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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-12-10

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH
Thessaloniki, December 10, 1999

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] MPA HOSTS INTER-BALKAN CONFERENCE IN THESSALONIKI TODAY
  • [02] INTEREST RATES DROP NEXT WEEK, BANK GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES
  • [03] GREEK TELECOMMUNICATIONS DESIGNATES ROMTELECOM CEO
  • [04] OLYMPIC AIRWAYS SIGNS GROUND SERVICE ACCORD WITH AACO
  • [05] GREECE ENTERS SCHENGEN PACT AS OF JANUARY 1, 2000
  • [06] THESSALONIKI TO GRANDLY CELEBRATE END OF MILLENNIUM
  • [07] CULTURE MINISTRY DEDICATES YEAR 2000 TO GREEK POET SEFERIS
  • [08] ALBANIAN BUSINESSMEN ATTEND TRAINING COURSE IN GREECE
  • [09] MASTIC CAN NEUTRALIZE ULCER-CAUSING BACTERIA, STUDY FINDS
  • [10] IMPRESSIVE GAINS IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [11] THE HELSINKI DECISION IS POSITIVE - THE GREEK-TURKISH RELATIONS WILL BE IMPROVED ACCORDING TO TURKISH JOURNALISTS
  • [12] IRRESOLUTION IN THE APPROVAL OF THE EU DECISION BY THE TURKISH CABINET
  • [13] MPA'S JOURNALIST CONFERENCE IS UNDERWAY IN THESSALONIKI
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [14] EU SUMMIT GETS UNDERWAY IN HELSINKI TODAY
  • [15] THE KEY CONDITIONS SET FORTH BY GREECE ON TURKEY'S EU BID
  • [16] FINNISH EU PRESIDENT REFERS TO RESOLUTION OF CYPRUS ISSUE
  • [17] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT REFERS TO TURKEY'S CANDIDACY
  • [18] EU SUMMIT CLOUDED BY RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA
  • [19] FM DISCUSSES GREECE'S POSITION ON TURKEY'S CANDIDACY BID
  • [20] MINOR OPPOSITION LEADER IN BELGRADE, MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC
  • [21] GREEK AND ROMANIAN STATE RADIOS ESTABLISH COOPERATION
  • [22] GREEK, DUTCH TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUY BTK BY END OF MONTH
  • [23] ANNAN HOLDS UNSCHEDULED TALKS WITH CLERIDES, DENKTASH
  • [24] ALBANIA CURRENT HEAD OF PABSEC PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY
  • [25] BOSNIA'S ARMIES ARE CONSIDERING FURTHER TROOP REDUCTIONS
  • [26] ROMANIAN RAIL WORKERS CONTINUE STRIKE, DEMAND WAGE HIKE
  • [27] THE "15" VOTED IN FAVOR OF TURKEY'S EU CANDIDATURE - GREECE'S POSITIONS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED
  • [28] UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE COORDINATION OF ECONOMIC POLICIES ARE IN THE HELSINKI AGENDA
  • [29] MARTENS: TURKEY MUST MEET THE POLITICAL CRITERIA WHICH ARE IN EFFECT FOR ALL THE EU CANDIDATE STATES
  • [30] GREECE'S TERMS WERE ACCEPTED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION
  • [31] FISCHER: THE GREEK SIDE WAS IMPRESSIVE
  • [32] THE HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS IN TURKEY
  • [33] THE NEW TALKS ON CYPRUS WILL BE HELD ON JANUARY 8
  • [34] TURKEY ACCEPTS THE HELSINKI DECISION
  • [35] VASILIOU: THE DECISION OF THE "15" IS EXCELLENT NOT ONLY FOR CYPRUS BUT FOR GREECE AS WELL
  • [36] SIMITIS: THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION IS OF HISTORIC IMPORTANCE FOR THE EURO-TURKISH RELATIONS - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] MPA HOSTS INTER-BALKAN CONFERENCE IN THESSALONIKI TODAY

    The latest dramatic developments in Montenegro once again prove the need for Inter- Balkan cooperation and understanding among the peoples without hatred and nationalism. The issue will be among the topics that will be discussed in the two-day Inter-Balkan journalist conference organized by Macedonian Press Agency to take place in Thessaloniki today and tomorrow.

    The conference on "The prospect of Inter- Balkan Cooperation after Kossovo: The Role of the Mass Media" will be attended by leading journalists from Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia- Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, FYROM, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Yugoslavia, as well as directors and chief editors from Greece's largest media.

    The strife-torn region of Kosovo will also be represented at the conference; the publisher of the "Koha Ditore" daily Beton Suroi will attend, as well as the director of the "Rilidia" daily Plerim Reka, the journalist-historian Skelcem Ratsa, and others.

    Moreover, the event will feature the participation of officials from the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as FYROM's alternate Minister of Press and Information Dragi Arsov and Albania's Minister of Press Musa Oulkini.

    The conference is taking place under the auspices of the Ministries of Press and Mass Media, Development, and Macedonia-Thrace, as well as with the assistance of the Thessaloniki Trade and Industry Chamber and the Northern Greece's Journalists Association.

    [02] INTEREST RATES DROP NEXT WEEK, BANK GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES

    Following the Monetary Policy Council's decision to allow banks to draw 15%, instead of 10%, from the compulsory accounts they maintain with the Bank of Greece, interest rates are expected to drop next week.

    Addressing the Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee, the governor of the Bank of Greece Lukas Papademos has already announced that interest rates are to be reduced on Wednesday.

    Mr. Papademos has also stated that the drachma's central parity is to be revaluated with the Euro, a move that will produce gains which will surpass any mishaps occurring as a result of market competition.

    [03] GREEK TELECOMMUNICATIONS DESIGNATES ROMTELECOM CEO

    Greece's state-owned Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) has announced the appointment of its deputy CEO, George Skarpelis, as the new chairman of the board of Romtelecom, Romania's national telecommunications organization.

    OTE acquired a 35 percent stake and 51 percent voting rights in Romtelecom for 675 million dollars a year ago in an international tender for privatization of the Romanian state company.

    OTE officials said Mr. Skarpelis has been a staff member since 1968 and has "valuable experience in the management of telecoms". Mr. Skarpelis has served on the board of several companies, and in December 1998 was appointed deputy chief executive officer at OTE, a position he still holds.

    [04] OLYMPIC AIRWAYS SIGNS GROUND SERVICE ACCORD WITH AACO

    Greece's national carrier Olympic Airways has announced the signing of a three-year association agreement with 13 Arab airlines for the provision of ground services.

    The 13 airlines, members of the Arab Air Carriers' Organization (AACO) are the following:

    GULF AIR, SYRIAN ARAB AIRLINES, ROYAL AIR MAROC, TUNIS AIR, MIDDLE EAST AIRLINES, ROYAL JORDANIAN, KUWAIT AIRLINES, YEMEN AIRWAYS, SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES, EGYPTAIR, AIR ALGERIE, SUDAN AIRWAYS, and LIBYAN ARAB AIRLINES.

    The alliance covers Athens Airport and regional airports, with an option for cooperation at Athens' new Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Spata, which is still being built.

    According to an OA announcement "the effort aims at successful maintenance of this activity with relocation to the new Athens International Airport."

    [05] GREECE ENTERS SCHENGEN PACT AS OF JANUARY 1, 2000

    Greece meets all necessary Schengen Pact criteria for its full integration into this European Union system, which allows for the unrestricted travel of E.U. citizens to all signatory member-States.

    According to a decision of a Schengen - Norway - Iceland Joint Committee of Permanent Representatives, Greece will join the Pact on January 1, 2000, although several secondary airports in Greece's provinces will not be included in the initial phase, they will, however, be integrated by March 2000.

    Concerning this decision, the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Christos Rokofyllos, stated that "It is a new and important upgrading of our country within Europe. The unification of Greek territory with the rest of the Schengen territory will complete our country's inclusion into a democratic region of guaranteed security."

    [06] THESSALONIKI TO GRANDLY CELEBRATE END OF MILLENNIUM

    Thessaloniki plans to grandly celebrate the end of the millennium and the beginning of the new one, with a series of events that will include music, dancing, and theatrical shows, while the city's port will play host to a 6,500m2 exhibition and design space geared toward the younger generation.

    Also, the city's new concert hall is scheduled for inauguration on January 2.

    The culture ministry plans a year of events, including celebrations to mark 10,000 years of Hellenic civilization, 5,000 years of urban living, 3,000 years of the Greek alphabet - entitled "From 'Word' to Software" - and "2,000 years of Christianity".

    The Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece will work closely with the culture ministry in planning for the series of events that will comprise the "2000 Years of Christianity" subject, which will also include participating in "Bethlehem 2000" events at the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

    [07] CULTURE MINISTRY DEDICATES YEAR 2000 TO GREEK POET SEFERIS

    The Culture Ministry will dedicate the year 2000 to Greece's renowned poet Giorgios Seferis, 1963 Nobel Laureate in Literature, marking the centennial anniversary since his birth in Smyrna.

    A series of events will be held throughout the year, starting with Cyprus which will host a seminar on Seferis.

    A vast selection of photographs, manuscripts and personal items will be on display in Athens in an exhibition that will travel throughout the cities associated with the life of the man who is regarded by many as the greatest Greek poet of the 20th century.

    [08] ALBANIAN BUSINESSMEN ATTEND TRAINING COURSE IN GREECE

    Twenty Albanian businessmen from the field of commerce, production and services are presently attending a two-week training course organized by the "Helenic Foreign Trade Board" HEPO, in Ioannina.

    The course, which began on Monday, concerns specific measures nd strategies aimed at countries undergoing economic transition, whose market economy has just started.

    General Counsel of Albania in Ioannina Ilirian Zhupa told the Albnaian news agency ATA that "the qualification of the business people is of great interest not only for Albanian business, but even for the Greek one, which recently is increasing its presence in Albania."

    [09] MASTIC CAN NEUTRALIZE ULCER-CAUSING BACTERIA, STUDY FINDS

    Mastic, chewing gum's proper name, is capable of significantly neutralizing the bacteria causing stomach ulcers, according to a Nottingham University biochemistry researcher who presented his findings in Athens yesterday.

    According to Prof. N. Ladin, it appears that small quantities of mastic - a gram every day for two weeks -were capable of curing stomach ulcers over a short period of time.

    The mastic trees on the eastern Aegean island of Chios have been renowned since antiquity for their reputed therapeutic abilities and fresh taste.

    Research results were published in the British Medical Journal and reportedly did not surprise British experts, as past studies on patients suffering from ulcers showed a distinct lessening of symptoms following the systematic chewing of mastic.

    [10] IMPRESSIVE GAINS IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    The week ended for the Athens Stock Exchange with impressive gains of 2.44% winning back the ground it had lost in the previous sessions.

    Earlier, the general index had closed at 5.399,04 boosted by the intense purchase interest in stocks of big capitalization that played the leading role in today's session. However, in spite of the big rise the volume of transactions remained low at 247 billion drachmas after yesterday's record low of 193 billion drachmas.

    [11] THE HELSINKI DECISION IS POSITIVE - THE GREEK-TURKISH RELATIONS WILL BE IMPROVED ACCORDING TO TURKISH JOURNALISTS

    As extremely positive was characterized the decision reached in Helsinki on Turkey's EU candidature by two leading Turkish journalists, Haluk Sahin, news general coordinator of Channel D and "Milliyet" editor Sahin Alpai, who are in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the MPA journalist conference on "The prospect of inter- Balkan cooperation after Kosovo: The role of the mass media". The two journalists stated that this decision will contribute positively to the Greek-Turkish relations.

    Haluk Sahin commented that the decision reached in Helsinki is extremely positive for Turkey and constitutes a reference point for the mission of modernization undertaken by Turkey in the past 150 years. He also stated that it will be a new start for the Greek-Turkish relations and added that he is very optimistic.

    Sahin Alpai said that it is a very positive decision and that the EU has corrected the mistake it had made in Luxembourg which had negative consequences on Turkey. He said that the decision is very positive for the common interests of Turkey and the EU and the common interests of Greece and Turkey.

    [12] IRRESOLUTION IN THE APPROVAL OF THE EU DECISION BY THE TURKISH CABINET

    According to information, there is irresolution in the Turkish cabinet concerning the EU decision in the Helsinki Summit meeting which characterizes Turkey as an EU candidate state.

    Based on Macedonian Press Agency information from Ankara, Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem stated that Turkey rejects the formula that was approved today by the European Union. Also based on the same information, Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit has been met with difficulties in his efforts for the approval of the EU decision. As it was made known, Javier Solana responsible for issues of common defense policy in the EU, has already left for Ankara.

    Meanwhile according to information from Ankara, Turkish president Suleiman Demirel has expressed the view that in the end the outcome will be positive for the Turkish side.

    [13] MPA'S JOURNALIST CONFERENCE IS UNDERWAY IN THESSALONIKI

    The mass media can contribute to the stability, the better communication of the peoples and the consolidation of peace in the Balkans, stated minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis in his speech formally opening the journalist conference on "The prospect of Inter-Balkan cooperation after Kossovo- The role of the mass media" organized by Macedonian Press Agency in Thessaloniki's Commerce and Industry Chamber.

    Referring to the recent crisis in Kossovo, he stressed that the war has sent out hopeful messages because it mobilized the public opinion and shocked the European Union which had not predicted the imminent crises. He said that the Balkan peoples share the same expectations for development through the EU strategy, a strategy of stability and reconstruction, in which Greece is called on to play a leading role. He said that Greece became the "key-country" for the materialization of the Stability Pact, adding that the structural changes have begun materializing.

    Welcoming the delegates, Macedonian Press Agency general director Spiros Kouzinopoulos stated that the Association of Balkan News Agencies, ABNA, was sensitized by the tragic events in Kosovo and since the first hours of the NATO bombing ABNA had issued an appeal to its members to show self-restraint and operate based on the principles of ethics and objectivity avoiding exaggerations in order to contribute to the effort for the return of peace, stability and security to the region. He also added that in the meeting of the Balkan news agencies general directors that was held a few days after the start of the NATO bombings was expressed the common view that the mass media must help to put an end to hostilities for the return of peace in the Balkans.

    To the activities of MPA aimed at the development of friendship, understanding and the creation of a climate of security in the Balkan region referred MPA president Pavlos Petridis.

    A message was read by Association of Daily Newspapers Journalists of Macedonia-Thrace vice- president Giorgos Adam, who suggested that the journalists should exert pressures on the European Union in order to offer more programs for the reconstruction of the Balkan region.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [14] EU SUMMIT GETS UNDERWAY IN HELSINKI TODAY

    Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis is presently in Helsinki, Finland, where he will participate in the European Union Summit today and tomorrow.

    Finnish Premier Paavo Lipponen, who presently holds the EU's rotating presidency, stated that there is a possibility of a compromise-agreement regarding Turkey's bid for candidacy to the EU. He also stated that the EU allies wish to grant the European prospect to Ankara, however noting that this will depend on that country's course of democratization and its improvement of ties with Greece.

    Following his talks with his Finnish counterpart, The Greek Premier stated that there is a 50-50 chance Greece will agree to Turkey's bid.

    "We are continuing negotiations and discussions with the Finnish presidency and the other governments of member-states to achieve what we believe is correct," Mr. Simitis told reporters at the media center in Helsinki after meeting with Mr. Lipponen as well as the EU's High Representative on foreign and defense policy, Javier Solana.

    He also said that Athens wanted "a solution to the enlargement problems; a solution that would safeguard the interests of both Greece and the EU so it can operate smoothly". The Greek PM described the issues involved as "quite difficult" because of differing views.

    "We insist and continue to insist on achieving the best possible for the country's interests," he added.

    [15] THE KEY CONDITIONS SET FORTH BY GREECE ON TURKEY'S EU BID

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is presently attending the European Union's Summit Conference in Helsinki, accompanied by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    The key conditions set forth by Greece regarding Turkey's EU candidacy involve assurances from the EU allies that they will not allow Cyprus' political problem to obstruct the island's accession course and that they will require Ankara to refer its Aegean territorial claims against Greece to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

    Athens is demanding that the 15-page text of the summit's conclusions to be issued tomorrow include clear guarantees on both issues.

    [16] FINNISH EU PRESIDENT REFERS TO RESOLUTION OF CYPRUS ISSUE

    The Finnish European Union presidency has said that the European Council opening today will try to find language and solutions supportive to the need of reaching a political settlement in Cyprus, in a reference expected to be included in the conclusions.

    At a press conference held yesterday ahead of the EU summit, Alec Aalto, State Secretary for EU affairs at the Finnish Prime Minister's office, also said that if Turkey manages to secure a candidate status it will have the same rights and obligations as other candidate countries.

    Referring to the enlargement process in view of the fact that another six countries are expected to open accession talks, he said that speed of negotiations of each applicant country will be dictated by its ability to adopt, accept and put into effect the aquis communautaire.

    [17] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT REFERS TO TURKEY'S CANDIDACY

    Addressing the European Summit Council, the President of the European Parliament Nicole Fontaine referred to Turkey's bid for candidacy to the European Union by stating that if it is rejected, "Turkey, with its longstanding patience exhausted, could only look to other avenues for the future, entailing considerable political risks.

    However, she added, "if, on the other hand, it were one day to join the Union, after undergoing the process of economic and democratic development which is being urged upon it, its accession would of course be to the Union's advantage economically and politically, but it would not be possible to evade the problem of cultural integration."

    [18] EU SUMMIT CLOUDED BY RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN CHECHNYA

    European Union leaders opened a two-day summit in Helsinki today, clouded by Russia's offensive in Chechnya, as well as a French- British dispute over beef.

    The two items that are on top of the Summit's agenda are the EU's first steps towards setting up its own military force, and the possibility that Turkey will be granted EU candidate status.

    EU leaders -- mostly prime ministers, but also some presidents – hold formal summits every six months. The meeting in Helsinki marks the climax of Finland's turn in the EU rotating presidency, which shifts January 1 to Portugal.

    [19] FM DISCUSSES GREECE'S POSITION ON TURKEY'S CANDIDACY BID

    In an interview with the BBC radio service, Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou left all options open regarding the stance to be adopted by Greece concerning Turkey's bid for candidacy to the European Union during today's Helsinki-held Summit.

    Reiterating that Athens is - in principle- in favor of Turkey's accession to the EU, Mr. Papandreou underlined that the Greek vote will depend on the way the allies will view Greece's demands, i.e. respect of human rights in Turkey, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Papandreou stated Athens would like Turkey not only to gain candidacy status to the EU, but would also like to see it as a full- fledged member, adding that "we applaud the fact that Turkey wants to become an EU member since this means that it is ready to undergo a process of significant reforms and face certain quite difficult issues."

    However, he added, the European Union must not ‘sweep under the rug' all the issues we are facing regarding the Turkish candidacy, such as human rights, the Cyprus issue and G/T relations.

    [20] MINOR OPPOSITION LEADER IN BELGRADE, MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC

    The leader of minor opposition party Democratic and Social Movement (DHKKI) Dimitris Tsovolas is presently conducting a two-day visit to Belgrade at the invitation of the Yugoslav government.

    Mr. Tsovolas will be received by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic today, while he met with the President of Serbia Milan Milutinovic yesterday with whom he discussed the present conditions in Yugoslavia after the NATO raids.

    [21] GREEK AND ROMANIAN STATE RADIOS ESTABLISH COOPERATION

    Greece's and Romania's state- owned radio stations have signed a cooperation protocol in Bucharest, which will call for the establishment of an Emergency Action Radio Network.

    The said network, which Romania is to support at a Balkan level, is aiming towards the activation of the region's radio stations during times of crisis or natural disaster.

    Greece's National Radio had taken the aforementioned initiative during the Second Congress of National Radio-Television Organizations of Southeast Europe.

    [22] GREEK, DUTCH TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUY BTK BY END OF MONTH

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and KPN of the Netherlands are expected to complete their joint purchase of 51% of Bulgaria's state BTK telecommunications by the end of this year.

    In a joint news conference held in Sofia, officials of OTE and KPN said that the two firms would invest two hundred million US dollars to modernize BTK and develop a second mobile phone network for the Balkan country in the next three years.

    OTE and KPN said that they were ready to pay the purchase price for the company immediately, and wanted to start work on January 1, 2000.

    [23] ANNAN HOLDS UNSCHEDULED TALKS WITH CLERIDES, DENKTASH

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had unscheduled meetings yesterday with the President of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides and Turkish- Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who have been holding indirect talks here for almost a week.

    Mr. Annan's spokesman said "the Secretary General returned to the negotiating table" for one-on-one talks with Greek-Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. He then met their delegations.

    The two sides began "proximity talks" -- exchanging views through UN officials without meeting face-to-face -- last Friday.

    Mr. Annan chaired the first two sessions, before handing over to his special adviser, Alvaro de Soto, who was scheduled to chair daily meetings until the end of this week.

    Spokesman Fred Eckhard declined to discuss the content of yesterday's talks, but he recalled that Mr. Annan had been in Montreal on Wednesday and said "he wanted to catch up on what had happened in his absence, to see things were still on track."

    Mr. De Soto said last week that the talks were expected to continue until about December 15.

    [24] ALBANIA CURRENT HEAD OF PABSEC PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY

    Albania has presently undertaken the rotating presidency of the General Assembly of Organization of the Black Sea Countries (PABSEC), according to the Albanian news agency ATA.

    The rotating presidency of this assembly was quoted as an important event for our Parliament and country by the Parliament Speaker Skender Gjinushi.

    During his speech, Mr. Gjinushi pointed out that "Albania's presidency of PABSEC will develop the cooperation between Parliaments to intensify the attempts in harmonization of the legislation by using the parliamentary diplomacy for strengthening of friendly relations between countries".

    "We will continue to consider the economical cooperation as a main priority for restoration of peace and stability in the region. At the same time we will extend the cooperation with other parliamentary organizations and first of all with the European Parliament. We will actively take part in the process of implementation of Stability Pact for southeastern Europe", he added.

    The 15th session of General Assembly of PABSEC will be held during the forthcoming year in Tirana on June 6-8.

    [25] BOSNIA'S ARMIES ARE CONSIDERING FURTHER TROOP REDUCTIONS

    The armies of Bosnia's two entities are considering further 15 percent troop reductions next year, the deputy commander of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) announced yesterday.

    According to the French news agency AFP, the armies of Bosnia's two post-war entities -- the Serbs' Republika Srpska (RS) and the Muslim- Croat Federation -- currently executing a 15 percent cut due by the end of December, expressed "the aspiration to make a further reduction of 15 percent" next year, Lieutenant- General Michael Willcocks told reporters after a meeting of the joint military commission, which includes SFOR and the armies' representatives.

    The RS and the Federation army have an estimated 20,000 and 40,000 soldiers respectively.

    "The international community organizations here welcomed the initial cut, saying it would reduce the country's budgetary expenditures for the armed forces, which could be shifted to economic recovery," Lt. Willcocks added.

    [26] ROMANIAN RAIL WORKERS CONTINUE STRIKE, DEMAND WAGE HIKE

    Romanian railway workers demanding a wage hike continued to strike for a fifth straight day today, ahead of a court ruling on whether their action is illegal and should be suspended.

    The government has asked the supreme court to decide whether the strike is illegal in such a strategic sector of the Romanian economy. The court is due to return a verdict during the day.

    If the court rules in favor of authorities, workers will be required to return to work immediately, and cannot go on strike again for at least three months.

    Originally seeking a 70 percent wage hike, and a Christmas bonus of 1.5 million lei (about 85 dollars), the unions have lowered their demands since the strike began on Monday to "more than" the 20 percent offered by the government, as well as a one million lei (55 dollar) bonus, union officials said.

    The government has not changed its initial offer, of a 20 percent salary increase and a bonus of 500,000 lei (23 dollars).

    [27] THE "15" VOTED IN FAVOR OF TURKEY'S EU CANDIDATURE - GREECE'S POSITIONS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED

    Greece said "yes" to Turkey's EU candidature and the "15" EU leaders decided to recognize it as a candidate state for EU membership.

    The above were announced to journalists by Greek foreign ministry press spokesman Panos Beglitis, who pointed out that the positions and the proposals of the Greek side have been accepted.

    Greece's position was fully accepted, while according to information there were certain changes that have not been made known yet on the issue of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

    [28] UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE COORDINATION OF ECONOMIC POLICIES ARE IN THE HELSINKI AGENDA

    Among the issues that will be discussed in the Helsinki EU Summit meeting today and tomorrow are unemployment, the information society, the taxation of bonds, the institutional reform and the coordination of the economic policies of the "15".

    Also, the EU state and government leaders will discuss the results and the conclusions of the World Trade Organization reached in the Seattle meeting in the United States which was held in a storm of protests against globalization.

    The issue of unemployment concerns Greece as well even though the employment rate increased by 3% in 1999 exceeding the employment rate of other European member states.

    [29] MARTENS: TURKEY MUST MEET THE POLITICAL CRITERIA WHICH ARE IN EFFECT FOR ALL THE EU CANDIDATE STATES

    The stance according to which, in order for Turkey to be recognized as a contender for EU candidate member status must meet the Copenhagen criteria and respect the terms set by the Luxembourg Summit meeting was presented by European Popular Party president Wilfrid Martens in a press conference he gave in Helsinki last night.

    Mr. Martens underlined that the position of the European Popular Party and his parliamentary group toward Turkey remains stable and clear. The issue of Turkey's European candidature is a political one and not cultural. Turkey must meet the political criteria that are in effect for all the candidate states and there can be no preferential treatment toward it.

    [30] GREECE'S TERMS WERE ACCEPTED BY THE EUROPEAN UNION

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas clarified the terms set by Greece for the acceptance of Turkey's bid for EU membership after the announcement that Turkey was accepted as an EU candidate state. Mr. Reppas stated characteristically that "we won three out of three" underlining that the morning meeting of the European Council "went better than expected".

    Specifically, on the Cyprus problem it is pointed out that the promotion of a political solution to the problem is desirable but Cyprus' EU accession course will not stop if no solution is reached. On the issue of bilateral differences it is underlined that all the EU candidate states must solve their differences with their neighbors peacefully. It is also pointed out that if the differences are not resolved by the year 2004 the European Council will convene to assess the stance of each country and decide if the differences will be brought to the International Court of Justice in The Hague or if the accession course of the EU candidate state will be interrupted. On the third term, concerning the partnership relationship between the European Union and Turkey, the European Council referred to the decisions reached earlier in other EU Summit meetings, while it made a special reference to the respect of international law and treaties, the respect of human rights, the abolition of torture and others.

    [31] FISCHER: THE GREEK SIDE WAS IMPRESSIVE

    German foreign minister Joshka Fischer stated in Helsinki, responding to questions by reporters, that the Greek side had impressed with its responsible positions.

    Mr. Fischer stated characteristically that now the ball is at Turkey's court.

    [32] THE HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS IN TURKEY

    The annual Human Rights Watch report blasts Turkey accusing it of human rights violations.

    In the "World Report 2000" it is mentioned that Turkey has failed to make any progress regarding its human rights record in the past 2 years. The general intentions for a mobilization in the area of human rights did not take the form of measures in support of the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression, the protection of inmates from torture practices as well as the protection of the search conducted for missing people.

    The government ministers appear to be hostages of the system which only hypothetically they control, while any progress in the state mechanism is being blocked by interests of the establishment and especially the armed forces, characterized as another political force of oppression.

    The report refers also to the lack of independence in the justice system, while referring to the arrest of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan it points out that both the interrogation procedure and court trial were not in accordance with the international practices. It also refers to the persecution of political parties and individuals with pro-Kurdish positions, while an extensive reference is made to the torture of inmates in the Turkish prisons.

    [33] THE NEW TALKS ON CYPRUS WILL BE HELD ON JANUARY 8

    The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported from New York that the talks on Cyprus will resume on January 8 and that the Turkish side has not given a promise that it will participate.

    Meanwhile, a Turkish source mentioned to the news agency that the situation will be assessed and that the Turkish side will act accordingly.

    [34] TURKEY ACCEPTS THE HELSINKI DECISION

    Latest information from Helsinki mention that Turkey has accepted the EU Summit meeting decision and Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit is getting ready to go to the Finnish capital tomorrow, together with Javier Solana, responsible for issues of EU foreign and defense issues.

    [35] VASILIOU: THE DECISION OF THE "15" IS EXCELLENT NOT ONLY FOR CYPRUS BUT FOR GREECE AS WELL

    Former president of the Cypriot Republic and representative of Cyprus to the European Union Giorgos Vasiliou in statements he made to MPA, characterized the formula decided in the Helsinki Summit meeting as excellent not only for Cyprus but for Greece as well.

    Mr. Vasiliou stated characteristically that no one could expect that Greece would achieve so much.

    [36] SIMITIS: THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECISION IS OF HISTORIC IMPORTANCE FOR THE EURO-TURKISH RELATIONS

    The Helsinki EU Summit meeting decided today to grant to Turkey EU candidate state status and set the framework of this candidature, stated prime minister Kostas Simitis in a press conference in the Finnish capital. He said that a significant step has been made in the effort for peace and cooperation in the region, adding that at the same time it was proven that Greece can overcome rivalry within a framework determined by international law and treaties, a framework that consolidates the Greek national rights.

    Mr. Simitis stated that Greece had stressed that Turkey's EU candidature could be accepted in a way that would help to overcome any existing problems or problems that could arise in the future. Mr. Simitis also stated that Greece was in favor of an EU candidature for Turkey if it involved both rights and obligations.

    The Greek prime minister stated that the Greek goals were met in their entirety and the outcome is regarded as very satisfactory. He said that according to the EU decision, the candidate states will have to make efforts for the solution of their differences with neighboring countries and if their efforts are unsuccessful their cases will be brought to The Hague. Also, the UN talks on Cyprus are being welcomed and it is pointed out that the political solution would facilitate Cyprus' accession into the EU but if it is not achieved this does not mean that Cyprus' EU accession will be affected. The criteria for Turkey's accession are the same with those of the rest EU candidate states. The European Council calls on Turkey to meet the political criteria with special reference to human rights, the peaceful settlement of differences and its contribution to the solution of the Cyprus problem. Also, the European Council maintains that the partnership relation formed with Turkey will be based on the conclusions of earlier European Council decisions. An observer mechanism is being established that will verify if Turkey meets its obligations.

    The Greek prime minister characterized the European Council's decision as a historic one for peace, security and development in the region. He said that with this decision a more positive prospect in the relations with Turkey is being formed that will help to have constructive cooperation to the benefit of both peoples.

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