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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 07/07/1997 (ANA)


  • Forest fire reaches outskirts of Thessaloniki
  • Premier leaves for important NATO summit in Madrid
  • US seeks to impose its views for smaller NATO enlargement
  • Simitis pledges support for Albania's Socialists
  • Solana does not see armed conflict between Greece and Turkey
  • Solar refrigerator inaugurated in Crete
  • Wanted German suspect arrested in Halkidiki
  • IOC delegate from Peru satisfied with Olympiad facilities
  • Greek equities jump on blue chip buying spree
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Forest fire reaches outskirts of Thessaloniki

Forest and brush fires were raging yesterday on more than fronts throughout Greece, the worst being in the famous Seikh Sou forest around Thessaloniki which broke out Sunday afternoon. Two villas were destroyed in the outer suburb of Panorama after the blaze, which had been brought partly under control, rekindled yesterday morning.

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas told state radio in Thessaloniki yesterday the Seikh Sou fire was the work of arsonists. He rejected complaints that the state had been slow in acting to extinguish the fire, noting that confrontation of the Seikh Sou fire, which had originated on several fronts, was a matter of planning by the appropriate coordinating body.

He said the situation was made more difficult by the fact that there were no fire-fighting aircraft permanently stationed in Thessaloniki.

Later yesterday, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis attributed the extent of the blaze to the high temperatures, winds that reached seven on the Beaufort scale and the fact that fires wree being fought in 13 prefectures throughout the country.

The spokesman also denied there had been delays in responding other than the fact that the country's fire-fighting aircraft had been deployed over widespread areas.

The fire, which has destroyed more than half the Seikh Sou forest, had been brought under control yesterday morning after all-night operations, but winds rekindled an area near Panorma, whose residents had spent the night on the streets.

Other fires were being battled yesterday in Kozani and Grevena, near Megalopoli in the Peloponnese, near Thebes, in Fokida prefecture, northern Euboea, Atalanti, Ioannina, Konitsa, Domokos, Farsala, Samos Almyros, Argolida and near Mt. Pelion.

Premier leaves for important NATO summit in Madrid

Prime Minister Costas Simitis leaves for Madrid today to attend the Tuesday's NATO summit, accompanied by Press Minister Dimitris Reppas and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

The main issues on the agenda will be the alliance's enlargement and new structure, but according to consultations held to date, it does not appear possible that decisions will be taken on the new structure.

Ankara will be represented in Madrid by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and new Foreign Minister Ismail Jem. There is no scheduled meeting between Mr. Simitis and Mr. Demirel. Diplomatic sources said that if there is a meeting, it will have a social nature.

According to an ANA dispatch from Brussels, the leaders of NATO member- states will make a last-ditch effort to find certain compromise solutions to their differences, although being divided over NATO's future form, methods of operation and military targets.

The idea of France returning to NATO's military structure is accompanied by a second concerning the deep restructuring of NATO's functions. In short, this means that European Union countries which are proceeding in an irregular fashion but speedily towards their Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) need an "internal" coordination of their defence and security.

However, the proposal for the creation of a European security pylon in NATO does not meet with the understanding by the United States. The US views with distrust France's claim that the Europeans must be able to decide and execute action of a military nature by themselves in the framework of the West European Union (WEU), but using NATO's logistics structure in such cases.

US seeks to impose its views for smaller NATO enlargement

On the question of NATO's enlargement, the United States has sought to impose its view of the new European security order decreeing that only three former Warsaw Pact states - Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary - may join NATO in the first wave.

Many European allies, among them France, Italy and Greece, want Romania and Slovenia be added to that list, arguing that they qualify both as democratic market economies and as states in need of security on the edge of Black Sea and Balkan danger zones.

US President Bill Clinton, who spent the weekend relaxing with King Juan Carlos on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca, made it clear before leaving Washington he would not allow more than three entrants now.

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said on Saturday there was no consensus yet on the number of states to be admitted, nor on any assurance to be given to those who do not join in the first wave, probably in 1999.

To avoid being seen as giving his blessing to the enlargement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin decided not to go to Madrid, where 28 east European nations will join the 16 NATO leaders for the first meeting of a new Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council on Wednesday.

Simitis pledges support for Albania's Socialists

Athens today pledged to support Albania's Socialists, officially declared winners of the country's general elections, and said it would be willing to offer assistance to restore Europe's poorest country, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said today.

"The premier told (Albania's Socialist chairman Fatos) Nano that Greece would be on the side of the neighbouring country and offered to provide assistance to restore Albania," Athanasakis said.

He said the two men held a telephone conversation during which Socialist party chairman Nano, whose party won a landslide victory in the elections, informed Simitis that his party had won a two-thirds majority in parliament over President Sali Berisha's right-wing Democratic Party.

With final results still to come after Sunday's runoff vote in 34 districts, Albania's Socialist Party prepares to form a new government expected to put an end to the chaos and bloodshed sweeping the country in the past four months.

Nano said he will become prime minister, replacing fellow Socialist Bashkim Fino, who was appointed interim prime minister in March this year when the government resigned and an early election called to put an end to the mayhem that followed the collapse of investment schemes in which the majority of the population lost their life savings.

According to Athanasakis the Greek contingent, as part of the peacekeeping multinational force to Albania, is set to begin its gradual withdrawal from the country on 18 July.

He said Greek troops may prolong their presence in Albania if the new Albanian government raised the issue and came forward with specific proposals.

Solana does not see armed conflict between Greece and Turkey

NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said he does not believe a war will break out between Greece and Turkey.

In an interview with the Sunday newspaper "To Vima", Mr. Solana said Greece and Turkey are two faithful members of the alliance. Replying to a question on a possible armed conflict between the nations, he said "to tell the truth, I do not foresee a conf rontation between these two countries."

Replying to another question on whether he ruled out the possibility of an incident, he said that "there might be tensions between the two countries, but I do not see a confrontation."

Solar refrigerator inaugurated in Crete

A Renewable Energy Sources Centre and a solar refrigerator were inaugurated in the Vatali Prasse region near Hania, Crete last night, which will be used by communities in the region for the needs of refrigerating and preserving farm and stockbreeding prod ucts.

The ceremony was attended by Agriculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis, the North Rhine Research Minister Mr. Brun, the Palestinian Higher Education Minister Mr. Abrawi, the Palestinian Minister to the Presidency Abu-Ada and the Jordanian Commerce Minister Mr. Malki.

Wanted German suspect arrested in Halkidiki

A German national wanted by Interpol for fraud and embezzlement in his country involving millions of deutschmarks was arrested on Friday in Polygyros, Halkidiki, police sources said here Saturday.

George-Ralf Planck (phonetic spelling), 50, had been staying in a rented apartment near Vourvourou.

During his stay in Greece, Planck is alleged to have used forged documents, including a false Belgian passport and a driver's licence in the name of Johann Peters.

Police stopped him on Friday afternoon on the Nea Moudania-Sithonia highway and after checking his fingerprints, ascertained that it was Planck.

The suspect was due to appear before a public prosecutor in Polygyros, charged with using forged documents, while the procedures have already begun for his extradition.

IOC delegate from Peru satisfied with Olympiad facilities

Peru's International Olympics Committee (IOC) delegate, Ivan Dibos, yesterday said he was satisfied with a presentation of Athens' candidacy to host the Olympic Games in 2004.

The presentation was made for him by candidacy committee president Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalaki.

Mr. Dibos was given a guided tour of sports installations at Peace and Friendship Stadium and the Athens Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Immediately after a ceremony at the "Park for IOC members" on Friday where he planted an olive tree bearing his name, Mr. Dibos said: "I have planted many trees as mayor of Lima, but what I feel today I have never felt before." Two more IOC members arrived in Athens on Saturday. They are Vitaly Smirnov from Russia and Nat Intrapana from Thailand.

Greek equities jump on blue chip buying spree

Strong buying interest in banking and industrial shares pushed the Athens Stock Exchange sharply higher in the first trading session of the week to finish up 2.21 percent.

The general index jumped to 1,547.64 points with all sector indices scoring big gains. Trading was scant and turnover was 8.8 billion drachmas.

Banks rose 2.48 percent, Leasing was 0.23 percent up, Insurance increased 1.60 percent, Investment ended 1.58 percent higher, Industrials rose 2.48 percent, Construction increased 1.62 percent, Holding rose 2.57 percent and Miscellaneous was 1.60 percent up.

The Parallel Market index closed 1.56 percent higher.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 138 to 67 with another 25 issues unchanged.

Benroubi, Bank of Central Greece, Ergobank and Pireaus Investment scored the biggest percentage gains, while SATO, Xylemporia and Keranis suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 34,400 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,110, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,800, Titan Cement at 14,700, Intracom at 12,490 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,515 drachmas.


Sunny weather with local cloud and some scattered showers in central and northern areas later in the day, with possible downpours in the north. Athens will be sunny with a drop in temperatures, taking them down to 23- 35C. Thessaloniki will be sunny to partly cloudy with a possible thunderstorm at night in the mountainous regions with temperatures between 20-32C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 273.296 Pound sterling 460.883 Cyprus pd 530.383 French franc 46.344 Swiss franc 186.436 German mark 156.166 Italian lira (100) 16.040 Yen (100) 241.125 Canadian dlr. 197.805 Australian dlr. 203.955 Irish Punt 416.243 Belgian franc 7.568 Finnish mark 52.493 Dutch guilder 138.746 Danish kr. 41.017 Swedish kr. 35.442 Norwegian kr. 37.508 Austrian sch. 22.181 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.548


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