Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-07
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 07/08/1998 (ANA)
- State of emergency declared in areas ravaged by forest fires
- Russia assures Greece on missiles to Cyprus
- Visiting Yugoslav minister denies report of mass grave
- AHEPA calls on US to at long last end Cyprus tragedy
- Greek stocks recover slightly after decline
- July inflation drops slightly
- Alpha Credit Bank completes merger
- Austrian tourist arrivals increase
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
State of emergency declared in areas ravaged by forest fires
Authorities yesterday placed the region falling under the jurisdiction of
the Athens Prefecture in a state of emergency due to the blaze in the
greater area of Mt. Penteli to the north of the capital.
A Penteli resident died from severe burns while trying to save his home
from flames that had engulfed it as strong winds rekindled a fire started
in the area on Sunday.
A fire brigade official told the ANA that the Penteli fronts were clearly
the work of arsonists, as locals and colleagues had heard explosions and
flames appeared immediately after at spots where there was no risk of
Residents and firefighters said they had heard several explosions.
Afterwards they produced several burned gas cannisters found in the area as
proof of arson.
Fire Brigade commander K. Zafiropoulos told the ANA the extent of the blaze
By afternoon, the fire had been brought under control and Public Order
Minister George Romeos praised the efforts of firemen while expressing
regret for the death of Penteli resident Costas Michailidis.
Mr. Romeos said the fire was clearly the work of arsonists, since it had
started simultaneously in four different locations.
He said the fact that more people did not die was due to the immediate
intervention of the fire brigade, adding that 350 firemen took part in the
battle against the blaze, assisted by a large number of soldiers and
virtually all the local residents.
Mr. Romeos expressed fears that arsonists would in the coming days cause
further fires. Nationwide, he added, six suspected arsonists had been
arrested, some of which have already been convicted.
In 20 different areas ravaged by fires, Mr. Romeos said, incendiary devices
had been found, mainly gas cannisters, along with seven marine flares.
Meanwhile, fire brigade and police officers were reported to be looking for
ammunition cartridges in the Agia Marina area, on the Athens-Sounion road,
after firemen were shot upon by unidentified persons while trying to
control a fire shortly before midn ight on Thursday.
Russia assures Greece on missiles to Cyprus
Russia's Ambassador in Athens, Valentina Matvienko, yesterday assured
Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis that Moscow would guarantee the
safe transportation of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Cyprus.
Nicosia plans to install the Russian-made missiles later this year as part
of efforts to bolster the island republic's defences. Ankara has repeatedly
threatened to prevent deployment of the missiles.
Shortly before departing for Nicosia, Mr. Kranidiotis discussed recent
developments in the Cyprus problem with the Russian envoy, who ascertained
a convergence of views between Athens and Moscow.
Ms. Matvienko reiterated that as an independent, sovereign state, it was
Cyprus' inalienable right to take decisions regarding its defence
Mr. Kranidiotis also discussed with Ms. Matvienko matters related to
bilateral cooperation, including events planned to mark the anniversary
(September 17) of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two
countries 170 years ago.
Visiting Yugoslav minister denies report of mass grave
Federal Yugoslav Press Minister Alexander Vucic yesterday denied a press
report of a mass grave containing 567 bodies near the Kosovo town of
Orahovac, saying German reporter Erik Ratfelder had not even visited the
area in question. Mr. Vucic was speaking at a press conference in Athens,
at which he said Belgrade was in favour of a diplomatic solution to the
crisis in strife-torn Kosovo.
Stressing that the Yugoslav government was making every possible effort
towards a peaceful solution, Mr. Vucic attributed reports of Serb violence
against the ethnic Albanian majority in the province to "malicious
"Any other way for a solution but the political one would be foolish... but
in order to have dialogue and communication, there must be two sides.. and
terrorist acts and the lies which often appear in the international press
do not help," Mr. Vucic said .
Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Vucic said any intervention in Kosovo
by NATO would be contrary to international rules, since it would constitute
intervention in the domestic affairs of a country.
Underlining that no one could accuse Belgrade of human rights violations,
Mr. Vucic said Federal Yugoslavia respected the rights of ethnic minorities.
To back this, Mr. Vucic said 53 Albanian-language newspapers circulated in
Kosovo, most of which promoted "secessionist ideas".
AHEPA calls on US to at long last end Cyprus tragedy
American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA)
unanimously adopted on Wednesday two resolutions, one on the Cyprus issue
and a second on the stability role of Greece in southeastern Europe.
With the first resolution AHEPA calls upon US President Bill Clinton "to
honour his pre-election pledges to devote a high priority to the Cyprus
problem in accordance with justice and international law, recognising that
the Cyprus problem is fundamental ly a question of invasion and occupation
by Turkish armed forces with the illegal use of American-supplied arms and
"There is no legal difference between Turkey's invasion and occupation of
Cyprus and IraqYs invasion and occupation of Kuwait", the resolution
"The Government of Cyprus has the sovereign right to take normal prudent
measures for national self-defence," the resolution added, and called upon
the US to "issue a clear statement that, pending demilitarisation, the
Government of Cyprus has a sovere ign right to self-defence, including by
acquiring the S-300 defensive system" .
AHEPA stressed that the Clinton administration should issue a clear
statement that "any military action in Cyprus by Turkey will meet a
decisive US response, including military retaliation and will lead to a
drastic deterioration in US-Turkish relation s" and in addition should
support "the application of Cyprus to accede to the EU without any linkage
In a second resolution, approved unanimously by the Supreme Convention of
AHEPA in Orlando, it is pointed out that "Greece is the only state in
southeastern Europe that is a member both of the EU and NATO" a state that
"has committed itself to the rule of law and to the principles of non-
aggression in seeking solutions".
The Greek-American organisation called upon the US to "recognise the
integrity of Greek sovereign territory and to uphold international law,
especially in relation to the Aegean and repudiate any unilateral
challenges to Greek sovereign territory", supp ort adherence to internationally
recognised treaties, conventions and agreements regarding the territorial
integrity and sovereign rights of Greece and to "repudiate any challenge to
them, specifically by Turkey".
AHEPA also calls upon the US Congress to pass a "concurrent resolution
introduced in the House on November 7, 1997 by Congressman Mike Pappas and
forty-one co-sponsors to date which states that it is the sense of the
Congress that the islets of Imia in the Aegean sea are sovereign territory
of Greece under international law".
Finally, the organisation condemns "TurkeyYs threats of war against Greece
in the Aegean regarding GreeceYs internationally recognised right to extend
its territorial waters from 6 to 12 miles" and notes that "Turkey itself
has exercised this right by e xtending its territorial waters from 6 to 12
miles in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea despite the fact that is is
not a signatory of the Law of the Sea Convention".
Greek stocks recover slightly after decline
Greek equities recovered slightly yesterday in trading following Wednesday's
slump which was apparently triggered by declining markets abroad.
The Athens general share index finished 0.49 percent up at 2,706.06 points,
although profits of up to 1.70 percent were taken during trading.
Turnover dropped sharply to 34.5 billion drachmas from 48 billion in the
Sector indices finished higher. The banking sector rose 0.91 percent,
Leasing increased 0.79 percent, Insurance was up 0.28 percent, Investment
rose 0.41 percent, Industrials gained 0.10 percent, Construction was 0.93
percent up, Holding rose 0.18 perce nt, and Miscellaneous increased 1.93
The parallel market index for small cap companies finished 1.27 percent
higher. Of 257 stocks traded, advances led declines at 171 to 68 with 18
shares remaining unchanged.
July inflation drops slightly
Consumer price inflation in July dropped to 5.1 percent year-on-year from
5.2 percent the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said
According to NSS estimates, inflation was expected to fall below 5 percent
The July inflation figure was shaped on the one hand by a decrease in the
prices of foodstuffs and of goods in the summer sales, and on the other by
increases in electricity rates and fuel prices.
Alpha Credit Bank completes merger
Alpha Credit Bank yesterday announced the completion of a merger with
Commercial Insurance, Hellenic-British Life and Hellenic-British General
The new company will carry the name Alpha Insurance, while 70 per cent
belongs to Alpha Credit Bank and the remaing 30 per cent to the Palaeologos
The new company's worth is set at 40 billion drs. in assets and its
customer base is at 200,000, while its products will be offered by the
branches of the bank and existing network of the aforementioned companies.
Austrian tourist arrivals increase
Tourist arrivals from Austria to Greece have increased by 31 per cent
compared to the same period last year, the Austrian tourist organisation
(TUI) announced yesterday.
TUI noted that the Gulet Touropa Touristik has already been using charter
flights to Greek destinations due to increased demand, while Kuoni and
Neckermann Austria tourist agencies will soon follow suit.
Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with light to
moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean, while clouds will
collect locally in the west and north later in day, where as there is a
chance of local rains in the mountains of northwestern Greece. Temperatures
in Athens ranging from 27C to 37C; and in Thessaloniki from 22C to
Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 291.668
British pound 476.358 Japanese yen (100) 201.475
French franc 49.134 German mark 164.712
Italian lira (100) 16.694 Irish Punt 414.934
Belgian franc 7.988 Finnish mark 54.183
Dutch guilder 146.092 Danish kr. 43.249
Austrian sch. 23.417 Spanish peseta 1.941
Swedish kr. 36.654 Norwegian kr. 38.589
Swiss franc 195.513 Port. Escudo 1.609
Aus. dollar 177.181 Can. dollar 191.654
Cyprus pound 557.702