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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-10-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, Greece, 10/10/1996 (ANA)


  • Greece rejects Ankara's claims on recent military exercises
  • Greek Mirage 2000 crashes on training flight
  • President pleased with official talks in Finland
  • Strong tremor rattles Cyprus
  • Hungarian FM in Athens on Monday
  • ND's problems continue as Souflias rejects Evert's overtures
  • Thessaloniki police investigate reports of baby-selling rings from Bulgaria
  • Greek telecoms firm to participate in NATO's new Sea Sparrow production programme
  • Giant bear fossils found
  • Bogus passport ring broken up by police


    Greece rejects Ankara's claims on joint military exercises

    Greece today rejected Turkish claims that the recent Greek and Cypriot joint military exercises Nikiforos and Toxotis were aggressive and provocative.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantine Bikas said that, on the contrary, ''it is Turkey's behaviour Cyprus for the past 20 years that is provocative and illegal, and hinders the creation of conditions of stability in the Mediterranean''.

    Bikas was commenting on a statement by Turkish Foreign Ministery spokesman Sermet Atacanli Wednesday saying Turkey construed the Greece-Cyprus exercises as ''a military and political escalation threatening peace and stability in the region''.

    The Greek foreign ministry spokesman reiterated that the reconaissance and interception of the Turkish F-16 jetfighter -- which crashed in the eastern Aegean near the Greek island of Andros on Tuesday -- had taken place inside Greek airspace.

    Mirage crash

    A Greek Airforce Mirage-2000 jetfighter crashed into the sea south of Andros island today while taking part in a military exercise, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The plane's pilot ejected and was awaiting pick-up on a rubber life- raft.

    Initial reports said the incident was due to mechanical failure.

    Visiting President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said Greece is not calling on its European partners to support one side or the other, but is calling on its friends to express support for respect and implementation of rules of international law.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos was replying to a Finnish reporter during a press conference in Helsinki yesterday on whether he requested Finland's intervention in resolving Greek-Turkish problems.

    President Stephanopoulos said Finland's position on the issue of Greek- Turkish relations has been modified, saying that not much effort was required for us to agree absolutely.

    On his part, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari several days ago had said that Greek-Turkish differences can be tackled through dialogue between the two countries.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said Athens has no problem in discussing issues with Turkey, but there can be no dialogue at present unless Ankara does not withdraw its claims on Greek sovereign rights first, and threats of war, which it hurls against Greece at times. He said that as time goes by, Greece's position is being better understood. He said he is also pleased with Finland's positions on the Cyprus issue, since Helsinki supports Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Finland believes that the process of Cyprus' accession to the EU will create favourable preconditions for a solution to the Cyprus issue as well.

    Appealing to the United States, President Stephanopoulos urged Washington to remind FYROM of the commitments, stressing that so far Greece has fulfilled all its commitments.

    In his opening statement, Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed satisfaction over the results of his talks in Helsinki, saying that differences with Finland are non-existent, while there is ample ground for the two countries to improve their relations, primarily in the commercial field.

    Strong tremor hits Cyprus

    More than 50 people were injured in Cyprus when a powerful tremor hit the east Mediterranean region at 13.11 GMT yesterday.

    Most injuries occurred in the southern coastal town of Limassol when residents tried to leave buildings.

    One man, who was recovering from surgery in the intensive care unit of Limassol hospital, died in the afternoon, however, doctors have not established any link between the man's death and the earthquake.

    The quake, whose epicentre was 40 kilometres west of the coastal town of Paphos, measured 6.1 points on the Richter scale, and was also felt as far as Egypt, where one person also died. It was also felt in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the Dodecanese islands and Turkey.

    Greece said today it was sending a team of senior seismologists and engineers to Cyprus to help monitor the situation in the wake of the 6.1 Richter quake which jolted the island yesterday.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said the team of seismologists would establish a network to better monitor the expected aftershocks and that the engineers would assist in evaluating damage to buildings.

    Hungarian FM in Athens on Monday

    Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovac will visit Athens on Monday and is expected to confirm the excellent level of relations existing between Greece and Hungary. Mr. Kovac will fly on to Nicosia afterwards.

    Apart from bilateral relations, talks Mr. Kovac will have with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis will focus on efforts b eing made by Hungary to join European and Atlantic institutions.

    His visit to Greece is taking place about five months after the one paid to Athens by Hungarian President Arpad Genc at the end of May, and exactly 40 years after the restoration of diplomatic relations between Greece and Hungary which had been severed before World War II.

    In Nicosia, Mr. Kovac will have talks with Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides, President Glafcos Clerides and Parliament President Spyros Kyprianou, and will visit Hungarian soldiers participating in the Austrian detachment of the UN peacekeeping force .

    The main opposition New Democracy party's woes appeared to be far from over yesterday when a leading party member turned down a proposal from ND president Miltiades Evert to participate in senior party bodies and characterised Mr. Evert's tenure at the helm of ND as "temporary".

    George Souflias, former education minister and the defeated ND candidate in last week's leadership election, rejected proposals by Mr. Evert that he remain spokesman for ND deputies and to participate in the party's Political Council.

    Mr. Souflias stressed that there should be a genuine democractic representation of the ND rank and file at the congress.

    Thessaloniki's Chief of Police Kostas Economou told reporters yesterday that he was awaiting a briefing from Interpol regarding reports in the Bulgarian press of the existence of a network selling Bulgarian babies in Greece.

    Bulgarian newspapers recently reported police officials in the town of Burgas saying they had uncovered a network dealing in selling infants from Bulgaria in Greece.

    Mr. Economou added that the Thessaloniki police had dealt with such a case once before, in September last year, when a young Bulgarian couple and three Bulgarian women were arrested and charged with acting as middlemen selling infants from Bulgaria to c ouples in northern Greece.

    The Greek telecommunications firm Intracom yesterday sealed a US$3.5 million contract with the US-based Hughes Co. to participate on the development of a new air-to-sea missile for NATO member-states, the Sea Sparrow (ESSM).

    Under the terms of the contract, Intracom will develop and manufacture the missile's telemetric guidance system (WCT) and will participate in the initial stage of the preliminary design of the ESSM, as well as coordinating other Greek subcontractors wor king on the missile. The development programme for the missile involves another 10 NATO countries and is budgeted at $2 billion.

    The contract was signed by an Intracom official and the managing consultant of the German firm RamSys, which is coordinating the European portion of the programme. The signing was attended by officials of the national defence ministry, as well as US and German officials.

    Italian arrested

    An Italian man wanted by Interpol for armed robbery was arrested at the Promahonas border checkpoint at Serres, northern Greece, today when officials found him in possession of a stolen passport.

    Tarcisio Tenchini, 47, told police that he bought the passport in Modena, Italy, from a person he does not know.

    Interpol says Tenchini is suspected of involvement in an armed robbery in Naples, Italy, earlier this year and that he and his accomplices are accused of stealing a large number of passports from Italian tourist offices.

    Gigantic bear fossils found

    The fossilised bones of a 100,000-year-old gigantic bear have been found in a cave in the Loutraki, Pellas region of central Greece, by a team headed by Kostas Ataktidis, an expert speleologist who has worked both in Greece and abroad.

    Initial paleontological estimates indicate that the cave-dwelling bear stood up to three metres tall and may have weighed up to three tonnes.

    Further work on the cave in which the bones were found and the immediate region will continue throughout the month by specialists from the culture minister and the Thessaloniki and Vienna universities.

    The 13 caves found in the Loutraki Pellas region will soon compromise Greece's first 'speleological park', once research work is completed.

    The Viennese experts will conduct an applied geographical environmental study of the region, including the morphology, geology, hydrology and the vegetation of the area, to form a complete picture of the formation of the caves and the evolution of the animals which are believed to have lived in the area since the Ice Age.

    Six arrested for bogus passports

    Police today broke up an Athens-based ring dealing in the issue and distribution of fake passports and travel documents.

    Two Iraqis and four Bulgarians were arrested after police searched a house in the Neos Kosmos district, in which they found 20 fake Greek passports, 18 fake drivers licences, two bogus French identity cards and 37 fake Iraqi documents.

    Police said one of those arrested, Iraqi national Fatuk Fatan, was the mastermind behind the operation. Fatan was arrested in May this year when found in possession of three fake passports and was due to be tried later this month. Police said, however, that they had foiled his plans to use one of the fake passports to flee the country.

    Police in charge of the investigation say that more arrests are anticipated.


    Partly cloudy with occasional rainfalls in most parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 15-24C in Athens and 14-19C in Thessaloniki


    U.S. dlr 238.179, Can. dlr.175.703, Australian dlr. 187.885, Pound sterling 372.595, Irish punt 381.722, Cyprus pd 511.416, French franc 46.033, Swiss franc 189.665 Belgian franc 7.731, German mark 155.600 Finnish mark 52.130, Dutch guilder 138.706 Danish Kr. 40.656, Swedish Kr. 36.188, Norwegian Kr. 36.559, Austrian Sh. 22.127, Italian lira (100) 15.672 Yen (100) 213.528 Spanish Peseta 1.852, Portuguese Escudo 1.542.


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