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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-21

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, 21/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece celebrates Easter in line with tradition
  • US Defence Secretary due in Athens for talks today
  • Tsohatzopoulos holds talks with Albanian premier
  • Apostolakis visits Greek contingent in Bosnia
  • Easter mass exodus death toll rises to 35
  • Messages on junta anniversary
  • New group claims firebomb attack on bank
  • Elder Karamanlis remains in critical condition
  • Two Turks charged with smuggling immigrants
  • Foreign prisoners make escape attempt at Athens jail
  • EU Commission proposes fine on Greece over waste
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece celebrates Easter in line with tradition

Greeks celebrated Orthodox Easter in accordance with tradition - with this year witnessing an unprecedented exodus to the countryside.

The country's political leadership on Sunday visited military units throughout Greece to wish them well in the most important religious celebration of the year for Orthodox Christians.

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, Communist Party of Greece secretary general Aleka Papariga, Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos visited the Armor Corps Training Centre (KETTH) at Avlona, Attica to celebrate with the the armed forces.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who spent Easter on the island of Corfu, during a radio address to the Nation expressed his wishes to overseas Greeks and the foreign visitors who came to Greece on Easter holidays.

US Defence Secretary due in Athens for talks today

United States Defence Secretary William Cohen arrives in Athens today on a lightning visit. He is due to have talks with National Defence Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos on the issue of confidence building measures in the Aegean which is currently being dis cussed within NATO, as well as Greece's defence armaments programme.

Mr. Cohen arrives here following visits to Turkey and Middle East countries over the past few days.

Tsohatzopoulos holds talks with Albanian premier

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano in Tirana on Easter Sunday, accompanied by ministry officials, with discussion between them focusing on bilateral issues and issues relating to the wider region of so utheast Europe, including Kosovo and the creation of a multinationl peacekeeping force in the Balkans.

The Albanian prime minister said after the meeting that discussion touched upon cooperation between Balkan nations and collective security in the region in the framework of NATO.

"The two countries are an important factor for peace in the region", Mr. Nano said.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said during his meeting with the Albanian premier he exchanged views on cooperation between the two countries and their positive stance on consolidating peace and coperation in the Balkans.

Earlier, the Albanian prime minister had spoken of 'grey clouds' casting their shadow on peace in the Balkans, implicitly referring to the situation in Kosovo.

The Greek defence minister replied that dialogue was the only means to safeguard the rights of all peoples.

During his Easter Sunday visit to Albania, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos visited the Greek contingent of the multinational force stationed here, accompanied by Greek army chief Manousos Parayioudakis and ministry officials.

Apostolakis visits Greek contingent in Bosnia

National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis spent the Easter Monday celebration with the Greek contingent serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In a speech he delivered there, Mr. Apostolakis praised the Greek contingent's work, saying it represented Greece in the best way and adding that Greece had now shaken off its isolationism to become the most powerful country in the region in economic terms, as well as in political stability and social cohesion.

Mr. Apostolakis underlined the need for the Greek contingent's presense in Bosnia, saying its withdrawal would have serious repercussions for the region, putting at risk everything that has been acheived so far, following the implementation of the Dayton agreement.

Easter mass exodus death toll rises to 35

Thirty-three people have lost their lives on Greek roads this Easter long weekend, with another 446 injured - 90 seriously - in more than 300 traffic accidents since Thursday night.

Traffic police stepped up measures ahead of the expected return of holiday- makers later yesterday.

Authorities said that 70 percent of the 300 accidents had taken place on rural road networks, where a police presence was less noticeable.

Messages on junta anniversary

The Democratic Social Movement in a message issued yesterday to mark today's black anniversary of the April 21, 1967, military junta, stressed that the basic ingredient of democracy was national unity, a unity which was built up daily by a society of so lidarity and affection.

The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) in its own message for the occasion said that 24 years after the fall of the dictatorship and just a few years before 2000, the distance between expectation and reality was giving rise to a demand for a radical change in the country's political life.

New group claims firebomb attack on bank

A suburban branch of the Ionian Bank was the target of a firebomb attack on Sunday night, resulting in serious property damage but no injuries.

Authorities said the fire was caused by a makeshift explosive device made up of seven gas cannisters. placed at the bank's entrance.

Fifteen fire fighters and four fire trucks were needed to put out the blaze. Police are continuing their investigation into the identity of two young people seen fleeing the scene.

An anonymous caller to the Athens daily Eleftherotypia later claimed the arson attack on the bank was the work of a new group, calling itself "Autonomous Revolutionary Activity".

The caller said the attack had been carried out to protest the mistreatment of foreigners and called for the release of Nikos Maziotis, arrested earlier this year on suspicion of coordinating a series of bomb attacks.

Senior police officials said that the explosive device was similar to one placed last week at the Retired Officers Club in downtown Athens, an attack claimed by "Arsonists of Conscience".

They said that they believed the attacks were being carried out by the same groups using a variety of names to throw police off their scent.

In a similar incident, the group "Arsonists of Conscience" on Saturday claimed responsibility for torching an Italian Embassy car which was parked on Lycabettus Hill. The same group in a call to FLASH radio station on Sunday claimed responsibility for setting ablaze a car in the Athens suburb of Kolonaki.

Elder Karamanlis remains in critical condition

Former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis continued to be listed in a critical condition for the seventh consecutive day since he suffered heart failure following admission to hospital for a lung infection, doctors said yesterday.

Reports after 6 p.m. yesterday said that Mr. Karamanlis's condition had taken a turn for the worse, while doctors were particularly vigilant.

Mr. Karamanlis, 91, was admitted to the Hygeia Hospital on April 7 with lung infection. He was placed on breathing support on April 12 after his heart stopped during a mild heart attack.

His doctors said yesterday that Mr. Karamanlis continued to breathe with the aid of a respirator and that the infection was being treated with antibiotics.

One of Mr. Karamanlis's doctors was reported to have said the patient's situation was "worrying" and that he had not fully recovered from the heart attack.

He said the former president's heart was not beating steadily and treatment was being complicated by renal problems.

Two Turks charged with smuggling immigrants

Two Turkish nationals were charged with smuggling in 84 illegal immigrants to Greece before a Samos prosecutor yesterday, authorities said. Kurt Omer, 24, and Polat Nimer, 33, were charged with transporting 84 illegal immigrants from Iraq - 53 m en, 13 women and 18 children - on their 18- metre boat and putting them ashore on Agathonissi on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, a Greek man was arrested yesterday after police found him transporting six Pakistani illegal immigrants to Athens with his car.

Ilias Nikolaidis, 45, from Didymotiho, was arrested at the Fanariou Bridge in the Rodopi district. Police said the illegal immigrants had entered the country through the Evros River.

Nikolaidis's car and $1,600 found on him were confiscated, while the six Pakistanis will face a prosecutor today.

Foreign prisoners make escape attempt at Athens jail

An escape attempt by nearly 40 foreigners at the top security Korydallos prison near Piraeus was thwarted by police.

Guards were quick in detecting their movements and foiled their escape attempt.

Police units were late last night on the alert around the prison complex, while the would-be escapees remained outside their cells.

EU Commission proposes fine on Greece over waste

The European Commission has proposed to the European Court to impose a fine on Greece for not having implemented a waste programme for the gulf of Souda, Crete.

The Commission proposed that Greece pays 8.3 million drachmas (ecu 24,600) per day of delay in implementing the European Court's verdict.

Five years ago the European Court had condemned Greece for not having abolished some illegal pits in the area, where waste was taken from the Souda military base, hospitals and some factories in the region.

The Greek government had then said that measures were not implemented because residents had reacted to the relocation of the pits in neighbouring Sfakia, Palaiohora and Kastelli.

The entire procedure for the imposition of a fine is stipulated in the Maastricht Treaty, and according to provisions the Commission has the right to propose a fine on certain EU member-states for not implementing European court decisions.

WEATHER

Fine weather in most parts of Greece today with local cloud in a few regions. Winds westerly, mild to strong and very strong in the south. Temperatures in the north will range from 5-22C, in the mainland from 8-24 and on the islands from 12-23. Athens will be sunny with temperatures from 11-23C. Same in Thessaloniki with increasing cloud in the afternoon and temperatures between 9-22C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 312.778 British pound 527.149 Japanese Yen(100) 238.090 French franc 51.608 German mark 172.955 Italian lira (100) 17.504 Irish Punt 436.480 Belgian franc 8.379 Finnish mark 56.951 Dutch guilder 153.562 Danish kr. 45.334 Austrian sch. 24.582 Spanish peseta 2.035 Swedish kr. 40.283 Norwegian kr. 41.547 Swiss franc 207.680 Port. Escudo 1.687 AUS dollar 203.558 Can. dollar 217.942 Cyprus pound 593.216

(C.E.)


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