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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-04

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


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 "no".

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 people.

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 and ND)."

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 apparatus."

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 ideals".

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 everwhere.

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) leader's appearance".

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 polls.

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 said.

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 enterprises.

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 said.

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 estimates.

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 changing hands.

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 drachmas.

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 percent.

Of 255 shares traded declines led advances at 156 to 83 with 16 remaining unchanged.

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 for 1999.

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 Commission yesterday.

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 day.

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 offences.

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 injuries.

Georgios Yiannes, a police officer currently serving with the rank of major, was charged with repeated breach of duty and inciting subordinates to commit offences.

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 Athens.

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


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