Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-14
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 14/01/1998 (ANA)
- Suspected terrorist ringleader arrested, investigations continue
- Gov't condemns repeated Turkish violations of Greek airspace
- India and Greece pledge to expand bilateral relations
- US congressional delegation on official visit
- Greek Orthodox sexton murdered in Istanbul
- V. Papandreou holds wide-ranging talks with Austrian leadership
- V. Papandreou calls for pressure on Turkey over Kurdish issue
- Increased taxes for self-employed professionals
- Spraos report on improving public sector unveiled
- Greek stocks rebound as external pressures wane
- Parliament committee begins debate on tax bill
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Suspected terrorist ringleader arrested, investigations continue
Law enforcement officials yesterday expressed guarded optimism following
the announcement that 18 persons had been detained for questioning on the
suspicion of involvement in terrorist acts.
Asked whether police had broken up a terrorist organisation after
announcing the names of those detained for questioning, Public Order
Minister George Romeos told a press conference that "the material found is
used only in bombs".
The minister refused further speculation into details of the findings,
saying only that their examination would take considerable time.
Greek anti-terrorist police initially arrested eight people following a
series of early morning raids on 10 houses in the greater Athens area.
Mr. Romeos said one of those arrested, Nikos Maziotis, is the suspected
ringleader of the "Militant Guerrilla Formation" group. He was arrested
following a raid on a residence in Kamatero district, west of downtown
Athens. According to police, the suspect had been sentenced to 40 months
imprisoment in the past for participating in an occupation of the Athens
Polytechnic, and was also involved in the conscientious objectors
Earlier, police said material seized in the homes which had been raided
included 9,740 kilos of explosive material, two pistols, a handgun, 148
bullets, detonators and four hoods.
Police began closing in on the suspects following the discovery of a
fingerprint - which police traced to Maziotis - on a bomb placed at the
development ministry on Dec, 6 that had failed to explode.
Police left the bomb intact then after finding it had been wrongly
assembled and was not dangerous. Responsibility was then claimed by the so-
called "Anarchist Urban Guerrilla" organisation, in protest against the
involvement of the Canadian TVX mining group in a new operation in
Halkidiki, northern Greece. Mr. Maziotis was subsequently placed under
The text claiming responsibility for placing the bomb, which was read out
to the newspaper "Eleftherotypia" at the time, was found in the man's home
yesterday, police said.
The "Militant Guerrilla Formation" has claimed responsibility for a number
of bomb attacks since its appearance in 1996. It has planted bombs at the
Athens Polytechnic, the Peruvian embassy, the showroom of Italian car
manufacturer Lancia and outside th e Alitalia offices.
Police sources also said Mr. 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 Formation.
He was also suspected of being involved in Saturday night's bomb attacks on
the Kallithea taxation bureau and finance ministry data processing centre
Police sources were saying last night they were examining a number of cases
of bomb attacks in which the group is suspected of involvement, either by
claiming responsibility, or because the remains of explosive mechanisms
fully matched those of the first category.
Gov't condemns repeated Turkish violations of Greek airspace
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Athens will take
all necessary measures to condemn the recent wave of airspace violations
and infringements by Turkish warplanes over the Aegean and would brief
representatives of European Union mem ber-states on "the unacceptable
activity of the Turkish air force".
Fourteen Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens Flight Information Region
(FIR) regulations without submitting flight plans and violated Greek
national airspace over three Aegean islands yesterday.
The violations occurred as National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos
arrived on the island of Lesvos on the first leg of a tour of eastern
The sources said that several Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes which violated
Greek national airspace over the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes, Kos and
Karpathos, were intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-16s and Mirage-
Two Turkish F-16 aircraft that entered the Athens FIR later in the day and
flew 10,000 feet above a helicopter carrying Mr. Tsohatzopoulos were
intercepted by four Greek fighters, according to informed sources.
The Turkish planes, flying at a height of 13,000 feet, entered Athens FIR
in the region between the eastern Aegean islands of Hios and Lesvos.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was in a helicopter taking him from Lesvos to the island
Commenting on yesterday's violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes
predicted that Turkey will maintain an offensive policy toward its
neighbours in an effort to overcome its internal problems for the time
being, until it becomes a member of a major international organisation,
such as the European Union.
Speaking earlier at the Lesvos Officers Club, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that
the 1998 expenditures for defence will reach 1.5 trillion dra-chmas,
compared to the 500 billion spent in 1997.
While on Lesvos the defence minister also visited army and air force
India and Greece pledge to expand bilateral relations
Greece and India pledged to expand bilateral relations, particularly in the
economic and trade sectors, following talks between President Kostis
Stephanopoulos with India's political leadership here.
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who is accompanying Mr. Stephanopoulos
on his six-day official visit to India, signed a bilateral agreement for
cooperation in the tourism sector with Indian Tourism Minister Kumar
Mr. Stephanopoulos, the first Greek president to officially visit India
since 1982, met his Indian counterpart K.I. Narayanan yesterday morning
After the official reception ceremony, the president laid a wreath at the
Mahatma Gandhi monument.
Mr. Stephanopoulos later met Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who also
holds the foreign affairs portfolio, accompanied by Mr. Pangalos and
National Economy Undersecretary Alekos Baltas.
Their talks focussed on bilateral relations and the internatonal scene.
During the official dinner hosted by his Indian counterpart afterwards, Mr.
Stephanopoulos noted that while the bilateral trade balance tipped in
India's favour, there was a great deal of leeway for economic cooperation
in various sectors, particularly through encouraging private investment
with appropriate state support.
The Greek president expressed Athens' appreciation for India's understanding
and stand on the Cyprus issue, which constitutes a violation of the basic
principles of international law.
He invited President Narayanan to visit Greece.
US Congressional delegation on official visit
A US House of Representatives delegation is visiting Greece today and
tomorrow, headed by Illinois Republican John Edward Porter, along with four
other members of the Congressional commission on security and cooperation
in Europe, known as the Helsinki Commission.
The aim of the visit is to examine the targets and principles of the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Greece will be the first stop of the US delegation, which will then visit
Cyprus and Turkey.
In Athens, the delegation will have meetings with US officials, government
officials and representatives of non-governmental bodies.
Greek Orthodox sexton murdered in Istanbul
An ethnic Greek sexton at the Agios Therapontas Church in Istanbul was
found dead in a church well after an unexplained fire at the church,
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday.
Vassilis Haviaropoulos was found dead with a cracked skull after the fire
was extinguished, according to Turkish authorities.
Mr. Reppas expressed the government's condemnation over the fire as well as
other such incidents in Turkey against Ecumenical Patriarchate staff and
property, whose causes have continuously remained unexplained. He also
accused Turkish authorities of in efficiency.
A bomb exploded at the Ecumenical Patriarchate early last month, seriously
injuring a Greek Orthodox clergyman.
Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos also
condemned "in the most absolute and categorical way" the murder of the
"We denounce Turkey because indeed in past days one ascertains that the
anti-Greek rage that it has been developing for some time is intensifying.
V. Papandreou holds wide-ranging talks with Austrian leadership
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou held talks here yesterday with
Austrian National Economy Minister Johannes Farnleitner, who assured the
Greek minister that Austria will promote Cyprus' and the other candidate-
nation s' accession negotiations during Vienna's EU presidency in the
second half of 1998.
Ms Papandreou ascertained in her talks with the Austrian minister that the
Kurdish issue, and the situation prevailing in Turkey, in general, are
strongly preoccupying the Austrian government, which believes that problems
of democratic institutions and respect for human rights exist in Turkey.
In her talks with both Mr. Farnleitner and later with the president of the
influential Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Leopold Mantertaner, the
political will of both countries to improve bilateral commercial and
economic relations was stressed.
Ms Papandreou said Austria is interested in cooperation with Balkan and
Black Sea countries where Greece maintains political and economic
cooperation at a higher level than Austria.
A Greek-Austrian research and technology agreement will be signed very soon
at government level, details of which were discussed yesterday.
The invitation extended by Ms Papandreou for Greece to host the Euro-
Mediterranean Conference on Industry, cancelled in Morocco last year,
during the Austrian EU presidency will also be reviewed positively by
Ms Papandreou was also briefed on issues which Austria will promote during
its presidency, such as Economic and Monetary Union, energy policy and
small- and medium-sized enterprises.
V. Papandreou calls for pressure on Turkey over Kurdish issue
In an interview with the Austrian News Agency yesterday, Development
Minister Vasso Papandreou stressed the need for pressures to be exerted on
Turkey by the European Union regarding the Kurdish issue.
Ms Papandreou, who completed a two-day official visit to Vienna yesterday,
said that instead of pretending that no problem exists, the EU must
pressure Ankara to respect the rights of all peoples, regardless of their
nationality and origin.
She also criticised the policy of the United States and European countries
for their support of Turkey's generals on the pretext of blocking militant
Islamism in the country, a policy she said is not effective.
Instead, she added, Turkey must be supported to improve democratic
institutions and human rights which would help a rapprochement with the
"Turkey must respect international law first to enable its participation in
the EU," she said.
She said that possibilities of expanding bilateral cooperation also exists
in the tourism sector, since the main season for tourism to Austria is in
the winter and for Greece in the summer.
Increased taxes for self-employed professionals
A broad range of self-employed professionals will be called upon to pay
increased taxes for incomes earned in 1997, on the basis of a decision by
Finance Undersecretary George Drys and released yesterday.
Specifically, the professional fees used as a criterion for assessing the
minimum income earned by doctors, lawyers, consultants and artists, among
others, are increased by nine per cent, while the minimum income owners of
taxis and transport vehicles will have to declare goes up by 8.2 per
Spraos report on improving public sector unveiled
A long-anticipated report on the qualitative improvement of Greece's
massive public sector administration was unveiled yesterday by Prof.
Ioannis Spraos, the prime minister's economic adviser.
Prof. Spraos stressed that such an improvement was of tremendous significance
for the economy, with the proposals aiming to regain what he called the
"lost time" for Greece, saying the country missed out on two major
revolutions in the field of public a dministration. He said these two
"revolutions" concern the public sector's proper and efficient functioning.
Discounting earlier fears of a proposal favouring the lifting of the
permanent employment status of civil servants, Mr. Spraos and his assistant,
interior and public administration ministry official Aliki Koutsoumari,
reiterated that what was required was a redefinition of the concept that
would make civil servants efficient and friendly to the public.
The report contains five sets of proposals. The first refers to the
introduction of result-measurement indicators, respect for charters of
citizens' rights, and efficiency controls of public services.
The second proposal concerns the planning and evaluation of employment
positions in the public sector, while the third envisages the setting up of
a committee of experts that will examine the relevance and impact of
The fourth and fifth proposals are related to the establishment of two
bodies, one of administration economists and the other of a department of
high-ranking executives with special skills and qualifications.
Greek stocks rebound as external pressures wane
Greek equities yesterday recovered a small part of Monday's sharp losses on
the Athens Stock Exchange with market sentiment encouraged by a rebound in
Traders said that a fragile stability in the domestic money markets also
encouraged some bargain hunting and other speculative buying of stocks.
The general index ended at 1,426.14 points, up 1.48 percent after showing
gains as much as 3.0 percent during the session.
Most sector indices scored gains. Banks fell 0.49 percent, Insurance rose
0.92 percent, Leasing dropped 0.89 percent, Investment ended 1.22 percent
higher, Construction increased 1.95 percent, Industrials jumped 2.24
percent, Miscellaneous surged 3.61 p ercent and Holding rose 1.63
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.57 percent up,
while the FTSE/ASE index closed 1.09 percent up at 794.89 points.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 19 billion drachmas.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 143 to 57 with another 26 issues
Sysware, Singular, Intrasoft and Desmos scored the biggest percentage gains
at the day's upper limit of 8.0 percent, while Balkan Export, Levenderis
and Fintexport suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 21,500 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,345, Alpha
Credit Bank at 14,700, Delta Dairy at 2,905, Titan Cement at 13,435,
Intracom at 14,100 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
Parliament committee begins debate on tax bill
Greece's political parties clashed over procedural issues and contents of a
new tax bill during debate yesterday by a parliament's budget committee.
Finance Undersecretary George Drys withdrew a regulation calling for an in
person submission of tax statements after strong protests by most political
The governing PASOK party deputies stressed that the new tax bill did not
impose new taxes and that it was simply implementing 1998's state budget
Deputies from opposition parties criticised the government's tax proposals
as unfair and inefficient.
Fair weather is forecast throughout Greece today with some local clouds in
the west and north and local fog in the morning. Winds southwesterly, light
to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-17C. Good
weather also in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-13C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.764
Pound sterling 465.228 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.737 Swiss franc 192.795
German mark 156.478 Italian lira (100) 15.919
Yen (100) 216.018 Canadian dlr. 198.440
Australian dlr. 183.530 Irish Punt 389.658
Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 51.693
Dutch guilder 138.885 Danish kr. 41.099
Swedish kr. 35.456 Norwegian kr. 37.825
Austrian sch. 22.243 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.530