Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 02/01/1998 (ANA)
- Iraqi illegal immigrants missing in border river crossing
- Defence Ministry denies "challenge" allegations
- Optimism stressed in New Year messages
- Athens meets New Year, boasting the tallest Xmas tree in Europe
- Civil aviation experts investigate Yakovlev crash
- President to bestow honourary titles
- Turkish smugglers disembark illegal Iraqi immigrants
- Declassified documents shed light on 1967 Cyprus turmoil
- Weapons seized in Ioannina
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Iraqi illegal immigrants missing in border river crossing
Three Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin were reported missing and
presumed drowned in the Evros river marking the Greek-Turkish border in
northern Greece, police in Alexandroupolis told the Athens News Agency
The missing two women and a small boy were among a group of 28 immigrants
who were being transported by a Turkish boat-runner to the region of
Didimoticho late New Year's eve, police said.
"Their boat overturned, and the three were swept away by the river's rapids,
" a police spokesman told ANA.
The Turkish boat-runner had disembarked the 28 on an islet in the middle of
the river, from where he had strung a rope across to the coast on the Greek
side to provide a hold and keep the boat from being overturned by the
rushing waters, the police spokesman said.
The immigrants were then ferried across the river in groups of five. The
two women and the boy were among the second group, with another child and a
man. Police said the man, who was manning the boat, managed to save one of
his children, but his wife, his other child and another woman were carried
away by the raging waters and disappeared.
A Greek military patrol in the area heard the calls for help and rushed to
their assistance, but the three had already vanished downstream. The search
and rescue operation for the missing three continued late into the evening
and was resumed at dawn today.
Defence Ministry denies "challenge" allegations
The Greek National Defence Ministry today flatly denied a Turkish press
report that Greek warships had "challenged" two Turkish cargo vessels in
the international waters in the Aegean Sea early on Thursday.
Defence Ministry sources told the ANA that a Greek navy gunboat had been
carrying out a "routine patrol in the area following a tip that a ship was
planning to land 2,000 illegal immigrants on the Greek shores in the
The sources rejected Turkish press reports that two Greek warships tried to
carry out checks on merchant ships nine miles off the Straits of Dardanelles,
flashing lights at them and asking them to identify their ports of origin
Greece has recently been flooded by hundreds of illegal immigrants ferried
across from the Turkish shores.
Optimism stressed in New Year messages
Significant steps of progress in the economy and international relations,
despite continuing tension with Turkey, allow for optimism that further
possibilities for creativity still lie ahead, Prime Minister Costas Simitis
said in his New Year's message.
"Thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of all, significant steps were made
in the direction of a stronger Greece last year. Greater stability was
achieved in the economy. Inflation was reduced to levels uknown for decades,
and the same is the case with the public deficit. The rate of growth was
one of the highest in Europe," he said.
"The standard of living of most people improved. We apply modern policies
against unemployment. Step-by-step, we are building a substantial web of
social protection. We shall persist with this policy," he added.
He cautioned, however, that a lot of work still had to be done.
"We still have a considerable distance to cover to acquire an economy as
strong as those of other European countries. An economy so competitive that
will not be influenced by the upheavals of the international market," he
"Our relations with neighbouring Turkey are going through a period of
tension. Turkey is trying to gain ground which it lost in the European
Union. As far as we are concerned, we shall steadily follow a policy of
peace. We refuse the escalation of tension.
Solutions are available if international treaties and law are applied. At
the same time we shall continue our efforts for a strong deterrent force,"
"Our role in the Balkans is becoming increasingly important. The (November)
summit on Crete confirmed this. Delegates of countries with chronic
conflicts and disputes agreed on closer cooperation. The arrangements we
achieved in the European Union will secure the financing of our developmental
efforts for years to come. In the Luxembourg summit, the Greek positions on
relations with Turkey and Cypriot accession negotiations were accepted.
"The year that passed showed that we can be optimistic. The assignment of
the Olympic Games of 2004 to Athens was proof that we can succeed in
international competition," the prime minister concluded.
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos in his New Year's Day
address said that there were solutions to the country's problems that could
be resolved with careful actions, unanimity and well prepared military
forces with a high moral are adequate preconditions for Greece to achieve
the defence of its national integrity and to secure peace.
"To our Cypriot brethren I am sending cordial greetings, best wishes and
the reasurance of GreeceYs continual support toward their great national
problem, which is our problem as well," said the president.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis sent a
message of hope and optimism to the nation yesterday, during his New Year's
Mr. Karamanlis said that Greece has enormous potential and a bright future.
He added that all these possibilities can and must be utilised, but the
state and the political forces of the country must be equal to the
Athens meets New Year, boasting the tallest Xmas tree in Europe
Season's lights, tallest Christmas tree in Europe, a crowd of thousands,
great popular atrists, Athens' municipal music band, fire works, and
thousands of multi-coloured baloons conspired to create the best New Year's
bash Athenians have seen, according to the people who visited Syntagma
Square for the festivities.
The crowd and television viewers both in Greece and abroad had the chance
to enjoy an endless parade of popular singers, who 'escaped', for a few
minutes each from the clubs where they work, to appear and inspire. One of
the highlights of the evening was the countdown to the New Year. All lights
were turned off one minute before twelve and those gathered counted down
the last minute of 1997. Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos called out to
all including Greeks abroad watching the festivities via satelit e to
"celebrate ...tonight with us." He added that this celebration belongs to
the homeless and the socially disenfranchised.
Civil aviation experts investigate Yakovlev crash
The Civil Aviation Authority (YPA) committee investigating the Dec. 17
Yakovlev 42 crash flew over the point of impact, on Wednesday.
Committee president Akrivos Tsolakis said that the flight was an effort to
re-enact the path taken by the Ukrainian Airsuite airlines plane.
He added that the flight uncovered important facts about the crash.
Mr. Tsolakis also said that the committe will go to Kiev, Moscow, and the
US in efforts to collect facts and information about the airplane, since
pertinent information on several aspects of the crash can be found only in
President to bestow honourary titles
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will bestow honorary titles
to distinguised Greek citizens and expatriate Greeks in view of the New
The yearly titles will be given to Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and all
Albania, European Human Rights advocate Nikolas Valtinos, University of
Toronto professors Spyridonas Phleggas, Dimitrios Oreopoulos and Stephanos
Triantis, MIT professors Mihael Dertouzos and Nikolaos Negreponte, San
Diego University professor Kyriakos Nikolaou, World Council of Hellenes
Abroad president Andrew Athens, writer Georgi Kufov and director of the
institute for the financial support of Greek children at Harvard Pediatric
Hospital Vasso Pappas.
Turkish smugglers disembark illegal Iraqi immigrants
Turkish smugglers disembarked 24 Iraqi illegal immigrants at dawn yesterday
on the east coast of the island of Samos, police said. They said the 20 men
and four women were transported to the Prasso region of Samos in two boat
loads. The illegal immigrants told Samos police they had paid 2,000 dollars
each to be brought across to Greece, adding that a large number of Iraqis
were in Turkey waiting to be transported illegally to Greek islands in the
Aegean. The 24 were taken to the local police precinct pe nding completion
of the process for the extention of political asylum.
Declassified documents shed light on 1967 Cyprus turmoil
Late Cyprus' President Makarios was willing to accept the ceding of the
British Dekelia base in Cyprus to Turkey on condition that it would belong
The British withdrawal from the base was part of a general framework of the
kingdom to save money.
This is one of the obscure moments of Cyprus' recent history coming to
light with the release of the British Cabinet and Defence Ministry 1967
documents, since the statute of limitations has run out, a yearly practice
in the United Kingdom.
According to the documents Greece forced the issue of Cyprus' union with it,
giving Turkey land remuterations on the island, while Turkey was willing to
discuss sovereignty rights over the Dekelia base, asking for a de facto
"double union" or partition ing of the island.
Coming to light was also a secret meeting of the then King Constantine of
the Greeks with British prime minister Harold Wilson on this subject, on
Nov. 9, 1966.
According to the declasiffied documents Britain was willing to discuss the
total demilitarisation of the island and a form of confederation between
Greece and Cyprus, which could have been acceptable by all patries involved,
but Ankara was not willing t o give up its military rights on Cyprus.
Weapons seized in Ioannina
A cache of weapons allegedly smuggled into Greece by illegal immigrants
from Albania was found on Wednesday hidden near the village of Klimatia,
A passing travelling salesman informed Ioannina police that he had come
across bags containing the weapons, which included four Chinese-made
automatic rifles, various types of revolvers and ammunition.
Fine weather with local cloudiness in the west and south is forecast for
Greece today. Winds light to moderate in the Ionian Sea. Athens sunny with
few clouds and temperatures between 4-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 1-11.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.349
Pound sterling 464.970 Cyprus pd 535.204
French franc 46.816 Swiss franc 192.825
German mark 156.627 Italian lira (100) 15.943
Yen (100) 215.998 Canadian dlr. 195.940
Australian dlr. 183.252 Irish Punt 400.451
Belgian franc 7.593 Finnish mark 51.713
Dutch guilder 138.984 Danish kr. 41.105
Swedish kr. 35.496 Norwegian kr. 38.297
Austrian sch. 22.259 Spanish peseta 1.851
Port. Escudo 1.530