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Athens News Agency Bulletin, February 21, 1995

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

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  • [1] Negotiations on customs union reservations in final stretch, Greece says

  • [2] FYROM: Tensions rise, Moslem graves wrecked

  • [3] Arsenis to visit Bulgaria

  • [4] Natural gas project

  • [5] ECOFIN: Papantoniou 'reserved' on issue of IMF funding for Turkey

  • [6] Parliament exhibition extended

  • [7] Thessaloniki remembers Melina Mercouri

  • [8] Illegal immigration from Albania on the rise

  • [1] Negotiations on customs union reservations in final stretch, Greece says

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    Greece said yesterday it was in the final stages of negotiations with the European Union on whether to lift its veto of an EU customs union with Turkey. "We are in the final stretch and... we need to make an extra effort," European Affairs Minister George Alexander Mangakis told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. He did not elaborate.

    Meanwhile, in Brussels, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that a March 6 meeting to seal a customs union between Turkey and the European Union will take place only if an accord seems likely. "The March 6 Turkey-EU Association Council meeting in Brussels will take place only if the (EU) presidency considers beforehand that all 15 (EU countries) can reach agreement," Mr. Juppe told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said, however, that Greece did not intend to request a postponement of the forthcoming EU-Turkey Association Council meeting. "The government has not altered its position on this issue," Mr. Venizelos said in reply to questions.

    Earlier this month Greece threw cold water on an EU-Turkey customs agreement, which would give the latter some of the closest links a non-member country can have with the EU and open the way to as much as $1 billion in aid.

    In an attempt to get Athens to lift its veto, 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. 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.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos has said Greece wants only minor changes to the agreement and has asked for EU solidarity. Mr. Juppe gave no starting date for the Cyprus negotiations yesterday, but repeated an earlier announcement by EU foreign ministers that they might begin six months after a 1996 intergovernmental conference "taking into account the results of that meeting."

    France, the current EU president, told Greece last week that if it continued to block the-deal, the Union would suspend talks with Cyprus. Mr. Juppe further commented that one should not "underestimate the risk that the European Union would be taking in closing the door to Turkey." Speaking of the human rights situation in Turkey, he said that "Turkey has to cope not only with a claim to autonomy, but also with real terrorism. But that cannot, in any case, justify violation of human rights, banning newspapers, destruction of villages and imprisonment of members of parliament because of a mere opinion offence."

    Opposition Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras yesterday said the government should not lift its veto of the agreement. "If there are no positive developments (on the issue) the government should not lift its veto," he told reporters in Thessaloniki.

    Meanwhile, Cyprus Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides said on arriving here yesterday for a three-day official visit that Cyprus' accession to the European Union will contribute to the attainment of a settlement of the Cyprus problem. "The issue of Cyprus' accession to the EU which began with the accession talks which have already been determined is a fortunate coincidence. We express our gratitude to the Greek government because the promotion of accession will contribute to a settlement of the Cyprus problem," Mr. Michaelides told reporters.

    Mr. Michaelides is here at the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Costas Skandalides, with whom he will have talks today on matters of their competence and ways to strengthen co-operation between the two ministries.

    [2] FYROM: Tensions rise, Moslem graves wrecked

    Skopje, 21/02/1995 (Reuter/ANA):

    Vandals tore down 30 tombstones in a Moslem graveyard in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) town of Kumanovo in the latest sign of rising tension between ethnic groups in the country, state radio said yesterday. It linked the incident on Sunday night to a clash last Friday in Tetovo between police and ethnic Albanians in which an ethnic Albanian was killed and 28 other people were injured.

    [3] Arsenis to visit Bulgaria

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis leaves today for Sofia on an official two-day visit to Bulgaria. During his visit Mr. Arsenis is scheduled to sign a defence agreement of co-operation between the two countries.

    [4] Natural gas project

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    Alternate National Economy Minister George Romaios signed an agreement authorising 19.5 billion drachmas to fund the completion of the natural gas project in the first three months of 1995. Forty per cent of the project is funded by the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the European Community Coal and Steel. Approximately 8-9 billion drachmas are required per month for the project.

    [5] ECOFIN: Papantoniou 'reserved' on issue of IMF funding for Turkey

    Brussels, 21/02/1995 (ANA - V. Demiris):

    Greece yesterday included the possible granting of macroeconomic aid to Turkey from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its general reservations over the customs union between the European Union and Turkey. The issue of macroeconomic aid for Turkey and Belarus was discussed at yesterday's Council of Finance and National Economy Ministers (ECOFIN).

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said Greece, as part of the general reservation set out by the Greek government in the prime minister's letter on customs union between the EU and Turkey, used a veto against the possibility of Turkey being granted additional special macroeconomic aid of a medium-term nature to support the balance of payments. At Turkey's request, the macroeconomic aid is accompanied by the implementation of programmes approved by the IMF.

    Mr. Papantoniou said if the Greek veto against the customs union between the EU and Turkey was lifted Greece would have the right to set out a new reservation in accordance with the claim Turkey would put forward for macroeconomic aid.

    In his intervention, Mr. Papantoniou stressed the overall economic situation's positive development. However, he said monetary policies should not function in a restrictive manner and result in suspending the economic recovery process. He said there should be sensitivity in consolidating economic recovery.

    Mr. Papantoniou further stressed that the European Commission should table proposals on supplementary funding at inter-European networks in the transport, energy and telecommunications sectors.

    At the meeting, European Commission President Jacques Santer presented the Council with the Commission's work programme in the economic sector. Moreover, the European Commission briefed the Council on its work programme in confronting fraud in 1995.

    [6] Parliament exhibition extended

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday said that the "Constitutional life of the nation" exhibition held for the past nine months in the Eleftherios Venizelos Hall in Parliament, will remain on display until the end of June. The exhibition has been visited by over 100,000 people from all over Greece.

    [7] Thessaloniki remembers Melina Mercouri

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    A concert will be held to commemorate the memory of Melina Mercouri one year after her death at the ceremony hall of the Aristoteleion University in Thessaloniki on March 11 at 9 pm. The Friends of Music Orchestra "The Kamerata", led by Alexander Murat and pianist George Lazaridis, will perform works by Mozart and Bartok. Tickets will be sold from March 25 at the Northern Greek National Theatre and a ticket booth on Aristoteleion street. The proceeds from the concert will donated to the Melina Mercouri Foundation.

    [8] Illegal immigration from Albania on the rise

    Athens, 21/02/1995 (ANA):

    Police in the Northwest city of Ioannina said yesterday there had been an increase in the number of illegal Albanians trying to enter the country. Authorities said border police arrested 889 illegal Albanians over the weekend. They were all deported back to Albania.

    Police said four Greek nationals and three Albanians were also arrested for charging illegal Albanians with hefty fees to facilitate their transport into the country.

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