|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-06-06
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREECE IN EUROZONE 6 MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULELuxembourg, 6 June 2000 (09:57 UTC+2)
As it was widely expected, the European Union's Economy and Finance Ministerial Council (ECOFIN) unanimously approved Greece's entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), during its session in Luxembourg yesterday.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who attended the Luxembourg meeting, welcomed the approval, calling it "historic" for Greece.
Mr. Papantoniou also said that the 11-member euro zone had decided to invite Greece to euro council meetings from July, well before its expected entry in January 2001.
ECOFIN adopted an earlier recommendation by the European Commission, which means the final step for Greek entry is anticipated endorsement by EU leaders at a summit in Feira, Portugal, on June 19-20.
 HOLY SYNOD CONVENES TODAY OVER ID CARDSAthens, 6 June 2000 (10:12 UTC+2)
The Orthodox Church of Greece's Holy Synod is to convene today in order to decide on the Church's strategy regarding the government's recent decision to exclude one's religion, along with other data, from being listed on the bearer's identification card.
Archbishop of Athens and All of Greece Christodoulos, referred to Church-State relations from Veria, central Greece, over the weekend as well as to Orthodoxy's role within an European context, stressing that "European civilization is based on Hellenic-Christian civilization."
He also said an Orthodox Christian's identity and a Greek's identity were two basic characteristics that "compose our personality".
Earlier last week, the Archbishop said that the government had taken an "amoral decision" that flies in the face of "the vast majority of Greek citizens represented by the Church".
 GREEK FM COGENTLY ARGUES FOR MARBLES RETURNLondon, 6 June 2000 (10:40 UTC+2)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, presently in London, testified before a House of Commons cultural committee yesterday, arguing for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
Heading a three-member Greek delegation, which comprises the culture ministry's secretary general Lina Mendoni and film director Jules Dassin of the Melina Merkouri Institute, Mr. Papandreou addressed a nine-member British parliamentary committee which is holding an inquiry into the illicit trade of antiquities.
Mr. Papandreou argued that Greece is both legally and historically justified and pointed to reports by archaeologists that talked about the need to make the Parthenon temple whole again. The Foreign Minister invited the British government and the British Museum to cooperate with Greece in finding a solution that satisfies all parties, with the eventual prospect of the Marbles return to Greece.
"I have the impression, that our proposal is realistic," Mr. Papandreou stated, adding that "the return of the Marbles to Greece would be a historic affair that would deeply move the Greek people, and which will gain a vast place in the hearts of Greeks."
 INFLATION WAS AT 2.9% IN MAYAthens, 6 June 2000 (18:20 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece was at 2.9% in the month of May showing an increase of 0.3% compared to the month of April when it was at 2.6%. However, according to estimates the harmonized index on which Greece's accession into the EMU will be based remains at 2%.
The rise of inflation is attributed to the increases in the fuel prices. It should be noted that since last year the international price of oil increased by 29.3%.
 THE GREEK NATIONAL ECONOMY MINISTER ON THE PRIVATIZATIONS AND EMUAthens, 6 June 2000 (18:10 UTC+2)
Greek minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou in a press conference he gave in Athens on Greece's accession into the EMU expressed the belief that by the summer of 2001 the majority of the 17 privatizations that are included in the agenda of the Greek government will be completed.
Mr. Papantoniou announced that Credit Suisse First Boston has been appointed as an adviser to the new international tender that will be launched aimed at finding a strategic investor for Olympic Airways.
He also announced that the Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, board of directors approved the trading of COSMOTE in the Athens Stock Exchange that will be launched by the end of the summer, most likely in September. In addition Mr. Papantoniou announced the privatization of the Agriculture Bank of Greece and the state-run Electricity Company, while the country's sea ports will be privatized by the end of the year with the exception of the port of Piraeus which is scheduled to be privatized in early 2001.
Referring to the negotiations between the Bank of Commerce and the French Credit Agricole for the purchase of part of the Bank of Commerce, Mr. Papantoniou stated that the government does not intervene and it is up to the interested parties themselves to reach any agreements. He also said that no political dimensions should be given to a possible collapse of such agreements, stressing that all over the world there are alliances that are being created and dissolved before the negotiations are completed gaving as an example the cases of Dresdner Bank and Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telecom and Telecom Italia and Alitalia - KLA.
Mr. Papantoniou clarified that the liberalization of the market is underway as well as the removal of bureaucratic obstacles, while the social security draft law will be ready by the summer of 2001.
Mr. Papantoniou reminded that in the past two years the government successfully materialized a program of 15 privatizations which brought revenues of over 2.5 trillion drachmas.
 LOSSES OF 0.65% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 6 June 2000 (17:50 UTC+2)
Losses of 0.65% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today and the general index dropped to 4.465,70 points, while the volume of transactions was at 126 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today 55 recorded gains, 279 had losses and only 32 remained stable.
 THE STABILITY PACT PROCEEDINGS ARE UNDERWAY IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 6 June 2000 (17:48 UTC+2)
The three-day proceedings of the Stability Pact Regional Balkan Conference are underway in Thessaloniki at the initiative of Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou. The goal of the meeting is to submit proposals and programs of cooperation to the foreign ministers of the south-eastern European countries.
The proceedings were opened by professor Panagiotis Roumeliotis, president of the Stability Pact sector responsible for democratization and human rights. The opening meeting was attended by over 100 representatives of non governmental organizations that come mostly from countries in south-eastern Europe, the United States, the European Union and international organizations. Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hobach will speak in the meeting this afternoon.
The proposals and conclusions of today's meeting will be submitted to the foreign ministers of the south-eastern European countries, who will meet in Thessaloniki tomorrow and to the representatives of governments and organizations who participate in the Stability Pact and are scheduled to meet in Thessaloniki on June 8.
Mr. Papandreou will meet with his counterparts from FYROM and Croatia, Mr. Dimitrov and Mr. Pikula, in Thessaloniki tomorrow on the sidelines of the Stability Pact Regional Balkan Conference.
Also tomorrow, there will be an informal meeting of the south-eastern European foreign ministers under the chairmanship of Mr. Papandreou and with the participation of the European Union council general secretary and representative of the joint EU foreign and defense policy Mr. Javier Solana.
 THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN SUGAR INDUSTRIESThessaloniki, 6 June 2000 (17:45 UTC+2)
The annual conference of the European Sugar Industries, organized by the Greek Sugar Industry Ltd. will open in Thessaloniki tomorrow and will last until June 9.
The goal of the conference is to promote common interest issues concerning the European Sugar Industry given the fact that sugar plays one of the most important roles in the economies of the European Union states.
 GREECE IN THE ARCHITECTURE EXHIBITION IN VENICEAthens, 6 June 2000 (17:40 UTC+2)
Greece participates formally in the 7th Exhibition of Architecture in Venice with 26 representatives. The exhibition will start on June 17 and will last until October 29.
The Greek participation is regarded as very important by culture minister Theodoros Pangalos who stated in a press conference he gave yesterday, that the architects taking part in the Biennalle not only represent Greece but they promote the work of the new generation of Greek architects.
 THE LONDON-SYDNEY RALLY IN GREECEThessaloniki, 6 June 2000 (17:32 UTC+2)
For the first time, the London-Sydney car race will pass through Greece. In the event which began on June 3 and will last until July 4 participate 95 cars that will cross Europe and Asia.
The part of the rally that will be held in Greece will start on June 8 from Promahonas and it will pass through the northern cities of Serres and Dramas. The drivers will spend the night in the north-eastern city of Kavala and they will also compete in two special events before departing for Tsanakale in Turkey through Thrace.
 VOLUME OF TRADE RISING AT THESSALONIKI PORTThessaloniki, 6 June 2000 (13:41 UTC+2)
The volume of trade transported via the Thessaloniki port rose by 28.4 percent during the first quarter of 2000, compared with the same time period of 1999, although the number of ships that sailed into the port dropped by 4.5 percent.
Specifically, 5,581,736 tons of goods were transported from the northern capital's port between January-April 2000, significantly more than the 4,348,822 tons of the same period last year.
As for the number of ships, 1,049 harbored in Thessaloniki's port between January -April 2000, slightly fewer than the 1,098 of the same time period in 1999.
The number of passengers who traveled via the port between January-April, 2000, was also reduced to 14,926 from last year's like time period which was 18,141.
The volume of transit to and from Skopje catapulted to 815,998 tons between January-April, marking a 154-percent increase from last year.
 GREEK FM EXPRESSES REGRET OVER US REPORTLondon, 6 June 2000 (13:17 UTC+2)
Albeit satisfied over the Clinton Administration's impartial stance on the matter, Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou has expressed his regret over the recently-published report by the U.S. National Commission on Terrorism which calls for severe sanctions against Greece for "not cooperating fully on counter-terrorism."
In an interview with BBC radio, Mr. Papandreou stressed that the report is unfair to Greece and its image and stated that Greece, in comparison to other countries, has a very good security record, as well as both the political and active will to combat terrorism.
 GREEK FM MEETS WITH BRITISH COUNTERPARTLondon, 6 June 2000 (13:12 UTC+2)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with his British counterpart Robin Cook in London, whom he briefed on Greece's arguments for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, as presented in his appearance before a House of Commons cultural committee.
Mr. Cook reportedly stated that he will relay Mr. Papandreou's views and proposals to Heritage Secretary Chris Smith.
Messrs. Papandreou and Cook also discussed the Cyprus issue, in light of the imminent new round of talks between the divided island's two communities.
The Greek Foreign Ministers stated that both communities want the next steps to be substantive ones and assessed that the international environment, and especially the conditions created through Turkey's candidacy for accession to the European Union, form an improved premise for the next steps to follow towards the resolution of the Cyprus issue.
 STRONG TREMOR SHAKES ANKARA, 2 KILLED, 7 INJUREDAnkara, 6 June 2000 (11:01 UTC+2)
Ankara relived the panic of last August's deadly earthquake when a strong earth tremor measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale shook the area early this morning, killing two persons, injuring seven and sending hundreds into the streets.
The earthquake, which lasted 30 seconds, occurred at 5.40 a.m. and its epicenter was located 100 kilometers north of Ankara.
Commenting on the tremor, Greek seismologist, professor at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University, Vasilis Papazachos ruled out the possibility of this morning's earthquake reverberating into Greece as the shift noted in the Anatolia plate measured 15 centimeters, a minuscule dimension in comparison to the previous tremors which caused shifts measuring between two and four meters.
 UNEMPLOYMENT IS AT 9.2% IN EUROPEBrussels, 6 June 2000 (17:44 UTC+2)
The European Statistics Agency, Eurostat, gave to publicity figures concerning the unemployment rate in the EU member-states in the month of April.
According to the statement, the unemployment rate in April 2000 dropped to 9.2% in the Euro-zone from 9.3% in March 2000 and 10.1% in April 1999.
The unemployment rate in all 15 EU member-states dropped to 8.5% in April 2000 from 8.6% in March 2000, while in April 1999 it was at 9.3%.
Spain continues to have the highest unemployment rate (14.1%), while Luxembourg has the lowest (2.2%). The most impressive drop in unemployment rate in the past 12 months was recorded in Holland from 3.5% to 2.9%.