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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-01-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 15/01/1999 (ANA)


  • Violence during Athens student march
  • Government says re-opening schools the issue
  • Scuffles also reported in other cities
  • Farmers in Larissa set up road blocks
  • Athens reiterates no change in EU decisions on Cyprus
  • Labour minister to visit Cyprus
  • Israel's Sharon to visit Greece in February
  • Kosovo on agenda of SE European youth meeting
  • New army and air force chiefs named
  • Britain names new envoy for Greece
  • Two arrested for receiving heroin in shoes
  • Two to be charged over 1997 museum robbery
  • Equities end marginally lower in volative session
  • Greenpeace welcomes PVC ban
  • Schumacher lectures Greeks on safe driving
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Violence during Athens student march

Masked youths caused havoc in the centre of Athens on Friday during a mass rally and march by high school students and teachers protesting the government's education reforms which introduce sweeping changes to the structure of secondary education. The youths threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police deployed in the city centre. They also caused damage to public buildings and shop fronts and burned two vehicles belonging to public organisations. During the violence, two policemen were injured and taken to hospital for treatment and seven persons were arrested - two for allegedly throwing petrol bombs. Four bystanders were also slightly injured by stones thrown by the masked youths.

Government says re-opening schools the issue

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described today's march and rally as "important", but hastened to add that the demand of the majority of students, teachers and parents for schools currently being occupied to re- open was even more important. Reppas also expressed full support for embattled Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and criticised opposition parties for attacking the minister simply because he was implementing a law passed by parliament. Parliament last night began debating a no-confidence motion against Arsenis tabled by the main opposition New Democracy party.

Scuffles also reported in other cities

In Thessaloniki, the rally drew more than 4000 protestors who changed course during their march and headed to the city's court house complex to protest the involvement of judicial authorities in the ongoing school protests. At the court house they threw eggs, stones and coins, frightening those employees caught in the buildings. One group also attacked journalists and motorists complaining about the march. One television reporter was slightly injured in the scuffles. Minor scuffles were also reported during the island-wide march held in Iraklion, Crete, when a group of students threw eggs at a television crew. In Patras, protestors threw stones, firecrackers and eggs and damaged the central entrance to the Achaia Prefectural building. Students from schools in Aigrinio set up a road block on the Antirrio-Ioannina national road for about 45 minutes. In Larissa, farmers joined about 2,500 students and teachers in a joint protests against the government's policies on education and agriculture.

Farmers in Larissa set up road blocks

Farmers protesting the government's policy in the agricultural sector set up a road block with tractors and farm machinery on the Lamia-Larissa road at 11 a.m. on Friday. They said the road blockade would continue until 2 p.m. In Larissa, the farmers were joined by students and teachers for a rally to protest the government's policies on education and agriculture. The president of the Federation of Agricultural Associations (PASE), Ioannis Pattakis, said recent statements by Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis showed that the government was intent on continuing "its same destructive policy" in the farm sector.

Athens reiterates no change in EU decisions on Cyprus

The Greek government said on Friday that the European Union had taken its decisions concerning the accession of Cyprus and there could be no change or circumventing of those decisions. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked by reporters whether the present holder of the rotating EU presidency - Germany - might try to obstruct Cyprus' accession. Reppas stressed that despite the obstacles which had already arisen and those which may arise in the future, Cyprus' accession would be completed within the time limits set. Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated in an interview with the Spanish daily "El Pais" published yesterday that Cyprus' accession to the EU was independent of the political problem on the island republic.

Labour minister to visit Cyprus

Greek Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou will begin a visit to Cyprus on Sunday. The minister will meet with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, Archbishop Chrysostomos, and Parliament President Spyros Kyprianou as well as with Cypriot Labour and Social Security minister Andreas Mousioutas.

Israel's Sharon to visit Greece in February

Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon will make an official visit to Greece on February 25, Israeli diplomatic sources told the ANA on Friday. The same sources said that a visit this week by a ruling party delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and PASOK executive bureau member Theodoros Tsoukatos to Israel had been "positive and fruitful". Kranidiotis and the delegation met with Sharon and director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, Eitan Ben Tsur. In the talks, both sides expressed their willingness to working towards tighter bilateral relations through specific cooperation in the economic, defence, education and other sectors.

Kosovo on agenda of SE European youth meeting

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis told a meeting of South Eastern European young politicians that the Balkans remain the "powder keg" of Europe and urged them to do their utmost to change the picture by promoting peace and cooperation in the region. Addressing the opening session of a two-day meeting of 50 young politicians up to 35 years of age from countries in SE Europe, many of them from the Balkan countries, Kaklamanis said that "this is a big challenge responding positively to the future and also creatively to the past". The meeting hopes to help promote a regional development plan for countries of SE Europe. Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, among others, will address the young politicians, who are scheduled to visit the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos today.

New army and air force chiefs named

The government today announced changes in the leadership of the Greek army and airforce. The Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis unanimously named Lt General Constantinos Panayiotakis, until now commander of the First Army Corps, as chief of the Army General Staff. KYSEA also appointed Lt General (air) Dimitrios Litzerakos, until now chief of the tactical airforce, as chief of the Airforce General Staff.

Britain names new envoy for Greece

Britain has approved the appointment of Mr. David Madden CMG as Britain's new ambassador to Greece to succeed Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, who will be retiring at the end of April, a British embassy announcement said today. Mr. Madden is expected to take up his new appointment shortly after, the announcement said.

Two arrested for receiving heroin in shoes

The police announced on Friday that two Greek men had been arrested in Athens as the recipients of two packages sent by mail from Turkey, each of which contained a pair of sports shoes in which heroin had been concealed. The police said the arrests were made on Wednesday after an operation involving the cooperation of drug squad officers and the financial crimes squad. The soles of each pair of shoes contained 540 grams of heroin.

Two to be charged over 1997 museum robbery

Two men have been arrested for a 1997 robbery of the museum at the Ramnous archaeological site, in Marathon, near Athens, police announced on Friday. Spyridon Bekas, 40, a painter from Ano Souli near Marathon, and Panayiotis Kleftakis, 47, are expected to be charged within the next few days. A third man suspected of involvement in the robbery, Christos Batos, 62, is still being sought. The three made off with a small statue of a nymph and a burial column, estimated to be worth more than 10 million drachmas on the black market, and a number of other items. The two items were found buried in a field belonging to Kleftakis.

Equities end marginally lower in volatile session

Greek equities ended a volatile session lower on the Athens Stock Exchange following the pattern of international markets. The general index ended 0.45 percent off to 2,883.34 points, recovering an early sharp fall of 4.0 percent to end the week 4.22 percent lower. Turnover was 88.8 billion drachmas. Traders said investors turned to smaller capitalisation stocks pushing several shares to the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 1.24 percent, Leasing dropped 1.45 percent, Insurance eased 1.34 percent, Investment ended 0.11 percent off, Construction rose 1.42 percent, Industrials ended 0.93 percent higher, Miscellaneous rose 1.05 percent and Holding fell 0.31 percent. The parallel market index for small cap companies soared 6.90 percent, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.0 percent down to 1,809.01.

Greenpeace welcomes PVC ban

The environmental organisation Greenpeace on Friday welcomed a decision signed by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Health Minister Lambros Papadimas banning the sale in Greece of toys made from PVC. The decision goes into force as of today and was taken because the toxic pthalic compounds used in PVC products are believed to pose a serious health hazard. In a statement expressing satisfaction, Greenpeace said the decision paved the way for a Europe-wide ban on toys made from PVC.

Schumacher lectures Greeks on safe driving

One of the biggest names in Formula One, former world champion Michael Schumacher, paid a short visit to Athens on Friday to give a news conference as part of an International Automobile Federation (FIA) and European Union campaign to promote safe driving. The German racing driver's visit was organised by the Hellenic Automobile Touring Association (ELPA) to promote the programme - the slogan of which is "Ten seconds that can save your life". Schumacher, world champion with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 before he moved to Ferrari, said 45,000 people died in road accidents in EU countries every year.


Overcast weather with scattered showers in Thrace and eastern Macedonia will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Winds, northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong. Scattered clouds with sunny spells in Athens and temperatures between 6-14C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3- 10C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.768 Pound sterling 456.657 Japanese yen (100) 242.742 French franc 49.157 German mark 164.866 Italian lira (100) 16.653 Irish Punt 409.427 Belgian franc 7.993 Finnish mark 54.232 Dutch guilder 146.321 Danish kr. 43.319 Austrian sch. 23.433 Spanish peseta 1.938 Swedish kr. 35.299 Norwegian kr. 36.952 Swiss franc 202.180 Port. Escudo 1.608 Aus. dollar 175.286 Can. dollar 181.278 Cyprus pound 552.544


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