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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-12-11
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 GREEKS LIVING ABROAD IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 11 December 2003 (10:01 UTC+2)
The 5th Council of Hellenism Abroad (SAE) World Convention is beginning today with the participation of 800 conventioneers and the presence of the President of the Republic and Greece's political leadership. Deputy Foreign Minister Giannis Magriotis stated that SAE's new motto will be Renewal and Representation in a New Era with a New Breath. During the three-day works beginning today, a review of the significant work that has been carried out over the past two years will be made, and goals will be set for the next 4 years.
 55 LIFE SENTENCESAthens, 11 December 2003 (10:03 UTC+2)
The ruling on the sentences to be passed against the 15 of the 19 defendants found guilty in the trial of the crimes committed by the 17 November terrorist organization will be announced on Monday. DA Christos Lambrou proposed that Alexandros Giotopoulos be punished with 21 life sentences, Dimitris Koufontinas with 14, 10 for Savvas Xeros, 3 for V. Tzortzatos, and 1 for Iraklis Costaris. The total incarceration time they have been convicted for is 11,000 years. The highest possible penalties were proposed by Christos Lambrou for those found guilty with mitigating circumstances, but he asked that the penalty for C. Tellios be of an inhibitive character.
 CONCERN AND DISCOMFORTAthens, 11 December 2003 (10:37 UTC+2)
Concern and discomfort has been caused in PASOK by the MRB poll which puts New Democracy 8 points ahead of PASOK and the statements of the President of SEV (Association of Greek Industries) Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, who asked for early elections. In any case, Prime Minister Costas Simitis is ahead of ND President Costas Karamanlis as most suitable Prime Minister. I do not want to believe that this statement served political purposes, said Government Spokesperson Christos Protopapas.
 SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT GREECEAthens, 11 December 2003 (10:01 UTC+2)
A formal visit to Greece will be carried out by President of the Arab Republic of Syria Basar Al-Assad from December 14 to December 17, in response to the invitation extended to him by his Greek counterpart, President of the Republic Costis Stefanopoulos.
Mr. Assad will arrive in Athens on Sunday, at 18:00, while at 10:25 the following morning he will meet with the President of the Republic and at 11:45 he will lay a wreath at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. He is then have a meeting with the President of the Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis (13:00) and he will receive the Golden Medal of the Greek Parliament. He will then participate in a meeting of the Organization for the Promotion of Exports Opening Meeting of the Business Council of Greece - Syria.
On Saturday night, Mr. Stefanopoulos will hold a dinner in honor of the President of the Arab Republic of Syria in the Presidential Mansion.
On the morning of Tuesday December 16, Mr. Assad will meet with the Secretary General of the Greek Communist Party, Aleka Papariga, and the President of the Coalition of the Left, Nikos Constantopoulos. After his meeting he will then go to the Foreign Ministry, where at 12 noon, he will sign the Olympic Truce.
At 16:00 he will meet with the President of New Democracy, Costas Karamanlis, and then go to the Athens City Hall, where he will meet with Mayor Dora Bakoyanni, who will award him with the Golden Medal of the city.
At 20:30 that night, Mr. Assad will have a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the Maximos Mansion, to be followed by statements to the press. Mr. Simitis will hold a working dinner for Mr. Assad after the press conference.
Mr. Assad's visit will be completed on Wednesday morning.
 KAKLAMANIS: THE PARLIAMENT WILL ALWAYS STAND BY SAEThessaloniki, 11 December 2003 (16:08 UTC+2)
His reassurance that the Greek Parliament will always stand by the Council of Hellenism Abroad (SAE) was given by President of the Greek Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis, in his address at the opening of the works of the 5th SAE World Convention.
Regarding the situation in the modern international environment, he stressed that it is characterized by instability and uncertainty due to the inability of the international community to deal with the major problems of our age, such as the inequality between the rich and the poor, violence, terrorism and the violation of human rights. Greece, he said, is a steady herald for the necessity of an international system of cooperation and enforcement of international justice. He added that Greeks all over the world must contribute to global peace, democracy and progress and he stressed that that is why constant institutional communication among the representatives of Hellenism is necessary. He mentioned that in the framework of that cooperation, the Greek Parliament is in constant contact with Greeks abroad, through the Special Standing Committee, while at the same time it supports the actions of Greek abroad bodies by strengthening programs specialized in education and welfare and by cultivating a constant contact with young Greeks abroad through the Greek Youth Parliament.
Mr. Kaklamanis underlined that SAE is facing a new period of renewal and action in view of the vote on the executive law of the Constitution and the creation of new structures that will allow it to extend into new regions, and the preparation of new policies in areas of direct Greek interest. He also mentioned that the two future goals are the promotion of Greece as a reliable force for peace, security and cooperation in the Balkan region, and the organizing of perfect Olympics, which will be distinguished by their uniqueness and reinstate the ancient ideals on the basis of competition, not commercialization, and will promote fundamental values such as the truce and volunteerism.
 KARAMANLIS COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT HELLENISM ABROADThessaloniki, 11 December 2003 (16:08 UTC+2)
His support to the efforts of Hellenism abroad was committed by the Head of the Opposition from the podium of the 5th SAE World Convention. Mr. Karamanlis stressed that the SAE World Convention is sending out a message of unity, which is due to the efforts and struggles of Greeks abroad. He added that the goal is the creation of institutions that Greeks abroad are entitled to so that they can better communicate and keep up with each other. Greek communities create new galaxies, stressed Mr. Karamanlis, while he underlined that wherever there is a strong Greek element, there is Greek thought and culture.
He referred to the role of the church and characterized it as a beacon for Greeks in hard times. He stressed that Greeks abroad are not foreigners in the countries they now reside in, on the contrary they are a dynamic part of society. You make us proud and we must make you proud, said Mr. Karamanlis, who added that Greece owes a lot to Greeks living abroad for everything they have done in defense of Greece's national interests. At the same time he apologized for everything that Greece was not able to do for them and promised to support them.
Mr. Karamanlis stressed the need to strengthen Greek education and the retaining of the Greek language with the support of seats for Modern Greek studies in as many countries around the world as possible. Education, he said, is the bridge that connects Greece to Hellenism abroad and leads to the conquering of the future. He characterized Greek abroad media as a bridge that is helping keep Greek education alive. Our goal, he said, is to strengthen organizations of Greeks abroad without party affiliations, and pointed out the necessity for solidarity towards Greeks abroad.
At the same time he stressed that the time of the political changeover period and missed opportunities has come full circle and that an era of new prospects is dawning. Regarding the 2004 Olympics, he underlined that this is a national affair of all Greeks who must proclaim that Greece will hold the best and safest Olympics ever, and that they will not have a party character.
 PASOK RESPONSES TO POLLS AND SEV STATEMENTSAthens, 11 December 2003 (16:08 UTC+2)
The best thing for us to do is to continue our work, our initiative and our policies, mentioned Government Spokesperson and Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas, when asked to comment on the results of the MRB poll. ND is resting on the laurels of the polls, added the Government Spokesperson, who expressed the belief that the electoral stage described in the poll will soon change, as in the elections the Greek people will ask for programs and policies and then the double agenda and double language of New Democracy will be revealed.
The findings of the MRB opinion poll are another ascertainment, an impression of the atmosphere among the Greek people, however it is a measurement of one specific instance, commented Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos.
As he said, it is a warning for the government and PASOK to intensify their work and promote all the promises they are obliged to carry out.
Regarding the concerns of the President of the Association of Greek Industries (SEV) regarding the state of the economy, the Minister stated that he could not understand why such comments would be made, when the President of SEV himself had expressed his satisfaction with the country's developmental course.
Prospects and forecasts, he said, from international organizations are optimistic and there is already a heightened sense of security regarding the enlargement of the Greek economy in 2004.
Costas Simitis was and still is PASOK's strongest card for the next elections, stressed Minister of National Defense Giannos Papantoniou, in statements he made in the margin of the oath taking of new recruits at the Thebes Artillery Training Center.
Commenting on the 8.2% lead given to New Democracy over PASOK, the Minister appreciated that as far as vote intention is concerned, differences with such a low solidarity percentage for PASOK and so many undecided voters, who are potential PASOK voters, have no real significance. He also underlined indications will be important and especially on election night.
Mr. Papantoniou stressed the lead Prime Minister's lead against the President of the Opposition to the question of who would be more suitable as Prime Minister, by characteristically stating that: The Greek people consider him a better Prime Minister, a more reliable Prime Minister and that means that Costas Simitis was and will continue to be PASOK's strongest card in the next elections.
 STEFANOPOULOS: SAE'S FIRST GOAL TO PROMOTE MODERN GREECEThessaloniki, 11 December 2003 (14:34 UTC+2)
The first goal of the Council of Hellenism Abroad, of organized Greeks abroad, must be the promotion of modern Greece globally, stressed President of the Republic Costis Stefanopoulos, at the 5th SAE World Convention and he was emphatic in his request for support for the Patriarchates of Istanbul, Alexandria and Jerusalem.
In the past we thought that the goal of SAE was the defense of our national interests (Cyprus, etc.), but we must be pragmatists, we cannot affect the course of national issues, observed Mr. Stefanopoulos. Of course that aim remains, but our fist concern now is the promotion of Greece, he added.
At that point he underlined that present day Greece has nothing to do with Greece of the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s and he underlined that: Who would have believed that Greece would be organizing the Olympics?
Regarding the organization of the Olympics, he expressed his belief that Greece is capable of succeeding and that the contribution of Greeks abroad will be decisive.
Mr. Stefanopoulos characterized SAE's course so far as successful and he expressed his satisfaction with the measures being prepared by the government for the upgrading of SAE. He said that some mistakes had been made and asked that any differences be put aside and be expressed in such a way that is conducive to the progress of SAE.
He asked Greeks abroad to support the Patriarchates that are facing various problems, and mentioned those of Istanbul, Alexandria and Jerusalem. He stressed that Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos was correct in raising the issue of universality in his message to SAE, and he noted that this universality is what creates problems sometimes.
He was in favor of increasing the participation of women in politics and the bodies of SAE, and for this to be achieved present conditions that present obstacles must be improved.
He also spoke of himself saying that he would not be attend another SAE World Convention as President of the Republic, because his tenure will end in 2005.
 SIMITIS TO GREEKS ABROAD: MAKE GREECE STRONGERThessaloniki, 11 December 2003 (14:34 UTC+2)
An appeal to Greeks all over the world to join forces and make Greece stronger was made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis from the podium of the 5th SAE World Convention.
You who are here today, the leaders of organized Hellenism, and the other 7,000,000 Greeks abroad, are the voice of Greece all over the world, said the Prime Minister, and added: Greece, our homeland, needs you. It needs you not only because you are convincing defenders. It needs you because you are the incarnation of the inventive and tireless working Greek in the modern globalized reality. Because with your successes and achievements abroad, in adverse conditions, you show what abilities are required of people today.
At the same time he stressed the contribution of Hellenism abroad to the successful organizing of the 2004 Athens Olympics and that the body of Greek living abroad volunteers, a crucial dimension in the overall contribution of volunteers.
On SAE, Mr. Simitis said that it is a body of vital importance to Hellenism. It is the real channel of communication between Greece and Hellenism abroad. Greece is one of the few countries in the world with a steady policy for its people abroad. It supports the descendants of its nation globally and recognizes a specific institutional role.
With the new executive law to be voted on in Parliament soon, SAE will take on the role of the official interlocutor of the state. It will advise regarding every related law and will be provided with all possible assistance to achieve its important work.
The Prime Minister referred to the successes of Greece over the past few years. He characterized 2004 as a landmark for the progress of society in all sectors and stated that the government will prepare a program for the next four years, which will revolve around 3 axes: The social contract for real convergence, the plan for the renewal of public life and the plan for responsible governing.
 SIMITIS IN BRUSSELS THIS AFTERNOONAthens, 11 December 2003 (13:07 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will travel to Brussels this afternoon, in order to participate in the two-day works of the EU Summit and the Convention for the Future of Europe, which are beginning tomorrow, the main topic of which will be the European Constitution.
The position of the Greek government in favor of the approval of the European Constitution's draft, which will make the EU more and its citizens, and consequently its Greek citizens, more effective, was expressed by Government Spokesperson Christos Protopapas, immediately following the meeting at the Maximos Mansion presided over Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
 BAD DIET THREATENING AN ENTIRE GENERATIONAthens, 11 December 2003 (10:42 UTC+2)
In approximately 20 years, we will lose more of today's children to the results of bad dietary habits, than to drugs and AIDS. This harsh forecast was made by the President of the Consumers' Institute (IN.KA) Chr. Kouris, who also noted that 25 years ago was the first documented death of an infant from choking on a small toy which was the prize of a chips bag.