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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-01-20
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE TURKISH LABOR MINISTER WILL BE IN THESSALONIKI TOMORROWThessaloniki, 20 January 2000 (18:34 UTC+2)
Turkey's minister of labor Yasar Okuyan will be in Thessaloniki tomorrow to attend the meeting of his counterparts from the rest Royaimont process countries that will take place on Saturday within the framework of the two-day conference on democratization and the implementation of the Stability Pact in south-eastern Europe.
The meeting will be presided over by Greek minister of labor Miltiadis Papaioannou and it will be attended by his counterparts from Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, FYROM, Hungary, Russia and Turkey.
 MR. SIMITIS' SPEECH ON HUMAN RIGHTSAthens, 20 January 2000 (18:19 UTC+2)
The recognition of human rights as a non negotiable global value was stressed by prime minister Kostas Simitis in his speech before the National Committee on human rights delivered today.
Mr. Simitis stated that human rights that have to do with freedom and personal autonomy must be carefully reconsidered, stressing that now more than ever they have an essential political significance as a result of the globalization of the economy, the internationalization of markets, the progress in technology and the many changes in the world.
He underlined that society must be mobilized for the support of human rights while he stressed the significance of the non governmental organizations.
 ALEXANDROUPOLIS-ISTANBUL RAILWAY LINEAlexandroupolis, 20 January 2000 (18:16 UTC+2)
The Greek Railways will launch the Alexandroupolis-Istanbul InterCity line tomorrow on the occasion of the visit of Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou to Ankara. On board the train will be the Greek Railways management, businessmen and journalists.
This move is in response to the visit of the Train of Peace to Greece, while the Greek railways also want to contribute to the development of Greek-Turkish economic cooperation.
 REPPAS: THE PAPANDREOU VISIT WAS HELD IN A POSITIVE CLIMATEAthens, 20 January 2000 (18:13 UTC+2)
The visit of foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou to Turkey take place in a very positive climate, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Mr. Reppas spoke of an impressive improvement in the climate of the Greek-Turkish relations and at the same time he pointed out that there should be no illusion that Turkey has changed its policy.
The Greek government spokesman stated that Turkey must accept that the framework decided in Helsinki must be the basis for the development of the Greek-Turkish relations from now on and expressed the belief that Turkey will respond to this invitation.
 PRESS CONFERENCE INVITATIONThessaloniki, 20 January 2000 (16:34 UTC+2)
The European Economic and Social Committee, Greece's Economic and Social Committee, OKE and the Royaumont process invite you to two press conferences that will be held at Macedonia Palace Hotel "Aristotle II" Hall on Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22.
The two press conferences will offer information to the mass media representatives on the outcome of the two-day conference on democratization and the implementation of the Stability Pact in south-eastern Europe that opens in Thessaloniki tomorrow.
In the first press conference that will take place on Friday at 12:30pm labor minister Miltiadis Papaioannou, Greece's Economic and Social Committee, OKE chairman professor Andreas Kintis, European Economic and Social Committee chairwoman Beatrice Paggoni Machiavelli, Royaumont process coordinator Panagiotis Roumeliotis and Greece's OKE general secretary Grigoris Papanikos will brief reporters on the outcome of the first day of the conference. At the same time, they will refer to specific actions that will be undertaken for democratization and the implementation of the Stability Pact.
The results of the closed meeting that will be held on Saturday morning with the participation of Greek labor and social security minister Miltiadis Papaioannou and his counterparts from Royaumont process member-states will be presented in the second press conference that will start at 1:15pm on that day.
In the press conference will be present Mr. Papaioannou as well as the labor minister of Albania Ms. Makbule Ceco, Bulgaria's Mira Ratcova, Romania's Ms. Smaranda Dobresco, FYROM's Bedredin Ibraimi, Hungary's Istvan Kamenisky, Russia's Viacheslav Roscov and Turkey's Yasar Okuyan.
 ELEVEN LABOR MINISTERS IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 20 January 2000 (14:03 UTC+2)
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Royaumont process are co-organizing a two-day conference in Thessaloniki on January 21-22, themed after democratization and the application of the Stability Pact in Southeastern Europe.
The meeting, jointly funded by the European Commission and Greece\"s Ministry of National Economy, will feature an exchange of views among the representatives of the various economic and social groups partaking in the Royaumont process.
Specifically, the conference will focus on three issues:
Citizens society and social dialogue as the premise of economic and social development.
Process of modernizing the region\"s economic and social structures.
Means and process for the strengthening of economic and social organizations in Southeast European countries.
The conference will be inaugurated on January 21 by the president of EESC, Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli, while the president of EESC\"s Greek chapter, professor Andreas Kintis, will also salute the delegates.
Greece\"s Minister of Labor and Social Security Miltiades Papantoniou will declare the opening of the conference, while Portuguese Ambassador F. Santiago, standing in for his country\"s Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, will be the keynote speaker, followed by Jos Chabert, the vice-president of the Committee of the Regions.
The first session, presided over by Panayiotis Roumeliotis, will concern social dialogue as the basis of economic and social development.
The second session, presided over by Eurodeputy Christos Folias, will address the economic and social reforms in the region.
The theme of the third session will be the strengthening of economic and social institutions in the countries-members of the Royaumont process.
The first day\"s fourth - and final - session will review the conclusions reached and will result in an action plan to be presented,
On January 22, the conference\"s second day, the labor ministers of the participating countries will convene privately in order to review the resolutions and conclusions drawn during the conference, while they are expected to adopt an action plan and sign a declaration of principles.
The represented countries are: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, FYROM, Hungary, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey and the United States.
Referring to the conference\"s aim, Mr. Kintis stated that it is primarily political.
\"The conference is unique in the sense that it features not only the social institutions of the Royaumont process countries, but political officials as well.
\" As such, the conference will not stay at a political level, it will feature a specific action plan, whose guidelines are to approved during the course of the conference.\"
 PM, DEFENSE AND ECONOMY MINISTERS MEET TODAYAthens, 20 January 2000 (13:18 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou today, where they discussed the country's five-year armaments program for the period of 2001-2005.
The Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) is to meet tomorrow in order to discuss Greece's participation in the production of the Eurofighter, a final agreement for the purchase of more US-made F-16 fighter planes, as well as an agreement for the acquisition of French-made Mirage 2000-5 jetfighters and the upgrading of several of the air force's Mirage 2000s into Mirage 2000-5 fighters.
 GREEK AND TURKISH MAYORS TO MEETThessaloniki, 20 January 2000 (12:36 UTC+2)
Greek and Turkish mayors of western and eastern Thrace are to meet in the Turkish city of Marmara on January 24-25, a move that constitutes a positive and hope-filled step in Greek-Turkish relations.
According to the mayor of the Greek city Sapes, Dinos Haritopoulos, the meeting is part of a series of initiatives that stem from what Foreign Minister George Papandreou has called "citizens diplomacy".
Mr. Haritopoulos stated that this form of diplomacy does not replace the governments which handle state relations and safeguard national interests, but, rather, promotes the opportunities provided by the venue of understanding and friendship among two neighboring peoples.
Moreover, Mr. Haritopoulos stated that this climate could lead to collaboration in the economic, tourism, cultural and sports sectors, which will bring on a climate of security in Thrace and, hence, will form the criteria for attracting investments.
 RIO-ANTIRIO BRIDGE TO BE WORLDS LONGESTAthens, 20 January 2000 (12:06 UTC+2)
Once completed, the Rio-Antirio suspension bridge across the Gulf of Corinth, which will link northwestern Greece with the Peloponnese in the south, is to be the world"s longest with a span of 2,883 meters, including 2,252 meters over the water.
Work is well underway on the gigantic project, which has been under construction since July 1998 by a French-Greek consortium. The consortium, named Gefyra (Greek for "bridge"), brings together French public works conglomerate Dumez and the Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux (GTM) group on the one hand, with six Greek companies on the other.
The bridge, which was originally thought to be technically impossible to build, is designed to be earthquake and hurricane-proof and is expected to be copied by other earthquake-prone countries, such as Japan, according to Gilles de Maublanc, director of the consortium.
The project"s technical director Panayotis Papanicolas, said that the main
problems were instability of the seabed, a high risk of earthquakes and the often very strong winds affecting the region.
"We first began consolidating the seabed, which consists of clay, and, in some parts, sand and mud," he said.
"We studied quake records back to the 19th century. Most of the earthquakes
recorded more than six on the open-ended Richter scale. One of them, on June 15, 1995, killed 26 people and registered 6.5 on Richter," he added.
Another problem, according to Mr. Papanicolas, was that the Rio shore moves 8 millimeters (0.32 inch) away from Antirion, every year.
"We therefore designed a bridge capable of tolerating play of about two meters (seven feet) between two pillars. It must also be capable of withstanding winds of 265 kilometers an hour (150 mph), or hurricane strength", he said albeit pointing out that such winds had never been recorded in the region.
The bridge will be suspended from five huge pillars, 560 meters apart, built on undersea platforms, each having a diameter of 90 meters.
The project has been budgeted at 750 million euros, 40 percent of which will be financed by the Greek state, loans from the European Investment Bank (50 percent) and cash provided by the consortium itself (10 percent.)
Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis has stated that the bridge will be a new door into Europe.
"One will be able to go to Trieste and Europe through Albania and Montenegro, once a new road has been built."
The bridge is expected to be commissioned in 2004 and Mr. Laliotis is hoping that the runners carrying the Olympic flame will be the first to cross the bridge in time for
the Athens Olympics in the summer of 2004.
 LONG DISTANCE CALLS TO BE REDUCEDAthens, 20 January 2000 (12:06 UTC+2)
Long distance and international calls are to become cheaper as of February 1, according to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (ĎÔE).
The cost of long-distance and international calls will be reduced by 10.6 percent and 11 percent respectively, while the price of local calls will remain the same (seven drachmas per minute).
Petrol prices have been reduced as well, with the price of super petrol having been cut by 3.9 drachmas per liter, unleaded by four drachmas, heating oil by 6.3 drachmas (for quantities of more than 1,000 liters) and diesel by nine drachmas per liter.
 GREEK-ROMANIAN COOPERATION IN THE DEFENSE INDUSTRYBucharest, 20 January 2000 (18:19 UTC+2)
Issues of bilateral cooperation in the sector of the defense industry were discussed in Bucharest by Greek undersecretary of national defense Dimitris Apostolakis and his Romanian counterpart Ion Mircea Plangu, while they also discussed issues of security in the Balkans as well as the situation in Kosovo.
The two government officials expressed the joint intention of both countries for cooperation, while joint committees will be established in the sector of the defense industry to suggest the undertaking of initiatives.
 PAPANDREOU-CEM JOINT PRESS CONFERENCEAnkara, 20 January 2000 (18:16 UTC+2)
Foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey Giorgos Papandreou and Ismail Cem signed four "low policy or common interest" agreements as they were characterized by Mr. Papandreou speaking to MPA.
After the signing of the agreements the two ministers gave a joint press conference and referred to them as well as to those that will be signed early next month.
The Turkish foreign minister spoke of a new beginning and a new era for the Greek-Turkish relations characterizing as especially productive the talks he had with Mr. Papandreou. He said that the different issues are being approached with sensitivity and care, while he spoke of a successful start. He praised Mr. Papandreou referring to his "personal wisdom" that characterizes him, while he also praised his contribution to the development of bilateral relations and stated that efforts will continue within this framework for their further development. He also said that everything achieved so far will contribute to the development of a climate of trust and security in the region.
He also said that he suggested the establishment of a "security committee" which will be made-up of politicians and representatives of the military from both countries having as a goal to maintain the climate of security in the region and limit tensions.
Mr. Papandreou from his side, spoke of the warm hospitality he was offered and referred to his Turkish counterpart on a first name basis. He stressed that step-by-step a dialogue has been built and more steps will be made within this framework. He said that this experience made them wiser and characterized the visit as a wonderful chance for the development of bilateral relations.
Responding to questions on the Cyprus issue, the two ministers agreed that they disagree. They said that their views are different but they back the talks held under the auspices of the United Nations. Referring to the issue of the Aegean, Mr. Cem stated that the military exercises must be limited and that there should be an exchange of information. Mr. Papandreou stated that he will convey the proposals made by Mr. Cem to the ministry of defense and stressed that Cyprus can become a place of cooperation rather than conflict.
 PAPANDREOU: THE DIPLOMACY OF THE PEOPLE GAVE A BOOST TO THE GREEK-TURKISH RELATIONSAnkara, 20 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
The dynamics of the so-called "diplomacy of the people" developed after the devastating earthquakes that hit both countries last summer was underlined in Ankara by Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou in an interview with the English-speaking program of the BBC "The world today".
Mr. Papandreou reiterated that Greece has only one difference with Turkey in the Aegean namely, the issue of the continental shelf, while he stated that he will seek in his talks with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem to give a new boost to the idea of holding meetings of specialists from both countries, the so-called "committees of the wise", who could prepare the ground in order to overcome any difference between Athens and Ankara in the future.
The Greek foreign minister gave a special emphasis to the European prospect of Turkey after the decision to be a candidate for EU membership.
 ALBANIAN PROPOSAL THROUGH MPA FOR THE GUARDING OF BORDERSTirana, 20 January 2000 (18:07 UTC+2)
Albania's Christian-Democratic Party will request that the law on the guarding of borders be reconsidered, according to a statement made to MPA by its president Zef Busati.
Mr. Busati stated that the Christian-Democratic Party of Albania will table a proposal in parliament suggesting that the borders be guarded by the Albanian armed forces and not by the forces of the ministry of public order.
The leader of the Christian-Democrats in Albania also added that his party will call for a plenary session of the parliament to discuss the issue of illegal immigration.
 TURKISH PM INVITES GREEK COUNTERPART TO VISITAnkara, 20 January 2000 (13:19 UTC+2)
Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has extended a formal invitation to his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis for a visit to Turkey.
During a 30-minute meeting held this morning in Ankara between Mr. Ecevit and the visiting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the Turkish PM stated that solutions need to be found in Greek-Turkish issues, as this would facilitate the resolution of the Cyprus issue.
Conversely, Mr. Papandreou stated that a solution to the Cyprus issue should first be discovered, as this would assist in te handling of G/T issues.
 SECTION OF THESSALONIKI-SKOPJE PIPELINE IS READYSkopje, 20 January 2000 (13:19 UTC+2)
A formal ceremony was held in Skopje today on the occasion of the construction of the first 10 kilometers of the Skopje-Thessaloniki oil pipeline.
The Prime Minister of FYROM Lupco Georgievski attended the event, along with the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis. The general director of FYROM"s OKTA oil refinery, 54% of which was recently acquired by Greece"s oil refineries ELPE) was also present.
The foundation of the oil pipeline was officially laid on November 10. Its construction is budgeted at $90 million and constitutes a part of ELPE"s overall investment in Skopje, amounting to $182 million.
The project, which is commissioned for completion in three years, will have a length of 230 kilometers and an annual transport capacity of 2.5 million metric tons of oil.
 GREEK FMs VISIT TO ANKARA HAILED AS «HISTORIC»Ankara, 20 January 2000 (13:18 UTC+2)
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou was warmly welcomed in Ankara, in a visit that has been cited by the Turkish press as "historic", the fist official visit by a Greek FM in 38 years.
Welcoming his Greek counterpart at Ankara's Esenboga airport, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem stated that "we hope, in fact we are sure, that it will not be such a long time before the next visit."
During his stay, Mr. Papandreou is expected to sign a series of agreements for cooperation in fighting terrorism and organized crime, as well as agreements with regard to tourism, the environment and the protection of investments.
"We need to take cautious steps so that this newborn optimism is established on solid ground," Mr. Papandreou said, adding that he plans to propose the re-activation of the ''committee of experts'', comprising officials from both countries, whose task is to work out ways of resolving disputes over boundaries in the Aegean.
 FM CONDUCTS VISIT TO ANKARAAnkara, 20 January 2000 (12:04 UTC+2)
Minister of Foreign Affairs George Papandreou has embarked on two-day visit to Turkey as of today, the first Foreign Minister who pays an official visit to Turkey since 1962.
The Foreign Minister is expected to meet with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Parliament Speaker Yildirim Aktuna and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit.
Mr. Papandreou, who is accompanied by a delegation of businessmen, parliamentarians, and journalists, will sign four bilateral agreements with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem. The said agreements concern issues of environment, tourism, terrorism, and protection of investments. Mesrs. Papandreou and Cem are also expected to discuss the results of dialogue which started between the two countries last July, as well as bilateral relations.
Moreover, the two FMs are to undertake a common initiative concerning the Caucasus region, specifically pertaining to respecting borders and minority rights in Caucasus, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
According to press reports, Mr. Papandreou will also travel to Istanbul where he will meet with Greek and Turkish businessmen.
 ALBRIGHT: THE US GOAL IS TO SECURE PEACE IN THE AEGEAN AND OTHER REGIONSWashington, 20 January 2000 (18:12 UTC+2)
The safeguarding of peace in the Aegean as well as in Caucasus, Northern Ireland and central Africa is among the immediate targets of the US foreign policy in the last year of president Clinton's administration.
The above were stated by US secretary of state Madeleine Albright in her speech delivered in Washington's John Hopkins University in which she outlined the priorities of the US foreign policy. Among those priorities are included a stronger and enlarged NATO alliance ready to undertake new missions, the consolidation of peace in Kosovo, the democratization of south-eastern Europe and the effective control of weapons of mass destruction.
Ms. Albright also stated that the United States will help especially four developing republics namely, Colombia, Nigeria, Indonesia and Ukraine which are capable of becoming major factors for the stability in their regions.
 AEGEAN PHOTOGRAPHS EXHIBITION OPENSWashington, 20 January 2000 (12:06 UTC+2)
A photography exhibition titled "The Aegean: Images of Greece" will be inaugurated in Washington tomorrow by the general secretary of the Greek press ministry, Yannis Nikolaou.
Eleven of Greece"s best photographers have joined forces in displaying 160 photographs which depict the faces and landscapes of the Aegean, the birthplace
of Greek civilization and a source of inspiration for writers and artists over the centuries.
 EU AIMS AT COMBATING DISCRIMINATION AT WORKBrussels, 20 January 2000 (12:04 UTC+2)
Following a proposal by Greek Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, the European Commission is reportedly scheduling a European Union initiative, known as "Equal", which concerns cooperation among the 15 EU member-states on combating discrimination in the workplace.
Funding for the said initiative is reportedly secured by the European Social Fund with 2,847 million euros for the 2000-2006 period. The Commission will have the initiative finally ratified in early 2000 to enable the first invitation for plans to be submitted at the end of 2000.