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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 01/08/1997 (ANA)


  • Athens `97 Athletics Championships open today, record participation
  • IAAF halves anabolics penalty
  • Explosion at munitions factory kills one, injures many others
  • Philippi excavations reveal spectacular mosaics
  • Olympic Airways to advertise for new managing director
  • Talks on creation of three new Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoints
  • UN resolutions must be considered in seeking a Cyprus solution
  • Albanian police receive final shipment of Greek aid
  • Kaklamanakis completes the first-ever windsurf run of the Aegean
  • Search reveals more illegal immigrants on ship
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Athens `97 Athletics Championships open today, record participation

The 6th World Athletics Championships open in Athens at 20h30 today with a spectacular ceremony at the Panathenian Stadium.

A record 200 countries are participating in the event which will end on August 10.

International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) president Primo Nebiolo yesterday expressed confidence that the Athens '97 championships would be a success:

"To me, Greece is the spiritual home of athletics. I believe the staging of the championships will be a success," he told a press conference.

He underlined the fact that a record 200 countries will be taking part in the championships which, he noted, would be watched by 3.3 billion television viewers in 212 countries.

He added that demand for tickets was higher than expected, observing that tickets had already been sold out for August 3, when the finals of the men's and women's 100 metres sprint will be held.

Mr.Nebiolo said that tonight's opening ceremony "with the participation of the great artists Vangelis and Montserrat Caballe" would be "a truly spectacular show".

He also noted that Vangelis had composed a new Anthem for the IAAF which will be heard for the first time today at the Panathenian Stadium.

IAAF halves anabolics penalty

The International AMateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) yesterday halved its penalty for first-time anabolics offenders to two-year maximum suspension from athletics events from the present four-year maximum.

Delegates at the annual two-day IAAF congress in Athens, which opened on Wednesday, voted 112-56 with three abstentions in favour of a proposal by several European countries, spearheaded by Germany, to reduce the ban.

The four-year maximum suspension for athletes caught using steroid anabolics for a first time, introduced by the IAAF in 1991, has caused problems with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was pressing for reduction of the ban, and also with civil courts in many countries, to which athletes took recourse.

A second offense carries a lifetime ban. The IAAF spent 1.7 million dollars on combatting doping last year.

The IAAF president endorsed a reduction of the ban in statements to the Congress on Wednesday.

The congress voted against a similar proposal two years ago in Goteborg, fearing a reduction would be construed as a softening of the Federation's stance against doping.

In his press conference, Mr. Nebiolo clarified that athletes caught using stimulants, instead of the present three-month suspension from athletics events, would now by given a "public warning".

In the event of a second and third offence however, they will be liable to a two-year and lifetime ban respectively, he said.

The IAAF chief stressed that if a national athletics federation wished to impose harsher penalties on athletes caught using prohibited substances, "we at the IAAF will accept them".

Explosion at munitions factory kills one, injures many others

One man died and many others were injured in an explosion this morning at the Gunpowder and Cartridge Company (PYRKAL) in Lavrion, southeast Attica.

According to initial reports, the dead man is Vassilis Hatzidimas, 52 while at least five workers have been taken to the Lavrion Health Centre with serious injuries.

The reports said the explosion took place in an outdoor holding tank for waste acids.

Eight fire-engines rushed to the plant which was later visited by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

Philippi excavations reveal spectacular mosaics

Archaeological excavations this year at ancient Philippi near Kavala, northern Greece have so far turned up a mosaic representation of a racecourse.

During the same excavations, archaeologists uncovered mosaic floors with geometrical designs covering 60 square metres. The elaborate floors date back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD and are believed to have been created at a local workshop.

The mosaic representation of a racecourse features a chariot drawn by four horses and a charioteer. It also depicts an altar on which a sacrifice is being made.

The excavations at Philippi under Thessaloniki University Professor of Archaeology Stylianos Pelekanidis have been in progress since 1960.

Olympic Airways to advertise for new managing director

Olympic Airways is seeking a new managing director for a five-year term of office with August 29 set as the deadline for applications, the Transport and Communications ministry said today.

The ministry said in a statement pay would be commensurate with experience.

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis said recently that managing directors would be sought in the autumn for other public utilities supervised by the ministry, as well as for the national carrier's subsidiaries.

Advertising senior managerial positions in state firms is an innovation for Greece launched by Prime Minister Costas Simitis' socialist government.

Formerly the positions were held by government appointees.

Talks on creation of three new Greek-Bulgarian border checkpoints

The creation of three new border checkpoints on the Greek-Bulgarian border was discussed during a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Yevgeni Bakarziev and the Greek Ambassador to Sofia Panayiotis Karakasis, according to an announcement by the Bulgarian government's press service.

A meeting between experts from the two countries will follow to determine the locations where the border crossings will be established.

According to the existing Greek-Bulgarian agreement, the three border checkpoints will link the cities of Drama-Goce Delchev, Xanthi-Rudozem and Komotini-Kerzali, while their construction must be completed by the end of 1998. The government announcement further said that the two countries will cooperate on all infrastructure works included in the American "Sifter" plan for southeastern Europe.

UN resolutions must be considered in seeking a Cyprus solution

Greece said yesterday that the solution being sought to the Cyprus problem should be one which takes into consideration United Nations resolutions and the texts of agreements reached in the past, and one which "makes use of experience". Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on statements by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

Speaking Tuesday in New York, Mr. Solana did not rule out the possibility of NATO taking a more active role to safeguard Cyprus' security in the future, and expressed the hope that the Cyprus problem would be resolved during 1998.

Mr. Reppas noted that for the first time the conditions appeared to exist and efforts being made for a solution, while stressing that it was still "early days" and "Greece continues to be reserved".

The spokesman strongly criticised Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for threatening not to attend the second round of UN-sponsored negotiations in August unless the European Union suspends its decision to start accession talks with Cyprus.

"Mr. Denktash is compromising himself and Turkey. It appears that he lacks the will to contribute to a settlement," Mr. Reppas said. The spokesman added that Mr. Denktash's statements were tantamount to blackmailing the EU "because when the decisions were taken about the accession procedure for Cyprus, the situation on the island was known".

"The decisions of the EU are not subject to any revocation or dilution due to the statements of Mr. Denktash, whose only task is to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem," Mr. Reppas said.

Albanian police receive final shipment of Greek aid

The Albanian police has received the second and final shipment of useful material sent in by the Greek government to assist in its re-organisation. Material sent to the neighbouring country includes police cars and motorbikes, bullet-proof vests, clothing and office equipment.

The equipment was transported to the port of Durres aboard the Hellenic Navy tank-landing ship "Samos". It will be used by the Tirana and Vlore police for the re-organisation of the Interior Ministry, the restoration of public order and a return to norm al life.

During the delivery ceremony, Albanian government officials thanked the Greek government for its contribution. They said it was the first step in the difficult task of restoring order in the country.

Kaklamanakis completes the first-ever windsurf run of the Aegean

Olympic gold medallist Nikos Kaklamanis arrived at Iraklion early yesterday evening on his windsurf board, having completed the last leg of a trip that began at Sounion on Wednesday.

He was welcomed by nearly 3,000 people, some of whom waded enthusiastically into the sea to greet him, local officials, and Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, who had also seen him off on Wednesday.

Mr. Kaklamanakis set off from Sounion mid-day Wednesday on a run to Crete to publicise Athens' bid for the 2004 Olympic Games.

On the first day, he covered 120 nautical miles to the island of Santorini, where he stayed overnight, in little under nine hours.

Yesterday he set off from Ammoudi beach and reached Karteros beach, near Iraklion, at 19:20, ha-ving covered 80 nautical miles in 6 hours and 40 minutes.

In statements following the completion of the trip, the first time such an attempt has been made on a windsurf board, Mr. Kaklamanakis said, "I'm very touched. I did it for the sake of Greece, not for myself. I'm especially touched by the enthusiasm people showed here at Iraklio on welcoming me."

Mrs. Papandreou expressed Greece's pride in his accomplishment, and said that "his achievement is very important because it highlights the Aegean and the ancient Greek spirit, important elements in terms of our bid for the 2004 Olympics".

She added, "We are grateful to Nikos Kaklamanakis for his great achievement, his daring, his courage and his love for Greece".

Search reveals more illegal immigrants on ship

Port authorities which towed a Ukrainian-flagged ship found adrift off Euboea, yesterday discovered in their final count a tota l of 314 illegal immigrants of various nationalities, mostly Iraqis and Pakistanis, including 40 children.

The ship "Sochol" was towed to Palea Fokea, Attica, late yesterday.

The authorities had originally counted close to 180 people, but further search into the ship's hold revealed more people.

Children and their mothers were sent to hospitals and the rest lodged at immigrant police stations, until they are all repatriated. The children, ranging in ages from four months to 12 years, were found to be in a state of dehydration.

Fishermen at Palea Fokea, the merchant marine ministry and the city of Athens have sent supplies, mainly food and milk, to the immigrants.

Two Turkish nationals found on the ship among the immigrants are being questioned by the port authorities on suspicion of being crew members who did not manage to escape with the captain of the ship.

The ship had left Izmir and was heading for Italy when it suffered engine failure.


Light cloud is forecast for the whole of the country today, and sporadic showers over high-ground mainland regions are expected in the afternoon. Winds will be northerly, mostly moderate, becoming very strong locally in the Aegean, but abating later. Athens will be cloudy, with temperatures 22- 33 C, while rain is possible in Thessaloniki, particularly at night, with temperatures 20-32 C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.168 Pound sterling 464.931 Cyprus pd 528.339 French franc 45.963 Swiss franc 187.443 German mark 154.960 Italian lira (100) 15.881 Yen (100) 240.213 Canadian dlr. 205.840 Australian dlr. 211.127 Irish Punt 414.160 Belgian franc 7.504 Finnish mark 51.993 Dutch guilder 137.576 Danish kr. 40.690 Swedish kr. 35.668 Norwegian kr. 37.353 Austrian sch. 22.037 Spanish peseta 1.836 Port. Escudo 1.534


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