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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 00-12-07
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 SHOCKING FIGURES ON GREECE'S SO-CALLED "CHILDREN OF THE TRAFFIC LIGHTS"Athens, 7 December 2000 (19:16 UTC+2)
The figures given to publicity after a research study in Greece on the so-called "children of the traffic lights" are shocking. The study was held by the research-polling company "Alko" on behalf of UNICEF and covered the wider Athens region in the period of November 17 to November 29. The study was conducted on a sample of 955 children (61.5% boys and 38.5% girls) aged between 2-15.
Based on the study, it is estimated that about 5.800 children in Greece live and work in the streets most of the day. Those children, both Greek and immigrant, earn about 1 billion drachmas a month for their employers (about 172.000 drachmas each). However, there should be a clear distinction between the "children of the traffic lights" and the total number of children under the age of 16 who work in Greece, as their number is estimated at 150.000. In this figure are not included the children of farm families, who work mainly in the fields or do other minor jobs.
To the question "who is your employer", 12% of the children refused to give an answer, 79.3% said that their employers are their parents and 8.7% responded "somebody else". This response is more common among children of economic immigrants or refugees. It is indicative that 27.3% of the children of Kurdish origin responded that their employers are other than their parents, while 14.6% of the Albanian, 12.2% of the Serb and 25% of the Iraqi children refused to answer to that question.
Most of the children (26.8%) sell paper tissue, 15.9% flowers, 13.5% clean car windows and 20% are street beggars. This percentage is very high among the Serb children, as 43.9% responded that that they are street beggars on a daily basis.
The answers given by the children to the question if they are punished when they do not go to work or when their takings are low, are hair-raising. No response was given by 38.6% of the children, while most of them said that apart from being beaten they are refused food and they are threatened to be kicked out from where they are staying.
 CREDIT AGRICOLE OWNS 6.7% OF THE COMMERCIAL BANK OF GREECEAthens, 7 December 2000 (18:16 UTC+2)
The transfer of 6.7% of the Commercial Bank of Greece to France's Credit Agricole was completed today at 16.450 drachmas a share, based on last June's agreement.
A total of 5.718.466 shares were transferred to Credit Agricole for the sum of 94.06 billion drachmas. Also, the Commercial Bank of Greece board of directors met today to decide on its new makeup. Four of the resignation submitted were accepted and in its new board of directors now participate two Credit Agricole representatives.
 CONFLICTING FIGURES ON TODAY'S 24HOUR STRIKE OF THE LABOR UNIONSThessaloniki, 7 December 2000 (17:59 UTC+2)
The figures on today's 24hour strike organized by the labor unions against the new labor draft bill are conflicting.
Greek General Confederation of Labor president Mr. Polizogopoulos characterized the mobilization as successful but the Association of Industries in Northern Greece announced that the participation was just 34.83% compared to 40.74% in the mobilization of last October. Meanwhile, Thessaloniki's Trade Unions Center announced that the workers' participation in the strike was 70-80%.
The strike action takes place in protest to the changes in the labor relations that the new labor draft bill, proposed by labor and social security minister Tasos Yanitsis, is expected to bring with its implementation on April 1, 2001.
The basic demand of the strikers is the adoption of the 35hour working week without wage cuts. Also, they call for retirement after 35 years of work without a specific age limit. In addition they call for free education and healthcare, while they demand unemployment benefits corresponding to 80% of the minimum wage.
Thessaloniki's Trade Unions Center vice-president stated to MPA that the strike action will escalate in case the demands of the workers are not taken under serious consideration.
 INFLATION IN NOVEMBER IS EXPECTED TO BE OVER 4%Athens, 7 December 2000 (17:26 UTC+2)
Inflation in Greece is expected to be over 4% in the month of November.
The relevant announcements will be made by the National Statistics Agency tomorrow
 HOLY RELICS FROM THE MONASTERY OF KASTAMONITOU WERE SOLD TO RUSSIANSThessaloniki, 7 December 2000 (17:23 UTC+2)
A scandal involving the sale to Russians of pieces of holy relics from the Monastery of Kastamonitou in the monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece, was revealed by Bulgarian researcher Kirilos Pavlikianov, speaking in the "Thessaloniki-Plovdiv" conference organized in Thessaloniki by the Cultural Society of Businessmen in Northern Greece.
The perpetrator of this act, that was committed in the 19th century, was the monastery's Reverend Father Kirilos.
According to Mr. Pavlikianov, the revelation was made by Kirilos' successor Simeon, who was elected Reverend Father on September 11, 1855.
 GAINS OF 0.22% IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGEAthens, 7 December 2000 (16:36 UTC+2)
Gains of 0.22% were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today and the general index was at 3.741,86 points, while the volume of transactions reached 162.2 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today 213 recorded losses, 129 had gains and 33 remained unchanged.
 STATEMENTS BY THE AHEPA PRESIDENT TO MPAAthens, 7 December 2000 (16:35 UTC+2)
Greek-American organization AHEPA president John Economi and public relations head Steve Mantas had contacts in Athens aimed at the activation of AHEPA's proposals for the organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
In statements he made to Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Economi pointed out that AHEPA has offered its services for the best possible organization of the Olympic Games. He also said that AHEPA has submitted proposals for a complete program of volunteer work that will contribute greatly to the success of the games.
 STUDY ON THE VALUES, THE GOALS AND THE BELIEFS OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN GREECEAthens, 7 December 2000 (16:32 UTC+2)
The values, the goals and the beliefs of high school students, their parents and teachers are reflected in a study conducted by the National Center for Social Studies.
According to the study, the Church has the confidence of 75% of those questioned, while among the high school students the percentage was 87%. Lower confidence is enjoyed by the justice system and the police, while the parliament and television are regarded as mostly unreliable. The army with 65-85% is in the first place together with the Church, while only 15% of the high school students have confidence in the education system.
Xenophobia among the students, parents and teachers reaches 50%, while 6 in 10 students have ethno-centrist tendencies.
The students show indifference toward politics, while over 90% of them are concerned that the national identity will be lost as a result of the loose border controls. Meanwhile, 6 in 10 students believe that the EU accession is against Greece's independence and rights and it should be reconsidered.
 GREECE, TURKEY AGREE ON CBMs AT NATO SESSIONBrussels, 7 December 2000 (09:56 UTC+2)
Greece and Turkey have reached an agreement to notify each other regarding their national armed forces exercises, according to NATO's Secretary General George Robertson.
The agreement was reached during the Alliance's winter conference in Brussels, where discussions were held between the Greek and Turkish permanent representatives to NATO, for the striking of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between the two countries.
On other matters, the NATO Defense Ministers reviewed plans by the European Union to develop a new European rapid reaction force.
While the NATO Secretary General has welcomed the EU initiative as something that will encourage Europeans to bolster their military capabilities, some NATO members are not exactly pleased. According to press reports, Turkey feels excluded as it wants to participate fully in the EU's decision-making process on security issues, a demand not expected to be met by the EU.
A proposal made by Greece's ambassador at NATO Vassilis Kaskarelis, to "respect for the autonomy of decisions taken by NATO and EU" was included in the session's final communique, while there was a special provision for "privileged briefing for certain countries afterwards", primarily when NATO infrastructures will be used for possible EU operations.
NATO Defense Ministers also discussed matters related to defense expenditures, where Greece's Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that the country has 2.5 times more defense expenditures than the NATO average.
 THESSALONIKI-PLOVDIV CONFERENCE OPENS TONIGHTThessaloniki, 7 December 2000 (09:46 UTC+2)
A conference titled "Thessaloniki-Plovdiv on parallel courses 18th-20th centuries" opened in Thessaloniki last night, featuring the participation of more than 50 scientists from Greece and Bulgaria.
Inaugurated by the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace George Paschalides, the conference will focus on the similarities of the two cities in architecture, culture and religion over time.
The participating scientists will examine the two cities' parallel courses and will discuss matters pertaining to religion, communities, culture, education, economy, society, architecture and art.
The city of Plovdiv was first established in the 12th century BC and has been inhabited continually by Greeks up to the early 20th century, its historical course has been similar to that of Thessaloniki.
A concurrent art exhibition titled The Balkan Urban Phenomenon - Thessaloniki - Plovdiv similar cities is to open in Thessaloniki today and will be held until December 20.
 PAPANDREOU-CEM MEETINGNice, 7 December 2000 (19:52 UTC+2)
Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou, responding to a question by a reporter if he met with the Turkish side, stated that the two delegations had a quick informal meeting.
He also stated that he had a brief exchange of views with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on the confidence-building-measures in the Aegean.
 A SIMITIS-ECEVIT MEETING IN NICE IS NOT RULED OUTNice, 7 December 2000 (16:58 UTC+2)
A meeting of Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis with his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit is not ruled out to take place on the sidelines of the EU Summit meeting in Nice, France.
Meanwhile, the French embassy in Ankara in a statement it has issued today categorically denied that French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine gave an interview to the Turkish daily economic newspaper "Dunya" in which he allegedly maintained that France is not taking under consideration the Helsinki Summit decisions on the issues of Cyprus and the EU-Turkey partnership relation.