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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-05-08

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, May 8, 2003





  • [02] 800 NEW ALL DAY SCHOOLS



  • [01] A UNIFIED AND SMALL TEAM A ministerial team of 12-14 ministers with one deputy minister and one secretary general per ministry was proposed for the greater effectiveness of the government, by the Cabinet's Secretary General S. Cosmidis, whose proposals were connected in the pres s today to his function as a close consultant of the Prime Minister. Mr. Cosmidis was in favor of decreasing the number of MPs and single seat districts.
  • [02] 800 NEW ALL DAY SCHOOLS The instituting of 800 new All Day Schools (500 elementary and 300 preschool), which will increase the total of all day schools functioning to 5200, was announced by the deputy Minister of Education, N. Gesoulis, in his speech at the Labor Institute of t he General Union of Greek Workers - Union of Greek Civil Servants (GSEE-ADEDY). The President of the GSEE Ch. Polyzogopoulos underlined that the all day school is the basic catalyst for the upgrading of education and covering many social needs.
  • [03] IRAQ MAIN ISSUE OF LOVERDOS-MILLER DISCUSSION Issues of humanitarian aid towards Iraq and Greece's willingness to participate in the institutional reconstruction of the country, were discussed at the meeting between deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller.

    Mr. Loverdos restated Greece's official request to the US authorities for an air connection to Baghdad regarding humanitarian aid missions.

    On the issue of the reconstruction, the Greece's readiness to promote programmes for the reform of the judicial system in the framework of the restoration of law and order was announced.

  • [04] PROPOSALS FOR POLITICAL SYSTEM REFORMS Their proposals for the modernization of the political system were submitted last night by the Ministers of Economy and Finance, Nikos Christodoulakis, and Public Order, Michalis Chrysochoidis, and Cabinet Secretary Socrates Cosmidis, in an event of the Association Concerned with Greek Society (OPEK) on: "Suitability of the reform, strategy for real convergence", which was held in a hotel in Athens.

    Mr. Cosmidis presented his proposals on the institutional modernization and reform of the political system, pointing out that they are strictly personal.

    Among other things, he proposed the number of members of the Cabinet be decreased, the number of Prefectures be decreased, the instituting of the incompatible in party and state offices (incompatibility of holding another profession), and the incompatibl e in the legislative and executive authority.

    He also stressed that further hiring should be carried out very sparingly, and hiring for administrative positions should only be carried out through the Public Administration School, which should be upgraded according to the model of the Judge's School in order to produce tomorrow's administrative officials.

    He was in favor of a public administration for the citizens and not for the civil servants, pointing out that citizens are simultaneously employers and clients of public administration. He underlined the need to decrease the number of civil servants, to have fewer official positions, to choose general directors from the staff of the entire public service and the market, to drastically shrink both public administration and the proportions of the whole pyramid of state and local government structure.

    Minister of Economy and Finance also referred to the need to modernize the political system, stressing that it must become more dependable and must come closer to the citizens.

    He stressed that without a powerful economy absolutely no reform has any prospects of success, noting that a weak economy will sooner or later lead to conflict, introversion and regression.

    However he underlined that economy alone is not enough, as reforms should be beneficial to the vast majority of the Greek people as they are materialized.

    As he stressed the basic points of the reform are, firstly, peripheral convergence, which includes economic development, administrative composition of the periphery into a powerful lever exerting economic and social policies, as well as the political upg rading of the periphery, secondly, public administration, as well as the political and party system, which needs to become more modern, effective, transparent, and be constantly renewed.

    He pointed out that the axes along which the government's structural policies will move are the support of entrepreneurship and small businesses, the creation of an economy of knowledge, the increasing of the Greek economy's extroversion, the support of solidarity and the empowerment of social cohesion, the securing of future prosperity and quality of life.

    Mr. Chrysochoidis attacked New Democracy, which he characterized the enemy of the reform and every effort for the progress of Greece.

  • [05] A HIGH COST TO LABOR AND UNEMPLOYMENT It seems as though the effort to change the decision of the PALCO company to transfer its factory from Athens to Bulgaria, leaving 500 unemployed, is a dead end. If no solution is achieved, measures will be taken for the workers, stated Minister of Labor , Mr. Reppas. The President of the Association of Greek Industrialists (SEV) Chr. Kyriakopoulos attributed the decision to the high cost of labor in Greece. Businesses are born, they grow and they die, he said characteristically.
  • [06] REACTIONS TO PALCO MOVING ITS FACTORY TO BULGARIA His sorrow for the ceasing of the functioning of "PALCO S.A.'s" unit in Petralona was expressed by Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos.

    During a press conference after the Competitiveness Council meeting, the Minister of Development pointed out that it is the state's obligation to support both entrepreneurship and workers who find themselves out of a job.

    He also pointed out that it is the government's policy to create new positions and support businesses.

    PALCO's departure also occupied in ND's meeting last night presided over by the Secretary General of its Parliamentary Group.

    As was stressed, the developments concerning PALCO add to the existing legions of unemployed and confirm the points repeatedly stressed by New Democracy, on insufficiency and serious blanks in the developmental law, as well as the serious structural red tape.

    Its concern with the closing of the PALCO factory in Petralona was also expressed in announcement of the Association of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEVE), which stressed, however, that transferring productive activities to countries with a lower labor cost, increases the competitiveness of Greek products.

  • [07] 7,500 VOLUNTEER APPLICATIONS FROM GREEKS LIVING ABROAD General Director of Volunteerism Dimitris Karamitsos-Tziras and the Director of Attracting and Retaining Volunteers Dimitra Egan, of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee, briefed the Special Standing Parliamentary Committee on Greeks Abroad on th e course of the volunteer programme and the points of progress and initiatives taken in relation to Greeks abroad.

    So far, 76,332 volunteer applications have been submitted, a satisfactory number that is steadily increasing, of which 7,508 have been submitted from Greeks abroad residing in 80 countries. The next phase, that of selecting the volunteers in Athens, othe r Olympic cities and Cyprus, has already begun, while the interview procedure among Greeks living abroad, will take place within 2003 from a distance for those who are unable to visit Greece.

  • [08] A PROPOSAL FOR THE FUTURE The clarification that proposals to change the political system are not for the present moment and any changes the Prime Minister will make, are to take place after the completion of the Greek Presidency of the EU, was made by the deputy Minister of the Press T. Chytiris, regarding the views of the Cabinet's Secretary General S. Cosmidis, who, yesterday, stated that he was in favor of a small ministerial team of 12-14 ministers, 1 deputy minister and 1 secretary general per ministry. The Prime Minister's

    close cooperator, who has held the position of secretary since 1996, proposed a decrease in the number of MPs and the transformation of electoral districts to single seats.

  • [09] PROTOPAPAS ASKS FOR 1.5 MILLION EURO IN DAMAGES A lawsuit was submitted against the "Avriani" newspaper and its publisher and director Giorgos Kouris and Giorgos Tsirogiannis, by the attorney of Christos Protopapas, Giannis Charactiniotis, asking for 1.5 million in compensation for moral damages, due to the newspaper's publications regarding the Press Minister's election campaign. In his lawsuit, Mr. Protopapas characterized the publications completely fraudulent and attributed them to intentions for him to undergo moral, political and social damage.
  • [10] THE EU IS MILITARILY OPERATIONAL The European Union now has the operational capability to undertake peacekeeping missions, according to the view of EU member-states' Chiefs of Army Staffs, which will be noted in the findings of the Council of Defense Ministers on May 19. The Chiefs loca ted certain shortcomings, which, however, can be dealt with.

    The prospects for the future of the Common European Policy on Defense and Security in relation to NATO, as it can be seen in developments of the Convention and current initiatives so far, was raised at the regular bi-annual meeting of the Military Commit tee of the European Union on a Chief of Staff level, which was held in Brussels.

    During the meeting, the Committee was briefed on developments in current issues Greece is promoting or supporting, such as the military potential of the EU, the possibility of rapid response, the possibility of using space applications for military purpo ses and joint military training.

    There was a unanimous appreciation from the Chiefs of Staff on the operational capabilities of the EU, according to which the Union is now operationally capable to carry out operations covering the entire span of Petersburg type operations. However, cert ain shortcomings were noted, which are already being dealt with in the framework of initiatives and relevant directions from the Minister of National Defense, as they were set at the meetings in Rethymno and Vouliagmeni.

    Furthermore, the Military Committee also agreed that in an emergency, the Union has the necessary means to respond rapidly, and thus, the request for a rapid response force can be materialized.

    The Greek Presidency has decisively contributed to the development of a common approach to issues of European defense on the level of the 15 and the securing of the operational capabilities of the European Rapid Response Force within 2003 is a great succ ess of the Greek Presidency, stated Minister of National Defense Giannos Papantoniou, at the International Meeting being held in Athens in the framework of the Greek Presidency in cooperation with the European Commission, on "Dimensions of Aerospace Secur ity and Defense: EU Challenges".

    The Presidency also actively promoted the procedure for the development of the European Force and has undertaken a series of initiatives for the strengthening of the relationship between European defense and the European defense industry, specifically, t he creation of a European Arms Organization.

  • [11] V. XEROS IDENTIFIED IN PERATIKOS KILLING Vassilis Xeros was identified with complete certainty, as one of the men involved in the killing of industrialist Costis Peratikos by a witness in the 17N case in today's proceedings.

    The stand was taken by police guard Theodoros Avdulos, who supported that Vassilis Xeros was one of the three men who entered the van and tried to escape after the killing. The police officer was completely certain that Vassilis Xeros was among the three


    Earlier in the day however, defendant Vassilis Jorjatos repeated his claim concerning perjurers. He supported that the witnesses themselves have been "fabricated" by the authorities, due to lack of evidence.

    He also accused a portion of the press of participating in a plan to hide and twist the truth, while he added that the "17 November" trial is political.

  • [12] THE GREEK HEALTH MINISTER ANNOUNCED MEASURES AGAINST SARS Preventive measures aimed at averting the spread of the SARS virus in Greece were announced by Greek Health Minister Kostas Stefanis.

    Specifically, individuals arriving in Greece from high risk countries will fill out a special form stating if they have any suspicious symptoms. If such symptoms exist the individuals will be led to specially equipped areas to undergo specific medical te sts.

    Isolation chambers will be created in all Greek hospitals where individuals with SARS will be taken to avert the spread of the virus.

    The Health Minister pointed out that there is no SARS case in Greece and issued a recommendation to hotel owners to avoid making bookings for tourists coming from countries affected by the virus such as, Hong Kong, China and Singapore. A similar recommen dation was made to conference organisers and everyone in close contact with tourists. Mr. Stefanis reiterated that according to the World Health Organisation, the SARS infection in China has not reached its highest point.

  • [13] EU PRESIDENCY DECLARATION ON THE OUTCOME OF THE APPEAL BY DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM AGAINST HIS CONVICTION The European Union, which has continued to monitor closely the case, notes the decision of the Malaysian Court of Appeal to uphold the conviction and sentence on August 8, 2000 against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysi a.

    The European Union recalls its earlier statements voicing deep concern about the fairness of the legal proceedings and expresses its disappointment that the verdict has been upheld.

    The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the E uropean Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.

  • [14] BIG LOSSES IN THE ASE Big losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.80% at 1.749,95 points, while the volume of transactions was at 99 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, just 32 recorded gains and the overwhelming majority of 300 had losses, while the value of 43 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [15] INFORMAL COUNCIL OF EU SPORTS MINISTERS The EU Sports Ministers and their colleagues from acceding states met in Athens today in the presence of the responsible European Commissioner at the initiative of the Greek EU Presidency.

    The EU Sports Ministers, in continuation of their meeting in Brussels on February 25, discussed the developments in two issues of major interest.

    Specifically, they discussed the place of Sports in the EU law and order and the future European Constitution. Also, they discussed the coordination of the EU member states' actions against doping after the adoption by WADA of the new anti-doping code in

    the Copenhagen Conference.

  • [16] PROTOPAPAS ON THE PALCO COMPANY The view that there is still room for the PALCO company management to reconsider the situation, was expressed by Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas pointing out that the responsible Labor Minister works toward this direction aiming to persuad e the company change its decision.

    For the record, the undergarment company has decided to relocate to Bulgaria where labor cost is much lower.

    On this occasion, Mr. Protopapas referred to the problems caused by globalization. He pointed out that there is a need to create our own comparative advantages and competitiveness because this will be our own long-term and firm response to the problems a rising as a result of the opening of markets due to globalization.

    Commenting on yesterday's statement by the main opposition party of New Democracy, Mr. Protopapas pointed out that the Pireli tires industry plant did not leave the area of Patras when the party of PASOK was in power but when Prime Minister of Greece was

    Konstantinos Mitsotakis of New Democracy.

  • [17] EUROZONE: INFLATION WILL DROP UNDER 2% BY THE END OF 2003 European Central Bank President Mr. Wim Duisenberg stated that there is a limited threat coming from inflationary pressures, adding that their de-escalation develops at a slower pace than initially predicted.

    According to the head of the ECB, inflation in the Euro-zone will drop under 2% no sooner than the end of the year.

    Also, Mr. Duisenberg backed the ECB decision to leave its interest rates unaffected, pointing out that more information is needed concerning the effects of the recent developments, especially in the foreign exchange markets.

  • [18] EU PRESIDENCY DECLARATION ON THE DECLARATION BY THE ACCEDING, ASSOCIATED AND EFTA COUNTRIES The EU Presidency has issued a declaration regarding a declaration by the Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the associated countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, concerning the EU Common Position on Burma/Myanmar:

    "The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia, and the associated countries Bulgaria, Romania and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, decla re that they share the objectives of Common Position 2003/297/CFSP concerning Burma/Myanmar defined by the Council of the European Union on April 28, 2003 on the basis of Article 15 of the Treaty on European Union. They will ensure that their national pol icies conform to that common position.

    The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it".

  • [19] BIANNUAL MEETING OF THE MILITARY COMMITTEE FOR THE EU The future prospects for Europe's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in relation to NATO, was the focus of discussions at the regular biannual meeting of the Military Committee for the European Union at the level of chiefs of defence that conclude d in Athens today.

    Greek Chief of Defence Army General Georgios Antonakopoulos briefed the Committee on the progress of current issues advanced by the Greek EU Presidency such as the EU's military capacity, ability for rapid response, capability for space applications for

    military purposes and common European military training.

    There was unanimous consent among the EU's defence chiefs regarding the Union's military capability for carrying out a full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks, known as the Petersberg tasks. Participants at the committee agreed tha t the Union had all the necessary means for rapid response in case of emergency, which enables the materialisation of the demand for rapid action forces.

    The military assessments made at the meeting are expected to be included in the conclusions of the Defence Ministers Council that will be held in Brussels on May 19.

    The Committee was also briefed on the progress of the CONCORDIA operation carried out by the EU at the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) since April 1, 2003, following a request submitted to the EU by the local government, and NATO consent an d provision of administration facilities.

    The Athens meeting provided the forum for the maiden participation of Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Malta, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic in the Committee, all of whom signed Accession Treaties with the EU on April 16, 2003.

    The EU's defence chiefs issued a joint directive that included the meeting's conclusions and a road map for the steps to be taken before their next meeting.

  • [20] THE GREEK ALTERNATE FOREIGN MINISTER'S STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF EUROPE DAY Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis made the following statement on the occasion of Europe Day celebrated on May 9:

    "This year, the celebration of Europe Day is associated with a number of considerations and crucial decisions about the future.

    For many decades the citizens of Europe have lived in an environment of peace, prosperity and democratic freedoms. Today, the citizens of the enlarged European Union face new prospects with many new possibilities, but also many uncertainties. No one can influence the developments and the environment that will be shaped in Europe in the coming years more than organised social and political forces. The forces that believe that the European structure ensures choices and prospects for greater trust, confiden ce and humanity.

    Citizens expect the enlarged European Union to take full advantage of the possibilities being created and in the immediate future provide answers to their concerns and expectations.

    In order for the enlarged European Union to succeed, it has to provide new answers to new problems. To provide such answers, it must become stronger. All those participating in the Union must accept that in conditions of globalisation and heightened inte rnational challenges, democracy, peace, prosperity, cohesion and culture can be safeguarded and promoted more efficiently through the European system than through national policies alone.

    We have many battles to give in Europe in the coming years. But it will be worth the effort. Besides, great goals and important values are not merely a matter for governments. Whatever is worth making the effort in everyday life should be the subject of individual and collective vigilance on a daily basis."


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