Blast rocks downtown Athens office building
NEWS IN DETAIL
Cabinet approves tough 1997 budget
Cabinet today approved the 1997 austerity budget designed to put Greece
definitively on track for European economic and monetary union (EMU).
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the budget aimed to
modernise the economy and achieve the targets foreseen in the convergence
He called the budget "harsh but fair".
The budget includes seven new taxation measures, including taxes on large
real estate holdings, interest on state titles, interbanks market deposits
and derivatives, capital gains of non-listed firms and an increase in
taxation on banks.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou was expected later
today to reveal the details of the new budget.
Speaking to reporters after today's Cabinet meeting, Simitis said that the
fundamental question ''which is not exclusively economic in nature but
political'' was to what extent Greece could secure its participation in the
EU on an equal basis, safeguard its national interests in the face of the
Turkish threat, upgrade its role in the Balkans and secure modernization of
the economy and society.
Simitis underlined that EMU would constitute ''a new centre of gravity in
the world which is now being shaped'' and would play a decisive role in all
issues pertaining to Greece's national policy ''and consequently Greece
should participate in EMU in order to safeguard its standing and ensure its
decisive role in developments''.
''It concerns our future... (we must) have a voice and determine our
country's prospects,'' the premier added.
Noting that Italy and Spain were intensifying efforts in order to join
''the first group of countries'', Simitis said that if Greece missed the
second cycle of accession in the year 2000 or 2001, it would suffer
negative consequences ''with regard not only to cuts in Community funds
which would have repercussions on income and infrastructure, but also as
regards the weakening of the country's negotiating position, and this is
why Greece must be on the same level as the other countries''.
Simitis said the target was ''not just convergence for the sake of
convergence'', since ''the entire effort is part of an overall plan for
development, competitiveness and social policy which will constitute
national strategy during the coming years''.
''The public deficit continues to be the country's main political problem,
'' Simitis went on, adding that the budget approved today necessitated
''tough but just measures''.
The prime minister stressed however that for the first time ''there will be
proportional contributions from all... everyone will contribute to the
The contribution of ''those having and possessing'' will be decisive, he
Simitis said that ''the possibilities which we have are now exhausted...
there is no margin for further measures and demands which go beyond the
framework decided for the budget will have negative repercussions on the
course towards convergence''.
On the recently announced 4 trillion drachma defence programme to
strengthen the armed forces, Simitis said it would indeed put a great
burden on the economy.
He left open the possibility of ''this armaments policy'' changing at some
point in the future through the exercise of foreign policy and by the
country's position becoming stronger internationally through diplomatic
''We can change the shape of the country,'' Simitis said, adding that the
period beginning now was the most important for Greece since the end of the
Second World War.
Summing up the main points of the budget and economic policy decided at
today's cabinet meeting, Simitis referred to the abolition of non-
developmental tax allowances which had no social value, sharp cuts in
public spending, the broadening of the tax base by imposing taxes on new
issues of bonds and treasury bills, as well as on real estate and
transactions between banks.
He also spoke of ''drastic reductions'' in public sector hiring and support
for ''the weaker social strata'' by converting the Farmers' Insurance Fund
(OGA) into a principal social security fund and further assistance for
retired persons on low pensions.
Athens to lodge demarche over illegal immigration from Turkey
Greece was expected to lodge a demarche today with Turkey calling on Ankara
to more effectively control its borders following an incident at the
weekend in which civil defence forces fired on a Turkish fishing vessel as
it fled after landing 10 illegal immigrants on the Aegean islet of
Ankara has already protested to Athens over the incident, claiming that a
Greek coastguard vessel opened fire on the crew and passengers of the
Turkish boat resulting in the death of one of the two-man crew.
The incident took place on Sunday.
Chief of Staff to attend NATO military committee
Chief of the National Defence General Staff General (Air) Athanasios
Tzoganis will represent Greece at the 25th scheduled meeting of the NATO
military committee in Brussels on 21-22 November, it was announced
The meeting will focus on issues related to the Alliance.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Alternate Foreign
Minister George Papandreou yesterday attended the first session of a
ministerial summit of Western European Union (WEU) member-states.
After the session, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed his satisfaction over the
fact that general orientations as well as terms and conditions for
establishment of a European Armaments Organisation, which is expected
tomorrow, will be determined by WEU member -states. The decision is
considered as the first step towards creating the European Armaments Agency,
which is envisaged by the Maastricht Treaty.
The organisation is essentially a continuation of the Armaments Group of
western Europe, where, besides the 10 members of the WEU, Denmark, Norway
and Turkey also participate.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had the opportunity to meet with his counterparts from
Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, as well as with WEU Secretary General
Jose Cutilheiro. Today, he will meet with his counterparts from Spain,
Portugal and France.
On his part, Mr. Papandreou said Greece had already forwarded its positions
regarding the gradual integration of the WEU within the EU as a tool for
common defence policy.
Privatisations a 'tool' of gov't's economic policy
Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou said yesterday that
"privatisations are one of the tools of our (government) economic policy.
The basic one is the 'Industry Business Programme' which, complemented by
privatisations, will contribute to the c rucial efforts of modernisation of
Ms Diamantopoulou was speaking during a conference organised by the
"Naftemboriki" financial daily, held within the framework of the "Money
Show '96" on the subject of "Privatisations - A Question of Survival and
The undersecretary noted that privatisation procedures have been accelerated,
and mentioned the organisation of the development ministry's special
privatisation secretariat and the establishment of a schedule for each
concern being privatised.
She added that procedures for the immediate privatisation of four companies
in the Organisation for the Rehabilitation of Ailing Enterprises have
already been scheduled.
Drys cites need to quickly implement 'TAXIS' programme
Speaking at a conference organised by the finance ministry's training
academy yesterday, Finance Undersecretary George Drys stressed the need for
accelerating procedures for implementation of the comprehensive data
processing system "TAXIS".
Mr. Drys said the main goals of the programme are modernising the
ministry's tax services, improving services rendered to taxpayers, widening
the tax base and combating tax evasion.
He also announced that 10,000 tax bureau employees will be given training
in light of the new informatics system's implementation.
The drachma appreciated against all foreign currencies in October,
according to weighted parity indicators followed by the Centre for Export
Studies and Research (KEEM).
Specifically, the weighted parity indicator for all foreign currencies fell
by 0.57 per cent, and that of European currencies by 0.56 per cent - on the
basis of the weightings of the countries total foreign trade (imports-
In relation to all other currencies, except the US dollar, the weighted
parity indicator fell by 1.45 per cent on the basis of their participation
in the country's external trade.
From developments in the first 10 months of 1996, it can be deduced that if
the change in the drachma's parity continues at the same average rate until
the end of the year, its cumulative appreciation will reach 2 per cent
against all currencies, and 1. 6 per cent in relation to European
A British film, Udayan Prasad's "Brothers in Trouble" won the first prize
at the 37th International Thessaloniki Film Festival's foreign film
category on Sunday night.
"Brothers" marked the Indian-born director's first film, and tells the
story of a Bengali illegal immigrant who settles in a deprived north London
Presided over by Belgian director Chantal Akerman, the international jury
awarded the silver prize to Spanish director Isabel Coixet for "Cosas que
nunca te dije" (All that I never told you), while actress Lilli Taylor won
the best actress award.
The best director award went to Taiwanese director Tso Chi Chang for his
film "Ah-Chung", while the best script award was divided between Americans
Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for "Citizen Ruth" and by Frenchmen Lucas
Belvaux and Jean-Pierre Leaud fo r "Pour rire" (To laugh).
Cypriot director Andreas Pantzis' "The Slaughter of the Rooster" and Greek
director Nikos Grammatikos' "Absentees" shared the best film award in the
"Slaughter" took six years to film and is an international co-pro-duction
between Cyprus, Greece and Italy, as well as participation from Swedish,
German, Bulgarian and Syrian interests, not to mention support by the
Council of Europe's "Eurimages".
Another noteworthy film was Aliki Danezi-Knutsen's "Roads and Oranges",
which has received an offer to participate in the Brussels Film Festival.
Ms Danezi-Knutsen, a 23-year-old Greek Cypriot, describes in her film the
travels of two girls in Turkey on the trail of their father,missing during
the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
She told the ANA
"I made a road movie,where the issue of the missing is directly projected
without heroics or hate, without melodrama. The issue for me is the road of
self-knowledge, a journey with which the viewer can empathise," the
Two Albanians killed
Two young Albanians were killed last night when a train headed to Kozani
ran them over as they slept on the tracks.
Reports said that Preg Rentzi, 19, and Alfred Mitros, 21, had fallen asleep
on the tracks near Alexandria, in the Imathias prefecture, exhausted from
their walk from the Greek-Albanian border and faint with hunger.
Police said the two most probably had walked for days since illegally
entering Greece somewhere on the border in western Macedonia and following
the train tracks to Thessaloniki.
Blast rocks central Athens office building
An explosion rocked a central Athens office building shortly before 8:00
The blast occured in the building housing the offices of the Union of
Construction Workers, in downtown Kaningos Square.
Police said there were no injuries and only minor property damage.
The explosive device had been placed in the lift and went off between the
second and third floors.
There have been no claims of responsibility for the blast as yet.
Sunny to partly cloudy in most parts of the country with possible rainfall
in the afternoon. Temperatures ranging from 11-18C in Athens and from 7-14C
FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)
U.S. dlr 235.769 Can. dlr.175.941, Australian dlr. 186.694 Pound sterling
393.566, Irish punt 394.221, Cyprus pd 515.443, French franc 46.332, Swiss
franc 184.983 Belgian franc 7.599, German mark 156.617 Finnish mark 52.030,
Dutch guilder 139.664 Danish Kr. 40.791, Swedish Kr. 35.619, Norwegian Kr.
37.180, Austrian Sh. 22.256, Italian lira (100) 15.565 Yen (100) 211.524
Spanish Peseta 1.861, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.