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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-01-11

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, 11/01/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't optimistic about end to students' protests
  • Education ministry says most schools open
  • Parents throw cordon on school to prevent sit-in
  • No truth to tripartite meeting reports
  • Minister's office attacked
  • SE Europe defence ministers meet in Athens
  • Bomb defused at importing company
  • Police thwart coffee bean smuggling operation
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't optimistic about end to students' protests

The education ministry's efforts to reopen schools has worked and the situation is markedly better, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday, as high schools opened around the country for the first time since widespread protests and school occupations late last year. Students at high schools around the country boycotted classes and occupied schools late in the year to protest a series of education ministry changes to the structure and grading system of secondary education. Reppas said that the majority of schools in the regions were operating normally and that a "small minority" were under occupation.

Education ministry says most schools open

The education ministry said on Monday morning that 95 percent of schools in the Attica region were operating normally. The figure was contradicted by the pupils, who claimed 450 schools were still under occupation. In Thessaloniki, education authorities said that on Monday morning almost all schools in the area were back to classes. In Hania, Crete, occupations resumed at seven schools in the prefecture, with a student committee saying that occupations at more schools were possible as of Tuesday. In Patras, Peloponnese, 15 of the 19 senior high schools and four junior high schools were under occupation, although most schools in the wider region of the Achaia prefecture were operating normally. Pupils were holding general assemblies at many schools to take a final decision on whether they would continue occupations and protests, interrupted by the Christmas holiday.

Parents throw cordon on school to prevent sit-in

At one school in northern Greece, parents turned the tables on the errant pupils, throwing a protective ring around the local school to prevent a resumption of occupations. The president of the parents and guardians' association, Sotiris Dimiropoulos, told the ANA that members of the association had begun patrolling the school grounds and went on overnight watch on January 7 to prevent the pupils gaining entry and resuming the occupation. The 413-pupil school had been occupied continuously by its pupils since November 23. The occupation effectively ended on December 23, with the start of the Christmas break.

No truth to tripartite meeting reports

Greece on Monday denied that there were plans for a tripartite meeting between the U.S., Greek and Turkish leaders in Washington in April. "A tripartite meeting between U.S. President Bill Clinton with the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey has not been brought up, has not been discussed and has not been examined," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to press questions. Reports said the meeting would be held on the occasion of the NATO summit in Washington in April.

Minister's office attacked

A makeshift incideniary device exploded outside the entrance to Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou's political office on Monday, causing a fire but no injuries. The device, comprised of a gas cannister and a container of fuel, went off at approximately 1.45 p.m. at the first floor office in central Athens. An anonymous caller to Athens daily newspaper Athinaiki later claimed the bomb was the work of "Children of November", which last surfaced in December, when it claimed responsibility for a similar gas cannister bomb attack on the offices of a former Communist Party deputy, Leon Avdis. The group has claimed responsibility for four similar attacks last year.

SE Europe defence ministers meet in Athens

NATO and Partnership for Peace programme countries' defence ministers begin meeting in Athens on Monday to sign a supplementary protocol to the treaty establishing a multinational peacekeeping force in southeast Europe. Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will open proceedings. The additional protocol contains proposals drafted by military experts during their recent Istanbul meeting on issues that remained unresolved. These proposals include defining the force's base as Plovdiv, Bulgaria, with Turkey undertaking management of the force for the first period and Greece taking over the presidency of the political and military committee. The defence ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, and the Romanian chief of staff will be participating in the meeting. Slovenia and the United States will attend as observers. The Turkish defence minister has been invited but it was unclear whether he would be able to attend.

Bomb defused at importing company

Bomb disposal experts today dismantled a powerful explosive device planted at an importing company in the western port city of Patras, police said. They said the building guard spotted the home-made device, planted at the entrance of the "Olympic Bravo" cigarette and coffee importer's garage where the merchandise is loaded and unloaded. A similar bomb exploded last year at the premises of the same company -- owned by Panayotis Oros, a Greek from South Africa -- causing extensive damage but no injuries as the explosion took place late at night.

Police thwart coffee bean smuggling operation

Police in the northern Greek town of Kastoria said on Monday that they had arrested a Greek national trying to cross the border into Albania with 2.5 tonnes of coffee beans on his tractor. Dimitrios Grigoriadis, 32, from the village of Komninades, is reported to have undertaken the mission on behalf of an Albanian ring illegally importing coffee to Albania from Greece. Police are seeking another two people on the tractor at the time of Grigoriadis's arrest, who fled the scene when police stopped the tractor.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of the country today with showers likely in the west. Winds southerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in the north are expected to range from 0-13C; in the rest of the mainland 2-18C; and in the islands 9-18C. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures from 8-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with the possibility of rain and temperatures between 4-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.746 Pound sterling 453.086 Japanese yen (100) 246.214 French franc 49.013 German mark 164.384 Italian lira (100) 16.604 Irish Punt 408.230 Belgian franc 7.970 Finnish mark 54.074 Dutch guilder 145.894 Danish kr. 43.204 Austrian sch. 23.365 Spanish peseta 1.932 Swedish kr. 35.156 Norwegian kr. 37.478 Swiss franc 199.094 Port. Escudo 1.604 Aus. dollar 174.438 Can. dollar 181.754 Cyprus pound 551.552

(M.P.)


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