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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-10-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/10/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILPM warns early elections could hurt euro zone bid
Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned on Saturday that possible national polls in the spring from a failure to elect a president could jeopardise Greece's bid to enter the euro zone by January 1, 2001.
"While the country's application to join economic and monetary union is being judged, political stability is needed, and the avoidance of any factor to upset the outcome, even slightly," Simitis told a ruling PASOK party meeting.
Addressing the 2,500 members of PASOK's rallying committees, who are responsible for grass roots campaigning, the party leader repeated that national elections should be held in September 2000, at the end of the government's four-year term.
A failure by parliament to muster enough votes for a winner to emerge in the presidential election early next year would lead to dissolution of the house and early national polls.
Greece is to submit its euro bid to the European Union in mid-March, and a decision is expected in June.
Simitis again urged the opposition to back President Kostis Stephanopoulos for another term in office.
Turning to the party's internal practice, Simitis cautioned party members against allowing personal ambition to override party cohesion, which had led to defeat for PASOK in the European parliamentary election.
"We saw some centrifugal effects, clear-cut personal orientations, for which we paid dearly in the last election," the prime minister said.
He also urged a more outgoing approach, both to the public and to progressive forces in society, including PASOK's traditional voter base that was eroded in the Euro-elections.
Furthermore, individuals from the outside could enhance the party.
"We should seek renewal and enrichment through politicians who coincide stragetically with our positions and choices, and who desire joint action," the prime minister said.
In a rallying call for cohesion, Simitis reviewed PASOK's achievements, laying emphasis on Andreas Papandreou, the late party founder, leader and premier.
The party had promoted equality, defended national sovereignty and spurred growth, the prime minister said.
He also restated the party's socialist roots, citing as policy the redistribution of wealth, a strong social state, higher employment, and a better standard of living.
Finally, Simitis blasted the opposition, both to the left and the right.
He accused the main opposition New Democracy party of refusing to state its views clearly and concealing its ideological base, which he called support for an unbridled free market that would lead to an arbitrary and unfair distribution of the surplus of growth.
He also blasted left-wing opposition parties for hanging on to outmoded concepts of a state-centred economy and what they saw as the immutable rights of narrow sector groups that barred progress.
No injuries, damage in tremors
A tremor measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale was felt in Athens in the early hours of Saturday morning. No damage or injuries were reported.
The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute said the epicentre was in the Mount Parnes area, also the epicentre of a major earthquake that hit the capital on September 7.
Saturday's tremor occurred at 00.56.
In addition, a tremor measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was recorded on Saturday afternoon in the Gulf of Corinth, the Thessaloniki Aristotelian University's Geophysics Laboratory said.
No injuries or damage were reported.
The epicentre in the western Gulf was situated 150 kilometres west northwest of Athens, in waters off the town of Egio, which was hit by a major earthquake several years ago.
September inflation stable at 2.0%
Inflation remained stable at 2.0 percent in September on a year-on-year basis, the same rate as in August, National Statistics Service said today. The NSS said that rising prices in fruit and vegetables (up by 30 percent in most cases) and higher healthcare services in the private sector (up 5.5 percent) halted the consumer price index's decline in the previous months. The CPI increased by 1.9 percent in September from the previous month. It was running at 5.2 and 4.9 percent annually in September 1997 and 1998, respectively.
PM reiterates commitments to homeless
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday reiterated the government's commitment to providing for the needs of those made homeless by the September 7 earthquake and prosecuting those who built sub-standard buildings. Simitis opened an off the agenda debate in parliament on the 5.9 Richter earthquake, after it was called by president of conservative opposition New Democracy. The session began with a minute's silence for the 143 victims of the earthquake, the majority crushed under tonnes of concrete when factories and buildings collapsed. The prime minister said his government was committed to apportioning blame to any persons found responsible for the collapse of buildings during the quake.
Karamanlis charges damage underestimated
Conservative opposition leader Costas Karamanlis charged that the government was trying to off load responsibility for problems in relief efforts on to local government and said members of the Cabinet had "attempted to underestimate the extent of the damage". This latter factor had torpedoed the country's negotiating strength at the European Union, when it asked for support to restore the damage, he said. He said existing emergency contingency plans - Xenocrates - were outdated and untried and criticised the state for being without national planning in situations of catastrophe.
Opposition leaders debate quake
Communist Party of Greece Secretary-General Aleka Papariga said both the prime minister and ND leader were dealing with the issue of the earthquake as a "hot potato" of secondary importance. She called the claim that the state mechanism promptly shifted into gear "propaganda" and said that files on buildings that collapsed had been deliberately concealed to avoid the long arm of the law. Left Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that the Greece was the most seismically active country in Europe and the sixth in the world but that Greek governments had effectively been indifferent to this fact. Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas said that earthquakes were not for "petty party exploitation". He noted that the victims of the quake were mostly from the lower social classes and had been taken advantage of by "unscrupulous exploiters of housing".
Weak quake recorded near Patras
A weak earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale was recorded at 12:15 today near the western Greek port city of Patras, with its epicentre in the Gulf of Patras, the Athens Geodynamical Institute said.
Greece fighting terrorism - minister
Greece's image as regards the fight against terrorism had improved substantially in Washington, Greek public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said last night, after winding up two days of talks in the US capital with American officials. Chrysohoidis held talks on combatting organised crime and terrorism with CIA director George Tenet, Attorney General Janet Reno, and Undersecretary of State Department for political affairs Thomas Pickering.
Turks condemn bomb attack at Greek school
The Turkish government today strongly condemned Wednesday's bomb attack against a Greek school in Istanbul, and ANA dispatch from Istanbul said. "We strongly condemn the bomb attack against the Greek Boys' Gymnasium," a statement issued by the Turkish Foreign ministry said regarding the attack on the Zografion Lyceum in Istanbul's Pera district shortly after midnight Wednesday. The home-made bomb caused damage but no injuries. The Islamic organisation EBDAC, which in the past has claimed attacks targetting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, claimed the bomb attack on the school in a telephone call to the local "Star" newspaper, but did not give any reason for its action.
FM Papandreou, OSCE's van der Stoel confer on minorities
Foreign Minister George Papandreou met on Friday with Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel, in Athens to give a talk on minorities in Southeast Europe. Both men agreed on the need for protection of minorities in the Balkans, with respect for existing borders. Papandreou said he brought to van der Stoel's attention issues related to the Greek minority in Turkey (such as the ongoing closure of the Halki School of Theology, the dwindling Greek populations on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos) and in Albania.
WEATHERSunny weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Sunday with cloud in the east and the south. Winds will be northerly, light to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Scattered cloud in Athens with temperatures ranging between 15C and 23C. Mostly sunny weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 12C to 19C.
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