|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-12-23
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE YOUTH ORGANIZATION OF NEW DEMOCRACY ORGANIZED AN EVENT IN KORCEThessaloniki, 23 December 2000 (17:52 UTC+2)
Books and writing material were delivered to the cultural center in Korce, Albania by Thessaloniki's youth organization of Greek right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy. In a statement it has issued, the organization mentions that those who visited Korce had the opportunity to see for themselves that the Greek minority is hungry for Greek education.
It is also mentioned that every initiative that backs the Greek communities and human rights must be the basic element of a serious national policy.
 THE NEW BUDGET WAS PASSED IN PARLIAMENT LATE LAST NIGHTAthens, 23 December 2000 (16:39 UTC+2)
The 2001 budget was passed in parliament last night with 157 votes in favor after an open vote which is traditionally regarded as a vote of confidence for the government. Against the new budget were 141 parliament deputies from the opposition parties of New Democracy, Coalition of the Left and the Communist Party.
Prime minister Kostas Simitis sated that the new budget is of historic importance. He said that it is the first Greek budget since the country became part of the Euro-zone and it will be a budget that will promote decisively the true convergence namely, the prosperity of more people as well as the social convergence and cohesion. The prime minister concluded that a decisive work will be done toward these goals.
 MAFIA LEADER BRUTEDINO WILL BE EXTRADITED TO ITALYThessaloniki, 23 December 2000 (16:32 UTC+2)
A warrant for the temporary detainment of Italian Mafia leading member Francesco Brutedino was issued by the prosecutor's office in Thessaloniki aimed at his extradition to his country.
The 52yearold Mafioso was arrested in a supermarket in Thessaloniki after a coordinated operation by the Greek police, the Interpol and the Italian "anti-Mafia" agency. He was wanted for the past 5 years and he is regarded as the leader of the so-called "Sacra Corona" Mafia in southern Italy.
The leading Italian Mafia man was involved in cigarette smuggling, illegal weapons trade and extortion cases.
 FOREIGN MINISTER PAPANDREOU'S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MPAAthens, 23 December 2000 (16:18 UTC+2)
In an exclusive interview with MPA foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou referred to the Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue, the Balkans, the Middle East and the role of Thessaloniki in the region.
Mr. Papandreou stated that the new US administration will be less active on issues concerning the US involvement in international crises and particularly, as far as peace-keeping forces are concerned it will be especially cautious. He said that the gradual withdrawal of their forces from the Balkans are in their plans, adding that this will not happen unilaterally but it consultation with the EU partners. Mr. Papandreou estimated that the US forces' withdrawal will take about 5 to 10 years.
On the Cyprus problem and earlier statements made by US vice-president Dick Cheney that the issue must close some how, he said that the UN decisions are the framework for any solution in Cyprus.
He said that the procedure for the accession of the Balkan countries into the EU is a "road map" helping those countries to change in a step-by-step manner and adjust to the European standards. He added that this development will be among the basic stabilization factors in the Balkans.
On the role of Thessaloniki in the Balkans, he said that it has been consolidated on behalf of the European Union. The Organization for the Balkan Reconstruction, the Stability Pact Office and the European Organization for Vocational Training are based in Thessaloniki, while Balkan ministers discuss the creation of a Balkan University in the city. He also said that the 2003 European Council is scheduled to take place in Thessaloniki.
On the Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Papandreou stated that Greece's choice is the planning of a long-term policy that will not be based on the sentimentality of today but on the serious evaluation of the Greek interests. Turkey's bid for EU membership, the stable relations and the European course followed by the Cyprus issue are the results of the important Helsinki decisions that offer great opportunities for changes which, however, can not be guaranteed. Mr. Papandreou stated that Greece is no longer the scapegoat which was always accused of blocking the EU-Turkey relations and this recognition is of great help to Greece in the diplomatic field. He also stated that the agreements with Turkey will be ratified by the Greek parliament in the winter or the spring of 2001.
On the initiatives undertaken in the Balkans, Mr. Papandreou stated that he will receive ministers from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Athens soon, while the Summit meeting will take place in Skopje.
Mr. Papandreou also said that the priority of Greece's foreign policy is the further improvement of the relations with the Middle East countries. He said that Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis have called on Greece for greater involvement in the Middle East peace process and already consultations have been made with Arab ambassadors. He said that he will make a number of visits to the Middle East and his first stops will be Egypt and Syria. Mr. Papandreou also stated that Greece will contribute to the peace efforts through its initiatives, while the "Athens initiative" will be activated with high-level meetings of Palestinians and Israelis, as both sides have called for the revival of this initiative.
 GREEK-BULGARIAN CROSS-BORDER COOPERATIONSofia, 23 December 2000 (18:06 UTC+2)
A Greek-Bulgarian cross-border cooperation meeting was held in the Bulgarian resort of Pomborovo with the participation of representatives of Bulgaria's political world and local administration. On behalf of the Greek side the participants were addressed by Keramoti mayor Mr. Marinakis.
As it was stressed by the speakers, Bulgaria has already absorbed the sum of 150 million Euro within the framework of the cross-border cooperation and specifically, for the establishment of European specifications in the sectors of road tolls, motor-ways and infrastructure.
Also, it was decided that the prefecture councilors in the prefectures of Smolian and Xanthi will study joint projects on cross-border cooperation within the framework of the European program Interreg 3. In addition, will be examined environmental issues, and issues concerning infrastructures, medical care and education.
 ATHENS IS THE 5TH SAFEST CITY IN EUROPENew York, 23 December 2000 (17:19 UTC+2)
According to the US magazine "Fortune" only four European cities have a smaller crime rate than Athens namely, Prague, Vienna, Copenhagen and Helsinki. Specifically, based on a research conducted in 1997 by the economic advisers "Arthur Andersen" company which was published by the US magazine, only 79 criminal acts correspond to every 100.000 people in the city where the 2004 Olympic Games will take place.
It is characteristic that in Barcelona, where the 1992 Olympic Games were held, correspond 290 criminal acts to every 100.000 people, while the champion of crime in Europe is Brussels with 689 crimes in every 100.000 people.
Another impressive fact is that the cost of living in Athens is small as only three European cities, namely Lyon, Lisbon ad Barcelona have a lower cost of living.