|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-10-08
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 SUNKEN FERRYS OWNERS AND INSPECTOR CHARGEDAthens, 8 October 2000 (18:26 UTC+2)
Minoan Flying Dolphins (MFD), the owners of the Express Samina ferry boat that sank on September 26 and claimed 76 lives, have been charged with complicity in the issuance of a false certificate of seaworthiness, while the company already faces criminal charges for exposing the doomed ferry's passengers to danger.
In addition to MFD, ship inspector George Katsafados has also been charged with issuing a false certificate of seaworthiness, issued minutes before the ferry set sail for Paros.
Minoan Flying Dolphins is Greece's biggest coastal shipping firm which enjoys a near monopoly on the Cyclades routes.
The ferry's inspection was conducted after accusations by the vessel's former engineer, Anastassios Sorokas, that the Samina Express was in a dangerous state due to mechanical problems. The ferry captain, Vassilis Yiannakis, was also charged yesterday in connection with Mr. Sorokas' claims. He will be prosecuted for allegedly falsifying the ship's papers to state that the engineer, who was subsequently sacked, was not on board at a time the prosecutor believes that he was, and for sailing without an engineer after Mr. Sorokas' dismissal.
Meanwhile, divers have already collected valuable videotaped evidence from inside and outside the ship, about 40 meters below the sea's surface.
 EU TO DISCUSS LFTING OF SANCTIONS AGAINST F.R.Y.Brussels, 8 October 2000 (17:48 UTC+2)
Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who was in Belgrade yesterday where he held talks with Yugoslavia's new president Vojislav Kostunica, has announced that procedures will get underway for the lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia.
Mr. Papandreou stated that the European Union's General Affairs Council will meet in Luxembourg tomorrow to discuss the sanctions issue and that he believed that positive decisions will be reached concerning the matter.
Furthermore, Mr. Papandreou stated that an EU aid package amounting to 2.7 billion euro for Yugoslavia's recovery is in the works, while Athens will also offer 80 billion drachmas in aid, part of a Greek national plan for Balkan reconstruction created after the Kosovo campaign last year. Greece will also push hard to expand the Thessaloniki-based Kosovo reconstruction office to cover both Serbia and Montenegro as well.
The Greek FM was the first EU foreign minister to visit Yugoslavia following Mr. Kostunica's presidential victory.
 EX DEPUTY ROKOFYLLOS LEAVES PASOK COMMITTEEAthens, 8 October 2000 (18:23 UTC+2)
Former deputy foreign minister Christos Rokofyllos, a prominent attorney at law, has resigned from his executive post in the ruling PASOK party's committee, following reports that he was planning to represent the operators of the Express Samina ship that sunk on September 26.
Mr. Rokofyllos resigned from PASOK's 180-member central committee after Premier and party leader Costas Simitis strongly criticized him for failing to act with "social responsibility and sensitivity".
In response, Mr. Rokofyllos, said he was "saddened" by the comments but did not deny that he had planned to act as defense lawyer for Minoan Flying Dolphins which owned and operated the ill-fated vessel.
"The prime minister was referring to me and it was very humiliating," he told reporters, adding that "I cannot accept such an attack."
 KOSTUNICA: GREECE, F.R.Y. FRIENDS IN DEEPEST SENSEBelgrade, 8 October 2000 (17:49 UTC+2)
Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou was in Belgrade yesterday where he held talks with Yugoslavia's new president Vojislav Kostunica at the Presidential Mansion, thus being the first European Union foreign minister to visit the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following Mr. Kostunica's presidential victory.
In a press conference given jointly with President-elect Kostunica, Mr. Papandreou stated that their talks were very moving in that the democratic developments in Yugoslavia are of significance to all the countries of the region.
Upon his arrival at Belgrade, Mr. Papandreou stated that "the Serb people have spoken and Vojislav Kostunica is today the president. For this reason, the European Union must respond to this message and help Yugoslavia approach Europe as soon as possible."
The Greek FM expressed his conviction that Yugoslavia "will find its path in this transitional period without external pressures" and will proceed in the settlement of its relations with the countries of the region and with the international community.
Mr. Papandreou also relayed the Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' congratulations and an invitation to the newly-elected president to visit Greece in the near future.
In their meeting, Messrs. Papandreou and Kostunica discussed issues pertaining to bilateral relations, cooperation between Yugoslavia and the European Union and that country's accession to the European family.
President Kostunica stressed that "Greece all these years has shown great understanding regarding the situation in Yugoslavia."
Thanking Greece, he described the country as Yugoslavia's window on the West, during the recent crisis.
"I am especially satisfied that history is literally being written in Yugoslavia these days, when democratic institutions are being created and a peaceful transfer of power is taking place," he said.
"Whatever happened in our country over the last days is the work of our people but it is questionable if it would have been achieved if we did not have friends like Greece. In the previous period of sanctions, pressures against us and our country's isolation, Greece was our only friend and the sole window of communication with the world. The difficult times are over and the next period is one of democratization and opening to the outside world, which is full of challenges. We are certain that Greece will help greatly for Yugoslavia to return to the democratic family of European nations. Our relations are not only friends in a civil way, but there is a deep and traditional friendship in the deepest sense of the word," he added.
 GREEK BANKS RANK AMONG EUROPES TOP 500Thessaloniki, 8 October 2000 (17:45 UTC+2)
Seven Greek banks rank among Europe's top 500 financial institutions and the majority of them are listed within the first 100, according to an article that appeared in Great Britain's "The Banker".
Specifically, National Bank ranks 64th, followed by Alpha Bank at 66, Commercial Bank at 80, Postal Savings at 90 and Agricultural Bank at 96.
Labor Bank ranks 127th, while General Bank ranks 408th.
 US DEFENSE SECRETARY IN THESSALONIKI TODAYThessaloniki, 8 October 2000 (17:44 UTC+2)
US Defense Secretary William Cohen arrived in Thessaloniki today in order to participate at the annual meeting of South-Eastern Europe's defense ministers (SEDM) which gets underway tomorrow.
Secretary Cohen, who was received by Greece's Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, was given a tour of the all-male monastic community of Mt. Athos this afternoon.
The meeting will be inaugurated by Mr.Tsochatzopoulos and the participants are expected to focus their discussions on the latest developments in Yugoslavia and the Balkan region. The defense ministers are to sign an agreement for the formation of a coordinating committee.
In addition to Messrs. Cohen and Tsochatzopoulos, the defense ministers to attend the meeting are Croatia's Jodo Rados (marking the first time this country is participating in an SEDM meeting), Albania's Ilir Gjoni, Bulgaria's Boiko Noev, FYROM's Lurben Paunovski, Italy's Sergio Matarella, Slovenia Janez Jansa, Turkey's Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, Romania's ministry representative Ioan Mircea Plangu and the special coordinator of the Stability Pact Bodo Hombach.
 EU PARLIAMENT BLASTS TURKEY OVER LOIZIDOU CASENicosia, 8 October 2000 (17:47 UTC+2)
A report issued by the European Parliament over Cyprus' accession to the European Union has taken Turkey to task for the first time for refusing to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling on the Titina Loizidou case.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Ms. Loizidou's lawyer Achilleas Demetriades stated that the next step should be the expulsion of Turkey from the Council of Europe.
The report, compiled by rapporteur Jacques Poos, said Turkey's attitude did not encourage optimism for the ongoing UN-sponsored proximity talks.
"It is most encouraging that Euro MPs took note of the fact that Turkey has for over two years refused to execute the Loizidou judgment," Mr. Demetriades told CNA, commenting on the inclusion for the first time of a reference to this case in a report of this kind.
"Even more encouraging and interesting is to see that Euro MPs agree with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in labeling Turkey's refusal to execute the judgment as a manifest disregard of its international obligations as a high contracting party to the Convention on human rights and a member state of the Council," he added.
"I suppose the next step now should be for the procedure to expel Turkey from the Council to commence."
In July 1998, the Court ordered Ankara not only to pay damages to Loizidou for loss of use of her property in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, but also said Loizidou must be regarded as the legal owner of her property and should be allowed access to it.
"The Court found Turkey responsible for events in occupied Cyprus as a result of the presence of its troops and the effective control they exercise, labeling the Turkish Cypriot regime as "a local subordinate administration to Turkey."
Turkey has met none of these provisions of the ruling.