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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-02

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, 02/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece clear on stance to be taken at Helsinki
  • PM confers with Papandreou ahead of Liponnen visit
  • Turkish, Greek officials working on bilateral pacts
  • Greece wants substantive talks on Cyprus
  • Athens sympathises with Seattle protestors
  • Manhunt under way for Albanian highway robber
  • Police pursue purse-snatchers
  • Four arrested in prostitution ring
  • Farmer to be charged for setting Samos fire
  • Stability Pact lacks money, personnel - report
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece clear on stance to be taken at Helsinki

Greece said on Thursday it was clear on what had to precede a positive decision that will bestow European Union candidacy country status on Turkey at next week's EU summit. Speaking to reporters, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas appeared to indicate that the government had made a decision on the stance it would take at the EU summit on the specific issue of Turkey's status. But, he said, the government was not about to make public statements about its thinking on this issue. "What the government will do will be lead by the principle of ensuring national interest, as well as the interests of the European Union," he said.

PM confers with Papandreou ahead of Liponnen visit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis conferred at length with Foreign Minister George Papandreou and senior foreign ministry officials on Thursday morning, ahead of a visit later in the day from Finnish Prime Minister and head of the European Council Paavo Lipponen. The talks focused on negotiations with European Union partners on the issue of Turkey's bid to become a candidate country with the 15-member bloc. Liponnen meets with Simitis and Papandreou at around 3.30 p.m. on Thursday. His visit to Athens is within the framework of a tour of EU capitals ahead of the Helsinki summit on December 10-11.

Turkish, Greek officials working on bilateral pacts

A team of Turkish and Greek government officials begin talks in Athens on Thursday on putting the final touches to a range of bilateral agreements arising from so-called 'low-impact' talks between the two countries. The two sides have been meeting for months on a range of non-contentious issues which could provide the basis for further cooperation. These issues include tourism, police cooperation, the environment, and science and technology. Major issues of dispute between the two countries - such as Cyprus and a variety of issues relating to the Aegean - have not been touched on.

Greece wants substantive talks on Cyprus

Greece said on Thursday it wanted to see substantive talks on all aspects of the Cyprus problem when proximity talks get under way in New York at the end of the week. "Greece will await the development of the talks," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, refusing any further comment. He added that it would be a mistake to "pre-judge" the results of the talks.

Athens sympathises with Seattle protestors

Greece said on Thursday that it fully understood and sympathised with protestors in Seattle, where ministers from around the world were meeting on a world trade liberalisation deal. Although the World Trade Organisation is useful, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, the Greek government believes that countries' particularities, particularly cultural ones, must be taken into account. "We don't want homogeneity in the name of globalisation, " he said. Protesters were cleared from the centre of Seattle by riot police enforcing another night of curfew as ministers from around the world met on a global trade liberalisation deal.

Manhunt under way for Albanian highway robber

Police have launched a manhunt for a young Albanian who, brandishing a revolver, hijacked a railway bus in northern Greece early today, and after robbing its 49 passengers escaped with more than nine million dr. Police said the Albanian hijacked an OSE Greek state railways bus shortly after it left Thessaloniki for the Albanian town of Korce at just before midnight Wednesday. As the bus neared the Gallikos river the Albanian, who was sitting in the back, shouted "robbery" and fired a shot in the air. Police said the entire operation lasted two hours, and at 2:30 a.m. the hijacker left the bus and disappeared.

Police pursue purse-snatchers

Two suspected purse-snatchers fled on foot and evaded arrest under the cover of darkness after a car chase by police and an exchange of gunfire in a remote district of Attica prefecture, police said today. They said that shortly after midnight Wednesday, officers in a patrol car spotted two men, who matched the descriptions of wanted purse-snatchers operating in the area, in a white Lada car in the Acharnes suburb. The officers called to the car's driver to stop for a search, but the car picked up speed and tried to shake off the patrol car that was chasing it, and one of the two men fired two shots against the police, who returned the fire, police said.

Four arrested in prostitution ring

Four persons, including a 26-year-old woman from Kazakhstan, were arrested Thursday on prostitution and pimping charges, police said. They said the ringleader, 49-year-old Vassilis Tsantirakis, was arrested along with 31- year-old Despina Athanassakou who set up the appointments between the ring's callgirls and customers, 34-year-old Elias Ripas, one of the ring's drivers, and alleged callgirl Marina Malceva, 26, from Kazakhstan, were arrested. A preliminary investigation showed that Tsantirakis ran the ring from his central Athens home since 1996, from where he supplied customers with foreign women for 20,000 drachma per appointment.

Farmer to be charged for setting Samos fire

A farmer has been arrested on the island of Samos after a fire he started to burn dried leaves and twigs spread to a nearby forest and burned 40 stremma of forestland, police said today. They said the farmer set fire Wednesday to a heap of dried twigs and leaves on his farm near Spathareous village, but the flames spread and quickly engulfed 40 stremma of woodland before firefighters, who arrived quickly on the scene, were able to extinguish them. Police said the farmer was arrested and a court date for his hearing had been set.

Stability Pact lacks money, personnel - report

The much-touted Stability Pact for the Balkans has yet to be implemented because of a lack of money and human resources, according to a report from two Western European Union deputies. An ANA dispatch from Paris reported that the report on the situation in southeast Europe, drafted by the head of the Greek parliamentary delegation to the Western European Union Sifis Micheloyiannis and a French Socialist deputy, also noted serious deficiences in funds and human resources for the UN-established authority in Kosovo charged with maintaining order and peace in the region. The report was ratified by the plenum of the WEU Parliamentary Assembly on Thursday.

WEATHER

Fine weather with local cloud in most parts Greece today with the possibility of showers from the afternoon in the southern Peloponnese and western Crete. Winds variable, light, turning moderate in the Aegean Sea. Mostly sunny in Athens with temperatures from 6-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          322.787
Pound sterling       516.356
Japanese yen (100)   315.456
French franc          49.694
German mark          166.667
Italian lira (100)    16.835
Irish Punt           413.898
Belgian franc          8.081
Finnish mark          54.825
Dutch guilder        147.919
Danish kr.            43.817
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.914
Norwegian kr.         40.017
Swiss franc          203.568
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          218.200
Aus. dollar          205.537
Cyprus pound         566.571
Euro                 325.971
(M.P.)
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