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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 03/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis may visit US, spokesman says
  • Striking civil servants rally in city centre
  • Montenegro House Speaker in Athens
  • Kranidiotis sworn in as foreign undersecretary
  • Police continue inquiries into killing of Russian fugitive
  • Two Albanians suspected of kidnappings arrested
  • Alexandros '97 exercise begins
  • Police make heroin arrest
  • Canada concerned over Cyprus tension
  • Thessaloniki formally assumes European Cultural Capital of `97
  • Premier reiterates gov't position not to bow to farmers' demands
  • Tsochatzopoulos: Turkey continues to dispute Aegean status quo
  • Pangalos, Milutinovic meet in Thessaloniki
  • Humanitarian aid to Bulgaria

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Simitis may visit US, spokesman says

    The government today hinted at the possibility of meetings between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and US government officials in Washington in early March.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was referring to Pangalos's visit to New York at the beginning of next month for the inauguration of the Byzantine exhibition at the city's Metropolitan Museum.

    Reppas said there was an open invitation for Greek representatives to visit the US, conveyed through US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles, to discuss bilateral issues and matters relating to the region.

    The spokesman clarified however that neither the level of such a meeting nor when it might be held had been decided.

    ''Perhaps it will take place in early March, when Mr. Pangalos will be in the US for the exhibition at the New York museum... The prime minister might also visit the US at the same time,'' Reppas said.

    Striking civil servants rally in city centre

    Greece's civil servants kicked off their 48-hour nationwide strike this morning with the biggest protest rally seen in Athens in recent years.

    Civil servants were joined by high school teachers on the third week of their strike, hospital staff and local government workers.

    Speakers at the rally, including Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) President Yannis Koutsoukos, stressed their objections to the government's proposed uniform wage scale, callling for real wage increases and the introduction of collective bargaining in the public sector.

    Protesters marched through the city streets to the finance ministry where a delegation met with Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis.

    Koutsoukos said after the meeting that the undersecretary appeared "unbending on the issue of the wage scale" and particularly on the matter of cutting back on productivity bonuses, which ADEDY has called "a cause for war".

    Koutsoukos said further protests would be held in the next 20 days and up to the day Parliament votes on the wage scale.

    Montenegro House Speaker in Athens

    The president of the Montenegrin parliament begins an official two-day visit to Greece today at the invitation of the Greek Parliament, an ANA dispatch from Belgrade reported.

    An announcement in Podgorica, Montenegro's capital, said Svetozar Marovic would meet with his Greek counterpart Apostolos Kaklamanis, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and other Greek officials and that talks would focus on the current political situation in Serbia.

    Marovic is one of the Montenegrin leaders who have condemend the handling of the recent political crisis in Belgrade and called for the Serbian opposition's win in municipal elections to be recognised by the Milosevic government.

    Kranidiotis sworn in as foreign undersecretary

    Yiannos Kranidiotis was today sworn in by President Kostis Stephanopoulos as foreign undersecretary in the place of Christos Rozakis who resigned three weeks ago.

    During a handing-over ceremony later at the foreign ministry, Rozakis tried to dispel rumours of friction within the ministry, saying that while undersecretary, he had continued his longstanding friendship with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and built up a new friendship with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Kranidiotis, a former Eurodeputy with long experience in the foreign ministry, described Rozakis' resignation as a loss and expressed the hope that he would continue to work with the ministry, offering his experience and knowledge.

    The new undersecretary said the country had embarked on a new course, aimed at making Greece strong and modern.

    In the sector of foreign policy, he added, ''visions and inspirations'' are not sufficient.

    ''What is needed is planning, consistent work and scientific substantiation of our positions,'' Kranidiotis said.

    Among the challenges of the 21st century for Greece were the defining of the country's role in the Balkans and confronting the Turkish threat and aggressiveness in Cyprus and the Balkans.

    Police continue inquiries into killing of Russian fugitive

    Police in Athens said today that the Russian fugitive found dead at the weekend was planning to go to Italy in the next few days to carry out the contract killing of a prominent businessman.

    Citing information received from colleagues in Russia, the police added that Alesandr Solonik was a professional hit man who performed contract killings for enormous sums of money in various countries.

    They also revealed that six Russian officers had been working with the police here to arrest Solonik, after Interpol alerted the authorities to the fact that the Russian fugitive was in Greece.

    Solonik, 35, reportedly escaped from a Moscow prison in 1995. The dead man was wanted in his home country in connection with the killings of four police officers and the wounding of a fifth.

    His body, showing signs of strangulation, was found in the Athens suburb of Variboby on Sunday.

    The police also revealed today that they had found the body after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

    Two Albanians suspected of kidnappings arrested

    Police have arrested two Albanians believed to be part of an eight-member gang responsible for two kidnappings last month.

    The gang is allegedly responsible for the kidnapping of Themistocles Charalambis on 18 January and Theodoros Paraskevopoulos the following day.

    In the case of Paraskevopoulos, a man speaking broken Greek had demanded 20 million drachmas from the victim's relatives. After negotiations by telephone lasting days, his relatives agreed on 31 January to pay the kidnappers 7 million drachmas.

    Paraskevopoulos was released and crossed the border from Albania into Greece. His relatives handed the money over to an Albanian in Greece after Paraskevopoulos had phoned to say he was free.

    The police later arrested Albanian Sokol Sinani, 30 who was driving towards the border with Albania. They found the ransom money in his car.

    Sinani revealed that the same gang was responsible for the kidnapping of Charalambis who had managed to escape from a house in Pendeli in which he was being kept. According to Charalambis' relatives, he had been forced to give the kidnappers 2 million drachmas after they threatened to hurt him and his family.

    A second Albanian, Lanti Bourtzia, 24, was arrested shortly afterwards and identified by Charalambis as one of his kidnappers.

    The police are continuing their investigation and have requested the assistance of the Albanian authorities in securing the arrest of Andreati Arapi, a resident of Lusnia in Albania, who is believed to be the gang leader.

    Alexandros 97 exercise begins

    A large-scale map exercise involving all branches of the armed forces got under way today, the scenario for which assumes a possible crisis and escalation of tension resulting in conflagration.

    The exercise, codenamed ''Alexandros '97'', is being conducted also with the participation of state services and public enterprises administered by the Chief of the National Defence General Staff.

    Emphasis is being placed on the participation of the civil sector in supporting military operations.

    The exercise, which will run through 8 February, will test the ability of participants to effectively handle crisis situations.

    A similar exercise, codenamed ''Olympus'' is currently being conducted on Cyprus.

    Police make heroin arrest

    Police in Xanthi have arrested an ethnic Greek from Georgia after finding over 2 kilos of heroin during a search of his home in Evmiro.

    Costas Doxaridis, 29, has so far refused to reveal his suppliers, but the police suspect he had contacts with Turkish traffickers. They said he often travelled to the Evros region which borders Turkey.

    Early Sunday morning, Doxaridis had forced his way into a nightclub, after being refused entrance, and opened fire with a revolver, wounding one customer in the hand.

    Doxaridis, was disarmed and handed over to police who took him to Xanthi hospital in a semi-conscious condition. There, doctors ascertained that he had taken heroin before the nightclub incident.

    The police found 11 grams of heroin in his jacket and decided to search his home, where they found 2.3 kilos of the narcotic.

    Canada concerned over tension in Cyprus

    Canada has expressed its deep concern over the escalation of violence on Cyprus, in a letter of reply to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis who had condemned the recent cold-blooded killing of three Greek Cypriots.

    In the letter, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy stressed that his country continued to support the UN resolution on the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces from the divided island.

    Axworthy said Canada's aim was to help reduce tension on Cyprus and contribute to constructive negotiations for peace in the region.

    The Canadian foreign minister underlined the need for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem through dialogue and the avoidance of the threat or use of force.

    Thessaloniki assumes European Cultural Capital of '97 title

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis challenged the peoples of Europe and the broader region to seek a better future based on their common cultural elements, during a speech to mark the official opening of Thessaloniki as Cultural Capital of Europe 1997.

    Addressing an official dinner in Thessaloniki, Mr.Simitis said the task facing Europe was to harmonise the demand for respect for each country's cultural traditions with the need for solidarity and creative cooperation.

    The premier urged culture ministers from 40 European, Balkan, Mediterranean and Black Sea region countries to take advantage of all opportunities offered by regional cooperation agreements in order to implement their common goals.

    "Culture is not a secondary aspect of international relations, but a comprehensive and inclusive world view," he said, adding that Europe's strength was its culture, therefore, a choice had to be made between letting Europe's multi-cultural reality be determined by the wounds of its past, or letting it act as a life-giving source of continual inspiration and cooperation.

    Simitis reiterates gov't position not to bow to farmers' demands

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday reiterated the government's decision not to yield to protesting farmers' demands, during a meeting with leaders of the Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES) in Thessaloniki.

    The premier said Greek agriculture is faced with the task of adjusting to a world market before it even has the chance to adjust to a common European agricultural policy.

    He stressed that the government will not consent to "beautifications and cover-ups that will make things worse," adding that farmers' mobilisations were "extreme forms of struggle" that lead nowhere except to temporary measures.

    Tsohatzopoulos: Turkey unwavering in dispute of Aegean status quo

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, speaking during an interview yesterday with a private Athens television channel, reiterated his position that Turkey's steady goal remains the dispute of the status quo in the Aegean.

    During the interview, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined that the Greek armed forces are in a position to decisively deal with the disputing of the country's sovereign rights.

    The defence minister also referred to what he called "equal strike" policy, stressing that the armed forces can defend the country against any attack, and can return any military strike with equal force.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated his position regarding the proposed moratorium of military flights over Cyprus and criticised the policy followed by the 1990-93 Mitsotakis government as regards Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, estimating that this policy "worsened" Greece's positions.

    Pangalos, Milutinovic meet in Thessaloniki

    The foreign minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Milan Milutinovic, met yesterday with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos and other government officials in Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Milutinovic attended the official opening of the Cultural Capital '97, and upon departing told a private Athens television channel that he discussed bilateral issues with Mr. Pangalos.

    In statements, Mr. Milutinovic appeared optimistic for a defusion of tension in Yugoslavia.

    Humanitarian aid to Bulgaria

    Greece is sending humanitarian aid to the Haskovo region during the next few days, a Bulgarian radio station announced yesterday.

    The aid consists of 700 tons of flour and 1,000 tons of maize from the Evros prefecture. The flour is to be distributed to 16 institutions caring for orphans, sick children and the elderly. The humanitarian aid is to ensure the provision of free bread u ntil the end of the year, while maize will be distributed to three large farms in the area.

    The neigbouring areas of Evros and Haskovo signed an agreement for regional cooperation last year, which provides for the creation of a free trade zone for development of unhindered economic activities.

    WEATHER

    Low temperatures, local clouds and sleet in most parts of the country with northerly winds in the Aegean. Light rain or sleet interspersed with sunny spells in the eastern regions with snowfalls in mountainous areas. Fair weather in the rest of the country. Athens will be sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures between -1-6C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between -3-3C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 255.063 Pound sterling 408.823 Cyprus pd 519.808 French franc 46.297 Swiss franc 180.147 German mark 156.339 Italian lira (100) 15.850 Yen (100) 210.264 Canadian dlr. 189.016 Australian dlr. 194.129 Irish Punt 405.976 Belgian franc 7.575 Finnish mark 52.391 Dutch guilder 139.188 Danish kr. 40.970 Swedish kr. 35.343 Norwegian kr. 39.303 Austrian sch. 22.216 Spanish peseta 1.846 Portuguese escudo 1.559

    (M.P.)


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