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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-23

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, 23/08/1998 (ANA)

NEWS HEADLINES

  • Port authorities seize contraband cigarettes in the north
  • Greek PM, Austrian Chancellor visit Mount Athos
  • Weeklong NATO exercise in Albania ends
  • Two Syrians, one Greek charged for circulating fake banknotes
  • Italian yacht runs aground, no injuries
  • Marijuana seized in western Greece
  • Mortgage Bank shareholders approve merger with National Bank
  • Greece's Vasdeki takes triple jump gold
  • Gov't promises tabling of bill for land registry
  • Civil defence bill approved
  • Greek equities end the week lower after profit-taking
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Port authorities seize contraband cigarettes in the north

    Port authorities in northern Greece have arrested the five-member crew of a Ukraine-flagged ship off the island of Samothrace after finding 280 crates of contraband cigarettes on board.

    The authorities were alerted to the vessel, identified as the Avers, when a patrol boat sighted it on Saturday breaching international rules on the avoidance of collisions and jeopardising the safety of shipping in the area, about 300 metres south of the island.

    A search of the vessel reavealed the crates containing brand-name Marlboro and L&M cigarattes from abroad that had been loaded at the port of Burgas in Bulgaria, and were due for illegal sale in the Greek market, evading taxes.

    Overruling the objections of the crew, two patrol boats led the vessel into Samothrace's port.

    Working with a public prosecutor in the northern town of Alexandroupoli, port authorities impounded the vessel and confiscated the haul, also arresting the entire crew on suspicion of smuggling.

    The authorities identified the crew as Viktor Pisarev, 67, ship's captain; Balery Tiyrhin, 48, first engineer; Alexander Kulakov, 24, engineer; Andrey Mamontov, 35, seaman; and Micola Musey, 54, seaman.

    Greek PM, Austrian Chancellor visit Mount Athos

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima visited the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece.

    Klima, who is currently on a private visit to Greece, was shown the Iviron and Megisti Lavra monasteries.

    On the agenda for talks between the two officials are the Cyprus issue, relations between Greece and Turkey, events in the European Union and bilateral ties.

    Austria holds the EU's rotating six-month presidency until the end of the year.

    The Austrian Chancellor, who is the first EU president to visit the more than 1,000 years old monastic community said after his visit on Saturday the EU would make all possible efforts so that "the particular characteristics of Mt. Athos would be respected and the wonderful cultural heritage, in the form of the holy relics and buildings, would be maintained and preserved".

    In statements after the two leaders' return to Thessaloniki, Klima expressed his particular admiration for "the work being achieved in this religious centre and its cultural heritage."

    Simitis also provided assurances that the Greek state would continue to help the monastic community so that it would continue its course with the same vitality, and its ecumenical character and democratic ideal as it has for more than 1,000 years.

    "Greece is proud that Mt. Athos belongs to its territory, because it not only constitutes an ark of Orthodox Christianity, but also the largest centre of Christanity and monastic life," added the prime minister.

    Weeklong NATO exercise in Albania ends

    A weeklong NATO exercise in Albania, bordering the troubled Kosovo region, ended on Saturday after demonstrating readiness to intervene in the event of a crisis.

    Taking part in the exercise named Cooperative Assembly 98 that began on Monday were 14 nations including Greece, and observers from six countries, among them Russia.

    The exercise was part of a programme entitled Partnership for Peace, adopted in January 1994 by a NATO summit.

    The exercise aimed to show Serbia that the alliance was ready to intervene at any time in the region, especially if tension escalated in Kosovo.

    Greece took part with a C-130 transport plane, two F-16 jetfighters, two helicopters and a company of parachutists, who performed joint manoeuvres with US parachutists.

    The country also sent a medical unit to the exercise, which treated the residents of remote villages in the mountain range where the exercise was held.

    Among the services offered was dental treatment for tens of young children, who saw a dentist for the first time.

    The exercise was launched by NATO commander-in-chief for Southern Europe, Admiral T. Joseph Lopez, who said the alliance was prepared to intervene in the region at a moment's notice on receiving the go-ahead by the leaders of NATO member states.

    He also said the exercise, as all Partnership for Peace manoeuvres, aimed at regional stability and was not directed against any party in Kosovo or Belgrade.

    The exercise was scaled down when the US reduced its contingent by 70 percent following the August 7 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which at least 257 people were killed. Washington cited the risk of terrorist attacks against American targets in Albania.

    The exercise included search and rescue operations, close air support, medical evacuation, air-drop procedures, and infantry peace support operations.

    Two Syrians, one Greek charged for circulating fake banknotes

    Two Syrians and a Greek were charged on the island of Crete yesterday for circulating counterfeit banknotes after being found in possession of 146 forged 10,000 drachma bills.

    Arrested yesterday, the men were identified as Nafi Bayzied and Abdulrahman Hidan, both 37; and Emmanouil Tsibragos, a butcher from Iraklio on the island.

    The criminal charges were brought by Irakli deputy public prosecutor Ioannis Kaniadakis.

    The three will appear before investigating magistrate Ekaterini Papadaki to give evidence on Tuesday after their request for an extension was granted.

    Yesterday the Syrians told police that they were given the forged banknotes by Tsibragos.

    Italian yacht runs aground, no injuries

    An Italian-flagged yacht ran aground on a reef off the island of Corfu but none of its occupants - three Italians and a Pole - were injured.

    Vessels in the region, a coast guard patrol boat and the fishing boat "Ioannis" immediately rushed to the assistance of the yacht on Friday.

    The "Ioannis" eventually managed to dislodge the "Let Live" from the reef and tow it into deeper water.

    Marijuana seized in western Greece

    Drug squad officers from Corfu and Igoumenitsa have arrested two Albanians and seized over 150 kilos of marijuana.

    According to press sources, the police two months ago received information that Albanian drug traffickers were using a speedboat to smuggle large quantities of marijuana into the country via the west coast of Corfu or southern Thesprotia.

    Police, following a suspect, arrested both him and another another whom he met in the dark near a beach in the community of Vatos. The two Albanians were found to be in possession of 153 kilos of marijuana wrapped in 17 packets.

    The two were named as Stara Bakiou, 27, a permanent resident of Corfu, and Thanasi Naso, a construction worker from Sarande.

    In an unrelated incident, five illegal immigrants from Albania, four of them minors, were arrested in a rural area of Florina prefecture in northern Greece after being found in possession of 1.3 kilos of hashish.

    Mortgage Bank shareholders approve merger with National Bank

    A Mortgage Bank shareholders' extraordinary general assembly has approved a merger plan for the bank's absorption by National Bank of Greece.

    Mortgage Bank shareholders provided their authorisation to the board to sign and complete the plan, while National Bank of Greece's shareholders are also expected to approve the plan in a meeting on Sept. 9.

    Mortgage Bank's governor, Vassilis Rapanos, said that a new National Bank that will be formed from the merger will have total assets of 12.5 trillion drachmas, pre-tax profits and provisions of 175 billion drachmas, deposits more than 10 trillion drachm as, of which 3.4 trillion in foreign exchange, and a lending portfolio totalling 3.3 trillion drachmas.

    Greece's Vasdeki takes triple jump gold

    Triple-jumper Olga Vasdeki has won Greece's second ever gold medal at the European Athletics Championships, with a 14.55-metre effort.

    It was the third medal won by Greek athletes at this year's tournament, after sprinters Haris Papadias and Katerina Thanou both took third place in the men's and women's 100-metre dashes, respectively, on Wednesday.

    Gov't promises tabling of bill for land registry

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis has promised that he will soon table a bill in Parliament dealing with the legal framework for the proposed National Land Registry.

    The registry, which is mandated by the European Union, will be financed by EU structural aid programmes.

    Greece currently has no national land registry. Instead local authorities often delineate land use and ownership.

    Civil defence bill approved

    Parliament has passed a bill on civil defence together with a number of amendments tabled by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Under the new legislation, women in border regions will be obliged to serve in civil defence units for the first time in modern Greek history. One of the main aims of the bill is to organise local civil defence forces in border areas to provide support in emergency situations in times of peace and war.

    Civil defence (PAM) units will be set up in each municipality or community according to available manpower, in addition to national guard units.

    Participation in PAM will be on a voluntary basis for young men and women aged 16-18, and for men and women above 65 and 50, respectively.

    It will, however, be mandatory for men aged 18-65 except those serving in the military, national guard and security forces and those registered in reserve forces, and for women aged 18-50, except women who are pregnant, mothers of children up to 12 years old or mothers of large families.

    Greek equities end the week lower after profit-taking

    Greek equities ended the week lower on Friday after succumbing to profit- taking with the market sidelined ahead of a final decision on a sale of state-owned Ionian Bank.

    The general index ended 1.39 percent off at 2,638.14 points, to show a net gain of 2.20 percent in the week. The index stands 78.30 percent higher from the start of the year.

    Sector indices were lower. Banks fell 1.83 percent to show a 3.53 percent gain in the week, Insurance eased 0.11 percent, Investment ended 1.30 percent off, Leasing dropped 1.35 percent, Industrials fell 0.83 percent to a 2.32 percent weekly loss, Construction ended 1.43 percent off, Miscellaneous ended 1.50 percent down and Holding rose 0.77 percent.

    The parallel market index ended 0.96 percent off while the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 1.62 percent to 1,614.68.

    Trading was heavy with turnover at 55.7 billion drachmas. The week's turnover totalled 231.87 billion drachmas or a daily average of 46.38 billion, down from 51.6 billion the previous week.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 163 to 64 with another 21 issues unchanged.

    WEATHER

    Mostly sunny weather forecast throughout the country tomorrow with scattered cloud in the north. Winds northerly, light to moderate. Temperatures in Athens will range between 23C and 35C; in Thessaloniki between 20C and 32C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 298.999 British pound 486.516 Japanese yen (100) 209.610 French franc 49.735 German mark 166.730 Italian lira (100) 16.903 Irish Punt 418.624 Belgian franc 8.084 Finnish mark 54.832 Dutch guilder 147.808 Danish kr. 43.791 Austrian sch. 23.694 Spanish peseta 1.965 Swedish kr. 36.853 Norwegian kr. 38.871 Swiss franc 198.851 Port. Escudo 1.629 Aus. dollar 177.122 Can. dollar 195.622 Cyprus pound 566.630

    (C.S.)


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