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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2000-05-08

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, May 8, 2000

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GREECE ASSUMES COMMAND OF NATO'S MCMFORMED
  • [02] PRESIDENT CONCLUDES TOUR OF NORTHERN GREECE
  • [03] CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY, RECONCILIATION OPENS
  • [04] THESSALONIKI FORUM BEGINS TODAY
  • [05] OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY BEGINS ON WEDNESDAY
  • [06] MULTITUDE OF WORKSHOPS AT THESSALONIKI FORUM
  • [07] GREEK ECONOMY? IT'S A MIRACLE, EUROPE SAYS
  • [08] PRESIDENT OF SOLVAKIA ARRIVES IN GREECE TODAY
  • [09] STABILITY PACT ISN'T BUILDING A WALL AROUND SERBIA
  • [10] JUSTICE MINISTER: CLEARER ROLES FOR CHURCH, STATE
  • [11] KAKLAMANIS: EUROPE IS NOT CONCERNED WITH TERRORISM
  • [12] US$7 MILLION FROM THE BLACK SEA BANK TO A GREEK SHIPBUILDING COMPANY
  • [13] THESSALONIKI'S SELECTION TO BECOME THE SEAT OF THE ORGANIZATION FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF SE EUROPE WAS PROVEN TO BE CORRECT
  • [14] THE COURSE OF THE ECONOMY OF THE SE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES WILL BE EXAMINED IN THE THESSALONIKI FORUM
  • [15] TOPURKOWSKI: THE KEY TO DEMOCRACY IS ECONOMIC GROWTH
  • [16] THE LACK OF ECONOMIC GROWTH IS A MAJOR PROBLEM IN THE BALKANS
  • [17] NICHOLAS CAGE IS IN THE IONIAN ISLAND OF KEFALLONIA
  • [18] GAINS OF 1.32% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [19] INFLATION WAS AT 2.6% IN APRIL
  • [20] THE BTC WILL BE SOLD TO OTE-KPN IN THE NEXT TWO MONTHS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [21] EU FMs HOLD INFORMAL MEETING IN AZORES
  • [22] GREEK-AMERICAN REPUBLICANS PROMOTE GREEK WINES
  • [23] A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WAS SIGNED BY WOMEN PARLIAMENT MEMBERS FROM GREECE AND TURKEY

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GREECE ASSUMES COMMAND OF NATO'S MCMFORMED

    Greece is to assume the command of NATO's Mine Combat Force (MCMFORMED) and Greek Navy Lieutenant Commander Ioannis Grammatikakis will relieve Italian Navy Lieutenant Commander Michele Cassota during a special ceremony at the naval station on Crete today.

    MCMFORMED covers mine combat readiness operations on the southern flank and is usually composed of 4-6 mine-sweepers and a command support ship.

    The countries contributing to the force are the United States, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands and Greece.

    [02] PRESIDENT CONCLUDES TOUR OF NORTHERN GREECE

    President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos President Stephanopoulos, who last night concluded his three-day tour of Northern Greece, was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Xanthi.

    Commenting on the cohabitation of Christians and Moslems, the President said that "I believe the cohabitation of Moslems and Christians in Thrace is absolutely harmonious and safe and constitutes a model of coexistence between people of different religions."

    [03] CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY, RECONCILIATION OPENS

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to inaugurate Thessaloniki's Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe tomorrow, May 9.

    Among those expected to attend the ceremony are the US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Butns, many of his counterparts in various Balkan countries, and other political leaders from the Balkans and western Europe.

    The Center for Democracy is a non-governmental and non-profit organization, located in Ano Poli, Thessaloniki, and it coordinates similar international conferences in various locations.

    [04] THESSALONIKI FORUM BEGINS TODAY

    The Seventh Annual Thessaloniki Forum is to get underway in Thessaloniki today, inaugurated by the Minister of Macedonia- Thrace George Paschalides.

    With a focus on the social, political and economic state of the countries of southeastern Europe, the two-day forum is organized by the Association of Industries in Northern Greece and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Organization for the Reconstruction of the Balkans based in Thessaloniki.

    Minister of National Economy Yiannos Papantoniou, foreign minister George Papandreou and US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns are expected to attend, while other participants include Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hobach, the Deputy Prime Minister of FYROM Vassil Topurkovski and a score of businessmen and representatives of international organizations such as the World Bank, the European Bank of Investments and the SECI initiative.

    In his address during the welcome dinner last night, Mr. Paschalides stated that the Greek government's plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans, budgeted at GRD 180 bn, will contribute to the efforts already undertaken by the Balkan countries to adjust their economies to the present conditions, while it will also allow for new investment opportunities for Greece's economy.

    [05] OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY BEGINS ON WEDNESDAY

    The solemn ceremony of the Olympic Flame lighting will be held at the ruins of ancient Olympia, the cradle of the Olympic Games, on Wednesday, May 10, featuring a youth choir made up of men, which marks the first time males participate in the ceremony, and new music for the priestess' dance based on ancient Greek choreography and instruments.

    Following the ceremony, the flame will be sent on a voyage across Greece. A total of 550 runners will bear it over a distance of 1,695 kilometers, while a 495 nautical-mile tour of Aegean islands will be effected on board the Greek Navy gunboat Warrior.

    The torch will travel to Pyrgos, Tripoli and Patras in the Peloponnese, Mesolongi, Arta, Ioannina, Kastoria, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Xanthi, Komotini and Alexandroupolis in mainland Greece, and to the islands of Samothrace, Limnos, Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Syros, Tinos and Andros over 11 days.

    High jump champion Lambros Papacostas will be the first runner, and world long jump champion Voula Tsiamita will bring the torch in Athens on May 20, handing over the Olympic flame to the representatives of the Sydney Organizing Committee for the ××VII Olympic Games.

    The General Governor of Australia Sir William Deane will also be present.

    [06] MULTITUDE OF WORKSHOPS AT THESSALONIKI FORUM

    The Seventh Annual Thessaloniki Forum got underway in Thessaloniki today, featuring the participation of nine Balkan ministers and Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hobach.

    With a focus on the social, political and economic state of the countries of southeastern Europe, the two-day forum is organized by the Association of Industries in Northern Greece and the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Organization for the Reconstruction of the Balkans based in Thessaloniki.

    The Forum will feature a series of workshops divided into thematic areas of the economy, such as industry, energy, construction, information systems, tele-communications, marine industry, transportation, tourism, banking, finance and commerce.

    Moreover, participants will have the opportunity to discuss the prospects of the region's economies, economic cooperation between Greece and Southeast Europe after the former's accession to the EMU, Greece's role in the process of economic development and political stability in the Balkans and the new economic opportunities arising from the Greek-Turkish cooperation.

    Other significant events will be held on the Forum's sidelines, such as the joint session of the Stability Pact, SECI, the European Service for Balkan Reconstruction with the World Bank, EBRD, and the European Investment Bank.

    [07] GREEK ECONOMY? IT'S A MIRACLE, EUROPE SAYS

    The Stability Pact Coordinator Bodo Hobach, presently attending the seventh Thessaloniki Forum, characterized Greece as the best example of an impressive economic development, adding that everyone in Europe is now talking about the "Greek economic miracle".

    "This recovery would not have been feasible had the Greek government not proceeded to arduous changes and reforms," he said, while expressing the hope that the remaining Balkan states will proceed to similar reforms so that "we may speak of more European miracles in the future."

    [08] PRESIDENT OF SOLVAKIA ARRIVES IN GREECE TODAY

    The President of the Republic of Slovakia, Rudolf Schuster arrived in Athens today for a two-day official visit, following an invitation from his Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos.

    The Slovakian president will hold talks with President Stephanopoulos, and will also hold separate meetings with prime minister Costas Simitis, opposition party leaders and Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    [09] STABILITY PACT ISN'T BUILDING A WALL AROUND SERBIA

    Yugoslavia will participate on equal terms in the Stability Pact, as soon as it acquires a democratic government, according to Bodo Hobach, the Stability Pact's Coordinator.

    In his address before the seventh Thessaloniki Forum, Mr. Hobach stated that "the Stability Pact isn't building a wall around the Serb people.

    "On the contrary, it eagerly awaits the moment when Serbia will have solved its political problem. We are ready to rebuild Yugoslavia, as soon as these issues are resolved."

    Furthermore, he stressed that the policy of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (with whom the Stability Pact officials refuse to collaborate in any instance) has led the country ti political and economic destruction.

    Mr. Hobach stated that the Stability Pact will assist the democratic forces of Serbia and Montenegro.

    "Within the Stability Pact's framework, we will support the democratic and European reforms, but the cost for returning to the democratic and European traditions lies with the Serb people themselves. In this direction, we will support the independent media, will continue to meet with opposition mayors and will support Montenegro," he added.

    The Coordinator also underlined the significance of the private sector's contribution to the reconstruction of Southeastern Europe and outlined the initiatives undertaken by international financial organizations in order to attract private capital in the Balkans.

    Specifically, Mr. Hobach spoke of four initiatives already developing in the region, namely:

    1) EBRD has already prepared a project, budgeted at 200 mn euro, for supporting small-to-medium enterprises in SE Europe.

    2) An investment chart has been formed, in order to establish the framework that will ensure the inflow of private capital in the region's states.

    3) Has embarked on a corruption combating program, in order to eradicate one of the factors that discourage investments in the region.

    4) Has established a Business Advisory Council, featuring the participation of all the Stability Pact's members.

    "Greece is willing to undertake a leading role in the issue of reforming SE Europe's banking sector," Mr. Hobach stated, adding that "in recent talks with the Greek government we agreed to undertake efforts in improving the region's banking sector."

    [10] JUSTICE MINISTER: CLEARER ROLES FOR CHURCH, STATE

    Carefully side-stepping the term "separation of church and state", the newly-appointed Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos called for a clearer, more defined separation between the two, while he also conceded that Greece, like other countries, does have to deal with human rights issues.

    In an interview with the Athens daily "Ethnos", Mr. Stathopoulos opined that there is a form of "over-protectiveness" granted to the Orthodox religion by the state, while he also stated his disagreement over the listing of religious belief or affiliation on one's personal identification card, arguing that this is contrary to the laws pertaining to personal data.

    Moreover the minister, a professor and former rector at the University of Athens and known for his human rights awareness, remarked that human rights exist for the minorities too.

    [11] KAKLAMANIS: EUROPE IS NOT CONCERNED WITH TERRORISM

    The issue of terrorism essentially does not concern the European parliaments and Europe, stated Greek parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, who attended the Council of Europe member- states parliament presidents' conference.

    On the US report on terrorism in Greece, Mr. Kaklamanis stated that it caused the outrage of the Greek people and the strong reaction of the Greek government and the political world. He said that terrorism is an issue used by the United States in the same way they had used in the past the threat of communism and more recently the threat of Islam in order to exert pressures and possibly to undermine policies they do not approve of. That was the case with the known US state department report, said Mr. Kaklamanis, that was made public at a time when the talks on Cyprus and the Greek-Turkish relations are imminent in New York.

    [12] US$7 MILLION FROM THE BLACK SEA BANK TO A GREEK SHIPBUILDING COMPANY

    The procedure for the approval of the sum of US$7 million by the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank to be granted to a Greek shipbuilding company that has undertaken to build its sixth ship in Ukraine, is at its final stage.

    Speaking to MPA, Black Sea Bank president Ersoi Volkan stated that the request for the financing of the specific plan has been approved by the Bank's credit committee and is already in the hands of the board of directors for signatures.

    Referring to the future plans of the bank, he said that the initiatives for the establishment of branches of Greek banks in Turkey and Turkish banks in Greece are seen positively and the Black Sea Bank initially will back those plans, while in the future it will participate in them. He underlined that there is information that Turkish banks intend to open branches in Greece but he was not in a position to present specific facts.

    Referring to the Greek-Turkish cooperation, Mr. Volkan pointed out that Greek and Turkish businessmen develop initiatives in the tourist sector and intend to ask to be financed by the Black Sea Bank.

    Mr. Volkan also pointed out that next month he will visit Albania where he will suggest the development of joint projects with Greece. He also stated that certain projects in Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Moldavia, Georgia and Armenia are being examined and evaluated.

    [13] THESSALONIKI'S SELECTION TO BECOME THE SEAT OF THE ORGANIZATION FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF SE EUROPE WAS PROVEN TO BE CORRECT

    Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Giorgos Paschalidis speaking in the opening of the 7th Thessaloniki Forum today expressed the view that Thessaloniki's selection to become the seat of the Organization for the Reconstruction of south-eastern Europe has been proven to be correct.

    Mr. Paschalidis referred to the vision to turn Thessaloniki into a modern center of education, culture and technology, pointing out that this presupposes the drawing up and systematic materialization of a strategic plan for the development of infrastructures in the wider region.

    [14] THE COURSE OF THE ECONOMY OF THE SE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES WILL BE EXAMINED IN THE THESSALONIKI FORUM

    The determination of the FYROM government to proceed with the liberalization of the country's economy was underlined by FYROM minister of finance Borko Adreev speaking in the 7th Thessaloniki Forum today.

    Mr. Adreev stated that his country is in a transitional period and gave a special emphasis to the unfavorable effects the crisis in Kosovo had on the development of FYROM. He said that during the crisis, the country's GDP got only to 2.7% in 1999 instead of the predicted 6.5% while production dropped by 2.6%.

    He also pointed out that within the framework of the effort to attract foreign investments the FYROM government has moved ahead with the enactment of the necessary legal framework which is harmonized with the EU legislation.

    The priorities of the Albanian government for stability in the country and mainly its economic development were analyzed by Albanian minister of finance and privatization Mustafa Muci, stressing that Greece is one of the most important partners of his country as over 200 companies are active in Albania with an invested capital of over US$100 million.

    Mr. Muci underlined that the macro-economic stability is the main priority for the Albanian government which undertakes initiatives aimed at consolidating a climate of trust with foreign investors, while he stressed that the telecommunications sector will be first in the privatization process.

    From his side, Bulgarian finance minister Muravey Radev expressed the view that the negative picture of the Balkans, due to the tension and the conflicts that prevail, isolate the countries of the region from the rest of the world and condemn them to a slow pace of economic development.

    Referring to the course of the Bulgarian economy, he pointed out that in the past 2 years it had positive growth rates and an increase of foreign investments, while inflation and interest rates are at very low levels. He also underlined that the government is making efforts for the country to become an EU member by January 2007.

    Cypriot minister of finance Takis Clerides presented the basic characteristics of the Cypriot economy and the advantages offered by the island as an international business center. He said that the Cypriot economy is satisfactory both in terms of growth and macro-economic stability as it is confirmed by the reports issued by all the reliable international organizations.

    Mr. Clerides stated that Cyprus is an ideal place for investments by companies targeting the market of the Middle East, while it has a wide network protecting foreign investors from double taxation.

    [15] TOPURKOWSKI: THE KEY TO DEMOCRACY IS ECONOMIC GROWTH

    The key for the consolidation of democracy in the Balkans is economic growth, according to FYROM vice-president Vasil Topurkowski, who was one of the main speakers in the 7th Thessaloniki Forum lunch today.

    He referred to the delays in the structural changes front, stressing that the region's governments must realize that the necessary changes can not happen automatically but only through reforms.

    The FYROM government vice-president praised the role of the international community in the effort for the normalization and stability in the region, stressing that an international presence is not possible without the participation of the United States and NATO, while Russia's important role can not be underestimated.

    Referring to the European prospect of FYROM, Mr. Topurkowski stressed that the third round for the EU association agreements was especially successful but such agreements should not be regarded as a panacea for all existing problems.

    [16] THE LACK OF ECONOMIC GROWTH IS A MAJOR PROBLEM IN THE BALKANS

    The major problem in the wider Balkan region is the lack of economic growth and human resources, while new and significant problems are being created by issues concerning the internal affairs of each country, outside factors, historical issues and political instability, stressed in his speech in Thessaloniki's Forum US Eastwest Institute founder John Edwin Mroz.

    He also pointed out that the problems in the Balkan region are mainly due to the transitional period in which most Balkan countries are namely, changing from socialist markets to free trade as well as, to the creation of new states.

    Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies analyst Vladimir Gligorov stated that in the Balkan countries with a total population of over 55 million people the gross income is under 98 billion drachmas and the overall exports barely exceed the exports of Greece. He also added that the imports to those countries show that there is a deficit in trade balance, while the annual per capita income is under US$2.000 and the unemployment figures are disappointing.

    President of Eastwest Institute in Turkey Celik Arsel referring to the Task Force recommendations, he said that the main goals are to reduce the investment cost, fight unemployment in the wider region and professional training, adding that the long-term goal is the customs union of those countries with Europe and the establishment of intergovernmental institutions of cooperation.

    [17] NICHOLAS CAGE IS IN THE IONIAN ISLAND OF KEFALLONIA

    Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage, who will play the leading role in the film titled "Captain Korelli's mandolin", arrived in the Ionian island of Kefallonia last night on board a private jet. The film will be based on a book that became a best seller in Britain.

    In statements he made upon his arrival at Kefallonia, Mr. Cage referred to the natural beauties of Greece, its people and culture and to its cuisine. The shooting of the film will start on May 18.

    [18] GAINS OF 1.32% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Optimism returned to the Athens Stock Exchange because of the 1.32% rise recorded by the general index reaching 4.475,06 points and the increased volume of transactions that reached 153 billion drachmas.

    Of the 334 stocks trading today 310 recorded gains and only 24 recorded losses.

    [19] INFLATION WAS AT 2.6% IN APRIL

    The inflation rate in Greece in the month of April was at 2.6% decreased by 0.5% compared to the month of March.

    In the previous month inflation was at 3.1%.

    [20] THE BTC WILL BE SOLD TO OTE-KPN IN THE NEXT TWO MONTHS

    The sale of 51% of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Organization, BTC, to the Greek-Dutch joint venture OTE-KPN is expected to be completed by the end of July, stated to MPA Bulgarian minister of finance Muravey Radev.

    The negotiations have entered the final stage and are expected to end in success in the next 1 to 2 months, stated Mr. Radev admitting, however, that the privatization of BTC has been delayed considerably mainly, due to the complexity of the whole attempt.

    Mr. Radev attributed the delays to the crisis in Kosovo and to the fact that there was only one bid made for the purchase of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Organization.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [21] EU FMs HOLD INFORMAL MEETING IN AZORES

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou is presently at the Azores for an informal two-day meeting of European Union foreign ministers, where he opened a discussion on Turkey's relationship with the EU as a candidate for membership.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that Turkey-EU relations should be based on the conclusions of the Helsinki summit. The meeting also accepted a Greek request to establish an association council between the EU and Cyprus.

    [22] GREEK-AMERICAN REPUBLICANS PROMOTE GREEK WINES

    New York's Greek-American Republican Association is to host a Greek wine-tasting event on Wednesday, May 10, in cooperation with Greece's Trade Bureau in NY.

    The event, to be held at Manhattan's "Aura" restaurant, will feature a variety of 40 Greek wines and various delicacies.

    [23] A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WAS SIGNED BY WOMEN PARLIAMENT MEMBERS FROM GREECE AND TURKEY

    A memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening peace and friendship between Greece and Turkey was drawn up by women parliament members from both countries.

    The Turkish newspaper "Milliyet" mentions that the memorandum stresses that realistic and right solutions that will be approved by both sides and will protect their interests, are necessary.

    The women parliamentarians mention that they will back the positive rapprochement that has started between the two peoples and the positive talks between the two governments, stressing that they will make an effort for the development of a dialogue among the political parties and the parliaments of both countries.


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