|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 01-01-09
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 STUDENT BLOOD TESTS COME UP O.K., BUT NOT ENOUGHThessaloniki, 9 January 2001 (11:36 UTC+2)
Blood tests conducted on Greek students studying at universities in Yugoslavia have failed to show any cause of concern, although doctors are advising the students - who fear they were exposed to the area's depleted uranium - that it is too soon to detect possible health problems.
In all, twenty students and soldiers have visited Thessaloniki's "AHEPA" hospital to undergo blood tests. However, the hospital's president Marios Pyrpasopoulos stressed that these tests are not detailed enough and merely serve to put the public's mind at ease.
Fearing exposure to the depleted uranium in the area, the students are to meet with Education Minister Petros Efthymiou in order to present to him their demand that they be transferred to Greek universities.
 SFINIAS HAD CONSUMED A LARGE QUANTITY OF ALCOHOL BEFORE COMMITTING SUICIDEAthens, 9 January 2001 (18:40 UTC+2)
Minoan Flying Dolphins coastal shipping company vice-president and managing director Pantelis Sfinias, who committed suicide jumping from the sixth floor of the company building in Piraeus on November 29 last year, had consumed a large quantity of alcohol before putting an end to his life, based on the results of the toxicological tests made on his body.
Also, the tests showed that he was on the prescription antidepressant drug Remeron and according to the forensic surgeons, who examined the body, he was probably on a treatment to deal with feelings of depression.
 STATEMENTS BY MR. REPPAS ON THE "BALKANS SYNDROME"Athens, 9 January 2001 (18:13 UTC+2)
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that the likelihood of a concealment or cover-up on behalf of NATO regarding the use of depleted uranium shells in Yugoslavia is an issue under consideration for the Greek government, adding that the alliance must give to publicity all the necessary facts to know exactly what happened and take the necessary decisions and initiatives.
Mr. Reppas also reminded that the decision to send Greek forces to Kosovo and Bosnia was reached unanimously by the Greek cabinet and served the Greek national interest. He reiterated that Greece from the beginning was in favor of a peaceful solution, proposing the adoption of political and diplomatic means in the effort to find a solution to the crisis. Mr. Reppas stressed however, that the criticism made is not justified, it is excessive and in certain cases it is made in bad faith.
Regarding the likelihood for the pollution to spread to Greece, he said that the government has given the answers that could be given, adding that the voices of the scientists should be heard.
On the use of such shells by the Greek Navy, Mr. Reppas stated that the sea is a safe place to store them provided that they were not detonated and added that according to specialists, there is no danger.
Mr. Reppas stated that Greece will not ask for Javier Solana, head of the EU joint foreign and defense policy, to be excluded from the investigation procedure concerning what took place during the Kosovo and Serbia bombings, a period during which Mr. Solana was NATO secretary-general. Mr. Reppas also reminded that Greece did not vote for him on the Cologne EU Summit meeting in which Solana was elected to his current post.
 INFLATION WAS 3.9% IN DECEMBERAthens, 9 January 2001 (17:51 UTC+2)
Inflation was 3.9% in December 2000, according to figures provided by the Greek National Statistics Agency. This development brought optimism to the Greek government's economic staff for the further de-escalation of inflation, while the prospects are favorable as the international oil prices are being stabilized and the Euro's exchange rate to the US dollar is being strengthened.
Inflation in the month of November last year was 4.2%, while it is estimated that in January 2001 inflation will be 3.5%.
 DENKTASH'S STANCE IS CHARACTERIZED AS NEGATIVE BY THE GREEK GOVERNMENTAthens, 9 January 2001 (17:17 UTC+2)
The stance adopted by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who announced that he will not attend the new round of talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem, is characterized as negative by the Greek government.
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stated that the international community must examine the likelihood of imposing sanctions on Rauf Denktash and added that it shouldn't be enough for the international community to simply record Mr. Denktash's stance. He said that there must be sanctions imposed on him who is responsible for the situation as it has developed adding that Mr. Denktash continues to refuse to contribute to the solution of the Cyprus issue.
Mr. Reppas also stated that Cyprus cannot be held hostage by a small group or occupation regime and such a situation cannot be tolerated by the international community.
 BIG LOSSES IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 9 January 2001 (16:58 UTC+2)
Big losses of 1.50% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index dropped to 3.097,74 points, while the volume of transactions was very low at 162.2 million Euro.
Of the stocks trading today, only 43 recorded gains, 293 had losses and the value of 38 stocks remained unchanged.
 PANAFON SUBSCRIBERS INCREASED BY 34% COMPARED TO 1999Thessaloniki, 9 January 2001 (16:48 UTC+2)
The subscribers of the mobile phone company Panafon reached the 2.226.000 mark at the end of December recording an increase of 34% compared to the same month in 1999.
In a statement issued by the company, the rapid increase in the mobile card phone users corresponds to 67% of the total Panafon subscribers and is attributed mainly to the extremely successful CU mobile card phone program. It should be noted that the CU users made up almost 50% of the new mobile card phone users in less than 3 months after the CU program was launched.
Panafon is currently reorganizing its sales network and is proceeding with the merger of its sales partners with the creation of a large private chain of Panafon-Vodafone shops.
 CHINESE OFFICIALS WILL VISIT THE ROYAL TOMBS IN VERGINAThessaloniki, 9 January 2001 (16:23 UTC+2)
A Chinese delegation, made up of government officials headed by Xumpei province governor Wang Shengtie, arrived in Thessaloniki coming from Athens within the framework of their visit to Greece.
The Chinese delegation visited the royal tombs of the ancient Macedon kings and the archaeological site in Vergina this morning. The municipality of Thessaloniki gave a formal luncheon in their honor and later in the evening the Chinese officials will depart for Austria.
 TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOONThessaloniki, 9 January 2001 (16:18 UTC+2)
People in Greece will have the opportunity to watch the first total eclipse of the moon in the new millennium at 10pm this evening if the weather allows for it and the skies are clear.
The color of the moon will be red as a result of the reflection of the solar light on the Earth. The next eclipse of the moon, according to scientists, will be in May 2003.
 NATO POLITICAL COUNCIL MEETS TO DISCUSS DU USEBrussels, 9 January 2001 (12:34 UTC+2)
NATO's political council is to meet in Brussels today in order to discuss the effects of the Alliance's use of depleted uranium ammunition in Yugoslavia in 1999.
Concurrently, the European Union is undertaking initiatives to further investigate the matter and safeguard the health of the region's population.
Greece's Defense Ministry General Army Staff is reviewing recommendations for the provision of medical examinations to all the non-commissioned officers and other personnel (about 1,000) who are presently stationed in Kosovo and Bosnia or served there sometime between 1990 to date.
Meanwhile, following the orders of Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, five thousand ammunition shells containing depleted uranium will be transported to specially-constructed military depots by tomorrow.
 GREEK DEPUTIES TO BE «QUIZED» ON SEX PRACTICESAthens, 9 January 2001 (12:32 UTC+2)
From the Premier to the newest member of the House, the 300 deputies of the Hellenic Parliament will be called on to fill out a questionnaire on sex and relationships, to be provided by Dr. Thanos Askitis, a parliamentarian for the ruling PASOK party and a clinical psychiatrist who founded Greece's first independent sex therapy center.
The questionnaire will comprise 30 questions concerning views on marriage, fidelity and how the demands of political life erode or enhance romance and sex.
The responses to the questionnaire, which will be forwarded on January 15, will be anonymous and, in an effort to ensure secrecy, it will be accompanied by an envelope pre-addressed to a special postal box. The results will be released to the public.
 THREE FIRMS VIE FOR SECOND TELECOM IN ALBANIATirana, 9 January 2001 (14:01 UTC+2)
Three firms are vying for the second license of Albania's mobile telecommunication provider, namely Turkey's Fintur and Rumeli, Britain's Vodafon and Greece's Panafon.
Bids submitted to Albania's telecommunication commission yesterday, while Austria's Mobilcom -among the contenders for the license- has reportedly withdrawn from the tender.
The commission will review the bids on January 22 and results are expected to be made public at the end of the month.
 UN URGES MONITORING OF DU RISKS IN KOSOVOGeneva, 9 January 2001 (11:20 UTC+2)
The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that the Nand the Kosovo Force (KFOR) have taken the issue of depleted uranium very seriously since their arrival in June 1999.
The Secretary-Generals Special Representative Bernard Kouchner has urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to send public health experts to assist in monitoring any possible health consequences of the use of depleted uranium among the civilian population.
According to initial findings by WHO and the Kosovo Department of Health, there has been no increase in the incidence of leukemia among adults over the past four years.
Mr. Kouchner is also in touch with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson on how to coordinate efforts to approach the issue of depleted uranium.
WHO, in a press conference held in Geneva yesterday, said it does not have enough information about the exposure situation in Kosovo, nor about the number of soldiers involved, to determine if the leukemia rate is higher than normal.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), whose report on the use of depleted uranium in Kosovo is currently being finalized, will hold a news conference on depleted uranium tomorrow in Geneva.