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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-13

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, 13/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Second round of talks between farmers, gov't set
  • Simitis addresses conference on ideology
  • Albania's Alia in Thessaloniki for operation
  • Olympic Airways should be sold off - opposition
  • Man arrested in drug, arms swoop
  • Earth tremor shakes Rhodes
  • Israeli envoy reacts angrily to anti-Semitic statement
  • Iordanescu takes over Greek national soccer team
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Second round of talks between farmers, gov't set

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and a government delegation will have a second meeting with protesting farmers tomorrow at midday to try and avert an escalation of protest action.

Tzoumakas will meet with representatives of farmers' federations in the Macedonia and Thrace region; farmers groups belonging to the Pan-Thessaly Coordinating Committee, however, will not be participating.

The meeting was decided earlier today, on Tzoumakas's request. Farmers agreeing to the meeting said they would block national roads in northern Greece for the duration of the meeting.

Talks between the government and farmers on Thursday failed to make any headway on demands for crop subsidies, decreased interest rates on loans, cheaper fuel and an end to court action against several farmers charged in last year's demonstrations.

Farmers have set up tractors along the sides of major roads in central and northern Greece for the past two weeks to press their demands.

Traffic on the Athens-Thessaloniki national road has been disrupted by a farmers blockade at the Malgaron junction.

Simitis addresses conference on ideology

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today addressed a conference organised by his ruling PASOK party on the subject of "Socialism and Democracy in Europe in the 21st Century", describing it as an exploratory meeting aimed at "finding possible replies to the questions being raised by the new reality".

Simitis said that this was precisely the source of PASOK's strength, since the party was aware that "new roads" were needed and was working to build them, rejecting the idea that the end had come for ideologies and visions and that there was a crisis and stagnation in progressive thought.

Also addressing today's opening session, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos underlined the need for dialogue between Socialist parties and society.

Albania's Alia in Thessaloniki for operation

Albania's former and last communist president Ramiz Alia arrives in Thessaloniki tonight to undergo open-heart surgery following a heart attack two weeks ago.

Alia's travelling expenses have been paid for by an anonymous benefactor, identified only as a Thessaloniki businessman, due to the former Albanian strongman's dire financial straits.

Alia, 72, has been in intensive care in an Albanian hospital since his heart attack two weeks ago.

Panayiotis Spyrou, the director of the cardiology unit at the George Papanikolaou hospital in Thessaloniki, will oversee Alia's care. Spyrou last month headed a team of surgeons conducting a quadruple bypass on Dimitris Tsovolas, the leader of Greece's opposition party Democratic Social Movement.

Alia, who took power following the death of Stalinist Enver Hoxha in 1985, was sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence in 1992 for abuse of power and violation of the people's rights. He was later freed by an appeal court ruling only to be rearrested and charged with killing or ordering the deportation of dissidents who tried to flee the country illegally.

He escaped from jail along with hundreds of others during an armed uprising in March last year and was finally cleared of all charges in October.

Olympic Airways should be sold off - opposition

Olympic Airways, Greece's ailing national carrier, should be privatised immediately, Greece's main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis said today.

Karamanlis, speaking after meetings with the carrier's management and workers, said the future of the company was in the balance and the blame for the predicament lay with the government.

"We need bold answers if Olympic is to be able to compete, guarantee jobs and provide a high level of service," he said.

OA needs investors who will submit detailed business plans, bolster the company's competitive edge and implement worker relations based on standards prevailing in other major airlines, Karamanlis said, adding that the company must be overseen by an independent authority.

The government's revitalisation programme for the national carrier has failed and the 700 billion drachmas cost is now being borne by the Greek taxpayer, Karamanlis said. The failure of the first programme, he added, did not bode well for any further attempts to reform the state carrier.

Man arrested in drug, arms swoop

A Greek radiologist assistant was arrested early this morning after police found arms, explosives and narcotics in his car which they had chased near Kolpaki, near the border with Albania in northern Greece.

The man was identified as George Antonopoulos, 34, from Rododaphne, Aegio. The police are also looking for an Albanian accomplice, known only by the name of Roberto, who was with Antonopoulos in the car but managed to escape.

In the car, police found two kilos of hashish, 17 hand grenades, one Kalashnikov assault rifle, four Kalashnikov magazines, 135 bullets, one revolver, 35 metres of slow-burning fuse, 10 kilos of TNT and approximately 200 detonators.

Antonopoulos claimed he did not know that the Albanian whom he picked up at the border was carrying arms.

A search of his house in Aegio revealed 2.5 kilos of hashish.

Earth tremor shakes Rhodes

A strong earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook the Dodecanese islands in the southeastern Aegean this morning, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

According to the Athens Observatory, the quake, recorded at 9:20 local time, came from a distance of 460 kilometres southeast of Athens, with its epicentre in the sea region east of the island of Rhodes.

Israeli envoy reacts angrily to anti-Semitic statement

Israel's Ambassador in Athens, Ran Curiel, today responded angrily to recent statements by Greek popular singer Stelios Kazantzidis who attributed what he claims to be his shabby treatment by record companies to "a Jewish conspiracy".

Curiel said such statements were reminiscent of "dark periods" of the past and should have no part in our lives today.

He added that the majority of Greece's Jewish population was wiped out in the Second World War as a result of such ideas and expressed certainty that Greek public opinion knew how to distance itself from such statements.

Kazantzidis made the statement in the midst of a bitter legal battle with his former friend, popular songwriter Christos Nikolopoulos, over which of the two composed a number of songs credited to the latter.

Iordanescu takes over Greek national soccer team

Romanian coach Anghel Iordanescu today signed a two-year contract to take over as coach of Greece's national soccer team in mid-July immediately after the World Cup finals in France.

Until then, Iordanescu will stay on as coach of the Romanian team.

Under the contract, Iordanescu will receive 300,000 dollars annually and a bonus of 250,000 dollars if Greece qualifies for the finals of the European Championships in 2000.

In addition, the Greek Soccer Federation (EPO) has undertaken other commitments including payment of tax dues, home rent, car and insurance for Iordanescu and his family.

EPO has retained the right to unilaterally renew the coach's contract for a futher two years.

WEATHER

Spring-like weather with rising temperatures continues today in most parts of Greece. Partly cloudy in the north. Winds northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-18C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-16C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.674 Pound sterling 466.597 Cyprus pd 534.291 French franc 46.850 Swiss franc 195.766 German mark 157.034 Italian lira (100) 15.911 Yen (100) 231.820 Canadian dlr. 197.844 Australian dlr. 193.643 Irish Punt 394.221 Belgian franc 7.610 Finnish mark 51.749 Dutch guilder 139.331 Danish kr. 41.216 Swedish kr. 35.137 Norwegian kr. 37.795 Austrian sch. 22.320 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.536

(M.P.)


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