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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 99-12-22

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 22, 1999

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] WHITE CHRISTMAS IN THESSALONIKI AS SNOW BLANKETS THE CITY
  • [02] PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN FEBRUARY, PM STRESSES
  • [03] BUDGET VOTED IN PARLIAMENT, 160 IN FAVOR, 133 AGAINST
  • [04] ALBANIAN PREMIER ILIR META ARRIVES IN ATHENS TODAY
  • [05] MINISTER: GREECE IS ONE OF EUROPE'S SAFEST COUNTRIES
  • [06] OTE ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD CHAIRMAN FOR ARMENIA'S ARMENTEL
  • [07] SAE PRESIDENT:ENTRY INTO NEW CENTURY WITH STRONG HELLENISM
  • [08] PROBLEMS IN TRANSPORTATION BECAUSE OF THE SNOWFALL
  • [09] STEPHANOPOULOS-KARAMANLIS MEETING
  • [10] GAINS RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [11] STEPHANOPOULOS: GREECE WILL ENTER THE NEW CENTURY AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF EUROPE
  • [12] THE POLITICAL SCENE IS CHANGING IN THE COUNTRY
  • [13] THE PRIME MINISTERS OF GREECE AND ALBANIA MET IN ATHENS TODAY
  • [14] REPPAS: THE AUTONOMY OF THE STOCK EXCHANGE MUST BE SAFEGUARDED
  • [15] REPPAS COMMENTED ON THE ECEVIT STATEMENTS
  • [16] SCHOLARSHIPS TO GREEK AND TURKISH STUDENTS FOR STUDIES IN HARVARD BY KOC AND KOKKALIS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [17] NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE ACQUIRES 65% OF FYROM'S STOPANSKA
  • [18] CYPRUS EXPECTS DECISIVE THIRD ROUND OF TALKS AFTER APRIL
  • [19] ARMENIA: ARRESTS OVER HOUSE MASSACRE, OFFICIALS AMONG THEM - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] WHITE CHRISTMAS IN THESSALONIKI AS SNOW BLANKETS THE CITY

    Snowy weather with temperatures bordering at below-zero, along with rain and storms have surprised northern Greece which had enjoyed a recent bout of Spring-like conditions.

    While anti-skid chains are required on all cars traveling on the national highway, traffic jams are also hampering city transportation. According to meteorologists, the inclement weather is expected to abate by Friday.

    [02] PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN FEBRUARY, PM STRESSES

    Presidential elections will be held in February, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed in Parliament last night, following the main opposition party of New Democracy leader's (Costas Karamanlis) turn-around statement that ND plans to vote for incumbent President Costis Stephanopoulos.

    According to the Premier, New Democracy's shift represents a spirit of national unity. In his riposte however, Mr. Karamanlis reiterated his call for early elections, while he justified his party's willingness to vote for President Stephanopoulos by stating that New Democracy does not want to go against the majority people's will.

    [03] BUDGET VOTED IN PARLIAMENT, 160 IN FAVOR, 133 AGAINST

    The Parliament approved the government- proposed state budget for 2000, with 160 votes in favor and 133 against. One deputy abstained and six others were absent.

    This is the last budget before Greece's entry into the euro zone, as the European Union is expected in June to endorse the country's bid to join the euro by January 1, 2001.

    The budget targets a 5.8 percent rise in revenue, a reduction in the government deficit, tax cuts worth 470 billion drachmas, and a 7.4 percent increase in public spending.

    [04] ALBANIAN PREMIER ILIR META ARRIVES IN ATHENS TODAY

    Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta will conduct an official visit to Athens today where he will hold talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis and the President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    The discussions will center on bilateral relations, regional political developments, Kosovo and the implementation of the SE Europe Stability Pact.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with the head of the ethnic Greek organization of Albania 'Omonia' and the Albanian Human Rights Party leader, Vangelis Dulles and Vassili Melo, respectively, during talks in Athens.

    Their talks focusing mainly on human rights issues and on protection of the ethnic Greek community in the Albanian south.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that Athens supported the efforts of the Greek minority in Albania for economic growth and in the problems it faced.

    [05] MINISTER: GREECE IS ONE OF EUROPE'S SAFEST COUNTRIES

    Addressing the Parliament yesterday evening, the Minster of Public Order Michalis Chrysochoides stated that Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe and outlined his Ministry's various programs that have helped curb crime.

    Specifically, Mr. Chrysochoides stated that the state's policy of "safe cities", which included policemen patrolling streets on foot, had resulted in a 15 percent decrease in crime levels in the first year.

    The Minister stated that Greece ranks fourth among Europe's safest countries and, according to statistics he cited, robberies had fallen 7.0 percent, homicides 17.0 percent, thefts 23 percent and thefts of cars and motorbikes by 4.0 percent.

    [06] OTE ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD CHAIRMAN FOR ARMENIA'S ARMENTEL

    Greece's state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) announced yesterday the appointment of George Argyropoulos as new chairman of the board of directors of Armentel, the Armenian telecoms utility of which OTE holds a 90 percent stake.

    Mr. Argyropoulos, whose appointment was decided at a general assembly of Armentel shareholders on December 17, has worked with OTE since 1977. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, with specialization in electronics and telecommunications.

    [07] SAE PRESIDENT:ENTRY INTO NEW CENTURY WITH STRONG HELLENISM

    The year 2000 will mark the entry of a century characterized by a strong, united and organized Hellenism, which will once again earn a significant place in world history, stated the President of the Council of Greeks Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens in his holiday message.

    Referring to the Greeks living abroad, Mr. Athens stated that their dynamic presence in their host countries, where their were driven either by need or by a venturesome spirit, constitutes the guiding star in SAE's own course.

    [08] PROBLEMS IN TRANSPORTATION BECAUSE OF THE SNOWFALL

    Serious problems have been caused in transportation because of the heavy snowfall that hits northern Greece since last night.

    In many regions of north central and western Greece the cars need non-skid chains, while in the cities of Florina and Grevena schools remained closed today. The temperatures are very low and in many cities in northern Greece dropped below zero.

    Many problems were caused by the heavy snow in the prefecture of Thessaloniki. The cars that move toward the regions of Hortiatis, Panorama, Agios Vasilios and Derveni have to use non-skid chains, while problems have also been created in the center of Thessaloniki.

    [09] STEPHANOPOULOS-KARAMANLIS MEETING

    Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis visited president Kostis Stephanopoulos at noon today to inform him formally that his party will vote for him in the presidential elections.

    In statements he made after the meeting the leader of the main opposition party stressed that the president has won the respect and recognition of all and the position of New Democracy is clear, courageous and right, taking under consideration the will of the overwhelming majority of the people and the demand for understanding and consensus in major issues.

    [10] GAINS RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index closed at 4.998,08 recording gains of 0.62% while the volume of transactions reached 243,2 billion drachmas. The regional stocks and the stocks of companies of medium and small capitalization had significant losses.

    Two hundred and thirteen stocks recorded losses, 94 had gains and 23 remained stable. The bank shares had gains of 1.06%, leasing -2.56%, insurance companies -1.53%, investments -1.46, constructions -2.66%, holdings -0.21%, others +3.02% and the parallel market -4.30%.

    [11] STEPHANOPOULOS: GREECE WILL ENTER THE NEW CENTURY AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF EUROPE

    Greece will enter the new century as an integral part of Europe being aware of the fact that the struggle will be continuous and laborious while the need for vigilance by all to defend the rights of the nation is imperative, pointed out president Kostis Stephanopoulos in his Christmas message to the Greeks living abroad.

    He also expressed the belief that united we will overcome successfully the adversities and challenges of the times.

    [12] THE POLITICAL SCENE IS CHANGING IN THE COUNTRY

    A new political scene is being formed in the country after last night's decision by right- wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis to vote in favor of the re-election of president Kostis Stephanopoulos to the post in the presidential elections that will be held in parliament next February.

    This decision distances the likelihood of early parliamentary elections and therefore, the government will submit Greece's application to join the EMU in March, 2000 without being affected by pressing political problems inside the country and will be able to proceed with the hard negotiations necessary concerning Greece's EMU accession.

    Late last night, during the discussion in parliament on the new state budget, Mr. Karamanlis announced that New Democracy agrees with the renewal of the term of today's president and called for immediate parliamentary elections. Prime minister Kostas Simitis accused him of engaging in dealings and also of violating the existing institutions, saying that everything will be done in accordance with the constitution. The scene was completed with the statement made by New Democracy honorary president Konstantinos Mitsotakis who did not hide his disagreement and discontent for Karamanlis' decision which essentially closes the doors to probably his last political ambition which is to become president of the Hellenic republic.

    According to political analysts, Mr. Karamanlis was led to this decision because he thought that there was no other solution for him and in case he delayed more the cost he would have to pay would have been even bigger. With this surprise tactical move he wanted to change the negative climate over him, but from now on he will have to face an even more malign in- party problem namely, the discontent of Konstantinos Mitsotakis.

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis charged Mr. Karamanlis of backing out in fear of the polls and now the time of the elections will be determined by the government and not by the opposition.

    The big winner is beyond any doubt president Kostis Stephanopoulos not only because he essentially has already been re-elected for a second five-year term and because he sees that he has the backing of the overwhelming majority of the people becoming part of the political game but also because his re-election will take place with the most votes ever won by a president in the contemporary Greek history. If the word consensus exists in the Greek political dictionary it is personified by president Stephanopoulos.

    [13] THE PRIME MINISTERS OF GREECE AND ALBANIA MET IN ATHENS TODAY

    The Greek-Albanian relations, the Balkan stability pact, issues concerning the Greek minority in Albania and the Albanian immigrants in Greece were discussed in the meeting prime ministers of Greece and Albania Kostas Simitis and Ilir Meta had in Athens today.

    In statements he made afterwards, Mr. Simitis said that the regular contacts at prime ministers' level help in the better cooperation of the two countries. Mr. Simitis said that this cooperation has a general framework which is based on two poles namely, the Greek and the Albanian agreements and the stability pact.

    The Greek prime minister also stressed that Greece has a specific policy regarding the relations of Albania and the rest Balkan countries with the European Union, adding that it seeks greater cooperation. He also said that Greece has come to the conclusion that unfortunately the implementation of the stability pact moves slowly and pointed out that due to the regular contacts of the Greek government ministers with their Albanian counterparts there is great progress in bilateral cooperation. During the meeting of Mr. Simitis with Mr. Meta an agreement was signed for the backing of the Albanian budget.

    The Albanian prime minister will also meet with the leaders of the opposition political parties of New Democracy and Coalition of the Left.

    [14] REPPAS: THE AUTONOMY OF THE STOCK EXCHANGE MUST BE SAFEGUARDED

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that the autonomy of the stock exchange must be safeguarded responding to the question on whether the statement of the government according to which, the stock market reflects the course of the economy is still in effect.

    Mr. Reppas also stated that the stock exchange has all the preconditions to record gains.

    [15] REPPAS COMMENTED ON THE ECEVIT STATEMENTS

    The only difference between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean is the definition of the continental shelf and it will be settled by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, reiterated today Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas when he was called to comment on the statements made by Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit who spoke of other differences between the two countries.

    Mr. Reppas called on Turkey to view developments in the wider region in a different way because it will have to be in harmony with the European Union decision.

    [16] SCHOLARSHIPS TO GREEK AND TURKISH STUDENTS FOR STUDIES IN HARVARD BY KOC AND KOKKALIS

    Turkish and Greek tycoons Rahmi Koc and Sokratis Kokkalis decided to offer scholarships to Greek and Turkish students respectively for studies in Harvard University.

    According to the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet", during his one-day visit to the computer exhibition "Bilisim 99" in Istanbul Sokratis Kokkalis met with Rahmi Koc and Turkish - Greek Business Council president Sarik Tara. Based on the newspaper report, Mr. Kokkalis announced that as a first step in the cooperation between Greek and Turkish businessmen he plans to offer scholarships to Turkish students, while similar scholarships are being planned by Mr. Koc as well.

    In the newspaper is also mentioned that Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou plans to visit Ankara in the second week of January accompanied by a large delegation of Greek businessmen, adding that four agreements will be signed by the Greek and Turkish delegations which are in contact for a year now. Those agreements will concern mainly trade cooperation.

    Meanwhile, Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem is expected to visit Athens in early February for the signing of agreements, while in the same period of time Greek and Turkish journalists will meet in Athens to discuss issues concerning the contribution of the mass media to the improvement of bilateral relations.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [17] NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE ACQUIRES 65% OF FYROM'S STOPANSKA

    The National Bank of Greece acquired the majority stake (65%) of FYROM's largest bank Stopanska, which has a network of about 100 branches with assets of over $330 million, as the Macedonian Press Agency had reported earlier.

    Stopanska's share capital is expected to increase during the following six months by DM50 million, which will be allocated for modernizing the bank's infrastructures and fortify its cash flow.

    In addition to the majority share acquired by the National Bank, 10% will be issues to the European Bank of Development and Reconstruction, as well as 10% to the International Financial Cooperation which is a "branch" the World Bank.

    [18] CYPRUS EXPECTS DECISIVE THIRD ROUND OF TALKS AFTER APRIL

    The Cypriot government expects a third, decisive round of its indirect talks with the Turkish Cypriots to take place in the spring.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou foretold that the talks would be held after Turkish-Cypriots have voted in presidential elections in their part of the island in April.

    "The most decisive stage will be during the third round," Mr. Papapetrou said.

    A second round of proximity talks is scheduled for Geneva in January, to be conducted by Alvaro de Soto, the special representative of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for Cyprus. It will also be closely monitored by US President Bill Clinton's special envoy for Cyprus, Alfred Moses.

    [19] ARMENIA: ARRESTS OVER HOUSE MASSACRE, OFFICIALS AMONG THEM

    A total of 14 people, including a member of parliament and a presidential adviser, have been arrested in connection with shootings in the country's parliament which left the prime minister and seven others dead, Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated yesterday.

    According to the French news agency AFP, Alexan Arutiunian, an adviser on diplomatic affairs and former chief of staff, is suspected of having played a role in the October 27 attack in which five gunmen stormed the parliament building and shot dead prime minister Vazgen Sarkissian, parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian and six others.

    President Kocharian told a press conference the massacre was an "attempted coup d'etat by a terrorist act, the consequences of which are still being felt today."

    He rejected media allegations that the investigation into the attack was biased and that torture had been used on the suspects, but added: "I can't be 100 percent sure, but those leading the investigation assure me that there has been no violence." - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -


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