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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-09

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 961), December 9, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Pangalos reiterates Greek positions on relations with Turkey in letter to Ciller
  • [02] Farmers threaten escalation of 11-day protest
  • [03] President speaks to protesting farmers en route to flooded Xanthi
  • [04] Britain plays 'worst role' in Cyprus says Greek FM
  • [05] Leading Turkish businessman urges better commercial relations with Greece
  • [06] 68 illegal immigrants arrested on Greek isles
  • [07] Cypriot defense minister in Athens
  • [08] Large families demonstrate against government cutbacks
  • [09] Further EIB support for energy sector

  • [01] Pangalos reiterates Greek positions on relations with Turkey in letter to Ciller

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece would welcome Turkey's inclusion in Europe, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said, if Ankara were more consistent before its obligations on human rights and international law and conventions.

    In a letter to his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller delivered on November 28, Mr. Pangalos outlined his views on the entire spectrum of Greek-Turkish relations and Ankara's relations with the European Union (EU).

    The full text of the letter was published in yesterday's newspaper "To Vima".

    Mr. Pangalos reminded Ms Ciller of Greece's repeated expressions of support for Turkey's orientation towards Europe, in particular, Greece's signing of the EU-Turkey customs union agreement.

    However, he noted that Turkey had not given a positive reply to the principles contained in the EU's "Turkey declaration" of July 15, 1996, principles which chiefly concerned (respect for) international law. This, he noted, should be the foundation for EU-Turkey relations and (its acceptance) was mandatory in order that difficulties in those relations, as well as bilateral relations, be ironed out.

    With regard to Turkey's human rights record, Mr. Pangalos said:

    "If these measures (proposed by the European Union) are not adhered to by your government fully and consistently, then Turkey's human rights record will deteriorate, potentially leading to further criticism by public opinion in many nations as well as by international organizations."

    Greece had repeatedly shown, said the foreign minister, that it wanted bilateral relations to be based on respect for international law and treaties, yet "successive Turkish governments had called for comprehensive negotiations between Athens and Ankara 'in order to settle their differences' without, however ... referring to a specific legal framework".

    "...In addition, Greece has stated that negotiations on issues concerning its sovereignty are inconceivable and a dialogue on those issues is unacceptable," he stressed, adding his concern at what he called Turkey's "selective approach" to the principle s of international law and to its own responsibilities as laid down in international treaties.

    Mr. Pangalos went on to note violations of Greek air space by Turkish air force planes, Turkey's repeated claims on Greek territory and its refusal to refer the question of the Aegean continental shelf to the International Court at The Hague.

    "It is therefore clear," he continued, "that while Greece is making no claims on the sovereign rights or territory of Turkey, those issues which Turkey describes as bilateral are in fact solely concerned with Greece's own sovereign rights and territory. "

    Turning to recent events in Cyprus in which four Greek Cypriots had been killed by Turks in the buffer zone dividing the two communities, the foreign minister considered it deplorable that such an effort had been made to bring in to the Turkish Cypriot areas what he called "extremist elements" from Turkey.

    Nevertheless, he expressed agreement with his Turkish counterpart that the will of all the sides involved was necessary to resolve the Cyprus issue, particularly the side "which the UN Secretary General had said was lacking in the necessary political will. This should be translated into preparing the groundwork for substantial negotiations between the two communities on the island."

    "... if Turkey could become more approachable with regard to the... Cyprus issue, it would greatly assist the international community's efforts and would have beneficial repercussions on future relations between the EU and Turkey as well as between Turkey and Greece," he said.

    [02] Farmers threaten escalation of 11-day protest

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greek farmers protesting the government's agricultural policy kept main highways closed across the country for the eleventh day yesterday, with more than 100 roadblocks.

    Representatives of the farmers, who decided to escalate their protest after a meeting in Larissa on Saturday, have maintained the roadblocks will stay in place until the government decides to satisfy their demands.

    Today, mainland farmers will be joined by members of 17 agricultural associations in the Cretan prefecture of Iraklion, who have said they will close the highway between the island's two main cities of Iraklion and Hania.

    However, Iraklion Federation of Agricultural Associations President Aristidis Schinarakis stated yesterday that the federation did not support the move.

    On Saturday night, farmers in Thessaloniki warned they would be escalating their protests. The president of the Union of Democratic Agricultural Cooperatives of Thessaloniki, Sotiris Parlapanis, told the ANA on Saturday that the Thessaloniki-Serres road would be blocked within the next two days at Derveni.

    If this happens, Thessaloniki will be completely cut off both from eastern Macedonia and from the Evzones, Kilkis border post, Greece's main "gate" to central Europe.

    Meanwhile, a counter-protest was made by frustrated foreign truck drivers trapped on Greece's roads, in the form of a roadblock of their own near Aigani, north of Larissa yesterday. The Greek farmers' protest committee was reportedly negotiating with the foreign drivers.

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis, speaking from Thessaloniki yesterday, said the blockades are costing the transport sector two to 2.5 billion drachmas daily.

    Mr. Kastanidis said there are sectors of the Greek economy which are being threatened with financial ruin.

    Over the 11 days that the blockade has lasted, the farmers' mobilization has cost the railways, long-distance bus services, tourist buses and truck drivers a total of 22 billion drachmas, the minister said.

    Mr. Kastanidis appealed to the farmers' "logic and sensitivity" in order for there to be an agreement that "the manner in which they are seeking to satisfy their own demands can not be equated to the financial ruin of other social classes."

    "If this occurs," he said "then ... the blockading of the roads will be equated with the blockading of democracy."

    Replying to a journalist's question as to how the government will react if the farmers do not respond to the appeal to open the roads, Mr. Kastanidis said "the government wants to avoid in every way the problem being solved in a manner which does not be long to the sphere of politics."

    "I base my appeal on the possibility for some very simple principles being understood. If this does not happen, then I think the cabinet, which is to meet on Tuesday, will have very important decisions to take."

    Agriculture Under-secretary Dimitris Sotirlis, speaking on 'Flash' radio station yesterday, said the government will take initiatives in Brussels for better prices for cotton and larger quantities of the crop.

    [03] President speaks to protesting farmers en route to flooded Xanthi

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos told protesting farmers at a blockade near Kavala airport on Saturday that he was aware of their problems but could do nothing.

    "I am aware of your problems but I can do nothing. I shall submit my views to the government and I believe the best possible solution will be found," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    He was speaking to farmers while on his way to Xanthi to be briefed at first hand on the widespread damage caused by heavy flooding in the region last weekend.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos is being accompanied by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.

    [04] Britain plays 'worst role' in Cyprus says Greek FM

    Nicosia, 09/12/1996 (ANA/CNA)

    The British play the "worst role" in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and wish the perpetuation of the status quo on the island, Greece's Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos was quoted as saying in an interview published yesterday with Cyprus' leading daily newspaper "Phileleftheros".

    Mr. Pangalos is quoted as saying "the UK plays, unfortunately, as regards the Cyprus problem, the worst possible role, for a long time."

    He said the British policy aimed at "the perpetuation of the situation in Cyprus. It is against any solution."

    The Greek minister said he would raise this issue at a meeting with Britain's Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, during his forthcoming visit to London.

    Mr. Rifkind is scheduled to visit Cyprus on December 16-17 to meet Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    His plan to meet Mr. Denktash in the occupied part of Cyprus has provoked anger in Cyprus.

    House President and former Cyprus President Spyros Kyprianou has asked Mr. Rifkind's visit to Cyprus to be postponed until London clarifies its true intentions on Cyprus.

    The issue will be discussed during a session of the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, on Wednesday.

    In his interview with "Phileleftheros", Mr. Pangalos strongly criticized Mr. Rifkind's scheduled meeting with Mr. Denktash, the head of the illegal regime in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.

    Mr. Rifkind is the first foreign minister of a country who wants to meet Mr. Denktash in the occupied areas.

    When former British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd visited Cyprus, on the occasion of the Commonwealth Summit in October 1993, he had a joint meeting with Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash at the Ledra Palace Hotel, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Pangalos rejected Mr. Rifkind's position that a solution to the Cyprus problem must be found before the start of membership talks with the European Union.

    However, he said progress towards a Cyprus settlement would facilitate Cyprus' entry into the EU, "something that Nicosia and Athens wish fervently."

    [05] Leading Turkish businessman urges better commercial relations with Greece

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    A delegation of prominent Turkish businessmen arrived in Athens yesterday to attend a meeting of the Greek-Turkish Business Co-operation Council.

    "We can't have bad relations with all the countries neighboring Turkey... we can't go on like this. We must make a strategic decision and decide to solve the problems," Rahmi Koc, president of Turkey's biggest business conglomerate, told the Athens daily "Kathimerini".

    "I believe that we must improve our relations with Greece and that is why I believe we must begin commercial relations," he added.

    Accompanying the business delegation are the publishers of newspapers such as "Hurriyet", "Millyet" and "Sabah", as well as the leaders of the Liberal Party and the TURK-IS union.

    Greek-Turkish business transactions are currently valued at $400 million.

    "If they reach the two billion dollar mark, then politicians will find it difficult to upset bilateral relations," added Mr. Koc.

    Mr. Koc is to be guest speaker at the "presidents' dinner" on December 10 organized by the Kantor business consultants' firm. The annual dinner has become an institution for communication between business circles from both countries.

    [06] 68 illegal immigrants arrested on Greek isles

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    Some 68 illegal immigrants were rounded up on Greece's islands over the weekend, all of them ferried over by Turkish middlemen who evaded arrest.

    It is estimated that thousands of Iraqi nationals have gathered on Turkey's shores seeking ways to enter Greece.

    Sixteen Iraqi illegal immigrants discovered by a fishermen on the islet of Marmara off the coast of Symi on Friday night were being treated in the Symi medical center last night after being left without food or water for four days by a Turkish migrant smuggler, whom they had paid $1,500 each.

    In another incident on Friday night, a further 10 Iraqi illegal immigrants were taken to the area of Aghios Aimilianos on Symi. The person who had transported the five men, two women and three children sped off towards the Turkish coast.

    The illegal immigrants told coastguard officers that they had each paid $3,000 to the owners of the Turkish speedboat.

    They were due to appear before the public prosecutor on Saturday.

    [07] Cypriot defense minister in Athens

    Nicosia, 09/12/1996 (ANA/CNA)

    Cypriot Defense Minister Costas Iliades, accompanied by National Guard Chief General Vorvolakos, flew to Athens yesterday to participate in a meeting at the Pentagon today.

    The meeting's agenda includes the US proposal for a moratorium on flights by Greek and Turkish planes over the Republic of Cyprus.

    [08] Large families demonstrate against government cutbacks

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    Over 5,000 members of large families participated in a rally and march to Parliament in Athens on Saturday to protest the government's decision to abolish the life pension given to mothers with more than three children. The protestors and representatives from 111 associations all over the country were also protesting cuts in allowances for large families and the reduction of state funds allocated to improve the country's demographic position.

    Deputies from all the political parties represented in Parliament, as well as former deputies of the Political Spring party, joined the protesters to express support for their demands.

    Ruling PASOK party deputies Stelios Papathemelis and Anastasios Peponis said that they would vote against the relevant legislative provision cutting allowances to large families.

    [09] Further EIB support for energy sector

    Athens, 09/12/1996 (ANA)

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing 33 million ECU to the Public Power Corporation (DEH), for the expansion of the Aghios Demetrios thermal power station in Western Macedonia and for the extension and reinforcement of the electricity transmission and distribution networks.

    Of that amount, 26.4 million ECU goes for the construction of a fifth thermal unit, with a net capacity of 335 MW at the Aghios Demetrios power station, bringing total installed capacity there to some 1,550 Mwe. Aghios Demetrios, in the Ptolemais region, is already the largest power station in Greece. It is predominantly supplied with lignite by the Southfield mine, with sufficient reserves to meet the power station's needs for the next 50 years. The new unit helps protect the environment by producing heat for the district heating network of the nearby town of Kozani.

    End of English language section.


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