|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-06-05
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREECE EXPECTS ECOFINS "GO AHEAD" FOR EMULuxembourg, 5 June 2000 (10:15 UTC+2)
The European Union's Economy and Finance Ministerial Council (ECOFIN) is convening in Luxembourg today where it is expected to approve Greece's entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).
The final decision for Greece's entry into the euro-zone will be taken during the European Union's summit in Feira, Portugal, on June 19.
Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will be taking part in Monday's meeting.
In line with the European Commisison's recommendations, the National Economy Ministry will present a specific timetable for structural changes over the next two years. Policy changes are also being worked out in health, transport and employment.
The timetable of structural changes, contains the following points: deregulation of the power and telecommunications markets; privatization, within the next 8 months, of 15 state-owned enterprises, including the Commercial Bank, which is already holding negotiations with a foreign partner; freeing the market from an array of complications stemming from the intricate system of licenses required for starting any business activity; Finally, the social security system is to be reformed by the middle of next year.
The European Commission's report is viewed as a two-sided coin, as it, on the one hand. Proposes stringent measures for the country's economy, while, on the other, it lauds Greeceor its economic achievements.
 DYNAMIC MIX WRAPPING UP TODAY IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 5 June 2000 (10:19 UTC+2)
NATO's largest ever military exercise "Dynamic Mix" is being wrapped up today in the outskirts of Thessaloniki, featuring the participation of Greek, U.S., German and Hungarian forces.
According to today's scenario, Greece has been "attacked" by three countries, two of which belong to the wider Balkan region and one in North Africa.
The participating forces have organized their defense and a "counterattack" will follow. Today's exercise, which involves live ammunition, comprises more than 3,000 land soldiers, as well as dozens of fighter jets and helicopters.
 US TERRORISM C/TEE CALLS FOR SANCTIONS ON GREECEWashington, 5 June 2000 (10:56 UTC+2)
The United States National Commission on Terrorism has issued a report, to be released today, calling for severe sanctions against Greece, although the State Department's reaction to the committee's recommendations is, at best, lukewarm.
The commission, which comprises a 10-member panel, recommends that U.S. President Clinton consider imposing limited diplomatic and military sanctions on Greece and Pakistan, for "not cooperating fully on counter-terrorism."
Furthermore, the panel argues that Greece has been "disturbingly passive" in its response to terrorism activities. In its 64-page report, the panel writes that Greek authorities have been unable to solve "terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens or interests in Greece".
The panel also calls for maintaining the existing regulations for issuing visas to those Greeks wishing to visit the US, visa-issuance regulations and barring further armament sales to Greece.
The report apparently failed to sway the White House and State Department, as US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured yesterday that "the US is not examining the eventuality of imposing sanctions against Greece." She further added that the problems which exist in combating terrorism on the part of the Greek government have been discussed in recent meetings which she and other US government officials have had with Greek officials.
US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns also stated that the Clinton Administration is not considering the option of imposing sanctions on Greece, contrary to what the report recommends. He further stressed that the committee's report "has no relation with the State Department and does not reflect the Clinton Administration's views."
Moreover, the U.S. diplomat stated that the issue of terrorism has to be dealt without publicity and added that "we are working towards this direction with the (Greek) Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoides."
In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that "we have expressed in another case as well the position and the firm will against terrorism.
"Such demands which do not correspond to the true situation in our country are not acceptable. We view that such a content has no relation with the security of the citizens in Greece and with our country's continuous effort for the elimination of such activities."
Contacted by the Los Angeles Times, Greek Embassy spokesman in Washington Achiles Paparsenos, called the report's allegations "totally unfair."
Athens, he said, is "cooperating fully on terrorism with the United States and other countries."
 GREEK AND KOSOVAR BUSINESSMEN MEETINGThessaloniki, 5 June 2000 (19:07 UTC+2)
The sum of 360 million Euro has been secured by the Organization for the Reconstruction of the Balkans and it is expected to be activated within the next few months for the funding of programs in the region of Kosovo, according to Association of Industries in northern Greece president Vasilis Takas, who made the statement within the framework of the visit by a business delegation from Kosovo to Thessaloniki's Commerce and Industry Chamber.
The programs refer to the economic and social development of the region and as it was pointed out by Mr. Takas they concern the sectors of energy, transportation, environment and housing. Mr. Takas also called on the Kosovar businessmen to submit proposals for the better use of the funds.
In addition, Mr. Takas referred to the Greek action plan for the reconstruction of the Balkan region and pointed out that the sum of 180 billion drachmas will be offered over a 5 year period and it will concern the sectors of social infrastructure and production.
The Greek action plan is directed to the Kosovo, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, FYROM and Yugoslavia only after the international sanctions are lifted.
 REPPAS' COMMENTS ON THE US CONGRESS REPORT ON TERRORISMAthens, 5 June 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
The US Congress Committee report based on which Greece is characterized as a country that does not assist the efforts made to tackle terrorism, was described as an anti-Greek fabrication by Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Mr. Reppas stated that this report has no relation whatsoever to reality and those who maintain such things see the situation through anti-Greek glasses. He also pointed out that the government has already protested to the responsible US administration bodies, while he also added that the US ambassador to Athens has stated that the American government does not adopt the report in question.
Responding to the question if the issue of terrorism was discussed in the meeting of Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis with US president Bill Clinton, he said that the issue was not discussed by the two leaders.
Finally, on the signing of the cooperation memorandum between Greek and US police officers, the Greek government spokesman stated that the memorandum has been drawn up but it has not been determined when it will be signed.
 THE "DYNAMIC MIX" EXERCISE IN THE VILLAGE OF PROFITIS NEAR THESSALONIKI WAS SUCCESSFULThessaloniki, 5 June 2000 (17:51 UTC+2)
The main phase of the land operations within the framework of the "Dynamic Mix" NATO exercise was held successfully near the villages of Profitis and Askos in Thessaloniki and according to a statement made by Greek minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos the exercise confirmed the cooperation of the 14 countries that took part.
The main phase was held in the presence of Mr. Tsochatzopoulos, undersecretary of defense Dimitris Apostolakis, NATO forces commander general Ralston, NATO commander in the Mediterranean admiral Elis, national defense general chief of staff general Manousos Paragioudakis, and leaders of land, air and sea forces, parliament deputies and local administration representatives.
In the final attack, according to the scenario of the exercise, took part 550 men from Greece, the United States and Hungary though the 33rd mechanized brigade, the 2nd US marine brigade and a multi-national battalion made up of men from all three countries. The role of the "enemy" was played by the Greek mechanized infantry battalion and the scenario of the exercise included an attack to regain the control of a territory occupied by enemy forces.
In the exercise was used live ammunition by almost all the weapons used by the land and air forces. Also participated Mirage 2000, F16 and Harrier jets from Greece, the United States and Turkey as well as Apatci and Cobra combat helicopters from the United States.
Admiral Elis stated after the end of this phase of the exercise that he is satisfied with the success, congratulated all those who took part and thanked Greece for the hospitality, pointing out that the goal of the exercise was to train the participating forces in crisis management.
National Defense General Chief of Staff general Paragioudakis pointed out that the excellent planning, the accuracy in the performance and the use of forces from many NATO countries proved that the forces of the alliance can perform effectively the roles and the missions stemming from the new strategic conception of NATO.
Minister of defense Mr. Tsochatzopoulos pointed out that it is the first large scale NATO exercise on the basis on the new doctrine and the participating countries acquired valuable experience in the cooperation that is aimed at securing peace and stability for the countries in the region. He also underlined that there are no more enemies with their classic form and for this reason cooperation must be strengthened aimed at dealing with crises in different parts of the world.
The "Dynamic Mix" exercise was launched on May 20 and will be completed on June 10, while certain command units will leave Greece on June 20. In the exercise participate 15.000 men, 293 aircraft and helicopters, 65 warships, Patriot, Hawk and Roland anti-aircraft systems and a large number of vehicles and auxiliary means.
 MESSAGE BY THE GREEK MERCHANT MARINE MINISTER ON THE WORLD DAY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAthens, 5 June 2000 (17:46 UTC+2)
The protection of the environment and especially the sea and coasts are among the first priorities in our time, is mentioned in the message by merchant marine minister Christos Papoutsis on the occasion of the World Day on the Environment.
Mr. Papoutsis underlined that the merchant marine ministry participates actively in the efforts for the protection of the sea environment and for keeping the coasts clean, stressing that the protection of the environment today is the best investment for the future.
He also stated that joint effort and individual responsibility are necessary for the protection of the environment and the natural beauties of Greece.
 LOSSES OF 0.87% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 5 June 2000 (16:23 UTC+2)
Losses of 0.87% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today and the general index was at 4.494,99 points, while the volume of transactions was at 116,54 billion drachmas.
According to market circles, the losses recorded today are attributed partly to the negative developments regarding Olympic Airways and the scenarios on similar negative developments regarding the Bank of Commerce.
 PANGALOS: OLYMPIC AIRWAYS MUST BE SOLD TO A PRIVATE INVESTORAthens, 5 June 2000 (16:22 UTC+2)
Minister of culture Theodoros Pangalos suggested in an interview with the Athens newspaper "Apogevmatini" that the sale of Olympic Airways to a private investor with the right to fire personnel is the only solution for the survival of the Greek national airline.
Mr. Pangalos stated regarding the construction of a mosque in Athens that there are extreme right, intolerant and racist parliament deputies, while he admitted that certain projects will not be ready by 2004 when the Olympic Games will be held in Athens. He also praised the abilities of Ms. Yianna Daskalaki-Angelopoulou, who was recently appointed chairwoman of the "Athens 2004" organization.
In the same interview, Mr. Pangalos stated that the policy of foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou on the Greek-Turkish relations is characterized by a total deadlock and attributed the reaction to the new identity cards to the insecurity of the leadership of the Church of Greece. At the same time, he announced significant cuts in the culture ministry subsidies.
 EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON PEACEAthens, 5 June 2000 (16:10 UTC+2)
The 3rd European Conference on Peace, Democracy and Cooperation in the Balkans will be held in Athens on June 9-12. The conference is organized by the Federation of Balkan non governmental organizations and it is aimed at contributing to the constructive progress of the Stability Pact in south-eastern Europe.
The conference will be opened by minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos. It will be attended by large delegations of non governmental organizations from the Balkans and Europe, government representatives, Euro-deputies, representatives of state parliaments as well as representatives of state and international organizations and distinguished personalities such as Council of Europe General Directorate adviser on political affairs, Max Gilbert and UN secretary-general special representative in Kosovo, Bernard Kushner.
 GREEKS LIVE LONG, HEALTHY LIVES, SAYS WHOGeneva, 5 June 2000 (14:15 UTC+2)
Ranking fourth in Europe and seventh world-wide, Greeks live a long a healthy life with an average expectancy of 72.5 years, according to a list of 191 countries just released by the World Health Organization in Geneva.
While Greece is led by the French (who rank first in Europe), Spanish (72.8) and Italians (72.7), the Japanese top the worldwide list at 74.5 years and are followed by the Australians.
Japan's top listing is attributed to the country's low heart disease rate due to the Japanese low-fat diet, although this could change in the years to come as the Japanese are reported to be smoking more and consuming greater amounts of red meat.
The United States ranked 23h on the list with an average life expectancy of 70.4 years.
Sierra Leone comes at the bottom of the list with an expectancy of 25.9 years. All 10 states at the bottom of the list are in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS is prevalent.
 DEFENSE MINISTRY TO REDUCE LENGTH OF SERVICE‘hessaloniki, 5 June 2000 (13:56 UTC+2)
Greece's mandatory military service is to be six months shorter by 2003, according to the Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos who unveiled a new program that will gradually be completed in three years and be combined with the hiring of 15,000 professional soldiers.
According to Mr. Tsochatzopoulos, the program calls for an annual two-month cut in all branches of the military. Namely, the length of service in 2001 will be 16 months for the army (presently 18), 18 for the air force (presently 20) and 19 for the navy (presently 21).
Two-month cuts will also be implemented in the years 2002 and 2003, until the overall military term is six months shorter. It has not been clarified if the new terms are applicable to those already enlisted.
 GREEK-TURKISH PARTENARIAT CONSIDERED BY EVETHThessaloniki, 5 June 2000 (13:26 UTC+2)
The Trade and Industry Chamber of Thessaloniki (EVETH) is reportedly considering the organization of a Greek-Turkish partenariat, while it is also expected to start a twinning process with Istanbul's Chamber of Trade.
The proposal of a partenariat with Turkish firms is the brainchild of EVETH chairman Dimitris Bakatselos, who tabled the idea during EVETH's recent visit to Bursa and Istanbul.
"We are to hold a partenariat in Thessaloniki in November. One hundred firms, both Greek and Balkan, are to receive firms from 80 countries, mostly Europe," Mr. Bakatselos stated. He further added that "as this was an EU program, it did not call for Turkey's participation. However, we will be especially pleased if members of the Bursa and Istanbul Chambers' boards participated so that we may soon co-organize a similar partenariat," he added.
 A BOOK BY GREEK AUTHOR VIZIINOS WILL BE MADE A GREEK-TURKISH MOVIEIstanbul, 5 June 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
An agreement was reached recently for the first Greek-Turkish co-production of a motion picture based on the book written by Georgios Viziinos under the title "The only trip in my life". The shooting of the first scenes will start in Istanbul by the end of June and will continue in Athens and in Vizius, the home village of the author in Thrace.
The leading roles in the film will be played by Greek and Turkish actors and it will be directed by Lakis Papastathis.
 THE FRENCH MINISTER OF FINANCE SUGGESTED THAT GREECE ENTER THE EURO-ZONE SOONERLuxembourg, 5 June 2000 (16:23 UTC+2)
Indicative of the climate in today's European Union finance ministers council, that meets in Luxembourg to give the "green light" to Greece's accession into the Euro-zone on January 1, 2001, was the proposal made by French finance minister Loran Fabius, who suggested that informally Greece's accession into the Euro-zone should take place earlier than January 1, 2001.
According to the proposal, Greek minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou should participate in the meetings of the Euro-zone countries immediately after the final decision on Greece's EMU accession in the summit meeting that will take place in Portugal.
 FOUR ANCIENT GREEK CITIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA OFF THE COASTS OF ALEXANDRIAAlexandria, 5 June 2000 (16:23 UTC+2)
French and Egyptian archaeologists announced in Alexandria, Egypt that they have located four ancient Greek cities 2.000-2.500 years old at the bottom of the sea off the coasts of Abu Kir. It is the most significant archaeological discovery of the past few years and it could bring to light important information on the civilization of the Pharaohs in Egypt in the middle of the 1st century BC.
In a press conference that was given in Alexandria's Palestine Hotel yesterday archaeologists announced to journalists that two of those cities namely, Minotis and Iraklion, were covered by the sea more than 1.000 years ago and now their ruins are in an excellent condition 15-30 meters under the sea, off the coasts of Abu Kir, 6 kilometers from Alexandria.
According to the French director of the Paris based European Institute of Underwater Archaeology, who heads the joint French-Egyptian excavation team under the name "Return to Light", the most likely cause of the sinking of the cities could be a strong earthquake with simultaneous rise in the sea level because of climate changes.
Minotis and Iraklion were covered by the sea in the 8th century AD after hundreds of years of life. It is believed that they were founded between the 7th and 6th century BC and were known for their wealth and artistic presence in the Mediterranean. The surprising fact is the extremely good condition of their houses, temples and huge sculptures.
The other two cities that have been identified but have not been explored yet by archaeologists are Kanopis and Thonis.