Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-05
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 05/02/1998 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
Mr. Pangalos had made the statements to the Turkish daily "Milliyet".
Mr. Simitis further said the government had been observing this new reality
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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.
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