|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-07-22
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE BIG PROJECTS ARE READYAthens, 22 July 2004 (12:35 UTC+2)
The big projects in the wider region of Athens constructed in view of the Olympic Games are ready to be opened for the public. The Kimi Avenue and the Kifisos Interchange were opened to the traffic today.
Minister of Environment, Land Planning and Public Works Giorgos Souflias announced today that the part of the Kifisos Interchange, from Glifada to the National Motorway, will be opened in a few days characterizing the specific projects as being among the most importatnt ever made in Greece.
Two more Metro stations will be open for the public during the weekend, while the Marathon Route and the Journalists' Village at Agios Andreas will be ready on Monday.
 THE OLYMPIC FLAME CONTINUES ITS JOURNEY IN GREECEThessaloniki, 22 July 2004 (13:30 UTC+2)
The Olympic Torch Relay continues visiting the prefectures of Central Macedonia, passing through Langada, and Ancient Olinthos, to stay overnight in the city of Polygyros.
The Olympic Flame will reach the Olympic city of Thessaloniki tomorrow.
The Olympic Flame traveled yesterday along the Greek borders with Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. A chain of more than 150 Torchbearers, demonstrated with their participation that the borders are there to unite and not to divide, as many of them said.
Continuing its journey around the world, the Olympic Torch Relay set off from Serres yesterday morning. It passed through Sidirokastro, Vyronia (where Ioannis Melissanidis was born), Kato Poroia, Doirani and stopped in Kilkis where it was greeted with an spectacular firework display and a concert by Lavrentis Maheritsas and Christos Thivaios, which was organized by ATHENS 2004.
Along its route in the frontier prefectures of Central Macedonia, the inhabitants, who put up with the exceptionally high temperatures for several hours, greeted the Torchbearers with unbounded enthusiasm. The emotion of both young and old was evident in the faces of all and in the words spoken.
The Torchbearers were the most moved; simple Greeks, athletes in the majority, for whom carrying the Flame for a few hundred metres had been the dream of a lifetime.
Theodoros Anastasiadis, from Skotousa, is a case in point. He was only ten years old when he first saw the Olympic Flame traveling for the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. It was then that the desire to carry the Flame first took root, something that was realized 24 years later.
Apostolos Spasis was ten years old when he saw the Olympic Flame cross the border of Promachonas on its way to Moscow. That image and the emotions that it aroused lead him to take up sport, to dedicate his life to it and is now a Physical Education Teacher and coach. Today he was the one that held the Torch, satisfying a desire of a lifetime.
For Ekaterini Themelidou the idea of participating in the Torch Relay was generated by her grandfather's stories, an athlete who ran with the Torch in the first Olympic Torch Relay in 1936. She wanted to place the Torch of 2004 next to the Torch of that time - a precious heritage so that her own grandchildren would have something to talk about, she said.
In the frontier region of Serres and Kilkis Badminton is played everywhere, surprising for a sport that is unpopular in the rest of Greece. In this part of the country hundreds of children were playing the game, overturning the currently held perception that the Greeks love and only engage in popular sports.
Sofia Voukantzi, from Neo Petritsi, was just ten when she took up sport and Badminton in particular. Today many children have become her students and for their sake she decided to participate in the ATHENS 2004 Torch Relay. In August she will offer her services in the Goudi Olympic Hall where the sport of Badminton will be held.
Selvira Taliouridi of Vironeia also used to be a Badminton player, but also a Weightlifting athlete. About her experience of the Torch Relay, she said: This day is indescribable! It is a unique feeling to hold the Flame and I feel very lucky I had the chance to do it and contributed to promoting the Olympic spirit.
There were similar feelings expressed by Thomas Leventis of Sidirocastro, member of the Greek Badminton Team and Greek champion in the sport.
Another sport that appeals to the inhabitants of this part of Greece is Taekwondo. This is evident in the words of Kerkini's last Torchbearer, 16 year old Maria Devetzi, Greek Taekwondo champion and holder of the 2003 Balkan Championship title.
In the last few days the majority of youth in the Greek frontier-areas have proved to be passionate about sports.
Savvas Panavoglou, 30, who lit the altar in Doirani, is in the Greek National Discus Team and will enter competitions in the Athens Olympic Stadium next month. This is the first time I am participating in the Olympic Games and I am very fortunate to do so in my native land. I hope all Greek athletes win medals so that Greek people are full of pride and joy.
Twenty one year-old Ioannis Triantafylidis, also from Doirani, has been Greece's Junior and Balkan Champion in the Shot Put. Today he held the Torch for the second time and relived his experience of the year 2000.
Leonidas Leonakis, aged 23 and a member of the Kerkini Wrestling Association, expressed the thoughts of most Torchbearers: I feel that, with my participation, I have added my own special link to the long chain of the global Olympic Relay. It is a great honour to hold the flame and I hope its warmth can reach the hearts of the whole world.
In Kilkis, 20-year old Gianis Lazaridis, a runner in the 110 m hurdles, whose haul of medals consists of two bronze, from the Balkan and the Mediterranean Championships respectively, lighted the altar. To appreciate such moments, one has to live them. I am glad the Olympic Games are being held in Athens, where they will have the stamp of the Greek character. Successful Games will be the best response to those who doubted we can make it. So let's all go to the stadiums in August.
Savvas Karabidis, 60 year-old veteran player of the Klissiako football team, feels he has had sport under his skin all his life. My thanks to ATHENS 2004 for giving me the opportunity to participate in this great festival of Olympism. My wish is that the light of this Flame should illuminate the minds of leaders of the world's major nations, for the good of humanity, he said.
Panagiotis Kotidis, equally from Kilkis, stands in contrast as someone who discovered sports late in life, at the age of thirty. Thirty-seven today, he is a Marathon runner, has won a second victory in Martial Arts, and spends his entire spare time in training. He became a Torchbearer because his friends recommended him, a reward for his passion for sport and for his sterling qualities as a human being.
Also from Kilkis is Hariton Haralambidis, who himself asked to take part in the Torch Relay. He is epileptic and considers sport to be a major source of expression for himself. A Special Olympics champion for the last five years, with numerous distinctions in Greece and abroad, he wished to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay with everybody else, to demonstrate that all people are the same and all have the right to the same opportunities.
A common characteristic of all the mayors' greetings was the reference to the proximity of the border and the particular significance this circumstance added to the passage of the Flame.
Mayor of Petritsi, Theodoros Taliouridis stressed in our location here, a few kilometres from the Bulgarian border, we spread the word of friendship and cooperation with our neighbours. It is our desire that the Olympic Flame light the hearts of all, transmitting the values of Olympism, of peace and of fraternity of peoples to the entire earth. Borders should unite peoples instead of separating them.
Mayor Iakovos Iakovidis of Kerkini emphasized that as the Olympic Flame passed, frontier posts fell, people ran to receive it, to carry it further, to admire it and praise it to the skies. It is the duty of us all, governments, leaders of nations and ordinary citizens, that the fiery line drawn by the Flame in its passage should remain ever alight in every country, town and village, and too, in our hearts.
In Doirani, Mayor Dimitrios Aidinidis referred to the history of the municipality and the region's inhabitants, which emerges from the mists of time to the middle of the previous century. He expressed the wish for peace amongst peoples, permanently and for eternity, and may it for ever illuminate the coming generations.
Reference was made to the long journey of the Olympic Flame round the world by Kilkis' Mayor Dimitrios Terzidis, who underlined that people awaited it in every corner of the earth, with the same demand, the same eagerness, for peace and prosperity.
 THE ND PARTY CONGRESS OPENS TOMORROWAthens, 22 July 2004 (16:06 UTC+2)
The party congress of New Democracy opens tomorrow with speeches delivered by Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni, and distinguished guests Valery Gircard d' Estaing and Wilfred Martens.
The party congress will be held at the Anthousa Conference Center and will be completed in three days.
Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis will address the party congress delegates, while the first day proceedings will be completed with a speech by Prime Minister and New Democracy President Kostas Karamanlis.
 BIG LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 22 July 2004 (18:46 UTC+2)
Big losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.38% at 2316.54 points, while the volume of transactions was at 70.7 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, only 48 had gains and 256 had losses, while the value of 98 stocks remained unchanged.
 ACTRESS RENA VLACHOPOULOU IS HOSPITALIZED IN A CRITICAL STATEAthens, 22 July 2004 (16:20 UTC+2)
Famous Greek actress Rena Vlachopoulou is hospitalized in Athens' Medical Center intensive care unit for the past 48 hours with respiratory and heart problems and according to information, her condition has deteriorated.
For many years she has been suffering from diabetes and last week she was rushed to the hospital where she underwent stomach surgery.
 THE OLYMPIC FLAME IN THESSALONIKI TOMORROWThessaloniki, 22 July 2004 (13:02 UTC+2)
The preparations in Thessaloniki for the reception of the Olympic Flame that will arrive in the city tomorrow afternoon and will stay until Saturday morning continue.
The flame visits Chalkidiki, northern Greece, today.
Among the torchbearers in Thessaloniki will be Jackie Chan, world-famous actor starring in martial arts films, Thessaloniki Aristotle University Dean Mr. Antonopoulos, popular singer Antonis Remos, veteran footballers Koudas, Hatzipanagis, Aidiniou, Kouis, Spiridon, Papaioannou and many others.
 US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE STATEMENTS ON THE OLYMPIC GAMES' SECURITYWashington, 22 July 2004 (14:06 UTC+2)
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated during a press briefing in the US Pentagon that Greece handles international cooperation on the Olympic Games security issue through NATO.
Mr. Rumsfeld stated that Greece cooperates closely with NATO and NATO to the extent it can, responds to the requests, thoughts and proposals of the Greek government.
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Mayers did not rule out the participation of US soldiers if it is requested by NATO's Supreme Allied Commander General Jones.