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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-02-15
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 MANY SANCTIONS STIL IN PLACE AGAINST YUGOSLAVIAParis, 15 February 2000 (11:18 UTC+2)
The ban on commercial airline flights to and from Serbia, which the European Union lifted for six months yesterday, is one of many measures taken by Western powers and the United Nations in reprisal for Belgrade's policy towards Kosovo.
According to an outline provided by the French news agency AFP, the following sanctions are still in place against Yugoslavia:
Oil embargo -- The EU approved the ban on the sale of oil to Yugoslavia, and all activities which directly or indirectly encourage such sales, on April 23 1999.
Others -- The EU froze Belgrade's assets in all member countries, and banned EU investments in Serbia in June 1998.
The assets freeze was extended on April 26, 1999 to include any individuals associated with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic an any companies controlled by, or working for, Yugoslavia and Serbia.
At the same time, a ban on export credits was extended to the private sector, to European investments in Yugoslavia and to the supply of all goods and services linked to internal repression.
Also on April 26, 1999, the EU banned the issue of visas to Mr. Milosevic, his family and a list of Yugoslav officials. The EU intends to extend the list.
The EU has had an arms embargo in place against Yugoslavia since February 1996.
It decided to lift measures in place against Kosovo and Montenegro on September 6, 1999, despite their being part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but a rule on how that suspension could be applied must first be established.
An arms embargo against Belgrade, aimed at forcing Yugoslavia to begin dialogue with the Kosovan Albanians, was imposed by the UN Security Council under resolution 1160 on March 31, 1998.
It was the first measure taken by the UN since lifting previous sanctions against Belgrade on October 1, 1996 following the signing of the Dayton accord which ended three years of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The United States continues to block Yugoslavia's access to credits from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Washington reinforced its sanctions, which are essentially economic, on May 1, 1999 by banning the trade in all goods with Serbia.
 SAES NEW BOARD CONVENES IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 15 February 2000 (11:37 UTC+2)
The new -and expanded- board of directors of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) is to hold its first session in Thessaloniki between February 16-20.
The board, elected during SAE's Third International Assembly which was also held in Thessaloniki in December, is featuring a larger number of directors in order to meet its augmented organizational responsibilities. The 11-member Board features two additional members, a secretary, a treasurer, as well as a representative of the Cypriots Living Abroad.
Among the changes in SAE's structure is the establishment of six-member regional councils which will participate in the administration of each of the dour region, as well as the founding of four forums and one SAE Youth Council.
 LOSSES OF 0.86% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 15 February 2000 (18:04 UTC+2)
Losses of 0.85% were recorded in the general index of the Athens Stock Exchange today.
The Athens Stock Exchange session closed under the 5.500 points mark at 5.413,73 points while the volume of transactions was at 218.6 billion drachmas.
Stock market circles point out that fresh money is needed in order for the Athens Stock Exchange to have a better performance.
 MIRELA MANIANI-TZELILI HOLDS THE WORLD RECORD IN THE JAVELINAthens, 15 February 2000 (18:04 UTC+2)
Greek champion Mirela Maniani-Tzelili holds the world record in the javelin after the World Track and Field Federation recognized as a world record the 67.09 meters she threw in Seville, Spain.
The World Federation recognized her performance after judging as invalid the record made by Norwegian Hatestad (68.19 meters) because she did not undergo anti-doping control after the throw.
 THE DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS HELP ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTSThessaloniki, 15 February 2000 (18:03 UTC+2)
Over 1 million illegal immigrants are in Greece and need medical care, according to the Doctors Without Borders who gave a press conference in Thessaloniki. In their effort to help the people who need them they drew up a program called the "Next Door Program". The program is implemented in Thessaloniki since last year with the participation of 70 volunteers and it is aimed at helping those illegal immigrants with health problems.
The Doctors Without Borders gave to publicity data concerning the help they had offered to illegal immigrants. Specifically, from March 1999 to January 2000 the organization's social services have examined 3.227 individuals from 34 countries. The most cases came from Albania and the former soviet republic of Georgia, 36.6% and 33.1% respectively.
The Doctors Without Borders in their press conference sent the message that in spite of the fact that they have been expelled from the World Organization they will continue their work under the name Doctors Without Borders of Greece as their only wish is to be near the people who need their help.
 NEW RECORD HIGH IN OIL PRICESAthens, 15 February 2000 (18:03 UTC+2)
Oil prices reached a nine-year record high yesterday. In the London market the crude oil price was at US$ 28.40 a barrel increased by 58 cents compared to last Friday, while similar tendencies were recorded in the New York market where the crude oil prices reached US$ 29.75.
Meanwhile, Iraq reiterated the warning that it will cut its oil production and exports if the United States do not consent to the imports of the necessary equipment for the maintenance of the oil drilling and refinery facilities in the country.
The Iraqi oil minister had stated a few days ago that his country's exports is possible to be cut by 250.000 barrels a day.
Greek minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou had stated yesterday that the oil price increases at an international level will not affect Greece's efforts to meet the convergence criterion of inflation as they will affect the overall European inflation rate. He said that the increase of the oil prices internationally is an unfavorable development for the world economy that creates inflationary pressures and leads to the redistribution of income in favor of the oil producing countries.
Minister of development Evangelos Venizelos expressed the certainty that the oil price explosion is observed at an international level and will not affect Greece's course toward the EMU, stressing that the problem is faced by all the European economies.
Also, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas gave the assurance that the Greek economy can face developments such as the sudden increase in the oil prices.
 O.A. HEEDS REACTIONS, REVIEWS MELBOURNE FLIGHTAthens, 15 February 2000 (14:05 UTC+2)
Olympic Airways chief executive Rod Lynch is to reportedly reconsider a recent OA decision to stop flying to Melbourne - which prompted an outcry from many Greek-Australians - and fly only to Sydney.
Mr. Lynch will meet tomorrow with the presidium of the Civil Aviation Associations Federation, as well as with pilots and stewardesses, many of whom are also opposed to the Athens-Melbourne route cancellation.
 CONFERENCE REVIEWS INVESTMENTS IN GREECEAthens, 15 February 2000 (14:01 UTC+2)
Investments in the Greek market in light of the country's imminent accession to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) are being discussed in a two-day conference presently underway in Athens, organized by "The Economist" in cooperation with Laidlaw Global Corporation of New York.
The topics reviewed include the Greek market's institutional framework, the state' s tax and economic policies, the monetary policy enforced by the Bank of Greece, the Greek banks' role in attracting foreign capital, investments pertaining to the Olympic Games of 2004, and investments in the Balkan region.
The conference, attended by noted foreign officials, will be addressed by Greece's Minister of Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos and other leading figures of Greece's industrial and economic sectors.
 MOODYS: EMU TO BOOST GREEK BANKSThessaloniki, 15 February 2000 (13:19 UTC+2)
Greece's course of accession to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is enhancing profits at Greek banks, according to Moody's latest annual report on the Greek Banking System.
According to Moody's, Greek banks have intensified their efforts to grow market share, strengthen franchise, and enter new markets while profits last year received a boost from enhanced capital markets performance prompted by Greece's economic transition ahead of joining the EMU.
"The transformation of the Greek banks has accelerated," according to the report's author Mardig Haladjian.
Privatization of Greece's public banks is also expected to continue, according to Moody's, as "the driver behind all this activity has been the realization that Greek banks will need to have a critical mass, a defensible local niche and a lower cost base in order to survive in the eurozone.
"Despite the expected increase in foreign competition over the next few years, we see good prospects for Greek banks to maintain a high level of performance and to develop their business in the relatively under-banked retail and personal markets of Greece," the report states.
In addition to the new competition, a growing involvement in consumer lending - with its inherent higher credit risk - might pose a threat to credit quality. Moody's says, however, that the higher margins of the business more than justify this foray.
Moody's also says efforts to expand into other Balkan countries are being handled prudently. In general, the Greek banks show improving financials. Moody's reports that most Greek banks have managed to raise loan loss provisions to comfortable levels, but that further improvement needs to be made in productivity and efficiency levels.
 COMPROMISE FOUND OVER OUZO, GRAPPA NAME ROWThessaloniki, 15 February 2000 (13:15 UTC+2)
The European Commission is to put an end to a row over liquor names, as South Africa is reportedly ready to accommodate both Greece and Italy by gradually phasing out its production and trade of "ouzo", an aniseed-flavored liquor made in Greece, and "grappa", an Italian grape-based spirit.
Greece and Italy had threatened not to ratify an EU-South Africa trade-enhancing deal unless they won more protection for their trademark drinks.
As both Greece and Italy have now lifted their veto, South Africa is to begin on the phasing out process immediately, with all production of the aforementioned drinks to cease within five years.
 BIOTOXINS TRACED IN LOCAL MUSSEL HARVESTThessaloniki, 15 February 2000 (12:48 UTC+2)
A ban has been placed on the cultivation of the Pierias mussel harvest after Italian import authorities impounded 3.5 tonnes of Pierias mussels with traces of biotoxins.
Prefecture authorities are reportedly surprised over the findings of the Italian authorities, since, as they said, samples have been repeatedly tested at Thessaloniki's Veterinary Institute and showed no trace of contamination.
While local authorities continue to test, they have yet to find any traces of biotoxins and have not ruled out the possibility that the Italians may be mistaken. The impounded mussels had been cultivated in early January.
 GREECE, TURKEY TO COOPERATE IN TOURISM SECTORAthens, 15 February 2000 (12:39 UTC+2)
Leading figures from Greece and Turkey are to attend an Athens-held conference organized by SKAL, concerning friendly cooperation "SkAL Greece-Turkey".
The event, to be held on February 18, will feature the participation of the chairman of Greece's Tourism Organization and director of the Athens SKAL Yiannis Stefanides, as well as representatives from hotelier and shipowner associations.
Thirty-five members from Turkey's SKAL are to meet with their Greek counterparts within the framework of cooperation opportunities.
The Turkish and Greek businessmen are to visit the island of Syros on February 19.
 TURKISH JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO PRISON TERMS OF 96 YEARSAnkara, 15 February 2000 (18:03 UTC+2)
Prison terms of 96 years in total have been imposed to journalists in Turkey last January, according to the monthly report issued by the Turkish Association of Journalists.
Turkish journalists were assaulted in five separate incidents in January and in one case the assault came from a Nationalist Action Party parliament deputy. Specifically, a cameraman of the news agency IHA was injured with a knife, while the offices of the newspapers Akit and Atilim were attacked by gunmen. Bomb attacks were recorded against the offices of the newspaper Hurriyet and the Eskisehir branch of the Association of Modern Journalists.
 THE OTE PRESIDENT IN BELGRADEBelgrade, 15 February 2000 (17:42 UTC+2)
The interest of the Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, in the development of telecommunications in Serbia because they will help in the overall growth of the Serb economy and society securing a better life for the Serb people, was underlined in the meeting Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, president Vasilis Rapanos had with the president of Serbia's Telecommunications and Postal Service Organization, PTT, during his visit to Belgrade heading a Greek delegation.
PTT president Milos Nesovic thanked Greece for the help it has offered to Serbia and referred to the support and solidarity of the Greek people and the OTE employees' unions to the Serbs during the NATO bombings. He pointed out the successful and constructive contribution of OTE which is the strategic partner of Telecom Serbia and spoke about the problems that were created because of the bombings.
PTT board of directors chairwoman Radmila Atzelovic expressed the certainty that cooperation between the two companies will become stronger in the future.
 GREEK-CYPRIOT AND TURKISH-CYPRIOT LEADERS MEETNicosia, 15 February 2000 (10:36 UTC+2)
Leaders and representatives of Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot political parties met yesterday at the Ledra Palace Hotel in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, the first time in such a meeting was held in three years.
Held on the initiative of the Slovak embassy in Nicosia, the meeting was attended by representatives of all the major parties from both sides of the divided island, except the Turkish Cypriot National Unity Party.
The United Nations welcomed the rare contact at the Ledra Palace in Nicosia.
"Some may have met in between, but this is the first contact at an official organized party level between both sides since December 3 1997 and we welcome that," UN spokesman Charles Gaulkin told the French news agency AFP.
"All contacts are welcome and this is a useful development which we hope will lead to more contact," he added.
The event comes less than a week after the second round of proximity talks wound up in Geneva amid expectations that goodwill gestures for greater bi-communal contact would follow.
 SERB OPPOSITION HAILS EU DECISION TO LIFT BANBelgrade, 15 February 2000 (10:36 UTC+2)
Serbia's opposition has hailed the European Union's decision to lift its ban on commercial airline flights to and from Serbia for the next six months.
Zoran Djindjic, the leader of one of the main opposition parties, the Democratic Party, told the independent Beta news agency in Belgrade that the suspension was "a very important signal that shows that the democratic opposition in Serbia has obtained major international respect."
Vuk Draskovic, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, told the same agency he now expected an increase in humanitarian aid to Serbia and the end of the oil embargo.
The opposition has repeatedly asked the European Union to end the flight ban, arguing it hurt common Serbs more than it did the Yugoslav president, who is seen by the United States and its European allies as the main obstacle to Balkan peace.
 SUPER PROFITS FOR THE NATIONAL BANK OF GREECEBrussels, 15 February 2000 (18:04 UTC+2)
Belgian newspaper L'ECHO published a praising article on the National Bank of Greece underlining that its profits doubled in 1999 compared to the previous year.
The newspaper mentioned that the state-controlled National Bank of Greece Group had almost doubled its before taxes profit in 1999 compared to 1998.
An increase of 76% was recorded in the bank transactions, while there was a considerable increase of 70% in the bank's available capital.
 EU TO LIFT SERBIA FLIGHT BAN FOR SIX MONTHSBrussels, 15 February 2000 (10:36 UTC+2)
The European Union will lift its ban on commercial airline flights to and from Yugoslavia's republic of Serbia for the next six months, according to a decision taken at a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels yesterday.
The general director of JAT, Yugoslav air carrier, Zika Petrovic, stated last night that the airline was "completely ready" to resume flights to EU countries, albeit adding that he was waiting to see what conditions would be attached to suspension of the sanction.
 A GREEK-AMERICAN FILM DOCUMENTARY ON THE ASIA MINOR DISASTERBoston, 15 February 2000 (18:29 UTC+2)
"Smirni: The forgotten holocaust" is the title of a film documentary which is a Hellinas Multimedia production in cooperation with the Greek-American Culture Institute, a Boston based non profit organization.
The historical film documentary will present the 3.000 year history of Hellenism in Asia Minor and the disaster of Smirni (Ismir) through the testimonies of survivors, written and verbal testimonies and numerous family and archive photographs. The documentary will be filmed in different regions in Greece and Turkey.
 THE GREEK LOBBY INFLUENCES THE US CONGRESSWashington, 15 February 2000 (18:04 UTC+2)
The Greek lobby exerts a strong influence on the US Congress according to the US daily "Washington Post" adding that Israel and Taiwan are also among the countries that try to have a presence at the backstage of the US foreign policy through different companies that undertake to improve their image and promote their interests.
Furthermore, the newspaper report referred to the efforts made by the Pakistan lobbyists to secure a visit of US president Clinton to the country and the efforts made by Pakistan's nuclear rival India aimed at ruling out such a likelihood during the scheduled formal visit of the US president to India.
The newspaper writes that the final decision on the issue will depend less on the reports drawn up by Mr. Clinton's advisers and more on the power of the companies that are paid with huge sums of money to lobby for India and Pakistan in Washington.
 GREEK-AMERICAN QUESTIONNAIRE TO CANDIDATESWashington, 15 February 2000 (10:36 UTC+2)
The American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC) has sent a letter and questionnaire to the United States Democrat and Republican presidential candidates, seeking the candidates' response to the following six questions:
If elected President of the United States would your Administration:
1. Form a special relationship with Greece in accordance with Greece's status as the key regional nation for U.S. interests?
2. Publicly state that the maritime borders in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey have been delimited by international treaty and that, as far as international and U.S. law is concerned, there are no unresolved territorial disputes in the Aegean?
3. Publicly state that the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul should enjoy full religious and other freedoms, including the right to reopen the Halki School of Theology, and that any failure to achieve these objectives will be deemed a human rights violation?
4. Publicly acknowledge that it is a high priority for U.S. foreign policy to achieve a long-term resolution of the Cyprus problem consistent with fundamental American values, the rule of law and United Nations resolutions?
5. Direct the relevant U.S. departments to conduct a critical review of U.S. policy toward Turkey so that it is consistent with U.S. democratic and human rights principles?
6. Publicly welcome the decision of the European Union at its December 10-11, 1999 meeting in Helsinki to apply strict conditionality to Turkey's candidacy for EU accession and direct the relevant departments to provide regular public accounts of Turkey's progress in meeting this conditionality?
AHIPAC Chairman Mr. Nicholas E. Chimicles stated that with events moving fast in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, the next Administration will face important decisions about American relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.