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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-07

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, 07/08/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 fire.

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 was ''unprecedented''.

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 programmes.

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 propaganda".

"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 equipment".

"There is no legal difference between Turkey's invasion and occupation of Cyprus and IraqYs invasion and occupation of Kuwait", the resolution stressed.

"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 to Turkey".

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 previous session.

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 percent.

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 yesterday.

According to NSS estimates, inflation was expected to fall below 5 percent in August.

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 Insurance.

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 family.

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.

WEATHER

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 35C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(L.G.)


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