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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-28

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1076), December 28, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Snow, bitter cold hits Greece as transportation problems mount
  • [02] Traffic accidents
  • [03] Gov't delegation to visit northern Greece
  • [04] Tourist coaches detained in Albania
  • [05] Tsohatzopoulos to hold talks with Bosnian foreign minister, visit Greek contingent
  • [06] Athens dismisses Turkish criticism over mosque construction in Xanthi
  • [07] Turkish immigrant smuggler gets 17 years jail
  • [08] Last tax-free state bond auction sees lower interest rates
  • [09] National Bank posts increased first-half profits
  • [10] Agricultural Bank's new administration assumes duties
  • [11] Petrol prices rise
  • [12] State Audit Council to audit nation's 3 largest municipalities

  • [01] Snow, bitter cold hits Greece as transportation problems mount

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    Snow and freezing rain that hit Greece early Thursday disrupted car and passenger ferry links throughout the country and caused numerous flight delays.

    Northeasterly gale force winds reaching up to 10 on the Beaufort scale in the Aegean yesterday tied up all vehicle and passenger ferries in Piraeus and Rafina destined for the islands of the Aegean, Crete and the Dodecannese.

    Only closed-type car and passenger ferries were running routes from Piraeus to the islands of the Saronic Gulf.

    In addition the ferry routes Lefkimmi-Igoumenitsa and Marmari-Karystos were also discontinued due to the strong winds.

    Freezing winds blew through eastern Macedonia and Thrace, with temperatures reaching -2C in Kavala, while snowfall on local roads quickly turned into ice.

    In the north and northeastern Aegean gale force winds forced a suspension of ferry boat routes to and from the island of Thasos and from Alexandroupolis to Samothrace.

    Three Olympic Airways flights from Athens to Kozani, Kastoria and Kythira, and an Olympic flight from Thessaloniki to Kozani were canceled yesterday due to snow storms.

    Snow chains were recommended for all vehicles traveling around the country.

    In northern Evros the mercury fell to -9C in Ormenio, -3 in Alexandroupolis, -8 in Florina, -7 in Kozani and -2 in Thessaloniki. In Kastoria, the lake iced over and temperatures fell to -5.

    Snowfall was also heavy in Achaia and snow-chains were recommended for all vehicles traveling to Kalavrita.

    In addition, snow fell on the mountains of Parnitha, Penteli and Ymittos around Athens and snow chains were recommended for all vehicles traveling to Parnitha. Dozens of trucks were stranded yesterday on the Lamia-Domokos road in central Greece when snowfall hit the region.

    There were also problems on the nearby Lamia-Amphissa road after trucks jack-knived near Gravia, closing the road to traffic in both directions.

    Some 45 villages in western Fthiotida and Parnassida were cut off by snow, which continued to fall throughout the day.

    The situation was the same in northern Greece, where vehicles had to use snow chains on many roads.

    However, all flights to and from Thessaloniki's Macedonia international airport resumed yesterday after being interrupted late Thursday night due to snow storms.

    [02] Traffic accidents

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    Twenty-five people died and 178 were injured - 67 seriously - in the 116 traffic accidents across the nation over the last three days.

    Authorities have taken emergency measures on roads as the weather worsens and the holiday season heads towards New Year's Day.

    Ninety per cent of road accidents were reported on rural roads, police said, and were mostly due to excessive speeding and drunk driving.

    In a related development, two Egyptian nationals working in a fish farm were found safe and well by the crew of the tugboat "Philippos" yesterday, following fears that the two men's inflatable dinghy had capsized in rough seas, some two nautical miles north of Skorponeria Bay in the Evoikos Gulf.

    The two workers - Yasser Hamed, 22, and Aseraf Farah, 24 - are being treated at the Halkida Hospital under guard as judicial officials say the two were working without necessary residence and labor permits at the Anemoesa Skyros fish farms.

    Police are also searching for the employer of the two Egyptian nationals.

    [03] Gov't delegation to visit northern Greece

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    A parliamentary delegation headed by president of the standing committee on overseas Greeks Grigoris Niotis will today begin a four-day visit to the prefectures of Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini and Evros.

    During the tour, the delegation will visit Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, meet with prefectural and local administration officials, and participate in meetings focusing on problems facing these regions.

    [04] Tourist coaches detained in Albania

    Gjirokaster, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    Albanian authorities in Gjirokaster detained two coaches at the Kakavia border post on Thursday, while local police officials said the coaches were registered with documents of the Athens-based "Euroline" company, but without relevant transport licenses.

    The coaches were traveling on the Athens-Tirana-Athens route.

    According to police sources in Gjirokaster, a document by Albanian Transport Minister Susanna Panareti refers to existing "pirate" buses. However, the two coaches are expected to be fined 100-250,000 drachmas in accordance with existing Albanian law.

    Meanwhile, a joint committee of internal ministry and finance ministry representatives is expected to be established today to decide what will be done with the coaches.

    [05] Tsohatzopoulos to hold talks with Bosnian foreign minister, visit Greek contingent

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will visit the Greek peacekeeping contingent stationed in Visoko, Bosnia, on Sunday and Monday.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will visit the camp of the Greek force in Bosnia (ELDYB) and of SFOR and will address Greek servicemen tomorrow night.

    On Monday morning he will hold talks with the Bosnian foreign minister.

    [06] Athens dismisses Turkish criticism over mosque construction in Xanthi

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    Foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas reiterated yesterday that members of the Moslem minority in the Xanthi region were free to exercise their religious rights, as provided in Greece's constitution and in accordance with the 1923 Lausanne Treaty's pro visions.

    Mr. Bikas was responding to criticism by the Turkish foreign ministry regarding suspension of a mosque's construction in Xanthi prefecture. Specifically, police arrested 17 individuals in Kimmeria, Xanthi on Monday after they refused to heed authorities ' calls to stop construction of a mosque until a new building license was issued.

    Mr. Bikas said work had been suspended because it was not being carried out according to the license, which had been issued only for side extensions to the building.

    He added that construction would resume after the license was reviewed, and lashed out against Ankara, accusing it of referring to false facts and of attempting to upset relations between Christian and Moslem Greek citizens in Thrace.

    The Turkish foreign ministry had lodged a complaint with Athens' embassy in Ankara, alleging that Greek authorities were preventing the building of a mosque even though a construction license existed.

    According to Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel, an elderly local resident was allegedly beaten and injured by policemen. Mr. Akbel also called for the exemplary punishment of those he said were "responsible", adding that "Greece must realize its obligation to behave according to rules accepted by the modern world".

    Furthermore, he mentioned that Ankara had not been able, to date, to secure reliable information from Athens regarding the deaths of four Turkish diplomats in Greece since 1980, and that Ankara would not in any way accept the shelving of the relevant files.

    [07] Turkish immigrant smuggler gets 17 years jail

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    A Turkish smuggler arrested early yesterday off the coast of Symi shortly after putting ashore 47 Iraqi Kurdish illegal immigrants was sentenced to 17 years and seven months jail by a Rhodes court yesterday.

    Akif Hoplamaz, 30, from Fetiye, had set out from Datsa on the Turkish coast. His original destination had been the Greek island of Kastellorizo but he changed course for Symi because of rough seas.

    The coastguard patrol boat spotted him, reportedly the moment he was setting the illegal immigrants ashore.

    Hoplamaz threw a woman and child into the sea and tried to escape in his speedboat, but one of the illegal immigrants grabbed the keys and the boat came to a halt.

    Hoplamaz then jumped into the sea and swam to shore where he hid among rocks. He was found and arrested by coastguard officers two hours later.

    The illegal immigrants told the police that they had each paid $3,500 to Hoplamaz to take them from Turkey to Greece. All the Iraqis - 31 men, 10 women and six children - have requested political asylum.

    The court also fined Hoplamaz 2.8 million drachmas.

    Hoplamaz is the third Turkish smuggler within the space of two weeks to be arrested for transporting illegal immigrants from Turkey to Greece.

    Zafer Gultsu was arrested on December 14 for transporting five illegal immigrants. He was sentenced to six years and eight months' imprisonment and fined 2.3 million drachmas.

    Yahla Mirze Mehmet was sentenced on December 19 to ten years' imprisonment and fined 9.5 million drachmas for smuggling 18 Iraqi illegal immigrants into Greece.

    [08] Last tax-free state bond auction sees lower interest rates

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    Increased interest was shown during yesterday's auction of three- and seven-year state bonds - the last of the state tax-free securities - with interest rates bid at lower levels than those set by the finance ministry as a base.

    The average interest rate for seven-year bonds fell to 11 per cent from 11.20 per cent initially set by the state, while for three-year ones decreased to 10.50 per cent from 10.70 per cent, which was the auction's base interest rate.

    The finance ministry believes that the market gave a vote of confidence to lower interest rates and this facilitates imposition of tax for the upcoming issue in the new year. However, the ministry has not yet reached a decision on the nominal interest rate for new issues, which will be subject to a 7.50 per cent tax.

    According to figures provided by the Bank of Greece, 1.27 trillion drachmas were invested in treasury bills over the January-November 1996 period as against only 223 billion drachmas last year. On the contrary, bank deposits by private persons increased by 2.7 per cent compared to an increase of 5.6 per cent last year.

    Increased demand for state securities also originates from abroad since the stable drachma policy has restricted the currency risk and has favored capital inflows.

    On the question of money supply, the Bank of Greece announced that it is moving within the limits of the monetary target (6-9 per cent) during the November 1995-November 1996 period and reached 7.8 per cent.

    [09] National Bank posts increased first-half profits

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece's profits increased by 41.3 per cent in the first half of the year, reaching 17 billion drachmas, compared to 12.1 billion during the same period last year. Conversely, the rate of increase in operating expenses was restricted to 1 1.7 per cent, the bank's financial and statistical bulletin reports.

    National Bank's net income originating in interest earned and commissions reached 107.5 billion drachmas, compared to 92.5 billion last year, marking an increase of 16.3 per cent. Net income originating in interest increased by 15 per cent, while that from commissions by 18.8 per cent, or twice the rate of inflation.

    Operating expenses increased from 72.4 billion to 80.9 billion, with personnel expenses increasing by 11 per cent, and other general expenses increasing by 14.6 per cent. Presonnel expenses continued to represent 79 per cent of that total.

    [10] Agricultural Bank's new administration assumes duties

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    The Agricultural Bank of Greece's (ATE) new administration, headed by Governor Christos Papathanasiou, assumed its duties yesterday at a special ceremony attended by Agriculture Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas, bank officers and other government officials.

    Thanasis Papageorgiou and Dimitris Santixis are the bank's new deputy governors.

    In a brief address, Mr. Tzoumakas said the agricultural sector constitutes one of the most dynamic areas of the economy and it justifiably expects support and aid from ATE.

    He said the agriculture ministry is ready to provide every possible support for ATE to enable its administration to successfully carry out the difficult task it is undertaking.

    On his part, Mr. Papathanasiou referred to efforts by the outgoing administration to tackle the bank's and the farmers' crucial problems and outlined the new administration's main policies, which include support for the Greek farmer and the continuation of the bank's development in the direction of multiple banking activities and services.

    [11] Petrol prices rise

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    The retail sales prices of gasoline will increase as of today and until January 1 due to an increase in international prices.

    Consequently, the retail sales prices of gasoline will increase by 1.90 drachmas per liter, while those of diesel and heating oil by 1.30 drachmas per liter. The retail sales price of heating oil was set at 105.5 drachmas per liter.

    In Attica and the Thessaloniki prefecture super gasoline will cost 215.90 drachmas per liter and unleaded 199.90 drachmas per liter.

    [12] State Audit Council to audit nation's 3 largest municipalities

    Athens, 28/12/96 (ANA)

    The State Audit Council will undertake preventive auditing in the country's three largest municipalities, Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, according to a draft presidential decree submitted by the ministries of justice and interior to the Council of State.

    The decree exempts expenses for personnel, social security contributions and taxes, rents, electricity and water consumption.

    End of English language section.


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