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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


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 today.

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 region".

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 and destination.

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 said.

"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," he continued.

"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 Day address.

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 challenge.

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 those countries.

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 Year.

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 to NATO.

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, Ioannina.

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


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