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A.N.A. Bulletin, 31/10/95

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 728), October 31, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Greece, Russia sign arms, defense co-operation agreement

  • [2] Romeos 'satisfied' with results of EU-Turkey Association Council

  • [3] Papoulias

  • [4] Opposition reactions

  • [5] Vartholomeos begins French visit tomorrow

  • [6] Premier to meet with IOC chief on possible Athens Olympiad

  • [7] EU must deal with Balkans as 'integral' part of Europe, Arsenis says

  • [8] British expert says Greek stance on FYROM justified

  • [9] Condemnation of "Avriani" photo continues

  • [10] Varvitsiotis rules out any ND-PASOK co-operation


  • [1] Greece, Russia sign arms, defense co-operation agreement

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece and Russia yesterday signed a framework agreement providing for co-operation between the two countries in the armaments and defense industry sector.

    The agreement was signed following talks here between National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis and his Russian counterpart Pavel Grachev, who arrived in Greece Sunday night.

    The agreement provides for the supply of spare parts, personnel exchanges in the field of training and the modernization and joint production of arms in which both companies have a common interest.

    Working groups set up by the two countries are already examining the specific aspects of the agreement and Mr. Arsenis described the prospects as being "very good".

    Mr. Grachev said that the agreement "opens a new page" in Greek-Russian relations and opened up "new horizons" at a military level. During their talks, Mr. Arsenis and Mr. Grachev noted a high degree of convergence of views with regard to the situation in Bosnia. Both countries agree that the problem of former Yugoslavia can only be solved by peaceful means. Mr. Arsenis and Mr. Grachev said that Athens and Moscow were working to promote the peace process in the region. Asked about the possibility of Greece participating in the peacekeeping force to be formed to implement the peace accord in Bosnia, Mr. Arsenis said that the issue remained pending and reiterated the conditions set by Athens for Greek participation.

    These include the signing of a peace plan, a mandate from the UN Security Council, a request to this effect from the warring parties and the participation of non-NATO countries in the force.

    If these conditions are fulfilled, Mr. Arsenis said, Greece would be willing to consider participation.

    Mr. Grachev announced that Moscow would send a further two battalions within the framework of the first stage of the peace operation. After six weeks, he continued, Russia would participate in the so-called "special operation" with one brigade whose duties will be to provide air transportation, distribute humanitarian aid, take steps for the return of refugees, mine-clearing tasks and to secure the resumed operation of areas of public use which are of particular importance for the economy of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Mr. Grachev clarified that he and his US counterpart, William Perry, had agreed on the planning for the special operation and the formation of a special division during a meeting last week.

    The division will be made up of one Russian brigade, one or two US brigades and units from other countries which express interest in participating in the operation.

    The problem now lies in the fact that Russia does not want to place its forces under NATO command. But Mr. Grachev expressed the hope that a solution could be found at a meeting of military representatives of the two countries which will most probably b e held in Brussels in November.

    He also expressed certainty that the US will agree to the Russian proposals submitted on the issue. Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Grachev described the health of Russian President Boris Yeltsin as "satisfactory", saying this was borne out by the fact that he had not delegated any powers to the prime minister.

    Answering other questions, Mr. Grachev said that Turkey in no way posed a threat to Russia, adding that Moscow desired close relations with Greece and Turkey.

    Mr. Grachev, who arrived in Greece on Sunday, was received earlier yesterday by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and will meet today with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

    [2] Romeos 'satisfied' with results of EU-Turkey Association Council

    Luxembourg, 31/10/1995 (ANA - G. Daratos/F. Stangos):

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos appeared satisfied yesterday following a meeting of the European Union-Turkey Association Council held in Luxembourg.

    Mr. Romeos said the decision on the content of the political dialogue between Turkey and the Community was moving within the framework of what had been decided by the 15 foreign ministers on March 6, 1995.

    He said this was also deduced by a verbal intervention at the Council by Turkish Foreign Minister Coskun Kirca who said he was not satisfied by the content of dialogue adopted, adding that his government would seek the same structured dialogue secured by Cyprus and Malta. Greece intends to object in the event this question is raised for discussion.

    An ANA dispatch from Istanbul reported Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Nurettin Nurkan saying that Ankara did not consider the results of the Association Council meeting "altogether satisfactory".

    "The decision today for the creation of dialogue is far from Ankara's expectations. But what is important is that dialogue and co-operation is being consolidated," he said.

    The content of the political dialogue between the Community and Turkey - clearly different from that concerning Cyprus and Malta - was set out by decisions taken by the Council in Lisbon in 1992 and Brussels on March 6 this year.

    Mr. Romeos is also satisfied because the Spanish presidency's text makes clear reference to Cyprus and the relevant position of the EU was confirmed as set out on March 6 concerning a start to accession negotiations six months after completion of the inter-governmental conference in 1996 on-revising the Maastricht Treaty.

    On the question of whether or not the European Parliament will approve the EU - Turkish customs union in December, presiding Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana clarified in Mr. Kirca's presence that the European Parliament was an independent institutional agency of the EU and for this reason no intervention either against or in favor of Turkey was possible.

    According to reports, almost all foreign ministers made it clear to their Turkish counterpart that the small step concerning the amendment of Article 8 of Turkey's anti-terrorist law was inadequate for the Council of Ministers and even more so for the European Parliament and recommended that Ankara take measures to satisfy the European Parliament and have the customs union approved.

    Addressing the General Affairs Council on the issue of preparing the EU-Turkey Association Council, Mr. Romeos brought to the attention of his European counterparts the contradiction in the Turkish government's position which, on the one hand, wanted to strengthen its relations with the EU and, on the other, recently stated through its foreign minister that it did not intend to allow itself to be committed by specific articles contained in the future customs union agreement regarding the Republic of Cyprus or its relations with the pseudo-state.

    On the question of the Greek textiles industry's problems and Greece's request to the Community to fund its restructuring, Mr. Romeos said the Commission had already prepared a study on the needs and problems of the Greek textiles industry which it would communicate to Athens next week. The issue will then be discussed at the councils of relevant ministers and the Council of Industry Ministers for the first time, which is due to be held in the next few days.

    [3] Papoulias

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Earlier yesterday, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias predicted that there would be no "spectacular" development at the informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

    "There will be no spectacular development at the informal meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg and our positions are known as regards the EU-Turkey customs union," Mr. Papoulias told reporters in the northwestern city of Ioannina.

    "Of course, in view of the situation prevailing in the neighboring country it will be very difficult for the European Parliament to ratify the EU-Turkey customs union," he added.

    [4] Opposition reactions

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Political Spring party spokesman Notis Martakis said yesterday that the government yesterday "played another card" in the game of Greek concessions that "is being slowly revealed".

    "Thus, with its stance, it has reached the stage of essentially urging the European Parliament to accept the customs union between Turkey and the European Union," he said.

    This was happening, he continued, at a time when Ankara is continuing to oppress human rights on Cyprus, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its own country, while threatening Greece with war.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said "today's decision by the Association Council in Luxembourg on the association of Turkey with the European Union constitutes a reward by the ruling circles in the European Union for the reactionary regime in Ankara which is continuing the genocide of the Kurds and the infringement of the elementary democratic rights of the Turkish people."

    The KKE said the provocative decision proved how false and hypocritical the European Union's proclamations were on the so-called defense of "democracy" and "freedom" of peoples.

    KKE further said the expression of satisfaction by Mr. Romeos and the Greek government in general on yesterday's development was an indication of its "great responsibilities" in common foreign policy.

    [5] Vartholomeos begins French visit tomorrow

    Istanbul. 31/10/1995 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas):

    Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is beginning an official visit to the Orthodox metropolis of France tomorrow, on the occasion of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the cathedral of St. Stephen.

    During his visit, the Patriarch will meet President Jacques Chirac, Foreign Minister Herve de Charette, National Assembly President Philippe Seguin, and Senate President Rene Monory.

    He will also visit Lourdes, the Orthodox dioceses of Marseilles and Nice, and receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Aix-en-Provence.

    The Orthodox community in France numbers between 180,000 and 200,000 faithful, with those of Greek origin being around the 50,000 mark. It comprises 85 dioceses and eight monasteries.

    [6] Premier to meet with IOC chief on possible Athens Olympiad

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou will meet next month with the International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch to discuss the issue of holding the Olympic Games in Athens.

    Sports Under-secretary George Lianis made the announcement yesterday, saying the 2004 games would be the ideal year for Athens since it was Europe's turn to host the world's most prestigious athletic event and other candidate cities were lacking before Athens' candidacy.

    The 1996 Olympics will be held in Atlanta, in the United States, while the 2000 games are scheduled for Sydney, Australia.

    Meanwhile, a representative of the sports under-secretary will leave for Switzerland in the next few days in order to be briefed by the world football association (FIFA) on new rules governing international football matches.

    A second inter-parliamentary conference for Mediterranean security and co-operation begins Wednesday in Malta.

    The four-day conference will focus on stability and development in the greater Mediterranean region.

    Greece will be represented by ruling PASOK MP Alexandros Baltas, main opposition New Democracy deputy Yiannis Stathopoulos and Constantinos Hatzidimitriou from Political Spring.

    [7] EU must deal with Balkans as 'integral' part of Europe, Arsenis says

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis yesterday criticized the European Union, saying that if it had shaped an overall European policy in the Balkans it could have prevented the present crisis.

    "European foreign policy should deal primarily with the Balkans, and the EU should finally accept that the Balkan peninsula is not on the outskirts of Europe but, rather, constitutes an integral part of it," Mr. Arsenis said speaking at a Balkan Summit meeting in Athens focusing on the political, economic and investment outlook in the region.

    The meeting has been organized by the International Herald Tribune and the Hellenic-American Chamber in Athens.

    "There can be no security system for Europe without incorporating the Balkans," Mr. Arsenis said, adding that Greece would play a catalytic role as intermediary for the incorporation of the "as yet unprepared" Balkan countries in the EU. Within this framework, Mr. Arsenis proposed the formation of a Regional Council of Balkan States, to be made up of Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and the countries of former Yugoslavia. The object of the council would be to promote economic and technological cooperation, the protection of the environment and human rights, the coordi-nation of infrastructure, and cultural and tourism co-operation with the ultimate aim of consolidating a stabilizing force in the region.

    Mr. Arsenis said that this initiative could develop and be extended to security matters "which is already taking place within the framework of the Partnership for Peace and bilateral defense agreements" which Greece has signed with Bulgaria, Albania and Romania.

    He added that Greece would sign similar bilateral agreements with the countries of former Yugoslavia when peace is attained in the region.

    Mr. Arsenis said that Greek policy in the Balkans would do everything possible to promote developmental economic initiatives, link the Balkan states with the institutional bodies of the EU and avert penetration by foreign powers which would try to overt urn the status quo in the region.

    He added that it was only "logical" that all the channels of EU aid to the Balkan countries should pass through Greece.

    The national defense minister also called for Russian participation in the international peacekeeping force which will be deployed for nine to 12 months in Bosnia following the signing of a peace accord.

    Replying to questions, he hinted that Greece might be willing to discuss abolition of the right of veto in matters of joint foreign policy and security, in view of next year's Intergovernmental Conference, but only within the framework of a broader "package" in which the other Community member states would guarantee Greece's borders as EU borders.

    Addressing the conference, European Commissioner for energy and SMEs Christos Papoutsis echoed Mr. Arsenis' comments, saying that the Balkans should not be regarded as the "geopolitical fringe" nor as the "powder-keg" of Europe.

    "On the contrary, the region was and continues to be an organic part of Europe and can and must be an organic part of the European Union," he said.

    Mr. Papoutsis said it was well worth examining the creation of institutions for regional co-operation in the Balkans and the setting up of a free trade zone.

    He said the aim of the EU was to extend the PHARE programme to all the countries of the Balkans, adding that in the coming weeks the Commission would be examining possibilities for shaping a spate of agreements with the republics of former Yugoslavia which would support the peace process and be adapted to the particularities of each country.

    The Greek commissioner added that the European Commission believed in the importance of co-operation between the EU and Turkey and in the new possibilities which the implementation of the customs union with Ankara would create. "However," he went on,

    "Turkey must prove that it is indeed moving in the direction of the democratization of its political life."

    In this respect, Mr. Papoutsis expressed the hope that those political forces which believe in respect for human rights and international law would prevail in Turkey.

    On the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, he said the normalization of relations between Greece and the neighboring country would open the way for the development of relations and co-operation agreements between Skopje and the EU.

    Turning to the Bosnian crisis, Mr. Papoutsis said that the coming weeks would be crucial and that all the warring parties must abandon intransigence and display a spirit of reconciliation.

    The EU is ready to contribute to the international effort for the reconstruction, economic and social restructuring of the republics of former Yugoslavia, Mr. Papoutsis said, adding that the role of the US would be decisive in this process and the Balkan countries must participate actively.

    [8] British expert says Greek stance on FYROM justified

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Speaking at the same meeting, Jonathan Eyal of the British Royal Institute of Defense Studies strongly defended Greece's positions and handling of its dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Mr. Eyal, an expert on Balkan affairs, said that Greece's positions on the Skopje issue were in no way illogical "but on the contrary very logical and justified from the point of view of its national security".

    He criticized the EU for presenting the picture to the rest of the world that Greece's stance was illogical and incorrect.

    At the same time, Mr. Eyal said that without Greece the economies of Albania and FYROM had no hope of development.

    On the Bosnian crisis too, Mr. Eyal in effect aligned himself with Greece's positions, saying that a permanent solution could only be attained when it is accepted that the Balkan countries must become part of the EU and NATO.

    He said there was no hope that the US-proposed constitution for a united Bosnia would work and instead proposed the existence of a purely Moslem Bosnia "which will be a satellite of Croatia" and the consolidation of the present dividing lines between Croats and Serbs.

    The key to peace, he said, lay with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman "who, if he insists on exerting pressure on the Serbs, will merely encourage the Moslems to continue the war".

    [9] Condemnation of "Avriani" photo continues

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Reactions continued yesterday over the publication Friday of a controversial photograph of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's wife Dimitra Liani in two newspapers.

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris accused George Kouris, the major shareholder in one of the two newspapers, "Avriani", of vulgarity, and said it was unacceptable that he should pronounce on the function of the press and assume a regulatory role in the political system.

    Avriani has published similar photographs of Mrs. Liani-Papandreou several times in the past, and Mr. Kouris has repeatedly linked the campaign against her with a demand that she abandon any political ambitions and resign as director of her husband's private office.

    Makis Psomiadis, owner/publisher of the other newspaper in question, "To Onoma", who claimed he published the picture to show it was a fake, was sentenced on Saturday to 16 months in jail for "wanton abuse through the press".

    Mr. Kouris escaped the 48-hour period during which he could be brought immediately to trial.

    Mr. Hytiris did not rule out the possibility that Mrs. Liani-Papandreou might resort to legal action over the affair, and replying to questions, he said that if she resigned from the post of director of the prime minister's private office, she would be giving in to blackmail and vulgarity.

    He refused to comment on a reference to a "judicial coup d'etat" by Athens Dailies Proprietors' Union Christos Tegopoulos, concerning the indictment of two newspaper owners.

    Meanwhile, the ruling PASOK's Executive Bureau also issued a statement last night on publication of the photo and subsequent attacks by Mr. Kouris, saying:

    "Known elements who have declared that their life's mission is an unconditional attack against (Premier) Andreas Papandreou, PASOK and the government insult in the most serious and rude manner:... basic human rights; the level of our civilization; democracy's core; and the freedom and credibility of the press."

    The statement notes that the prime minister's wife was not the only victim of such an attack, which also includes the nation's political and social life.

    "The few who do not understand this are ignorant of history and gullible. Any toleration of such fascist phenomena becomes complicity, which no politician or personal ambition can justify.

    "Woe betide democracy if the land is left open to the aspirations of various 'protectors' of public life who choose their target selectively."

    The PASOK statement concludes that the answer to such phenomena is a mass reaction by the political world and public opinion.

    New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert, commenting on the affair, said, it was "a shame and a debasement of Greek society", and called for attention to be given to the problems that concerned the Greek people.

    Speaking to a radio station in Thessaloniki, he said Mrs. Liani-Papandreou "has behaved with dignity from the moment she married Mr. Papandreou".

    ND party spokesman Vassilis Manginas said later PASOK was responsible for the phenomena of vulgarity and the populist ethic, in reference to Avriani's past support for the party.

    Such phenomena, he said, are a "brutal attack against Greek society, undermine institutions, and pose a danger of limitation of the functions necessary for democracy. The government and PASOK, and the prime minister personally bear an extremely heavy responsibility".

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking in Thessaloniki, referred to phenomena of "dissolution of the political scene," and said the indictment of the two newspaper proprietors was not in line with the law, constituting an expression of political or judicial authoritarianism. The publication of the controversial picture continued to draw statements of condemnation from ministers and ruling party members, including Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos, his alternate Kimon Koulouris, and European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis.

    [10] Varvitsiotis rules out any ND-PASOK co-operation

    Athens, 31/10/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis said yesterday he was opposed to any co-operation between ND and the ruling PASOK party in a possible coalition government as proposed by former ND minister George Souflias.

    "I rule out co-operation with PASOK in every case. We have so many fundamental ideological differences and so many differences in our policies that co-operation is out of the question," Mr. Varvitsiotis said in an interview with the Athens daily "Ethnos".

    If the electoral law is changed and no single party is able to form a government, Mr. Varvitsiotis said, ND should call for immediate elections.

    "The people will decide. I realize, of course, that this might entail a cost for the economy, that the people might suffer, but in my view it is the best solution. I do not believe in coalition governments," he said.

    Mr. Varvitsiotis was in effect replying to positions expressed in a recent interview by Mr. Souflias, who said that he would be prepared to consider the possibility of a coalition government by the two major parties should the outcome of the next genera l election prove inconclusive.

    End of English language section.

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