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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 20/05/1999 (ANA)


  • Ecumenical Patriarch arrives in Athens
  • FM begins whistle-stop tour on Friday
  • Athens asks Belgrade to accept peace efforts
  • Kosovo refugees in Thessaloniki
  • Makeshift bomb at Austrian embassy office
  • Bomb hoax at Thessaloniki fairgrounds
  • Greek beaches cleanest in Europe
  • 36 Africans charged in bootleg CD racket
  • Free zone on Greek-Bulgarian border
  • Chios gum mastic has medicinal properties
  • Athens bourse continues upward trend
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Ecumenical Patriarch arrives in Athens

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, arrived in Athens this morning on a 15-day visit to the Orthodox Church of Greece, in the first official visit by an Ecumenical Patriarch to the autocephalous Church. The Patriarch was met at Athens airport by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece. The Church of Greece is the only Orthodox Church that Vartholomeos has not visited. He has already visited the all-male monastic community of Mt. Athos and areas of Greece under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, including the semi-autonomous Church of Crete and the Metropolitan dioceses of the Dodecanese.

FM begins whistle-stop tour on Friday

Foreign Minister George Papandreou leaves Friday for Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov on the first leg of a tour that will take him to four cities in a week. In Moscow, Papandreou will also see Russia's special envoy on the Yugoslav crisis Viktor Chernomyrdin and may meet with Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who are due in Moscow today for deliberations. On Saturday, Papandreou will leave for Beijing, for talks Monday morning with his Chinese counterpart. He leaves Beijing Monday for New York and Washington for talks Thursday with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Defence Secretary William Cohen, CIA chief George Tennant and other officials. On Friday, Papandreou will be in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Athens asks Belgrade to accept peace efforts

Greece said on Thursday that it had sent a message to Belgrade calling on the Yugoslav leadership to seize the opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the Kosovo crisis presented in the form of proposals which emerged from tripartite talks in Helsinki. "The Greek government has sent a message to the Yugoslav leadership recommending that it make use of this opportunity for a political solution to be found and for a way out of the impasse," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Reppas said the message was sent by Foreign Minister George Papandreou to his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic.

Kosovo refugees in Thessaloniki

Some 377 Kosovo Albanians arrived in Thessaloniki on Thursday en route to temporary shelter in Australia. The refugees - mostly women and children - are the first of an estimated 20,000 which will transit through Thessaloniki's airport. The group will be in Thessaloniki only a few hours before leaving for Australia. They will be accommodated at a specially-outfitted 3000m2 hangar at the northern Greek city's airport while they wait for their flight. Refreshments and medical facilities will be available for the refugees while they wait. The operation is being coordinated by the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Greek foreign ministry.

Makeshift bomb at Austrian embassy office

A home-made incendiary device exploded Thursday on the 4th floor of an Athens apartment building at the entrance of the commercial section of the Austrian embassy, causing damage but no injuries. Police said the device, comprised of small gas cannisters, exploded shortly before noon on the 4th floor of the building at 43a Tritis Septemvriou street, causing minor material damage to the entrance.

Bomb hoax at Thessaloniki fairgrounds

Police evacuated two pavilions at the Thessaloniki International Fairgrounds (DETH) on Thursday after two anonymous calls warning of a bomb but found no evidence of any explosive device. Police were contacted after two anonymous calls - one to the DETH offices and another to local offices of an Athens daily - at around 12.30 p.m. The two pavilions - the biggest at the fairgrounds and full of young people attending the first day of the Youth- gr exhibition - were evacuated while police searched for traces of a bomb.

Greek beaches cleanest in Europe

Close to 99.0 percent of Greece's beaches are suitable for swimming, placing the country in first rank among European countries, the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said on Thursday. Laliotis said a water quality measuring scheme run by the ministry had tested 1,737 beaches in 609 municipalities and communities and found that only 17 had waters unfit for bathing. The entire programme cost 170 million drachmas. Laliotis said he expected Greece would receive far more blue flags - a European Union symbol for recommended bathing areas - in 1999 than the 311 it received last year.

36 Africans charged in bootleg CD racket

The 36 Africans arrested in Athens for their alleged participation in a major bootleg CD racket appeared before a public prosecutor on Thursday and charged with a number of offences. Police arrested the Africans yesterday and seized an estimated 600,000 pirate CDs of Greek and foreign artists. Today they were charged with breaking provisions of the law on intellectual property, forgery, fraud, making false statements and illegally entering the country. The Africans are now due to appear before an investigating magistrate.

Free zone on Greek-Bulgarian border

Bulgarians living within 25 kilometres of the Greek border will soon be able to cross into a corresponding zone on the Greek side without visas, according to an ANA despatch from Sofia. The despatch said a draft bilateral agreement was on Thursday approved by the Bulgarian cabinet which will allow Bulgarians living in the 25-kilometre border zone to cross into the corresponding Greek zone between 7 am and 10 pm daily without visa formalities. Greeks do not need visas to enter Bulgaria. The proposal for the free movement of the two countries' citizens on either side of the border was put forward in January this year by Greece's foreign minister at the time, Theodore Pangalos, during an official visit to Sofia.

Chios gum mastic has medicinal properties

Mastic producers on the eastern Aegean island of Chios have asked the agriculture ministry for support in cultivating the island's exclusive product, following reports that it can cure ulcers. Researchers at the Nottingham University Hospital and Barnet General Hospital have found that Chios mastic is an effective treatment for ulcers. The findings showed that even in small doses of one gram a day for two weeks, mastic gum could cure peptic ulcers. The mastic tree which produces the resin for the gum is exclusive to Chios.

Athens bourse continues upward trend

Equity prices ended at new records on Thursday reflecting strong buying interest for stocks in the small and medium capitalisation sector. The general index ended 1.37 percent higher at 4,109.10 points, off the day's highs. It was its 29th record close in 1999 bringing its total return for the year so far to 52.16 percent. Turnover was 212.795 billion drachmas with 40,024,333 shares changing hands.


Mostly fair weather is forecast in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of showers in the northern Ionian, Epirus and Macedonia. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Increased cloudiness in Athens with temperatures between 17-28C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15- 23C.


Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.917
Pound sterling       490.068
Japanese yen (100)   243.794
French franc          49.129
German mark          164.769
Italian lira (100)    16.644
Irish Punt           409.187
Belgian franc          7.989
Luxembourg franc       7.989
Finnish mark          54.201
Dutch guilder        146.236
Danish kr.            43.352
Austrian sch.         23.419
Spanish peseta         1.936
Swedish kr.           35.736
Norwegian kr.         39.035
Swiss franc          201.143
Port. Escudo           1.607
Can. dollar          206.058
Aus. dollar          200.399
Cyprus pound         557.504
Euro                 322.261
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