|Tuesday, 19 November 2019|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-07-18
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 NEW ID CARDS STARTING ON MONDAYAthens, 18 July 2000 (17:23 UTC+2)
The decision on the state-issued new identity cards has been reached and therefore, any dialogue with the Church is pointless, stated justice minister Michalis Stathopoulos.
Speaking to the Athens radio station "Flash", Mr. Stathopoulos commented on the stance of the Church hierarchy and said that a climate of fanaticism is being created without a reason as there is nothing anti-religion in the government decision.
The problem is with anyone who does not recognize this decision as the Constitution does not provide for a veto power on the state laws, stated Mr. Stathopoulos.
Police stations in Greece will start issuing the new identity cards on Monday, July 24. The new ID cards will not include the bearer's religion, nationality and other sensitive personal data.
 MINISTERIAL DECISION OVER ID CARDS IS REACHEDAthens, 17 July 2000 (21:14 UTC+2)
The Greek minister of Civil Order, Michalis Chrysochoides and the under secretary of Finance, George Drys have finally signed a document calling for religious faith to be removed from personal ID cards, originally called for by the Personal Protection Authority.
According to the document, the new ID cards will have the owner's full name and that of his parents, the date and place of the card holder's birth, height, municipality, municipal roll number, photograph, signature as well as the card holder's blood type if he so wishes.
The ID card holder's full name and that of his father will be written in Latin characters, to enable the cards to be used as travel documents in countries within the European Union.
The cards will be issued to all citizens who are applying for an identification card for the first time and to those who have lost their card and require a replacement.
The Press under secretary Telemachus Chytyras stated that the decision is not surprising and the government's position is completely consistent.
A press representative at the residence of Archibishop Charis Konidaris stated that the church has made its decisions and will maintain its position on the matter.
George Kalos, who is head of Education for the New Democracy party, stressed that although the government has cut all ties during the summer season, the opposition will continue attempts for talks.
 GAINS OF 0.51% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 18 July 2000 (17:09 UTC+2)
Gains of 0.51% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index was at 4.102,51 points, while the volume of transactions was 103 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today 109 recorded gains, 213 had losses and 43 remained stable. Market circles underline that if the phenomenon of limited liquidation continues in the next few sessions the Athens Stock Exchange will get a new momentum that will lead it to stabilizing levels with main characteristic the smooth course.
 GREECE AND ITS ECONOMY ARE AT A CRUCIAL CROSSROADSAthens, 18 July 2000 (16:03 UTC+2)
Greece is at a crucial crossroads as its economy has to face the challenges of a stable and lasting growth, while at the same time new job positions must be created stated Greek minister of national economy Yiannos Papantoniou in a press conference he gave today, stressing that the government strengthens the measures aimed at solving the problem of unemployment.
According to Mr. Papantoniou, the response to the challenges ahead is the implementation of bold structural reforms through the liberalization of markets, the privatization and the restructuring of the job market toward the direction of flexibility.
He said that the future of the economy lays with the new economy which blooms in an environment of free markets with flexible forms of employment.
Mr. Papantoniou stated that the growth goals from 3.8% and 4.1% have changed to 4% and 5% during the current year and 2001 respectively.
In conclusion, he referred to the taxation system announcing that the taxation factor will drop from 45% to 40% for the companies that are not trading in the stock market and that the special tax on bank transactions will be abolished starting on January 1, 2001.
 A GREEK EURO-DEPUTY CONDEMNS THE UNACCEPTABLE STATE OF THE TURKISH PRISONS AND CALLS FOR TH RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERSAthens, 18 July 2000 (15:23 UTC+2)
Greek Communist Party Euro-deputy Stratis Korakas addressed a letter to European Parliament president Ms. Nicole Fontaine condemning the unacceptable state of the Turkish prisons and calling for her intervention to the Turkish authorities for the release of political prisoners. The letter was sent on the occasion of the police attack on political prisoners in Burdur Prison in which 16 inmates suffered serious wounds and were taken to other prisons instead of being hospitalized, while the rest of them ended up in isolation cells where they were tortured, while there were rape attempts on women prisoners.
Specifically, Mr. Korakas mentions in his letter that the situation in the Turkish prisons instead of improving becomes more and more inhuman. He writes that the existing situation is unacceptable, especially after the "white cells" policy promoted by the Turkish government. In those isolation prison cells that serve as torture chambers as well, the inmates suffer psychological pressures in order to be forced to reject their ideas. Mr. Korakas mentions that pictures show political prisoners in a tragic state, maimed, burned and with terrible wounds all over their bodies.
In conclusion, Mr. Korakas writes that an end must be put to this situation that wrecks human dignity, grossly violates human rights and is a shame to humanity.
The unacceptable and constantly deteriorating situation in the Turkish prisons was also presented by Mr. Korakas to the European Union Council calling for the adoption of direct initiatives aimed at the improvement of the inmates' living conditions and the respect of human rights.
 REVOLUTIONARY TEXTS BY RIGAS FEREOS WERE TRANSLATED INTO SERBThessaloniki, 18 July 2000 (14:47 UTC+2)
The texts "Revolutionary Leaflet", "The rights of men" and the "Constitution" written by Rigas Fereos were translated into Serb by philologist Miroslav Vukelic and were published in Belgrade this month in the form of a bilingual edition. The revolutionary texts of Rigas Fereos were published by the Feres-Velestino-Rigas Scientific Society of Studies in cooperation with the Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts Balkan Institute.
The "Constitution" edition in the Serb language is the third in line after the Bulgarian and Romanian translation. Later in the fall, the book will be translated into Italian, Spanish and English as well as into German, French and Russian.
 PRE-HISTORIC ANIMALS DATED BACK TO 5-7 MILLION YEARS WERE FOUND IN SERRES, NORTHERN GREECEThessaloniki, 18 July 2000 (13:50 UTC+2)
Giraffes, rhinos, elephants, antilopes and gazelles used to live in Serres, northern Greece when the region was a vast savanna, based on the fossilized parts of the skeletons of a giraffe and a rhinoceros aged 5-7 million years that were brought to light during the excavations in the region of Xilokastro conducted by an Aristotle University of Thessaloniki geology team headed by paleontology lecturer Dr. Evangelia Tsoukala.
The excavations started last year when a railway employee found fossilized skeleton parts of a giraffe. Dr. Tsoukala stated to MPA that the region used to be a vast savanna with tropical climate inhabited by the ancestors of animals that today live in Africa.
Excavations will also be held in the region of Kalamoto, in Zagliveri near Thessaloniki where a shepherd found a 2million year old fossilized hippopotamus bone.
 INFLATION WILL BE AT 2.3% IN JULYAthens, 18 July 2000 (13:47 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece is expected to drop to 2.3% in July, while in August it will be closer to 2%, according to the responsible agencies. In the autumn months inflation is expected to increase following the usual trend in that specific period of the year.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Greece Monetary Policy Council is expected to proceed with new interest rate cuts that will take place by the end of August or in early September at the latest.
 THE CHURCH OF GREECE REACTED STRONGLY TO THE ID CARDS DECISIONAthens, 18 July 2000 (13:45 UTC+2)
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece reacted strongly to the signing of the controversial decision based on which, the religion of the bearer will not be listed on the new state-issued identity cards.
In a statement, the Holy Synod points out that certain government circles insist in the implementation of an irrational anti-religion plan totally disregarding the opinion of the faithful which was vividly expressed recently with the massive rallies held in Thessaloniki and Athens.
The Church stresses that it will remain firm to its proposal for a referendum on the optional listing of religion on the new identity cards. The statement concludes that the Church believes that in a democratic state the dialogue and the will of the people have supremacy over authoritarian decisions.
 CHURCH RESPONDS ACUTELY TO THE DECISION OVER ID CARDSAthens, 17 July 2000 (21:56 UTC+2)
The Church has made an acid response to the decision taken concerning the ID cards, which states that religion should be removed from the new cards.
In an announcement, Church representatives insisted that it has noted the persistence of certain government circles in applying an illogical, anti-religious program, whilst totally disregarding the opinion of religious Greek citizens who recently voiced their views at the Church rallies held in both Athens and Thessaloniki.
The statement claims that the Church of Greece would like to inform the Prime Minister, Costas Simitis that it continues to uphold the belief that there should be a vote concerning the optional removal of religion from new ID cards.
The announcement goes on to say that the Church considers that dialogue and the nation's wish, should overrule authoritarian decisions in a democratic State.
 SIMITIS-KOSTOV JOINT PRESS CONFERENCEPlovdiv, 18 July 2000 (16:51 UTC+2)
The talks of prime minister Kostas Simitis with his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Kostov had a positive development with the signing of the complementary protocol aimed at avoiding double taxation.
In a joint press conference the two leaders gave they referred to the content of their talks and the future of bilateral relations.
Responding to a MPA question on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the recent fires that destroyed large areas in both countries, Bulgarian prime minister Kostov stated that there is no progress on the oil pipeline but a solution is close, while there was no discussion on the fires.
Prime minister Simitis stated on the oil pipeline that certain issues must be clarified by Moscow, adding that there have been changes in the Russian government as well as in the Gazprom management. He said that the plans for the drilling and transportation of oil from the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus are not safe yet, adding that the oil pipeline must be viable and competitive.
Bulgarian prime minister Kostov stated that the meetings with his Greek counterpart are regular and today's talks covered a wide spectrum of issues from the EU and NATO enlargement to bilateral relations. He said that his country has the full support of Greece in its effort to join the EU and win its removal from the EU black list of countries the citizens of which need a visa to enter the EU. Mr. Kostov also welcomed the increase in the trade transactions between Greece and Bulgaria and spoke of a joint framework of treaties that will never allow the creation of tensions between the two countries.
Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis stressed that there is a spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding between the two countries and that the future of Europe depends on the efforts made by all. He said that the Greek stance is that all the European countries must participate in the EU and the European structures in order to secure peace, security and growth in the region.
Mr. Simitis also stated that Greece believes in a Europe with federation characteristics and not in just a loose cooperation on economic issues because this way the big countries will determine the course of Europe.
 SIMITIS-KOSTOV MEETING IS UNDERWAY IN BULGARIAPlovdiv, 18 July 2000 (14:05 UTC+2)
Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis is on a one-day working visit to Plovdiv, Bulgaria at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart Ivan Kostov.
The two leaders will discuss the joint infrastructure plans in the sectors of transportation, energy industry and telecommunications.
They are also expected to sign a complementary protocol aimed at avoiding double taxation. Among the issues under discussion will be the construction of three new border crossings at the Greek-Bulgarian borders. They will also discuss the construction of the Sofia-Thessaloniki motorway that will facilitate the development of bilateral economic and trade relations.
A special emphasis will be given to the development of bilateral cooperation between Sofia and Athens within the framework of the Stability Pact and Greece's support to Bulgaria's candidature for accession into the Euro-Atlantic structures.
According to the Bulgarian press, Mr. Simitis will raise the issue of the buyout of 51% of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Organization (BTK) by the Greek-Dutch joint venture OTE-KPN.
Yesterday, Bulgarian prime minister Ivan Kostov laid the foundations for the construction of the "Iliden" border crossing that will link the cities of Gotse Deltsev in Bulgaria and Dramas in Greece. Present in the ceremony was Greek ambassador to Sofia Michalis Christidis.
The Greek company "Proodeftiki" has undertaken the construction of the road network that will cost 9 million Euro and is scheduled to be completed in 18 months, while the construction of the customs office that will take 15 months to complete and will cost 4.5 million Euro was undertaken by the Bulgarian "Sikonko" company.
The materialization of the project was delayed by 1,5 year due to the intervention of ecological organizations for the protection of the brown bear population living in the region. The mutually acceptable solution was the construction of a 590meter long tunnel, 150 meters of which will be on Bulgarian territory.
 PAPANDREOU'S INTERVIEW WITH THE FYROM STATE TELEVISIONOchid, 17 July 2000 (17:16 UTC+2)
There is a will to settle the problem of the name that will be used by FYROM both by the country itself and from Greece's side, stated Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou in the FYROM state television on the occasion of his participation in the meeting of the foreign ministers from south-eastern Europe that took place in Ochird, FYROM.
On the question if there was a discussion on a specific proposal regarding FYROM's name in the meeting he had recently with the political party leaders in Athens Mr. Papandreou responded negatively, adding that the name was among the important foreign policy issues that were discussed in order to establish if there is a will to continue the consultations in the United Nations and attempt to find a solution. He said that there is such a will and if a solution is found will depend on the form of that solution.
Referring to the cooperation between the two countries, he characterized it as constructive and reminded that they followed a common line on the inviolability of the borders in the Balkans and the handling of the crisis in Kosovo.
Responding to the question if he really said that Greece must protect FYROM from the increasing Albanian minority, he said that he did not use those words. He stated that he said clearly that the intention is to preserve the existing borders and avoid the partition of countries along ethnic lines adding that this concerns not only FYROM but all the countries in the region.
 INFLATION IN GREECE WAS AT 2.2% IN THE MONTH OF JUNEBrussels, 18 July 2000 (18:08 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece dropped from 2.6% in May to 2.2% in June, according to the monthly report of the European Statistics Agency Eurostat and continues to meet the EMU criteria for a fifth month in a row.
Only in Greece inflation dropped in June compared to the rest 14 EU member-states.
The biggest inflation rates were recorded in Ireland (5.4%), Luxembourg (4.4%) and Spain (3.5%), while the lowest inflation rates were recorded in Britain (0.8%), Sweden (1.4%) and France (1.9%).
 BELGIUM LOWERS THE TONES ON THE FOOT-AND-MOUTH DISEASEBrussels, 18 July 2000 (17:58 UTC+2)
The Belgian agriculture ministry lowers the tones after its recent statement that warned the Belgian nationals of the foot-and-mouth disease cases traced in farms in the region of Evros, in northeastern Greece.
In statements to the Greek service of the BBC radio, a representative of the Belgian ministry of agriculture recognized that the foot-and-mouth disease does not affect people.
 INTENSE EFFORTS BY THE GREEK POLICE FOR THE ARREST OF THE KILLERS OF BRIGADIER SAUNDERSLondon, 17 July 2000 (15:19 UTC+2)
The head of the British anti-terrorist agency, the director of Scotland Yard, expressed his satisfaction over the efforts made by the Greek police authorities aimed at the arrest of the killers of British military attache in Athens brigadier Stephen Saunders.
Brigadier Saundres' assassination by the "17 November" terrorist group resulted to the total change of the stance of the Greek authorities regarding terrorism, underlines among others the BBC correspondent to Athens.
The Scotland Yard director stated to BBC that the professionalism displayed by the Greek police authorities is notable as they do everything they can and work very hard. He also stated characteristically that the Saunders case would have been resolved if there were any cases the solution of which depended solely on the efforts made.
 AN EXHIBITION OF TREASURES FROM ANCIENT OLYMPIA OPENS IN SYDNEY TODAYSydney, 18 July 2000 (14:22 UTC+2)
The exhibition "One thousand years of Olympic Games: The treasures of ancient Greece" opens for the public at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia today.
The exhibition is made up of a unique collection of 50 Greek treasures related with the Olympic Games and it is Greece's "formal present" on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Sydney.
The local press offered an extensive coverage to the exhibition, pointing out that it is the most important collection of ancient Greek treasures ever hosted in Australia and it is estimated that the value of the exhibits is about US$ 730 million.
 GREECE IS A MODEL OF PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE IN THE BALKANSWashington, 17 July 2000 (16:29 UTC+2)
The Strategic and International Studies Center in Washington in a new report on the Islam in the Balkans mentions that in spite of a few problems that arise from time to time with the Muslim minority in Western Thrace, Greece is a model of peaceful coexistence in the Balkans, a region that often suffered from national and religious conflicts.
Based on the report, the presence of Islam in Europe is expected to increase and bring social and cultural changes that could lead to new tensions, especially in south-eastern Europe, putting the region's stability at risk.
Whether the Balkans will become a bridge or an obstacle to the coexistence of Christians and Muslims will depend on the extent and the speed of the democratization of the Balkan states and the incorporation of the region into the European institutions.
On Bulgaria, the report maintains that even though the tension between Christians and Muslims was very serious in the past the country's democratization has improved the Christian-Muslim relations.
On FYROM, it is pointed out that the new state of the Balkans has been based on the coexistence of ethnic groups.