Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-14
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 14/02/1998 (ANA)
- Farmer protests bloc highways
- 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
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Farmer protests bloc highways
Farmers protesting the government's agricultural policy today used their
tractors to completely block the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway at Tempe,
At 6 am local time, the farmers closed the last traffic lane which had
remained open since yesterday afternoon, enabling a steady trickle of
traffic but causing long queues.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga is due to
visit the protesting farmers at the Tempe roadblock today.
Speaking earlier to farmers in Thessaloniki, Papariga said "the struggle to
defend farmers' rights must be a single one, coordinated from Evros to
Papariga added that the people's problems originated from the policy
dictated by "European centres" and implemented by successive Greek
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and a government delegation was
meanwhile meeting with representatives of farmers' federations in the
Macedonia and Thrace region today.
Farmers agreeing to the meeting said they would block roads in northern
Greece for the duration of the meeting.
At noon tomorrow, representatives of farmers' coordinating committees will
meet at Tempe to discuss developments.
Farmers have stepped up their protests after the government on Thursday
refused to satisfy their demands for crop subsidies, lower interest rates
on loans, cheaper fuel and an end to legal action against farmers charged
in last year's demonstrations.
Simitis addresses conference on ideology
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday 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
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 yesterday's opening session, National Defence Minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos underlined the need for dialogue between Socialist parties
Albania's Alia in Thessaloniki for operation
Albania's former and last communist president Ramiz Alia arrived in
Thessaloniki yesterday 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
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
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 yesterday 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
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
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 yesterday 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, yesterday 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 yesterday 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.
Partial cloudy weather in the eastern and northern parts of the country and
spring-like weather for the rest of Greece is expected today. Winds
northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong expected to subside by
tomorow. Athens will be partly clouded with temperatures between 8-15C.
Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-13C.
Firday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.012
Pound sterling 466.617 Cyprus pd 533.379
French franc 46.709 Swiss franc 194.784
German mark 156.577 Italian lira (100) 15.860
Yen (100) 227.604 Canadian dlr. 198.400
Australian dlr. 191.813 Irish Punt 392.118
Belgian franc 7.587 Finnish mark 51.604
Dutch guilder 138.905 Danish kr. 41.087
Swedish kr. 35.168 Norwegian kr. 37.676
Austrian sch. 22.254 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.531