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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-02-28
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 MORE THAN HALF A MILLION IMMIGRANTS IN GREECE BY THE END OF 2003Athens, 28 February 2003 (21:05 UTC+2)
Around the world, a total of 175 million people look for work and better living conditions in another country. Specifically, a total of 16.7 million immigrants live in EU countries, while an estimated 600.000 immigrants will be legal residents of Greece by the end of 2003, according to Interior Minister Kostas Skandalidis.
Greece occupies the top place regarding the number of immigrants working in the country, as 73% of the economic refugees living legally in Greece have been integrated into the job market.
The above were pointed out in an international conference on the Economic and Social integration of immigrants organized by the Economic and Social Committee in Athens.
The majority of applications for residence and work permit were submitted by Albanians (64.9%), Bulgarians (6.5%), Romanians (4.5%), Pakistanis (3.17%), Ukrainians (2.6%), Georgians (2.01%), Hindus (1.77%), Egyptians (1.67%) and Filipinos (1.5%).
Also, 51% of the immigrants in Greece live in Athens and Thessaloniki. A 49% of the economic refugees have secondary education, 37% are elementary school graduates and 8.9% have a university degree.
 ILIESCU WAS RECEIVED BY STEPHANOPOULOS AND SIMITISAthens, 28 February 2003 (19:47 UTC+2)
The Greek-Romanian relations, Romania's course toward the EU accession and the issue of Iraq dominated in the talks Romanian President Ion Iliescu had in Athens today with President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Kostas Simitis.
The Greek state and political leadership expressed its support to the efforts made by Romania toward its EU accession, while the Romanian President praised the Greek EU Presidency for the way it handled the crisis in the EU on the occasion of the likely military intervention in Iraq.
 THE GOV'T SPOKESMAN ON THE 17N TRIALAthens, 28 February 2003 (18:47 UTC+2)
The terrorist group 17 November trial is very important for Greece because it will be a catharsis in the drama of terrorism that plagued the country for years, stressed Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.
Mr. Protopapas stated that the 17N trial is very important for the Greek society because it proves that terrorism can be combated, while there can be a fair trial in accordance with the laws.
Regarding the coverage of the trial by the mass media, Mr. Protopapas stated that he will be in continuous contact with the Athens Journalists' Association. He said that for the journalists to be facilitated in their work the trial transcripts will be distributed to them through the Athens News Agency, ANA. Also, each journalist covering the trial will receive a 25 euro phone-card for free every month.
He also stated that the use of tape-recorders is not banned by the government and it is up to the court to decide whether it will allow them.
Meanwhile, the Athens Journalists' Association will reach a decision on the stance it will adopt in the 17 November trial as a result of the issue created regarding the coverage of the trial by the mass media.
The Macedonia-Thrace Journalists' Association in a statement issued today stresses that the measures that will be in effect during the 17N trial will lead to the inadequate information of the Greek people. It also states that the complete publicity of the trial will not create problems in the way justice is served and in addition it will persuade everybody that it will be a fair trial.
 MARGINAL GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 28 February 2003 (18:00 UTC+2)
Marginal gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.03% at 1.614,05 points, while the volume of transactions was at 88.6 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, the majority of 176 recorded gains and 122 had losses, while the value of 82 stocks remained unchanged.
 THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ON CYPRUSAthens, 28 February 2003 (17:46 UTC+2)
UN secretary general Kofi Annan invited newly elected Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to sign a statement in The Hague on March 10 committing themselves to hold a referendum, stated Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas. However, he clarified that this does not mean that the two sides will have to accept the Annan Plan text.
He reiterated that the Greek side wants a constructive dialogue and the solution of the Cyprus problem, while he pointed out that developments depend on the will and the honest discussion on behalf of Mr. Denktash.
Regarding the stance of Mr. Denktash, the Greek government spokesman stressed that if he refuses to go to The Hague it will be an intransigent stance and such a stance would mean that the Turkish Cypriot leader tries to undermine the prospect for a solution in Cyprus.
As it was made known later on, both Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Denktash accepted Mr. Annan's invitation. Mr. Papadopoulos stated that the Greek Cypriot side will examine the Annan plan before adopting a stance and deciding on the referendum, while Mr. Denktash stated that he is opposed to a referendum.
 THE BULGARIAN EU AFFAIRS MINISTER IN ATHENSAthens, 28 February 2003 (17:23 UTC+2)
Bulgaria's EU accession course and the developments in the issue of Iraq were discussed in the meeting of Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tasos Giannitsis with Bulgarian EU Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva in Athens yesterday.
Mrs. Kuneva congratulated the Greek EU Presidency on the political courage it displayed in handling the issue of Iraq and particularly on the success of the Summit meeting in Brussels. Both sides agreed that it is very important for the EU to have a single voice on that issue.
They made an assessment of Bulgaria's EU accession course so far and the Bulgarian minister conveyed the appreciation of her government for Greece's continuous support. They also discussed the next steps of this course, that will take place during the Greek EU Presidency, aimed at closing two to four negotiation chapters.
 ILIESCU-KAKLAMANIS: COMMON VISION FOR EUROPEAthens, 28 February 2003 (16:53 UTC+2)
Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis expressed their common vision for Europe.
Mr. Kaklamanis expressed satisfaction for the coincidence of their views over the future of Europe. Mr. Kaklamanis said that it is a Europe that promotes the equality of all peoples and the common effort for a democratic, social and progressive European Union that will correspond to the vision of its people for justice, progress, democracy and peace.
Mr. Iliescu underlined the ability with which the Greek EU Presidency handled the crisis in the EU over the likelihood of a military intervention in Iraq and expressed his full support to the results of the informal Summit meeting in Brussels.
He also thanked the Greek Parliament for its support to Romania's course toward the EU and the acceleration of the procedures in the EU during the Greek EU Presidency.
 US DIPLOMAT SERVING IN ATHENS RESIGNSThessaloniki, 27 February 2003 (21:42 UTC+2)
A veteran US diplomat, who was serving in the US Embassy in Athens, resigned in protest over the policy followed by his country on the issue of Iraq.
According to the Greek state-run television, the US diplomat states in the resignation letter addressed to US Secretary of State Colin Powell that the policy followed by the US government on the issue of Iraq hurts the greatest weapon the US has since the time of Woodrow Wilson namely, international legality.
 PAPANDREOU-POWELL MEETINGWashington, 28 February 2003 (20:17 UTC+2)
Greek Foreign Minister and EU Council of Ministers President Giorgos Papandreou met in Washington with US officials and the talks he had were characterized as interesting.
Mr. Papandreou met with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, accompanied by High Representative on EU Foreign Policy issues Javier Solana and European Commissioner Chris Patten, responsible for Foreign Affairs issues. In a joint press conference, Mr. Papandreou characterized the talks as constructive and useful. They discussed issues concerning Iraq, North Korea, Cyprus and the Middle East. On the issue of Iraq, Mr. Papandreou stated that the EU and the US have common objectives. Specifically, they have common goals concerning the total compliance of Saddam Hussein with UN resolution 1441 and Iraq's total disarmament.
Responding to the question if the Greek EU Presidency intends to bridge the differences inside the EU and especially, the difference of Germany and France with the United States in the way the Iraqi challenge should be met, he said that the EU countries and the United States are democratic with open dialogue on such issues.
On the issue of Cyprus, he said that cooperation with UN secretary general Kofi Annan is of high significance for the course of the negotiations. He also added that Cyprus has the opportunity to become a multicultural model where Muslims and Christians, Turks and Greeks will be able to live together peacefully.
Mr. Papandreou stressed the importance of the trans-Atlantic relations and supported the expansion of the EU-US cooperation in view of the Summit meeting in June.