Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-11-04
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 04/11/1998 (ANA)
- Gov't wins Parliament confidence vote by 163 to 136
- Pilot dies after ejecting from Mirage-2000 jet
- Greece brands Yilmaz visit to occupied Cyprus "illegal"
- Gov't welcomes operation of democracy in FYROM
- Gov't sees public debt falling in 1998
- Demand sends drachma higher
- Ex-police chief, 15 others charged in widespread corruption case
- Greece incorporating EU law at satisfactory level
- G.Papandreou criticises efforts to block Cyprus' EU accession
- OTE shares the second most traded at NYSE at Monday session
- 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.
The government said on Wednesday that it viewed a letter of criticism from
eleven ruling PASOK party deputies shortly before the confidence vote as
"never having been written".
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that as far as the government and
the prime minister were concerned, the issue was over and what was
important was that the government had clearly mustered 163 votes "which are
not accompanied by any comment".
Shortly before the vote last night, the eleven deputies, including seven
former ministers, said in a letter delivered 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 requested 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 Kaklamanis, who mediated with the prime minister,
the 11 withdrew their letter. Sources said 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.
Pilot dies after ejecting from Mirage-2000 jet
An Airforce pilot was killed today when his jetfighter crashed during a
routine training flight, an airforce general staff spokesman said.
The 26-year-old pilot ejected from the Mirage-2000 fighter plane as it went
down near Skala, Oropos northeast of Athens, opposite the island of Evia,
but was fatally injured.
The spokesman said it has not yet been determined whether the pilot died as
he ejected from the plane or while parachuting down.
Initial reports attributed the accident to malfunction of the plane's
steering system, but a committee of experts was investigating.
Greece brands Yilmaz visit to occupied Cyprus "illegal"
The Greek government on Wednesday branded as "illegal" a visit by Turkish
Premier Mesut Yilmaz to the occupied north of Cyprus and accused him of
undermining stability in the region.
"With his presence there and statements about incorporating the (Turkish-)
occupied part of Cyprus in Turkey, Yilmaz is dynamiting security and
stability in the region of the SE Mediterranean," government spokesman
Dimitris Reppas told reporters.
In a reference to Turkish threats against Nicosia not to install Russian-
made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in Cyprus, Reppas said:
"While Turkey denies Cyprus the right to bolster its defence, Ankara is
excessively arming the Turkish occupation force and jeopardising peace in
the entire region."
Responding to Yilmaz's incorporation threats, Reppas said this could not be
done because even the Turkish-Cypriots were categorically opposed to such a
move, "given that they are anticipating Cyprus' accession to the European
Reppas noted that Turkey would have to pay the price for the normalisation
of its relations with Greece and charged that the neighbouring country had
adopted "the same policy of aggression and imposing its views" with respect
to both the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations.
"This determines its relations not only with Greece but also with the EU,"
Nicosia on Monday described as "provocative" the 24-hour visit yesterday by
Yilmaz to the northern part of Cyprus which has been occupied since Turkey
invaded in 1974.
Gov't welcomes operation of democracy in FYROM
The Greek government on Wednesday described as a positive development the
operation of democratic institutions in the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM) following general elections in the neighbouring country
which brought a centre-right opposition bloc to power.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also expressed the hope that the new
government of FYROM would display a spirit of cooperation with Greece, so
that cooperation to date continues smoothly.
"Of course this will be determined in practice," Reppas said, adding that
Greece had helped towards "melting the ice" in relations between the two
The VMRO-DPMNE bloc which came to power after Sunday's second round of
general elections ended leftist rule in FYROM after 53 years but needs the
support of ethnic Albanians for a governing majority.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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