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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-07-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 19/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Illegal immigration the focus of heightened state activity
  • New wave of illegal immigration seen, this time from Serbia
  • Tsohatzopoulos on conscription, Balkan reconstruction
  • Events held in memory of Andreas Papandreou
  • Memorial service held for the fallen on Cyprus
  • Apostolakis on three-day visit to Georgia
  • Papantoniou: Economic policy will be clarified in late August
  • Illegal immigrants detained along Greek-Bulgarian frontier
  • Fires reported on Corfu, western Attica
  • Alexandroupolis Book Fair
  • EOT head counters 'NY Times' tourism forecast for Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Illegal immigration the focus of heightened state activity

A new institutional framework covering immigration policy is being developed by the interior ministry in collaboration with the public order, labour and foreign affairs ministries, the government announced.

The new policy, initially unveiled by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, also pertains to combatting crime through a series of measures aimed at increasing citizens' security. The application of the current legal framework and the implementation of stricter measures is under review in order to eliminate illegal immigration.

In addition, the public order ministry announced that authorities have been instructed to actively enforce a provision of law 1975/1991 prescribing a minimum of three months in jail and a 100,000-drachma fine for anyone employing non-EU foreigners without a valid work permit, as well as a minimum of six months in jail and a 300,000-drachma fine for repeat offences.

Other proposals under review include a stricter and more systematic check on foreign workers in Greece as well as on the issuance of work and residency permits, while a recommendation for assigning the issuance of green and white cards to local and prefectural authorities is pending.

A draft law on immigration policy had been developed by former interior minister Alekos Papadopoulos, which provided for the immediate arrest and deportation of panhandlers and illegal street vendors as well as the establishment of three coordinating im migration bodies on the inter- ministerial, regional and prefectural levels.

The interior ministry will nevertheless proceed with a complete revision of the draft law, taking into consideration bilateral relations and international agreements.

New wave of illegal immigration seen, this time from Serbia

Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis over the weekend warned of a new wave of illegal immigration towards Gre-ece, however, this time from Serbia.

In a published interview with the Sunday "Kathimerini", Mr. Chrysohoidis reiterated the government's determination to curb illegal immigration and all criminal activity.

He said police were concentrating on detecting criminal gangs involved in weapons smuggling, drugs and prostitution, while he added that checks by police on whether non-EU foreigners in Greece were legally registered would continue.

Tsohatzopoulos on conscription, Balkan reconstruction

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday precluded the possibility in the near future of a reduction in compulsory military service.

Speaking at the second conference of the National Youth Council, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the reduced number of new conscripts entering the military every year - primarily due to Greece's decades-long low birth rate - necessitates an increase of the professional military ranks to secure the efficient defence of the country. He added, however, that the government insists on universal conscription for "ideological, social, democratic, political and economic reasons."

He also referred to the need for an improvement of conditions in the military, citing new measures such as a mandatory nine-month service in border areas for all conscripts, a subsequent mandatory transfer to their place of choice (excluding Attica pref ecture, the Peloponnese and Crete), as well as reimbursement for servicemen's fares when travelling to their place of origin during leave.

Referring to the recent crisis in the Balkans, the Greek defence minister stressed that the "diplomatic solution for peace provided the answer for the peaceful application of globalisation in southeastern Europe."

"The fact the the European Union is attempting an all inclusive reconstruction policy in the Balkans - and not just in the devastated region of Kosovo - as well as the simultaneous guaranteeing of political security for all Balkan countries, means that it (EU) realises that security in Europe cannot exist in the absence of peace and security in the Balkans..." Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that "a common foreign and defence policy by European countries is necessary for this highly touted globalisation in order to secure peace and common security conditions that will be in step with the conditions of economic development."

Events held in memory of Andreas Papandreou

Speaking at a two-day series of memorial events for Andreas Papandreou, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that the presence of ruling PASOK's founder was catalytic for Greece's political life and for democracy in the country, among others.

Held in the village of Kalentzi, northwestern Peloponnese, from where the Papandreou family originally hails from, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos defended the economic policies of the late prime minister's governments, saying the period between 1981-88 was the most productive for the Greek people.

PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis, who also attending the meeting, lauded Papandreou's political foresight.

Finally, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis noted that the late Papandreou "fought for the independence of the Greek people and what he left behind him can shape not only our generation but also future generations."

Memorial service held for the fallen on Cyprus

A memorial service was held yesterday at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral for the Cypriots and Greeks who died in July 1974 during a military coup and a subsequent Turkish invasion of the island republic.

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, speaking at the service, noted that "Cyprus is the site where the tolerance, the vigour and the strength of Hellenism is put to a test on a daily basis. We have the duty to fight to the end. There is nothing worse than succumbing to the force of habit. Time has not erased neither memories nor responsibilities, or above all, everyone's duty".

The memorial service was also attended by Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, Cyprus' ambassador to Athens, Christodoulos Pashiardis, as well as other officials.

Speakers stressed the heroism of the men who fought in 1974 and pointed to a joint struggle for a final vindication for those who fought and died.

Afterwards, wreaths were laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Cyprus War Memorial.

Apostolakis on three-day visit to Georgia

Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis left yesterday on an official three-day visit to Georgia, following an invitation by his Georgian counterpart Grigol Katamazde.

Mr. Apostolakis is expected to have talks with Mr. Katamazde and meet with Defence Minister David Tevzadza, Minister of State Vazha Lortikipanidze, FM Ikrakli Menagarashvili as well as Georgian parliament officials, including Speaker Zurab Zhvania.

Talks will focus on bilateral cooperation and security in southeast Europe and the Caucasus.

Mr. Apostolakis is accompanied by Greek military officials and representatives from state and private defence industries.

Papantoniou: Economic policy will be clarified in late August

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday termed press reports stating that the government will handout "state allowances in instalments", as the relevant headline read, as simply "scenarios".

In a statement, Mr. Papantoniou said the government's economy policy for the year 2000 will be clarified in late August and will be announced by the prime minister at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair in early September.

In an article published by the Sunday "Vima" yesterday, it was reported that the government has already taken certain decisions on the economy, primarily centring on tax reliefs, abolition of objective tax criteria and slashes in fuel prices, among others.

Illegal immigrants detained along Greek-Bulgarian frontier

Police yesterday announced they had arrested 30 Bulgarian illegal immigrants who had entered the country through the Nevrokopi region in Drama prefecture.

The illegals, both men and women, told authorties that an estimated 1,000 Bulgarians, including elderly people and children, were waiting to make the crossing into Greece from villages in southern Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, authorities have stepped up measures along a 110-km stretch of the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Measures have also been stepped up against unregistered foreigners working in the prefectures of Serres, Drama, Kavala, Xanthi, Rodopi and Evros.

Police in eastern Macedonia and Thrace have detained some 400 illegal immigrants over the past five days, while 250-260 were deported.

According to reports, local employers hiring illegal labour may also face charges. On Saturday, police said they arrested a Greek national after finding two Bulgarian women in his car during a roadblock search.

Costas Mitilidis, 30, told police that he had picked up the two women, who entered the country illegally, from a village near Drama and was taking them to Thessaloniki.

Fires reported on Corfu, western Attica

Seven firefighting aircraft and two helicopters were called in yesterday to battle a blaze that broke out in a wooded area near Mandra, western Attica.

The fire was brought under control at about 6 p.m.

Authorities said they suspected the fire was deliberately set, as it began almost simultaneously in three separate points. Residents said they saw two people fleeing the area.

On Corfu, another fire was brought under control early yesterday after it had destroyed about 150 hectares of forestland and three hectares of farmland in the north of the Ionian island.

Alexandroupolis Book Fair

The Federation of Northern Greek Publishers is holding the eighth annual Regional Book Fair in Alexandroupolis, Evros prefecture, through July 25.

The 10-day event is attended by some 100 publishers and book retailers from throughout Greece packed in 45 pavilions and with more than 15,000 Greek- and foreign-language publications on display. The festival is again being held on the city's sea front boulevard.

EOT head counters 'NY Times' tourism forecast for Greece

A published letter by the head of the Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT) in yesterday's edition of "The New York Times" stated that there will be an increase in tourist arrivals to Greece this season.

Greek officials are expecting twice the number of tourists this year from traditional European and trans-Atlantic markets, EOT general secretary Evangelos Giannakopoulos wrote. His letter was in response to a bleak forecast published by the respected US paper on June 8.

Mr. Giannakopoulos stressed that Greece has always been a safe destination for tourists P in fact, the safest in Europe. He added that this is the main reason that European tourists selected Greece as their preferred destination in 1999 despite the "psy cho-logical impact" that the Kosovo crisis had on many European markets.

A number of "NY Times" articles on departure and arrival delays at the European airports also pointed to the need for restructuring and aligning of their regulations, otherwise, as emphasised by European Union and international air transport union offic ials, there will be "zero development" in European air transportation.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud is forecast across the country on Monday with a possibility of showers in the north. Winds will be northerlies, mild to moderate, moderate to strong in the east and very strong in the Aegean. Temperatures will range from 19-31C in the north 21-34 in the mainland and Ionian and 23- 30 in the Aegean. Athens will be fine with occasional cloud, winds northerly moderate to strong, 22-33C. Thessaloniki will have scattered cloud, northerly winds mild to moderate and temperatures of 21-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          315.486
Pound sterling       494.413
Japanese yen (100)   261.144
French franc          49.058
German mark          164.536
Italian lira (100)    16.620
Irish Punt           408.608
Belgian franc          7.977
Finnish mark          54.124
Dutch guilder        146.028
Danish kr.            43.273
Austrian sch.         23.386
Spanish peseta         1.934
Swedish kr.           36.817
Norwegian kr.         39.551
Swiss franc          200.329
Port. Escudo           1.605
Can. dollar          212.982
Aus. dollar          208.335
Cyprus pound         558.893
Euro                 321.805
(L.G.)
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