Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-28
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 28/07/1998 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
At the same time, two of Greece's most wooded mountains, Taygetos and
Olympos, were still blazing and the mountainsides were almost completely
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
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
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
He recalled that the recent privatisation of the Bank of Crete had been
effected after two previous tendering processes were declared null and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
Gradinaru was due to appear before a public prosecutor in Alexandroupoli
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.
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