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Athens News Agency Bulletin, February 20, 1995

Apo to Ellnviko Grafeio Tupou kai Plnroforiwv, Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address:


  • [1] Greece stands firm on four conditions before approving customs union compromise

  • [2] Venizelos rebuts Mitsotakis claims

  • [3] Evert to meet Juppe tomorrow

  • [4] Samaras responds to ND criticism

  • [5] Skopje could be a danger for regional stability, Venizelos says, after police, ethnic Albanians clash in Tetovo

  • [6] Evert says country in crisis

  • [7] Presidential election

  • [1] Greece stands firm on four conditions before approving customs union compromise

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Greece said Saturday it stood firm on its four conditions to approve a key trade pact that could open the way for closer relations between the European Union and Turkey. "Greece will not retreat from the four points Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou raised in a letter to his EU partners on the customs unions deal," government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos told reporters in Lamia, central Greece. "Greece will not accept the customs union deal between Turkey and the European Union unless the stated conditions are met."

    Athens last week objected to the provisional deal which EU foreign ministers recently agreed to at a meeting in Brussels, saying there were several flaws. Greece's concern focuses on Cyprus' candidacy to the EU, Cyprus' participation in dialogue with the EU on the same level as that between the EU and East European states, financial aid to Turkey and compensation for the Greek textile industry.

    The EU agreed earlier this month to pledge to open membership negotiations with Cyprus within six months of a 1996 conference on reforming European institutions. Athens says it wants more definite phrasing of the pledge.

    Mr. Venizelos said Athens had "exhausted its limits of flexibility" and expressed strong support for a resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week on Turkey's poor human rights record, which said Turkey's human rights record was "too grave to allow for the formation of the proposed customs union at present". Greece had initially stated its approval of the deal hinged on substantial progress in Turkey's human rights record.

    Mr. Venizelos also referred to the "slight pressure" exerted on Greece by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, saying that Mr. Juppe had "attempted to elegantly pose a dilemma" when France warned Greece on Friday that if the EU-Turkey Association Council did not convene (to discuss the customs union) then there would be no reason for the EU-Cyprus Association Council to meet.

    The projected customs union, which foresees sharp two-way reductions in trade barriers by 1996, would give Turkey some of the closest links to the EU of a non-member country and un-block as much as $1 billion in aid.

    "We follow the efforts of the French Presidency to find a solution," Mr. Venizelos said later in Thessaloniki. "We have clearly expressed our positions, our proposals and the improvements which we consider absolutely necessary in order to accept the February 6 decision. "If these proposals are not accepted, Greece will not be able to accept the decision," he said. Mr. Venizelos said Greece would remain steadfast in its position on the EU customs union with Turkey if "our European partners do not express with clarity a current political commitment for the commencement of negotiations with Cyprus, six months after the 1996 conference.

    Mr. Venizelos said that if this was the view of the French Presidency or the German government or the European Commission, it should be expressed so with clarity in the text to remove all doubt. "Finally, there should be confusion between the two issues, namely that of the EU customs union with Turkey and the issue of Cyprus' membership negotiations, since the issue of Malta's and Cyprus' accession constitutes the top priority for the next enlargement phase of the European Union," he added.

    [2] Venizelos rebuts Mitsotakis claims

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Greece is actively engaged in the procedures for European unification and never opposes important European choices, government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said Saturday. He was referring to statements by former ND prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis that Greece was politically isolated and could not agree with its European partners.

    "Mr. Mitsotakis reiterates a clichi, which is expressed by many in Greece, and which is wrong," Mr. Venizelos said "This creates a climate of political and cultural provincialism in our country which does not exist in reality."

    [3] Evert to meet Juppe tomorrow

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert will have a meeting tomorrow in Paris with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to discuss Mr. Evert's mediation effort in the Yugoslav crisis, the general situation in the Balkans and the issue of Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    [4] Samaras responds to ND criticism

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras said yesterday his party's decision to support the candidacy of Kostis Stephanopoulos in the presidential elections was supported by the majority of the Greek people.

    Addressing a party event in Crete, Mr. Samaras lashed back at criticism from main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert and former ND prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, saying that the "Political Spring may be the third party in Parliament but neither New Democracy's 109 parliamentarians, nor PASOK's 170 parliamentarians, but the 11 parliamentarians of Political Spring are the protagonists on the Greek political scene."

    Mr. Mitsotakis last week sharply criticised Mr. Samaras for co-operating with PASOK in the election of a new President of the Republic. Mr. Mitsotakis clarified he had nothing against the joint Political Spring-PASOK candidate for president Kostis Stephanopoulos, but objected to the fact that "from now on developments are not controlled by the people but by the forces and interests lying behind Antonis Samaras."

    Mr. Samaras said "New Democracy was deeply divided" and that "it has two leaders." He further criticised Mr. Evert's decision to impose party discipline on ND parliamentarians, requesting them to support the party's candidate.

    [5] Skopje could be a danger for regional stability, Venizelos says, after police, ethnic Albanians clash in Tetovo

    Athens 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos yesterday said Greece was following developments in Skopje closely, adding that the neighbouring country, by its very political and social composition, threatened stability in the region. "By its political and social composition, Skopje poses a stability problem in the region," Mr. Venizelos said.

    "Greece's proposals in regard to the name, symbols and the constitution of Skopje as well as the Greek proposal for privileged friendship and co-operation between the two countries should be considered seriously by the authorities in Skopje," he added.

    Greece maintains that Skopje change its name, ancient Greek symbols, and parts of its constitution expressing territorial designs against Greece's northern province of Macedonia.

    "The international community should also realise that the Greek-Skopje dispute regarding the name is not a sentimental reaction or an obsessive idea, but an expression of anxiety based on regional historical and geographical facts," he added.

    He was speaking to reporters after Skopje police charged an academic with incitement on Saturday after a clash at a university in Tetovo in which an ethnic Albanian was killed. Interior ministry Under-Secretary Diome Djurev told a news conference that Albanian university rector Fadil Sulejmani had been charged with "inciting the people to resistance."

    Similar charges have been laid against four others involved in the incident, including the head of the Albanian humanitarian organisation Al-Halil, Arben Rusi. Mr. Sulejmani defied police and government warnings last week and opened a new Albanian language university in the western city of Tetovo in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    One man was killed and 28 others were injured when police shut it down again last Friday. The Albanian embassy in Skopje last week issued a statement from Albanian President Sali Berisha saying that the university "will help Albanians living in 'Macedonia' to join its life as equal citizens." Albania condemned the shooting outside the university as a criminal act which threatened regional peace.

    [6] Evert says country in crisis

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Presenting his party's government programme in Thessaloniki yesterday, New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said the deep crisis the country was going through needed a break with the past and radical decisions.

    "New Democracy has a clear and thorough government programme," he said, referring to an array of draft bills which are ready to be submitted to Parliament in the event the party takes over the helm of government. These relate to the safeguarding of conditions of healthy competition, environmental protection, dealing with acute social problems such as organised crime and drugs, the independence of justice, economic development, a steady taxation system that will apply for at least four years, and constitutional revision.

    Referring to Thessaloniki in particular, he said ND planned to upgrade its role in the Balkans, with the creation of free trade and manufacturing zones, the provision of incentives for investment in the region, the setting up of an Organisation for Inter-Balkan Economic Co-operation, a Stock Exchange, and a Business Park.

    Former ND national economy minister Stephanos Manos, speaking on 'Economic Development and Convergence', said, "after a long period of strong internal party disputes and disagreements on the policy of de-nationalisation... the party now has a clear and explicit stand. It is ready, more than ever, to apply a de-nationalisation policy for growth and modernisation of the state".

    Speaking to party cadres Saturday, Mr. Evert predicted that the life of the present government was limited, and that his party would soon be called upon to apply its economic programme. "It will depend on many factors. But it is certain that they (the government) will collapse," he said.

    [7] Presidential election

    Athens, 20/02/1995 (ANA):

    Referring to Parliament's forthcoming election of a new president of the Republic, Mr. Evert said that party discipline was "self-evident", and reiterated his claim that there was a pre-arranged deal between PASOK and the Political Spring party to nominate (former conservative minister) Kostis Stephanopoulos as candidate. He charged that the option had not been made on the strength of institutional criteria, but within the framework of "petty party collusion" to keep the government in power.

    Main opposition deputies would vote for ND's nominee, former Parliament president Athanassios Tsaldaris, in all three rounds, he added. Nevertheless, he gave the impression he considered Mr. Stephanopoulos' election as a given, saying "we may have a new president of the Republic, but we certainly do not have a prime minister".

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