|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 02-03-05
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 STRENGTHENING GREEK-JAPANESE RELATIONSTokyo, 5 March 2002 (13:15 UTC+2)
With the signing of a joint action plan, the Prime Ministers of Greece, Kostas Simitis, and Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, made the first step in strengthening financial and cultural relations between the two countries.
Mr. Simitis is the first Greek Prime Minister to ever make an official visit to Japan, and he transferred an invitation from the President of the Republic of Greece, K. Stefanopoulos, to the Emperor of Japan and his wife, to visit Greece.
During their meeting in Tokyo, where a political and financial crisis had broken out during the last few days, the two Prime Ministers discussed tourism, among other things, which is a sector of vital importance for Greece, and Mr. Simitis expressed the hope that the number of Japanese tourists to our country increases. The Greek Prime Minister also expressed his hope that the EU will contribute to the strengthening of relations between Tokyo and Athens.
On his side, Junichiro Koizumi told Mr. Simitis that Japan is very interested in Greece, and stressed that bilateral relations will be further strengthened. I fact he praised Greek efforts to smoothen relations between Balkan countries. The two leaders signed a Japan-Greece action plan, which foresees regular high level meetings, the organizing of month of Japan in Greece and a month of Greece in Japan. The goal is the greatest possible proximity between the two countries.
According to Japanese government spokesperson, Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Simitis condemned international terrorism and stressed the need to support international assistance to Afghanistan.
After the meeting the Prime Minister stated that conversations with his Japanese counterpart were both on issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as on issues concerning cooperation between Japan and the EU.
 JOURNALISTS ON STRIKE TOMORROWThessaloniki, 5 March 2002 (13:16 UTC+2)
A 24-hour warning strike is beginning tomorrow at 6am, lasting until 6am Thursday, by employees in all forms of media. Journalists are fighting against mass dismissals of employees and for the signing of satisfactory Collective Work Agreements.
The ESIEMTh (Association of Editors of Daily Newspapers of Thessaloniki) is calling all journalists, members of the Association or not, working at radio stations, news agencies, electronic newspapers and Press offices of ministries, prefectures, municipalities, organizations, and businesses, to participate in tomorrow's strike.
Due to the strike there will be no radio or television shows, while on Thursday no daily newspaper will be published.
 TENSION IN THE FARMERS' PROTEST RALLY IN ATHENSAthens, 5 March 2002 (18:23 UTC+2)
Tension was recorded in the farmers' protest rally that was held in the center of Athens at noon today. The demonstrators clashed with police forces when they tried to move toward the government building. An estimated six to seven thousand farmers participated in the rally and they came from different parts of Greece.
The farmers protest against the low prices for the products and demand better prices for cotton, tobacco and olive oil as well as immediate compensation for those who were mostly hit by the bad weather wave.
Acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris stated that the government did all it could to satisfy the demands of the farmers and those who participated in today's protest should go to the central offices of the main opposition party of New Democracy to ask what is the party's position.
The Undersecretary of Press also said that by denying to participate in the solution of the problems New Democracy harms the country and this will become a boomerang.
 CAR SALES IN GREECE DROPPED BY 20.7% IN FEBRUARYThessaloniki, 5 March 2002 (17:34 UTC+2)
Car sales in Greece dropped by 20.7% in the month of February reaching 21.403 cars compared to 27.021 in January. In February 2000, the decline was at 6%, according to figures provided by the Automobile Importers and Dealers Association.
The car importers expressed the view that the stand-by stance adopted by the prospective car buyers was due to the European Commission proposals and the intense rumors concerning future price cuts.
The biggest sales among car makers were recorded by Peugeot with 2.216 cars, followed by Hyundai (2.151), Toyota (1.812), Fiat (1.576), Citroen (1.569) and Opel (1.559).
 MARGINAL GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 5 March 2002 (17:31 UTC+2)
Marginal gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.02% at 2.419,99 points, while the volume of transactions was at 102.1 million Euro or 34.9 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today, 92 recorded gains and 213 recorded losses, while the value of 67 stocks remained unchanged.
 COMMUNICATION BRIDGE BETWEEN MACEDONIA UNIVERSITY AND A CHINESE UNIVERSITYThessaloniki, 5 March 2002 (16:51 UTC+2)
A communication bridge was built between Macedonia University and Tian Zin University in China with the visit in Thessaloniki today of a large Chinese delegation.
The potential for the establishment of contacts between the two institutes and the signing of a Cooperation Agreement were examined in the meeting of the deans representing the two universities.
Based on the Cooperation Agreement there will be exchanges of professors and students while cooperation will develop at a scientific and research level.
 GREECE RESPECTS HUMAN RIGHTSAthens, 5 March 2002 (15:01 UTC+2)
The US State Department issued its annual report on the state of human rights in countries around the world. Regarding Greece, the report mentioned that the Greek government generally showed respect towards the human rights of the country's citizens. At the same time, however, it observed that there were serious problems in specific cases. It mentions an isolated event, during which a police officer shot a gypsy. It also mentioned that security forces treat certain groups of individuals badly, mainly illegal immigrants and gypsies.
The report also mentions that certain prisons continue to be full to the brim and have bad living conditions. It also noted that police raids often result in holding immigrants not in possession of the necessary paperwork, under terrible conditions.
In fact, always according to the report, there are legal limits to the number of assembled individuals of certain national minorities. The religious leaders of minorities observed that the government's tolerance levels have improved, but the laws still impose limits on freedom of expression, while there are still certain administrative rules obstructing religious freedom.
Violence and discrimination towards women is still a problem, as is discrimination against minority groups. Finally children belonging to minority groups are forced into begging, while the illegal trafficking of women and underage girls into Greece to be forced into prostitution is still an issue.
 NO WORRY ON ALEXANDROUPOLIS EARTHQUAKEThessaloniki, 5 March 2002 (13:13 UTC+2)
Seismologists are reassuring as far as the 4.8 Richter earthquake, recorded at 07.23 this morning in the sea region 45 km southwest of Alexandroupoli and 220 km east of Thessaloniki, is concerned. The earthquake was felt from Alexandroupoli to Kavala.
"It is an isolated seismic event, which should cause no alarm, because the region has not produced any large earthquakes in the past. The earthquake took place in a region with no seismic activity, and no connection to the Anatolia breach. However we must wait 48 hours and observe the seismic consequences", stated assistant geophysics Professor of AUTh, Kostas Papazachos in statements to the MPA.
 KAKLAMANIS IN THE 3RD CONFERENCE OF SE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENTSTirana, 5 March 2002 (16:33 UTC+2)
Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis underlined that there is a need to develop regional cooperation taking under consideration the EU principles and international law. He also stressed the inviolability of the borders, the consolidation of democratic institutions and the respect of human and minority rights. The statement was made by Mr. Kaklamanis while addressing the 3rd Conference of the southeastern European Parliament Presidents that takes place in Tirana.
The conference is a follow-up to the Greek initiative that was inaugurated in Athens in 1997.
Mr. Kaklamanis also referred to the historical ties shared by southeastern Europeans.
In the meeting Mr. Kaklamanis had last night with Albanian President Redzep Meidani, Prime Minister Panteli Majko and his counterpart Namik Dokle underlined Greece's interest in the development and education of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania.
Mr. Kaklamanis stressed that both the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and the Albanian immigrants in Greece contribute to the mutually beneficial promotion of friendship and cooperation at a bilateral level. He also briefed the Albanian officials on the 50 million Euro economic aid that will be received by Albania.
 PAPANTONIOU MEETS GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTERBerlin, 5 March 2002 (15:01 UTC+2)
The two-day official visit of National Defense Minister Giannos Papantoniou to Germany will be completed today.
Mr. Papantoniou will meet with his German counterpart, Rudolf Scharping, and they will discuss issues of bilateral cooperation in the defensive armament sector. The Greek Defense Minister will also meet with the German Bugenstag's Commissioner for the Armed Forces Helmut Wieczoreck and the Commissioner of the Greek-German Parlimentary Group, Sigrid Skarpelis-Sperk.
In the meanwhile, in the absence of the Minister of Defense, the turning over-receiving ceremony, from the former to the present Commander of the Navy, will take place. Deputy Minister of Defense Lucas Apostolidis will be present at the ceremony.
 NEW COMMISSION FUND INVESTIGATION ON OABrussels, 5 March 2002 (15:00 UTC+2)
The final decision of the European Commission on a new investigation on Olympic Airways is expected tomorrow. This investigation is aiming at discerning whether or not state subsidies given to this day, are against communal legislature. The relevant decision is expected to be made at the regular weekly meeting of the European Commission.
The European Commission will ask for explanations as to what happened to the enormous amounts of money paid by the State to Olympic Airways from 1994 to 1998, with the authorization of the Commission (presupposing that the funds would be used for immediate restructuring of the company, aiming at its privatization).
At the same time, the European Commission will investigate if the recent loan form the Commercial Bank of Greece to Olympic Airways, with state guarantees, constitutes a state subsidy.
 US INTERESTED IN NATURAL GAS TRANSFERWashington, 5 March 2002 (15:55 UTC+2)
The common interest of the US and Greece in the transferring of natural gas from Azerbaijan and other Caspian countries to the European market, through Turkey, was reaffirmed at a meeting Minister of Development Akis Tsohatzopoulos had with US Power Minister Spencer Abraham. As far as the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline is concerned, US strategy, which does not favor the Greek pipeline, but the Baku-Cheihan instead, does not seem to have changed.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' visit to the US took place immediately before the Minister left for Turkey and Iran, where he will have meetings for the promotion of the Greece-Turkey natural gas pipeline.
Mr. Abraham also showed interest in the electricity sector, mainly as far as Renewable Energy Sources are concerned which, in fact, US President George Bush is greatly in favor of, even with funding programmes as well as in the plans of European electrical interlinking, in which Greece can play an important part in SE Europe. During his meeting with the US Energy Minister, issues concerning initiatives for the strengthening of small and middle businesses, as well as tourism, in view of the 2004 Athens Olympics were discussed.
The Ministry's goal is to increase the number of US tourists visiting Greece in that framework, and it is starting a three-year intervention programme in the US market, the materialization of which will begin in the second semester of 2002, with a budget of $4 million.
 BARTHOLOMEW-BUSH MEETING THIS AFTERNOONWashington, 5 March 2002 (15:01 UTC+2)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will meet with US President Bush this afternoon at the White House, after having met with US Foreign Minister Colin Powell.
During his meetings with the US leadership in Washington, the Ecumenical Patriarch will discuss the functioning prohibiting of the Chalchi Theological School. He will also invite George Bush to the Fanari.
Mr. Bartholomew is in the US for the celebrations of the 80th Anniversary of the founding of the Archbishopric of America, and the 65th Anniversary of the founding of the Orthodox Theological School of the Holy Cross.