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

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, 04/11/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 Union".

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," Reppas said.

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 countries.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(S.S.)


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