|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 01-11-02
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 PAKISTAN ACCEPTS GREEK PROPOSALIslamabad, 2 November 2001 (12:17 UTC+2)
Pakistani President Musaraf accepted the Greek proposal for inter-religious discussions, during his meeting with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Papandreou, today.
Mr. Papandrou met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Abdul Satar, yesterday. During that meeting they discussed the issue of humanitarian assistance for civilians and refugees from the Afghanistan war, the role of the UN and the European Union in the shaping of the new situation in Afghanistan, and also the issue of broader cooperation in Central Asia on population security issues, the promotion of political stability, and development and prosperity perspectives.
Mr. Papandreou expressed his solidarity to the Afghan people in the war against terrorism. For our voice to be heard, we must work together, he said to his Pakistani counterpart.
In statements made today by Mr. Papandreou, a clear message was sent: We are not in favor of a conflict between religions. We see religions and cultures not raising walls, but creating bridges of communication and cooperation, he stated, making a reference to the experience Greece accumulated after conflicts in the Balkans. Greece has this experience and now has the potential to financially contribute to solve such problems, stressed the Greek Minister., addressing special thanks to non-Governmental Greek Organizations, which contributed with their presence at tension sites and for the resolving of the immense humanitarian problem. It should be noted that Greece has contributed $1 million, half of which has been distributed as help by non-Governmental Organization.
Discussions in today's meeting between President Musaraf and the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, include issues such as regional cooperation, as well as the tension in India-Pakistan relations over Kashmir, the Cyprus issue and bilateral issues.
Mr. Papandreou, who was asked about the political situation in Afghanistan, answered that the people there cannot but want a more representative government, which will have the support of countries in the region, without competitiveness and attempts to create spheres of influence.
The Pakistani Minister of affairs answered a question in yesterday's joint press conference with his Greek counterpart in the same spirit. We agree on a broad based multinational government in Afghanistan and the retaining of unity, territorial integrity and political independence of the country, said Abdul Sattar.
This morning the Pakistani President thanked Mr. Papandreou for the humanitarian assistance being offered by Greece, and the Greek Minister of Foreign affairs told reporters that his close associate, Alex Rondos, will remain in Islamabad to coordinate all actions related to the Greek humanitarian support towards Pakistan and Afghan refugee camps.
Regarding the bombing of Afghanistan, the President of Pakistan pointed out that he agrees with the military operations, but he observed that they must be directed against terrorists and not innocent Afghan civilians.
 NO LOST JOBS AFTER BANK MERGINGAthens, 2 November 2001 (11:40 UTC+2)
The merger of the two banks (Ethniki and Alpha Bank) is a very important event for the banking sector and Greek economy, stated Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, and added that the government supported this enterprise and greets it, but there are a lot of issues that need to be examined by both banks, on the issue of employment.
Specifically, after the Executive Office meeting, Mr. Simitis answered a reporter question related to the issue, stressing that our line and conviction is that all employment positions must be retained and that new ones should be created.
An announcement made by the press office of the Coalition of Left points out that: the merger of Ethniki and Alpha Bank is an important development with great consequences on the banking system, the economy and the employees. The government supported this choice to give an image of market restructuring and to strengthen the role of private capital in the banking sector, a fact proven by the refusal to sell ETVA to the bidder who was the Agricultural Bank.
The Coalition considers the creation of a large Greek bank an acceptable solution, on terms that would guarantee the powerful role of the Public Sector, transparency in the merger procedures and the securing of employment and employee rights, noting that it has submitted specific propositions in that direction in the past, such as the merger of Ethniki with the Commercial Bank.
But it points out, that the terms on which this merger is going through do not meet these requirements, creating serious question marks, worries and dangers.
The Coalition is fighting and will continue to fight for guaranteed presence of the Public and Social Sector in the credit system.
Legislature on mergers and buying out companies must be enacted immediately, in order to ensure employment and employee working rights.
In this framework the Coalition has turned in proposals and will take up initiative, ends the statement.
The Greek Communist Party (KKE) characterized the event as a movement of concentration of Greek banking capital, pointing out that the motive for the merger was the maximization of profit, the hunt for a guaranteed added profit in the free market of the European Union, and other markets such as the Balkan one.
That is the essence of capitalist competition. Its result is the destruction of small and middle businesses, buying out companies and mergers for the creation of larger capitalist businesses in production, commerce, the banking and credit system, stressed the Party in its announcement.
Minister of Development Akis Tsohatzopoulos, saw the merger as an indication that large banking organizations, that can stand on a European level, can exist in Greece, as he stated during his departure from the opening ceremony of the 17th International Philoxenia Fair 2001 in Thessaloniki.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined that the merger of the two banks is a large step and added that through gradual development and steps, one unified organization is being created, which can truly stand on a European level.
 HELLENIC TRADE & CULTURE 2001 FARE IN CHICAGOAthens, 2 November 2001 (11:13 UTC+2)
Final preparations are in progress for the 1st Hellenic Trade and Culture (Fair) 2001, organized by the Council of Greeks Living Abroad, which will take place on November 5 and 6 in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the world's largest building for merchandise display.
This grand event is expected to set off interest on the participants' side in closing strategic deals. The 250.000 Greeks living in Illinois are expected to play a crucial role in promoting cooperation between Greek and US companies.
The Fair is being organized in cooperation with the World Trade Center of Chicago (WTCC) the Exporters' Association of Northern Greece, the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) and the Hellenic Center for Investment. It is supported by the Greek Ministries of Economy and Finance, Defense, Culture, Macedonia-Thrace, Development, the General Secretariat of Greeks Abroad, the TEDK of Thessaloniki, the National Bank, the ASE and the Organization for Promoting Trade.
 BULGARIAN UNDERSECRETARY OF FINANCE STATEMENTS TO MPAThessaloniki, 2 November 2001 (17:51 UTC+2)
The draft law on tourism will be passed in the Bulgarian parliament by the end of 2001, stated to MPA Bulgarian undersecretary of Finance Dimitar Hatzinikolov.
He stated that the Greek-Bulgarian relations in the sector of tourism have a new orientation, while the measures that are being promoted by the Bulgarian side are expected to lay a new basis for them and contribute considerably to their strengthening.
On the issue of the Bulgarian hotels privatization, Mr. Hatzinikolov stated that 56% of them belong to private investors and only four belong to the state.
According to the Bulgarian undersecretary of Finance, over 240.000 Bulgarian tourists had visited Greece by September 2001, while since the month of April the trips have tripled. As it was made known, the tourist sector in Bulgaria employs about 140.000 people.
On the crime problem in Bulgaria, that is considered one of the main reasons for the tourist decline in the country, the Bulgarian undersecretary of Finance said that in the past year it was limited considerably and added that the first results of the anti-crime measures that are being promoted will be visible by the end of 2001.
 SMALL LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 2 November 2001 (17:26 UTC+2)
Small losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.92% at 2.531,15 points, while the volume of transactions was 172 million Euro or 59 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today, 158 recorded gains and 156 had losses, while the value of 50 stocks remained unchanged.
 SIMITIS ON ND'S OFF-SHORE COMPANYAthens, 2 November 2001 (17:12 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Kostas Simitis launched an attack on the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy accusing it of creating an off-shore company in Liberia to be able to collect money for its pre-election campaign in 1993, while he pointed out that what it needs to be done in Greece is to have the right monitoring mechanisms in the case of off-shore companies and not to have them abolished.
Mr. Simitis stated that there are no off-shore companies based in Greece and added that the government has adopted a number of institutional measures for clarity in the operation and inspection of such companies in the sectors of mass media, stock market and public works.
 OVER 350.000 SERBS VISITED GREECE IN 2001Thessaloniki, 2 November 2001 (16:55 UTC+2)
Over 350.000 Serbs visited Greece from January 1, 2001 until today, while the Greeks who visited Serbia in the same period of time were just 10.000. The above were stated by Serb Tourism Organization director Ljubica Milogevic within the framework of a press conference in Thessaloniki today held on the occasion of the 17th International Tourism Exhibition Philoxenia 2001.
Ms. Milogevic stated that the goal is to forge new collaborations and strengthen the existing ones, while she also announced that eight Belgrade hotels are going to be sold in the following days.
For the record, about 80.000 people work in Serbia's tourism sector corresponding to 3% of the country's population.
Belgrade Tourism Organization director Loran Novacovic stressed that in the first 8 months of 2001 there was a 15% increase in the number of tourists who visited the city compared to 2000, a percentage that corresponds to 900.000 visitors. He also stated that the number of tourists who stayed overnight in Belgrade was increased by 84% this year, while in July alone the transit tourists were 760.000.
 4 BILLION DRACHMAS LOTTERY JACKPOT IN GREECEAthens, 2 November 2001 (16:25 UTC+2)
The Greek lottery "Jocker" will give a first prize of 4 billion drachmas (over US$10 million) to the lucky winner who will choose the right 5+1 numbers. The lottery draw will take place on Monday evening instead of the scheduled Sunday due to the big interest expressed by players.
Greece lives in the "Jocker" lottery fever as large sums are being bet on different combinations of numbers as almost every Greek hopes to be the big winner.
 OPTIMISM FOR GREEK TOURISMThessaloniki, 2 November 2001 (12:42 UTC+2)
Minister of Development Akis Tsohatzopoulos is optimistic about Greek tourism after the September 11 terrorist attack on the US, as he stated after his meeting with the secretary of the World Tourism Organization Francesco Francialli and Minister of Tourism of Malta, Michael Refalo.
I'm optimistic that Greek tourism will find new roads, he stressed and pointed out that the image of the crisis must be considered a challenge and open new broadening potential in the base of tourism. Besides, he underlined that the tourist season must be extended through the promotion of special programs and meetings.
The ace up Greece's sleeve, are the Olympics, underlined the Minister of Development. It is an extra motive which no other country has. If we play our cards right, I think we can benefit from it, he added.
He also observed that no decrease in travel packages booked tour operators for next year has been recorded so far.
 IMMENSE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT WAVEAthens, 2 November 2001 (11:13 UTC+2)
Over 5000 illegal immigrants have been arrested this year by the Coast Guard and port authorities. Specifically, as announced by the Ministry of Commercial Shipping, 5.242 illegal immigrants and 105 traffickers have been arrested, and 83 boats have been impounded.
Afghan illegal immigrants in Kos and Chios:
The engine powered fishing boat Karaoz, which started to take in water and was carrying 14 Afghan illegal immigrants (7 men, 2 women and 4 children), was spotted by the Kos Coast Guard 1,4 nautical miles off the island's shore.
Also, Chios Coast Guard authorities, spotted and arrested 4 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, according to their own statements, in the area of St. Ermioni off the shore of Chios, on a children's inflatable boat.
Albanian illegal immigrants in Patras:
Last night, Patras Coast Guard authorities arrested 28-year-old Albanian Valia Yad in gate 5 of the harbor, who was transporting 4 Albanian illegal immigrants in his car. The 4 men had forged IDs and were going to board the Super Fast VI ferry boat, bound for Italy.
 THE GREEK AMBASSADOR VISITED KORCETirana, 2 November 2001 (16:38 UTC+2)
Greek ambassador to Tirana, Dimitris Iliopoulos visited the Albanian city of Korce accompanied by commercial attache Michalis Vrettakis and had contacts with local administration representatives.
The talks he had focused on Greece's support to the region's economic development, the energy crisis in the country and the bilateral agreement on the free medical care available by Greek hospitals to up to 500 Albanian nationals a year.
According to Albanian press publications, Mr. Iliopoulos announced that the Greek parliament is expected to approve a 40 million Euro aid for the economic development of Albania.
 GREEK ORIGIN BUSINESSMEN FROM ACROSS EUROPE MEET IN FRANKFURTCologne, 2 November 2001 (18:45 UTC+2)
The German-Greek Economic Association in cooperation with the Greek-Belgian Chamber of Commerce (Brussels), the Greek-Dutch Business Association (Rotterdam), the Greek-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (Budapest) and the Greek-Italian Chamber of Commerce (Rome), which is in the process of being founded, are the organizers of the B' Symposium of Greek Origin Businessmen in Europe to take place in Frankfurt on November 8-9.
In the conference will participate representatives of other European countries as well, where there are no Greek community business organizations, but they are going to be established soon, like in the case of France.
The symposium will offer the opportunity to register and organize the Greek origin businessmen in Europe, while at the same time it will contribute to the improvement of relations among them and with the metropolitan center.
 POSITIVE COMMENTS ON THE ETE - ALPHA BANK MERGERWashington, 2 November 2001 (17:07 UTC+2)
The Wall Street Journal believes that the new bank entity that was created in Greece through the merger of the National Bank of Greece, ETE, with Alpha Bank will play an important role in the Balkan banking sector.
The merger in the Greek banking sector was expected since the moment the country entered the Euro-zone when there was much pressure for bank mergers. This development was delayed because of the existing labor laws, wrote the newspaper, adding that the recent statements made by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis have opened the way to merger and privatization agreements.
Economic analysts in statements to the Wall Street Journal expressed satisfaction over the ETE-Alpha Bank merger maintaining that it opens the way for new mergers.