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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-06-11

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, June 11, 2003








  • [01] VIOLATIONS OR EUROPE Prime Minster Costas Simitis moved to the immediate disconnection of the confirmation of Turkey's European course with the application of international law, while he told Ankara to "stop playing dangerous games". Commissioner for the Enlargement G. Verhe ugen called Ankara to take initiative to restore an atmosphere of calmness in bilateral relations. Earlier, the Turkish Air Force Staff refuted violating Greek Air Space. The government repeated that it is concentrated on Turkey's European prospects. Ther e is concern due to the possible instability due to the tension between the Turkish political and military world.
  • [02] TWO CITIZENSHIPS FOR GREEK ALBANIANS Negotiations for the provision giving a double citizenship to Greek Albanians living in S. Albania, are taking place between Tirana and Athens. The government characterized it as a very sensitive issue and asked for discretion, while the Opposition warne d that it cannot change the electoral body. Exaggerated estimations of 300,000 to benefit by the provision.
  • [03] STEADY GREEK-BULGARIAN PROSPECTS The prospects of a Hellenic-Bulgarian cooperation in the European prospects of the Balkans was mentioned by the Minister of Public Order, Michalis Chrysochoidis, and the President of the Socialist Party and Head of the Opposition, Sergey Stanisev, in an event in Thessaloniki. The Minister of Public Order characterized the fact that the EU and the international community have turned their attention to the Balkans a victory for Greece. The countries of SE Europe have realized that their future lays in thei r accession to the EU, pointed out Mr. Stanisev.
  • [04] CRIMINALS IN DIKATSA A charging report was submitted to the Athens DA, and an immediate suspension of duties for severe disciplinary offenses was ordered by Minister of Education Petros Efthymiou, against the DIKATSA (Interuniversity Center for the Recognition of Degrees for

    Studies Abroad) director of administrative services, Ioulia Efstathiou. Mr. Efthymiou made mention of phenomena of corruption specifically concerning Medical school examinations, while reporting stamp forgery on official papers and loss of exams. It is o bvious that a circuit of criminals, which received a heavy blow with the legislative intervention and change in the examinations in June 2002, is trying to infiltrate the new system for personal gains", mentioned the Ministry's announcement.

  • [05] STANISEV-CHRYSOCHOIDIS ON HELLENIC-BULGARIAN COOPERATION The prospects of a Hellenic-Bulgarian cooperation and the European prospects of the Balkans were referred to by Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrysochoidis and the President of the Socialist Party and Head of the Opposition of Bulgaria, Sergey Stanis ev, at the dinner held in their honor at the Macedonia Palace hotel, in Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Chrysochoidis pointed out that the decisions made by the EU on SE Europe, especially those made at the Helsinki Summit, have formed a road map, the application of which has opened the path to stability in the region.

    The Minister of Public Order characterized the fact that the EU and the international community have turned their attention towards the Balkans as a victory for Greece.

    He also stressed that Greece must pass on its experience from the application of democratic traditions, free economy and its osmoses to European procedures, to the Balkan countries.

    "We have nothing to fear. We are a powerful country and we must shake off our prejudices and support the creation of structures that will help us live in peace", he mentioned.

    Mr. Chrysochoidis underlined that the cooperation and the designing of common activities are requirements for the consolidation of security and stability in SE Europe, and in dealing with terrorism and organized crime.

    As he pointed out, Greece boarders with three high risk, security wise, areas, and has more reasons to seek cooperation.

    The Minister of Public Order stressed that cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria is a model for Southeastern Europe. He also added that Greece will continue its efforts for Bulgaria's accession in the EU in 2007.

    Furthermore he underlined that the EU will not shut its doors to the other Balkan countries, while he stressed that every country will be judged according to the degree to which it has observed its commitments.

    Southeast European states have realized that their future is in the EU, pointed out Mr. Stanisev.

    In fact, he noted that Bulgaria must work hard in order to complete negotiations for its accession to the EU by 2007, while it has closed 23 chapters concerning its adjustment to community acquis.

    Mr. Stanisev referred to the support Greece gave to the accession of Bulgaria, and other countries of the region, to the EU.

    Furthermore, he pointed out the importance of activating 1000 Greek interest companies in Bulgaria, and added that there are prospects for attracting more Greek investment. He also added that his country welcomes investment, however in order for the envi ronment for investors to improve, the judicial system must also be improved.

    The President of the Socialist Party of Bulgaria expressed his opposition to the views that have been expressed within the EU on postponing the second wave of the Union's enlargement, which includes Romania and Bulgaria.

    In ending, he stressed that Greece and Bulgaria must cooperate more effectively on a local government level, as with the accession of Bulgaria to the EU, there will be no boarders between them in 4 years.

    The dinner was organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, the Interbalkan and Black Sea Region Business Center, and the Macedonian Press Agency, which transmitted the event live from its website (

  • [06] SIMITIS MEETING WITH DUTCH COUNTERPART The importance of the Thessaloniki Summit as far as progress in the discussions on the future of Europe is concerned, was stressed by the President of the European Council Costas Simitis, during the joint press conference held yesterday in Hague with his

    Dutch counterpart Peter Jan Balkenende.

    Specifically, Mr. Simitis underlined that "the decisions to be made in the framework of the Convention will determine how quickly we will be able to see results, so that when we can have a new European Constitution, which is necessary, in the 2004 Euroel ections".

    The Prime Minister briefed the Dutch Prime Minister, with whom he had a "very fertile discussion" as he said, on issues to be discussed at the Summit, such as the common foreign and defense policy, trans-Atlantic relations, the Western Balkans and illega l immigration.

    On his side, Mr. Balkenende expounded on his country's positions and said that as far as the Convention is concerned, the Netherlands would rather keep the rotating presidency. If this is not possible, it is in favor of a compromise which will depend on individual conditions.

    "That means we cannot accept an inordinate strengthening of the European Council at the expense of the European Commission or the European Parliament. It will all depend on rights and responsibilities of the President of the European Council and of the r ole in store for all other bodies", he said characteristically.

  • [07] GREEK ECONOMY UPGRADED BY "STANDARD & POOR'S" The upgrading of Greece's evaluation by "Standard & Poor's" international credit rating agency is taken as a sign of recognition of the progress of Greek economy. Following that, valid analysts appreciate that Greece's borrowing ability is slowly, yet st eadily, reaching the top of the ratings list.

    Yesterday, Standard & Poor's announced the upgrading of Greece's rating from A to A+, in accordance with the move made by Moody's about 6 months ago. Thus, in both credit rating agencies, Greece is four positions away from the top of the ratings list (wh ere most Eurozone economies have been placed).

    A distance which may be further covered in the immediate future, as a group of officials from Moody's is expected to visit Greece, to evaluate the latest developments in the country's public finances.

    The upgrade in Greece's ratings by the third international rating agency, Fitch IBCA, is expected to take place in the 3rd quarter, according to the "Imerisia" newspaper. A crucial issue to be discussed is the adoption of a fiscal morality code, which wa s announced by Mr. Christodoulakis upon taking up his duties.

    A large thorn in the side of the Greek economy, is the extremely high percentage of public debt in the GDP. In fact, other economies receiving low ratings within the Eurozone include Italy and Belgium, also economies with high public debts.

  • [08] SECURITY PREPARATIONS FOR SUMMIT The last details of the largest police operation in the history of Greece, to take place in Thessaloniki and Chalkidiki, in view of the Summit Meeting, are being ironed out by the Ministry of Public Order and the Heads of the Greek Police.

    According to the plan of the gigantic police operation, which includes more than 10,000 police officers and another 2000 soldiers, firemen, and members of the coast guard, the main body of the police force will be deployed along the route to be followed by the European leaders from the Thessaloniki airport to Neos Marmaras Chalkidiki, the so-called red zone, around the Porto Carras hotel complex, while a third large portion of the police force will remain in Thessaloniki to guard the high risk areas, whe re the anti-Summit will be held and from where the protests will pass.

    Meanwhile, all Thessaloniki hospitals will be on standby in order to deal with anything that may arise, however EKAV employees have stated they are determined to continue their mobilizations, and warned that there will be problems.

    The Health Ministry supported that the measures that have been taken will cover all needs, while hospital doctors state that there has not be the proper preparations.

  • [09] G. PAPANDREOU: COMMON DRUG POLICY Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou asked for a common drug policy, while speaking at the plenary session of the Dublin Group on Drugs, which was completed last night at the Zappeio Mansion.

    Mr. Papandreou also stressed that the issue of a common European policy will occupy the Thessaloniki Summit to be held in Porto Carras, Chalkidiki, on June 19 and 20. He also pointed out that issue will be dealt with EU presidencies to follow.

    "We, the Greek Presidency", said the Foreign Minister, "attributed great importance to the discussion on the problem of drug trafficking, as to all security issues, connected with drug smuggling. We must formulate a common policy on the drug issue, if th at is possible".

    He also added that "this is an issue that concerns us all. We must all jointly seek to find what the effective means that will allow us to deal with this issue are, so as to find a common policy".

    Mr. Papandreou mentioned that the drug problem is complex, with many moral and scientific views that are contradictory, which must all be looked at.

    The Greek Foreign Minister also referred to drug related deaths, from police confrontations and overdoses. He also stated that in Iraq alone there are 1.2 million drug addicts, and referred to the figures for AIDS. Reports from Russia show an increase of

    400% in drug use over the past few years.

    On the trafficking of heroin he mentioned that the issue will be discussed and, he believes, the action plan against it will be approved at the Summit next week, and materialized in the immediate future.

    He also mentioned that the decriminalization of drug users is becoming all the more accepted and that that, along with more "lenient" drug policies, must be discussed honestly and openly.

    There will also be a discussion on the cannabis issue, which he said is "the most widely spread illegal substance in the world, and we need to discuss how to deal with that specific problem".

  • [10] VERELIS STATEMENTS ON VIOLATIONS OVER THE AEGEAN Minister of Transportation Christos Verelis characterized the violations and harassment carried out by Turkish aircrafts in Greek airspace as an unpleasant event, while he appreciated that an end will be put to our neighbor's practice very soon.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Verelis took the initiative and has already sent his Turkish counterpart a letter pointing out the problem being created, while noting that it has been announced to the European Commission.

    We are at the end of this era, flight security and protection is important to peace and prosperity", underlined Mr. Verelis, in statements he made at "Macedonia" airport, in Thessaloniki.

  • [11] INTERVENTION BY ND EURO-DEPUTY ZACHARAKIS ON THE TURKISH VIOLATIONS Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy Euro-deputy Christos Zacharakis called for the immediate adoption of measures by the European Union in a question directed to the European Council and the European Commission. The question was posed immed iately after the harassment of an Olympic Airways passenger plane by two Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean Sea.

    Mr. Zacharakis stated, referring to the risk for the passengers' lives, that the Turkish action constitutes a clear violation of the international law regulations, a violation of the airspace and therefore, of the EU territorial integrity. He also pointe d out that the safety of the EU citizens is put at risk, while the fundamental principles of international behavior are being violated.

    The Greek Euro-deputy stated that this is the policy systematically followed by Turkey that causes tension to the Greek-Turkish relations and puts peace and security in the region at risk.

  • [12] THE EU PRESIDENCY CONDEMNS THE ISRAELI ROCKET ATTACKS IN GAZA The EU Presidency strongly condemns yesterday's (10/6/03) rocket attacks by Israeli defense forces in Gaza, which resulted in killing at least 5 Palestinians and wounding many others. This kind of retaliation and extra judicial killings perpetuate the cy cle of violence and further deteriorate the security environment.

    These attacks, that coincide with the first steps of the implementation of the Roadmap following the pledges taken by both sides in Aqaba, undermine the peace efforts and complicate further Prime Minister Abbas' attempts to halt violence and terrorism by

    Palestinian factions.

    In this crucial period, we call upon both parties to abstain from acts of violence and to remain committed to the path of negotiations, which is the only way to satisfy the people's need for peace and security.

  • [13] SIGNIFICANT GAINS IN THE ASE Significant gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to 1.78% at 1.896,58 points, while the volume of transactions skyrocketed to 388,7 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 240 recorded gains and 76 had losses, while the value of 62 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [14] THE NATO HEADQUARTERS AT TIRNAVOS IS SHUT DOWN The United States and NATO appear determined not to satisfy the Greek demands for even a symbolic upgrading of the few alliance facilities left on Greek soil within the framework of the decision for NATO's military structure reform expected to be reached

    in the NATO Defense Ministers' spring meeting in Brussels tomorrow.

    According to reliable sources, cited by the Athens newspaper "Imerisia", this decision will shut down the NATO headquarters in Tirnavos and only the Combined Air Operations Center, CAOC, in Larisa will be left in Greece. However, it will be downgraded an d under the authority of the Ismir NATO headquarters in Turkey.

    The NATO Defense Ministers Council is expected to satisfy one Greek request for the establishment of two centers for operations against international terrorism and biological warfare.

  • [15] PROTOPAPAS ON THE DUAL NATIONALITY OF THE ETHNIC GREEKS IN SOUTH ALBANIA If an agreement is reached with the Albanian government ethnic Greeks in south Albania will get dual nationality, reiterated Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.

    He made the statement in response to a relevant question and stressed that the government is acting taking national interest under consideration.

  • [16] WARNINGS FOR LIKELY VIOLENT CLASHES DURING THE PROTESTS IN THESSALONIKI The messages coming from abroad regarding the intentions of groups of demonstrators, who will protest on the sidelines of the EU Summit Meeting in Thessaloniki next week, have alarmed the Greek authorities.

    According to information published on the Athens newspaper "Kathimerini", information from foreign secret services mention that certain groups of protesters plan to hold violent demonstrations.

    Based on the available information, an additional concern has been caused by the fact that Greek extreme groups of demonstrators are in constant contact with other similar groups in at least two countries coordinating their actions.

    Specifically, great alarm is caused by the preparation moves made by groups of hardcore anarchists, estimated to be around 1,000 people.

    The newspaper writes that according to an official source, a total of 12,000 police officers and a force of 8,000, made up of Coast Guard, armed forces and Fire Department officers, will be used in the huge security operation in effect in the region of N eos Marmaras, Chalkidiki where the EU Summit will take place.

  • [17] THE EU PRESIDENCY CONDEMNS TODAY'S SUICIDE BOMBING IN JERUSALEM The EU Presidency condemns in the strongest possible terms today's suicide bombing in Jerusalem, which has taken the lives of at least 17 people and injured scores of others. It offers its deepest condolences to the government of Israel and to the famili es of the victims.

    The EU Presidency reiterates that no cause, however just, can be served by terrorism and that the rejectionist forces must not be allowed to derail the quest for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict. Whatever the pretexts the terrorists may invoke, these will never justify the killing of innocent civilians.

    The EU Presidency expresses its gravest concern at the latest outburst of violence, which clearly aims at the window of opportunity that has been recently created. It calls on all those involved to make every possible effort so that the vicious circle of

    hatred and confrontation be turned into a virtuous one of dialogue and peace.


  • [18] DIMITRIS PEROIKOS INSTEAD OF HANS BLIX The UN have appointed Dimitris Peroikos as the temporary replacement of UN Weapons Inspectors Head Hans Blix, who is leaving his post in late June. Dimitris Peroikos, who is of Greek descent, has served as head of the UN inspectors' planning and operatio ns direction (UNMOVIC). Before holding this position he had served as an inspector at the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mr. Peroikos also led inspections for the location of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  • [19] PAPANDREOU-VERHEUGEN MEETING Turkish provocations in the Aegean and EU-Turkish relations were the main points of discussion at the meeting held in Brussels between Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou and Commissioner on the enlargement Gunter Verheugen.

    Mr. Verheugen stressed that the responsibility for the tension in the Aegean does not rest with the EU or with Greece.

    We expect a candidate country such as Turkey to make every possible effort in acting as a good neighbor, a requirement to becoming an EU member-state.

    Mr. Papandroeu noted that issues such as violations by Turkish aircrafts are also calculated into how good a neighbor a country is, a characteristic required for a country's accession to the EU.

    He also stressed that the government will brief the European Commission on a monthly basis, on the course of Greek-Turkish relations.

  • [20] SIMITIS-PRODI MEETING Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Kostas Simitis met with European Commission President Romano Prodi in Brussels today and discussed the issues that will be examined in the imminent EU Summit Meeting in Thessaloniki.

    In statements they made after the meeting, they stressed that the main points of the Summit will be the outcome of the Constitutional Convention for the Future of Europe and the Constitution draft, the EU immigration and asylum policy, inter-Atlantic rel ations, the EU security policy and the EU relations with the countries in western Balkans.

    The Prime Minister also announced that the European Council will discuss a new joint initiative by the Greek EU Presidency, the European Commission and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder aimed at strengthening the European economy.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that in the Summit meeting a decision should be reached on the opening of the inter-governmental conference in October, which will have to be completed by the Euro-elections in 2004.

    On Turkey, Mr. Simitis made it clear that it will have to make the necessary efforts to comply with the political criteria set in Copenhagen and harmonize its legislation with the European standards. Mr. Prodi underlined that each party knows what its ob ligations are and stressed that the message to Turkey is clear.

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