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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Prospects of peaceful settlement in Kosovo lauded by Athens
  • [02] Gov't to slash indirect taxes in 1999 budget
  • [03] Central bank lowers overnight rate by 25 bps
  • [04] Greek stocks jump on central bank rate cut, gov't policy
  • [05] French central bank governor to speak in Athens
  • [06] Bank of Piraeus Group posts Jan-Sept profit jump to Dr 14.2 bln
  • [07] ANEK Lines to merge with Rethymniaki in stock swap deal
  • [08] First two Goody's in Portugal set to open
  • [09] OA technicians suspend strike
  • [10] OTE to take over maintenance of ComsOTE network
  • [11] Increased profits for Greek Progress Fund
  • [12] President of Ionian Bank employees' union resigns
  • [13] Commission report on EU unemployment, Greek programme
  • [14] Greece-Georgia 3-0 in Euro 2000 qualifying round
  • [15] Angelopoulos-Daskalaki sworn-in as ambassador-at-large
  • [16] Kranidiotis points to EMU accession as key for Greece's stability
  • [17] Kostakis collection inaugurated in Thessaloniki
  • [18] Political parties brace for second round of local gov't elections
  • [19] PASOK calls for rally in light of Sunday's election
  • [20] Cretan village residents refuse to vote

  • [01] Prospects of peaceful settlement in Kosovo lauded by Athens

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Athens yesterday expressed satisfaction at a western-backed deal to end the conflict in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that Greece was traditionally in favour of a peaceful settlement to all problems.

    Mr. Reppas said Greece would be participating in the group with a few dozen "compliance verifiers", while noting that all OSCE member-states could participate.

    The Greek government, Mr. Reppas added, calls on all sides involved in the Kosovo crisis to exercise self-restraint and avoid all acts of violence.

    "We believe that all those involved with respond for the good of the region, " he said.

    He also noted that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke included the proposal by Greek PM Costas Simitis for the dispatch of the international group of observers to Kosovo.

    According to the deal, President Milosevic agreed to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo, commence peace negotiations with separatist ethnic Albanians and allow about 2,000 observers into the strife-torn province.

    Pangalos : Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday expressed his conviction that the agreement reached on Tuesday between Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Holbrooke could contribute to finding a peaceful solution to the problem.

    He was speaking to reporters after talks in Athens with Christopher Hill, the US ambassador to Skopje, FYROM, and one of the architects of Tuesday's agreement.

    He also expressed satisfaction because, as he said, the agreement was based on proposals that himself and his ministry had long made.

    "Unfortunately", he said, "when it comes to the problems of former Yugoslavia, it seems that one has to almost arrive at the point of no return before an agreement can be reached."

    Mr. Hill said that "we have not yet arrived at a sustained peaceful solution in Kosovo...but a political framework. We should see in practice whether the Serbian side complies with the contents of the agreement".

    Mr. Pangalos said that Greece, along with all other international parties involved, aimed to contribute to the implementation of the agreement, and assured that Greece would continue contacts with the Yugoslav government to encourage it to move along that direction.

    The Greek foreign minister reiterated that Greece would participate with all forces that may be requested for the implementation of the agreement, but he did not elaborate.

    Mr. Pangalos also called on the Albanian side and particularly the armed Kosovar groups to abandon military activity and all acts of violence.

    The US envoy to Skopje, who left this afternoon for Paris to participate in a meeting of the Contact Group of powers, expressed his satisfaction over Athens' contribution to the agreement.

    Finally, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday chaired a meeting of representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and ministry officials focusing on the latest developments in the Kosovo crisis.

    He underlined Greece's interest in confronting the refugee aspect of the problem, putting the number of displaced persons from Kosovo at 200,000, many of whom have moved to neighbouring countries.

    The NGO representatives expressed interest in having the grea-test possible cooperation with the foreign ministry and participating in all efforts to confront the problem.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't to slash indirect taxes in 1999 budget

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Indirect taxes will drop sharply in next year's budget as part of the government's drive to accelerate a decline in consumer price inflation, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

    Mr. Papantoniou, who chaired a high-level meeting that finalised the budget's outline, did name the taxes to be lowered.

    The details are expected to be finalised at a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    This year's budget would be strictly implemented, achieving a targeted deficit of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product, Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Attaining the target was the first step towards Greece's participation in European economic and monetary union.

    The government wants the country to join the euro, the European Union's single currency, by January 1, 2001.

    The minister attributed satisfactory progress in the 1998 budget to higher- than-expected revenue and lower spending, which now is running at the annual growth target of 6.5 percent after exceeding the goal earlier this year.

    He said the second step towards EMU entry would be the 1999 budget, which would allow a deficit below 2.0 percent of GDP, completing a five-year fiscal restructuring plan.

    The new budget is expected to bridle consumer spending in the public sector, and boost public investment spending to 2.2 trillion drachmas.

    Retail price of heating oil slumps after tax cut : The retail price of oil for central heating systems will drop to 70 drachmas per litre in Attica and Thessaloniki today following a tax reduction of more than 50 percent ordered by the government in its anti-inflation drive.

    The price for orders of over 1000 litres in the Attica basin and the prefecture of Thessaloniki is 70 drachmas per litre, rising slightly in other parts of the country, the development ministry said in a statement yesterday.

    The government in September lowered the tax on gasoline.

    Other fuels also will show a price decline today stemming from a drop in world markets.

    The reductions per litre are as follows:

    • Super gasoline, 1.40 drachmas
    • Leadless, 1.50 drachmas
    • Diesel, 2.40 drachmas

    The ministry said the authorities would carry out stringent checks for breaches of the law, and consumers also should be watchful.

    Any irregularities should be reported to the ministry's consumer department on 3821838 or 3842508.

    Democratic Social Movement sees new taxes in the offing : The Democratic Social Movement yesterday claimed that Mr. Papantoniou's statements on the 1999 budget heralded the introduction of new taxes that would take the economy deep into recession.

    "The government has failed to grasp the condemnation of its policy, the message from the October 11 local elections, and is still deceiving the Greek public," the party said in a statement.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Central bank lowers overnight rate by 25 bps

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, sent a positive signal to domestic and international markets by lowering its interbank intervention rate by 25 basis points to 12.75 percent from 13 percent.

    The central bank's move was expected to aid domestic interest rates to fall.

    The decision had a positive impact on the Athens Stock Exchange, helping to drive up stock prices.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Greek stocks jump on central bank rate cut, gov't policy

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities ended sharply higher in light to moderate trade on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, pushing the general index above the 1,800- point barrier.

    The government's determination to stick to its current economic policy; a cut in the Bank of Greece's overnight rate by 25 basis points; and a probable third float for Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation boosted sentiment in the Greek market.

    Also fuelling sentiment was a halt in sales of blue chips by foreign investors.

    The general index ended 4.09 percent higher at 1,855.39 points with turnover at 33.1 billion drachmas. Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks soared 5.07 percent, Insurance ended 1.40 percent higher, Investment rose 2.20 percent, Leasing jumped 7.54 percent, Industrials ended 3.66 percent up, Construction increased 4.14 percent, Miscellaneous surged 6.58 percent and Holding rose 4.10 pe rcent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.74 percent up. The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 4.37 percent at 1,101.60 points.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 206 to 26 with another 14 issues unchanged.

    Volume was 9,002,000 shares.

    Strintzis Lines and Mytilineos were the most heavily traded stocks.

    Alte, Ideal, Thessaliki, Alkar-Aemet, Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Attikat and Teletypos scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 percent limit up.

    Dimitriadis, Chalyps Cement, Development Invest, Etma, Benroubi, Xylemporia, Britannia and Alco Hellas suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 31,750 drachmas, Ergobank at 20,695, Alpha Credit Bank at 18,150, Ionian Bank at 9,195, Hellenic Telecoms at 6,100, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 8,910, Titan Cement at 15,650, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,290 and Minoan Lines at 5,080 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] French central bank governor to speak in Athens

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The governor of the Bank of France, Jean-Claude Trichet, will visit Athens on October 19-20 at the invitation of the French Chamber of Commerce in Greece.

    Mr. Trichet will speak on the French view of European economic and monetary union on Monday at a dinner the chamber will hold in his honour at the Hilton Hotel, beginning at 8.30 pm.

    He will be the next governor of the European Central Bank, succeeding Wim Duisenberg of the Netherlands after four years.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Bank of Piraeus Group posts Jan-Sept profit jump to Dr 14.2 bln

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Bank of Piraeus Group yesterday reported consolidated profits of 14.2 billion drachmas in January-September, sharply higher than 7.9 billion a year earlier.

    The parent company's profits in the same period were 8.9 billion drachmas, up from 4.8 billion in January-September 1997.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] ANEK Lines to merge with Rethymniaki in stock swap deal

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Passenger shipper ANEK Lines, which plans to join the Athens bourse this year, is to merge with Rethymniaki Sea Lines through a one-for-one stock swap calculated on the basis of the two companies' ships as assets, ANEK said in a statement yesterday.

    Rethymniaki's board rejected a merger bid by Minoan Lines, which joined the bourse in the spring.

    Minoan Lines had informed the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday that it was considering a merger with Rethymniaki, which is based in Rethymno, Crete.

    The latter company operates the Rethymno-Piraeus route with its two ferries, the Arcadi and Preveli.

    ANEK Lines, which is based in Hania, Crete, has already announced an alliance with LANE, a passenger shipping firm based in Lasithi, again in Crete.

    The latest deal signals a new era in the country's passenger shipping sector, contributing to the development of corporations, ANEK said in the statement.

    Domestic passenger shippers are renewing and expanding their fleets in order to become more competitive by 2004 when cabotage rules are lifted that currently bar foreign shippers from plying internal Greek routes.

    The abolition of cabotage, which is ordained by the European Union, is expected to lead to further mergers, acquisitions and alliances in the future.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] First two Goody's in Portugal set to open

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Goody's fast food chain has chosen Portugal to open two new outlets, one in Oporto and Lisbon, during the next few days.

    Management of the Goody's name will be handled by the joint venture Goodiber, held by Goody's and the Portuguese firm Ibersol.

    The president of Goody's, Achilleas Folias, told a press conference yesterday that Goody's holds a 40 per cent stake and Ibersol 60 per cent. Goodiber's initial share capital amounts to two million dollars.

    Operation of the Goody's fast food restaurant in Oporto will start on Oct. 21, while the outlet in Lisbon will open on Nov. 16.

    The Goody's fast food chain currently possesses 131 restaurants, of which 128 are in Greece and three abroad (two in Cyprus and one in Bulgaria). The company is also listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Mr. Folias said that the company's target is to have restaurants in Portugal reach the number of five by the end of 1999. The next phase of development, also through franchising, aims at having the chain reach 30 fast food restaurants.

    Goody's sells 30 million burgers a year and serves 67 million customers annually, while its total sales for 1997 exceeded 40 billion drachmas. According to its turnover, it ranks among the three largest European fast food chains over the past three years and has a leading position and the biggest network of eateries in Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] OA technicians suspend strike

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    All Olympic Airways flights will be carried out according to schedule today, since the technicians' union suspended a six-hour work stoppage.

    In a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mantelis yesterday, the union's leadership reiterated a demand for the hiring of 100 technicians and 80 apprentices, receiving a reply that all European Union rules on the issue will be observed.

    Consequently, the union decided to suspend the work stoppage.

    In an unrelated development, debt-ridden Olympic's profits increased by 3.5 per cent in September compared to the same month last year, despite an 8.23 per cent decrease in passengers (about 60,000) over the same period.

    According to reports, the increase in profits is due to a cut-back in loss- making routes. OA also claims that at the end of the year net profits will total 4.4 billion drachmas, or about 700 million drachmas less than what is anticipated by an operation al programme.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] OTE to take over maintenance of ComsOTE network

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) will take over the maintenance of its mobile telephone subsidiary ComsOTE, according to an announcement yesterday.

    The first phase of cooperation between the two companies will last until the end of 1999.

    OTE will be responsible for repairing malfunctions in the CosmOTE network around the country.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Increased profits for Greek Progress Fund

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Profits of the portfolio investment firm Greek Progress Fund amounted to six billion drachmas over the January-September period this year, an increase of 61.3 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 1997. The profits are higher than all profits posted in 1997, 4.3 billion drachmas. Profits per share amounted to 975 drachmas as against 605 drachmas in the first nine months of 1997.

    The company's net assets were invested in shares (84 per cent), 1.7 per cent in Hellenic state securities, while the balance was available in drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] President of Ionian Bank employees' union resigns

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The president the Ionian Bank employees' union yesterday announced his resignation from the post.

    Yiannis Markakis, who served for 15 years as leader of the union, was forced to resign after the collapse of a faction that supported him.

    Earlier in the year, Mr. Markakis led a six-week strike against the sale of the state-owned bank to private interests.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Commission report on EU unemployment, Greek programme

    BRUSSELS 15/10/1998 (ANA - P. Pantelis)

    The European Commission yesterday presented a series of reports concerning the thorny issue of combatting unemployment in European Union member- states.

    Speaking to reporters, both European Commission President Jacques Santer and EU Commissioner Padraig Flyn said that all 15 member-states made efforts to combat unemployment.

    Mr. Flyn said that results in France and Spain can be considered as being particularly positive since quantitative targets were set and considerable funds were provided, while in Greece and Italy data provided by national authorities are inadequate and expressed the hope that the situation will improve in the future.

    Referring to Greece's employment programme, the European Commission's report said that the Greek labour market is characterised by a low percentage of employment and an increase in unemployment. More than half of the unemployed are of a long-term jobles s. Despite efforts made and the existence of many programmes and measures the Greek employment programme does not include a satisfactory structural strategy.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Greece-Georgia 3-0 in Euro 2000 qualifying round

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The Greek men's football team posted its first victory in the 'Euro 2000' qualifying round yesterday after beating Georgia 3-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium before some 15,000 fans.

    All three goals were scored in the first half - Nikos Machlas (13), Nikos Lymberopoulos (15) and Marinos Ouzounidis (35).

    Greece's next match is against Albania away on Nov. 18.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Angelopoulos-Daskalaki sworn-in as ambassador-at-large

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The president of Athens' Olympic Games bid committee, Yianna Angelopoulos- Daskalaki, was sworn-in yesterday as an ambassador-at-large to UNESCO regarding Olympic issues.

    Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will conduct meetings with foreign governments on issues related to the Olympic Games, while the focus of her efforts will be on cultural affairs.

    Her first visit as an ambassador will be at the Kyoto meeting of the UNESCO International Heritage Committee, set to begin on Nov. 30.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Kranidiotis points to EMU accession as key for Greece's stability

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis stressed in an interview published in this month's issue of the ANA's monthly magazine "Hermes" that one of Athens' primary foreign policy goals was full participation in Economic and Monetary Union.

    "A key aim of our foreign policy is Greece's full and equal participation in European developments...(The) effort for Greece's entry into EMU on Jan. 1, 2001 is an imperative choice, not only from an economic angle but also politically. It is linked with the security of the country itself. Greece will then be part of a core of European countries where political decisions are made," he said.

    In terms of the EU's future, Mr. Kranidiotis presented Athens' vision for a politically united Europe, in some form of federation that "respects variety, multi-cultura-lism and plurality" and is "close to its citizens and their everyday problems".

    Referring to Greek policies in the Balkans, he noted that Greece's basic target is to "incorporate the (Balkan) region in European institutions and, finally, in the EU itself."

    He then pointed to the steady improvement in Greece's relations with Balkan countries in recent years.

    "We have improved our relations, we have very good bilateral relations with all these countries. Trade and economic activity have increased repidly, Greece is the main trading partner of these countries, and one of their largest investors."

    With respect to Greece's relations with Turkey, after noting that Turkey's international problems do not allow it to adapt its foreign policy to new conditions, the deputy FM noted that Greece had probably already conceded too much by proposing a step-by-step approach in Greek-Turkish relations. Turkey's refusal and reaction, he added, meant that Turkey "does not want to solve these problems. It simply wants to give legitimacy to its claims."

    Commenting on Turkey's policy on Cyprus, Mr. Kranidiotis said the time had come for the international community to send a clear message to Ankara, that a solution on the mistaken basis of a confederation, or two separate states, could not be accepted.

    "The establishment of two states on Cyprus would be a permanent source of friction between Greece and Turkey, it would create an artificial border in the middle of Cyprus that would be fragile and lead to a constant anomaly, instability and threat to peace."

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Kostakis collection inaugurated in Thessaloniki

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    The famed Kostakis collection of 1,100 Russian avant-garde pieces of art, which arrived from Germany in Thessaloniki a few days ago, are to be exhibited at the newly inaugurated Museum of Modern Art at the Lazariston Monastery.

    The collection, purchased by the Greek state, includes works by Malevic, founder of the 'Supremacist' school, Tatlin the founder of 'Constru- ctivism', Papova, Rozanova and Matiushin.

    Ten paintings were exhibited during last night's reception, attended by several ministers and the collector's daughter, Aliki.

    "GreeceIwelcomes the cultural creation by the Kostakis family, which now contribute to Thessaloniki..." Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during a short address.

    The works, to be displayed at an exhibition hall space of 300 square metres next spring, include mostly paintings, sketches, engraved manuscripts, documents, etc.

    Art aficionado Georgios Kostakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, built up his collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works by western artists for paintings dating from the period of 1910-1930 by then unknown Russian avant-garde artists.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Political parties brace for second round of local gov't elections

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Political parties are bracing themselves for the second round of local goverment elections on Sunday, anxious to increase support for sponsored candidates in municipalities and prefectures where no ticket won an absolute majority last Sunday.

    The two main parties are giving particular emphasis to the largest municipalities, such as municipal authorities of Thessaloniki and Piraeus, and the greater prefectural authorities of Athens/Piraeus and Kavala/Drama/Xanthi in the northeast.

    PASOK cadres have reiterated daily that the ruling party will support non- conservative candidates throughout the country.

    PASOK aims to elect 30 of the 54 prefects and more than 550 mayors in order to be able to establish a claim to a majority at local government level.

    The leadership of main opposition New Democracy party has reportedly decided to a adopt low-key strategy in an attempt avoid a climate of polarisation which, ND cadres claim, the government is seeking to create.

    "The game is now more open and the prevalence of candidates the party supports can be extended," top party officials said, expressing optimism.

    The party leadership estimates the party can win at least 17 prefectures in the second round, including the two greater authorities.

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) urged supporters after a central committee session Tuesday night to vote "on the basis of political and local government criteria, disregarding the logic of 'equal distances' between the two main parties," which is interpreted as a result of conflicting positions and proposals regarding the policy of alliances.

    Synaspismos members claim the party came out relatively strengthened in the first round, and offer the view that they could not appear supporting either of the two main parties, as this would be contrary to their overall political activity and philosophy.

    The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) central committee decision to recommend blank ballots, abstention or a spoiled vote has not surprised anyone, with KKE having already urged voters long before the election to vote against candidates who support the policy of the European Union and privatisations. On the basis of the first round results, the party considers it has come out strengthened, particularly in areas where unemployment and social problems are greater. It estimates that the first round produce d 30 KKE-supported candidates, while another 86 went through to the second round.

    The effects of the recommendation are considered difficult to be foreseen in advance.

    The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) has urged voters to vote "according to conscience," using as criteria the "progressive nature of the candidates' platform and their opposition to the neo-liberal policies of PASOK and New Democracy".

    DHKKI leader Dimitris Tsovolas claimed that the party doubled its following in certain cases.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] PASOK calls for rally in light of Sunday's election

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting of his party's central prefectural and municipal election committee secretariat yesterday, which reaffirmed PASOK's decision to support non-conservative candidates in all prefectures and municipalities in Su nday's elections.

    At the same time it appealed to all PASOK cadres, without exception, who found themselves in other tickets for any reason, namely the so-called "rebels", to join forces.

    An announcement said that PASOK views the battle of the second round with optimism and that on Sunday night the clear majority of those who will be elected will be mobilised in the effort to complete major changes.

    An attack was also made on the main opposition New Democracy party, claiming that on the one hand it is promoting the need for the self- administrative vote, while on the other, being in a state of absolute contradiction, is promoting the development of an anti-government front so as to receive narrow party benefits.

    Citizens, it was added, have memory and judgement and it is impossible for them to forget that ND did not contribute but also fought against major reforms such as the initiation of Prefectural Administration and the "Kapodistrias" reform.

    PASOK said that against any destabilising effort attempting to link prefectural and municipal elections with the country's overall course, PASOK will reply with the completion of the four year period of office and the achievement of the targets which th e people assigned to it to implement.

    Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the government will continue its task undistracted until its four-year term runs out in 2000. He was replying to reporters' questions on the results of the first round of local election s on Sunday. Mr. Reppas said the ruling PASOK party would analyse results after next Sunday's runoffs and for the time being "simply expresses its satisfaction with the percentages received by mayoral and prefectural candidates whom it supported".

    The spokesman's comments were echoed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos who said "we should not hastily draw conclusions before the second round of voting is over".

    Mr. Pangalos added that only next Sunday would he be in a position to state whether the Greek people had given its approval or not to the government's policies.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Cretan village residents refuse to vote

    Athens 15/10/1998 (ANA)

    Elections seem out of the question for Rethymno's Anogia village, as the community's seven polling stations remain under occupation by angry residents, opposed to provisions merging their community with a neighbouring village.

    Election officials were denied entry yesterday morning to the village's polling stations.

    The interior ministry stated that it will regard as valid the election result from voting only in one the communities making up the new Anogia municipality, the Axou community.

    According to ministry officials, under the electoral law, Article 69, the above procedure was lawful. The law also provides for severe punishment of any persons using violence or the threat of violence to prevent voters from excercising their rights.

    Athens News Agency

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