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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-03

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 03/08/1998 (ANA)


  • Tsohatzopoulos: Reinforcement of Cyprus defences restores balance
  • Key developments expected in banking sector this month
  • Lesvos to be represented at Izmir trade exhibition
  • Four men die in ancient gold mine
  • Police officers suspended for abuse of power
  • At least 25 road deaths over the weekend
  • World Basketball Championship
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Tsohatzopoulos: Reinforcement of Cyprus defences restores balance

The reinforcement of Cyprus' defences restores the balance on the island republic and this balance is a condition for a solution to the 24-year-old protracted problem, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

"The reinforcement of Cyprus' defences restores, in the most elementary manner, the balance (on the island republic) and without a balance the Cyprus issue can not be settled", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told the Sunday edition of the Kathimerini daily in an interview.

He was referring to the decision of the Cyprus government to buy the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. The missiles are due to arrive on the island later this year, but Turkey said that it would react by all means to their deployment. Western countries also expressed their disagreement with the decision of the Cyprus government to buy the defensive missile system.

Turkey maintains more than 35,000 troops on the northern part of the island republic, which it invaded in 1974. It also has air supremacy over Cyprus.

"There is no government either in Cyprus or in Greece which would accept positions equivalent to a tactical retreat," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

"The deployment of these missiles, as (Cyprus) President (Glafcos) Clerides has stated, may be postponed only in the event that a timetable for the total demilitarisation of Cyprus is accepted or in case of real progress toward the solution of the Cyprus problem," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Key developments expected in banking sector this month

Key developments are expected in the banking sector in August with two banks set for privatisation and one for merger.

The main events this month are:

- An announcement is expected this week on whether the government will accept the outcome of a tender through the bourse last Friday to sell a majority stake in Bank of Central Greece.

Egnatia Bank was the highest bidder at 17.3 billion drachmas, but the Bank of Central Greece's staff association claims the bid falls well below the bank's market value.

The government last week called off a bourse tender to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA because the highest bid was considered too low. A fresh tender is expected in the autumn.

- National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens Stock Exchange especially popular among foreign investors, and National Mortgage Bank, its listed subsidiary, are due to have their merger plan endorsed by shareholders with both assemblies scheduled for August 20.

The new National Bank of Greece to emerge after Mortgage Bank is absorbed will have assets of more than 12.5 trillion drachmas; deposits exceeding 10 trillion drachmas, of which 3.4 trillion are in foreign exchange; and loans totalling 3.3 trillion drac hmas.

The bank's network will have 605 branches in Greece and more than 100 abroad, as well as over 700 ATMs.

- The deadline for bids in the privatisation of listed Ionian Bank, a subsidiary of Commercial Bank of Greece, through the bourse is on August 24. Fifty one percent of shares are on offer.

Alpha Credit Bank, Eurobank with Ergobank, and Bank of Piraeus are expected to bid, according to market sources.

Ionian Bank, which has 225 branches, was the first bank to operate in Greece when it was set up in 1839.

Lesvos to be represented at Izmir trade exhibition

The Lesvos Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign Trade Organisation are cooperating to organise the island's presence at the Izmir international trade exhibition set for August 27 to 29. The island will be represented by about 40 businessmen in an effort to promote trade between the Greek islands of the eastern Aegean and the Asia Minor coastal region. The chambers of Ismir and Lesvos are working toward this goal with the Young Turkish Businessmen's Union.

Four men die in ancient gold mine

Four men died late on Friday inside an ancient gold mine shaft at the town of Old Kavala in northeastern Greece.

The coroner's report, sites lack of oxygen as the cause of death of the four amateur miners, which came about when their gassoline powered waterpump broke down and filled the mine with noxius gases.

Haralambos Taxidis, 50, G. Brylas, 46, Dimitrios Petridis, 47 and Dimitrios Vargiamidis, 48, apparently crawled inside the mine, which according to locals dates to the times of Alexander the Great, in efforts to discover gold.

They used a waterpump to drain water from areas they were to dig and when the pump broke down they attempted to escape but were not able to make it to the exit.

Police officers suspended for abuse of power

Three senior police officers in northern Greece were suspended from duty on Saturday after allegations they illegally secured the release of foreigners who should have been charged.

The allegations of abuse of power and breach of duty involve the release of detainees, mainly women, who were being held in connection with their work in brothels and bars in the Vardari area of Thessaloniki.

The case came to light after four women from the former Soviet Union, arrested in June for prostitution, were released instead of being taken to a court that rules when suspects are brought within 24 hours of a crime being committed.

The officers suspended from duty belong to the Platia Dimokratias precinct in the Thessaloniki area.

The city's police chief, Theodoros Vlahos, told reporters that the incident was isolated.

Public prosecutor Ahilleas Zissis has launched an enquiry into the allegations.

At least 25 road deaths over the weekend

At least 25 people have been killed on the roads since Friday afternoon as thousands fled the cities to start their summer vacations. In a total of 238 traffic accidents reported, 25 people lost their lives and 322 were injured, of which 38 were in a serious condition. During the same period, about 130,000 cars passed the two main motorways.

World Basketball Championship

The second round of the World Basketball Championship began in Athens yesterday, with Australia scoring the upset of the day with an impressive 71-61 victory over Lithuania.

Results: Yugoslavia-Canada 95-55 Australia-Lithuania 71-61 United States-Argentina 87-74 Russia-Italy 71-55 Greece-Puerto Rico 71-64 Spain-Brazil 73-63

Penalty imposed on Nigerian basketball player: Nigerian basketball player Julius Nwosu was on Saturday banned from matches for two months after a test showed ephedrine in his system during the World Basketball Championship being held in Athens.

The penalty was imposed by FIBA, the sport's ruling body.

Nwosu, who plays for a Turkish club and is a former member of Greece's Panathinakos, reportedly said he had taken medicine that contained ephedrine, which is banned as a performance-enhancing drug.

FIBA's general secretary, Borislav Stankovits, announced the penalty in Athens.


Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with light to moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 27C to 37C; and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 36C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.979 British pound 481.001 Japanese yen (100) 203.548 French franc 49.213 German mark 164.989 Italian lira (100) 16.746 Irish Punt 415.469 Belgian franc 8.004 Finnish mark 54.322 Dutch guilder 146.360 Danish kr. 43.362 Austrian sch. 23.466 Spanish peseta 1.944 Swedish kr. 37.041 Norwegian kr. 38.896 Swiss franc 196.644 Port. Escudo 1.611 Aus. dollar 178.143 Can. dollar 195.484 Cyprus pound 561.472


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