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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-12-16
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 POLITICAL SCULPTURESLondon, 16 December 2003 (10:30 UTC+2)
The issue of the Parthenon Marbles is not just an issue of property and technical adjustments, it is also a political issue, and that is why we would like to approach it politically, stated Prime Minister Costas Simitis, following his meeting with his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in London. Mr. Simitis said that he will send Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos to London, to further discuss the issue.
 GREECE IS EUROPE'S GATE TO THE MIDDLE EASTAthens, 16 December 2003 (10:30 UTC+2)
Developments in the Middle East were the topic of discussion between Greek President of the Republic Costis Stefanopoulos and his Syrian counterpart Mr. Assad in Athens, in the framework of the Syrian President's four-day formal visit. Specifically, discussions included Syria's proposal for the complete elimination of the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. In his statements, Mr. Assad spoke warmly of Greece, which he characterized the gate of Syria and all Middle Eastern countries to Europe.
 GREEN SUITS EUROPEThessaloniki, 16 December 2003 (10:31 UTC+2)
Their independent participation in the Euro-elections, but not in the national elections, was decided by the Greens, during their emergency conference in Thessaloniki. A vote among the members will be carried out in January in order for the list and order of candidates in the Euro-elections to be chosen democratically and transparently, stated the Head of Thessaloniki's Ecological Movement, M. Tremopoulos.
 MEASURES AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN GREECEAthens, 16 December 2003 (20:38 UTC+2)
Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos announced the creation of a task force in the Greek Foreign Ministry specializing on issues of international human trafficking. The task force has already been activated and its operation is complementary to the existing Greek laws on human trafficking.
In a press conference in Athens it was stated that besides bilateral cooperation against human trafficking with neighboring countries, like FYROM and Romania, Greece aims at promoting forms of multilateral cooperation as well.
Mr. Loverdos stated that Greece is faced with the problem because it shares its borders with developing countries and the problems of those countries, like organized crime a form of which is human trafficking, are being imported in Greece. Therefore, Greece inherits those problems because it borders with those countries.
Greek Foreign Ministry International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation General Secretary Dimitris Dollis stated that the trafficking of children in the Balkans, and especially in Albania, is another priority issue for the Greek Foreign Ministry. In January, the campaign against human trafficking will include televised messages that will be aired both in Greece and the countries with which it cooperates on the issue.
He also pointed out that in the period between the fall of 2002 and October 30, 2003 a total of 475 human trafficking cases were tried in court. Of the703 individuals who were accused of involvement 592 were arrested, among them 362 Greek men and 61 Greek women, as well as 101 foreign men and 68 foreign women. Finally, a total of 195 women have been identified as human trafficking victims.
 EUROMEDITERRANEAN COOPERATIONAthens, 16 December 2003 (19:37 UTC+2)
Greece and Syria must struggle to develop Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, pointed out President of the Coalition of the Left Nikos Constantopoulos, following the meeting he had with the President of Syria, Mr. Bassar Al Assad.
During their meeting they discussed issues of mutual interest and Mr. Constantopoulos told the press that: Greece and Syria have strategic common interests both in peace in the region as well as in the course of Middle Eastern countries towards Europe, for the connection of Syria to the EU and the development of financial, cultural and social ties between the two people.
Greeks and Syrians have ties of friendship and both peoples must struggle to develop Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, so that the Mediterranean can become a common sea of peace and development, so that the Mediterranean can be free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and so that the region can be given the potential to develop multifaceted relationships of friendship and stability between all countries of the Mediterranean.
This is a crucial period. The war in Iraq and everything that has followed shows that it is the only way to the future, it the path of understanding, coexistence and peace, not the path of war.
 PRESIDENT OF SYRIA SIGNS OLYMPIC TRUCEAthens, 16 December 2003 (19:37 UTC+2)
The Agreement for the Olympic Truce was signed by President of Syria Bassar Al Assad at the Foreign Ministry, where he had a meeting with Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou, with whom he discussed developments in the Middle East and the problem of terrorism.
Earlier this morning, the President of Syria and his Greek counterpart Costis Stefanopoulos opened an exhibit for tourism in Syria, held at the Grand Britagne hotel. Mr. Assad then met with the Secretary General of the Greek Communist Party Aleka Papariga and the President of the Coalition of the Left, Nikos Constantopoulos.
 "EQUAL IN THE EYES OF THE LAW"Athens, 16 December 2003 (19:37 UTC+2)
The Ministry of Finance is adamant in its decision on the obligatory installation of registers in taxis, beginning on 1/1/2004. All citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. One portion of the population cannot ask to be treated differently, to ask that they are not checked for tax evasion, stated deputy Minister of Finance A. Fotiadis, who did not rule out further meetings with taxi union representatives, however he made it clear that in no case will we accept the non application or postponement of the measure.
 PROPOSAL FOR AN INTER-BALKAN BUSINESS WATCHAlexandroupolis, 16 December 2003 (19:21 UTC+2)
Prefect of Evros, northeastern Greece, Mr. Zabounidis proposed the creation of an Inter-Balkan Business Watch in the Greek city of Alexandroupolis, while branches will be in operation in Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The proposal was made in the Interreg 3 Monitoring Committee meeting held in Sofia yesterday.
The Inter-Balkan Business Watch will be made up of members of the business world and its goal will be to conduct a market research both in Greece and Bulgaria.
 LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 16 December 2003 (16:32 UTC+2)
Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.03% at 2.179,12 points, while the volume of transactions was 182.9 million euro.
Of the stocks trading today, 288 had losses and only 32 had gains, while the value of 62 stocks remained unchanged.
 THE GREEKS ARE BOTH FAMILIAR AND DISPLEASED WITH THE EUROAthens, 16 December 2003 (16:04 UTC+2)
The Greeks, compared to the rest Euro-zone citizens, appear to be more familiar with the euro. However, according to a relevant research held by the Euro-barometer they are, at the same time, the most displeased with the abolition of their national currency, the drachma, and the adoption of the single European currency.
The Irish appear to be the most familiar with the euro (76%), followed by the people of Luxemburg (69%), while the Greeks are third with 63%. Less familiar with the euro are the Italians (43%) and the French (39%).
 EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 4.6 ON THE RICHTER SCALE IN LESVOSAthens, 16 December 2003 (15:57 UTC+2)
An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale shook the northeastern Aegean island of Lesvos at noon today.
According to the Geodynamic Institute in Athens, the epicenter of the earthquake was located 300 kilometers northeast of Athens at the Asia Minor coasts across Lesvos. No damages were reported.