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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-04-23

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, April 23, 2003





  • [13] A TOTAL OF 38.000 BULLETS FOUND



  • [01] JUDICIAL ENLARGEMENT Prime Minister Costas Simitis moved to more refutations of scenarios concerning early elections, from Helsinki, while attributing the claims that PASOK officials were financed by private parties, to conflicting business interests. Mr. Protopapas appeared

    determined yesterday to take the publisher of the "Avriani" newspaper, Mr. Kouris, to court, concerning the allegations published therein, and will ask for damages, stating that the more the publisher insists, the worse he is making his own position. The

    publisher called him to resign, stating that he will continue. ALTEC denies having funded Mr. Protopapas. ND has asked for an investigative committee

  • [02] GARGANAS ASKS FOR HIGHER RETIREMENT AGE The Governor of the Bank of Greece, Nikolaos Garganas placed himself in favor of raising the age limits for retirement, while he supported that the measures must be undertaken in time, although he is not sure if they will be. Dep. Minister of Labor R. Sp yropoulos refuted scenarios mentioning changes in insurance. Mr. Garganas underlined the need to carry out structural changes in the economy at a faster pace.
  • [03] NO PRICE INCREASE TO EASTER MENU Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos was satisfied with the range of market prices, after his visit to the central Athens market. Checks on the market are intensifying, while there are special open hours for the holidays. KEPKA has warned consum ers to check for quality.
  • [04] GREECE IS KEEPING ITS WORD IN THE BALKANS The Greek Plan for the Financial Reconstruction of the Balkans is in full effect and there is no reason to worry, assured dep. Foreign Minister A. Loverdos, in an interview he gave to, which was transmitted live over the Internet. "Greece is m oving to the materialization of a 550 million euro program by 2006, for the promotion and development of the Balkans", he said characteristically.


    "I really did not expect such a fast reaffirming of everything I stated this morning", underlined Minister of the Press and the Media Christos Protopapas in a press conference last night, in reference to the interview of "Avriani" newspaper publisher Gio rgos Kouris.

    "Every time Mr. Kouris speaks, he makes his position against justice even worse. Those who believed that they would benefit from his actions, must be sorely disappointed".

    Yesterday, Mr. Kouris had responded to Mr. Protopapas' initial reactions to the "Avriani" publications with insinuations, characterizations and threats of further revelations, and he called Mr. Protopapas to resign.

    "If he does not resign I will bring it all out. I call him to resign tonight. I would like to ask Mr. Protopapas, this honest man, to tell us how many jobs he gave to Mr. Athanassoulis while he was deputy Minister of Labor, and also what contracts Mr. At hanassoulis had with the General Union of Greek Workers while he was there", he stated, among other things.

    Meanwhile, "Altec" issued an announcement refuting the "Avriani" publication mentioning that the company financed Mr. Protopapas' election campaign in 1996.

    "Mr. Kouris' sycophantic delirium knows no limits. Anyone can see the obvious motives of the slanderous campaign. Regarding today's malignant and obscene allegations, we state that they are completely unfounded".

    "The Greek people are watching new daily episodes of the works and days of a corrupt and shady government", stated New Democracy Press Spokesperson, Thodoris Roussopoulos.

    "Mr. Simitis should stop playing at Pontius Pilate and accept the proposal made by New Democracy for the formation of an Investigation Committee. Big words and no deeds cannot deal with the scandals in his front yard", he underlined.

  • [06] SAFETY FOR EXCURSIONISTS Recent sensitization due to the Tembi accident and ensuing studies and the expected "exodus" of excursionists from urban centers to the country, have pushed Traffic Police authorities to mobilize to a great degree for the safety of drivers and passengers .

    The immediate need of systematic and constant checks on trucks moving on national and county highways and roads, was underlined by the Head of he Court of First Instance DA's Office, Evaggelos Zacharis, in a circular sent to the General Police Director o f Thessaloniki, Constantinos Jekis.

    In order to secure safe travel and improve traffic circulation, apart from the Traffic Police mobilization during the holidays, trucks with a load of more than 1.5 tons will be prohibited from traveling on certain roads during Holy Thursday, Holy Friday and Monday, at varying times between 16:00 and 22:00.

    The "exodus mechanism" is slowly being mobilized for the stable traveling of Easter excursionists who are gradually leaving the cities for the Holy Week.

    The "traffic climax" is expected to take place on Holy Friday, while on Holy Saturday the last of those remaining in the cities are expected to leave for the countryside to enjoy the traditional Easter feast.

    The Drivers Aid sector and the mobile crews of ELPA-OVELPA are on full standby for the duration of the holidays, as well as for the days of the return, along national and county highways and roads, in order to assist drivers in any problem they may have.

    A message to those intending to leave the city for a short trip to the country: check your vehicle before traveling in order to see that it is safe and reliable.

    During your drive wear seatbelts -driver and all passengers - and helmets.

    Avoid speed limit violations, "blind" overtaking, driving violations, and driving after alcohol consumption and obey Traffic Police Officers' indications.

  • [07] CH. PROTOPAPAS: "AVRIANI'S" PUBLICATIONS WRETCHED Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas characterized the publications of the "Avriani" newspaper on the house he is building in Vrilissia as wretched.

    The land is 235 square meters and he paid 20,500 euro for it in 1997 (contract exists), stated the Minister to "Flash" radio. He sold his house and he and his wife took out two bank loans (82,200 and 55,800 euro) in 2000 and 2001, and the construction ha s not yet been completed. He holds 100 shares in the National Bank and his wife holds stocks worth 1500 euro.

    Mr. Protopapas stated that he has not taken a penny from Mr. Athanassoulos, and has pressed charges against Mr. Kouris and the "Avriani" newspaper and will not stop, because "he wants to be able to look people in the eyes".

    When asked if he is contemplating resignation, the Minister answered "no", because he does not want to submit to the blackmail, which he said is being carried out by Mr. Kouris.

    He said that he has the support of Prime Minister Costas Simitis - if he didn't he would not be Minister - and stressed that there are several PASOK ministers, MPs and officials that have expressed their support and interest.

  • [08] EU FOREIGN MINISTERS IN CASTELORIZO Preparations are continuing at a rapid pace, for the hosting of the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, to be held on May 2-4.

    The Prefect of the Dodecanese, Giannis Macheridis, stated that the EU Foreign Ministers may possibly visit Rhodes for a day.

  • [09] FORMER KING IN THESSALONIKI The former king of Greece arrived at "Macedonia" airport, Thessaloniki, at 13:40, along with his family, where he was greeted by a small group of supporters.

    Constantinos arrived on flight 809 of Austrian Airlines from Vienna, and his wife Anna Maria and his children Pavlos and Nikolaos arrived with him.

    The former king will travel to Ioannina by car, as he told the press, where he will spend Easter with his family. According to information, however, he may make certain stops along the way, where supporters of the monarchy will greet him. He will depart from Greece on Tuesday, April 29.

    When asked if there had been any problems with the passports, he stated that there had been none, and that he was traveling by the surname of De Grecia.

  • [10] PROTOPAPAS: WE WILL GO ALL THE WAY Conflicting business interests and political plans are the reason for the latest publication of the "Avriani" newspaper, according to Minister of the Press and Media Christos Protopapas. The publication states that he is having a 3 million euro villa bei ng built in Vrilissia.

    In a press conference he held today, he made mention of a "second immoral and slanderous attack from Kouris and the "Avriani"", aiming at serving the publisher's business interests. At the same time, he supported that Mr. Kouris has become an instrument at the service of others' political interest in harming PASOK and the government. Mr. Protopapas stressed that he will submit another lawsuit against Giorgos Kouris on today's publications.

    The Minister of the Press pointed out that the piece of land his house is being built on is 235 square meters, while the house itself is 185 square meters, with a basement. At the same time, he underlined that there is no swimming pool, no gardens, and t hat the house has been being built slowly for the past four years, and has not been completed on the interior. He also stated that the money used to pay for the construction comes from his annual income, as well as from two loans he and his wife have gott en worth 136,000 euro in total. The Minister stated that all the details of his finances can be seen in his tax return and documents he submits to Parliament.

    Mr. Protopapas stated that he would carry out his own personal battle and a political battle for the truth. "Mr. Kouris' wretched, lying and slanderous plans will come to no avail. Mr. Kouris will face the consequences. I will go all the way. There is no

    room for an apology on his part. I will submit my first lawsuit on yesterday's slanderous attack at 11am tomorrow, at the Athens DA's office. A lawsuit against Kouris, a lawsuit against the "Avriani", and a lawsuit against the sad lady that showed how ma ny lies she has said yesterday. A lawsuit with a large sum for damages will follow. There is more to come. All those expecting this wretchedness to serve them and create problems for the government had better understand this well: they will be sorely disa ppointed", he stressed.


    Brothers Savvas and Vassilis Xeros were identified as two of the three perpetrators in the murder of ship owner Costis Peratikos, by protected witness A1, who appeared in order to testify in the trial on the crimes committed by 17N.

    The witness stated that his name is Athanasios Kirykos and that he works at a shipping company. He stated that it was a mistake using code A1, as that brought greater attention to his testimony.

    Mr. Kirykos identified Savvas and Vassilis Xeros with absolute certainty, as 2 of the 3 perpetrators of the ship owners killing. As he said, he did not see the killing as such, but he heard the gunshots, ran to the scene and saw culprits as they were boa rding their getaway car.

    Earlier, alleged leader of the 17N terrorist group, Alexandros Giotopoulos, denied any involvement in the murder of Costis Peratikos.

  • [12] THE FORMER KING OF GREEECE WILL SPEND EASTER IN IOANNINA The former King of Greece, Konstantinos, his wife Anna Maria and two of their children left for the northwestern city of Ioannina by car, where they will spend the Easter holidays. They departed for Ioannina soon after their arrival at the airport of The ssaloniki today.

    According to information, they are likely to make certain stops along the way for the members of royalist organizations to have the opportunity to hold special events to welcome them. They are scheduled to leave Greece on Tuesday, April 29 via Thessaloni ki.

    At the airport of Thessaloniki they were welcomed by a small group of royalists and in a short discussion the former King had with reporters wished happy Easter.

    Responding to the question if they had any problem with their passports, he said that they did not and that they used the surname De Grecia. The former King, his wife Anna Maria and his sons, Pavlos and Nikolaos, boarded a jeep with the former King at th e driver's seat and they followed another jeep with their bodyguards.

  • [13] A TOTAL OF 38.000 BULLETS FOUND Cast-iron boxes with a total of 38.000 bullets were discovered by Greek border guards while patrolling at the forest region of "Panagia" at Pirsoyianni in the prefecture of Ioannina, northwestern Greece, near the Greek-Albanian borders.

    The 7.62mm calibre bullets were placed in 54 cast-iron boxes hidden in two different places by Albanians, who brought them to Greece to be received by their associates.

  • [14] THE TRADE BALANCE DEFICIT GREW BY 7.5% IN JANUARY The trade balance deficit grew by 7.5% in January 2003 reaching 1.8 billion euros compared to the same month last year when it was at 1.675 billion euros.

    According to the Greek National Statistics Agency, the value of imports increased by 4.9% in January, while the increase recorded in the value of the Greek exports barely reached 0.2%.

  • [15] KAKLAMANIS-HINCHEY MEETING Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis met in Athens today with US Senator Maurice Hinchey and expressed the friendly feelings the Greek people have for the American people.

    Mr. Kaklamanis stated that those feelings should not be confused with the fact that the Greek citizens express their opinion and criticism freely when they disagree with the acts or policies of the US leadership.

    In the meeting they exchanged views on Cyprus, its accession into the EU, the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem, the developments in the region, the war in Iraq and the common values shared by the Greek and the American people.

    Mr. Hinchey thanked Mr. Kaklamanis for the meaningful discussion they had on important issues like the Cyprus problem and the course of the EU on which they shared the same views. He also stressed that he hopes that the US and the EU will cooperate close ly for peace, security and democracy in the world. He also stated that he is happy for Cyprus' EU accession and added that the fact that the Cyprus problem remains unsolved constitutes an obstacle for Turkey's EU accession.

  • [16] GAINS IN THE ASE Big gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +1.97% at 1.673,50 points, while the volume of transactions was satisfactory at 112.8 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 260 recorded gains and 61 had losses, while the value of 54 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [17] PAPANDREOU'S TELEPHONE COMMUNICATIONS ON THE MIDDLE EAST Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou had telephone communications last night with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Syrian Foreign Minister Faruk El Sara and Palestinian International Cooperation Mini ster Nabil Shaath.

    Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis stated today that Mr. Papandreou's contacts are placed within the framework of the initiatives undertaken by the EU on the Middle East for the resumption of the peace process in the region and the materiali zation of the "road map".

    Mr. Papandreou underlined the need for the immediate presentation and materialization of the "road map", based on the EU decisions, as well as the completion of the procedures aimed at forming a Palestinian Authority cabinet under Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

  • [18] INFORMAL EU FOREIGN MINISTERS COUNCIL AT KASTELLORIZO The four-nations meeting on April 29 on the European Union common defence and external policy will definitely dominate the informal Foreign Ministers Council on May 2-4 at the Greek Aegean island of Kastellorizo, after the statement Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Kostas Simitis made on Monday, that "the Greek EU Presidency has not participated neither will attend as an observer at the meeting of the four-nations on April 29."

    It is expected that the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg will brief their counterparts, including the Greek EU Presidency, regarding the outcome of their meeting in Luxembourg where they will examine the potential for an auton omous European defence and required steps in that direction.

    The situation in post-war Iraq and an enhanced role for the United Nations, the latter being an issue still met with considerable US opposition, are issues that the Greek presidency will raise at the informal Ministers Council in May. The stance to be ad opted by UN Security Council members France, UK (permanent members), Germany and Spain (not permanent members) on the issue is anticipated with particular interest.

    A third item on the Greek EU Presidency agenda will be the EU-US relations, which were recently injured by the war in Iraq. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw's approach on the issue will be decisive, since the UK always aspired to play a "bridging" ro le between Washington and Brussels.

    The European ministers at Kastellorizo will also focus on the progress made with the works of the Convention for the Future of Europe, in the light of the outcome of "dual presidency" discussions (one president for the European Commission and a second fo r the European Council), a proposal supported by Europe's "large" states, but met with opposition by the smaller partners. The Greek EU Presidency has declined to take a stance on the issue.

    Finally, the 25 ministers will make the short boat-trip to Kas on the Turkish coast across from Kastellorizo, an initiative of the Greek EU Presidency taken with the consent of Ankara. Greek Foreign Ministry sources believe that on a symbolical level, th e visit to Kas will assist in convincing the EU partners that both Greece and Turkey indeed have the political will to overcome their differences.

    After the conclusion of the Thessaloniki Summit on June 21, Prime Minister Simitis will travel to Washington on June 25 in his capacity as the EU President for a scheduled meeting with US President George Bush.

    The Greek EU Presidency is aiming at a redefinition of the transatlantic relations, intended to improve them and "heal the wounds". Mr. Simitis has said that his discussions in the US will also involve issues concerning the weapons of mass destruction ( WMDs), the fight against terrorism, trade issues and the protection of personal data on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • [19] BEGLITIS' COMMENTS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF AN ISLAMIC CENTER IN ATHENS The Greek side has no responsibility, whatsoever, for the delay in the creation of an Islamic Center in Athens, stressed Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis commenting on The New York Times report concerning the lack of a place of prayer for the Muslims in the Greek capital.

    Mr. Beglitis stated that the negotiations with the Arab Committee (made up by the ambassadors of the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Lebanon to Athens) for the creation of an Islamic Center in Athens was completed last October.

    The text that was approved by all the participants was sent to Riyadh for final approval as the construction of the project will be funded by the King Fahd Foundation.

    However, Mr. Beglitis said that Riyadh has not responded yet, even though a period of six months has passed, and in spite of the repeated calls of the Greek side to the head of the Arab negotiating team, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Athens.


  • [20] SIMITIS-PERSON MEETING The issues to be discussed at the Thessaloniki European Council Summit were the main points of discussion at the meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Swedish counterpart, Goran Person, in Stockholm, the third stop of Mr. Simitis' tour of

    European countries.

    Regarding the proposal of the President of the Convention for the Future of Europe for the abolition of the rotating Presidency, the Prime Minister stressed that Greece's opinion is that an alternate solution should be found and that there should be a ro tating Presidency, with a longer tenure for the President of the European Council.

    In response to a question on whether Turkey's negative position on the Cyprus issue will affect its course towards the EU and Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Simitis underlined that "Turkey must very carefully look into its policies regarding Cyprus, becaus e if it wishes to become an EU member-state, we must not have the same problems as we do at the present".

    The Cyprus issue must be resolved and for that reason a solution must be found prior to May 1, 2004, he stressed, while adding that on Greek-Turkish relations, an agreement must be reached so that International Law can be applied in the existing disagree ment in the Aegean.

    Mr. Simitis characterized his discussions with the Swedish Prime Minister as very friendly, during which he presented the agenda of the Thessaloniki Summit. The agenda will include the presentation of Valery Giscard D' Estaing's plan, the new Constitutio n of the European Union, which is being discussed by the Convention at the present, and a decision has to be reached on how to continue discussion in the Intergovernmental Conference.

    Concerning the seat of the European Food Safety Authority and whether it can be placed in Sweden, Mr. Simitis agreed with Mr. Person's position that it should not be given as a present to one country, but should be placed in the one meeting all the neces sary requirements, so that it can serve the EU as best as possible. Mr. Simitis stated that if a compromise is reached among the Finnish, the Italians and the European Commission, the issue will be brought to the Thessaloniki Summit.

  • [21] SIMITIS-RASMUSSEN MEETING The debate on the future of Europe and the institutional changes within the framework of the EU were the main issues discussed in Copenhagen today by Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Kostas Simitis and his Danish counterpart Anders Fog h Rasmussen.

    Mr. Simitis stated that the opening of the inter-governmental conference in the fall will be announced during the Thessaloniki Summit in June for the state parliaments to have the necessary time to study the changes. The new treaty will be signed after M ay 1, 2004 for the new member states to be able to participate.

    They also discussed the crisis in Iraq and the Greek Prime Minister pointed out that the exact role of the UN in the post-war Iraq will be determined through consultations that will take place in the following period.

    Mr. Simitis also referred to the US-EU summit meeting to take place in Washington in June, while on the role of the EU he said that if it wants to have a strong presence in the international scene it should develop its defense capability. Within this fra mework, the proposals to be made by France, Germany and Belgium in the April 29 meeting will be presented in the next EU General Affairs Council.

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