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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-14

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, 14/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 movement.

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 surveillance thereafter.

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 (KEPYO).

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 Aegean islands.

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- 2000s.

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 of Psara.

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 units.

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 Jhenna.

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 sexton.

"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 Vienna.

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 EU.

"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 cent.

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 legislative regulations.

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 international markets.

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 percent.

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 unchanged.

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, 700.

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 parties.

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 provisions.

Deputies from opposition parties criticised the government's tax proposals as unfair and inefficient.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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