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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-02-23
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 FIRST PRE-ELECTION POLL IS OUT, PASOK IS AHEADAthens, 23 February 2000 (12:48 UTC+2)
A nationwide poll, the first to be held since the pre-election period was declared, shows the ruling PASOK party as being ahead of the main opposition of New Democracy by 2.6 percentage points, according to the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia".
Specifically, the poll, conducted by "Opinion", shows PASOK as having amassed 36.3% of the respondents' preferences and New Democracy having 33.7 percent. The Communist Party of Greece was favored by 5.3%, followed by the Democratic and Social Movement with 3.4%, Coalition of the Left and Progress with 3.2%, the Liberals with .6% and Political Spring with .5%.
About a fourth of the respondents, 24%, stated that they will make up their minds over whom they will vote for a few days before the elections, while 17% have stated that they have yet to decide.
 BULGARIAN PM REFUTES GREEK PRESS REPORTSofia, 23 February 2000 (11:12 UTC+2)
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Ivan Kostov has denied a Greek press report which claimed that a crisis had broken out lately in Greek-Bulgarian relations due to problems arising in negotiations concerning the sale of the Bulgarian telecommunications organization BTK to a joint venture comprising the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and the Dutch KPN firm.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Kostov stated that relations between the two countries are good and that the essence of the article published by the Greek Sunday newspaper "To Vima" does not correspond with reality.
The article claimed that a crisis had developed between the two countries following a letter addressed to the Greek premier Costas Simitis from his Bulgarian counterpart.
Mr. Kostov stated that his letter includes no word of cancellation of the BTK sale.
Furthermore, a statement by the Bulgarian government said that no reference was made to negotiations for BTK's sale during the private meeting Mr. Kostov had with Mr. Simitis on the sidelines of the recent Balkan summit in Bucharest.
According to Mr. Kostov, the pending matters concerning the BTK's sale concern the desire of the Bulgaria's ministries of defense and interior to receive full guarantees that they will be able to use the systems already installed.
Lastly, the Bulgarian premier stated that the ties between the two countries should not be determined by their participation in a privatization process and added that both Greece and Bulgaria share many common interests, may they be in foreign policy or economic.
 GREEK-CZECH COUNCIL IN THESSALONIKI TODAYThessaloniki, 23 February 2000 (09:46 UTC+2)
The formal opening of the Greek-Czech Council will take place in Thessaloniki today, in the presence of Greek foreign minister George Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Gan Kavan, as well as the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis.
A protocol of cooperation for the reconstruction of the Balkans within the framework of the Stability Pact in the region will be signed by the Inter-Balkan and Black Sea Business Center and the Czech-Greek Chamber of Commerce in the presence of the responsible government ministers and businessmen from both countries.
 NATO CHIEF IN GREECE TOMORROWAthens, 23 February 2000 (09:46 UTC+2)
NATO secretary-general George Robertson will visit Greece tomorrow, where he will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos.
Mr. Robertson is reportedly bringing a recommencement of NATO initiatives for the creation of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between Greece and Turkey, as well as talks on the latest developments in the Balkans.
In his meeting with Mr. Robertson, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos will stress the need to implement the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement of 1988 on CBMs between Athens and Ankara, which he has characterized as "an excellent basis for discussion."
The developments in Kosovo and Montenegro are also expected to come high on the agenda of Robertson's meetings. Officials will examine the work of the KFOR multinational force and its prospects, as well as the rising tensions in Montenegro.
 THE ANCIENT GREEK LANGUAGE IN THE MICROSOFT COMPUTERSAthens, 23 February 2000 (18:39 UTC+2)
The ancient Greek language will be included in the Microsoft computers and specifically in its new Windows 2000 program.
In a correspondence from Athens, the newspaper Wall Street Journal writes that it is the first time that the computer systems of Microsoft support the ancient Greek language which has stopped being spoken many centuries ago. The Microsoft now offers the capability to its users around the world to use the characters of the ancient Greek alphabet.
The company admits that the market for this software is very limited, at least from a financial point of view, as it can be used only by classical studies departments in universities and the clerics of the Greek Orthodox Church.
 INFLATION WILL BE AT 2.2% IN FEBRUARYAthens, 23 February 2000 (18:39 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece will be at 2.2% in the month of February, according to the responsible economic agencies. The small increase is the result of the big rise in the fuel prices that affected greatly the cost-of-living index.
The inflation rate increase will not affect the Greek efforts aimed at meeting the convergence criterion on inflation.
 MR. TSOCHATZOPOULOS IS OPTIMISTIC ON THE COURSE OF NATIONAL ISSUESAthens, 23 February 2000 (18:38 UTC+2)
Greece has the ability to deal in the best possible way with the threat coming from the east and defend democracy, stated minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos speaking today in the two-day conference organized by the Greek Military School on "The military science and art in the third millennium".
He said that after the Helsinki agreement it is obvious that the unilateral demands on behalf of Turkey can be invalidated, no one can stop Cyprus' accession into the EU, while there is a will by the international community to impose a change in the position of Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot community. He also said that Turkey has to adjust and change on a number of issues if it wants to become an EU member.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos referred to the peaceful and stabilizing role Greece is playing in the Balkans and pointed out that this role is being reinforced with the strengthening of its defense
 GREEK PEACE COMMITTEES IN YUGOSLAVIAThessaloniki, 23 February 2000 (18:38 UTC+2)
A humanitarian aid mission for the refugees in Yugoslavia took place on February 11-13 organized by Greek peace committees.
The organizers of the mission distributed 6 tons of food to a refugee camp hosting 700 people from Bosnia, Krajna and Kosovo, while about half a ton of medical and pharmaceutical supplies were sent to a Belgrade hospital.
 LOSSES OF 0.23% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 23 February 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
The Athens Stock Exchange closed with losses of 0.23% today overturning the high expectations that had been created in the opening of the session.
The general index closed below the 5.100 points mark at 5.097. 50, while the volume of transactions remained low under 158.4 billion drachmas.
Among the basic characteristics of today's session were the strong fluctuations recorded in the secondary indexes which had big losses with the exception of the banks.
 GREEK-CZECH COOPERATION IN SE EUROPEThessaloniki, 23 February 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou and his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan signed a Greek-Czech memorandum of cooperation in south-eastern Europe in the ministry of Macedonia-Thrace in Thessaloniki today in the presence of minister of Macedonia-Thrace Yiannis Magriotis.
The three ministers characterized the day as historical for the development of bilateral relations and the improvement of cooperation in the Balkans that started with the crisis in Kosovo.
The Czech foreign minister stated that the current trade transactions between the two countries are estimated at US$ 150 million a year while the exports of Czech products to Greece are slightly bigger than the Greek imports. The Czech minister is accompanied by a 20member delegation of businessmen who will have contacts with their Greek colleagues.
Mr. Kavan invited Mr. Papandreou to visit the Czech Republic and stated that the Czech prime minister will visit Greece accompanied by a business delegation.
 THE FUTURE LOOKS GOOD FOR «MACEDONIA» AIRPORTThessaloniki, 23 February 2000 (13:46 UTC+2)
Projects amounting to 89.8 billion drachmas are to be offered for bidding this year, concerning the upgrading of Thessaloniki's "Macedonia" airport into an international facility that will serve over nine million passengers on an annual basis, according to the Minister of Environment, Public Works and City Planning Costas Laliotis.
A series of projects has been mapped out for the next five-year period, totaling a cost of 71.3 billion drachmas.
Over three-and-a-half million passengers traveled through the Macedonia airport last year, 58% of whom were on foreign flights and 42% on domestic.
 GREEKS PRONE TO WORK-RELATED STRESSThessaloniki, 23 February 2000 (13:15 UTC+2)
Half of Greece's labor force is suffering from work-related stress and 80 percent believe that work is affecting their health, according to a study conducted by the Dublin Institute for the improvement of working conditions.
According to the study, 47 percent of those surveyed was found to inhale chemicals at work, while 32 percent come in contact with dangerous substances.
Concurrently, according to 33-year-old comparative data compiled by the Labor Ministry and the Foundation of Social Insurance, in cooperation with the Greek Institute of Work Sanitation and Security (GIWSS), job-related health risks remain at a high level, in spite of the progress noted in the past 20-year span.
GIWSS is to enforce a series of incentives for those firms which employ health safety and job security measures.
 CENTENNIAL OF SEFERIS BIRTH COMMEMORATEDAthens, 23 February 2000 (13:05 UTC+2)
With 2000 having been declared The Year of Seferis, marking the centennial anniversary since the birth of Greece's renowned poet George Seferis, a series of events are to be held in his honor at the United Kingdom and Germany, organized by the Hellenic Culture Foundation chapters in both of these countries.
Specifically, there will be a series of events associated with the life of the man who is regarded by many as the greatest Greek poet of the 20th century, with three to take place in Germany on February 29, the anniversary of the nobel laureate's birth.
A reading of several of Seferis' best-known poems will take place in Berlin, while an exhibition of the first editions of his works in Greek, English and German and a photo exhibition will also be inaugurated.
The events are sponsored by the Athens-based Gennadios Library and the National Bank of Greece's Education Foundation.
In Munich, a trio of contemporary Greek writers will present Seferis' works at the city Literaturhaus, to be followed by a musical program featuring well-known scores based on the Greek writer's poems.
In London, Seferis biographer Roddy Beaton and translator Edmund Keeley, along with the BBC's Greek-language program, will organize events in May. Titled "George Seferis in London", the events will be hosted at the Greek ambassador's residence, the Purcell Room South Bank Center and the Hellenic Center.
Swiss newspapers have also published a series of articles honoring the Greek poet.
Seferis, born in Smyrna, Asia Minor, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1963.
 ROBERTSON ON THE GREEK-TURKISH RAPPROCHEMENTLondon, 23 February 2000 (18:38 UTC+2)
The belief that the new spirit which characterizes the Greek-Turkish relations will give fruit was expressed by NATO secretary general George Robertson in an interview with the BBC radio. Mr. Robertson also stated that the 1988 Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum limiting the military exercises and flights in the Aegean is the best basis for the development of confidence-building-measures between the two countries.
Mr. Robertson stated that the basis set by the Papoulias-Yilmaz agreement is the best route for progress. He said that at this period the two countries are close to overcoming previous problems and find a way to move ahead. He also stated that the continuation of bilateral dialogue is the most appropriate way for the improvement of the Greek-Turkish relations.
 EMU C/TE RECOGNIZES GREEK ECONOMYS PROGRESSBrussels, 23 February 2000 (11:03 UTC+2)
The members of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Committee who received the presentation of Greece's economy by Minister of National Economy and Finance Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday, spoke of the positive outlook of the Greek economy and of the progress already made.
Presenting the government's economic strategy and promoting the ASE, Mr. Papantoniou stated that Greece will have fulfilled all five convergence criteria for accession to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by early March, when the country is expected to submit its formal application to participate in EMU.
The presentation garnered positive comments from most members, while the Committee's chairperson hailed the Greek economy as "an example to be followed by countries wishing to enter the EMU".
 GEORGE BUSH JUNIOR WILL RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE BY THE TURKSWashington, 23 February 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
Texas governor George Bush Junior, who is a Republican candidate for the US presidency, in a letter addressed to his former fellow-students at Harvard University Edgar Hagopian and Vasken Setrakian wrote that he is in favor of the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the Turks.
Mr. Bush pointed out in his letter that the Armenians have suffered the first genocide in the 20th century and promised that if he is elected to the US presidency he will see to it that the United Stares will recognize the tragic suffering of the Armenian people in the appropriate way.
 SAE PROTESTS US, T/C ACADEMIC COOPERATIONChicago, 23 February 2000 (10:11 UTC+2)
The Council of Greeks Abroad (SAE) condemns US Central Connecticut State University's plans to collaborate with an illegal university in the Turkish- occupied northern part of Cyprus.
According to a statement by SAE, the US University has concluded a protocol for mutual cooperation and collaboration with the illegal Turkish Cypriot "eastern Mediterranean university".
SAE has called on all Greeks living abroad or in Greece, to protest the said cooperation.