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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-12-21
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 ANTI-DOPING SENTENCES AND INDICTMENTSAthens, 21 December 2004 (13:35 UTC+2)
The sentences to be imposed on Greek Olympic champions Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou accused of missing anti-doping tests will be announced today.
The two sprinters maintain that they are innocent and express certainty that they will be acquitted.
Meanwhile, an indictment was issued against weightlifting Olympic champion Leonidas Sabanis yesterday. The prosecutors accused him of using banned nutrition supplement during the Athens Olympic Games aiming at improving his performance.
Also, an indictment was issued against anybody responsible of anti-doping lab tests at the Olympic Stadium in Athens concerning the case of the destruction of a sample that belonged to US cyclist Hamilton who tested positive in the first test while the second sample was destroyed.
 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AT 10.2%Athens, 21 December 2004 (18:55 UTC+2)
Unemployment rate in the second trimester of 2004 reached 10.2% in Greece while in the same period in 2003 it was at 9.3%.
Unemployment affects mainly the young population (ages 15-29), while the longtime unemployed (over 12 months) make up 56.1% of the total number of unemployed.
In the first trimester of 2004, unemployment rate was at 11.3% and the drop to 10.2% in the second trimester is attributed to the increase in employment as a result of the Olympic project preparations.
According to the Greek National Statistics Agency, the age groups affected more by unemployment are young men (ages 15-29) at 20.2%, while the unemployment rate among young women of the same age group is at 27.5%.
 NEW TURKISH VIOLATIONS IN THE AEGEANAthens, 21 December 2004 (18:39 UTC+2)
A Turkish patrol boat violated the Greek territorial waters at noon today.
The Turkish patrol boat approached the eastern Imia islet in eastern Aegean at a distance of 200 meters at 12:10 pm and left the area an hour-and-a-half later at the call of a Greek Coast Guard vessel.
Meanwhile, four Turkish aircraft formations, made up of 12 aircraft, violated three times the national airspace in northern Aegean, while they also violated air traffic regulations at four instances. Greek fighter jets intercepted the Turkish aircraft.
 LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 21 December 2004 (17:10 UTC+2)
Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.84% at 2708.33 points, while the volume of transactions was at 168,3 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 106 had gains and 166 had loses, while the value of 148 stocks remained unchanged.
 ROUSOPOULOS: THE GOV'T HAS IMPROVED THE HELSINKI TERMSAthens, 21 December 2004 (16:12 UTC+2)
The Greek government managed to improve the Helsinki terms, removed the related issues that referred to gray zones or other issues and limited the scene drastically to the only dispute Greece recognizes with Turkey, the continental shelf, stated Greek government spokesman Thodoris Rousopoulos responding to a relevant question on the Brussels EU Summit meeting.
Mr. Rousopoulos added that this is the dispute Greece accepts and this is the one that it discusses in the talks that are in progress with Turkey.
 THE GOV'T SPOKESMAN ON TURKEY AND THE CYPRUS ISSUEAthens, 21 December 2004 (15:40 UTC+2)
If Turkey does not sign the expansion of the protocol on the customs union the negotiations for its EU accession will not be launched. This is the condition stated Greek government spokesman Thodoris Rousopoulos, pointing out that the issue concerns all 25 EU states and not just Greece and Turkey.
On today's violations of the Greek national airspace by Turkish fighter jets and if Greece has briefed the European Council, he responded that the Council based on its historic decision will be briefed on the course of the exploratory contacts between the two sides on a regular basis, pointing out that such actions do not help to improve bilateral relations.
Called to comment on the statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister on the solution of the Cyprus problem, Mr. Rousopoulos stated that the solution of the Cyprus issue is a demand of the Cypriot people. The Greek and the Cypriot governments are in constant communication and if a fair and viable solution is reached they will give their best, said Mr. Rousopoulos.
Responding to a relevant question, he clarified that a fair solution will be a response to the historic demand that the invader will not be justified for the invasion and cannot have rights based on what has conquered.
 THE BUDGET DEBATE CONTINUES IN PARLIAMENTAthens, 21 December 2004 (14:21 UTC+2)
The debate on the 2005 state budget continues in Parliament for a third day.
Minister of Finance Giorgos Alogoskoufis used hard language against the PASOK governments accusing them of fiscal derailment.
He defended the financial data records and stressed that in 2003 alone the government of PASOK concealed armaments of 2 billion euros.
Mr. Alogoskoufis pointed out that the government through the budget it proposes restores the real picture of the economy, while it creates an atmosphere of confidence and stability for further development, predicting that the GDP deficit will drop under 3%.
He also pointed out that the primary goal is to boost employment and development.
The Minister of Finance stressed that the budget is crucial and ambitious, adding that the government will not adopt unpleasant measures for the people.
 INFORMATION ON NEW INITIATIVE ON CYPRUSNicosia, 21 December 2004 (14:53 UTC+2)
A new process for the solution of the Cyprus problem will be launched in 2005, according to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who stated to CNN Turk, that this process will mean either two separate states or a united Cypriot Republic in accordance with the Annan Plan.
We should sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that all should be winners. We have to solve it. We have to reach a fair and permanent solution. Otherwise, Cyprus will never be an island of peace, stated the Turkish Prime Minister.
According to information published on the Cypriot newspaper Fileleftheros, a new process for the solution of the Cyprus issue in April is in progress.