The Greek Olympic team picked up another three gold medals at the Atlanta Olympic Games over the past two days, one in gymnastics, one in weightlifting and one in windsurfing.
The three medals bring Greece's total medal haul to seven - four gold and three silver.
Nikos Kaklamanakis secured an Olympic gold when he won the penultimate heat in the men's mistral category (windsurfing) late last night Athens time. With one race remaining in the heat series, the Greek world champion had established an unassailable lead.
Yiannis Melissanidis stunned a sell-out audience in the men's floor exercises Sunday evening (Atlanta time). Earlier, Akakios Kakhiashvilis clinched Greece's second weightlifting gold medal, setting two world records in the process.
Without doubt, Melissanidis gave the performance of his life in the finals to claim first place in the men's floor exercises - Greece's first Olympic gymnastics gold in 100 years.
Melissanidis tumbled brilliantly, performing difficult combinations with originality. His performance drew gasps from the audience with his sudden change of direction.
"I told myself, I'm not in the United States, I'm not in Atlanta. I'm in Athens," the slightly-built gymnast said, who won a silver medal on the floor at the 1994 world championships at the age of 17.
It was Greece's first gymnastics gold since 1896, when it picked up gold in the now discontinued rope climbing and rings events.
Melissanidis scored 9.850, his highest total in any major competition.
All-round champion Li Xiashuang of China totaled 9.837 for the silver, ahead of Russian Alexei Nemov, the all-round runner-up.
Meanwhile, Kakhiashvilis smashed two world records in the first heavyweight (99 kg) class.
Kakhiashvilis, the middle-heavyweight champion at the 1992 Barcelona Games, when he represented Georgia, trailed Denis Gotrfrid of Ukraine and Kazakhstan's 1988 gold medalist Anatoly Kharapaty after the snatch section.
However, he produced a towering jerk lift of 235kg to seize gold and Khrapaty's old world record and into the bargain set a combined record of 420kg.
The triumph confirmed Greece as one of the world's new weightlifting powers alongside China and Turkey, who have also won two golds in Atlanta.
"The first of my golds I won for Georgia, where I was born and lived for 23 years," Kakhiashvilis said, whose mother is Greek.
"But I also wanted to win one for Greece, the country I love and where I and my parents now live."
The latest three additions to Greece's Olympic gold medalists, weightlifter Akakios Kakhiashvilis, gymnast Yiannis Melissanidis and windsurfer Nikos Kaklamanakis drew praise and congratulations from across the political spectrum yesterday.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in a congratulatory telegram, "your gold medals mirror the Greece of the future."
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert told Melissanidis in a cable, "you have honored Greece with your hard work. You are a model athlete who knows how to set aims and achieve them. The gold medal you rightfully won opens new avenues for Greek sports."
Apostolos Kaklamanis said in a cable, "the conscience of the Greek people rightly based its expectations for high distinctions on you. I am sure your example will be embraced by the whole of Greek youth for the good of its own and of the nation."
Congratulations were also sent by Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos and former New Democracy prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis.
The nation plans to show its gratitude to the Greek Olympic team with a celebration at the Panathinaikon Stadium in central Athens, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. The athletes are to return to Athens on a plane chartered by the sports secretariat.
A meeting was held on the issue yesterday between Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras and Olympic Games Committee (IOC) member Yiannis Economou.
The government yesterday called for support in backing Athens' bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games, reiterating that it would perhaps be better if the games were held on a permanent basis in Greece.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that in view of the recent events in Atlanta, it might be better for Greece to be the permanent venue for the games, but acknowledged that there were "many expediencies" in such issues.
Mr. Reppas congratulated the Greek Olympic team on its participation and achievements in the Atlanta games.
Asked by reporters to comment on the fact that former monarch Constantine awarded the medals in the gymnastics event, Mr. Reppas said the ex-king was an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stressing that the award ceremony too k place without any mention of a title pertaining to Greece.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis had a meeting yesterday with PASOK party Secretary Costas Skandalidis focusing on organizational matters.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Skandalides said that "everyone" was putting forward their proposals at the present time concerning the restructuring of PASOK for discussion by the executive committee after Aug. 18.
He added that he would be having a further meeting with the prime minister next week.
Replying to questions, Mr. Skandalidis said there was no thought about holding early general elections.
Mr. Simitis met later with Transport and Communications Under-secretary Giorgos Daskalakis, the discussion again centering on party issues.
Mr. Daskalakis, who was until recently secretary of PASOK's financial sector, told reporters afterwards that he had also discussed issues within his competence as under-secretary, including urban transport.
Asked whether the issue of a government reshuffle had been discussed, Mr. Daskalakis replied that the prime minister "does not discuss such issues with his ministers."
Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos yesterday called on the government to answer the "provoca-tive, unacceptable and historically untenable positions" expressed by the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ljubomir Frckovski, in a recent meeting in Skopje with FYROM expatriates, that also dealt with the name of the landlocked country.
Mr. Pavlopoulos described the "small package" of differences settled with FYROM in an interim agreement last September, which separates the name issues from those of the flag and irredentist references in FYROM's constitution, as nationally harmful and resulting in "time running against our country, while Skopje is usurping the name of Macedonia..."
Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras called on the government to castigate the statement by Mr. Frckovski, on property he claims is owned by citizens of that country in Greece.
In a statement yesterday, Mr. Samaras criticized the government of "suspicious and exasperating inertia" at a time when "(Kiro) Gligorov remains intransigent on the name and is preparing to raise the issue at the United Nations."
Mr. Samaras asked the prime minister directly "which expediency is served by this tactic of the government, which leaves ground to the Skopjans to consolidate their positions against Greece."
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday described the human rights situation in Turkey as a "gaping wound", stressing that Greece's interest in the matter could not be "occasional".
Asked by reporters to comment on Athens' initiative within the European Union concerning the situation in Turkish prisons, Mr. Reppas said that for the moment the EU troika had not lodged any protest with Ankara.
At least 13 hunger strikers protesting conditions in Turkish prisons have died over the past two weeks. The hunger strike was called off over the weekend after Ankara accepted some of the protesters' demands.
Mr. Reppas linked the EU's lack of action on the issue with Ankara's decision, but noted that the "climate" in the EU for such initiatives was neither "friendly" nor "willing".
In reply to questions on reports that Turkish intelligence services - supposedly citing Israeli sources - had once again accused Greece of providing assistance to Kurdish militants, Mr. Reppas reiterated that Greece has nothing to do with the matter.
He spoke in terms of "subterfuges" on the part of Ankara, with which international public opinion had become accustomed whenever Turkey was facing domestic problems.
Meanwhile, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Stratis Korakas, who is in Istanbul for a show of solidarity with the hunger strikers, yesterday expressed doubts in an interview with ANA whether the Turkish government would observe even the limited concessions it announced.
He added that the Turkish constitution and legislation are among the most reactionary in the world, and that even elementary human rights continue to be violated, along with a genocide against the Kurdish people.
Also yesterday, a Greek delegation comprised of representatives from the Athens Doctors' Association, the Athens Bar Association, and the Athens Journalists' Union attended the funeral of the 12th victim of the hunger strike, and met with an attorney o f the hunger strikers and members of human rights organizations in Turkey. Meanwhile, the Coalition of the Left and Progress organized a rally outside the Turkish embassy in Athens yesterday to pay homage to the Turkish hunger strikers.
In addition, a resolution was ratified saying the rally was held to pay homage to the dead Turkish political prisoners on hunger strike, "who fell in the struggle for democracy and human rights, to express solidarity to the fighters still in danger, who have sustained serious damage to their health, and to display indignation over the Turkish regime's insensitivity which led fellow human beings to death."
The government yesterday strongly attacked main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert for remarks he made on Sunday about the government's policy on national issues after flying over the rocky islet of Imia, scene of a serious Greek-Turkish stand-off in January. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government's stance was "prudent", noting that it had managed to bring European Union positions on Greek-Turkish relations closer to those of Athens.
"I flew over all the Greek islets of the Dodecanese. Why should I exclude Imia? Woe betide if we were afraid to fly over Imia. It is this attitude of backing down that has fed Turkish provocativeness," Mr. Evert said after flying over the uninhabited is let yesterday.
Mr. Reppas countered, saying it was "only natural that Mr. Evert should exhaust his mental and other capacities in an attempt to find arguments to wage his opposition against the government, most of the time unsuccessfully".
The spokesman added that the military helicopter in which Mr. Evert flew over Imia patrolled the area daily, noting that no special importance should be attached to the opposition leader's move.
Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos, choking with emotion, officiated at the Holy Trinity Church in New York on Sunday, bidding farewell to his congregation upon retirement.
Iakovos expressed certainty that Hellenism in the United States, "mature and sure of itself, would always forge ahead and would maintain its insurmountable presence in American society.
"My successor will respect you in the same way I respect you and will co-operate with you with the same willingness that I did," he said.
Iakovos became 85 years old yesterday, the day of his resignation from his ecclesiastical position.
According to reports, the Ecumenical Patriarchate's relevant synod committee has decided to create three new metropolitan centers in the Archdiocese of North and South America.
The current dioceses of Canada and South America will become separate metropolitan centers, while a new one will be created - that of central America.
The United States will be maintained as a unified entity under the Archbishop of America, who will be headquartered in New York and will maintain the title of exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Archbishop's title will be limited to "Archbishop of America" instead of "Archbishop of North and South America", which was the case to date.
The relevant committee will be making the proposal at the Holy Synod today, while at the same meeting the Ecumenical Patriarch is expected to propose a candidate or candidates for the election of a new Archbishop of America, since the period of office o f Archbishop Iakovos ended yesterday.
However, other changes will not be decided before the election of the Archbishop of America which will take place today. The Archbishop will have to have a decisive say in final decisions, sources at the Fanar said.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Under-secretary Manolis Loukakis said yesterday that temporary housing for all earthquake victims in the Konitsa region would be completed today.
An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter near the Greek-Albanian border, hit the area Friday.
Mr. Loukakis said a presidential decree would be signed designating the region earthquake-stricken and would be followed by the taking of all necessary measures for victims, which had been taken in the cases of Grevena, Kozani and Aigio.
In addition, it was announced that some 142 houses in Konitsa damaged by the earthquake will have to be demolished.
Konitsa mayor Prodromos Hatziefremidis said 214 residences had been declared uninhabitable, adding that the problem of housing for citizens was great.
A total of 74 tents have been provided so far for earthquake victims, while four containers were brought to the community in the morning to be used for housing.
Meanwhile, the recording of damage continued in 23 villages in the greater Konitsa area, where 69 buildings have so far been declared unsuitable and 14 in dangerous condition.
Tents have already arrived in Konitsa, while the first prefabricated buildings began arriving yesterday morning from Ioannina.
Ioannina Prefect Nikos Zarbalas assured residents yesterday that within one month, all quake victims in the area will be housed in prefabricated dwellings.
Tirana's ambassador to Athens Hysen Cabej visited Larisa Prison yesterday, holding a four-hour meeting with representatives of Albanian inmates who have been on a hunger strike since Friday, demanding to be transported to Albanian jails to serve out their sentences.
After meeting with the inmates, Mr. Cabej told reporters that there is good will between Tirana and Athens on the issue, which has been facilitated considerably since a relevant bill was passed in Greece allowing for the transfer of Albanian inmates serving short sentences.
Mr. Cabej said there are possibilities for the first 20 Albanian inmates to be transported to prisons in their country soon. He stressed that the problem is both humanitarian and legal, since many of the prisoners are alone in Greece, without any relatives or money.
Last Friday, roughly 100 inmates at the facility, mostly Albanian nationals, rioted for roughly two hours, demanding to be transported to prisons in Albania.
In a related development, 75 Albanian inmates at Agios Eleftherios prison have started a hunger strike, demanding better detention conditions and an exchange of inmates between Greece and Albania.
Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece was ardently interested in transferring Albanian prison inmates to Albania and this was the goal of continuous contacts with Tirana.
"In certain prisons complaints have appeared by Albanian inmates in past days, who request to be transferred to their country to serve their sentences," Mr. Venizelos said yesterday.
"It is known, and as the Albanian inmates know themselves, Greece is ardently interested in their transfer to Albania and this is the target of our continuous contacts with the Albanian government. However, only those irrevocably convicted have the possibility of a transfer and not those awaiting trial or inmates for whom judicial means are still pending," he added.
According to the existing Greek-Albanian agreement on the transfer of inmates, the consent of the inmate himself is required.
The justice ministry conveys relevant applications to Albania immediately, but the applications are few and Albania's reply was awaited since February and was given by telephone yesterday for the first batch of inmates.
A reply has also been expected from Albania since February on the draft protocol sent by Greece to simplify procedures.
Twelve Kurdish illegal immigrants, including five children, landed at dawn on an isolated beach in Plomari, on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, according to local authorities.
The Kurds - five men, two women and the children - were disembarked by a wooden boat, which they said transported them from Turkey. They are scheduled to appear before the public prosecutor later in the day.
According to official figures, more than a total of 23,000 illegal immigrants have entered Greece from Turkey between 1992 and 1995. The number jumped from 3,436 in 1992 to 9,590 last year.
The official figures refer only to those apprehended, while the actual number of entries is calculated at five times the official figure.
Most of the illegals entering from Turkey came from Iraq (10,317), Pakistan (5,672), Turkey (2,569) and Bangladesh (1,328).
The Evros crossing on the Greek-Turkish border is the largest entry point (17,545 entries) for illegal immigrants, followed by remote beaches on the Dodecanese (3,055 entries), Samos (913), Hios (707) and Lesvos (686).
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a meeting of government officials today to take decisive decisions concerning the economy.
The government's economic staff convened for two hours at the national economy ministry yesterday to prepare proposals by relevant ministers.
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said afterwards economic developments in the current year, the course of this year's budget and the state of inflation were examined, as well as the absorption of Community funds for major projects.
He said the same issues would be discussed during today's meeting under the prime minister, adding that the course and prospects of the economy were good.
Apart from Mr. Papantoniou, the meeting was attended by Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, National Economy Under-secretary Christos Pachtas, the governor of the Bank of Greece Loukas Papademos and the Prime Minister's economic advisers.
Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos yesterday criticized the government's economic policy, claiming that for six months the government had not taken even one serious decision.
"The prime minister and the government of meetings and ascertainments prove daily that they have no proposals and cannot provide solutions for problems faced by the country," Mr. Pavlopoulos said on the occasion of yesterday's meeting of the government' s economic staff.
Mr. Pavlopoulos painted a grim picture of the state of the economic sector, claiming that the government was trying in vain with "Pap-test" credentials - meaning meetings attended by Papantoniou, Papadopoulos, Vasso Papandreou and Papademos - on the economy and barren meetings of its members to give the impression it existed.
The development ministry announced a package of initiatives and legislative measures regarding the development and environmental protection of lignite-producing areas around the country.
Speaking during a public conference held in the Kozani prefecture's offices yesterday, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said the decisions are based "on a spirit of policies" introduced when Costas Simitis was minister of industry.
Ms Papandreou announced implementation of a local development fund for industrial areas using lignite for energy production, as well as for the support of their developmental and environmental upgrading.
She said procedures are being speeded up for the relocation of communities in Kozani which are being adversely affected by the operation of the lignite plants, adding that the development ministry is examining the possibility of replacing land ownership based on land production.
Industrial output marked a 2 per cent increase in May this year compared with the same month of 1995, according to figures released yesterday by the National Statistics Service (ESY).
The increase, an ESY statement said, was due chiefly to upswings in the branches of tobacco, furniture, chemical products, oil and coal by-products and non-metallic minerals.
In the five-month period between January-May 1996, industrial output marked an overall increase of 1.6 per cent compared with the same period last year.