|Friday, 22 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Delphi tripartite summit appeals for negotiated settlement of Kosovo conflict
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Greece, Bulgaria and Romania yesterday called for a ceasefire in Kosovo in order to pave the way for a political solution and avert intervention by NATO in the strife-torn Yugoslav province.
"The (countries') three leaders make an urgent and dramatic appeal to all sides involved, and in particular the Yugoslav authorities, to work for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Kosovo...namely a ceasefire should be put immediately into effec t," a joint statement by the three countries said.
The declaration was released after talks in Delphi, central Greece, at the weekend between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu.
"Parties should come to the negotiating table without preconditions, aiming at achieving a peaceful solution for a large autonomy for Kosovo within the internationally recognised borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and respecting the rights and freedoms of all the inhabitants of Kosovo, so that another course of action be avoided," said the statement.
The three leaders said a failure to find a solution to the rift between Yugoslav authorities and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo could hurt the entire Balkan region.
"Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, immediate neighbours of Yugoslavia, are deeply concerned that the escalation of the conflict in Kosovo has reached a crucial point; further negative developments could have serious consequences for the three countries and the region as a whole," the declaration said.
Turning to Albania, the three leaders called on the country's government and political parties to use political dialogue and create a state of law, enabling democratic institutions to operate.
They also expressed support for initiatives by the international community.
EU enlargement : In addition, the leaders welcomed the start of the enlargement process for the European Union, in which Bulgaria and Romania are candidate countries. Already an EU member, Greece has repeatedly worked on behalf of their applications to the 15-nation bloc.
The three leaders also praised NATO's "open door policy", hoping that an upcoming summit in Washington would take concrete steps to develop the approach in order to enhance the Alliance's decisive role in consolidating peace and stability in southeastern Europe and the continent as a whole.
They said they supported an agreement signed recently to establish a multinational peace force in southeastern Europe.
"The three leaders, whose countries share a common European destiny, reaffirmed their commitment to principles of international law, on peace, security and good-neighbourly relations, respect for sovereignty, integrity and inviolability of external bord ers, as well as the recourse to the International Court of Justice to settle territorial differences, which are enunciated in the European Union Presidency Conclusions of the Luxembourg Council of December 1997 and in the 'Agenda 2000'," the statement also said.
Trilateral cooperation : Finally, the three leaders agreed at the weekend meeting to step up their trilateral cooperation, which was launched in Ioannina, north-western Greece, in 1995.
During the Delphi Summit, "it was stressed that this cooperation has contributed importantly to the promotion of security, stability and cooperation in Europe as a whole, within the perspective of growing integration of the continent," the statement said.
Contacts on a bilateral, trilateral and multilateral level involving other countries in southeastern Europe should also receive practical encouragement, the statement said. Key fields to be promoted are infrastructure networks, transport, energy and eco nomic and trade relations.
Countries in the region should work together to combat organised crime, terrorism, financial crime and money-laundering; and the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and nuclear materials.
The three leaders "further agreed that their Ministers of Interior/Public Order and Justice should convene on a regular basis in joint meetings. They expressed support for the establishment in Bucharest of the SECI Regional Centre for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption and the initiative of Bulgaria to host the Regional Coordinating Centre for Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking," the statement said.
The three countries agreed to hold regular summits, with the next session due in Bulgaria in 1999.
Meetings of their ministers and experts also will continue to take place.
Press conference : Addressing a joint press conference at the end of the tripartite summit, Greek Premier Simitis said that Greece, Bulgaria and Romania condemned the use of violence in the troubled region of the Balkans, so as the region could send out a message of friends hip and cooperation to all. He added that the European Union should play a greater role in this issue.
For his part, Bulgarian President Stoyanov told reporters it could not be accepted that operations to resolve the Kosovo crisis should be taken by countries away from that region.
Mr. Stoyanov further underlined that in finding any solution, the demands of neighbouring countries should be taken into account, as these countries should not be affected by any additional problems that could possibly result from a formula to resolve the Kosovo crisis.
Romanian President Constantinescu insisted on the "globalisation" of responsibilities over the Kosovo crisis, while he expressed his belief in the success of the procedure of the tripartite approach, which began in 1995 and was formalised with the Delphi summit.
During the summit, the three heads of state, who were accompanied by the three countries' foreign ministers, exchanged views on the world's economic conditions, on which they ascertained a common approach to many concerns.
They also agreed on the importance of European unification, with Mr. Simitis stressing that more nations should be included in the EU's enlargement process.
Mr. Stoyanov referred to a point of contention between Sofia and Bucharest over a second bridge to be built on the Danube River to link the two countries.
The Bulgarian president observed that both nations, both prospect members of the EU and NATO, and having a common border of over 300 kilometres long, should build more bridges connecting the two sides. He underlined that the issue was now more urgent in the light of the Kosovo crisis, as in a possible event of intensification of the crisis, the bridges could facilitate access, and Yugoslavia could be by-passed. The pending matter is now in the hands of a team of experts for consideration.
Simitis calls European leaders : Premier Simitis, who had a series of telephone conversations Saturday with the prime ministers of Italy, Romano Prodi and France, Lionel Jospin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, told reporters that military action on Kosovo should not be taken for granted.
The three European leaders also share the view that deliberations on Kosovo should continue and all margins exhausted before extreme decisions are taken.
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos also referred to the crisis, telling reporters: "Those who make decisions regarding the Balkans are many, but it is the three (countries) that will pay the bill," he told reporters after an initial meeting of the dele gations in Delphi.
Opening session : Mr. Simitis stressed in his opening address that the tripartite cooperation was an important lever for progress in resolving the region's political problems and involved innovative ideas in international affairs, particularly in the present period of incr easing interdependence and globalisation.
"This cooperation is based on the principles of the inviolability of borders, the non-interference in internal affairs, and respect for international law. For this reason, Greece has stressed the need for the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in the European Union and NATO, because we believe there will be greater stability and security in the region when all countries are able to participate in these two European and international organisations," he said.
The prime minister also referred to the decisive role which the tripartite cooperation plays in economic development in the Balkans through the promotion, among other things, of projects in road transport, telecommunications and energy, but also through other initiatives, such as the protocol signed by Greece and Bulgaria on fighting crime.
Mr. Pangalos also told reporters that discussions included the crisis in Russia, regarding which Messrs Stoyanov and Constantinescu made an extensive reference to the further problems which it could spark, but also to those which have been averted. Also on the agenda for the talks was a meeting of southeast European heads of state and government due to be held in Turkey on October 12-13.
Stoyanov : The three countries will seek to reaffirm their common intention to intensify the pace of their cooperation and coordinate their positions on the important international problems, said Mr. Stoyanov before departing for Greece on Saturday, according to an ANA dispatch from Sofia.
"Sofia and Bucharest expect the reaffirmation of the political will of Athens that it is an advocate of the two neighbouring countries in their accession course towards EU and NATO," he stressed, "as Greece is the only Balkan member-state of these two organisations". The Bulgarian president did not rule out a quadrapartite meeting, involving the three countries and Turkey, in future.
Athens News Agency
 Diamantopoulou attends informal meeting of EU industry ministers
VIENNA 05/10/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou, who represented Greece in the informal meeting of EU industry ministers and the parallel Second Euro- Mediterranean Industry Ministers council, yesterday, told the ANA that there was an increasing need for a European unified response to intenational crises.
This was the main focus of the informal meeting of industry ministers, taking place in Austria, currently holding the EU's rotating presidency.
According to Ms. Diamantopoulou, discussion also touched upon the likely formation of an EU competitiveness council, similar to the ECOFIN.
Addressing the meeting, the development undersecretary expounded on Greece's positions on cooperation in Europe and with regard to small- and medium-sized enterprises at the transitional process of accepting new members from central and eastern Europe.
One of the points she stressed was Greek businesses' preparation to meet new market conditions in unified Europe, as well as in the Balkans.
Speaking during a session of the Euro-Mediterranean council, Ms. Diamantopoulou underlined the need to place more emphasis on networking, quality and new programmes for young entrepreneurs.
Cyprus : Cyprus has been chosen to host the 3rd Euro-Mediterranean Industry Ministers Council in 1999, after a proposal by Cypriot Industry Minister Nikos Rolandis, who also attended the meeting.
Portugal and Morocco have asked to host the industry ministers council in 2000.
Participants in this year's council included the Union's 15 industry ministers and their counterparts from 12 Mediterranean nations.
Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos calls for immediate dialogue on Kosovo
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday called on Yugoslavia and Albanians in Kosovo to begin talks in order to avert a military intervention by NATO in Kosovo.
Calling on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to begin talks, he said: "They should proceed immediately with the start of dialogue to allow broad autonomy in Kosovo within the framework of Yugoslavia's existing borders."
"I am optimistic that the logic of dialogue will prevail and that there will be a political solution," said Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, speaking in Thessaloniki.
Athens News Agency
 Priority of EMU entry target date decisive,PM says
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the government's primary aim remained attaining entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union by the target date of January 1, 2001.
He was commenting on allegations by several Sunday newspapers that economic policy was a hostage to election politics as Greece still had leeway of one year to meet the five economic criteria needed for EMU entry, when asked by reporters in Delphi on the sidelines of a tripartite summit between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. "The priority of EMU entry is decisive in any decisions taken," Mr. Simitis said. Joining the euro, the EU's future single currency, would help to ensure economic stability and contribute to attaining greater social justice, he said.
Athens News Agency
 Karamanlis tours Eastern Macedonia,Thrace
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis launced an attack on the goverment during a speech in Kavala, Saturday, criticising its policies on health, education, the economy, investments and tourism, among others.
Mr. Karamanlis was speaking during a pre-electoral meeting, where he presented the political programme of his party's candidate for the post of Kavala prefect, Theodoros Kallionzis.
His criticism of the government also touched upon the Athens Stock Exchange and the compulsory mergers in the first level of local government, saying when his party would come in office, it will allow citizens themselves to decide on the future of the regions they live in.
According to the opposition leader, the state deprived the youth of the means to achieve a competitive future.
Earlier, in Komotini, Mr. Karamanlis addressed a rally organised by the 'Kalimera Thraki" coalition, running for the prefecture of Thrace.
He stressed the local elections of Oct. 11 were a "deeply political" process, as the "entire electorate" was to vote to elect local leaders.
He added that "it was a unique chance to strengthen the local government."
Mr. Karamanlis referred to the problems of the region's farmers, pledging that as a prime minister he would personally undertake the responsibility "to negotiate on agricultural products with the European Union."
Further, he once again accused the government for delays in the completion of major infrastructure projects, describing a new law on development as "unacceptable", as it abolished investment incentives for the specific region.
Athens News Agency
 Foreign ministry to set up diplomatic academy
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)The foreign ministry is to set up a diplomatic academy to recruit newcomers into the service and provide courses for existing staff at all levels.
The academy will also arrange seminars for Greeks and non-Greeks on foreign policy and international relations.
A draft presidential decree allowing its creation has been sent to the Council of State for study.
A senior foreign ministry official will be appointed to head the academy, which is to be staffed by diplomatic service employees, ambassadors, lecturers in higher education, and other specialists.
Eligible to sit the academy's entrance exam are degree-holders with a working knowledge of computers.
Athens News Agency
 Papandreou to attend ESP meeting on Europe's future
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to represent ruling PASOK party president Costas Simitis at today's meeting of socialist parties' leaders, affiliated with the European Socialist Party (ESP), taking place in Vienna.
Discussions will focus on "Europe's future", with emphasis on employment, subsidiarity, democratic legality, as well as issues in preparation of the October 25 meeting of EU member-states' heads, also to be held in Austria.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Papandreou will have contacts with a number of European socialist figures.
Athens News Agency
 Positive developments for green card holders
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Foreign workers who are in possession of the green work and residence card may now enjoy the same labour and social insurance rights as their Greek colleagues, officials of the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) told representatives of immigrant organisations du ring a briefing Saturday.
Foreign workers legally employed in Greece now number 380,000, while the process is underway for the granting of the green card to another 100, 000.
The gross monthly minimum wage for domestic assistants is now set at 164, 000 drachmas, of which 10,000 drachmas is deducted for social security. The employers' contribution is 18,000 drachmas.
Other provisions already in place stipulate the compulsory attendance of primary school by immigrants' children, while those that are over age will receive supplementary tuition in order to be placed in the appropriate grade, the officials said.
Athens News Agency
 Kavala hosts manufacture exhibition
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)National Economy Ministry Secretary Ilias Plaskovitis said Saturday from Kavala that Greek businesses, especially those in northern Greece, have made tremendous steps forward in the Balkan region.
Mr. Plaskovitis was speaking during an Industry-Handicraft-Manufucture exhibition in Kavala, which he inaugurated.
"Interborder business, on both public and private levels, is constantly developing" said the official.
The commercial show, with 75 exhibitors and many visitors from private and state bodies from Greece and the Balkans, presented products mainly produced by Kavala-based businesses.
Athens News Agency
 Samos meeting on the promotion of cultural heritage
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)A one-day meeting on the promotion of cultural heritage in primary education was organised on Samos, Saturday, by the Research Institute of Eastern Aegean in cooperation with Cambridge's Beaupre School, with participation of educators from both Greece and Britain.
Discussions focused on the methodology used by teachers in teaching culture, in Greece and abroad, as well as to differences existing between the Greek and English teaching methods, which according to the experts are not so great but mainly regard the d iffering mentality.
Athens News Agency
 Taxi owners debate code of conduct at national congress
Athens 05/10/1998 (ANA)Greek taxi owners held a national congress in the northern city of Kavala yesterday to debate improving services to passengers and defending themselves from mugging.
Taxi drivers have repeatedly come under fire from the public for overcharging, refusing to drive to unprofitable destinations and rudeness. In August, a taxi driver was arrested after charging an Australian tourist 25 times the standard fare for a ride from Athens airport to the city centre - news that was carried worldwide.
Tranport Minister Tassos Mantelis said last month that taxis whose drivers overcharged passengers would have their vehicles taken off the road, and he asked local authorities to help check for abuse. Transport ministry representatives attended the congress.
Also on the agenda were improving the image of taxi drivers, including a code of conduct aimed at tourists, and service for the elderly and people with special needs.
At the same time, taxi drivers are frequently the victims of assault by muggers attempting to steal their takings. Delegates to the congress debated protection measures including the installation of a plate glass divider between driver and passengers.
Athens News Agency