|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-07-27
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE ANTI-AIRCRAFT UMBRELLA HAS OPENEDAthens, 27 July 2004 (14:48 UTC+2)
Anti-aircraft rocket batteries deployed in several military bases in the wider Athens region and around the Olympic Games' facilities constitute part of the Olympic anti-aircraft umbrella that has opened to avert the likelihood of a suicide attack with an airplane during the Olympic Games in Athens.
According to the Athens newspaper Eleftheros Tipos, the anti-aircraft umbrella is made up of anti-aircraft rocket batteries, NATO's AWACS as well as the anti-aircraft systems of the US and other warships that will patrol in the sea region off the coasts of the prefecture of Attiki.
Meanwhile, the state police, the Fire Department, the Coast Guard and the municipal police will be used in the security measures for safe Olympic Games within the framework of the 250 million euro Ministry of Public Order security plan.
The electronic system C41 is already in operation at the Olympic Security Center. The cameras on board the Zeppelin airship and in the streets of Athens as well as the satellite communications systems are linked with the C41 security system.
In addition, the Police and Fire Department have received van-type small trucks that will be used as mobile command units.
 THE ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES WILL WRITE HISTORYAthens, 27 July 2004 (13:42 UTC+2)
The year 2004 will be in the Olympic Games history as the year of the most successful and safe Olympic Games held in Athens. This is the optimistic message sent by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis 17 days before the games.
In an interview the Prime Minister rejected all pessimistic scenarios and stated on the issue of security that we are ready for any eventuality, but in any case, he expressed the belief that nobody will think to hurt the games, a celebration of peace, culture and understanding among the peoples.
In the interview with the newspaper Metro, Mr. Karamanlis underlined that the measures taken on the occasion of the Olympic Games are aimed at making life and transportation easier in the city of Athens.
The Prime Minister stated that the government will not tolerate any profiteering attempt during the games, adding that Greece will have the opportunity through the Olympic Games to present its modern face to the world.
On the preparation of the country for the Olympics, Mr. Karamanlis stated that the safe and successful Games is a goal of national dimensions uniting all Greeks. He added that Greece created, in many cases for the first time, a close-knit infrastructure network namely, sports facilities, transportation network projects, tourist projects and services related to the Olympic Games and their world coverage.
On the issue of security, he said that for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games the host country has allocated US$ 1.2 billion for security about 5 times the amount spent in Sydney.
He said that Greece has asked and received NATO's participation, and cooperated closely with its allies to design security measures and exchange know-how.
Mr. Karamanlis stated that the Greek state, just a few days before the Olympic Games, is in the position to assure the Greek people and the visitors from all over the world that Greece will host successful Olympics and Paralympics in August and September, in conditions of total safety, adding that we are ready to share this unique experience with our friends all over the world.
Responding to the question on the disbelief expressed toward Greece regarding the hosting of the Games, the Prime Minister explained that this happened mainly for two reasons: firstly, because it is the first time in the history of the Olympics, except from the 1896 Games, that the Games are being organized by a medium sized country like Greece and secondly, because Greece has wasted time and was forced to cover the loss by working in a very quick pace.
In any case, stressed the Prime Minister, the voices of disbelief become weaker the closer the August 13 gets.
Mr. Karamanlis stated on the likelihood of a terrorist threat during the Olympic Games, that terrorism is a world problem and nobody has the luxury to ignore it. It is a complex problem and the international community has the obligation to deal with it seriously and with a sense of responsibility. He stressed, however, that he does not think that anybody will consider hurting the Games, a celebration of peace, culture and understanding among the peoples especially, when this year's Olympic Games are organized by a country practicing social justice and solidarity.
 THE OLYMPIC FLAME AT THREE-NATION POINTKozani, 27 July 2004 (17:21 UTC+2)
The Olympic Flame transmitted the Greek message of friendship and co-operation from a boat, at the point where three nations meet in the waters of the Great Prespa Lake. The Flame thus added two more countries to its itinerary, Albania and FYROM, on its journey around the world. There were few spectators, those who managed to reach the white buoy that marks the border by boat. The events were observed silently by the sacred frescoes on the rocks surrounding the lake and the spectacular birds that have found a safe haven on the lake.
Ilias Fotakis, a young man from Psarades carried the Torch. It was a beautiful, unique moment when the Flame reached the three-nation point, people from Psarades set off fireworks from their boats. Before the altar was kindled by Spyros Tsepas, men and women in local costume showered the last Torchbearer with rose petals.
Prespes Mayor, Lazaros Nalbandidis reminded those present that the Olympic Truce in antiquity started from Prespa, in a celebration where Greek Olympic winners took part. Picking a phrase from Plato, he said, We were born from a single mother as brothers and we do not aspire to become neither slaves, nor masters of each other
ATHENS 2004 representative, Penny Mikelopoulou said, we are pleased to meet here friends from neighbouring countries, coming to see our Flame and take part in the celebrations. They have acknowledged the slogan that we have traced with a luminous line around the globe: Pass the Flame, unite the world.
After an invitation to an official dinner by Minister for Macedonia and Thrace, Nikos Tsiartsionis, state and civic authority representatives of the two neighbouring countries met at Psarades. The Volunteers General Manager, Dimitris Caramitsos-Tziras, represented ATHENS 2004.
The Flame continued its journey to Western Macedonia with Amindeo as the next stop. Today's itinerary has for the most part been accompanied with rain. The stop after Amindaio was Ptolemaida where the three-day-long events for the Flame will conclude. A local Scrabble club will present a game, while a theatrical show on the theme of Alexis Zorbas will follow.
The Flame will make an overnight stop in Kozani where church bells will chime as the procession enters the town and the Municipality will hold a welcome ceremony in Nikis Square. A concert by Dimitris Basis will follow. Today the Flame will cover a distance of 202 kilometres with 103 Torchbearers taking part.
 MORE SCENARIOS ARE BEING DENIEDAthens, 27 July 2004 (14:01 UTC+2)
Government spokesman Thodoris Rousopoulos denied an International Herald Tribune press report according to which, authorities focus their attention on regions in Athens populated by Arab and Muslim immigrants.
Mr. Rousopoulos stated that he contacted the Minister of Public Order and there is no such information.
Emergency security measures were implemented during the weekend at the NATO military command headquarters in Europe after a warning issued by Interpol on an imminent terrorist attack by four Islamists coming from Greece.
Meanwhile, the 250 million euro security plan for the Olympic Games is in full operation.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 27 July 2004 (17:57 UTC+2)
Big gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +1.80% at 2353.25 points, while the volume of transactions was small at 109 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 296 had gains and only 32 had losses, while the value of 74 stocks remained unchanged.
 NATO'S SPECIAL FORCES ARRIVE IN GREECE ON FRIDAYAthens, 27 July 2004 (15:50 UTC+2)
The NATO battalion with the mission to face the likelihood of a bio-chemical or nuclear attack during the Athens Olympic Games is expected to arrive in Greece on Friday.
According to television information, a total of 120 NATO officers and soldiers especially trained to face nuclear, biological and chemical warfare are ready to depart from Liberec in the Czech Republic.
Their vehicles and equipment will arrive in special containers and according to information the battalion will be in Greece on Friday and will be stationed in the region of Chalkida.