|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-02-27
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE DIALOGUE OF THE "5"Athens, 27 February 2004 (10:16 UTC+2)
There was a general low tone at yesterday's historic first televised confrontation of the Parliament and Europarliament party leaders, which lasted about 2.5 hours. Mr. Papandreou asked that people vote for PASOK so that it can continue its work, Mr. Karamanlis that political change be strengthened, and the leaders of the KKE, the Coalition, and DIKKI that the influence of the two major parties must be decreased. A dialogue was agreed upon for the institutionalization of similar discussions in the future.
 BOMB TIEAthens, 27 February 2004 (10:17 UTC+2)
A barrage of gas bomb attacks took place after midnight, at ND and PASOK offices in Athens. The first explosion took place at 01:50, at ND's offices in Callithea and it caused a fire, which caused extended damages to the offices. Shortly later an incendiary device exploded in ND offices in Neo Psychiko. The third explosion was noted at 2am, at PASOK's offices in Ymmitos, causing serious damages to the office and the fourth explosion took place at PASOK's offices in Melissia, at 12 Andreas Papandreou street.
 WINTER RETURNINGAthens, 27 February 2004 (10:16 UTC+2)
Rain and storms are expected mainly in western and northern Greece and in the eastern Aegean. Winds in the west south-southwest mild to strong, at points very strong, and in the east there will be southern stormy to very stormy winds which will die out later. No significant changes in the temperature. Ships are not allowed to deport from Rafina and Piraeus since 16:00 yesterday. Similar weather conditions are expected over the weekend and may affect pre-election events that have been programmed.
 EIGHT OUT OF TEN GREEKS WATCHED THE DEBATEAthens, 27 February 2004 (17:52 UTC+2)
Eight out of ten television viewers in Greece watched yesterday's debate in which participated the leaders of the five political parties represented in the Greek state Parliament and in the Euro-Parliament, according to the company AGB that measures television viewing.
At the opening of the debate, television viewing reached 86.3%, corresponding to a total of 3,700,000 viewers. An estimated 50% were over the age of 45 and 25% between the ages 15 and 24.
Most of television viewers were over 45, as one out of two in that age group watched the debate.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 27 February 2004 (17:07 UTC+2)
Significant gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +1.47% at 2451.50 points, while the volume of transactions was at 260.7 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 220 had gains and 63 had losses, while the value of 107 stocks remained unchanged.
 LOW TONES IN FIVE-WAY DEBATEAthens, 27 February 2004 (15:35 UTC+2)
The first televised debate of all major political party leaders in Greek history was completed shortly after 23:30 last night, with the positions of the political leaders.
For more than two hours, 4 journalists questioned President of PASOK Mr. Giorgos Papandreou, President of New Democracy Mr. Costas Karamanlis, Secretary General of the KKE Mrs. Aleka Papariga, the Head of the Coalition of the Radical Left Mr. Constantopoulos, and the President of DIKKI Mr. Dimitris Tsovolas, regarding social policy, national issues, the economy, public administration, and education, in a discussion the main characteristics of which were low tones and strict adherence to the time limits, in both questions and answers. The five thematic section discussions were followed by the questions by the journalists, and the positions of the political leaders.
At the very beginning of the discussion the coordinator, Mr. Hatzinikolaou, expressed a proposal for a public dialogue after the elections, which could lead to, as it has done in other countries, the formation of an independent authority with the participation of politicians and journalists, which would set the terms and conditions for the televised dialogue of the political leaders.
In the discussion on the social policy, health and welfare sector, the President of PASOK stressed that among the Movement's aims is to bring a doctor close to every citizen, while regarding the position held by Mr. Manos and Mr. Andrianopoulos in 1990, he replied that he disagrees with many of their positions, but will not label people. The President of New Democracy referred to the gains from the abolition of the prescription measure being proposed by his party, while regarding the securities issue, he committed that he would not raise the age limit or the charges. The Secretary General of the KKE was in favor of a free state health system and in favor of abolishing employee contributions for health, the Head of the Coalition of the Radical Left asked for the strengthening of a public health system and commitments for among other things a trilateral funding of securities, the eradication of uninsured employment and transparent administration of public funds. The President of DIKKI was in favor of a public national health system and a guaranteed social security system with trilateral participation.
The Cyprus issue was the main point of discussion in the foreign policy sector and all political leaders apart from Mr. Karamanlis were asked about the issue. Mr. Papandreou stressed that PASOK's first concern in the next 4-year tenure would be the resolving of the issue, Mr. Constantopoulos underlined the need for harsh negotiations on the Annan proposal and noted that the Cyprus issue should not become an inter-community issue, while Mr. Tsovolas was in favor of resolving the issue base only on the UN resolutions from 1974 to this day, and repeated his opposition to the Annan proposal. Mrs. Papariga was asked about the KKE's position regarding the accession of Cyprus to the EU, and she pointed out that her party did not vote against the accession, it voted against the enlargement of the EU. Mr. Karamanlis, regarding a the statement of a an ND candidate MP on the recognition of the Turkish Minority in Thrace, pointed out that it is not up to him to recognize the ethnic minority in the region, when the Lozanne Treaty mentions a religious minority.
As far as the economy is concerned, the President of PASOK made a commitment that it will be a priority of the Movement to improve the position of low pensioners and people with low incomes, while he stressed the need to attract new investments and further strengthen the economy. The President of New Democracy stressed the need to fight unemployment and strengthen investments, he made mention of the crime in the stock market during the 1999-2000 period and pointed out that there is a problem of major peripheral inequalities in Greece. The Secretary General of the KKE spoke of wild capitalism and said that Greece has developmental potential, which is however mortgaged by the EU. Mr. Constantopoulos characterized the financial policies of PASOK and ND as parallel and pointed out that the economy can handle providing further funds, if waste is battled and if social and ecological priorities are stressed. The President of DIKKI was in favor or redistributing the national income, while he referred to the stock market issue, criticizing the government, saying that it robbed its citizens.
Corruption in public administration and mainly local government was the main topic in the sector of public administration and government. Mr. Papandreou made a commitment to make every possible effort in dealing with the problem of corruption, while he also accepted the need for decentralization. Mr. Karamanlis expressed his concern on the issue of corruption and he said that if Greece does not deal with this issue institutionally, it has no future, while he raised his proposal for an independent authority for public works once again. Mrs. Papariga attributed the corruption problem to local government, to the absence of politicians, while Mr. Constantopoulos stressed the need for peripheral organization and control. Mr. Tsovolas underlined need for institutional intervention and preventive policies in order to deal with the problem of corruption in public administration.
Non-state universities were the hot question journalists asked political leaders regarding education. Mr. Papandreou was in favor of non-state universities and stated that we must escape from the uniformity of education and that there must be many options, Mr. Karamanlis underlined that attention must be paid to education infrastructure and to institutional changes in order to decrease the amount each family spends on education and was in favor of extending the institution of all day schools. Mrs. Papariga stated that there must be equality for all and that there must be no class borders in education and asked for 15% of the state budget to be directed to the sector. Mr. Constantopoulos asked for a drastic increase in funds for education, 12 years of obligatory education, the institution of general education secondary schools and free access to universities. The President of DIKKI was opposed to the creation of private non-profit universities, while he stressed that education must be provided to all freely with no obstacles.
 PASOK'S PROGRAM ON HEALTHAthens, 27 February 2004 (14:02 UTC+2)
PASOK's program on Health was presented today by President of the Movement Giorgos Papandreou, in a special event at the Titania hotel, which was attended by Minister of Health Costas Stefanis and representatives of Health sector bodies.
In his speech, Mr. Papandreou referred to the work done by PASOK governments for the strengthening of the social state and committed that he would work towards securing social cohesion, without exclusions or marginalizations of populations.
He pointed out that great progress has been made in the health infrastructure sector and paid special attention to the improvement of the quality of provided health and healthcare services.
According to PASOKS program within 2004, 10,000 people will be hired in the health sector and by 2006 all healthcare units in Greece will be fully staffed.
Mr. Papandreou announced the foundation of a new university healthcare school outside Athens, and he noted that he will support the institutions of City Health Centers and the family doctor.
 THE DEBATE OF THE GREEK POLITICAL PARTY LEADERS IS UNDERWAYAthens, 26 February 2004 (22:12 UTC+2)
The much talked about televised debate of the leaders of the five political parties represented in the Greek state Parliament and the Euro-Parliament is underway to present their positions on social policy, health and welfare, foreign policy and the national issues, economy and development, public administration and education. The debate is held in view of the March 7 parliamentary elections.
The political leaders participating in the debate are Socialist Party of PASOK President Giorgos Papandreou, New Democracy President Kostas Karamanlis, Communist Party General Secretary Aleka Papariga, Coalition of Radical Left President Nikos Konstantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement President Dimitris Tsovolas. Debate coordinator is journalist Nikos Hatzinikolaou and the process is expected to last 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The questions to the five political party leaders will be made by journalists Pavlos Tsimas (NET), Alexis Papachelas (Mega), Nikos Evangelatos (Alter) and Stavros Theodorakis (Star). The television channel ANT1 will not be represented in protest for the way the debate coordinator was selected but it will broadcast the debate.
 A BRIDGE TO THE FANARIIstanbul, 27 February 2004 (15:36 UTC+2)
A meeting on the relations of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Church of Greece is being held in the Fanari between Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and the Metropolites of Alexandroupoli, Anthimos, and Veria, Panteleimon. According to information, the point of this meeting is to discuss the issue of the document to be sent to the Fanari from the Greek Church, regarding the issue of covering the empty seats in the Metropolises of Thessaloniki, Eleftheroupoli, Kavala and Kozani.
 DISAGREEMENTS AMONG TURKISH CYPRIOTSNicosia, 27 February 2004 (15:36 UTC+2)
Disagreements were expressed between Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Prime Minister of occupied Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat, according to information from Nicosia, where the fifth meeting between the two communities, on federal issues, was completed. Special Envoy of the US State Department Thomas Weston will arrive in Cyprus on Sunday, in order to meet with the leadership of the two communities. We want real negotiations, stated President of the Cypriot Republic T. Papadopoulos.
 TALKS IN CYPRUS CONTINUENicosia, 27 February 2004 (12:42 UTC+2)
Yesterday's talks will continue today, in the fifth meeting between President of the Cypriot Republic Tassos Papadopoulos with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in the framework of the discussions being carried out under the auspices of the UN.
According to the statements Mr. Papadopoulos made upon leaving the Presidential Mansion, if the discussion on the first group of issues is completed, the two sides will proceed to the issue of the territories to be returned. Regarding today's agenda, Mr. Papadopoulos said, we are continuing on the issues we were discussing yesterday, the so-called first group, and if we finish we will proceed to the issue of the territories to be returned. To a question on whether the two sides are close on the issue of the presidential council, as so called Prime Minister of occupied Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat stated, the President of the Republic responded, I do not know what Mr. Talat said.
Yesterday, discussions were on the issue of the degree to which the state will be functional and the way in which the members of the senate will be elected, while the President of the Republic responded in writing, point by point, to the positions presented by Mr. Denktash in the document he submitted on Tuesday night, which the Greek Cypriot side found unacceptable.
 EUROSTAT: GREEK INFLATION AT 3.1% IN JANUARYBrussels, 27 February 2004 (17:00 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece remained unchanged in January at 3.1%, according to the monthly bulletin issued by the European Statistics Agency, Eurostat, which was given to publicity in Brussels today. However, compared to the same time last year there was a decrease, as inflation in January 2003 was at 3.3%.
According to the available figures, Greece had the highest inflation rate last month compared to the rest EU member states followed by Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg (2.3% each). On the other hand, Finland managed to bring inflation below 1% to 0.8%, while in Denmark it was at 1%.
In the Euro-zone, annual inflation dropped to 1.9% in January compared to 2% in December, while in the EU 15 member-states it remained unchanged at 1.8% compared to the same month last year when it was at 2%.