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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-25

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, 25/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Talk continues on Olympic 2004 appointments
  • Car attacks continue
  • Red wine key to long life
  • T-bill auction tomorrow
  • Cabinet decides to abolish Article 19 of citizenship code
  • Opposition reaction to abolition of Article 19
  • WEU's de Puig satisfied with Athens talks
  • European Parliament president in Athens next week
  • Foreign Undersecretary meets with Chilean counterpart
  • Gen. Tzoganis to present Greek position at OSCE conference
  • More illegal immigrants picked up on islands
  • Syrian tries to enter Greece on fake passport
  • "Greece in Britain" festival opens
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Weather

NEWS IN DETAIL

Talk continues on Olympic 2004 appointments

Prime Minister Costas Simitis's reference during a Cabinet session on Friday that he had rejected many proposals on appointments in the 2004 Olympic Games organising committee, whose composition was announced last week, after forming the impression that they reflected expediencies and particular interests, has drawn opposition reaction.

New Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos described the premier's statements as "phenomenal", and called on him to release specific details.

"Who is Mr. Simitis referring to? Who are those making suspect and self- seeking proposals to the country's prime minister, and how near are they to him? Does he mean his ministers?", he asked.

Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos said the prime minister "seems to be expressing devastating insinuations about persons and influences", and called on him to state names.

Reacting, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the prime minister had spoken with sincerity and had been misunderstood.

"He meant interests outside the government, and his choices were made with criteria that have no party, political or clientele basis whatsoever," he specified.

"Greece undertook the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games with ambitious goals and will succeed because the responsible committees will comprise highly competent individuals," he added.

Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos welcomed the decision not to include ruling party members in the committee.

Head of the 15-member "Athens 2004 SA" organising committee was appointed 62-year old Costas Bakouris, who will resign his post as Chairman of Ralston Energy Systems Europe as of February 1 to take up his new duties.

Car attacks continue

Another two vehicles were torched last night, the latest in a wave of arson attacks that police believe are linked to the arrest of a suspected urban guerrilla two weeks ago.

A Mercedes and an inter-city bus were torched overnight by makeshift bombs. Both vehicles suffered damage but there were no injuries.

Late on Friday night another vehicle, a Mercedes van belonging to a computer company, was destroyed by a homemade explosive device placed in the vehicle.

The rash of car bomb attacks has forced the public order ministry to increase police patrols in the greater Athens area. Some 1,000 police officers have been added to the patrols.

Police said last week that the recent rash of car torchings and bomb attacks in the Athens area were random attacks by anarchists hoping to throw police off the trail of accomplices of Nikos Maziotis, arrested on suspicion of involvement in an urban guerrilla group.

Maziotis, 27, was charged with possession of weapons, explosive material and seditious printed material after a police swoop on a number of Athens homes. Police found a significant quantity of explosive material in the raids, including 9.5 kilos at Maziotis's Kamatero home.

The finds, police say, link Maziotis with the urban guerrilla group Militant Guerrilla Formation (MAS), which has claimed responsibility for a number of bomb attacks since its appearance in 1996.

Red wine key to long life

Doctors around the world may be searching for a cure to eternal youth but Giorgis Mandalis, who died in Kavala on Saturday at the age of 105, says the secret to a long and full life is in red wine.

Mandalis, his relatives told the ANA, always maintained that his good health was due to red wine in moderation, no cigarettes, small and frequent meals, little to no meat and a healthy skepticism of doctors.

"Medicines do not always cure the problem" Mandalis used to say. "Red wine in moderation is a natural cure."

Madalis was born on the island of Imvros, leaving in 1923 when it was ceded to Turkey. He lived on the northern Aegean island of Thassos with his wife, Angeliki, who died at the age of 85. The couple had two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

T-bill auction tomorrow

The Bank of Greece will offer for auction three- and six-month Treasury bills by electronic transfer tomorrow.

The T-bills will carry an issue date of January 28, 1998.

Some 70 billion drachmas of both lengths of T-bills will be available.

The results of the auction are expected to be an indication of the course of interest rtaes on the market, following the recent unrest.

Cabinet decides to abolish Article 19 of citizenship code

The government said yesterday that it was abolishing Article 19 of the citizenship code enabling the state to strip members of ethnic minorities of their citizenship when they leave the country with the intention of not returning.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the issue was on the agenda at yesterday's Cabinet meeting. "Greece has attained a high standard with respect to the safeguarding of human rights and equality before the law," Mr. Reppas said, adding that efforts to further improve the situation in these areas were continuing.

Mr. Reppas said the provision had in effect become inoperative, with only 70 persons losing their citizenship in 1997, many of whom at their own request. Since 1993, he added, only a few hundred people had lost their citizenship through application of t he provision.

The spokesman said a draft law would soon be tabled in Parliament ratifying the Cabinet's decision. Replying to reporters' questions, however, Mr. Reppas said the provision was in effect abolished as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said abolition of Article 19 would not have a retroactive effect.

The article, he said, had come into force by virtue of a legislative decree in 1955, on the basis of which approximately 60,000 people had since lost their Greek citizenship, most at their own request.

Mr. Papadopoulos clarified that Article 20 of the same code, which enables the state to strip persons of Greek citizenship for espionage, causing harm to the nation etc., would remain in force.

Opposition reaction to abolition of Article 19

The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party said abolition of Article 19 has been "imperative, for some time now".

A Synaspismos press release added that "the content of Article 19 and its enforcement was against basic democratic values, creating a negative image for our country internationally and provided ground for the propaganda of the Turkish establishment."

Political Spring (Pol.An) leader Antonis Samaras, however, expressed his opposition to the Cabinet decision. "I am astonished by the lack of seriousness of the Simitis government," he said.

WEU's de Puig satisfied with Athens talks

The visiting president of the Western European Union's (WEU) parliamentary assembly Luis-Maria de Puig yesterday expressed full satisfaction with his high-level talks in Athens.

"We expect a lot from the (current) Greek presidency, first of all because we know Greece's commitment to building a European defence with the active role of WEU. And secondly because we are going through a particularly important period, following the s erious discussions on the building of European defence and security that took place at the Amsterdam and Madrid summits," he said. Mr. de Puig was earlier received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

The WEU official noted that the Greek presidency began with the very best omens, referring to Prime Minister Costas Simitis' address to WEU parliamentary assembly in Paris last December, which was well received.

The fact that Greece participated with a delegation at the highest possible level, including the prime minister, the foreign minister and the alternate foreign minister, was also an indication of the significance Athens attributed to the institution.

In statements during Mr. de Puig's reception at the foreign ministry, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos stressed Greece's permanent emphasis on the significance of the European defence dimension in the overall process of European integration.

He also said that Greece attributed considerable importance to the parliamentary assemblies of organisations such as the WEU, the European Union or the Council of Europe, because it believes that their functions should be as democratic and transparent a s possible.

"Greece is too small a country to do things behind the backs of citizens," he said.

He reminded that WEU's defence ministers' council, to be held in Rhodes on May 11 and 12, will be attended by the ministers of 28 countries, WEU members, associated and observer nations.

Replying to questions, Mr. de Puig said the WEU's parliamentary assembly retained the proposal submitted during the German presidency for the convening of a WEU summit, adding that he had discussed the matter with his Greek guests, and they had agreed to re-examine the matter when the circumstances are more mature.

Mr. Pangalos said Greece would be willing to organise such a summit if unanimity could be established among the other governments.

He also said "we shall let this idea mature".

European Parliament president in Athens next week

The President of the European Parliament, Jose Maria Gil-Robles, will visit Athens next Thursday for contacts with Greece's political leaders. Among the issues he is expected to discuss are Economic and Monetary Union, relations between the Europ ean Union and Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations.

Foreign Undersecretary meets with Chilean counterpart

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday met with his visiting Chilean counterpart Mariano Gernadez Amunategui, discussing further development of bilateral cooperation in the economic and trade sectors.

They also discussed developments on the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations and Balkan affairs.

Athens News Agency

Gen. Tzoganis to present Greek position at OSCE conference

National Defence General Staff Chief, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis, will set out Athens' positions on security in southeastern Europe and on regional security as a main speaker at an international conference on defence policy and military doctrines.

The conference will take place between Monday and Wednesday within the framework of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The address by Gen. Tzoganis, who will head a large delegation of senior Greek armed forces officers, will focus on "Security in southeastern Europe, challenges and pro-spects."

Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Ismail Karadayi and his US and Russian counterparts will be among the 34 general staff chiefs and senior officers from the OSCE's 54 member-states.

The conference on defence policy and military doctrines, which is taking place following a proposal by Russia, desires to send a message on the organisation's importance in European security policy.

The OSCE is the sole European security organisation in which Russia participates, which is opposed to NATO's upcoming enlargement to the east with the accession of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as member- states.

The Vienna Conference is the third consecutive summit meeting between military officers from OSCE member-states. The previous two had also taken place in Vienna in 1990 and 1991.

More illegal immigrants picked up on islands

The 24 Iraqi Kurds currently being held in a reception centre for illegal immigrants on the island of Samos were joined today by another nine picked up on the island's east coast.

The four men, two women and three children, who were ferried over from the Turkish coast by a Turkish boatman, have requested political asylum.

Another five Iraqi Kurds, including a woman and a child, were detained by the coast guard just off the Dodecanese island of Kos last night. They had paid two Turks the sum of 1,500 dollars each to tow their wooden boat into Greek waters.

Syrian tries to enter Greece on fake passport

A Syrian illegal immigrant was arrested today at the Evros Greek-Turkish border post for being in posession of a fake Greek passport.

Subhi Mohamed Halak, 37, who was travelling on an Istanbul-Athens tourist coach, tried to enter Greece using a passport under the name of George Papoutsis.

Halak had been deported from Greece on January 21. However, he had acquired the forged passport in Athens before his departure for the sum of 900 dollars. He is to appear before the Alexandroupolis prosecutor to face charges.

Athens police have been alerted about the false passport operation.

"Greece in Britain" festival opens

The "Greece in Britain" festival began in London on Thursday night with a reception given by Greek Ambassador in London Vasilis Zafiropoulos for British academics involved in the study of both modern and ancient Greece.

The ambassador read out a message from Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who drew attention to the work of the British committee for the return of the Parthenon marbles in informing the British public on the issue.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.026 Pound sterling 466.974 Cyprus pd 535.997 French franc 46.977 Swiss franc 192.641 German mark 157.301 Italian lira (100) 15.966 Yen (100) 223.547 Canadian dlr. 194.432 Australian dlr. 186.198 Irish Punt 394.518 Belgian franc 7.626 Finnish mark 51.961 Dutch guilder 139.634 Danish kr. 41.293 Swedish kr. 35.583 Norwegian kr. 37.894 Austrian sch. 22.350 Spanish peseta 1.857 Port. Escudo 1.540

WEATHER

Overcast conditions, local rain and snowfalls in mountainous regions are expected throughout the country, however phenomena will subside in the afternoon. North-northwesterly moderate winds reaching strong in the Aegan. Athens will be overcast with brief showers and snowfalls in surrounding mountains, while the temperature will range between 4 and 10 degress centigrade. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy and can expect light rain or sleet, with temperatures 2-6C.

(M.P.)


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