Foreign exchange rates
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens calls for concerted European action on refugees
Greece yesterday called for coordinated action on the part of Schengen Pact
member-states to deal with the causes of the large-scale illegal immigration
of Kurds into western Europe.
"The increase in the flow of illegal immigrants to Europe, particularly to
EU countries, is a phenomenon which has become acute over the last few
months, causing concern and mobilising interest P beyond the governmental
level P of EU organs and of Schen gen," the foreign ministry's Secretary-
General, Stelios Perrakis, told ANA yesterday.
"Recent events, particularly the arrival of about 1,200 Kurdish refugees in
Italy onboard Turkish ships, confirm what the Greek side has repeatedly
stressed at a high political level in the EU and in the Schengen system,
that the issue cannot be dealt with through increased police measures and
stricter control of external borders (sea, air or land).
"What is required now is international action on the part of Schengen
countries and on the causes of the problem, namely, the aggressive Turkish
military activity in northern Iraq on one hand, and Ankara's policy of not
controlling or restricting and even tolerating the flow of Iraqi refugees
through its territory westwards," said Mr. Perrakis.
However, the UN High Commissioner's representative for refugees in Greece,
Marion Hoffman, said yesterday that few stay in Greece, and most move on to
another European country. People requesting asylum are only a small
percentage of the illegal immigrants, she said.
Search for missing illegal immigrants continues in Evros river
As international attention appeared to be focusing on the problem, three
Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin were reported missing and
presumed drowned in the Evros River, on the Greek-Turkish border. The
missing two women and a small boy were among a group of 28 illegal
immigrants being transported by a Turkish smuggler to the region of
Didimotiho late on New Year's Eve, police said.
The illegal immigrants were ferried across the river in groups of five. The
missing women and the boy were among the second group, with another child
and a man. Police said the man managed to save one of his children, but his
wife, his other child and another woman disappeared downstream when the
A Greek military patrol in the area heard the calls for help and rushed to
the scene. A rescue operation was launched by the army and local fishermen,
who picked up the rest of the immigrants beseiged on the islet from rising
Authorities said they were holding a total of 125 Iraqi illegal immigrants
at the Didimotiho police station, including the 25 picked up from the islet
Turkey to protest Aegean shipping inspections
Turkey's leadership is considering an official protest for alleged
harassement of vessels emerging from the Dardanelles by the Greek Navy,
according to turkish television reports.
The reports claimed that the Greek warships refused to identify themselves,
and left their stations on the arrival of Turkish warships, put on alert
after calls by the captains of the harrassed vessels, the reports further
They quoted Turkish diplomats as saying the incident came at a time of high
tension between Athens and Ankara over Turkey's plans to carry out military
exercises in the Aegean over the next few days.
According to other Turkish press reports, the country's armed forces will
carry out an eight-phase maneouvre in the region between Jan. 2-25, while
the Greek forces will launch a four-day exercise on Jan. 19.
Meanwhile, the Turkish daily "Milliyet", under the headline "Greek Piracy
in the Aegean", also referred to a statement by a senior Turkish foreign
ministry official that Greece could be trying to underline that the
Aegean's international waters belonged to Athens alone.
"If this is true, then Greece should change its stance at once, since
Turkey has warned the international public that it considers such a
position a cause for war," the official was quoted as saying.
Athens denies harassment of Turkish vessels in the Aegean
The National Defence Ministry late Thursday night denied a Turkish press
report alleging that Greek warships had "challenged" two Turkish cargo
vessels in the Aegean's international waters early Thursday.
Defence ministry sources told ANA that a Hellenic 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 same sources rejected Turkish press reports that two Greek warships
attempted to inspect merchant vessels nine nautical miles off the
Dardanelles Straits, 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 Turkey.
President on official visit to India
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit
to India January 12-18 at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Kocheril
Raman Narayanan, it was announced yesterday.
He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National
Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas.
Two killed in Xanthi papermill blast
Two people were killed and four injured in an explosion at the "Diana"
papermill near Xanthi, early this morning.
28-year-old equipment opperator Stephanos Draskidis was killed instantly
when a boiler exploded at 5.25 am, sending pieces of metal at great
distances. Electrician Theophanis Kamiloglou was severely wounded in the
blast and died later, while being trasported to hospital. Another four
workers of the papermill, located at the village of Maggana in the
prefecture of Xanthi, were treated at the local hospital for burns.
The explosion caused a fire which took several hours to bring under
control. According to early estimates the damage to the factory is in the
10ths of millions of drachmas.
New Coast Guard speedboat to fend-off smugglers in the Ionian Sea
A state-of-the-art 40-foot patrol boat capable of achieving speeds of up to
60 nautical miles is scouring the Ionian as of yesterday as part of the
Igoumenitsa port authority's force.
The new speedboat will patrol the sea region between Igoumenitsa-Corfu and
the Albanian coast around-the-clock, to fend off a rising tide of people
smuggling and raids to property by the Albanian mafia.
Declassified Foreign Office documents on Greek junta
Newly released British Foreign Office documents apparently shed light on
the thoughts behind Britain's policy toward Greece at the beginning of the
1967 Greek military dictatorship.
At the time, Britain's leadership considered its reaction to the junta,
accoding to the documents.
According to official document CAB 129 P declassified after a 30-year
statute of limitations expired P Britain pondered the policy of Denmark and
Norway, namely, publicly denouncing the junta and suspending diplomatic
relations. British leadership, howe ver, deemed that such a course would
have created problems in communication with Greece, especially over the
The alternative, which was finally adopted, was to keep channels of
communication open at a low governmental level, although arms sales would
cease and high-level contacts between the two countries would be suspended.
Then British Foreign Minister Michael Stewart decided to propose the second
alternative to the cabinet, since it better represented British interests
in the area, according to the released documents.
CD set features works by Greek composers
A luxury set of five CDs with works by the most noted Greek composers has
been issued by the Centre of Modern Music Research with funding by the
National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA).
The issue is entitled "From the Greek Music Vanguard of the 20th Century."
All five CDs include works 34 Greek composers, such as Yiannis Xenakis,
Yiannis Christou, Argyris Kounadis, Mihalis Adamis and Dimitris Mitropoulos.
Athens News Agency
EU-funded development programme for Aegean rock-islets
The Aegean ministry yesterday announced a 400-million-drachma "Tour Through
the Aegean" development programme for several rock-islets in the eastern
Funding will reportedly become available through the European Union's
"Interreg II" programme and will include rock-islets that are part of
"Natura 2000," another EU environmental protection programme.
Aegean Minister Elisabeth Papazoe said plans include the building of
primary port facilities, small buildings, bird watching facilities,
This programme is envisioned to boost alternative low-impact tourism in the
eastern Aegean, protect wildlife and facilitate research.
First instance court decision on Distos sinking
A Piraeus court yesterday ordered a restraining order on 322 million
drachmas worth of AGET Iraklis' financial assets in order to cover possible
liabilities emanating from last year's sinking of the freighter "Distos".
The vessel belonged to Iraklis shipping firm, a subsidiary of the AGET
cement company. It sank last year, taking with it all but one of its
crewmembers and family members of the crew.
The first instance court has already awarded 17 million drachmas to
relatives of three of the maritime disaster's victims.
The shipping firm, in an press release, stated that the cement-carrying
vessel was properly maintained according to existing safety regulations.
Greek equities make hesitant 1998 debut
Greek equities traded narrowly yesterday to end with fractional gains
during the first session of 1998 on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said investors remained sidelined extending their New Year's
holiday ahead of the weekend.
The general index closed 0.19 percent higher at 1,482.41 points with sector
Banks fell 0.09 percent, Insurance rose 1.79 percent, Leasing dropped 0.39
percent, Investment ended 0.21 percent, Constructions surged 2.04 percent,
Industrials eased 0.38 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.30 percent up and
Holding rose 1.03 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies gained 1.63 percent,
while the FTSE/ASE index ended 0.13 percent higher at 846.99 points.
Olympic Airways board chairman resigns
Emmanuel Fthenakis yesterday 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, Mr. Fthenakis cited, inter alia, his bitterness
that New Democracy MPs on the relevant parliamentary committee that
approved his nomination had not voted for him, according to reliable
Mr. 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, ruling PASOK representatives voted in favour of Mr.
Fthenakis, 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) represent atives voted against him.
"...Nothing has changed in Greece," Mr. Fthenakis was quoted by the sources
as writing in his letter.
Ministry sources said a new chairman of the board would be selected between
Programme to aid repatriated Greeks of Drama prefecture
The Hellenic Organisation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and
Craftsmen (EOMMEX) and the Society of Repatriated Greeks of Drama
Prefecture are participating in the European Union programme "Enterprise
The programme will financially aid and offer technical expertise to
enterprises founded by repatriated Black Sea Greeks (Pontians).
The programme includes such services as a reception centre, which will
provide information on market and state regulations as well as employment
and business orientation.
Pensioners, wage earners the hardest hit taxpayers
Pensioners and wage earners provided the lion's share of the 1997 taxes,
according to finance ministry statistics.
Those two categories of taxpayers buffered the national budget by 56.8 per
cent as opposed to 55 per cent in 1996. The increase is due to the fact
that there has been on price indexation on taxes for several years. The
government introduced a 5.5 per ce nt price indexation on taxes for
The average declared income in 1997 was 2,927,024 drachmas per taxpayer and
the median tax slice was 201,138 drachmas, an 22.4 per cent increase.
Cloud for most of the country, increased over the island of Crete with the
chance of showers early in the day. Local fog is also forecast for the
early morning. Light to moderate easterly winds. Athens will be overcast, 8-
14 degrees centigrade. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with reduced
visibility in the morning and temperatures 4-11C.
Foreign exchange rates
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.621
Pound sterling 463.700 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.872 Swiss franc 192.656
German mark 156.805 Italian lira (100) 15.955
Yen (100) 214.371 Canadian dlr. 197.805
Australian dlr. 183.748 Irish Punt 402.117
Belgian franc 7.603 Finnish mark 51.763
Dutch guilder 139.123 Danish kr. 41.182
Swedish kr. 35.520 Norwegian kr. 38.252
Austrian sch. 22.290 Spanish peseta 1.852
Port. Escudo 1.535