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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-03-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] US welcomes teamwork with Greece in combatting drugs trade
  • [02] Evros River water level drops amid fears of new flood from melting snow
  • [03] Main opposition honours chief Olympics organiser
  • [04] Main opposition leader winds up party congress, citing unity

  • [01] US welcomes teamwork with Greece in combatting drugs trade

    US welcomes teamwork with Greece in combatting drugs trade

    WASHINGTON (ANA/T Ellis) - Greece, a major transit point for illicit drugs flowing into Western Europe, has achieved an excellent level of cooperation with US narcotics and law enforcement agencies, the State Department said in a worldwide survey released on Saturday.

    "Cooperation between U.S. and Greek law enforcement officials is exceptionally close and professional; the government of Greece is very responsive in its aggressive pursuit of processing U.S. requests for legal assistance," the State Department said.

    Greek authorities report that drug abuse and addiction continue to climb in Greece as the age for first-time drug use drops. Drug trafficking remains a significant issue in the country's battle against organized crime, the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said in its international narcotics control strategy report for 2004.

    Investigations initiated by the DEA and its Greek counterparts suggest that a dramatic rise has occurred in the number and size of drug trafficking organizations operating in the country.

    "Greece is not a significant source country for illicit drug production, though shipment of anabolic steroids to the United States does occur on a small scale. Use of anabolic steroids is legal in Greece. However, it is illegal to ship them to countries where they are a categorized as a controlled substance, the survey said.

    Several joint U.S./Greek Counter Narcotics investigations occurred in 2004 with significant arrests and seizures. In July 2004, the DEA, in cooperation with Hellenic, British, Spanish, Belgian and French authorities, dismantled a major maritime smuggling organization, culminating in the seizure of 5,400 kilograms of cocaine, the M/V AFRICA I, and 4,000,000 euros; along with the arrest of nine individuals. The Greek Financial Crimes Unit is conducting an intense financial investigation into the related drug trafficking organization, which may lead to additional seizures and arrests.

    In June 2004, DEA and the Greek Counter Narcotics Units targeted a group utilizing pleasure craft to transport multi-ton quantities of cocaine from the Caribbean to Western Europe. In August 2004, this joint investigation culminated in the seizure of 1.2 tons of cocaine and a sailing yacht, along with the arrest of seven individuals.

    [02] Evros River water level drops amid fears of new flood from melting snow

    Authorities said on Saturday that water levels of the Evros River in the north had dropped below danger level but fears remained that rising temperatures could bring fresh flooding within 48 hours due to melting snow in Bulgaria moving south.

    On Sunday, the minister of agricultural development and foods, Evangelos Basiakos, is to visit the Evros area to assess damage to crops and announce disbursement of compensation.

    Local and central government authorities said that emergency services would remain on alert in case of fresh flooding.

    [03] Main opposition honours chief Olympics organiser

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement on Saturday conferred an award on Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, chief organiser of the Athens 2004 Olympics, for her contribution to the global event.

    "The award is for her personal endeavour, and I would say, sacrifice, as she devoted her whole life to the effort in those years," PASOK leader George Papandreou told the ceremony.

    Daskalaki has recently resumed public appearances after being hospitalised in December suffering from overwork and exhaustion.

    [04] Main opposition leader winds up party congress, citing unity

    The leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Saturday wound up a national party congress that unanimously endorsed a manifesto and statutes geared to giving the party a new lease of life.

    "The congress has taken the big step. I shall be presiding over a new model of power," Papandreou told delegates.

    Introducing a new slogan - "Change now, change everywhere, change always" - he said the gist carried the same weight as the party's founding concept of change.

    Earlier, congress chairman Costas Laliotis said that the unanimous vote on key party documents showed that differing viewpoints could eventually be reconciled.

    "We are working to achieve the end of this conservative phase with the (ruling) New Democracy party in one, two, or three years at the most," Laliotis said.

    Papandreou also denounced the government in a blistering attack for damaging the country since it took office after general elections in March 2004.

    "The government is near to collapse. It is taking the country downhill. The Greek Right has brought nothing but suffering to the Greek public," he said.

    Among party resolutions adopted by the congress were backing for the European constitution and a call for broad-based talks on the separation of church and state.


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