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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2004-07-26

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, July 26, 2004








  • [01] THE OLYMPIC FLAME TRAVELS TO WESTERN MACEDONIA The Olympic Flame continues its journey today to western Macedonia, northern Greece, visiting the cities of Veria, Naousa, Skidra, Edessa and Florina where it will stay overnight.

    A music concert with popular singer Stelios Dionisiou will take place in the city of Florina. Yesterday, the Olympic Flame spent the night in Vergina, the historic womb of Macedonia and the Olympic altar was lit at the tombs of the Kings.

    The Olympic Altar was set alight on Sunday evening at the royal tombs of Macedonia's historic womb, Vergina. The procession reached the archaeological site: the tomb of King Philip and heart of the Macedonian dynasty.

    "You may be certain that if the Macedonian Dynasty's great kings Philip and Alexander were alive today they would welcome the sacred Flame of Olympia in person. The Flame's arrival once again lights Macedonia's uninterrupted Greek-ness: then; since; and forever more", said Vergina's Mayor Chrysostomos Hatzopoulos.

    "Alexander the Great was a Torchbearer. He passed on Hellenic culture to the ends of the earth", said Torch Relay Manager Penny Mikelopoulou, who was representing ATHENS 2004 at the ceremony.

    The Altar was lit by veteran footballer Nikolaos Gkogkos, now a teacher. He felt at home among the treasures of Vergina because he had taken part in Manolis Andronikos excavations since the age of 16 and carried many of the finds from the tomb of Philip with his own hands.

    Marios Frangoulis capped off the ceremony with a concert at the Vergina archaeological site.

    The Flame left the imposing Dion area yesterday and made its way to central Macedonia. The first stop was Katerini, capital of Pieria Prefecture. Young and old gathered since early in the morning to greet it with flags and olive branches. Multicoloured b alloons were sent aloft as the Flame reached the city's main road, while a theatrical troupe presented an impressive performance entitled: "The Olympic Flame that is dissolving the darkness of War".

    Six lads and six lasses with olive branches flanked a great athlete, General Secretary for Sports Kostas Koukodimos, who lit the Altar in his birthplace. Strains of Mikis Theodorakis' Canto Olympico played as the last Torchbearer appeared. Priestesses gr eeted him, doves were set free and the band played the Olympic Anthem. A song about Athens, based on a poem by Karyotakis, was also heard.

    Ninety-year-old Dimitris Kourtidis was the one who stole the show in Katerini by bringing the Flame into his city. A veteran Greek and Balkan champion in the Shot put and the Javelin, Mr. Kourtidis daily walks 2-3 km and his ambition is to take part in a nother Torch Relay.

    Korinos, in Pieria, was the next place to welcome the Flame. It is a hospitable town, which embraced and warmly applauded its Torchbearers.

    Kolindros, near the Aliakmonas River delta, was the next stop. The inhabitants welcomed the Olympic Flame with Macedonian dances and songs.

    The residents of Aiginio are people who work hard for a living. Most of them are farmers. It is the place where families that came as refugees from the Black Sea, Eastern Romylia and Western Thrace all coexist.

    Despite the great heat, the residents of Aiginio gathered next to the old train station to greet the Flame.

    The Torchbearer who lit the cauldron, 37-year old sports instructor Sideris Matsikidis, is a brilliant role-model to his hometown children: after undergoing a kidney-transplant operation, he took part in the Sydney Paralympic Games; in the past, he was a

    internationally distinguished athletics champion in the high jump.

    Before Vergina, the Flame was welcomed in Meliki, a town with remarkable pre-Christian ruins.

    The Relay route there was lined by cheering local students holding flags and olive branches, while the town's band was playing the Olympic anthem. The cauldron was lit by Vasilis Papadimitiou, who was selected in honour of his offers to classical sports.

    On Day 59, the Relay covered a distance of 83.4 km, with the participation of 240 Torchbearers.

  • [02] WATER AND FIRE The Athens Olympic Games opening ceremony will be extraordinary and unprecedented if the information published by a British newspaper is true.

    Thousands of litres of water will create a lake at the center of the Olympic Stadium and a comet will fall to light the five Olympic rings.

    The ceremony will take place in the evening of Friday, August 13 when 400 timpanists, simulating the sound of the human heartbeat, will enter the Olympic Stadium while a gigantic screen will begin a countdown for 40 seconds.

    Figures from the Greek mythology will emerge from the water that will flood the stadium.

    The names of the countries participating in the Olympic Games will be announced in alphabetical order. The ceremony will be completed with a world map that will unfold over the athletes' heads. The Olympic Games opening ceremony will last an estimated 3 hours.

    The Greek Deputy Culture Minister characterized the information leak as an unfortunate event.

  • [03] CONFRONTATION ON THE ARMAMENTS ISSUE The previous governments bred economic-political corruption networks, stated Minister of Defense Spilios Spiliotopoulos in his speech in the New Democracy party congress maintaining that certain interests try to redeploy in order to hurt the government a nd create a "controlled democracy".

    Opposition party of PASOK reacted strongly and characterized as a big gaffe the statements made by Mr. Spiliotopoulos. PASOK stated that these are positions that clearly lay outside the political, legal and ethics framework.

  • [04] THE MARATHON ROUTE HAS BEEN COMPLETED Minister of Environment, Land Planning and Public Works Giorgos Souflias opened officially to traffic the Marathon Route, a 26 km long route between Pallini and Timvos, with the phrase "We are the victors", using the same words with Phidippidis, the firs t Marathon runner who ran to bring the message of victory to the Athenians after the battle at Marathon.

    Mr. Souflias expressed satisfaction because the project was completed. He characterized it as beautiful and congratulated the architects and builders. He stressed that the fact that the specific project was completed on time is an example of what the Gre eks can do when they put their minds and effort to it.

    Meanwhile, other 6 kilometers were given to traffic today linking the Marathon Avenue with the Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center.

    On Wednesday, another metro station will be ready for the public, while the tunnels at Kakia Skala toward Korinth will be ready on Thursday.

  • [05] THE GOV'T SPOKESMAN DENIED INFORMATION ON ALLEGED "MUSLIM CELLS" Minister of State and government spokesman Thodoris Rousopoulos denied information published on the "Herald Tribune" newspaper according to which, there are allegedly "Muslim cells" in Greece that could be proved to be a threat to democracy.

    Mr. Rousopoulos stated that there is no such information, adding that he has spoken about it with the Minister of Public Order and therefore, the press information in question is being denied.

  • [06] LOSSES IN THE ASE Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.47% at 2311.53 points, while the volume of transactions was at 70.8 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 180 had gains and 112 had losses, while the value of 140 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [07] THE FLAME TRAVELS ACROSS CENTRAL AND WESTERN MACEDONIA On the sixtieth day of its global journey the Olympic Flame will visit Central and Western Macedonia, sites and towns rich in historic symbolism. Traveling through Veria and Florina, the Torch Relay will make stops at Naoussa, Skydra and Edessa. A total of 185 Torch Bearers, running 155 km, will carry the Flame.

    The morning route started off on the Vermion slopes, from Veria, a town whose name is closely linked to that of the first president of the International Olympic Committee, Dimitrios Vikelas. Former captain of the Greek National Handball team, Ko stas Giovanopoulos, lighted the altar standing before the bust of Vikelas. The Mayor of Veria, Christos Skoubopoulos and OCOG ATHENS 2004 representative, Penny Mikelopoulou laid wreaths at the foot of the statue.

    The Lyceum of Greek Women, the Efxinos Club and the Vlach and Thracian Associations, all of whom performed together a typical Macedonian dance, gave performances of Greek folk dances. Early in the morning, 150 children wearing traditional costumes went a bout the streets of Veria holding olive-tree branches, inviting people to greet the Flame.

    Naoussa was the next stop for the Torch Relay where people greeted the Flame with a spectacular display of the rich traditions and customs of the area.

    Skydra will welcome the Flame with the church-bells ringing and fifty primary school children who will form a human chain around the altar. Priestesses will greet the last Torch Bearer Giannis Pantakidis, while doves will be released into the sky when t he altar is lit.

    In Edessa, the arrival of the Flame will coincide with the inauguration of a new section of Macedonia University and the Dean, Mr. Velentzas, will kindle the altar.

    Florina will be the last destination for today, where a stop over ceremony will take place. A concert by Stelios Dionysiou will conclude the celebrations.


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