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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-15

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 15/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 military service.

At the same time however, Amnesty expressed serious reservations about the duration of alternative service which conscientious objectors would have to complete.

The government on Sunday announced the final arrangements contained in new legislation aimed at resolving the problem of draft-dodgers abroad and conscientious objectors.

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 May.

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 1.24 percent.

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 turnover.

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 Athens.

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- up".

"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 School.

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 billion drachmas.

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 undertaking programmes.

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 Greek positions.

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 countries.

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 evaluation committee.

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 afternoon.

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 said.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.P.)


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