Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-19
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 19/02/1999 (ANA)
- Cabinet reshuffle following Ocalan uproar
- ND calls for Simitis' resignation
- The new Cabinet as of Feb. 18, 1999
- Kranidiotis says criticism of Athens `unfair`
- G. Papandreou: Athens will demand common EU stance on Kurdish issue
- Thousands rally for Ocalan in downtown Athens
- Kaklamanis voices bitterness to US Congressional delegation
- Outlook brighter for euro entry in 2001, analyst says
- Stocks slump on political unease following Ocalan affair
- State OTE now owns 35 pct of Rom Telecom
- Infoquest forges alliance with US cable firm
- Geothermal energy possibility in Evros
- Athens News Agency English service
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Cabinet reshuffle following Ocalan uproar
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday asked for the resignations of three
of his key ministers in the wake of the uproar over the capture of rebel
Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Foreign Minister Theodoros
Pangalos, Public Order Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Interior Minister
Alekos Papadopoulos had tendered their resignations.
A mini cabinet reshuffle was announced later in the day by Mr. Reppas in
which George Papandreou, until now Alternate FM succeeds Mr. Pangalos,
while Yiannos Kranidiotis succeeds Mr. Papandreou.
Replacing Mr. Papadopoulos is Vasso Papandreou, who leaves the development
Replacing Ms Papandreou at the development ministry is Evangelos Venizelos,
whose post at the culture ministry is taken over by Elizabeth Papazoi,
until now Aegean minister.
Michalis Chrysohoidis, until now deputy development minister, takes over as
public order minister, replacing Philippos Petsalnikos.
Stavros Benos, until now deputy interior minister, takes over at the Aegean
ministry. Leonidas Tzanis, a Cabinet newcomer, takes over as deputy
interior minister, while also Gregoris Niotis takes over as deputy FM,
replacing Yiannos Kranidiotis.
Finally, Cabinet newcomer Yiannis Haralambous takes over as deputy
The new ministers will be sworn in today prior to a Cabinet meeting chaired
by Mr. Simitis.
At the same time, the prime minister ordered an inquiry to determine which
individuals had acted "illegally and above and beyond the limits of
national responsibility" that brought Abdullah Ocalan to Greece and
"created the current problem", he said.
Mr. Reppas said it emerged from an examination and evaluation of the
situation that "mistakes and omissions" had occurred which led Mr. Simitis
to take the decision to ask for the resignation of the three ministers.
Asked whether Mr. Simitis bore any responsibility for the outcome of the
Ocalan affair, Mr. Reppas said the premier had "no responsibility and no
involvement" since "he did not handle any issue".
The spokesman acknowledged, however, that Mr. Simitis had been informed of
the Ocalan issue as it developed. He added that it was not the right time
to refer in detail to the events surrounding the Kurdish leader's capture,
while stressing that the prem ier wanted "ample light" to be shed on the
Replying to other questions, Mr. Reppas said there was no question of early
elections being held.
The spokesman rejected accusations that Greece had "collaborated" to hand
over the PKK leader, stressing that only Greece had provided assistance and
protection to Mr. Ocalan.
Earlier yesyterday, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, (now new
foreign minister) in a letter to the prime minister, indirectly but clearly
called for the removal from the government of all those responsible for the
"mishandling" of the Ocalan case.
Mr. Papandreou, in his letter, distanced himself from the handling of the
Ocalan issue, adding that the latest developments have "harmed our
country's reputation, undermined the dignity and pride of the hospitable
Greek people, and gave rise to substantial questions as to the true
In the 10-point letter, Mr. Papandreou called for full, public clarification
of the Ocalan issue and Greece's involvement, "as painful as that may be",
and full briefing of the public on the true events.
"It is our duty to make every effort so that politics may regain the
confidence of the people and to avert the creation of a sentiment of
humiliation," Mr. Papandreou said.
Mr. Papandreou further called for an examination of the involvement of the
Greek intelligence services, as Greece's image "must not be indentified
with 'secret service' methods", adding that "the para-state must be
combatted wherever it remains", as it posed a threat to a "transparant and
democratically controlled Greek foreign policy".
The minister also said that Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and the
Turkish government were greatly mistaken if they thought that the Kurdish
problem had been solved with Ocalan's arrest.
"The Kurdish issue is a national, political and social problem for Turkey."
Mr. Papandreou said
ND calls for Simitis' resignation
The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday demanded Prime Minister
Costas Simitis' resignation over government's handling of the Ocalan
"Mr. Simitis is the primary individual responsible for the country's
disgrace and if anybody has to resign, it is he," ND leader Costas
Karamanlis told a meeting of his party's MPs yesterday morning.
Mr. Karamanlis said his party could not "impose elections" but that it
could ensure that ruling party PASOK would lose the next elections.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas also called for
the resignation of Mr. Simitis.
"The government has proven itself, in its entirety, to be dangerous and
harmful to national interests, which it can no longer be allowed to handle,
" Mr. Tsovolas said.
"It has brought the Greek government unbearable feelings of humiliation and
shame," he said.
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos
told a news conference that the resignations of the three ministers could
not be used as "an alibi" to cover up the circumstances of Mr. Ocalan's
The new Cabinet as of Feb. 18, 1999
Prime Minister: Costas Simitis
Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister: Vasso Papandreou
Deputy Ministers: George Floridis, Leonidas Tzanis
National Defence Minister: Akis Tsohatzopoulos
Deputy Minister: Dimitris Apostolakis
Foreign Minister: George Papandreou
Alternate Minister: Yiannos Kranidiotis
Deputy Minister: Grigoris Niotis
National Economy Minister: Yiannos Papantoniou
Deputy Ministers: Christos Pachtas, Alekos Baltas
Finance Minister: Yiannos Papantoniou
Deputy Ministers: George Drys, Nikos Christodoulakis
Development Minister: Evangelos Venizelos
Deputy Ministers: Anna Diamantopoulou, Yiannis Haralambous
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister: Costas Laliotis
Deputy Ministers: Theodoros Koliopanos, Christos Verelis
Education and Religious Affairs Minister: Gerasimos Arsenis
Deputy Minister: Ioannis Anthopoulos
Agriculture Minister: George Anomeritis
Deputy Ministers: Costas Vrettos, Paraskevas Fountas
Labour and Social Security Minister: Miltiades Papaioannou
Deputy Ministers: Fivos Ioannidis, Christos Protopapas
Health and Welfare Minister: Lambros Papadimas
Deputy Ministers: Nikos Farmakis, Theodoros Kotsonis
Justice Minister: Evangelos Yiannopoulos
Culture Minister: Elisabeth Papazoi
Sports Deputy Minister: Andreas Fouras
Merchant Marine Minister: Stavros Soumakis
Public Order Minister: Michalis Chrysohoidis
Macedonia-Thrace Minister: Yiannis Magriotis
Aegean Minister: Stavros Benos
Transport and Communications Minister: Tassos Mantelis
Deputy Minister: Nikos Salayiannis
Press and Media Minister: Dimitris Reppas
Minister to the PM: Costas Geitonas
Deputy Minister to the PM: George Pashalidis
Kranidiotis says criticism of Athens `unfair`
Deputy FM Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that "it is unfair for Greece
to be held responsible" over the latest developments in the Ocalan
"We have supported the struggle of the Kurdish people in the past,
repeatedly raising the issue in Europe, and will continue the same course
in future," he said during heated discussion of the issue in Parliament's
foreign affairs committee.
Mr. Kranidiotis was standing-in for Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos,
whose absence from the session caused furor among deputies of all parties,
many of whom called for his resignation and a full account on the
Former PASOK minister Sifis Valyrakis said he was "withdrawing his
confidence from the foreign minister," while Stelios Papathemelis said the
Greek people demanded to know the whole truth over this tragedy, and
expressed regret that Mr. Pangalos could n ot be "forcefully brought" to
testify before the committee.
Another PASOK MP, retired army general Kyriakos Spyriounis, said he would
resign from the ruling party and as member of Parliament if it were proved
that the government was guilty of "gross dishonesty" in Ocalan's transfer
to the Turks.
G. Papandreou: Athens will demand common EU stance on Kurdish issue
Foreign Minister designate George Papandreou yesterday announced Greece's
intention to demand the formulation of a common European Union position
regarding the Kurdish problem. He was speaking to reporters after talks in
Bonn with f ormer German chancellor Helmut Kohl.
"The EU must at last take a position and formulate a common stance on the
Kurdish problem and also ensure, by any means possible, that Ocalan's
integrity will be guaranteed at his trial, which should be conducted in a
European manner," Mr. Papandreou sa id.
The Ocalan affair, the stance of the EU and relations with Turkey are
expected to dominate Monday's General Affairs Council, at which Greece will
be represented by Mr. Papandreou.
During the next few days, Mr. Papandreou said he will have the opportunity
to have talks with the German presidency of the EU "and, of course, I will
be raising the Kurdish issue, about which there is, unfortunately, a great
deal of hypocrisy in the EU. We have not confronted the problem with
strength and determination."
Meanwhile, Kurdish protesters who had occupied the Greek embassy in London
since Tuesday yesterday evacuated the building.
The Kurds were protesting the capture of Abdullah Ocalan.
British special forces police arrested the undetermined number of
protesters and announced that embassy employee Babis Patsouris, who was
held hostage throughout the occupation, was "very well."
Thousands rally for Ocalan in downtown Athens
Thousands of Greeks and Kurds demonstrated in central Athens yesterday
night, protesting the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.
The demonstrators, chanting "freedom and independence for Kurdistan,"
burned flags of the US, the European Union, Turkey and Israel, and forced a
strong police cordon to retreat to a near distance from the Turkish
A delegation handed a petition to Parliament and the prime minister's
office - also pinned to the door of the Turkish embassy- calling on Turkey
to immediately grant Mr. Ocalan political prisoner status, for the
convening of international conference fo r a political solution to the
Kurdish problem, and for the setting up of an international committee to
monitor the conditions of his detention.
Kaklamanis voices bitterness to US Congressional delegation
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday received a US
Congressional delegation at his office.
The delegation, en route from Cyrpus, was escorted by US ambassador in
Athens Nicholas Burns.
Following the meeting, Mr. Kaklamanis expressed what he called "feelings of
bitterness" by the Greek people and Parliament in relation to Washington's
dealing with Ankara.
According to the announcement issued by Mr. Kaklamanis' office, the United
States was not doing anything for the continuing Turkish invasion and
occupation in Cyprus.
He added that Ankara has been transferring US-made military equipment,
while Washington is also idle regarding the threat against Greece created
by a Turkish landing fleet stationed on the shores of the eastern
Several US Congressmen responded that the United States wishes for a
peaceful and stable Mediterranean and the best possible relations between
Athens and Ankara.
The US Congressmen are scheduled to visit Ankara next.
Outlook brighter for euro entry in 2001, analyst says
Greece's chance of entering the euro zone in 2001 is increasing but the
government has no room for error in handling the economy, the Institute for
Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said yesterday.
In a report on the economy, the IOBE urged a swifter pace of structural
changes to the economy while acknowledging difficulties faced by the
It said that "tentative steps" in structural reform harboured risk.
An anticpated rise in the economy's rate of growth could fuel inflation and
lower competitiveness, if unaccompanied by enough restructuring, the report
said. High priority sectors for restructuring were the labour market, the
tax system and social insurance.
IOBE also warned that growing competition among banks and a higher
availability of loans could erode credit expansion targets.
Finally, the report said the outlook for the Athens Stock Exchange in 1999
remained healthy with profits and dividends expected to rise.
Stocks slump on political unease following Ocalan affair
Political unease in the wake of Turkey's capture of Kurdish leader Abdullah
Ocalan hit stock prices on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday although the
market managed to end sharply off the day's lows helped by bargain-
The general index ended 2.08 percent off at 3,359.22 points after losing
around 7.0 percent early in the session.
Traders said domestic institutional investors mainly bought shares and
retail investors were on the selling side.
Turnover was a record 174.1 billion drachmas and volume 37,122,879
Sector indices suffered losses.
Banks fell 1.88 percent, Insurance eased 1.31 percent, Investment dropped
3.29 percent, Industrials fell 2.80 percent, Miscellaneous ended 1.36
percent off, Holding eased 0.02 percent, Leasing plunged 5.27 percent and
Construction lost 6.49 percent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.20 percent off
while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 1.80 percent down at 2,091.88.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 227 to 58 with another 6 issues
Eskimo, Thessaliki, Macedonian Spinning Mills and Hellenic Petroleum were
the most heavily traded stocks.
Nematemboriki, Lambropoulos, Xifias, Aspis Invest, Fanco, Endysi, Tasoglou,
Aspis Pronia, Naoussa and Hellenic Bottling hit the day's 8.0 percent limit
Mosholios Chemicals, Barba Stathis, Alysida, Ideal, Corinth Spinning Mills,
Gek, Vioter, Atemke, Gener and Fintexport hit the day's 8.0 percent limit
National Bank of Greece ended at 20,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 33,
490, Ergobank at 24,200, Ionian Bank at 16,830, Titan Cement at 23,000,
Hellenic Petroleum at 2,790, Intracom at 19,995, Minoan Lines at 7,600,
Panafon at 9,410 and Hellenic Telecoms at 7,880.
Merrill Lynch, the US investment firm, said that the Ocalan affair was not
expected to have any serious or long-term repercussions on Greek markets,
saying that any drop in equity prices signalled buying opportunities.
State OTE now owns 35 pct of Rom Telecom
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), a heavily traded stock on
the Athens Stock Exchange, now owns 35 percent of Rom Telecom and has 51
percent of voting rights, OTE president Vassilis Rapanos told a news
conference in Bucharest yesterday.
Mr. Rapanos also said that a 2.7 billion dollar investment plan for the
Romanian telecom was being discussed with the country's government.
Romania's telecommunications infrastructure was lacking, but investments
would lead to development, he said.
In addition, Rom Telecom was overstaffed but management would follow
Romanian law. Staff levels would drop gradually, Mr. Rapanos added.
Infoquest forges alliance with US cable firm
Infoquest, a domestic software company, has signed a strategic alliance
with Lucent Technologies, a US market leader in global cable systems.
Infoquest said in a statement yesterday that the deal aimed to create a
powerful group in telecommunications networks ahead of the 2004 Olympic
Games to be hosted by Athens.
Lucent Technologies was seeking information projects linked to the Olympics
and selected Infoquest as a partner, the statement said.
The two companies' alliance has already begun with training for technical
staff in designing cable systems, it added.
Geothermal energy possibility in Evros
An Institute of Geological and Metallurgical Research (IGME) spokesman
yesterday said the use of low-impact energy sources in Evros prefecture
created possibilities for the better development of the area.
IGME geologist Nikolaos Kolios said a 350-metre-deep drilling in the
municipality of Trajanoupolis, Evros, produced hot water of 90 degrees
celsius equivalent to 10MW in thermal power, generating enough energy to
replace several thousand tonnes of conve ntional fuels.
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Mostly fair weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Sporadic
snowfall or sleet in Thrace, the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese islands.
A drop in temperatures is expected. Winds northerly, northwesterly, strong,
turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny but cold with
temperatures between 2-9C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 284.109
Pound sterling 464.554 Japanese yen (100) 237.485
French franc 48.694 German mark 163.314
Italian lira (100) 16.496 Irish Punt 405.572
Belgian franc 7.918 Luxembourg franc 7.918
Finnish mark 53.722 Dutch guilder 144.944
Danish kr. 42.969 Austrian sch. 23.213
Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.750
Norwegian kr. 36.474 Swiss franc 199.784
Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 180.271
Can. dollar 190.127 Cyprus pound 550.560