|Saturday, 18 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-12-15
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE HIJACKERS CONTINUE TO RELEASE HOSTAGESAthens, 15 December 2004 (17:38 UTC+2)
Two more hostages, both males, were released a few minutes ago by the bus hijackers raising the total number of hostages released to 12, while other 12 people are still held by the two Albanian gunmen.
The hostages are being released as a result of the ongoing police negotiation.
Three people, the bus driver, who took the bus keys with him, the ticket collector and a female passenger managed to jump out of the bus when the hijack got underway in Athens this morning.
The two hijackers demand to be allowed to leave the country and 1 million euros.
 ND LEADS PASOK BASED ON A NEW OPINION POLLAthens, 15 December 2004 (13:31 UTC+2)
Governing party of New Democracy leads main opposition Socialist Party of PASOK by 6.3 percentage points, according to a biannual opinion poll conducted by polling company MRB.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis maintains a steady lead of more than 8 percentage points to the question, who is more fit for the post of the Prime Minister (44.8%) compared to main opposition Socialist Party leader Giorgos Papandreou (36.4%).
New Democracy is more likely to win in case elections are held, as according to the opinion poll it leads PASOK by over 50 percentage points, 70% and 18.6% respectively.
 THE EU SUMMIT OPENS TOMORROWAthens, 15 December 2004 (13:08 UTC+2)
The consultation on the European Council Summit to get underway tomorrow and expected to define Turkey's European future, is in full progress in Brussels.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in a statement to Turkish news agency Anadolu reiterates Greece's support to Turkey's European prospect stressing, however, that the country should respect international law and the European acquis.
Meanwhile, France will raise the issues of the Armenian genocide and Cyprus.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that his country will not accept new terms imposed by the EU, while the head of the Turkish diplomacy Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul asked for a date for the opening of EU accession negotiations for Turkey in 2005.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 15 December 2004 (17:14 UTC+2)
Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.58% at 2697.47 points, while the volume of transactions was considerable at 223,4 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 83 had gains and 185 had losses, while the value of 152 stocks remained unchanged.
 MORE HOSTAGES RELEASEDAthens, 15 December 2004 (16:37 UTC+2)
Three more hostages, two women and a man, were released from the hijacked bus in Athens.
A total of 14 hostages are held now by the two Albanian gunmen who seized the bus early in the morning today demanding a ransom of 1 million euros and access to the airport to leave the country.
 A TOTAL OF 17 PEOPLE ARE HELD HOSTAGE ON THE BUS IN ATHENSAthens, 15 December 2004 (16:32 UTC+2)
According to reliable information, it has been confirmed that a total of 17 people are held hostage on the bus seized in Athens by two armed Albanians early in the morning.
Three people, the bus driver, the ticket inspector and a woman passenger managed to leave the bus when the hijack was being launched. Since then, the hijackers gradually released an additional 7 people as a result of the intervention of police negotiators.
 THE PRIME MINISTER DEPARTS FOR BRUSSELS TOMORROWAthens, 15 December 2004 (15:37 UTC+2)
Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis postponed his departure for Brussels scheduled to take place this afternoon for tomorrow morning.
The Prime Minister was scheduled to depart at 5 pm this afternoon and postponed his departure due to the hostage situation.
 THE TWO HIJACKERS ARE COMMON CRIMINALSAthens, 15 December 2004 (15:29 UTC+2)
The two gunmen, who are holding 19 people as hostages on board a bus in Marathonos Avenue in Athens demanding a ransom of 1 million euros and an airplane to be able to depart to a foreign country, are common criminals.
The two Albanians have a criminal record and in the past they were involved in clashes with the police.
 TWO MORE HOSTAGES RELEASEDAthens, 15 December 2004 (14:54 UTC+2)
The hijackers released two more hostages and the remaining people held on board the seized bus are now 19 given the fact that the hostages after the release of a total of five people earlier were 21 and not 20 as it was initially reported.
Meanwhile, a woman hostage released earlier by the bus hijackers was taken to Kratiko Hospital in Athens.
Kontilia Stefani, who had been operated on recently, told her relatives that the hijackers had hit her in the head with a gun and had suffered a shock as a result of the hijack.
 THE ACTING GOV'T SPOKESMAN ON THE BUS HIJACKAthens, 15 December 2004 (14:33 UTC+2)
Acting government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros expressed regret for the highjack in progress during the press briefing today.
He stressed that the Ministry of Public Order and the Greek Police make every effort for this affair to have a happy end. Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis is scheduled to depart for Brussels at 5 pm this afternoon to attend the European People's Party summit and the EU Summit meeting but depending on developments he could delay his departure.
Mr. Antonaros stated that he is not in a position to say what is the nationality of the two bus hijackers.
He said that such incidents are isolated and no matter how unpleasant they are they cannot affect the people's feeling of security.
Meanwhile, according to information it has been confirmed that the two bus hijackers are Albanians and they demand a ransom of 1 million euros, while they also want to get to the airport to depart to an unspecified destination.
Minister of Public Order Giorgos Voulgarakis has briefed the Albanian ambassador to Athens, while he had two telephone communications with his Albanian counterpart.
 THE EU-BULGARIAN NEGOTIATIONS WERE FORMALLY COMPLETEDSofia, 15 December 2004 (17:52 UTC+2)
Head of the European Commission delegation in Sofia, Dimitris Kourkoulas welcomed the formal completion of Bulgaria's EU accession negotiations yesterday.
He pointed out that this fact opens the way for the country to be incorporated into the EU in 2007.
Mr. Kourkoulas attended an event in Sofia for the formal opening of the program for the development of the society of citizens within the framework of the EU PHARE program.
A total of 140 programs will materialize for the society of citizens and will absorb an estimated 4 million euros, of which 3 million will be provided by the European Union.
 STATEMENT BY BEGLITIS ON THE ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION ON TURKEYStrasbourg, 15 December 2004 (18:23 UTC+2)
Greek Euro-deputy of the main opposition Socialist Party of PASOK, Mr. Panos Beglitis characterized the adoption by the European Parliament of the resolution on Turkey as a significant decision for the course of the Euro-Turkish relations and a clear message to the European Council and Turkey.
Mr. Beglitis mentioned that the firm will for the strengthening of Turkey's European prospect has been confirmed, while a clear framework of terms and obligations for Ankara has been formed.
The issues mentioned in the resolution concern the Greek minority rights in Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Theology School of Halki, the recognition of the Armenian genocide, the diplomatic recognition of the Cypriot Republic by Turkey and the gradual withdrawal of the occupation forces from Cyprus.