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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2001-04-02

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 2, 2001

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS TITLES
  • [┴] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [01] THESSALONIKI HOSTS EIGHTH BALKAN FORUM TODAY
  • [02] WORLD LEADERS AT "ECONOMIST" EVENT IN ATHENS
  • [03] PM ADDRESSES PASOK DEPUTIES IN THESSALONIKI
  • [04] ABNA MEMBERS ADOPT ANTI-JINGOIST RESOLUTION
  • [05] GREECE TAKES PART IN "CORNERSTONE 2001"
  • [06] MERCHANT MARINE MINISTER TO VISIT US IN MAY
  • [07] UK MINISTER FOR CABINET OFFICE IN ATHENS TODAY
  • [08] UK REPORT: CUT PENSIONS, RAISE AGE OF RETIREMENT
  • [09] POPE'S VISIT, PETITION, TO DOMINATE CHURCH TALKS
  • [10] LEADING POLITICAL FIGURES AT 8TH BALKAN FORUM
  • [11] M490 EUROS SLATED FOR SE EUROPE RECONSTRUCTION
  • [12] GREEK RECONSTRUCTION PLAN CRUCIAL FOR FYROM
  • [13] F.R.Y. SETS 6 LONG-TERM TARGETS FOR ITS ECONOMY
  • [14] FM SPOKESMAN: ARREST IS FRY'S INTERNAL AFFAIR
  • [15] THE BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER WILL BE IN THESSALONIKI TOMORROW
  • [16] MIROLJUB LABUS: THE GREEK-FRY RELATIONS WILL BE IMPROVED
  • [17] THE THESSALONIKI FORUM OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FERTILE DIALOGUE
  • [18] ZAFIROPOULOS: PEACE IS A PRECONDITION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BALKANS
  • [19] REPPAS ON MILOSEVIC'S ARREST
  • [20] LOSSES WERE RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE
  • [21] KARAMANLIS: THE BORDERS ARE INVIOLABLE AND DO NOT CHANGE
  • [22] THE CONDITIONS FOR INVESTMENTS IN SE EUROPE ARE PERFECT
  • [23] PAPANTONIOU: THE SOCIAL POLICY BENEFITS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
  • [24] THE GREEK CAR INDUSTRY EXPRESSED INTEREST IN THE SERB MARKET
  • [25] REPPAS: THE SMOOTH OPERATION OF THE ATHENS AIRPORT IS A MATTER OF TIME
  • [26] THE FIRST TOURISTS HAVE ARRIVED IN CRETE
  • [27] THE BALKAN COURSE TOWARD THE EU IS DIFFICULT BUT FEASIBLE
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS
  • [28] MILOSEVIC PLEADS "NOT GUILTY" TO ALL CHARGES

  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] THESSALONIKI HOSTS EIGHTH BALKAN FORUM TODAY

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Yugoslav counterpart Zoran Zizic are to be among the speakers at the Eighth Balkan Forum, which gets underway in Thessaloniki today, organized by the Association of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.

    The foreign ministers of three Balkan countries will also speak at the meeting, namely Albanian's Paskal Milo, FYROM's Srgjan Kerim and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's Goran Svilanovic, who will discuss the topic "Southeastern Europe: Political Stability as a Prerequisite for European Cohesion".

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will also be joined by four of his counterparts, namely from F.R.Y., Cyprus, Albania and FYROM, who will review the latest developments in their countries' economies, under the scope of Greece's Balkan Reconstruction Plan.

    Other speakers include Bodo Hombach, the Balkan stability pact coordinator, and senior U.S. State Department official James Swiggart, director of the Office of South Central European Affairs.

    According to the organizers, the event aims at serving as the platform for peace in the Balkans and an exchange of ideas on social and economic development in the region.

    [02] WORLD LEADERS AT "ECONOMIST" EVENT IN ATHENS

    An international conference to be held by the magazine "The Economist" in Athens on April 3-4, will be attended by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other leaders, among them the former president of the United States George Bush.

    The international event will focus on the theme "Leadership Strategy at the Dawn of the 21st Century".

    Other leaders expected to attend are former president of the former Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, Yugoslav President Vojslav Kostunica and FYROM Premier Ljubco Georgievski, Albanian Premier Ilir Meta, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy (CFCP), Brussels, Javier Solana, and others.

    Among the participants representing Greece will be Foreign Minister George Papandreou, National Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, leader of the main opposition party of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis and the party's honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis and Bank of Greece Governor Loukas Papademos.

    [03] PM ADDRESSES PASOK DEPUTIES IN THESSALONIKI

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in Thessaloniki yesterday attending celebrations marking Greece's 20th anniversary of its accession to the European Union, stressed that the ruling PASOK party, over which he presides, is implementing a visionary policy which will soon bear results to the public.

    Addressing a group of PASOK deputies during a dinner last night, Mr. Simitis stated that this policy may not always be apparent, as it needs lengthy preparation, and referred to Greece's accession to the European Monetary Union and consequently to the Eurozone.

    Referring to the new international airport of Athens "Eleftherios Venizelos", Mr. Simitis stressed that the problems plaguing the early days of operation of this "grand, impressive project" are nothing new if compared to similar cases, noting those of the Milan, Italy and Seoul, South Korean airports. He said characteristically, that the delays, flight cancellations and baggage claim problems are merely "standard childhood illnesses" that will be overcome.

    [04] ABNA MEMBERS ADOPT ANTI-JINGOIST RESOLUTION

    The members of the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA) adopted a resolution denouncing all forms of nationalism and upholding journalistic principles, during an extraordinary meeting held in Thessaloniki on Friday over the present situation in southeastern Europe, and especially FYROM.

    The discussion, held under the initiative of the Macedonian Press Agency, culminated with an appeal towards the Balkan media to adhere to the ethics of journalism and principle of pluralism, as well as to maintain an open front against phenomena of jingoism, chauvinism and blind violence.

    The meeting featured the participation of the general- directors from the national news agencies of Turkey (Anadolu), Albania (ATA), Bulgaria (BTA), FYROM (MIA), Romania (ROMPRESS), Yugoslavia (Tanjug), Greece (ANA) and (MPA), the latter of which hosted the event.

    The talks focused on the role of the news agencies, and the mass media overall, in the troubling situation re-emerging in the Balkan region as a result of the latest developments in FYROM and the eruption of extremist nationalism.

    The participants also reviewed means for improving the work of the news agencies and all the media in the Balkan region and pledged to undertake initiatives for the restoration of a climate of peace, security in the region of Southeastern Europe.

    Specifically, ABNA resolved to:

    Reconfirm its members' commitment to liberty, respect for human rights and the safeguarding of human values, as well as to the peaceful resolution of any whatsoever conflict.

    Aim towards objective, balanced and succinct news writing pertaining to regional events; therefore, the members agreed to enrich and empower the ABNA website (ABNA.org).

    Embark on the process of establishing a think tank, in collaboration with organizations, entities and individuals from other sectors, i.e. academics, intellectuals, researchers, artists, etc., which would work towards improving the climate in the region.

    The meeting also addressed issues pending within the ABNA, such as the formulation of an improved version of the DIAVLOS program, which would provide for a multilateral link among all of the region's national news agencies via the Balkan News Bank.

    Presently in operation at the MPA's facilities in Thessaloniki, the Balkan News Bank provides an archive of news, photographs sound and video.

    [05] GREECE TAKES PART IN "CORNERSTONE 2001"

    The engineers corps exercise code-named "Cornerstone 2001" will take place on the Milot river, in northern Albania, from April 6 to July 31 and is part of the multinational force of southeastern Europe's activities.

    Greece will participate with an engineers company for peace missions, which will depart for Albania today.

    The purpose of the exercise is to develop cooperation between the engineers corps of participating countries, as well as the building of a road two kilometers long.

    [06] MERCHANT MARINE MINISTER TO VISIT US IN MAY

    Greece's Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis is to conduct an official visit to the United States from May 6 to 9 at the invitation of the US government.

    During his stay in the US, Mr. Papoutsis will meet with the head of the US Coast Guard, Drug Enforcement Administration and other government officials, with whom he will discuss cooperation in fighting drug trade and maximizing shipping safety.

    Thirty-two Greek Coast Guard officers who completed a two- week course in counter-narcotics work at were recently honored by DEA in a ceremony held at the Merchant Marine Ministry. The purpose of the seminar was to train coast guard officials in modern methods of counter-narcotics work.

    US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns saluted counter- narcotics cooperation between the US and Greece as one of the great strengths of the two countries' relationship.

    Minister of Merchant Marine Christos Papoutsis, stressed that the Greek government is very sensitive on the issue of counter- narcotics and will in no way allow the country to become a corridor for drug trafficking from east to west.

    Greek counter-narcotics work played a major role in the interception of drug cargoes aboard the ships China Breeze in 1999 and the Suerte in 2000.

    [07] UK MINISTER FOR CABINET OFFICE IN ATHENS TODAY

    British Minister for the Cabinet Office, Dr. Marjorie Mowlam, is to embark on an official visit to Athens today.

    Ms. Mowlam will be received by the Minister of the Interior Vasso Papandreou with whom she is scheduled to sign a wide-ranging memorandum of cooperation for the modernization of Greece's public sector.

    [08] UK REPORT: CUT PENSIONS, RAISE AGE OF RETIREMENT

    British actuaries reviewing the condition of Greece's social security funds have called for a 20% reduction of pensions and a five-year increase in the age of retirement, as two alternative options to deal with the country's aging population problem.

    Speaking at a Labor Ministry conference held recently, Anthony Young of the British agency conducting the study, stated that he also proposed a system where the workers' social security contributions would be invested.

    European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou and the Prime minister' s advisor Plato Tinios said they were in favor of a combination system, based both on investments and redistribution of the workers contributions.

    [09] POPE'S VISIT, PETITION, TO DOMINATE CHURCH TALKS

    The papal visit in Athens in May is to dominate talks within the higher ranks of the Church of Greece this week, along with the gathering of signatures on a petition calling for the reinstatement of one's religious affiliation on state-issued identification cards.

    The Vatican has officially announced that Pope John Paul II will visit Greece on May 4, at the start of a five-day pilgrimage to retrace the steps of Apostle Paul.

    The pontiff is arriving in Greece specially in order to worship at the site where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians on Pnyx Hill.

    The 80-year-old Pope will depart for Syria on May 5 and plans to travel on to Malta on May 8 before returning to Rome on May 9.

    The visit is the first-ever by a pontiff to the modern Greek state and the first by a Roman Catholic pope in Greece proper for more than 1,200 years. The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos had invited the Pope to the country during his recent visit to the Vatican.

    Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Church, has said he will not be among the welcoming committee that meets the Pope on his arrival.

    A delegation from the Vatican is due to visit Athens today in order to arrange the details of the Pope's visit with the Greek Church and state,

    Meanwhile, a delegation from the Church of Greece is to arrive in Istanbul today to confer with a Patriarchate committee of ecclesiastical leaders, two years after the last round of regular contacts.

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos called for a resumption of regular meetings between the two Orthodox institutions during Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos' visit to Athens in October 2000. A December meeting was postponed due to the illness of Patriarchate delegation's chairman.

    [10] LEADING POLITICAL FIGURES AT 8TH BALKAN FORUM

    Aiming to serve as the platform for peace in the Balkans and an exchange of ideas on social and economic development in the region, the eighth annual Balkan Economic forum is to get underway in Thessaloniki today, featuring the participation of Greek prime minister Costas Simitis, Yugoslav federal premier Zoran Zizic, and Greece's main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    Jointly organized by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the forum will review southeastern European countries' course towards the European Union, as well as the socio- economic developments related to Balkan reconstruction.

    The Yugoslav government is participating for the first time this year after several years of exclusion, while the United States is also taking part with its deputy secretary of state for European Affairs James Swiggart and attache to the Athens embassy Michael Cleverly.

    Also attending are five economy ministers (from Greece, federal Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Albania and FYROM) and four foreign ministers (from Albania, FYROM, federal Yugoslavia, and Bosnia- Herzegovina), as well as senior executives of several international organizations and financial giants, including the Stability Pact, the European SE Europe Reconstruction Service, the UN Economic Committee, the World Bank, the EBRD, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

    Mr. Simitis will be the keynote speaker at tonight's official dinner, while Mr. Karamanlis will address the forum's formal luncheon today. Mr. Zizic will be the guest speaker at tomorrow's official luncheon.

    Tomorrow's session will comprise six workshops with the attendance of ministers and deputy ministers from the countries of the wider region.

    [11] M490 EUROS SLATED FOR SE EUROPE RECONSTRUCTION

    The European Agency for Reconstruction is expected to carry an overall budget of 490 million euros, at maximum, for the present year, its secretary general Adreas Zobel stated in Thessaloniki today.

    According to Mr. Zobel, who addressed the Eighth Forum of Thessaloniki, the budget's lion share (285 million) is to be allocated for Kosovo, while Serbia is to receive 170 million and Montenegro 35 million. The monies allocated for this year's Reconstruction projects do not include the sum of 175 million euros from 2000's budget (amounting to an overall 505 million euros), which are to be funneled to the region during the present year.

    According to Mr. Zobel, the Agency has so far managed to release the approved funds in a timely manner. Specifically, 92% of the approved capital had been contracted by the end of 2000, with 53% of the secured funds having been deposited during that time as well.

    "The Agency's headquarters in Thessaloniki provides all the necessary services to the three operation centers in Prishtina, Belgrade and Podgorica," Mr. Zobel stated, adding that the Agency's staff amounts to 170 members, while an additional 80 are to be hired within the year.

    [12] GREEK RECONSTRUCTION PLAN CRUCIAL FOR FYROM

    Greece's Plan for the Reconstruction of Southeastern Europe can prove to be the key for FYROM's economic development, according to the neighboring country's Minister of Economy Besnik Fetai.

    Addressing the Eighth Thessaloniki FORUM, Mr. Fetai stated that the Greek funds to be funneled to Skopje, namely US$83.03 million out of a total of $358.17 million, are targeted for economic and social structures in a primary phase, but will later be expanded to the production sector. The allocation of funds will be performed in accordance to a list of priorities, composed by the Greek government, in cooperation with FYROM.

    According to the Minister "these funds are expected to finance enterprises in the agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as to projects related to the sector of non-metallic minerals."

    "The government of FYROM, which features the participation of Albanian minority representatives, managed to neutralize the recent political crisis and can now direct its attention to the further development of its economy," he stated, adding that his country was able to boost its GNP growth rate by five percent during 2000, while it increased its indirect foreign investment to US$155 million.

    FYROM is expected to sign a Stability and Union Accord with the European Union on April 9.

    [13] F.R.Y. SETS 6 LONG-TERM TARGETS FOR ITS ECONOMY

    The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has set forth six long- term targets during 2001, aiming at the rejuvenation of its economy after the collapse it suffered from the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

    According to the country's deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, who addressed the Eighth Thessaloniki Forum, the targets include boosting his country's GNP by five-percent, increasing trade by 20%, containing the national currency's devaluation to less than 15%, curbing inflation, strengthening agricultural production and maintaining its foreign policy.

    As Mr. Labus said, the government of F.R.Y. is also targeting a series of structural reforms during the present year, among them the liberalization of trade in foreign currency, restructuring the banking sector and expediting the privatization process.

    In spite the hardships, F.R.Y. managed to take significant steps towards its economic recovery, namely by stabilizing its national currency and reducing inflation to 0.9% in March, after it has climbed to 27 percent in October of 2000.

    [14] FM SPOKESMAN: ARREST IS FRY'S INTERNAL AFFAIR

    The arrest of Yugoslavia's former leader Slobodan Milosevic is an internal affair of that country, according to the spokesperson of Greece's Foreign Ministry Panos Beglitis, who also stressed that this should be respected by all.

    "No one should interfere with the gradual development of an independent and sovereign state," Mr. Beglitis stated, adding that Mr. Milosevic's arrest should not give cause to domestic turmoil.

    "Yugoslavia has to be guided through a smooth development and the road to this progress, which got underway last September, must not be hindered," he said.

    Moreover, the Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that "the responsibility for Milosevic's referral ľor not- to the International Court of Justice at The Hague lies with the Yugoslav government, which has certain responsibilities stemming from its constitution.

    "It is not we who will tell a democratic country what to do," he said.

    [15] THE BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER WILL BE IN THESSALONIKI TOMORROW

    Bulgarian prime minister Ivan Kostov arrives in Thessaloniki tomorrow for a meeting with his Greek counterpart Kostas Simitis.

    The meeting of the two prime ministers in Thessaloniki will be held at Mr. Kostov's request tomorrow morning and afterwards they will give a joint press conference.

    Later, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Kostov will tour Thessaloniki's port facilities and they will have lunch at a city restaurant.

    Thessaloniki's mayor will honor the Bulgarian prime minister with the gold medal of the city in a ceremony that will be held tomorrow afternoon.

    [16] MIROLJUB LABUS: THE GREEK-FRY RELATIONS WILL BE IMPROVED

    The belief that bilateral relations between Greece and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will be improved even more as the trade difficulties faced by FRY will be settled, was expressed to MPA by Yugoslav government vice-president and foreign economic relations minister Miroljub Labus.

    On the FRY course to the EU, the Yugoslav vice-president stressed that talks are underway for normalization and stability in the region but five different sectors must be examined among them, human rights and infrastructure issues that need to be settled soon.

    Referring to the 8th Thessaloniki Forum, he underlined that he is satisfied with the event, pointing out that Yugoslavia attends the forum for the first time.

    Mr. Labus stated that it is a good opportunity for business and political officials to meet not only with their Greek counterparts but with their Balkan counterparts as well to improve bilateral relations and cooperation.

    [17] THE THESSALONIKI FORUM OFFERS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FERTILE DIALOGUE

    The 8th Thessaloniki Forum that opened this morning with the participation of hundreds of delegates will offer an opportunity for fertile dialogue today and tomorrow on the recent developments in southeastern Europe.

    The conference will be attended by the prime ministers of Greece and Yugoslavia Kostas Simitis and Zoran Zizic, as well as leading government and business officials from Greece and the Balkan countries.

    The participants are expected to exchange useful views and proposals aimed at consolidating a stable political and social environment in the region which is regarded as a necessary factor for its economic development.

    The opening of the 8th Thessaloniki Forum, which is organized by the Association of Industries in Northern Greece and the American Hellenic Chamber, was made by minister of Macedonia- Thrace Giorgos Paschalidis.

    [18] ZAFIROPOULOS: PEACE IS A PRECONDITION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BALKANS

    Greek national economy undersecretary Yiannis Zafiropoulos characterized the 8th Thessaloniki Forum as a meaningful Balkan summit meeting where the governments as well as, the economic and political forces in the wider region exchange views within the framework of a sincere cooperation aimed at strengthening peace and economic development.

    Speaking to MPA, Mr. Zafiropoulos expressed the belief that the positive developments in the Balkan region will become even more positive aimed at reducing the distance between the Balkan countries and the EU member-states, while he also added that Greece is ready to support the course of the Balkan states.

    Commenting on the present situation in the Balkans, he expressed the belief that normalization and stability will be consolidated in the region. Mr. Zafiropoulos stated that it has been realized by everybody, both the Balkan states and the international community, that peace in the region is a precondition for the Balkan development.

    [19] REPPAS ON MILOSEVIC'S ARREST

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated a statement made by prime minister Kostas Simitis when he was asked to comment on the arrest of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

    Mr. Reppas pointed out that the issue is being handled by the Yugoslav government.

    [20] LOSSES WERE RECORDED IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.41% at 3.032,08 points, while the volume of transactions was very small at 100 million Euro or 34.23 billion drachmas.

    Of the stocks trading today, 223 recorded losses and 98 had gains, while the value of 53 stocks remained stable.

    [21] KARAMANLIS: THE BORDERS ARE INVIOLABLE AND DO NOT CHANGE

    Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis, speaking in the 8th Thessaloniki Forum today, issued an appeal to everybody to play a leading role in the joint effort for democracy, security and stability in the Balkans.

    Mr. Karamanlis stated that the borders are inviolable and do not change, adding that national borders can not be drawn up arbitrarily. He added that New Democracy believes that only a political solution can bring peace and prosperity in the western Balkans region, stressing that probably the safest way to create a new attitude in southeastern Europe is the cooperation of businessmen.

    Mr. Karamanlis stated characteristically that the Greek investments in the Balkans are over 2.5 billion Euro, corresponding to 2.5% of the Greek GDP, while over 5.500 companies have been established in the region with the participation of Greek businessmen, stressing that in FYROM alone the Greek businesses offer work to more than 5.000 people. He also said that Greece offers work to hundreds of thousands of economic immigrants supporting this way the economies of the neighboring countries adding, however, that only those who come to Greece legally in order to work legally are welcome.

    He suggested the creation of a new Greek foreign ministry international cooperation agency that will be based in Thessaloniki, the founding of a European university for the Balkan states in Thessaloniki and the creation of a technological park in northern Greece.

    On the Balkan Reconstruction Organization and the Stability Pact, he said that their authorities are often overlapping, while one can also observe phenomena of antagonism and "red tape".

    [22] THE CONDITIONS FOR INVESTMENTS IN SE EUROPE ARE PERFECT

    The belief that conditions are right for investments in southeastern Europe was expressed by Stability Pact office director in Thessaloniki Ms. Irene Lambrakis, underlining that the activation of the private sector in the reconstruction of the countries in the region is of decisive importance.

    In exclusive statements she made to MPA on the sidelines of the 8th Thessaloniki Forum, Ms. Lambrakis pointed out that the growth rate in southeastern Europe this year is expected to be more than 4%, while Yugoslavia is also expected to have a positive growth.

    Ms. Lambrakis underlined that the southeastern European markets make an attempt to become attractive to foreign investors and stressed that the direct foreign investments in southeastern Europe were about US$4 billion last year.

    Responding to a question by MPA on whether the unsettled situation in FYROM could be an obstacle to the activities of the Greek investors, she stated that it will not be a "dark spot" in the activation of Greek investors reminding that the Greek businessmen have already an active presence in the Balkan markets.

    [23] PAPANTONIOU: THE SOCIAL POLICY BENEFITS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

    Minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou in statements he made on the sidelines of the 8th Thessaloniki Forum characterized the government decision to proceed with armaments spending cuts as a decision of great political significance.

    He said that the Greek government made this decision in order to secure adequate funds for its social policy, the social state and the strengthening of social justice. The additional funds that will be secured are estimated at one trillion drachmas and will be used in the sectors of the farmers' pension system, the Social Solidarity Bonus, public education and the National Health System. They will also be used in the program against poverty and social isolation, the support of the large families and the increase of the benefits for the support of the people with special needs.

    Mr. Papantoniou stressed that social policy benefits economic development because it supports the purchasing power of the small and medium sized incomes.

    [24] THE GREEK CAR INDUSTRY EXPRESSED INTEREST IN THE SERB MARKET

    The Greek Car Industry, ┼╦┬¤, has expressed interest in the Serb market. In statements made to MPA by a member of the company's management on the sidelines of the 8th Thessaloniki Forum, it was mentioned that it is considering the existing proposals to decide if it will expand to this particular market. However, he clarified that for the time being there is no specific plan.

    He also expressed the belief that the Greek Plan for the Reconstruction of southeastern Europe will support the activation of Greek investors in the region. Referring to the 8th Thessaloniki Forum, he said that it offers direct information on the developments taking place in the markets of the region and at the same time it is a ground for business contacts.

    [25] REPPAS: THE SMOOTH OPERATION OF THE ATHENS AIRPORT IS A MATTER OF TIME

    The opening of the new Athens Airport creates problems, pointed out Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    He said that the problems were created because of a lack in coordination and expressed the belief that soon the situation will be normalized, stressing that the smooth operation of the airport is only a matter of time and soon everything will be just a bad memory.

    [26] THE FIRST TOURISTS HAVE ARRIVED IN CRETE

    The 125 tourists from Denmark, the passengers of a chartered flight that arrived at the Daskaloyiannis Airport in Chania today, were the first to open the tourist season in the Aegean island of Crete.

    They arrived on board a MAERSK airline flight, while other 145 Danes are expected to arrive later this evening coming from Copenhagen.

    According to the local tourist agencies, this first chartered flight arrived in Crete a month earlier compared to last year and this is a very positive sign.

    Many tourists are expected in Crete from the Scandinavia countries as well as Britain, Israel even Malta.

    [27] THE BALKAN COURSE TOWARD THE EU IS DIFFICULT BUT FEASIBLE

    The Balkans must work more eagerly in order to become part of the European family, while the countries in the region must improve their weak points both at a political and an economic level, stated to MPA Swedish ambassador to Athens Bjorn Elmer on the sidelines of the 8th Thessaloniki Forum.

    Referring to the armed incidents between the FYROM authorities and the Albanian-speaking rebels, he stressed that there can be a cooperation with the local authorities to avoid the deterioration of the situation in the region.

    Sweden currently holds the EU rotating presidency and the Swedish ambassador to Athens stated that the EU is making efforts for the return of normality to FYROM.

    He also characterized the Thessaloniki Forum as a very important way to promote the Balkan development, adding that it brings in contact political and economic officials from different states and promotes cooperation. He concluded by saying that cooperation in the Balkan region can gradually lead to its accession into the European Union.

    [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [28] MILOSEVIC PLEADS "NOT GUILTY" TO ALL CHARGES

    Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic, presently being held in Belgrade's central prison after his arrest yesterday, has pled not guilty to charges of abuse of power and corruption, according to his attorney Thomas Fila.

    Mr. Milosevic has been remanded in custody for the customary 30-day period in Belgrade's central prison.

    According to Mr. Fila, the former leader has pled not guilty to each count from the charge sheet.

    "He responded to all the questions in a normal way. He decided to defend himself. He will speak up and tell the truth," Fila said.

    The former president was arrested and taken to prison early Sunday, ending a nearly 36-hour stand-off, after reportedly deciding to surrender on his own free will, even though he had vowed earlier that he would "not go to jail alive".

    The ex-leader is wanted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague for crimes allegedly committed in Kosovo, but the Belgrade authorities are committed to trying the former president for "criminal deeds committed here in Serbia" rather than handing him over.

    The arrest coincides with the expiration of a US deadline for the Yugoslav Government to detain the former president or risk losing substantial American economic aid and loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


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