Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-13
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 13/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece breaks up urban guerrilla group
- Gov't condemns Turkish violations of air space
- U.S. ambassador says comments misreported
- Civil war minefield to be cleared
- Briton jailed, kidnapping charges dropped
- Bulgaria reluctantly hands over priceless manuscript
- Greece, Poland confer on EU issues
- Britain wants better relations between Greece, Turkey
- Three missing after high-seas shootout
- Greece, India agree to expand bilateral cooperation
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece breaks up urban guerrilla group
Greek anti-terrorist police arrested eight people suspected of terrorist
activity following a series of night raids on ten houses in the greater
Sources said that a person arrested following a raid on a house in Kamatero
was probably the head of the urban guerrilla group "Militant Guerrilla
Formation" and was also involved in the conscientious objectors movement in
The sources said a significant amount of explosive material and detonators
had been found in raids of homes in Kamatero, Kypseli, Ilioupolis and
Police began closing in on the group following the discovery of a
fingerprint on the remains of a bomb placed at the home of Maria Bozi, an
anti-terrorist expert reporting to then public order minister Stelios
Papathemelis, in February 1997.
The Militant Guerrilla Formation has claimed responsibility for a number of
bombs since its appearance in 1996. It has planted bombs at the Athens
Polytechnic University, the Peruvian Embassy, the showroom of Italian car
manufacturer Lancia and outside the Alitalia airline company offices.
No-one has ever been injured or killed in the bomb attacks.
A statement from police officials on the outcome of the raids will be made
According to informed sources, the Militant Guerrilla Formation is led by
Nikos Maziotis, who was arrested as a conscientious objector in 1990 and
served time in prison.
The same sources say Maziotis is a former member of the Revolutionary
Popular Struggle (ELA), which police believe offers protection, guidance
and arms to smaller groups including the Militant Guerrilla Formaiton.
Police have been watching Maziotis for some time, suspecting him of being
involved in Saturday night's bomb attacks on the Kallithea taxation bureau
and Finance Ministry computer centre (KEPYO).
According to unofficial reports, eight people - five men and three women -
have been arrested as accomplices of Maziotis. Two arrested at a house in
Kypseli and another in Ilioupoli were found to be in possession of material
used to make explosive devices.
Gov't condemns Turkish violations of air space
Fourteen Turkish warplanes infringed the Athens Flight Information Region
(FIR), without submitting flight plans, and violated Greek national
airspace over three Aegean islands this morning, informed sources
The violations occurred as National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos
was on the island of Lesvos on the first leg of a tour of Greek islands
bordering with Turkey.
The sources said that the Turkish F-16 and F-4 jetfighters, which violated
Greek national airspace over the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes, Kos and
Carpathos, were intercepted by Greek Airforce F-16s and Mirage-2000s.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the Greek government
would take all the necessary measures to condemn the incidents and would
brief representatives of European Union member-states on "the unacceptable
activity of the Turkish air force".
U.S. ambassador says comments misreported
US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns today denied he had linked the
question of Greek sovereignty in the Aegean with the country's air
"I was very sorry to see some of the press reports over the weekend that
said I was linking Greek sovereignty in the Aegean with the issue of air
space limits. I did not say that. That is not true, we are not linking
those issues. We respect Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean. Full stop. We
don't link that with any other issue," said Burns, speaking after a meeting
with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis this
He said the US wanted to help resolve some of the problems in the region,
if Greece and Turkey wanted, and he maintained that the U.S. had moved in
this spirit when the Turkish government decided to carry out a military
exercise over the Kalogeri islets and the Aegean island of Andros.
Asked if the US accepted the 10 nautical mile limit for Greece's air space,
he reiterated that Washington's known position had not changed.
"This has not been an active issue between the US nad Greece in the sense
that Greece has had this (the 10-mile limit) since 1931. Greece and the US
are NATO allies. We get along very well. I think it was frankly wrong of
the newspapers to link the two issues, because I never linked them and so
it's not an issue that we argue about," he said, adding:
"Our position is well-known and we have not changed that position."
"The major issue is this. Greece and Turkey must find a way to work
together to reduce the tension in the region, but obviously sovereignty
must be respected, that is why I thought it important to say that the
Kalogeri islets are Greek," he added.
Civil war minefield to be cleared
Thousands of landmines dating from the Greek civil war fifty years ago will
be cleared to make the Grammos mountain region on Greece's northern border
into a tourist destination, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philipos Petsalnikos
Funds from the Third Community Support Framework and Greek national defence
ministry have already been allocated for the costly and time-consuming
project, which is expected to begin within the year.
"We had placed a study with a foreign company to detect and record the
mines in the minefield by aerial photography but the cost of the project
came to over five billion drachmas, an amount we did not have then,"
Petsalnikos said. "Now, with the Third Community Support Framework, we
The project has received the support of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who
was approached by local authorities when he visited the prefecture of
Kastoria in Western Macedonia late last year.
The Grammos, Vitsi and Murgana mountains in the Pindos mountain range saw
the bulk of fighting during the vicious 1947-1949 civil war between
communist-backed resistance fighters and Allied-backed troops.
At the end of the war, resistance fighters fled north to Soviet-bloc
countries, leaving no documentation of where mines had been placed.
Thousands are estimated to be hidden deep in the forest.
Dozens of unsuspecting hunters and farmers were killed in the years
immediately after the war and many more injured.
Briton jailed, kidnapping charges dropped
A 45-year-old British car mechanic was remanded in custody yesterday on
charges of receiving stolen goods and for debts to social security
An investigating magistrate in Serres ordered that John Mercer of South
Shields, northeastern England, be remanded in custody for the two offenses
but dropped charges of abduction of his three-year-old son.
Mercer was arrested on January 9 at the port of Igoumenitsa, on his return
from Englans, following charges by his companion Elisavet Keskinidou of
abducting their son Anastasios.
The boy was later returned to his mother, who dropped the charges.
Police said that they were investigating allegations that Mercer, who ran a
used-car lot in the Serres village of Lefkona, was dismantling stolen cars
and selling them as spare parts.
Bulgaria reluctantly hands over priceless manuscript
Opposition to the return of a historic manuscript stolen 12 years ago from
the Mt. Athos monastic community overshadowed a ceremony at Karyes today
attended by Bulgarian officials who brought the 235-year old manuscript
back to Greece following a decision by Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov.
The ceremony was delayed for three hours after the Bulgarian officials
insisted on handing over the 61-page manuscript directly to the Zografos
monastery's abbot, who is of Bulgarian origin.
The manuscript, a history of the Slavo-Bulgarian nation written by the monk
Paisios at the community's Zografos monastery, was stolen from Mt. Athos in
1985 and turned up last year at Sofia's National History Museum.
Stoyanov decided to return the manuscript to Mt. Athos in the face of
opposition from many Bulgarians. Seventy-five percent of Bulgarians polled
by the Bulgarian state radio station "Horizont" expressed their opposition
to the move.
Eventually, the document was handed over to a Mt. Athos official, who was
then accompanied to the Zografos monastery by both Greek and Bulgarian
delegations. The latter, who are guests of the monastery, are to stay until
Greece, Poland confer on EU issues
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou held talks today with Poland's
Deputy Foreign Minister Andrej Ananicz on Poland's apsirations to become a
member of the European Union.
Poland is one of the countries included in the EU's first wave of
enlargement, decided at the Luxembourg summit in December.
The two men decided to step up the level of contacts between the two sides
on a political and technocratic level, with Greece promising to aid
Poland's accession efforts with briefings on the institutional and economic
Some 30 Greek and joint Greek-Polish enterprises are active in Poland,
primarily in commerce and the fur, marble and farming goods sectors. Poland
is home to a 5,000-strong Greek community while Greece is home to a
sizeable Polish community.
Britain wants better relations between Greece, Turkey
British Ambassador in Athens Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith today expressed
his country's desire to support every effort by NATO and the US towards de-
escalating tension between Greece and Turkey, although he feared that any
effort by the European Union would not be successful in view of Turkey's
reaction to a decision by last month's EU summit not to include it in the
next wave of candidate member states.
At a press conference to mark the beginning of Britain's six months at the
helm of the European Union, the ambassador said his government's focus
would centre on the accession process for 10 candidate states from central
and eastern Europe and for Cyprus, Economic and Monetary Union, employment,
crime-fighting and the environment.
With regard to the accession talks for Cyprus, due to begin in March, Sir
Michael said the participation of Turkish Cypriots in the talks, while
desirable, was not linked with the starting date for negotiations.
In response to a question on Cyprus' purchase of S-300 missiles from Russia,
the ambassador, reiterating Britain's position in favour of the demilitarisation
of Cyprus, expressed the view that the missiles should not be deployed on
Three missing after high-seas shootout
Three Albanian drug smugglers were missing when their boat caught fire
during a shootout with the Greek coast guard off the northwestern Greek
port city of Igoumenitsa, police said today.
Harbour authorities told the ANA that the crew of an Albanian speedboat
opened fire on two Greek coast guard patrol boats when asked to stop for a
They said that the three men on board the Albanian speedboat opened fire on
the patrol boats with Kalashnikov machine guns, forcing the coast guard to
return the fire.
As a result, the Albanian boat caught fire and the three men jumped into
the sea and disappeared.
The speedboat, loaded with several sacks of narcotics, was towed to
Igoumenitsa harbour, while a search is being conducted for its three-member
Most of the drugs were destroyed in the fire, the harbour authorities
Greece, India agree to expand bilateral cooperation
Greece and India pledged to expand their bilateral relations, particularly
in the economic and commercial sectors, in talks between Greek President
Costis Stephanopoulos with the Indian political leadership in New Delhi, an
ANA dispatch said.
In addition, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who is accompanying
Stephanopoulos on his six-day visit to India, signed a bilateral agreement
for cooperation in the tourism sector with the Indian Minister of
Stephanopoulos, the first Greek President to visit India since 1982, met
this morning with his Indian counterpart Kocheril Raman Narayanan.
After laying a wreath at the Mahatma Gandhi monument, Stephanopoulos met
with Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who also holds the foreign affairs
portfolio, accompanied by Pangalos and National Economy Undersecretary
Alexandros Baltas. Their talks focussed on bilateral relations and the
Gujral hosted a lunch in honour of Stephanopoulos, after which the Greek
President met with representatives of the Indian political parties and was
briefed on the political situation in India as well as next month's
Almost fair weather is forecast throughout Greece today with local clouds
only in the west. Local fog in the morning. Winds light. Athens will be
sunny with temperatures between 6-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.476
Pound sterling 459.336 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.838 Swiss franc 193.291
German mark 156.800 Italian lira (100) 15.941
Yen (100) 215.333 Canadian dlr. 198.777
Australian dlr. 182.478 Irish Punt 391.443
Belgian franc 7.600 Finnish mark 51.804
Dutch guilder 139.153 Danish kr. 41.188
Swedish kr. 35.520 Norwegian kr. 37.934
Austrian sch. 22.290 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.534