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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-09

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 09/11/1996 (ANA)


  • Athens Stock Exchange suspends trading, gov't says confidence not in peril
  • Foreign, defence ministers examine better cooperation between ministries
  • Athens angrily rejects Turkish claims of ''aggressive exercises''
  • IAAF lauds organisation of World Athletics Championships
  • Policeman shoots Albanian illegal immigrant ''by mistake''
  • 55 Iraqi illegal immigrants arrested on remote Greek island


    The government yesterday said there was no problem with the Greek economy, after trading on the Athens Stock Exchange was suspended for the first time ever during yesterday's session following a decision of the Union of Stock Exchange Members (SMEXA) to a bstain.

    "There is no problem with the country's economy nor any problem which might cause concern for the stock exchange," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in response to press questions.

    Mr. Reppas added that the stock exchange was experiencing certain problems associated with its adaptation to a new institutional framework, stressing that the bourse itself was able to deal with these problems.

    Brokers have called on the national economy ministry to guarantee correct operation of the market's settlement system, claiming that the Titles Depository, which is responsible for clearing transactions, owes 3 billion drachmas to brokerage companies, and therefore brokers lack cash to meet the demands of their clients.

    The SMEXA move was prompted by the inability of the Delta S.A. brokerage firm to cover cash obigations to the Depository of 3 billion drachmas. Athens Public Prosecutor Georgios Koliokostas has initiated proceedings against representatives of Delta Brokerage S.A. after conducting an urgent preliminary investigation.

    At the same time, the prosecutor ordered a main investigation into the affair and prohibited the representatives of the firm from leaving the country.

    In particular, Mr. Koliokostas initiated proceedings against the president of Delta, Dimitris Argyriadis, its vice-president, Ioanna Gelestathi, and board member Theofanis Gravanis, for charges of repeated fraud involving a particularly large amount of money.

    All three representatives of the Delta firm had authorisation to sign official documents.

    A preliminary inquiry was conducted in the wake of relevant press reports. Mr. Koliokostas also examined stock exchange officials Georgios Malakis, Ilias Stasinopoulos and Nikolaos Constantopoulos.

    Shareholders' president

    Meanwhile, Dimitris Karagounis, the president of the Union of Shareholders, told ANA yesterday that the present conditions prevailing on the ASE were the result of bad operation of the Depository which, "by delaying delivery of shares, nurtured devaluator y speculation." He said the full extent of the problem was disclosed after in-depth checks were made following the intervention of the Union.

    "It is better for the ASE to close for a few days in order to fully clarify the situation and for the exemplary punishment of all the brokerage firms that have contravened legislation governing the stock market," Mr. Karagounis said.

    Gov't spokesman

    Commenting on calls for the government to guarantee securities being traded on the stock exchange, Mr. Reppas said the government was doing all it could within the existing institutional framework from "which it cannot go beyond".

    The spokesman called on all parties involved in the operation of the ASE to assume their responsibilities.

    In a related development, the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party strongly criticised the government, charging "a total lack of supervision over the operation of the stock exchange".

    "The case of Delta is just another characteristic example of the sick climate prevailing on the stock exchange," ND spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos said.

    Mr. Pavlopoulos laid responsibility for what he called "the total lack of protection of investors, particularly small investors" on the government and above all on National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Investors to be reimbursed

    At a meeting later yesterday between National Economy Ministry Secretary General Apostolos Fotiadis and representatives of brokerage firms, it was decided that investors hit by Delta's inability to meet its obligations - which actually amount to 2.6 billi on drachmas rather than the 1.3 billion drachmas initially estimated - would be reimbursed from the brokerage firms' guarantee fund.

    Mr. Fotiadis, however, impressed upon the brokerage firms' representatives that the government would under no circumstances undertake to make good losses in the case of future violations.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had talks yesterday on ways to better coordinate action by the two ministries. The 45-minute meeting was also attended by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou,

    Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis and National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Pangalos said that the two ministries already had a coordinating body which, following yesterday's talks, was expected to function even more efficiently.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the country's foreign policy was linked with Greece's defence strategy and underlined the importance of the so-called "defence diplomacy."

    He said other issues concerning national defence had also been discussed, as well as Greece's participation in defence organisations, developments in the European Union's joint foreign policy and security policy.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos added that both ministries were occupied on a daily basis with Turkish aggression in the Aegean.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Pangalos said that his recent proposal to NATO requesting intervention by the Alliance in instances of Turkish aggression against Greece was also discussed. He stressed that the proposal was nothing new, since Gre ece had repeatedly put forward the request, only to be given the NATO reply that "there is no provision for this."

    "Now that the nature of NATO is changing and is being converted into a broader security mechanism, we are requesting the existence of some mechanism for the settlement of claims," Mr. Pangalos said.

    Several replies had already been received from Greece's partners, Mr. Pangalos said, noting that they were "not at all disappointing."

    The two ministers also discussed the political aspect of the armaments programme in view that purchase of weapons bears an influence on Greece's relations with other countries.

    Both of them reiterated that the government maintains its step-by-step approach to Greek-Turkish relations, while Mr. Pangalos added that both the United States and the European Union supported this approach.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Athens "angrily" rejected statements by Turkish Assistant Foreign Undersecretary Inan Batu claiming that the recent military exercise "Nikiforos-Toxotis", held with the joint participation of Greek and Cypriot forces, was "clearly aggressive" in nature.

    Mr. Reppas added that the presence of Greek forces on Cyprus was the result of an official invitation from the legitimate government of the island republic.

    "Unlike the presence of Turkish forces in the occupied northern part of the island which is the result of an invitation from an occupation regime and is in violation of international law," Mr. Reppas said.

    International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) President Primo Nebiolo expressed his confidence yesterday over the organisation of the 1997 World Athletics Championships, due to be held in Athens in August next year.

    "I believe Athens can organise a great event for the World Championships. Here in Athens we have everything. We have a very good stadium, four warm- up tracks and we have the full support of the government," he said during a press conference at a central Athens hotel.

    "At the end of the championships, what I really want is to see the Greeks satisfied, happy and proud that they will have organised here in AthensIthe most important sporting event of the last 100 years in Greece, after the Olympic Games of 1896."

    The world's best athletes are scheduled to compete in the championships, which will be covered by 200 countries and is considered one of the three most important international sporting events, along with the Olympic Games and the football World Cup. "For 10 days, Athens will be the sporting capital of the world," the IAAF president said.

    Mr. Nebiolo stressed that disagreements which existed during the past year between the sports ministry and the Greek amateur athletics federation (SEGAS) are now firmly in the past, and underlined that all Greek authorities are now united and have reach ed an agreement on the event's organisation.

    "The only thing left is to work," he noted.

    Replying to a question on concerns regarding weather conditions in the usually hot month of August in Athens, Mr. Nebiolo said that "the climate will be good, infinitely better than the climate we encountered in Atlanta, " where he noted there were no he alth problems among the athletes.

    Speaking on reports that US sprinter and prolific Olympic gold-medallist Carl Lewis has refused to compete if the championships are held in Athens, the IAAF president said that although there is a bond of friendship between himself and Mr. Lewis, "we al so have the rules of the game between us."

    "There is a rule which says that if the federation enters an athlete into the World Championships and he refuses to competeIthe athlete will not participate in the Olympics, and will be automatically disqualified for three months, and this means that th is athlete will lose his participation in all the Grand Prix, which will be held after the World Championships. I don't know if an athlete like Lewis is prepared to lose roughly a million dollars," Mr. Nebiolo said.

    Although he is also on the committee for Rome's bid for the 2004 Olympics, Mr. Nebiolo said the Italian capital is conducting a correct campaign and that they will be the first to congratulate the winners if they themselves are not successful.

    Mr. Nebiolo also met with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday and discussed the organisation of the World Championships, as well as cultural events for the promotion of Thessaloniki as Cultural Capital of Europe 1997.

    A 24-year-old Albanian illegal immigrant died today while being arrested by a policeman who said that his service revolver went off by mistake.

    The incident took place at dawn on the Thessaloniki-Athens national road at the Katerini junction where police had set up a roadblock to apprehend illegal immigrants from Albania.

    The victim was identified as Yiannis Noka, a resident of Episkopi and the policeman was named as Dimitris Syropoulos, 38.

    Noka was travelling in a private car headed for Athens, together with three other compatriots who had also entered the country illegally.

    When the car was stopped at the roadblock, Syropoulos said he pointed his gun at the Albanians in order to immobilize them but that it went off by mistake killing Noka.

    Syropoulos has been arrested and charged with manslaughter through negligence.

    Leros coastguard officers have arrested 55 Iraqi illegal immigrants shortly after they were dropped off on a remote beach on the nearby islet of Farmakonisi by two Turks who had transported them in a 10-metre wooden boat.

    The illegal immigrants -- 29 men, 11 women and 15 children -- said that they had set off from the Turkish town of Sulemaniya and after a ten-day journey reached the port town of Smyrni (Izmir).

    They told coastguard officers that they had each paid the two Turks 2,500 US dollars, with the exception of children under the age of six, to transport them from Smyrni to Farmakonisi.

    The illegal immigrants, who were arrested yesterday, were handed over to the Leros police department from where they will be sent to appear before the public prosecutor on Kos.


    Mostly sunny with some clouds in Attica, temperature ranging between 11-20 degress centigrade. Scattered clouds in Thessaloniki where the temperature will not exceed 16 degrees centigrade.


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