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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 09/02/1997 (ANA)


  • Farmers to file charges against police
  • Teachers extend strike
  • Escape attempt from Patras prison.
  • January CPI inflation down to 6.8 percent
  • National Bank announces new lower interest rates
  • Simitis: Gov't remains firm on positions regarding FYROM
  • US continues 7:10 ration in military aid to Turkey, Greece
  • Ombudsman draft bill tabled
  • Youths damage banks in Athens
  • Special programme for gypsies


    Farmers to file charges against police

    Following a decision by the Pan-Thessaly Coordinating Committee, Thessaly's farmers demand the government to repair damage to their machinery after riot police on Friday deflated the tyres of 1,5 thousand tractors in Central Greece to prevent farmers from blockading the North-South national road.

    "We reqest that the government stops misinforming (the public) and realise that it is fully responsible for its political and penal actions and will soon be called to pay," a Pan-Thessaly Coordinating Committee announcement said this afternoon.

    Thessaly farmers said they will file charges against police for extensive damage caused to their tractors but the Public Order Ministry denies the charges.

    In another development, yesterday, the farmers announced an end to their second round of protest but warned of future action.

    A Pan-Thessaly Coordinating Committee meeting this morning, however, did not reach decision as to whether the protests will continue.

    Senior government officials are meanwhile continuing a briefing campaign accross the country side.

    Speaking today in Thessaloniki, Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office, George Paschalidis, said that "farmers' problems can not be discussed in an atmosphere of tension," adding that "a social dialogue is being organised and should take place with the participation of all farmers."

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said in Thessaloniki on Saturday evening that the government is not willing to deviate from its present economic policy.

    "The new fall in inflation shows that the (existing) economic policy is yielding results and it would be a shame not to keep up this effort," the minister said adding that "tax exemptions and illegal subsidies will not constitute the solution (to the problems facing the farmers) and will cause immense problems for the remaining farming community."

    Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos said the government will proceed, as promised, with the great structural changes in the agricultural economy.

    "We've given farmers everything we could," Mr. Yiannopoulos said.

    Yesterday, the Panthessaly Coordinating Committee members yesterday said the farmers will continue their struggle with greater intensity until their demands are finally met and the government's agricultural policy is changed.

    The Committee said in an announcement that it considers "the government's stance a serious political slide to despotism," and invited all political parties and the Greek people to condemn it.

    In another development, a Volos Court, yesterday, sentenced to six months in prison with three year suspension, nine farmers who where arrested on Friday morning in scuffles with police who tried to prevent them from blockading the Athens-Thessaloniki road.

    Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman, Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the key to the problem was in the hands of the government.

    "The key is dialogue," Mr. Pavlopoulos said pointing to the fact that the government was entering talks with other social groups.

    Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Greece condemned the government's "methods against the farmers," adding that the government should pay for the damage that it "planned and caused."

    Teachers extend strike

    High schools and primary schools will remain closed this coming week folowing a decision by the teachers yesterday to extend their strike.

    There is a likelihood of a meeting taking place today between teachers' representatives and Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis.

    The teachers are due to hold another rally in Athens tomorrow.

    Escape attempt from Patras prison

    Five Albanian inmates, one seriously, were injured on Saturday afternoon, one seriously, when about 70 prisoners tried to escape from Ayios Stephanos prison in Patras.

    Prison sources said the inmates managed to escape from their cells and tried to reach the main entrance when they were noticed by prison guards.

    Riot police who arrived in the scene finally managed to return them all back to their cells.

    Extensive damage is reported.

    January CPI inflation down to 6.8 per cent

    Inflation dropped to 6.8 per cent in January to reach the lowest point in 25 years, according to figures released yesterday by the National Statistics Service (NSS).

    In January 1996 inflation stood at 8.4 per cent.

    The drop was the result of a 0.5 per cent reduction in the Consumer Price Index in January, compared to 0.1 per cent in January 1996.

    The CPI decrease was due to reductions in the prices of clothing and footwear, durable consumer goods and household items. In contrast, increases were recorded in the categories of housing, transport and communications.

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou described the drop in inflation as a significant development for the economy ''since it affords protection for low incomes while at the same time interest rates are falling''.

    National Bank announces new lower interest rates

    The National Bank of Greece yesterday announced new reduced interest rates which will take effect as of Monday February 10: 1. Lending -The main interest rate for working capital 16.50 per cent (from 16.75 per cent). - The main interest rate for fixed installations 14.75 per cent (from 15 per cent). The above interest rates fluctuate in accordance with profit margins and as a result they are shaped at very competitive levels for the bank's good and solvent clients. 2. Consumer credit -Consumer loans 22.50 per cent (from 22.75 per cent). -Personal loans 23.75 per cent (from 24 per cent). -Credit cards 25.75 per cent (from 26 per cent). 3. Deposits -Savings bank deposits 10 per cent (from 10.25 per cent). -Current accounts 8.50 per cent (from 8.75 per cent).

    Simitis: Gov't remains firm on positions regarding FYROM

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the government remained steadfast in its positions regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name issue as decided during a political party leaders' summit presided by then president of t he republic Constantine Karamanlis.

    Mr. Simitis added that the government remained committed to the provisions of the interim agreement signed between the two neighbours in 1995 in an effort to normalise relations.

    Stressing that the government is seeking a name for FYROM which would be mutually accepted by the two states, he went on to say that "we will not accept a name containing the term 'Macedonia' or its derivative."

    "...If Skopje refuses, then (UN envoy for the Skopje issue Cyrus) Vance may table the mandate without a name," Mr. Simitis said, forecasting that this could result in the waiving of the temporary name of FYROM and that Skopje could be addressed as "Macedo nia."

    He added that "nobody wishes such a development," stressing that "all of us should struggle to avert it."

    US continues 7:10 ratio in military aid to Turkey, Greece

    The Clinton administration yesterday unveiled its 1997 budget for Congressional approval, which continues a 7:10 ratio of military aid to Greece and Turkey and includes a $15 million aid package for Cyprus, a ANA dispatch said from Washington.

    The US administration's proposed budget for fiscal 1997 includes $135 million in loans and grants as well as $200,000 in scholarships for Greece. Conversely, $260 million is provided for Turkey, of which $50 million is in the form of an aid package.

    Ombudsman draft bill tabled

    The interior ministry yesterday tabled in Parliament a draft bill on the establishment of the institution of a public administration commissioner or ombudsman to operate as an independent authority in arbitrating problems between citizens and the state.

    The "Consumer Advocate" will have a five-year mandate and will be selected by Parliament.

    Speaking at a press conference, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said the tabling of the draft bill was based on research and data processing by the ministry, the cabinet, and other agencies.

    An ombudsman institution exists in 82 nations, including 27 in Europe.

    Mr. Papadopoulos emphasised that the existing state administration could not respond to the needs of the Economic and Monetary Union, adding that by the year 2000 Greece must go along with the remaining European countries in this sector.

    Mr. Papadopoulos said the government aimed to implement reforms in state administration in 1997.

    Youths damage banks in Athens

    A group of about 30 stone-throwing youths caused damage to two branches of the Commercial and Ionian banks in the Athens suburb of Kypseli shortly after midnight. A restaurant and four cars were also damaged by the rampaging youghts. Police are holding 12 suspects.

    Special programme for gypsies

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is due to visit the Athens suburb of Liosia on Tuesday where he is expected to announce measures for the improvement of depressed areas in the Attica region. He is also expected to announce a special programme for gypsies.


    Almost fair weather is expected today in western and nothern Greece and in the islands of the eastern Aegean. Clouds and the possibility of scattered showers is forecast for the rest of the country. Snow will fall in the mountain regions. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens will range from 2-10C, while in Thessaloniki between -4c to 11c. Almost fair weather will also prevail tomorrow and temperatures will rise.


    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 258.773 Pound sterling 422.294 Cyprus pd 519.808 French franc 46.128 Swiss franc 180.132 German mark 155.625 Italian lira (100) 15.838 Yen (100) 208.419 Canadian dlr. 191.218 Australian dlr. 196.728 Irish Punt 413.228 Belgian franc 7.544 Finnish mark 52.457 Dutch guilder 138.597 Danish kr. 40.791 Swedish kr. 34.895 Norwegian kr. 39.650 Austrian sch. 22.114 Spanish peseta 1.839 Portuguese escudo 1.549


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