Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 04/11/1998 (ANA)
- Gov't wins Parliament confidence vote by 163 to 136
- Motion by 11 PASOK deputies
- Gov't sees public debt falling in 1998
- Latest gov't market rate paper sells well
- Demand sends drachma higher
- Bank of Central Greece joins the pack, cuts rates
- Greek equities end lower in technical correction, stay active
- Gov't cites positive year for tourism in '98
- Greece incorporating EU law at satisfactory level
- G.Papandreou criticises efforts to block Cyprus' EU accession
- Kranidiotis meeting with Israeli ambassador
- OTE shares the second most traded at NYSE at Monday session
- Ex-police chief, 15 others charged in widespread corruption case
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Gov't wins Parliament confidence vote by 163 to 136
The government won a parlimentary vote of confidence shortly after midnight,
mustering the support of 163 of the 299 deputies present, while 136 MPs
voted against the motion. The confidence vote was called by Prime Minister
Costas Simitis after a minor reshuffle of his government last week.
After the announcement of the result, the prime minister stated the
government had received a clear mandate to continue its work.
Earlier, in his closing address in the debate, Mr. Simitis threw down the
gauntlet to ruling party dissenters, saying that if they disagreed with his
government's policy they should have the courage to state a clear
Replying to charges of government incompetence by New Democracy party
leader Costas Karamanlis, the prime minister challenged him to call for
elections, adding that he did not do so for reasons of political weakness
and in the knowledge that he would not meet with a positive response by the
He also hinted a complete lack of experience in governing by the main
opposition leader which provided him with the advantage of appearing to
dissociate himself from the record of his party when in power.
Earlier, Mr. Karamanlis accused the government of "arrogant behaviour and
contempt for the people."
Mr. Karamanlis also called on the prime minister to "stop concealing his
personal inadequacy behind the national goal of taking the country into
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)."
"You cannot receive absolution for the disintegration of the state, your
mistakes and omissions through EMU," he stressed.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said that conditions
were "ripe for the people to break free from the main two parties (PASOK
Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos
said the prime minister wanted to use the confidence vote in order to
proceed with measures, "which he does not dare announce to the PASOK party
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas accused the
government of adopting a "compliant attitude towards the United States and
the European Union" in relation to the balance of power in the Aegean.
Mr. Tsovolas argued that the ministry of expatriate Hellenism must be re-
instituted and that without delay a national strategy for foreign policy
and defence must be drawn up.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos accused the main opposition
of "outdated populism, opportunistic behaviour and contradictions."
"Its arrogant stand showed contempt for the Greek people," he said.
Further, making an overture to the Left, he reiterated a previous proposal
for dialogue, with a view to adopting measures in favour of social cohesion
and environmental protection "for the individual, the citizen, visions and
He also defended the government's defence policy, stressing that a revision
of the armed forces' structure and their modernisation was in line with the
demands of a new national strategy, which projected Greece as a crucial
factor for security and stabi lity in the region.
New Public Order Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said the crime rate in
Greece continued to be one of the lowest in Europe, despite the fact that
the country could not be isolated from the new forms of crime appearing
Referring to police corruption, the minister said that in no way did it
concern all of the police force, while the government would adopt measures
necessary to promote a feeling of security among citizens.
Former ND prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis commented on the defence
minister's speech, saying that "he made a conscientious effort to defend
the government, but did not avoid the temptation of making an (aspirant)
He also charged that it was "politically immoral and unacceptable for the
economic figures to be deliberately concocted".
Motion by 11 PASOK deputies
Earlier in the evening, 11 ruling PASOK deputies, including seven former
ministers, said in a letter sent to Parliament President Apostolos
Kaklamanis that their vote in favour of the government was justified by
"the manner in which the uncalled for - and for this reason incomprehensible
- confidence motion was asked and announced".
The "11" charged that the announcement was accompanied by the "double-
threat" of elections and the referral to PASOK's disciplinary party organs
of those who refuse to grant the vote again asked for."
After consultations with Mr. Kaklamanis, who mediated with the prime
minister, the 11 withdrew their letter. Sources said Mr. Simitis made it
clear that he would not accept the votes of the "11" as being in favour of
his government, considering the letter as a call for going to the
Gov't sees public debt falling in 1998
The public debt is expected to show a decline of four percentage points as
a proportion of gross domestic product, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos
Christodoulakis told a news conference yesterday.
Estimated for 1998 is a decline to 105.5 percent of GDP from 109.5 percent
in 1997. In absolute terms, the public debt is expected to stand at 37.5
trillion drachmas in 1998 from 35.8 trillion a year earlier, Mr. Christodoulakis
The decline in the public debt will further aid interest rates to drop for
the remainder of 1998 and in 1999, he forecast.
Contributing to the fall in the public debt in terms of GDP growth was a
rise in the budget's primary surplus, debt payments made by the Public
Securities Company, and a reduction in the debt forfeitures of public
In addition, the rate of increase in budgetary spending was back on target
after an increase in January-August.
In January-October, the rate of increase in primary spending was contained
to 6.7 percent against an annualised target of 6.6 percent, Mr. Christodoulakis
The rate of increase in rates for debt servicing fell to 3.9 percent in
January-October although the cost should exceed the government's target by
40 billion drachmas by the end of the year due to a 13.8 percent devaluation
of the drachma on March 14, Mr. Christodoulakis said.
Latest gov't market rate paper sells well
The average weighted rate on five-year, fixed-income bonds auctioned
yesterday slipped to 8.76 percent from 9.04 percent in the previous tender
held in June, the finance ministry said in a statement.
The auction held through the market's primary dealers was oversubscribed
with bids totalling 222.8 billion drachmas against 150 billion drachmas the
government was seeking. Accepted by the ministry were bids totalling 171.5
billion drachmas. Expiry is on April 1, 2003.
The issue dominated trade in the secondary market, accounting for 21
billion drachmas of the day's turnover of 50 billion drachmas through the
electronic trading system.
In addition, an issue of two-year, tax-free savings bonds held over the
last two days raised more than 110 billion drachmas, according to early
The fixed rate is an annual 10.75 percent
Demand sends drachma higher
Strong demand was seen for the drachma in the domestic market yesterday
driving the national currency to higher levels, traders said.
The demand was met by commercial banks, and the central bank made no
intervention to bring down the national currency.
At the Bank of Greece's daily fix the mark ended at 168.265 drachmas, the
dollar at 279.460 and Ecu at 330.190 drachmas.
The drachma is now 7.5 percent up on its central parity in the European
Union's exchange rate mechanism.
Athens News Agency
Bank of Central Greece joins the pack, cuts rates
Bank of Central Greece yesterday announced a reduction in its deposit rates
following cuts in loan rates launched this week by Alpha Credit Bank and
Bank of Piraeus.
Bank of Central Greece, a smaller player in the market, is now offering
phased rates from 8.75 percent to 11.0 percent on its savings accounts,
down from 9.25 percent to 11.25 percent.
Rates on current accounts are slipping to a range of 7.5 percent-9.5
percent from 7.5 percent-9.75 percent.
Greek equities end lower in technical correction, stay active
Greek stocks yesterday shed some gains in active trade following a jump in
the previous session but held comfortably above the 2,200-point barrier
with investors remaining sprightly.
The Athens general index lost 0.71 percent against the previous session's
5.86 percent surge to finish at 2,273.28 points with 11,758,000 shares
Turnover was 62.8 billion drachmas, slightly down on 69.1 billion of normal
trade in the previous session when block trades in a float for Hellenic
Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) drove the total up to 376.6 billion
The state telecom's share yesterday closed at 6,640 drachmas, slightly down
on the previous 6,775 drachmas.
The drop in the market was due to a technical correction and most supply
was absorbed, brokers said.
Boosting the market on Monday was the success of OTE's third float, a
promise by the government to keep its European Union oriented economic
policy intact, and a sharp decline in bank rates that is seen bringing down
rates on state securities.
The heavily weighted banking sector slipped 0.43 percent after surging 7.92
percent in the previous session.
Insurance edged up 0.46 percent, Investment dropped 0.87 percent, Leasing
slumped 2.48 percent, Industrials crept down 0.67 percent, Construction
shed 1.33 percent, Miscellaneous gained 0.44 percent and Holding lost 1.06
Of 255 shares traded declines led advances at 156 to 83 with 16 remaining
Gov't cites positive year for tourism in '98
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday said that 1998 was a very
good year for tourism and that increased tourism revenues were anticipated
Ms Papandreou, whose portfolio includes the tourism sector, said that a
tourism campaign, scheduled to be launched by the Greek National Tourism
Organisation (EOT) in 10 days, would absorb some four billion drachmas
between November 1998 and May 1999, while an effort would be made to secure
a total of 10 billion drachmas from the finance ministry to enable funding
of additional activities such as public relations and marketing.
Greece incorporating EU law at satisfactory level
The process of incorporating European Union legislation into Greek national
law is at a satisfactory level, according to data provided by the European
Greece and Belgium have not yet incorporated 64 directives, faring slightly
better than France, which has not incorporated 67; Italy and Portugal at
74; Ireland 76, and Luxembourg 80.
G.Papandreou criticises efforts to block Cyprus' EU accession
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday rebuked those
setting Cyprus' political problem, as he noted, as an obstacle in accession
negotiations with the European Union.
He spoke on the sidelines of a conference between the EU and the South
African Development Community (SADC).
Mr. Papandreou said that Greece had made it clear that if a political
solution was raised as a precondition and accession negotiations for Cyprus
were impeded for this reason, then Athens would raise reservations over the
entire EU enlargement process.
Referring in particular to France, which is insisting on raising the
political issue as an obstacle in negotiations and, in general, for Cyprus'
EU accession, Mr. Papandreou said that this constituted a "silly and bad"
negotiating tactic because, in essence, it did not help to have the views
of all sides on the Cyprus issue change.
Mr. Papandreou said that the fact that the Turkish Cypriots were Turkey's
victims in the process for Cyprus' EU accession and that the responsibility
lay with Turkey should be raised in all discussions and, of course, there
should also be the necessary pressure and there was pressure to the degree
that accession negotiations were continuing.
Kranidiotis meeting with Israeli ambassador
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis received Israeli ambassador to
Athens Ran Curiel on Monday for talks regarding recent events in the Middle
East peace process.
The Israeli ambassador also delivered a letter from Israeli Foreign
Minister Ariel Sharon to his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos
concerning the Wye Memorandum - recently signed in the US between Israel
and the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Curiel said that agreement expresses Israel's absolute commitment to
achieve peace with its neighbours, and particularly the Palestinians, as
well as its readiness to make the necessary compromises.
In a press release by the Israeli embassy in Athens, Mr. Curiel emphasised
the important role the international community and Greece can play in
helping consolidate peace, expressing Israel's appreciation for the recent
initiatives of the Greek foreign ministry in organising meetings between
Israeli and Palestinian MPs.
OTE shares the second most traded at NYSE at Monday session
A New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) official yesterday announced that 34
million shares of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) were
sold during the initial offering. She added that yesterday alone, eight
million OTE shares cha nged hands, ranking it second in trade volume for
The spokeswoman said that the share opened for trading at 11 US dollars and
closed at 11.31 dollars.
Ex-police chief, 15 others charged in widespread corruption case
A public prosecutor yesterday levelled charges against 16 senior police
officers and civilians, including the recently resigned chief of the Greek
police, following the completion of an investigation into police corruption.
The charges were announced by the head of the public prosecutor's office of
Athens first instance courts, Georgios Koliokostas, and following an
investigation begun several months ago by prosecutor Georgios Gerakis.
The investigation focused on allegations of corruption in the police force
in three specific areas - the unlawful granting of residence permits to
foreigners; provision of "protection" to nightclubs, and drug-related
The charges announced yesterday relate to the residence permits and the
protection racket. The investigation is continuing into allegations of
police officers being involved in the protection racket and drug dealing.
The retired head of the Greek police, Athanasios Vassilopoulos, was charged
with breach of duty.
Mr. Vassilopoulos' resignation was accepted after a botched attempt by
police in September to free hostages being held by an escaped Greek-
Romanian convict which resulted in the death of one hostage and several
Georgios Yiannes, a police officer currently serving with the rank of major,
was charged with repeated breach of duty and inciting subordinates to
Georgios Florentis, an advisor to former public order minister Georgios
Romeos, who was replaced in last week's minor government reshuffle, was
also charged with inciting subordinates to commit unlawful acts and moral
complicity in falsifying official documents.
The former head of the Athens security police, Ioannis Papadakis, has been
charged with breach of duty.
Police captains Constantinos Kyros and Panayiotis Safakas were charged with
falsifying documents. The former head of the aliens' bureau, Georgios
Spiliopoulos, was charged with breach of duty.
Among the accused are a lawyer, Ilias Alexandris, who was charged with
perjury and Georgios Dzavidas, an employee at the first instance court of
The case file relating to the offences has been forwarded to a magistrate
who will now conduct the main investigation.
Overcast weather is forecast throughout Greece today with the possibility
of light rain in the west and north of the country. Winds southwesterly,
moderate. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 15-
25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 12-21C.
Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 277.224
British pound 459.276 Japanese yen (100) 240.391
French franc 49.794 German mark 166.919
Italian lira (100) 16.893 Irish Punt 415.251
Belgian franc 8.094 Finnish mark 54.917
Dutch guilder 148.096 Danish kr. 43.932
Austrian sch. 23.735 Spanish peseta 1.964
Swedish kr. 35.416 Norwegian kr. 37.547
Swiss franc 204.486 Port. Escudo 1.629
Aus. dollar 173.124 Can. dollar 181.655
Cyprus pound 563.059