|Saturday, 14 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-02-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Police launch third day of manhunt for escaped prison inmate
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Police launched the third day of a manhunt on Sunday for a jail inmate who escaped from an Athens hospital and shot two police officers and a prison warden, fatally wounding two of the men.
One police officer, Athanassios Drakopoulos, 46, died on Friday at the Athens General State Hospital where was shot hours earlier by 26-year-old Constantine Passaris, arrested last year in a shoot-out with police in a downtown Athens square. The officer was buried on Sunday.
Passaris, who was taken to hospital from jail for a brain scan, used a 5.45 mm pistol to shoot his guards. According to police, the gun of Russian origin is used by security forces, and is the second of its kind to be found in Greece.
The other police officer, Dionysis Alevizopoulos, 49, died on Saturday after undergoing two operations at the same hospital, and his funeral is tentatively scheduled for Monday.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis sent his condolences.
Another casualty of the shooting spree, prison warden Andreas Fysekis, 27, was reported in stable condition.
Passaris was wearing handcuffs when he fired at his guards, which he removed using a key given to him by an accomplice or taken from one of the policemen, authorities said.
Police are investigating how Passaris knew when and where he was to be taken in order to arrange his escape.
On Friday, the police chief suspended the director of the police detainees transfer division for negligence in handling Passaris' security. More police officers may be suspended if evidence of culpability is found, officials said.
Also suspended was the governor of Korydallos jail, where Passaris was imprisoned, and its managers and resident doctor.
Police are looking into whether supervisors of the transfer division were aware of Passaris' violent record; whether they had informed the police officers accompanying him of his record; and why police services had not been asked to take additional security measures during the felon's transfer.
On Sunday, senior police officials said that none of Passaris' guards were wearing bulletproof vests, although the force's Athens detainees and courts department was allocated six in 1997 for the transfer of dangerous criminals. All three men were shot in the chest and belly.
Witnesses said Passaris and an accomplice headed towards an adjacent hospital facility after the shooting, while another accomplice walked out of the main entrance before forcing a hospital employee at gunpoint to turn over the keys to a black Lancia. The vehicle was recovered nearby.
Passaris, a convicted robber, was imprisoned in Korydallos after he and two Romanian outlaws opened fire on police with a submachine gun and handguns in a routine traffic check near Vathis Square in late February 2000. One of the Romanians was killed and three police officers were wounded during the incident.
Patrol officers at the time escaped serious injury due to bulletproof vests they were wearing.
The second Romanian man was killed a few days later in another shoot-out with police in the western Petroupoli district.
On Sunday, a memorial service for the two dead officers was held at a church attached to the police officers' school. Attending was the public order minister.
In protest at the Passaris incident that resulted in the death of two colleagues, Dimitris Kyriazidis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Employees, said he would resign from his post on Monday, calling on the chief of police to do the same.
 UN mediator says end in sight for Greece, FYROM name dispute
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are near to resolving their dispute over the tiny Balkan state's name, a United Nations mediator said.
In an interview to the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, UN envoy Matthew Nimetz declined to give the alternative names that were being discussed in the talks.
But he said that the solution would be a compromise, exposing neither of the two countries, which had both shown the political will to resolve the dispute in coming months.
Nimetz, a US diplomat who has mediated UN-sponsored talks in New York between the two sides, said the countries' prime ministers would meet in coming days.
Greece claims that use of the name "Macedonia" by the neighboring country usurps its historical heritage. A Greek province in the north dating from antiquity carries the same name.
The chill between the two countries has largely eased in recent years, with Greece becoming a major investor in FYROM.
 ND conference focuses on border regions' problems
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)A main opposition New Democracy (ND) conference in the northwest border town of Konitsa over the weekend focused on the specific problems faced by mountainous regions in Greece.
ND leader Costas Karamanlis presented his party's positions on the issues, covering mostly the economic and social development of isolated regions.
"Those who govern today have compromised with the notion of a Greece that 'limps' ... with a Greece that lives in mediocrity and misery," he charged.
Among others, he called for more tax breaks for permanent residents living in border regions.
The one-day seminar was part of a continuing series of events leading up to ND's upcoming party congress.
ND's Bakoyianni calls for internal party changes: New Democracy cadre Dora Bakoyianni called for internal changes within the main opposition party, during a speech over the weekend in Hania, Crete.
Bakoyianni, the daughter of honorary ND president Constantine Mitsotakis and a one-time minister, noted that the party's March congress offer a major opportunity for the party to regroup.
She also directed criticism at the government, saying its policy has led to impasses, while citing what she called the dismal performance on the Athens bourse over the last year, unemployment, and a "lack of planning".
 Foreign minister cites Simitis' successes
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou says he has no knowledge of whether the prime minister wishes to lead the ruling PASOK party in the next general elections, but sees no reason for him not to.
In an interview to the Sunday Ethnos newspaper, Papandreou said Costas Simitis had accomplishments to his name, and the government's current four-year term in power would also prove to be a success.
 PM's adviser says political parties out of touch
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)A senior adviser to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Yiorgos Pantayias, said on Sunday that the country's political parties are out of step with the times.
"Existing political parties cannot meet the needs of the times," Pantayias wrote in an article published in the Sunday Eleftherotypia newspaper.
"The problem (must be solved) of government expression, of the alliance of power, which is today represented by Costas Simitis, and which is not limited to hard-and-fast party trenches," he added.
 Three Greek parties deplore US, British raids on Iraq
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Three domestic political parties on Saturday strongly criticized the US and Britain for staging air strikes against Iraq in which Baghdad says two people were killed.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called the raids "criminal", saying their perpetrators should be punished.
"The murderers of the Iraqi people and their children, who are dying due to the impact of an embargo and radiation-bearing weapons, should not go unpunished," the KKE said in a statement.
The party repeated its long-standing call for Greece to leave NATO.
In addition, the Coalition of the Left and Progress decried the bombings as a "show of strength" by new US President George Bush and Britain.
Calling on the Greek government to condemn the air strikes, the Coalition accused the US and British governments of using terror tactics in the Middle East at a time when a bid for peace in the region was sorely tried.
Finally, the Democratic Social Movement charged the United Nations, European Union and other international groups of remaining silent over what it called "a disgrace to humanity", and serving the interests of the west instead of working for human rights and international law.
 Bill to expand standing army to parliament this month
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)A government bill to expand the standing army as part of an overhaul of the armed forces will be sent to parliament in February, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday.
In an interview to the northern Macedonia newspaper, Tsohatzopoulos said that the bill would allow the recruitment of 5,000 infantrymen as permanent military staff.
In the past, Tsohatzopoulos has said that the expanded standing army would have 15,000 personnel.
Also under the ministry's reform proposal the structure of the armed forces would undergo change, relying on more flexible and effective units.
Tsohatzopoulos also told Macedonia that his ministry would go ahead this year with a reduction of compulsory military service, as originally announced.
 One-time ND cadre and former FM calls for center-right coalition
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)One-time New Democracy (ND) foreign minister Antonis Samaras has called for a "unified" right-right coalition heading into the next general election, in a published interview on Sunday by an Athens daily.
Samaras, who quit ND in 1993 to form his own fledgling party after being sacked as foreign minister by then premier Constantine Mitsotakis, also claimed that he never intended to topple the Mitsotakis government, but only to exert pressure over the 'name issue' then bitterly dividing Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
In terms of his proposed coalition, Samaras said his own Political Spring (Pol.An), the small Liberals' Party, a projected formation by Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos as well as former high-ranking ND cadres George Souflias and Andreas Andrianopoulos could cooperate under a ND-led banner.
Samaras' Pol.An party has mostly faded from the spotlight and opinion polls over the past five years, unable to enter parliament or field candidates in most local government elections.
 Top banker wary of alliances with major players abroad
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Strategic alliances forged by Greek banks with major players abroad are likely to have an adverse impact by lessening their freedom of movement, Theodoros Karatzas, governor of the National Bank of Greece, said on Saturday.
"A banking alliance (of this kind) will probably have an adverse impact on the (domestic) bank, eliminating a major flexibility factor, which is National's ability to associate with all the large financial houses abroad," Karatzas told the weekly Ikonomikos Tahydromos magazine.
Key examples of alliances between domestic banks and large credit institutions abroad are private EFG Eurobank Ergasias with Deutsche Bank of Germany, and state Commercial Bank of Greece with Credit Agricole of France.
State-run National is the country's largest commercial bank and a blue chip on the Athens bourse.
Keep politics out of the bourse, says Karatzas: He also called on political parties to keep their noses out of the daily workings of the embattled Athens bourse.
"The daily operation of the Athens Stock Exchange is not aided by being lent a political direction, either one way or the other," said Theodoros Karatzas, governor of the state-run National Bank of Greece, in the same interview.
"This type of action must be avoided. Political parties must have principles and a viewpoint about the market's operation, but they mustn't get involved in day to day workings," said Karatzas, who heads the country's largest commercial bank and a bourse blue chip.
The stock market needed to revert to its natural role of housing long-term placements and recycling banking deposits, and move away from speculative trading, he noted.
"Greek enterprises must have the chance to tap the long-term capital they need from a calm capital market," Karatzas added.
 Albanian business delegation to northern trade fairs
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)An Albanian delegation of engineering contractors on Saturday visited two international trade fairs in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, and held talks with regional business leaders.
The commercial attache at Greeces embassy in Tirana, Mihalis Vrettakis, arranged the trip by the delegation from the Tirana Chamber of Trade and Commerce to the Infacoma and Marmin fairs.
 Christodoulos bewails lax medical, social ethics
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece on Saturday sternly criticized what he called slack standards in medical and social ethics.
Addressing the Attica Dentists' Association, Christodoulos slammed abortion, euthanasia, test-tube babies and a future option for parents to choose the gender of their child.
He also attacked commercial exploitation that was linked to organs for transplants.
 Archbishop of Albania Anastasios honored at NYC event
NEW YORK, 19/02/2001 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios was honored here at a ceremony on Saturday with the "Athinagorio" award for human rights.
Archbishop of America Dimitrios bestowed the award on the top Orthodox ecclesiastical leader in Albania.
 Fishermen honored for rescue efforts following 'Samina' sinking
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)One hundred and sixty-six fishermen from the islands of Paros and Antiparos were honored over the weekend for their actions on the night of Sept. 29, 2000 to save hundreds of passengers of a sinking ferryboat.
The fishermen were awarded medals of bravery by the merchant marine ministry at a ceremony in the Cyclades island of Paros' central square, whereas the bust of the island's harbor master, who perished that same evening from a heart attack while coordinating rescue efforts, was also unveiled.
Four hundred and eighty-eight passengers were plunked out of the Aegean's waters on following the sinking of the "Express Samina" on Sept. 26.
The "Express Samina" collided with a lighthouse-marked outcrop just two nautical miles from the popular Cyclades holiday island, leaving 80 people dead and its parent company, Minoan Flying Dolphins, under fire.
 Parliament speaker welcomes Special Olympics organizers
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Saturday hosted the organizers of the Special Olympics for handicapped people, which are to be held in Alaska next month.
"Modern democracies must offer all their citizens without exception the variety of resources that will allow them to fully develop their personalities and cultivate their creativity, overcoming natural weaknesses and social prejudice," Kaklamanis said.
Among his guests in parliament were Timothy Kennedy-Shriver, the president and managing director of the Special Olympics committee; NATO's supreme allied commander, General Joseph Ralston; and a delegation of US senators, accompanied by US Ambassador in Athens, Nicholas Burns.
 Greek to head Balkan athletics union
Athens, 19/02/2001 (ANA)The Balkan Athletics Union on Saturday chose as its president for a four-year term the head of the Greek Amateur Athletics Federation (SEGAS), Vassilis Sevastis.
Meeting in Athens, the Balkan union also approved the founding statutes of a new Athens-based group to be named the Amateur Balkan Athletics Federation (ABAF), officials said.
 Blair to raise Cyprus issue with US President Bush, British MP says
NICOSIA, 19/02/2001 (CNA/ANA)British Prime Minister Tony Blair appears ready to raise the Cyprus question at next month's meeting with US President George Bush, according to British Labor MP Stephen Twigg, who also said Europe should give full support to a just and viable settlement and to the promotion of Cyprus' accession course towards the European Union.
The British deputy said Britain is determined to get the Turkish Cypriots back to the negotiating table and is applying various methods to try and achieve this goal.
In an interview with the London Greek Radio, Twigg said the withdrawal of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash from the UN-led proximity talks is "totally unacceptable".
"Minister Keith Vaz (minister of state) made it quite clear that the British government is determined to get the Turkish Cypriot leadership back to the negotiating table," he said, adding that "the minister through the Foreign Office is using various means to try and get Denktash back into the talks."
Vaz, who is planning a visit to Cyprus next month, was questioned earlier last week about Cyprus in the House of Commons.
Denktash said, after the latest round of talks in November last year, the proximity talks, which started in December 1999, have served their purpose and have come to an end. He now demands talks between two states in a bid to gain recognition of his self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus.
Replying to questions, he said "a number of MPs from north London will be seeing Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in about ten days time to impress upon him the importance of further action on Cyprus."
He said in a private meeting he had with Blair he had the opportunity to raise the Cyprus question with him and asked him to use that opportunity to raise Cyprus with Bush and say that America must use the influence it has with Ankara to get Turkey to move on this.
He also noted it was quite clear that America could play a positive role, which it has not done in the past and Britain can use its relationship with America to this purpose.
"The Prime Minister has given me a very clear undertaking that he will do that as part of his discussions with President Bush next month," Twigg said, noting that he was "impressed with the readiness that Blair showed me this week to raise Cyprus at a very important meeting next month."
Asked if he thought Blair would succeed in this, he acknowledged that it is a "tough job" persuading President Bush.
Europe, he added, has a vital role to play "in providing a balance and giving full support to Cyprus so that we can get the just and lasting settlement that we all want and Cyprus can take its rightful place as part of the EU."