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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-09-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 26/09/1998 (ANA)


  • Greek-Romanian hostage-taker found dead in prison
  • New police chief named in wake of bungled raid
  • Turkish claim of planned Greek military exercise denied
  • Council of Europe meeting on Santorini
  • Late Metropolitan of Volos honoured as 'Righteous'
  • Black Sea Int'l Studies Centre to open Monday
  • Pangalos: US still favours Cyprus solution based on UN resolutions
  • Majority of Britons favour return of Parthenon Marbles
  • Euro-Mediterranean culture ministers' conference begins on Rhodes
  • Int'l Union of Olympic Cities unveiled by Samaranch, Avramopoulos
  • Four Lebanese sailors get 10-year prison terms
  • Majority of Greeks happy with their banks
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greek-Romanian hostage-taker found dead in prison

Matei Sorin, the Greek-Romanian criminal whose hostage taking in an Athens apartment Wednesday ended in a bloodbath after a botched police raid, died in his prison hospital bed at 11.30 Saturday morning while making a deposition to an investigating judge, reports say. The government on Friday accepted the resignation of Athanassios Vassilopoulos as Greek police chief. Vassilopoulos, several other police officers and one hostage were injured as a result of a hand grenade explosion Pduring the raid.

New police chief named in wake of bungled raid

One of the high-ranking police officers injured in Wednesday night's bungled raid on a fugitive holding three hostages will take over as the new overall commander of Greek Police (EL.AS), the government decided on Friday. Ioannis Georgakopoulos' promotion was announced by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which met immediately after the end of a Cabinet meeting to decide on a successor to resigned chief Athanassios Vassilopoulos, whose resig nation was accepted by the prime minister on Thursday.

Georgakopoulos was previously first deputy chief to Vassilopoulos. This position will now be filled by his deputy, Georgios Plakas.

During the earlier four-hour Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Costas Simitis slammed the handling of Wednesday night's raid, saying it proved police's inability to effectively combat criminal activity.

Mr. Simitis said that the failure of the raid which resulted in the serious injury of two people, including a hostage, and injured another 10 police officers, had created serious concerns in Greek society about security and the role of police.

Meanwhile, Amalia Ginaki, the 25-year-old hostage seriously injured in the raid when escaped convict Matei Sorin detonated a grenade, was listed as being in a critical but stable condition.

Turkish claim of planned Greek military exercise denied

Greek diplomatic sources in Ankara have denied Turkish claims of a cancellation of a planned Greek military exercise in the eastern Aegean. "No such exercise had been planned," said the sources.

A written statement by the Turkish foreign ministry on Saturday morning claimed that the Greek charge d' affaires in the Turkish capital had informed the ministry earlier this week that the exercise had been cancelled following a Turkish inistence that Ankara would in no way accept Greek claims of sovereignty over the area of the Imia islets, where the exercise in question had allegedly been planned to take place. The area was the scene of a serious Greek-Turkish stand-off that brought the two countries to the brink of war in January 1966.

The ministry statement expresses the hope that "logic will prevail in Greece and that the Greek government will show responsible behaviour that will not lead to tension in future".

The Greek diplomatic sources interpreted the statement as an attempt to reiterate Turkish claims regarding the legal status of certain areas in the eastern Aegean.

Council of Europe meeting on Santorini

The sessions of the Council of Europe's Political Affairs Committee got underway on the island of Santorini on Saturday and will last until Monday.

Talks will focus on the enlargement of the organisation and the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo.

The meeting, held at the initiative of the council's Greek presidency, was opened by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Late Metropolitan of Volos honoured as 'Righteous'

Israel will include the late Metropolitan of Volos Ioakeim among its "Righteous Among Nations" on Sunday, honouring the high-ranking clergyman's role in saving 762 Greek Jews from the Nazis.

Israeli ambassador to Greece Ran Curiel will present the award to the family of the late metropolitan, during a ceremony to unveil a Holocaust memorial in the central Greek port city.

Ioakeim was instrumental in saving Volos' Jewry, when the rabbi of the city was instructed by Nazi occupiers to provide them with a list of the city's Jews, Ioakeim interceded with the German consul, who advised him to help the Jews flee. Ioakeim w arned the rabbi that the Jewish community had to flee immediately but also ordered priests in the region to help in any way they could.

Black Sea Int'l Studies Centre to open Monday

Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis will on Monday inaugurate the Black Sea International Studies Centre (DIKEMEP).

The creation of the centre is anticipated by the charter of the Black Sea Cooperation Pact organisation. Its mission is to prepare research and studies focusing on the achievement of the organisation's targets, primarily in the economic, industrial and technology sectors.

Pangalos: US still favours Cyprus solution based on UN resolutions

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said on Friday that Washington was still in favour of a Cyprus solution based on UN resolutions for the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation on the island republic. Speaking at a press briefing for Greek reporters focusing on his contacts on the sidelines of the 53rd UN General Assembly, Mr. Pangalos said that US special presidential envoy for Cyprus, Richard Holbrooke, told him that he will continue efforts to pro mote possible negotiations on the Cyprus issue until his appointment as Washington's permanent representative to the United Nations next March. "Another two points that we raised, and the US agreed to work on, are the efforts to find ways to de-escalate the arms race (on Cyprus), including proposals for the implementation of a 'no- fly zone' and a reduction of heavy weaponsI as well as possibili ties and chances for greater communication between the two communities (on Cyprus)," Pangalos said.

Majority of Britons favour return of Parthenon Marbles

If there were a referendum on whether or not the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece or remain at the British Museum, the British public would vote for return, by a margin of more than two to one, according to a new MORI poll carried our for Regent Productions.

The poll is part of preliminary work being carried out by journalist William G. Stewart for yet another television programme on the return of the Parthenon Marbles, to be screened next year. Among Labour supporters, the margin was more than three to one and even among Tories, three to two.

Among members of Britain's Parliament interviewed in July by MORI, by nearly two to one Labour MPs said that in the event of a free vote in the House of Commons on whether or not the so-called Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece, they would vote to return them.

Euro-Mediterranean culture ministers' conference begins on Rhodes

The first day of discussion at a Euro-Mediterranean culture ministers' conference, which opened on Rhodes on Friday, focused on cultural cooperation in Europe and the Mediterranean basin, with special emphasis on cultural heritage.

Culture ministers from 27 countries are attending the meeting.

"We are mainly interested in promoting culture, rather than simply preserving it," Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said after the session on Friday, adding that proposals had already started being submitted with the EU, so that participants in the Euro-Mediterranean conference jointly form a television and cinema market.

Methods to celebrate the coming of the new century and the "cultural Olympiad" were also examined during the conference's first day.

Int'l Union of Olympic Cities unveiled by Samaranch, Avramopoulos

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos on Friday unveiled a new Olympic institution, the International Union of Olympic Cities, designed to strengthen the ties between host cities of Olympic Games.

"As mayor of Athens, I undertook to create a new independent agency, the Union of Olympic Cities which aims at exchange of information related to the organising of the Games, supporting the IOC in disseminating the principles of the Olympics to the citi es' residents and the strengthening of the cultural aspect of the Games," Mr. Avramopoulos told a news conference. Mr. Samaranch would be lifelong president of the association, the mayor said.

Four Lebanese sailors get 10-year prison terms

The skipper and three crew members of a Lebanese-flagged fishing boat were sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for transporting aliens for illegal profit and endangering lives, after their vessel was found crammed with 167 illegal immigrants of Kurd ish origin aboard. A court in Irakleio, Crete, sentenced Lebanese skipper Hani Hadad Farid, 54, and two other crew members to 10 years in prison. A fourth was handed nine years and nine and a half months.

The coastguard had arrested the men at dawn on Wednesday as their vessel sailed south of Crete and just prior to disembarking the illegal immigrants on an isolated bay.

The illegal immigrants consisted of 56 men, 31 women and 80 children, all Iraqi nationals.

They had been at sea for almost a week since the vessel sailed from the Lebanese port of Abta on Sept. 18.

Majority of Greeks happy with their banks

The majority of Greeks have a positive opinion about their banks, according to a recent survey on attitudes to banking by ICAP, revealed on Friday by the secretary general of the Union of Greek Banks Ioannis Manos.

The survey on Greece's banking system, conducted in March, was based on responses given by 2,000 people, aged 18-75, from the general public and 700 businessmen.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they were happy to very happy with the service provided by their main bank, with only 13 percent saying they were not at all happy.


Scattered cloud will prevail throughout Greece on Saturday with the possibility of rain in the northern Ionian, Epirus and Macedonia in the morning. Winds will be variable, light to moderate.

Temperatures in Athens will range between 17-28C, while in Thessaloniki from 15-26C.

Foreign exchange

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 287.402 British pound 489.116 Japanese yen (100) 213.449 French franc 51.417 German mark 172.420 Italian lira (100) 17.435 Irish Punt 431.222 Belgian franc 8.357 Finnish mark 56.633 Dutch guilder 152.887 Danish kr. 45.291 Austrian sch. 24.497 Spanish peseta 2.030 Swedish kr. 36.525 Norwegian kr. 38.823 Swiss franc 208.439 Port. Escudo 1.679 Aus. dollar 169.344 Can. dollar 190.047 Cyprus pound 581.848


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