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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-06-14

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, 14/06/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New Democracy leads Euroelections by around 3 percentage points
  • Simitis describes result as "positive"
  • Karamanlis: a fresh start for New Democracy
  • Papariga voices satisfaction
  • Tsovolas, Constantopoulos, Samaras and Manos comments
  • Clinton lauds Greek efforts over recent Balkan crisis
  • Greek contingent expected to depart for Kosovo by Wednesday
  • Cypriot defence minister in Athens this month
  • Illegals, smugglers arrested after passing from Turkey
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New Democracy leads Euroelections by around 3 percentage points

The main opposition New Democracy today maintained a steady lead in yesterday's European Parliament elections with 36.33 percent against 33.17 percent for the ruling PASOK party, according to latest results announced by the Interior Ministry.

With 81 percent of the vote counted, ND and PASOK win 9 seats each out of the total 25 Greek seats in the Europarliament.

The Communist Party of Greece, with 8.25 percent wins three seats, while the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) with 6.82 percent wins two seats and the Coalition of the Left and Progress also wins two seats with 5.03 percent.

Political Spring and the Liberals, with 2.26 percent and 1.59 percent respectively both fell short of the 3 percent minimum and did not win any seats.

Abstention was tentatively put at 30.62 percent.

Of a total 7,551,428 registered voters, 5,245,986 showed up at the polls. Invalid votes were put at 117,239 so far and blank ballots at 103, 300.

The Interior Ministry said it would release the final results at 6:00 this afternoon.

Simitis describes result as "positive"

Prime Minister Costas Simitis described the result of the poll as "positive, " despite the fact that the ruling party failed to achieve its goal of topping the election contest, as he admitted. "The result gives us the right to forge ahead with our task.

The Euroelections took place in mid-term, with a cost to the government due to the reforms it attempted," he said.

Nevertheless, he emphasised, the strategy of overturning PASOK failed, and general elections will take place as scheduled in 2000.

"The government will be judged on its overall record at the end of the four- year term, in 2000. It is committed to implementing the task for which it was elected in 1996 with greater resolve and dynamism," he said.

Referring to the relatively large percentages of abstentions as well as invalid and blank ballots, the prime minister said these sent a "warning message" to all parties.

"Opposition leaders have to understand that lack of values and morals, double talk and grey politics are distateful to citizens," he said.

Karamanlis: a fresh start for New Democracy

The Greek people have responded with a resounding 'No' to the Simitis government and a clear 'Yes' to a fresh start with the New Democracy party, main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis said in a brief statement after early results showed his party in the lead.

Mr. Karamanlis promised that ND would back the policy of pursuing accession to Economic and Monetary Union, "a goal for all Greeks," and would press for a restriction of "the insatiable public sector" and solutions for dealing with social impasses.

"When ND comes to power, its first concern will be to provide solutions to people's everyday problems, giving priority to national reconciliation and unanimity, for a Greece with dynamism and humanism," he said.

Papariga voices satisfaction

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga expressed her party's satisfaction over Euroelections results during an early morning address.

With about 30 per cent of the vote tallied at the time, and with KKE having taken more than 8 per cent of the nation-wide vote, Ms Papariga said results do not give any party the percentage needed to form a government, should these have been national elections.

She added that this election, however, is a preliminary contest to next year's national election.

Ms Papariga pointed to KKE's increased strength in urban areas and among youthful voters.

Tsovolas, Constantopoulos, Samaras and Manos comments

Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas expressed his satisfaction over the results, noting that "those who predicted the end of the parenthesis (DHKKI) which we opened during the last national elections were proven wrong."

He also accused PASOK's leadership for using what he called tactics reminiscent of a bygone era "but not forgotten" in efforts to damage DHKKI.

Mr. Tsovolas said DHKKI's aim for next year's national elections will be to transform the party into a movement which can vie for the government.

He added that the basis of DHKKI's philosophy will be to create a social front against "liberalism", adding that during these Euroelections "a cautious but essential step for the combatting of bi-polarisation was taken."

Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said his party did not meet its set target.

Mr. Constantopoulos said Synaspismos "had greater goals", adding that "we expected our efforts of the past years would have found greater support."

He also said Synaspismos will continue its struggle against what he called the country's "major problems", which the "current government policies" are causing.

Political Spring (Pol.An) leader Antonis Samaras stressed that his party's "struggle will continue, and all those who consider the voters of Pol.An an 'easy prey, will be proved wrong" - a direct reference to widespread speculation that the party would dissolve if it failed to gain a seat in the new Euro-assembly.

Mr. Samaras thanked what he called the "200,000 voters" of his party.

The leader of the newly formed Liberals party, Stephanos Manos, noted that the Euroelections results were not particularly "joyful" for the political formation.

Speaking shortly before midnight, Mr. Manos said that "in every new effort, the first step is the most difficult one.

"Some 180,000 Greeks dared today (yesterday) and took that first step toward something new," he added.

Clinton lauds Greek efforts over recent Balkan crisis

US President Bill Clinton thanked Prime Minister Costas Simitis for Greece's contribution to the final peaceful outcome in the Yugoslavia crisis.

The US leader also recognised Athens' distinct role, emanating from the country's "double identity" as a Balkan nation and a member of western organisations, the government said yesterday.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced that the contact took place by telephone, at the US president's initiative.

The two men also discussed issues relating to the reconstruction of Yugoslavia and the Balkans more generally, which Mr. Clinton said he would raise at the G8 conference this weekend, Mr. Reppas said.

Mr. Simitis urged closer and more credible relations between the US and Russia, he added.

Greek contingent expected to depart for Kosovo by Wednesday

Greek troops destined to join the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo are expected to depart by Wednesday at the latest, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the force would be deployed in southern Kosovo, between the German and US sectors.

The Greek defence minister visited the 501th motorised infantry battalion in Yiannitsa, northern Greece, which will be the first part of the Greek brigade to go to Kosovo.

The battalion is made up of 450 volunteer officers and non-commissioned officers. Several soldiers in the battalion are veterans of Greek contingents of peace forces in Bosnia and Albania. An engineering and a medical corps battalion will follow.

Cypriot defence minister in Athens this month

Cyprus' Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis will be in Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos on June 21.

In statements to reporters yesterday, Mr. Chrysostomis said his talks in Athens would be a continuation of previous discussions with Mr. Tsohatzopoulos.

Illegals, smugglers arrested after passing from Turkey

Two men will be charged with smuggling illegal immigrants after 19 illegals were discovered in their truck yesterday.

The two men - Efstathios Feimoglou, 38, and a 16-year-old minor identified only as "H.K." - were reportedly working with a Turkish accomplice near Loutro, Alexandroupoli, police said.

The 19 illegal immigrants - 11 Iraqis, seven Moroccans and one Palestinian - told police a Turkish national had taken them over the Greek-Turkish border for a fee of $1,500 each.

All 21 suspects will be brought before a prosecutor today.

WEATHER

Fine weather in most parts of the country with scattered rain or storms in the north and central parts of Greece. The Aegean islands will be partly cloudy. Winds, mild to moderate north to northwesterlies and strong in the east of the country. Athens will be sunny with cloud increasing in the afternoon and temperatures from 20-33C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with temperatures from 19-30C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          306.647
Pound sterling       492.330
Japanese yen (100)   258.525
French franc          49.020
German mark          164.404
Italian lira (100)    16.606
Irish Punt           408.280
Belgian franc          7.971
Luxembourg franc       7.971
Finnish mark          54.080
Dutch guilder        145.911
Danish kr.            43.277
Austrian sch.         23.368
Spanish peseta         1.932
Swedish kr.           36.133
Norwegian kr.         39.228
Swiss franc          201.178
Port. Escudo           1.604
Can. dollar          210.006
Aus. dollar          203.558
Cyprus pound         556.750
Euro                 321.547
(C.E.)
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