|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-12-10
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GRUELING BARGAINING CONTINUES AT EU SUMMITNice, 10 December 2000 (20:50 UTC+2)
With everything pointing to a marathon session that could last until the wee hours of the morning, European Union leaders attending the Summit in Nice are still working very hard to reach a compromise on the EU's future structure.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has stated that negotiations are extremely difficult and ongoing.
The points of friction are the proposed reforms directly aiming at the way the EU will operate over the next decades in light of a projected doubling in the number of member-states.
According to Mr. Simitis, larger EU countries member-states are trying to force their position on weighted voting in order to prevent any dilution of their power following enlargement. Moreover, according to the Premier, negotiations were hampered by the efforts of France (which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency) to retain the status quo among the most populous member-states.
Several delegations at the crucial three-day EU summit in this French Riviera city immediately picked holes in France's draft proposal, which would reduce the influence of smaller countries in key policy-setting councils.
The draft also maintains the existing voting parity among Germany and other large nations, namely France, Italy and Britain.
The proposal was drawn up by French officials overnight after French President Jacques Chirac, the current EU chairman, held talks with each of the other EU leaders.
Chirac's proposal is a concrete stab at the major issue the EU leaders came here to resolve: streamlining the bloc's decision-making machinery so it can continue to function when up to a dozen new members, including several from the ex-communist east, are brought in over the next few years.
Failure to find an agreement before the summit ends could push the EU into a prolonged crisis and dash the hopes of Poles, Hungarians, Czechs and others seeking to join the bloc over the next two or three years.
Under the French proposal, the largest EU nations will have a proportionally louder voice in the union's policy-setting Council of Ministers.
In return, each of the bigger nations would agree to give up its second seat on the European Commission, so that every member can have a seat by 2005. Europe's major powers support a Commission with a limited number of members (around 20 members) as well as a system of alternating commissioners, while smaller countries, such as Greece, would prefer one commissioner representing each member-state.
With objections mounting, France has promised to come back with a revised draft later in the day, in order to try and overcome differences.
 GREEK PREMIER: NO BORDER CHANGES IN S.E. EUROPENice, 10 December 2000 (17:58 UTC+2)
During a press conference he gave in Nice on Friday night, Mr. Simitis referred to a number of key issues discussed at the European Council.
Speaking on the western Balkans, he stated that the European Council was also looking at the prospect of allowing regional countries to participate in the EU while stressing there would be no border changes in southeastern Europe.
The Premier also said that the EU undertakes its own initiatives concerning the proposed rapid intervention force for Europe and would advance the issue using its own means in consultation with NATO. He also said that the EU has its own foreign and defense policy and its own means to develop these policies.
Mr. Simitis stated that member-states assessed the progress made on Balkan issues and noted that positive comments were made regarding conclusions reached at the Zagreb summit between the EU and western Balkan states. He said the EU emphasized support for democracy, regional cooperation, the easing of tensions, the implementation of international law and the inviolability of existing borders.
The Premier also had a 30-minute meeting with French President Jacques Chirac on Friday night, which, according to diplomatic sources, was held in a good atmosphere.
 GREECE, US, RATIFY LEGAL ASSISTANCE TREATYAthens, 10 December 2000 (17:43 UTC+2)
The United States Senate has ratified a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLATA) with Greece, first signed last year between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his US counterpart Madeleine Albright.
The said agreement outlines bilateral law enforcement cooperation and allows for the exchange of information related to criminal investigations. It outlines cooperation in the area of law enforcement and will facilitate the exchange of information on evidence relating to criminal investigations into issues such as fraud in financial institutions, kidnapping and child exploitation.
We believe that this treaty is yet another example of the excellent cooperation between the United States and Greece in the law enforcement sector, US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said in referring to the ratification.
 HELLENIC-AMERICAN INSTITUTE AT GREEK PARLIAMENTAthens, 10 December 2000 (17:36 UTC+2)
The Presidium of the Hellenic-American Institute was received by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis last week, with whom they discussed what he called the United States' inconsistency toward the resolutions of the United Nations.
Mr. Kaklamanis stated that the US is inconsistent in supporting the implementation of UN resolutions, that they have signed, regarding the withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces in Cyprus.
Furthermore, the Speaker of the House stressed that the US with their interventions in Iraq and Kosovo created more problems that they solved, noting that the US may find themselves in Turkey in the same position as they found themselves overnight during the fall of the Iranian regime in 1979.
 GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER ON VISIT TO FYROMSkopje, 10 December 2000 (17:35 UTC+2)
A memorandum of understanding and a military cooperation agreement will be signed in Skopje today between the Defense Ministers of Greece and FYROM, Akis Tsochatzopoulos and Ljuben Paunoski, respectively.
According to press reports in FYROM, the Greek Defense Minister will be received by the President of FYROM Boris Traijkovski tomorrow, December 11, as well as by the country's Premier Ljubco Georgievski and new Foreign Minister Srdzan Kerim. Mr. Tsochatzopoulos will also visit Skopje's military hospital.
The Defense Minister is accompanied by a delegation of representatives from the Hellenic Arms Industry who will hold talks with the dean of FYROM's military academy and will visit the metal industry of Skopje.
 UNICEF HOLDS LOVE TELETHON FOR STREET CHILDRENThessaloniki, 10 December 2000 (17:34 UTC+2)
Greece's public television channel NET and UNICEF will hold a love telethon for street children tomorrow, December 11, which is officially designated as Street Children Day for this year.
According to UNICEF, hundreds of millions of children have to live, work and survive on city streets around the world, becoming easy prey to every kind of abuse and exploitation.
The live telethon will start at 6:00 p.m. and continue until the early hours of the next morning, with a number of guest stars and celebrities appearing.
Organizers have made great efforts to involve and sensitize young people to the plight of street children, with dozens of schools and citizens' groups contributing to the events, which will be covered by NET and ET1 reporters in Greece and all over the world.
Bank accounts for those wishing to contribute are:
National Bank of Greece: 169/480020-64
Commercial Bank of Greece: 031/80191081
Agricultural Bank of Greece: 017-04004416-70
 BALKAN MAYORS MEET IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 10 December 2000 (17:33 UTC+2)
The 1st International Meeting for Friendship and Cooperation was concluded in Thessaloniki yesterday, where thirty mayors from the largest municipalities in the Balkans met to discuss cooperation in culture, tourism and sports.
The mayors focused on the proposal for the creation of an international network of cities to foster solidarity and mutual support among municipal services, particularly for Balkan cities.
Thessaloniki Mayor and conference host Vassilis Papageorgopoulos initially proposed the idea, calling on his Balkan counterparts to also exploit funding through the European Union's Interreg III and Phare programs, as well as other international financing sources.
Mr. Papageorgopoulos also called for the creation of an executive secretariat run by a three-member committee to be comprised by the president of the Balkan mayors council and by the presidents of that served in the previous and upcoming terms.
Held under the initiative of the Thessaloniki Municipality, with the aim of creating a Balkan Inter-Municipal Cities Network, the conference was attended by the mayors of large cities from Greece, Turkey, FYROM, Albania, Romania, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as by European Commission officials.
 GREEK WOMAN HOSPITALIZED WITH CJD SYMPTOMSAthens, 10 December 2000 (17:31 UTC+2)
A 57-year-old woman is presently hospitalized at the Navy Hospital of Athens, believed to be suffering from a hereditary form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), thought to be the human form of mad cow disease whose scientific name is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
The woman has been in a coma for nearly two years. Doctors say that the case is not related to consumption of BSE-infected meat.
 RUSSIAN CRIME BOSS TO STAND TRIAL IN GREECEThessaloniki, 10 December 2000 (17:29 UTC+2)
An alleged Russian crime boss has been extradited to Greece where he will stand trial on charges of illegal weapons possession, according to press reports.
Vladimir Tatarenkov, 47, was arrested in northern Greece last year after Greek police received information from Interpol and found him in possession of six handguns and six hand grenades. He was extradited to Moscow in June for an investigation on murder charges.
After standing trial for weapons possession and serving a possible sentence in Greece, Tatarenkov will be returned to Russia to face charges for contract killings.
The extradition came during a visit to Moscow by Greece's chief prosecutor Panagiotis Dimopoulos, who discussed the case with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Ustinov.
 UN SECURITY COUNCIL GET UPDATE ON CYPRUS ISSUENicosia, 10 December 2000 (17:45 UTC+2)
UN Security Council members will be briefed tomorrow on the positions and views of the parties involved in the Cyprus issue by UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who has had contacts recently in Cyprus, Athens and Turkey.
The briefing takes place only days before the mandate of the UN peace- keeping force in Cyprus expires, at midnight on the 15th of December, and amid increasing concerns about the future of the UN-led proximity talks, following threats by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to leave the negotiating table unless his demands for recognition of the self-styled regime in Turkish-occupied Cyprus are met.