|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-12-14
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 COOK CONDEMNS N17 ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY SLAYINGLondon, 14 December 2000 (11:28 UTC+2)
Shortly after yesterday's publication of a proclamation where the notorious "November 17" (N17) terrorist group called the June slaying of British diplomat Stephen Saunders its "most important act in 25 years of violence", British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook harshly condemned the group's attempt to "justify murder."
"I strongly condemn (N17's) attempt to justify their murder," he stated in a televised statement to the BBC, adding that "we are working closely with the Greek police in their effort to bring these callous murderers to justice. We will not rest until this happens."
As for the group's assertion that Brig. Saunders played a key role in British "imperialist interventions and wars", including the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Secretary Cook stressed that the victim had no role in planning the NATO campaign and was based in Kuwait as part of a U.N. observer mission when the bombing began in March 1999.
British Foreign Ministry officials have told the BBC's Greek service that the British government will not embark on a dialogue with terrorists, hence the conciseness of Secretary Cook's statement.
Brig. Saunders' widow, Heather, also condemned the N17 proclamation, stating that the terrorists are trying to issue a justification for her husband's assassination, which was completely unjust.
"Stephen was completely innocent," Mrs. Saunders stressed.
 ABDUCTED UN OBSERVERS RELEASED, BOTH ARE WELLAthens, 14 December 2000 (11:09 UTC+2)
Abductors in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia province have released the two UN observers, a Greek infantry captain and a Polish colonel, who were kept captive since Sunday morning.
Released unharmed yesterday evening, the two observers were abducted on Sunday while on a mission 50 kilometers southeast of Sokhumi, Georgia.
The Greek man was identified as Efstathios Kokkinidis from Thessaloniki. Both he and the Polish colonel are presently under the care of Georgian authorities.
According to reports, the abductors' identity has not been released and it remains unknown if they were given ransom.
The negotiations were handled by an envoy of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and a representative of the President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze.
 ILLEGAL MIGRANTS TO BE GIVEN SECOND CHANCEAthens, 14 December 2000 (10:57 UTC+2)
Migrants residing illegally in Greece will be given a second chance to acquire legal status, according to a draft immigration bill that was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
The bill, tabled by Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou, concerns about 500,000 illegal immigrants who failed to join in the legalization process initiated three years ago and will now acquire the right to register for residence and work permits.
This will apply to all illegal immigrants who can prove that they have lived in Greece since November 15, 1998 at the latest. Applicants for legal status will be able to contact the authorities within two months from the time the bill is passed in Parliament.
Furthermore, under the draft bill, police stations will no longer handle the issuing of legal documentation to immigrants as this procedure has been delegated to regional authorities.
There will be a 50,000 drachma fee for 12-month residence permits, while a permit for up to six years will cost 150,000 drachmas and a permit for more than six years will cost 300,000. Those foreign nationals residing in Greece and wanting to apply for Greek nationality will have to pay a fee of 500,000 drachmas.
 MAYOR OF ATHENS DIMITRIS AVRAMOPOULOS ANNOUNCED THE CREATION OF A NEW POLITICAL PARTYAthens, 14 December 2000 (20:21 UTC+2)
Mayor of Athens Dimitris Avramopoulos announced his intention to form a new political party. In a televised address from the Athens City Hall he stated that the founding charter and the name of his party will be announced in the next few months.
Mr. Avramopoulos, who comes from the ranks of the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy, stated that the big political parties do not have anything more to offer and it is time for a change in the Greek political scene.
 THE "ATHENS 2004" REVENUES WILL BE LARGER THAN IN ANY OTHER OLYMPIADAthens, 14 December 2000 (19:59 UTC+2)
The "Athens 2004" revenues from the radio and television coverage of the Olympic Games in Athens are estimated to be US$ 800 million.
The revenues coming from the television rights represent 42% of its overall revenues which means that they will be the largest source of financing. The collection of the money will take place gradually. It is estimated that 29% of the revenues will be collected in the period of 2001-2003 and the rest in 2004.
The US television network NBC has already paid the first installment of US$ 9.7 million, while by the end of January 2001 it will pay the next installment of US$ 48.6 million.
 THE CONFERENCE FOR THE SELECTION OF THE GREEK YOUTH EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 14 December 2000 (19:04 UTC+2)
The National Conference for the selection of the Greek Youth European Parliament will start in Thessaloniki tomorrow and will be completed on Sunday.
The conference will be attended by 80 students and 10 of them will be chosen to represent Greece in the 36th International Summit of the Youth European parliament in Stockholm next spring.
The European Youth Parliament is a non profit association based in England and its goal is to hold meetings for the young patterned upon the European Parliament meetings. It is formally represented in Greece for the past 6 years by the non profit association Greek Youth European Parliament.
 SIMITIS SENT CONGRATULATORY LETTER TO THE NEW US PRESIDENTAthens, 14 December 2000 (18:23 UTC+2)
In a letter to George Bush Jr., the new president of the United States, Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis expressed to him the congratulations of the Greek government for his election to the post.
In the letter, Mr. Simitis pointed out that the long and close cooperation relations between the United States and Greece will be further improved and expanded during his presidency. He also added that he is looking forward to the cooperation with the new US president for the promotion of peace, stability and the democratic values in the region for the prosperity of the peoples in the region.
 THE PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS CONFERENCE TO THE FOREIGN PRESS CORRESPONDENTSAthens, 14 December 2000 (18:14 UTC+2)
Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis presented the current political situation and the targets set by the government in the press conference he gave to the foreign press correspondents in Athens today.
The prime minister stressed that Greece seeks to strengthen its economy, improve its international position and achieve social cohesion. He appeared satisfied with Greece's accession into the Euro-zone and stressed that the Helsinki summit conclusions were reflected in the EU-Turkey partnership relation text, while on the social policy he underlined that the goal of the government is the convergence with the living standards of the European partners.
On the economy, Mr. Simitis stressed that Greece has made decisive steps in spite of the fact that the times were difficult as a result of the oil crisis. He also noted that by the end of the year the Euro will be equal to 340.75 drachmas, adding that the entry of the Euro into the lives of the Greeks is a historic event and a big success.
On the developments in the sector of foreign policy, he pointed out that the EU-Turkey partnership relation text sets the framework of the relations of the EU with the candidate for membership states as it was expressed in the Helsinki summit meeting. The partnership relation makes it necessary for Turkey to adjust to the European standards and rules of contact both domestically and in its international relations. The prime minister also said that the course toward the partnership relation from Helsinki until recently, proves that Greece is a pole of stability, and a power of stability and peace in the region, stressing that Greece safeguards not only its national interests but peace and cooperation in the region.
On the issue of terrorism, he said that the government has an open front against terrorism, it condemns it and will do everything possible to eliminate it. He said that terrorism is an arbitrary and barbaric act showing total disregard for the people. Mr. Simitis stated that a draft bill will be tabled by the end of the month which will not affect the rights of the people and will introduce quick procedures against terrorism. Greece is in cooperation on that issue with other countries among them the United States and Britain. He said that the Olympic Games in Barcelona were held in total safety even though there is a terrorism problem in Spain. However, he said, in Atlanta, where there was no such problem a terrorist act did occur, stressing that the Olympic Games in Athens will be held in absolute safety.
 GAINS IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 14 December 2000 (16:48 UTC+2)
Big gains of 2.58% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index was at 3.588,84 points, while the volume of transactions was 115.71 billion drachmas.
Even the most optimistic did not expect such a big rise but the change in the climate came from the bank stocks. According to analysts, this reaction is expected to continue tomorrow.
 DEFENSE MINISTER ON EUROFIGHTER IN PARLIAMENTAthens, 14 December 2000 (14:31 UTC+2)
Unless Greece is assured that its terms on the Eurofighter aircraft purchase contract are met, for the co-production of the aircraft by Greek companies, it will not sign the pertinent contract, Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos told the Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.
The deal, worth 1.7 trillion drachmas, is the result of a construction consortium comprising Britain's BAE Systems, Germany's DASA, Italy's Alenia and Spain's CASA. Greece intends to participate with a 13-percent stake.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that a 30% down payment will be given for the purchase, with a ten-percent rate increase annually until 2005, when the aircraft are slated for delivery. The Defense Minister also clarified that the Eurofighter could be delivered to the consortium's other members as soon as the year 2002, but, since Greece opted for a more advanced type of Eurofighter, its delivery date was longer.
 GREECE SIGNS UN ACCORD AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIMEPalermo, 14 December 2000 (14:30 UTC+2)
Greece signed the United Nations accord aimed at fighting organized crime, during a UN conference held in Palermo, Sicily, yesterday.
Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos, who represented Greece during the event, stated that this conference is a watershed in the battle against organized crime.
So far, 140 of the 189 countries participating at the conference have signed the treaty.
 MEXICAN WOMAN GANG RAPED, ROBBED IN N. GREECEThessaloniki, 14 December 2000 (13:05 UTC+2)
Halkidiki police authorities have charged a young store owner and four Albanian nationals with the gang rape and robbery of a Mexican woman who works as a bar waitress in this northern Greek peninsula.
According to the woman, the attack took place six days ago when the store owner offered her a ride to the restaurant. Instead, she reported, she was repeatedly raped by the driver and two unknown passengers (identified as Albanians), who also robbed her of 44 thousand drachmas.
Following the attack inside the car, the store owner drove her to a nearby beach where she was raped by two more men, also identified as Albanians.
 TSOCHATZOPOULOS: INTERNATIONAL LAW MUST BE IMPLEMENTED IN KOSOVOBelgrade, 14 December 2000 (16:30 UTC+2)
The alarming developments in the administrative borders of Serbia with Kosovo were discussed in the meeting of Greek defense minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos with his Yugoslav counterpart Slobodan Krapovic.
Both ministers stated that the situation is unacceptable and measures must be taken for stability and security in the region. Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that international law and the UN Security Council decisions on Kosovo must be implemented and there must be cooperation with KFOR.
The Yugoslav minister of defense stated that during the meeting he found that Greece and the EU show great understanding regarding what is going on in southern Serbia and this fact offers more possibilities for a solution to the problem that will be acceptable by Yugoslavia.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that Greece offers complete political support to Yugoslavia and stressed the need for cooperation in the defense and military sector as well as in the initiatives for regional stability and security in the Balkans.
 TSOCHATZOPOULOS-DJINJIC MEETINGBelgrade, 14 December 2000 (16:17 UTC+2)
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia prime minister Zoran Djinjic issued an appeal to the UN to make the terrorists move away from the security zone around Kosovo. The appeal was issued immediately after the meeting he had with Greek minister of defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos.
Mr. Djinjic accused KFOR of not using all the authority given to it by the UN Security Council to stop the action of terrorists, underlining that it is the UN that should give ultimatums to the terrorists and not Yugoslavia.
He said that the FRY wants the problem to be solved through political and diplomatic means even though it can use other means as well to solve it quickly.
From his side, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos said that a clear message must be sent to every direction that the emergence of a new terrorism and the destabilization in the Balkans will not be accepted. He said that Greece with its participation in KFOR, the EU and NATO will contribute to the protection of the democratic principles, the human rights and international law in Kosovo, while it will also contribute to the preservation of the existing borders.
The Yugoslav prime minister authorized Mr. Tsochatzopoulos to convey an invitation to prime minister Kostas Simitis to visit Belgrade. During their meeting they also discussed the visit of Yugoslav president Voislav Kostunica to Athens and Mr. Djinjic expressed his support to the Defense Cooperation Agreement that will be signed by the defense ministers of the two countries.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that he had a good dialogue with his counterpart toward this direction and added that the Greek government backs politically the reforms made by the new Yugoslav leadership while he underlined that a similar support comes from the EU and NATO countries.
 EVENTS IN HONOR OF GIORGOS SEFERIS IN LONDONLondon, 14 December 2000 (18:37 UTC+2)
A number of events in honor of Greek poet Giorgos Seferis were held in London on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Nobel laureate. A memorial tablet was unveiled in his honor at the ambassador's residence where the poet and Greek ambassador lived for a number of years. The unveiling was made by Greece 's ambassador to London Alexandros Sandis.
In the ceremony, that is placed within the framework of a series of events under the title "Greece in Britain", were present leading personalities like, Lord Jellico, Anglo-Hellenic League chairman and former ambassador of Britain to Athens Sir David Miers, former British ambassador to Athens Sir Peregrine Rhodes and many others.