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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-05

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, 05/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM welcomes swift action by firefighters in forest blazes
  • Minoan Lines ferry runs aground, no injuries
  • Police make arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants
  • Greece backs Rugova, Kosovo self-administration
  • Government endorses bill to deregulate electricity market
  • Supreme Court rejects unfair dismissal appeal over politics
  • Turkish patrol boat briefly enters Greek waters off Imia
  • Greece soon to join EMU, PM says
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM welcomes swift action by firefighters in forest blazes

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Sunday that firefighters and the military had moved fast to put out forest fires that swept across the country, killing an elderly woman.

Firefighters extinguished 161 blazes out of around 180 that broke out on Saturday; ten were still raging and nine were under partial control, Simitis said.

An elderly woman died in one of the fires on the island of Salamina on Saturday night, west of Athens. Some homes and thousands of acres of forest and farm land have been devastated.

Simitis attributed the spate of fires mainly to high temperatures at the tail end of a heatwave and high winds that fanned the flames.

Police are also investigating whether arson was to blame for some of the fires.

The prime minister, who was speaking in Lamia at the end of a two-day visit to the prefecture of Phthiotida, reminded local authorities and the public that they too were responsible for safety and fire prevention measures.

Minoan Lines ferry runs aground, no injuries

A high-speed ferry owned by Minoan Lines, which was carrying about 500 passengers and 195 vehicles, ran aground in shallow waters between Corfu and Albania at 2:10 on Sunday morning. No injuries were reported.

The "Pasifai" was making its maiden voyage from Igoumenitsa to the Italian port of Ancona.

It was towed to Corfu at about 5:30 am. Passengers awaited embarkation on another ferry.

Police make arrests for transportation of illegal immigrants

Police on Saturday arrested four Greeks in the north of the country for allegedly picking up tens of illegal immigrants near the Turkish border in order to transport them to Athens for a fee.

The immigrants - 23 Pakistanis, 22 Bangladeshis and one Indian - were riding in a truck near the town of Alexandroupolis when a police squad specialising in illegal border entries stopped the vehicle and arrested its driver, Harilaos Agapidis, 24, an office worker from Thessaloniki.

After a car chase, they arrested Agapidis' three alleged accomplices in two automobiles whose job was to alert Agapidis of any police surveillance on the road.

The immigrants told police in Alexandroupoli during questioning that they had paid a man in Turkey called Ali 92,000 dollars to cross the border into Greece.

They were then due to pay Agapidis 3,500 dollars for the truck ride to Athens, police said.

The alleged accomplices were identified as Ilias Nikolaidis, 46, a merchant, and Pashalis Tziras, 40, a driver, both from Didymotiho; and Dimitra Kondokolia, 31, from Athens.

Police impounded the three vehicles. The arrested Greeks and the immigrants are due to appear before Alexandroupoli's public prosecutor to hear charges.

Greece backs Rugova, Kosovo self-administration

Greece on Friday placed full backing behind Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, and called on Yugoslavia to agree to full self-administration for its troubled Kosovo province.

It also criticised Western efforts for rapprochement with the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, in statements in Thessaloniki, urged Rugova to "proceed directly with the establishment of a government".

He also called on Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to proceed to an "agreed, integral self-administration for Kosovo", reiterating that Greece was "opposed to Kosovo independence or self-determination".

Addressing newly-graduated cadets of the Military School, Tsohatzopoulos said, regarding the KLA, that "those who use violence and terrorism to advance human rights are not useful, and on the contrary compromise those who have doings with them, unless they (the latter) have secured a commitment (from the former) to refrain from the use of violence and military action".

Tsohatzopoulos stressed that Greece's position on the Kosovo problem was "crystal clear", adding that the crisis could not be solved through military means but in a "political, peaceful, diplomatic" manner by granting "the broadest possible autonomy to Kosovo".

He said Greece "fully supports Mr. Rugova to proceed directly in forming integrated institutional support".

"We believe that, in tandem with the commencement of peace talks, Rugova should be supported by the international public opinion to proceed directly in the establishment of a government, institutions, infrastructures and everything else that comprise, in action, an integral self-administration at all levels," Tsohatzopoulos said.

Such a move, he added, would "upgrade Rugova himself and his role, with a simultaneous obligatory abandonment of arms by the so-called Liberation Movement and its subordination to the political leadership".

Government endorses bill to deregulate electricity market

The cabinet on Friday unanimously endorsed a draft bill to liberalise the country's electricity market by February 2001 in line with a European Union deadline.

The bill will also help to prepare the domestic market for tough international competition expected after deregulation when private sector companies will have the right to produce electricity.

Devised by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, the bill will be discussed in detail with Public Power Corporation (DEI) workers before being submitted to parliament for a vote.

Under the draft legislation, DEI will retain its vertically integrated structure, still handling production, transmission and distribution.

A special authority will also be set up to monitor operation of the newly liberalised electricity market and maintain standards in services and rates, protecting consumers.

Supreme Court rejects unfair dismissal appeal over politics

The Greek Supreme Court has upheld an appeals court ruling rejecting a claim of unfair dismissal by a worker who had been actively involved in setting up an organization promoting political aims in her workplace.

The appellant had asked that her dismissal by the state-controlled Hellenic Armaments Industry (EBO) in 1995 be declared null, and that she be paid appropriate compensation.

The appeals court had ruled that the appellant had been involved in setting up an organisation which did not aim to further trade union interests on behalf of the entire workforce, but had political aims in favour of the ruling PASOK party.

The Supreme Court endorsed the lower court's opinion that the appellant's activity had created problems in the smooth running of the company, despite favourable reports on her professional performance.

Turkish patrol boat briefly enters Greek waters off Imia

A Turkish patrol boat briefly entered Greek territorial waters off the uninhabited Imia islets but left on sighting a Hellenic Navy vessel, sources said on Saturday.

In the incident, which occurred on Friday morning, the Turkish boat was sailing from north to south. It changed course on sighting the Navy's "Panagopoulos" and sailed eastwards, leaving Greek waters, the sources said.

The Greek vessel did not need to intervene, they said.

Greece soon to join EMU, PM says

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday that Greece would soon be able to join the European Union's economic and monetary union, rebuffing critics who claim the economy is still lagging.

"We're on the right path, and very near to European unification. Maybe some think I am exaggerating but this is not so as we are proceeding more rapidly, at a faster pace," Simitis said in a speech in Lamia.

The government aims to take Greece into economic and monetary union by January 1, 2001.

The drachma joined the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14 to help pave the way for EMU entry.

Simitis was speaking during a two-day tour of the Phthiotida prefecture.

WEATHER

Mostly sunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday with scattered cloud in the north appearing towards evening. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens are forecast at 22C-33C, and in Thessaloniki at 19C-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 301.667 British pound 498.758 Japanese yen (100) 217.000 French franc 49.622 German mark 166.368 Italian lira (100) 16.886 Irish Punt 419.021 Belgian franc 8.067 Finnish mark 54.739 Dutch guilder 147.575 Danish kr. 43.670 Austrian sch. 23.641 Spanish peseta 1.961 Swedish kr. 37.506 Norwegian kr. 38.980 Swiss franc 197.482 Port. Escudo 1.629 Aus. dollar 187.096 Can. dollar 206.019 Cyprus pound 568.416

(C.S.)


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