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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2000-04-05

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, April 5, 2000

SECTIONS

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

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GERMAN PRESIDENT IN THESSALONIKI TODAY
  • [02] PASOK LEADER "GIVES IT ALL" AT THESSALONIKI RALLY
  • [03] MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES PARTY'S POLICY
  • [04] PASOK COUNTERS MUDSLINGING CHARGES WITH ROSES
  • [05] BOMB EXPLODES AT MIELE STORE IN THESSALONIKI
  • [06] COLLAPSED BUILDING OWNER'S PROPERTY SEALED
  • [07] OECD CLASSIFIED REPORT ON GREEK ECONOMY OPENS
  • [08] CRIME IS ON THE DECLINE IN GREECE
  • [09] MARGINAL LOSSES OF 0.01% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [10] RAU: REPARATIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE BUT A GOODWILL GESTURE IS POSSIBLE
  • [11] CLOSE RACE FOR THE TWO MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES
  • [12] THE GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES THAT OTE WILL REMAIN UNDER STATE CONTROL
  • [13] POLITICAL SPRING LEADING MEMBERS BACK PASOK
  • [14] RAU: TURKEY DOES NOT MEET THE PRECONDITIONS FOR EU ACCESSION
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [15] NATIONAL BANK BUYS STOPANSKA MAJORITY STAKE
  • [16] DESMOND TUTU AWARDED ATHENAGORAS PRIZE
  • [17] ENCOURAGING FIGURES ON UNEMPLOYMENT
  • [18] MOVING HUMANITARIAN INTEREST ON BEHALF OF THE GREEK EMBASSY IN TIRANA

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GERMAN PRESIDENT IN THESSALONIKI TODAY

    German President Johannes Rau is to arrive in Thessaloniki today, the last stop of his official, three-day visit to Greece, where he will hold talks with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Yiannis Magriotis and visit the city's German School.

    President Rau will visit the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the local Protestant Church's Community Center before flying to Ankara.

    Visiting at the invitation of the President of the Hellenic Republic Costis Stephanopoulos, the German yesterday paid homage to the victims of the German occupation forces in Greece during World War II, expressing his "grief and shame" over the Kalavryta massacre.

    As the highest-ranking German leader to ever officially visit Kalavryta, Mr. Rau was accompanied by President Stephanopoulos to the hill where the executions of Greeks took place laying a wreath during a brief ceremony followed by a memorial service.

    "I came here to keep the memory of this event alive in Germany. Here, at this place, I feel immense grief and shame. Only one who knows and accepts his past can find the path to a better future," he stated.

    "A half century after the end of the war Greeks and Germans are proceeding together towards a common European future. Together we have the opportunity to shape a European future of peace, democracy and respect for human rights. In such a Europe atrocities and destruction have no place. Young people have a particular interest in resisting all forms of hatred, intolerance, violations of human rights, barbarity and war."

    In his response, President Stephanopoulos called the visit "emotionally charged".

    Referring to recent demands that Germany pay war reparations to the victims of the 1941-44 occupation, the Greek President stated that Germany can do more to alleviate the consequences of the occupation massacres, as part of efforts to "lessen the repercussions as well as the feelings, which no amount of compensation can assuage."

    [02] PASOK LEADER "GIVES IT ALL" AT THESSALONIKI RALLY

    Addressing a massive rally held in Thessaloniki last night, a city which has traditionally thrown its support to the conservative main opposition party of New Democracy, Prime Minister and ruling PASOK party leader Costas Simitis expressed his confidence that the present government will emerge victorious in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

    Deemed as the most significant stop of his campaign trail, Mr. Simitis stressed that Thessaloniki is the capital city of the Balkans, and can serve as a point of reference therein since Greece is a force of peace, cooperation and development throughout the region.

    PASOK envisages the city as the hub of financial and economic services in the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean, according to Mr. Simitis, who also pledged that the city will soon be endowed with a significant transportation system, including a subway in four years, vast tourism and athletic facilities and a research and technology center.

    The Premier lashed against New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, who had held his party's rally in Thessaloniki the previous night, and stated that the main opposition's pledges for "less state" would lead to chaos.

    "What does New Democracy's 'less state' mean? It means that in place of the social state we will find the merciless, iron hand of the market. Whatever we built over four years can be overturned in a few months with the liberal prescriptions of New Democracy's apprentice-magicians." Mr. Simitis stated.

    Pointing out that the ruling party has achieved a great number of national victories, Mr. Simitis underlined that the following four-year term will be focused on employment, social cohesion and welfare.

    The Premier also referred to repatriated Greeks from Pontus, stating that the state's policy is to provide them with dignified conditions for assimilating into the motherland.

    [03] MAIN OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES PARTY'S POLICY

    Main opposition leader, New Democracy's Costas Karamanlis, reiterated yesterday that his party's priorities for the state's economic growth consist of forceful and expeditious economic and social development measures.

    In a press conference held in Athens yesterday, Mr. Karamanlis kept to his theme, stating that boosting measures will include a minimum monthly pension of 150,000 drachmas, unemployment benefits amounting to 60 percent of the minimum wage and measures in support of farmers and small and middle-sized enterprises.

    [04] PASOK COUNTERS MUDSLINGING CHARGES WITH ROSES

    The head of ruling PASOK party's election campaign, Environment Minister Costas Laliotis, responded to the main opposition party's accusations of forthcoming mudslinging with a bouquet of roses, opting for the high road instead.

    In a press conference held in Athens yesterday, Mr. Laliotis stated that the New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis should not expect "backstabbing" from PASOK, but, rather, should look within his own party for such acts.

    Mr. Karamanlis stated that he was glad PASOK realized what New Democracy had stated all along, that is, the two can hold a serious dialogue without divisive lines.

    [05] BOMB EXPLODES AT MIELE STORE IN THESSALONIKI

    A makeshift bomb exploded at the German firm "Miele" store in Thessaloniki, causing extensive material damages to the premises.

    According to the police report, the unknown culprits placed gas canisters at the store's entrance, destroying the facade.

    Police speculate that the attack could be related to the arrival of German President Johannes Rau in Thessaloniki.

    [06] COLLAPSED BUILDING OWNER'S PROPERTY SEALED

    A temporary seal has been placed by the courts on the property of an owner and builder Athens, on whose land an apartment building collapsed in the September 7 devastating earthquake, killing 16 residents.

    The seal follows a suit lodged by relatives of the deceased which will be heard on May 22.

    [07] OECD CLASSIFIED REPORT ON GREEK ECONOMY OPENS

    A classified report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presents a package of measures for the Greek economy, among them market liberalization and competition development, incentives for new activities and jobs, greater degree of decentralization, updating the public administration sector and an expert committee to the premier.

    According to the Athens daily "Imerisia", the report - to be published at the end of the year - will include proposals to strengthen the country's economic development and to establish strong "management" at all levels, ranging from local administration to the state government.

    The report is said to emphasize structural reforms which need to be "expedited" and deepen.

    Following a series of contacts held by an OECD delegation late last month in Athens with state officials and representatives from the private sector, the Organization concluded that the country lacks conditions of competitiveness.

    [08] CRIME IS ON THE DECLINE IN GREECE

    According to statistical data provided by the Greek ministry of public order, which are published on the Athens newspaper "TO VIMA", the crime linked to foreigners is on the decline since the start of the year.

    In the first two months of 2000, the involvement of foreigners in crimes dropped by 5% compared to the same period in 1999 as from 37% it dropped to 32%.

    Also, on the decline is the so-called small-medium crime and this is attributed to the increase of the police foot patrols, the mass deportations of illegal immigrants and the new measures adopted by the ministry of public order for the more effective control of illegal immigration.

    However, Greek Police officers and ministry officials continue to believe that the problem remains big as one out of three perpetrators is a foreigner.

    According to the figures provided, the foreigners arrested for murders in 1999 were 92 and their number was increased by 20 compared to 1998, while the number of Greeks in this crime category dropped from 203 to 184 in the same period of time.

    [09] MARGINAL LOSSES OF 0.01% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    The Athens Stock Exchange had marginal losses today of 0.01% at 4.813,02 points and the volume of transactions reached 147 billion drachmas.

    According to stock market analysts, it is very impressive that the general index had losses in spite of the fact that the majority of the secondary indexes had gains or just marginal losses.

    [10] RAU: REPARATIONS ARE IMPOSSIBLE BUT A GOODWILL GESTURE IS POSSIBLE

    Germany is not willing to pay reparations to the Greek relatives of Nazi victims during WWII but it can make a goodwill gesture, according to German president Johannes Rau, who visited Thessaloniki today. Mr. Rau also said that the war reparations issue is complicated and he can not give a response himself as he does not represent neither the government nor the opposition of his country.

    Mr. Rau arrived at the Airport of Thessaloniki where he was welcomed by minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis and Thessaloniki's prefect Kostas Papadopoulos. The German president visited the German School and responded to questions posed by its students.

    Responding to the question if Germany is willing to appeal to the European Court in case the Greek courts rule that it must pay reparations, Mr. Rau stated that the problem will be solved through talks between Greece and his country. At the same time, he reminded that the Greek side can not have claims anymore based on the treaty it had signed with Germany in 1960. He said that the reparation talks concern the forced labor and added that on that issue there could be a goodwill gesture.

    To the question on what will happen if the government that will be elected on April 9 persists on the issue of reparations, Mr. Rau responded that he believes that the Greek government with Karamanlis or Simitis as the prime minister will not persist on the issue and will accept a goodwill gesture.

    To the question if there will be a problem in the European Union in case there is a change in the Greek government, Mr. Rau responded that the EU is strong to tolerate any change of government.

    In the German president's itinerary during his stay in Thessaloniki was not included a visit to the Monument for the city's 50.000 Jews or to the region of Hortiatis, outside Thessaloniki, where over 200 Greeks were executed during WWII.

    Thessaloniki's Jewish Community president Andreas Sefiha commenting on this pointed out that the German president did not have the courage to pay homage to the thousands of the city's Jews who were the victims of the Nazis.

    [11] CLOSE RACE FOR THE TWO MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES

    The suspense for the leading members of the two main political parties has reached its peak regarding the outcome of the April 9 parliamentary elections as any prediction is ruled out because the race is very close for the two main political parties and the number of the undecided voters is still considerable.

    ALKO opinion poll company director Kostas Panagopoulos stated to the Athens radio station "Alpha News 98.7" that it is the most uncertain election race experienced in Greece after the restoration of democracy in the country in 1974.

    Meanwhile, right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos launched an attacked on the government stating that it falsifies reality by using misleading ads, while he maintained that the pensioners have suffered a considerable cut in their purchase power in the period 1996-1999.

    [12] THE GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES THAT OTE WILL REMAIN UNDER STATE CONTROL

    Minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou visited the Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, building in Athens today and characterized the organization as a model public company.

    The minister also announced that the government guarantees that OTE will remain under state control, underlining that the Greek character of the organization is secured, while he clarified that the state will remain in control of the national health system as well.

    [13] POLITICAL SPRING LEADING MEMBERS BACK PASOK

    Right-wing Political Spring party leading members from across Greece announced that they back governing socialist party of PASOK in the April 9 parliamentary elections.

    In a meeting today that was held in the presence of Ms. Vaso Papandreou, Political Spring former candidate Pantelis Maravelias stated to the prime minister that after a mature thought the leading members of the party decided to back PASOK and the prime minister and expressed the hope that this fact will give a special impetus to this crucial election race.

    From his side, prime minister Kostas Simitis stated that the presence of the leading members of Political Spring shows that PASOK's intention for wider cooperation has become a reality.

    [14] RAU: TURKEY DOES NOT MEET THE PRECONDITIONS FOR EU ACCESSION

    Turkey can belong to Europe but at this moment it does not meet the preconditions for EU accession, stated German president Johannes Rau responding to questions posed by students of the German School in Thessaloniki. The German president underlined that in the Helsinki EU Summit meeting the European states together with Greece recognized Turkey as a candidate state for EU accession but there should be certain negotiations with the country before it becomes a member of the European Union.

    Mr. Rau pointed out that in Europe there is freedom of expression, the human rights and international law are respected and the death penalty has been abolished, meaning that the situation in Turkey is different. He said that there has been progress in Turkey but it is not enough and the necessary preconditions still are not present for its accession into the European Union, adding that it is up to Turkey itself to meet those preconditions.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [15] NATIONAL BANK BUYS STOPANSKA MAJORITY STAKE

    The National Bank of Greece bought a 65 percent stake of FYROM's largest commercial bank Stopanska Banka yesterday, earmarking the start of a wider reform of the banking sector.

    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) purchased a further 10 percent each.

    [16] DESMOND TUTU AWARDED ATHENAGORAS PRIZE

    The President of the Council of Greeks Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens was the keynote speaker at a recent ceremony where this year's Athenagoras Prize for Human Rights was bestowed upon the Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu.

    Established in 1986, the Prize is named after Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who served as the Archbishop of America from 1930-48.

    Archbishop Tutu was honored for his fight against apartheid and human/religious rights struggles.

    [17] ENCOURAGING FIGURES ON UNEMPLOYMENT

    The unemployment rate was steady at 9.5% in the Euro-zone countries in the month of February compared to the revised unemployment percentage in January, according to the European Union statistics agency, Eurostat.

    Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in all EU member-states was at 8.8% in February, while last year the unemployment rate in all 15 EU member-states was at 10.3% and in the 11 Euro-zone countries was at 9.5%.

    Luxembourg had the smallest unemployment rate at 2.2%, followed by Holland at 2.7%, Austria 3.5% and Denmark 4.9%, while the biggest unemployment rate was recorded in Spain at 15.2%.

    In Greece, the available figures show that 10.3% of the active population is outside the job market.

    [18] MOVING HUMANITARIAN INTEREST ON BEHALF OF THE GREEK EMBASSY IN TIRANA

    The humanitarian interest showed by the Greek embassy in Tirana in the drama of an Albanian citizen is promoted by the Albanian newspaper "Koha Yone".

    According to the newspaper, young Luan Laha from Gramci died from frostbite in his effort to enter Greece illegally from the prefecture of Kozani, in the north-west, in February 1995. His father Zaho Laha expressed the wish to bring his son's remains to Albania and the only institution that showed interest on the issue was the Greek embassy in Tirana.

    The Greek embassy's press office called the "Koha Yone" offices and asked for assistance in the effort to locate the father of the young Albanian who died in Greece and the consul general asked for a meeting with him.

    The newspaper accused the Albanian foreign ministry of indifference in the demand of the dead man's father and concluded by writing that the Greek embassy in Tirana is more interested in the case than the Albanian foreign ministry itself.


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