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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2000-02-04

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 4, 2000

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] EARLY ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON APRIL 9
  • [02] PM TO GIVE ELECTION CLUE DURING CABINET MEETING
  • [03] CEM: WE ACHIEVED IN 6 MONTHS WHAT WE HADN'T IN 40 YEARS
  • [04] TURKEY'S FM RECEIVED BY GREEK PRESIDENT
  • [05] GREEK HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO KORITSA
  • [06] ASE JUMPS AT ELECTION NEWS, INCREASES BY 2.63%
  • [07] SIMITIS - CEM MEETING IN ATHENS
  • [08] GREECE AND TURKEY SIGNED FIVE AGREEMENTS
  • [09] THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE REACTED POSITIVELY TO EARLY ELECTIONS
  • [10] MR. PAPAIOANNOU GIVES A SECOND CHANCE TO GREEN CARD APPLICANTS
  • [11] GREEK AND TURKISH JOURNALISTS DISCUSS THE ROLE OF THE MASS MEDIA IN PERIODS OF CRISIS
  • [12] STATEMENTS BY SIMITIS TO GREEK AND TURKISH JOURNALISTS
  • [13] EU: GREECE COMES LAST IN THE GDP LIST
  • [14] INFLATION CLOSED AT 2.6% IN JANUARY
  • [15] EARLY ELECTIONS IN GREECE ON APRIL 9
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [16] MAIN OPPOSITION CHIEF IN SPAIN TODAY
  • [17] AUSTRIA UNDAUNTED BY EU'S SANCTIONS THREATS
  • [18] EUROSTAT: GREECE AT TAIL END OF EU'S GDP PER CAPITA
  • [19] AUSTRIA'S GREEK COMMUNITY CONCERNED OVER HAIDER

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] EARLY ELECTIONS TO BE HELD ON APRIL 9

    Early elections will be held on April 9, Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced today after an Inner Cabinet meeting.

    According to Mr. Simitis, the election period will begin as soon as the EMU accession issue is secured from the Greek side, through the filing of the accession request on March 8, and following the incumbent President Costis Stephanopoulos' swearing- in.

    [02] PM TO GIVE ELECTION CLUE DURING CABINET MEETING

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to give some clues on the timing of the elections, during today's Cabinet meeting,

    However, amid mounting speculation, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was reserved on the topic yesterday, noting that "the prime minister often comments on and clarifies political matters during such (Cabinet) discussions. It could happen tomorrow (today), and it would not be the first occasion of such an event taking place. Then again, if it didn't happen, that wouldn't be unprecedented either."

    Meanwhile, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis is accusing the government of encouraging uncertainty over election dates and holds Mr. Simitis is personally responsible for allowing the election debate to continue.

    PASOK is also organizing an ideological conference this weekend during which the Prime Minister is expected to announce the party's agenda for the next governmental term.

    [03] CEM: WE ACHIEVED IN 6 MONTHS WHAT WE HADN'T IN 40 YEARS

    Turkey's Foreign Minister Ismael Cem arrived in Athens yesterday, the first such visit in forty years, where he was received by his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.

    In a press conference at the airport, Mr. Papandreou expressed the hope that Turkey's road towards joining the European Union will create new conditions for the settlement of the Cyprus question and the peaceful coexistence between Greece and Turkey.

    Furthermore, Mr. Papandreou said that despite differences on the Cyprus problem, they must hope that rapprochement between their two countries will contribute towards a settlement and welcomed the Cyprus peace effort presently underway in Geneva.

    Mr. Cem stated that his visit signifies a step, adding that the two countries achieved in a period of six months what had not been achieved in centuries.

    Messrs. Cem and Papandreou will sign four "low policy" agreements of cooperation on matters of science and technology, shipping, customs, education and economic affairs. Discussions are also underway for an agreement on avoiding double taxation.

    [04] TURKEY'S FM RECEIVED BY GREEK PRESIDENT

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Costis Stephanopoulos received Turkey's visiting Foreign Minister Ismael Cem in Athens this morning and expressed his satisfaction over the imminent signing of four "low policy" agreements between the two countries.

    Prior to meeting with President Stephanopoulos, Mr. Cem laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier's monument in Athens.

    The Turkish FM will be received this afternoon by Prime Minister Costas Simitis while his Greek counterpart George Papandreou will host a reception this evening in the honor of Mr. Cem and his wife who is accompanying him on his visit to Athens.

    Tomorrow morning, Messrs. Cem and Papandreou are to inaugurate an international cartoon exhibition in Athens, an event that falls within the framework of the Greek and Turkish journalists and media executives conference which will also be held in Athens on February 5-6.

    The week-long exhibition is to feature a selection of the best cartoons submitted at the 16th international contest of the Turkish Institute Idin Doyan.

    [05] GREEK HUMANITARIAN MISSION TO KORITSA

    A delegation from Thessaloniki' municipality of Kalamaria is to depart for Koritsa, Albania, today, February 4, to offer humanitarian aid including food, children's clothing and fan heaters to residents at the town's orphanage.

    The mercy mission was initiated by Kalamaria Mayor Christodoulos Economides and Greek Consul-General in Koritsa Nikolaos Gevrilidis. While in Koritsa, the delegation is scheduled to meet with members of Greek minority organization Omonia.

    [06] ASE JUMPS AT ELECTION NEWS, INCREASES BY 2.63%

    Before the ink had a chance to dry, investors on the Athens Stock Exchange responded exuberantly over the news of April 9's elections, boosting trade volume to GRD 290 billion.

    Shortly after the Premier's announcement this afternoon, ASE's general price index marked gains of 2.63 per cent, at 5,336.84 points.

    [07] SIMITIS - CEM MEETING IN ATHENS

    The normalization of the Greek-Turkish relations is to the interest of the two countries stressed prime minister Kostas Simitis in statements he made after the meeting he had today with Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem.

    Greece's interest for the improvement of bilateral relations is focused, according to Mr. Simitis, on peace and cooperation between Greece and Turkey, the reconstruction of Turkey on a democratic basis, the settlement of the Cyprus problem and the issue of the continental shelf based on international law.

    Mr. Simitis stated that Greece wants cooperation and peace because it is undoubtedly to the interest of both countries. Greece and Turkey have new prospects open before them many of which are the result of the latest step made in the Helsinki EU Summit meeting, stated Mr. Simitis and added that the more the climate will be improved the more the two peoples will benefit.

    [08] GREECE AND TURKEY SIGNED FIVE AGREEMENTS

    Five agreements concerning the economic and scientific sector, sea transportation and culture were signed in the foreign ministry by Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem as a follow-up to the talks that started in Ankara where they had signed other 4 agreements.

    The agreement aimed at avoiding double taxation is still pending, while in the next few weeks agriculture minister Giorgos Anomeritis will visit Ankara to sign agriculture sector agreements.

    In statements made by both Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Cem it was underlined that important steps have been made in the past 6 months in bilateral relations, while they stressed that the two countries promote their national interests through cooperation.

    They revealed that 130 initiatives for cooperation have been submitted to the two foreign ministries by non governmental organizations, while speaking in numbers they said that based on the assessments already made the economic cooperation between firms coming from both countries reached 500 million dollars in the past 4 months, while cooperation in the next 4 years is estimated to exceed 5 billion dollars.

    Mr. Cem underlined that cooperation between the two countries will continue with careful steps, while when asked to comment on the Cyprus issue he said that it is obvious that there are different ways to approach the issues but this should not cause fear. Mr. Papandreou stressed that the will to move ahead is important for all sides.

    [09] THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE REACTED POSITIVELY TO EARLY ELECTIONS

    The Athens Stock Exchange reacted positively to the announcement by prime minister Kostas Simitis that early elections will be held on April 9.

    The general price index recorded gains of 1.54% and closed at 5.379,08, while the volume of transactions was at 386,7 billion drachmas.

    [10] MR. PAPAIOANNOU GIVES A SECOND CHANCE TO GREEN CARD APPLICANTS

    Labor minister Miltiadis Papaioannou stated in a conference in Athens that he is in favor of the a second chance to those immigrants who want to get the work permit known as the green card.

    Mr. Papaioannou suggested that the regulations for the issuing of the Greek nationality to foreigners must be made more flexible. Those regulations will concern the immigrants with legal papers and the children of first generation immigrants.

    [11] GREEK AND TURKISH JOURNALISTS DISCUSS THE ROLE OF THE MASS MEDIA IN PERIODS OF CRISIS

    Greek and Turkish journalists will present their views and experience on the role of the mass media in periods of crisis and their contribution to the improvement or deterioration of the relations of a country with its neighboring states in a discussion that will be held in Athens on Monday.

    Greek radio and television ERA general director Yiannis Tzannetakos will summarize the conclusions of the Greek-Turkish conference that will take place in Athens over the weekend.

    [12] STATEMENTS BY SIMITIS TO GREEK AND TURKISH JOURNALISTS

    The more the climate between Greece and Turkey improves through the efforts made both by politicians and journalists the more the two peoples will benefit, stated prime minister Kostas Simitis speaking in the formal reception that was given early this afternoon by the Group of Directors and Employees of Turkish Mass Media on the occasion of the two-day conference of Greek and Turkish journalists that will be held in Athens over the weekend.

    Addressing the Turkish and Greek journalists in the presence of the two foreign ministers, the prime minister welcomed the initiative expressing the belief that similar events that bring into contact the journalists from Greece and Turkey have a positive contribution as they allow for better mutual understanding and improve the climate.

    Also, the prime minister emphasized that the Greek and Turkish journalists can help toward the improvement of bilateral relations. . Reminding the backing Greece has offered to Turkey's bid for EU candidature in the Helsinki EU summit meeting, he stated that the whole issue is not limited to the opening of the Turkish market to foreign goods but it concerns mainly the reconstruction of Turkey at a democratic basis, its placement within a framework determined by the EU rules of cooperation and the settlement of issues such as the Cyprus issue and the continental shelf based on international law. The prime minister concluded by expressing joy over the fact that the Turkish political world responded positively to the invitation issued by the European Union.

    [13] EU: GREECE COMES LAST IN THE GDP LIST

    Greece occupies the last place on the list of EU partners based on the their per capita GDP in 1997, while the poorest region in the European Union is Epirus in north-western Greece according to the European Statistics Agency Eurostat report which was published in Brussels.

    Specifically, the Greek per capita GDP was 66% of the EU average in 1997 and Epirus with 43% occupies the last place among the 221 regions of the European Union.

    According to the report the richest country is Luxembourg with a per capita GDP of 174% followed by Denmark 120%, Holland 113%, Austria 112% and Belgium 111%.

    [14] INFLATION CLOSED AT 2.6% IN JANUARY

    Inflation in Greece closed at 2.6% in January with a small drop compared to 2.7% in December 1999.

    Minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou has expressed the certainty that Greece will meet the inflation criterion by mid February.

    [15] EARLY ELECTIONS IN GREECE ON APRIL 9

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis announced after the cabinet meeting today that early elections will be held on April 9. The pre-election period will be officially launched on March 8 when the bid for Greece's EMU membership will be submitted and after the swearing-in of Kostis Stephanopoulos to the Greek presidency for a second term.

    Explaining why he was led to this decision, Mr. Simitis stated that Greece after its EMU membership is secured will be needing a government with a recent and strong mandate in order to negotiate the course of the Greek economy in the post-EMU era. He said that with early elections pending and the main opposition party disputing the government policy there was a risk for the European partners to doubt whether the government will be able to follow the necessary policy in a firm way and therefore, Greece could have unfavorable negotiations conditions.

    In March and April the European Union will assess the Greek economy and starting in May the post-EMU discussions will be held on the achievements of the Greek economy. Therefore, said the prime minister, the election issue must end by the end of April and Greece will have a new strong government in early May.

    Mr. Simitis stated that until now he had ignored the pressure stemming from the election talk but he reached the decision for early elections as soon as he made a full assessment of the situation.

    The prime minister launched a verbal attack on right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy and pointed out that the meaning of elections is which party can make the most of the benefits Greece will have from its EMU membership, guarantee the negotiations, multiply the opportunities and give a historic prospect to the people and the country. He also said that the governing socialist party of PASOK can lead the country to this historical period, stressing that the government has credibility and the ability to promote in a convincing way the achievements of the Greek economy, while it has proved that it can promote peace, development and prosperity.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [16] MAIN OPPOSITION CHIEF IN SPAIN TODAY

    The leader of Greece's main opposition party, New Democracy's Costas Karamanlis is presently in Madrid where he will attend the European conservative parties conference.

    Held on the initiative of Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar, the conference will focus on the parties' shift to the center.

    [17] AUSTRIA UNDAUNTED BY EU'S SANCTIONS THREATS

    Refusing to bow to the European Union, Austria's new center- right coalition, which includes Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party, is to take office today in spite of EU threats that political sanctions will take effect immediately.

    Mr. Haider will not be in the new cabinet, which will be led by conservative People's Party leader Wolfgang Schuessel, but will have six ministers, including the vice-chancellorship and the finance, defense, justice and social affairs portfolios.

    The EU sanctions state that:

    -- The other 14 EU governments will not promote or accept any bilateral official contacts at political level with an Austrian government containing the Freedom Party.

    -- There will be no support for Austrian candidates seeking positions in international

    organizations.

    -- Austrian ambassadors in EU capitals will be received only at technical level.

    Meanwhile, Israel has said it would withdraw its ambassador from Vienna if the Freedom Party entered government. The European Jewish Congress said Austria was ``once again covering itself with shame.''

    [18] EUROSTAT: GREECE AT TAIL END OF EU'S GDP PER CAPITA

    Greece's Ipeiros region is the European Union's poorest region, according to Eurostat's 1997 data on Gross Domestic Product per capita, a position rivaled only by Portugal's Acores, both of which fall below the fifty-percent mark of the EU average.

    According to GDP figures published by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, Greece's GDP per capita amounted to 66% of the EU's average, with Luxembourg leading the chart with 174%, followed by Denmark (120%) and the Netherlands with 113%.

    London maintains its position as the European region with the highest regional GDP per capita in terms of purchasing power standards (PPS), followed by Hamburg.

    The data show that the EU's 211 regions range from Ipeiros, Greece, at 43% of the EU15 average, to Inner London, at 229% of the average.

    London's nearest rivals are Hamburg (198%), Luxembourg (172%) and Brussels (170%).

    [19] AUSTRIA'S GREEK COMMUNITY CONCERNED OVER HAIDER

    Austria's Greek community is somewhat divided over the inclusion of includes Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party in the country's new center-right coalition, with some fearing that it could lead to phenomena of xenophobia and racism, and others defending the country's right to elect its own government.

    Greece's Ambassador to Vienna Yiannis Gennimatas stated that it is a difficult time for the country and there is immense concern, although he added that the Greek community should not expect problems as 90% of its members are Austrian citizens.

    However, economist and president of the Greek Community's Socio-Cultural Association of Vienna Nikos Tzaferis stated that Mr. Haider's election could result in an overhaul of labor-related issues and forecast a sharp increase in racism- and xenophobia- related issues.

    Moreover, he reminded that "it was Mr. Haider who, prior to Austria's accession to the EU, had repeatedly lashed against Greece and it was he who had wondered 'why should Austria offer funds to the EU when they (the funds) will be spent by corrupt Greek mayors?'' "

    Meanwhile, a Greek entrepreneur active in Austria, Yiannis Markopoulos, and the secretary general of the Xeniteas Pontus Association Roula Markopoulou believe that the Greek community's interests are to be harmed more by the EU's pressure on Austria, rather than by the Freedom Party's participation in the coalition government.


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