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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-23

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, 23/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • No truth to PM resignation rumours
  • Economy minister: elections next year
  • Equities end lower on Kosovo, Ocalan fears
  • Court inquiry into Ocalan affair begins
  • Opposition leader blames PM for debacle
  • Ruling party MP quits parliamentary group
  • War ships expected in Thessaloniki port
  • 15 killed on Greek roads over long weekend
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

No truth to PM resignation rumours

The government on Tuesday flatly denied rumours that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was considering resigning in the wake of the capture of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkey last week. "The prime minister and the government are steadily continuing with their policies and know that the Greek people support them in achieving their goals," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters. "There is no reason for this national accident to end in a national catastrophe," he said. Simitis removed three of his ministers from office and announced a government reshuffle on Thursday after it was revealed Greece had sheltered Ocalan at its embassy in Kenya.

Economy minister: elections next year

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papandoniou also lashed out at those responsible for transmitting the rumours that Simitis was considering resignation. "Elections will be held in 2000...There is political stability," he said. He attributed the 6.06 percent fall in the Athens Stock Exchange's general price index on Tuesday in part to the rumours, adding that it was reasonable to expect a correction after the impressive gains on the bourse since the beginning of the year.

Equities end lower on Kosovo, Ocalan fears

Share prices ended sharply lower on Tuesday hit by domestic political concerns following the Ocalan affair and fears of a western military strike on Kosovo. The general index ended 6.06 percent down to 3,052.04 points, off the day's lows of 2,991. Traders said domestic institutional investors offered support to the market helping to a partial recovery of early big losses. Turnover was 156.6 billion drachmas and volume 24,945,885 shares. A Salomon Smith Barney report saying that Greece's participation in EMU could be delayed due to adverse political developments in the country hit sentiment and led investors to massive profit-taking.

Court inquiry into Ocalan affair begins

An Athens court prosecutor began hearing testimony on Monday from the people involved in bringing Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan to Greece without the prior knowledge of the government. The inquiry was ordered last week to determine whether any laws had been broken. First Instance Prosecutor Vassilis Piliotas was assigned to the conduct the inquiry, which will focus on the actions of private Greek citizens. Three ministers, including Foreign Minister Theodore Pangalos, were forced to resign from the government on Thursday after the news that the Greek embassy in Kenya had sheltered Ocalan for 12 days. Piliotas heard testimony from retired naval officer Andonis Naxakis, who has admitted bringing Ocalan to Greece from Russia by private plane and setting in motion the series of actions that ultimately led to Ocalan's capture.

Opposition leader blames PM for debacle

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis today blamed the prime minister personally for the Ocalan affair and accused him of seeking scapegoats. He was speaking to reporters after a 45-minute meeting with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, during which he briefed the head of state on ND's views on how the Ocalan crisis should be handled from here on. Karamanlis said the present government "cannot restore the country's reputation", while "a politically weakened prime minister cannot remain much longer at the country's helm".

Ruling party MP quits parliamentary group

Ruling party PASOK MP Christos Kypouros on Tuesday said he was leaving the PASOK Parliamentary Group over the Ocalan affair. In a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, Kypouros said he could not continue to "be identified with a government and a party grouping which had questions hanging over it as regards its responsibilities in the tragedy of the heroic Kurdish leader". Kypouros,the member for Evros, said that responsibility for the debacle were "exclusively" the government's and the party leadership.

War ships expected in Thessaloniki port

Three U.S. and one French war ships are expected to anchor in the northern Greek port of Thessaloniki over the next 24 hours, port officials told the ANA. The sources said the vessels were "most probably" connected to the transfer of a NATO force to Kosovo in case of an agreement between the Serbs and ethnic Albanians of the region. The U.S. forces may also be present to participate in the "Alexander the Great" military war games scheduled for the northern Aegean on February 25. Thessaloniki will be a transit point for the 4,000 U.S. troops participating in the NATO Kosovo force. According to sources, both the city's airport and port will be involved in the transfer of the troops.

15 killed on Greek roads over long weekend

Fifteen people were killed in 201 road accidents around the country over the long weekend, the public order ministry said. Another 269 people were injured - 32 seriously - durin the three-day holiday to mark the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.

WEATHER

Occasional storms and rain in Thrace, the islands of the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese are forecast for Wednesday. In the west, the forecast is for local cloud and scattered showers in the morning. Fine for the rest of the country. Winds will be moderate to storng. Temperatures will range from -2- 9C in the north, 2-13 in the Ionian and mainland and 8-16 in the Aegean. Athens will be sunny with occasional cloud, 7-13. Thessaloniki will be overcast, with moderate to strong winds, 2-9.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 285.795 Pound sterling 466.657 Japanese yen (100) 238.606 French franc 48.717 German mark 163.390 Italian lira (100) 16.504 Irish Punt 405.761 Belgian franc 7.922 Luxembourg franc 7.922 Finnish mark 53.747 Dutch guilder 145.012 Danish kr. 42.997 Austrian sch. 23.224 Spanish peseta 1.921 Swedish kr. 35.871 Norwegian kr. 36.716 Swiss franc 199.838 Port. Escudo 1.594 Aus. dollar 182.389 Can. dollar 192.408 Cyprus pound 550.560 Euro 319.563

(M.P.)


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