|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-04-06
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTY RALLIES WILL BE BROADCAST ON MPAThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (10:08 UTC+2)
Macedonian Press Agency broadcasts on the Internet, live and taped, the main political rallies of the five largest political parties at the address www.mpa.gr.
The broadcast of the political rallies on the cyberspace started on Monday, April 3 with the main political rally of the Democratic and Social Movement in Athens, New Democracy's in Thessaloniki, the Communist Party in Athens on April 5, New Democracy in Athens today and of PASOK also in Athens tomorrow.
 PM VOWS TO RAISE WAGES, DURING CAMPAIGN ADDRESSThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (10:18 UTC+2)
Prime Minister and ruling PASOK party leader Costas Simitis guaranteed wage rises considerably above inflation and vowed that the next four-year term will focus on a "welfare state", during an election campaign rally in the city of Kozani, western Macedonia, yesterday evening.
Lashing against the main opposition party of New Democracy and its leader Costas Karamanlis, Mr. Simitis reminded the crowd that during N.D.'s three-year tenure (1990-93) in power 2,000 people had lost their jobs in the area, but were reinstated by the succeeding PASOK government.
With Sunday's parliamentary elections fast approaching, M. Simitis is to go on-line today where he will field questions from the general public.
 THE WORLD ECONOMY WILL HAVE A GROWTH RATE OF 4% IN THE CURRENT YEARThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (18:24 UTC+2)
The world economy will have a growth rate of 4% in the current year, according to the International Monetary Fund, IMF, in its biannual report that will be published next week.
The IMF is concerned over the course of the Japanese economy that is unable to move ahead in spite of the efforts that are being made.
However, IMF director Stanley Fisher said that the existing favorable preconditions in the world economy constitute a good basis for the promotion of the necessary reforms, adding that new specifications must be in effect for the granting of loans as many cases of credit misuse have been recorded as for example, in the case of Russia.
 THE ILLEGAL TRADE OF IVORY AND FUR ACCUSATIONS AGAINST GREECE ARE UNFOUNDEDAthens, 6 April 2000 (18:19 UTC+2)
The accusations concerning the alleged illegal trade of ivory and fur through Greece were characterized as unfounded by Greek agriculture ministry forest department director Neoklitos Georgiadis responsible for the implementation of the United Nations CITEF agreement with Greece.
Speaking to MPA, Mr. Georgiadis stated that special interests and expediencies are behind the accusations included in a British "Royal Society for the protection of animals" report which characterizes Greece as one of the main gates for the illegal trade of ivory and fur which are protected by international agreements.
Mr. Georgiadis stated that the report issued by the British organization is malicious and the fact that it was issued just before the CITEF members conference scheduled to take place in Nairobi on April 10-20 is not accidental, adding that "many games are being played and many different interests are at stake".
 THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WILL TRAVEL TO THEIR PLACES OF ORIGIN TO VOTE ON SUNDAY'S ELECTIONSThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (18:09 UTC+2)
Hundreds of thousands of people will travel to their places of origin to vote on Sunday's parliamentary elections.
According to the Athens newspaper "TO ETHNOS", the governing socialist party of PASOK voters, who will have to travel to their places of origin are estimated at 300.000, while the right-wing opposition party of New Democracy also raises the number of its own voters that belong to this category at the same level. In a total of 1.250.000 voters that will have to move to different parts of the country to vote the two major parties have undertaken to cover the traveling expenses of half of them.
The number of PASOK voters that will travel by car increased by 100% compared to 1996. PASOK has reserved all the air tickets it is entitled to and four ships have been chartered to take its voters to the islands of Limnos, Chios, Mitilini and Crete. From its side, New Democracy has chartered one ship for the island of Chios and is now looking for more ships.
Regarding the voters who live abroad, it was made known that they will come from 25 countries mainly, from Cyprus and the big European countries.
In an extensive analysis the newspaper "TO ETHNOS", presented 84 scenarios on the April 9 election result, pointing out that even with a 0.01% lead, which is translated into just 1.700 votes, a party can form an independent government.
The newspaper "TO ETHNOS" considered 84 scenarios that are based on the electoral law, according to which the distance between the two parties ranges between 0.10% and 3.50%. Statistics specialists have conducted research according to which, the election winner can secure the absolute majority of the seats in parliament with a marginal lead of just 0.01%.
The distance between the two main rival parties can be small but when translated into parliamentary seats the distance between them becomes considerable. According to the newspaper, if one party has a lead of 0.10% secures over 151 seats and can have 38 deputies more compared to the second party in parliament.
 MARGINAL LOSSES OF 0.03% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 6 April 2000 (17:53 UTC+2)
The Athens Stock Exchange had marginal losses of 0.03% today and the general index was at 4.811,62 points. However, the volume of transactions was increased compared to yesterday at 157 billion drachmas.
According to most analysts, today's picture, that was characterized by slight fluctuations in the general index and a small purchase interest, will be repeated in tomorrow's session as well, the last one before Sunday's parliamentary elections.
Also, most of the analysts believe that the market will show an impressive recovery in the first weeks of summer when foreign institutional investors are expected to return to the Athens Stock Exchange.
 PRESIDENT STEPHANOPOULOS WILL VISIT ISRAEL AND PALESTINEAthens, 6 April 2000 (17:53 UTC+2)
Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos will be on a formal visit to Israel and Palestine on May 14-18.
Mr. Stephanopoulos will have contacts with the state and political leadership of Israel and Palestine, where he is scheduled to meet with president Yasser Arafat.
 THESSALONIKI'S JEWISH COMMUNITY DENOUNCES THE GERMAN PRESIDENT'S BEHAVIORThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (17:53 UTC+2)
Thessaloniki's Jewish Community feels deeply insulted by German president Johannes Rau's failure to lay a wreath at the Holocaust Monument during his visit to Thessaloniki yesterday. Jewish Community president Andreas Sefiha will communicate the fact to the American Jewish Community which has invited Mr. Rau to be one of the main speakers in its annual meeting organized to take place in Washington in May. Mr. Sefiha will also raise the issue in the American Jewish Community meeting which he will attend himself.
Mr. Sefiha in a press conference he gave today wondered if Mr. Rau's omission has offered the moral framework needed by the new generation of Germans who have a special interest to be oppose to any form of hatred, bigotry, human rights violations, barbarity and war.
Mr. Sefiha expressed his deep regret because Mr. Rau did not think that it is a moral obligation to honor the 50.000 Jews of Thessaloniki, making up 1/5 of the city's population before WWII, who were the victims of Nazi atrocities. He said that the least Mr. Rau could do would have been to lay a wreath at the monument for those innocent victims but instead he did not feel the need even for a verbal expression of regret.
The president of Thessaloniki's Jewish Community also stressed that he regards as hypocritical the apology given by German officials for the Jewish Holocaust, adding that apologies from now on will be regarded as hypocritical and not acceptable, stressing that the issue is purely ethical.
To the question on the war reparations requested by Greece for the Nazi victims, Mr. Sefiha stated that the issue is not the reparations themselves, adding that if they want to pay reparations to feel better they can do it. He said that himself could never ask for compensation, stressing that he regards as unethical to change into money the deaths of Thessaloniki's 50.000 Jews. However, Mr. Sefiha believes that it is an obligation for the remaining Jews in Thessaloniki to demand the return of the ransoms they paid to the Germans during the Nazi occupation of Greece in order to save their relatives from forced labor. It should be reminded that the Germans had asked for 50 million DM from the Jews to exempt them from forced labor and they managed to get 40 million.
Finally, the president of Thessaloniki's Jewish Community announced that last November there was a secret operation for the rescue of 78 Jews from Dagestan with the help of Norwegians and in honor of Thessaloniki's Jewish Community the operation was named Freedom Flight Thessaloniki. The Jews from Dagestan were taken to Israel and later followed more rescue operations.
 GREEK WOMAN BOMB EXPERT FIRST IN EUROPEThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (15:10 UTC+2)
She's young, smart, capable and beautiful, and a mother of two to boot, yet what she does for a living would make most men run scared.
Penelope Nafti is a bomb expert, a 12-year member of the Attica Police Headquarters' Bomb Squad and Europe's only woman to hold such a hazardous post, with the exception of England's army which also has female bomb experts.
Ms. Nafti, a bomb location and diffusion expert, has been decorated by the Italian police for her assistance in the arrest of a suspect.
 ELECTORAL SYSTEM: PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATIONThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (14:19 UTC+2)
Greece's electoral system, providing the basis on which the country's parliamentary elections of April 9, 2000, will take place, is a system of reinforced proportional representation, in consecutive distributions of seats.
There is a three-percent threshold for entering the 300-seat parliament. At the end of three distributions of seats (see below) a further "smoothing out" process is applied to ensure that each party crossing the threshold has a minimum of 70% of the seats corresponding to its percentage of the vote.
Of the parliament's total seats, 288 are allocated to parties through the three consecutive distributions and the smoothing out process. The 12 seats occupied by state deputies are distributed directly to the parties, by the Simple Proportional System, in which the entire country is regarded as a single constituency. In the Single Seat constituencies, the system is practically "first-past-the-post". For the purpose of distribution of seats the country is divided into:
A. First Distribution: Fifty-six electoral regions where the eligibility rate is calculated by the so-called "plus one" system (dividing 100% by N+1, where N is the number of the seats in each region, rather than dividing 100% by N.)
B. Second Distribution: Thirteen major regions for the seats not yet allocated in the first distribution process.
C. Third Distribution: A single nationwide region for the rest of the seats not yet allocated. The winning party is practically certain to secure absolute majority of seats in Parliament, even with a slight lead over the second party. It may fall just short of absolute majority if several factors combine, for example: if first and second parties fall below 40% and within less that 0,5% of each other; third party exceeds 10% of vote nationwide, and at least four smaller parties secure over 3% each.
 EU TRADE COMMISSIONER SPEAKS TO MPAThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (14:07 UTC+2)
The application of electronic trade is the "key" to the survival of small-to-medium enterprises in a unified Europe, according to the European Union's Trade Commissioner Pascal Lemy.
In an interview with the Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Lemy stated that the SME's flexibility stemming from their size, can work to their advantage when it comes to surviving the competition with international powerhouses.
"The European Commission tries to assist the SMEs in gaining access to funding and networks, so that they may maximize the benefits that arise from their small size and flexible structure," he stated, pointing to electronic trade as one of the ways to facilitate the SMEs.
Regarding the basic axes of the Commission's trade policy for 2000, Mr. Lamy stated that, to start with, emphasis will be given to the start of a new round of negotiations over global trade issues, concurrent with a series of regional and bilateral talks with various countries, in order to resolve the hurdles that arise from multilateral trade relations.
"Our aim is to embody trade in the European Union's development policy," he said.
 FIRE RAVAGES SAMOS ISLAND, ARSON SUSPECTEDThessaloniki, 6 April 2000 (12:55 UTC+2)
A state of emergency has been declared on Samos, where blazing fires that broke out yesterday afternoon continue to sweep throughout the island, turning thousands of acres to ash.
The Public Order Ministry's secretary-general is presently at the island, along with the chief of the fire department, while the Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos, also at Samos, expressed his suspicion of arson.
 ANOTHER GREEK-AMERICAN WINS SENATE PRIMARYWashington, 6 April 2000 (11:09 UTC+2)
Following the trail of US senators Paul Sarbanis and Olympia Snowe, another Greek-American, Ron Klink (D-Pennylvania) has won his state's senate primary, ready to challenge the re-election of Republican Senator Rick Santorum.
The 48-year-old Klink, whose roots are from the Dodekanese cluster of islands, easily won the statewide race among six candidates, receiving 43 percent of the votes.