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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 06/01/1998 (ANA)


  • Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with blessing of waters
  • Turkish jetfighters violate airspace on religious holiday
  • Defence Minister comments on airspace violations
  • Turkey accountable to int'l community, Defence Minister says
  • Thousands of Kurds on Turkish shores waiting to migrate
  • Syrian illegal immigrants arrested on Crete
  • Tsovolas undergoes heart surgery, said in "excellent condition"
  • Hellenistic tombs uncovered on Mytilene
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with blessing of waters

The Epiphany holy day, celebrated on the 12th day after Christmas in commemoration of the revealing of Jesus as the Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi at Bethlehem, was celebrated throughout Greece today with the consecration of the waters.

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis attended the Epiphany liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus, officiated by Metropolitan Kallinikos.

After the service, the congregation went to Akti Miaouli from where the Metropolitan tossed a cross into the waters for the consecration of the waters.

The ceremony was also attended by former President Christos Sartzetakis, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Political Spring leader Abntonis Samaras, the country's military leadership, and a group of foreign ambassadors accreditted to Athens, headed by U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns.

The officials were greeted by Piraeus Mayor Stelios Logothetis and Prefect Christos Fotiou, while Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis greeted the President.

In Athens, Bishop Pavlos delivered the Epiphany liturgy at the St. Dionussios Church in Kolonaki followed by the blessing of the waters in Dexameni Square.

The services were attended by Public Order Minister George Romaios, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and MPs from the political parties represented in Parliament.

In Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Panteleimon officiated over the liturgy, attended by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzo0poulos, city Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos, Prefect Kostas Papadopoulos and several MPs.

The cross was retrieved from the waters of the Thermaic Gulf by 24-year-old private sector employee Sotiris Mechilis.

Turkish jetfighters violate airspace on religious holiday

A formation of eight Turkish warplanes violated Greek air space over the island of Lesvos early today as Greece celebrated Epiphany, Defence Ministry sources said.

"This is the second time that the Turkish airforce is carrying out provocations during a religious holiday in violation of an agreement to refrain from such actions during religious holidays and anniversaries," the sources said, recalling that Turkish warplanes did the same during Christmas.

The sources added that the Turkish F-16s infringed air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Informatrion (FIR) region north and south of Lesvos island in the eastern Aegean and on 14 occasions violated Greek airspace in the area over the islands of Psara, Chios and Oenousses.

In both cases the Turkish jetfighters were intercepted by Greek airforce Mirage-2000, F-l6 and F-1 fighters and on two occasions the interceptions developed into aerial dogfights, the sources said.

The violations "were not related to an ongoing major Turkish military exercise in the Aegean," the sources added.

"The Greek armed forces are cautiously monitoring the exercise and will take all necessary measures if the manoeuvres are carried out in unauthorised Greek areas," Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said on Saturday .

Defence Minister comments on airspace violations

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said today that "it is not possible that such an impressive dimension is attempted to be given each time to the military manoeuvres Turkey wishes to carry out in the Aegean".

"Greece guarantees that the Aegean is a region open to air and sea navigation, provided international law and the international treaties are adhered to," he said, adding that "every movement made in the Aegean must comply with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which are in effect in Greece's Flight Information Region (FIR)."

Tsohatzopoulos said that "the tension being created, regardless of whether there were or are manoeuvres being held by Turkey, serves no purpose".

"Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, several Turkish aircraft, which were not taking part in exercises, once again attempted infringements (of the FIR) and violations (of Greek airspace), an event which, although of an ongoing nature, particularly on a day such as this do harm to the mutually agreed stance of respecting major religious holidays," Tsohatzopoulos added.

Turkey accountable to int'l community, Defence Minister says

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today said that Turkey was accountable to the international community for its stance that was undermining peace and security in the region.

"Turkey is accountable to the international community for its overall stance, with which it dynamites peace and stability in the region, and consequently it cannot demand that the European countries should turn a blind eye," the Minister said in Thessaloniki.

He deplored Turkey's attitude on the issue of the Kurds and also on the infringements of the Athens FIR and violations of Greek airspace that took place today on the Orthodox religious holiday of the Epiphany, in contravention of the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement.

In 1988, the then foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz respectively, during a meeting in the seaside resort town of Vouliagmeni, near Athens, reached a "memorandum agreement" to promote confidence-building measures between the two countries on the principle of good-neighbourliness.

The agreement included respect of each others' major religious holidays.

The Turkish stance, Tsohatzopoulos added, "confirmed how right the European Union was in placing certain conditions on Turkey, which it must satisfy in order to be able to approach Europe".

He also said a political solution needed to be given to the Kurdish issue by the Ankara government.

"It has once again been confirmed how right the EU was when it placed certain conditions on Turkey, which it must meet in order to approach the level of Europe. And it has also been confirmed that those conditions are not being adhered to," Tsohatzopoulos said.

In recent days, he added, "all of Europe has been dominated by one problem. The uncontrolled illegal entry of thousands of Kurds, reflecting just how acute the problem is in Turkey".

"The Kurdish problem, which cannot be solved by military means, requres a political solution," Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that "Turkey's inability to solve it has led to this exodus of thousands of people, who are fleeing to various countries in Europe."

He said the Europeans "are taking the initiative to call on Turkey to solve the issue, and Turkey must realise that it cannot possibly ask that the European countries ignore international law, in effect adopting an attitude similar to Ankara's ".

"On the contrary, Turkey is accountable for proving that it has finally learned to respect human rights, human freedoms. And this is why, today, it is the focal point of criticism from all the European countries, confirming the need for Turkey to adapt to the conditions set out by the EU for its prospect in relation to Europe," Tsohatzopoulos said.

He was speaking to the Union of Journalists of Thessaloniki-Thrace at the cutting of the union's New Year pitta (pie).

Thousands of Kurds on Turkish shores waiting to migrate

Thousands of Kurds are clustered on the Turkish shores waiting to be transported illegally to Greece and Italy, a group of Iraqi Kurd illegal immigrants arrested today on the island of Samos in the eastern Aegean told police.

Samos police today arrested a group of 11 Iraqi Kurds left off at the Galazio region of Samos by Turkish boat-runners, who immediately fled the area and escaped arrest.

Police said the illegal immigrants had told them there were thousands of Kurds gathered on the Turkish shores waiting to be transported to Greece and Italy.

Syrian illegal immigrants arrested on Crete

A group of 14 illegal Syrian immigrants were arrested by a coastguard patrol shortly after landing at an isolated coast on the island of Crete early today.

Harbour authorities told ANA that the Syrians disembarked at the Goudoura region near Sitia from a 12-metre tugboat which had no name or flag.

The Syrians, who spoke Greek, told the authorities that they had sailed from the Syrian port of Tartush and that they had paid the tugboat's skipper 2,000 US dollars each.

Meanwhile, the Greek coastguard has intensified its patrols in the regions around the Dodecanese islands facing the Turkish Anatolian coast following tip-offs that Turkish smugglers would try to transport hundreds of illegal Kurdish immigrants to the Greek islands.

Tsovolas undergoes heart surgery, said in "excellent condition"

Dimitris Tsovolas, leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) underwent heart by-pass surgery today at the George Papanicolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki and was said to be in excellent condition.

The quadruple by-pass operation was conducted at the hospital's cardiosurgery centre by a team of surgeons headed by Professor Panayotis Spyrou, a close friend of Tsovolas.

Press sources said the 55-year-old Tsovolas, who was admitted into hospital on Monday, had suffered a heart attack shortly before Christmas.

Professor Spyrou said that Tsovolas was in "excellent condition" after the one hour and 45 minute procedure.

He described the procedure as a "routine operation", adding that damage in the coronary arteries had been fully restored, and the prognosis was full recovery and complete return to a normal life for Tsovolas.

The patient would remain in the intensive care unit for monitoring for the next 24-48 hours, and in about 10 days "he will be ready to return to his duties".

Hellenistic tombs uncovered on Mytilene

Approximately 10 tombs dating to the Hellenistic Period have been uncovered two kilometres south of the northern exit of the city of Mytilene on Mytilene island, it was announced today.

The tombs, including a monolotihic sarcophagus made of local stone found next to a monument, were uncovered during the digging of a road to link Mytilene city with the town of Panagiouda.

A similar tomb had been uncovered two years ago about 200 metres to the north. Both are in the vicinity of the ancient Moria quarry dating to the Hellenistic-Roman period.

Archaeologists believe the tombs belong to farming familieis wh lived outside the walls of Mytilene city in the Helleistic-Roman period, whose way of life was detailed in the 2nd century AD pastoral romance "Daphnis and Chloe" by Longus.


Cloudiness with scattered showers in most parts of the country, mostly in Macedonia, Thrace and the eastern Aegean Sea. Winds moderate westerly- southwesterly turning to northwesterly in the evening in the west and north of the country. Athens will be overcast with spells of sunshine. Thessaloniki overcast with rain in the afternoon.


Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.129 Pound sterling 467.153 Cyprus pd 535.978 French franc 46.848 Swiss franc 192.974 German mark 156.805 Italian lira (100) 15.952 Yen (100) 213.588 Canadian dlr. 199.571 Australian dlr. 183.446 Irish Punt 401.760 Belgian franc 7.602 Finnish mark 51.812 Dutch guilder 139.118 Danish kr. 41.180 Swedish kr. 35.567 Norwegian kr. 38.440 Austrian sch. 22.295 Spanish peseta 1.852 Port. Escudo 1.532


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