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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-29

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, 29/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government backs FM on role of Turkish consulate in Thrace
  • Turk arrested for trafficking immigrants
  • Greek youth arrested for clubbing Albanian to death
  • Belgrade accepts Greek proposal on more EU observers
  • Swedish tourist drowns off Crete
  • Bank robber's surrender may help battle against organised crime
  • Full-scale probe into arson, land grabbing
  • EU approves gov't restructuring plan for Olympic Airways
  • National Bank of Greece posts Dr 55.3 billion profit
  • Greek stocks end flat
  • Banks donate vehicles to police
  • Worldbasket Greece '98 opens in Athens tonight
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Government backs FM on role of Turkish consulate in Thrace

The government today backed remarks by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on the role of consulates in the country, saying his statements were very valid.

"The role of consulates is very clear. They cannot perform duties which are outside their competence," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

During a tour of Thrace on Sunday, Pangalos warned personnel at the Turkish Consulate in Komotini to restrict themselves to "well-meaning duties and to refrain from creating problems in the harmonious co-existence of Christian and Moslem residents" in the region.

Reppas also rejected claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem that Ankara had a "special relationship" with Thrace.

"When foreign diplomatic missions undermine not only the interests of the country in which they are located but also bilateral relations, then Greece reacts," Reppas said, adding however that although "all possibilities are being considered", nothing specific had been decided.

The spokesman announced meanwhile that a meeting was likely in the next few days between Pangalos and US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

Turk arrested for trafficking immigrants

A 23-year-old immigrant smuggler from Turkey was arrested today after disembarking nine Iranian illegal immigrants to the island of Samos, port authority officials said.

They said Gediz Kavlak was arrested at dawn today after being chased by the coast guard.

Kavlak, who transported four Iranian men, two women and three children to Samos on his six-metre-long speedboat, was to appear before the public prosecutor.

Greek youth arrested for clubbing Albanian to death

A 19-year-old youth has been arrested for clubbing to death an Albanian illegal immigrant in the Aetoloakarnania prefecture, police said today.

They said Husa-Arian Fllamur, 42, from Elbasan and the father of five, was hit in the head with a wooden log as he was sleeping in his employer's barn in the village of Embesos on Monday night and died.

The employer's son, Vassilis Dimakis, confessed to the killing during police questioning today, adding he had also taken 400,000 dr. Fllamur had on him at the time.

Dimakis said he left for Athens after the killing, where he spent the money on "having a good time" before returning to the village,

Belgrade accepts Greek proposal on more EU observers

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has accepted Athens' proposal for an increase in the number of European Union observers in Kosovo on condition that they will previously be accredited to their embassies in Belgrade, foreign ministry sources said yesterday.

The message was conveyed to Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Pavlos Apostolidis, upon his return from Belgrade where he met with Mr. Milosevic.

The Yugoslav president told Mr. Apostolidis that police forces in Kosovo have been ordered not to attack, but as a matter of fact they were obliged to respond to provocations and to protect the lives and economic activities of citizens in Kosovo.

Greece has notified the European Union Austrian Presidency on the meeting between Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Apostolidis in light of a visit to Belgrade by the EU troika headed by Austrian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Mr. Rohan.

The letter from Prime Minister Costas Simitis to Mr. Milosevic sets out the Greek government's positions on the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas noted yesterday.

Swedish tourist drowns off Crete

A 69-year-old Swedish tourist drowned while swimming in the sea in Crete, the local port authorities said.

The man, identifed as Rune Gohansson, bearer of Swedish passport number 54400795, drowned yesterday while swimming in the Platania, Kydonia region of Hania.

The Hania port authority was investigating the accident.

Bank robber's surrender may help battle against organised crime

The return of a self-confessed bank robber from Germany who has turned himself in to police in Thessaloniki may help the authorities strike a serious blow against organised crime in the country.

Vassilios Andreadis, 46 has already confessed to taking part in a robbery in July 1993 at a branch of the National Bank in Nigrita, Serres, during which a 25-year-old cashier, George Karagiozis, was shot and killed in cold blood.

Andreadis has told police that he had waited at a short distance from the bank with the getaway car and after the robbery picked up his brother, Constantine and their accomplice, Sotiris Kousis.

All three subsequently escaped abroad.

In 1996, Constantine Andreadis and Kousis were arrested in Amsterdam as they arrived to watch a European Championship soccer match between Ajax and Panathinaikos of Athens.

Kousis has since been implicated in the murder of prominent gangster Vassilios Souflas.

Announcing the return and surrender of Andreadis, Thessaloniki police chief Costas Economou said today only that he had confessed to taking part in the Nigrita bank robbery.

According to police documents however, evidence emerged during Andreadis' questioning linking him with other serious crimes committed in Thessaloniki and other parts of Greece "in which officers currently serving in the police force participated".

The investigation is continuing under the supervision of the head of the public prosecutor's office in Thessaloniki, Charalambos Vourliotis, and it is believed that warrants will in the next few days be issued for the arrest of persons implicated by Andreadis.

Full-scale probe into arson, land grabbing

The head of Athens public prosecutors, Giorgos Koliokostas, yesterday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into press reports alleging involvement of arsonists and land grabbers in recent forest fires throughout Greece.

He also ordered the probe to investigate possible tolerance, inertia, procrastination or even assistance offered to arsonists by civil servants.

The investigation has been assigned to four prosecutors, and it is the first time it is being launched on such a scale.

The reports, carried by several Athens dailies, refer to organised criminal activity against the public interest by professional arsonists-land encroachers, who with the direct assistance of public servants enclose forest areas burned by fires in the past, subsequently building luxury residences on the sites.

Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas has dismissed charges of a lack of coordination and personnel in fighting the recent spate of forest fires, stressing that the same number of fire-fighters were mobilised as last year.

He said a probe so far did not rule out arson, but it would be premature to say anything before it was completed.

Meanwhile, fires continued to blaze in several regions yesterday, and authorities urgently evacuated six villages in the greater Corinth region as a forest fire raging out of control for four days approached the yards of the first homes.

Twenty-five fire engines and 90 firemen, assisted by the villagers, have been fighting a losing battle with the blaze, which has several fronts extending over 12 kilometres and was burning out of control.

At the same time, two of Greece's most wooded mountains, Taygetos and Olympos, were still blazing and the mountainsides were almost completely denuded. Land-based firefighters were battling the blaze at Krania, on Mt. Olympus, alone as the fire was in a n inaccessible region, while 5 fire eingines and 20 firemen, assisted by 2 firefighting planes, were battling the blaze at Rovania on Mt. Taygetos.

A two-fronted blaze at Harokopio and Chrysokelaria in Messinia was placed under control after burning forest and farmland. Another fire was also burning at Aliveri, in Evia, in an inaccessible area, and 20 firefighters and a Chinook helicopter were battling the blazes.

EU approves gov't restructuring plan for Olympic Airways

The European Union yesterday approved a government restructuring plan for Olympic Airways that could make the national carrier profitable in 1998, a EU source told the Athens News Agency.

The EU's executive Commission is today due to ratify the plan, which takes immediate effect, with no further debate at its last meeting before the summer holiday, the source said.

According to a Commission-sponsored study by Deloitte Touche of the UK, the government's plan is realistic and could lead Olympic Airways to profitability even within 1998, despite strikes and go-slows early in the year.

The study forecasts that if targets are met, then the company could post profits of 20 billion drachmas in 1999.

The streamlining plan, which comes in the wake of a failed revitalisation attempt in 1994, allows 21.8 billion drachmas in state aid to OA for release in two instalments.

The first instalment of 12 billion drachmas is for immediate disbursement. The second tranche of 7.8 billion drachmas may be given between March and June 1999 following an evaluation of progress made in restructuring.

But the Commission ruled that a 75-billion-drachma plan for OA's transfer to a new airport being built for Athens at Spata cannot be subsidised by more than 30-35 billion drachmas.

The endorsed plan also includes a wage freeze, alignment of working hours with international standards, staff cuts in permanent and seasonal staff, the abolition of selected allowances and a new marketing policy based on market criteria.

National Bank of Greece posts Dr 55.3 billion profit

National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse favoured by foreign investors, posted first-half profits of 55.3 billion drachmas before tax and after provisions, up 63 percent on the same period of last year.

The bank said in a statement yesterday that provisions were 21.6 billion drachmas against 18 billion drachmas in the first-half of 1997.

Additional provisions in the rest of 1998 are expected to be 30 billion drachmas.

The first-half jump in profits was attributed mainly to progress in a modernisation plan and portfolio revitalisation in loans and holdings.

Greek stocks end flat

Greek equities ended flat in light trade yesterday after slumping early in the session on news that the government had called off an international tender through the bourse to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA.

The Athens general share index ended 0.07 percent higher to finish at 2, 729.34 points. The FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 0.35 percent, ending at 1, 661.09 points.

Summer-season trade was light with turnover edging up to 48.1 billion drachmas from 42.2 billion drachmas in the previous session.

Sector indices closed mixed. The heavily weighted banking sector gained 0.93 percent, Leasing dived 1.63 percent, Insurance inched up 0.22 percent, Investment nosed up 0.62 percent, Industrials shed 0.64 percent, Construction rose 0.84 percent, Holding dropped 0.93 percent, and Miscellaneous slipped 0.09 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 0.11 percent lower.

Of 265 stocks traded, declines led advances at 125 to 123 with 17 shares remaining unchanged.

The day's biggest percentage gainers finishing at the upper daily eight percent volatility limit were Shelman, Katselis, Pouliadis, Nikas, Aspis Pronia, General Trade and Avax.

Banks donate vehicles to police

The Hellenic Association of Banks will tomorrow officially hand over a donation of 65 patrol cars and 30 motorcycles to the Greek police at a ceremony in the Zappion Hall in Athens.

The donation will be presented to Public Order Minister George Romeos by the association's president and Governor of the National Bank, Theodoros Karatzas.

The cars and motorcycles represent part of a total donation worth 2 billion drachmas to be made by the association to the Greek police.

In late September, a further 270 motorcycles, 515 radios and 300 motorcycle police uniforms will be handed over.

Worldbasket Greece '98 opens in Athens tonight

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos last night opened the inaugural ceremony at the Athens Olympic sports complex for Worldbasket Greece '98, the 13th World Basketball Championship, which will last until August 9.

The event was also greeted by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, outgoing International Basketball Federation (FIBA) president George Killian and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The games begin tonight. Greece's first match is with Canada at 10 p.m.

WEATHER

Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country with temperatures ranging from around 23C to 41C. The temperature in Athens will range from 28C to 41C; and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 39C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.049 British pound 486.060 Japanese yen (100) 207.229 French franc 49.148 German mark 164.811 Italian lira (100) 16.711 Irish Punt 414.458 Belgian franc 7.993 Finnish mark 54.213 Dutch guilder 146.191 Danish kr. 43.245 Austrian sch. 23.420 Spanish peseta 1.942 Swedish kr. 37.248 Norwegian kr. 38.986 Swiss franc 196.198 Port. Escudo 1.608 Aus. dollar 179.403 Can. dollar 195.622 Cyprus pound 561.968

(C.S.)


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