Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-29
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 29/12/1997 (ANA)
- Corinth canal closed for another week
- Vandalism claimed at Imvros church
- Robbers thank bank staff for Xmas cheer
- Sheep drown in pen
- Woman arrested in wedding ruse
- Athens notes Turkish military's aggressive policy
- Demirel says Greece responsible for Turkey's EU bid failure
- Report on Yak-42 crash expected in 10-15 days
- Defence Minister stresses Greece's peace-keeping role in Bosnia
- Cornelius Castoriades dies in Paris
- Greek state railways monopoly ends as of Jan. 1, 1998
- 31 dead in traffic accidents over Christmas break
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Corinth canal closed for another week
The Corinth Canal, the 6.3 kilometre-long and 7-metre deep waterway between
central Greece with the Peloponnese, will remain closed for almost another
week for repairs, the Corinth Canal Authority announced today.
It said the 105-year-old waterway, which was damaged by landslides nearly
two weeks ago, would remain closed for approximately six more days to
enable completion of the restoration work.
Vandalism claimed at Imvros church
The Church of the Virgin Mother on the Turkish-controlled island of Imvros
was destroyed by vandals over the Christmas holiday, according to press
sources in Mytilene.
The sources said vandals destroyed the entrance to and everything inside
the church, situated on the southern end of the island.
The church had been renovated this past summer with funds donated by the
Imvrians of the diaspora.
Religious monuments on the Aegean island have been regularly destroyed by
vandals over the past 20 years "without any arrests ever having been made,"
Michalis Mavropoulos, president of the Athens Association of Imvrians, told
"The Turkish side must finally conduct investigations and arrest the
perpetrators of these actions, otherwise we shall consider them accomplices
in all the destruction caused so far but also in all such acts in the
future," Mavropoulos said.
Robbers thank bank staff for Xmas cheer
Two armed and masked men today held up a bank in the Athens district of
Tavros and politely thanked staff and customers before making their getaway
with 7 million drachmas.
The robbery took place at a branch of the Ergobank this morning.
The two robbers, one armed with an automatic weapon and the other a
revolver, ordered the five employees and 15 customers to lie on the
They then ordered two cashiers to fill up a bag with as much money as they
had in front of them, before making their getaway on a powerful motorcyle
driven by an accomplice.
Sheep drown in pen
Some 125 sheep drowned in their pen in the rural area of Tymbano, Xanthi
after a sudden downpour.
The animals died when their pen flooded during heavy rain and the owner,
Nikos Antiparolpoulos, was not there to release them.
Woman arrested in wedding ruse
A 37-year-old Greek woman has been arrested for taking advantage of the
jostle at weddings to steal gifts intended for the bride and groom.
Lazaria Soufatzi was arrested on Saturday at a church in the Athens suburb
of Nea Kifissia as she tried to substitute an expensive gift with a box
containing empty soft drink cans.
The police said she had used the same method to steal wedding gifts from
the same church in the past.
Athens notes Turkish military's aggressive policy
The Turkish military has imposed clear conditions for an aggressive policy
towards Greece, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said
yesterday, in the wake of a decree recently signed by Turkish Prime
Minister Mesut Yilmaz, which officially brands Greece and Syria as
"hostile" towards the Turkish state.
Ankara's tense reaction to the European Union's decision not to include
Turkey as a potential member confirms Greece's long-standing positions on
the matter, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said shortly before his departure for a
three-day visit to Bosnia and Albania.
"The tension and the thoughtless comments with which Turkey reacts to the
decision by the European Union regarding its accession confirm our long-
standing position: That the (Turkish) military leadership has imposed, with
the recent decree that was sign ed by the premier of Turkey, clear
conditions for an aggressive policy towards these particular countries",
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
"It is inconceivable that Turkey should claim Greece to be its enemy", he
said, stressing that the issue is cause for concern and will be taken up
with international organisations.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos declined to answer questions about any future tension
between Greece and Turkey, saying, however, that "if we have a continuation
of past incidents, the Greek armed forces are in a position to deal with
anything that happens and any challenge".
Turkey's intensifying provocativeness and intransigence over the last few
days shows that it cannot behave as a European country, main opposition New
Democracy party spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos stated yesterday.
He added that such behaviour required a "serious, prudent, but above all,
decisive policy" on the part of Greece.
Demirel says Greece responsible for Turkey's EU bid failure
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Saturday accused Greece of blocking
Ankara's bid to join the European Union and warning that Athens could "pay
a price for its opposition".
"This country does not stop putting baseless obstacles in front of Turkey,
particularly at the European Union level," Demirel told a year-end news
"Greece should take into account that this approach bears a responsibility
and has a price," he said. He did not specify what the price was.
The 15-nation union this month excluded Turkey from a list of potential
members, citing Ankara's disputes with EU-member Greece, including Cyprus,
and shaky human rights record.
Greece welcomed the EU decision and said its opposition to Turkey's
membership was backed by the union.
Tension between the two countries rose last week when Ankara expelled a
Greek consulate employee in Istanbul on charges of spying and aiding
Kurdish guerrillas and Athens responded by expelling a Turkish diplomat
based in the Thessaloniki.
Asked whether his comments were a threat towards Greece, Demirel said:
"There is no threat in our language...but if an irreversible situation is
created we will not be responsible for that."
Report on Yak-42 crash expected in 10-15 days
Results of the investigation into the crash of a Ukrainian Yakovlev-42
aircraft that crashed in northern Greece with the loss of all passengers
and crew will be released within the next 10-15 days, Civil Aviation
Authority (YPA) Director Dionysis Kalofonos said on Saturday. The aircraft,
which had been leased to the Ukrainian airline Aerosweet, crashed into a
mountainside in Pieria prefecture, southwest of its destination at
Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport on Dec. 17.
The plane's flight data recorders were sent to Germany to be analysed,
while Greek experts left Thessaloniki for Hanover over the weekend to be
briefed on the information retrieved.
Mr. Kalofonos also said that Russian and Ukrainian experts are accompanying
the Greek team to Germany in accordance with international regulations,
since the aircraft was built in Russia and had been leased to the Ukrainian
However, they will not be involved in compiling the report on the crash,
although they have the right to submit recommendations on the findings. The
three teams will also visit the United States, Ukraine and Russia.
According to civil aviation sources, initial findings indicate that the
accident was due to pilot error. However, instrument malfunction has not
been ruled out, according to YPA deputy director Georgios Souladakis, who
said this would explain why the pilot reported he was flying north when in
fact the plane was flying west.
Meanwhile, experts looking into the Yakovlev-42 crash requested the use of
an another aircraft of the same type to re-trace the flight path of the
donwed aircraft in an effort to shed light on the cause of the accident.
YPA officials said evidence collected at the crash site and the flight
recorders will be compared with the flight instruments of an airplane, in
addition to a crew provided by the Russian manufacturer.
Greek experts also requested from their Russian counterparts the use of a
flight simulator so as to re-enact the ill-fated flight from Kiev to Odessa
Finally, the Thessaloniki coroner's office has recorded 74 passengers were
aboard the aircraft, and not 70 as was originally thought. In addition,
autopsies on the pilots will include a toxicology screening to determine if
they were under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Defence Minister stresses Greece's peace-keeping role in Bosnia
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described as very important
the mission of the multinational force in Bosnia, stressing Greece's
valuable participation in the effort.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who arrived here yesterday, addressed the 278-strong
Greek contingent. He called it a force of peace, security and stability.
"Our participation is part of the general framework of our country's
strategy. We insisted that the (multinational) force remain in Bosnia,
knowing that the repercussions of an on-going crisis would have been
immediate for Greece," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
He added that the initial target of the peacekeeping forces has been
accomplished, although forces will remain in Bosnia for the time being.
The Greek force will remain in place to ensure the respect for peace,
freedom and human rights, the Greek minister said, allowing for the
possibility that Greek troops stay in Bosnia will be extended.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will meet today with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic,
before departing for Tirana to visit the Greek peacekeeping force stationed
Regarding his visit to Bosnia, the Greek defence minister said he would
discuss developments in the area, as they have a direct influence on the
collective security with the region in which Greece belongs.
Cornelius Castoriadis dies in Paris
Noted philoshopher and psychoanalyst Cornelius Castoriadis died in Paris on
Saturday at the age of 75, following complications from recent heart
surgery. He will be buried in Paris today.
Castoriadis was born in 1922 in Istanbul, while he later studied in Athens
before moving to France in 1945. He was co-publisher of the Paris-based
magazine "Socialism or Barbarity" and wrote several well-known monographs.
In a rare interview with a Greek reporter recently, he offered his view of
modern Greek society, saying that modern Greeks have transformed history
into mythology, choosing to remember only the more glorious parts of their
Culture minister Evangelos Venizelos said that "Cornelius Castoriadis was
an authentic, harsh and universal intellectual...Greece, his birthplace,
both biologically and symbolically, mourns along with the rest of
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said that the
world's intellectual thought has lost one of its pioneers.
Greek state railways monopoly ends as of Jan. 1, 1998
The Greek Railways Organisation's (OSE) monopoly on rail transport will be
abolished on Jan. 1, as mandated by the European Union, thus paving the way
for the rail transport of passengers and goods by private rail firms.
The transport ministry will issue permits to European rail companies on the
following conditions: - that they carry liability insurance covering
passengers, cargo, mail and third parties. - That they will not declare
bankruptcy. - That they remain solvent. - That members of their board of
directors have not been convicted of smuggling, fraud, forgery, robbery or
other felonies. - That their rail equipment is of high standards.
Also, before a permit is issued, foreign companies must prove their
financial, managerial and technical ability and knowhow.
The ministry will reserve the right to permanently or temporarily revoke a
permit and will also be able to issue a six-month temporary permit, until
the company becomes solvent again.
31 dead in traffic accidents over Christmas break
Thurty-one people were killed on the country's roadways over the Christmas
break, while 379 were injured, 100 seriously, in a total of 260 traffic
accidents since Wednesday.
Several emergency traffic measures were in place yesterday around the Greek
capital as thousands of Athenians were expected to return from the
Rain and local thunderstorms in Thrace and the northern and eastern Aegean
islands with a rapid improvement later today. Local cloudiness with
possible rain in the rest of Greece. Westerly winds moderate to strong,
gettting stronger in parts of the Aegan Sea. Athens mostly sunny with few
clouds and temperatures from 9-13C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 5-10C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.929
Pound sterling 462.927 Cyprus pd 531.712
French franc 46.747 Swiss franc 193.564
German mark 156.428 Italian lira (100) 15.945
Yen (100) 214.740 Canadian dlr. 193.063
Australian dlr. 182.285 Irish Punt 404.438
Belgian franc 7.584 Finnish mark 51.693
Dutch guilder 138.860 Danish kr. 41.085
Swedish kr. 35.698 Norwegian kr. 38.172
Austrian sch. 22.242 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.533