Farmer set himself alight in protest
NEWS IN DETAIL
Heavy flooding continued on Sunday in the northern regions of Xanthi and
Kavala, leaving three people dead, many injured and causing widespread
damage. Farmer Kiosse Nezit, 30, Aristides Barbathanasis, 38 and his 14-
year-old daughter Irene were killed in accidents during the floods.
The province of Xanthi was declared in a state of emergency today and the
Xenocrates plan put into action. The fire brigade received hundreds of
calls from people trapped in flooded homes and stores. The Vistonida lake,
as well as local rivers and canals have overflowed, causing damage to wheat
and cotton crops. Road connections between Xanthi and Rhodope were cut off
last night after the new bridge at Iasmos, Komotini subsided.
Meanwhile heavy flooding was also reported in the streets of Patra, on the
west coast of the Peloponnese late yesterday.
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippas Petsalnikos is in Xanthi to coordinate
efforts to deal with the effects of the flood, believed to be the worst in
the last fifty years. The Minister will give a press conference tomorrow.
Farmers in the northern regions of Thessaloniki, Imathia, Pella and
Pieria were proceeding to cut off western Macedonia from the city of
Thessaloniki today, the third successive day of their protest. They are
demanding cheaper fuel for agricultural use and increased subsidies for
A road block of about 50 tractors has been set up on the Thessaloniki-Veria
road, while another 40 have been parked across the old national road from
Thessaloniki to Katerini, near the village of Kypseli.
All road communications have been cut off at various points on the road
from Lamia to Trikala, Karditsa and Larissa by farmers from the region of
Early this afternoon, farmers with about 100 tractors gathered at the
Malagra bridge in the prefecture of Thessaloniki and blocked the Thessaloniki-
Athens national highway. Traffic was being diverted to the old national
road, although it was reported that farmers would be blocking that artery
as well later this afternoon.
Main opposition leader Miltiades Evertcalled on Prime Minister Kostas
Simitis to meet with farmers' representatives as soon as possible, saying
he feared the current situation could only get worse.
Meanwhile, parents of large families whose subsidies are under threat in
the new budget demonstrated in Thessaloniki today. A resolution was handed
over to the Macedonia and Thrace Ministry calling the cuts "incomprehensible
and inacceptable", adding that they would only exacerbate the country's
Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office George Paschalidis had
lengthy talks with farmers' representatives in Larissa, central Greece, on
Friday night but the roadblocks remained in place on Saturday and Sunday,
while farmers warned that they would continue their protest action until
Paschalidis had asked the farmers to suspend their mobilisations until next
Friday, so that the government could have time to work out and propose new
A Greek delgation headed by Prime Minister Kostas Simitis arrived in the
Portuguese capital early this evening to attend a summit conference of the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which opens in
The summit's agenda is to concentrate on European security issues, as well
as the OSCE's relations with Russia. According to an ANA dispatch from
Lisbon this evening, diplomatic sources say the Greek Prime Minister, who
is to address the summit tomorrow, is not expected to hold meetings with
either Turkish President Suleiman Demirel or Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia President Kiro Gligorov, although informal social meetings have
not been ruled out. Greek-Turkish relations are not on the summit
Meanwhile, it was reported that Simitis may have a short meeting with US
Vice-President Al Gore on the sidelines of the conference.
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in a meeting in Istanbul
last night with Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Onur Oymen, raised the issue
of reports that the Turkish ultra-nationalist group "Grey Wolves" had been
involved in starting forest fires on Greek islands.
According to diplomatic sources, Oymen denied any involvement in the matter
on the part of the Turkish state, and stated that he would be making an
announcement on the issue in due course. According to the same sources,
Papandreou said that a simple statement would not be sufficient, and asked
the Turkish official for an in-depth investigation into the charges.
The government on Friday tabled in Parliament the state budget for 1997
in the aftermath of a nationwide strike and workers' protests against
planned elimination of tax breaks, as well as small salary and pension
A five-day debate on the budget, submitted by National Economy and Finance
Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, begins in Parliament on Tuesday, Dec. 17,
culminating in a vote on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The relevant Parliamentary committee will hold a three-day discussion on
the budget starting next Wednesday.
Presenting the budget, Mr. Papantoniou reiterated that no new taxes would
be imposed in 1997, apart from those already announced and contained in the
He said the government's target of 4.5 per cent inflation for 1997 was
"ambitious but necessary, because everything depends on the reduction of
The budget provides for an increase in tax revenue of approximately one
trillion drachmas compared to this year's estimated collected revenue.
The additional revenue will come from 19 main sources, including the
taxation of bonds, treasury bills and foreign exchange deposits, taxation
of large real estate holdings, abolition of tax exemptions and fines for
The 1997 regular budget provides for revenue of 2.271 trillion drachmas
from income tax and 127.5 billion drachmas from real estate tax, of which
25 billion drachmas will come from the new provision taxing large real
Indirect taxation will contribute 5.014 trillion drachmas to state coffers,
of which 84 billion drachmas will come from road tax, 145.3 billion
drachmas from the special consumption tax on private vehicles, 955.5
billion from fuel tax, 76. 2 billion dra chmas from the tax on alcoholic
beverages and 465.2 billion drachmas from the tobacco tax.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is expected to contribute a total of 2.520 trillion
drachmas, while non-fiscal revenue will reach 843.6 billion drachmas.
The total revenue of the general budget is 9.532 trillion drachmas, an
increase of 17.5 per cent over 1996, of which the regular budget will
account for 8.715 trillion drachmas, marking an increase of 15.6 per
On the other side, the general budget provides for total expenditures of
11.891 trillion drachmas, an increase of 9.4 per cent, of which 10.225
trillion drachmas are the regular expenditures of ministries etc., an
increase of 4.9 per cent, and more than 1 .66 trillion drachmas are for the
Public Investment Programme, an increase of 48.8 per cent.
On the basis of these figures, the deficit, or borrowing requirements, will
total 2.010 trillion drachmas, marking a drop of 27.1 per cent. The regular
budget deficit, without debt servicing, is estimated at 1.510 trillion
drachmas, marking a decrease o f 31.7 per cent.
As a percentage of GDP, the deficit will therefore fall to 6.2 per cent,
from 9.3 per cent this year.
The 1997 budget allocates 696.85 billion drachmas for defence, an increase
of 12.8 per cent, 1.158 trillion drachmas for education, up 18.4 per cent,
809.95 billion drachmas for health and social welfare, an increase of 10.9
per cent, 1.015 trillion dra chmas for social security, up 2.8 per cent,
175 billion drachmas for social policy, 390 billion drachmas for agriculture,
an increase of 7 per cent, and 4.176 billion drachmas for other expenditures,
an increase of 15.7 per cent.
Following a meeting with ND deputies on the budget, main opposition New
Democracy leader Miltiades Evert said the government was "following the
established course, launching a tax raid which will be paid by those having
no hope under the sun."
Mr. Evert said the policy of increasing taxes would lead the economy into
recession and dismissed government forecasts of inflation for 1997 as
Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos
said the tabling of the 1997 budget was surrounded by "an atmosphere of
rage and indignation" in Greek society.
Describing the 1997 budget as "insincere," he said its basic figures, like
inflation, "are portrayed with the traditional government tricks."
The leader of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), Dimitris Tsovolas,
said the budget was "inhumane", "class discriminating," and led to a
"The 1997 budget will make the rich richer and the poor poorer and will
increase instead of solve the financial and social problems," he added.
A 57-year-old farmer doused himself with petrol and set himself alight
yesterday after being prevented from selling his fruit and vegetables at a
street market in Ierapetra, Crete.
Pavlos Grigoriou, from Trikala, was prevented from selling his produce by
colleagues who said he did not have the necessary licence.
Grigoriou, who has lived for the past 13 years in Ierapetra, went to a
nearby playground, doused himself with petrol and set fire to himself.
He is currently in serious condition in Heraklion University Hospial with
first and second degree burns.
Wet and windy in Athens, improving later in the day. Temperatures 12-17C.
Thessaloniki temperatures will range from 4-14C. Similar conditions
throughout the country forecast for tomorrow.
Closing rates (buying), Friday November 29
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franc 184.398 Belgian franc 7.574, German mark 156.066, Finnish mark 52.050,
Dutch guilder 139.138, Danish Kr. 40.722, Swedish Kr. 35.775, Norwegian Kr.
37.408, Austrian Sh. 22.179, Italian lira (100) 15.833, Yen (100) 210.582,
Spanish Peseta 1.852, Portuguese Escudo 1.546.