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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-08

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, 08/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Floods in Evros, one missing
  • New Democracy leader says ready for more expulsions
  • Greek consumer price inflation drops to 4.4 pct in January
  • Greek stocks jump on declining inflation
  • Greece's stance on ongoing crisis in Iraq
  • New Turkish theory disputes Greek sovereignty of islets
  • Tsohatzopoulos tours DASA facilities in Germany
  • EU asked to urgently discuss Greek olive oil producers' problems
  • Alumil activity in Romania
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Floods in Evros, one missing

Flooding in the border region of Evros has caused extensive damage to farmland in the area, regional officials said late on Saturday.

A full estimate of the damage will be made as soon as waters from the swollen Evros River recede, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace secretary-general Stavros Kambelis said.

Some 10 families in the Lavaron region which have lost their homes will receive 200,000 drachmas in emergency aid, he added.

Macedonia-Thrace ministry secretary-general George Lyssaridis, who visited the region, said the "excellent" level of coordination between emergency services had averted more damage from the adverse weather.

Evros Prefect George Dolios told reporters that damage had centred on cotton crops but that agriculture generally would be affected in the region as farmers would not be able to collect crops in time, if at all.

He said efforts to locate a hunter missing in the Evros River since Saturday evening would be continuing, but added that authorities had issued notices about the dangers of hunting and fishing in the region during the bad spell.

Spyros Galatsidas, 28, from Trikala in the Imathias prefecture, was swept away by the raging Evros waters in the Kornofolias area while hunting for wild ducks with his father-in-law and another relative. He disappeared after their boat overturned.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the high levels of the Evros' waters.

New Democracy leader says ready for more expulsions

The turmoil in the ranks of opposition New Democracy continued over the weekend with ND leader Costas Karamanlis laying down the law today and saying he would not tolerate any more "backstabbing".

Speaking in Egio, Karamanlis said that the three leading New Democracy deputies expelled from the party on Tuesday had "provided the government with alibis".

The three deputies were expelled from the party for failing to toe the party line against a government provision changing relations between workers and management at state-run public utilties.

The amendment was approved early on Tuesday by a vote of 141 to 121. A total of 35 deputies - from both opposition and ruling party - absented themselves from the vote.

One of the three, George Souflias, is a former national economy minister and had run unsuccessfully against Karamanlis for the party leadership at ND's Congress last March. The other two, former ministers Stephanos Manos and Vassilis Kontoyannopoulos had also supported Souflias's run for ND leader, as had another three ND deputies suspended for a year.

The fall-out from the expulsions and suspensions dominated the weekend's news, with Dora Bakoyianni, another former minister, breaking her silence and criticising Karamanlis's move against the dissenters.

Bakoyianni, the daughter of former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, whose failure to vote with the party on the provision was "excused" by Karamanlis, said that she would propose initiatives to ensure the unity of the party.

She assured Karamanlis that nobody questioned his position as leader of the main opposition.

In an interview published in Sunday's Eleftherotypia, Karamanlis said he would not hesitate to expel others from the party and that he "could not occupy a chair that was continually being shaken".

Souflias, meanwhile, told To Vima, that changes on the political stage were in the pipeline but that it was too early to talke about a new party. He said his aim was to "revive the liberal movement" in Greece.

Greek consumer price inflation drops to 4.4 pct in January

Greek consumer price inflation continued its decline in January, dropping to 4.4 percent year-on-year from 4.7 percent a month earlier, the National Statistics Service (ESYE) said yesterday.

The average inflation rate for the 12-month period of January 1997 to 1998 stood at 5.3 per cent, compared to 8.1 per cent for the corresponding period of January 1996 to January 1997.

Commenting on the fall in inflation down to 4.4 per cent, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told a press conference in London, where he is on a visit, that the government had succeeded where all its predecessors had failed.

"We are strict, a little unpleasant, but we have finally succeeded where all other governments in the last 25 years failed," he said.

He added that the government was resolved to continue implementation of its economic programme, and that the emphasis in coming years would fall on the rehabilitation of public utilities. He stressed that the effort would be crowned with success, as it enjoyed broad popular support.

Greek stocks jump on declining inflation

Greek stocks ended sharply higher yesterday as the Athens Stock Exchange celebrated a fall in the inflation rate to its lowest in almost three decades.

The general index closed 2.45 percent up at 1,464.12 points, showing a net gain of 4.92 percent on the week. Traders said investors had regained confidence after turmoil in the domestic money market seemed to evaporate and state institutional investor s decided to intervene to support the market ahead of a public offering of investment firms on February 17- 20.

Most sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 2.84 percent, Insurance increased 1.03 percent, Investment ended 0.74 percent up, Construction soared 2.59 percent, Industrials rose 1.66 percent, Miscellaneous ended 0.79 percent higher and Holding jumped 3. 27 percent. Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.04 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 2.51 percent. The FTSE/ASE index of blue chips ended at 789.41 points, up 0.96 percent, to show an increase of 6.26 percent on the week.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 20.8 billion drachmas. The week's total turnover was 76.7 billion drachmas for a daily average of 15.3 billion, up from 13.8 billion drachmas the previous week.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 174 to 49 with another 17 issues unchanged.

Alumil, Agrinio Metalplastic, Viokarpet and Nafpaktos Mills scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper trading limit, while Vis, Mouriades, Endisi, General Warehouses and Daring suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 20,930 drachmas, Ergobank at 14,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 15,450, Delta Dairy at 3,005, Titan Cement at 13,700, Intracom at 15,250 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5, 900.

Greece's stance on ongoing crisis in Iraq

Greece will not become involved in any military operations against Iraq without a prior decision by the UN Security Council, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said in Parliament yesterday.

However, he said that although Greece would be "committed to obey" any such UN decision, it would not be necessary for Greece to contribute its own forces to any military operation.

Mr. Apostolakis was speaking in response to a question from Communist Party of Greece deputy Haralambos Aggourakis regarding the possible use of the Souda and Aktio military bases by US Air Force planes in any new action against Iraq.

With regard to a recent meeting in Athens between US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman and the leadership of the foreign and defence ministries, the undersecretary commented that the US had made "no request for Greek assist ance or facilities in the event that the US decided to intervene in Iraq". Therefore, he added, Greece has undertaken no commitment to the US government.

Mr. Apostolakis also said Mr. Grossman had been informed of Greece's opposition to the trade sanctions against Iraq and their devastating repercussions on the children of Iraq due to the lack of medicines and foodstuffs.

New Turkish theory disputes Greek sovereignty of islets

A Turkey-based research foundation again raised claims disputing Greek sovereignty of several small Aegean islands and rocky islets in a publication entitled "The Basic Issue in the Aegean."

The edition, published by the "Turkish History Foundation" and compiled by a Turkish naval officer, repeats exactly the arguments set out in a Turkish military academy manual in May 1996.

The small, rocky islets "which are not mentioned by name in international treaties in the Aegean continue to belong to Turkey, which constitutes a continuation of the Ottoman state", according to the latest Turkish theory.

The purpose of the theory, according to the publication, is "a new and basic problem which will influence the overall status in the Aegean."

The "theory's major problem is that the Lausanne Treaty, by which the modern Turkish state was created and its borders were delineated in detail, explicitly states that Turkey in the Aegean is restricted to islands, small islands and rocky islets etc, located at a distance of three nautical miles from the Asia Minor coasts and the islands of Imvros and Tenedos.

The Turkish military staff has recently attempted to plan exercises or restrict regions for exercises which would help the new theory to be implemented in practice. In one case (Gavdos, May 1996) it opposed, on the basis of this theory, the inclusion of the island, located south of Crete, in a NATO exercise.

Turkish diplomatic circles, despite the fact they appear hesitant on the correctness of the new theory, are systematically raising the issue of "grey zones in the Aegean" lately, an expression leading directly to the new theory.

Tsohatzopoulos tours DASA facilities in Germany

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos visited facilities of the German aerospace firm DASA near Munich yesterday, where he was briefed on the progress of upgrading two Hellenic Air Force F-4 fighters.

Know-how will also be transferred to the remaining F-4s, which will be upgraded in Greece.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is in Munich to attend the "Political Security Conference", starting this morning and with "Security and the Future" being the first issue on the agenda.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl will be the main speaker.

This year's event is being attended by more than 200 politicians, diplomats and military officers, including US Defense Secretary William Cohen and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

EU asked to urgently discuss Greek olive oil producers' problems

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas has sent a letter to European Union agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler asking for an urgent discussion of problems facing Greek olive producers.

Mr. Tzoumakas asked for the issue to be included on the agenda of the next olive oil administrative committee meeting in Brussels on February 11.

The minister argued that although olive product prices have dropped significantly sales were sluggish with products remaining in warehouses.

The situation was a cause of serious financial, social and political problems in Greece, carrying a risk of disintegration for the country's olive oil market, Mr. Tzoumakas stressed.

Meanwhile, olive producers continued protesting in Crete and farmers have agreed to hold further protests along the country's national road network.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called on the farmers not to proceed to blockades and called on them to hold talks with the agriculture minister.

Alumil activity in Romania

The Alumil Mylonas company,recently registered on the Athens Stock Exchange, has consolidated activities in Balkan markets, and particularly Romania, by establishing the subsidiary Alumil Rom Industry SRL.

Alumil purchased the Bucharest installations of the Vulcan firm, aiming at initially using its storage space to cover the Romanian market.

WEATHER

Clouds and rain in most parts of Greece with light snowfall in the mountainous areas. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning into gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy with spells of sunshine in Athens and possible light rain in the afternoon with temperatures from 6-10C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with temperatures from 2-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.164 Pound sterling 464.514 Cyprus pd 533.339 French franc 46.882 Swiss franc 194.635 German mark 157.113 Italian lira (100) 15.903 Yen (100) 227.158 Canadian dlr. 197.507 Australian dlr. 190.772 Irish Punt 393.665 Belgian franc 7.613 Finnish mark 51.802 Dutch guilder 139.386 Danish kr. 41.237 Swedish kr. 35.156 Norwegian kr. 37.706 Austrian sch. 22.333 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.535

(M.P.)


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