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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-08-04

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 04/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek troops return from Albania
  • Greek ministerial delegation to Tirana
  • US dominates in track and field at World Championships in Athens
  • Delivery of modern weapons system
  • Greece second safest country in Europe for tourists
  • Athens mayor meets counterparts of 2004 Olympics candidate cities
  • Premier begins summer vacations, takes file on problems with him
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek troops return from Albania

The largest part of the Greek contigent which participated in the multinational peace force in Albania returned home yesterday, while a seven- member Greek government delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos leaves tomorrow for an official visit to Tirana.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday morning welcomed, during a special ceremony in the port of Thessaloniki, 278 officers and non- commissioned officers of the Greek army ELDAL (Greek Force for Albania) unit who arrived at 9.30 am, aboard Navy transport ships "Samos" and "Hios".

About seventy troops are still in Albania and are expected to return home by August 10. The first company of the Greek force arrived in the neighbouring country in mid-April. The multinational force's task was to help restore normality in Albania and as sist towards the holding of democratic elections. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos conveyed the government's congratulations for successfully carrying out their mission, stressing that "the fact that you have all returned, is the greatest joy for us".

In reference to the mission, the defence minister said that "the presence and initiatives of the Greek force made possible the holding of free and democratic elections in Albania, justifying the (soldiers') choice for taking part in the mission and the G reek people's support for it and thus opening the way for Greek armed forces to assume a role of 'ambassador of peace' in countries faced with long crises, instability and anomaly, and confirming Greece's role as a factor of peace, stability and cooperati on in the Balkans".

The minister made reference to the human dimension of the mission, saying that the men of ELDAL offered more than just protection with "the unique and spontaneous connection" they made with the Albanian people, through the solidarity developed between Gr eek soldiers, Albanian citizens and the local military.

Greek ministerial delegation to Tirana

The Greek positions concerning all outstanding issues between Greece and Albania are expected to be the focus of a series of meetings with the new government in Tirana, during an official visit to Albania by a seven-member Greek government delegation, starting tomorrow, headed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

The foreign minister will be accompanied by Public Order Minister George Romeos, as well as undersecretaries of foreign affairs Yiannos Kranidiotis, defence Dimitris Apostolakis, national economy Alexandros Baltas, public works Christos Verelis and labo ur Christos Protopappas. The top issue in the agenda of discussions is believed to be the issue of illegal Albanian immigrants in Greece, who are currently estimated at 200 to 300 thousand. The discussion of the issue seems to be timely, as an interstate agreement on seasonal work by Albanians in Greece is expected to be put into effect. It is also expected that GreeceYs Labour Ministry will soon announce regulations, contained in Presidential Decrees, regarding the granting of six- to nine-month visas to foreigners.

Another issue to be examined during the Greek delegation's meetings with Albania's new government is the need to reorganise the country's police, as well as the need for cooperation between the two countries' police forces in order to effectively deal with crimes committed in Greece by Albanians, both in the inland and in border regions. The Greek delegation will ask Albanian officials to provide them with a list of escapees from Albanian prisons in the past months.

As far as the issue of education is concerned, which mainly affects the Greek minority living in the neighbouring country, Greece will put forward a demand relating to the establishment of private Greek schools, which in turn requires an overall moderni sation of the Albanian educational system.

Finally, the Greek delegation will discuss the terms under which Greece will go ahead with the granting of a loan to Albania reaching $ 20 billion.

Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said yesterday that he considers his Greek counterpart's visit to Tirana as the expresssion of the will and desire of the Greek government to support Albania and its people.

He said that the visit is within the "spirit" of the new government's policy statement voted by the Albanian Parliament last week, which refers to relations with neihbouring countries as a conrnerstone of Albanian foreign policy. "We evaluate these rela tions based on a variety of factors, not just geographical and historical".

US dominates in track and field at World Championships in Athens

The United States dominated in yesterday's track and field events, collecting two gold medals during the second day of the Athens '97 World Athletics Championships. American Maurice Greene last night upset favourites Ato Bolton and defending champion Donovan Bailey to win the menYs 100 metres gold medal in 9.86 seconds.

Donovan Bailey of Canada took the silver in 9.91 seconds and American Tim Montgomery the bronze with 9.94.

American Marion Jones won the womenYs 100 metres gold medal in 10.83 seconds. Zhanna Pintussevich of the Ukraine took the silver in 10.85 and Bahamian Sevatheda Fynes took the bronze medal in 11.03 seconds.

German Heinz Weis won the hammer gold medal with 81.78 metres yesterday. Before his final attempt, Weis was second to Ukainian Andrei Skvaruk.

Skvaruk had been seemingly out of medal contention but in his final thow took the lead with 81.46 metres, winning the silver medal.

Russian Vasiliy Sidorenko took the bronze with 80.76 metres.

In the shot put finals, on Saturday, Ukrainian veteran Aleksandr Bagach won his first world title with 21.47 metres, after a close battle with defending champion Jonh Godina.

American Godina took the silver with 21.44 metres and Oliver-Sven Buder of Germany won bronze with 21.24 metres.

Mexican Daniel Garcia won the menYs 20 kms walk gold medal on Saturday, while Russian Mikhail Shchennikov took the silver and Mikhail Khmelnitsky of Belarus the bronze. Medals table after yesterday's second day of competition: United States: 2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze; Ukraine: 1 gold, 2 silver; Germany: 1 gold, 1 bronze; Mexico: 1 gold; Russia: 1 silver, 1 bronze; Canada: 1 silver; Belarus: 1 bronze; Bahamas: 1 bronze.

Russia's double Olympic champion Svetlana Masterkova left the world championships area on a stretcher yesterday after pulling up with a leg injury in the womenYs 1,500 metres semifinals.

Masterkova, who dominated the 800 and 1,500 metres at last yearYs Atlanta Olympics, pulled up in the last 100 metres of the heat and hobbled over the line in last place.

The Russian, who looked far from her best in the first round on Saturday, was carried away on a stretcher.

Greece's sprinters Angelos Pavlakakis and Katerina Thanou made a brave effort but failed to reach the finals of the 100 m. race.

Pavlakakis came sixth in the semi-finals, clocking 10.29 seconds. Thanou, who also failed to be among the fist four places which would have given her the ticket for the finals, timed 11.34 seconds.

Greece's athletes did not perform well in the morning events, except for javelin thrower Kostas Gatzioudis, who in his first attempt threw the javelin 83 metres and 32 centimetres and qualified for today's final.

In the long jump, Kostas Koukodimos and Dimitris Hatzopoulos did not meet the required standard set for entry into the finals.

Costas Mamoulides failed to go beyond the preliminary stage of the 400 metres.

Delivery of modern weapons system

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday attended a ceremony in the port of Thessaloniki, to mark the delivery of a modern weapons system.

Addressing military and civil officials at the delivery of nine US-made MLRS missile launchers, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that reinforcing Greece's defence capability ensures that no-one will dare dispute the nation's sovereignty.

The defence minister stressed that with the modern weaponry its military is acquiring, Greece is sending out the message that it is a force of security and stability in the region. Yesterday's delivery concludes the formation of the MLRS Multiple Lau nchers Battalion, originally established in 1995 after the delivery of the first nine launchers. The procurement contract with the US was signed in 1995 and their total cost rises to 27 billion drachmas. Army Chief of Staff Manousos Paragioudakis said t hat the MLRS is considered one of the most advanced weapon systems in the world and is widely used in NATO defence forces.

The mobile launchers are based on all-terrain vehicles and feature fully automated launching procedures. Their capability to launch 12 missiles simultaneously, is equivalent to the fire power of 90, 155 mm artillery guns. Their range at the moment is 32 kilometres but it will increase to 165 and later to 300 with ammunition upgrades.

Greece second safest country in Europe for tourists

Greece is the second safest country in Europe for tourists, according to research carried out by the French insurers' Centre of Documentation and Information.

Portugal was the first country among European states, with two reports for theft per 1,000 residents. Greece has an average of four thefts per 1,000 residents, while Spain and France ranked third and fourth with six and eight thefts respectively.

Apart from Italy which is not contained in the report by the French centre, Belgium and Sweden have an average of 16 thefts reported per 1,000 residents, while Germany has 18, Finland 19, Denmark 20, Britain 27, and finally, Holland 37.

Athens mayor meets counterparts of 2004 Olympics candidate cities

Mayor of Athens Dimitris Aramopoulos yesterday met at his office his counterparts of Rome, Stockholm and Cape Town, which are candidate cities -- along with Athens and Buenos Aires -- for the 2004 Olympic Games.

During the meeting, which was also attended by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch, the four mayors exchanged views on the progress of the bidding process for the 2004 Games.

Mr. Avramopoulos had another meeting on Saturday with Mr. Samaranch, after which the IOC president told reporters that the opening ceremony of the "6th IAAF World Athletics Championships" in Athens, was one of the best he had ever attended.

The IOC president also referred to recent changes in the city of Athens, saying "I can now see a different city. I believe it will become even better in future. The Athens Metro, the Spata airport and other major projects currently underway will turn A thens into an ancient - modern city".

Premier begins summer vacations, takes file on problems with him

Prime Minister Costas Simitis left Athens yesterday for his summer vacation on the Cyclades island of Siphnos, but took with him the "files" containing the countries serious problems in the areas of domestic and foreign policy. In the past few days, the prime minister has had successive deliberations with government ministers and his aides, in order to have a fuller picture of the country's course and future prospects.

Among the issues Mr. Simitis will consider during his vacation are also those relating to likely changes in the government -- although such changes have been denied -- as well as the function of the PASOK party.

WEATHER

Today the weather is expected to be fine throughout the country, with some cloud developing in the north, later in the day. Mild northerly winds are forecast, strong in parts of the Aegean. Athens can expect almost fine weather with temperatures ranging between 22 and 33 degrees centigrade. Similar conditions for Thessaloniki with temperatures 19-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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. 37.319 Austrian sch. 21.991 Spanish peseta 1.833 Port. Escudo 1.531

(L.G.)


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