Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-11-11
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 11/11/1997 (ANA)
- Athens: European Conference is not necessary
- MPs seek return of death penalty for drug trafficking
- Ministers oppose death for drugs proposal
- Romeos condemns police excesses but says isolated incident
- State hospital doctors to strike
- Greek equities dip further
- Government-brokered labour agreement accepted by GSEE
- Pangalos begins official visit to Spain
- Thessaloniki hosts UN conference on public administration
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Athens: European Conference is not necessary
Greece's firm position is that a proposed European Conference (to discuss
European enlargement) is not necessary, a view that Prime Minister Costas
Simitis will be reiterating at the next European Union summit, according to
government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Greece maintains that pre-accession negotiations for all 11 candidate
countries, including Cyprus, should start at once, but only with those
Reppas indirectly criticised France, saying that its proposal promoted the
participation of Turkey, a state which does not satisfy conditions set down
by the European Union itself. However, he emphasised that it is not
Greece's intention to put obstacles in the way of Turkey's course towards
MPs seek return of death penalty for drug trafficking
Sixty-one deputies from the ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy
party have tabled a petition in Parliament seeking reinstatement of the
death penalty for narcotics dealers.
In a letter to the Constitutional Revision Committee, the 55 ND and six
PASOK parliamentarians cited a unanimous recommendation for the reinstatement
of capital punishment to apply to narcotics traffickers, which was
contained in a March 1992 report by an ad hoc inter-party parlimanetary
committee on the narcotics problem.
"Since then, there has been a rapid spread of narcotics, while the drug
dealers have grown increasingly insolent," the letter said.
Capital punishment was abolished de jure in Greece nearly five years ago,
although the provision had not been applied for 20 years prior to its
repeal. The last execution took place in the early 1970s, during the
colonels' junta, when George Lymberis was put to death for the murder of
his wife and two children.
Reinstatement of the death penalty would require amendment of the current
Penal Code, as the Constitution sets capital punishment as the highest
penalty that may be legislated.
The petitioners also said that "the unscrupulous drug traffickers are
decimating the youth, destroying the backbone of the nation, debilitating
thousands of familes, and corrupting society with their abundance of dirty
As such, the MPs, headed by ND parliamentarian George Sourlas, a former
health minister, urge that, in the constitutional revision, a provision
should be introduced under Article 7 allowing the death penalty specifically
for drug traffickers.
A minimum of 50 signatures among the 300 MPs is required to instigate a
Ministers oppose death for drugs proposal
Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos later came out against the proposal
to restore the death penalty for drug traffickers, saying the move would be
"anti-constitutional and anti-democratic".
Yiannopoulos, speaking to the parliamentary committee on constitutional
revision, said: "When we say 'life' (sentence), we mean life".
Yiannopoulos said the European Community had agreed to abolish the death
penalty in members in 1993.
His comments were echoed by main opposition New Democracy deputy and former
opposition leader Miltiades Evert, who said he opposed the proposal but
called on the justice minister to bring legislation to Parliament that
would impose life sentences on major drug traffickers.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, a former justice minister and
professor of constitutional law, said he understood the motivation behind
the proposal and the great public concern but that the abolition of the
death penalty had been legislated on a national and international level,
through a number of international agreements signed by Greece.
He added that the proposal created the impression internationally that the
drug problem in Greece was far more acute than in other countries.
"What we need is systematic and persistent work (on the problem) and not
fleeting or sporadic acts," he said.
Romeos condemns police excesses but says isolated incident
Public Order Minister George Romeos on Tuesday condemned a 1993 pro-junta
'fiesta' by some Thessaloniki police officers recently brought to light
during which a prisoner was manhandled, but called it an isolated incident
that gave no cause for concern.
He has also instructed Deputy Police Chief Dimitris Mitropoulos to
investigate claims that riot squad officers in Thessaloniki had links with
extreme right-wing organisations and were therefore wilfully lax in
preventing violent demonstrations that marred a seminar between Greek and
Turkish businessmen in the northern Greek capital.
Ruling PASOK party MP Paraskevas Paraskevopoulos claimed in Parliament that
the riot squad officers instructed their men not to hinder or arrest any of
the demonstrators during a seminar between Greek and Turkish businessmen in
the northern Greek capital on October 30 dealing with the city and the most
prominent Greek and Turkish leaders of the first part of the century --
Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and the Thessaloniki-born founder of
the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk, who established a Greek-Turkish
friendship in the early 1930s after decades of wars between their two
Paraskevopoulos also tabled in Parliament a videotape in which police
officers who now hold senior positions were holding a pro-junta 'fiesta' in
1993 during which an illegal immigrant was manhandled.
The videotape showed a picnic in April 1993 during which police officers --
who allegedly included the present head of Thessaloniki's police operations,
Col. Spyros Koutramanis and current senior Thessaloniki riot squad (MAT)
officers George Anastassiadis and Nikos Kelidis -- singing and dancing to
songs celebrating the 1967-74 colonels' junta, firing guns in the air,
wearing junta insignia and manhandling a prisoner, most likely an illegal
immigrant, by rolling him in mud dressed only in underpants.
Romeos said that the 1993 incident had been related to links with extreme
right-wing organisations, but was "isolated" and did "not give rise to
concern", adding that he would "mercilessly crush any remnants of the
He said that new evidence had arisen, which was being investigated by
Mitropoulos, but added he could not make the evidence public at this
Romeos also conceded that there had indeed been a problem with the police's
attitude during the demonstrations in Thessaloniki at the business
The government had been looking into the matter well before the press
reports, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later.
He said the government had used the intervening period to cross-check
However, he made a distinction between police officers who were carrying
out orders and those who were acting alone. In the latter case, he said the
state would take all the necessary action to deal with such phenomena.
Reppas added that any officers proved guilty of negligence at last week's
Greek-Turkish business meeting in Thessaloniki would be punished.
State hospital doctors to strike
Doctors at state-run hospitals said today that they would continue
industrial action until their wage demands were met.
Representatives of the Federation of Hospital Doctors of Greece told a news
conference that they had planned a number of events for this Thursday, the
day their new wage scale is discussed in Parliament.
These include 24-hour strikes in Iraklion and Thessaloniki tomorrow and
skeleton staff at outpatients' clinics in hospitals in Athens and Piraeus
up until Thursday.
Hospital doctors around the country will participate in a national 24-hour
strike on Thursday, if a response from the government is not forthcoming,
Doctors in provincial facilities began a five-day strike on November 4
while their colleagues in Athens and Piraeus began a series of rolling work
stoppages on the same day.
Workers at state-run hospitals later also announced their intention to hold
a three-hour work stoppage from midday on Thursday.
Representatives said that only emergency cases would be treated during the
Hospital employees are pressing for the appointment of another 3,900 staff
to their sector, increased health spending in the budget and wage
Greek equities dip further
Greek equities remained on a free fall ending at their lowest levels in
Traders said the market looked vulnerable ahead of presentation of the 1998
budget by the end of the month with sentiment bearish because of rumours
that commercial banks plan to raise interest rates.
The general index plunged 5.85 percent to close at 1,377.76 points.
Trading was heavy with turnover at 28.8 billion drachmas.
Banks once more came under heavy pressure reflecting market worries over
the profitability of the sector following recent financial turmoil.
Sector indices ended sharply lower; Banks plunged 6.54 percent, Insurance
eased 3.15 percent, Leasing dropped 4.56 percent, Investment ended 6.16
percent down, Construction eased 6.28 percent, Industrials fell 4.49
percent, Miscellaneous ended 5.21 percent off and Holding lost 6.40
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 5.09 percent
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 220 to 9 with another 7 issues
Nematemboriki, Doudos, Etma, Warehouse and Halyps Cement scored the biggest
percentage gains, while National Bank of Greece, Ionian Bank, Atemke, Titan
Cement and Vis suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 25,070 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,180, Alpha
Credit Bank at 15,905, Delta Dairy at 3,590, Titan Cement at 12,730,
Intracom at 11,395 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,
Government-brokered labour agreement accepted by GSEE
The government succeeded yesterday in obtaining trade unions' consent for a
"confidence agreement" towards the year 2000, in a report on "social
dialogue" with specific commitments on the insurance issue as well as
pledges for positive interventions regar ding incomes.
However, merchants and handicraftsmen belonging to the General Confederation
of Small Manufacturers and Professionals (GSEBE) did not ultimately sign
the agreement, demanding abolition of objective criteria as a precondition.
Earlier, differences within the unions' ranks created a deadlock at the
General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) administration plenary,
since the agreement was ratified with 22 votes in favour and 22 against,
necessitating the use of the GSEE president's "double vote", something
anticipated by the trade union organisation's charter.
The deadline was reached after the entire opposition, including main
opposition-affiliated grouping DAKE, the Communist Party of Greece-
affiliated ESAK and the grouping affiliated to the Coalition of the Left
and Progress, opposed the agreement, while disagreements also surfaced in
the PASOK-affiliated PASKE grouping, depriving it of a majority.
Labour and Social Insurances Minister Miltiades Papaioannou promised that
clauses limiting auxiliary pensions to 20 per cent of pensionable income
will not be applied as of Jan. 1, 1998. He also promised positive handling
of GSEE's claim for pensioning after 35 years' of work or 10,500 daily work
stamps, without the precondition of an age limit, but admitted that,
unavoidably, there will be a certain age limit.
Consequently, the gradual increase in the age limit which would be
effective as of Jan. 1 is abolished, while it is considered most possible
that there will be settlements in age limits in accordance with conditions
prevailing in each labour sector.
Moreover, the exemption of low-pension earners from the 1 per cent
extraordinary contribution will be extended up to the amount of 120,000
drachmas. All these issues will be discussed in greater detail at today's
meeting between Mr. Papaioannou and GSEE .
National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the budget will offer
taxation relief for low salary earners and pensioners which will "partially
cover" GSEE's claims.
Addressing the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), Mr. Papantoniou
offered assurances that there would be no extraordinary taxation on the
reserves of businesses, adding that he has rejected relevant proposals.
Pangalos begins official visit to Spain
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins a three-day official visit to
Mr. Pangalos will hold talks with his Spanish counterpart Abel Matutes and
the foreign affairs parliamentary committee.
He will also be received by King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Mr. Pangalos' talks in Madrid will cover European and bilateral issues. The
Greek foreign minister will also visit Barcelona.
Thessaloniki hosts UN conference on public administration
Ministers from 26 eastern European countries will be participating in the
UN-sponsored conference on public administration, to be held in Thessaloniki
from November 17-20, Interior and Public Administration Minister Alekos
Papadopoulos said yesterday.
Mr. Papadopoulos said the aim of the conference was to study the role of
increased professionalism and ethics in public administration.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will speak at a dinner for the participants,
which will include representatives of the European Commission, the OECD,
the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, on the opening day of the
Rain and intermittent storms are expected in the west and northwest of the
country today with the possibility of drizzle in central Greece. Rest of
the country will be partly cloudy. Winds south- westerly, light to moderate,
turning strong in the Ionian Sea. Athens will sunny with a few clouds and
temperatures from 13-22C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with
temperatures from 12-16C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.642
Pound sterling 449.971 Cyprus pd 529.430
French franc 46.525 Swiss franc 191.297
German mark 155.729 Italian lira (100) 15.898
Yen (100) 215.433 Canadian dlr. 189.472
Australian dlr. 186.332 Irish Punt 405.629
Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 51.725
Dutch guilder 138.166 Danish kr. 40.910
Swedish kr. 35.668 Norwegian kr. 38.371
Austrian sch. 22.128 Spanish peseta 1.843
Port. Escudo 1.526