Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 02/01/1998 (ANA)
- Search continues for 3 missing Iraqis
- Greece denies Turkish harassment charge
- President to make official visit to India
- New OA board chairman resigns
- Optimism stressed in New Year messages
- Athens greets the New Year
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Search continues for 3 missing Iraqis
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.
A massive rescue operation was launched by the army and local fishermen,
who picked up the rest of the immigrants stranded on the tiny islet and
were in serious danger as the water level was rising rapidly.
Eleven of the immigrants who appeared to be in bad shape were taken to
Didimoticho hospital for precautionary reasons, and then to the local
security police station where they joined the rest of the group.
The search and rescue operation for the missing three continued late into
the evening and was resumed at dawn today, the spokesman said.
Greece denies Turkish harassment charge
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. In a New Year's eve incident, two Iraqi
women and a boy were missing after being swept away by rushing waters in
the Evros river. They were among a group of 28 Iraqi Kurds being ferried
across by a Turkish boat-runner.
President to make official visit to India
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit
to India on January 12 to 18 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart
Kocheril Raman Narayanan, it was announced today.
He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National
Economy Undersecretary Alecos Baltas.
New OA board chairman resigns
Emmanuel Fthenakis today submitted his resignation as chairman of the board
of the national carrier Olympic Airways.
In a letter of resignation addressed to Transport and Communications
Minister Tassos Mantelis, Fthenakis cited, inter alia, his bitterness that
the New Democracy MPs on the relevant parliamentary committee that approved
his nomination had not voted for him, according to reliable sources
Fthenakis was first appointed to the board in 1993 under the then New
Democracy government of prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis. He was
approved for a second term recently by the relevent Parliamentary
In the committee, the ruling PASOK representatives voted in favour of
Fthenakis, the New Democracy MPs abstained, the Coalition of Left and
Progress cast blank ballots and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) representatives voted against him.
"...Nothing has changed in Greece," Fthenakis was quoted by the sources as
writing in his letter.
Ministry sources said the new chairman of the board would be selected
between 10-20 January.
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 greets the New Year
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.
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