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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 02/08/1997 (ANA)


  • Athens `97 Athletics Championships open in spectacular ceremony
  • Yilmaz says Greek-Turkish differences will be mended
  • Managers charged in munitions factory blast
  • Fate of peace for Greece rests in the Aegean, minister says
  • Greece objects to Turkish request on NATO exercise
  • Olympic Airways to advertise for new managing director
  • Gov't finds temporary solution for ship's refugees
  • Government appoints state bank to find power plant evaluator
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Athens `97 Athletics Championships open in spectacular ceremony

In an impressive ceremony at the Panathenian Stadium, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos last night opened the 6th World Athletics Championships, organised this year in Athens from August 1 to 10.

In the same stadium that held the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and in the presence of over 50,000 spectators, athletes and officials from Greece and abroad, including Prime Minister Costas Simitis, International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) president Primo Nebiolo said Athens was welcoming more athletes and countries than ever before in the history of the games.

A record number of 200 countries are participating in the Athens 97 championships.

"We feel grateful to all of Greece and its people for what you have offered us through the organisation of this amazing event, and for what you have contributed all these years to the history of athletics", Mr. Nebiolo said in his address.

Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras said "Greece embraces all the peoples of the earth, regardless of race, nation, sex and form of government. From this historic corner of the universe, from this ancient stadium, gathered together here today, we are expressing the inveterate claim of peoples on earth for peace and brotherhood".

In a message read during the event, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the games were an opportunity to realise that today's and tomorrow's Greece is a country of great abilities in hosting world athletics events.

The ceremony continued until late, with composer Vangelis Papathanasiou performing a work commissioned for the event, with the participation of international opera singer Montserrat Caballe and her daughter, Greek traditional and ancient dances, and spectacular fireworks.

The opening ceremony was viewed by over three billion people throughout the world.

Mr. Nebiolo said "Greece is the birthplace of athletics and will always possess a distinguished position in the hearts and thoughts of all sports fans all over the world. Tonight, Greece of the past is uniting with Greece of the future and both of them will show that they can coexist in a spectacular way.

"Through this thrilling gathering of international athletes and officials, the World Athletics Federation sends a very strong message of hope and understanding from here, a message that all young people, regardless of race, colour, generation or country of origin can compete with a friendly disposition and overcome obstacles separating us".

Mr. Fouras said: "The history of athletics in Greece is not measured by centuries but by millennia."

"The Greeks held athletics events from ancient times, before the dawn of history, as our mythology shows," he went on to say.

Mr. Fouras said classic athletics have brightened the history of mankind, adding that "in this place we have remained faithful to the ancient spirit throughout the entire duration of our historic life."

"Our people are justifiably proud of this. At the same time, however, we are proud of our modern civilisation and our achievements. We are proud of our men and women athletes and for the fact that the ancient spirit is present today in the marble stadium," he said.

"Organising major sports events constitutes a challenge for all countries, small and big. However, it takes on the nature of a very serious responsibility in this world. Particularly when it concerns classic athletics games, responsibility does not only concern good organisation. A greater responsibility is created for us by the duty to remain faithful to the spirit and lofty ideals of classic athletics," he added.

Mr. Simitis, who was present but did not personally deliver his message, said: "All these days, during the athletics games, are special and sacred for all Greeks. This is because the ideals of brotherhood, friendship and noble contest are prevailing over the athletic perfomance and distinction.

"The World Athletics Championships is an historical moment for modern sports. All the stars of track and field and the best of classical athletes have gathered here.

"Our expectations for high performances are justified and a great honour to all those who are watching the games. This makes us especially happy and grateful.

"At the same time, these championships are a unique opportunity for citizens from around the world to meet in the country of myth and history, in the bright place of optimism and peace.

"The games are also a great opportunity to realise that today's and tomorrow's Greece is a country of great abilities in hosting world athletics events. It is in this sense of responsibility that we are bidding for the hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens."

Yilmaz says Greek-Turkish differences will be mended

Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said in Ankara yesterday he believes that Turkey and Greece will resolve their differences in the framework of the Madrid communique issued on July 8, 1997.

According to the Turkish Anatolian news agency, Mr. Yilmaz addressed a message to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who had congratulated him on his assumption of the premiership in Turkey.

Mr. Yilmaz stressed in his message that he is "very satisfied" with the message of congratulations by his Greek counterpart.

In the message, Mr. Yilmaz said he "is certain" that Turkey and Greece "can enter a new era of friendship and cooperation in their bilateral relations."

Managers charged in munitions factory blast

Two managers at a Greek munitions factory were charged today with manslaughter and causing bodily harm through negligence following a blast at the plant in which one worker died and 14 were injured.

The explosion yesterday at the Gunpowder and Cartridge Company (PYRKAL) in Lavrio, southeast Attica was apparently caused by flammable gas leaking from a denitrification tower.

Charged by a public prosecutor in connection with the blast were PYRKAL's plant manager Panayotis Floros and safety manager Ilias Kokkinovasilis, who were later released.

Maintenence worker Vassilis Hatzidimas, 52, died instantly in the explosion.

Six workers, one of whom lost a leg, are being treated at the General State Hospital in Athens, and another eight were discharged on Friday from Lavrio medical centre after treatment for light injuries.

Lavrio Mayor Stavros Papastavropoulos has charged negligence at the denitrification tower, the scene of another blast on May 5.

Papastravropoulos yesterday claimed PYRKAL's management had promised to decommission the tower after the first accident, but operations had continued.

The General Confederation of Greek Labour has called for stricter implementation of worker health and safety measures. According to the Communist Party of Greece, the country has the highest rate of industrial accidents in Europe.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, whose ministry supervises the company, visited the scene of the explosion on yesterday.

Fate of peace for Greece rests in the Aegean, minister says

Speaking on the island of Symi yesterday during the unveiling of a bust dedicated to the late PASOK minister George Yennimatas, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the fate of peace for Greece will be decided in the Aegean. Yennimatas was f rom this small island in the Dodecanese.

"All of the Aegean will be respected on the basis of the principles of international law, treaties and agreements. Our borders are non-negotiable and inviolable," he said, addressing neighbouring Turkey.

"It is not possible for the status quo in the Aegean to be questioned and it is in Turkey's interests to admit this," he added.

Referring to Turkey's accession to the European Union, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Greece is not opposed to it, but common support (by Greece and Turkey) for the accession of Cyprus constitutes a precondition.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Greek armed forces are powerful and for this reason one can speak of peace, but at the same time "we must send to our neighbours a message of persuasion and not confrontation."

Speaking of George Yennimatas, he referred to their prolonged cooperation and his contribution to the democratic side and to the love he felt for Symi.

Greece objects to Turkish request on NATO exercise

A NATO multinational exercise, "Dynamic Mix '97", is taking place at the Xiros gulf in eastern Thrace from September 22 to October 5, with a request by Turkey that it be allowed to carry out exercises on its home territory across the island of Samos.

Following the request, Greece called on NATO's southern flank headquarters at Napoli to reject Turkey's request for air coverage of its naval test invasion, on the grounds of possible complications.

Greece said that if NATO accepts the request, it would consider the inclusion of Limnos in the exercise, using its powerful radars to monitor the Turkish exercises.

In that case, however, Turkey will request an exemption of Limnos from the exercises, calling on a NATO directive of 1984 that has created tension between the two countries in the past.

NATO's decision on the issue is pending.

The exercise includes five regional exercises in Greece coordinated by the Larissa regional headquarters. The other two southern NATO regional headquarters organising the exercise are Verona and Izmir.

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 yesterday.

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.

Gov't finds temporary solution for ship's refugees

Public Order Minister George Romeos, in cooperation with jointly competent ministries, yesterday provided a temporary solution to the problem of the 314 illegal immigrants discovered this week aboard a Ukrainian-flagged cargo ship drifting off the island of Andros.

A ministry announcement said that the illegal immigrants, including 40 children, were to be transferred by yesterday evening to camp sites at Palea Pendeli, Nea Makri and the Lavrion Refugee Centre.

It added that each application submitted by the mainly Iraqi and Pakistani illegal immigrants to stay in Greece would be examined in accordance with Greek legislation. The Public Order Ministry clarified that it was not considering deporting any of the illegal immigrants.

The authorities had initially counted about 180 illegal immigrants aboard the "Sochol", but a further search of the ship's holds revealed more.

The children, aged between four months and 12 years, were found to be in a state of dehydration.

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

The "Sochol" had left Izmir on the Turkish coast and was heading for Italy when it suffered a complete power failure.

The ship carrying the illegal immigrants was bought by a Turkish national in Istanbul for the sole purpose of transporting illegal immigrants.

According to port authorities, the ship was bought from a Ukrainian company for US$30,000 and docked at Istanbul, where immigrants boarded it over four days under the cover of night.

The two Turkish nationals being questioned told port authorities that the ship had been supplied with adequate fuel outside Izmir.

Close to 9 nautical miles off Evia, the captain and most of his crew switched the fuel supply off, told people on board they were going for supplies, and disappeared on a high-speed boat leaving no documents behind.

The ship went on black-out soon after, and was found adrift by Greek authorities.

Port authorities are looking for their Greek collaborator, while a representative of the original owners in Odessa said "Sochol" had not been completely paid off.

Government appoints state bank to find power plant evaluator

The National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA) will undertake the search for an independent evaluator for a proposed Greek- Russian power plant in Florina, the government spokesman said yesterday.

Mr. Dimitris Reppas said the Inner Cabinet had endorsed a Cabinet proposal that a tender be called for an evaluator to determine the cost of a Public Power Corporation (DEH) plant in Florina.

The spokesman added that ETEBA would draw up the requirements for the evaluator and issue the call for tenders.

The procedure will be supervised by a three-member committee including representatives of the Inner Cabinet's secretariat, and the ministries of national economy and development.

The government places greater importance on following a transparent procedure than on getting an opinion very quickly, but estimated that the evaluator would be given four to six months to come up with an opinion on the cost of the project, the spokesma n said.

DEH would not participate in the committee, to prevent any criticism that the procedure was partial, he said.

Asked to comment on whether Prime Minister Costas Simitis would look into who was responsible for the delay in deciding on an evaluator, Mr. Reppas said this procedure was foreseen in the interstate agreement that was signed but preliminary procedures h ad to be completed before reaching this stage.

The decision to hire an independent evaluator was made following criticism from various quarters about transparency in the issue, the spokesman explained.

Replying to criticism by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Mr. Reppas said ND showed political inefficiency, lack of strategy and attempts to find a political spectrum to address itself


Light cloud and scattered showers or storms are forecast in many parts of the country today. Winds will be southerly, moderate to strong. Athens will see mostly fair weather with temperatures ranging from 22-35 C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with the likelihood of rain. Temperatures in the second city will range from 20-30 C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.577 Pound sterling 468.819 Cyprus pd 528.339 French franc 45.900 Swiss franc 188.678 German mark 154.727 Italian lira (100) 15.862 Yen (100) 240.362 Canadian dlr. 207.130 Australian dlr. 212.119 Irish Punt 414.358 Belgian franc 7.495 Finnish mark 51.830 Dutch guilder 137.362 Danish kr. 40.614 Swedish kr. 35.722 Norwegian kr. 37.353 Austrian sch. 21.991 Spanish peseta 1.833 Port. Escudo 1.531


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