|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-12-12
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
Last Update: 23:27 GMT+2
NEWS IN DETAIL
 OLYMPIC AIRWAYS SIGNS GROUND SERVICE ACCORD WITH AACO
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) 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."
 INTEREST RATES DROP THIS WEEK, BANK GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) 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.
 BULGARIAN SHIP LOADED WITH MIGRANTS HEADS FOR ADRIATIC
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) The Bulgarian cargo ship Vodolei headed for the Adriatic Sea today, with at least 250 would-be migrants on board, on the eighth day of its odyssey since setting sail, according to Greek merchant marine officials.
Greek authorities had allowed the ship to drop anchor Saturday in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Preveza while it rode out a storm, they added.
The Vodolei's crew claims the ship was hijacked by its passengers, which the ministry estimated at about 380, but Greek officials suspect it may be part of an immigrant smuggling ring.
The crew's captain told a private Greek television station that the people on board were mostly Iraqi Kurds, and included women and children. The ship, which was chartered by a private firm from the Bulgarian state-owned shipping company Transimpex, was empty when it left the Bulgarian port of Bourgas on November 29 for Istanbul to reportedly pick up vegetables. Greek officials believe those in control of the Vodolei will try to reach Italy, where the coast guard was alerted on Friday.
While preventing it from putting into port in Greece, authorities have provided the ship with food, water, and medicines at the crew's request.
Bulgarian maritime authorities had said the boat could not sail directly to Italy because it did not have the "technical capacity" for that long a voyage.
 MPA GENERAL DIRECTOR AT INTER-BALKAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Thessaloniki, 12/12/1999 (MPA) Addressing the Macedonia Press Agency's Thessaloniki-held conference on Interbalkan Cooperation and the role of the media, the MPA's general Director Spyros Kouzinopoulos referred to the Kosovo crisis and the various theories voiced in regards to the conflicts in the Balkans, stressing the need for democratic principles and cooperation.
"The latest crisis in Kosovo, as well as all that occurred during the course of the past decade in the Balkans, with the collapse of the eastern bloc and the dissolution of the unified Yugoslavia, have forced many analysts, historians and politicians to ponder whether these events, mainly the tragedy unfolding in our neighborhood, are a result of economic interest conflicts. Moreover, quite a few maintain that we are before a cultural conflict, while others believe the cause is religious differences, " Mr. Kouzinopoulos stated, but, he added that peoples of various religious backgrounds reject conflict and turmoil.
As an example, he referred to the common appeal issued from Prishtina on May 24, a few hours before the opening salvo of the raids, by the religious leaders of the Orthodox, the Muslims and the Catholics of Kosovo, who called on the faithful to follow the road of peaceful co-existence, fraternization and concord.
Mr. Kouzinopoulos also cited the view held by many that the crisis is a result of conflicting economic interests.
"Maybe they are right. We only have to recall the panic felt in many American circles upon the appearance of the euro, or the banana war, the imposition of sanctions and customs by the United States onto a great number of European products, or even the threats hurled against the European Union for its decision to ban imports of genetically modified American pork meat.
"Perhaps all of this contributed to the recent crisis, which, however is the outcome of a conflict between two different points of view, two different worlds. On the one hand, the view that all problems, even the toughest ones, can and should be resolved through peaceful means; and on the other, the mentality of the powerful, strength, imposition with all means," he stressed.
"Kosovo is presently the poorest region in Europe. If we held any interest for her, if we had aided her, the problems would have been different. The only way the Kosovars can breath is to apply a multifaceted strategy in their region. By supporting Democracy, economic development and the sense of security. The last point is very significant. As such, the maintenance of existing borders in the Balkans should be sacrosanct, as it is in the remaining Europe. Of course, no one could imagine a change in France's or Spain's borders.
"In order to defend minorities in the Balkans we must not establish new states, countries that are ethnically cleansed. This is not Europe's tradition. In Europe, the more time passes, the less significance is given to borders. Therefore, that which stands for Europe should also stand for the Balkans.
"The Balkans have always been considered as an area with ......special needs, like an unruly child. However, the problems in our region are just as human as they are in any other European region. They are the same problems Europe underwent fifty years ago, with the massacres, the Holocaust. It's easy to say that there are Orthodox, Muslims, Catholics in the Balkans and that is the cause of the unsolvable issues. This is not true. The basic problems here are of a different type: Democracy, institutions, an elementary sense of security. The same principles that exist in Europe have to be established here too. This is the only way to transform the Balkans into a multicultural, multiethnic region. We have lived here for centuries with different cultures without problems and this is why it is so fundamental that the borders remain as they are," he stated.
Mr. Kouzinopoulos stressed that the climate in the Balkans will improve as the course of the region's countries towards the EU is progressing. The future of the Balkans cannot be isolated and separated from the overall course of the EU, much more so when the Balkan countries constitute a significant element of Europe from a historic, cultural, economic and political perspective, he said.
"As such, we cannot talk about a modern Europe, a united Europe, if all the Balkan countries, without exception, do not become members of the European family. And, as of course it is known, this constitutes a strategic choice for Greece. Europe's door for our region's countries should remain open. Their inclusion will contribute to the institutional balance, democratization and economic development."
 INTER-BALKAN MASS MEDIA COOPERATION IS IMPERATIVE
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Thessaloniki, 12/12/1999 (MPA) The conference titled "The prospect of Inter-Balkan cooperation after Kossovo- The role of the mass media", organized by Macedonian Press Agency in Thessaloniki, concluded yesterday with the consensus that cooperation among the Balkan peninsula's media on certain fundamental directions is imperative for the eradication of dramatic events in the conflict-torn region.
The participating journalists concluded that their role requires a heightened sense of responsibility and expedition in order to approach the dream of Balkan peace and cooperation.
Moreover, the participants agreed on the need to strengthen institutions such as the Balkan Press Center and the Association of Balkan News Agencies, which contributes to the formation of well-rounded views, as well as the establishment of new instittutions such as the Balkan Television Network and a Balkan newspaper.
The delegates demanded the establishment of a Charter and a Principles Code which would calmly avert any potential conflict and would embody all the teachings of history, while they also stressed that the issue in the Balkans is wider and concerns education and democracy.
Moreover, the participants focused on journalistic principles, specifically on issues regarding objectivity and credibility, requesting that opinion pieces be differentiated from hard news.
Lastly, the participants stressed that journalists should not be directed by any whatsoever propaganda that serves political, religious or cultural interests.
The Macedonian Press Agency's initiative to hold this conference in its effort to promote cooperation among the region's media will be held again next year.
 MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZES EU DECISION ON TURKEY
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis criticized the
government on the outcome of the EU summit in Helsinki, particularly blasting what he called the "recognition of unilateral Turkish claims as Greek-Turkish differences". The Communist Party of Greece-KKE also said that the government's triumphant words were an effort to set up a smoke screen to cover up the fact that the agreement signed in Helsinki was at the expense of Greece's sovereign rights and the Cyprus issue.
 PRIME MINISTER SATISFIED OVER HELSINKI AGREEMENT ON TURKEY
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) Prime Minister Costas Simitis has expressed his "full satisfaction" over an agreement reached earlier at the European Union summit in Helsinki to upgrade Turkey to an EU candidate country.
"It is an historic decision for peace and security in the region, which will help the relations between the two countries, and opens the road to constructive cooperation to the benefit of both Greece and Turkey," Mr. Simitis said.
"Greece had asked right from the start for clear positions and had stressed that Turkey's candidacy would have to be real and not virtual. Also, that there should be certainty as to the future course of action, emanating from the implementation of the rules of international law," he added.
Mr. Simitis also expressed satisfaction with the summit's decisions
regarding Cyprus. "It is clear that from now on, the process of Cyprus' accession to
the EU will be unimpeded, and that a solution of the Cyprus problem will not be a condition for Cypriot membership," he said.
 OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF GREEKS APPLAUD HELSINKI DECISION
Web Posted: 16:57 GMT+2Athens, 12/12/1999 (MPA) The overwhelming majority of Greeks. 74%. applaud the agreement reached at the European Union's Helsinki-held Summit, which allows Turkey to become a candidate country.
Specifically, according to a poll published in today's "Ethnos" edition, 31.1% of those surveyed view the government's policy as "very positive", 42.7% as somewhat positive", 13.4% as somewhat negative" and 8.3% as "very negative".
The EU summit decision to upgrade Turkey to a candidate country has specific conditions placed on the candidacy, namely, that a solution to the Cyprus problem will not be a precondition for an EU decision on the island republic's accession; that Turkey's various territorial disputes with Greece be referred to the International Court of Justice at The Hague within a specific time frame; and that the same conditions apply to Turkey as to the 11 other candidates states, emphasizing the need for an enhanced dialogue on human rights with a view to Ankara meeting the Copenhagen criteria on entry negotiations.
 GREEK TELECOMMUNICATIONS DESIGNATES ROMTELECOM CEO
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Bucharest, 12/12/1999 (MPA) 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.
 GREEK AND ROMANIAN STATE RADIOS ESTABLISH COOPERATION
Web Posted: 17:27 GMT+2Bucharest, 12/12/1999 (MPA) 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.
 US PRESIDENT CLINTON CONGRATULATES GREEK PM OVER HELSINKI
Web Posted: 16:57 GMT+2Washington, 12/12/1999 (MPA) United States President Bill Clinton congratulated Prime Minister Costas Simitis on what he called the latter's 'responsible stand' at the European Union summit meeting, a clear reference to Greece's diplomatic green light for Turkey's move towards eventual membership of the EU.
"I respect and esteem your stand," the US leader told Mr. Simitis in a letter, adding: "Under your leadership, your country can look forward to playing a key role in the region in securing stability, prosperity and peace."
Lastly, thanking Mr. Simitis for the hospitality that had been extended to him during his recent visit to Greece, Mr. Clinton expressed his conviction that 'together we shall respond to the challenges of the new millennium'.
Complete archives of the Macedonian Press Agency bulletins are available on the MPA Home Page at http://www.mpa.gr/ and on the U.S. mirror at http://www.hri.org/MPA/