Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-02
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 02/11/1998 (ANA)
- PM pledges continuation of gov't policy ahead of confidence vote
- Opposition comments at the debate
- State telecom third flotation
- Tsohatzopoulos says from London confidence vote valid
- Tsohatzopoulos may seek PASOK leadership
- Finance ministry issues two-year bonds
- PASOK members' offices bombed in Athens
- Turkish gunboat opens fire on Greek fishing boat
- Gov't to examine asylum request by Kurds in Crete
- Archbishop Christodoulos meets FYROM church delegation
- Greek soccer match called off after violence
- Teenager kills two Albanian burglars
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
PM pledges continuation of gov't policy ahead of confidence vote
Prime Mimister Costas Simitis yesterday evening pledged his government
would continue its work without setbacks and called on the ruling PASOK
deputies to back him.
"The government will continue firmly and without setbacks, hesitations or
experimentations its work and this decision must be supported by PASOK in
its entrirety," Mr. Simitis told Parliament at the opening of a debate
which will culminate in a confiden ce vote on his government tomorrow at
midnight. Mr. Simitis asked for a confidence vote last Thursday after
proceeding to a minor cabinet reshuffle following a PASOK setback in local
elections last month.
He said the government and the ruling PASOK party should send a message
that "the current situation of the country does not allow for games or
Explaining the reasons why he called for a confidence vote, Mr. Simitis
"First to give an answer to all those who dispute the government's
political legitimacy, that is, vested interests, certain unionist groups
and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party; secondly, to give a reply
to populism and thirdly, to confirm with the confidence vote PASOK's
conceptions for the country's prospects".
Mr. Simitis also expressed certainty over Greece's entry into the European
Economic Monetary Union (EMU) by the year 2000.
Mr. Simitis said that the government "is not going to toy, not even for a
moment, with the interests of the people and the country and is not willing
to waste the sacrifices and efforts of the Greek people, so as to become
pleasant and benefit PASOK".
Accusing ND party of "opportunism", the premier addressed vested interests,
which, as he said, attempt to stop the course of the country to the EMU. He
added that these interests have the same aims with ND.
Mr. Simitis addressing the issue of the EMU said that the country's
accession is not a goal in itself. "The goal of the government is the
continually increasing prosperity of the Greek citizens," he said.
The premier also said that the government has achieved the safeguarding of
social expenditure, unlike other European countries, thus proving that its
social concern is real and not theoretical.
He accused ND of aiming to curtail the social sector and assign it to the
forces of the free market. He also accused the main opposition of aiming at
curtailing the state and social solidarity in contrast to the government,
which is fighting for an effe ctive state able to plan policies, which will
regulate and confront the effects of the market.
Opposition comments at the debate
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis in his address
to the Parliament said the PASOK government and the prime minister were
"weaker than ever".
"The government is weaker than ever and more so the prime minister is
weaker than ever and with spasmodic moves he is asking for a confidence
vote under pressure from his party's internal opposition," Mr. Karamanlis
said in a frontal attack against the government.
Accusing the government for what he termed the country's current "weakness",
Mr. Karamanlis referred to a "dissolution of the state", of a state "which
instead of being a friend to the citizen has become its enemy".
"The dissolution of the state is the greatest proof of the government's
failure," Mr. Karamanlis said reffering to recent criminal incidents
involving police and the increased crime all over the country.
He also accused the government of not accelerating privatisations, an
increase in unemployment and of not "containig public expenditure".
Mr. Karamanlis termed Greece's failure to enter the EMU in 1999 as a
"national demotion", adding that his party insisted on the nation's
Referring to foreign policy issues, he said his party's fears were
"confirmed" that "the policies of appeasement has led to Turkey's audacity
and increased provocations".
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said that the prime
minister raised the issue of the confidence vote "in order to reassure the
Greek and European plutocracy that the popular protest, which was expressed
clearly by the municipal and prefectural elections, will not lead the
government to evasions, which might relax the rythms of the wild neo-
liberal policy, which it follows with consistency."
Ms. Papariga added that the people are not willing to make more sacrifices
for the European Union and the " fake aim of the EMU."
The Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos
Constantopoulos said that "the prime minster, instead of studying the
messages of the municipal elections, is requesting by blackmail, of its
deputies to ignore the message of the popular decision and give cover with
their vote to his incomprehensible persistence on the same policy."
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said that the
prime minster called for the confidence vote to "settle interparty (PASOK)
State telecom third flotation
The price of shares for sale at home and abroad in the latest flotation for
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) was set at 6,100 drachmas on
the recommendation of underwriters, National Bank of Greece said on
The third flotation for the state telecom, which was roughly twice
oversubscribed, will bring the government around 302 billion drachmas, the
bank said in a statement. The offer's coordinators and main underwriters
were National Bank of Greece, Credit Suisse First Boston and Salomon Smith
National Bank said that the offer was the first successful secondary issue
to take place in Europe since a financial crisis erupted this year that
battered stock markets around the continent.
Around 30 percent of OTE's shares will be sold in Greece with around nine
million shares available to retail investors, covering 63 percent of
demand. Priority will given to purchases of up to 100 shares.
Domestic institutional investors will soak up around six million shares,
representing an average 73 percent of demand.
Total sales to investors abroad will account for about 92 billion drachmas
of funds tapped from the market.
Stock sold on New York's bourse totalled 122 billion drachmas, with
remaining funds coming from investors in Europe. Around 75 percent of stock
sold abroad was in the form of Athens bourse depository receipts and 25
percent as American Depository Receipts.
Tsohatzopoulos says from London confidence vote valid
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said that the vote of
confidence, the government requested of Parliament, was valid and correct
but not a venue to solve ideological issues.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, who is in London for an event in honour of CyprusY EDEK
socialist party leader Vassos Lyssaridis, said "the Parliamentary procedure
is valid and complete and at the same time an effective tactical move".
He added, however, that this procedure can not and should not resolve other
issues of political and ideological issues concering ruling PASOK
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also said that "after the results and the messages for
PASOK, of the last municipal and prefectural elections, by in-party
interventions and within the framework of its internal operations, the
party must give the feeling to public opinion that it is aware of the
sensitivities and reactions of citizens."
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the citizens expect the government of PASOK to
"give them a new prospect and benefits from the accession to the European
Union Economic Monetary Union (EMU), for unemployment, development, the
environment and quality of life ."
Tsohatzopoulos may seek PASOK leadership
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday did not rule out
making a bid for leadership of the ruling PASOK party at an unspecified
time in the future.
Asked by the Sunday Vima newspaper if he would again seek the party's
leadership, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said he was not interested in discussing the
matter at present, but that there was no leadership issue in the party
The minister also denied that PASOK was split, but acknowledged that unity
and cohesion were issues.
Asked whether a cabinet reshuffle last week was a fit response to the
message from October's local elections in which the ruling party's
performance was weak, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said cryptically:
"The government appears to be pursuing its course."
Finance ministry issues two-year bonds
The finance ministry is issuing two-year bonds in electronic form today and
tomorrow, at a fixed annual rate of 10.75 per cent.
The bonds are freely transferrable, and tax-free if retained until
An auction of 150 billion drachmas worth of five-year bonds through primary
dealers, at a fixed annual rate of 8.9 percent, is also scheduled for
tomorrow. The ministry may also accept non-competitive bids totalling 30
Sources say the government is now considering a return to issuing long-term
securities, as the money market appears to be back on the way to normalisation.
Meanwhile, according to the Bank of Greece, the economy's total liquidity,
as measured by the benchmark M3 indicator, increased by 1.3 per cent in
September, down from 2.8 per cent in August.
PASOK members' offices bombed in Athens
An explosive device went off on Saturday at the Athens political offices of
ruling PASOK party ministers and deputies, according to police. Minor
damage was caused to the offices located on 15 Patission St.
According to reports, the office building was rented by PASOK to be used as
office space by party deputies elected in the provinces outside Athens.
Newly appointed Public Order Minister Philippos Petsalnikos' Athens office
occupied one of the offices on the third floor of the building where the
explosion took place.
Fire fighters extinguished the blaze in time to avert further damages.
Turkish gunboat opens fire on Greek fishing boat
A Turkish coast guard gunboat yesterday attempted to stop and board a Greek
fishing boat, 11.5 miles off the northeastern Greek port of Alexandroupolis
and well outside the Turkish territorial waters, according to reports.
In their efforts, the crew of the Turkish gunboat fired warning shots
against the Greek boat and used the firefighting hoses to douse it with hot
water, according to Yiannis Kolosendas, the captain of the Greek boat.
The captain of the Greek fishing boat notified via VHF radio other boats in
the area as well as the Alexandroupolis port authority of the Turkish
The Trukish gunboat gave up its pursuit when Greek gunboats left port to
confront it. Immediately afterwards the fishing boat reached Alexandroupolis
where the captain reported the incident.
The Alexandroupolis Fishing Cooperative requested that the Greek government
assign a gunboat similar to the Trukish one at the port city, thus
increasing the sentiment of security among the fishermen in the area.
Gov't to examine asylum request by Kurds in Crete
Health and Welfare Deputy Minister Theodoros Kotsonis yesterday said that
the government will examine through proper channels the asylum request of
263 illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin, that reached Hania, Crete by boat
The deputy minister, who is visiting the immigrants at Hania, said that the
applications will be processed and those considered political refugees will
be granted residence permits.
The immigrants are housed at the state owned Xenia Hotel of Hania.
A Hania court on Friday acquitted two Syrian nationals charged with
transporting illegal immigrants to Greece, accepting their defence that
they had in fact rescued the illegals at sea, but ordered their deportation.
On Wednesday, the coastguard detained the immigrants who were found crammed
into the hold of a Lebanese-flagged wooden fishing boat.
Archbishop Christodoulos meets FYROM church delegation
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Saturday met with a
delegation of the breakaway Orthodox Church of the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia (FYROM) at the border crossing post of Niki, Florina
According to a FYROM church spokesman, Archbishop Christodoulos reassured
the delegation that he was willing to mediate between the breakaway church
and the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in efforts to re-unify them.
Greek soccer match called off after violence
Fifteen people were injured in incidents during Saturday's first division
footbal match between PAOK Thessaloniki and champion- ship holders
Olympiakos Piraeus,which the referee called off in the 83rd minute.
The incidents started when the guest team took a 2-1 lead with a penalty
kick in 79th minute, and acquired explosive dimensions when the hosts were
disallowed a goal a minute later. Fans invaded the pitch and caused
extensive damage to the stands.
About 3,000 Olympiakos fans had to be escorted out of the city under strong
police protection several hours later.
Sixteen fans from both teams were arrested and will appear before a
Thessaloniki court today on charges of damaging private property,and for
possession of weapons and drugs.
Teenager kills two Albanian burglars
Eighteen-year old Ioannis Mariannis took the law into his own hands and
fatally shot two Albanian immigrants who had burgled his family home in the
Asprokampos village, Corinth district, early Saturday morning.
The two burglars, Dede Tushaj, 48, and Artan Geta, 23, were returning to
collect from a nearby spot a booty of mainly food and clothes, which they
had siphoned off late Friday night and was found in their stolen truck,
along with two barrels of petrol, a shotgun and an axe.
Mariannis gave himself up to police several hours later and is to appear
before a public prosecutor today.
Overcast weather with sunny spells is forecast throughout the country today
with rain expected in northern, western and central Greece. Winds
southwesterly, moderate, turning strong at sea. Partly cloudy in Athens
with temperatures ranging from 16-23C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 278.762
British pound 467.827 Japanese yen (100) 238.516
French franc 50.346 German mark 168.724
Italian lira (100) 17.061 Irish Punt 420.013
Belgian franc 8.182 Finnish mark 55.473
Dutch guilder 149.608 Danish kr. 44.410
Austrian sch. 24.017 Spanish peseta 1.985
Swedish kr. 36.006 Norwegian kr. 37.904
Swiss franc 206.753 Port. Escudo 1.646
Aus. dollar 173.526 Can. dollar 179.552
Cyprus pound 569.507