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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-05-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 25/05/1998 (ANA)


  • Tension between government and trade unionists mounts
  • Spanish royal couple in Athens today
  • Tsohatzopoulos charges Turkey of using 'Hitlerian rationale'
  • Battle of Crete anniversary celebrated
  • New premises of Bulgaria's consulate in Thessaloniki inaugurated
  • Greece shows interest of buying planes from Germany
  • Karamanlis confident ND will win next general elections
  • Int'l media conference opens in Athens
  • Additional funds for major cultural projects
  • Greece's Angelopoulos wins top Cannes film award
  • Iran, Greece, Armenia to expand transport cooperation
  • First man on the moon steps into Athens
  • Panathinaikos wins Greek basketball championship after 14 years
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Tension between government and trade unionists mounts

Ionian Bank strikers occupying the bank's computer centre in Piraeus were forced out early yesterday morning by riot police resulting in further tension between the government and trade unionists over the bank's future.

The police, who intervened after an appeal by the bank's management, arrested and later released two of the strikers. The police move put an end to the workers' occupation that had paralysed the operation of the bank.

The public order ministry in a statement said that the police acted upon a call by the Ionian Bank's management on Friday "to free the computer centre of employees who since ten days remained in the bank's premises illegally and contrary to the management's will, thus disrupting the bank's smooth functioning, causing harm to the customers and to the bank itself".

Yesterday's developments came a day before a court rules on a petition filed by management last week to have the strike declared illegal. The striking employees' blockade of the computer centre had frozen on-line systems and halted ATM transactions .

The bank's union has alleged that Commercial Bank, which owns over 60 percent of Ionian, drove down Ionian Bank's share price on the Athens bourse over several sessions in order to ease its sale to private investors. Both Commercial Bank and the government have categorically denied manipulating the share price.

Reaction to the raid from the labour movement was swift, with the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the Federation of Bank Employee Unions (OTOE) and the Athens and Piraeus Labour Centres calling a snap 24- hour strike at all banks today.

Also decided for today was a 24-hour strike by Piraeus workers and a four- hour work stoppage from 11 a.m. with workers rallying outside the courts where the Ionian management's suit against the strike is to be heard.

Spanish royal couple in Athens today

King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sophia today start a five-day official visit to Greece, at the invitation of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Spanish Foreign Minister Abel Matutes will accompany the royal couple during its first ever visit to Greece.

The royal couple will also meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis, inaugurate the "Classic Greece in Spain" exhibition and in a strictly private framework they will visit the Tatoi retreat.

Mr. Matutes will hold talks with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos.

Tsohatzopoulos charges Turkey of using `Hitlerian rationale`

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday charged Turkey with using what he called a Hitlerian rationale in claiming space in the Aegean for itself.

"The international law of the sea cannot be applied selectively wherever Turkey wants. It will be applied uniformly in the whole Aegean, in the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, allowing full freedom of movement for all with no restrictions," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

He was addressing a commemoration ceremony in Thessaloniki marking 57 years since the Battle of Crete.

Turkey's destabilising presence in the region could be tackled by establishing the terms of collective security being promoted by Greece in the Balkans, Black Sea region and the eastern Mediterranean, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos again warned Turkey that Greece had nothing to negotiate. The only outstanding difference was delineation of the continental shelf, which could only be determined at the International Court at the Hague.

He also told parties interested in mediating in the Cyprus issue that Greece demanded the implementation of international law.

"We are not bargaining over this," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

Battle of Grete anniversary celebrated

The 57th anniversary of the Battle of Crete against the Germans in World War Two, was celebrated yesterday in the region of Galatas, which was the area where the most fierce clashes took place between the Allies and the Cretans on the one hand and the Ger man invaders on the other.

The celebration was attended by veterans of the Battle of Crete from Australia, Nea Zealand, Great Britain, Cyprus and Greece.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis issued a message on the occasion, saying that Cretan and allied forces had fought heroically and bravely for the island's freedom.

British Prime Miniser Tony Blair also sent in a message on the occasion, saying he was satisfied that the May 1941 Battle of Crete was still celebrated in our days. He added that the friendships made then and the memories for those killed during the battle have contributed in the people of Greece and Britain having stronger relations.

New premises of Bulgaria's consulate in Thessaloniki inaugurated

Construction of a new road between northern Greece and Bulgaria to aid the movement of goods and passengers may be completed in a year, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday.

Mr. Pangalos was speaking to reporters after talks with the neighbouring country's foreign minister, Nadia Michailova, who inaugurated new premises for Bulgaria's consulate in Thessaloniki.

Work on the Greek side of the road at Exohi, near the northern town of Drama, was on schedule and Sofia had tendered its share of construction, probably allowing completion of the project in a year.

"This will be a major road for communications," Mr. Pangalos said.

A total of three new highways are to be built to improve transport between the two countries, in turn opening access to Balkan markets.

Ms Michailova said inauguration of the new consular premises symbolised healthy ties and cooperation between the two countries.

Greece shows interest in buying planes from Germany

Greece is interested in buying at least 50 training Alpha Jets, pulled out of service many years ago by the German air force,according to the weekly magazine Focus to be published today. The French-German made training jets, would replace the old training planes used by the Greek air force,the magazine said.

One hundred Alpa Jest are out of use waiting for better bays in an old aidbase near Munich.

Karamanlis confident ND will win next general elections

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis ended a four- day tour of central Macedonia last night, with a speech at a party gathering in the town of Yiannitsa.

Earlier, the ND leader spoke in the town of Skydra, where he announced that if his party won the next election, the ND will form a government of young, uncorrupted people, "who will be able to see the future".

"We'll form a government that will not disappoint the people, that will be responsive to their expectations", said Mr Karamanlis, who also addressed acricultural issues, accusing Agricultural Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas of incompetency.

Late Saturday evening, the ND leader was in Edessa, where he appeared confident that his party would win the next parliamentary election. However, he said this was not the ND's ultimate goal. The party wanted to win a large majority which will then form a strong government, able to take decisive measures to elevate the country.

Int'l media conference opens in Athens

A five-day international conference on Media Ownership and Control opened yesterday evening at the central Athens Zappeion Hall, joinlty organised by the Andreas Papandreou Institute and the Andreas Papandreou Institute for Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAMAI).

Press Minister Dimitris Reppas referred to the risks lurking in the domination of the mass communication media and new technologies, stressing the need for formulating policies on a Eropean Union level, with the criteria being the maintenance of human qualities and collective goods.

Alternate Foreign Minister and president of the Andreas Papandreou Instutute, George Papandreou, said those controlling technology, together with those producing, interpreting and transmitting information were all crucial to the future of democracy.

Additional funds for major cultural projects

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday announced additional funding of 12.5 billion drachmas for uncompleted major projects in the former 1997 European Cultural Capital.

The additional sums were part of the 2nd Community Support Framework, and will be used to conclude work on major Cultural Capital projects, such as the Royal Theatre, Moni Lazariston, the Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies, etc., making the overall budget for the technical programme to 100 billion drachmas.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday in Thessaloniki, the culture minister stressed the Thessaloniki Concert Hall (Megaro Mousikis), not included in cultural capital programmes, will be funded by the same European source and will be ready in abo ut one year.

Greece's Angelopoulos wins top Cannes film award

"Eternity and a Day" won the Golden Palm for best film at the 51st Cannes film festival, jury president Martin Scorsese announced yesterday.

The U.S. movie maestro Scorcese lavished praise on the 22 films competing at Cannes this year but said his jury, made up of directors, actors, actresses and a rap singer, had been unanimous in giving Angelopoulos the top honours.

"Life is Beautiful" by Italy's Roberto Benigni was awarded the runner-up Grand Jury Prize, while the accolade for Best Director went to Ireland's John Boorman for his film "The General".

"I am genuinely touched and want to thank everyone. Last night's (Saturday) screening was for me an unforgettable experience," the Greek director told yesterday's closing ceremony, which brought the curtain down on Europe's premier film festival.

Set in fog and rain, an Angelopoulos trademark, the film charts a writer's quest on the eve of his death to find memories of happier days with his late wife Anna.

As he drives through the streets of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, Alexander, played by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, crosses the path of an Albanian boy who has fled his country and earns a few cents cleaning windshields.

"It's the meeting of a man living his final days, and a child who appears from nowhere and acts as a catalyst. Childhood represents hope," the chain- smoking director told reporters.

With little dialogue, long gloomy scenes of icy landscape and the writer's efforts to return the boy to his country, this 11th feature film by Angelopoulos is shown rather than told.

Angelopoulos is no stranger to Cannes, nor to film festival awards.

Three years ago, his "Ulysses' Gaze" came home from the Riviera resort with two prizes, although not the top one.

His other films have picked up awards at festivals in Berlin, Venice, Chicago and Japan.

In Athens, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos congratulated Angelopoulos on behalf of the government saying that the director was "worthily representing Greek culture and Greek cinema".

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas also made statements congratulating Angelopoulos.

Iran, Greece, Armenia to expand transport cooperation

The Islamic Republic of Iran, Greece and Armenia on Saturday signed here a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at expanding and deepening tripartite cooperation in the fields of transport and communications.

The memorandum underlines the need for further promotion of trilateral cooperation in land and air transport, transit of goods and passengers as well as in technical and educational cooperation among the three countries, the Iranian Road and Transport Ministry announced.

It was agreed that the three countries consider issuing three-year long visas for drivers of vehicles transporting passengers and cargoes between the three states.

The memorandum also voices readiness by the signatories to render all kind of services needed for the construction of roads, terminals and other infrastructure installations vital for the transportation industry.

The memorandum was signed following an agreement during a first meeting of the foreign ministers of Iran, Greece and Armenia last year.

First man on the moon steps into Athens

The first man to set his foot on the moon, says the space probing is just begining. Neil Armstrong, who was in Athens yesterday and inaugurated the Infoworld 98 exhbition at the Peace and Friendship Stadium, added that now, after the Cold War era, the sea rch into space is expanding and that its next target will be to conquer our solar system.

Earlier, Mr. Armstrong had addressed participants of an informatics congress, where he referred to the space history, the importance and the role of communication and technology.

Panathinaikos wins Greek basketball championship after 14 years

Panathinaikos Athens basketball team yesterday won the Greek basketball championship, defeating Thessaloniki's PAOK 68-58.

Panathinaikos' win of the championship was the first in 14 years.

Clashes broke out last night in the Athens central Omonoia Square between celebrating fans and police. The fans set ablaze the Metro station under construction in the square, set fire to three cars and smashed the shop windows of at least ten shops.

Two cars, a motor bike and a clothes shop were set ablaze on Patision and Mavromataion streets at 3 a.m. Saturday morning by a group of youths who were said to have been partying at the Graduate School of Economics and Business Sciences (ASOEE) building,before the incident.


Cloudy weather in most parts of the country today, turning to rain or storms later in the day. Winds southerly, moderate to gale force. Athens will be partly cloudy with rain forecast in the afternoon and storms in the evening and temperatures from 16-24C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15C and 22C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 300.685 British pound 489.790 Japanese yen(100) 221.196 French franc 50.830 German mark 170.555 Italian lira (100) 17.290 Irish Punt 429.238 Belgian franc 8.255 Finnish mark 56.086 Dutch guilder 151.275 Danish kr. 44.733 Austrian sch. 24.229 Spanish peseta 2.008 Swedish kr. 39.121 Norwegian kr. 40.364 Swiss franc 204.466 Port. Escudo 1.665 Aus. dollar 189.571 Can. dollar 206.634 Cyprus pound 579.626


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