Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-29
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 29/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece plays down significance of Turkish exercises
- US Ambassador: support for Greek initiative for Kosovo
- Europarliament president visiting Greece
- Turkish ship remains grounded off Kos
- Ukrainian airliner impounded pending compensation
- US Sixth Fleet flagship in Thessaloniki
- Brazilian woman arrested with cocaine
- Foreigners arrested for burglaries
- Simitis rejects criticism over Olympics committee composition
- Interbank rates drop on Bank of Greece intervention
- Government determined to restructure public enterprises
- Greek tourism industry cautiously optimistic on 1998 outlook
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece plays down significance of Turkish exercises
The Greek government today downplayed the significance of new military
exercises in the Aegean announced by Turkey, saying that Ankara had also
announced exercises for January which eventually had not taken place.
Replying to reporters' questions, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
added that Greece's Civil Aviation Authority would issue the relevant
Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) for those cases in which the Turkish exercises
conformed to "the situation prevailing in the region" and were in
accordance with the rules of international law.
Otherwise, the spokesman implied, NOTAMs will not be issued and the
respective areas will be declared dangerous for civil aviation.
US Ambassador: support for Greek initiative for Kosovo
US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said today that Washington supported
all initiatives by Athens aimed at defusing tension in Serbia's troubled
province of Kosovo.
Burns was speaking in Thessaloniki where he had talks this morning with
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Phillipos Petsalnikos.
Greece earlier this month offered to host a meeting between Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic, Albanian Premier Fatos Nano and the leader of
the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, to help resolve the Kosovo
Commenting on the Greek initiative, Burns said the Greek government had
great experience in the region "and we work with Greece to limit tension in
Kosovo and constructively with the Belgrade government to persuade it to
defuse the tension".
"We therefore support every Greek initiative which could help in this major
problem," Burns said.
The US envoy praised Greece's role in the Balkans, underlining that Athens'
"presence in Albania at a political and economic level was positive, as was
(its participation) in economic developments in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia".
Asked to comment on Turkey's continuing provocations in the Aegean, Burns
said the US was the friend of both Greece and Turkey and expressed the hope
that the two countries would be able to resolve their problems.
Burns also had talks this morning with Thessaloniki Mayor Constantine
Underlining the growing importance of Thessaloniki in the greater region,
Burns said he intended to upgrade the US consulate in the northern Greek
Europarliament president visiting Greece
European Parliament president Jose Maria Gil-Robles arrives here this
afternoon on a three-day official visit for talks with the Greek government
leadership on relations between the Europarliament and the EU member
states' national parliaments and relations between EU and Turkey,
particularly Greek-Turkish relations.
Soon after his arrival at 4:30 this afternoon, Gil-Robles will hold talks
with his host, Greek parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis and
immediately after with foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.
On Friday morning he will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, followed
by main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.
After taking part in a special sitting of the Greek Parliament's committee
on European Affairs, Gil-Robles will be received at noon by President
Gil-Robles will give a press conference at 12:30 at the Europarliament
office in Athens at 8 Amalias Avenue, after which he will attend the awards
ceremony of the European Studies 1997 Prizes of the Greek University
Association of European Studies followed by a working lunch at the foreign
ministry hosted by alternate foreign minister George papandreou.
On Friday afternoon Gil-Robles will hold separate talks with Athens Mayor
Dimitris Avramopoulos and Governor of the Bank of Greece Loucas Papademos.
He will have separate meetings later in the evening with Communist Party of
Greece secretary general Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress
leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris
Tsovolas, and Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras, and depart Athens on
Turkish ship remains grounded off Kos
A Turkish freighter remained grounded off the island of Kos for the second
day today as its captain refused assistance from Greek coast guard vessels
to refloat it, the Merchant Marine ministry said.
The "Barbaros Oktay" with a general cargo ran aground in the shallows 150
metres off the cape of Ammoglossa, of Kos while on its way to Haifa,
A Ministry spokesman told the ANA that Greek warships, coast guard vessels
and three tugboats were on stand-by near the ship awaiting orders to
''The Turkish capital said the vessel was not taking on water and that he
was trying to refloat the ship on its own,'' a Ministry spokesman said,
''but so far negotiations to have the ship refloated by a Greek tugboat
have been fruitless, as the Turkish captain refuses any assistance.''
Meanwhile, another Turkish cargo ship, the 200-ton ''Hassan Bei'', which
caught fire off the island of Evia and was adrift on Wednesday, was being
towed to the Turkish port of Izmir by a Greek tug.
The Hassan Bei's captain, ''initially refused to be towed by a Greek tug,
saying he would ask assistance from Turkey since the vessel was in
international waters, but he requested Greek assistance when gale-force
winds swept the ship into Greek waters near the island of Andros''.
Ukrainian airliner impounded pending compensation
A Ukrainian airliner impounded by the Greek authorities after a court order
asking its owners to pay compensation to relatives of a victim killed along
with 69 other persons in a crash last month remained grounded at Thessaloniki
airport for the second day today and chances for its immediate departure
The seizure of the Boeing 737, belonging to Ukrainia's Aerosweet airlines,
was ordered by a First Instance Court, moments after it landed at the
northern Greek city's Macedonia airport stranding 46 passengers who were
sceduled to fly to Odessa.
According to airport authorities, the confiscation petition was submitted
by a lawyer representing the family of a young Greek teacher, Triada
Karafiloudi, who was killed when a Russian-made Yacovlev-42 airplane
crashed into the Peoria mountain range in northern Greece on December 17,
killing all passengers and crew on board.
''The relatives are asking for the confiscation of Aerosweet's assets in
Greece, claiming that the company is resonsible for the death of the
passengers and crew,'' and airport spokesman told the ANA.
The Boeing was temporarily prohibited from leaving until February 19, when
the petition of Karafiloudi's family is heard.
The airliner's passengers spent the night at a Thessaloniki hotel "hoping
that the issue will be settled soon,'' the spokesman said, adding that
Aerosweet's lawyers ''have lodged a petition asking for revocation of the
court's confiscation order''.
US Sixth Fleet flagship in Thessaloniki
USS "La Salle", flagship for the Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, Vice
Admiral Charles Abbot, arrives in Thessaloniki on Saturday for a five-day
port of call, the first by the flagship to the northern Greek capital's
During the flagship's visit, the Sixth Fleet Commander will pay courtesy
calls on government officials and host a reception on board the La Salle,
while its crew will be taking part in civic, social and sports activities
USS La Salle assumed the role of Sixth Fleet flagship in November 1994 with
a primary mission of providing flagship support and facilities to the
Commander, Sixth Fleet. Outfitted with state-of-the-art communication and
command and control equipment, the La Salle can direct any operation or
exercise involving sea, air, land and amphibious forces, increasing the
Sixth Fleet's capability to respond to crisis and contingency operations.
Since its commissioning in 1964, USS La Salle has deployed continuously in
the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, and has engaged in
operations in the Middle East, including participation in Operations Desert
Shield and Desert Storm.
The 170-metre-long ship carries a complement of 420 enlisted men and 25
officers. It is commanded by Capt. Bruce W. Clingan.
Brazilian woman arrested with cocaine
A 22-year-old Brazilian woman was arrested today at Athens international
airport for trying to smuggle nearly 3 kilos of cocaine into the country.
The woman was identified as Luisa Bekman-Fontes (phonetic spelling), who
arrived in Athens on a VASP airline flight from Sao Paolo, Brazil.
The 2.9 kilos of cocaine was wrapped in insulating tape and concealed in a
secret compartment - specially made from silicone - in her suitcase.
According to the police, the woman took delivery of the cocaine one day
before leaving Brazil from a Nigerian drug dealer. They believe Bekman-
Fontes is a member of an international drug ring which has in the past
smuggled large quantities of narcotics not only into Greece but also into
other countries of Europe.
In cooperation with Interpol, the police are conducting an investigation to
identify the woman's accomplices both in Greece and abroad.
Foreigners arrested for burglaries
Police have arrested seven Romanians and charged them with a number of
burglaries of apartments and stores in the Attica area.
So far, the Romanians have been charged with seven burglaries, but police
are continuing their investigation as they believe the arrested have
committed other offences.
The seven were identified (phonetic spellings) as Christian Dovlek, 30,
Patricia Kopa, 28, Ion Postonigu, 48, Christian Simeon, 24, Julian Balu, 26,
Konstantin Buzor, 19 and Ion Stavig, 24.
In an unrelated case, the police arrested Italian national Antonio Romano
who, together with three compatriots who are being sought, are alleged to
have committed a number of burglaries and robberies in Attica during the
past year that they were living in Greece illegally.
A search of the apartment in which the four were staying revealed three
sawn-off shotguns, a 22-mm. pistol, ammunition for automatic weapons, hoods,
forged passports, five bullet-proof vests and a small quantity of explosive
Romano's three alleged accomplices were identified (phonetic spellings) as
Antonio Lakava, Giussepe Timacio and Ivan Delerpa.
Simitis rejects criticism over Olympics committee composition
Prime Minijster Costas Simitis yesterday dismissed as "ridiculous claims"
reports that he had received pressures from ministers regarding the
composition of the 2004 Olympic Games organising committee.
Replying to a question by main opposition New Democracy deputy Dora
Bakoyianni, the prime minister said: "I selected persons who will be able
to act in a broader perspective, and not party representatives as proposed
by ND, or people who have expressed the intention to work professionally
for the organisation of the Olympic Games." The premier also stressed that
the organisation of the Games is a national effort which does not only
concern the parliamentary majority, it concerns the whole of the Gre ek
people and cannot come under any expediency.
"The composition of the Olympic Games organising committee must not be
restricted to a specific political and social area or activity, it must be
meritocratic and fully transparent, supported by all people," he said.
Interbank rates drop on Bank of Greece intervention
The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank,yesterday intervened in the
domestic money market, draining liquidity in an effort to defend the
The central bank drained 220 billion drachmas at rates of 19 percent
pushing interbank rates substantially lower.
The overnight rate fell to 11 percent while short-term interest rates fell
to 17.5 percent from 19.5 percent on Tuesday.
Bankers reported capital inflows totalling 100 million Ecus at the
drachma's fixing after outflows totalling 400 million Ecus in the previous
The Greek currency was 0.13 percent and 0.18 percent up against the Ecu and
the DMark respectively, although it fell substantially against the US
dollar following a sharp recovery of the greenback in international
Government determined to restructure public enterprises
The Greek government will proceed with a restructuring of all loss-making
public enterprises regardless of the political cost, government spokesman
Dimitris Reppas told reporters yesterday.
Reiterating the government's determination to restructure the country's
public sector, Mr. Reppas said that the government could not stay
indifferent to a sad reality.
The government, he said, would take measures in order to improve public
enterprises' balance sheets or ensure they return back to profitability.
Greek tourism industry cautiously optimistic on 1998 outlook
Tourist arrivals and stayovers will be slightly higher in 1998 but foreign
currency revenues will remain stable, the Greek Union of Tourism Enterprises
(SETE) said yesterday.
The union's chairman Spyros Kokotos told a news conference that Greece's
tourism industry was less optimistic on 1998's outlook than the government.
He said that a rise in tourist arrivals should be attributed to stable
hotel prices at 1994 levels.
Mr. Kokotos urged both the government and the industry to stay alert and
not rely on a slight improvement in statistics.
The chairman of Greek tourism enterprises criticised the government's new
development law for not fully acknowledging the needs of a developing
tourism policy. He called the new measures insufficient.
SETE proposed higher spending in promoting Greek tourism abroad stressing
that Greece spended less in advertising compared to other competitors, like
Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Portugal and Spain.
Cloudiness, brief showers and sleet in the mountainous regions is forecast
for Greece today. Winds northerly, northwesterly, light to moderate,
turning strong in the southeastern Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with
spells of sunshine and temeperatures between 2-9C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-7C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.158
Pound sterling 464.335 Cyprus pd 535.680
French franc 46.932 Swiss franc 193.842
German mark 157.257 Italian lira (100) 15.942
Yen (100) 226.474 Canadian dlr. 194.511
Australian dlr. 192.349 Irish Punt 393.943
Belgian franc 7.622 Finnish mark 51.951
Dutch guilder 139.535 Danish kr. 41.285
Swedish kr. 35.442 Norwegian kr. 37.920
Austrian sch. 22.361 Spanish peseta 1.856
Port. Escudo 1.537