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Athens News Agency: News in English, 02-01-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch concludes visit to Iran
  • [02] Simitis receives Archbishop of America Demetrios
  • [03] Combatting terrorism high on gov't list of priorities
  • [04] 'Terrorist list' affair sparks firestorm of criticism from gov't,
  • [05] Flurry of meetings in bid to save National, Alpha Bank merger
  • [06] Poll: Greeks see financial woes, high joblessness in 2002
  • [07] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday
  • [08] Weather Forecast: Overcast on Tuesday
  • [09] Greek stocks drop 1.97 percent on Monday

  • [01] Ecumenical Patriarch concludes visit to Iran

    14/01/2002 21:20:28

    TEHRAN (ANA - M. Papoutsaki) - Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos concluded a three-day official visit to Tehran on Monday and departed for Istanbul in the afternoon.

    The Patriarch was unable to meet with the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution in the country, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini Khamenei due to the fact that he had to return to Istanbul.

    However, he met with the Archbishop of the Armenians.

    In a press conference he gave prior to his departure, the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed a message to the Iranian people, stressing the importance of the dialogue between Islam and Christianity with the purpose of consolidating peace in the modern world.

    Vartholoemos said that certain people claim that in the future there would be a clash between civilisations and in particular between Islam and Christianity. This, he said, should be avoided as it would be catastrophic for a great part of humanity, which would include Christians and Muslims.

    Vartholomeos said that despite differences between Christians and Muslims concerning faith, "we have many common points and mutual interest to live in peace."

    Vartholomeos visit to Iran is the first-ever by an Ecumenical Patriarch - the ?Primus inter pares? among Orthodox Patriarchs representing approximately 250 million Eastern Orthodox faithful around the world and comes amidst a vigorous Patriarchate initiative to jumpstart an international dialogue among the worlds major monotheistic religions.

    Iran is the second predominately Muslim nation, following Bahrain, to issue an official invitation to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    [02] Simitis receives Archbishop of America Demetrios

    14/01/2002 21:20:22

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis received the visiting Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios on Monday for an hour-long meeting.

    In greeting Demetrios, the Greek prime minister referred to his official visit to the United States last week, thanking the ecclesiastical leader for the preparations he made in relation to the visit.

    ?We believe a particularly friendly climate was evident ? from these upgraded relations Greece has, it becomes apparent that contacts arent conducted on a spur of the moment, but are held on a permanent basis, especially that of the European Union, which is decisive for our course,? Simitis said.

    Demetrios, among others, escorted Simitis on his tour of ?Ground Zero? in New York City last week, the spot where the World Trade Center towers stood prior to the dastardly Sept. 11 attack.

    Demetrios had met earlier with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, who reiterated what he called the government's the political world's determination to stamp out terrorism.

    Additionally, the Greek parliament president on Monday referred to the "tremendous efforts" undertaken in Greece by local authorities in cooperation with US and British services to find the terrorists.

    Demetrios is also scheduled to meet with the US embassys charges d affaires Mike Cleverley.

    [03] Combatting terrorism high on gov't list of priorities

    14/01/2002 21:19:07

    The issue of combatting terrorism is "high on the government's list of priorities", foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis reiterated on Monday.

    Beglitis declined any further comment, responding to press questions during a regular briefing, noting that the "operational aspect" of the issue was not within the jurisdiction of the foreign ministry.

    [04] 'Terrorist list' affair sparks firestorm of criticism from gov't, opposition

    14/01/2002 21:17:53

    A retired intelligence chief identified by an Athens paper on Sunday as the ?coordinator? behind a ?list? of alleged terrorists and one-time operatives affiliated with the ruling party and its pre-1974 anti-junta predecessor (PAK) categorically denied the report a day later.

    Ex-intelligence cadre Nikos Gryllakis was thrust onto the national limelight for a second time in as many months on Sunday when the Athens paper ?sto Karfi? ran an extensive front-page article reproducing what it claims is a lengthy late 1980s intelligence report listing, among others, 124 "suspect individuals" connected with ruling PASOK and its anti-junta predecessor, PAK.

    The report claims that all the individuals named on the list allegedly trained at clandestine military camps throughout the Middle East and North Africa or were active in various covert operations.

    ?I never composed such a list, and all that was published is false,? the retired general and one-time associate of former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said on Monday.

    Gryllakis caused a mini-furor last month when he claimed in a television interview that US intelligence circles wanted, beginning in 1988, to help ND win the 1990 elections and that the Mitsotakis government (1990-93) was not undermined by then foreign minister Antonis Samaras in 1993 but by subsequent ND leader Miltiades Evert (1993-96).

    His December statements prior to the expected publication of his memoirs -- caused several high-ranking PASOK cadres, the government spokesman as well as PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis to point an accusing finger at NDs past, whereas Sundays newspaper article, on the other hand, generated scorn and anger from those same quarters. His former boss, Mitsotakis, had also sternly denied Gryllakis accusations last month.

    On Monday, nevertheless, Gryllakis warned that hell seek legal protection against the ?slanderous publication?, as he called the ?sto Karfi? front-page story.

    Govt reaction

    The government on Sunday flatly dismissed the same-day front-page publication of a purported Greek intelligence report apparently listing various terrorists, including a handful of ruling PASOK party cadres.

    The high-profile article included the names of individuals the report claims are tied to the notorious "November 17" urban terrorist group.

    "We view these scenarios as both ridiculous and base," government spokesman Christos Protopapas said in a statement.

    "We cannot waste time over this. Before us lie the country's problems. Our attention is exclusively focused on these," he added.

    New Democracy

    On its part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) brushed off the attention-grabbing Sunday article as no more than ?spy fiction?.

    "John Le Carre-type scenarios -- as New Democracy called them when they were being adopted by others, are not worthy of serious consideration," ND spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos said in a statement.

    "We are glad that even those who until recently accepted the assertions of diseased minds today reject them," Roussopoulos added.

    [05] Flurry of meetings in bid to save National, Alpha Bank merger

    14/01/2002 20:39:43

    Senior executives of National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank met on Monday in a bid to save a merger plan between the country's two largest commercial banks, industry sources said.

    The meetings were expected to continue into Tuesday with Alpha's management likely to make statements later that day, the sources said.

    Causing acrimony was the allocation of authority among senior executives and middle management of the two banks in the new unit to be formed from the merger, they said.

    Alpha was due to hold a board meeting on Tuesday to try to take a final decision on whether or not the merger would go ahead, union sources at the bank said.

    In a statement on Monday, Alpha's staff association charged that some managers at National were struggling to retain "cosy" positions in a move detrimental to efficiency.

    On Sunday, workers at National said they may launch strike action if the managements of National and Alpha Bank backtracked on any pledges made in connection with the merger planned for this year.

    National's staff association said in a statement that concern had arisen over the attitude of certain senior executives at Alpha towards operation of the new unit.

    Both banks are blue chips on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    [06] Poll: Greeks see financial woes, high joblessness in 2002

    14/01/2002 20:06:42

    Greeks foresee financial problems and high unemployment in 2002, maintaining their pessimism from a year earlier, a Gallup poll released on Monday showed.

    Alone in their gloom last year, Greeks were joined for 2002 in a down-in-the-dumps turn of mind by the French, Portuguese and Irish in a survey conducted in 70 countries on the outlook for the new year.

    Of Greeks polled, 46 percent expected financial problems this year; 36 percent forsaw the same level of difficulty as in 2001; and 13 percent predicted prosperity.

    On unemployment, Greeks showed the highest rate of anxiety in the European Union with 32 percent of respondents expecting joblessness to rise sharply in 2002.

    Greeks also were the most edgy in the EU about job security with 41 percent of respondents fearing they might lose their jobs this year.

    The telephone survey was conducted in Greece by ICAP, a member of the Gallup International Association.

    [07] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday

    14/01/2002 18:14:16

    Indicative tourist buying rates per euro

    U.S. dollar 0.899

    Pound sterling 0.620

    Danish kroner 7.492

    Swedish kroner 9.275

    Japanese yen 118.5

    Swiss franc 1.490

    Norwegian kroner 8.007

    Cyprus pound 0.580

    Canadian dollar 1.436

    Australian dollar 1.736

    [08] Weather Forecast: Overcast on Tuesday

    14/01/2002 17:38:20

    Cloud is forecast throughout the country on Tuesday, with light rain expected in the west, centre and south. The west will see storms from evening, and snow is to fall on high ground in Epirus and western Macedonia. Early morning visibility will be limited in some parts of the country. Winds variable, moderate to very strong. In the north, temperatures will range from -7C to 8C; in the west from 1C to 11C; and in the rest of the country from -1C to 13C. Overcast in Athens with showers likely overnight. Temperatures between 1C and 6C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -0C to 6C.

    [09] Greek stocks drop 1.97 percent on Monday

    14/01/2002 16:30:28

    Equity prices came under strong selling pressure on Monday to end sharply lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 1.97 percent down at 2,523.85 points, with turnover a disappointing Dr 29.9 billion, or 87.9 million euros.

    All sector indices ended lower, with the Retail, Investment and Bank sectors recording the biggest percentage losses (3.26 percent, 3.14 percent and 2.88 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.28 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.41 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 2.41 percent lower.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 303 to 25 with another 19 issues unchanged.

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