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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 03/01/1998 (ANA)


  • Athens calls for concerted European action on refugees
  • Search for missing illegal immigrants continues in Evros river
  • Turkey to protest Aegean shipping inspections
  • Athens denies harassment of Turkish vessels in the Aegean
  • President on official visit to India
  • Two killed in Xanthi papermill blast
  • New Coast Guard speedboat to fend-off smugglers in the Ionian Sea
  • Declassified Foreign Office documents on Greek junta
  • CD set features works by Greek composers
  • EU-funded development programme for Aegean rock-islets
  • First instance court decision on Distos sinking
  • Greek equities make hesitant 1998 debut
  • Olympic Airways board chairman resigns
  • Programme to aid repatriated Greeks of Drama prefecture
  • Pensioners, wage earners the hardest hit taxpayers
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange rates


    Athens calls for concerted European action on refugees

    Greece yesterday called for coordinated action on the part of Schengen Pact member-states to deal with the causes of the large-scale illegal immigration of Kurds into western Europe.

    "The increase in the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe, particularly to EU countries, is a phenomenon which has become acute over the last few months, causing concern and mobilising interest P beyond the governmental level P of EU organs and of Schen gen," the foreign ministry's Secretary- General, Stelios Perrakis, told ANA yesterday.

    "Recent events, particularly the arrival of about 1,200 Kurdish refugees in Italy onboard Turkish ships, confirm what the Greek side has repeatedly stressed at a high political level in the EU and in the Schengen system, that the issue cannot be dealt with through increased police measures and stricter control of external borders (sea, air or land).

    "What is required now is international action on the part of Schengen countries and on the causes of the problem, namely, the aggressive Turkish military activity in northern Iraq on one hand, and Ankara's policy of not controlling or restricting and even tolerating the flow of Iraqi refugees through its territory westwards," said Mr. Perrakis.

    However, the UN High Commissioner's representative for refugees in Greece, Marion Hoffman, said yesterday that few stay in Greece, and most move on to another European country. People requesting asylum are only a small percentage of the illegal immigrants, she said.

    Search for missing illegal immigrants continues in Evros river

    As international attention appeared to be focusing on the problem, three Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin were reported missing and presumed drowned in the Evros River, on the Greek-Turkish border. The missing two women and a small boy were among a group of 28 illegal immigrants being transported by a Turkish smuggler to the region of Didimotiho late on New Year's Eve, police said.

    The illegal immigrants were ferried across the river in groups of five. The missing women and the boy were among the second group, with another child and a man. Police said the man managed to save one of his children, but his wife, his other child and another woman disappeared downstream when the boat overturned.

    A Greek military patrol in the area heard the calls for help and rushed to the scene. A rescue operation was launched by the army and local fishermen, who picked up the rest of the immigrants beseiged on the islet from rising waters.

    Authorities said they were holding a total of 125 Iraqi illegal immigrants at the Didimotiho police station, including the 25 picked up from the islet yesterday.

    Turkey to protest Aegean shipping inspections

    Turkey's leadership is considering an official protest for alleged harassement of vessels emerging from the Dardanelles by the Greek Navy, according to turkish television reports.

    The reports claimed that the Greek warships refused to identify themselves, and left their stations on the arrival of Turkish warships, put on alert after calls by the captains of the harrassed vessels, the reports further claimed.

    They quoted Turkish diplomats as saying the incident came at a time of high tension between Athens and Ankara over Turkey's plans to carry out military exercises in the Aegean over the next few days.

    According to other Turkish press reports, the country's armed forces will carry out an eight-phase maneouvre in the region between Jan. 2-25, while the Greek forces will launch a four-day exercise on Jan. 19.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish daily "Milliyet", under the headline "Greek Piracy in the Aegean", also referred to a statement by a senior Turkish foreign ministry official that Greece could be trying to underline that the Aegean's international waters belonged to Athens alone.

    "If this is true, then Greece should change its stance at once, since Turkey has warned the international public that it considers such a position a cause for war," the official was quoted as saying.

    Athens denies harassment of Turkish vessels in the Aegean

    The National Defence Ministry late Thursday night denied a Turkish press report alleging that Greek warships had "challenged" two Turkish cargo vessels in the Aegean's international waters early Thursday.

    Defence ministry sources told ANA that a Hellenic Navy gunboat had been carrying out a "routine patrol in the area, following a tip that a ship was planning to land 2,000 illegal immigrants on the Greek shores in the region."

    The same sources rejected Turkish press reports that two Greek warships attempted to inspect merchant vessels nine nautical miles off the Dardanelles Straits, flashing lights at them and asking them to identify their ports of origin and destination.

    Greece has recently been flooded by hundreds of illegal immigrants ferried across from Turkey.

    President on official visit to India

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit to India January 12-18 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Kocheril Raman Narayanan, it was announced yesterday.

    He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas.

    Two killed in Xanthi papermill blast

    Two people were killed and four injured in an explosion at the "Diana" papermill near Xanthi, early this morning.

    28-year-old equipment opperator Stephanos Draskidis was killed instantly when a boiler exploded at 5.25 am, sending pieces of metal at great distances. Electrician Theophanis Kamiloglou was severely wounded in the blast and died later, while being trasported to hospital. Another four workers of the papermill, located at the village of Maggana in the prefecture of Xanthi, were treated at the local hospital for burns.

    The explosion caused a fire which took several hours to bring under control. According to early estimates the damage to the factory is in the 10ths of millions of drachmas.

    New Coast Guard speedboat to fend-off smugglers in the Ionian Sea

    A state-of-the-art 40-foot patrol boat capable of achieving speeds of up to 60 nautical miles is scouring the Ionian as of yesterday as part of the Igoumenitsa port authority's force.

    The new speedboat will patrol the sea region between Igoumenitsa-Corfu and the Albanian coast around-the-clock, to fend off a rising tide of people smuggling and raids to property by the Albanian mafia.

    Declassified Foreign Office documents on Greek junta

    Newly released British Foreign Office documents apparently shed light on the thoughts behind Britain's policy toward Greece at the beginning of the 1967 Greek military dictatorship.

    At the time, Britain's leadership considered its reaction to the junta, accoding to the documents.

    According to official document CAB 129 P declassified after a 30-year statute of limitations expired P Britain pondered the policy of Denmark and Norway, namely, publicly denouncing the junta and suspending diplomatic relations. British leadership, howe ver, deemed that such a course would have created problems in communication with Greece, especially over the Cyprus issue.

    The alternative, which was finally adopted, was to keep channels of communication open at a low governmental level, although arms sales would cease and high-level contacts between the two countries would be suspended.

    Then British Foreign Minister Michael Stewart decided to propose the second alternative to the cabinet, since it better represented British interests in the area, according to the released documents.

    CD set features works by Greek composers

    A luxury set of five CDs with works by the most noted Greek composers has been issued by the Centre of Modern Music Research with funding by the National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA).

    The issue is entitled "From the Greek Music Vanguard of the 20th Century."

    All five CDs include works 34 Greek composers, such as Yiannis Xenakis, Yiannis Christou, Argyris Kounadis, Mihalis Adamis and Dimitris Mitropoulos. Athens News Agency

    EU-funded development programme for Aegean rock-islets

    The Aegean ministry yesterday announced a 400-million-drachma "Tour Through the Aegean" development programme for several rock-islets in the eastern Aegean.

    Funding will reportedly become available through the European Union's "Interreg II" programme and will include rock-islets that are part of "Natura 2000," another EU environmental protection programme.

    Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoe said plans include the building of primary port facilities, small buildings, bird watching facilities, etc.

    This programme is envisioned to boost alternative low-impact tourism in the eastern Aegean, protect wildlife and facilitate research.

    First instance court decision on Distos sinking

    A Piraeus court yesterday ordered a restraining order on 322 million drachmas worth of AGET Iraklis' financial assets in order to cover possible liabilities emanating from last year's sinking of the freighter "Distos".

    The vessel belonged to Iraklis shipping firm, a subsidiary of the AGET cement company. It sank last year, taking with it all but one of its crewmembers and family members of the crew.

    The first instance court has already awarded 17 million drachmas to relatives of three of the maritime disaster's victims.

    The shipping firm, in an press release, stated that the cement-carrying vessel was properly maintained according to existing safety regulations.

    Greek equities make hesitant 1998 debut

    Greek equities traded narrowly yesterday to end with fractional gains during the first session of 1998 on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said investors remained sidelined extending their New Year's holiday ahead of the weekend.

    The general index closed 0.19 percent higher at 1,482.41 points with sector indices mixed.

    Banks fell 0.09 percent, Insurance rose 1.79 percent, Leasing dropped 0.39 percent, Investment ended 0.21 percent, Constructions surged 2.04 percent, Industrials eased 0.38 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.30 percent up and Holding rose 1.03 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies gained 1.63 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 0.13 percent higher at 846.99 points.

    Olympic Airways board chairman resigns

    Emmanuel Fthenakis yesterday submitted his resignation as chairman of the board of the national carrier, Olympic Airways.

    In a letter of resignation addressed to Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Mr. Fthenakis cited, inter alia, his bitterness that New Democracy MPs on the relevant parliamentary committee that approved his nomination had not voted for him, according to reliable sources

    Mr. Fthenakis was first appointed to the board in 1993 under the then New Democracy government of prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis. He was approved for a second term recently by the relevent Parliamentary committee.

    In the committee, ruling PASOK representatives voted in favour of Mr. Fthenakis, New Democracy MPs abstained, the Coalition of Left and Progress cast blank ballots and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) represent atives voted against him.

    "...Nothing has changed in Greece," Mr. Fthenakis was quoted by the sources as writing in his letter.

    Ministry sources said a new chairman of the board would be selected between January 10-20.

    Programme to aid repatriated Greeks of Drama prefecture

    The Hellenic Organisation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Craftsmen (EOMMEX) and the Society of Repatriated Greeks of Drama Prefecture are participating in the European Union programme "Enterprise and Employment".

    The programme will financially aid and offer technical expertise to enterprises founded by repatriated Black Sea Greeks (Pontians).

    The programme includes such services as a reception centre, which will provide information on market and state regulations as well as employment and business orientation.

    Pensioners, wage earners the hardest hit taxpayers

    Pensioners and wage earners provided the lion's share of the 1997 taxes, according to finance ministry statistics.

    Those two categories of taxpayers buffered the national budget by 56.8 per cent as opposed to 55 per cent in 1996. The increase is due to the fact that there has been on price indexation on taxes for several years. The government introduced a 5.5 per ce nt price indexation on taxes for 1998.

    The average declared income in 1997 was 2,927,024 drachmas per taxpayer and the median tax slice was 201,138 drachmas, an 22.4 per cent increase.


    Cloud for most of the country, increased over the island of Crete with the chance of showers early in the day. Local fog is also forecast for the early morning. Light to moderate easterly winds. Athens will be overcast, 8- 14 degrees centigrade. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with reduced visibility in the morning and temperatures 4-11C.

    Foreign exchange rates

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.621 Pound sterling 463.700 Cyprus pd 534.688 French franc 46.872 Swiss franc 192.656 German mark 156.805 Italian lira (100) 15.955 Yen (100) 214.371 Canadian dlr. 197.805 Australian dlr. 183.748 Irish Punt 402.117 Belgian franc 7.603 Finnish mark 51.763 Dutch guilder 139.123 Danish kr. 41.182 Swedish kr. 35.520 Norwegian kr. 38.252 Austrian sch. 22.290 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.535


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