|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-01-21
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 DEFENSE SPENDING IN GREECE WILL REACH 4.4 TRILLION DRACHMASAthens, 21 January 2000 (19:26 UTC+2)
A detailed briefing on the armaments program of the Greek armed forces for the period 2001-2005 took place in today's meeting of the governmental committee of foreign affairs and defense in Athens. Minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos clarified that the program will cost 4.4 trillion drachmas and will provide for the reorganization of the armed forces, the expansion of the armaments systems, the establishment of new infrastructures and the completion of the training policy in the army.
Specifically, the members of the governmental committee were briefed on the course of the negotiations for the purchase of EuroFighter jets, in the co-production of which Greece wants to participate, as well as on the purchase of 15 Mirage 2000-5, 15 transport planes and electronic weapons systems.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos said that the elements of the country's new defense strategy, which will take its final form in the following 2 months creating the basis of the modern Greek army, were also discussed in the governmental committee meeting.
 THE TURKISH MINISTER OF LABOR INVITED HIS GREEK COUNTERPART TO ANKARAThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (19:25 UTC+2)
Turkish minister of labor Yasar Okuyan, who is in Thessaloniki to attend the labor ministers meeting of the Royaumont process states that will take place tomorrow, invited his Greek counterpart Miltiadis Papaioannou to visit Turkey.
Mr. Okuyan stated that tomorrow he will have bilateral contacts with his counterparts from Greece, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and that he will invite Mr. Papaioannou to Ankara within the framework of bilateral contacts on issues of social security and other issues within their authority.
The meeting of the labor ministers of Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, FYROM and Russia will be held within the framework of the two-day conference on democratization and the implementation of the Stability Pact in south-eastern Europe organized in a central hotel in Thessaloniki by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Royaumont process at the initiative of the Economic and Social Committee of Greece.
 DEMOCRATIZATION PROGRAMS WORTH MILLIONS OF EUROS IN SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPEThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (19:25 UTC+2)
The pilot action plan for democratization and the development of social dialogue in south-eastern Europe with a budget of 600.000 Euro, will start giving fruit before the end of 2000.
The foundations of the plan were laid today in the two-day conference on democratization and the implementation of the Stability Pact which is organized in Thessaloniki by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Royaumont process at the initiative of the Economic and Social Committee of Greece with the participation of 140 delegates.
The plan's actions expected to be approved late in the afternoon will focus mainly on the Balkan states and specifically on Albania, FYROM, Croatia, Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to statements made by Royaumont process coordinator for the European Union Mr. Panagiotis Roumeliotis in a press conference given today.
The action plan will be implemented in former Yugoslavia as well under the sine qua non precondition that the democratic procedures will be again in effect and the organizations involved in the materialization of the program will operate independently from the governments. Finally, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey will also benefit from the program's actions.
The targets of the pilot action plan are expected to be made easier to meet through the programs for the support of democratization and social dialogue which have a budget of 2.500.000 Euro and will be implemented before the end of 2000 within the framework of the Royaumont process.
The program will also be financed by European Union member-states. For example, Britain will fund seven programs, while Greece will offer economic support to other four, each one with a budget of 400.000 Euro. Therefore, the total budget of the specific programs in the current year will be 5.000.000 Euro.
THE PRIORITIES AND TARGETS OF THE ACTION PLAN UNDER APPROVAL
The materialization of the action plan will be undertaken by 6-member working groups made up of social partners and public authorities in each state. The plan is scheduled to include five secondary actions.
First, the current political, economic and social situation in the participating countries will be recorded and after the specific data are gathered and analyzed in a process that will be completed in three months, the planning of specific initiatives will start in order to have results at a practical level.
Short "training" visits will be organized to the participating countries aimed at offering more knowledge and experience to the working groups concerning the social base of each country and the priorities that need to be set. The third action of the program, which is estimated to be completed in a period of one month after its launching, provides for the comparison of the data gathered from each country in order to create a common action platform.
A two-day regional conference will follow to bring into contact the key individuals for the materialization of the action plan. In the conference will participate social partners, specialists and European Union representatives.
Finally, there will be five-month long seminars within the framework of the fifth action that will be held in each country in which the members of the working groups will summarize the outcome of the previous phases of the program and become familiar with the way local institutions function. Mr. Roumeliotis also clarified that among the long term targets of the program is the establishment of Balkan Economic and Social Committees.
Presenting the first conclusions of the conference, Mr. Roumeliotis and Economic and Social Committee of Greece president professor Andreas Kintis stated that the Stability Pact in south-eastern Europe can not be promoted effectively without the participation of the social partners in its materialization process.
The democratization of the south-eastern European states is necessary for a stable economic situation in the region.
The decisions and initiatives by the region's state governments do not have the same chances of success with those adopted through the social dialogue.
Furthermore, Mr. Kintis pointed out that in the setting which is formed in Europe the leaderships of the countries in the region must undertake direct initiatives to be ahead of developments, adding that on behalf of the European Union there is a will to offer assistance in order to speed-up the reorganization of south-eastern Europe.
In the press conference also took part European Economic and Social Committee chairwoman Ms. Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli, head of the foreign relations committee of the European Economic and Social Committee Mr. George Wright and Bulgarian Industries Association chairman Bojidar Danev.
 THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE CLOSED WITH GAINS OF 0.67%Athens, 21 January 2000 (19:16 UTC+2)
Gains of 0.67% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general price index closed at 5.102,12 points, while the volume of transactions reached 264,5 billion drachmas.
The general price index followed a steady upward trend throughout the transactions today compared to yesterday's fluctuations.
 ATHENS HAS A LOW COST OF LIVING ACCORDING TO "THE ECONOMIST"Athens, 21 January 2000 (19:16 UTC+2)
Athens occupies the 63rd place in a report issued by "The Economist" magazine which examines the cost of living in different cities of the world.
The place occupied by each city on the list is determined by a daily life cost index which takes under consideration over 100 facts namely, the cost of entertainment, traveling etc as well as the housing cost. The index was established based on the cost of living in New York.
Athens, having an index of 79, shares the 63rd place with other four cities namely, Cleveland, Dubai, Lexington and Mexico City. The most expensive city in the world is Tokyo with an index of 164 and occupies the first place on the list for the past 10 years.
 EXHIBITION OF 16TH CENTURY RARE GREEK MAPSThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (19:16 UTC+2)
Rare Greek nautical maps drawn by hand and dated back to the 16th century will be presented within the framework of the exhibition Rays of Sea Winds that will be hosted in the National Map Library from January 25 to February 13. The maps have been offered for the exhibition by the Correr Museum in Venice, Italy.
Lectures on the nautical maps will be given by Greek and Italian specialists within the framework of the exhibition.
 THE THESSALONIKI-ISTANBUL RAILWAY LINE WILL SOON BE IN OPERATIONThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (19:15 UTC+2)
The final agreements on the railway link of Greece with Turkey and specifically of Thessaloniki with Istanbul will be signed in Turkey by the management of the Greek and the Turkish State Railways.
The Greek Railways InterCity train left the city of Alexandroupolis for Istanbul this morning carrying the Greek Railways management, businessmen and journalists within the framework of the moves for the strengthening of relations and economic transactions with Turkey on the occasion of the formal visit of Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou to the country.
 THE GREEKS FROM PONTOS ARE SKEPTICAL OVER THE SUCCESS OF THE GREEK-TURKISH DIALOGUEAthens, 21 January 2000 (19:15 UTC+2)
The Greek Federation of Greeks from Pontos' Associations characterized as positive the rapprochement efforts made by Greece and Turkey as well as, the efforts for the solution of the problems between the two countries but at the same time, it stressed that the basic pre-conditions for the success of the dialogue are Turkey's democratization and the public recognition of the mistakes made by both countries.
Skepticism is expressed in a statement issued by the federation over Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou's move to lay a wreath at Kemal Ataturk's mausoleum, stressing that his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem should make a similar move by laying a wreath at the Monument for the Greek Holocaust in Asia Minor.
The federation also requests that the Greek monuments in Turkey as well as the promotion of the cultural, language and religious rights of the Muslim population in northern Turkey that speak the Pontos language should be included in the agenda of the talks between the Greek and the Turkish foreign ministers.
 CIVIL POLICY, SIGNIFICANT PARAMETER OF DEMOCRACYThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (14:26 UTC+2)
Civil policy is a significant parameter that grants substance to each country\"s democracy and social development, as it reflects the security, expectation and quality of life that is felt and enjoyed by every citizen, according to the conference\"s chairperson and special representative of the Royaumont Process Panayiotis Roumeliotis.
Addressing the Thessaloniki-held conference on Civil Society, Democratization, Participation and the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, which is co-organized by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Royaumont process, on the initiative of Greece\"s EESC chapter, Mr. Roumeliotis stressed that the European Union is called on to become more attuned to the society and to grant its citizens the voice to express their concerns and expectations.
He further added that, following the changes that occurred in S.E. Europe in 1998, citizens were faced with challenges emanating from all institutional levels, while he expressed his conviction that the citizens society, in cooperation with the governments, can carry out a significant role by providing specialized knowledge and promoting the public\"s demands for welfare, development and security.
Rapporteur Colin Lustenhouwer, member of the EESC and representative of the Royal Media Association of the Netherlands, also referred to the S.E. European citizens\" input in the decision-making process through civil dialogue.
\"Any whatsoever dialogue for civil and economic developments necessitates the participation, at the very least, of non-governmental labor organizations,\" he stated.
Co-rapporteur George Sklavounos, member of the EESC, stated that the development of social dialogue in S.E. Europe cannot be dealt with as an obstacle, but, rather, should constitute a factor of development.
Moreover, he stressed that the EESC should undertake an initiative for granting its support to the \"Work Program for Economic Reconstruction\", by assisting the affiliate programs as outlined by the Stability Pact.
Gianni Arrico, member of the Italian chapter of the European Economic and Social Committee, referred to the significant role that the EESC can carry out in the application of the Stability Pact in S.E. Europe,.
Nikos Analytis, member of the EESC\"s executive committee and vice-president of the Greek Industries Federation, outlined the three main axes of the Greek chapter\"s \"Opinion Initiative\" as follows:
1) The EESC Greek chapter\"s will to contribute to the development of social dialogue and offer technological know-how to the S.E. European countries.
2) The importance of respecting national accords and customs and the avoidance of imposing a standardized model to these countries.
3) A step-by-step approach and the presentation of productive means that will be used in achieving short-and long-term aims.
The President of the Bulgarian Industrial Association, Bojidar Danev, stressed the importance of striking a balance between the political and social-economic dimensions in terms of establishing democratic and economic reforms in the region.
The two-day conference is jointly funded by the European Commission and Greece\"s Ministry of National Economy.
 CIVIL DIALOGUE IS NECESSARY IN S.E. EUROPEThessaloniki, 21 January 2000 (13:38 UTC+2)
The development of social dialogue is the key for the smooth transition of eastern, central and Southeastern Europe\"s countries into the European Union, Greece\"s Minister of Labor and Social Security Miltiades Papaioannou stated during his welcoming address at the conference on Civil Society, Democratization, Participation and the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe.
Addressing the event, jointly organized in Thessaloniki by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Royaumont process, on the initiative of Greece\"s EESC chapter, Mr. Papaioannou stressed that \"it is of vital importance that aid is given to the country\"s of southeastern Europe, aiming at the development of an appropriate system of civil dialogue as part of their civil development.
In such a case, Mr. Papaioannou added, the European Union\"s role will be decisive as the Commission will have to be ready to support the S.E. European allies in developing institutions and cooperation.
\"A well planned civil policy constitutes the key for the balance between development and employment,\" the Greek Labor Minister added.
He stated that Greece, as the EU member closest to the S.E European countries, shall undertake initiatives, submit proposals and provide all assistance possible for the development of robust and fertile civil dialogue.
The president of the European Economic and Social Committee Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli also referred to the vital role that can be carried out by Greece in the region.
\"We have always needed Greece and this is even more true in today\"s situation, given that this country constitutes a very significant crossroads at the European Union\"s border,\" she stated.
Portuguese Ambassador F. Santiago, standing for Portugal\"s Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, stated that the road to S.E. Europe\"s development runs through strengthened democratic institutions and the economic and civil reforms of the region\"s countries.
Moreover, Mr. Santiago stated that the key for achieving the targets set forth for the region is the encouragement of cooperation between the Stability Pact and the Royaumont process.
The vice president of the Committee of the Regions, Evangelos Kouloubis, referred to the \"race\" for the EU\"s expansion that will begin in 2002.
\"Already as of today, we are preparing in regards to ways to reform the European Union and its bodies, so that the expansion can proceed smoothly.
\"Of course, doubling the number of the EU\"s member-states will certainly have consequences, both in its institutional operation, as well as in its strategy. As such, we need to prepare the grounds so that the Union can emerge stronger from this process, not weaker.
Professor Andreas Kintis, president of the Greek chapter of EESC, stated that the conference is taking place at an era that is especially crucial and significant, not only for the countries of Southeast Europe, but for the European Union as well. He added that the Greek chapter of EESC is prepared to present specific proposals for civil dialogue, as it already has drawn an \"Initiative Opinion\" on the matter.
 PAPANDREOU: WE NEED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EXISTING CLIMATEIstanbul, 21 January 2000 (19:25 UTC+2)
Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou went to Istanbul at noon today where he had an informal lunch with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem, while later in the afternoon he is scheduled to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
Speaking in the Greek embassy in Ankara he said that there is enthusiasm and anticipation among the people over the course of the Greek-Turkish relations and there should be closer cooperation and exploitation of the existing climate. He also stated that it was 38 years ago when a Greek foreign minister made a formal visit to Ankara for the last time, adding that hard work is needed to achieve more in a positive way.
Mr. Papandreou stated that it is a crucial and historic moment as well as a difficult beginning, adding that the Greek-Turkish relations have improved but the problems in Cyprus have not been resolved. He also stated that if reason and the respect of international treaties prevail everything will go well.
 COOPERATION BETWEEN THE GREEK TV CHANNEL ET-3 AND FYROM'S RADIO AND TELEVISIONSkopje, 21 January 2000 (19:16 UTC+2)
The agreement of cooperation between the Greek state television channel ET-3 and the state radio and television of FYROM was signed in Skopje yesterday.
The agreement was signed by FYROM state radio and television director Ljubco Ioakimovski and ET-3 managing committee chairman Dimitris Katsantonis.
 ECEVIT SAYS CYPRUS ISSUE CAN BE SOLVEDAnkara, 21 January 2000 (10:33 UTC+2)
Turkey"s Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said that it was possible to solve Cyprus problem through dialogue, during his meeting with Greece"s visiting Foreign Minister George Papandreou in Ankara yesterday.
Mr. Ecevit stated that it was possible to solve the Cyprus issue through dialogue, and noted that rapprochement could be provided through relations in the field of economy, culture, and press.
The Turkish Premier also invited his Greek counterpart to visit Turkey.
 «EQUAL» TO COMBAT WORK DISCRIMINATIONBrussels, 21 January 2000 (10:47 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.
 UN WELCOMES GREEK-TURKISH AGREEMENTSUnited Nations, 21 January 2000 (10:32 UTC+2)
The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has welcomed the series of cooperation agreements signed between Greece and Turkey in Ankara yesterday, during the first official visit of a Greek Foreign Minister to Turkey in 38 years.
Both Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem pledged to push ahead with further improvement between the two countries. Turkey"s FM is expected in Athens in early February.
"The Secretary-General is encouraged by these developments," the UN statement said. "He warmly welcomes the constructive steps taken by both Governments to establish a new basis of cooperation and understanding. The Secretary-General is confident that the improved climate will lead to a better future for all the people in the region."