Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-15
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 15/05/1997 (ANA)
- Amnesty International welcomes new Greek law on military service
- 16 arrested in police round-up of illegal gambling
- Stock prices edge towards all-time high
- Greece cautious over Turkish 'friendship offensive'
- ANA hosts meeting of national news agencies
- Bank account to support Hellenes abroad
- Private infrastructure programme in northern Greece
- Kaklamanis greets large delegation of expatriate Greeks
- Minister announces rescue chopper tender
- Greek-Albanian border post reopens
- IOC delegate: Athens as host city would promote Olympic spirit
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Amnesty International welcomes new Greek law on military service
The Greek chapter of Amnesty International today described as ''a milestone
in the history of human rights in Greece'' the government's decision to
allow conscientious objectors to do an alternative form of compulsory
At the same time however, Amnesty expressed serious reservations about the
duration of alternative service which conscientious objectors would have to
The government on Sunday announced the final arrangements contained in new
legislation aimed at resolving the problem of draft-dodgers abroad and
A bill has already been tabled in Parliament and approved by the 300-member
House's Scientific Committee. The bill will be debated by the end of
Under the provisions of the bill, draft-dodgers living abroad will be able
to return to Greece if they agree to complete a few months' military
service and pay off their remaining term on a per month basis.
The exact number of months to be served and the amount payable will depend
on the age of the person concerned and family obligations.
Conscientious objectors will be able to choose one of two forms of
alternative service -- either ''unarmed'' service in one of the branches of
the military, or ''social service'' in a public organisation.
The government clarified however that both alternative forms would entail a
term of service double the normal duration.
While welcoming the new legislation, Amnesty International expressed
concern that the excessive length of alternative service might result in
the continuing imprisonment of conscientious objectors, thereby undermining
what in other respects it sees as a positive measure.
Amnesty described the double length of alternative service as the
''Achilles heel'' of the measure.
The human rights organisation said also that although ''a milestone in the
history of human rights in Greece'', the measure should be accompanied by
the immediate and unconditional release of the hundreds of conscientious
objectors currently serving prison sentences for refusing to enlist.
Amnesty International said it did not accept the concept of alternative
service ''without social orientation'', nor of a duration which constitutes
punishment or deters its adoption.
Alternative service, Amnesty said, should be equal in nature to the regular
military service applying at any one time.
16 arrested in police round-up of illegal gambling
Police today broke up an illegal gambling ring, arresting 13 players and 3
organisers in an apartment in central Athens which had been turned into the
operations centre for illicit betting on horse and dog races.
Owing to the fact that strict security at the apartment made it impossible
for the uninitiated to enter the premises, the 13 players will be hard
pressed to prove their innocence when the case comes to court.
The racket, operating under the pseudo company name of ''Videoline'', was
allegedly organised by Andreas Georgiou, 46, assisted by two employees -
Eleni Anagnou, 23 and Dimitris Rinas, 24.
Among those arrested were a journalist, an architect, a student, a film
director and a lawyer.
Police confiscated over 2 million drachmas and 1,400 US dollars and seized
two television sets, one with a giant screen, six monitors, a satellite
reception disk and photocopy machines.
Stock prices edge towards all-time high
Stock prices moved closer to their all-time high on Thursday but the pace
of advance was slower compared to previous sessions as investors were
tempted to liquidate part of their gains.
The general index closed 0.54 percent higher at 1,643.51 points reflecting
gains in the industrial and leasing sectors, which ended 4.06 and 1.52
percent higher respectively.
Banks rose 0.51 percent, Insurance ended 0.35 percent up, Investment
increased 0.76 percent, Construction fell 0.35 percent, Holding dropped
1.49 percent and Various eased 0.70 percent. The Parallel Market index rose
Trading was extremely heavy and turnover reached 34.5 billion drachmas.
In the main market, advancers led decliners by 128 to 105 with another 22
issues remaining unchanged.
Heliofin, Zampa, Euromedica and Lampsa scored the biggest gains, reaching
the upper volatility limit, while Alkar, Xylemporia, Demetriades and
Benroubi suffered the heaviest losses of the day.
Alpha Credit Bank, National Bank and Commercial Bank showed the heaviest
Greece cautious over Turkish 'friendship offensive'
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday advised caution
over what he called "Ankara's love and friendship offensive" towards
Speaking at a meeting at Thessaloniki University, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
attributed the apparent change in Turkey's stance to "the climate of the
times" which, he said, was influenced by domestic developments in Turkey.
Although Turkish aggressiveness may have ups and downs, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
said, it remained "an inherent feature of the Turkish socio-economic make-
"Turkish expansionism constitutes the number one threat, and confrontation
of this threat is a top national priority," he stressed.
Commenting on the conditions Greece would set for any political dialogue
with Turkey, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the objective, framework and prospects
of such a dialogue would first have to be clarified.
Turning to what he referred to as "third parties", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
underlined that Greece would not be drawn into a political dialogue if the
conditions it set were not satisfied.
"A greater danger for Athens is to be drawn into a dialogue, the outcome of
which is prejudicial to Greece," he said.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos described Turkey as a destabilising factor in the region,
stressing that "irrespective of Turkey's European course, Greece will alone
face the brunt of Turkish aggression and shoulder responsibility for
stability in the region". Greece is in an advantageous position, he added,"
because it believes that the political and legal status in the Aegean
constitutes the basis for peaceful co-existence and rejects the escalation
of tension and threats of force."
ANA hosts meeting of national news agencies
The Athens News Agency is holding a seminar entitled "National news
agencies in the new era of communications" on May 31 and June 1, within the
framework of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies.
The seminar will be attended by executives and other senior staff of of
national news agencies from Mediterranean nations - Mauritania, Morocco,
Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Italy, Spain,
Portugal and France, as well as Greece.
To be held at the Divani Caravel Hotel, it will also be attended by
representatives of the Athens Journalists' Union, the Athens' Newspaper
Publishers' Union and ten students from Athens' University's Communications
The seminar is to be sponsored by the Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation (OTE) and its subsidiary OTEnet.
Andreas Christodoulides, general director of the ANA, will introduce the
seminar while Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas will officially
inaugurate the meeting.
Bank account to support Hellenes abroad
The Macedonia and Thrace Bank has opened an account in support of targets
pursued by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).
As has already been announced, the bank has provided space covering 540
square metres at its new administration building in Thessaloniki for SAE
offices to be established. The account number is 107001210353179-1.
Private infrastructure Programme in northern Greece
A contract on granting overall subsidisation for the management of the
Private Infrastructures Programme in Northern Greece was signed in
Thessaloniki last night by representatives of the European Commission's XVI
General Department and the company for Developing Private Infrastructures
of Northern Greece.
Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou who attended the signing of
the agreement said the programme's planning started three years ago.
She said the Programme's target was to activate private initiative in the
sector of developing and creating industrial infrastructures which will
cover the needs of the business world of Macedonia and Thrace.
The programme has a pilot character, it concerns the 1997-2001 period and
the total amount to be provided amounts to Ecu30 million, about nine
She called on the representatives of the company to show in turn confidence
to the private sector, which will take this effort in their hands in
Kaklamanis greets large delegation of expatriate Greeks
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday briefed 170 expatriate
Greeks on Greek national issues. The expatriates are being hosted in Greece
by the Expatriate Hellenism Secretariat.
Mr. Kaklamanis called on the overseas Greeks, who visited Parliament
yesterday, to intensify their efforts to inform public opinion in the
countries in which they live, in order to aid the better understanding of
He stressed that Greece is currently in "an extremely priviliged position
in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean" and can be a force for peace
and security in the region, as well as within the Black Sea Cooperation
Minister announces rescue chopper tender
Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis yesterday announced that a tender
for the purchase by the ministry of six all-weather search and rescue
helicopters would take place on June 10.
Mr. Soumakis said the procedures for the purchase were proceeding with
''complete openness'' and the unanimous agreement of all the members of the
The only criterion for awarding the contract, Soumakis said, would be the
selection of that offer which is in the best interests of the state. The
estimated cost of the helicopters is 18 billion drachmas, 75 per cent of
which will be paid from Euro pean Union funds.
The helicopters to be purchased must have a capacity for 12 passengers, a
range of 360 miles and be able to fly in winds of 45 knots.
Greek-Albanian border post reopens
The Kakavia customs post on the border with Albania re-opened yesterday
Greek authorities were forced to close the border post after a shootout
between two rival gangs occurred at a close distance on the Albanian side
of the border. The reasons for the shootout, which resulted to the injury
of one Albanian policeman, are un known.
Greek police and customs officials warned that they would close down the
customs post if gunfire was recorded.
IOC delegate: Athens as host city would promote Olympic spirit
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Napoleon Munoz Pena, from the
Dominican Republic, yesterday concluded his visit to Athens and planted the
fourth olive tree at the Athens Olympic Park.
Each visiting IOC member plants an olive tree, the branches of which will
be used to make wreaths for the winners of the 2004 Olympic Games if Athens
hosts the event.
"I am deeply moved and I cannot hide it, because what you are doing here at
the Olympic Park upgrades the Olympic movement, and I believe that Greece,
through organising the Olymp ic Games, can bring it back to its roots," he
Sunny and hot weather is forecast throughout Greece today. Winds will be
northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will
be sunny with moderate northerly winds and temperatures between 18-30C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15-29C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.032
Pound sterling 442.432 Cyprus pd 532.109
French franc 46.995 Swiss franc 186.675
German mark 158.204 Italian lira (100) 16.058
Yen (100) 227.535 Canadian dlr. 194.432
Australian dlr. 210.091 Irish Punt 409.696
Belgian franc 7.666 Finnish mark 52.530
Dutch guilder 140.710 Danish kr. 41.569
Swedish kr. 35.279 Norwegian kr. 38.271
Austrian sch. 22.484 Spanish peseta 1.876
Port. Escudo 1.571