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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-04

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, 04/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR
  • Diplomat to head Greek intelligence service
  • Greek-Turkish tension dampens market sentiment
  • FM briefs opposition leader
  • MPs to see Ocalan inquiry files
  • Border alert for radioactive waste
  • Government to emphasise work safety
  • Minister wants rights charter for disabled
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR

Greece said on Thursday that Turkish warplanes, most probably equipped for aerial photography, had infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR). Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the infringements took place on Wednesday and Greece would react through diplomatic channels. He declined however to specify when Athens would respond, saying "substantiation requires a certain amount of time".

Diplomat to head Greek intelligence service

Pavlos Apostolidis, up to now Foreign Ministry secretary-general, was on Thursday appointed head of Greece's intelligence service, replacing Haralambos Stavrakakis who was recently asked to resign in the wake of the Ocalan affair. His appointment was announced by Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou following a Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) meeting. Papandreou said her proposals regarding the new director of the National Information Service (EYP) and the new framework of operation of EYP had been unanimously accepted by KYSEA. "I hope in the next few days to inform political party leaders about EYP's new operating framework," Papandreou said, adding that EYP's "scientific personnel" would be strengthened in order to make it "a flexible and efficient service which will cooperate with the other ministries and agencies for the purpose of safeguarding our national security interests".

Greek-Turkish tension dampens market sentiment

A wave of sell-off hit the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday pushing share prices sharply lower. Traders said market sentiment has been damaged by tension in Greek-Turkish relations. The prime minister's optimistic predictions on the course of the economy and Bank of Greece governor's estimates of a 2.0 percent inflation by the end of the year, were largely ignored by the market. The general index ended 108.37 points, or 3.24 percent off, to 3,232.02 points. Turnover was 126.5 billion drachmas and volume 27,263,448 shares. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.0 percent off, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 3.32 percent down to 1,994.90.

FM briefs opposition leader

Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday briefed main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kostas Karamanlis on the latest developments in the wake of the Ocalan affair and matters related to the strife-torn Yugoslav province of Kosovo. After the meeting, Karamanlis said questions still remained regarding the circumstances surrounding the capture of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya and that the government had an obligation to give political party leaders a copy of the report on the affair by Greece's ambassador to Nairobi, George Kostoulas. Karamanlis reiterated ND's call for the setting up of a National Council on foreign policy "to formulate a responsible national policy". He underlined that Prime Minister Costas Simitis should reconsider his refusal in this respect.

MPs to see Ocalan inquiry files

The testimony given to court prosecutors conducting an inquiry into the circumstances of how Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan entered Greece will be made available to the parliamentary fact-finding commission, the government said on Thursday. "All the evidence will be provided to the parliamentary committee as it would be ridiculous for the MPs not to have the contents of the file at their disposal," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. "The government wants to throw as much light as possible on this matter." Reppas said the extensive questioning of the former Greek ambassador to Kenya, George Costoulas, had ended. Costoulas, in whose home Ocalan stayed while in Kenya, was questioned for almost 24 hours at the beginning of the week. The inquiry was independently established by an Athens court prosecutor a few days after Ocalan's capture by Turkish forces. Its brief is to examine how Ocalan entered the country without the prior knowledge of the government.

Border alert for radioactive waste

Border authorities on the Greek-Albanian frontier have been put on alert for a cargo of radioactive waste that may be attempted to be passed through Greece, a customs source told the ANA Thursday. An alert was on at the Krystallopighi border post as of yesterday for the cargo that was to pass through Greece for an undetermined destination, border post director George Amartzidis told ANA. The cargo, of radioactive cobalt, was said to originate in FYROM, the source said, adding that the radioactive material was expected to be covered with steel to avoid leaks and its detection, he said. The radioactive cobalt is believed to be waste from hospitals or research institutes.

Government to emphasise work safety

The government plans to capitalise on the falling number of work-related accidents by spending more on improving conditions in the workplace, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday. Speaking during the opening of the Institute for Labour Health and Safety (ELINYAE), Simitis said government policy on the issue would be based on moving the cost of rehabilitation and compensation to preventing accidents at work and improving measures to protect workers. "We need the active participation of business in this economic growth policy," Simitis said. The number of work- related accidents has fallen by half since 1980, from 45,000 to 21,000 in 1997. "The legal provisions exist and are satisfactory but more effort is needed so that they are implemented in the workplace," he said.

Minister wants rights charter for disabled

Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis said on Thursday that he would propose to the government that it adopt a charter of rights for the disabled and others with special needs. Mandelis said 208 buses on 80 routes have been fitted with special ramps for wheelchairs and new trolley buses will be fitted with telematics systems to alert the visually impaired to stops. Greek Telecommunications Organisation, OTE, has also developed a special telephone centre to enable the deaf to use phone systems. The ministry has also contributed to the Post Office Savings Bank's financing of the purchase of two taxis specially designed for the use of persons in wheelchairs. Another 25 million drachmas has been set aside for the taxis operating expenses.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather will prevail throughout the country today with rain in west central and southern Greece from the afternoon Winds southerly, light to strong, turning gale force in the evening in the Ionian Sea. Possibility of rain in the evening in Athens with temperatures between 9- 19C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          292.233
Pound sterling       471.736
Japanese yen (100)   241.096
French franc          48.645
German mark          163.146
Italian lira (100)    16.479
Irish Punt           405.157
Belgian franc          7.910
Luxembourg franc       7.910
Finnish mark          53.666
Dutch guilder        144.795
Danish kr.            42.920
Austrian sch.         23.189
Spanish peseta         1.918
Swedish kr.           35.496
Norwegian kr.         36.956
Swiss franc          200.592
Port. Escudo           1.591
Aus. dollar          182.607
Can. dollar          191.912
Cyprus pound         551.651
Euro                 319.087
(M.P.)
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