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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-08-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 17/08/1998 (ANA)


  • Turks arrested for raising Greek flag on Kalymnos
  • Forest fire rages on Crete
  • Forty one killed in weekend road death toll
  • PM optimistic over the economy's outlook
  • Assumption, Armed Forces Day celebrated
  • Defence Minister speaks on security issues
  • US State Dept. envoy for Cyprus issue in Ankara today
  • Mass escape from juvenile prison
  • Giant pet python pays unexpected visit on neighbour
  • Fourth World Congress of Thacians begins
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Turks arrested for raising Greek flag on Kalymnos

Six Turkish nationals were arrested early this morning on the island of Kalymnos after raising the Turkish flag on a flagpole in the island's main port, Coastguard officials said.

A Coastguard spokesman told the ANA that the Turkish nationals were spotted at about 1:00 a.m. by local residents raising the Turkish flag, while one of the Turks was videotaping a local celebration.

The residents chased the Turks through the port, where the Turkish yacht "Enda" was waiting for them with its engines running.

Five of the Turks managed to board the yacht, but were chased by a Kalymnos coastguard patrol boat and arrested before the yacht was able to leave the port's boundaries.

The sixth Turk left behind, who was arrested on shore, told coastguard authorities he was the yacht's skipper.

The six will appear before the Kos prosecutor today.

The Merchant Marine Ministry later identified the detainees as Seket Gaykan, skipper of the yacht ENTA, which had arrived in Kalymnos from patmos on Saturday afternnon, Gunay Zeybeker who raised the Turkish flag on an electricity pole, Gengiz Menteseoglu who was shooting the videotape, Gonca Menteseoglu, and Atilla and Leyla Kayihan.

The ministry said Kalymnos locals threw dynamite in their effort to apprehend the Turks.

It also said it had ordered a coastguard patrol boat to chase the yacht after it set sail from Kalymnos port without the permission of the port authorities.

The yacht was escorted to nearby Kos island, which, has a resident prosecutor, the ministry said.

Forest fire rages on Crete

A major fire near Aghia Galini, southern Crete continued to rage on Monday fuelled by strong winds, having already destroyed over 1,200 acres of pasture land and olive groves.

At points where it is possible for firemen to get near the blaze, the situation is now partly under control, but in more rugged areas the fire is continuing its destructive course although no residential areas are threatened.

Strong winds have kept fire-fighting aircraft grounded and the main effort to put out the blaze, which broke out yesterday, is being made by firemen with eleven fire-engines and the support of local people.

Forty one killed in weekend road death toll

Forty-one people were killed and 458 injured in a total 302 road accidents throughout Greece in the weekend exodus for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary religious holiday, between Friday noon and this morning, the Public Order Ministry said.

The ministry said most of the road accidents took place on the provincial road network.

PM optimistic over the economy's outlook

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today expressed certainty that this year's Thessaloniki International Fair would reflect the successful course of the Greek economy and the excellent prospects for the country's development and prosperity.

In a message on the occasion of next month's 63rd annual international fair in the northern port city, Simitis underlined that the rate of growth was for the second consecutive year 3.5 percent.

In addition, he noted the considerable inflows of foreign capital, the spectacular increase of public and private investments, the reduction of the public finances deficit and interest rates, the creation of new jobs and the rapid pace of structural changes in public enterprises and state banks.

Simitis said these were the comparative advantages of the Greek economy which was characterised by investment, monetary, institutional and political stability.

The premier however cautioned against complacency, saying "we must intensify our efforts in all sectors of the economy... because the sacrifices of the Greek people these past four years which have borne fruit must not be wasted".

Simitis reiterated that EMU entry remained the government's steady target, adding that the Thessaloniki International Fair provided "incontrovertible evidence of the competitiveness of the Greek economy".

"It's up to us, if that is what we all want - and it doesn't depend solely on the government - to turn Thessaloniki into the financial capital of the Balkan hinterland".

Assumption, Armed Forces Day celebrated

Celebrations over the weekend for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary as well as Armed Forces' Day were held at the Monastery of Panagia Soumela in northern Greece on Saturday in the presence of most of Greece's political leadership, headed by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Dignitaries attended a morning service officiated by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, followed by a procession of the well- known holy icon of the Virgin Mary worshipped at the monastery, with the participation of thousands of pilgr ims from throughout the country and abroad.

The Byzantine-era icon had been worshipped for centuries by the vibrant ethnic Greek community of Pontos along the southeastern Black Sea coastal region, in what is now Turkey. It was rescued and brought to Greece in 1930 by refugees, before being place d in a monastery of the same name as the one in Pontos.

After the service, Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed the importance of the contribution of Pontian Hellenism to the nation as well as the armed forces' contribution for its defence.

"All Greeks want to demonstrate our respect and appreciation to the armed forces of the country and wish health, strength and high morale towards the enlisted (men and women) who defend the dignity, honour and integrity of the nation", Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

On his part, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, representing the premier, said that the armed forces "guarantee stability, security, integrity and the peaceful role of Greece in the region, so that Greeks can address the major problems of th e era.

"Greece is a force of security, peace and cooperation in the region. At the same time, through the strength of the armed forces, it guarantees support to the Cypriot Hellenism", he said.

Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said that Saturday was a day of multiple symbolisms, a day of national pride for the armed forces.

"It is a day of national remembrance, and we do not forget what Pontian Hellenism has been through and what it has contributed", he added.

Defence Minister speaks on security issues

"The Hellenic Armed Forces play a decisive role in the progress of the country, particularly in times of peace, since the majority of nations wish to see the numerous crises in the region solved peacefully," national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Saturday during a reception marking Armed Forces Day at the Agios Andreas officers' resort east of Athens.

He further accused Turkey of attempting to overturn the status quo, saying Ankara's claims of "feeling threatened" by the reinforcement of Cyprus' defence were ludicrous.

Commenting on a recent statement by outgoing Turkish military chief Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi that Greece was seeking political benefits from a brief confrontation with Turkey, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that it was "beyond all limits of seriousness".

The reception was attended by President Stephanopoulos, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, political party leaders, Archbishop Christodoulos, foreign diplomats as well as the entire armed forces leadership, headed by National Defence General Sta ff Chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis.

The Greek defence minister added that the government has a stable policy and that Greece will not be drawn by Turkey's dead-end policy on the Cyprus issue and will continue to follow policies of cooperation and peace in the region.

Regarding the crisis in Kosovo, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated Athens' position for a peaceful solution to the problem and stressed that NATO should utilise its capabilities under the auspices of the UN Security Council to apply pressure to both sides a nd thus contribute to the solution of the crisis.

Finally, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos criticised Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for recent military operations in Kosovo, adding however, that it was a mistake on the part of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to take on the Serbian forces. He also stressed that there was no possibility of independence, only wide autonomy within the boundaries of Serbia.

US State Dept. envoy for Cyprus issue in Ankara today

Special US State Department coordinator for the Cyprus issue, Thomas Miller, will arrive in Ankara today.

Mr. Miller is expected to propose a set of ideas aimed at easing artificial tensions on the island republic in light of the upcoming deployment of Russian-built S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, according to reports.

After his contacts in Ankara, the US diplomat will visit Nicosia and Athens.

Mass escape from juvenile prison

Police have mounted a manhunt for 26 juvenile inmates who escaped on Saturday from an Avlona prison.

Forty-one prisoners, all Albanian nationals except one, scaled a low prison fence during exercise time and escaped without being noticed, according to reports.

The mass escape was discovered a few minutes later, with police and riot squads rushing to Avlona, about 40 kilometres north of Athens.

Fifteen of the escapees were recaptured. Two of them were arrested in the nothern suburb of Kifissia after a brief shoot-out, in which one of the inmates was injured. Earlier, the two had stolen a van.

The Avlona facility houses 250 juvenile inmates.

The chief of police has ordered a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the jailbreak.

Police and justice ministry officials believe the breakout had been well- planned and carried out with outside help.

Meanwhile, Avlona residents told police they had seen a large number of vehicles headed in the direction of the prison shortly before the breakout, while three locals also had reported that their cars had been stolen.

The juvenile prisoners were being incarcerated for mainly drug peddling and theft sentences, while one was serving time for manslaughter.

Giant pet python pays unexpected visit on neighbour

A 38-year-old Athens man woke up on Saturday only to find a 3.5-metre python slithering on his kitchen.

Antonis Antoniou, a merchant seaman, discovered the more than 10-kilogram pet snake in the kitchen of his ground floor residence. It had apparently climbed down through a ventilator shaft from the apartment above, whose occupiers were on a short absence.

Authorities later employed the services of a snake trainer to end its short spell of freedom.

Fourth World Congress of Thacians begins

The Fourth World Congress of Thacians opened in Nea Orestiada, Evros prefecture, on Saturday, bringing together Thrace natives from around the world.

Addressing delegates in yesterday's session, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos underlined the region's advantage as a crossroads.

He stressed that Thrace and the wider region of northern Greece are now the starting point of access, communication and cooperation with the peoples of the Balkans, eastern Europe, the Black Sea and southeastern Mediterranean.

Among business speakers, the president of the Mechaniki construction firm, Prodromos Emfietzoglou, pointed to Thrace's ability to connect east and west, north and south.

"After many years of isolation and marginalisation, Thrace is now, a few years before the new century, taking up its previous role," he said, adding that a large number of projects were either underway or being designed, including interstate road networ ks as well as power, natural gas and telecommunications networks.

Democritos University Vice-Rector Philippos Tsalidis touched on the new role that the regionYs top educational institution is called upon to play through the creation of new faculties, such as eastern and Balkan studies programmes, arts and languages.

"The Greek state is obliged to decide, and this will be a purely political decision, to further develop the university by creating new departments and research institutes," he concluded.

The congress continues today.


Fine weather is forecast throughout the country tomorrow with scattered cloud in the north. Northerly winds, light to moderate turning strong in the eastern Aegean Sea. Temperatures in Athens from 23C to 36C; and in Thessaloniki from 20C to 33C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 297.183 British pound 483.302 Japanese yen (100) 205.185 French franc 49.600 German mark 166.205 Italian lira (100) 16.850 Irish Punt 417.037 Belgian franc 8.064 Finnish mark 54.659 Dutch guilder 147.471 Danish kr. 43.698 Austrian sch. 23.620 Spanish peseta 1.961 Swedish kr. 36.692 Norwegian kr. 39.115 Swiss franc 199.491 Port. Escudo 1.626 Aus. dollar 177.925 Can. dollar 196.218 Cyprus pound 565.440


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