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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-13

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Kosovo dominates southeast European nations` summit,Simitis reiterates Greek positions
  • [02] Simitis promotes stability,prosperity and good-neighbourliness to SE Europe counterparts
  • [03] EU economics ministers endorse Greek convergence plan
  • [04] Officials welcome EU recommendation
  • [05] Greek stocks slump in scant trade, foreign institutions dump banks
  • [06] New hi-tech communications firm launches operations
  • [07] Citibank announces weekly loan account rates
  • [08] Xiosbank initiative in electronic trade sector
  • [09] Ionian consumer loan rate at 21.25 per cent
  • [10] Folli-Follie reports increase in Far East exports
  • [11] Greek, Slovenian transport ministers meet
  • [12] Gov't privatisation programme presented in London
  • [13] ESP presidium meeting in Brussels
  • [14] Simitis-Yilmaz meeting in Antalya
  • [15] Wives of region's leaders gather in Sofia
  • [16] More than half of Greek municipalities elect mayors in first round
  • [17] Athens marks 54th anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation
  • [18] Law enforcement seminar on detecting fake passports, visas

  • [01] Kosovo dominates southeast European nations` summit,Simitis reiterates Greek positions

    ANTALYA 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Kosovo crisis and the threat of a NATO strike against Yugoslavia dominated the first day of a summit of southeast European countries yesterday, held in this Turkish resort city.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in his address to summit leaders, called for the avoidance of impasses in discussions over the Kosovo crisis.

    "The ministerial meeting in Istanbul last June proved to be a frustrating experience. We should avoid its repetition today...We should not forget that our countries, Yugoslavia's immediate neighbours, are most affected both by the crisis in Kosovo and by any punitive measures of the international community. I use every opportunity to drive this point home to Greece's partners in the European Union and NATO," he said.

    Addressing reporters after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz, he reiterated the need for exhausting all possibilities for a political solution to the Kosovo crisis, saying the Antalya summit created a "positive climate" towards that direction.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis promotes stability,prosperity and good-neighbourliness to SE Europe counterparts

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday stressed the importance of promoting stability, prosperity and good neighbourliness in the wider region, during a speech at a summit of heads of state and governments of southeast European countries in Antalya, Turkey.

    Below is an extensive extract of his speech.

    "The promotion of stability, prosperity and good neighbourliness in South Eastern Europe, to the benefit of the entire region, is one of the fundamental aims of Greece's foreign policy. Due to its geographical location, economic development and international affiliations, my country is able and willing to work together with its neighbours in order to support their European orientation.

    "Security in Europe as a whole cannot be guaranteed without sustained economic development and mature democratic institutions in South Eastern Europe. During the present transition phase, the complex political, economic and historical background of our region requires a novel and daring approach. Nation-states have been critically undermined by either ethnic strife or political crisis and by the absence of civil society.

    "Ethnic and religious differences brought to the fore issues such as autonomy, self-determination and minorities rights, that were either ignored or suppressed by the previous regimes. The protracted war in Bosnia- Herzegovina and now the situation in Kosovo should have persuaded most of the people that violence, arbitrary partition and ethnic cleansing do not deliver lasting peace. On the contrary they nourish hatred and conflict and impede coexistence and cooperation. Dialogue, respect for ethnic religi ous and cultural communities, groups and minorities and protection of their rights, are the remedy.

    "A comprehensive stabilisation policy in our area should, thus, be based on certain fundamental principles: respect for the territorial integrity of states and the inviolability of existing borders, according to the UN Charter and the OSCE, non-interfer ence in internal affairs, refraining from the threat or the use of force. Equally important is the peaceful settlement of disputes between countries in the region through constructive efforts, including recourse to the International Court of Justice, in accordance with the generally recognised norms of international relations, international law and relevant international practices. Finally discouragement of nationalist and irredentist tendencies and the application of uniform criteria for the protection of all minorities on the basis of internationally accepted norms, must be an integral part of our policies.

    "Greece, the only country in South Eastern Europe, which is both a NATO and EU member, has a crucial role to play in promoting these noble goals. The successful integration of the South Eastern area into European and Euro- Atlantic structures is of strategic importance to Greece. Thus, Greece will be part of the same family of countries with all her northern neighbours, for the first time since the Second World War. Furthermore, economic integration of the South East European states will greatly contribu te to the well being and prosperity of the area and of Europe as a whole.

    "The development of good bilateral relations is essential but does not suffice for stability and good neighbourly relations in our sensitive area. Hence, Greece has, also, actively promoted multilateral cooperation. The Crete Summit gathered together ar ound the same table all the leaders of South East European countries, with positive results. In addition, there are today a number of regional cooperation schemes and patterns, such as the European Union's Royaumont Process on Stability and Good-Neighbour liness, the US-sponsored South East European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) and the Black Sea Economic Coperation. The existence of these numerous initiatives is a point of strength. Different interests and aims can be accommodated in an appropriate framew ork, featuring flexibility and efficiency, on a mutually beneficial basis.

    "However, we must not rest on these successes. On the contrary, we must work together to promote a climate of confidence and trust. We must convert our words into action. It is not enough to sign Joint Statements and depart with satisfaction from our meetings. We should endeavour to implement our decisions.

    "This applies to all fields. As far as the economy goes, to name one, we must build the necessary networks of energy, information, telecommunications, transportation, banking and finance, culture, natural and human resources. Regarding energy, South East Europe can and should become a major energy route from Russia and the Caucasus.

    "Regional cooperation is essential for the modernisation of countries in our area. At the same time, however, during our meetings, we, the leaders of countries of South East Europe must discuss the dangerous issues affecting our region. While, as I ment ioned before, it is highly encouraging to meet and agree on further action in all fields, our efforts can only prove successful in the long run if we also tackle difficult problems which affect all of us.

    "I am referring specifically to Kosovo. The Ministerial meeting in Istanbul last June proved to be a frustrating experience. We should avoid its repetition today. The dangerous situation in Kosovo is on television every day for the whole world to watch.

    It threatens stability in the region and can destroy the fragile peace there. The humanitarian crisis would have disastrous consequences for all our countries and put an abrupt end to economic development.

    We should not forget that our countries,Yugoslavia's immediate neighbours, are most affected both by the crisis in Kosovo and by any punitive measures of the international community. I use every opportunity to drive this point home to Greece's partners in the European Union and NATO.

    "The Antalya Summit provides an excellent venue for a significant step forward. This is the only multilateral forum where the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fully participates on an equal footing with the other countries of the area. It should therefore use this forum to express its views so that we can have a substantial discussion on Kosovo and achieve progress.

    "I further believe that European Integration could not be complete without the participation of South East European countries, based on the very same principles that helped to establish and develop what is today the European Union."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] EU economics ministers endorse Greek convergence plan

    LUXEMBOURG 13/10/1998 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)

    European Union economics ministers yesterday approved Greece's 1998-2001 plan to align with the rest of the 15-nation bloc that the government hopes will take the country into economic and monetary union.

    The EU council of economy and finance ministers, known as Ecofin, said in its recommendation after a meeting in Luxembourg that it welcomed the Greek government's target of entry into EMU by January 1, 2001.

    The convergence plan's focus on fiscal revitalisation and lower consumer price inflation was correct, the recommendation said.

    In addition, the plan was founded on a long-term approach that showed powerful growth in real terms, stemming mainly from investment coupled with lower inflation.

    At the same time, investment and inflation targets required healthy economic returns in terms of supply; and incomes policy was central to bringing down inflation on a lasting basis.

    Welcoming pay levels agreed for 1998-1999, the ministers urged employers and workers to adhere strictly to the agreements.

    Furthermore, the government would have to be ready to take any measures needed to ensure that inflation would fall on a long-term basis.

    The ministers also sanctioned the government's strategy of reducing the fiscal deficit to 0.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2001 by clamping down on primary spending.

    But the public debt remained high, and reduction of the fiscal deficit should reflect a greater decline of the public debt than so far achieved, the ministers said.

    In addition, more funds should accrue from privatisation in order to help reduce the public deficit.

    Also praised was the government's plan for structural reforms in the labour market, social insurance and wider public sector; but the measures had to be implemented.

    Finally, the ministers repeated that measures contained in the plan were healthy but had to be carried out even if the long-term macro-economic environment became less favourable.

    Attaining the targets would represent a spectacular correction of fiscal imbalances that had long characterised the Greek economy, the ministers said.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Officials welcome EU recommendation

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday welcomed Ecofin's recommendation, which he said showed that the government's target was feasible of joining the euro, the EU's single currency, by January 1, 2001.

    "The recommendation represents a message of confidence towards Greece and towards international markets," Mr. Papantoniou told reporters in Luxembourg.

    The rate of economic growth, forecast at 4.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2001, showed that convergence with other EU members would be achieved in real, not merely nominal terms, he said.

    In addition, approval of the alignment plan represented confirmation of the government's target of 2.0 percent inflation at the end of 1999.

    If growth fell short of targets, then the government might take corrective measures, the minister said.

    Outgoing German Economics Minister Theo Waigel said that the government needed to step up its drive towards stabilisation and EMU entry in order to offset any deviation from growth targets.

    At the same time, Ecofin's endorsement of the plan represented recognition of the government's effort to enter the final phase of EMU, Mr Waigel told a news conference.

    The EU's commissioner for financial and monetary affairs, Yves Thibault de Silguy, told a separate news conference that Greece's convergence plan was based on data that was "ambitious but not unrealistic."

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek stocks slump in scant trade, foreign institutions dump banks

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended substantially lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reversing an early surge as foreign institutional investors liquidated positions in banks for the second straight session.

    The general index ended 1.83 percent lower at 1,739.61 points. The index had gained 2.0 percent in the first half of the session.

    Trading remained subdued with turnover at 27.8 billion drachmas. Volume was 5,594,000 shares.

    Sector indices mostly lost ground.

    Banks fell 2.59 percent, Insurance eased 1.16 percent, Investment ended 1.41 percent off, Industrials fell 1.35 percent, Construction was 1.46 percent lower, Miscellaneous dropped 2.98 percent and Holding fell 1.67 percent.

    Leasing bucked the trend to end 1.31 percent higher.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.22 percent off. The FTSE/ASE 20 index fell 2.09 percent to 1,030.16 points.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 149 to 72 with another 22 issues unchanged.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Alpha Credit Bank and Hellenic Petroleum were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Hellenic Duty Free Shops hit the daily 8.0 percent limit up. Scoring the next biggest gains were Endysi, Etma, Euromedica, Ekter, Dias, Macedonian Plastics, Atemke, Britannia and Esha.

    Lampsa, Dimitriadis, Mouzakis, Galis, Ergas, Boutaris, Intrasoft and General Warehouses suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 29,950 drachmas, Ergobank at 19,270, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,345, Ionian Bank at 8,500, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 5,950, Delta Dairy at 2,985, Intracom at 8,300, Titan Cement at 14,605, Hellenic Petrol eum at 2,210 and Minoan Lines at 4,905 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] New hi-tech communications firm launches operations

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Planet Interactive, which was set up by executives in print and electronic media, has formally launched operations, the company said in a statement yesterday.

    The firm aims to offer high technology pioneering products and services, Eleni Renda, its public relations officer, said.

    Planet Interactive produces multimedia CD Roms and interactive menus, electronic company profiles, an infokiosk and integrated solutions for Internet and electronic commerce.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Citibank announces weekly loan account rates

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's Citibank announced its weekly rates on foreign currency loan accounts, effective yesterday.

    The rates are as follows:

    • US dollar, 8.59 pct
    • Japanese yen, 3.66 pct
    • German mark, 6.81 pct
    • Ecu, 7.37 pct
    • Dutch guilder, 6.62 pct
    • French franc, 6.78 pct
    • Pound sterling, 10.50 pct
    • Swiss franc, 4.50 pct
    • Belgian franc, 6.81 pct
    • Italian lira, 7.81 pct

    The bank's base loan rates remain unchanged from last week.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Xiosbank initiative in electronic trade sector

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Xiosbank is undertaking the funding of businesses developing activities in the electronic trade sector and for this purpose it has agreed to cooperate with EDI Hellas S.A.

    Through Xiosbank's programme, the acquisition of necessary equipment and software will be funded, as well as necessary consulting services for the creation of such networks as EDI, Internet Shopping Mails, electronic payments and specialised electronic trade solutions.

    Xiosbank has already started the implementation of the XIOS-Electronic Commerce programme which supports the promotion and sale of products through the Internet and the safe completion of every trade action with payment through credit card.

    In another development, Xiosbank's Xios-Alma deposits account will provide an annual yield of 10.47 per cent and the monthly payment of interest for the current week.

    Over the same period, the bank's main business credit interest rate will remain unchanged at 18.50 per cent.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Ionian consumer loan rate at 21.25 per cent

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Ionian Bank unveiled a new consumer loan of up to one million drachmas. Lenders will have the choice to withdraw portions or the entire amount. Repayments are monthly with a 21.25 per cent interest rate, plus the special banking tax.
    Athens News Agency

    [10] Folli-Follie reports increase in Far East exports

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek jewellery manufacturer Folli-Follie posted a major increase in exports to the Far East during the first nine months of the current year, according to the company.

    The company's exports to the region amounted to 1.4 billion drachmas in 1998, compared to 633 million drachmas in the corresponding period last year - an increase of 121 per cent.

    Exports to Japan amounted to 1 billion drachmas as against 560 million drachmas over the corresponding period last year.

    Folli-Follie, listed with the parallel market of the Athens Stock Exchange, projects a share capital increase by three billion drachmas, and will request its transfer to the bourse's main market.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Greek, Slovenian transport ministers meet

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    The transport and communications ministers of Greece and Slovenia yesterday agreed on joint action for the development of pan-European road and railway "axis X". Both Tassos Mantelis and Anton Bergauer emphasised the significance of simplifying cross-bord er transport procedures aimed at upgrading road and railway transport. Emphasis was placed on telecoms field. Further cooperation in the postal sector was agreed upon.
    Athens News Agency

    [12] Gov't privatisation programme presented in London

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday presented Greece's privatisation programme of state enterprises as well as details over the course of the country's economy to representatives of foreign banks and credit institutions in London.

    Presented by Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis, the event was part of efforts for a more effective promotion of its privatisation policy.

    Meanwhile, an agreement regarded as the first step in the privatisation process of the Corinth Canal (AEDIK) was signed last Friday between the government and National Bank, allowing for the sale of shares to the State Enterprise of Securities (DEKA), which will undertake to sell AEDIK.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] ESP presidium meeting in Brussels

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis left for Brussels yesterday to take part in a meeting of the European Socialists Party's (ESP) presidium today.

    The meeting will take an initial look at the prospects for European socialists ahead of the European Parliament elections scheduled for June next year. Also on the agenda are developments in the Balkans, including Kosovo. He will brief the meeting on Greece's positions regarding the troubled Yugoslav province. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will chair the meeting, which is also scheduled to discuss the ESP's manifesto ahead of the Euro-elections.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Simitis-Yilmaz meeting in Antalya

    ANTALYA 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis met yesterday with his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz on the sidelines of a two-day summit of southeast European countries in Antalya, Turkey.

    "It was a friendly and useful meeting," Mr. Simitis told reporters afterwards.

    The meeting was also attended by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Turkish FM Ismail Cem as well as other high-ranking officials from the two neighbouring countries.

    Mr. Simitis said he reiterated Athens' positions to Mr. Yilmaz over the need to deal with Greek-Turkish problems within the framework of the International Court at The Hague's jurisdiction.

    He added that Mr. Yilmaz reiterated his country's position for a dialogue on all issues.

    The Greek premier added that he explained to the Turkish side that closer cooperation with the European Union "requires that Ankara at some point acknowledge the jurisdiction of the International Court". The two premiers ascertained that the climate prevailing in Greek-Turkish relations was not good, but they referred to the procedure continued within NATO for Confidence-Building-Measures (CBMs). The Greek prime minister also told his Turkish counterpart that, in addition to the procedure in NATO, an "experts' committee procedure" had been agreed within the framework of the European Union, able to deal with other issues that Turkey feels must be examined.

    Mr. Simitis reiterated though that Greece considers as the only outstanding problem between the two neighbouring countries the issue of delineating the Aegean's continental shelf.

    Kosovo initiative : Referring to Kosovo, Mr. Simitis stressed the need for all possibilities of finding a political solution to the crisis to be exhausted and reiterated that the meeting in Antalya created "a favourable climate" in this direction.

    He said that there would be a common stance announced by the meeting on the Kosovo issue, adding that its details are being processed by officials.

    The Greek premier was optimistic over the climate prevailing in talks between the heads of state and government of countries in southeastern Europe.

    "The Greek initiative met with a positive response and results," he said, adding that the meeting helped in promoting cooperation and understanding.

    He did not conceal the fact that there were problems in relations between the countries of southeastern Europe and referred to the problems in Albania and Kosovo. However, he said that the process started on Crete, Greece, provides the framework to deal with these problems positively.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Wives of region's leaders gather in Sofia

    SOFIA 13/10/1998 (AFP/ANA)

    A conference of women from countries in southeastern Europe, held with the participation of the 10 wives of the region's leaders, yesterday appealed for "an end to the thoughtless escalation of tension in the Kosovo region."

    "At this moment, when the region is in a turmoil, when peace, security and prosperity have been sacrificed to political ambitions of various personalities and to the power struggle, we request the taking of measures which will put an end to the thoughtless escalation of tensions in Kosovo," a final communique endorsed at the meeting stated.

    The wife of US President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, inaugurated the conference on Sunday. It is attended by the wives of the presidents of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria, as well as the wives of the prime ministers of Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria and the wives of the parliament presidents of Romania and Bulgaria.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] More than half of Greek municipalities elect mayors in first round

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Mayors were elected in 466 out of a total of 900 municipalities in the first round of Greece's municipal and prefectural elections on Sunday, and in 15 out of a total of 54 prefectures.

    Run-offs will be held in 567 municipalities and communities.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos was easily re-elected mayor of Athens in a landslide victory on Sunday, while run-offs will take place next Sunday in the three other major cities of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patra. According to figures released yesterday morning by the interior ministry, with the results of 1, 152 out of a total of 1,426 polling stations counted, Mr. Avramopoulos had amassed 57.68 per cent of the vote.

    Maria Damanaki, backed by ruling PASOK and the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) received a disappointing 16.35 per cent, followed by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI)-backed Dimitris Beis, a former Athens mayor and long-time PASOK cadre as well as minister, with 12.68 per cent. Finally, Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-backed Leon Avdis with 10.36 per cent.

    In Piraeus, ND-backed mayoral candidate Christos Agrapidis and PASOK's Christos Fotiou will run in the second round, after they received 43.1 and 27.5 per cent, respectively, on Sunday. They were followed by KKE-backed Panayiotis Salpeas with 11.94 per cent, DHKKI-backed Antonis Dendidakis with 6.93 per cent.

    In Thessaloniki, the two candidates to run in the second round will be Vassilis Papageorgopoulos (ND) and Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis (PASOK), who gathered 44.5 and 31.3 per cent, respectively. Synaspismos-backed Spyros Vouyias was the surprise of the electi ons, amassing 15.18 per cent, followed by the KKE-backed Agapios Sachinis with 5.19 per cent.

    In Patra, PASOK-backed Andreas Karavolas, who received more than 35 per cent, would face KKE-backed Panayiotis Kosionis, who amassed over 28 per cent, in the run-offs.

    In the first round, 116 mayoral candidates backed solely by ND, 91 backed solely by PASOK, five backed by the KKE and three backed by DHKKI were elected, while 106 candidates backed jointly by PASOK and other parties other than ND, 68 candidates backed jointly by ND and other parties other than PASOK, and five candidates backed jointly by PASOK and ND were elected. Fifty-four candidates elected in the first round were not supported by the parties represented in Parliament.

    In the prefectural races, out of the country's 54 prefects, 15 prefects managed to be elected in the first round, of whom eight are PASOK-back, six ND-backed and one independent.

    Theodoros Katrivanos (ND), who received 41.75 per cent in the first round, and Evangelos Kouloumbis (PASOK) with 34.54 per cent of the vote will contend in the run-off for the Attica prefecture. KKE-backed Spyros Halvatzis received 11.12 per cent, follo wed by Synaspismos-backed Ioannis Dragasakis with 8.31 per cent and DHKKI-backed Elias Nikolopoulos with 3.75 per cent.

    Prefectural run-offs will also be held for Thessaloniki prefecture, between PASOK-backed Costas Papadopoulos, who gathered 42.5 per cent and ND/Political Spring-backed Christos Koskinas, who received 41.5 per cent in the first round.

    They were followed by KKE-backed Michalis Spyridakis with 6 per cent, Synaspismos-backed Michael Tremopoulos with 5.34 per cent and DHKKI-backed Zissis Papadimitriou with 5.10 per cent.

    PASOK-backed candidates were elected in two prefectures in the first round, candidates backed jointly by PASOK and other parties other than ND were elected in five prefectures, while ND/Political Spring jointly-backed candidates were elected in seven prefectures, including eastern Attica, where Dimitrios Frangos amassed some 56 percent against PASOK-backed Anastasios Moustakatos with about 24 per cent.

    Gov't spokesman : The outcome of Sunday's polls does not have any immediate impact on the government's work, acting spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said yesterday.

    "The government will steadily follow its fundamental choices... with the main goal of inclusion in economic and monetary union," Mr. Nikolaou said.

    He denied reports of an imminent government reshuffle or that the results of the poll would lead to any changes in the government's priorities and goals, saying that the message from voters was "not uniform".

    "The results do not place the government's work in crisis; the government's achievements will be judged at the end of its four-year mandate," he said.

    Mr. Nicolaou cautioned against making any sort of conclusion before the holding of next Sunday's run-off elections and also noted that any interpretation need to take into account the rate of abstention.

    Leading ND officials, however, were jubilant over the results of the poll, believing that the run-off poll on Sunday would consolidate their gains.

    At a meeting to analyse the results yesterday, officials said they believed that the government would receive a stronger message of protest on Sunday.

    "The popular discontent with the government's policies is not about to go away," ND parliamentary representative Dimitris Sioufas said. New Democracy believes that it will win 17 of the 24 prefectures it contests on Sunday and that it will also pull ahead of PASOK-affiliated candidates in municipal run-offs.

    PASOK : Ruling party PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said later that his party would continue its policy of not directing preferences to conservative candidates in next Sunday's run-off poll.

    PASOK would recommend voters' direct preferences, if no PASOK-backed candidate was standing, to opposition parties other than New Democracy, or to "independent" PASOK-affiliated candidates, Mr. Skandalidis said after a meeting of the party's municipal a nd prefectural elections committee.

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis also attended the meeting.

    Mr. Skandalidis said he was confident there would be a rally in support for the ruling socialists in the second round of voting.

    The political messages from the elections, he added, would be a focus for discussion in the party after the second round.

    Day after Avramopoulos' victory : Mr. Avramopoulos yesterday shrugged off the mantle of a "political wunderkid", following his landslide victory in Sunday's nationwide municipal and prefectural elections.

    "There are no phenomena. The result is simply the confirmation of work done over the years, with the leading priority being respect for the citizen and institutions," Mr. Avramopoulos told reporters.

    The message from the elections, he said, was a stronger role for local government in line with European standards.

    "We must create strong, credible institutions with prospects, competency, powers and resources. Daily administration is now one of the basic priorities," he said.

    On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos yesterday offered an evaluation of the political significance from the outcome.

    According to the minister, the political message of the first round was "an improvement in the presence of New Democracy (main opposition party)" and simultaneously a "relative PASOK withdrawal from its traditional supremacy in the past".

    Regarding the second part of the message, whether a change was required in government policy, the minister reserved his comments for the second round of the elections next Sunday.

    Papoutsis : European Union Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said the candidacy of Ms Damanaki for Athens mayor "was an option of the (PASOK) party", which however, was put to the test by the people.

    Mr. Papoutsis arrived in Larisa yesterday at the invitation of the chamber of commerce.

    Asked to comment on the choice of Ms Damanaki and the outcome of Sunday's mayoral elections in Athens, Mr. Papoutsis said that the people put the party's option to the test and from then on, all and not PASOK alone, will make a sober evaluation after th e elections and will make their account.

    In the afternoon, Mr. Papoutsis addressed an event organised by the Larisa Chamber of Commerce on the "European economy in the 21st century.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Athens marks 54th anniversary of liberation from Nazi occupation

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos presided over an annual flag-raising ceremony atop the Acropolis yesterday, marking the 54th anniversary of the liberation of the Greek capital from the Nazi forces.

    At the ceremony, also attended by Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, speakers paid tribute to the resistance fighters who struggled against Nazi and fascist occupiers.

    Mr. Avramopoulos, who personally raised the Greek flag, said the message of the day was both lasting and timeless. "The Greece of the it was then and as it is now, is always prepared," the recently re-elected Athens mayor said.

    Mr. Yiannopoulos, paying tribute to the resistance of anti-occupation groups EAM and ELAS, said:

    "Our people fought bravely for the liberation of Europe and gave rise to the adage: Greeks fought like heroes and heroes like Greeks...The message of the resistance in today's anniversary is more relevant than ever, because all of us together, government and people, must defend our homeland."

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Law enforcement seminar on detecting fake passports, visas

    Athens 13/10/1998 (ANA)

    Police officials from 15 countries in the wider region will attend a seminar on the detection of false identity and travel papers, currently under way in Athens. Organised by the public order ministry, the seminar aims to train police and other of ficials in techniques used to produce fake travel papers and in new technologies being developed to detect them.

    The seminar is co-financed by the European Commission through the European Union's "Odysseus" programme. Apart from Greek police officials, the seminar will be attended by representatives of the competent authorities in Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Turkey.

    The seminar runs from Monday through Thursday.

    Athens News Agency

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