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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-28

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, 28/07/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't calls tension with US "a brief interlude"
  • Six villages evacuated around Corinth in forest fire
  • Fire breaks out in engine room of US yacht, no injuries
  • Gov't declares tender for Hellenic Duty Free Shops null and void
  • Aspis Bank to hold IPO August 4-7
  • Onassis Foundation awards flurry of research, education grants
  • Bulgaria approves draft air transport pact with Greece
  • Bank robbers seize Dr 45 mln in Crete, no injuries
  • Passengers transferred after ferry shows anchor problem
  • Sfakianakis buy-off of Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos firms
  • Heatwave today and tomorrow
  • Gov't states position on Kosovo in letter to Belgrade
  • Moldovan student caught trying to smuggle heroin into Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't calls tension with US "a brief interlude"

The government today described as "a brief interlude which is already over" the recent tension in Greek-US relations.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added however that although relations between the two countries were good, there was room for further improvement.

Reppas clarified that his meeting yesterday with US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns had been scheduled and concerned the safeguarding of intellectual property rights.

He said though that they had briefly referred to the recent tension in bilateral relations, both agreeing that "the high tones" should be tempered.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos late last week provoked the wrath of the US State Department when he charged that President Bill Clinton's election campaign promises concerning a solution to the Cyprus problem had proved to be a "gross lie".

Commenting on Greek press reports speculating that Pangalos might be replaced, Reppas underlined that he would remain in his post "because people and leaderships are chosen by the Greek people alone".

On the high tone of Pangalos' remarks, the spokesman said each minister or official had his own idiosyncracies and "God forbid if everyone was the same".

Referring to this evening's top-level meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and attended by Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Reppas said it had been scheduled some time ago and would focus on foreign and defence policy in general.

Six villages evacuated around Corinth in forest fire

Authorities today evacuated six villages in the greater Corinth region as a forest fire raging out of control for four days approached the yards of the first homes.

The villages Limni, Vouliagmeni, Panagitsa, Makrolea, Skalona and Flebouro have been put on general alert to tacke the fire, which has burned thousands of stremma of forestland and brush.

Twenty-five fire engines and 90 firemen, assisted by the villagers, have been fighting a losing battle with the blaze, which has several fronts extending over 12 kilometres and was burning out of control.

Meanwhile, a fire near Spathovouni village in Corinth was contained after all-night efforts by 11 fire-engines and 40 firefighters, assisted by two fire-fighting planes and a military C-130 dropping fire-retardant liquid.

At the same time, two of Greece's most wooded mountains, Taygetos and Olympos, were still blazing and the mountainsides were almost completely denuded.

Land-based firefighters were battling the blaze at Krania, on Mt. Olympus, alone as the fire was in an inaccessible region, while 5 fire engines and 20 firemen, assisted by 2 firefighting planes, were battling the blaze at Rovania on Mt. Taygetos.

A two-fronted blaze at Harokopio and Chrysokelaria in Messinia was placed under control after burning forest and farmland and five fire-engines and 15 firefighters were still battling the blazes.

In the Kuvela area of Messinia a fire was still raging for the third day as 50 firefighters and local residents were clearing strips of land to prevent its spreading.

Another fire was also burning at Aliveri, in Evia, in an inaccessible area, and 20 firefighters and a Chinook helicopter were battling the blazes.

Fire breaks out in engine room of US yacht, no injuries

A fire broke out early today in the engine-room of the US yacht "Huntress" while it was sailing in international waters 70 nautical miles west of Cephalonia.

The operations centre of the Merchant Marine Ministry immediately notified all vessels sailing in the region, which sped to the yacht's assistance.

The "Huntress" was eventually spotted by a US naval vessel which picked up the crew and passengers of the yacht - in all eight US citizens - none of whom were hurt.

The crew and passengers were to be taken to Corfu.

Despite efforts, the fire could not be extinguished and the yacht is presently drifting semi-submerged.

Gov't declares tender for Hellenic Duty Free Shops null and void

National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou today announced that a tender for the sale of 80 percent of Hellenic Duty Free Shops S.A. has been declared null and void.

Papantoniou said the tender was void as the bids submitted were "not satisfactory", adding that privatisations should be "profitable for the state".

He recalled that the recent privatisation of the Bank of Crete had been effected after two previous tendering processes were declared null and void.

Papantoniou said a new call for tenders for the Hellenic Duty Free Shops would be issued in the autumn.

The bids for Hellenic Duty Free Shops were submitted yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange.

A consortium led by Faresco of France with Sarandis S.A. and Papaellinas S.A. both Greek cosmetics firms, offered 93 billion dr., while an unnamed US firm in the process of being set up offered 156 billion dr., but its bid was not accompanied by a letter of guarantee.

A third bid, a conditional offer by Karre of the Netherlands, was rejected on the spot.

Aspis Bank to hold IPO August 4-7

Private Aspis Bank is to hold an initial public offer (IPO) on August 4-7 in order to enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange, it said in a statement yesterday.

The bank will offer 1,524,000 common shares at 1,100 drachmas each.

The new funds will be used to extend Aspis Bank's branch network, update its information technology, and fund participation in the share capital of Aspis Brokerage and Aspis mutual fund management, the statement said.

Aspis Bank has 13 branches, and plans to open another two during the summer.

Adviser and main underwriter of the IPO is listed National Investment Bank for Industrial Development.

Onassis Foundation awards flurry of research, education grants

The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation today announced 56 research grants and educational scholarships for the academic year 1998-99 for non-Greeks in the areas of Humanities and Political Sciencies, Architecture and Fine Arts.

In the category "Academics, University Professors and Researchers", the Foundation awarded thirty research grants to foreign scientists, academics, and professors of universities, research foundations, institutions and academies from Albania, Armenia, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine and Uzbekistan for a stay of one to six months each for research in Greece.

In the category "Teachers of the Greek Langauge" (primary and secondary education), the Foundation awarded five scholarships to foreign teachers of the Greek language from Australia, Georgia, India, Hungary and Romania, for a stay of two months in Greece for post-graduate training in Greek schools and educational departments of Greek universities.

In the "Post-Graduate Students" category, the Foundation awarded 21 scholarships to foreign post-graduate students from Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, France, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Mexico, Russia, Spain, the United States and Ukraine carrying out post-graduate studies or doctorate theses abroad, for a stay of 6-12 months in Greece for the collection of archive material.

Bulgaria approves draft air transport pact with Greece

The Bulgarian cabinet yesterday approved a draft agreement on cooperation in air transport between Athens and Sophia, the government's press office said.

It said in a statement that the Bulgarian government wanted to develop cooperation with Greece in the sector.

The new agreement will replace a 1964 pact between the two countries that is still in force. Bulgaria is expected to seek a long-term deal with Greece for an air link between Sofia and Thessaloniki in the north, which Balkan, its national carrier, rece ntly launched on a temporary licence.

Bank robbers seize Dr 45 mln in Crete, no injuries

Robbers today escaped with 45 million drachmas after holding up a branch of the Agricultural Bank at Vamos Apokoronou near Chania on Crete.

The two masked robbers, one brandishing a shotgun and the other a pistol, shot at surveillance cameras in the bank before ordering a cashier to hand over all the money at the counter and in the safe.

After remaining five minutes in the bank, the robbers escaped in a car which was shortly afterwards found abandoned on the Chania-Rethymno road.

In the bank at the time of the robbery were five employees, an agronomist who works for the bank and one customer.

Passengers transferred after ferry shows anchor problem

More than half of the 135 passengers aboard the ferry-boat "Syros Express" today had to transfer to another vessel after a problem developed with the anchor winch when the ferry arrived at Paros harbour.

The ferry-boat had sailed from Santorini and had stopped at Ios and Naxos before arriving at Paros, where 75 of the passengers were to disembark.

The other 60 passengers, who were travelling to Mykonos, had to transfer to the hydrofoil "Mega Dolphin XXXII".

The port authorities in Paros have prohibited the "Syros Express" from sailing until the failure has been repaired.

Sfakianakis buy-off of Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos firms

The Sfakianakis company, following a series of contacts with the Fostiropoulos group, has reached an agreement to buy off the Viamax and M.K. Fostiropoulos companies. The purchase price and other details were not disclosed.

Through these purchases, Sfakianakis acquires the exclusive import rights to the British-made Rover vehicles in Greece. Two years ago, Viamax had signed a new five-year contract with Rover.

The group also acquires the rights to the Korean-made KIA vehicles in Greece.

In addition, the group's activities in the bus sector will be strengthened since Viamax is the official distributor for DAF trucks and buses. The Sfakianakis group is active in the bus sector with the Van Hool company.

Buses will be made at the company's factory at Magoula, Attica prefecture, on assembled Hino and DAF chassis as well as on chassis produced by the company and featuring MAN engines.

Heatwave today and tomorrow

Hospitals and ambulance services have been placed on alert as high temperatures are forecast throughout Greece today.

According to the national meteorological service (EMY), temperatures will soar to 40 and 41 Celsius in parts of the country over the next 48 hours.

The temperature reached 38 Celsius in parts of Athens yesterday.

The health ministry, meanwhile, advised citizens to avoid unnecessary travelling, stay out of the sun and refrain from indulging in heavy meals and alcoholic beverages.

Gov't states position on Kosovo in letter to Belgrade

A letter from Prime Minister Costas Simitis to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic sets out the Greek government's positions on the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

In the letter, delivered to Milosevic yesterday, Simitis reiterates that an end must be put to hostilities in Kosovo, military forces withdrawn, observers sent to the province and political talks begun immediately, Reppas added.

The letter is seen as a follow-up to an initiative launched during a recent visit to Tirana by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

During Pangalos' visit, Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo asked his Greek counterpart to use Greece's influence in Belgrade to de-escalate tension in Kosovo.

Moldovan student caught trying to smuggle heroin into Greece

A Moldovan student was arrested today at the Kipi customs post on the Greek- Turkish border after she was discovered trying to smuggle three kilos of heroin into the country.

Svetlana Gradinaru, a student of foreign languages at a Romanian university, was travelling with a fake French passport on a coach from Istanbul which was headed for Athens.

She had strapped the heroin around her waist under her clothes.

Gradinaru told customs officers that the fake passport, in the name of Michelle Perdieau, and the heroin had been given to her in Istanbul by a Turkish narcotics trafficker called Ali.

She was to have delivered it to an unknown person at Thessaloniki railway station.

Gradinaru was due to appear before a public prosecutor in Alexandroupoli later today.

WEATHER

Sunny weather and heat-wave temperatures are forecast throughout the country accompanied by some mild northerly winds. In the Aegean, winds will be moderate to strong. Athens to see temperatures hitting a high of 40C and low of 25C, and Thessaloniki a 38C high and 23C low.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.811 British pound 486.576 Japanese yen (100) 206.465 French franc 49.177 German mark 164.870 Italian lira (100) 16.718 Irish Punt 414.358 Belgian franc 7.9960 Finnish mark 54.362 Dutch guilder 146.241 Danish kr. 43.281 Austrian sch. 23.392 Spanish peseta 1.943 Swedish kr. 37.309 Norwegian kr. 38.968 Swiss franc 196.237 Port. Escudo 1.611 Aus. dollar 178.982 Can. dollar 195.781 Cyprus pound 562.5630

(C.S.)


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