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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-03-11

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 11/03/1998 (ANA)


  • Greece's position on Kosovo
  • Joint Greek, Albanian crews to man patrol boats
  • Greek hopes for Cyprus after impasse
  • Hungarian prime minister to visit
  • Albanian-Greek dictionary published
  • Florina plant to go ahead
  • EU wants its money back from Roussel
  • Man caught using forged US Embassy documents
  • Albanians arrested with stolen goods
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greece's position on Kosovo

Greece urges respect for human rights, supports the inviolability and preservation of external borders and opposes secessionist tendencies, government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said today replying to questions on the crisis in the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

The spokesman said Greece and other Balkan countries had appealed to all sides to exercise self-restraint and moderation and work towards dialogue.

He was referring to a joint declaration by the foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) unveiled yesterday in Sofia.

The declaration expresses serious concern over the deterioration of the political situation in Kosovo as well as the possibility of conflagration which may spread throughout the region.

Asked whether pressure had been put on the government to put its signature to the declaration, Athanasakis replied in the negative, saying that Greece's position on the Kosovo crisis did not differ from that of other countries.

US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said meanwhile that Washington and Athens were working together to avert the spread of the Kosovo crisis throughout the Balkans.

Burns was speaking in Heraklion, Crete at the end of a two-day visit to the island.

Joint Greek, Albanian crews to man patrol boats

Joint crews of Greek and Albanian officers will man coast guard patrols in the area between the Greek island of Corfu and the Albanian coast in a bid to curb crime, the Merchant Marine Ministry said today.

Ministry sources told the ANA that joint crews would be manning 10 patrol boats that would comb the region in an effort to stop marauding gangs from neighbouring Albania.

The sources said that "this cooperation is based on the recent agreement signed between the two countries to combat crime in the sea off both Greece and Albania, which has been on the rise in the past three years".

According to Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, "the joint operations will be led by a senior officer of the Greek Coast Guard, who will be authorised to decide whether the 10 patrol boats will enter Albanian territorial waters" where Albanian criminals usually take refuge.

He said the joint crews would be "authorised to return fire" in the event of attack by unidentified boats.

Greek hopes for Cyprus after impasse

The Greek government today expressed hope that no tension would arise in Cyprus and the Aegean after an apparent impasse on the Cyprus issue.

Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that it was up to Turkey how it would react from here on, and recalled that Greece has insisted to date on the preservation of calm in the region.

Asked to comment on an impasse which had apparently arisen in the Cyprus problem, Athanassakis accused Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of "persisting with intransigence".

"We hope for a change of that stance," Athanassakis said. "Cyprus' course towards the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus itself cannot be held hostage by the Turkish Cypriot leadership," he added.

Hungarian prime minister to visit

Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn is due in Athens on March 18 for for talks with Greek counterpart Costas Simitis and other government officials, it was announced today.

Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said the Simitis-Horn talks would focus on the development of bilateral relations, the course of Hungary's accession to the European Union and NATO, and the situation in the wider region.

Albanian-Greek dictionary published

An Albanian-Greek dictionary was launched today at a ceremony attended by visiting Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani and his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Funded by the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Repatriated Greeks, the dictionary, which has 50,000 entries, was published by Ioannina University. It follows a Greek-Albanian volume issued in 1994. Both were compiled by N. Ginis.

The Albanian president expressed his gratitude for Greece's assistance in emancipating Albania by means of the "powerful weapon of culture".

An economy that developed without concurrent cultural development, he said, led to "homogenisation", which could only be fought by "the mind, the pen and living traditions".

Florina plant to go ahead

Plans for an electric power plant near the northern town of Florina are to proceed in line with Cabinet's unanimous decision, acting government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said today.

Athanasakis said the project would go ahead according to the original plan. Tomorrow a government delegation headed by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou is to visit Florina at the invitation of local authorities.

Asked whether the issue would be discussed in parliament, the spokesman said the project had already been discussed in full by the parliamentary committee.

EU wants its money back from Roussel

The European Union is pursuing the return of a nine million dollar subsidy it had allocated to French businessman Thierry Roussel for an aborted extensive investment programme in an underdeveloped region of Portugal nearly a decade ago, European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said in reply to a question tabled by a Greek Euro-MP.

Replying to Coalition of Left and Progress Eurodeputy Alecos Alavanos' question, Fischler said that "the return of the subsidy allocated to Thierry Roussel's company Oderfruta has been requested" by the Commission, invoking the regulations and clauses of the EU's Structural Funds pertaining to "ensure the proper implementation of the financed actions, the prevention and prosecution of irregularities, and the recovery of capital lost due to misappropriation or negligence".

Roussel -- the father of the only survivng heir to the vast Onassis fortune, Athina, who divorced from Christina Onassis a year before her death in 1988 -- arrived in Alendejo in 1988 promising 66 million dollars in investments and the creation of new jobs.

Alendejo is considered one of the poorest regions in the EU with an unemployment rate of 30 percent, more than double that of the EU average.

The sources said Roussel's project had envisaged turning the region into a producer of top-grade fruit and vegetables for export to the markets of Europe, and was therefore "generously" subsidised by the then Portuguese government of Anibal Cavaco Silva and under the EU's Structural Funds.

Roussel eventually invested only 34 million dollars -- 40 percent coming from the Portuguese state and the EU and the rest put up in a loan by the Portuguese bank Caixa General de Depositos. But the Oderfruta venture went bankrupt in 1994 "leaving behind massive debts, unpaid fruit producers and workers, and extensive environmental destruction, as the unit was established in a protected zone", the sources said.

Fischler said in his reply to Alavanos that the Commission, having learnt that "the financial viability of the project was in danger, requested in September 1993 detailed explanations from the (Portuguese) national authorities, and a second letter followed in May 1994".

He said that when the Oderfruta enterprise was declared bankrupt in a Portuguese court in 1994, the procedure for recovery of the EU subsidy "was initiated immediately".

Man caught using forged US Embassy documents

Police today arrested a man for trying to use forged documents, supposedly issued by the US Embassy in Athens, to acquire a visa to enter the United States.

The man was identified as Charalambos Karanoutsos, 46. The visa, in the name of Costas Zelkas, was eventually not issued by the embassy.

The police discovered that Karanoutsos had been supplied with the forged documents by two other Greeks, George Michailidis, 45 and Nikos Karnavos, 53 who were also arrested.

A fourth person, Dimitrios Papas, 41, is wanted by police for questioning in connection with the case.

Karnavos had been arrested for a similar offence in December 1997.

Albanians arrested with stolen goods

Police have broken up a 27-member gang of Albanians found in possession of stolen goods which included electrical appliances, 144 mobile phones, goods in bulk, jewellery and clothing worth an estimated 215 million drachmas.

The Albanians had occupied a vacant house, an abandoned factory and an old farmhouse in Aspropyrgos.

Police believe that the gang, operating in different groups each time, have stolen from warehouses, apartments and trucks parked in the area of Aspropyrgos.


Cloudiness and rain is forecast for most of Greece today. Showers in the eastern and southern Greek islands. Snow in the northern mountainous regions. Winds strong to gale force. Partly cloudy with rain in Athens and temperatures between 7-12C. Rain and possible hail in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-7C.


Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.926 Pound sterling 469.593 Cyprus pd 536.870 French franc 46.743 Swiss franc 192.473 German mark 156.721 Italian lira (100) 15.926 Yen (100) 224.916 Canadian dlr. 203.102 Australian dlr. 191.952 Irish Punt 388.269 Belgian franc 7.597 Finnish mark 51.624 Dutch guilder 139.049 Danish kr. 41.122 Swedish kr. 35.789 Norwegian kr. 37.716 Austrian sch. 22.279 Spanish peseta 1.849 Port. Escudo 1.533


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