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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-06-06

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, 06/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis speaks of Greek victory at EU summit
  • Prosecutor probes reports of Athens bourse scam
  • PM on Europe's defence identity
  • Greece bans all Belgian meat produce
  • Investigation ordered following illegal trading reports
  • Inflation slows in May
  • Fire threatens popular tourist area
  • Police, ministry officials arrested in bribe allegation
  • Motorist feels force of new highway code
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis speaks of Greek victory at EU summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said at the close of the European Union summit in Cologne on Friday that Greece had chalked up a victory. Greece, which came under strong pressure in Cologne to agree to Turkey being designated a candidate country for EU accession, maintained a firm stance and with the backing of Italy and Sweden managed to have the contentious passages deleted from the draft communique of the German presidency. Simitis stressed: "We are not opposed to Turkey's European vocation, but this must be effected under conditions which apply to all countries without exception".

Prosecutor probes reports of Athens bourse scam

The head of the public prosecutor's office of the first instance courts of Athens, George Koliokostas, on Saturday ordered an urgent investigation into allegations in the Greek press that a multi-billion drachma scam on the Athens Stock Exchange had been partly responsible for the 1.45 per cent fall in the general index on Friday.

Koliokostas assigned the investigation to prosecutor Dimitrios Asprogerakas who was instructed to take depositions from the chairman and administrative board of the Athens Stock Exchange, the members of the Capital Market Committee, the administration of the Securities Depository and the management of Alki Securities.

PM on Europe's defence identity

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday emphasised the importance of the EU summit's decision to strengthen Europe's defence identity. In particular, the premier said, the EU had decided to acquire the means and operational capability to act independently, that is, outside NATO, in defence matters. In addition, Simitis continued, the EU would strive to develop its activities with respect to preventing, handling and resolving crises and conflict "in the international and regional system". Within this framework, he said, the incorporation of the Western European Union (WEU) in the EU will be examined.

Greece bans all Belgian meat produce

Greece's Agriculture Ministry late on Thursday said it was extending a ban on the importation and sale of Belgian poultry to pork and beef products. A statement from the ministry said that a ministry crisis management committee had decided the move as a preventive measure. The measure takes effect as of Friday and is effective for all imports, distribution and sale of pork or beef from Belgium produced after January 15 1999. Any such foodstuffs already on the market will be impounded.

Investigation ordered following illegal trading reports

The head of the public prosecutor's office in Thessaloniki on Saturday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into reports of illegal trading at a brokerage firm in the northern city. In his instructions to the police, Charalambos Vourliotis requests that the inquiry be completed at the earliest and the findings submitted to his office within two days at the latest. The Athens Stock Exchange was hit on Friday by media reports that a broker or brokers at the Thessaloniki branch of Alki Securities branch had allegedly been engaging in illegal trading practices which had created a shortfall of some 10 billion drachmas.

Inflation slows in May

Consumer price inflation slowed substantially in May paving the way for fullfilling the 2.0 percent convergence criterion by the end of the year. The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent in May from April to an annual increase of 2.4 percent, down from 2.8 percent in the previous month, National Statistics Service said on Friday. Annual inflation was running at 5.3 pct and 5.4 pct in the corresponding months of 1997 and 1996 respectively. NSS's secretary general Nikos Karavitis said he expected inflation to drop further in the coming months hitting a target of 2.0 percent very soon.

Fire threatens popular tourist area

A fire which broke out near a popular tourist resort in the prefecture of Chania, Crete threatened hotels and homes in the coastal area of Gerani after forming five fronts fanned by strong winds. The blaze broke out late on Friday between Gerani and Kontomari, west of Chania, near one of the most popular resort areas of the prefecture. Shortly after midnight, the fire was raging just 300 metres from the sea, threatening hotels and homes along the coast. Scores of fire engines and firemen from Chania and the rest of the prefecture took part in efforts to bring the blaze under control, assisted by local residents. The fire was eventually extinguished early this morning. According to initial reports, the fire destroyed agricultural and forest areas, the extent of which is not yet known.

Police, ministry officials arrested in bribe allegation

The four members of a joint team of traffic police officers and Environment Ministry employees were arrested on Saturday after a motorist filed a complaint alleging that they had taken a bribe in exchange for not imposing a fine for several violations of the highway code.

The motorist, Emmanuel Kyparissis, filed the complaint at Athens Traffic Police Headquarters on Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, he claimed, he had been stopped in Paleo Faliro by the team, made up of a traffic police sergeant and three Environment Ministry employees.

The team discovered three violations of the highway code and, according to Kyparissis, one of the ministry officials demanded 50,000 drachmas in exchange for not reporting the infringements.

Kyparissis claimed the official took the money in front of a ministry colleague, while the other employee and the traffic policeman did not seem to be aware of the exchange.

A public prosecutor ordered the arrest of the four-member team, and Kypraissis for the violations.

The police sergeant is reportedly facing charges of dereliction of duty for not reporting the violations.

Motorist feels force of new highway code

A motorist in Kavala, northern Greece felt the full force of the new highway code when he was sentenced to four months' imprisonment on Saturday for driving under the influence of alcohol. Theodoros Tsalidis, 26, had been arrested for drunken driving, one of the offences for which much stiffer penalties are provided in the new highway code that came into force on May 24. In addition to the prison sentence, Tsalidis also had his driving license revoked for six months, his license plates removed for 10 days and was ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 drachmas. The new highway code aims to encourage safer driving practices on Greek roads and protect pedestrians, passengers and drivers. More than 2,000 people die, 4,000 are seriously injured and 30,000 slightly injured in traffic accidents on Greek roads annually, more than double the average in Britain and the Netherlands.

WEATHER

Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday with cloud expected in the north towards evening. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Sunny in Athens with temperatures ranging from 19C to 31C. In Thessaloniki, the weather will be mostly sunny, with cloud building up in the evening. Temperatures ranging from 17C to 30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          309.742
Pound sterling       497.131
Japanese yen (100)   255.549
French franc          48.992
German mark          164.313
Italian lira (100)    16.597
Irish Punt           408.053
Belgian franc          7.967
Luxembourg franc       7.967
Finnish mark          54.050
Dutch guilder        145.831
Danish kr.            43.233
Austrian sch.         23.355
Spanish peseta         1.931
Swedish kr.           35.962
Norwegian kr.         39.005
Swiss franc          201.763
Port. Escudo           1.603
Can. dollar          209.431
Aus. dollar          200.483
Cyprus pound         556.869
Euro                 321.368
(C.S.)
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