|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 01-01-08
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 MINISTER: NO TROOPS TO BE WITHDRAWN AS OF NOWThessaloniki, 8 January 2001 (13:55 UTC+2)
Greek armed forces stationed in Bosnia and Kosovo are not to be withdrawn as of now, since their presence in that region serves the achievement of peace and Greece's viable interest, according to the Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos.
In an interview with the Athens radio station "Flash FM", Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that if new studies reveal a health problem, then all military forces participating in the SFOR and KFOR peacekeeping missions will be withdrawn.
According to the Minister, political and military motives may be hidden behind the "Balkans syndrome" scare that has erupted throughout Europe. He added that he has requested that the Greek Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee convene in order to conduct a briefing session.
Moreover, he pointed out that there has been no evidence to date that the use of depleted uranium shells has any correlation to health problems.
As for the Greek solider who served in Bosnia and was treated at Thessaloniki's military hospital for leukemia, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that an average of 12 outbreaks of the disease are diagnosed annually in the Greek armed forces.
Moreover, regarding press reports that the Greek forces were supplied with depleted uranium ammunition in the early 90s, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that the military had 50,000 of such shells (of a smaller diameter than those used in Yugoslavia), 40,000 of which were used, but not detonated, and are presently laying in the Aegean's seabed.
Half of the remaining 10,000 are presently aboard two vessels and Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that he has ordered their relocation to a military depot where they will be tested and destroyed if found to contain radioactive material. As for the shells already used during maneuvers, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos said that it is not known if they constitute a source of radioactivity.
Moreover, Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stated that his counterparts from Italy and Belgium have told him there is no evidence that the deaths of soldiers stricken with leukemia are due to the "Balkans Syndrome".
 SPORTS AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN THE DIGITAL ERAAthens, 8 January 2001 (11:53 UTC+2)
A seminar titled Sports and the Olympic Games in the Digital Era is to get underway in Athens today, organized by the Athens News Agency (ANA) in its capacity as term president of the Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA).
The purpose of the seminar/workshop will be to develop conditions for joint coverage of the Athens Games by ABNA members as well as to provide constant, reliable and the adequate news gathering for subscribers in the region. Held at the Divani-Caravel Hotel in downtown Athens, the event will feature the participation of the general directors and 25 other officials from the ABNA member agencies - including the Macedonian Press Agency - from Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Moldova, FYROM, Romania and Turkey, as well as from Australia, venue of the recent 2000 Games.
Greece's Special Secretary for the Olympic Games 2004, Mr. Kostas Kartalis will address the seminar, while Athens 2004 Olympics coordinating committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will be the keynote speaker at today's official luncheon.
Speakers at the two-day seminar include the chief of the Sports Department at the French news agency AFP Jean-Pierre Gallois, the Australian news agency AAP's organiser of the Sydney Olympic Games coverage John Coomber, the deputy head of the sports desk at German news agency DPA Hans-Mermann Madler, the sports editor at Britain's Press Association (PA) Andy Elliott, the assignment manager and chief photographer at EPA (European Photographic Agency) Anja Niedringhaus, and ATHOC press office director Serapheim Kotrotsos.
Tomorrow afternoon, ABNA will hold its annual General Assembly.
ABNA was established in June 1995, during a meeting of Balkan news agency directors in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where the association's archives are housed.
 GREEK WOMAN ECO-ACTIVIST TO BE TRIED TODAYOakland, 8 January 2001 (12:07 UTC+2)
A Greek woman ecologist and member of the international organization Greenpeace is to appear before a court in Oakland, New Zealand today, facing obstruction charges after trying to prevent a ship from unloading genetically modified food for animals.
Athina Labrinidou, an anthropologist successfully stopped a merchant ship outside the port of Oakland last week when she scrambled up the ship's anchor as her colleagues commandeered cranes and other parts of the vessel, delaying its entry to the port for hours.
An anthropologist, Ms. Labrinidou is the only Greek woman to have ever served on Greenpeace's trademark vessel "Rainbow Warrior". Since 1996 she has been living with the Maori tribe.
She is also the sister of Stavros Labrinidis, a former Overseas Hellenism secretary general and the current general director of the Olympic Truce Center.
 STATEMENTS BY MR. REPPAS ON THE "BALKANS SYNDROME"Athens, 8 January 2001 (18:33 UTC+2)
The government deals in a serious manner and with a sense of responsibility with the "Balkans Syndrome" problem and will undertake any necessary initiative, stated today Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
He said that Greece has undertaken all necessary measures and will escalate its actions toward this direction aimed at the protection of the health of the Greek citizens, stressing that the government deals with the specific issue with the utmost sensitivity. He suggested caution when dealing with the issue to avoid the creation of a "panic and hysteria syndrome", as he stated characteristically.
Mr. Reppas stated that the scenarios on a radioactive cloud over Greece are mere speculations and gave the assurance that the measurements made in the border regions do not justify panic as they showed that there is no radiation increase.
On the issue of the withdrawal of the Greek peacekeeping forces, he responded that no decision on their withdrawal can be reached without any data justifying this move. Regarding the use of depleted uranium shells by the Greek Navy, the government spokesman stated that in 1990 the Greek Navy bought 50.000 such shells and 35.000 of them were used in sea exercises. Mr. Reppas said that 10.000 shells were stored and 5.000 of them are kept in two ships. An order has been given for them to be withdrawn, while an investigation has been ordered to determine if there were any problems.
Responding to relevant questions, Mr. Reppas stated that Greece from the first moment had expressed its concerns to the UN and the EU over the likely effects the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia would have on the environment and public health. He also reiterated that Greece was against the war in Yugoslavia and in favor of a peaceful solution.
 REPPAS: THE STATEMENTS MADE BY THE TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ARE UNACCEPTABLEAthens, 8 January 2001 (16:40 UTC+2)
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas characterized as "unacceptable" the statements made by Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem, who said that Turkey can even go as far as the total annexation of the occupied territories in case Cyprus becomes a European Union member before the Cyprus issue is resolved.
The Greek government spokesman added that if Turkey makes such a decision and is not for tactic reasons it will mean that it does not want to become a member of Europe and it abandons its European prospect.
 TELECONFERENCE OF THE FOREIGN MINISTERS OF GREECE AND SWEDEN ON THE "BALKANS SYNDROME"Athens, 8 January 2001 (16:20 UTC+2)
The issue of the "Balkans Syndrome" was the main topic in the teleconference held this morning by foreign ministers of Greece and Sweden, Giorgos Papandreou and Anna Lint. The effects of the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia on the region's environment concerns strongly all the EU members and already a team of Greek specialists have arrived in Kosovo.
Mr. Papandreou called on the Swedish EU presidency to bring the "Balkans Syndrome" issue up for discussion in the General Affairs Council that will meet on January 22, pointing out the need for coordinated efforts by the EU member-states in order to solve this serious problem.
Meanwhile, NATO's military leadership will brief the military and political directors of the alliance's member-states. Greece, Italy and Portugal from their side will coordinate their efforts to examine all aspects of the problem.
Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis stated that there is understanding and very good cooperation with the ministry of defense concerning the measures that need to be taken for the protection of the Greek soldiers and students in the region of Yugoslavia. He added that Greece had raised the environmental effects issue to the EU and NATO and was opposed to the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia to which it did not participate.
 THE LOSSES CONTINUE IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 8 January 2001 (16:11 UTC+2)
New losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today and the general index dropped to 2.27% at 3.145,02 points, while the volume of transactions was 36,203 billion drachmas, or 106,24 million Euro.
Of the stocks trading today, only 19 recorded gains, 330 had losses, while the value of 23 stocks remained unchanged.
 THE RADIATION LEVELS HAVE NOT INCREASED IN GREECEThessaloniki, 8 January 2001 (16:10 UTC+2)
The radiation levels in Greece have not changed in the past two years, according to professor Nikolaos Mousiopoulos in Thessaloniki's Aristotle University mechanical engineering and mechanics department.
Regarding the effects in Greece as a result of the release of radioactive and toxic material during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Mr. Mousiopoulos clarified that based on the studies and measurements made in the region no considerable quantities of radioactive and toxic elements have ended up in Greece and any assertion made to the contrary is scientifically unfounded and it is aimed only at impressing the public.
 GREEK ARMY OFFICIALS, HEALTH EXPERTS IN BOSNIAThessaloniki, 8 January 2001 (12:55 UTC+2)
A complement of Greek general staff officers and medical experts will be traveling to Bosnia and Kosovo today, in order to examine an estimated 1,500 Greek soldiers assigned to the KFOR peacekeeping force stationed in that area.
National Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos has sent a letter to NATO and the European Union asking the promotion of methods of protection of the populations of the Balkan countries from the bombing in Serbia and to examine the repercussions on the environment and human health.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos met yesterday with the leader of the main opposition party of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis and the party's regional head on Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyanni whom he briefed on the issue.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos stressed that in case the scientific group found there was a problem, all necessary measures would be taken, without ruling out the withdrawal of the Greek force from peacekeeping troops.
Mr. Karamanlis agreed with Mr. Tsohatzopoulos on this position, albeit adding that the government was responsible for the situation and called on the Prime Minister to brief the Parliament on the issue. He also called on the government to undertake initiatives on an international level.
 GREEK FORCES SAID TO USE DEPLETED URANIUM AMMOThessaloniki, 8 January 2001 (12:41 UTC+2)
The Greek armed forces are equipped with depleted uranium ammunition which have been used during military exercises in the Aegean and Ionian seas, according to press reports.
As the Athens dailies "Ta Nea" and "To Ethnos" reported, the United States have provided Greece with 50,000 such shells, 40,000 of which have been used in maneuvers, and the remaining 10,000 are in storage. Also, according to data provided by non-governmental organizations, Turkey also has ammunition with depleted uranium.
Greece's Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos has reportedly ordered an inquiry into the matter.
Depleted uranium shells were mainly used by NATO aircraft in western Kosovo.
 "GREEK" VACCINE AGAINST MENINGITISLondon, 8 January 2001 (15:59 UTC+2)
The discovery of Greek-Cypriot professor George Kassianos will bring radical changes to the world medical community. The distinguished scientist, who is the representative of Britain's General Physicians Royal College, created the vaccine against meningitis C.
According to professor George Kassianos, at least 50 young people have been saved thanks to the new vaccine, while the British Health Ministry has pointed out that the disease has almost disappeared in the past 12 months due to the vaccinations.