Athens, 15/05/1995 (ANA):
Strong aftershocks continued to worry residents of the Kozani and Grevena prefectures in northwest Greece yesterday, a day after a powerful earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the region.
No fatalities were reported during the earthquake on Saturday but reports said 16 people were hospitalised, all of them for shock. Dozens of buildings were levelled and power and telephone lines severed.
Seismologist George Karkaisis said the string of aftershocks ranged between 4.2 and 5.0 on the Richter scale and originated from the same epicentre that gave rise to Saturday's quake, in the Siatista region, 125 kilometres west of Thessaloniki and some 300 kilometres northwest of Athens.
Quake experts monitoring seismic activity in the region have voiced cautious forecasts on what may follow. "This behaviour of the region is unknown. Strong seismic activity has never been recorded in this area," Mr. Karkaisis said.
A team of seismologists have sped to the region together with engineers and technicians to check on the state of damage caused by Saturday's earthquake. Houses threatened with collapse were being marked with red crosses and those unaffected with green crosses.
Latest figures put the number of damaged buildings at: 600 in the prefecture of Grevena, 200 in Kozani, 126 in Florina, 18 in Kastoria and 3 each in Karditsa and Pieria. Kozani and the nearby villages of Kalamitsi and Sirini were the worst hit on Saturday, with major damage reported to older buildings. A state of emergency has been declared in the region with aid workers and soldiers setting up tents and distributing blankets to scores of locals who spent the night in open fields in cars and trucks.
Seismologists said hundreds of tremors followed Saturday's powerful quake, which sent shock waves throughout the Thessaly plain in central Greece and caused a limited avalanche at the rocky pillars of Meteora. Jutting out of the Thessaly plain, the singular pillars of Meteora are home to a number of Byzantine monasteries but authorities said the avalanche did not cause any damage or injuries. Reports from the Yugoslav news agency Tanjung said the powerful quake was felt in Montenegro.
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou pledged the state would do its utmost to assist quake victims and the region's restructuring. President Kostis Stephanopoulos, who is in Alexandroupolis for celebrations marking the liberation of Thrace, also sent his sympathies to those affected by the quake.
Defence Ministry sources said the Greek airforce had allocated four transport aircraft to carry humanitarian aid, tents and blankets to the area. The same sources said another two C-130 planes were on alert for emergency assistance. The government declared the prefectures of Grevena and Kozani as quake-hit regions in a bid to secure European Union funding and loans for the restoration of buildings levelled by Saturday's quake.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis is due to visit the area in the next few days and will meet with local authorities to discuss restoration plans. Town Planning Under-Secretary Yiannis Tsaklidis said that each homeless family would receive immediate emergency assistance of 200,000 drachmas.
Greece has seen a resurgence of seismic activity since May 4, when a quake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit the northern region of Halkidiki. It was followed by a series of aftershocks.
Brussels, 15/05/1995 (Reuter):
NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes flies this week to Greece and Turkey to mediate in a dispute between the two alliance members and regional rivals that threatens sensitive military operations.
The latest row has led to Ankara blocking Nato's entire military budget and forced the grouping to freeze all military projects just as it is in the process of finalising plans for a possible pull-out of UN peacekeeping forces from Bosnia.
"Turkey's action is out of proportion. It is hitting at the entire alliance not just Greece," one senior NATO diplomat said. He added that, if the dispute was still unresolved by the end of this month, the alliance would have to shift to some form of emergency financing for previously approved military projects that are worth several hundred million dollars.
Greek diplomats said they believed Mr. Claes would carry with him various proposals for a compromise solution, but said they were not encouraged by recent Turkish actions despite Ankara's need to win support after its recent military thrust against Kurdish rebels in Iraq.
Disputes between Greece and Turkey have often blocked alliance activity in the eastern Mediterranean, but this time Turkey has chosen to widen the dispute which centres on the financing of NATO facilities in Turkey.
The embattled Claes, who has been dragged recently into a murky Belgian defence contract corruption scandal dating from his time as Belgium's defence minister, heads first for Athens tomorrow and then goes to Ankara on the following day. The visit is formally part of a tour that Mr. Claes, who only took office last October, is making of capitals of member states. But it has taken on greater significance since the tension heightened between Athens and Ankara. "This is now a very important visit," a NATO source said.
Apart from his personal problems, Mr. Claes has faced an array of crises in the alliance since taking over, from transatlantic squabbling over air strikes in support of UN actions in Bosnia to a row with Moscow over NATO enlargement plans. Diplomats fear failure to resolve the Greece-Turkey row soon could further dent Nato's credibility at a time when its relevance in a post-Cold War world is increasingly questioned.
The NATO row coincides with Turkish efforts to encourage European parliamentarians to vote later this year in favour of a lucrative European Union-Turkey customs union. Independent analysts say Turkey's drive against Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq has cost it much support in Europe and the dispute within NATO has further angered its allies. "Turkey just seems to keep doing things which do not help its case," one political analyst said.
Athens, 15/05/1995 (ANA):
Alexandroupolis and Komotini rolled out the red carpet yesterday to welcome President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, who was in Thrace for celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of its liberation.
Enthusiastic crowds greeted the president on each stop. Welcomed to Sappes by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Constantine Triarides and Mayor of Sappes Dinos Haritopoulos, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Thrace was "a precious part of the Greek whole". "Thrace has the whole-hearted support of the state" he said. "(Here) Christians and Moslems, locals and refugees coexist in equality and harmony and enjoy the love and the affection of the state, without distinction."
Before leaving, the president visited a village where Greek refugees from the Black Sea region have been resettled. He said the refugees had his moral support and that he would relate their problems to the appropriate authorities. Before visiting Sappes, Mr. Stephanopoulos attended mass at the Agios Nikolaos Cathedral in Alexandroupolis and laid a wreath at the Monument for Heroes.
Mr. Stephanopoulos later visited Komotini where he was received by the mayor, George Papadriellis, who referred to the significance of his presence in the "sensitive region of Thrace". "One of the major characteristics of democracy in Greece is the fact of equality which unites all Christians and Moslems under the Greek flag," Mr. Stephanopoulos told the crowds.
While in Komotini, he also met with Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras, who was also attending the celebrations. "The presence of the president transported the heart of the nation to the border and strengthened the already high morale of the citizens of Thrace," Mr. Samaras said. Mr. Stephanopoulos was declared an honorary citizen of the Municipality of Komotini.
Washington, 15/05/95 (ANA):
Miltiades Evert, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, was set to meet with US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke this morning for a working breakfast. Mr. Evert arrived in Washington yesterday and has a full programme planned for this leg of his US trip.
After his meeting with Mr. Holbrooke, Mr. Evert was scheduled to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery, to be followed by a meeting with Defence Secretary William Perry. Tonight he is scheduled to meet with US Vice-President Al Gore at the White House.
Tomorrow he will have meetings at the State Department with Secretary of State Warren Christopher and meet the Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich later. Mr. Evert is also scheduled to meet with President Clinton's special adviser George Stephanopoulos. He will leave Washington on Thursday night.
Athens, 15/05/1995 (ANA):
Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias will meet today with UN special envoy on the Cyprus problem Joe Clark and the UN Secretary-General's resident representative in the island republic Gustave Feissel. The two UN officials are currently holding a new round of contacts with Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, as well as with the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community, in order to investigate the possibilities of a new initiative for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Athens, 15/05/1995 (ANA):
Sports Under-Secretary George Lianis cancelled the fifth and final game in the play-off between the Panathinaikos and Olympiakos basketball teams scheduled for yesterday after a Panathinaikos fan died of wounds received during a fight with a rival fan on Friday. George Karnezis, 25, was attacked on Friday evening after the Panathinaikos-Olympiakos match by Stavros Profis, 23.
Police said Profis, recently released from jail, was under the influence of narcotics when he attacked Karnezis. He has been charged with murder. Mr. Lianis' decision was made in consultation with Public Order Minister Sifis Valyrakis as soon as the news of Karnezis' death was announced. The game will be played tomorrow.
Athens, 15/05/1995 (ANA):
Belgian Army Chief Lieutenant-General Jean Berhin will pay an official visit to Greece May 15-18 at the invitation of the Army General Staff Chief Lieutenant General Constantine Voulgaris, according to an announcement yesterday. The two will discuss matters of mutual interest. During his visit, Lieut.-Gen. Berhin will meet with officials of the National Defence Ministry and the chief of the National Defence General Staff, Admiral Christos Lymberis. He is also scheduled to visit army bases and archaeological sites.
Bonn, 15/05/1995 (ANA/P. Stangos):
Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos met with officials of the German Party of Democratic Socialist (PDS), the former communist party, and representatives of the Green party in Berlin on Friday and Saturday in Bonn. Mr. Constantopoulos said the meetings aimed at the "creation of ties of solidarity and co-operation with forces of the modern European left and social movements".
In Berlin, Mr. Constantopoulos met with PDS President Lotar Biscu and former Eurodeputy and member of the party's presidency Yvonne Kauffman, as well as a delegation of local deputies of the Green party. In Bonn, he had talks with Tzem Ezdeimer, a deputy of the Green party whom he invited to Athens to attend a forum on ecology and the Left in the Balkans, hosted by the Coalition in June.
During his tour of Germany, which covered Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Munich, Mr. Constantopoulos addressed german-Greeks on Greek foreign policy and the problems faced by overseas Greeks.