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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2001-01-16

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, January 16, 2001

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS TITLES
  • [01] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT EMBARKS ON VISIT TO ATHENS
  • [02] PM STRESSES: THE TARGET IS CONVERGENCE WITH EU
  • [03] FIRST AID MDs REFUSE TO FLY IN MEDICAL CHOPPERS
  • [04] DEFENSE MINISTER RECEIVES CYPRIOT COUNTERPART
  • [05] INVESTIGATION ORDERED OVER ORIGIN OF PRODUCE
  • [06] COAST GUARD DISCOVERS CHILD'S BODY IN OPEN SEA
  • [07] U.K. FAMILY THREATENS ACTION OVER MISSING KIDNEY
  • [08] STEPHANOPOULOS-KOSTUNICA MEETING
  • [09] LOSSES IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [10] THE GREEK CULTURE MINISTER MET WITH THE CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTER
  • [11] ITALIAN SPECIALISTS PARTICIPATE IN THE INVESTIGATION ON THE CAUSES OF THE MEDICAL HELICOPTER CRASH
  • [12] PAPANTONIOU DENIED THE RUMORS ON HIS RESIGNATION
  • [13] THE DEPLETED URANIUM WAS AT THE CENTER OF THE TALKS IN THE SIMITIS-KOSTUNICA MEETING
  • [14] STATEMENTS BY SIMITIS AND KOSTUNICA ON THE RONTOS ISSUE
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS
  • [15] HILFE REPORT ON THE GREEK ECONOMY
  • [16] INCREASE OF 0.7% IN THE GDP OF THE EURO-ZONE

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT EMBARKS ON VISIT TO ATHENS

    The president-elect of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Vojislav Kostunica is to arrive in Athens today, a visit - his first official one- highly anticipated by Greece.

    Accompanied by Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, President Kostunica will meet with Greek government leaders with whom he is expected to discuss the strengthening of economic and political ties between the two countries, as well as the issue of NATO's use of depleted uranium bombs.

    President Kostunica will be received by the President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at 11:00 a.m. and the two will give a joint press conference at 12:30 p.m.

    Just before 1:00 p.m. the Yugoslav president will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at his office and the two will make statements at 1:45 p.m. A working lunch offered by the prime minister will follow.

    At 3:20 p.m., Kostunica will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, after which he will visit the Acropolis and the Athens Town Hall, where he will meet with Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    At 5:30 p.m., he will make his way to Parliament for a meeting with Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, followed by a meeting with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis at 6:00 p.m., with Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Constantopoulos at 6:30 p.m. and with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga at 7:00 p.m.

    Finally, the Yugoslav president will attend an official dinner at the Presidential Mansion and is due to leave for Belgrade at 11:30 p.m.

    [02] PM STRESSES: THE TARGET IS CONVERGENCE WITH EU

    Addressing the annual reception of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry last night, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, stressed that Greece's target in the forthcoming years is convergence with European societies, now that the foundation for modernizing the country's economy and society has been laid.

    "What remains to be done is for us to utilize the forces we have, resulting from our participation in the Economic and Monetary Union, and promote our plan for a more developed Greece," Mr. Simitis stated.

    The event was attended by the country's political leadership, including the President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and the president of the main opposition party, New Democracy's Costas Karamanlis, with whom Mr. Simitis talked at length.

    [03] FIRST AID MDs REFUSE TO FLY IN MEDICAL CHOPPERS

    Doctors working for the National First Aid Center (EKAV) are refusing to fly in the agency's medical helicopters, unless they're granted safety guarantees.

    Their refusal comes on the heels of an August 109 ambulance helicopter crash on Sunday, where a heart patient was being transported from the island of Patmos to Athens. All five people aboard, i.e. pilots and co-pilot, a doctor, a nurse and the patient, are still missing and are presumed dead. The crash, fragments of which have been discovered, has been attributed to stormy weather, as winds of eight Beaufort were blowing in the area.

    In a letter to the president of EKAV, the center's air transport supervisor in Athens George Hamalakis and his counterpart from the center's Rhodes unit Stavros Iliopoulos, as well as a number of emergency aid personnel, have asked that they be exempt from flying in the medical helicopters.

    Mr. Hamalakis has stated that he will not fly with the specific helicopters again since the Greek government provides no guarantees, adding that the pilots should be examined by the appropriate authorities prior to a flight.

    Moreover, he added that helicopter crews are subjected to political pressure and are forced to fly even under prohibitive weather conditions.

    Stressing that the accident was not the result of the pilot's "self-sacrifice" but was caused by "sloppiness", Mr. Hamalakis said that such an accident "was bound to happen".

    On the other hand, the EKAV president countered that no one is ordered to fly but, instead, the doctors are availing themselves voluntarily.

    Mr. Tsagarakis also added that the ill-fated helicopter's Italian pilot Antonio Vaccari failed to follow an order to land at the island of Syros.

    [04] DEFENSE MINISTER RECEIVES CYPRIOT COUNTERPART

    Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos met with his Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos in Athens yesterday, with whom he discussed the Cyprus issue, the joint defense doctrine and issues concerning European security and defense policy.

    The two ministers also discussed the risk of the use of depleted uranium shells and preventive measures that can be taken by the Cypriot armed forces.

    Following their talks, Mr. Hasikos stated that "since we do not have the ability of access or of investigating whether or not Turkish occupation forces have such shells, and with the possibility of Turkey itself having such shells and the ease with which it can take them to Cyprus, we primarily discussed how we can operate preventively against such a risk."

    The Cypriot Defense Minister also stated that the Cypriot armed forces have never obtained such shells.

    Mr. Tsochatzopoulos reiterated the Greek proposal for the temporary storing of such bombs until international organizations clarify their use.

    [05] INVESTIGATION ORDERED OVER ORIGIN OF PRODUCE

    Thessaloniki's public prosecutor has ordered an investigation as to the origin of fresh produce available in the local markets, following recent revelations that fruits and vegetables imported from Serbia may be contaminated with depleted uranium.

    The order calls on police, commerce and customs officials to examine the quantities of fruits and vegetables, especially frozen, available in supermarkets and greengoceries and ascertain if the goods bear a stamp indicating origin and date, which will in turn be compared with customs documentation.

    [06] COAST GUARD DISCOVERS CHILD'S BODY IN OPEN SEA

    The body of the eight-year-old child who was swept away by giant waves on Sunday was recovered today off the coast of the island of Zakynthos.

    The girl, Maria Yatra, was swept away by the gigantic waves as she was posing on the harbor's edge for a family photo.

    The girl's mother and uncle immediately jumped into the choppy sea to save her, but both drowned. The child's aunt who also jumped in after the girl, is presently hospitalized in a stable condition.

    The body was spotted by a Coast Guard patrol boat taking part in the search operation.

    [07] U.K. FAMILY THREATENS ACTION OVER MISSING KIDNEY

    The parents of a 24-year-old Briton who died while vacationing in Greece last year, are demanding an investigation into the reasons why their son's body was flown home with a kidney missing.

    According to an article published in the "The Times" today, a postmortem examination performed on Christopher Rochester in England showed that the deceased was missing a kidney. A kidney was reportedly forwarded to England from Greece but DNA tests showed that it didn't belong to the deceased.

    Rochester's mother, Pam Cummings, has threatened legal action against Greece if it becomes necessary to establish what happened to her son after his death.

    According to the article, the full results of the autopsy are not to be released until the investigation is completed, probably within the next two months.

    Rochester died when he fell from a hotel balcony at the island of Rhodes. However, the article adds, medical tests indicate that the injuries sustained in the fall should not have been fatal.

    [08] STEPHANOPOULOS-KOSTUNICA MEETING

    Federal Republic of Yugoslavia president Voislav Kostunica, who is on his first formal visit to Greece, met this morning with Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos. They discussed issues concerning the situation in south Serbia and Montenegro as well as, the effects of the depleted uranium bombs that were used in Yugoslavia by NATO.

    President Stephanopoulos stated after the meeting that Mr. Kostunica's election is a milestone in the modern Yugoslav history. Both presidents stressed that there is a coincidence of views between the two countries and underlined that bilateral relations are traditionally friendly. They also pointed out that the Greek government and the Greek people have showed their friendly feelings toward the Yugoslav people in times of suffering in the past decade and especially in the period of the NATO bombing and the embargo.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos stressed that the Greek positions against any change in the borders of Kosovo and in favor of a solution on the issue of the secessionist tendencies in Montenegro, based on a dialogue within the framework of the Yugoslav constitution, were reconfirmed. He also expressed Greece's support to the efforts of Yugoslavia to become a member of the European structures. In the Stephanopoulos-Kostunica meeting were also discussed issues of closer cooperation of the two countries in the sectors of transportation, telecommunications, energy and development.

    [09] LOSSES IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    More losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index had losses of 1.08% and closed at 3.133,12 points, while the volume of transactions was very small at 112.73 million Euro or 38.413 billion drachmas.

    Of the stocks trading today 57 recorded gains and 275 had losses, while the value of 41 remained unchanged.

    [10] THE GREEK CULTURE MINISTER MET WITH THE CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTER

    Greek culture minister Evangelos Venizelos met in Athens with the visiting Cuban foreign minister and they discussed cultural and sports cooperation issues, as well as Cuba's participation in the Cultural Olympiad.

    Mr. Venizelos stated that Cuba is a country with a long philhellenic tradition and an Ancient Greek Studies Department is in operation since 1842. He also said that there is great potential for the further development of bilateral economic, trade, cultural and sports relations, while he accepted an invitation to visit Cuba.

    The Cuban foreign minister stated that the Greek sports undersecretary will visit Havana in February at the invitation of his Cuban counterpart and expressed the hope that a bilateral sports agreement will be signed during the visit.

    [11] ITALIAN SPECIALISTS PARTICIPATE IN THE INVESTIGATION ON THE CAUSES OF THE MEDICAL HELICOPTER CRASH

    A group of Italians have arrived in Greece and they cooperate with the Greek Civil Aviation and the Greek committee of specialists investigating the causes of the medical helicopter crash in the sea region of Sounion, in Athens last Sunday.

    The Italian specialists met with the National Center of Immediate Medical Assistance president in Athens, who categorically denied the information according to which, the helicopter had mechanical failures four times. He also stated that in the morning of the day of the crash the helicopter had undergone technical inspection.

    [12] PAPANTONIOU DENIED THE RUMORS ON HIS RESIGNATION

    In a press conference he gave in Athens today, minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou made it clear that he is not under pressure to back the general index of the Athens Stock Exchange through the intervention of state portfolios.

    Mr. Papantoniou also stated that there must be an end to state interventions for the market to be free to evaluate the course of the stock exchange.

    The minister also denied the scenarios concerning his alleged intention to resign.

    [13] THE DEPLETED URANIUM WAS AT THE CENTER OF THE TALKS IN THE SIMITIS-KOSTUNICA MEETING

    The issue of the effects of the depleted uranium bombs that were used by NATO in Yugoslavia dominated in the meeting Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis had in Athens today with Yugoslav president Voislav Kostunica, who is on his first formal visit to Greece.

    In the statements he made after the meeting, Mr. Kostunica spoke of the "depleted conscience" of those who used the depleted uranium bombs, pointing out that similar shells were used not only in Kosovo but in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well.

    Prime minister Simitis stated that he is in favor of undertaking initiatives at a NATO, European Union and Balkan states level aimed at getting improved information on the effects of the depleted uranium use.

    After the meeting, prime minister Simitis gave a working lunch in honor of the Yugoslav president to discuss the Greek- Yugoslav relations and the political developments in the Balkan region. Mr. Simitis stated that Greece agrees that there must by more information on behalf of NATO and the countries participating in NATO in order to know what the effects will be and decide on the way that will be handled.

    Mr. Simitis suggested and Mr. Kostunica agreed that in the next Inter-Balkan Conference in Skopje a discussion must be held on the establishment of a scientific group which will examine the issue on behalf of the Balkan states and suggest what should be done about it. The prime minister also added that the health of the general population and the protection of the environment are the main targets.

    From his part, the Yugoslav president expressed reservations on whether those, who are mostly responsible for the bombings, will provide the data requested by the Greek and other state governments, adding that the Yugoslav government is ready to cooperate on the issue not only with Greece but with other countries as well.

    Prime minister Simitis stated that Greece has contributed in the past and recently in the efforts to support the Yugoslav economy in this transitional period and expressed Greece's intention to contribute to the Balkan reconstruction plan. He stressed that there are Greek investments in the country, pointing out that there are great opportunities in the construction sector, in telecommunications and other sectors as well.

    [14] STATEMENTS BY SIMITIS AND KOSTUNICA ON THE RONTOS ISSUE

    Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis and Yugoslav president Voislav Kostunica were asked by reporters today on the issue of the candidature of Greek foreign ministry adviser Alexandros Rontos for the post of the OSCE office director in Belgrade.

    Mr. Simitis clarified that Greece contacted the Yugoslav leadership on the issue namely, president Kostunica and Yugoslav foreign minister Svilanovic as well as, the foreign ministers of Portugal and Italy, to determine if Mr. Rontos' candidature can completely serve the intentions of the European Union. The prime minister clarified that due to the special relations between Greece and Yugoslavia it was established that it would have been better not to take this position and this eventually led to the withdrawal of the candidature. Mr. Simitis also added that there were no rejections or conflicts on the issue.

    From his side, the Yugoslav president confirmed Mr. Simitis' statements and stressed that the Greek government had consultations with the EU members and a solution was reached serving the interests of all sides. He said that the OSCE is a very important organization but the Greek-Yugoslav relations are determined mainly at a bilateral level and do not depend on this organization. He said that the Yugoslav side believes that the solution suggested by the Greek government serves the interests of the OSCE, Greece and Yugoslavia, adding that there is not one Greek official with whom the Yugoslav authorities did not have good relations and good cooperation, stressing that Mr. Rontos was one of those Greek officials with whom the cooperation was always excellent.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [15] HILFE REPORT ON THE GREEK ECONOMY

    A gradual drop in inflation and an increase in exports are predicted for the Greek economy in a HILFE economic analysts' firm report that was published recently.

    Specifically, the report mentions that Greece's accession into the EMU will lead to the true stability of consumer prices at a time when the value of the Euro is on the rise compared to the US dollar. A second factor affecting the course of consumer prices is the energy cost, particularly the cost of petrol.

    The average inflation rate in 2000 was at 3.1%, mainly due to the fuel price hikes and according to the report, the drop in the oil prices will bring inflation down to 2.3-2.5%. Also, the report mentions that the drop in the oil prices will have a positive effect on the state budget as well.

    [16] INCREASE OF 0.7% IN THE GDP OF THE EURO-ZONE

    The upward course of investments and exports in the third trimester of 2000 led to a GDP increase of 0.7% in the Euro-zone countries, compared to the previous trimester, according to data provided by the European Union Statistics Agency, Eurostat.

    Based on the same figures, the GDP in all the EU member- states increased by 0.6%. However, compared to the same period in 1999, the GDP in the Euro-zone increased by 3.4%, while the increase in all EU member-states was 3.3%.


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