Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
A record number of 200 countries are participating in the Athens 97
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
The ship went on black-out soon after, and was found adrift by Greek
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
The decision to hire an independent evaluator was made following criticism
from various quarters about transparency in the issue, the spokesman
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
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Austrian sch. 21.991 Spanish peseta 1.833
Port. Escudo 1.531