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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2001-02-14

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, February 14, 2001

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS TITLES
  • [01] THREE SLIGHT QUAKES RATTLE ATHENS, NO DAMAGES
  • [02] NATO EXERCISE IN IONIAN SEA BEGINS THIS WEEK
  • [03] "PARTNERSHIP IN PEACE" FEATURED IN NATO EXERCISE
  • [04] GREEK ROAD TOLL WORKERS GO ON 24-HOUR STRIKE
  • [05] IOC'S ROGGE ARRIVES IN ATHENS TOMORROW
  • [06] GREEK AMBASSADOR TO YUGOSLAVIA MEETS PM
  • [07] MERRY RELENTLESS: DON'T IGNORE GREEK TERRORISM
  • [08] GREEK FM, SECRETARY POWELL HOLD PHONE TALKS
  • [09] SLIGHT QUAKE ROCKS CENTRAL-EASTERN GREECE
  • [10] OECD OPTIMISTIC OVER COURSE OF GREEK ECONOMY
  • [11] IMMIGRANT DIES FROM HYPOTHERMIA ON MT. BELLES
  • [12] SAE TO CONVENE IN THESSALONIKI THIS MONTH
  • [13] CONSUMER PRICE INDEX COMPONENTS ADJUSTED
  • [14] THE GREEKS IN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA GO THROUGH HARD TIMES
  • [15] GAINS WERE RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [16] MEETING OF THE PARLIAMENT PRESIDENTS OF GREECE AND CYPRUS
  • [17] NO NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE ISSUE OF THE FYROM NAME
  • [18] THE LEGISLATION DEALING WITH MONEY LAUNDERING IS ADEQUATE
  • [19] THE PRIME MINISTER WANTS ACCELERATED PACE IN THE ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES PREPARATIONS
  • [20] THE APPLICATIONS FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM IN GREECE DOUBLED IN 2000
  • [21] A BULGARIAN SLAVE-TRADER RECEIVED A LONG PRISON SENTENCE
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS
  • [22] REASSURING SWISS LABORATORY TEST RESULTS ON THE PRESENCE OF PLUTONIUM IN THE BALKANS

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] THREE SLIGHT QUAKES RATTLE ATHENS, NO DAMAGES

    Three slight earthquakes rattled Athens early this morning, occurring consecutively within a course of ten minutes and measuring 3.5, 3.8 and 3.4 on the Richter scale.

    No damages have been reported from the quakes that occurred at 6.04, 6.08 and 6.14 am.

    According to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, the quakes' epicenter was located in Parnetha, an area prone to post-seismic activity following the devastating quake of Athens in 1999.

    Another quake, measuring 4.2 Richter, occurred in Thesprotia shortly after midnight.

    [02] NATO EXERCISE IN IONIAN SEA BEGINS THIS WEEK

    A NATO naval exercise, touted as the most important in the anti- submarine race world-wide, is to get underway tomorrow in the Ionian Sea and the eastern parts of Sicily, with the participation of 12 countries, including Greece.

    Code-named "Dogfish 2001", the exercise's purpose is to showcase the Alliance's ability to conduct coordinated counter- submarine operations and it will involve a multinational force composed of surface vessels, submarines, naval cooperation aircraft and helicopters. Greece will participate with a submarine, a naval cooperation aircraft and a destroyer.

    The other participating countries are France, Germany, Britain, the United States, Spain, Italy, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey.

    [03] "PARTNERSHIP IN PEACE" FEATURED IN NATO EXERCISE

    The 14 "Partnership for Peace" member-states are to take part for the first time in NATO's annual crisis management exercise codenamed CMX 200, which will be held between February 15-21.

    The purpose of the exercise is to test processes for managing joint political and military crises and improve NATO's ability to manage crises.

    The exercise's scenario is hypothetical and will take place in an imaginary region between Iceland and Britain, where NATO's task will be to implement a United Nations peace operation.

    [04] GREEK ROAD TOLL WORKERS GO ON 24-HOUR STRIKE

    The county's road toll booth employees are embarking on a 24- hour strike today, in protest to a bill tabled in parliament by the Ministry of Public Works calling for changes in the sector.

    Specifically, the bill calls for the transformation of National Road Fund into a public company along the lines of Attica Metro.

    Road toll unions accuse deputy Public Works Minister Nassos Alevras that he ignored their proposals before tabling the bill.

    [05] IOC'S ROGGE ARRIVES IN ATHENS TOMORROW

    The President of the International Olympics Committee's Coordination Commission, Jacques Rogge is to arrive in Athens tomorrow, February 15, in order to assess the country's course of preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games.

    Mr. Rogge will hold talks with the president of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Minister of Environment, Public Works and Urban Planning Costas Laliotis and undersecretary of Sports George Floridis.

    [06] GREEK AMBASSADOR TO YUGOSLAVIA MEETS PM

    The Yugoslav government's proposal to restrict Southern Serbia's demilitarized zone from five to one kilometer, is being given serious consideration by NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Greece' s Ambassador to Yugoslavia Michalis Spinellis stated after his meeting with the country's federal premier Zoran Zizic.

    Mr. Spinellis also stated that Greece supports the European Union's position over Yugoslav sovereignty and the federal model as the best available for outlining relations between Serbia and Montenegro.

    Regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections in Montenegro, Mr. Spinellis stated that "Greece believes that the future of Serbia and Montenegro belongs in a democratic Yugoslavia," adding that Greece is anxiously following the situation in Kosovo and southern Serbia, "as these not only affect developments in Yugoslavia but the entire region as well."

    Mr. Spinellis also praised the Yugoslav forces' self- restraint in southern Serbia in the face of raids by armed Albanian gangs, stating that Greece deems that Belgrade's proposal for defusing the crisis offers good prospects for a peaceful resolution.

    In turn, Mr. Zizic underlined that that only dialogue will stabilize relations between the two Yugoslav republics.

    [07] MERRY RELENTLESS: DON'T IGNORE GREEK TERRORISM

    The Bush Administration should not certify Athens as safe for American athletes and fans during the 2004 Olympics if the terrorist organization November 17 is not destroyed, according to former State Department and Pentagon official Wayne Merry, better known to Greeks as "the prophet of doom".

    In a "Christian Science Monitor" editorial, Mr. Merry appears relentless in the "propaganda war" he's waged against Greece and its security measures for the 2004 Olympiad, urging the U.S. to threaten Athens with a Games boycott in order to force the government to take counter-terrorism action.

    "Greek authorities can deal with this problem if they want to, and Washington should make certain they do," Mr. Merry writes, pointing out that just as arrests where made over the Pan Am bombing case -albeit ten years later- similar attention should be devoted to ferreting out 17N.

    "The problem is Greek government passivity. Despite scores of attacks - many with eyewitnesses - there have been no arrests. No suspects have even been identified. Many Western countries have faced radical leftists, but only Greek law enforcement has zero accomplishments," he writes, adding that "few Greeks believe police failure is an accident. Repeatedly, key information about investigations is leaked to the tabloid newspapers. Last fall, six months of hard work by some of Scotland Yard's best investigators - sent to Greece after the murder of the British defense attaché in June - was exposed in two Athens dailies. The information could come only from inside the "elite" counterterrorist forces."

    Moreover, Mr. Merry writes that witnesses who have given police "secret" testimony have received threatening phone calls or seen their cars firebombed by way of warning.

    [08] GREEK FM, SECRETARY POWELL HOLD PHONE TALKS

    Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou, presently on an official visit to Lebanon, held a 15-minute phone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday evening, to whom he conveyed the rising concerns of Arab leaders over Israel's elections.

    Moreover, Mr. Papandreou thanked Mr. Powell for his positive statement on the issue of terrorism in Greece, and briefed him on the progress noted in Greek-Turkish relations, as well as on problems concerning the Cyprus issue.

    The two officials also discussed the situation in the Balkan region, where Mr. Papandreou granted particular attention to the flashpoints of Southern Serbia and Montenegro.

    Messrs. Powell and Papandreou agreed to meet on February 27 in Brussels, at the sidelines of the NATO Summit.

    [09] SLIGHT QUAKE ROCKS CENTRAL-EASTERN GREECE

    Another earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale rocked the region of Thesprotia in central-eastern Greece this morning, two hours after three tremors shook Athens.

    The quake occurred at 8:35 a.m., with its epicentre in the sea region between the Paxi islands and Igoumenitsa, 330 kilometers northwest of Athens. Non damages have been reported.

    Mild tremors measuring 3.5, 3.8 and 3.4 Richter were also recorded at 6:04, 6:08 and 6:14 a.m. in Athens, coming from the Parnitha epicenter that produced the devastating 5.9 Richter earthquake in 1999.

    According to seismologists, the three tremors were part of the area's continuing post-seismic activity from the September 1999 earthquake.

    [10] OECD OPTIMISTIC OVER COURSE OF GREEK ECONOMY

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is optimistic over the course of Greece's economic development, forecasting the growth rate at 4.6 percent in 2001 and 4.4 percent in 2000.

    In a recent report, OECD notes that Greece has made great steps towards handling macroeconomic inequalities," adding that the Greek government's "incessant efforts were rewarded with Greece's accession to the eurozone in 2001." The report also forecast a decrease in the country's unemployment rate, which is expected to drop from 10.7 percent in 2001 to 10 percent in 2002, after reaching 11.4 percent in 2000.

    However, the report warns of inflationary pressures and the noted delays in the course of structural reforms.

    "The main dangers surrounding these predictions concern the duration of a strong economic development in an environment of low inflation. Under the circumstances, it is extremely difficult to assess the repercussions from the slackening of monetary policy entailed by entry to the European Monetary Union (EMU)," the OECD warned.

    "Greece's entry to the EMU's third phase, with the adoption of the euro, means the Greek government lacks the possibility of increasing interest rates to avoid an overheating of the economy and control inflation. The need for a tighter fiscal policy stems from there" according to the report, which adds that "a tougher fiscal policy should be implemented and cutbacks in taxation should not be applied unless they are accompanied by cutbacks in expenditures."

    [11] IMMIGRANT DIES FROM HYPOTHERMIA ON MT. BELLES

    A 25-year-old Bulgarian man died from cold exposure on Mt. Belles, during an attempt to cross the mountain and illegally enter Greece with a group of his compatriots.

    According to the police report, local villagers discovered the young man's lifeless body after being alerted by the other illegal immigrants that he had gone missing during their attempt to cross into Greece a few days ago.

    Fearing that if they were to search the area for the missing man they would be spotted by the border patrol, the group of illegal immigrants sought help from the Greek villagers instead.

    [12] SAE TO CONVENE IN THESSALONIKI THIS MONTH

    The Council of Greeks Abroad (SAE) is to convene at its Thessaloniki offices between February 20-24, in the presence of underdecretary of Foreign Affairs Grigoris Niotis and the Secretary-General of Expatriated Greeks Dimitris Dollis.

    The meeting will feature the participation of SAE presidennt Andrew Athens, alternate president Costas Pappas, and regional vice presidents for SAE's branches in Cyprus, Asia-Africa, North and South America, Europe and Oceania.

    [13] CONSUMER PRICE INDEX COMPONENTS ADJUSTED

    January inflation is expected to close at 3.5 percent year-on- year, compared with 3.9 in December, according to the National Statistics Service's (NSS) report expected to be released tomorrow.

    The report notes that the containment of oil prices and the dollar's declining rate are both contributory factors for curbing inflation.

    As the Athens daily "Imerisia" reported, NSS has begun taking into consideration the changes in the Consumer Price Index's components which were adjusted followng household budget reviews.

    According to the modified CPI, spending on food, housing, outerwear and footwear has fallen as a percentage, while spending on health, transportation, commuicatins and education has rocketed.

    [14] THE GREEKS IN THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA GO THROUGH HARD TIMES

    The situation for the Greeks in the former soviet republic of Georgia continues to be difficult as it is for all Georgians. Unemployment exceeds 50%, while the average monthly pensions is just US$ 7. About 1.500 Greek families live in squalid conditions and it is not an exaggeration to say that they are deprived of basic foodstuffs, such as flour, sugar, butter, etc.

    The above were stressed to MPA by Greek Communities in Georgia Federation president Kiriakos Iordanidis, who is in Athens for contacts with the responsible government institutions and officials.

    Mr. Iordanidis expressed satisfaction for the contacts he had so far with general secretary for the Greeks Living Abroad Dimitris Dollis and pointed out that he expects solutions to be found for the big problems faced by the Greeks in Georgia. Mr. Iordanidis was also scheduled to meet yesterday with undersecretary of foreign affairs responsible for the Greeks Living Abroad Grigoris Niotis, while today he will meet with undersecretary of national economy Yiannis Zafiropoulos.

    He stated that ten years ago, the Greek community in Georgia numbered 130.000 members but now the Greek presence has shrunk dramatically with the known results.

    [15] GAINS WERE RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose by 0.47% at 3.211,32 points, while the volume of transactions was 122.47 million Euro or 41.73 billion drachmas.

    Of the stocks trading today, 268 recorded gains and only 62 had losses, while the value of 40 stocks remained stable.

    [16] MEETING OF THE PARLIAMENT PRESIDENTS OF GREECE AND CYPRUS

    The latest developments in the Cyprus problem were discussed in Athens by Greek parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis and his Cypriot counterpart Spiros Kiprianou, who is on a visit to Greece.

    Mr. Kaklamanis stated after the meeting that it was productive and useful, while he expressed the belief that the exchange of views on Cyprus will continue. It should be noted that the negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem appear to be stagnant because of the unwillingness expressed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to attend the new round of the proximity talks held within the framework of the United Nations.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader calls for the recognition of two states in Cyprus, while the Cypriot Republic is in favor of a two- zone, two-community federation.

    [17] NO NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE ISSUE OF THE FYROM NAME

    The round of consultations, held under the UN auspices on the issue of the name that will be used by FYROM continues, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas responding to a relevant question by reporters, pointing out, however, that no new developments have been observed on the issue.

    Mr. Reppas underlined that the climate in bilateral relations is totally different compared to the past and announced that the Balkan Summit meeting will be held in Skopje at the end of the month, stressing that this would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

    [18] THE LEGISLATION DEALING WITH MONEY LAUNDERING IS ADEQUATE

    The legislation that deals with money laundering phenomena is adequate, stated Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, adding that the government is willing to proceed to marginal improvements whenever this is necessary.

    Specifically, Mr. Reppas stated that the government is studying the European legislation on such issues for the Greek justice ministry to incorporate it into the existing state legislation.

    [19] THE PRIME MINISTER WANTS ACCELERATED PACE IN THE ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES PREPARATIONS

    Prime minister Kostas Simitis called for accelerated pace in the preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in the ministerial meeting on the Olympic Games that was held today.

    In statements he made after the meeting, undersecretary of press Tilemachos Hitiris stated that the preparations in progress were examined in view of the visit to Athens by an International Olympic Committee, IOC, delegation headed by committee vice- president Jacques Rogge.

    "Athens 2004" Organizing Committee president Ms. Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalakis stated that it is important to realize that the issue is of extremely urgent nature and that everybody must have a sense of the responsibility that corresponds to them. She also stated that she is personally concerned over the fact that time is the enemy in this case, adding that more determination is needed and changes must be made even if the changes are institutional ones.

    The undersecretary of press stated that there are 1.200 days before the Athens Olympic Games and the problems that arise must be dealt with quickly.

    Mr. Hitiris stated that Mr. Rogge will have separate meetings tomorrow with sports undersecretary Giorgos Floridis, labor undersecretary Christos Protopappas, environment, land planning and public works minister Kostas Laliotis, culture minister Evangelos Venizelos and prime minister Kostas Simitis. On Friday, Mr. Rogge will give a press conference to comment on the progress made by Greece in the preparations for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

    [20] THE APPLICATIONS FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM IN GREECE DOUBLED IN 2000

    There are 20 million political refugees all over the world and 2.7 million come from Afghanistan, according to figures presented today by UN High Commission on Refugees office representative in Greece Ms. Florinda Rojas. The UN High Commission on Refugees organizes a number of events in Greece in cooperation with non governmental organizations and institutions on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

    The number of those requesting political asylum in Greece has doubled in 2000 compared to 1999, while there was also an increase in the political asylum approval rate reaching 11.2% compared to 8.5% in 1999.

    In the last five years, political asylum was granted to 6.291 individuals coming mainly from Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. The main entry points of refugees to the Greek territory are the Greek-Turkish borders and the Aegean islands. Referring to the issue of the Kosovo refugees, Ms. Rojas stated that 80% of them have returned to their homes.

    [21] A BULGARIAN SLAVE-TRADER RECEIVED A LONG PRISON SENTENCE

    A court in the northern Greek city of Serres sentenced 23yearold Bulgarian Kiro Stoyanov to 17.5 years in prison, while he will also have to pay a fine of 2.3 million drachmas. The young Bulgarian was found guilty of attempting to bring illegally to Greece a total of 37 Asian immigrants.

    He was arrested two days ago in the region of the Lake of Kerkini during a police chase. In his truck police found 28 Iranians, 7 Pakistanis and two Bangladeshis. During interrogation he stated that he crossed over to Greece from an unguarded Greek- Bulgarian border crossing and his destination was the city of Thessaloniki. He also said that he had an accomplice who managed to escape during the chase.

    After the trial, he was taken to Diavata Prison, outside Thessaloniki, pending his appeal.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [22] REASSURING SWISS LABORATORY TEST RESULTS ON THE PRESENCE OF PLUTONIUM IN THE BALKANS

    The tests conducted by a Swiss scientific laboratory showed very small traces of plutonium in the depleted uranium bombs that were used by the NATO forces in the Balkans, according to Swiss radio reports.

    Based on the same information, the plutonium quantities traced in the depleted uranium bombs that were used by the NATO forces in the Balkans are very small and are not a threat for public health.

    The UN Environmental Program had sent a group of specialists to Kosovo in the beginning of the month to collect soil, water and plant samples from different areas in Yugoslavia. Those samples were tested in laboratories to clarify if the depleted uranium weapons are any threat whatsoever, for the people.


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