|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-01-31
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREEK ECONOMY TESTED TODAY BY ECOFINBrussels, 31 January 2000 (12:28 UTC+2)
ECOFIN will discuss Greece's updated convergence program for the period
1999-2002 in the presence of minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou.
Mr. Papantoniou aspires to return from Brussels bringing with him the approval of ECOFIN given the fact that the Monetary Committee has already issued a positive opinion on the Greek convergence program.
Although the "15" are expected to praise the government's fiscal policy, especially its accomplishment in containing inflation, they are expected to warn that inflationary pressures reduction rate may be delayed due to the increasing prices in oil and the relaxed monetary policy measures.
As such, they are expected to advise the Greek government to boost its anti-inflationary policy through fiscal and revenue policies and, more specifically, by containing salary increases in the public and private sectors.
Moreover, the levying of additional taxes is not ruled out as an option, should inflation fail to drop to the expected levels.
Meanwhile, the consultations of OECD specialists on the current developments in the Greek economy have opened in Athens. The consultations will focus on the preservation of the macro-economic balance through the promotion of structural changes in the public sector and the economy.
The OECD specialists will stay in Greece for three days and, based on the
data they will collect, they will draw up the international organization's report on the state of the Greek economy.
 PREMIER HAS YET TO TALK ON ELECTIONSAthens, 31 January 2000 (13:05 UTC+2)
Both ruling PASOK party and the opposition parties are waiting for the Prime Minister and party leader Costas Simitis to decide on the issue of elections.
Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos stated that the government should exhaust its four-year term, so as to allow PASOK to submit its suggestions and proposals for the following term, albeit he stressed that should elections be held early, then PASOK would undertake the responsibility to win.
PASOK is organizing an ideological conference on February 5-6 during which the Prime Minister is expected to announce the party's agenda for the next governmental term.
 CYPRUS: PROXIMITY TALKS BEGIN IN GENEVAGeneva, 31 January 2000 (11:35 UTC+2)
Only a few hours before the start of the second round of Cyprus peace talks in Geneva, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Glafkos Clerides sent a message to Turkish Cypriots that it is time for a settlement on the island through a genuine effort and direct talks.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will have separate meetings with President Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in the presence of
special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who will take over the supervision
of the talks on Tuesday.
Mr. De Soto said the talks would be focusing on four core issues: security, distribution of powers, property and territory.
The Cypriot President refrained from replying to questions on the substance of the UN-led talks or the procedure to be followed, and when asked if he is more optimistic over this round of talks, he replied "I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, I am a person with patience and perseverance."
 GREEK-ALBANIAN COOPERATION AGAINST SMUGGLINGIoannina, 31 January 2000 (11:35 UTC+2)
Greek and Albanian police delegations met at the city of Ioannina in order to discuss issues related to smuggling.
According to Albanian press reports, the Albanian delegation requested Greece"s technical assistance in order to improve the combat of arms and drug smuggling. Prostitution and illegal immigration.
The Albanian daily "Gazetta Skiptare" reported that the police chiefs of Gjirocaster and Agii Sarante complained to their Greek counterparts over the fact the Greek police have confiscated about 500 Albanian passports.
 ARCHBISHOP: SEX IN MARRIAGE IS A BLESSED ACTAthens, 31 January 2000 (13:37 UTC+2)
In an appeal to Greeks to have more children, the leader of Greece's Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos, stated that lovemaking between married couples is a "blessed act."
"Lovemaking is a blessed act of marriage... It is a gift God has given to man and it should not be considered a sin," he stated.
In his sermon, Archbishop Christodoulos paid tribute to an Athens priest, Father Athanasios, who has 11 children.
Both the state and the church are involved in a campaign to reverse Greece's declining birth rate, which in recent years has forced the closure of scores of primary schools.
 REPPAS' COMMENTS ON THE GREEK-TURKISH RELATIONS AND CYPRUSAthens, 31 January 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
The rapprochement between Greece and Turkey should be handled in a good spirit and with a strong will by both countries, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, when asked to comment on whether the rejection by Greek minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos of the proposal made by Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem for the creation of a political-military group constitutes a Greek government position.
Mr. Reppas also stated that the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum must be implemented in order to achieve positive results.
On the Cyprus talks that resume in Geneva, Mr. Reppas stressed that in order to have progress the other party must display flexibility and good will in the efforts to find a solution. He said that the talks must be meaningful and correspond to the mandate given by the UN secretary-general.
 THE GREEK GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ON THE PRE-ELECTION CLIMATEAthens, 31 January 2000 (18:11 UTC+2)
The prime minister is not responsible for the creation of the pre-election climate in the country, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Mr. Reppas stated, when asked to comment on when elections will be held, that the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy had maintained that it will lead the country to early elections.
The Greek government spokesman insinuated that this week the prime minister will speak in political party and government meetings on issues of political conjuncture and he will comment on the country's course in the immediate future. He also concluded that the prime minister will make his choices based on the country's interest.
 THE GREEK UNIVERSITIES OFFER HIGH LEVEL EDUCATIONThessaloniki, 31 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
The foreign students, who have selected Greece and specifically, Thessaloniki to continue their studies within the Erasmus education program, underlined the high level of education offered by the Greek universities and Greece's archaeological wealth.
The young Europeans, who participate in the exchange student program Erasmus, spend one or two semesters each year in a European country of their choice where they attend the university courses they want.
However, all the exchange students agree that the Greek universities are lacking in terms of administration as they face many organizational problems.
 LOSSES OF 0.60% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 31 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
The Athens Stock Exchange closed with losses of 0.60% today at 4.990,02 points. The volume of transactions remained low at 170 billion drachmas.
The stock market followed a downward course in the shadow of the pre-election climate that exists in the country and the scenarios on an imminent increase of the US and European interest rates.
 THE SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER CONGRATULATED HIS GREEK COUNTERPARTAthens, 31 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
Swedish prime minister Goran Perrson, who is on a formal visit to Greece, congratulated Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis for the achievements of the Greek economy and the progress made by the country in its course toward the EMU.
In statements made to reporters after his meeting today with Mr. Person, Mr. Simitis characterized as excellent the Greek-Swedish relations especially in the sectors of trade, investments and tourism. Mr. Simitis also stressed that the visit of Mr. Perrson was a confirmation of the friendship existing between the two peoples.
The Swedish prime minister characterized bilateral relations as excellent, stressing that both countries are EU members and it is to their interest to cooperate within the EU framework. He congratulated Mr. Simitis and its government, pointing out that they worked hard to succeed in the sector of the economy. He also expressed the belief that Greece's accession into the EMU in the immediate future is certain.
Referring to the Swedish EU presidency, Mr. Perrson stressed that the main issue will be the EU enlargement as well as unemployment, the protection of the environment, the improvement of the quality of life for the people and the rapprochement between the United States and Russia. The Swedish prime minister also referred to the war in Chechnya and expressed the opposition of his government to the use of force, while he called for a political solution through the process of dialogue.
 EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 3.9 ON THE RICHTER SCALE IN LAKE VOLVIThessaloniki, 31 January 2000 (18:09 UTC+2)
An earthquake measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale was recorded at 11:56am today and its epicenter was located in north Chalkidiki close to lake Volvi. The weak tremor was felt in Thessaloniki as its epicenter was located 60 kilometers west of the city.
An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale had been recorded in the same region on December 12, 1999 and seismologists at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University had characterized it as a delayed aftershock of the May 4, 1995 earthquake that measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and hit the mountainous region of Arnea, Chalkidiki.
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki seismologist Manolis Skordilis stated to MPA that today's weak tremor should not cause concern as based on the existing indications the region does not appear to be in an intense seismic activity.
 ISMAIL CEM WILL BE IN ATHENS ON THURSDAYAthens, 31 January 2000 (18:09 UTC+2)
Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem will be in Athens on Thursday to sign with his Greek counterpart the second part of the Greek-Turkish agreements on low policy issues.
Referring to the course of the Greek-Turkish relations, Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou stated that the visit of Mr. Cem to Greece opens a new circle of events for regular and systematic contacts.
Mr. Papandreou pointed out that the decisions made in the Helsinki EU summit meeting have formed a new positive framework that must be filled with actions, thoughts, proposals and ideas certain of which have already been discussed.
 ATHENIANS FLOCK TO TRY OUT THE METROAthens, 31 January 2000 (15:01 UTC+2)
Over two million Athenians flocked to the 14 new stations of the Athens metro during the weekend, propelled by curiosity and the free ride offered by the state on the capital city's brand new form of transportation.
The new system, inaugurated by state and political leaders on Friday, was inundated by the crowd throughout the weekend, forcing Metro officials to close off the entrance at Syntagma station at regular intervals in order to regulate the flow.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the Athens Metro was proof of the government's commitment to improve Greeks' daily life.
"We were the ones who have in recent years placed great emphasis on everyday problems," he stated, adding that the metro is not just a faster means of transport, or just a way to travel somewhere in eight minutes."
Transport officials expect some 450,000 people to use the metro daily, and that it will relieve the city's traffic congestion. Starting this week, trolley and bus routes will be amended to access metro stations.
Minister of Environment, Public Works and City Planning Costas Laliotis, visited Syntagma and promised to meet the next metro deadlines.
 QUAKE OF 5 RICHTER SHAKES HERAKLION, CRETEThessaloniki, 31 January 2000 (13:05 UTC+2)
An earthquake measuring five degrees on the Richter scale shook the city of Heraklion in Crete this morning at 9.30.
The quake's epicenter was located in the northeastern sea region of Crete, off the coast of Carpathos. No damages have been reported.
 SARANDE-ATHENS BUS LINETirana, 31 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
A new bus line linking the southern Albanian city of Sarande with Athens was recently put in operation, according to the Albanian news agency ATA.
The buses of the "Sarande Lines" company will link the city of Sarande with Athens on a daily basis, except Tuesday, and will pass through the cities of Ioannina and Patras while the ticket price will be 8.800 drachmas.
It should be noted that this is the first direct bus line that links Sarande with the Greek mainland.
 SIX KILLED IN CYPRUS WHEN BUS TURNS OVERNicosia, 31 January 2000 (11:34 UTC+2)
Six persons were killed and 26 others were injured when a bus transporting Asian workers turned over while en route to Lemessos.
According to Cypriot police, the bus was carrying 36 passengers, all of them from Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines, when its driver lost control of the vehicle and rammed into a wall.
Approximately 8,000 individuals of Asian descent are presently in Cyprus, most of them working as domestic helpers.
 CLERIDES' STATEMENTS ON HIS MEETING WITH ANNANGeneva, 31 January 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and Cypriot president Glafkos Clerides who met in Geneva today, discussed in a greater detail the issues that were examined in the first round of the proximity talks that was held in New York.
The meeting lasted a little more than an hour, and leaving the UN building president Clerides stated that no new issues were discussed, adding that the talks will continue on the same issues.
The next meeting of Mr. Clerides within the framework of the proximity talks will take place tomorrow morning.
 ECOFIN APPROVED THE REFORMED CONVERGENCE PLAN FOR THE GREEK ECONOMYBrussels, 31 January 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
The reformed convergence program for the Greek economy for the period 1999-2002 was approved by the European Union ministers of finance who met in Brussels today.
The council of ministers issued a statement in which they express very positive comments the same with those that were expressed when the program was approved by the European Commission and the Monetary Committee.
It is also noted that Greece meets all the necessary criteria in order to join the single currency in 2001, while the delay in the de-escalation rate of inflation is being attributed to the increase of the international oil prices.