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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 19/07/1998 (ANA)


  • PM attends ground-breaking ceremony for Rio-Antirrio bridge
  • Defence minister sees S-300 missile furore as smokescreen
  • GNTO reports increase in profits
  • Spurned suitor gets revenge
  • Hand grenade blast damages cars near beach
  • Police make arrests after tourists raped
  • Customs seize 1.5 tonnes of Indian cannabis
  • Gov't to issue low-cost bonds for small investors
  • Northern bank finds fake 500 Deutschemark note
  • Pangalos to have talks with Albanian leadership next week
  • PM calls on public to support EMU entry
  • Firefighters battle blaze in Halkidiki
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


PM attends ground-breaking ceremony for Rio-Antirrio bridge

A ground-breaking ceremony was held today to mark the start of construction of a bridge between Rio and Antirrio that will link the Peloponnese to central mainland Greece and slash travelling time for the two million vehicles crossing the strait each year.

Attending the ceremony in Antirrio was President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as a number of government ministers.

Speakers at the ceremony hailed the project as crucial for the development of western Greece. The bridge will drastically reduce travelling time, become a transport hub for all national roads and is linked with all the region's infrastructure projects.

Construction of the bridge by a French-Greek consortium is due to soon begin as detailed engineering and underwater drilling that commenced in October 1996 has now been completed.

Budgeted at about 230 billion drachmas, the Rio-Antirrio bridge will have two traffic lanes in each direction and one emergency lane. Its length is 2.5 kilometres and width 25 metres. Its construction will create about 1, 000 new jobs.

Traffic presently crosses from the Peloponnese to mainland Greece by ferry, which is time-consuming and unreliable in adverse weather.

The bridge will eliminate the disruption and cut travelling time from 45 minutes to five minutes. More than two million vehicles cross the Rio- Antirrio strait each year.

Scheduled to open to traffic in 2004, the bridge was incorporated into the trans-European transport network in 1994. It ranks among the European Union's 14 top priority projects.

Defence minister sees S-300 missile furore as smokescreen

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that an international furore over the deployment of Russian-made S-300 missiles was a smokescreen to divert attention from the essence of the problem - the invasion and continued occupation of a third of Cyprus by Turkish troops.

Speaking in Hania, Crete, Tsohatzopoulos said the issue was "talk for the sake of talking".

"Turkey does not want to discuss the essence of the issue because it knows it will be led to prospects which are different from those it had planned when it invaded 25 years ago: It wanted and wants the legalisation of the status quo," Tsohatzopoulos said.

With Cyprus's accession talks for the European Union under way, he added, a new horizon has opened and Turkey now is reacting as a destabilising factor in the region.

"What we propose is: dialogue, peaceful rapprochement, inclusion of the whole of the Republic of Cyprus in the European Union so that we can open the road to resolution and improvement of relations with Turkey, as well as Turkey's with the European Union."

GNTO reports increase in profits

Profits shown by the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) improved in the first half of the year, according to the state-run agency's figures.

GNTO's profits during the above period amounted to 1.8 billion drachmas, compared to profits of one billion drachmas in 1997.

Commenting on increased profits, GNTO Secretary General Nikos Skoulas said the results refute critics' allegations regarding the organisation's ineffectiveness.

Many of GNTO's staff, as well as opposition parties, have often painted a gloomy picture of the organisation's financial state.

Mr. Skoulas also said that results over the first half of the year are visibly better compared to last year at EOT's marinas and beaches.

Spurned suitor gets revenge

A 57-year-old man tossed two hand-grenades into a couple's home on Friday because they refused to allow him to marry their 35-year-old daughter.

Police said they arrested Vassilis Zachopoulos after the dawn attack, in which Evgenia and Efthymios Lytras, 52 and 29 respectively, the mother and brother of 35-year-old Theodora, were seriously injured.

Hand grenade blast damages cars near beach

An explosion early this morning caused damage to 17 cars parked at a beachside parking area, police reported.

The explosion was caused by a hand grenade, which detonated after being thrown at the cars parked at the Voula beach car park at around 1.45 a.m., police said.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack and police are continuing their investigation.

Police make arrests after tourists raped

A Norwegian student was raped and her friend attacked when a Greek driver picked them up as they were hitch-hiking in northern Greece, police said today.

Police said Savvas Tsoleridis, form Kefalari, Drama, confessed to the attack on the two women, after they arrested him on the basis of the women's descriptions.

The two women, Sigrid S., 18, and Anna G., 19, were hitchiking to Kavala on the Drama national road when Tsoleridis picked them up.

However, he drove them to an isolated spot near Kefalari, and threatened them with a knife, raping one and sexually attacking the other. Tsoleridis is expected to be charged later today.

The attack comes a day after the report of a gang rape of a 40-year-old Finnish woman by three youths in Alexandroupoli, northeast Greece.

Police have arrested Marinos Tsiplakis, 25, Michalis Vavalos, 20, farmers from Monastiraki, Evros, Panagiotis Moutsilakis, 18, unemployed from Antheia, Alexandroupoli, and D.K., a 16-year-old schoolboy who was allegedly present during the rape.

According to the police, the four youths forced the woman into their car as she was walking alone to her hotel.

They then took her to a remote beach in the area of Apalos, Alexandroupoli where she was raped by Tsiplakis, Vavalos and Moutsilakis. After the rape, they left her on the beach.

The Finnish tourist was found by policemen who had been notified of a possible kidnapping by a passer-by.

The attackers were arrested shortly after at a coffee shop in Alexandroupoli and have reportedly confessed to the rape, claiming that they did not know what they were doing after drinking a large quantity of alcohol.

Customs seize 1.5 tonnes of Indian cannabis

Customs officials today announced they had found 1.5 tonnes of Indian cannabis, discovered shortly after midnight on Saturday at the Kakavia Greek-Albanian border post.

The cannabis was found in refrigerator truck travelling from Fier in Albania. The cannabis was packaged into one-kilo bags and hidden in the floor of the truck.

Driver Perparis Prapaz, 42, and co-driver Kastrati Kazim, 44, both from Fier, were arrested. Both denied any knowledge of the drugs but will be charged later today.

Authorities said the drugs probably came from a plant which began working recently in the Fier region.

Last week, officials at the Krystallopigi customs post discovered over 1, 029 kilos of hashish when they searched a tanker truck which attempted to enter the country from neighbouring Albania.

Gov't to issue low-cost bonds for small investors

The state will begin issuing low-cost, tax-free bonds in September in order to entice small investors into the debt market, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said.

The new bonds, priced at 50,000-100,000 drachmas, will be tax-free if buyers retain them until maturity.

The bonds, which have a duration of three, five and 10 years, are not negotiable on the secondary market, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

Northern bank finds fake 500 Deutschemark note

A Greek man was detained on Saturday after attempting to exchange a fake 500 Deutschemark note at the Kavala branch of the Bank of Greece.

The man, George Tsirinopoulos, 58, told police he had received the note, along with more, from a bank in Brussels for his trip to Greece.

Eastern Macedonia-Thrace police are investigating the incident and another involving three fake Greek 10,000 drachma notes found by a branch of the Ionian bank in Xanthi.

Authorities say that there has been an increase in the number of fake Greek and foreign banknotes circulating, particularly in the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

Pangalos to have talks with Albanian leadership next week

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations as well as issues concerning the situation in the Balkans - especially Kosovo - when he meets the Albanian leadership in Tirana on July 20-21, the foreign ministry announced yesterday.

Mr. Pangalos, who will be accompanied by a business delegation, will meet Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, PM Fatos Nano, FM Paskal Milo, Tirana's public order minister, the parliament president, and the president of the Albanian parliament's constitutional revision committee.

The agenda of discussions will also include cross-border and economic cooperation as well as a bilateral educational agreement, to be signed during Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis' forthcoming visit to Tirana.

PM calls on public to support EMU entry

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday night called on all Greeks to contribute to the government's efforts to get the country into economic and monetary union, saying the effort was "a national one".

Speaking in Lefkada, Simitis defended the government's programme of structural reforms to the economy, saying that the majority of Greeks suypported the goal of equal participation in economic and monetary union.

However, he said, the desire for participation alone would not solve the problem.

"Nobody today can be apathetic about developments... Prerequisites for achieving goals are competitiveness, growth and social cohesion," he said.

"The course the government is following is the only realistic one."

Firefighters battle blaze in Halkidiki

Fire Brigade authorities hope a fire in Halkidiki will be brought under control today, as strong winds begin to abate.

Two fire aircraft and hundreds of firefighters and local residents joined the battle to control the fire this morning. Initial reports say up to 1, 500 stremmata have been destroyed.


Hot, sunny weather is forecast for tomorrow. Temperatures will range from 18C-36C in the west, 17C-34C on the rest of the mainland, and 21C-31C in the islands. Athens will be sunny with temperatures at 22C-34C. The same is forecast for Thessaloniki with temperatures at 20C-33C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.743 British pound 482.945 Japanese yen (100) 210/949 French franc 49.118 German mark 164.771 Italian lira (100) 16.699 Irish Punt 414.160 Belgian franc 7.984 Finnish mark 54.191 Dutch guilder 146.057 Danish kr. 43.221 Austrian sch. 23.416 Spanish peseta 1.939 Swedish kr. 37.133 Norwegian kr. 39.035 Swiss franc 195.037 Port. Escudo 1.609 Aus. dollar 184.854 Can. dollar 198.737 Cyprus pound 561.968


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