Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-05
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 05/07/1998 (ANA)
- PM welcomes swift action by firefighters in forest blazes
- Minoan Lines ferry runs aground, no injuries
- Police make arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants
- Greece backs Rugova, Kosovo self-administration
- Government endorses bill to deregulate electricity market
- Supreme Court rejects unfair dismissal appeal over politics
- Turkish patrol boat briefly enters Greek waters off Imia
- Greece soon to join EMU, PM says
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
PM welcomes swift action by firefighters in forest blazes
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Sunday that firefighters and the
military had moved fast to put out forest fires that swept across the
country, killing an elderly woman.
Firefighters extinguished 161 blazes out of around 180 that broke out on
Saturday; ten were still raging and nine were under partial control,
An elderly woman died in one of the fires on the island of Salamina on
Saturday night, west of Athens. Some homes and thousands of acres of forest
and farm land have been devastated.
Simitis attributed the spate of fires mainly to high temperatures at the
tail end of a heatwave and high winds that fanned the flames.
Police are also investigating whether arson was to blame for some of the
The prime minister, who was speaking in Lamia at the end of a two-day visit
to the prefecture of Phthiotida, reminded local authorities and the public
that they too were responsible for safety and fire prevention measures.
Minoan Lines ferry runs aground, no injuries
A high-speed ferry owned by Minoan Lines, which was carrying about 500
passengers and 195 vehicles, ran aground in shallow waters between Corfu
and Albania at 2:10 on Sunday morning. No injuries were reported.
The "Pasifai" was making its maiden voyage from Igoumenitsa to the Italian
port of Ancona.
It was towed to Corfu at about 5:30 am. Passengers awaited embarkation on
Police make arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants
Police on Saturday arrested four Greeks in the north of the country for
allegedly picking up tens of illegal immigrants near the Turkish border in
order to transport them to Athens for a fee.
The immigrants - 23 Pakistanis, 22 Bangladeshis and one Indian - were
riding in a truck near the town of Alexandroupolis when a police squad
specialising in illegal border entries stopped the vehicle and arrested its
driver, Harilaos Agapidis, 24, an office worker from Thessaloniki.
After a car chase, they arrested Agapidis' three alleged accomplices in two
automobiles whose job was to alert Agapidis of any police surveillance on
The immigrants told police in Alexandroupoli during questioning that they
had paid a man in Turkey called Ali 92,000 dollars to cross the border into
They were then due to pay Agapidis 3,500 dollars for the truck ride to
Athens, police said.
The alleged accomplices were identified as Ilias Nikolaidis, 46, a merchant,
and Pashalis Tziras, 40, a driver, both from Didymotiho; and Dimitra
Kondokolia, 31, from Athens.
Police impounded the three vehicles. The arrested Greeks and the immigrants
are due to appear before Alexandroupoli's public prosecutor to hear
Greece backs Rugova, Kosovo self-administration
Greece on Friday placed full backing behind Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim
Rugova, and called on Yugoslavia to agree to full self-administration for
its troubled Kosovo province.
It also criticised Western efforts for rapprochement with the Kosovo
Liberation Army, which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, in statements in Thessaloniki,
urged Rugova to "proceed directly with the establishment of a government".
He also called on Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to proceed to an
"agreed, integral self-administration for Kosovo", reiterating that Greece
was "opposed to Kosovo independence or self-determination".
Addressing newly-graduated cadets of the Military School, Tsohatzopoulos
said, regarding the KLA, that "those who use violence and terrorism to
advance human rights are not useful, and on the contrary compromise those
who have doings with them, unless they (the latter) have secured a
commitment (from the former) to refrain from the use of violence and
Tsohatzopoulos stressed that Greece's position on the Kosovo problem was
"crystal clear", adding that the crisis could not be solved through
military means but in a "political, peaceful, diplomatic" manner by
granting "the broadest possible autonomy to Kosovo".
He said Greece "fully supports Mr. Rugova to proceed directly in forming
integrated institutional support".
"We believe that, in tandem with the commencement of peace talks, Rugova
should be supported by the international public opinion to proceed directly
in the establishment of a government, institutions, infrastructures and
everything else that comprise, in action, an integral self-administration
at all levels," Tsohatzopoulos said.
Such a move, he added, would "upgrade Rugova himself and his role, with a
simultaneous obligatory abandonment of arms by the so-called Liberation
Movement and its subordination to the political leadership".
Government endorses bill to deregulate electricity market
The cabinet on Friday unanimously endorsed a draft bill to liberalise the
country's electricity market by February 2001 in line with a European Union
The bill will also help to prepare the domestic market for tough international
competition expected after deregulation when private sector companies will
have the right to produce electricity.
Devised by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, the bill will be
discussed in detail with Public Power Corporation (DEI) workers before
being submitted to parliament for a vote.
Under the draft legislation, DEI will retain its vertically integrated
structure, still handling production, transmission and distribution.
A special authority will also be set up to monitor operation of the newly
liberalised electricity market and maintain standards in services and rates,
Supreme Court rejects unfair dismissal appeal over politics
The Greek Supreme Court has upheld an appeals court ruling rejecting a
claim of unfair dismissal by a worker who had been actively involved in
setting up an organization promoting political aims in her workplace.
The appellant had asked that her dismissal by the state-controlled Hellenic
Armaments Industry (EBO) in 1995 be declared null, and that she be paid
The appeals court had ruled that the appellant had been involved in setting
up an organisation which did not aim to further trade union interests on
behalf of the entire workforce, but had political aims in favour of the
ruling PASOK party.
The Supreme Court endorsed the lower court's opinion that the appellant's
activity had created problems in the smooth running of the company, despite
favourable reports on her professional performance.
Turkish patrol boat briefly enters Greek waters off Imia
A Turkish patrol boat briefly entered Greek territorial waters off the
uninhabited Imia islets but left on sighting a Hellenic Navy vessel,
sources said on Saturday.
In the incident, which occurred on Friday morning, the Turkish boat was
sailing from north to south. It changed course on sighting the Navy's
"Panagopoulos" and sailed eastwards, leaving Greek waters, the sources
The Greek vessel did not need to intervene, they said.
Greece soon to join EMU, PM says
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that Greece would soon be
able to join the European Union's economic and monetary union, rebuffing
critics who claim the economy is still lagging.
"We're on the right path, and very near to European unification. Maybe some
think I am exaggerating but this is not so as we are proceeding more
rapidly, at a faster pace," Simitis said in a speech in Lamia.
The government aims to take Greece into economic and monetary union by
January 1, 2001.
The drachma joined the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14 to help
pave the way for EMU entry.
Simitis was speaking during a two-day tour of the Phthiotida prefecture.
Mostly sunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday with
scattered cloud in the north appearing towards evening. Winds northerly,
moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens are forecast at 22C-33C, and in
Thessaloniki at 19C-30C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 301.667
British pound 498.758 Japanese yen (100) 217.000
French franc 49.622 German mark 166.368
Italian lira (100) 16.886 Irish Punt 419.021
Belgian franc 8.067 Finnish mark 54.739
Dutch guilder 147.575 Danish kr. 43.670
Austrian sch. 23.641 Spanish peseta 1.961
Swedish kr. 37.506 Norwegian kr. 38.980
Swiss franc 197.482 Port. Escudo 1.629
Aus. dollar 187.096 Can. dollar 206.019
Cyprus pound 568.416