NEWS

Fears over the ‘new form of war’

One day after the terrorist attack in the heart of the United States stunned the world, the Greek government yesterday expressed uncertainty and concern over the new world that had dawned. Security at likely targets across the country remained high and the government, which held an emergency Cabinet meeting, offered the United States the use of the country’s disaster relief team. Yesterday’s terrorist attack could mark the beginning of changes at many levels on the international scene, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said after the Cabinet meeting. The map has changed with regard to how terrorism is carried out, but also in how effective measures for dealing with it are, he added. He said that the government had offered the United States any help it needed, including the use of the elite EMAK disaster relief team. He said that although the United States had great resources, many search and rescue specialists must have been casualties of the World Trade Center towers’ collapse after the two planes crashed into them on Tuesday. With no clear indication as to the nature of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s crime, the Cabinet decided to meet again at a later date to evaluate the situation and the ways in which the United States might respond. Earlier, Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with President Costis Stephanopoulos for a regular briefing. We are shocked. There are many unanswered questions and and we are concerned about the consequences, the president commented in front of journalists before the meeting behind closed doors. This is a terrible event that changes the scene, Simitis responded. It is a new form of war and we cannot accept it in any way. Its victims were innocent civilians and it can lead to unforeseen consequences. After the meeting, Simitis again expressed his condolences to the people of the United States, adding, We should not be ruled by fear at this moment… Our actions must always aim at protecting peace, human lives and securing conditions for progress. Security at the US Embassy and other likely targets of terrorism remained tight, as well as at Athens Airport. No flights departed for the United States again yesterday. Security at the US naval base at Souda Bay Crete was at Threat Condition Delta, the highest possible alert, the base said. Athens stocks plunge Investors did not heed the advice of Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) president Panayiotis Alexakis to behave sensibly yesterday and sold massively, sending the market into a tailspin and driving the index 7.74 percent lower, to 2,358.05 points. It was the biggest daily drop this year. Greek market players were divided as to whether the market should open yesterday, less than 24 hours after the devastating terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. It was decided, however, that Athens would follow other European markets and, after a protracted night of negotiations, Alexakis decided to open the exchange, delaying its opening for two hours, from 10 a.m. to noon. The ASE conducted a full session, closing at 4.30 p.m. The session was not affected by a bomb hoax, repeated twice and which led to the evacuation of the ASE headquarters on Sophocleous Street at 1.10 p.m. The Capital Market Commission, the market watchdog, said it was suspending redemptions of mutual fund shares for the day to ensure the smooth operation of the market. The decision will affect all mutual funds which have an exposure of more than 10 percent in shares mainly traded on US markets, the commission said Market administrators may have wanted to project a united front of firmness and decisiveness amid a disaster that is bound to affect an already slowing global economy, but Greek institutional investors saw the opportunity to unload their shares, calculating that the market would fall even lower and that they would be able to snatch stocks at bargain prices. Panic-stricken retail investors followed, amplifying the index’s downward movement. Brokers said yesterday that, while the massive sell-off of shares may have put a halt to such speculative sales for the time being, it has also worsened investors’ psychology, already burdened by Athens’s continuing decline since 1999 and fears of a worldwide recession. Customs adviser. A Customs Advisory Bureau is to open in Thessaloniki, Finance Undersecretary Apostolos Fotiadis announced yesterday at a meeting with board members of the Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEBE). The bureau will open some time this year.