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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 29/11/1998 (ANA)


  • Athens-Thessaloniki motorway again open to traffic
  • Customs officials launch rolling strikes Monday
  • EU chief says Greece on target for EMU entry
  • Ruling party local gov't officials analyse election defeat
  • Teachers vote to strike early December
  • Doctor arrested for alleged extortion
  • Central bank says inflation below 2.0 pct feasible by end-1999
  • Kurdish rep calls for Ocalan asylum in Athens, other EU capitals
  • Gov't to set up squad to deal with barrage of bank robberies
  • No rift between Athens, Nicosia over S-300 missiles
  • Finance ministry to reopen seven-year bonds Dec 1
  • Stocks climb again after correction
  • Athens bourse consolidates, braces for assault on 2,500 pts
  • Need for more luxury hotels in Athens before Olympics


    Athens-Thessaloniki motorway again open to traffic

    Circulation along the highway connecting Athens to Thessaloniki was restored late on Saturday after a bridge in Pieria collapsed in heavy rain.

    No injuries or damage to vehicles were reported.

    Traffic is now moving through the new flyover at Leptokarya, which was rushed into service following the collapse of the older bridge, which dates back to the 1960s.

    The flyover is part of a new section of motorway linking Athens to Thessaloniki that is almost completed, the public works ministry said in a statement.

    Customs officials launch rolling strikes Monday

    Customs officials begin a week of rolling strikes as of Monday, following the breakdown of talks with the labour ministry over the future of their pension fund.

    Customs workers want their pension fund exempted from labour ministry plans to merge a number of sector-specific pension funds, part of the ministry's "mini-reforms" of the pension and health system.

    A warning strike by customs officials earlier this month caused chaos at Greece's borders, with hundreds of lorries stranded at border posts.

    EU chief says Greece on target for EMU entry

    Greece is well placed to make its goal of joining economic and monetary union in 2001, European Commission president Jacques Santer said in an interview with a Greek newspaper on Sunday.

    Santer told "Ethnos" that he was categorically opposed to reducing cohesion fund monies for Greece and said that economic and not political criteria would determine Greece's success.

    He added that the Commission would persist with its decision to begin procedures for accession with Cyprus and expressed the hope that accession talks could be the pretext for a political resolution to the division of the island.

    Ruling party local gov't officials analyse election defeat

    Local government officials of the ruling party on Saturday conducted a post- mortem on PASOK's weak performance in local elections last month, concluding that grass roots action was sluggish and out of touch with reality.

    Winding up a two-day congress in Athens, the secretaries of prefectural and departmental committees said that PASOK's contact with social movements and young people had slackened.

    The officials also charged that personal interests had come to overshadow collective decision-making, exacerbated by the use of television by dissenters.

    In addition, a number of delegates said they were concerned at what they saw as the party's nebulous identity.

    Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Costas Simitis launched a stinging, 25-minute attack on the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.

    Simitis accused ND of being stagnant and obstructionist, also relegating its policy to attitude-based cafe talk and its practice to football pitch antics.

    ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos later described the prime minister's criticism as insulting and stemming from panic due his personal failure in power and that of his party.

    Teachers vote to strike early December

    The heads of local teachers' unions on Saturday voted in favour of holding a 24-hour nationwide strike and rallies in all major cities in early December.

    An exact date for the strike will be decided by Monday, a statement said. Two possible dates are December 7 and 9. Students have already decided on a rally and protest march to the education ministry on December 9.

    The teacher's federation OLME has already said it would participate in a general strike called for December 15.

    Doctor arrested for alleged extortion

    A senior doctor in a northern state hospital was arrested for allegedly extorting cash from a patient in return for performing an operation, police said on Saturday.

    The doctor was identified as Mavrodis Mavroudis, 54, director of the urology clinic at Kozani Prefecture Hospital.

    The patient, farmer Mihail Tsivelidis, 61, told his son that Mavroudis had demanded an illegal payment of 100,000 drachmas in order to perform the operation, police officials said.

    His son reported the alleged extortion attempt to police, who marked five of 10 banknotes due to be given to the doctor.

    After the patient's son handed over the cash, police arrested the doctor in his office in possession of the marked banknotes.

    Mavroudis is to appear before a public prosecutor to hear charges.

    Central bank says inflation below 2.0 pct feasible by end-1999

    Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos said on Friday that consumer price inflation would fall rapidly in the first six months of 1999, and was likely to slip below 2.0 percent by the end of the year.

    Submitting an interim report on monetary policy to parliament, Mr. Papademos said an inflation figure below 2.0 percent by the end of next year was "feasible", and a decline in the first-half would be "swift".

    The report is a supplement to the central bank's monetary policy outlook released in April.

    Easing interest rates would be examined by the bank's monetary council the week after next, he said.

    Mr. Papademos underlined the need for the continuation of current, tight monetary policy until the inflation target was attained that would enable entry into European economic and monetary union by January 1, 2001.

    Kurdish rep calls for Ocalan asylum in Athens, other EU capitals

    A representative of the Kurdistan National Liberation Front on Friday requested that Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan be granted political asylum by Greece and other European governments.

    During a press conference in Athens, Roshat Laser accused Turkey of trying to create dissension between the Kurdish and Turkish people through para- state gangs, while he reaffirmed her group's orientation towards a political settlement of the Kurdish issue. He also stressed the need for European Union countries to take initiatives in this directions.

    Gov't to set up squad to deal with barrage of bank robberies

    The public order ministry is planning on establishing a squad of specially trained officers to deal with an epidemic of bank robberies, according to new minister Philipos Petsalnikos.

    Speaking to new officers at the Police Academy on Saturday, Petsalnikos said 250 of their number would be trained specifically in guarding banks and quickly mobilising to track down robbers.

    The new squad will be equipped with 100 motorcycles, some of which would be unmarked, and which will enable police to move quickly in tracking down culprits in bank robberies.

    Also at the disposal of the new squad will be a police helicopter which will patrol the Attica skies during banking hours. A police officer on duty in the chopper will coordinate ground chases of bank robbers.

    No rift between Athens, Nicosia over S-300 missiles

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Saturday denied that there was any breach between Athens and Nicosia and that the unified defence pact between the two countries was sound.

    Clerides was speaking in the Peloponnese port city of Patras, following his meeting on Friday with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Clerides told reporters that reports the Russian S-300 missiles would be deployed on Crete rather than Cyprus were false and denied that Prime Minister Simitis had proposed the alternative site.

    The proposal that the missiles be deployed on Crete had been made in the part by a number of countries such as the U.S. and European Union countries.

    Finance ministry to reopen seven-year bonds Dec 1

    The finance ministry is to auction 200 billion drachmas of seven-year bonds on December 1 at a fixed 8.70 percent annually, reopening an April 4, 1998 issue, it said in a statement.

    The finance ministry will also launch a public offering of two-year tax- free savings bonds in electronic form on December 2 and 3, it said in a statement yesterday.

    The fixed-income bonds at 10.30 percent annually will be offered to retail investors.

    Stocks climb again after correction

    Equities resumed their upward course in Friday's session following a two- day correction on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 0.95 percent up at 2,478.37 points in active trade with turnover at 62.9 billion drachmas. Volume was 14,278,000 shares.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.17 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 0.82 percent to 1,530.81 points.

    Athens bourse consolidates, braces for assault on 2,500 pts

    The Athens Stock Exchange showed signs of consolidation in robust turnover last week that included a downward correction after a 10 percent jump the previous week, taking a breather before a new assault on the 2,500-point barrier.

    The climate improved substantially following a forecast by Salomon Brothers that interest rates will fall by 50 basis points by the end of the year, and a total of three percentage points in 1999, analysts said.

    Optimism over consumer price inflation in November, which is expected to fall below 4.4 percent, was also a supporting factor.

    The general index was 0.58 percent higher on the week. It now stands 67.50 percent up from the beginning of the year, and 12.29 percent off its record peak in July.

    The week's turnover totalled 305.282 billion drachmas, or a daily average of 61.1 billion, slightly down from 61.7 billion the previous week.

    Need for more luxury hotels in Athens before Olympics

    A Greek-British Chamber of Commerce conference on Greece's tourism sector focused on Friday on the need for new luxury and upscale hotels in Athens to cover increased needs during the 2004 Olympic Games and the future.

    According to figures, 100 per cent of luxury rooms and 90 per cent of A category rooms will be occupied by 40,000 athletes expected to arrive for the games.


    Rainy weather is forecast on Sunday in eastern and northern Greece with storms also likely, but conditions are expected to improve later in the day. Snow is expected in northern mountainous regions. In the rest of the country cloud is expected, turning to rain or storms in many areas, especially in the morning. Winds northerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 12C to 16C and in Thessaloniki from 9C to 11C.


    Monday's rates (buying)

    US Dollar 283.345 Can.Dollar 184.532 Australian Dlr 179.671 Pound Sterling 469.117 Irish Punt 414.061 Pound Cyprus 563.456 Pound Malta 702.592 Turkish pound (100) 0.082 French franc 49.650 Swiss franc 201.996 Belgian franc 8.070 German Mark 166.458 Finnish Mark 54.768 Dutch Guilder 147.684 Danish Kr. 43.793 Swedish Kr. 34.899 Norwegian Kr.37.849 Austrian Sh. 23.660 Italian lira (100) 16.814 Yen (100) 231.265 Spanish Peseta 1.956 Port. Escudo 1.623


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