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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 08/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkish aircraft infringe Greek air space
  • Ankara out of line in questioning Greek sovereignty
  • Political solution needed to Kurdish migrants problem
  • PM, ambassador discuss Greek-Russian relations
  • Drug king-pin arrested
  • Drachma no cause for concern - minister
  • Stock market ends down
  • Women rule for a day
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkish aircraft infringe Greek air space

Turkish warplanes infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on 25 occasions today up until noon, Defence Ministry sources said.

The sources said 22-25 Turkish F-16 and F-4 jetfighters violated air traffic circulation regulations of the Athens FIR and violated Greek national airspace in areas outside those set out for an ongoing Turkish military exercise.

In all instances the Turkish fighter planes were intercepted by Greek Airforce jetfighters, the sources said.

A total of 24 Turkish F-16 and eight Turkish F-4 fighter planes violated Greek national airspace today throughout the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans, National Defence Ministry sources said.

The sources said formations of Turkish aircraft flew over the island of Psarra. It is recalled that Turkish fighter planes had violated Greek airspace in the same region on the January 6 Epiphany holy day.

The sources said two Turkish jetfighters violated national airspace between the islands of Mykonos and Ikaria, one of the areas designated by Ankara for its ongoing sea and air manoeuvres, despite the fact that Greece had not granted approval for that specific area as it is enclosed by Greek national airspace.

Twenty-four Greek airforce F-16, Mirage-2000, F-4 and F-1 jetfighters immediately intercepted the Turkish warplanes in all instances, the sources said, adding that on several occasions the interceptions developed into aerial dogfights.

Ankara out of line in questioning Greek sovereignty

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas today said that Turkey's questioning of Greece's sovereign rights was "inadmissible and unacceptable". He was referring to comments by Turkish officials on the development plans for Aegean islands by Greek Ministry for the Aegean.

Programmes announced by Minister for the Aegean Elisabeth Papazoi yesterday included measures to confront natural disasters and research into environmental dangers, using resources from the 2000-2006 structural funds.

"These are European programmes aimed at the environmental protection and development, on which agreement had been reached between the Aegean and Foreign Ministries," said Reppas.

Meanwhile, he said the recent violations of Greece's air space by Turkish air force came as no surprise and that Greece would be making a strong protest.

"These flights were not within the framework of the military exercies. Infringements (of Athens FIR) and violations (of Greek air space) took place from Thrace to Rhodes," he said, adding:

"In this way, Turkey is neither furthering its own goals against Greece, nor is it helping its own cause within Europe. At the same time it is showing it does not want to normalise its relations with Greece."

He attributed the latest incidents to an attempt by Ankara to deflect attention from its domestic problems instead of trying to solve them.

Questioned as to the likelihood of a meeting of the experts' committee, set up to examine Greek-Turkish differences, Reppas said the experts had not met due to a refusal by Turkey.

"This issue," he said, "will be discussed by the (European Union) Ministers' Council, since it should develop as a European initiative."

Political solution needed to Kurdish migrants problem

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today called for a political solution to the problem of the mass influx to Europe of Kurds from Turkey and northern Iraq, saying that at the next meetings of the European Union on the Schengen accord, Greece will press for a solution based on political means, peaceful procedures and dialogue.

"If there is no political solution, this will continue to be an 'open wound' of serious humanitarian dimensions," he said, speaking at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on ratifying EU trade agreements with Armenia and Georgia.

"The problem of Kurdish illegal immigrants is a political one and it cannot be solved overnight simply by giving orders to police," he added.

Greece is participating in a seven-nation meeting of European states that opened in Rome today to search for ways to deal with the problem.

PM, ambassador discuss Greek-Russian relations

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis today met with new Russian ambassador to Greece, Valentina Matvienko, to discuss the course of bilateral relations in the political and economic sector, ahead of Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov's visit to Athens on February 16-17.

Matvienko said that Greek-Russian relations were developing well in all sectors and that her conversation with Simitis was "constructive and very positive".

Asked about tension in the Aegean, she told reporters that Russia always favoured the resolution of problems with dialogue which will contribute to the normalisation of the situation in the southeastern Mediterranean.

Drug king-pin arrested

Greek security police said today they arrested the "mastermind" of a drug trafficking ring supplying narcotics to the Balkans and Europe.

Police officers in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki said they had arrested Ekren Aslan Nuri Ahmetoglou at dawn today near the Soufli region.

Thessaloniki drug squad deputy director Antonis Matrakas told the ANA that one of the squad's officers, who had infiltrated the ring, had set up a rendezvous with Ahremoglou to purchase 1.35 kilos of heroin for five million drachma.

Ahremoglou crossed the Evros river, marking the Greek-Turkish border, on a rubber raft and was arrested by policement waiting on the Greek side, who also seized the drugs, Matrakas said.

Ahremoglou said under interrogation that he had been accompanied to the shores of the Evros River on the Turkish side by two accomplices known as "Yuksel" and his wife "Semine".

Matrakas said that Ahremoglou's group was one of the largest drug trafficking rings in the Balkans and Europe, and it was likely it was also involved in transporting illegal immigrants.

Drachma no cause for concern - minister

"The drachma is doing well. The situation is under control," National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou said today.

He added, however that "the government will intervene if the need arises".

Papantoniou was commenting on renewed speculative pressures on the Greek national currency in recent days.

Greece's interbank rate remained unstable Wednesday under the influence of persistent turmoil in east Asian markets, with the Bank of Greece reporting outflows totalling 550 million ECU at Wednesday's drachma fixing following outflows of 200 million ECU on Monday.

The Bank of Greece intervened heavily in the domestic interbank market yesterday to defend the drachma by reducing liquidity and control a recent trend of capital outflows.

The country's central bank managed to significantly reduce outflows but interbank interest rates moved higher.

Banking sources reported outflows totalling 55 milion US dollars at today's drachma's fixing.

The Greek currency rebounded by 0.15 percent against the Ecu and the DMark and recovered 0.10 percent against the US dollar.

In the domestic interbank market, a Bank of Greece's move to raise its rediscount rate from 19 to 23 percent, pushed rates higher.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that there was no cause of concern over recent turbulence in the domestic money markets.

Reppas reiterated that the government would stick to its fiscal and monetary policies and urged all concerning parties to contribute in defending the national currency by ensuring stability in the country.

Stock market ends down

Greek equities came under strong pressure to end substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said the market was hit by renewed turbulence in the domestic money markets and rising interest rates.

The general index closed 2.39 percent lower at 1,487.08 points.

Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 3.02 percent, Insurance eased 2.16 percent, Investments dropped 1.55 percent, Constructions plunged 3.50 percent, Industrials were 1.52 percent off, Miscellaneous ended 1.38 percent lower and Holding fell 2.11 percent. Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.18 percent higher.

Trading was thin with turnover at 11.9 billion drachmas.

The parallel market index for small cap companies lost 2.12 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 2.64 percent lower at 841.46 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 179 to 33 with another 16 issues unchanged.

Pairis, Levenderis, Mouriadis and Alcar-Aemet scored the biggest percentage gains, while Desmos, Balkan Export and Heliofin suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 24,100 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,550, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,050, Delta Dairy at 3,160, Titan Cement at 13,250, Intracom at 13,850 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 805.

Women rule for a day

Men in the village of Sapes, Rhodopi, in northern Greece are staying at home to do the housework today as their wives take to the streets for the annual "Rule of Women" festival.

Crowds of women wearing masks and costumes circulate through the village playing musical instruments, visiting homes, squares and shops. Their first call is at the local medical centre to visit the midwife, known locally as "Babo", who is honoured for her role in helping new life emerge.

The celebrations culminate in an all-night party.

The custom, brought to Sapes earlier this century by refugees from eastern Thrace, celebrates fertility and the role of women in society.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with local clouds in the west. Local fog in the morning in the Ionian Sea and mainland Greece. Winds light to moderate. Spring-like weather in Athens with temperatures between 9-18C. Fair weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.787 Pound sterling 465.050 Cyprus pd 537.148 French franc 46.910 Swiss franc 194.035 German mark 156.994 Italian lira (100) 15.981 Yen (100) 216.831 Canadian dlr. 199.868 Australian dlr. 183.208 Irish Punt 392.138 Belgian franc 7.613 Finnish mark 51.892 Dutch guilder 139.331 Danish kr. 41.233 Swedish kr. 35.629 Norwegian kr. 38.271 Austrian sch. 22.317 Spanish peseta 1.854 Port. Escudo 1.536

(M.P.)


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