Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-06
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 06/07/1998 (ANA)
- Devastating forest fires throughout Greece under control
- Kaklamanis begins official visit to China
- Greece proposes hosting high-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting
- Four arrested for transporting illegal immigrants
- Greek Defence minister arrives in New York
- Simitis says Greece will soon be able to join EMU
- Greek diplomat killed in car crash
- Turkish patrol boat enters Greek waters
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Devastating forest fires throughout Greece under control
Firefighters and army personnel yesterday managed to place under control
most of the fires that raged throughout the country since Saturday
Out of more than 180 forest fires which broke out over the weekend, 161 are
A 67-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man lost their lives in the fires.
Forty houses were burnt and hundreds of forested acres of land were reduced
The unusually hot weather, combined with the strong winds around the
country during the weekend, contributed to the destruction, while the fires
reached populated areas of the Athens metropolitan area, even in the Perama
municipality, a Piraeus suburb.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said that the increased forest
fires were due to the heatwave and the strong winds, while he noted that
the state mechanism reacted immediately.
The prime minister, who was speaking in Lamia at the end of a two-day visit
to the prefecture of Fthiotida, reminded local authorities and the public
that they too were responsible for safety and fire prevention measures.
Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos did not rule out the possibility that
some of the forest fires may be the result of arson.
An inter-ministerial meeting said that all those hit by the fires will be
compensated, as in the cases of floods and earthquakes.
The ministers were also quoted as saying that a number of local authorities
lacked firefighting equipment, and that garbage landfills had been found in
wooded areas, posing a fire hazard.
Tens of homes and thousands of acres of pinewoods and farmland have been
destroyed in the fires.
One point of view was that fires were being used to strip land of trees in
the hope that reforestation will not be ordered, or carried out, allowing
developers or landowners to embark on construction, banned while the land
Taking part in the effort were 5,000 firefighters, 1,200 military personnel,
and 52 planes and helicopters.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, during his visit to
a forest fire in Avlona, Attica, yesterday accused the government for lack
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused the government of arming the
hands of arsonists, while it claims that the "crime" was premeditated.
The Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) made mention of the
state's unpreparedness and lack of coordination, while Political Spring
(POLAN) leader Antonis Samaras characterised the premier's stance as
Kaklamanis begins official visit to China
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis began an official visit to China
yesterday for talks with the Chinese leadership on bilateral relations.
Mr. Kaklamanis' initial meeting was with his Chinese counterpart Li Peng,
and he stressed Greece's will for the promotion of Greek-Chinese relations
on a more permanent basis.
Mr. Kaklamanis informed Mr. Peng on recent developments over the Cyprus
issue,Greek-Turkish relations and Turkish provocations against Greece.
Mr. Peng stated that "China's long-standing position on international
relations issues, is that they must be resolved with peaceful means."
He added that "in this framework, a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem
must be sought in accordance with the rules of International Law, regarding
the independence and territorial integrity of countries, which must be
respected by all."
The two men expressed their satisfaction over the progress made in Greek-
Chinese relations and stated the decision for the further promotion of
cooperation between the two countries in all sectors.
Mr. Kaklamanis invited Mr. Peng to visit Greece. Earlier in the day Mr.
Kaklamanis visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.
Greece proposes hosting high-level Israeli-Palestinian meeting
Greece proposed yesterday to host a high- level meeting of Israeli and
Palestinian officials - even a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat - in efforts for
a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process.
The proposal was made by Greek Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis
at the close of a four-day meeting of Palestinian and Israeli officials and
personalities on the eastern Aegean island of Rhodes. The meeting, which
had an informal character and was the third of its kind, was organised by
the Greek foreign ministry.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Kranidiotis said that Greece, by
organising such meetings, had not the ambition of imposing the resumption
of the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, but to contribute
to the creation of a climate of mut ual understanding and cooperation and
to "reinforce the policy of pressions for the advance of the peace
The participants' decisions included the proposal for the creation of a 10-
member consultant committee which would also observe decisions and the
implementation of the agreements struck during relevant meetings.
This committee should include eight parliamentarians - four form each side -
including a representative from the United Nations and Greece.
European Union Middle East envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos, who attended the
meeting, said that there were high-level debates and decisions, adding that
the EU, "contrary to what many people think in Israel, has not abadonded
its efforts for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East."
A parallel international journalists' meeting on the Middle East, which
also ended yesterday, adopted a resolution requesting UNESCO to contribute
towards the creation of an "Israeli-Palestinian Press Home," open to all
professional journalists without discrimination. This Home, the resolution
added, should be created in a region accessible to both sides.
Four arrested for transporting 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 immigrants told police in Alexandroupolis during questioning that they
had paid a man in Turkey called Ali 92,000 dollars to cross the border into
Greek Defence minister arrives in New York
National Defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrived in New York yesterday
from St. Louis, Missouri.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who is on an official visit to the Unites States, will
travel this afternoon to Washington for two days of talks with his U.S.
counterpart William Cohen and other government officials.
This morning, he will attend a Greek-American Business Council meeting and
will also address a Council of International Affairs conference on
"Security Policy in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea".
Simitis says Greece will soon be able to join EMU
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said 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," Mr. 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.
Charging the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Mr. Simitis accused
it of "lack of proposals in Parliament".
He also underlined the "need for Greece to remain within the single
European agricultural policy".
Referring to economic growth, the premier said that it demanded "new
attitudes, new relations, actions".
"I want to be the prime minister of fair taxation, a taxation in the
service of social justice. Growth without social justice is out of the
government's logic," Mr. Simitis said.
Greek diplomat killed in car crash
A Greek diplomat was killed in a car crash yesterday on the Athens to
The diplomat was George Dikeakos, 35, the secretary of the Greek embassy in
Dikeakos was a passenger in a car driven by a friend, Ioannis Daias, 37, a
resident of Tirana, who was seriously injured in the crash.
The vehicle collided with two other cars near Diakofto.
Turkish patrol boat enters Greek waters
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 Saturday 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
The Greek vessel did not need to intervene, they said.
Mostly sunny weather is forecast throughout Greece today with scattered
cloud appearing in the north by evening. Winds northerly, moderate to
strong. Athens, sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 22C-33C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 19C-30C.
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