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Athens News Agency Bulletin, February 22, 1995


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

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca)


CONTENTS

  • [1] Greece, Bulgaria agree to co-operate in military, defence. Greece to modernise Bulgarian planes

  • [2] Gov't regrets border incident

  • [3] Greece watching developments in FYROM

  • [4] Venizelos: Greece will not seek postponement of March 6 meeting

  • [5] Papathemelis: Greece examining German information on terrorism

  • [6] Evert meets with Juppe on Balkans, customs union


  • [1] Greece, Bulgaria agree to co-operate in military, defence. Greece to modernise Bulgarian planes

    Sofia, 22/02/1995 (ANA - G. Zarkadis):

    Greece and Bulgaria yesterday agreed on co-operation in the defence industry and joint military exercises with the participation of third countries. The agreement, reached during talks between National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and his Bulgarian counterpart Dimiter Pavlov, provides for the modernisation of part of the Bulgarian air force by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB).

    In exchange, Bulgaria will assist in the maintenance of Greek army defence material originally from East Germany. Bulgaria will also participate in the exercise scheduled for May in the Peloponnese, in which Romanian forces will also take part. A Bulgarian proposal for a tri-partite naval exercise in the Black Sea was also accepted.

    Both sides expressed the hope that the crisis in former Yugoslavia would be resolved by political means, while Mr. Arsenis warned that the possibility of the conflict in Bosnia spreading could not be ruled out.

    Sofia proposed a meeting of the foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey to discuss the arms imbalance which Bulgaria fears is a threat to stability in the region. Mr. Arsenis underlined that Greece was in favour of multi-lateral co-operation to consolidate stability but clarified that such a meeting would require preparation and the fulfilment of a number of prerequisites which at the present time were absent.

    Speaking to reporters on arrival in Sofia, Mr. Arsenis said that as far as Greece was concerned, there was no question of "axes" being formed in the Balkans. "This is an old story. Now we are living in a new era in which Greeks and Bulgarians are co-operating with the objective of security in the region," Mr. Arsenis said. "The aim of my visit," he added, "is to upgrade military co-operation between the two countries, which is not directed against anyone and is at the service of peace".

    Mr. Arsenis, who is the first Greek minister to visit Bulgaria since the Bulgarian Socialist Party came to power late last year, said that Greece was ready to promote Bulgaria's applications to join the European Union, NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).

    Mr. Arsenis later held a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Jean Videnov who said he attributed great importance to the first visit of a minister of a neighbouring country which is also a member of NATO.

    Mr. Videnov said ties between the two countries could be stronger, adding that even if opposition forces in Bulgaria opposed this policy they were not in a position to obstruct it. Mr. Arsenis also held a meeting with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev to discuss security matters in the region.

    [2] Gov't regrets border incident

    Athens, 22/02/1995 (ANA):

    The government said yesterday that incidents such as the one which took place over the weekend on the Greek-Albanian border did not contribute to the improvement of relations between the two countries. An Albanian illegal immigrant was wounded by a Greek army patrol on Saturday as a group tried to cross into the country.

    "Regarding the incident on the Greek-Albanian border on February 18, the Foreign Ministry expresses its regret because such incidents do not contribute to the promotion of Greek-Albanian relations nor to the consolidation of a climate of trust between the two countries," a foreign ministry announcement said.

    "The Greek side continues to hope for an improvement in Greek-Albanian relations which will lead to understanding and co-operation between the two countries," the announcement added.

    According to a Reuters despatch from Tirana yesterday, Greek border guards detained an Albanian trying to cross illegally into Greece after shooting and injuring him. Reuters quoted the Albanian Interior Ministry as claiming that the Albanian had been shot 10 metres inside Albania and taken back into Greece.

    National Defence Ministry sources later denied the claims of the Albanian Interior Ministry that a Greek army patrol pursued a group of Albanian would-be illegal immigrants over the border into Albania, as claimed by Reuters. The same sources confirmed that on Saturday a group of Albanians tried to enter Greece illegally and were spotted by a Greek army patrol.

    An incident followed on Greek territory, the sources said, during which an Albanian was wounded and was currently receiving treatment at Ioannina hospital. The rest of the Albanians fled back over the border into Albania, the sources said.

    Commenting on the incident, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said that it was "not exactly" as presented by the Albanian side and Albanian television. Speaking to reporters in Ioannina, following a parade marking the 82nd anniversary of the northern Greek town's liberation from Ottoman rule, Mr. Papoulias reiterated that Greece was "a factor for peace and stability in the Balkans".

    In a speech later at the town's Officer's Club, Mr. Papoulias reiterated that Greece was a peace-loving country which sought relations of equality and mutual respect with its neighbours. "But Greece also demands full respect for its rights as these are stipulated by international conventions and organisations," Mr. Papoulias said. "Our country," he added, "is a factor of peace and stability in the Balkans."

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos told a foreign press lunch yesterday that it was a small incident and should not sour Greek-Albanian relations. "There was a common incident of small proportions when a group of illegal immigrants ran into a Greek army border control," Mr. Venizelos said.

    [3] Greece watching developments in FYROM

    Athens, 22/02/1995 (ANA):

    Greece said yesterday it was closely watching domestic developments in the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and stressed the need for stability in the southern Balkans. "We do not want a second hot spot to emerge in the Balkans and particularly in the southern Balkans," government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said. "We are closely watching developments in Skopje's domestic situation... We are cautious and concerned," he said in an address at the Foreign Press Association.

    [4] Venizelos: Greece will not seek postponement of March 6 meeting

    Athens, 22/02/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos yesterday said Greece would not request the postponement of the EU Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels on March 6 to discuss a customs union with Turkey. "Greece has not suggested nor does it intend to suggest that the (EU-Turkey) Association Council meeting be postponed," he told a lunch for the foreign press yesterday.

    Meanwhile, visiting Cyprus Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides said yesterday his government was open to any modifications that could improve a deal on a key trade pact between the European Union and Turkey. "Any improvement (on the deal) is welcome by the Cypriot side," Mr. Michaelides told reporters after meeting with his Greek counterpart Constantine Skandalides.

    Greece, a staunch supporter of Cyprus joining the EU, objected to a customs union deal agreed in principle by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels earlier this month. Its objections stem from the deal's vague reference to when negotiations for Cyprus' admission to the EU will begin. Mr. Michaelides praised the Greek government's active support for a resolution to the Cyprus problem, saying its policy was "courageous".

    [5] Papathemelis: Greece examining German information on terrorism

    Athens, 22/02/1995 (ANA):

    Public Order Minister Stelios Papathemelis yesterday acknowledged that Greek police were in receipt of a file from German authorities concerning terrorist activities in Greece. He denied recent press reports about the content of the archives of the former East German secret police Stazi concerning terrorism in Greece, adding it was inappropriate to publicise such information. He said the experts studying the relevant archives would draw up a report which will not be made public, whether or not it found positive ground regarding the fight against terrorism.

    Referring to other police matters, Mr. Papathemelis said staff shortages made the ministry consider an end to the policing of football grounds, a task which could be undertaken by the clubs themselves, as banks have undertaken their own security.

    The merging of police stations was also envisaged in a Presidential Decree which was ready for signing. If the measure did not meet with success, as it did in France, it would be withdrawn, he said. He also announced that the ministry would invite applications for 1,600 new police men, women and officers.

    [6] Evert meets with Juppe on Balkans, customs union

    Paris, 22/02/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday met with French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppe on relations between Serbia and Croatia, the EU customs union with Turkey, negotiations for Cyprus' entry to the bloc and the Mediterranean conference.

    Mr. Evert said later the meeting was "useful and constructive" and that he would resume efforts to meet with Serb officials for peace in the region. Concerning the Cyprus issue, Mr. Evert was optimistic that the part of EU decision which does not satisfy Greece "can and will be corrected."

    Asked what may develop by March 6, when the EU-Turkey Association Council will meet on the customs union, Mr. Evert said "no date is the limit when there is good will." Mr. Juppe on Monday told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee that "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."

    Greece agreed to lift its veto against an EU-Turkey customs union in exchange, among other things, for the EU to set a date for the commencement of talks for Cyprus admission to the Community, and effective steps by Turkey on the issue of human rights.

    Turkey is under fire from its Western allies for human rights abuses especially in the Southwest where its troops are fighting a 10-year-old war against Kurdish separatists. Turkey says it is moving to correct violations in the fight against separatist "terrorism" but the issue remains a major stumbling block before its ties with the West.

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