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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-01-03

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1381), January 3, 1998

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address:


  • [01] Athens calls for concerted European action on refugees
  • [02] Human wave from Turkey continues
  • [03] Search for missing three illegals continues
  • [04] Separate Kranidiotis meetings with US, British ambassadors
  • [05] Athens: No harassment of Turkish vessels by Greek warships
  • [06] ... Turkey to protest
  • [07] ... Press reports
  • [08] President on official visit to India
  • [09] Memorial service for lost air force officers
  • [10] New speedboat on patrol in Ionian
  • [11] Declassified Foreign Office documents on Greek junta
  • [12] Minister sets out Thessaloniki's cultural future
  • [13] CD set features works by Greek composers
  • [14] EU-funded development program for Aegean rock-islets
  • [15] First instance court decision on Distos sinking
  • [16] Greek equities make hesitant 1998 debut
  • [17] Greek telecom raises monthly rates, local unit cost
  • [18] Smokers to pay more in 1998
  • [19] Athens Water Company freezes 1998 rates
  • [20] Lesvos Maritime nine month profits up 38.8 percent
  • [21] OA board chairman resigns
  • [22] Alpha Credit Bank rates
  • [23] Bake rolls investment
  • [24] Sales drop for Greek Textiles Co.
  • [25] Program to aid repatriated Greeks of Drama prefecture
  • [26] Pensioners, salaried workers the hardest hit taxpayers

  • [01] Athens calls for concerted European action on refugees

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday called for coordinated action on the part of Schengen Pact member-states to deal with the causes of the large-scale illegal immigration of Kurds into western Europe.

    "The increase in the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe, particularly to EU countries, is a phenomenon which has become acute over the last few months, causing concern and mobilizing interest - beyond the governmental level - of EU organs and of Schengen," the foreign ministry's Secretary-General, Stelios Perrakis, told ANA yesterday.

    "Recent events, particularly the arrival of about 1,200 Kurdish refugees in Italy onboard Turkish ships, confirm what the Greek side has repeatedly stressed at a high political level in the EU and in the Schengen system, that the issue cannot be dealt with through increased police measures and stricter control of external borders (sea, air or land).

    "What is required now is international action on the part of Schengen countries and on the causes of the problem, namely, the aggressive Turkish military activity in northern Iraq, on one hand, and Ankara's policy of not controlling or restricting and even tolerating the flow of Iraqi refugees through its territory westwards," he specified.

    "In the context of the same policy, all Schengen countries must demand of Turkey the signing of an agreement for re-entry (of refugees), which, we note, this country has been refusing to do with Greece for a number of years," Mr. Perrakis stressed.

    "The flow of illegal immigration, of course, affects our country, as proven by the increase in arrivals, but also the applications for asylum, which Greece has to deal with in the framework of its obligations arising from the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees and from international law. At the same time, Greece adopts all those measures required for the control of external borders, according to the obligations arising from our country's participation in the Schengen system," he added.

    Meanwhile, a recent Italian proposal for the convening of an international conference on the Kurdish problem met with negative reaction from Ankara.

    On his part, press ministry Secretary-General Nikos Athanasakis told the AFP news agency of the government's concern over the increasing number of Kurd refugees attempting to enter Greece.

    "It is a problem which is causing us serious concern because the rate of refugee arrivals is increasing. We are aware of the humanitarian aspect and we try every time to tackle the problem by helping the refugees," Mr. Athanasakis said. "They leave Turkey easily, a country which is not linked to Greece with an agreement for repatriating immigrants," he said, adding that according to latest estimates 12,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Kurds, arrived in Greece through Turkey in 1996.

    However, the UN High Commissioner's representative for refugees in Greece, Marion Hoffman, said yesterday that few stay in Greece, and most move on to another European country. People requesting asylum are only a small percentage of the illegal immigrants, she said.

    The Greek government is closely following developments over the last few days and has boosted patrols by coast-guard and navy vessels for the location of ships transporting illegal immigrants.

    A Greek warship is patrolling in the northern Aegean for the same reason, according to defense ministry sources.

    According to reliable sources, the foreign ministry will decide within the month on the adoption of additional measures in accordance with the Schengen Pact.

    [02] Human wave from Turkey continues

    Rome, 03/01/1998 (ANA/AFP/REUTERS)

    Another ship carrying 300 Kurd illegal immigrants left Istanbul yesterday morning and is in the Aegean, according to an announcement by a Kurdistan National Liberation Front (ERNK) spokesman.

    The ship's final destination is not known but it is believed that it will sail to either Italy or Greece, the pro-Kurdish agency DEM stated.

    According to ERNK, the PKK's political wing, two more ships left Turkey two days ago with 1,000 Kurds. Their destination is again unknown.

    "We don't know about the ship. Had we known, we would have seized it," one Turkish coast-guard official reportedly said.

    ERNK had warned Rome in November that a "biblical exodus" of Kurds was about to occur and that at least 20,000 people were ready to head west.

    [03] Search for missing three illegals continues

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    As international attention appeared to be focusing on the problem, three Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin were reported missing and presumed drowned in the Evros River, which constitutes the Greek-Turkish border in Thrace, police in Alexandroupoli said yesterday. The missing two women and a small boy were among a group of 28 illegal immigrants being transported by a Turkish smuggler to the region of Didimotiho late New Year's Eve, police said.

    "Their boat overturned, and the three were swept away by the river's currents," a police spokesman said. The Turkish smuggler had put the group of 28 ashore on an islet in the middle of the river, from where he had strung a rope across to the Greek side in order to provide a hold and keep the vessel from being overturned by the rushing waters, according to reports.

    The illegals were then ferried across in groups of five. The two women and the boy were among the second group, with another child and a man. Police said the man managed to save one of his children, but his wife, his other child and another woman were carried away by the waters and disappeared.

    A Greek military patrol in the area heard the calls for help and rushed to their assistance, but the three had already vanished downstream. A massive rescue operation was launched by the army and local fishermen, who picked up the rest of the immigrant s stranded on the tiny islet and facing serious danger from rising waters.

    Eleven of the illegal immigrants who appeared to be in poor condition were taken to Didimotiho hospital as a precaution, before being taken to a nearby police station.

    The search and rescue operation for the missing three continued late into the evening and was resumed at dawn yesterday.

    Finally, authorities said they were holding a total of 125 Iraqi illegal immigrants at the Didimotiho police station, including the 25 picked up from the islet yesterday.

    [04] Separate Kranidiotis meetings with US, British ambassadors

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis had successive meetings yesterday with new US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns and British ambassador in Greece Sir Michael John Llewelyn Smith.

    The under-secretary exchanged views with the British ambassador on Britain's plans for its presidency of the European Union, which it will assume on Thursday. The two officials also discussed the procedure for implementing the findings of the Luxembourg summit, with regard to expanding EU membership.

    Mr. Kranidiotis' talks with Mr. Burns included bilateral issues and problems in the southeastern Mediterranean region.

    In addition, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also held a scheduled meeting with Mr. Burns, focusing on upcoming visits to Greece by US senators and congressmen.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also briefed Mr. Burns on Turkish provocativeness over the past days as well as on Turkey's continuing military exercise in the Aegean.

    [05] Athens: No harassment of Turkish vessels by Greek warships

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The national defense ministry late Thursday night flatly denied a Turkish press report alleging that Greek warships had "challenged" two Turkish cargo vessels in the Aegean's international waters early Thursday.

    Defense ministry sources told ANA that a Hellenic Navy gunboat had been carrying out a "routine patrol in the area, following a tip that a ship was planning to land 2,000 illegal immigrants on the Greek shores in the region."

    The same sources rejected Turkish press reports that two Greek warships attempted to inspect merchant vessels nine nautical miles off the Dardanelles Straits, flashing lights at them and asking them to identify their ports of origin and destination.

    Greece has recently been flooded by hundreds of illegal immigrants ferried across from Turkey.

    In a New Year's Eve incident, two Iraqi women and a boy were missing after being swept away by rising waters in the Evros River. They were among a group of 28 Iraqi Kurds being ferried across by a Turkish smuggler.

    [06] ... Turkey to protest

    Ankara, 03/01/1998 (DPA/ANA)

    Turkey's leadership is considering protesting to Greece over claims that Greek warships challenged vessels emerging from the Dardanelles, television reports said.

    The reports claimed that the Greek ships refused to identify themselves, and left their stations on the arrival of Turkish warships, put on alert after calls by the captains of the harassed vessels, the reports further claimed.

    They quoted Turkish diplomats as saying the incident came at a time of high tension between Athens and Ankara over Turkey's plans to carry out military exercises in the Aegean over the next few days.

    According to Turkish press reports, the Turkish army will carry out an eight-phase maneuver in the region between Jan. 2-25, while the Greek forces will launch a four-day exercise on Jan. 19.

    According to reports, there was no Turkish activity in the Aegean yesterday in the framework of the announced exercise. The scenario for the Turkish exercise anticipated activity by the Turkish navy and air force north of the island of Limnos yesterday, which however, was not carried out.

    [07] ... Press reports

    Ankara, 03/01/1998 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    Meanwhile, the Turkish daily "Milliyet", under the headline "Greek Piracy in the Aegean", also referred to a statement by a senior Turkish foreign ministry official that Greece could be trying to underline that the Aegean's international waters belonged to Athens alone.

    "If this is true, then Greece should change its stance at once, since Turkey has warned the international public that it considers such a position a cause for war," the official was quoted as saying.

    Finally, Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Inal Batu, characterizing 1997 as a "bad year for Greek-Turkish relations", said that Turkey was awaiting a response from Greece to its "continued calls for dialogue, such as that made by (Turkish) Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on March 24, 1996".

    Responding to a question on what 1998 holds in store, he said:

    "We hope that no more problems will arise, that there will be at least some small steps taken towards resolving existing problems and that we will learn to live with the remaining unresolved problems."

    [08] President on official visit to India

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit to India January 12-18 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Kocheril Raman Narayanan, it was announced yesterday.

    He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Economy Under-secretary Alekos Baltas.

    [09] Memorial service for lost air force officers

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Air Force yesterday held a memorial service in honor of the five air force officers who lost their lives when their C-130 "Hercules" transport plane crashed during the operation to find a missing Ukrainian airliner last week.

    The service was held at the Agios Pavlos chapel inside the Elefsina air force base.

    [10] New speedboat on patrol in Ionian

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    A state-of-the-art 40-foot patrol boat capable of achieving speeds of up to 60 nautical miles is scouring the Ionian as of yesterday as part of the Igoumenitsa port authority's force.

    The new speedboat will patrol the sea region between Igoumenitsa-Corfu and the Albanian coast round-the-clock, preventing smugglers' speedboats from approaching.

    [11] Declassified Foreign Office documents on Greek junta

    London, 03/01/1998 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Newly released British Foreign Office documents apparently shed light on the thoughts behind Britain's policy toward Greece at the beginning of the 1967 Greek military dictatorship.

    At the time, Britain's leadership considered its reaction to the junta, according to the documents.

    According to official document CAB 129 - declassified after a 30-year statute of limitations expired - Britain pondered the policy of Denmark and Norway, namely, publicly denouncing the junta and suspending diplomatic relations. British leadership, however, deemed that such a course would have created problems in communication with Greece, especially over the Cyprus issue.

    The alternative, which was finally adopted, was to keep channels of communication open at a low governmental level, although arms sales would cease and high-level contacts between the two countries would be suspended.

    Then British Foreign Minister Michael Stewart decided to propose the second alternative to the cabinet, since it better represented British interests in the area, according to the released documents.

    "I think that we will have greater influence over Athens toward the right direction with the way we choose. In Athens we have a hard and experienced ambassador who is in a position to judge what kind of influence can be exerted on the leadership of the junta" wrote Mr. Stewart, in justifying his decision.

    He added that the first alternative "would agree with the public feeling of disapproval for the situation in Greece, but it would deny us the possibility of communicating directly with the leaders of the regime, this is the way most of our friends and allies have chosen, except the Danes and the Norwegians, and they created a problem to NATO."

    The diplomatic files of the Foreign Office will be released at the end of 1998.

    New Democracy honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis yesterday confirmed the contents of the documents.

    [12] Minister sets out Thessaloniki's cultural future

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Thessaloniki's cultural future, following the end of Cultural Capital of Europe 1997 organization, was set out at a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

    The Museum of Modern Art will be housed at the YFANET building, while Prof. Demetris Fatouros has already been appointed its president.

    Jules Dassin was appointed board president for the city's annual film festival.

    Meanwhile, a Museum of Cinema will function as an independent sector of the festival.

    The State Theater of Northern Greece continues to exist with the explicit purpose of utilizing its buildings, while the Design Museum will conclude a scheduled contract with the State Museum of Modern Art to which it will be subject as an independent sector.

    The Literature Archives of Thessaloniki will be housed at the renovated building along Theofilou Street in Ano Poli.

    Lastly, the Concert Hall will be finally ready in about 14 months. Athens News Agency

    [13] CD set features works by Greek composers

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    A luxury set of five CDs with works by the most noted Greek composers has been issued by the Center of Modern Music Research with funding by the National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA).

    The issue is entitled "From the Greek Music Vanguard of the 20th Century."

    All five CDs include works 34 Greek composers, such as Yiannis Xenakis, Yiannis Christou, Argyris Kounadis, Mihalis Adamis and Demetris Mitropoulos.

    [14] EU-funded development program for Aegean rock-islets

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Aegean ministry yesterday announced a 400-million-drachma "Tour Through the Aegean" development program for several rock-islets in the eastern Aegean.

    Funding will reportedly become available through the European Union's "Interreg II" program and will include rock-islets that are part of "Natura 2000," another EU environmental protection program.

    Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoe said plans include the building of primary port facilities, small buildings, bird watching facilities, etc.

    This program is envisioned to boost alternative low-impact tourism in the eastern Aegean, protect wildlife and facilitate research.

    [15] First instance court decision on Distos sinking

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    A Piraeus court yesterday ordered a restraining order on 322 million drachmas worth of AGET Iraklis' financial assets in order to cover possible liabilities emanating from last year's sinking of the freighter "Distos".

    The vessel belonged to Iraklis shipping firm, a subsidiary of the AGET cement company. It sank last year, taking with it all but one of its crew members and family members of the crew.

    The first instance court has already awarded 17 million drachmas to relatives of three of the maritime disaster's victims.

    The shipping firm, in an press release, stated that the cement-carrying vessel was properly maintained according to existing safety regulations.

    [16] Greek equities make hesitant 1998 debut

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities traded narrowly yesterday to end with fractional gains during the first session of 1998 on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Traders said investors remained sidelined extending their New Year's holiday ahead of the weekend.

    The general index closed 0.19 percent higher at 1,482.41 points with sector indices mixed.

    Banks fell 0.09 percent, Insurance rose 1.79 percent, Leasing dropped 0.39 percent, Investment ended 0.21 percent, Constructions surged 2.04 percent, Industrials eased 0.38 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.30 percent up and Holding rose 1.03 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies gained 1.63 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 0.13 percent higher at 846.99 points.

    Trading was moderate with turnover at 13.5 billion drachmas on trading of large block of shares in National Bank and Commercial Bank (300,000 and 150,000 shares respectively).

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 132 to 65 with another 9 issues unchanged.

    Loulis, Elve, Atemke, Hellenic Mills and Sysware scored the biggest percentage gains, while Lambropoulos, Dane, Britannia and BarbaStathis suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 24,820 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,700, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,460, Delta Dairy at 3,240, Titan Cement at 12,850, Intracom at 13,050 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 5,900.

    [17] Greek telecom raises monthly rates, local unit cost

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Greece's telecoms company, has announced a rise in local telephone unit cost from 11.5 to 13 drachmas from January 1st.

    OTE also announced a rise in monthly fixed charges from 1,850 to 2,050 drachmas and an increase in the cost of telecards to 1,700 drachmas.

    The Greek telecom, however, reduced the cost of linking fees from 40,000 to 30,000 drachmas.

    [18] Smokers to pay more in 1998

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's finance ministry has announced that from January 1 cigarette prices will increase by 50 to 70 drachmas a packet.

    [19] Athens Water Company freezes 1998 rates

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    There will be no rises in the cost of water in Athens during 1998, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works under-secretary Christos Verelis told a news conference yesterday.

    Mr. Verelis said that Athens Water Company (EYDAP) would freeze its rates for the year.

    He noted that the company would begin operation of the complete Evinos project, currently operating by 40 percent servicing water needs in the Attica region.

    Mr. Verelis said that Athens Water Company would work towards drastically improving customer services by adopting a company strategic charter.

    [20] Lesvos Maritime nine month profits up 38.8 percent

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Lesvos Maritime Company reported a 38.8 percent rise in profits for the first nine months of 1997, compared to the corresponding period in 1996.

    Profits rose to 1.2 billion drachmas, while its turnover for the period from January to September totaled 6,710 million from 6,150 million the year before.

    [21] OA board chairman resigns

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Emmanuel Fthenakis yesterday submitted his resignation as chairman of the board of the national carrier, Olympic Airways.

    In a letter of resignation addressed to Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis, Mr. Fthenakis cited, inter alia, his bitterness that New Democracy MPs on the relevant parliamentary committee that approved his nomination had not voted for him, according to reliable sources

    Mr. Fthenakis was first appointed to the board in 1993 under the then New Democracy government of prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis. He was approved for a second term recently by the relevant Parliamentary committee.

    In the committee, ruling PASOK representatives voted in favor of Mr. Fthenakis, New Democracy MPs abstained, the Coalition of Left and Progress cast blank ballots and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) representatives voted against him.

    "...Nothing has changed in Greece," Mr. Fthenakis was quoted by the sources as writing in his letter.

    Ministry sources said a new chairman of the board would be selected between January 10-20.

    [22] Alpha Credit Bank rates

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Alpha Credit Bank announced that as of Monday, Jan. 5 the minimum loan interest rate for currency with the Alpha 605 account in foreign exchange is set as follows: US dollar, 8.40 per cent; ECU 7, per cent; deutschmark 6.25, per cent; yen 3.20, per cent; Swiss franc, 4 per cent and Italian lire 8.75 per cent.

    [23] Bake rolls investment

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Agrotiki Viomihaniki Makedonias foodstuffs company has completed a 600-million-drachma investment program to increase croissant production and begin production of bake rolls, according to company officials. The investment was covered by the company' s own capital by 55 per cent.

    [24] Sales drop for Greek Textiles Co.

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek Textiles Co. posted decreased sales by 24.4 per cent, or 11 billion drachmas, according to figures covering the first nine months of 1997. Conversely, losses decreased by 40 per cent, reaching 553 million drachmas.

    On the other hand, the company decreased short-term liabilities and losses during the same period.

    Bank loans were restricted to 41 million drachmas compared to 1.1 billion drachmas, while long-term liabilities were paid off, shaping total liabilities at 1.85 billion drachmas as against 4 billion drachmas over the corresponding period in 1996.

    [25] Program to aid repatriated Greeks of Drama prefecture

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Organization of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Craftsmen (EOMMEX) and the Society of Repatriated Greeks of Drama Prefecture are participating in the European Union program "Enterprise and Employment".

    The program will financially aid and offer technical expertise to enterprises founded by repatriated Black Sea Greeks (Pontians).

    The program includes such services as a reception center, which will provide information on market and state regulations as well as employment and business orientation.

    [26] Pensioners, salaried workers the hardest hit taxpayers

    Athens, 03/01/1998 (ANA)

    Pensioners and salaried workers provided the lion's share of the 1997 taxes, according to finance ministry statistics.

    Those two categories of taxpayers buffered the national budget by 56.8 per cent as opposed to 55 per cent in 1996. The increase is due to the fact that there has been on price indexation on taxes for several years. The government introduced a 5.5 per cent price indexation on taxes for 1998.

    The average declared income in 1997 was 2,927,024 drachmas per taxpayer and the median tax slice was 201,138 drachmas, an 22.4 per cent increase.

    End of English language section.

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