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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2000-02-01

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH
Thessaloniki, February 1, 2000

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GREECE ELATED OVER ECOFIN DECISION
  • [02] PORTUGAL - GREECE: CONVERGENCE OF MANY VIEWS
  • [03] PMs OF GREECE, ALBANIA, FYROM IN PRESPES TOMORROW
  • [04] PROGRAM AIMS AT BETTER LIFE FOR GYPSIES
  • [05] GREEK RADIO OFFERS BROADCASTS IN 11 FOREIGN LANGUAGES
  • [06] ELECTION RUMORS PERSIST, BUT PM STILL SILENT
  • [07] SMALL GREEK ISLAND FOR SALE AT ONE BILLION DRACHMAS
  • [08] PASOK, PM, AHEAD IN LATEST POLL
  • [09] THESSALONIKI'S NEW HOSPITAL FINALLY OPENS
  • [10] THE GOLD DEPOSITS IN NORTHERN GREECE ATTRACT INVESTORS
  • [11] PAPANDREOU BRIEFED THE PRESIDENT ON THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
  • [12] EIGHT TURKISH STUDENTS VISITED PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOS
  • [13] SOFIA WAS READY TO SURRENDER THE BULGARIAN JEWS TO THE NAZIS DURING WWII
  • [14] PAPANTONIOU: THE PERIOD FROM THE FILING TO THE APPROVAL OF THE APPLICATION FOR THE EMU MEMBERSHIP IS CRUCIAL
  • [15] RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND BELGIUM ARE EXCELLENT
  • [16] GAINS OF 3.04% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [17] REPPAS ON THE CEM VISIT TO ATHENS
  • [18] REPPAS ON THE ANNAN STATEMENTS
  • [19] THE ECOFIN DECISION CONFIRMS THE POLICY FOLLOWED SO FAR
  • [20]THE US CONSULATE IN THESSALONIKI IS BEING REINFORCED
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [21] UN SECRETARY GENERAL SPEAKS TO MPA
  • [22] CAMPAIGN FOR RETURN OF PARTHENON MARBLES STILL STRONG
  • [23] ECOFIN SAYS YES TO GREECE BUT WARNS AGAINST INFLATION
  • [24] KOSOVO: LACK OF PROGRESS AND GREEK CONCERN

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GREECE ELATED OVER ECOFIN DECISION

    European Union finance ministers (ECOFIN) approved in Brussels yesterday Greece's 1999-2002 plan to align its economy with the rest of the EU.

    Minister of National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou stated that the decision marks "a decisive step towards the country's entry into the final phase of economic and monetary union."

    Hoping to join the 11-member euro zone on January 1, 2001, Greece plans

    to apply for membership in March, with the EU due to decide whether or not the country qualifies at an EU summit in Lisbon on June 19.

    [02] PORTUGAL - GREECE: CONVERGENCE OF MANY VIEWS

    Athens and Lisbon -which presently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, enjoy a convergence of views on a series of issues, as it was ascertained in a meeting held yesterday between Greece's Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Christos Rocofyllos and his Portuguese counterpart.

    According to Mr. Rocofyllos, the EU presidency expressed its interest for the majority of Greece's views and ascertained a convergence of opinions of a series of matters, especially those related to the need for cohesion within the EU and emphasis to the political priorities in spite of the technical structures.

    [03] PMs OF GREECE, ALBANIA, FYROM IN PRESPES TOMORROW

    The prime ministers of Greece, Albania and FYROM, will declare a 'Balkans Park' in the area of Prespes Lakes tomorrow, World Wetlands Day, a Greek initiative aimed at the creation of an international protected region in the Balkans.

    The park will extend into the territory of the three countries and will constitute a large, integrated natural reserve, according Undersecretary of Environment Theodoros Koliopanos.

    Messrs. Costas Simitis, Ilir Meta and Liuptco Georgievski will issue a joint proclamation which will set out a series of activities aimed at maintaining the quality of the waters of the lakes, protecting wildlife and bio-diversity, the need to develop an integrated and sensitive approach to tourism in the area and the improvement, maintenance and promotion of traditional architecture and Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments in the region.

    The lakes of Mikri Prespa and Megali Prespa are situated in a mountainous, largely forested area which attracts a vast number of migratory birds, as well as having the richest biodiversity in Greece. They represent Greece's largest national park.

    [04] PROGRAM AIMS AT BETTER LIFE FOR GYPSIES

    The Ministry of the Interior will allocate one billion drachmas in a program designed to upgrade the quality of life for Gypsies throughout the country, following a recent meeting held in Athens by the Panhellenic Network for the Support of Greek Gypsies. With 49 municipalities participating from throughout the country, the program aims at creating spaces for cultural activities for Gypsies living in urban areas and the establishment of an organized infrastructure for housing, water supply, drainage and hygiene for Gypsies living in rural areas.

    The Ministry of the Interior has already spent two billion drachmas over the past two years for the program to improve the quality of life for Gypsies in Greece.

    [05] GREEK RADIO OFFERS BROADCASTS IN 11 FOREIGN LANGUAGES

    Greek Radio (ERA) has embarked on a multi-cultural schedule by featuring news bulletins in 11 foreign languages.

    Daily news bulletins will be aired from 4 to 10pm. on ERA 5 program "The Voice of Greece", each segment featuring Greek and world news, as well as useful information for migrants, analyses of significant events and from the target audience's country of origin.

    The broadcast hours are: Turkish language at 4pm, Arabic at 4.30pm, Russian at 5pm, Bulgarian at 5.30pm, Romanian at 6pm, Serbian at 6.30pm, Albanian at 7.30pm, Polish at 8pm, Spanish at 8.30pm, English at 9pm and German at 9.30pm.

    [06] ELECTION RUMORS PERSIST, BUT PM STILL SILENT

    As rumors of early elections continue to persist and mount, Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to reveal his intentions within the week, most likely following the ruling PASOK party's (over which he presides) ideological conference this weekend. Prior to the conference, Mr. Simitis is to address the PASOK Executive Bureau today, while he will chair a cabinet meeting on Friday.

    Yesterday, Simitis officially notified the president of the Hellenic Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis that PASOK proposes Stephanopoulos for president, and will vote for him on February 8.

    [07] SMALL GREEK ISLAND FOR SALE AT ONE BILLION DRACHMAS

    Great news for a "would-be-Onasis" as one of the three Spathonisia islands near the Halkidiki peninsula is up for sale at a price of one billion drachmas.

    According to press reports, the small island is one of the remaining few privately-owned ones and belongs to the family of former parliamentarian Athanasios Philippides who passed away last year.

    Known as the "Philippides island", it is located 500 meters away from Halkidiki's coastline and has an area of approximately 440 acres. Among those who have reportedly expressed an interest for the island is the Berlusconi Group, an Israeli firm and other foreign and Greek investors. None of the offers have been deemed satisfactory so far.

    [08] PASOK, PM, AHEAD IN LATEST POLL

    Ruling PASOK party and its president and Prime Minister Costas Simitis are leading by a wide margin over the main opposition party of New Democracy and its leader Costas Karamanlis, according to a latest poll conducted by V.PRC between January 15-27.

    According to the poll, 55.1 percent of the respondents believed PASOK would win the next elections, against 15.9 percent who saw a main opposition New Democracy party victory.

    Also, 50.7 percent of those polled responded that Mr. Simitis is more suitable as Premier, with 26.5 opting for Mr. Karamanlis.

    [09] THESSALONIKI'S NEW HOSPITAL FINALLY OPENS

    Following years of delays and cancellations, Thessaloniki's brand new Western Districts Hospital, commonly known as "Papageorgiou", opened its clinics yesterday, when it entered a rotating shift system with the city's remaining hospitals,

    The state-of-the-art facility features two pathology clinics and one in cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, as well as a blood dialysis unit, all of which have been transferred to "Papageorgiou" from other hospitals.

    The president of the Thessaloniki Hospital Doctors' Union, Stratis Plomaritis, said that while the Papageorgiou would help take the burden off other hospitals, there was still much work to be done, particularly in establishing the intensive care unit that is desperately needed in northern Greece. Ten specialists are required to staff the unit.

    [10] THE GOLD DEPOSITS IN NORTHERN GREECE ATTRACT INVESTORS

    The gold deposits in northern Greece are especially attractive for the Greek and foreign mining firms as companies from the European Union, the United States, Canada and even Australia turn toward northern Greece looking for investment opportunities.

    The interest expressed became stronger after the TVX HELLAS investment in Olympiada, Chalkidiki, according to Nikos Arvanitidis from the Institute of Geological and Mining Studies in Central Macedonia.

    Based on statements made to MPA by Greek-Australian businessman Paul Afkos chairman of AFKOS INDUSTRIES in Australia, the gold deposits in northern Greece have attracted the attention of Australian businesses and already two companies consider the likelihood to become active in the Kavala mines.

    [11] PAPANDREOU BRIEFED THE PRESIDENT ON THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

    Foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou briefed president Kostis Stephanopoulos on issues of foreign policy, the Helsinki EU Summit meeting, the developments in the Balkans, the contacts he had with US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem as well as the Greek-Turkish agreements he signed in Ankara.

    Greece is making careful steps within the new framework of principles formed by the Helsinki EU Summit, stated Mr. Papandreou, adding that the Greek foreign policy moves within a framework of principles which is the only one that can secure good neighborly relations and stability in the Balkan region.

    Foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou will speak tomorrow before the foreign affairs and defense parliament committee, while he will have a meeting with US assistant secretary of state Thomas Pikering who is expected in Athens.

    [12] EIGHT TURKISH STUDENTS VISITED PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOS

    Eight students from Ankara, who are visiting Greece at the invitation of Greek students, met with president Kostis Stephanopoulos at the presidential building in Athens earlier this morning.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos characterized as important the contacts of Greek and Turkish students and expressed the hope that more such steps will be made in the effort to build the Greek-Turkish friendship.

    [13] SOFIA WAS READY TO SURRENDER THE BULGARIAN JEWS TO THE NAZIS DURING WWII

    Bulgaria was ready to surrender to the Nazis all the Jews living in its territory during WWII and the Bulgarian prime minister had signed such an agreement with the German army commander. However, the agreement was not implemented because in the meantime the armistice had been signed.

    The revelation was made to MPA by Thessaloniki's Jewish Community general secretary Alberto Hawel commenting on the rejection of Bulgaria's demand to be awarded a distinction of merit because it had saved the Jews living in its territory during WWII.

    Bulgaria's demand was rejected in the international conference on the Holocaust held recently in Stockholm, Sweden. A significant role in the rejection of the Bulgarian demand was played by the interventions of the Athens based Central Jewish Council president Moses Konstantinis and Mr. Hawel. In the conference, the Greek Jews had the discreet support of the FYROM Jewish delegation.

    Bulgaria had asked to be rewarded for saving the Jews living in its territory during WWII hiding the fact that it had given up to the Nazis more than 5.000 Jews from the then Bulgarian held Eastern Macedonia and Thrace as well as the FYROM region.

    [14] PAPANTONIOU: THE PERIOD FROM THE FILING TO THE APPROVAL OF THE APPLICATION FOR THE EMU MEMBERSHIP IS CRUCIAL

    The period from the filing to the approval of the application for Greece's EMU membership is politically crucial, stated minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Mr. Papantoniou pointed out that Greece must base its candidature to join the EMU on convincing arguments, while the framework within which the economic policy will be exercised in the period after the EMU must be set.

    The national economy minister stated in a press conference that according to the convergence program approved by ECOFIN yesterday, the growth rate will reach 4% in the next three years, inflation will be at about 2%, while there will be a zero deficit in 2001.

    On the likelihood of early elections, the minister of national economy pointed out that the decision will be made by the prime minister.

    [15] RELATIONS BETWEEN GREECE AND BELGIUM ARE EXCELLENT

    The excellent relations between Greece and Belgium were confirmed by Greek parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and Belgian ambassador to Athens Claude Rigmenans who met in Athens today.

    Mr. Kaklamanis referred to the very close cooperation of the two state parliaments and the common goals the two countries must set within the EU framework in order to have not just an economic union but a society with a political face and social structures that will continue to move the European people.

    The Belgian ambassador praised Greece for its progress in the economic and diplomatic sector and agreed that the two countries must develop common strategies within the framework of the European Union, while he showed a special interest in the Greek- Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue.

    [16] GAINS OF 3.04% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Gains of 3.04% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index closed at 5.141,83, while the volume of transactions was over 210,7 billion drachmas.

    The Athens Stock Exchange regained its confidence as a result of ECOFIN's positive stance regarding Greece's new convergence program for the period 1999-2002. Also, the psychological state of the investors was improved after the statements made by minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou according to which, Greece will meet all the Maastricht criteria by mid February.

    [17] REPPAS ON THE CEM VISIT TO ATHENS

    The visit of Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem will contribute to the efforts to preserve and renew the climate of a better rapprochement between the two countries, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    Mr. Reppas added that Greece has expressed its interest and will toward this end and the same must be done by Turkey in order to have a good communication between the two countries.

    [18] REPPAS ON THE ANNAN STATEMENTS

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas characterized as promising and positive the statement made by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan according to which, the Cyprus problem will be resolved by the end of the year.

    Mr. Reppas stated that such a statement is promising and that it is a form of pressure on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    [19] THE ECOFIN DECISION CONFIRMS THE POLICY FOLLOWED SO FAR

    The ECOFIN decision confirms the policy followed so far and after the successful developments in the efforts made one can say that Greece is just a breath away from joining the European Economic and Monetary Union, EMU stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    When asked to comment on the terms accompanying the decision (suggestions for tight revenue policy - changes in the social security system) Mr. Reppas pointed out that terms are set for each country and that the post-EMU era will be managed by the governing socialist party of PASOK because it has the confidence of the Greek people.

    [20]THE US CONSULATE IN THESSALONIKI IS BEING REINFORCED

    US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns presented Jeremy Keller, head of the Economic and Trade Cooperation Office of the United States in Thessaloniki to minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis during their meeting today.

    Mr. Burns pointed out that the US Trade Office in Thessaloniki will cover the whole Balkan region and announced that the US consulate will be reinforced with two officials from the Athens embassy.

    The US ambassador congratulated Greece and the Greek government for its very important assistance in the Balkan Stability Pact and for the fact that the Greek forces help in maintaining peace in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [21] UN SECRETARY GENERAL SPEAKS TO MPA

    In spite of the additional claims tabled by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants to believe that he will achieve "progress" in the on-going second round of proximity talks presently held in Geneva between the President of the Republic of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides and the head of the island's occupied territory.

    Responding to a question tabled by the Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Annan stated that the process is a "difficult and complicated" one, albeit adding that he continues to hope that there is potential for a comprehensive solution to the issue by the end of the year.

    Specifically, Mr. Annan stated that the talks are focusing on four core issues: security, distribution of powers, property and territory. However, he continued, Mr. Denktash tabled additional matters.

    Referring to the news black out enforced during the duration of the talks, the UN chief neither refuted nor confirmed reports of Mr. Denktash having demanded recognition of the island's occupied part, contrary to UN resolutions, claiming that this is "the only reality".

    United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is having separate meetings with President Clerides and Mr. Denktash in the presence of special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who will take over the supervision of the talks today.

    Mr. Annan also stressed that the only way to reach a settlement is through a continuous hard discussion with the spirit of give and take and a will to compromise.

    He stressed that all issues are on the table and he cannot prejudge the outcome of the proximity talks.

    [22] CAMPAIGN FOR RETURN OF PARTHENON MARBLES STILL STRONG

    A three-member delegation from the Australian Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is presently in London where it will submit a memorandum to the British parliament calling for the repatriation of the ancient monuments.

    The high-profile committee, which includes two Australian former prime ministers, deputies, congressmen and intellectuals, has launched a public campaign with widespread media coverage, and its next step is to put pressure on the British government.

    The committee, which is presided over by Emmanuel Kominos, is to visit the British Museum today where the Marbles are being kept.

    According to Mr. Kominos, the delegation will submit a relevant memorandum to the House of Commons committee for cultural affairs.

    [23] ECOFIN SAYS YES TO GREECE BUT WARNS AGAINST INFLATION

    Although it has approved the country's revised convergence program, the European Council of Finance Ministers (ECOFIN), it nevertheless cautioned Greece of inflationary pressures.

    The ECOFIN's opinion stated that "the Council considers that within the high growth environment projected in the convergence program, particular effort must be made by Greece to ensure that the progress made towards disinflation acquires a lasting character."

    Furthermore, it warned that "the Greek authorities must be ready to tighten fiscal policy further from 2001 if inflation pressures emerge."

    The EU's monetary affairs commissioner Pedro Solbes also appeared confident of Greek EMU membership by stating that "if all goes well, Greece can introduce the euro at the start of 2001."

    [24] KOSOVO: LACK OF PROGRESS AND GREEK CONCERN

    The US newspaper "Washington Times" published a correspondence from Geneva signed by Andrew Borowic according to which, Bernard Kuschner, head of the UN political administration in Kosovo, is likely to resign as no progress is being made in adopting a long-term policy for the region.

    In the report it is also mentioned that Greece, a reluctant NATO member during the air strikes, is concerned that a further division of the region is possible to lead to the incorporation of Kosovo and part of FYROM into a greater Albania, while Germany which is interested mainly in incorporating the former eastern European countries into the European structures is unwilling to finance the reconstruction of the Balkans. The report concludes that this development could lead the Balkans to ever greater poverty.


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