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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-12

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, 12/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek equities dive on international unrest
  • Elderly woman killed in illegal immigrants drop
  • Bulgaria returns missing manuscript to monastery
  • Calls for speedier visa processing
  • Kranidiotis meets with Turkish envoy
  • One Albanian killed, two wounded in dawn raid
  • Greece reiterates: national airspace extends to 10 miles
  • Stephanopoulos leaves for week-long official visit to India
  • Athens terms Turkish claims on WWII history 'miserable insults'
  • Greece's Jewry rejects Turkish accusations
  • Bomb blasts target tax offices
  • Fishermen protest tax measures by blockading Kalymnos, Leros
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek equities dive on international unrest

Greek equities plunged to their lowest levels since November 25, 1997 on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, reeling from the turmoil in international and domestic money markets.

The general index plunged 5.08 percent to end at 1,405.37 points. Traders said the market was particularly concerned over prospects of higher interest rates in the Greek market, likely to hit the banking sector's profitability.

Analysts and bankers agreed that the government's hard drachma policy, using high interest rates to defend the drachma from external pressures, would lead to a volatile interbank market, higher inflation and interest rates. Such a likelihood would have a severe impact on most listed companies, due to higher debt servicing.

The Greek drachma, however, remained stable in the domestic foreign exchange market. Its parity was steady against the Ecu, DMark and US dollar, while a Bank of Greece source reported inflows of more than 100 million US dollars.

Interbank rates though remained at high levels to an average of 20 percent and more.

Sector indices lost substantial ground. Banks ended 6.02 percent down, Insurance eased 3.61 percent, Leasing dropped 3.98 percent, Investment fell 3.62 percent, Construction ended 5.31 percent off, Industrials lost 4.25 percent, Miscellaneous eaed 2.98 percent and Holding was 4.09 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies dropped 3.78 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index ended 5.79 percent off at 786.30 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 17.7 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 201 to 19 with another 9 issues unchanged.

Desmos, Constantinidis, Remek and Levenderis scored the biggest percentage gains, while Eteva, Atemke, Atticat, Singular and Delta Informatics suffered the heaviest losses at the day's down limit of 8.0 percent.

National Bank of Greece ended at 21,995 drachmas, Ergobank at 13,430, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,705, Delta Dairy at 2,900, Titan Cement at 13,050, Intracom at 13,600 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 405.

Elderly woman killed in illegal immigrants drop

An elderly woman among a group of 30 Iraqi Kurds trying to reach the Dodecanese island of Kastellorizo early this morning was thrown against rocks by the rough seas and drowned while attempting to reach shore from a wooden boat.

Apparently the woman had become wedged in the rocks. Coast guard officials who were called to the scene by a passing fishing boat were unable to save the woman.

The survivors, 12 men, six women and 11 children, will be taken to Rhodes tomorrow.

The Kurds told the authorities they had paid two Turks 1000 dollars each to take them from the Turkish port of Kas. They were put aboard a seven-metre boat and towed halfway towards Kastellorizo. The Turks then left them to make their own way ashore and returned to the Turkish coast.

Coast guard authorities believe one of the Turks to be Ali Pahlilan, who has allegedly transported dozens of boatloads of Kurds to the Dodecanese.

Bulgaria returns missing manuscript to monastery

A priceless manuscript written at a Mt. Athos monastery 235 years ago is on its way back from Bulgaria where it was found last year after being stolen from the Zografos monastery in 1985.

The manuscript, written by the monk Paisios, details Slavo-Bulgarian history and is considered by Bulgarians to have laid the foundations for the country's cultural rebirth.

Despite opposition, Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov decided to return the document to Mt. Athos' Zografos monastery. Seventy-five percent of citizens polled by the Bulgarian state radio "Horizont" were against the move.

The document was discovered in September last year at Sofia's National History Museum, where it had been handed in by an "anonymous donor".

The document is being brought to Greece by road, accompanied by the Bulgarian culture undersecretary and the president's chief of staff who are to be met at the border by a heavy police contingent. The document will be kept at Thessaloniki's Bulgarian Consulate overnight and handed over in a special ceremony at Karyes, on Mt. Athos, tomorrow morning.

Calls for speedier visa processing

Northern Greek commercial unions are calling for a solution to delays in issuing visas at Greek consulates in Balkans states, whose visitors to Greece spend an average 1,000 dollars per day, according to Thessaloniki Commercial Association president Dimitris Dimitriadis.

At a press conference in Thessaloniki today, it was stressed that the queues outside consulates in Balkan countries had doubled since Greece signed the Schengen Agreement.

The unions have called for increased staffing at consulates where necessary and have offered to contribute equipment to help speed up the process.

Dimitriadis accused the government of not fully realising the importance to the economy of foreign exchange inflows from the Balkans, saying that each visitor from the Balkans spends an average of 1,000 dollars per day in Greece.

Also addressing the press conference were the presidents of the commercial and technical chambers of Thessaloniki, as well as the commercial associations of Pieria and Kavala.

Kranidiotis meets with Turkish envoy

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today briefed Turkish Ambassador in Athens Ali Tinaz Tuygan on Greece's position regarding recent developments in relations between the European Union and Turkey, according to informed sources.

The meeting took place at the Ambassador's request.

Kranidiotis is reported to have told the ambassador that Greece was not in principle against a European vocation for Turkey, that it desired and supported such a development in so far as Turkey decided to recognise and respect the same principles and rules as all EU member states as well as other states that wished to join the EU.

The undersecretary reiterated that this reasoning was reflected in the decisions taken at last month's Luxembourg summit, which he said Turkey should accept.

According to the same sources, Kranidiotis strongly condemned the most recent violations of Greek air space by Turkish air force planes as well as the generally provocative behaviour of Turkey over the past few days.

One Albanian killed, two wounded in dawn raid

One Albanian illegal immigrant was killed and two others were critically wounded early today when an unidentified person opened fire against them near a farm in Imathia, northwestern Greece, police said.

Witim Uka, 26, succumbed to his wounds and died in hospital in nearby Naousa, where he and the other two Albanians, Misir Uka, 23, and Ali Boundani, 17, were taken by a police patrol. All three -- two of them relatives -- came from Elbashan.

Police told the ANA that the three were sleeping in a storehouse in a farm when the attacker, who, they said, spoke Greek, came in a dawn and asked for the whereabouts of a fourth Albanian who was not with them at the time. He then opened fire and disappeared. Police have launched a manhunt for the suspected killer.

Greece reiterates: national airspace extends to 10 miles

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday reiterated that Greece's airspace extends to a 10-mile limit rejecting comments by US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns on the issue. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the "sole criterion for a country's behaviour is that imposed by national interest.

Mr. Burns on Friday reiterated Washington's stance that the limits of each country's airspace should correspond to those of its territorial waters, meaning that the US recognises a six-mile limit for Greek airspace.

"No one's view is a criterion for the behaviour of a country," the defence minister said, emphasising that Greece's airspace, as clearly set out in a 1931 presidential decree and valid for decades, stood at the 10-mile limit.

"If some people, for their own purpose and using their own criteria, want some other limit for Greece, that is their opinion," he said.

The defence minister was speaking after briefing Greek Eurodeputies on the ministry's defence programmes and on initiatives being taken to promote security and stability in the region, as well as specific issues involving neighbouring countries.

Stephanopoulos leaves for week-long official visit to India

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos leaves for India today in an official visit aimed at boosting political and economic ties between the two countries.

Accompanying Mr. Stephanopoulos, who is the guest of Indian President K.R. Narayanan, are Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Finance Undersecretary Alekos Baltas and a delegation of leading Greek business representatives. It is the first such visit by a Greek head of state to India.

Tomorrow, Mr. Stepanopoulos will have talks in New Delhi with Mr. Narayanan, and India's prime minister and parliament speaker.

Athens terms Turkish claims on WWII history 'miserable insults'

A Turkish foreign ministry statement characterising Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos a "descendant of Greek fascism" was sharply rejected by Athens on Saturday as containing "miserable insults and unjustified provocations".

In a written statement, the Turkish foreign ministry attacked Mr. Pangalos for his statement the previous day, which called on European Union member- states to take a firm stand on what he called the "Kurdish genocide" being carried out by Turkey.

Replying to Mr. Pangalos' statements, the Turkish foreign ministry claimed that "Greek fascists under the leadership of the likes of Pangalos sent thousands of Greek Jews to death camps".

In a response, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated:

"The only thing Turkey is achieving with such miserable insults and unjustified provocations is to worsen its own position. The sooner it realises this, the better it will be for itself.

"As far as its historically unfounded claims and slander against Greeks are concerned, we refer it (Turkey) to yesterday's (Friday's) statement by the Central Jewish Council (of Greece)," Mr. Reppas added.

Greece's Jewry rejects Turkish accusations

The Central Jewish Council issued a statement on Friday after a meeting with Mr. Pangalos, stressing that the organisation had "repeatedly expressed its gratitude to the Greek people and the Greek Orthodox Church for their contribution in saving Greek Jews".

The Central Jewish Council statement was made in response to yet more claims by the Turkish foreign ministry on Thursday, namely, that during World War II Greek authorities had "willingly handed over Jews" to Nazi occupation troops.

"Greeks offered as much help as possible to Jews persecuted (during the Nazi occupation), often endangering their own lives," the Jewish Council's statement read.

In addition, Jewish groups of Greece again on Saturday rejected the accusations made by the Turkish foreign ministry.

Thessaloniki Jewish community president Andreas Sefiha told ANA that Greek Jews were grateful to their fellow citizens for the assistance against Nazi persecution, citing resistance by government officials as well as the help of ordinary citizens.

Bomb blasts target tax offices

Two separate bomb explosions in Athens yesterday evening rocked the finance ministry's data processing centre (KEPYO) and the 7th tax bureau office in the Kallithea district.

Unidentified callers warned the "Eleftherotypia" daily and the "Star" television station of the pending bomb attacks, allowing police to evacuate both buildings and block traffic in the areas.

According to reports, both time bombs caused powerful blasts, with the first at KEPYO recorded at 8:04 p.m. and the second 14 minutes later at the Kallithea office.

Authorities said the explosions may be related to several false bomb threats received on Friday by the national economy minister's office.

No injuries were reported in either blast.

Fishermen protest tax measures by blockading Kalymnos, Leros

Vehicle ferries were prevented from docking in Kalymnos and Leros yesterday after local fishermen and sponge divers blockaded the two Dodecanese islands' ports to protest against new tax government measures.

Some 60 fishermen launched a blockade on Leros Sunday in the wake of the mobilisation on Kalymnos, which continued despite talks on Saturday to try to resolve the dispute.

Greek First Division soccer results

Olympiakos-Veria 4-1 Pyrgos-Panathinaikos 0-0 PAOK-Athinaikos 1-0 Kalamata-OFI 1-0 Apollon-Heraklis 0-0 Proodeftiki-Ethnikos 2-3 Panahaiki-Kavala 2-0 Panionios-Ionikos 2-2 Xanthi-AEK play today Standings-points: AEK, Olympiakos 43, Panathinaikos 40, PAOK 37, Ionikos 33, Heraklis 28, OFI, Apollon 24, Xanthi 23, Panionios, Pyrgos 20

WEATHER

Fair weather with some cloudiness in most parts of Greece including the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands and Crete. Sleet in the northern parts of the country in the morning. Winds light to moderate. Athens mostly sunny with a few clouds and temperatures between 5-14C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.436 Pound sterling 461.459 Cyprus pd 534.192 French franc 46.810 Swiss franc 193.346 German mark 156.706 Italian lira (100) 15.946 Yen (100) 216.653 Canadian dlr. 198.698 Australian dlr. 183.193 Irish Punt 390.848 Belgian franc 7.598 Finnish mark 51.763 Dutch guilder 139.068 Danish kr. 41.158 Swedish kr. 35.654 Norwegian kr. 38.202 Austrian sch. 22.276 Spanish peseta 1.849 Port. Escudo 1.534

(M.P.)


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