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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-10-28

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, 28/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Ohi Day celebrations
  • PM Simitis's Ohi Day message
  • Illegal immigrants found on fishing boat
  • Slovenian PM to visit Athens
  • Reshuffle reports denied
  • T-bill rates fall
  • Greek, Cypriot speakers meet
  • Policeman charged over death of Serbian boy
  • Greek equities end up
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Ohi Day celebrations

Greece on Wednesday celebrated the 58th anniversary of "Ohi (No) Day" when it was dragged into World War II after rejecting Mussolini's ultimatum to surrender to the fascist forces or be invaded.

The October 28, 1940 anniversary was celebrated with church te deums and parades in Athens and other cities, and an impressive military parade inspected by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos in Thessaloniki.

"National anniversaries should not evolve into empty formal celebrations. We must revive the historical memory of the nation and rekindle patriotic sentiments not only for moments of major national need but because our nation lived through and lives through this great historical event of the heroic resistance to the invasion and protection of the freedom of Greeks in 1940 and 1941 and the subsequent national resistance. Our youth must study and learn from history - not just ancient history but the more recent history of the nation," Stephanopoulos said after the parade.

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who represented the prime minister at celebrations in Thessaloniki, said the huge turnout for the parade indicated "unity and that the Greek Armed Forces are the best protection for a peaceful future.

In Athens, Education and Religious Affairs Minister Gerasimos Arsenis and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos presided over a student parade in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

PM Simitis's Ohi Day message

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Tuesday that the country needed to show the same determination in meeting new challenges as that shown when it refused an Italian ultimatum to surrender and was dragged into World War II.

In a message issued on the occasion of "Ohi (No) Day" on Wednesday, when Greece rebuffed Mussolini's demand, Simitis said Greeks were "required to show the same decisiveness as the generation of the '40s".

"In the world of today, whatever makes Greece strong is patriotic," Simitis's message read.

"Greece must be strong so as to participate equally in all the levels and procedures of the new European entity, to be active and have a dynamic presence in the Balkans, to deal with organised crime, drug trafficking, racism and xenophobia, to proclaim from all international podiums the need for respect and maintenance of international law and to avert any threat thanks to the worthiness of the Greek Armed Forces.

"The Greek people are well aware that the Greece of new opportunities, development and social justice, the Greece of the 21st century demands sacrifices and hard work. And it is prepared to give its all to achieve this final aim. I am certain that the message of decisiveness of the generation of the 40s inspires and teaches all Greeks, who want to feel proud of their country at the threshold of the 21st century," the message said.

Illegal immigrants found on fishing boat

The Greek coastguard on Wednesday discovered 263 illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin from Iraq crammed into the hold of a Lebanese-flagged wooden fishing boat.

The authorities were alerted by the skipper of a Greek fishing boat who saw a large number of people on the deck of the 25-metre "Santa Maria" as it was sailing off the south-west coast of Crete.

The coastguard in Paleochora sent a patrol boat which located the Lebanese vessel shortly afterwards.

Apart from the 263 Iraqis, including 123 children of different ages, the coastguard arrested two Syrians who were in charge of the vessel and are believed to have arranged for their illegal transportation.

According to initial reports, the "Santa Maria" had sailed from a port in Lebanon.

The two Syrians and the illegal immigrants will appear before a public prosecutor in Chania on Thursday.

Slovenian PM to visit Athens

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek will pay an official visit to Greece beginning Thursday, according to an ANA dispatch from Ljubljana. Drnovsek is scheduled to meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

It will be the first official visit by a Slovenian prime minister to Greece and comes after visits by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to Slovenia earlier this year.

Drnovsek's visit is expected to focus on Slovenian efforts to join the European Union. Greece is one of the countries that has not yet ratified the EU agreement with Slovenia but is expected to place the issue on the parliamentary agenda soon.

Reshuffle reports denied

The government on Tuesday denied reports that a cabinet reshuffle was in the works.

"We are not occupied with any issue of a reshuffle. There is no such issue, " government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters on his arrival in the northern Greek city of Ioannina, where he will represent the government at ceremonies marking the national Ohi Day holiday.

T-bill rates fall

Interest rates fell significantly in today's Treasury bills auction held by the Greek finance ministry.

The average weighted rate in one year T-bills fell to 11.0 percent from 11.6 percent in the previous auction.

Primary dealers offered 450.8 billion drachmas, more than double the original aim of 200 billion. The finance ministry finally accepted bids totalling 228.6 billion drachmas.

The fall in T-bill rates is a favourable development for the government in its effort to contain inflation and cut long-term yields, two major EMU convergence criteria.

A meeting held in the national economy ministry with the initiative of the ministry's council of economic advisors on Monday, discussed the country's monetary policy.

Participants agreed that although Greek 10-year bond spreads remained high at 400 basis points above the Maastricht criterion of 6.0 percent, the situation could be easily improved on the condition that inflation would be contained to 2.0 percent by the end of 1999.

Long-term interest rates would then follow the decline, they said.

In the domestic secondary bond market the climate was positive. However, the government remained cautious and continued to examine defensive alternative solutions to strengthen the bond market.

The Greek paper market remains vulnerable to moves by foreign investors. Experts say that bond prices could be hit again in future international turmoil and the government would like to avoid such a prospect now that the country has entered a final stretch towards the Maastricht criteria.

Greek, Cypriot speakers meet

Developments in the Cyprus issue were the focus of talks on Tuesday between the Greek and Cypriot presidents of parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis and Spyros Kyprianou respectively, in Athens.

Both reiterated the goal of the Greek side was Cyprus's inclusion in the European Union, which would facilitate a settlement of the problem.

"The Cypriot problem will not be solved in Cyprus, but primarily in Washington, and then in London and Brussels, so efforts for (Cyprus's) accession must be directed there," Kyprianou said.

Talks on coordinated activities by the Greek and Cypriot houses will continue during Kaklamanis's official visit to Nicosia, in the middle of November.

Policeman charged over death of Serbian boy

Dozens of plainclothes policemen scuffled with journalists on Tuesday outside a Thessaloniki courthouse as they attempted to stop reporters from filming a colleague being charged with killing a Serbian schoolboy on Friday.

A senior police official sped to the scene following complaints from reporters and called on the plainclothes policemen to disperse.

The policemen had, on their own initiative, gathered at the scene to prevent the media from approaching Kyriakos Vandoulis, 32, or taking his photo due to the "sensitive" post he holds in the homicide division.

Vandoulis was released on bail after being formally charged with homicide with intent, drawing harsh criticism from the boy's father, Dragoslav Bulatovic, who arrived in the Greek city late on Monday to accompany his son's body back to Belgrade.

Bulatovic told reporters that Vandoulis should be punished and be kept in custody. Bulatovic said on Monday that he would file a civil suit for wrongful death against Vandoulis in the Greek courts.

Vandoulis was released on bond of one million drachmas and banned from leaving the country.

Sources said Vandoulis told the prosecutor that his pistol had gone off while he held it in one hand and spread both arms out to prevent 18-year- old Marko Bulatovic from fleeing.

The student, part of a group on a school trip to Greece, was killed instantly by a shot to the head.

Greece said on Monday it would undertake all the expenses for Bulatovic's funeral: his body will be flown to Belgrade by a Hellenic Air Force transport plane later on Tuesday.

Greek equities end up

Greek equities ended sharply higher for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting strong buying activity in banks and industrials.

The general index ended 1.71 percent higher to 2,140.39 points in heavy turnover of 46.2 billion drachmas. Volume was 11,483,000 shares.

Traders said the market was expecting a new cut in Bank of Greece's intervention rate by 25 basis points soon, in line with a climate of lower rates in European Union.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 2.11 percent, Insurance fell 0.33 percent, Investment was 0.08 percent off, Leasing dropped 1.31 percent, Industrials increased 1.82 percent, Construction fell 1.01 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.75 percent up and Holding jumped 2.4 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.24 percent higher.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 137 to 90 with another 23 issues unchanged.

Hellenic Petroleum, Mytilineos, Aspis Invest, Aspis Bank and Bank of Piraeus were the most heavily traded stocks.

Daring, Connection, Bank of Central Greece, Lanakam, Marfin Invest, Dimitriadis and Ridenco scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

Nematemboriki, Boutaris, Corfil, Macedonian Plastics, Sportsman, Yalco, Nafpaktos Spin Mills, Avax and Atticat suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,690, Ionian Bank at 10,540, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,420, Delta Dairy at 3,330, Intracom at 10,900, Titan Cement at 17,500, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,345 and Minoan Lines at 6,085.

WEATHER

The forecast for Thursday is generally fine, although later in the day some cloud is expected in western and northern parts of the country. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong and at times in the SE Aegean very strong. Temperatures will range from 1-19C in the north, 5-23C in region of the Ionian islands and the rest of mainland Greece and 10-22C in the Aegean.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.873 British pound 466.796 Japanese yen (100) 233.646 French franc 50.334 German mark 168.858 Italian lira (100) 17.053 Irish Punt 420.410 Belgian franc 8.177 Finnish mark 55.532 Dutch guilder 149.574 Danish kr. 44.364 Austrian sch. 23.992 Spanish peseta 1.987 Swedish kr. 36.188 Norwegian kr. 37.043 Swiss franc 206.182 Port. Escudo 1.645 Aus. dollar 171.715 Can. dollar 181.536 Cyprus pound 572.344

(S.S.)


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