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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 05/03/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece may despatch a Greek high ranking official to Tirana
  • Greece, FYROM making progress in relations
  • Albright-Pangalos meet tomorrow in Washington
  • Venizelos attends inauguration of "Glory of Byzantium"
  • Simitis sends message to expatriate Greeks on Internet
  • Five Iraqi patients to be treated in Athens


    Greece may despatch high-ranking official to Tirana

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks today with Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis focusing on Greece's stance concerning the ongoing crisis in neighbouring Albania.

    They also further elaborated the proposals being put forward by Athens at the level of the European Union prior to the arrival here tomorrow of Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo who will visit Tirana on Friday.

    Although no statements were made after the meeting, informed sources said the Greek government was not ruling out the despatch of a high-ranking Greek official to Tirana, possibly Kranidiotis himself.

    The same sources said that such a visit would take place after van Mierlo's visit to Tirana because Greece does not want to appear to be acting antagonistically to the efforts of the Dutch EU presidency, but rather complementarily.

    According to the sources, Simitis again spoke by telephone today with his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi in order to coordinate any efforts by the two countries with regard to the despatch of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Albania.

    The Greek government intends to send such aid as soon as Athens has consulted with the Albanian authorities on the matter.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later told reporters that the government did not have a full picture of the crisis in Albania but that the situation did not appear to be escalating today.

    He also spoke about Greece's initiatives on the issue, noting that Simitis had two telephone conversations with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, one with European Commission President Jacques Santer and one with former chancellor of Austria, Franz Vranitzky, who is reported to be preparing to play an intermediary role as an envoy to Albania.

    The spokesman said cooperation was also under way with Italy, with which Greece was discussing the adoption of a common stance.

    Meanwhile, he continued, the EU was examining ways of sending aid to Albania, which may soon be visited by Commissioner for External Relations Hans van den Broek.

    A later ANA despatch from Gjirokaster, citing reliable sources, said four citizens had been wounded in the clashes in Delvino, one seriously.

    Meanwhile, according to other as yet unconfirmed reports, groups of armed civilians were moving from Sarande in the direction of Delvino to confront the military and police in the area.

    Sources said that the operation in Delvino began at 10.30 Albanian time, when heavily armed troops and plainclothes policemen moved into the town, saying that they had no orders to shoot.

    When they saw armed civilians however, they reportedly opened fire without warning, leading to a prolonged exchange of fire with armed residents.

    At the same time, reports said that oxygen bottles and other medical supplies were being sent from Corfu to Sarande hospital.

    The Greek armed forces have been put on the alert along the border with Albania to prevent any increase in illegal immigration as a result of the riots sweeping Greece's northern neighbour, according to informed sources.

    By order of Defence Minister Akis Tsohadzopoulos, reinforcements have been called in to the eighth army division stationed in the area. Military and police patrols along the border have been stepped up, although the number of illegal immigrants apprehended has been markedly low.

    Meanwhile, there has been an appeal to the Corfu Prefecture from the Albanian town of Sarande for blood donations. According to unconfirmed reports, there are a number of wounded in the town. The Corfu Prefect has asked for instructions from the Foreign and Interior Ministries.

    The situation is still tense in southern Albania as the town of Vlore remains in the hands of rioters who late last night broke into state warehouses and made off with 3,000 tonnes of grain, according to the ANA's correspondent in Gjirokaster.

    Sources say twenty people, including two children, have been killed in Vlore since the outbreak of the riots and that organised gangs are thwarting any attempt by the government to impose order.

    Tension also remains high in Sarande, as well as in Fier, where demonstrators have set up barricades on the road to Vlore.

    Order has been restored in Gjirokaster, where army units and police are in control. The Gjirokaster regional governor reported that army and police road blocks, reinforced by tanks, have been set up on the road from Georgoutsati to Tepeleni.

    Meanwhile, no independent or opposition newspaper was published in Tirana today. President Sali Berisha has stressed he will maintain martial law in Albania until order has been restored in the southeastern regions.

    Greece, FYROM making progress in relations

    Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are "slowly, but surely" bridging the gap in their relations, according to the head of the neighbouring state's liaison office in Athens, Ljupko Arsovski.

    Speaking to the state-run radio in Skopje, Mr. Arsovski said that 18 months after the signing between the two countries of an interim accord in New York it was obvious that communication between people, trade and ideas had developed.

    Trade between the two countries, he emphasised, surpassed the US$130 million mark in 1996. He added that high-level meetings between officials of the two countries were due to be held this year, including the Thessaloniki-based fourth Balkan conference entitled "Greece and the Balkans", which is scheduled for this month, as well as a meeting of finance ministers in Athens, also in March.

    Albright-Pangalos to meet Thursday

    US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns announced late last night that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will meet here tomorrow morning.

    "The secretary looks forward to her meeting with Mr Pangalos on Thursday. They will discuss a broad range of bilateral and regional issues with an emphasis on the Aegean and Cyprus," Mr. Burns said.

    Mr. Pangalos is currently in the United States to attend the inauguration of the "Glory of Byzantium" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

    Speaking on current events in Albania, Mr. Burns said "we are sorry that the Albanian authorities are using the situation to shut down the Albanian media and the Voice of America".

    "We feel that this speedy recourse to (presidential) elections by the parliament and the government was not the correct move because it did not give the opposition a just opportunity to contest the elections.

    " Our advice would have been to bring back democracy and the democratic rights of the opposition. ..No-one wants there to be an exodus (of refugees) either towards Italy or towards Greece. But we must be prepared for every eventuallity," Mr. Burns said.

    Venizelos attends inauguration of 'Glory of Byzantium'

    The exhibition "The Glory of Byzantium" opened Monday night at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the presence of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Earlier in the day, Mr. Venizelos met with Archbishop of America Spyridon and discussed the major contribution made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the exhibition.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is to visit the United States shortly. The culture minister also discussed ways to broaden contacts between the ministry, the Archdiocese and the Greek community as well as ways to pass on Greek cultural traditions to the younger generation of the diaspora. Mr. Venizelos also referred to one of the ministry's chief goals, which was to support Greek studies at all foreign universities.

    Simitis sends message to expatriate Greeks on Internet

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday sent a message to expatriate Greeks around the world through the foreign ministry's electronic page on the Internet computer web.

    "This page allows for direct communication, which ensures for the timely and credible briefing on developments in Greece and in the overseas Greek communities globally," his message read.

    Turning to other issues, he noted that both Greece and Cyprus are called upon to play a leading and pioneering role, since they are located on the crossroads of three continents - in the region of the southeast Mediterranean and in the neighbourhood of the Balkans.

    "We are on the threshold of the year 2000, and we are aware of the fact that Greece has never before been confronted with such great challenges and opportunities, which we must face...decisively," he noted.

    The premier said the government's aim in the following four years is to place Greece "in a secure orbit of the welfare, development and progress, since this is the best answer to unacceptable disputes and violations of the rules of the international law from Turkish provocativeness."

    Five Iraqi patients to be treated in Athens

    Five Iraqi children will be hospitalised in Athens tomorrow following an initiative by the international "Doctors of the World" humanitarian organisation.

    The Greek department of the organisation has been in Iraq since the end of January within the framework of the "Chain of Hope" programme, designed to counter the effects on health care of an international trade blockade on Iraq, which has drained that country's reserves.

    Greek physicians have undertaken the transportation and hospitalisation of the five young patients who are facing health problems reportedly not easily treated in their country.

    Kavala pupil chosen to participate in EU project

    A 16-year-old pupil of a Kavala school has been chosen through a European Union project to represent Greece in a European students' council meeting, to be held in the Europarliament in Strasbourg.

    Victoria Zyridou won first prize in her category when her school participated in a students' council organised each year by the EU, in which pupils from 25 countries took part.

    Her presentation in Strasbourg will be entitled "Open Borders - Triumph or Tragedy?" and will include a videotape presentation depicting scenes of Greek cultural heritage from archaeological sites.

    Italian interests to construct a plant in Greece

    Italian interests have decided to construct a plant at an estimated cost of 1.6 billion drachmas for the manufacture of high-pressure tanks at Xeropotamo, Drama in northern Greece.

    The Community of Xeropotamo will allocate an area of land for the plant near the prefecture's industrial estate.

    Despite more favourable investment incentives in Thrace, the Italians preferred Drama, partly because of the imminent opening of the Exochi customs post on the Greek-Bulgarian border.

    Another incentive making the investment more attractive is the subsidy which may be as high as 52 per cent.

    Initially, the plant is expected to employ 50 persons, but when fully operational it will have a workforce of about 800.

    The estimated cost of 1.6 billion drachmas will be covered 25 per cent by own capital, while the remainder will come from bank lending and the subsidy.

    Athenians support the bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games

    Athens' main ''weapon'' in its bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games is the virtually universal support for the city's candidacy from Athenians and the Greek people in general, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said today.

    Speaking at a press conference, Avramopoulos, who is a member of the committee responsible for promoting Athens' candidacy, praised ''the unity of spirit'' prevailing among all parties involved in the city's bid.

    Avramopoulos expressed guarded optimism about the chances of Athens being included on the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) shortlist of four or five candidate cities for the 2004 Olympics.

    The IOC will announce the shortlist in Lausanne on Friday. Cities included on the shortlist will continue to vie for the event until 5 September when the winner will be announced.

    IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said recently that in addition to the necessary infrastructure, the eleven candidates must be able to convince the selection group that the general population backed a particular city's candidacy.

    Size of Greek merchant fleet drops

    The size of the Greek merchant fleet dropped by 120,566 gross registered tons in February, according to figures released today by the Merchant Marine Ministry.

    During February, the ministry said, three vessels with a total capacity of 87,030 grt joined the Greek registry -- one passenger/car ferry, one passenger/tourist vessel and one tanker.

    In the same period, ten vessels with a total capacity of 207,596 grt left the registry. Of these, one was a passenger/car ferry and nine were cargo vessels.


    Fine weather with sunshine in most parts of Greece with a few local clouds over the eastern and southern regions of the country and some strong winds in the Aegean Sea later in the day. Athens and Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with some local cloudiness and temperatures between 7-17C in the former and 4-15C in the latter.


    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 265.648 Pound sterling 429.298 Cyprus pd 520.800 French franc 46.072 Swiss franc 179.130 German mark 155.471 Italian lira (100) 15.582 Yen (100) 218.091 Canadian dlr. 193.876 Australian dlr. 209.679 Irish Punt 416.342 Belgian franc 7.535 Finnish mark 51.971 Dutch guilder 138.210 Danish kr. 40.751 Swedish kr. 34.873 Norwegian kr. 38.371 Austrian sch. 22.085 Spanish peseta 1.834 Portuguese escudo 1.549


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