|Saturday, 19 September 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 02-03-16
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREECE UNDERTAKES TO PROMOTE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONVERGENCEBarcelona, 16 March 2002 (20:03 UTC+2)
The 15 EU leaders participating in the Barcelona Summit meeting, which was completed early in the afternoon, agreed on the adoption of specific timetables and policies for economic development, employment and social cohesion.
Greece has undertaken to prepare the materialization of the agenda concerning economic and social convergence in view of the fact that Greece will hold the EU presidency during the first half of 2003.
Prime Minister Kostas Simitis in a press conference he gave after the summit meeting, stated that the issue of the Euro-army is not a bilateral problem between Greece and Turkey. He stressed that an indirect reference is made to the issue in the Summit conclusions text and expressed satisfaction regarding the procedure decided for the solution of the problem, underlining that there are no insurpassable difficulties.
On the situation in the Middle East, he stated that the 15 want a peaceful solution calling both sides to contribute to the efforts to end the violence.
The 15 welcomed the Serbia-Montenegro agreement and called on Belgrade and Podgorica to work for the promotion of the necessary reforms and strengthen their relations with the European Union.
On the reforms in the EU member-states concerning retirement time, the Prime Minister stressed that in the conclusions text it is pointed out that the average real retirement age must be raised.
Mr. Simitis stated that the Barcelona Summit is marked by the realization that the policies for economic and social convergence cannot move ahead without coordination, target specification and timetables.
 THE GREEK ODA HAS INCREASEDBrussels, 16 March 2002 (19:02 UTC+2)
Greece's Official Development Aid, ODA, increased to 0.20% of its GDP in 2000 compared to 0.15% in 1999, after becoming a member of the OECD Development Aid Committee, DAC, according to an announcement by the organization.
The GDP percentage for the year 2000 corresponds to US$226 million compared to US$194 million in the previous year.
DAC underlines that Greece has made a good start and has already reached the average of the DAC members which was 0.22% in the year 2000.
Also, DAC gave an emphasis to Greece's significant contribution in the 2002-2006 Five-year Development and Cooperation Program for the development of the Balkans.
 GREEK PROFESSIONAL ARMYAthens, 16 March 2002 (18:53 UTC+2)
Professional army will soon be a reality in Greece and the mandatory military service will be reduced to 12 months in 2003. The first 286 professional commando soldiers were sworn-in yesterday in the presence of Minister of Defense Yiannos Papantoniou.
Mr. Papantoniou stressed that 25% of the Greek armed forces will be made up of professional soldiers by 2005.
 CHINESE BUSINESSMEN IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 16 March 2002 (18:46 UTC+2)
An eleven-member business mission from China will visit Thessaloniki on Friday, March 22 and will be received by the city's Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a special event.
The 11 Chinese businessmen participating in the mission are interested in promoting to the Greek market products like home air-conditioning, tool machines, metal parts, canned products, fruit and vegetables, seed-oil, lamps, leather gloves, resin and mica.
The Chinese are interested in importing polythene and leather cutting machine parts, while they also want to discuss cooperation in the leather goods production sector.
 OPTIMISM BY PROTOPAPAS ON THE CYPRUS ISSUEAthens, 16 March 2002 (18:43 UTC+2)
Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas expressed optimism on the course of the Cyprus issue, stressing that the meeting of Prime Minister Kostas Simitis with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit was held in a good atmosphere.
In statements he made to the Athens radio station Flash, Mr. Protopapas also referred to the issue of the Euro-army underlining the support of French President Jacques Chirac to Athens' positions.
Regarding the cooperation agreement between Greece and Turkey that is being under preparation and concerns the construction of a natural gas pipeline, Mr. Protopapas stated that specific decisions will be made when Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos and Minister of Finance Nikos Christodoulakis will meet with their Turkish counterparts.
 SIMITIS ON THE GREEK-TURKISH NATURAL GAS PIPELINEBarcelona, 16 March 2002 (18:29 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Kostas Simitis referred to the cooperation agreement between Greece and Turkey which is under preparation for the construction of a natural gas pipeline. The statements were made on the sidelines of the Barcelona EU Summit meeting.
The pipeline will end-up in Alexandroupolis, northeastern Greece and will allow the natural gas to come to Greece from the region of the Caspian Sea and Iran via Istanbul.
The Prime Minister pointed out the political dimensions of the cooperation agreement, stressing that a technocratic cooperation of such a size always has a political dimension.
He said that the issue was discussed in the meeting he had in Athens with Iranian President Khatami last Wednesday and that plans have been made for a visit of Minister of Finance Nikos Christodoulakis and Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos to Turkey.
Foreign Minister Giogos Papandreou pointed out that the agreement is of strategic importance for the future of stability in the region.
The Minister of Finance stressed that the agreement will promote Greece to an energy center in the region of southeastern Europe.
The Prime Minister referred to the brief meeting he had with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit and stressed that he pointed out to Mr. Ecevit that Turkey should make certain moves for the promotion of bilateral relations and the settlement of the problems that concern both countries.
On the sidelines of the EU Summit meeting, Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou met with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem and they reviewed the exploratory contacts held between the two countries.
The two ministers agreed to strengthen the dialogue between the two communities in Cyprus and discussed the joint initiative concerning the co-hosting of the 2008 European Football Championship.