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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-27

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, 27/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens to protest over Turkish boats in Greek waters
  • Supreme Court orders investigation into strike
  • Labour leaders say strike a success
  • Gov't says political cost not consideration in DEKO change
  • Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants
  • More cars torched overnight
  • Cold snap causes traffic problems
  • Romanian soccer coach may take over in Athens
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens to protest over Turkish boats in Greek waters

Athens intends to lodge a demarche with Ankara over violation of the rules of safe passage by two Turkish torpedo boats inside Greek territorial waters between the Greek islands of Kalymnos and Kalolymnos in the Aegean, Foreign Ministry sources told the ANA.

The sources said that the crews of the two Turkish vessels were firing weapons at sea in contravention of the rules of safe passage, after the two boats entered Greek waters yesterday west of Imia islets.

They said the two Turkish vessels abandoned the area and headed back towards Turkey after a Greek gunboat patrolling the area warned the captains of the two vessels of the violation of the maritime safety rules and asked them to leave the Greek waters.

Supreme Court orders investigation into strike

Greece's Supreme Court prosecutor Panayiotis Dimopoulos today began a preliminary investigation into today's 24-hour strike by public transport, utilities and corporations.

Dimopoulos's investigation will examine whether the strikes were lawfully called and whether state services have been provided with a skeleton staff, as required by law.

Today's strike affects all public transport, including Olympic Airways flights and inter-city rail links, state-run banks, and all public utilities. It is the second strike called in a week over a provision in the government's tax bill that allows a change in the status of workers at public sector organisations within the framework of their reform.

Workers say that the provision directly undermines their status.

Dimopoulos's order, sent to the heads of Athens and Piraeus appeals courts, stresses that legal action will be taken in the event violations are ascertained.

The government said on Monday that a reworded version of the provision, clarifying that the reforms related only to ailing and heavily indebted public organisations, had been decided upon by the entire government, approved by the prime minister and would not be changed.

However, negotiations have been continuing on the sidelines and the unions are hoping for a formula that will defuse the current tension.

Labour leaders say strike a success

Unionists in northern Greece said the participation rate in the strike ranged from between 95 percent for Greek Post Offices and the Thessalaniki Sewage Company to 60 percent for banks, Greek Railways and Greek telecoms organisation, OTE.

At Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport all Olympic Airways domestic and international flights were cancelled. The only flight to Athens will leave from Thessaloniki tonight at 9.25 p.m.

Only two trains left Thessaloniki Station today - one for Athens at 8 a.m. and one for Alexandroupoli at 8.30 a.m.

At a press conference, the president of the Thessaloniki Labour Centre Panayiotis Avramopoulos warned the government that if it went ahead with its plans to change the staus of job relations in ailing public enterprises and organisations it would have to deal with the full force of the labor movement.

He said ailing DEKOs had debts because of "bad management and the practice of granting political favours".

Gov't says political cost not consideration in DEKO change

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the government hoped that the contentious provision on job relations between state and workers at ailing DEKOs would receive the agreement of workers as it had already been accepted by public opinion.

"The government is proceeding with structural changes but believes that these can no longer be delayed for fear of the political cost," Reppas said.

He said that the aim of reducing deficits could not be separated from the issue of revitalising loss-making companies and that the government's overriding goal was participation in Economic and Monetary Union.

"It is inconceivable that Greece remain out of decision-making centres which affect not only Europe but the entire world," Reppas said.

He said that recent opinion polls showing a drop in the govenrment's popularity were of little importance.

The only "opinion poll" of importance, he added, were national elections "which will return a result in line with the government's efforts to make the country strong".

Mitterrand calls for action on illegal immigrants

Danielle Mitterrand, currently visiting Greece in her capacity as president of the "France Libertes" foundation, today called for a European policy on immigrants that would work towards their eventual return to their homelands.

"The question is not whether Western states want to or are able to have these people (in Europe), but to give them the opportunity to return to their homes without any problems," said Mitterrand at a press conference today.

Mitterand is the widow of the late Francois Mitterrand, former President of the French Republic Democracy".

"France Libertes" has been involved in the problems of the Kurdish people, which Miterrand said were chiefly due to economic factors.

"For 15 years we have been condemning the genocide being perpetrated against the Kurdish people, which we believe is due to economic factors since the land in their area is rich in water resources and therefore has attracted the attention of powerful interest groups. Our mission today is to attack the true cause of this catastrophe, to protect the people and to offer them our solidarity, letting them know they are not alone," she said.

Mitterrand also attributed the increasing problem of racism to economic factors.

"We must counter the world dictatorship of money with the world democracy of peoples. Measures taken by European states to limit unemployment should not be turned against immigrants, since it is policies such as these that result in racism. Unemployment originates in a policy that seeks a cheap work force. There should be a united front of workers, including foreign workers, against such a stance," she said.

Mitterrand yesterday addressed a meeting of the Institute for Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAME) - Andreas Papandreou.

Today she met with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

More cars torched overnight

Another five vehicles were attacked by makeshift bombs overnight, including two vehicles belonging to the environment ministry.

A group calling itself "Revolutionary War" claimed responsibility for the attack on the ministry cars in Kallithea in an anonymous telephone call to Skai radio station.

Police said they suspected 'Revolutionary War' to be a group for past bomb attacks but claiming responsibility under different names.

The other four cars were torched by makeshift bombs in separate incidents in Glyfada, Maroussi and Nikaia.

On Monday, a hitherto unknown group said to support American 'Unabomber' Theodore Kacynski claimed responsibility for a bomb attack against the offices of multinational computer company Hewlett-Packard in downtown Thessaloniki.

The blasts caused damage to the Hewlett-Packard offices and the video club on the floor and to the building's facade. Police said a third explosive device, which did not explode, was found on the fourth floor in the offices of the Interamerican insurance company.

Thessaloniki police told the ANA that patrols had been stepped up around "possible targets" after the recent spate of car bombs and torchings in Athens.

Some 1,000 police officers have been added to patrols in the Athens area, as police believe the torchings 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.

Cold snap causes traffic problems

Heavy snowfall in mountainous regions and gale-force winds in the Aegean have caused transport problems today over much of the country and have isolated several villages.

The coast guard put a ban on all coastal shipping as of 10.00 this morning from Piraeus and Rafina to the islands of the Aegean, the Dodecanese and Crete, although the Rio-Antirrio ferry is operating as usual.

Snow chains are required for all vehicles travelling from Florina to Kastoria via Vitsi and Vigla, and between Florina and Nymphaio, Kozani and Ioannina.

Heavy snow is also falling in the Peloponnese, cutting off villages around Kosmas and Aghios Petros, as well the Tripoli-Argos road via Ahladokambos, although the main highways to Tripoli, Kalamata and Sparta are open. Chains are required on mountain roads leading to the Gortynia region of Arcadia.

Winds are expected to ease later in the day.

Romanian soccer coach may take over in Athens

Romania's national soccer coach, Anghel Iordanescu, is due in Athens on Friday for talks with the Greek soccer federation (EPO), reportedly to finalise a deal under which he will take over the Greek national team which hopes to qualify for the finals of Euro 2000, according to an ANA despatch citing informed sources in Bucharest.

According to the sources, the 48-year-old soccer coach has already agreed to take over the Greek national team and is coming on Friday to arrange last-minute details and sign a contract.

The sources added that Iordanescu himself confirmed his trip to Athens during a conversation this morning with a Romanian journalist. He reportedly told the journalist that he would only cancel the trip if so notified by the Greek soccer federation.

The same sources said Iordanescu would be signing a two-year contract which would officially enter force on August 1 this year, that is, after the World Cup finals in France.

A Romanian soccer official meanwhile told the ANA that even if he wanted to, Iordanescu could not leave the Romanian national team immediately, since he had signed a contract with the Romanian federation (FRF) under which he must first fulfil all the Romanian team's World Cup obligations.

WEATHER

Cloudiness and low temperatures will be the main characteristics of today's weather in Greece with rain mainly in the south and light snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds northeasterly, strong to gale force. Light rain or sleet in Athens with temperatures between 3-6C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-4C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 279.784 Pound sterling 467.272 Cyprus pd 534.688 French franc 47.031 Swiss franc 193.852 German mark 157.530 Italian lira (100) 15.955 Yen (100) 222.178 Canadian dlr. 192.944 Australian dlr. 188.143 Irish Punt 396.443 Belgian franc 7.635 Finnish mark 52.048 Dutch guilder 139.788 Danish kr. 41.353 Swedish kr. 35.557 Norwegian kr. 37.863 Austrian sch. 22.384 Spanish peseta 1.858 Port. Escudo 1.540

(M.P.)


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