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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-05

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, 05/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New Democracy party crisis deepens after expulsions finalised
  • Kranidiotis meets with British leadership
  • Simitis backs Pangalos' remarks on the Hague solution for Ankara
  • Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for rescue efforts
  • School programme targets rising incidence of gum disease
  • Farmers block nat'l highway for one hour
  • Rising interest rates hit Greek stocks
  • Transport ministry to hire private consultants
  • Greece to improve merchant marine education system
  • Finance ministry's measures to facilitate taxpayers
  • Gov't promises bill on compound interest issue
  • Petrol prices rise
  • Industrial transformation bureau in Xanthi
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New Democracy party crisis deepens after expulsions finalised

A crisis within the ranks of the main opposition New Democracy party, prompted by an ND disciplinary council decision to expel three senior deputies and suspend another three, deepened yesterday after the first three were removed from the party's Parliamentary group while the others were suspended for a year.

ND leader Costas Karamanlis finalised the expulsions and the suspensions from ND's Parliamentary group in a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

The six deputies had abstained from a parliamentary vote on a controversial amendment regarding labour relations in public sector enterprises and utilities (DEKOs), disregarding the party line of voting against the amendment.

"With their stance, they effectively placed themselves outside the party," Mr. Karamanlis said after a roll-call vote early Tuesday night.

ND's disciplinary council was urgently convened on Tuesday by Mr. Karamanlis, and early yesterday decided on the expulsion of George Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos from the party, and a one- year suspension for Petros Tatoulis, Nikos Kakkalos and Anastasis Papaligouras. It took no disciplinary action against a seventh deputy, George Panayotopoulos, who did not show up for the parliamentary session due to illness.

Mr. Souflias described the decision as not in tune with the party's charter, as politically unacceptable and morally impermissible, winding up a series of pre-determined decisions by a small group which arbitrarily replaced established organs and proced ures.

"New Democracy supporters are watching with suprise this group which, with ample imprudence, is creating another party as it suits them," he said.

Mr. Manos said the decision was in contradiction of the party charter, unjustifiable and above all unfair.

"Those who expelled us knocked down the party's barrier of unity...The damage will be repaired one way or another. It's a long way away and much effort will be required," he said.

Mr. Kontoyiannopoulos did not rule out the establishment of a new party and his participation, when questioned.

Commenting on the expulsions and suspensions, ND honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said "a small group of would- be guardians prepared and executed persecutions in a manner alien to our democratic party. The great progre ssive party of the 47 per cent should not and will not be shrunken to the limits of that small group. I want to believe that the new party leader, whom no one has undermined nor disputed, will comprehend this reality".

Former prime minister George Rallis also expressed disapproval, regretting the fact, as he said, that the leadership of the party had led it to a rift.

Commenting on the developments in ND, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas ruled out the possibility of the Greek political scene becoming like that of Italy, with major political parties splintering into smaller ones.

The spokesman said ND was the victim of its "anachronistic and old-style party past" and attributed what he described as the "fluidity" within its ranks to the vagueness of its policy and the weakness of its programme.

Kranidiotis meets with British leadership

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis paid a one-day visit to London yesterday at the invitation of Sir David Hannay, the special representative of the European Union's presidency on the Cyprus issue and the personal envoy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Euro-Turkish relations.

Mr. Kranidiotis also met Undersecretary of State for European Affairs Doug Henderson and the British Foreign Ministry's political director Mr. Greenstock.

His talks focused on Cyprus' accession course to the EU, the formula for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the delegation to conduct accession negotiations and developments in relations between the EU and Turkey, also in light of Sir Hannay's recent meeting in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

According to reports, the British officials expressed their interest to Mr. Kranidiotis on the proposal the government of Cyprus will submit for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the group to conduct accession negotiations. However, they do not raise this issue as a precondition for their start.

The British officials conveyed the assessment to Mr. Kranidiotis that Turkey will not accept the invitation to participate in the European Conference and briefed him on the British presidency's intention to convene an EU-Turkey association council in May.

Simitis backs Pangalos' remarks on The Hague solution for Ankara

Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night backed Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' recent statements calling on Ankara to take recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague on any claims it had vis-a-vis Greece.

Speaking in Parliament, the premier said that in 1993, when Greece accepted the general jurisdiction of the International Court - with reservations on defence and security issues - it had also approved of the Court's rules.

Mr. Pangalos had made the statements to the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

Mr. Simitis further said the government had been observing this new reality since then.

He added that Greece was calling on Turkey to embrace the same principles of international practice, and to work on its foreign relations in accordance with international law.

According to the prime minister, acceptance by Greece of the jurisdiction of the International Court was an exceptionally important fact, which further "buffered our proposal for a step-by-step rapprochement.

"There is no change in our policy," he said.

Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for rescue efforts

Turkey's Consul General in Greece, Yasar Togo, has expressed "heartfelt thanks" to the Search and Rescue Centre of the Merchant Marine Ministry for the gigantic operation launched to save the crew of a Turkish-flagged freighter which sank off Evia in December.

In a letter to the centre, Mr. Togo also expressed gratitude for the efforts made to find a Turkish seaman who was missing after the ship went down on December 10.

Eleven crew members of the 996-ton "S. Ugurlu", sailing from Thessaloniki to Italy with a cargo of magnesium ore, were rescued in the operation.

Mr. Togo noted that "this exemplary effort" of the Search and Rescue Centre and the coastguard officers of Kymi, Evia "contributes further to the strengthening of friendly relations between Greece and Turkey".

School programme targets rising incidence of gum disease

Between 60 and 65 per cent of Greek children suffer from tooth decay - one of the highest rates in Europe, according to Athens University's Laboratory of Preventive Dentistry.

Despite the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has been on the decline in Greece in recent years, particularly in urban centres, gum disease continues to afflict six out of ten Greek children.

Before 1982, according to data published by the laboratory, 12-year-old children had at least four teeth affected by tooth decay, while in the period 1982-1992, the average number of bad teeth had fallen to two.

According to the laboratory, one of the main reasons for the poor level of dental hygiene has been the improvement in the standard of living which unfortunately resulted in the per capita annual consumption of sugar rising from 13 kilos in 1960 to over 60 kilos in the present decade.

The figures were made known at a press conference yesterday given by representatives of the Dental Association of Attica which, in cooperation with Athens University, has organised a "Preventive Dentistry Week" for February 9-13, during which dentists will tour primary schools in Attica to inform children about the importance of dental care.

Farmers block nat'l highway for one hour

Protesting farmers in central Greece, whose tractors have remained parked along both sides of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway since Monday, yesterday blocked traffic on the roadway for one hour between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The move was being seen as an indication that protesters are determined to intensify mobilisations by setting up road blockades, a tactic used extensively early last year.

Yesterday's blockades were set up on four points: Velestino, Viokarpet, outside Volos and Socratous.

At the same time, area farmers were briefed on the latest developments by members of the Panthessaly Coordinating Committee (PASE), the group mostly behind the protests in central Greece.

Meanwhile, new tractor arrivals are expected to join the vehicles already parked alongside the national highway.

PASE members critised both the government and other social groups for not showing concern over protesting farmers' demands.

Finally, the Confederation of Democratic Farmers' Associations of Greece (SYDASE) has petitioned the Supreme Court to stop trials of farmers charged with offences related to previous protest actions.

SYDASE President Yiannis Pittas submitted the plea yesterday, saying that the government should realise that these trials did nothing to resolve either the agricultural problem or the protest actions.

He predicted that demonstrations would intensify over the next few days and spread throughout the country.

Rising interest rates hit Greek stocks

Greek equities came under pressure yesterday to end substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Traders said the market was hit by a new rise in interest rates at Tuesday's auction of Treasury bills.

The general index closed 1.37 percent lower at 1,413.52 points.

Sector indices ended lower. Banks fell 1.47 percent, Insurance dropped 0.51 percent, Leasing eased 2.36 percent, Investment ended 0.23 percent off, Constructions plunged 3.04 percent, Industrials were 1.68 percent down, Miscellaneous eased 1.59 percent and Holding fell 0.29 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.66 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index dropped 1.30 percent to end at 781.83 points.

Trading was moderate with turnover at 14.8 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 140 to 64 with another 29 issues unchanged.

Sea Farm Ionian soared 27.10 percent on its debut in the market. Viokarpet and Macedonian Mills scored the biggest percentage gains, while Technodomi, Thrace Plastics, Desmos, Tasoglou and Demetriadis suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,145 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,150, Alpha Credit Bank at 14,840, Delta Dairy at 2,980, Titan Cement at 13,425, Intracom at 14,510 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 545.

Transport ministry to hire private consultants

Greece's transport ministry will hire private consultants to monitor the process of public enterprises' operational programmes, Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis said yesterday.

Mr. Mantelis said public enterprises would be split into five basic groups. The first will include public transport companies, the second Greek railways, the third Olympic Airways and its subsidiaries, the fourth Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation and the fifth the post office.

Hiring of private consultants was considered a necessity in order for ministry to have a tactical briefing on an bi-monthly or a quarterly base on the course of public enterprises' programmes.

Mr. Mantelis said private consultants' annual fees will range from 30 to 40 million drachmas.

Greece to improve merchant marine education system

Greece's merchant marine ministry yesterday announced measures to modernise and upgrade the merchant marine education system.

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis presented, during a press conference, a draft bill to be submitted in parliament soon.

Mr. Soumakis also detailed measures taken by the ministry to improve the quality of merchant marine education in the country.

The measures included a modernisation of syllabus according to the latest international standards STCW '95, an increase of laboratory studies, installation of GMDSS simulators on danger and security systems and improvements in merchant marine schools fa cilities.

Finance ministry's measures to facilitate taxpayers

Greece's finance ministry has decided measures to facilitate this year's tax statements procedure.

Finance Undersecretary George Drys said yesterday that the measures were justified due to a lack of infrastructure at tax collecting agencies which caused problems to taxpayers every year.

The measures included the creation of different tax collecting services for pensioners and hired workers and the self-employed, extending working hours for tax collecting agencies and daily inspection of tax agencies.

The finance ministry will also operate a four-digit telephone service to inform taxpayers on tax statement matters.

Gov't promises bill on compound interest issue

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will table a bill in Parliament in 15 days to settle the issue of compound interest for loans, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said last night, replying to a relevant question by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas.

Mr. Simitis clarified that the settlement will concern future loans and a period of six months from the non-payment of interest. He added that for past loans a decision has not been finalised by the national economy minister since necessary data has not been collected and due to repeated changes in the compound interest status in past years.

Mr. Simitis further said that people receiving loans must be safeguarded since they are not in a position to impose terms in negotiations with banks.

Petrol prices rise

The retail sales prices of gasoline will increase as of today and for a week due to changes in international prices.

According to announcements by the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) and the development ministry, the retail sales prices of gasoline will increase by 1.40 drachmas per litre, while those of diesel and heating oil by 2 drachmas per litre. Consequently, the retail sales price of heating oil will be set at 87.40 drachmas per litre.

Super gasoline will cost 214.40 drachmas per litre in the Attica area and Thessaloniki prefecture and unleaded gasoline 198.30 drachmas per litre.

Industrial transformation bureau in Xanthi

An industrial transformation bureau has started to function in Xanthi, northern Greece, and is aimed at supporting investment potential, attracting new investors, registering and utilising potential, contributing to the prefecture's development in general .

The bureau has been included in the framework of the Industrial Operational Programme aimed at the functioning of local industrial change bureaus.

Commenting on the industrial change bureau's operation, the Prefect of Xanthi Panayiotis Saltouros stressed that in this way the possibility of cooperation will be provided at a local, regional, national and European level for the development of the region.

WEATHER

Heavy clouds and rain in most parts of Greece today with snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate to gale force. Athens will be overcast and rainy with temperatures between 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.101 Pound sterling 469.652 Cyprus pd 535.105 French franc 46.856 Swiss franc 195.181 German mark 157.029 Italian lira (100) 15.904 Yen (100) 228.200 Canadian dlr. 197.309 Australian dlr. 192.051 Irish Punt 395.808 Belgian franc 7.610 Finnish mark 51.844 Dutch guilder 139.287 Danish kr. 41.212 Swedish kr. 35.333 Norwegian kr. 37.857 Austrian sch. 22.320 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.535

(C.E.)


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