|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 05-03-04
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 VALINAKIS: THE BALKANS SHOULD NOT BE LEFT IN THE MARGIN OF EUROPEThessaloniki, 4 March 2005 (19:12 UTC+2)
The participation of the southeastern European countries in a common European future is a strategic choice for Greece, stressed Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis opening the 5th international working meeting on Kosovo organized in Thessaloniki by the Greek Institute of European and Foreign Policy.
Mr. Valinakis stated a huge and historical process of radical change and modernization of southeastern Europe has been launched and our neighborhood will change through this process, adding that the Balkans should not remain in the margin of Europe.
On the solution of the Kosovo problem, Mr. Valinakis underlined that only a comprehensive approach will ensure that all landmines of the past will be neutralized, peace will be permanent and the region will become fully incorporated into Europe.
He also said that it must be made certain that the solution of the issue of Kosovo or any other pending issue will not create problems in another part of the region.
Referring to FYROM's application for EU accession, Mr. Valinakis stated that FYROM must recognize that dialogue and a spirit of consensus are absolutely necessary preconditions to achieve a mutually acceptable solution. FYROM must realize that the EU cannot accept as its members countries that do not operate in a spirit of consensus.
 THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF THE LAFKA BACK PAY AT THE END OF THE FIRST HALF OF 2006Athens, 4 March 2005 (14:48 UTC+2)
The LAFKA pension deduction will be returned to pensioners in five semi-annual installments the first of which will be paid at the end of the first half of 2006, according to a statement made by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis today.
Mr. Karamanlis stressed that the pensioners will get back everything they are entitled to, adding that this is what the Greek economy can withstand with great difficulty. This is what can be done and will be done, stressed the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister launched a strong criticism to the governments of PASOK stressing that the LAFKA pension deduction had to be abolished since December 1997 but instead PASOK passed a special law twice according to which, the pensioners had to continue to pay the LAFKA deduction until 2008.
On the other hand, he said that the government of New Democracy abolished the LAFKA deduction on July 1, 2004, which means that pensions increased by 1 to 5%.
Mr. Karamanlis stated that the previous government made unfortunate moves accusing it of letting the problems to be solved in the future and swept them under the carpet thinking that this way they could by hidden from the people.
He pointed out that the current government has inherited injustices committed for years and dealt with the issue by displaying prudence, stability and effectiveness and by telling only the truth to the people.
Mr. Karamanlis stated that the social policy of the government is unfortunately based not as much on the will of those in power but on the limits set by the country's economic situation. He added that his government and himself personally will do everything possible to help the vulnerable group of the pensioners always taking into account the state of the economy.
 THE SITUATION IN EVROS IMPROVES GRADUALLYAlexandroupolis, 4 March 2005 (13:54 UTC+2)
The situation in Evros River, northeastern Greece, improves gradually as the flood waters subside slowly in the region of the village of Lavara.
However, the responsible authorities in the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region continue to be in a state of high alert.
This morning the water level at Pithion was at 5.26 meters below the danger level of 5.70 meters, in Ardas was at 4.70 meters below the alert level of 5.20 meters, in Kipi at 4.10 meters above the alert level of 4 meters and in Petalo was at 6.15 meters over the alert level of 6 meters.
A large water volume is expected to arrive in the region during the weekend as meteorologists predict heavy rains in Bulgaria.
 THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE PASOK PARTY CONGRESS CONTINUEAthens, 4 March 2005 (13:40 UTC+2)
The proceedings of the 7th Congress of the main opposition Socialist Party of PASOK continue for a second day today in Faliro, Athens.
Representatives of Greek and foreign political parties opened the second day proceedings, while the speech of former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis was expected with great interest.
Party officials Miltiadis Papaioannou, Kostas Skandalidis and Evangelos Venizelos will present their proposals on the party charter.
PASOK President Giorgos Papandreou addressed the party congress delegates assuring them that he is here to change everything.
 SOLUTION ON LAFKAAthens, 4 March 2005 (13:32 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis will put an end to the worry of 900,000 pensioners with a personal intervention on the issue that arose concerning the LAFKA deduction taken from their pension every month.
According to press reports, the Prime Minister will announce a political initiative to satisfy the demand to return the deduction to the pensioners in even back pay instalments by the year 2006 regardless of what will be the court ruling on the case.
According to the Thessaloniki daily Macedonia, the announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday within the framework of a press conference covering all issues. The press conference will be given on the completion of one year since the party of New Democracy came to power.
 THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ON THE HOLY LAND STATUSIstanbul, 4 March 2005 (17:55 UTC+2)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued an appeal to everyone to avoid promoting demands that call for the change of the established Holy Land status. The Ecumenical Patriarch requested all religions, Christian denominations and faiths active in the Holy Land to respect the established for centuries status of the Holy Land and mainly the internationally recognized responsibility and authority of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
In a statement issued by the Supreme Secretariat of the Synod it is pointed out that any attempt to change the established status of the Holy Land will undermine the peace efforts in the region.