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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-02

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, 02/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government upset by distorted Pangalos remarks
  • Swedish journalist at a loss to explain changes
  • Government denies rumours of Aegean 'incidents'
  • Rumours drive stock exchange down 2.25pct
  • Opposition wants fact-finding commission on Ocalan
  • Chairman of foreign affairs committee concerned
  • Greece, Uzbekistan sign bilateral agreements
  • President lashes out at Ankara's claims
  • Coast guard finds more drugs on Honduras freighter
  • New figures on Greek drug abuse
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Government upset by distorted Pangalos remarks

The government on Tuesday expressed regret at the distortion of a Swedish news agency despatch from Milan attributing statements to former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos concerning the Ocalan affair. "The despatch in question created false impressions. Mr. Pangalos never made such statements, " government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, criticising the adoption of the despatch by "certain parties" without verifying it. Pangalos himself on Monday denied that he had spoken to a Swedish news agency reporter or indeed to any other news agency regarding the Ocalan affair. The Swedish news agency reportedly claimed that Pangalos said "we had to choose between very bad solutions and chose the one which would cost us the least".

Swedish journalist at a loss to explain changes

The Swedish news agency reporter, Janus Lindgren, told Greek journalists in Milan on Tuesday that he had spoken to Pangalos about the Ocalan affair shortly before an official dinner on Monday when he met him by chance, according to an ANA despatch from Milan. Lindgren said however that he did not recognise the introduction to the contentious despatch, because it had been written by someone else. Lindgren claimed Pangalos said Greece had three solutions - either to seek assistance from other European countries, "which was impossible, given what had happened in Italy, or to send him directly to Turkey, which was also impossible, or thirdly, to send him to Latin America". "I cannot explain the title or the introduction. It appears that something happened in the process of the despatch from Stockholm to Athens...". Lindgren on Monday told an ANA correspondent that the title of the despatch, "Greece supported the handing over of Ocalan", the first paragraph and the phrase "with the aim of sending Ocalan to Turkey" were not in the despatch which he had filed and were added subsequently.

Government denies rumours of Aegean 'incidents'

The Greek government on Tuesday rejected as unfounded "rumours" about incidents in the Aegean and the creation of tension in Greek-Turkish relations, attributing them to "circles motivated by political and economic expediencies". Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas attributed the rumours to "games related to the operation of the stock exchange" and political motives. Reppas advised citizens and businessmen alike to remain calm and reponsible, warning that similar rumours would be circulated also in the future by persons wishing to profit. The spokesman said the same "circles" were responsible for rumours a few days ago that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was about to resign, which resulted in a sharp drop on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Rumours drive stock exchange down 2.25pct

Share prices ended Tuesday's session sharply lower hit by talk of renewed tension in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey and a negative outlook of international stock markets on fears of a rise in US short-term interest rates. The general index ended 2.25 percent down to 3,318.02 points reversing an early advance above the 3,420 level. Traders said investors preferred to liquidate gains accepting the fact that the market needed some correction. Turnover was 125.792 billion drachmas and volume 29,115,977 shares. The parallel market index for small cap companies, however, ended 0.40 percent up. The FTSE/ASE 20 index dropped 2.33 percent to 2,056.96.

Opposition wants fact-finding commission on Ocalan

Opposition New Democracy said it would support a ruling party proposal submitted last week for Parliament to establish a fact-finding commission on the Ocalan affair. However, ND head of the party's Parliamentary Group, Stavros Dimas, said the PASOK proposal was "general and incomplete" and that ND would seek to have the commission's brief made more specific. Ruling party MPs on Friday submitted a proposal to Parliament that it establish a fact-finding commission on the Ocalan affair. The proposal, signed by 116 PASOK MPs from the 300-member House, said the entry of Abdullah Ocalan to Greece, his stay in the Greek embassy in Kenya and his capture by Turkish forces at Nairobi's airport had caused "serious concerns in public opinion". It said the ruling party and government would continue to insist on the need for a full disclosure of the truth of the Ocalan affair.

Chairman of foreign affairs committee concerned

The chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Karolos Papoulias, on Tuesday expressed concern over developments in the Ocalan affair during a meeting with Foreign Minister George Papandreou. Papoulias, a former foreign minister, said the present period required "particularly careful handling" and Greeks must show that they would not budge on matters related to national rights. Askedby reporters whether he feared some "incident" or provocation on the part of Turkey, Papoulias replied that "everything is possible in this game". Papoulias spoke of poor handling by the Greek government in the Ocalan affair and of the need for efforts to be made "to regain our credibility and the lost ground".

Greece, Uzbekistan sign bilateral agreements

Greece and Uzbekistan today signed three agreements in Tashkent that further expand relations between the two countries, and ANA despatch from the Uzbek capital said. The accords were signed following talks between President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, on a three-day state visit to Uzbekistan, and Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, and concern cooperation in the consular sector, a road transports agreement and cooperation betweeen the two countries' national banks. Stephanopoulos and Karimov discussed international issues and Greek-Turkish relations. They also expressed the political will for further expansion of relations between Greece and Uzbekistan in all areas, particularly in the economic, cultural and commercial sectors.

President lashes out at Ankara's claims

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos today lashed out at Ankara over its claims that Greece had provided military and financial assistance to the outlawed Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK) and its leader Abdullah Ocalan. According to an ANA despatch from Tashkent, Stephanopoulos, on a three-day state visit to Uzbekistan, said "we refuse to render the Kurdish issue and Mr. Ocalan the object of a Greek-Turkish dispute" and expressed hope that Ankara would become "more prudent and careful". Stephanopoulos called Ankara's allegations "slanderous", adding that Greece has "never reinforced the PKK and Abdullah Ocalan militarity, financially or politically".

Coast guard finds more drugs on Honduras freighter

Coast guard officials today found a second stash of hashish hidden on board a Honduras-flag freighter seized yesterday at Katakolos port on its arrival from Morocco, the coast guard said. A Coast Guard official said the freighter, bearing the name "ZETA" fore and aft, arrived at Katakolos port yesterday afternoon from Seuta, Morocco, for repairs, and without cargo. The official told ANA that the freighter's documents bore the name "Unity III", while a search of the vessel yesterday uncovered a stash of 2.5 kilos of processed hashish in 10 packets, and another stash of 2.5 kilos of hashish was uncovered today. The ship's 10-member crew -- a Greek captain and first engineer, one Cypriot, three Albanians, two Pakistanis, one Tanzanian and one Bulgarian -- was arrested.

New figures on Greek drug abuse

The majority of Greece's drug users are unemployed, have no social security and live on the streets, according to the results of a questionnaire distributed to addicts seeking syringes at a the OKANA drug addiction treatment centre. Joblessness, lack of social benefits and homelessness are both cause and symptom of drug abuse, speakers at a news conference said. In many cases these three factors contributed significantly to drug-related deaths. Almost 64 percent were believed to be suffering from some form of hepatitis, primarily hepatitis C; the detox centre said that they had distributred 47,000 syringes in the 18 months of its operation. According to the findings, the average age of a regular drug user is 30. One in three drug addicts was a woman, 22 percent were homeless, 50 percent were unemployed and 53 percent had no access to social security benefits.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather with scattered clouds will prevail in most parts of Greece today. Winds southerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-18C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1- 16C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          290.537
Pound sterling       466.399
Japanese yen (100)   243.675
French franc          48.655
German mark          163.182
Italian lira (100)    16.483
Irish Punt           405.245
Belgian franc          7.912
Luxembourg franc       7.912
Finnish mark          53.678
Dutch guilder        144.827
Danish kr.            42.928
Austrian sch.         23.194
Spanish peseta         1.919
Swedish kr.           35.420
Norwegian kr.         36.682
Swiss franc          200.250
Port. Escudo           1.592
Aus. dollar          180.018
Can. dollar          192.488
Cyprus pound         549.568
Euro                 319.156
(M.P.)
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