|Friday, 14 August 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-02-25
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 AGREEMENT ON THE DEBATE OF THE POLITICAL PARTY LEADERSAthens, 25 February 2004 (19:42 UTC+2)
The televised debate of the leaders of the political parties represented in the Greek Parliament and the European Parliament will be held tomorrow at 9pm (local time) according to governing Socialist Party of PASOK Communication Sector Secretary Nikos Athanasakis after the meeting he had with the representatives of the parties.
The debate will focus on five topics: social policy/health/welfare, foreign policy/national issues, economy/development, public administration and education. Also, there will be a sixth round with general political questions independent of the five topics already mentioned.
The debate will be held in the state-run television channel, NET, and will be coordinated by journalist Nikos Hatzinikolaou, while questions will be made by journalists Elli Stai, Olga Tremi, Pavlos Tsimas, Nikos Evengelatos and Stavros Theodorakis.
The debate is estimated to last about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
In statements he made right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy spokesman, Thodoris Rousopoulos reminded that party leader Kostas Karamanlis had suggested a debate with the participation of all political parties but the leader of PASOK had rejected this proposal. However, late yesterday evening he changed his mind, stated Mr. Rousopoulos, adding that New Democracy will participate in tomorrow's debate, while its proposal for a Karamanlis-Papandreou discussion is still in effect.
Communist Party press spokesman Makis Mailis stated that his party had demanded a debate with the participation of the leaders of all political parties represented in the Greek state Parliament and the Euro-Parliament and the government was finally forced to change its initial position on the matter.
Coalition of Radical Left spokesman Stergios Pitsiorlas stressed that his party had called for at least one debate with all political party leaders and finally, this will become a reality. He added that the outcome will be positive and democracy and the Greek people will benefit.
Democratic Social Movement Party spokesman Manolis Bakopoulos pointed out that finally, the debate will be held tomorrow evening, adding that his party had called for a debate with all political party leaders for a long time.
 PAPANDREOU-SIMITIS IN ARISTOTELOUS TONIGHTThessaloniki, 25 February 2004 (11:40 UTC+2)
President of PASOK Giorgos Papandreou will appear alongside Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Thessaloniki tonight, at his main pre-election event to be held at 19:30 in Aristotelous Square. Mr. Papandreou is expected to attack New Democracy, refer to the dilemma of the March 7 elections and make commitments on the development of the periphery and the completion of major works in Thessaloniki and Macedonia in general.
 INCREASE IN ASYLUM SEEKERSAthens, 25 February 2004 (13:23 UTC+2)
There was an increase of 45% in the number of asylum requests towards Greece, while the number of people who asked for asylum in the 36 more industrially advanced countries of Europe was 20% smaller in 2003, according to the report of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), published in Imerisia newspaper.
It is the smallest number recorded since 1997 according to Rud Lubbers, High Commissioner of the UN for Refugees, is an encouraging fact, but we should not let our guard down.
Greece had a reverse image to the rest of Europe, with the increase in asylum requests increasing by 45% in relation to 2002, and taking the 18th place on the list. The report titled Levels and Characteristics of Political Asylum in European and non European industrial countries in 2003, concentrated evidence from 50 mainly European countries, as regards the asylum requests they received last year.
According to the report, in the EU the number of asylum seekers dropped by 22% in comparison to 2002, and that is half of the record number of 669,000 requests recorded in 1992, after the wave of refugees due to the Balkan wars.
However, the report excludes Italy, for which there is no information for 2003. There was a big drop in Afghani, Iraqi, and Serb (from Montenegro) requests, a fact that reflects, according to Mr. Lubbers, the developmental changes that have been achieved in their countries.
However, he pointed out that the improvements are still fragile in many countries and we need continuous investment in aid and funds in order to make sure that this trend is not overturned, while he expressed his hope that the discussion will concentrate on the need to provide protection as well as the need to find permanent solutions to the refugee problem.
The country that received the greatest number of asylum requests in 2003 was Britain, in which there was a drop of 41% in the number of actual applications, followed by the US and France. In Germany, which had concentrated the most requests in Europe for 15 years, a 29% drop was noted, which brings it to 4th place for the first time in 20 years, while there was an impressive decrease of applications to the Netherlands (28%) and Austria (18%). Despite the general trend for applications to decrease, there was an increase in countries which generally do not accept a large number of asylum seekers, as well as in countries that will not be incorporated to the EU in May.
This trend shows the necessity to continue helping the new EU countries, in order to strengthen their asylum systems, commented the High Commissioner.
The Greek proposal on illegal immigration
A proposal for a special plan for the installation and functioning of a Community Eastern Sea Border Control Center in Piraeus was submitted by the Greek government to the Strategy Committee for Immigration, Borders and Asylum provision of the Council of the EU. The creation of this Center aims mainly at fighting illegal immigration and the commercial exploitation of immigrants for illegal labor and prostitution.
National specialists from EU countries and other EU bodies will participate in the Center's functioning. Meanwhile, concern and worry has been caused by the intention of certain EU countries to limit the rights of the 10 new member-states to be incorporated on May 1. His concern was expressed by the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, who made mention of obstacles in the rights of new European citizens.
 GIANNITSIS: THE TURKISH CYPRIOT SIDE BACKS OUT FROM WHAT WAS AGREED UPONAthens, 25 February 2004 (20:54 UTC+2)
Greek Foreign Minister Tasos Giannitsis called for the display, on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side, of a spirit of respect toward the framework that was agreed upon on February 13 for a viable, functional and fair solution to the Cyprus issue.
Referring to the latest developments on Cyprus, Mr. Giannitsis pointed out that in the recent talks in New York an agreement was reached for the resumption of the talks on Cyprus based on the Annan Plan and with the goal to reach a solution by May 1.
However, Mr. Giannitsis pointed out that the systematic effort on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side to bring up again issues that turn the negotiations away from the Annan Plan could result to long delays.
 TRAINING PROGRAM FOR ALBANIAN PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALSThessaloniki, 25 February 2004 (18:38 UTC+2)
The Greek Foreign Ministry International Development Cooperation Agency development program for the training of Albanian public health officials in health management has been completed successfully.
The program constitutes cooperation between the scientific documentation center of the Greek Public Employees Union and the independent health workers union in Albania, ITUHEA. Its goal is to contribute to the modernization of the health sector in Albania through the exchange of know-how and the use of modern methods of health management.
The program, which was completed this month, included two stages. The theoretical part of the training took place in Tirana in December 2003 and the second stage took place in Athens where 20 public health officials from Tirana visited a number of hospitals.
 BUSINESS TYCOON KOKKALIS IS ACCUSED OF MONEY LAUNDERINGAthens, 25 February 2004 (17:42 UTC+2)
Greek tycoon Sokratis Kokkalis was indicted for the laundering of money coming from arms trade. The indictment was issued in response to press reports on the Athens newspaper Kathimerini concerning the likely association of foreign secret services with terrorist group 17 November.
Also, according to the state-run television station, NET, the responsible prosecutor has received testimonies based on which, former East German secret service, Stazi, was involved in arms trade with the Middle East through two companies and the gains were channeled to Sokratis Kokkalis.
 MORE LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 25 February 2004 (17:08 UTC+2)
More significant losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.19% at 2393.12 points, while the volume of transactions was at 203.6 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 94 had gains and 203 had losses, while the value of 91 stocks remained unchanged.
 PASOK INVITES ALL POLITICAL PARTIES TO A DEBATE TOMORROWAthens, 25 February 2004 (16:43 UTC+2)
Governing Socialist Party of PASOK has issued an invitation to all political parties currently represented in Parliament to participate in the televised debate tomorrow originally set for the two major rivals namely, PASOK and right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy.
Already, PASOK's Communication Sector Secretary Nikos Athanasakis has invited the spokespersons of all political parties represented in the Greek Parliament to enter a discussion on the details of the debate.
Mrs. Anna Diamantopoulou made the announcement to the press today. Mrs. Diamantopoulou, head of PASOK's state ballot, clarified that PASOK leader Giorgos Papandreou decided to change his position and be in favor of a televised debate with the participation of all political parties represented in Parliament to remove any shadow cast over the policy he and his party follow, which is characterized by democratic dialogue and participation.
Mrs. Diamantopoulou also criticized New Democracy accusing it that on one hand, it was discussing the organizing of the debate with PASOK, while on the other it was accusing PASOK of a non-democratic behavior toward the rest political parties.
 KARAMANLIS ANNOUNCES MEASURES FOR WOMENAthens, 25 February 2004 (15:01 UTC+2)
The foundation of a service funding women's entrepreneurship and an independent authority for the application of equality, was announced by New Democracy President Costas Karamanlis, who spoke to women in Zappeion this morning.
As he characteristically said, the authority for equality, will function just as the Ombudsman functions at the present, and will intervene when it ascertains cases of transgression or violation of the principles of equality.
Mr. Karamanlis was briefed on a series of issues concerning women's entrepreneurship, financial problems women deal with, the application of equality in education issues, day care centers and the role of women in modern society.
During his dialogue with the women, he appreciated that the creation of a daycare center at Parliament was positive, he raised the issue of free education in Greece, made specific commitments regarding women's entrepreneurship and stressed that New Democracy pays great attention to the practical ways in which the role of women in modern society can be maximized.
Mr. Karamanlis also referred to women's representation on New Democracy's state ballot, and stressed that women's presence in the next Parliament must be intensified, both in quality and quantity.
 PAPANDREOU ON THE OLYMPIC TRUCEAthens, 25 February 2004 (14:59 UTC+2)
President of PASOK Giorgos Papandreou participated in the General Assembly of National Olympic Committees held in an Athens hotel today, as Vice President of the Truce Center.
Regarding the truce, Mr. Papandreou stated the following:
Today is a day dedicated to the Truce. We had all the National Olympic Committees here from 200 countries, and through this procedure the ideal of the Olympic Truce will spread throughout the world. The illustrated book on the history of the Truce was presented at an unprecedented event today.
UNESCO has already adopted this book, for it to be utilized by the education systems of 80 countries. It has been translated into Greek, English and other languages, so that it may be utilized by the education system for young people, for children all over the world, because peace is something that can only develop through a change in mentality, at home, in school, through education itself and family.
 DENKTASH: NO ROOM FOR EU AT THE NEGOTIATIONS' TABLENicosia, 25 February 2004 (12:45 UTC+2)
There is no room for the EU at the negotiations' table on the Cyprus issue, stated Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in disagreement with the presence of EU specialists in the UN delegation participating in the meetings.
No one has a problem with them helping, however, the UN and the two sides are seated at the negotiations table. It is not right for them to bring the EU to the negotiations' table. That is why I objected, stated Mr. Denktash.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is more optimistic, and expressed his hope that by end of March, when Greece and Turkey have to enter the discussions on the Cyprus issue, the two sides will have succeeded in resolving the Cyprus issue on their own.
According to Mr. Denktash today's negotiations were cancelled as the Greek Cypriot side needed time to study the document submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side.