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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-08-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 3, 2002


  • [01] Latest 'N17' suspect confesses to Turkish diplomat's killing, among others
  • [02] 'N17': Probe underway into Xiros- Romero joint account with bank manager
  • [03] No confirmation that Turkish military doctrine towards Greece has changed
  • [04] Wholesale prices fall 0.8 percent in June
  • [05] Consumer group reports increased price gouging in tourist areas
  • [06] Greek investors take profits on Friday
  • [07] Culture ministry interest over apparent British Museum theft
  • [08] Turkish-flagged yacht ordered to remain in Rhodes port
  • [09] UN: time for evaluation, reflection and rest in talks
  • [10] Government not optimistic on talks, but does not rule anything out
  • [11] France supports Cyprus talks

  • [01] Latest 'N17' suspect confesses to Turkish diplomat's killing, among others

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    The latest suspect arrested as a member of the notorious “November 17” terrorist group on Friday reportedly confessed to his participation in at least four crimes, including the assassination of a Turkish diplomat in June 1994 and an attempted rocket attack against the US embassy in Athens in 1996.

    Sotirios Kondylis, 41, whom police have identified as the “N17” terrorist known as “Aris” among the other members, was arrested near his residence in the east Athens district of Vyronas on Thursday. His arrest brings the number of “N17” suspects now in custody to 15, many of whom have offered confessions.

    Specifically, a police spokesman told reporters that Kondylis confessed to a bank robbery on June 18, 1990 in the Peristeri district; an firefight with police in the Sepolia district, November 1991; the murder of Turkish diplomat Omer Haluk Sipahioglu in June 1994 in the coastal Paleo Faliro suburb; as well as the launching of a W.W.II-era rocket against the US embassy on Feb. 15, 1996. The projectile during that last attack luckily hit a stone wall instead of striking the embassy building.

    Jail conditions for N17 suspects OK'd by legal authorities: Authorities on Friday completed the investigation ordered late Thursday night by Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustalakis about the prison conditions at a maximum security cellblock at Korydallos prison, where over one dozen of ''N17'' suspects arrested over the past three weeks are being held.

    ''The detention conditions at Korydallos for the terrorist suspects, taking into consideration the particularities of this case and the required security measures, meet the provisions as dictated by the Code for Correctional Institutions. Minor omissions at the installations and minor problems of a technical nature owed to the fact that the repair works at the detention areas were only recently completed, will be addressed within the next few days'', Piraeus Appellant Court Prosecutor Aristidis Fragiadakis said.

    The investigation, ordered by a Supreme Court prosecutor, came after an attorney for the alleged leader of the terrorist gang, Alexandros Giotopoulos, complained of “unacceptable” conditions and attempts to isolate the jailed suspects from the outside world.

    [02] 'N17': Probe underway into Xiros- Romero joint account with bank manager

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    The type of relationship which Karmela Stephanou, former manager and current inspector of Piraeus Bank's Piraeus and Islands Division, had with alleged ''November 17'' terrorist Savvas Xiros and his companion Alicia Romero, is being investigated by the Counter-Terrorism Service.

    The investigations in this direction are being carried out following the ascertainment that the senior Piraeus Bank official maintained a joint bank account with the Xiros-Romero couple.

    The account had been opened in the bank's branch in the Athens suburb of Pangrati in 2001.

    The Xiros-Romero couple, however, had opened another ac-count at the bank's Kolonaki branch in 1997, when Stephanou was manager there.

    The issue was known to the Counter-Terrorism Squad from the first days following Savvas Xiros' botched bomb attack in Piraeus, which resulted in his injury, but it was not examined because priority was given to investigations for the eradication of the ''N17's'' operations group.

    The issue was made public on Friday and Karmella Stephanou sent a written statement in which she said that in 1997 the Xiros-Romero couple opened a joint account at the Kolonaki branch when she was manager.

    In 2001, Stephanou added, Xiros and Romero opened a second joint account. ''Mrs. Romero requested that my name be added to the second account so as to facilitate, if necessary, the drawing out of money in the event of their absence, such as if, as she said, they went abroad. I never drew out or put in money from this account. Once Savvas Xiros was arrested, I briefed the bank and the authorities on the above fact.''

    Alicia Romero, who was summoned on Friday afternoon by the Counter-Terrorism Service to give explanations concerning the specific account, she claimed, according to sources, that she had asked Karmela Stephanou to add her own name to their account so as to facilitate them without there being any other type of relationship between them.

    [03] No confirmation that Turkish military doctrine towards Greece has changed

    ISTANBUL, 03/08/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Reports have not been confirmed according to which on Thursday, during the course of the meeting of the Supreme Military Council, the military doctrine of Turkey had changed and that Greece does not any longer constitute a primary ''threat'' for Turkey.

    Newspaper ''Milliyet'', citing military and diplomatic sources, wrote on Friday that these changes could not have been made and that Greece could not in this phase cease to be regarded as a primary ''threat'', given that there could be complications in Turkey's procedure for convergence with the EU.

    ''Milliyet'' wrote that Turkish foreign ministry and military sources did not confirm the reports and that foreign ministry sources stated that such a thing is not possible due to the Cyprus issue and because due to the possible accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU before a political settlement, tensions may exist in Turkey-EU and Turkey-Greece relations.

    On Thursday, CNN-Turk broadcast that major changes were made in the Turkish military doctrine which were approved by the military council.

    Greece and Syria which up until recently were described as primary ''threats'' for Turkish security, were replaced by a country east of Turkey, the television network said.

    [04] Wholesale prices fall 0.8 percent in June

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's wholesale prices' index dropped 0.8 percent in June from the previous month offering signs of fading inflationary pressures, National Statistics Service said on Friday.

    The wholesale prices' index fell 0.1 percent compared with June 2001 and an average growth of 2.4 percent in the period January-June this year (down from 5.0 percent in the same period in 2001).

    [05] Consumer group reports increased price gouging in tourist areas

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    Complaints over cases of price gouging topped the list of consumer complaints in the first two months of the summer, with their number totaling 8,203 by July 31, 2002, Greece's largest consumer group INKA said on Friday.

    An INKA report said that the public's turn of attention towards developments in the November 17 terrorist group case combined with a traditional summer relaxation mood, offered opportunities for increased profiteering by several enterprises.

    Profiteering, with unjustified price increases particularly in restaurant and snack bars, fuel stations and mini-markets, was mainly visible in the country's tourist regions.

    INKA also denounced a series of price increases in products and services by mobile telephony and insurance companies.

    [06] Greek investors take profits on Friday

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a positive week lower in the Athens Stock Exchange as investors preferred to take profits ahead of the weekend.

    The general index fell 0.90 percent to end at 2,105.27 points, off the day's lows helped by a late wave of buying in blue chip stocks.

    Turnover was a record-low for the year of 53.7 million euros.

    The Holding and Retail sectors were the only ones to scored gains (up 0.68 and 0.19 percent, respectively), while the Metals, Telecom-muications and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (1.83 percent, 1.66 percent and 1.37 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.71 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.73 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 0.91 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 221 to 86 with another 44 issues unchanged.

    The general index ended the week with a net gain of 2.27 percent.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Despec Multimedia, Football Pools Organization, National Bank of Greece, and Technical Olympic.

    Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures mixed in thin trade: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed in light trade on Friday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a discount of around 1.0 percent. Contracts on the mid-cap index traded at a slight premium. Turnover was 69.2 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 0.71 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 0.73 percent.

    Trade was slim in stock futures.

    Bond Market Close: Prices rise in active trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Friday finished higher in heavy trade focusing on five-year paper, fuelled by demand in the German market.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.01 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bond was 33 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 2.5 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for over half of trade.

    [07] Culture ministry interest over apparent British Museum theft

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's culture minister has requested information from the British Museum's new director, Neil McGregor, over a reported theft of a small ancient Greek bust from the museum. According to a report in the Athens daily "Ta Nea" on Friday, the 2,500-year-old marble bust was taken from the London museum's archaic period collection. The theft apparently took place last Tuesday, the newspaper said.

    In a letter to McGregor, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos notes that his query stems from Greece's keen interest in Hellenic antiquities, no matter where in the world they may be located.

    [08] Turkish-flagged yacht ordered to remain in Rhodes port

    Athens, 03/08/2002 (ANA)

    Authorities on the island of Rhodes on Friday spotted the luxurious yacht ''VIRGO'', owned by a leading Turkish businessman, which had illegally sailed off the port of Marmaras on the west Turkish coast opposite Rhodes, where it had been impounded due to its owner's outstanding debts.

    The first instance court of the east Aegean cosmopolitan island on Thursday admitted an application for an injunction order for the vessel, filed by an attorney representing a Turkish Fund, where the Turkish businessman owes the amount of 15,860,000 US Dollars.

    Authorities on the island issued an order prohibiting the departure of the yacht, which will stay in port until August 26, the court hearing date for the requested injunction measures.

    Sailing under a Turkish flag, ''VIRGO'' belongs to Istanbul-based DOCUS CELIK CIVATA SANAYI A.S. Group of companies directed by Erol Aksoy, one of the leading businessmen in Turkey.

    Aksoy reportedly owes the amount of 15,860,000 US Dollars to the Turkish ''Deposits Bank Settlement, Monitoring and Safeguarding Fund'' that brought against him proceedings for impounding his property.

    An Istanbul lower court on June 28 had issued an impounding order for ''VIRGO'', assigning three individuals to guard the boat, which, nevertheless, commanded by Mustafa Onay illegally sailed off the Turkish port Marmaras on the very same date that the Istanbul court ordered its impounding, to make its appearance about one month later in Rhodes.

    An attorney representing Aksoy on Friday arrived in Rhodes to seek a reversal of the order restricting the departure of the yacht.

    Clerides and Denktash wrap up fifth round of talks NICOSIA, 03/08/2002 (CNA/ANA) Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash wrapped up here on Friday their fifth round of UN-led direct talks on the Cyprus problem. The peace talks will resume on August 27.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told CNA that during Friday's meeting, the Greek Cypriot side commented on Denktash's views regarding territory, which is one of the four core issues of the Cyprus problem. The other three are governance, security and property.

    Papapetrou said ''we presented comments'' on Denktash's views, adding that the Turkish Cypriot side will study them and return with its own comments.

    He added that the sixth round of talks will begin on August 27 and that the talks will be held every Tuesday and Friday.

    The talks are held in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto. President Clerides was accompanied by Papapetrou, Attorney General Alecos Markides and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.

    President Clerides and Denktash launched UN-led direct talks in January this year, with a view to negotiate until a comprehensive settlement is reached.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [09] UN: time for evaluation, reflection and rest in talks

    NICOSIA, 03/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN said the Cyprus peace talks will begin a three-week break to give all concerned an opportunity to assess the situation, to reflect on it and to rest. A statement issued here as UN-led direct talks between Clerides and Denktash wrapped up for a break, said ''at the close of Friday's meeting between the Greek Cypriot leader and the Turkish Cypriot leader, it was agreed to begin a pause in the talks for evaluation, reflection and rest.''

    ''Talks will resume on August 27'', the statement added.

    De Soto leaves at the weekend and is due to return in time for the start of the direct talks, only ten days before a meeting in Paris between UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, de Soto, President Clerides and Denktash on Friday, September 6.

    [10] Government not optimistic on talks, but does not rule anything out

    NICOSIA, 03/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said there is nothing to be optimistic about in the ongoing peace talks, but acknowledged that there is a chance for spectacular progress towards a settlement.

    His comments came in response to earlier statements by UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who told Reuters, that he was "optimistic" because he thought it is feasible to reach a breakthrough in the direct talks he has been involved in since mid January this year with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    "There is no element of optimism as far as the direct talks are concerned," Papapetrou said.

    He stressed however that this does not mean that one could jump to the conclusion that the peace effort has failed or say that there is no hope or possibility for "spectacular progress and developments in Cyprus."

    "The situation is so fluid that nobody can exclude the possibility of achieving progress in the Cyprus question, no matter how difficult this is to achieve," he said.

    Papapetrou said he wanted to see de Soto vindicated about his optimistic remarks.

    "Instead of contradicting de Soto's statement, I would like to wish that he is vindicated in what he said," the spokesman added.

    Alvaro de Soto, the top UN envoy on Cyprus, said "things are not going as they should be" in the talks but declined to elaborate and said he was disappointed with the outcome so far but has not lost hope.

    US Senate Committee supports Cyprus' EU accession WASHINGTON, 03/08/2002 (CNA/ANA) The US Senate External Relations Committee has adopted a resolution that supports Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    The resolution, which is similar to the one adopted recently by the Subcommittee for Europe of the US House International Relations Committee, expresses ''the sense of Congress that security, reconciliation and prosperity of all Cypriots can be best achieved within the context of membership of the European Union''.

    The resolution adds that ''EU membership will provide significant rights and obligations for all Cypriots and for other purposes''.

    The Senate's External Relations Committee notes in its resolution that the current situation in Cyprus is unacceptable, adding that the reunification of the island remains the objective of US foreign policy.

    It also notes that a solution to the Cyprus problem, which will fully take into consideration UN Security Council resolutions and international conventions, should safeguard security and fundamental rights for both communities in Cyprus.

    The resolution also mentions the 1999 EU Helsinki Summit conclusions regarding Cyprus and stresses the commitment of the US and the EU to continue working together in support of the UN Secretary General's efforts for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    It also adopts the call of the Seville European Council to the leaders of the two communities on the island to intensify their UN-led direct talks and to grasp the unique opportunity offered to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

    Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [11] France supports Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA, 03/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    France supports the ongoing talks, under UN auspices, to reach a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem. The Deputy spokesman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs told an online press conference that the French government was aware of the UN Secretary General's invitation to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for a meeting in Paris on September 6.

    He referred journalists to the UN Secretary General himself for further details and added that ''regarding the substance of the matter, I remind that we unreservedly support the process, which is underway under UN auspices, to rapidly reach a political, comprehensive, just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem''.

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