European Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies said yesterday that Greece would receive 14 billion Ecu from the European Union Structural Funds during the period 1994-1999, an amount corresponding to 4 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.
The commissioner for regional policy, structural funds and cohesion fund told a press conference that the funds would provide a great opportunity for Greece's development.
Ms. Wulf-Mathies has had a series of meetings with ministers during her visit and had talks Thursday with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. The German commissioner said that the message from her talks here was that the pace of implementation of structural fund programmes in Greece should be accelerated.
"We want to reverse the trend of de-industrialisation," Ms. Wulf-Mathies said, adding that the phenomenon had been affecting Greece for a long time. "This phenomenon cannot be reversed only with assistance from the structural funds. What is required is a more general framework which will facilitate the development of investments," Ms. Wulf-Mathies said.
Ms. Wulf-Mathies said that the Commission did not impose "mechanisms" on EU member states to administer the absorption of Delors Package II funds, but rather "negotiated" them. The organisation and administration unit to be set up, she clarified, would be a public sector "national" body, that is, without the participation of any European commissioner.
The operation of such a body is provided under the Community Support Framework signed by the Commission and the Greek government in Athens last summer. Its task will be to submit proposals to public administration concerning the participation of experts in the planning, implementation and reporting of the infrastructure works and other action.
Ms. Wulf-Mathies intimated that the reason she had sent a letter to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou concerning the unit was because ten months had passed without any steps having been taken in the direction of its establishment and operation.
The commissioner stressed that Greece's share of the structural funds should be used to carry out the appropriate infrastructure works, implement a new strategy for industry and create a suitable framework for the administration of the funds to be invested in major works.
NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes confirmed yesterday that he would be visiting Greece May 16-17 to hold talks with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, according to an announcement yesterday.
Mr. Claes will meet with Mr. Papandreou on the evening of May 16 before separate talks the following day with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis. During his stay, Mr. Claes will also have talks with a delegation from the main opposition New Democracy party.
Following his talks here, the NATO chief will fly to Ankara on May 17 for a one-day visit that will take in talks with President Suleyman Demirel, Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, Foreign Minister Erdal Inonu and Defence Minister Mehmet Gholan.
According to sources, Mr. Claes' visit to Athens and Ankara is of a mediatory nature and aimed at finding a solution mutually acceptable to both countries concerning the activation of a NATO headquarters in Larissa and the establishment of a base for an Allied rapid intervention force in Thessaloniki.
Troops from the United Kingdom's 5th Airborne Brigade will visit Greece May 17-21 to participate in a joint Anglo-Greek exercise on Crete, a British Embassy announced yesterday. The troops will be carrying out a study of the Battle of Crete on the ground at various locations in the Hania area and also participating in commemorative events on the island, including the ceremony at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Souda Bay.
The exercise will begin with a joint parachute drop with the 1st Parachute Battalion of the Hellenic Army from a Royal Air Force C-130 on the evening of May 17. Following the drop, the parachute wings insignia of the British and Hellenic armies will be exchanged to mark the close ties which exist between the special forces of the two countries, the embassy said.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said yesterday the Greek Parliament was examining a variety of ways and concepts to strengthen its presence in European developments.
Addressing a conference of Parliament Presidents of European Union member-states, Mr. Kaklamanis also referred to processes aimed at amending the constitution which have already been activated by the Greek Parliament. He said in this context, principles and norms would be sought, enabling Parliament to play a direct and substantive role in European affairs.
Mr. Kaklamanis stressed the need for further strengthening the role of national parliaments in controlling EU activities. He also expressed support for interparliamentary co-operation both between national Parliaments and the European Parliament in a supplementary and not a competitive sense. The conference will end at noon today.
Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias will pay a three-day official visit to Austria May 18-20 for talks with his Austrian counterpart and Deputy Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, Chancellor Franz Vranitzky and Parliament President Hainz Fischer. Mr. Papoulias will also meet Austrian President Thomas Klestil and Mr. Schussel's predecessor Alois Mock.
He will give a press conference to Austrian reporters and members of the Foreign Correspondents Association and meet members of the Greek community in Vienna on the sidelines of a reception at the Greek embassy.
Mr. Papoulias' talks with Austrian officials in Vienna are expected to centre on international politics, bilateral relations between Greece and Austria, Austria's experiences as a new European Union member-state, the positions of the two countries on the intergovernmental conference in 1996 and developments in the Balkans and former Yugoslavia where Mr. Schussel's predecessor Alois Mock played a leading role.
Relations between the Greek and Austrian people are not only traditional, dating back even to the Byzantine era, but are also close and friendly, while in the economic sector an intensification of relations is a common goal.
Relations between Greece and Austria were marked in past years by Greece's steadfast support for Austria's efforts to achieve European Union membership, while negotiations to this end were concluded during the Greek EU presidency and thanks to Greek initiatives.
Austria's accession to the EU creates new prospects and provides possibilities for the widening of economic relations between Greece and Austria, closer co-operation in various sectors and joint co-operation with third countries.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) continues to maintain that failure to lift or at least suspend Greek trade sanctions against it is the major and sole obstacle preventing it from resuming negotiations with Greece under UN sponsorship, diplomatic sources said.
However, the sources did not rule out the possibility that behind the "unshakeable position", which is reiterated almost daily and every time FYROM Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski has a telephone conversation with mediator Cyrus Vance, lie other reasons and other intentions, maybe efforts to gain time in the hope that by setting out in advance terms for the resumption of negotiations it would succeed in pressuring the US to proceed to full diplomatic recognition of the country.
There was no indication in this direction at present, the sources added, and US President Bill Clinton's special envoy Matthew Nimetz continued to tell his interlocutors on each occasion -- such as main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on Thursday -- that the White House insisted in its position not to go ahead and conclude full diplomatic relations with FYROM.
They said this was despite pressures exerted by a big group of Republicans that promoted the ratification of a resolution o n Thursday night (which was not binding for the Clinton administration) calling on the president to proceed with the conclusion of full diplomatic relations with FYROM immediately.
Health Under-Secretary Nikos Farmakis said yesterday there was no fear of the deadly Ebola virus spreading to Greece from Zaire, but that vigilance was needed. Following a meeting of virology experts at the Ministry of Health, it was stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not recommended the adoption of preventive measures outside Zaire, where the virus, according to WHO, had caused 48 deaths in the region of Batutu, east of Kinshasa, up to yesterday.
The virus, which causes a form of haemorrhagic fever and meningoencephalitis, kills up to 8 in 10 patients, and there is no cure or vaccine. Transmission is by contaminated blood, secretions and body fluids. The victims were mostly health workers treating infectious patients.
"There is no need and there is no reason to institute special precautions at airports and so on because it is highly unlikely that any ill patient is going to travel out of Zaire," a WHO official told Reuters yesterday. A WHO statement recommended that "no special measures be instituted with respect to aircraft passengers or crew arriving in other countries from Zaire."
Travellers who have returned from the Batutu region in Zaire in the last three weeks, are nevertheless, asked to contact regional health authorities.
Main opposition leader, New Democracy president Miltiades Evert, paid tribute to the "significant role" played by the Greeks of America in supporting national issues, at a reception in New York Thursday.
Mr. Evert told his enthusiastic audience that it was necessary for Greece to have a sincere consistent foreign policy and a priority list for problems so that there could be a result to these struggles and a final end to old wounds. "Greece must proceed to the resolution of national issues with dialogue, but with courage and not concessions," he said. He also referred to the dangers posed by Turkish expansionism. Mr. Evert said that, for the sake of peace in the Balkans, Greece should undertake the role of arbitrator.
Mr. Evert was due to meet with representatives of local government yesterday and later be guest of honour at a luncheon hosted by Archbishop Iakovos. He was due to visit Greece's consul in New York later in the day for meetings with leaders of the Greek community.
Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis yesterday said he had nothing to do with US Greek press reports criticising Mr. Evert. "I have said on several occasions," Mr. Mitsotakis said "that no one has denied that I have courage of opinion and say what I believe clearly. Beyond that, no one expresses what I say and I am not responsible for either the actions or the words of anyone else, other than my own."
Experts from 16 Mediterranean countries agreed here on Friday on the need for a management process balancing economic exploitation with conservation of archaeological sites.
"The extraordinary growth of mass tourism in the last few years has brought about a change in the way archaeological sites are used. Archaeological sites are non-renewable resources, however, and, as such, must be managed and maintained," said a joint communiqui.
"In the realisation that archaeological sites are important economic resources and in view of increasing public interest, an organised approach to decision-making would ensure the conservation and preservation of the various values of the sites, including their educational and economic potential," the communiqui added.
The communiqui was issued at the end of a six-day meeting of international experts in archaeology, conservation and tourism. The conference was organised by the John Paul Getty Conservation Institute.
"In the Mediterranean where tourism is an important source of income and employment, we must recognise the desire for economic development as legitimate," said Miguel Angel Corzo, director of the Getty Conservation Institute.
Conference delegates said the management process should be led by specially designated individuals whose roles and responsibilities "must be defined according to the needs of each site, as well as to the structures and laws that govern each site".
Participants also appealed to their respective governments and international agencies to "recognise this new concept of sites and their management".