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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 24/03/1999 (ANA)


  • Defence minister hurries back to Athens
  • Alternate FM to hold meeting on Kosovo
  • FYROM seeks Greek help with refugees
  • Greek students leave Yugoslavia
  • TV crews flow in to FYROM via Greece
  • Business community concerns
  • Seven injured in landing mishap
  • Simitis welcomes Prodi as new Commission president
  • Police break up extortion ring at university
  • 20,000 pirate CDs confiscated in raid
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Defence minister hurries back to Athens

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has cut short a two-day visit to London in light of the latest developments in the Kosovo crisis, according to reports from the British capital. Tsohatzopoulos, on an official visit at the invitation of his British counterpart George Robertson, returned to Athens on Wednesday to oversee monitoring of the situation by the defence ministry and general staffs. He was originally scheduled to return late on Thursday.

Alternate FM to hold meeting on Kosovo

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, who was in Berlin with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou for the European Union's Agenda 2000 summit, is also speeding back to Athens. Kranidiotis is expected to go straight into a meeting at the foreign ministry on his return and will participate in the crisis management committee to be chaired by Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou.

FYROM seeks Greek help with refugees

According to sources at the foreign ministry, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Wednesday formally requested Greek assistance in dealing with the refugees expected to flood the neighbouring country. The same sources said Greece was ready to meet the request in full. Greece and the UN High Commission for Refugees have drafted plans to receive a possible wave of refugees fleeing the Serb province of Kosovo if NATO goes ahead with air strikes. Reception centres are being prepared in Pella, Florina, Kozani, Kilkis, Larissa and Ioannina. Skopje said on Tuesday that if the number of refugees on its territory exceeded 20,000, the government would request the help of the European Union in housing them in neighbouring countries, such as Bulgaria and Greece. Security on Greece's borders with FYROM was stepped up on Tuesday to deal with the situation.

Greek students leave Yugoslavia

Ten busloads of Greek students studying in Belgrade and the Yugoslav city of Nis have left Yugoslavia and are headed back to Greece. The Greek embassies in both cities supervised the operation to safely evacuate the 1, 000 Greek students. They will travel through Bulgaria to Greece and are expected to arrive around 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Promahonas border post. Another group of about 50 students arrived in Greece early on Wednesday after travelling by rail from Belgrade to Thessaloniki.

TV crews flow in to FYROM via Greece

Officials at the Evzones entry point on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said there has been an increase in traffic from Greece to FYROM since Wednesday morning. Officials said the increase of traffic into FYROM was due to dozens of Greek and foreign television crews, including equipment for CNN, heading towards Kosovo.

Business community concerns

The tourist and business community and local officials in Macedonia and Thrace expressed their concern about the toll any possible fighting in Kosovo would take on their business. "The issue of Kosovo will bring us to our knees," Pieria Prefect George Papastergiou said. Thousands of Serbs, Croatians, Montenegrins and residents of FYROM have flocked to the coasts and islands of northern Greece over recent years, boosting tourism in the region after setbacks the industry suffered in the wake of the Bosnian and Croatian wars. Hotel owners and local businessmen said they feared that the violence in Yugoslavia would put an end to the flow of tourists, which reached record numbers last year.

Seven injured in landing mishap

Seven passengers on an airplane were injured when the plane skidded off the runway on the island of Rhodes and landed in a neighbouring field. The passengers were injured during the exit procedures and were taken to a local hospital. There has been no report on their nationality. The airplane, belonging to "Emiri Flights", was carrying 220 passengers and was flying from Dubai to Rabat. It was scheduled to stop in Rhodes for refuelling.

Simitis welcomes Prodi as new Commission president

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi as the new president of the European Commission, saying he was confident he would do a good job. "Romano Prodi is well versed in European affairs and has made a positive contribution both to European unification as well as to Italy's participation in the final phase of economic and monetary union," Simitis told a news conference in Berlin. "He has all the qualities necessary for the job." Prodi is expected to be formally appointed by an extraordinary summit meeting at the beginning of April. Simitis praised outgoing Commission President Jacques Santer, saying that his tenure as president had been positive for Greece.

Police break up extortion ring at university

Police on Tuesday uncovered a sophisticated grades-for-bribes scam operating at the University of Athens School of Mathematics, allowing students to buy their way to a degree. Involved in the scheme were a senior university professor, mathematics lecturers and graduates and an employee of the university's administrative office. Police expect to charge up to 12 people with involvement in the scam and have arrested four. At least five students are expected to be charged with buying their grades in various classes. Police said the group had been operating for at least five years and estimate that at least 200 students had taken advantage of the scam.

20,000 pirate CDs confiscated in raid

Police confiscated more than 20,000 pirate CDs and cassettes when they raided the grounds of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki on Tuesday. Twenty-nine people were arrested in the raid and are due to be charged on Wednesday, most likely with breach of copyright and forgery. Police said the bulk of the recordings were manufactured illegally either in Greece or neighbouring Bulgaria. It was the second such raid by police; last year police confiscated 21,000 CDs. Most of those arrested for selling the pirate CDs and cassettes were foreigners, including Albanian, Georgian and Russian nationals.


Unsettled weather will prevail throughout Greece today with local rainfall and rainstorms. Snow in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. An improvement is expected in the evening. Winds variable, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 9-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4- 12C.


Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          293.364
Pound sterling       476.279
Japanese yen (100)   247.821
French franc          48.741
German mark          163.471
Italian lira (100)    16.512
Irish Punt           405.963
Belgian franc          7.926
Luxembourg franc       7.926
Finnish mark          53.773
Dutch guilder        145.083
Danish kr.            43.033
Austrian sch.         23.235
Spanish peseta         1.922
Swedish kr.           35.805
Norwegian kr.         37.946
Swiss franc          200.523
Port. Escudo           1.595
Aus. dollar          187.468
Can. dollar          194.968
Cyprus pound         553.119
Euro                 319.722
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