Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-06
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 06/01/1998 (ANA)
- Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with blessing of waters
- Turkish jetfighters violate airspace on religious holiday
- Defence Minister comments on airspace violations
- Turkey accountable to int'l community, Defence Minister says
- Thousands of Kurds on Turkish shores waiting to migrate
- Syrian illegal immigrants arrested on Crete
- Tsovolas undergoes heart surgery, said in "excellent condition"
- Hellenistic tombs uncovered on Mytilene
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Epiphany celebrated throughout Greece with blessing of waters
The Epiphany holy day, celebrated on the 12th day after Christmas in
commemoration of the revealing of Jesus as the Christ to the Gentiles in
the persons of the Magi at Bethlehem, was celebrated throughout Greece
today with the consecration of the waters.
President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas
Simitis attended the Epiphany liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus,
officiated by Metropolitan Kallinikos.
After the service, the congregation went to Akti Miaouli from where the
Metropolitan tossed a cross into the waters for the consecration of the
The ceremony was also attended by former President Christos Sartzetakis,
Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Political
Spring leader Abntonis Samaras, the country's military leadership, and a
group of foreign ambassadors accreditted to Athens, headed by U.S.
Ambassador Nicholas Burns.
The officials were greeted by Piraeus Mayor Stelios Logothetis and Prefect
Christos Fotiou, while Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis greeted
In Athens, Bishop Pavlos delivered the Epiphany liturgy at the St.
Dionussios Church in Kolonaki followed by the blessing of the waters in
The services were attended by Public Order Minister George Romaios, Athens
Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and MPs from the political parties represented
In Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Panteleimon officiated over the liturgy,
attended by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzo0poulos, city Mayor
Constantine Kosmopoulos, Prefect Kostas Papadopoulos and several MPs.
The cross was retrieved from the waters of the Thermaic Gulf by 24-year-old
private sector employee Sotiris Mechilis.
Turkish jetfighters violate airspace on religious holiday
A formation of eight Turkish warplanes violated Greek air space over the
island of Lesvos early today as Greece celebrated Epiphany, Defence
Ministry sources said.
"This is the second time that the Turkish airforce is carrying out
provocations during a religious holiday in violation of an agreement to
refrain from such actions during religious holidays and anniversaries," the
sources said, recalling that Turkish warplanes did the same during
The sources added that the Turkish F-16s infringed air traffic regulations
in the Athens Flight Informatrion (FIR) region north and south of Lesvos
island in the eastern Aegean and on 14 occasions violated Greek airspace in
the area over the islands of Psara, Chios and Oenousses.
In both cases the Turkish jetfighters were intercepted by Greek airforce
Mirage-2000, F-l6 and F-1 fighters and on two occasions the interceptions
developed into aerial dogfights, the sources said.
The violations "were not related to an ongoing major Turkish military
exercise in the Aegean," the sources added.
"The Greek armed forces are cautiously monitoring the exercise and will
take all necessary measures if the manoeuvres are carried out in unauthorised
Greek areas," Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said on Saturday
Defence Minister comments on airspace violations
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said today that "it is not
possible that such an impressive dimension is attempted to be given each
time to the military manoeuvres Turkey wishes to carry out in the
"Greece guarantees that the Aegean is a region open to air and sea
navigation, provided international law and the international treaties are
adhered to," he said, adding that "every movement made in the Aegean must
comply with the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organisation
(ICAO), which are in effect in Greece's Flight Information Region
Tsohatzopoulos said that "the tension being created, regardless of whether
there were or are manoeuvres being held by Turkey, serves no purpose".
"Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, several Turkish aircraft, which were
not taking part in exercises, once again attempted infringements (of the
FIR) and violations (of Greek airspace), an event which, although of an
ongoing nature, particularly on a day such as this do harm to the mutually
agreed stance of respecting major religious holidays," Tsohatzopoulos
Turkey accountable to int'l community, Defence Minister says
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today said that Turkey was
accountable to the international community for its stance that was
undermining peace and security in the region.
"Turkey is accountable to the international community for its overall
stance, with which it dynamites peace and stability in the region, and
consequently it cannot demand that the European countries should turn a
blind eye," the Minister said in Thessaloniki.
He deplored Turkey's attitude on the issue of the Kurds and also on the
infringements of the Athens FIR and violations of Greek airspace that took
place today on the Orthodox religious holiday of the Epiphany, in
contravention of the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement.
In 1988, the then foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, Karolos Papoulias
and Mesut Yilmaz respectively, during a meeting in the seaside resort town
of Vouliagmeni, near Athens, reached a "memorandum agreement" to promote
confidence-building measures between the two countries on the principle of
The agreement included respect of each others' major religious holidays.
The Turkish stance, Tsohatzopoulos added, "confirmed how right the European
Union was in placing certain conditions on Turkey, which it must satisfy in
order to be able to approach Europe".
He also said a political solution needed to be given to the Kurdish issue
by the Ankara government.
"It has once again been confirmed how right the EU was when it placed
certain conditions on Turkey, which it must meet in order to approach the
level of Europe. And it has also been confirmed that those conditions are
not being adhered to," Tsohatzopoulos said.
In recent days, he added, "all of Europe has been dominated by one problem.
The uncontrolled illegal entry of thousands of Kurds, reflecting just how
acute the problem is in Turkey".
"The Kurdish problem, which cannot be solved by military means, requres a
political solution," Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that "Turkey's inability
to solve it has led to this exodus of thousands of people, who are fleeing
to various countries in Europe."
He said the Europeans "are taking the initiative to call on Turkey to solve
the issue, and Turkey must realise that it cannot possibly ask that the
European countries ignore international law, in effect adopting an attitude
similar to Ankara's ".
"On the contrary, Turkey is accountable for proving that it has finally
learned to respect human rights, human freedoms. And this is why, today, it
is the focal point of criticism from all the European countries, confirming
the need for Turkey to adapt to the conditions set out by the EU for its
prospect in relation to Europe," Tsohatzopoulos said.
He was speaking to the Union of Journalists of Thessaloniki-Thrace at the
cutting of the union's New Year pitta (pie).
Thousands of Kurds on Turkish shores waiting to migrate
Thousands of Kurds are clustered on the Turkish shores waiting to be
transported illegally to Greece and Italy, a group of Iraqi Kurd illegal
immigrants arrested today on the island of Samos in the eastern Aegean told
Samos police today arrested a group of 11 Iraqi Kurds left off at the
Galazio region of Samos by Turkish boat-runners, who immediately fled the
area and escaped arrest.
Police said the illegal immigrants had told them there were thousands of
Kurds gathered on the Turkish shores waiting to be transported to Greece
Syrian illegal immigrants arrested on Crete
A group of 14 illegal Syrian immigrants were arrested by a coastguard
patrol shortly after landing at an isolated coast on the island of Crete
Harbour authorities told ANA that the Syrians disembarked at the Goudoura
region near Sitia from a 12-metre tugboat which had no name or flag.
The Syrians, who spoke Greek, told the authorities that they had sailed
from the Syrian port of Tartush and that they had paid the tugboat's
skipper 2,000 US dollars each.
Meanwhile, the Greek coastguard has intensified its patrols in the regions
around the Dodecanese islands facing the Turkish Anatolian coast following
tip-offs that Turkish smugglers would try to transport hundreds of illegal
Kurdish immigrants to the Greek islands.
Tsovolas undergoes heart surgery, said in "excellent condition"
Dimitris Tsovolas, leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI)
underwent heart by-pass surgery today at the George Papanicolaou Hospital
in Thessaloniki and was said to be in excellent condition.
The quadruple by-pass operation was conducted at the hospital's cardiosurgery
centre by a team of surgeons headed by Professor Panayotis Spyrou, a close
friend of Tsovolas.
Press sources said the 55-year-old Tsovolas, who was admitted into hospital
on Monday, had suffered a heart attack shortly before Christmas.
Professor Spyrou said that Tsovolas was in "excellent condition" after the
one hour and 45 minute procedure.
He described the procedure as a "routine operation", adding that damage in
the coronary arteries had been fully restored, and the prognosis was full
recovery and complete return to a normal life for Tsovolas.
The patient would remain in the intensive care unit for monitoring for the
next 24-48 hours, and in about 10 days "he will be ready to return to his
Hellenistic tombs uncovered on Mytilene
Approximately 10 tombs dating to the Hellenistic Period have been uncovered
two kilometres south of the northern exit of the city of Mytilene on
Mytilene island, it was announced today.
The tombs, including a monolotihic sarcophagus made of local stone found
next to a monument, were uncovered during the digging of a road to link
Mytilene city with the town of Panagiouda.
A similar tomb had been uncovered two years ago about 200 metres to the
north. Both are in the vicinity of the ancient Moria quarry dating to the
Archaeologists believe the tombs belong to farming familieis wh lived
outside the walls of Mytilene city in the Helleistic-Roman period, whose
way of life was detailed in the 2nd century AD pastoral romance "Daphnis
and Chloe" by Longus.
Cloudiness with scattered showers in most parts of the country, mostly in
Macedonia, Thrace and the eastern Aegean Sea. Winds moderate westerly-
southwesterly turning to northwesterly in the evening in the west and north
of the country. Athens will be overcast with spells of sunshine. Thessaloniki
overcast with rain in the afternoon.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.129
Pound sterling 467.153 Cyprus pd 535.978
French franc 46.848 Swiss franc 192.974
German mark 156.805 Italian lira (100) 15.952
Yen (100) 213.588 Canadian dlr. 199.571
Australian dlr. 183.446 Irish Punt 401.760
Belgian franc 7.602 Finnish mark 51.812
Dutch guilder 139.118 Danish kr. 41.180
Swedish kr. 35.567 Norwegian kr. 38.440
Austrian sch. 22.295 Spanish peseta 1.852
Port. Escudo 1.532