    Thirdly, the deletion of specific sums from the statement concerning financial co-operation with Turkey.

    Fourthly, financial support to the Greek textile industry as compensation for the effects of Turkish competition following the customs union.

    [6] No change to electoral law, Skandalides says

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Following a meeting with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Interior Minister Costas Skandalides yesterday categorically dismissed press reports of changes in the electoral law. "There is no such discussion at any level in the government or party. We discussed issues concerning the Interior Ministry and the course of institutions. I informed him of the final decision we reached at the inter-party committee and the government's Institutions Committee, and that the draft law concerning state financing of political parties is currently being prepared," he said.

    [7] Coalition leader urges Papoulias to change Greek policy in Balkans

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos today handed a memorandum to Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias containing the party's positions and conclusions following a recent tour of the Balkans by a Coalition delegation.

    Speaking to reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Mr. Papoulias, Mr. Constantopoulos again urged the setting up of a Foreign Policy Council and a readjustment of Greek policy on the Balkans. On the issue of the European Union-Turkey customs union, Mr. Constantopoulos said that it was not a Greek-Turkish dispute, but a major international problem concerning the EU. The EU, he added, must exert pressure on Ankara with regard to the human rights situation in Turkey and condemn both the massacre of Kurds and the ongoing occupation of one-third of Cyprus by Turkish troops.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Constantopoulos said that Mr. Papoulias had expressed optimism that Greece could gain more than had been agreed at the recent Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels on the issue of Turkey's customs union with the EU.

    [8] Papathemelis set to sign co-operation accords with China

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister Stelios Papathemelis departed for Peking today for a three-day official visit during which the two countries will sign a co-operation agreement aimed at combating terrorism.

    The agreement between the Greek and Chinese public order ministries provides for co-operation in combating terrorism, organised crime, the illicit trade in nuclear technology, the smuggling of objects of historical and cultural value and illegal immigration. It also covers co-operation for the improvement of measures to prevent and fight fires in vulnerable installations and the development of police training.

    During his stay, Mr. Papathemelis will meet with the Vice-President of the People's Republic of China and have talks with government officials.

    [9] Papantoniou says '95 bodes well for economy

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Prospects for the Greek economy in 1995 are good, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told the second consecutive "Greece and the Balkans - Business Co-operation" conference in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    The two-day inter-Balkan conference organised by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and sponsored by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce started in Thessaloniki yesterday. The conference is being attended by members of the Greek and Balkans governments and foreign diplomats and businessmen.

    Mr. Papantoniou said inflation in 1995 is expected to fall to 7 per cent, the public deficit to be reduced by 2 per cent of GDP, and the latter to increase by 2 per cent. He said real incomes would be protected. A process of dynamic growth will begin in 1996, he said. He said he supported the theory that Greece's economic weight should be transferred to northern Greece, with Thessaloniki as its centre.

    "Greece wields a huge comparative advantage compared to other countries. We know the region and its people. If we want to expand in industry in the Balkans, we must co-operate with third countries such as America, Japan and Germany. This is the challenge of 1995," he said.

    Mr. Papantoniou is also to attend the first meeting of the preparatory committee for the Black Sea Bank of Commerce and Development while in Thessaloniki. Yesterday evening he was due to inaugurate the inter-Balkan and Black Sea business centre, DIPEK.

    According to press reports, he is expected to announce the opening of a Stock Exchange centre in Thessaloniki and the creation of an investment fund aimed at promoting investment efforts in Balkan countries.

    [10] US, British diplomats

    Athens, 14/02/1995 (ANA)

    Greece's differences with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Turkey pose an obstacle to the development of business activity in the Balkans, said British and US envoys at the conference yesterday.

    US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Niles warned that US enterprises may be discouraged by Greece's problems with its three neighbours. "If these issues are not settled, Thessaloniki may not become the base from which US enterprises can launch business activities in the Balkans," Mr. Niles said.

    Britain's envoy Oliver Miles commented on Greece's year-old trade embargo against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying it was putting a strain on the high-geared momentum for Greek and foreign business to invest in the Balkans.

    Athens imposed a trade embargo against Skopje last February in a bid to pressure the new Balkan republic to change its name, flag and constitution. Greece has accused Skopje of harbouring territorial claims against the northern Greek province of Macedonia.

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