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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-01-07

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 1383), January 7, 1998

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


  • [01] Exodus of Kurds, violations of Greek airspace earn harsh criticism for Ankara
  • [02] ... More arrests reported, patrols intensified
  • [03] ... Prodi-Kohl meeting
  • [04] DHKKI founder Tsovolas undergoes successful heart surgery
  • [05] Armed Turkish warplanes reported in Greek national airspace
  • [06] Violation of Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement
  • [07] Georgian defense minister on official visit
  • [08] Karamanlis calls for unity amid Turkish provocations
  • [09] ... Meeting with ND cadres
  • [10] Kasoulides in Athens
  • [11] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece
  • [12] Tax draft bill tabled in Parliament today
  • [13] Alternative service for conscientious objectors introduced
  • [14] Outflows of 200 million ECUs reported by central bank
  • [15] Greek stocks surge during first session of 1998
  • [16] Nat'l economy ministry pleased with '97 investments program
  • [17] Two Albanians charged in connection with seized arms cache
  • [18] Hundreds line up for 'White Cards'
  • [19] Ancient tombs discovered on Lesvos
  • [20] Four men drown when car plunges into stream

  • [01] Exodus of Kurds, violations of Greek airspace earn harsh criticism for Ankara

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece yesterday pointed to Ankara as accountable to the international community for the mass exodus of Kurds fleeing from Turkey to Europe as well as the multiple violations of Greek airspace and the Athens FIR by Turkish warplanes on the Epiphany religious holiday, a direct violation of the 1988 Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement.

    "Turkey is accountable to the international community for its overall stance, with which it dynamites peace and stability in the region and consequently it cannot demand that European countries should turn a blind eye," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in Thessaloniki, while speaking to the Union of Journalists of Macedonia-Thrace. The Greek defense minister's comments followed the announcement that a conference will be held in Rome tomorrow on the issue of the mass exodus of Kurds from Turkey, and especially on the problems being created for the European Union.

    Greece will be represented at the highest possible level, according to a decision taken on Monday, with Greek police (ELAS) chief Lt. Gen. Athanasios Vassilopoulos and the director of state security, Brig. Gen. Georgios Yianes, set to leave for Rome today.

    Furthermore, two Italian police officials are due to arrive in Athens today to co-operate with the Greek authorities on the problem of illegal Kurdish emigration from Turkey.

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said a political solution needed to be given to the Kurdish issue by the Ankara government.

    "It has once again been confirmed how right the EU was when it placed certain conditions on Turkey, which it must meet in order to approach the level of Europe. And it has also been confirmed that those conditions are not being adhered to," he said.

    In recent days, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added, "all of Europe has been dominated by one problem. The Kurdish problem, which cannot be solved by military means, requires a political solution," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that "Turkey's inability to solve it has led to this exodus of thousands of people, who are fleeing to various countries in Europe."

    The Greek minister said Europeans "are taking the initiative to call on Turkey to solve the issue, and Turkey must realize that it is not possible to ask European countries to ignore international law, in effect adopting an attitude similar to Ankara's.

    "On the contrary, Turkey is accountable for proving that it has finally learned to respect human rights, human freedoms. And this is why, today, it is the focal point of criticism from all the European countries, confirming the need for Turkey to adapt to the conditions set out by the EU for its prospect in relation to Europe," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    In a statement to the state-run ET-1 television station yesterday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said that with its attitude Turkey is violating international law and the recently signed Madrid communiqui, adding that with the methods Ankara is applying it reminds of "its old bad self."

    Speaking on the Kurdish problem, Mr. Pangalos criticized the international community over what he called the indifference it has been systematically showing for years, and said that he has received a letter from his Italian counterpart Lamberto Dini sounding the alarm.

    "I had sounded the alarm two years ago, but then the others had closed their ears," he countered.

    Mr. Pangalos added that the problem lies with organized action by Turkey's military, which is evacuating regions in Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Lastly, Mr. Pangalos compared the attitude of the Turkish authorities towards the Kurds with that shown toward the Jews by Hitler.

    [02] ... More arrests reported, patrols intensified

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    While the EU's attention turned to the Kurdish immigration issue, a group of 14 Syrian illegals were being arrested by a coast-guard patrol shortly after landing on an isolated coast in Crete early yesterday.

    According to reports, the illegals disembarked at the Goudoura region near Sitia from a 12-meter tugboat, which was unnamed and not flying a flag.

    The Syrians, many of whom spoke Greek, told authorities that they had sailed from the Syrian port of Tartush and that they had paid the tugboat's skipper US$2,000 each.

    In addition, Samos police arrested a group of 11 Iraqi Kurds left off at the Galazio region of the eastern Aegean island by Turkish smugglers, who immediately fled the area and escaped arrest, reports state.

    Police said the illegals told them that there were thousands of Kurds assembled on the Asia Minor shores waiting to be transported to Greece and Italy.

    On its part, the Greek coast-guard has intensified its patrols in the regions around the Dodecanese islands opposite the Turkish coast following tip-offs that Turkish smugglers would try to again transport hundreds of Kurdish illegals to Greek islands.

    [03] ... Prodi-Kohl meeting

    Rome, 07/01/1998 (ANA/AFP)

    In a later announcement, Italy said it will continue to observe a positive stance toward Kurdish political asylum applications, the prime minister's office said yesterday.

    Italian Premier Romano Prodi, in a discussion with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl yesterday, examined ways in dealing with the illegal immigration issue.

    Mr. Prodi assured Mr. Kohl that Italy has taken all necessary measures to deal with the problem.

    [04] DHKKI founder Tsovolas undergoes successful heart surgery

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Demetris Tsovolas underwent heart by-pass surgery yesterday at the Papanicolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki, with the first medical bulletins listing his condition as excellent.

    The quadruple by-pass operation was conducted by a team of surgeons headed by Panayiotis Spyrou, a close friend of Mr. Tsovolas.

    Press sources said the 55-year-old Mr. Tsovolas, who was admitted into the hospital on Monday, had suffered a heart attack shortly before Christmas.

    Dr. Spyrou said that Mr. Tsovolas was in "excellent condition" after the one hour and 45 minute procedure.

    He described the procedure as a "routine operation", adding that damage to Mr. Tsovolas' coronary arteries had been fully reversed, while the prognosis called for a full recovery.

    The one-time national economy minister under PASOK will remain in the intensive care unit for monitoring for the next 24-48 hours, and in about 10 days will be ready to return to his duties, Dr. Spyrou said.

    [05] Armed Turkish warplanes reported in Greek national airspace

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday deplored Turkey's repeated infringements of the Athens FIR and violations of Greek airspace, amid continuing Turkish military maneuvers in the eastern Aegean.

    According to reports, eight Turkish F-16 warplanes that violated Greek national airspace 14 times in the region of Hios, Oinouses, Psara and Antipsara islands were also armed.

    In certain cases, the Turkish warplanes came as close as one nautical mile from the island of Antipsara, while the remaining violations occurred over a distance of three to nine nautical miles from the coast.

    In all cases the Turkish violators, which initially flew in pairs and later in formations, were recognized and intercepted by Hellenic Air Force Mirage-2000, F-16 and F-1 fighter planes, while in two cases engagements were recorded.

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "it is not possible that such an impressive dimension is attempted to be given each time to the military maneuvers Turkey wishes to carry out in the Aegean".

    "Greece guarantees that the Aegean is a region open to air and sea navigation, provided international law and the international treaties are adhered to," he said, adding that "every movement made in the Aegean must comply with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which are in effect in Greece's Flight Information Region (FIR)."

    He said that "the tension being created, regardless of whether there were or are maneuvers being held by Turkey, serves no purpose".

    [06] Violation of Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    "Today (yesterday), on the feast of the Epiphany, several Turkish aircraft, which were not taking part in exercises, once again attempted infringements (of the Athens FIR) and violations (of Greek airspace), an event which, although of an on-going nature , particularly on a day such as this, do harm to the mutually agreed stance of respecting major religious holidays," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added.

    In 1988, the then foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz, respectively, during a meeting in the seaside resort of Vouliagmeni near Athens, reached a "memorandum agreement" to promote confidence-building measures between the two countries on the principle of good-neighborliness.

    The agreement included respect of each others' major religious holidays, which meant that no military maneuvers would be held on such days near the borders of the two nations.

    The Turkish stance, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added, "confirmed how justified the European Union was in placing certain conditions on Turkey, which it must satisfy in order to be able to approach Europe".

    Asked to comment on Turkish exercises, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said "we are neither afraid nor concerned, we are merely celebrating Epiphany."

    In a related development, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will pay a brief visit to Mytilene and Hios on Jan. 13.

    In the wake of the continuing Turkish military exercise, code-named "Flexible Pliers", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will observe training activities by military units on the two islands.

    [07] Georgian defense minister on official visit

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Georgian National Defense Minister, Lt.-Gen. V. Nadibaize, will arrive in Athens on Friday on a three-day official visit to Greece.

    He is scheduled to hold talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos on defense co-operation between the two countries and developments in the greater region. On the same evening, Mr. Nadibaize will be received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Mr. Nadibaize will visit, among others, the PYRKAL firm, the Skaramangas Shipyards, as well as several archaeological sites.

    [08] Karamanlis calls for unity amid Turkish provocations

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday called for unity and determination in the face of what he called Turkish provocativeness.

    Mr. Karamanlis spoke during his visit to the eastern Aegean island of Psara, famous for its struggle for liberation from Ottoman rule during the Greek War of Independence.

    Ironically, during his visit, several Turkish warplanes violated Greek airspace over the same island.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that "...from this border island, a symbol of sacrifice and glory for Hellenism, I want to address a message: 'We Greeks want to live peacefully with all our neighbors in co-operation...' This, however, necessitates that Turkey behaves as a civilized nation and not as an international terrorist."

    He said that on matters of national integrity and dignity there can be no partisan reaction, rather he added, "we are one nation ready to defend with all means its integral rights."

    The ND leader's visit in the eastern Aegean began on Monday on the island of Hios, while yesterday he arrived in Psara for Epiphany celebrations.

    [09] ... Meeting with ND cadres

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    While on Hios, Mr. Karamanlis had a closed-door meeting with local ND officials.

    During the meeting he accused the government of inadequacy on the national and economic issues, saying that 1998 will be a difficult year for the national issues since Ankara has already began to provoke Athens.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that the country must become competitive in order to achieve Economic Monetary Union and overcome existing problems, for which the government has admitted delays.

    He also said that ND will exercise the role of the main opposition party in a stern and responsible manner.

    [10] Kasoulides in Athens

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides will visit Athens and Lisbon later this week for talks with his Greek and Portuguese counterparts on issues related to Cyprus' accession to the European Union, according to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia.

    Mr. Kasoulides will arrive in Athens on Friday and will then visit Lisbon for talks with Portuguese officials. He is due back in Cyprus on Jan. 13.

    [11] Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Epiphany Holy Day, the 12th day after Christmas, was celebrated throughout Greece yesterday with the consecration of the waters.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis attended the Epiphany liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus, which was officiated by Metropolitan Kallinikos.

    After the service, the congregation headed toward the nearby Akti Miaouli coastline, from where the Metropolitan tossed a cross into the waters for the consecration of the waters.

    The ceremony was also attended by former president of the republic Christos Sartzetakis, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras as well as the country's military leadership and a group of foreign ambassadors accredited to Athens.

    Officials were greeted by Piraeus Mayor Stelios Logothetis and Prefect Christos Fotiou. Mr. Stephanopoulos was greeted by Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis.

    In Athens, Bishop Pavlos delivered the Epiphany liturgy at the Agios Dionysios Cathedral in Kolonaki, before the blessing of the waters in Dexameni Square.

    The service was attended by Public Order Minister George Romeos, Athens Mayor Demetris Avramopoulos and several Parliament deputies.

    In Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Panteleimon officiated over the Epiphany liturgy, attended by National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Mayor Constantinos Kosmopoulos, Prefect Costas Papadopoulos and several Thessaloniki-area deputies.

    [12] Tax draft bill tabled in Parliament today

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry on Monday presented a new tax draft bill aimed at ensuring Greece's economic convergence with the European Union through a rise in public revenue and drastic cuts in the fiscal deficit.

    A new bill will be submitted for debate to Parliament today.

    The finance ministry said that the new tax bill was a natural continuation of an austere 1998 budget. However, the bill's proposed measures led to intense reactions from other political parties in Parliament and social partners.

    The bill foresees a price indexation of the tax scale by 5.5 per cent in 1998, increased withholding taxes for salaries and professionals, higher tax-free income for children, a 10 per cent increase on wealth indicators and a 35-40 per cent rise in taxes for non-listed companies with nominal shares.

    The bill also proposes a 0.003 per cent tax on securities sales, imposing tax on companies' profits and reserves and an increase on minimum capital for sociiti anonymes and limited companies.

    A Parliament committee will begin discussion on the bill on Jan. 12 and a final vote is expected by the end of the month.

    [13] Alternative service for conscientious objectors introduced

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece has introduced alternative and unarmed military conscription for conscientious objectors, putting an end to a long-standing issue that had drawn criticism from several human rights organizations.

    Defense ministry sources said on Monday that under the unarmed military service system, conscientious objectors will serve an additional 12 months to the regular conscription term in the three military branches.

    According to legislation passed last June, conscientious objectors will serve 30 months in the army, 32 months in the air force, and 33 months in the navy.

    Under the alternative conscription system, conscientious objectors will serve an additional 18 months to the regular conscription term, performing public service duties in state-owned organizations and local administration entities.

    Conscientious objectors opting for public service will serve 36 months in lieu of army duty, 38 months in lieu of air force duty, and 39 months in lieu of navy duty.

    Conscientious objectors choosing either unarmed military service or alternative conscription will not be able to serve their term in military units or public service in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra, Larisa, Irakleio, Crete, Volos, or in their home town.

    [14] Outflows of 200 million ECUs reported by central bank

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece reported outflows of 200 million ECUs at yesterday's drachma fixing in the domestic foreign exchange market. Central bank sources said that short-term interest rates ranged between 16-17 per cent, while the one-month rate was 15.65 per cent and two-month rates 16.20 per cent.

    [15] Greek stocks surge during first session of 1998

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities surged during the first serious session of the new year to break the 1,500-barrier.

    The general index closed 2.87 per cent higher at 1,525.02 points. Sector indices scored significant gains. Banks rose 2.27 per cent, Insurance jumped 3.15 per cent, Investment ended 2.14 per cent higher, Constructions were 0.94 per cent up, Industrials surged 3.99 per cent, Miscellaneous soared 3.79 per cent, Holding was 3.54 per cent up, but Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.50 per cent down.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.78 per cent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 2.46 per cent up at 867.82 points.

    Trading was moderate with turnover at 11.2 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 169 to 46 with another 21 issues unchanged. Intracom, Ideal, Intrasoft, Pairis, Alco and Lavipharm scored the largest gains at the day's upper limit of 8.0 per cent, while Ermis, Aspis Fund, Kalpinis, Papoutsanis and Xylemporia suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 25,250 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,000; Alpha Credit Bank at 16,550; Delta Dairy at 3,300; Titan Cement at 13,110; Intracom at 14,095 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization at 6,030.

    [16] Nat'l economy ministry pleased with '97 investments program

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's national economy ministry expressed its satisfaction over the implementation of the 1997 public investments program.

    According to preliminary figures, payments exceed 1.6 two trillion drachmas, from which 700 billion were Community fund subsidies.

    The government expects total payment of more than trillion drachmas for 1998, three times more than 1993 figures.

    The ministry also predicts that Community funds will total 840 billion drachmas for the year.

    European Union funds to Greek programs on environmental protection and improving the quality of living more than tripled over the past two years, while EU funds for health care, public investments and education more than doubled during the same period .

    The government expects that total EU inflows in 1997 will cover almost 50 per cent of the sum earmarked for the country until the year 2001.

    [17] Two Albanians charged in connection with seized arms cache

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Two Albanian nationals arrested in connection with the discovery of a huge arms cache in Dion, Pieria on Sunday, were on Monday charged with importation and possession of weapons, explosives and narcotic substances.

    Skrendi Peirikliou, 20, and Ilir Rogi, 27, from Elbasan told reporters as they left a prosecutor's office that they had nothing to do with the weapons and arms found in the home of 41-year-old US national, Donna Wilkins-Kaltsas.

    Katerini security police located and seized several anti-tank rockets and launchers, machine guns, Kalashnikov assault rifles, hand- grenades, pistols and silencers, ammunition, masks and bullet-proof vests in a pig-sty behind the American woman's home.

    A police spokesman said the weaponry had been smuggled into Greece from Albania, and was mainly of Russian and Chinese origin.

    He also said 153 sticks of TNT had also been confiscated, as well as 12 kilos of hashish and a small quantity of heroin. Police also found two Uzi submachine guns when they raided the residence, believed to have been stolen from Greek police.

    Wilkins-Kaltsas' husband, Georgios, was found dead with 20 gunshot wounds near Lamia last week in what appeared to be a gangland killing. Police believe the weapons were smuggled into Greece over the past few months after Georgios Kaltsas' brother, Vassilis, escaped from Corfu Prison and fled to Albania with the help of Albanian criminal gangs and Greek accomplices.

    Vassilis Kaltsas died in a car crash in Halkidiki, northern Greece, last month.

    Wilkins-Kaltsas' lawyer told reporters that his client was innocent and had no idea of the presence of the weapons, explosives and narcotics on her property.

    Donna Wilkins-Kaltsas was later charged with possession and trafficking in weapons, explosive materials and narcotics.

    The arms cache has been transported to Athens for ballistics testing to determine whether any of the weapons have been used in criminal activities.

    [18] Hundreds line up for 'White Cards'

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Hundreds of illegal immigrants besieged the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) on Monday, eager to register for the so-called "White Cards" allowing them to live and work in the country until the end of the year.

    Registration of the estimated half a million illegal immigrants in Greece will last until May 31. At the end of the year, White Card holders may obtain a "Green Card", which will be valid from one to three years.

    Applicants must present passports or identification cards, certification from the aliens' bureau that they have not been designated a "persona non grata", certification from the justice ministry of an unblemished criminal record and a health certificate from a Greek public hospital.

    In an announcement issued on Monday, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) expressed support for the implementation of Presidential decrees on legalizing foreign workers in Greece.

    The announcement said the positive fact must be combined with the known organization and operation of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) to allow registration to proceed smoothly as well as the processes anticipated for the issuing of employment cards.

    GSEE also said problems appearing at some of OAED's offices over the first two days of allocating forms required for the employment card could have been avoided.

    [19] Ancient tombs discovered on Lesvos

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Some 10 ancient tombs dating to the Hellenistic period have been uncovered approximately two kilometers south of Mytilene city, the capital of the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos.

    The tombs, including a monolithic sarcophagus made of local stone and found next to a monument, were unearthed during road works to link Mytilene with the town of Panagiouda.

    A similar tomb had been uncovered two years ago about 200 meters to the north. Both are in the vicinity of the ancient Moria quarry, which dates to the Hellenistic-Roman period.

    Archaeologists believe the tombs are connected with several ancient agricultural communities that existed outside the walls of Mytilene city during the Hellenistic-Roman period, and whose way of life was detailed in the 2nd century AD pastoral romance "Daphnis and Chloe".

    [20] Four men drown when car plunges into stream

    Athens, 07/01/1998 (ANA)

    Four people drowned yesterday when their vehicle fell into a stream in Xanthi prefecture.

    According to reports, a bus driver traveling on the Xanthi-Kavala highway through the village of Tymbano spotted the car at noon, as it lay in 1.5 meters of water with its rear portion submerged.

    Police and firefighters rushed to the scene and recovered the car, which contained the bodies of four men.

    Police identified the victims as Ibrahim Ali, 36, the driver of the car, Stefanos Malakopoulos, 25, Lesman Yighiaoglou, 24, and Suleyman Lubo Yiaghtsin, 21.

    End of English language section.

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