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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-02-07
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 PASOK IS LEADING, ACCORDING TO NATIONAL POLLAthens, 7 February 2000 (10:04 UTC+2)
With surveys conducted on a weekly basis ever since talk of early elections emerged - and was confirmed -, another nationwide poll shows the ruling PASOK party as leading over the main opposition party of New Democracy by one percentage point.
Conducted by KAPA Research between January 20 - February 3 on a sample of 1,714 individuals, the poll shows the ruling Socialists as being ahead (35.7%), with New Democracy edging at 34.9%.
Incumbent Premier and PASOK leader Costas Simitis amasses the voters' preference with 57%, followed by N.D.'s leader Costas Karamanlis, 47.35.
Voted as most popular among PASOK officials was Foreign Minister George Papandreou (63.6%), followed by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis (59.7%), and Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos with 56.9%. Leading the other end of the scale is Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis with 32.4%.
 PRESIDENT TO BE ELECTED TOMORROWAthens, 7 February 2000 (11:50 UTC+2)
Incumbent President Costis Stephanopoulos is expected to be re-elected in Parliament tomorrow, February 8, as both the ruling PASOK party and the main opposition of New Democracy have pledged their vote.
The voting process will be an open nominal ballot, while deputies of minor opposition party Coalition of the Left and Progress are to vote for sole contender Leonidas Kyrkos.
President Stephanopoulos will be sworn in office on March 11.
 HOMBACH PRAISES GREEK ROLE IN RECONSTRUCTIONThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (12:26 UTC+2)
The special coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe Bodo Hombach saluted Thessaloniki"s role as the headquarters of the S.E. Europe"s Reconstruction Organization.
In an interview with the Sunday edition of the Athens paper "To Vima", Mr. Hombach expressed his gratitude over the leading role undertaken by Greece in terms of initiatives drawn for the economic reconstruction of S.E. Europe, while he also stated that the Stability Pact is already supporting a variety of small projects in Serbia. Nevertheless, he clarified, the Stability Pact will in no case negotiate with the Belgrade government.
Regarding Thessaloniki, Mr. Hombach praised the city"s role and stated that its significance is to be expanded through the full operation of the Reconstruction Agency that is to be established by the European Commission. Moreover, he stressed, a bureau will be established in the city which will oversee the local projects to be executed under the auspices of the Stability Pact.
 THESSALONIKI HOSTS ASIA FORUM 2000Thessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (12:35 UTC+2)
Political and business leaders from Europe, Asia and the Middle East are presently in Thessaloniki to attend a two-day conference organized by the newly-founded Asia Forum 2000.
The conference, to be held today and tomorrow, constitutes the first public event held by a Greek organization aiming to create business links between 90 countries from the European Union, eastern Europe, the Balkan and Black Sea regions
and the Middle East.
Held under the auspices of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Economy, Development, Merchant Marine, Macedonia-Thrace and Transportation-Communication, the event is featuring the participation of more than 30 countries.
The participants will review the opportunities, forms and conditions of economic cooperation among their countries.
The conference is expected to result in the establishment of permanent Eurasian institutions in Thessaloniki, such a tourism chamber and a Eurasian banking center, according to professor Marios Nikolinakos, president of Asia Forum 2000.
 THE GREEK PRIME MINISTER WILL VISIT BUCHARESTAthens, 7 February 2000 (16:52 UTC+2)
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that prime minister Kostas Simitis will be in Bucharest on Friday afternoon to attend the 3rd Inter-Balkan Conference.
As it was made known, Mr. Simitis is possible to meet with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit on the sidelines of the conference.
 CHRISTIAN ORTHODOX ICON EXHIBITIONThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (16:52 UTC+2)
The first international exhibition of modern Christian Orthodox icons named "The Art of the Icons" opened a few days ago in Thessaloniki's municipal gallery. The exhibition will be open until March 3 and is being held on the occasion of the 2.000 years since the birth of Christ. It includes works of leading icon painters who get their inspiration from the Christian Orthodox tradition.
The exhibits come not only from the monastic community of Mount Athos in Chalkidiki but from Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Italy and Britain.
 KAKLAMANIS - ATHENS MEETINGAthens, 7 February 2000 (16:50 UTC+2)
The most important issues that concern the Greeks living abroad were discussed today in the meeting Greek parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis had in Athens with World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE, president Andrew Athens.
Mr. Athens briefed Mr. Kaklamanis on the course of the big effort made by SAE for the establishment of health centers and hospital care units in the former Soviet Union republics where a large part of the Greeks abroad still lives and has increased needs.
The Greek parliament speaker praised the important role of the Greeks living abroad and assured Mr. Athens of the active interest and backing of the parliament to every effort made by SAE aimed at dealing with the problems faced by the Greeks abroad.
Part of the meeting was dedicated to the exchange of views concerning the coordination of the efforts aimed at forming an objective picture of the international public opinion for the better promotion of the Greek rights and the solution of the Cyprus problem.
 GAINS OF 2.05% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 7 February 2000 (16:50 UTC+2)
Gains of 2.05% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today which continued its upward course for a fifth session.
Specifically, the general index closed at 5.498 points, while the volume of transactions reminded of good old times reaching 346 billion drachmas.
Market analysts stated that the Greek stock exchange has entered a course of recovery after the recent statements made by prime minister Kostas Simitis concerning the early elections scheduled to be held in the country on April 9.
 ASIA FORUM GIVES A BOOST TO THE TRADE WITH CHINAThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (16:49 UTC+2)
Chinese minister of development Wang Mengkui, who praised the active role of Greece in the reconstruction of south-eastern Europe, expressed the belief that the ASIA FORUM conference will open the way for the strengthening of the economic and trade relations between China and Greece.
The trade balance of the two countries is currently at low levels but events like ASIA FORUM prepare the ground for a significant rise of transactions and cooperation between Greek and Chinese companies, stated Mr. Wang president of the State Council Development and Research Center.
Greece can act as an intermediary for the Chinese companies that want to become active in south-eastern Europe but more specific results are expected at this field in May when businessmen from China will attend the second ASIA FORUM event that will also take place in Thessaloniki, stated the Chinese official speaking to MPA.
 ASIA FORUM STARTED IN THE PRESENCE OF 17 GOVERNMENT MINISTERSThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (16:49 UTC+2)
The two-day ASIA FORUM conference opened in Thessaloniki today in the presence of 17 ministers and undersecretaries from Asian and Balkan countries.
The political and business meeting held with the participation of delegations from 30 states is a significant event, marking the first time that Asian countries meet outside Asia with representatives of the European Union, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Middle East.
Greek undersecretary of foreign affairs Grigoris Niotis stressed that the foreign ministry backs the initiative hoping that there will be a rapprochement between Asia and the wider region of Europe.
 EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 4.3 ON THE RICHTER SCALE IN PATRASPatras, 7 February 2000 (16:41 UTC+2)
An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was recorded west of the Patras Bay at dawn today.
According to Aristotle University of Thessaloniki geophysics laboratory, the tremor was recorded at 3:30am and its epicenter was located 310 kilometers south-southwest of Thessaloniki.
Based on the assessments made by seismologists, the tremor is most likely an isolated phenomenon in a region characterized by high seismic activity.
 GREEK-ALBANIAN COOPERATION AGAINST SMUGGLINGThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (13:39 UTC+2)
Greek and Albanian police delegations have formed a new set of regulations concerning the entry Albanian nationals in Greece, effective as of February 1.
The Albanian daily Gazetta Skiptare reported that an Albanian national can henceforth enter the country provided that he is sponsored by another Albanian who has a green card and is living in Greece.
 GREECE,YUGOSLAVIA SIGN TOURISM ACCORDThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (13:24 UTC+2)
A cooperation agreement for the reconstruction of Yugoslavia's economy has been signed in Belgrade between Greece's "Athens-Hellenic Engineering Industrial and Tourist Co. S.A" and Yugoslavia's "Jugoimport SDPR", between the Greek firm's chairman Pavlos Lekakis and Yugoslav General Jovan Cekovic.
Mr. Cekovic stated that the said agreement calls for the establishment of a joint venture that will oversee the materialization of programs in Yugoslavia and will participate in third market constructions. This joint venture is expected to facilitate the Yugoslav firms' access to large projects abroad.
In turn, Mr. Lekakis stated that the agreement represents the Greek people's sentiments to the Yugoslavs and to the economic and business sectors.
 LESS THAN 10% OF GREEKS ARE ACTIVE ECOLOGISTSThessaloniki, 7 February 2000 (13:13 UTC+2)
While the majority of Greeks likes to claim an ecological consciousness, a mere seven to eight percent is actively involved in environmental protection activities, according to a study conducted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki's Biology Department.
The study, published in Thessaloniki's "Aggelioforos" daily, also analyzed the data into the respondents' ethnic characteristics, such as those whose descent is from Pontus, Gypsies, and Greek Moslems.
Specifically, 72 per cent of those residing in Thessaloniki's wider region became familiar with environmental issues through the electronic media, while 70 percent of those polled stated that they acquire information related to environmental issues through the print media.
 THE TURKISH JOURNALISTS ARE OPTIMISTIC OVER THE RAPPROCHEMENT WITH GREECEAnkara, 7 February 2000 (18:15 UTC+2)
The Turkish journalists, who recently were in Athens to take part in the Greek-Turkish Journalist Conference, expressed optimism over the issue of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement and stated that the two sides have already covered half of the way toward this end.
The above are mentioned in an article signed by Sedat Sertoglu and published on the Turkish newspaper "Sabah". He wrote among others that the road ahead is long but there is a faith among the people that the efforts for the improvement of the relations will be successful.
According to Sedat Sertoglu, there is a different wind blowing in Greece regarding the Turks attributing the change in the climate not to the politicians but to the people.
 CLERIDES: THE UN BELIEVES THAT THERE WAS PROGRESS IN THE TALKS ON CYPRUSNicosia, 7 February 2000 (18:11 UTC+2)
The United Nations believe that there was progress in the proximity talks on Cyprus held in Geneva given the fact that the two sides have presented their views, stated Cypriot president Glafkos Clerides.
Responding to questions on the meeting he had with UN secretary-general special adviser Alvaro de Soto, the Cypriot president reiterated that he does not know if the differences between the two sides have become smaller, as the one side does not know what the other side has said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations have announced that Mr. De Soto will give a press conference tomorrow after the meetings he will have with Cypriot president Glafkos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
 ECEVIT: THE GREEK-TURKISH RAPPROCHEMENT IS POSITIVEAnkara, 7 February 2000 (16:41 UTC+2)
The Greek-Turkish rapprochement climate has started giving very positive and specific results, stated Turkish prime minister Bulent Ecevit, referring to the relations between Greece and Turkey.
Mr. Ecevit underlined that what makes him happy is the big support offered to the two governments by the Greek and Turkish public opinion, stressing that it is an especially satisfactory and promising situation.