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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 21/09/1998 (ANA)


  • PASOK's 5th congress set for next March
  • Europe slams Albanian ex-president for latest turmoil
  • Yilmaz-Mitsotakis hold "useful" talks in Istanbul
  • Tsohatzopoulos stresses need for effective airforce
  • KKE leader speaks at youth festival
  • Papandreou promotes 'Olympic Truce' concept to Olympic medallists
  • DANE announces new hi-speed vessel for Rhodes route
  • Simitis speech tomorrow in Kallithea square
  • Papoutsis to inaugurate conference on SMEs in Austria
  • Three charged with stealing cars, blackmail owners
  • Murder rate in Greece sharply rises over past 7 years
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


PASOK's 5th congress set for next March

Ruling PASOK's central committee on Saturday decided to hold the party's 5th congress next March.

A majority of 81 central committee members voted in favour of the PASOK executive bureau's earlier proposal, while 31 voted against and eight blank votes were cast.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, before the vote said that he believed a congress in March 1999 would fail for lack of "adequate time to discuss the essence of policies and strategies." In turn, he favoured a different date for the congress.

However, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos noted that all PASOK cadres will share the essential responsibility of organising the congress, whether in favour or not. He also said that the issue of the party's leadership was resolved during the last congress.

Furthermore, he criticised certain aspects of the government's economic and social policy, saying that a policy based only on taxation was of "marginal importance."

He said despite the important steps achieved towards EMU accession, there is an unequal burden on citizens.

European Union Commissioner and central committee member Christos Papoutsis counter-proposed the congress be held in November 2000 after Greece's accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and general elections.

Mr. Papoutsis, in his address, stressed that Greece will not enter (EMU) by a political decision, therefore, the effort for reaching the criteria should continue.

Europe slams Albanian ex-president for latest turmoil

European envoys urged Albania's leading politicians on Saturday to find a peaceful solution to the country's turmoil, blaming opposition leader and former president Sali Berisha for undermining peace in the neighbouring co untry.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, representing the Council of Europe in the delegation,warned the former president that he and his party would be isolated by the international community unless they stopped undermining Albania's political process.

"I...say to Sali Berisha that these tactics...have undermined democratic institutions, and that if they continue, it is certain that the international community will isolate not only his tactics but also him personally," Mr. Papandreou told a press confere nce after the delegation met separately with Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Mr. Berisha.

Mr. Papandreou also said the CoE was ready to assist Mr. Mejdani and Mr. Nano to overcome difficulties in the government's work as well as in the effort to consolidate democratic institutions, promote economic reforms and combat corruption.

"The (Albanian) government agrees to that...What is now needed is to advance rapidly in the implementation of the government's programme for the country's stability. The problem is Sali Barisha's stance, who undermines Albania's democratic institutions," he said.

Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, participating in the mission as chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said:

"We fully support President Mejdani to develop the consensus and to find a political solution. The opposition should participate".

Tirana witnessed the worst political violence in 18 months last Sunday and Monday, sparked by the killing of Berisha aide Azem Hajdari.

But hopes of talks waned as Mr. Berisha accused Mr. Nano of sidelining the president in the running of the country. Mr. Nano said after meeting the delegation that he would "not cooperate with crime and its promoters".

His Socialist-led government has accused Mr. Berisha of attempting a coup during the violence earlier last week and on Friday Albania's parliament lifted his immunity from prosecution to open the way for his arrest.

Commenting on this issue, Mr. Papandreou said:

"Nobody questions the legality of the parliament's decisions, but one should consider whether these lawful acts contribute to Albania's political stability. This, of course, would be decided by President of the Republic Mejdani and Prime Minister Nano".

"The place of the political opposition is in parliament, not in prison and not in street demonstrations," Mr. Geremek said on his part.

Mr. Nano stressed that his government was committed to stabilising the country with a three-month plan to fight crime and restore order. He did not elaborate.

The envoys said they would support any initiatives for peace in Albania and urged President Mejdani, a former leader of the Socialist Party and now an independent, to take charge of the process of mediating a political solution.

Yilmaz-Mitsotakis hold "useful" talks in Istanbul

Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz held talks with former Greek Premier Constantine Mitsotakis late last night and later told newsmen that the discussion was "friendly and useful".

According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul, the talks lasted one hour and 45 minutes.

"We had a friendly and useful exchange of views on Greek-Turkish issues and the Cyprus problem," Yilmaz said after the talks.

"There were and there will be messages," Yilmaz added, but declined to elaborate on the contents of the talks.

Mitsotakis, who is an honourary member of the main opposition New Democracy party said: "We hade a friendly and most sincere exchange of views. The talks were useful and the question is for us to be able to find a way to reduce tension (between Greece and Turkey) and arrive at a solution in due time," Mitsotakis added also refusing further details on the talks.

Mitsotakis was in Istanbul to attend the wedding of New Democracy deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis at the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople on Sunday.

Tsohatzopoulos stresses need for effective airforce

The Hellenic Air Force must be strong and effective in order to avert threats wherever they may come from, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday during a visit to a training centre for newly inducted airmen in Tripoli, central Pelop onnese.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, accompanied by Airforce General Staff Chief Gen. Georgios Antonetsos, said the country's efforts in the present crucial period of time was hopeful and opened up new prospects, leading the country towards a new century in the best ever conditions.

The minister declined to reply to reporters' questions on political developments.

In a related development, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will observe the final two phases of the large-scale "Parmenion '98" military exercise being held in Evros (land forces) and Hios (naval forces), sources said yesterday.

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will join Mr. Tsohatzopoulos to observe the Evros exercise.

The final phases are scheduled to take place tomorrow and Wednesday.

All three branches of the armed forces are participating in the annual exercise, which began last Thursday.

KKE leader speaks at youth festival

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga yesterday criticised both the government and other opposition parties, saying differences between KKE's policy from other political forces was a deterrent to any likely cooperation.

Ms Papariga was speaking during the 24th festival of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE-Odigitis).

She said KKE would see cooperation with other parties as a positive move only under the condition that such cooperation "help the rallying of the people against the neoliberal policy prescribed by the EUIagainst the privatisation of education, health and social welfare," as she stated.

Referring to upcoming local elections, the KKE leader called on KKE and KNE supporters to struggle "so that a serious blow is achieved against the government's policy."

Papandreou promotes 'Olympic Truce' concept to Olympic medallists

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday called on Olympic Games medallists meeting in Greece to support and become the symbols of the idea for an "Olympic Truce".

Speaking on the first day of an international conference of Olympic medal winners at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Mr. Papandreou briefed participants on the project, which is being organised in close cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"The ancient tradition of the Olympic Truce can evolve into an effective tool for the preventation and resolution of conflict, a fact which makes it a moral obligation for Greece to support the respective initiatives of the IOC to revive the insitution in a contemporary context," he said.

Mr. Papandreou said the support of past Olympic Games medallists was "exceptionally important" as they could inspire and guide the young, and particularly those coming from strife-torn regions, to help in consolidating peace.

Organised by the Association of Greek Olympic medal winners, SEO, the conference has drawn the participation of 35 Greek and 120 foreign athletes who have won a total of 300 Olympic medals.

Among the issues to be discussed at the conference are: the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games; a historical approach to the Olympic Games; the challenge of the Olympic Games; the timeless spirit of Olympism; Olympic Games and the media; and women a nd the Olympic movement.

The conference ends on Sept. 23.

DANE announces new hi-speed vessel for Rhodes route

DANE Sea Lines announced yesterday that it was introducing a new high-speed passenger vessel that is expected cut travelling time from Rhodes to Piraeus to 5.5 hours.

A DANE official said the order placed for the high-speed Trimaran, combined with the company's share capital increase, which began on Sept. 2 and ends on Oct. 2, was part of efforts to save the indebted shipper by diversifying its activities.

Last week, DANE, which is listed on the Athens bourse, said the company planned to buy a stake in a cruiseship to ply a route linking Rhodes, Turkey and Cyprus. The company held talks last week with the Cypriot group, which includes participation by a bank representing the interests of a major international business concern.

The Trimaran is set to go into operation as of April 15, with the Australian ship-building firm INCAT leasing DANE a Trimaran until its own is constructed. DANE will pay INCAT 10 per cent of the proceeds from the route as a downpayment on the new 55-m illion-dollar ship.

The Trimaran being leased can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, has a capacity of 1,000 passengers and 380 passenger vehicles, whereas the new Trimaran being acquired by DANE will be 120 metres long, with a capacity of 1,200 passengers and 420 vehicles. The new ship's delivery date is the beginning of 2000.

Simitis speech tomorrow in Kallithea square

Prime Minister Costas Simitis is scheduled to speak at a rally of ruling PASOK supporters tomorrow evening in the Athens distict of Kallithea to mark the second anniversary of his party's 1996 general election victory. Mr. Simitis is expected to out line the government's progress to date and stress its commitment to achieving inclusion in Economic and Monetary Union.

Papoutsis to inaugurate conference on SMEs in Austria

European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis will today declare open a two-day European Union conference on SMEs, set for the Austrian city of Baden.

The meeting, organised by the European Commission and the Union's Austrian presidency, will focus on an exchange of expertise on SMEs, aimed at improving businesses. It expected to contribute to formulating the EU's policy on SMEs in 2000.

Issues to be examined include funding and training of SME managers, as well as national and international cooperation in further boosting developement of SMEs.

Three charged with stealing cars, blackmail owners

Police arrested three Albanians on charges of stealing cars and then blackmailing their owners to get the vehicles back.

The three, Antoni Bezeri, 19, Alexi Prapi, 21, and a 13-year-old accomplice, were arrested after the victim of a theft informed police that he was told to pay 300,000 drachmas in order to get his stolen car back.

A meeting was organised in the near Athens suburb of Kolonos, where the three suspects were arrested.

Murder rate in Greece sharply rises over past 7 years

The murder rate in Greece has increased dramatically over the past seven years with the majority of victims and perpetrators being non-Greeks, especially Albanian nationals.

The figures were presented at the First National Conference of Forensic Scientists and Toxicologists, which began Friday in Thessaloniki.

According to research conducted for the Athens forensic service, in the 12- year period 1978-1990 there were 406 murders, of which 55 involved foreigners; in the seven-year period 1991-1997, there were 499 murders, of which 153 involved foreigners - 69 A lbanians and 25 of undetermined origin.

1996 was a bleakest year for homicide, with 83 murders recorded in Athens alone. Of that number, 63 of the victims were foreign nationals. By comparison, in 1978, Athens recorded 21 murders, with only two foreigners as victims.

The conference is being held with the participation of more than 150 Greek and foreign experts.

Greek First Division soccer results

Apollon Athens-Panelefsiniakos 1-1 Ionikos Piraeus-Kavala 4-2 AEK Athens-Veria 2-0 Ethnikos Astir Athens-Ethnikos Piraeus 1-0 Xanthi-Paniliakos Pyrgos 2-1 Proodeftiki Piraeus-Iraklis Thessaloniki 0- 0 Olympiakos Piraeus-OFI Iraklion 3-0 PAOK Thessaloniki-Panathinaikos 2-0 Aris Thessaloniki-Panionios Athens play today Standings/points: Olympiakos, AEK, Ionikos 10, Panathinaikos 9, Aris, Iraklis, Xanthi 7, Paniliakos, OFI, Ethnikos Astir 6


Occasional storms and rainfall across most of Greece today. Winds northwesterly moderate to strong in the west and south. Temperatures will range from 12-20 in the north, 15-26 in the Ionian and mainland and 18-27 in the Aegean. Athens overcast with possible rain in the afternoon and temperatures between 17-25C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with the likelihood of evening rain and temperatures from 15-20C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 288.811 British pound 484.790 Japanese yen (100) 218.250 French franc 50.777 German mark 170.267 Italian lira (100) 17.228 Irish Punt 426.362 Belgian franc 8.253 Finnish mark 55.947 Dutch guilder 150.982 Danish kr. 44.658 Austrian sch. 24.200 Spanish peseta 2.007 Swedish kr. 36.972 Norwegian kr. 38.420 Swiss franc 207.179 Port. Escudo 1.664 Aus. dollar 170.475 Can. dollar 188.282 Cyprus pound 575.360


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