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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-03-07

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, 07/03/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • New poll gives lead to opposition New Democracy
  • Defence Minister warns Turkey to stop playing with fire
  • Thanou wins gold for Greece at athletics championships
  • Ex-Greek ambassador to Kenya's report published in daily
  • FM orders inquiry into leak of report
  • PM critical of petty partisan interests at work
  • Inflation stagnant at 3.7 pct
  • Gov't confirms request by US charge d'affaires
  • Judicial inquiry completed into Ocalan entry, stay
  • Gov't to hold 10-year bond auction Tuesday
  • Deutsche Bank Securities sees Greek euro entry in 2001
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

New poll gives lead to opposition New Democracy

An opinion poll published in Sunday's edition of Eleftherotypia showed opposition New Democracy party leading the ruling party PASOK by a margin of 6.8 points. New Democracy polled 27.9 percent support, compared to 21.1 percent for the ruling party. Other opposition parties polled far lower: Democratic Social Movement received 5.6 percent; Communist Party 5.3; Coalition of the Left 4.6; and Political Spring 1.0 percent. About 34.4 percent of those polled said they would cast blank or invalid votes or refused to answer. Some 27 percent of New Democracy supporters said they would vote for a party set up by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, compared to 13 percent of PASOK voters. An Avramopoulos party would also receive 23.7 percent of those who would not vote for any of the major parties; 13 percent of those intending to vote blank; and 26.2 percent of those still undecided.

Defence Minister warns Turkey to stop playing with fire

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday warned Turkey to "stop playing with fire", saying it would have no-one but itself to blame if things got out of hand. "We have given the assurance as a force for peace and stability in the region that we have no inclination and that we do not follow the slippery road of threats," Tsohatzopoulos told a meeting of retired army officers in Thessaloniki. "But we make clear our decisiveness and readiness to answer to any provocation, every threat in the necessary effective manner which is demanded by the need to protect peace, and the rights of the Greek people." Tsohatzopoulos said Turkey's continuing verbal attacks could lead to provocations that "would not be too far from the danger of an incident". He noted that Greece had struggled and sacrificed for the principles of humanism, democracy and freedom, and it was in this context that it supported the Kurdish struggle.

Thanou wins gold for Greece at athletics championships

Katerina Thanou, Greece's sprint champion, won gold in the 60-metres final at the Indoor Athletics Championships in Maebashi, Japan, on Sunday. Thanou sprinted to the gold with a time of 6:96. She was followed by Gail Devers and Inger Miller, both of the U.S. Thanou's win was the only medal awarded to a Greek athlete at the championships and her time is the fourth best ever recorded for the race.

Ex-Greek ambassador to Kenya's report published in daily

Athens daily "Ta Nea" on Saturday published a classified report from former Greek ambassador to Kenya George Costoulas, shedding light on the details of the period leading up to the capture of Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan by Turkish forces. According to the published report, when Ocalan refused cooperation with the Greek authorities, the chief of the Greek Intelligence Agency at the time ordered that Ocalan and his associates be "thrown out" of the ambassador's residence. To that end, the secret services dispatched agents charged with the removal of Ocalan and his associates from the Nairobi embassy, the report said.

FM orders inquiry into leak of report

Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Saturday issued a statement that a report leaked to newspapers had not come from the official foreign ministry files and that he had ordered an administrative investigation into the matter. Mr. Papandreou is in contact with political party leaders in order to personally convey to them the position and the actions taken by his ministry on the issue, the release said. The foreign minister promised during Friday's Parliament debate that he would submit former Greek ambassador to Kenya George Costoulas' report and anything else required to the Parliament's investigating committee.

PM critical of petty partisan interests at work

Prime Minister Costas Simitis in an interview to Athens daily Imerisia, published Sunday, said that many had tried to take advantage of the Ocalan affair in order to change the government's policy and to bring down the government". "They showed no regard for the impact of the climate they created on the course of the country, the course of the economy during this crucial moment", Simitis said. "They proved once more that they subsume everything to petty-partisan interests, even the interest of the country itself".

Inflation stagnant at 3.7 pct

Year-on-year inflation in February remained at 3.7 percent, the same as the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said Friday. The NSS said the February consumer price index fell 0.5 percent compared to January. Price declines were reported in clothing and footwear, hotels cafes and restaurants, and consumer and household goods; and increases in foods and non-alcoholic beverages, drinks and tobacco, and entertainment and culture. The NSS predicted a decline in inflation in coming months, particularly after April, when the repercussions of a 13.8 percent devaluation of the drachma in March last year are expected to have subsided.

Gov't confirms request by US charge d'affaires

The government Friday confirmed that the US charge d'affaires in Athens had visited foreign ministry secretary-general Pavlos Apostolidis on Thursday, advising Athens and Ankara to "lower the tones" in verbal exchanges and stop quarrelling in order for bilateral relations calm down. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas confirmed that charge d'affaires Terry Snell met with Mr. Apostolidis. Washington reportedly had made a similar approach to Ankara. Commenting on the move, Mr. Reppas said Greece followed a policy based on principles in its desire for peace, security and stability in the region. Mr. Snell is acting ambassador to Greece because of US ambassador Nicholas Burns' absence in the United States.

Judicial inquiry completed into Ocalan entry, stay

Three prosecutors assigned to investigate the conditions surrounding Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's entry, brief stay and departure from Greece completed their judicial inquiry yesterday. The case file contains more than 1,500 pages of testimony a nd related information. Prosecutors are expected to begin compiling an official report today, while they are expected to complete and deliver the report on Wednesday. Chief Prosecutor Goergios Koliokostas will be responsible for bringing charges against any individuals involved in cases of wrongdoing, excluding Parliament MPs, who in any case are not within his jurisdiction.

Gov't to hold 10-year bond auction Tuesday

The finance ministry will auction 180 billion drachmas' worth of 10-year state bonds in paperless form on Tuesday with an annual coupon of 6.3 percent, it said in a statement yesterday. The auction is a re-opening of a 10-year bond originally issued on January 29, 1999. The ministry said that despite recent volatile trading in the domestic bond market, Greece's 10- year bond yield spread did not exceed two percentage points compared with 10-year euro bond yields, remaining within the Maastricht treaty's long- term rate c riterion.

Deutsche Bank Securities sees Greek euro entry in 2001

Deutsche Bank Securities (DBS), a subsidiary of the German Bank, said in a report yesterday that it believed Greece would enter the euro zone in 2001. In a report carried by Reuters, DBS cited positive economic indicators, especially rapid GDP growth, and the stability of progress towards alignment with the European Union. Inflation was the greatest challenge. (Continued on page 8) (Continued f rom page 7) The report also said the Athens bourse showed robust returns, and, among European emerging markets, kept pace most closely with the New York bourse. A correction in New York was likely to be followed by a correction in Athens, the report said.

WEATHER

Cloudy weather with scattered showers in most parts of Greece today. Winds variable, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Possibility of intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures between 11-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-15C.The forecast for Monday is local rain and scattered showers with possible storms in sea regions, improving in the course of the day. Winds will be southerly mild to moderate, turning northwesterly to strong. Temperatures will range from 5-14 in the north, 7- 17 in the Ionian and mainland, and 10-19 in the Aegean. Athens will be mild with morning rain clearing, 8-17. Thessaloniki will be the same, 6- 14.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          294.416
Pound sterling       473.720
Japanese yen (100)   239.528
French franc          48.680
German mark          163.268
Italian lira (100)    16.492
Irish Punt           405.459
Belgian franc          7.916
Luxembourg franc       7.916
Finnish mark          53.707
Dutch guilder        144.903
Danish kr.            42.969
Austrian sch.         23.206
Spanish peseta         1.920
Swedish kr.           35.756
Norwegian kr.         37.220
Swiss franc          200.756
Port. Escudo           1.593
Aus. dollar          184.155
Can. dollar          193.420
Cyprus pound         549.925
Euro                 319.325
(M.P.)
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