|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-05-17
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREEK PRESIDENT TO MEET WITH YASSER ARAFATBethlehem, 17 May 2000 (10:22 UTC+2)
The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos concluded his official visit to Israel yesterday and will arrive in Bethlehem today for talks with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
In a liuncheon givenin his honor by Israel's Foreign Policy Institute yesterday, the President stated that "Greece and Israel belong to a unified, in its wider form, geopolitical and geo-strategic area since southeastern Europe and the Middle East are showing common security problems, are experiencing similar strategic threats and are showing quite a few common economic and social infrastructure problems."
Furthermore, the President stressed the need for strengthening cooperation between the two countries and expressed the hope that his visit to Israel will contribute decisively to the further development, improvement and enrichment of Tel Aviv's relations with Athens.
President Stephanopoulos is accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi, Deputy National Economy Minister Yiannis Zafiropoulos and a delegation of Greek businessmen.
 ID CARDS: NO RELIGION, JOB, THUMBPRINT, NATIONALITYAthens, 17 May 2000 (11:04 UTC+2)
While the Greek government has yet to receive any decision by the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data (APPD) ng the issue of excluding religious affiliation from identification cards, Prime Minister Costas Simitis is said to have assigned the divisive matter to the Minister of the Interior Vasso Papandreou for review.
According to current practice, applicants for police identity cards are obliged to declare their religion, profession, nationality and spouse's name, as well as give a thumbprint. However, the APPD chairman Constantine Dafermos has stated that this practice is illegal as the aforementioned data are considered to be sensitive information.
Mr. Dafermos also stated that those who wish to advertise their faith can always ask the Church of Greece to issue them identity cards of its own, as trade unions do.
Regarding the thumbprint requirement, Mr. Dafermos stated that they too should be excluded as they denote criminal activity. However, he added, the new ID cards should mention their bearers' blood group.
 THE PILOTS OF THE FALCON ARE CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER AND BODILY HARMAthens, 17 May 2000 (18:29 UTC+2)
The two pilots of the government Falcon, involved in a freak accident several months ago, were charged by the Athens prosecutor with manslaughter and bodily harm based on the findings of the team of specialists who concluded that there was human error and not mechanical failure that caused the accident killing 7 people among them, deputy foreign minister Yiannos Kranidiotis. The accident happened on a flight from Athens to Bucharest.
Specifically, based on the findings, the pilots are accused of maintaining an excessive speed, wrong handling at the controls of the airplane that blocked the automatic pilot system and not warning the passengers to fasten their seat belts in time.
Also, it was decided that an inquiry will be underway to determine the responsibilities if any of the technicians in charge of the airplane's maintenance.
 PAINTER FROM CRETE MAINTAINS THAT HE OWNS VAN GOGH WORKSIraklio, 17 May 2000 (18:25 UTC+2)
A painter from the island of Crete in southern Aegean maintains that he has in his possession two authentic works of Van Gogh, which are signed with the name Vincent.
The Athens newspaper "Eleftherotipia" mentions that they are two small works (20x35cm) which are painted on plain paper. Specifically, the first of the works depicts a fish drawn with Indian ink and the second one shows a mill next to a waterfall. The colors used in the second painting are Van Gogh's favorite.
The owner, who wants to maintain his anonymity, said that he bought them from an antique shop in Monastiraki, Athens in 1978 but he never paid them much attention. Just a few months ago he noticed that at their back side they had a seal that wrote in German "Goering, Paris, 1943". This made him think that he had in his hands authentic works stolen by German army officer Goering during WWII.
According to the newspaper, the painting depicting a mill has been examined using a laser method that can verify the authenticity of a work of art.
Now, the painter from Crete is making efforts to sell the two works and his wish is to sell them either to the Greek state or to Greek art collectors.
 ASIA FORUM: THE EURO-ASIAN COOPERATION IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 17 May 2000 (17:15 UTC+2)
The heart of the Euro-Asian cooperation will beat in Thessaloniki on May 23-28 as in those seven days the Asia Forum will be held in the city with the participation of delegations from tens of countries.
The forum's goal is the mutual exchange of information, the promotion of multi-lateral business cooperation and investments as well as, the strengthening of the tourist sector through cooperation and the development of new strategies.
The business forum is a follow-up of the first Asia Forum 2000 event under the title "Political and Economic Leaders Summit" that was held in Thessaloniki on February 1-8 with the participation of 17 government ministers and undersecretaries.
 REPPAS CONDEMNED THE SILENCING OF MASS MEDIA IN BELGRADEAthens, 17 May 2000 (17:09 UTC+2)
The Greek government condemns the closing down of mass media by the Belgrade regime, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Mr. Reppas stated that such actions hurt democracy and added that from the start the Greek side was in favor of the freedom of expression, the unhindered operation of the mass media, and the right of the people and institutions to disseminate their views. The Greek government spokesman also said that such actions constitute a return to regimes and views that have been condemned by the whole modern world.
 LOSSES OF 0.13% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 17 May 2000 (17:02 UTC+2)
Marginal losses of 0.13% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today while the general index was at 4.703,61 points.
The volume of transactions was maintained at satisfactory levels at 185 billion drachmas.
 PM CHAIRS DEFENSE, FOREIGN POLICY MEETINGAthens, 17 May 2000 (13:43 UTC+2)
A defense and foreign policy meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis today where the issues discussed were the confidence building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean, as well as the Parliament's ratification of Greek-Turkish "low policy" agreements.
Foreign and Defense Ministers, George Papandreou and Akis Tsochatzopoulos, respectively, were reported to have agreed on close cooperation, while the two ministries are jointly reviewing the Greek positions on the CBMs.
According to press reports, these positions are to be formulated by a joint experts committee which will be outlined in a document that is expected to be given to Turkey's Foreign Minister by Mr. Papandreou at the NATO Foreign Ministers Conference, to be held next week in Florence.
Moreover, the joint committee is expected to examine which of the Turkish CMBs could be adopted at a bilateral level, as well as whether or not the Alliance is in a position to "confirm" at a technical level the adopted CBMs.
 GREEKS WORK MORE HOURS THAN THE EU AVERAGEThessaloniki, 17 May 2000 (10:40 UTC+2)
Greek employees work an average of 40.8 hours per week, compared to a European Union median of 40.4 hours, according to a European Commission study.
The study, based on 1997 data and released yesterday, noted that only the British work more hours than the Greeks, reaching a weekly average of 43.6 hours.
According to the study, only 55.6 per cent of Greeks between the ages of 15 and 64 were gainfully employed, compared to the European Union average of 62 per cent.
Moreover, the study showed that 17.8% of the labor force is employed in the agricultural sector, 23% in industry and 59.2% in services. European average percentages for the same sectors are 4.5, 29.3 and 66.2, respectively.
The employment rate for the 15-24 age group is also quite low in Greece where, out of 1,400,000 individuals between the said ages, only 399,000 are employed - i.e. 28.1 percent.
 RADIOACTIVE ORE IMPOUNDED AT ROMANIAN BORDERBucharest, 17 May 2000 (12:35 UTC+2)
Romanian customs officials have impounded 40 tons of iron ore at the border after discovering it had a high level of radioactivity.
Two trucks that were transporting over 20 tons of ore each from Greece have been detained since Saturday at the Danube port of Giurgiu, which recently installed radioactivity detectors, according to Romanian customs officials.
Greece's Mechano Chemica company was exporting the ore to the Romanian iron and steel works Sidex Galati through the Romanian intermediary Metal Export-Import of Bucharest. The ore had a radioactive radiation five times permissible levels.
 ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS DENOUNCE BERISHAS REMARKSTirana, 17 May 2000 (11:33 UTC+2)
The presidium of Albania's Socialist Party has denounced the inflammatory remarks made recently by the Democratic Party's President Sali Berisha against Greece, disavowing the statements as irresponsible, provocative and harmful for Albania's interests.
At a Democratic Party conference held late last month, Mr. Berisha unleashed a long string of allegations against Greek political leaders, accusing them of having turned Albania into a "Mafia protectorate".
The Socialist Party also announced that Mr. Berisha's statements were detrimental for the country's embodiment in Euro-Atlantic structures.
It further called on the Democratic Party's members to distance themselves from the man who, for the sake of his own interests, is seeking to create tension and conflict in Albania's excellent ties with the United States, its neighbors, NATO, and EU member-states.
 INFLATION IN THE EURO-ZONE WAS AT 1.9% IN APRILBrussels, 17 May 2000 (17:00 UTC+2)
Inflation in the Euro-zone was at 1.9% in April compared to 2.15% in March, according to the European Union statistics agency Eurostat.
The harmonized consumer prices index in the Euro-zone increased by 0.1% in April compared to March, while the same trend was observed in all the European Union member states.
The highest annual inflation rate in April was recorded in Ireland 5%, followed by Luxembourg 3.2%, Spain 3% and Denmark 2.9%.
Compared to April 1999 the biggest inflation rate increases were recorded in Austria and Sweden while the biggest decline was observed in Britain and Portugal.
 NONEXISTENT EGGS AGAINST PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOSJerusalem, 17 May 2000 (16:54 UTC+2)
Both Greek and Palestinian circles categorically deny today's news reports by the news agencies Reuters and AFP according to which, Palestinians threw eggs against Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos during his visit to Jerusalem. The groundless "news reports" have been denied by the Greek and foreign journalists covering the visit of Mr. Stephanopoulos in Palestine, while it must be pointed out that the talks of president Stephanopoulos with Palestinian president Yasser Arafat in Bethlehem today were held in a good climate.
The Reuters news agency reported that young Palestinians allegedly threw eggs against president Stephanopoulos "in a show of anger for Mr. Stephanopoulos' refusal to meet with Palestinian leaders during his visit to Israel". The news was reported when president Stephanopoulos was meeting with Palestinian president Arafat.
The French news agency AFP in a report has mentioned that Stephanopoulos and Arafat had a formal meeting, adding that the Greek president allegedly was not well-received by tens of young Palestinians who, according to eye-witnesses, threw eggs against president Stephanopoulos and his entourage during his private visit to the old city of Jerusalem. The same news report mentions that it was not clear if the eggs hit Mr. Stephanopoulos.
Greek presidency sources when asked by MPA characterized the report on the alleged attack against Stephanopoulos as absolutely groundless, while the same were reported by Israeli foreign ministry officials responsible for the formal visit of the Greek president to Israel.
The Greek journalists covering the trip stated that they were always next to the president during his visit to the old city of Jerusalem and they did not see any eggs thrown against him and his entourage stressing that on the contrary, president Stephanopoulos was warmly and enthusiastically received.
Deputy foreign minister Elisavet Papazoi stated that the misunderstanding has been resolved and president Stephanopoulos has expressed the discontent of the Greek side regarding the diplomatic protest move. Ms. Papazoi added that president Stephanopoulos in his meeting with Arafat reiterated the Greek positions on the Palestinians and Jerusalem while Mr. Arafat briefed him on the Middle East peace negotiations.
 THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE DOCUMENT ALLOWING THE REMOVAL OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES IS IN QUESTIONLondon, 17 May 2000 (16:43 UTC+2)
Serious questions on the adequacy of the historical and legal arguments used by the British side in order to back its rejection of the demands for the return of the Parthenon Marbles are expressed by David Rudenstine, a professor in the Benzamin Cardozo Law School.
In an article he has written, that will be published in the May 29, 2000 issue of the "Nation" magazine, Mr. Rudenstine questions the authenticity and the reliability of the English document that is presented as a translation of the Ottoman document dated in July 1801 based on which, Elgin got the right to remove the Marbles from the Parthenon. Until now no researcher was able to locate that Ottoman document and Mr. Rundestine himself stated that he looked for it when he visited Istanbul but he was unable to trace the document or any reference to it.
Mr. Rundestine stated that even if the authenticity of the document is accepted the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon does not become legal as Elgin himself did not believe that he had got a permission for their removal from the Parthenon walls.
The only certain fact, said Mr. Rundestine, is that one of Elgin's men bribed the Ottoman officials to secure that the marbles will be sent to London. According to Mr. Rundestine, this action alone overturns every argument used for the legalization of the actions of Elgin's men.
 US PENTAGON EVASIVE OVER F-16 LETTERS TO GREECEWashington, 17 May 2000 (13:16 UTC+2)
United States Pentagon spokesperson Kenneth Bacon declined comment on the content of letters exchanged between Greece's Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and the US Secretary of State William Cohen regarding the F-16 aircraft parts ordered by Athens and delivered via Turkey.
Mr. Bacon stated that "the good news is that these parts were finally delivered to Greece. The bad news is that they were unexpectedly delivered through Turkey."
The Pentagon official also declined comment on reports that the US violated the April 30, 1999, agreement since the State Department refused to deliver the AGM 142 anti-aircraft missiles, the BU-87 bombs and aircraft engines.