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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-06-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 23/06/1999 (ANA)


  • PM says no change in government policy
  • BA's Speedwing to manage Olympic Airways
  • U.S. exploited Kosovo crisis - defence minister
  • U.S. says Greece not supporting PKK
  • FM Papandreou briefing party leaders
  • Former Eurodeputy leaves Political Spring
  • Aircraft makes forced landing on Rhodes
  • Black magic rite thought behind fire
  • Anarchist group claims car torching
  • Makeshift bomb at military coaching school
  • Lawyer killed during break-in
  • Briton arrested in major drug breakthrough
  • Authorities investigating brucelosis outbreak
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


PM says no change in government policy

Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated on Wednesday that there would be no changes in the government's policy. "We have a plan and the political will (to carry it through) and will follow this course with consistency, up to national elections in 2000," he said. Simitis was speaking after the swearing in of two new members of the government, Rodoula Zissi and Yiannis Zafeiropoulos as deputy national economy and deputy development ministers, respectively. Zissi replaces Alekos Baltas, who will be taking up a seat in the European Parliament, while Zafeiropoulos will replace Anna Diamantopoulos, who has been appointed Greece's new European Commissioner.

BA's Speedwing to manage Olympic Airways

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis told Parliament on Wednesday that British Airways subsidiary Speedwing would take over management of national carrier Olympic Airways for a period of 30 months. Mandelis was speaking to the chamber during a debate on a bill related to non-governmental organisations. The provision was passed by Parliament. The minister said that Speedwing would be entrusted with creating a profit- making, credible and viable company in that time. The agreement will give British Airways the option of holding up to 20 percent of the national carrier's share capital. Mandelis added that the new agreement would in no way affect the labour and pension rights accruing to Olympic Airways employees.

U.S. exploited Kosovo crisis - defence minister

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday said that the United States had no strategic interest in Kosovo but had exploited the crisis to 'legitimise' NATO's new role. "On the other hand, Europe, which had and continues to have a strategic interest in Kosovo, tried belatedly to fill the void of peace, security and stability which became apparent," Tsohatzopoulos said. He was speaking at the presentation of a book on Kosovo by journalist Apostolos Apostolopoulou.

U.S. says Greece not supporting PKK

US Ambassador Nicholas Burns on Wednesday assured Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis that Washington did not agree with Turkish claims that Greece was providing assistance to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Burns gave the assurance during today's meeting with Kranidiotis which was held at the envoy's request. Reppas reiterated that the Turkish claims, expressed most recently by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, simply did not hold water.

FM Papandreou briefing party leaders

Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday briefed Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas for two hours on a wide range of foreign policy issues. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the meeting was within the framework of an initiative by Papandreou to brief opposition party leaders on all matters within the competence of his ministry. Tomorrow Papandreou will meet with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left president Nikos Konstantopoulos. Papandreou will also brief main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis in the near future.

Former Eurodeputy leaves Political Spring

A former European Parliament deputy with the Political Spring party said on Wednesday he was leaving the party, a week after it failed to garner the requisite 3.0 percent which would have given it a seat in the European assembly. In a letter to Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras, Nikitas Kaklamanis said that he was leaving to become an independent and that his basic ideas and views had not been realised through membership of Political Spring. He admitted that this may have been due to his own mistakes. According to reports, the former Eurodeputy is considering joining main opposition New Democracy, although this was not expected to happen in the immediate future.

Aircraft makes forced landing on Rhodes

A small aircraft belonging to a private airline made a forced landing at Rhodes airport this morning, but all seven passengers and two crew members were safe, local airport authorities said. They said a small Piper 31 plane en route from Athens to Kastellorizo island carrying six executives of the private mobile telephony company Telestet and a photographer was forced to turn back as it neared Kastellorizo due to adverse weather conditions and strong side winds. While attempting to land at the airport on the island of Rhodes, the landing gear malfunctioned and the pilot had to make a forced landing, they said.

Black magic rite thought behind fire

Police attribute a fire that broke out at dawn today atop Lycabettus Hill in central Athens to a black magic ritual. Police said they found burned dolls and other ritual props in the tree-lined area above the Lycabettus peripheral road. They said the fire was extinguished immediately by the Fire Brigade.

Anarchist group claims car torching

The "Revolutionary Nuclei" anarchist group today claimed responsibility for the dawn torching of a policeman's car, in an anonymous telephone call to a private radio station, and warned that more would follow. The car of police officer Elias Papadopoulos, 27, was torched in the Athens eastern suburb of Brahami at 1:55 a.m., completely wrecking the car. An unidentified caller later phoned FLASH radio station and claimed responsibility for the attack on behanlf of the Revolutionary Nuclei group.

Makeshift bomb at military coaching school

A home-made bomb exploded early today outside the entrance of an apartment building in the Exarchia residential district of central Athens, causing damage but no injuries, police said. The explosive device, comprising five small liquid gas cannisters, was planted outside the building housing tutorial schools for military academies. Police said that three of the five cannisters exploded at about 50 minutes past midnight, causing material damage to the school facilities.

Lawyer killed during break-in

A 52-year-old lawyer in Messolonghi was killed early today when four masked Albanian burglars broke into his home, police said. According to initial reports, four Albanians wearing masks tried to break into the home of Spyros Kotzias in the coastal town of Paralia Stamna at around 3am, police said. They said Kotzias heard a noise and went out on his balcony holding his hunting rifle to scare off the trespassers. The burglars saw him and opened fire with a short-barreled rifle, killing Kotzias on the spot.

Briton arrested in major drug breakthrough

Greek police believe they are on the trail of a gang of European and African drug traffickers responsible for smuggling large quantities of heroin into western Europe from Turkey, after arresting a British man at Athens international airport in possession of 2.8 kilos of the narcotic. The man was identified as Michel Coughan, 41, an English teacher, who was arrested after arriving on a flight from Sofia. The heroin was discovered in a leather pouch by customs officers who had reportedly been tipped off. The police believe a gang of Africans is using European nationals to smuggle Turkish heroin either directly or via Bulgaria into Greece.

Authorities investigating brucelosis outbreak

Greek authorities were on Wednesday investigating an outbreak of brucelosis in three cattle herds in the northwestern area of Kozani but said it did not appear that the outbreak was related to a number of reported cases of Malta fever in humans. Brucelosis, or undulant fever, is a persistent infectious disease and can be transmitted to humans in the milk of infected cows and goats. Also called Malta fever, it is characterized by a recurrent fever, an enlarged spleen, sweating and pains in the joints and can be fatal in humans. Kozani Prefect Paschalis Mitliangas told a news conference that the outbreak of Malta fever did not appear to stem from the infected cattle, as these were destined for meat production and were not used in the production of dairy products.


Mostly fair weather will prevail throughout Greece on Wednesday with the possibility of showers in the morning in Thrace and the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean Sea. Winds will be northwesterly, strong to gale force. Mostly fair in Athens where temperatures will range between 22- 30C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 17- 26C.


Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          311.339
Pound sterling       494.353
Japanese yen (100)   256.283
French franc          49.092
German mark          164.648
Italian lira (100)    16.631
Irish Punt           408.885
Belgian franc          7.983
Finnish mark          54.160
Dutch guilder        146.128
Danish kr.            43.325
Austrian sch.         23.402
Spanish peseta         1.935
Swedish kr.           37.087
Norwegian kr.         39.779
Swiss franc          201.763
Port. Escudo           1.606
Can. dollar          211.395
Aus. dollar          202.740
Cyprus pound         558.119
Euro                 322.023
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