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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Gov't to guarantee Ionian jobs in sale contract,minister tells unions
  • [02] Gov't launches second phase of western undersea tunnel project
  • [03] Greek stocks edge up on gov't,union talks in Ionian Bank saga
  • [04] Gov't to release post office restructuring bill in early 1999
  • [05] Rhodes expects record-breaking tourist arrivals this week
  • [06] Greek bonds show rate slip in auction
  • [07] Greek central bank drops forex reserve requirement, commissions
  • [08] Greece's Eurobank sets sail on Internet
  • [09] Seminar in port of Piraeus calls for better shipping info-tech
  • [10] Helexpo exhibition in Belgrade
  • [11] Simitis promises gov't will follow through with EMU entry
  • [12] Gov't: Papoytsis overstepped bounds with latest criticism
  • [13] Tsohatzopoulos-Omirou meeting focuses on joint defence doctrine
  • [14] Kaklamanis dismisses Turkish counterpart's remarks over 'indirect' Turkish role on Cyprus
  • [15] Tsohatzopoulos on official visit to Slovenia
  • [16] Greece-US legal assistance agreement
  • [17] Joint Greek-US military exercises in Aegean
  • [18] High-level gov't meeting
  • [19] Tsohatzopoulos received by Christodoulos
  • [20] Chrysostomos continues contacts with Greek leadership
  • [21] Press report says Greek vessel stopped by British helicopter off Cyprus
  • [22] Gov't responds to remark by Moslem deputy
  • [23] Avramopoulos meets Pangalos before Skopje visit
  • [24] Vartholomeos concludes tour of Canada
  • [25] Romeos calls for attack on police corruption
  • [26] Riot police officer arrested for armed robbery
  • [27] Police commander arrested on blackmail charges
  • [28] Police looking into apparent public suicide of colleague
  • [29] Report on the environment Nat'l Research Foundation
  • [30] Simitis meets Romeos
  • [31] Greenpeace condemns genetically altered crops in Greece, points to undersecretary
  • [32] US Olympic Committee head in town for talks on Athens Games
  • [33] Call for wide-ranging hepatitis-B vaccination campaign
  • [34] ND deputy referred to party's ethics committee after fatal crach
  • [35] Greece,Portugal lead EU in traffic deaths per capita

  • [01] Gov't to guarantee Ionian jobs in sale contract,minister tells unions

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday it put forward a proposal fully guaranteeing jobs at Ionian Bank, by incorporating the bank's existing labour regulation in a sale contract.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with trade union leaders, in which Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou and Undersecretary Christos Protopapas also participated, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the meeting took place in a positive climate, and expressed a view that the new proposal raised no obstacles to the prospect of privatisation.

    The new government position means that in an eventual privatisation of the bank, any new owner will be committed to maintain all of Ionian's current staff.

    Mr. Papantoniou also forecast that the situation would be normalised, once the bank returned to normal operation.

    By contrast, Ionian employees' union president Yiannis Markakis said the strike would continue because the dispute over the bank's property status remained unresolved, while employees would continue opposing the sale.

    He conceded that the goverment's new proposal constituted a new development, but would have to be examined by the union's legal advisers.

    GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said discussion had centred on three points: The bank's future - where the difference between employees and government remained; the safeguarding of employees' labour rights -in relation to which he described Mr. Papantoniou's proposal as an important development - and a promise for the creation of a single bank employees' insurance fund.

    He noted that the government had now abandoned its previous "poor" formula which guaranteed jobs for only two years after privatisation, and was now forced to discuss the safeguarding of all employee rights.

    The week ahead is considered particularly crucial for developments on the labour front, as a number of strikes have been scheduled for the following week, including ones by teachers, dock workers, public utilities' employees on the government's privatisation list, and a general bank st rike on June 12.

    Striking workers at Ionian Bank earlier yesterday agreed to hold talks with the government on safeguarding jobs when the bank is privatised, but refused to call off their three-week work stoppage.

    The talks were held yesterday evening between Mr. Papantoniou and leaders of Ionian's trade union, the Federation of Bank Employees' Unions (OTOE), and the General Confederation of Greek Labour (GSEE).

    The workers have been on strike since May 11 in protest at the government's decision to sell a majority stake in the bank through bidding on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    They favour a merger of Ionian with Commercial Bank of Greece, its parent company. Both banks are listed.

    In the past, Mr. Markakis had ruled out talks as long as the government insisted on selling the bank; and as long as riot police remained deployed around the bank's computer centre in Piraeus.

    Mr. Polyzogopoulos appealed to Prime Minister Costas Simitis to intervene personally and find a way to resolve the crisis.

    Mr. Simitis has committed the government to a wide-ranging privatisation programme to enable the country's entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union.

    The International Monetary Fund has urged the government to privatise banks more aggressively.

    In addition, the trade union movement still maintained that Ionian's strike, called by OTOE, was justified, despite a court ruling last week declaring it illegal, Mr. Polyzogopoulos said.

    Unions vowed at the weekend to step up court action if the court ruling was not overturned.

    Greece rejects talk of postponing Ionian Bank sale : Greece's national economy ministry yesterday dismissed as groundless a press report claiming that the government had decided to postpone the sale of a majority stake in state-owned Ionian Bank.

    The ministry repeated in a statement that its plan to privatise the bank through the Athens Stock Exchange would proceed according to a timescale already announced, and with absolute transparency.

    A decision on the sale of a majority stake in Ionian Bank was expected to be approved by a shareholders meeting of listed Commercial Bank, Ionian's main shareholder, on June 19, the statement said.

    Also yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government would stick to its timetable on the bank's privatisation through a bidding process on the bourse.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't launches second phase of western undersea tunnel project

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    A 28-billion drachma undersea tunnel in western Greece, which is designed to aid transport to Albania and the Dalmatian coast, will be open to traffic in October 1999, Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said yesterday.

    "This major project will help to promote both the region and the country. It is part of a transport link in the west connecting Albania and the Dalmatian coast with Kalamata (in the Peloponnese)," Mr. Laliotis told a ceremony to launch the project's sec ond phase.

    Around 75 percent of the Aktio-Preveza link has been built and the project is keeping within its timescale, he said.

    Also attending the ceremony in Aktio were Public Works Undersecretaries Christos Verelis and Theodoros Koliopanos.

    Part of the project's second phase involves organising haulage and laying operations for cement sections that form part of the undersea tunnel, and checking the sections already installed.

    The next step will be to haul, lay and assemble the sections.

    The project has a total length of 4,710 metres, comprising an undersea tunnel of 1,570 metres with an internal width of 10.6 metres and height of 6.40 metres. The tunnel will have two lanes for traffic with a total width of eight metres and walkways on either side.

    Its entry and exit ramps total 412 metres.

    Land access roads have a total length of 2,728 metres, 925 metres of which lead to Aktio and the remaining 1,803 metres to Preveza as far as a highway linking Preveza and the port of Igoumenitsa.

    Detailed engineering for the project costs eight billion drachmas, and it will be proposed for funding under the European Union's

    Third Community Support Framework, Mr. Laliotis said.

    Other projects to expand the country's western road network are underway, including the Ionian road between Preveza and Igoumenitsa, and a bypass for the towns of Agrinio and Philippiada.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greek stocks edge up on gov't,union talks in Ionian Bank saga

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended slightly higher yesterday recovering a small part of major losses in the previous session.

    Traders said the market welcomed news that listed Ionian Bank's workers and national trade union federation officials had agreed to the government's proposal for talks on safeguarding jobs.

    Ionian's workers have been on strike since May 11 to protest against the government's decision to privatise Ionian rather than merge it with its parent, listed Commercial Bank of Greece.

    Ionian's share price rose 280 drachmas to end at 13,050.

    The general index rose 0.61 percent to 2,551.47 points.

    Sector indices finished mixed. Banks rose 0.86 percent, Insurance fell 1.09 percent, Investment dropped 1.14 percent, Leasing eased 0.46 percent, Industrials increased 0.65 percent, Construction jumped 1.78 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.59 percent up a nd Holding fell 1.06 percent.

    The parallel market index ended rose 1.40 percent. The FTSE/ASE 20 index gained 0.66 percent to 1,523.94.

    Trading was moderate with turnover at 61.4 billion drachmas.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 127 to 112 with another 26 issues unchanged. Ippotour, Vis, Ekter, Alte, Ergodata, Barba Stathis, Metka, Boutaris and Mediterranean Invest scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the day's 8.0 percent limit up.

    Mouzakis, Dane, Parnassos, Bank of Athens, Exelixi, Etma, Bank of Central Greece, Nafpaktos Mills and European Credit suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 41,700 drachmas, Ergobank at 26,990, Alpha Credit Bank at 31,770, Delta Dairy at 4,600, Titan Cement at 21,600, Intracom at 23,790 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 745.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Gov't to release post office restructuring bill in early 1999

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    A bill to restructure Hellenic Post Offices that allows alliances with firms abroad will be submitted to parliament early in 1999, Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday.

    Addressing a seminar on Hellenic Post Offices' business plan, Mr. Mantelis said that the bill was ready but it would first have to be submitted to the European Union to see whether it harmonised with EU law.

    He said that the state would end all subsidies to the post office by 1999, and that the company would have to improve its services in order to ensure income.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Rhodes expects record-breaking tourist arrivals this week

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Rhodes is expecting to break all previous records for tourist arrivals this week with 250 charter flights from abroad and 50 Olympic Airways domestic flights due to land on the holiday island.

    It is estimated that 35,000 foreign visitors will arrive on Rhodes, mostly from Germany, Britain and the Scandinavian countries.

    The estimates are for June 2-7 inclusive.

    Most of the charter flights are due on Thursday and Sunday when 130 flight arrivals will set a new record for the island.

    Local tourism officials believe arrivals will further increase next month when flights to the island begin from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

    Over 50,000 foreign tourists are currently staying at hotels on the Dodecanese island, and many are also occupying apartments and rented rooms.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greek bonds show rate slip in auction

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The finance ministry yesterday auctioned a new issue of seven-year fixed- income bonds at 8.7 percent through the market's primary dealers. The average weighed rate fell to 8.4 percent, a 20 basis point drop from the previous auction. Bids submitted total led 281.5 billion drachmas.
    Athens News Agency

    [07] Greek central bank drops forex reserve requirement, commissions

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, will lower its reserve requirement on foreign currency deposits by commercial banks to 60 percent from 70 percent, effective on July 1, it said in a statement yesterday. The move, which will boost banking liquidity, is part of the central bank's policy of gradually loosening its grip on the interbank market.

    The Bank of Greece will also lower annual commissions beyond the interest to 1.0 percent from 1.2 percent, the statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greece's Eurobank sets sail on Internet

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's private Eurobank is now available on Internet, offering surfers direct access and two-way communication. The bank said in a statement yesterday that customers would soon be able to effect transactions via Internet.

    Among services Eurobank currently offers on Internet is information about its products, maps showing the location of branches, applications for consumer loans, and information on the Athens Stock Exchange that will shortly become real-time.

    Eurobank's address on Internet is www.eurobank.gr

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Seminar in port of Piraeus calls for better shipping info-tech

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    A wider use of information technology and the use of telematics would help to improve efficiency and safety in sea transport, delegates at a seminar held in the port of Piraeus said yesterday.

    Delegates at the Marinter '98 stressed that information technology was developing into a major force in most spheres of economic and social activity. The technology would enable fleets and ports to improve competitiveness, attract new customers, ensure job creation and improve living standards, they said.

    Delegates also noted that successful combined transport systems needed reliable methods of navigation and more efficient links.

    The European Union is financing information technology projects on improving sea traffic, navigation systems, weather and accident warnings.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Helexpo exhibition in Belgrade

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The first-ever exhibition of exclusively Greek enterprises will be held in Belgrade by Helexpo between Oct. 6-9.

    Belgrade was the first choice of businesspeople, following results of a relevant Helexpo questionnaire last year. Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), was runner-up.

    The event is the first organised exhibition to be held in order to present Greek products and services in Belgrade.

    Cooperation between the two nations' exhibition organisations will be finalised with the signing of an agreement. Helexpo is also in contact with the Greek embassy in Belgrade to organise certain events under the auspices of the embassy.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Simitis promises gov't will follow through with EMU entry

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated last night that the government would not waver on its course towards taking Greece into Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), while it would also exhaust its four-year term.

    "EMU is a difficult but necessary path. We have before us two difficult years," he said during a Parliamentary debate on the country's European prospects, adding that his government guaranteed final success.

    The prime minister attacked the opposition, saying it was responsible for the reactions to the necessary measures.

    "The opposition is responsible for the phenomenal - by European standards - situation, where Greek society on the one hand accepts almost in its entirety the country's European orientation, while on the other, there is a disproportionate reaction to the necessary decisions that the European course requires," he said.

    Mr. Simitis set out at length the government's achievements to date, stressing that "this undoubted success has to be finalised".

    He insisted on the need for structural changes, particularly in banks and public utilities, so as to make them more flexible and competitive. "If we are not willing to tolerate even the smallest structural change, then we must accept our voluntary retirement from developments of history," he noted.

    "Greece could, like Ireland, develop at a rate of 8 per cent a year, but for this to happen it must readjust its productive structure, and this is what the government pursues," he added. Finally, he said success with EMU was "inexorably linked with social cohesion and a strengthening of the new welfare state we are daily laying the foundations of".

    Tsovolas : On his part, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas accused the government of selling-off public enterprises, increasing unemployment and creating social unrest. He added Greece's participation in EMU should have been achieved through political means, as was the case with Finland and Belgium.

    Other opposition : In his address, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis criticised the government for its handling of EMU, noting that Greece was the only country which would remained outside the euro zone.

    This constitutes a most unfavourable development and a national downgrading, he said.

    "We shall be a second-category member-state and this is the result of the government's irresponsible and mistaken choices," he added. He warned that this would have repercussions on Greece's national issues, making the attainment of convergence targets more difficult.

    "Are you going to achieve in 18 months what you did not achieve in 18 years?" he asked out loud. He described as a fiasco the plan agreed with unions for the streamlining of Olympic Airways and its handling of the privatisation of the Ionian Bank, and concluded:

    "Your are responsible because we have become the laggards of Europe, you are responsible for the lost decade of the 1980s, you are responsible for misleading citizens, the aband-onment of convergence, the lack of investment," he said. He also accused the prime minister of lying when promising no new taxes, and of being unreliable, warning that his days in the post were numbered.

    The debate was continuing at press time with speeches by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Gov't: Papoytsis overstepped bounds with latest criticism

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that Greece's European Commissioner Christos Papoutsis had "overstepped the bounds within which he should act," commenting on a public row which has broken out between the Commissioner and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    The row began when Mr. Papoutsis in an interview published by an Athens daily on Monday, stated that "modernisation cannot be achieved by using riot police".

    He was referring to recent scuffles between striking employees of the Ionian Bank and police. The employees are protesting the government's plans to sell the state-controlled bank.

    In an interview with a private television channel on Monday night, Mr. Pangalos said Mr. Papoutsis was adopting "the most irresponsible and yellow pages of the press to strike against his own party.

    Mr. Pangalos charged further that Mr. Papoutsis was interfering in domestic political affairs in a "scandalous and extreme manner".

    In a written statement late Monday night replying to Mr. Pangalos, Mr. Papoutsis said that the foreign minister's "ethos" was known throughout Europe. The Commissioner described Mr. Pangalos' remarks as "a delirium of distortion and threats".

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Mr. Papoutsis' reference to Mr. Pangalos' ethos was unacceptable.

    "Theodoros Pangalos has been put to the test before the people and elected many times. He struggles successfully to defend national interests and all his acts are fully geared to serving these interests..." Mr. Reppas said.

    Asked whether the government adopted Mr. Pangalos' call on Mr. Papoutsis to resign, the spokesman noted that Mr. Papoutsis was "lawfully" an EU Commissioner, adding that "it is up to him whether to choose to continue this course or change it".

    Mr. Reppas said also that some of the views expressed by Mr. Papoutsis could be construed as undermining the government's efforts to attain its targets.

    In order for the outcome of a battle to be successful, he said, it is essential that there is no division in the ranks.

    Mr. Reppas agreed that modernisation cannot be achieved by using the riot police but said the impression should not be given that the government is trying to implement its policy with the assistance of the police.

    Pangalos' reply : Commenting on the reactions provoked by his criticism of Papoutsis, Mr. Pangalos said "the real questions I put forth are not addressed, they cannot be overcome through sloganism and rebukes."

    He added that his questions were related to the problems brought about by the need for the country's equal participation in EMU.

    Commission's response : BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) "Commissioners are political men, not political eunuchs," European Commission press spokesman Martin Reichers said yesterday when asked by a Greek reporter here to comment on Mr. Pangalos' remarks.

    "I shall give you the reply which European Commission President Jacques Santer gave to a question in the European Parliament concerning the positions expressed by Irish Commissioner (Padraig) Flynn on the referendum on Northern Ireland: Commissioners are political men, not political eunuchs, " the spokesman said.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Tsohatzopoulos-Omirou meeting focuses on joint defence doctrine

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his Cypriot counterpart Yiannakis Omirou held talks yesterday on technical and organisation issues concerning joint defence doctrine strategy. They also discussed current issues within the framework of bil ateral cooperation to safeguard the two countries' effective defence capability.

    Both ministers also criticised the British government over a report appearing in the "Sunday Times" on the evacuation of British nationals from Cyprus in the event of an armed conflict, as well as countries in Europe and other allies over their mediation positions on Cyprus.

    Replying to a question on the type of measures taken and on whether there is an intention to strengthen the defence of Cyprus in light of the arrival of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Mr. Omirou said all necessary measures are being taken whi ch consolidate the Cypriot people's sense of security.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said progress in the sector of the Republic of Cyprus' defence, combined with the implementation of the joint defence doctrine, guarantee the effective exercising of every right Cyprus has to defend its national sovereignty with all means.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Kaklamanis dismisses Turkish counterpart's remarks over 'indirect' Turkish role on Cyprus

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis rejected in Palermo, Sicily his Turkish counterpart's statements that Athens is directly involved in Cyprus while Ankara is only indirectly involved.

    Turkish National Assembly President Ismet Cetin's comments came during a Euro-Mediterranean parliament presidents' conference in Sicily's capital this week.

    Mr. Kaklamanis called on Mr. Cetin to respect his audience's intelligence and refrain from attempts at convincing participants that Turkey's 1974 invasion and continued occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus is an indirect involvement.

    He added that for 24 years Turkey has disregarded United Nations resolutions to withdraw its troops from the island republic, as well as to stop colonisation of the Turkish-occupied areas.

    Mr. Kaklamanis also said that Ankara invaded the island on the pretext of protecting the Turkish minority on Cyprus, yet by colonising the occupied areas with Anatolian villagers it has forced thousands of Turkish Cypriots to emmigrate.

    Finally, Mr. Kaklamanis denounced what he called the plundering of the Orthodox Churches in the occupied areas.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Tsohatzopoulos on official visit to Slovenia

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos leaves on a two-day official visit to Slovenia today at the invitation of his Slovenian counterpart Alojz Krapez.

    The Greek minister is scheduled to meet with his Slovenian counterpart, Foreign Minister Boris Frlec and President Milan Kucan. He will also visit several Slovenian military bases and the Hellenic Navy frigate "Macedonia" which is docked at the port of Koper.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos visited Slovenia last week and signed a bilateral road transport agreement as well as a protocol of cooperation between the countries' foreign ministries. Athens has stated that it supports Ljubljana's bid for member ship in Euro-Atlantic organisations, such as NATO and the European Union, while Slovenia has supported Greece's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 1999-2000 period.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Greece-US legal assistance agreement

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Athens and Washington will from now on be able to mutually exchange information about crime investigations and crime prevention/interdiction after the pending signing of a bilateral agreement regarding legal assistance. According to sources, the treaty's text has already been composed. The treaty, however, contains certain limitations to information made available in cases involving military law, or when requested information is regarded as harmful to the security or vital interests of the country.
    Athens News Agency

    [17] Joint Greek-US military exercises in Aegean

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The first of two days of joint Greek-US military exercises ended yesterday following maneuvers involving the linking of forces, joint training and a commando assault on the small Aegean island of Agios Efstratios.

    The exercise, code-named "Alexander the Great '98", is being carried out in the area of the Pagasitikos Gulf, Skyros and the northeast Aegean.

    Greek forces taking part include the 32nd Marine Brigade, three squadrons of paratroopers, two special operations squadrons, "Huey" and "Apache" helicopters, a destroyer, five tank-landing craft, two transport carriers, a gunboat and 10-15 Hellenic Air Force fighters.

    US forces include the amphibious operations batallion "Phibron 6", three landing craft and frogmen, troops of the 26th Batallion, two KC-130 and two AC-130 aircraft. The exercise will end with a landing operation on Skyros, expected to be obser ved by the Greek armed forces' leadership and US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] High-level gov't meeting

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet today with Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis to discuss the Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem and armaments programme.

    The meeting will take place in view of his participation at the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Pact meeting in Yalta, Mr. Pangalos' participation at an inter-Balkan conference and Mr. Kradidiotis' meetings in Luxenbourg before Cardiff.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Tsohatzopoulos received by Christodoulos

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos had his first meeting, following his recent election to the post, with National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday.

    The defence minister was received by the Archbishop at his office at the Athens Archdiocese.

    Both men discussed national issues, as well as defence matters and problems faced by neighbouring nations, while they also examined the possibility of the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's contribution in those issues.

    The Archbishop observed that the country's strong defence could prevent any dangers, while he wished that there will be no need for the armed forces to be utilised. He then expressed his satisfaction over the fact that he found a vigorous supporter of the Church's role in the person of the defence minister.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted that apart from armaments, what was also needed was an elevation of the nation's morale.

    He also announced that contacts will be held with Church representatives to deal with security and defence issues as well as social problems.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Chrysostomos continues contacts with Greek leadership

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos held talks yesterday with ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas.

    Talks were held at a downtown Athens hotel where the Archbishop is staying.

    Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Constantopoulos said that the conditions following the Luxembourg summit are "pressing" and that the government must anticipate accordingly, brief Greek public opinion, pursue contacts with the political parties and promo te initiatives to strengthen Cyprus' prospects of joining the European Union. He also said that the Coalition of the Left believes that a bizonal, bicommunal federation is a just solution.

    On his part, Mr. Tsovolas said that he agreed with Chrysostomos in that the legalisation of faits accomplis in the form of a bizonal federation cannot constitute a solution to the Cyprus issue, because such a thing does not constitute a federation but a confederation.

    Athens News Agency

    [21] Press report says Greek vessel stopped by British helicopter off Cyprus

    NICOSIA 03/06/1998 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    A report broadcast last night here by a local private TV station said that the Greek cargo ship "Raphael" had been inspected by a British helicopter while sailing off Cyprus and heading toward Larnaca.

    According to the report, the incident was confirmed by the vessel's captain, Emmanouil Kordoras, who said he was asked to provide cargo documents - apparently, the vessel was searched for Russian-made S-300 missiles components.

    The vessel had set sail from Fthiodida prefecture and was carrying animal fodder.

    He added that both Cyprus authorities and the Greek embassy were notified.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Gov't responds to remark by Moslem deputy

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    A great deal has been done in recent years in the direction of granting the Moslem minority in Thrace rights which they did not previously enjoy, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

    "Significant steps have been made and we have got away from a regime that existed for decades," he said in response to reported comments by PASOK deputy Galip Galip, namely, that Greece resembled a primitive African country.

    "Greece occupies a coveted position in international life, one which many would be envious of," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Avramopoulos meets Pangalos before Skopje visit

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos met with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos at the foreign ministry yesterday in view of the mayor's upcoming two-day visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Mr. Avramopoulos said after the meeting that he is returning a visit to Athens by his FYROM counterpart.

    "I thought it was useful to meet with the foreign minister so that this mission is in line with our foreign policy," Mr. Avramopoulos added.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Vartholomeos concludes tour of Canada

    MONTREAL 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday concluded his tour of Canada, as Montreal was the last stop among six cities.

    The Patriarch noted that his visit aimed to strengthen the bonds between the clergy and faithful, and in that respect he called it a success during his final address.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] Romeos calls for attack on police corruption

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Following an unprecedented barrage of criminal cases involving police officers, a public order ministry official said the ministry was determined to eradicate corruption.

    In a statement issued upon receiving news of the yesterday's arrests of police officers in Athens and Hios, Public Order Minister George Romeos stated:

    "The two new cases of law breaking that were detected today...discredit the entire body of honest police doing their duty adequatel...I"

    He also stressed that specific orders have been given to the chief of police to show no leniency towards offending police members, especially high-ranking officers.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Riot police officer arrested for armed robbery

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Authorities yesterday said they had arrested a member the police force's anti-riot squad on suspicion of armed robbery.

    Athanasios Angelakis, 27, a five-year veteran of the riot police squad, was arrested as he tried to hail a taxi and after two gunmen robbed a National Bank branch in the Goudi district yesterday morning.

    Police said they found money and weapons on Angelakis, who initially denied all charges.

    According to reports, he later confessed to the robbery after initially claiming that he was also chasing the robbers.

    Eyewitnesses told police that Angelakis had been so nervous during the robbery that he had dropped his pistol, which went off but did not hit about 30 bank staff and customers in the branch at the time.

    Police said the suspect became so unnerved when he dropped the gun that he fled, prompting his accomplice to grab whatever money was on the counter and also flee.

    He reportedly told investigators that his motive for the robbery was financial difficulties. Authorities said the arrest of his accomplice was only "a matter of time".

    Athens News Agency

    [27] Police commander arrested on blackmail charges

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, a Hios police commander was arrested late Monday evening minutes after he was handed a blackmail payment, according to reports.

    The marked banknotes were found on him after his arrest, police said.

    Giorgos Meretakis, the island's deputy police director and acting director for the past year, allegedly demanded 333,000 drachmas a piece from three businessmen in order to prevent regular inspections of their enterprises.

    One of them, however, recorded his conversation with the man, before handing the tape to other authorities thus setting up a sting operation.

    Meretakis, scheduled to appear before a public prosecutor last night, denied any involvement in the case.

    Athens News Agency

    [28] Police looking into apparent public suicide of colleague

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Police in the northern Greek town of Ioannina are investigating "all avenues" following the apparent suicide of a policeman in the Ioannina courthouse yesterday.

    Court officials found police officer Evangelos Georgoulis lying in a pool of blood in the courthouse toilets after hearing a shot at approximately 12.20 p.m. local time. Georgoulis's service revolver was lying next to him.

    The 34-year-old police officer was at the courthouse to testify as a witness for the prosecution against an appeal by two Greeks sentenced to 20 years each for smuggling illegal immigrants and 35 kilos of hashish into the country.

    Georgoulis, police said, was not a material witness in the particular case, having simply arrested the pair along with his colleagues.

    Georgoulis's colleagues expressed surprise at yesterday's developments, saying the father of one had never indicated he had any problems that could have led to suicide.

    The body has been transferred to the Ioannina mortuary for autopsy and police said they were investigating all avenues to determine the circumstances of Georgoulis's death.

    Athens News Agency

    [29] Report on the environment Nat'l Research Foundation

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The environment, town planning and public works ministry in cooperation with the European Environment Organisation, presented a report on the environment at the National Research Foundation yesterday.

    The specific report (295 pages) is a first and registers progress in policies applied for the environment, which according to officials, has only achieved slight improvement.

    The purpose of the European Environment Organisation is to provide comprehensive information on the current and future situation concerning the environment in Europe.

    According to the report, Europe has achieved steps of progress regarding a decrease in certain pressures being exerted on the environment by pollution.

    Relevant issues will be presented at a session of European countries' environment ministers to be held in Denmark between June 23-25.

    Athens News Agency

    [30] Simitis meets Romeos

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis was briefed yesterday by Public Order Minister George Romeos on investigations concerning terrorism. Mr. Romeos was accompanied by various ministry, police and judicial officials. Afterwards, Mr. Simitis called for an inten- sification of investigations.
    Athens News Agency

    [31] Greenpeace condemns genetically altered crops in Greece, points to undersecretary

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek branch of the environmental advocacy group Greenpeace yesterday accused the environment ministry of discrediting itself by "yielding" to pressure from agro-chemical companies in allowing the cultivation of genetically altered crops.

    The organisation claims that the undersecretary responsible for issues concerning such products, Theodoros Koliopanos, had caved in to pressure from various multinationals, and by doing this, he was placing the environment and public health at risk. The ministry recently approved the experimental cultivation in Greece of two varieties of genetically altered cotton by petrochemical giant Monsanto.

    According to an announcement issued by a Monsanto-hired ad agency, cultivation will begin in the prefectures of Larissa and Fthiotida during 1998.

    "This decision is completely contrary to announcements made by Mr. Koliopanos about putting a hold on the experimental cultivation of genetically altered products in Greece," Greenpeace spokesman Nikos Haralambidis said. The organisation said it would continue to oppose the distribution of genetically altered products "so that we do not all become guinea pigs".

    Athens News Agency

    [32] US Olympic Committee head in town for talks on Athens Games

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    US Olympic Committee (USOC) honorary chairman Leroy Walker, who headed the US Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics, arrived in Athens yesterday for talks with the 2004 Olympics Organising Committee.

    Walker, a veteran of 10 winter and four summer Olympic Games, meets tomorrow with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Athens 2004 organising committee president Stratis Stratigis, and managing director Costas Bacouris.

    The talks will focus on the "best possible organisation" of the Athens Olympics, an organising committee representative told the ANA.

    "Don't think it is too soon to be thinking about the (2004) Olympic Games. There are so many things that need to be regulated in the run-up to 2004," Mr. Walker said on arriving.

    "The projects must be carried out in accordance with the specifications of the athletic federations," he said, adding that a conference on organising the 2004 Olympics would take place in Athens on September 16-18 next year, with the participation of world athletic figures.

    Mr. Walker, who coached the US track and field team for the Montreal Olympics and was chairman of the USOC in 1992-96, said that the time remaining until the Athens Olympics needed to be taken full advantage of for the "complete success" of the 2004 Games.

    Athens News Agency

    [33] Call for wide-ranging hepatitis-B vaccination campaign

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    The incidence of hepatitis-B is as high as 65 percent in some parts of Greece and the government must introduce an extensive vaccination campaign to include high risk groups such as transient gypsies, illegal immigrants and prison inmates, a Greek gypsy support group said yesterday.

    According to representatives of D-ROM, a programme aimed at fighting marginalisation and exclusion suffered by the Greek gypsy population, the incidence of hepatitis-B has been recorded at 65 percent in some regions frequented by camp gypsies (including

    Thessaloniki, Crete and Attica) while the percentage for other regions is about 2 percent with 5 percent being considered an emergency level.

    Hepatitis-B is up to 100 times more contagious than AIDS and can be transmitted through saliva and other body fluids.

    Twenty-five percent of hepatitis-B carriers can expect to develop carcinoma of the liver. The government last November adopted a World Health Organisation proposal to innoculate infants and children against the disease as well as other high-risk groups such as workers in migrant reception centres and prisons.

    D-ROM officials said that a more general programme is needed, estimating that up to 300,000 immigrants, 100,000 gypsies, and some 6,000 present and former inmates were 'hidden' carriers of the disease.

    Greek medical experts have in the past called for immunisation against hepatitis-B, saying the incidence of the virus in Greece was too high, with about 500,000 people or four per cent of the Greek population, affected by the deadly disease.

    Hepatitis-B affects an estimated 200 million people worldwide.

    Children of migrants living in Greece in particular have a low rate of vaccination against infectious diseases and are often carriers of such diseases, a study by the Microbiology Laboratory of the Paidon Hospital has shown. The study, conducted in 1995 , said one in two Albanian children who now live in Greece are hepatitis-B carriers.

    Athens News Agency

    [34] ND deputy referred to party's ethics committee after fatal crach

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Costas Karaminas was referred to the party's ethics committee yesterday, following a fatal car crash early Monday morning that left one young woman dead.

    According to police reports, the Samos area deputy , who was driving the vehicle, refused to take a breathalyser test, citing Parliamentary immunity shortly after the crash. The referral came after a decision by ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

    The accident resulted in the death of 26-year-old teacher Elli Pilidou. She was riding in the back seat of the car and was thrown through the windscreen when it hit a pole.

    Mr. Karaminas and Artemis Panousos, 32, a merchant, ND cadre and chairman of the municipal council of Karlovasi on Samos, were unhurt. Police later said that both men were wearing seat belts, while their air-bags were also activated on impact.

    After initial press reactions, the Samos deputy later on Monday said he didn't remember whether he refused to take a breathalyser, adding however, that he will not "dispute reports by police from the accident division dispatched to the incident."

    Initial reports stated the two men had met the victim and her sister at a bar in the Athens suburb of Zografou. Pilidou followed the deputy and the Samos businessman in the former's late-model Mercedes with the intent of continuing their evening at a co astal nightclub, while her sister reportedly took a taxi home.

    On Monday evening, press reports from the victim's family claimed she had known the deputy for several months, while he initially told police he did not know her identity.

    The accident occurred on Imittou Avenue, a short distance from the bar.

    Kaklamanis favours lifting of immunity : In a related development, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis reiterated in Palermo, Italy, that he favours the lifting of Parliamentary immunity in cases excluding deputies' political activities.

    "My position is steadfast...and my colleagues are aware of this, that with the exception of those actions concerning a deputy's political activities alone, in all other cases immunity must be lifted," Mr. Kaklamanis said in reply to a press question.

    Athens News Agency

    [35] Greece,Portugal lead EU in traffic deaths per capita

    Athens 03/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece and Portugal apparently hold the dubious honour of first place in the EU in terms of traffic-related fatalities, according to the Union's statistical service, Eurostat.

    According to Eurostat, the number of deaths per one million people is one of the parametres used to gauge the quality of a road network in a given EU country.

    Eurostat reported that 195 people were killed in traffic accidents in Greece for every one million residents, while in Portugal the number of deaths per one million people was 217.

    The report states that while there are more deaths in Portugal, there is a marked decline compared to 1989 when the figure stood at 242.

    Meanwhile, deaths in traffic accidents rose by 20 per cent in Greece between 1989 and 1995, compared to a decline of 4 per cent in the rest of the European Union.

    Eurostat also noted that Greece has 927 deaths per one million cars - the EU average is 277 - while the same number for Britain is 64.

    Finally, it should be noted that besides Greece, only Italy and Luxenbourg noted increases in traffic-related deaths, with only 1 to 2 per cent increases, respectively.

    Athens News Agency

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