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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-26

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, 26/07/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Fresh round of Greek-Turkish talks on specific topics begins today
  • Central bank's Thomopoulos to head 2004 organising committee
  • Army private decorated for role in ending hostage incident
  • Initial efforts fail to raise sunken tourist vessel off Zakynthos
  • Tsohatzopoulos: No let-up in deterrence capability foreseen
  • US envoy for Cyprus Miller in Athens today
  • Moslem MPs' letter dismissed, Muftis praise 25 years of democracy
  • Traffic accidents again mar weekend getaway
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Fresh round of Greek-Turkish talks on specific topics begins today

A dialogue between Greece and Turkey aimed at widening links between the two countries begins in Ankara today.

The talks, to be conducted by senior foreign ministry officials, will cover issues related to tourism, the environment, trade, culture, crime and illegal immigration as well as terrorism.

An agreement to launch a dialogue on the specific subjects was made in New York on June 30 by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

Arriving in Ankara yesterday were Ambassadors Konstantinos Gerokostopoulos and Anastasios Skopelitis, heading a delegation from the foreign ministry.

Also in the delegation are Ambassadors Alexandros Miliaresis and Konstantinos Fotilas, and Vassilios Patronis of the ministry's legal department.

The talks in Ankara are likely to span cultural matters, protection of the environment and trade cooperation.

On July 29-30, the dialogue will shift to Athens, and is expected to cover cooperation in combatting organised crime, illegal immigration, drugs and terrorism. Tourism is also on the agenda.

The Turkish delegation is to be led by Ambassador Farouk Logoglu.

Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Cem are expected to meet in Sarajevo on Friday on the sidelines of a Balkan stability pact summit, while they are likely to make a preliminary review of the talks between the two countries.

The ministers are due for another meeting, this time on the sidelines of a United Nations general assembly meeting in New York, due in mid-September.

Central bank's Thomopoulos to head 2004 organising committee

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday appointed a top banking executive to head the committee organising the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

Assuming the post of president of Athens 2004 SA is Panayiotis Thomopoulos, deputy governor of Greece's Central Bank, the prime minister's press office announced in a statement.

Mr. Thomopoulos, 62, became the Bank of Greece's deputy governor in November 1994 and often represented Greece's central bank in European Central Bank meetings. He speaks English, French and Spanish.

Mr. Thomopoulos replaces Stratis Stratigis, who resigned on July 6, citing personal reasons.

The prime minister also appointed Niki Tzavela as the vice-president of Athens 2004. She is already a member of the organising committee's board.

It was also announced that the statutes of the company will have to be amended to incorporate the newly created position, the statement read.

Ms Tzavela, a former New Democracy deputy, resigned as vice president of the Kokkalis Foundation in order to take up her new position.

In the past, she served as vice president of the Latsis Foundation. Ms Tzavela currently sits on the board of Harvard Kennedy School.

Army private decorated for role in ending hostage incident

The military yesterday decorated army private Nestoras Kokalis for his role in neutralising a grenade-totting Albanian man who had hijacked an inter- city bus in northern Greece earlier this month.

The medal, "for an act of outstanding courage", was bestowed by the Greek state for the first time in peacetime.

The hijacking had occurred on a bus belonging to the KTEL Kilkis service, while the final phase of the hijacking occurred in the community of Palaistra, Florina prefecture. Five other hostages on the bus also escaped unscathed after police special forces moved in and shot the hijacker.

A ceremony was held at the headquarters of the 33rd Mechanised Division in the northern town of Polykastro where the soldier is serving.

The decision by the President of the Republic read at the ceremony stated, among others, that with his action "he displayed, bravery, courage and calmness and in this way saved human lives."

Ptv. Kokalis will be discharged from the army in the next few days and said that he plans to sit examinations to join the Greek Police (EL.AS) force.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos presented the young conscript with the medal.

Initial efforts fail to raise sunken tourist vessel off Zakynthos

A prosecutor on Zakynthos yesterday decided to officially relieve a group of divers involved in efforts to salvage a tourist vessel which sank off the Ionian island two weeks ago.

One man drowned in the accident, while a woman and two children are missing and presumed dead. The bodies of the three are believed to be in the sunken vessel. According to reports, one of the cables that divers attached to the sunken vessel broke at ar ound midnight on Saturday, endangering the life of a diver. However, the head of the dive crew told the prosecutor and relatives of the three missing persons that he will remain in the region and continue efforts to raise the vessel.

Tsohatzopoulos: No let-up in deterrence capability foreseen

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Greece had no intention of lowering its military deterrence capability.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was replying to a reporter's question on whether the government's large-scale arms programme ran contrary to a dialogue with Ankara, set to begin today.

"When you want peace, you have to make ready for war," he stressed, adding that military deterrence acted as a counter-balance in negotiations of any kind.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to set the agenda for a session on the government's arms programme - especially the navy - also scheduled for today.

US envoy for Cyprus Miller in Athens today

Outgoing special US envoy for Cyprus Thomas Miller will discuss the island republic's problem with Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Athens today.

The US envoy is also expected to introduce his successor to the Greek FM.

Mr. Miller is expected to meet Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides this Friday on the sidelines of the international conference on the reconstruction of the Balkans in Sarajevo, where he has been appointed ambassador.

According to press reports, the United States and Britain are continuing backstage efforts to enable talks to be held in the autumn.

Britain envoy Sir David Hannay is also expected to visit Athens in early September.

Meanwhile, new US ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler is expected on the island republic in mid-August, while the new envoy for Cyprus, who succeeded Mr. Miller, will assume his duties in September.

Nicosia has made it clear that it will reply in kind if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash sets conditions before the negotiations concerning any upgrading of his position.

A government official said to this effect that "we are going to discuss a solution in the framework of UN resolutions and not the legalisation and consolidation of a non-solution."

Moslem MPs' letter dismissed, Muftis praise 25 years of democracy

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday echoed previous statements by the government and flatly rejected calls by Parliament's three Moslem MPs and 13 non-governm ental organisations for recognition of a so-called "Turkish" and "Macedonian" minority in Greece.

"Such minorities do not exist, however much anyone wants to create them," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters.

"Under the (1923) Treaty of Lausanne, there is only a Moslem minority in our country, which lives under the best conditions," he added.

The minister pointed out that an ethnic Greek minority in Istanbul has practically disappeared from the more than 250,000 members it had before World War II.

In a related development, several Moslem officials sent an open letter to the president of the republic and political leaders to mark the restoration of democracy in Greece 25 years ago.

The letter was signed by the three muftis (quasi-religious leaders) in Thrace and the presidents and members of Moslem property management committees in Xanthi, Komotini and Didymotiho.

The letter was addressed to President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and the heads of political parties.

In the letter, the Thrace-area Moslem officials welcomed the freedom of speech and respect for human rights that exist in Greece, especially at a time when neighbouring countries are "undergoing war, repression and autocratic regimes."

They also welcomed the country's entry into Europe and the fact that it was able to offer third countries humanitarian and development aid.

"We would like to take this opportunity to underline that the minority in Greece enjoys all the rights and freedoms envisaged in the spirit and letter of international conventions that Greece has signed. The country has respected its signature, showing sensitivity and worthiness," the letter stated.

Meanwhile, PASOK MP and former public order minister Stelios Papathemelis harshly criticised the statement by the three Moslem MPs, calling it a "raw provocation".

In an announcement on Saturday, the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) also said it opposed the action by the three deputies for the recognition of the so-called "Turkish" and "Macedonian" minorities.

Synaspismos said "it is opposed to any action whose purpose is the revision of existing international treaties" and "is steadfastly opposed to any disputing of minority rights."

Referring to the same issue, former New Democracy party defence minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis said the "case of alleged statements by the three Moslem deputies" was "very strange."

Traffic accidents again mar weekend getaway

A 30-year-old college student was hit and seriously injured by a bus shortly after midnight early Saturday morning on Athens' coastal highway, at the same time as a group of youths leaving a rock concert began attacking police.

Cypriot student Spyros Andrea Louizou was being treated in the intensive care unit at the Asklipieio Hospital in Voula at presstime.

The incidents occurred when about 50 youths hurled firebombs and stones at police guarding the concert site, reports state.

In an unrelated incident, a car ran over and killed a 21-year-old woman on the same seaside Poseidonos Avenue - in front of the Athens airport's west terminal - earlier that evening. According to reports, the driver sped away and left the woman helpless .

Ioanna Athanasopoulou was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Authorities are still trying to detect the hit-and-run driver and announced that a piece of the car's front section was found, which identifies it as a 1999 Audi model.

Thirteen people were killed and 279 injured in 196 traffic accidents throughout Greece between Friday and 10:30 a.m. yesterday.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud is forecast in many parts of the country on Monday with unsettled weather in western central and northern Greece, turning to showers or storms towards evening. Winds will be westerly, light to moderate. Sunny weather in Athens but overcast towards evening. Temperatures between 22C and 36C. Changeable weather in Thessaloniki, including rain or storms in the evening. Temperatures ranging from 21C to 31C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          306.905
Pound sterling       486.179
Japanese yen (100)   263.574
French franc          49.170
German mark          164.911
Italian lira (100)    16.658
Irish Punt           409.540
Belgian franc          7.996
Finnish mark          54.248
Dutch guilder        146.280
Danish kr.            43.340
Austrian sch.         23.440
Spanish peseta         1.938
Swedish kr.           36.676
Norwegian kr.         39.015
Swiss franc          200.905
Port. Escudo           1.609
Can. dollar          203.499
Aus. dollar          198.598
Cyprus pound         558.595
Euro                 322.539
(L.G.)
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