Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-08
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 08/04/1998 (ANA)
- Police suspect November 17 behind Citibank rocket
- Greek economy on the right track: Papantoniou
- Olympic Airways needs labour peace to recover
- Former president Karamanlis making progress
- Two ferries collide near Aegina
- Two Turks convicted of migrant smuggling
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Police suspect November 17 behind Citibank rocket
Greek security police said today that the elusive terrorist group "November
17" is behind a midnight rocket attack on a downtown branch of the American
Citibank which caused damage but no injuries.
The rocket did not explode. Police said it was fired by remote control five
minutes before midnight on Tuesday from a BMV private car parked outside
the bank on Drossopoulou street in the downtown district of Kypseli.
Police said that the 2.36 inches rocket failed to explode and only smashed
the bank's glass window pane damaging three nearby cars. They told ANA that
it was similar to a rocket stolen from a central Greek army camp in Larisa
usually used by the "November 17" urban guerrilla group.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, "but it certainly
bears the hallmarks of the November 17 group," a police spokesman told
The group, which made its debut in 1975 has claimed responsibility for the
killing 20 Greeks and foreigners.
Senior police said later that the absence of any claim of responsibility on
the part of any organisation was raising fears of more attacks.
Police close to the investigation said it was a November 17 tactic to carry
out a number of attacks and claim responsibility for the series later.
They clarified that the attack caused only minor damage because the rocket
did not explode due to the fact that it was designed to explode on impact
when fired over a distance of 700 metres. They said they suspected that the
organisers of the attack were aware that the rocket would not explode when
fired at such a close range, reducing the likelihood of any injuries of
The two aspects of the attack concerning police were that the attack was
carried out a short distance from the local police station and that the
rocket was placed on the roof of a car parked just 2.5 metres from the
bank. The car belonged to a man living locally, who had parked the car just
40 minutes before the rocket was detonated.
The government strongly condemned yesterday's rocket attack, saying it was
not only directed against the specific target but also harmed the country's
interests and undermined social stability.
"The government steadfastly condemns such actions and is stepping up its
efforts to combat them," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
"We condemn terrorist and criminal actions, even though in Greece such
phenomena are on a smaller scale. Our country is not one in which terrorism
flourishes," Reppas said.
In a related development, police arrested a 35-year-old man, identified as
Zacharias Vivilakis, whose fingerprint was found on an uneploded timebomb
left outside an American Express branch in the northern suburb of Marousi
Police, who searched his house in the Galatsi suburb found a shotgun, a
Smith and Weson Magnum 357 gun, another 9 mm. handgun, 12 detonators, and
brochures with instructions on how to make homemade explosive devices.
Vivilakis, who police said was convicted in the past for participating in
nightclub protection was charged by a public prosecutor with illegal
possession of arms and explosives and manufacturing explosive devices.
His brother, Michalis Vivilakis is serving a life term for murder.
Greek economy on the right track: Papantoniou
The Greek economy is finally on the right track and party political
interests should not try to block progress, National Economy and Finance
Minister Yannos Papantoniou said today, opening the first session of the
"2nd Economist Roundtable with the Greek Government".
"There is a strong inclination towards progress in the Greek economy and
that is something that various political parties should take note of,"
The recent inclusion of the drachma in the European Union's Exchange Rate
Mechanism, he noted, was the latest indication that the economy was on the
right path after years of mistakes.
"Greece is on the road to convergence and its macro-economic indicators
deservedly position it as one of the rising stars of the developed
Papantoniou outlined the government's plans for structural reforms to the
economy, particularly in the public sector, that aim to step up its
"The government aims at there being a climate of consensus so that workers
can actively contribute to the restructuring of companies such as Olympic
Airways and other state companies," he said.
Papantoniou said changes to the social security system would be announced
by the government by the end of the year, assuming there was progress in
talks on the changes with social partners. These changes will include
defining the retirement age and would be included in a timetable of reforms
which would begin in 2000.
He stressed the need for the normal operation of markets in Greece,
particularly the job market, which he said was particularly problematic.
"We will not succeed at achieving a satisfactory level of competition if we
do not liberate the powers of the economy, which are entangled in obsolete
practices (and) we will not be able to protect our economy from external
upheavals and the repercussions of a crisis on international markets will
be particularly catastrophic if mechanisms to achieve equilibrium are not
He noted that the Bank of Greece's foreign exchange reserves rose by some
four billion dollars after the drachma was devalued due to a massive
injection of capital.
The stock exchange was still riding a wave of confidence that had brought
it an increase of almost 40 percent and interest rates had fallen by 2.5
Olympic Airways needs labour peace to recover
All Olympic Airways flights scheduled for the Greek Easter holiday next
week will be carried out as scheduled, the national carrier's managing
director Theodoros Tsakiridis said today.
Speaking to Greek radio, Tsakiridis said workers who had accepted the new
general regulations would be required to stop all labour action as of
"If Olympic is to meet the financial demands of the workers then they will
have to contribute to the company's development," he said. "I believe that
they will meet this request".
Tsakiridis also said that the internal structure of the company would be
reviewed "from base zero" upwards with new personnel being hired and
present posts evaluated. There will also be an evaluation of all current
routes and the cancellation of some on the basis of their lack of
profitability, Tsakiridis said.
He said the carrier would be taking delivery of new aircraft as of
September and that a "strategic investor" would not be able to contribute
"financially" to the company which when restructured and modernised would
be listed on the stock exchange.
Former president Karamanlis making progress
Former president and the founder of conservative opposition New Democracy
party Constantine Karamanlis was showing a gradual improvement, doctors
said, after the 91-year-old elder statesman was admitted to hospital
yesterday suffering from a respiratory ailment.
Karamanlis was being treated with antibiotics, his personal doctor
Evangelos Belonias told reporters this morning.
Belonias said that Karamanlis's condition did not warrant his being
admitted to intensive care and that "if everything goes well we will not
need to do anything more".
He admitted that doctors treating the former president were concerned about
the effect the patient's age could have on his recovery but added that
Karamanlis was in good spirits.
Karamanlis was visited this morning by New Democracy vice-president Ioannis
Varvitsiotis and former deputy and European Commissioner Ioannis Paleokrassas
as well as by family members.
Former prime minister George Rallis, former New Democracy president
Miltiades Evert and veteran leftist Leonidas Kyrkos were also amongst those
who visited the hospital to receive a briefing on the former president and
prime minister's health.
Two ferries collide near Aegina
The passenger and car ferries "Hellas" and "Aias" collided this morning
outside the port of Aegina for as yet unknown reasons causing minor damage
but no injuries.
The Hellas, headed for Piraeus, was carrying 34 passengers at the time and
the Aias, sailing to Methana and Poros, 10.
The Aegina port authority has prohibited both ships from sailing until they
have been inspected and their passengers took other ferries.
Two Turks convicted of migrant smuggling
A Rhodes court sentenced three Turks to eight years and four months
imprisonment and fined them each 2,300,000 drachmas for illegally ferrying
19 Iraqis to the rocky islet of Nimos, near Symi on Sunday.
Sentencing Kaya Sukru, Cog Aycan and Ahmet Seyit yesterday, the court gave
them the right to pay off their jail terms at 1,500 drachmas per day.
It also sentenced Turk Ali Garpa to 15 years and eight months imprisonment,
payable at 1,500 drachmas per day, and fined him 4,500,000 drachmas for
illegally transporting 41 Iraqis to the same area on the same day.
Fine weather is forecast for most parts of the country today with scattered
clouds in western, central and northern Greece. Fog in the morning. Winds
southerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Ionian Sea. Partly
cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 12-25C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-23C.
Tuesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 318.293
British pound 529.847 Japanese Yen(100) 237.683
French franc 51.608 German mark 173.005
Italian lira (100) 17.528 Irish Punt 436.480
Belgian franc 8.379 Finnish mark 56.990
Dutch guilder 153.601 Danish kr. 45.380
Austrian sch. 24.592 Spanish peseta 2.040
Swedish kr. 39.805 Norwegian kr. 41.616
Swiss franc 207.859 Port. Escudo 1.689
AUS dollar 209.014 Can. dollar 224.529
Cyprus pound 594.208