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Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English, 97-01-15
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
BRIEF GREEK NEWS BULLETIN BY MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY
Thessaloniki, January 15, 1997
NEWS IN DETAIL
 RAGING STORMS AND TORRENTIAL RAINS LEAVE BEHIND BIBLICAL DISASTERThe recent storms and torrential rains that raged through many areas of the country have left behind a disaster of biblical dimensions.
In the municipality of Fthiotis alone, damages to the road and irrigation networks are estimated to be as high as GRD 14 billion. More than 50,000 acres of cultivated land have been completely covered with mud, while tens of villages remain isolated.
According to officials from the State Railway Organization (OSE) the Peloponnese train routes will have been restored by Friday. Currently, the Athens- Thessaloniki routes is being conducted, albeit with a series of interruptions.
Minister of Environment, Planning and Public Works Kostas Laliotis will chair a mayoral conference this evening in order to address the problems in the Kifissos region.
The leader of the main opposition party New Democracy Miltiades Evert visited the Sperchios area this afternoon.
 PASOK PARLIAMENTARY GROUP CONVENES TODAYPASOK's Parliamentary Group will examine the government's priority tasks in a conference to be held this afternoon.
As for the Premier's itinerary, Mr. Kostas Simitis will participate at the Socialist International Session beginning January 20, while between January 31 - February 1, Mr. Premier will be in Thessaloniki where he will partake at the city's formal inauguration as "Cultural Capital of Europe, 1997."
 STATE DEPARTMENT HAILS CAVANAUGH'S VISIT TO CYPRUS AS A POSITIVE STEP
Washington, January 15 (MPA)U.S. State Department spokesperson Nicholas Burns has characterized the recent visit to Cyprus by the agency's Director of the Office of Southeastern European Affairs Carey Cavanaugh as a "positive step" towards the direction of de-escalating the tension in the region.
Despite the guarded statements expressed by both Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides and the leader of the Turkish occupation regime in northern Cyprus Rauf Denktash, Mr. Burns stated that Mr. Cavanaugh received assurances that the initiatives which aim to prevent episodes, such as those which occurred at the demarcation line the past summer, will be fully embraced by both sides.
Moreover, Mr. Burns stated that United Nations officials in Cyprus will meet with representatives from both communities at the island in order to discuss trust- building measures.
 BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS CALL OFF TALKS WITH TURKEY FOR SURPLUS MISSILES SALE
Brussels, January 15 (MPA)Belgium and the Netherlands have called off their negotiations with Turkey over the sale of U.S.-made surface-to-air missile system type "Hawk".
According to the French Press Agnecy (AFP), Brussels has asked to review the planned agreement for providing Ankara with surplus arms, while a spokesperson from the Dutch Ministry of Defense stated that the sale of eight Hawk-type surface-to-air missiles to Turkey whould be "inconceivable" under the present conditions.
Nevertheless, AFP also reported that the same official did not rule out the possibility of the Netherlands signing an arms deal with Turkey in the future.
 CYPRIOT DEFENSE MINISTER NOTES THAT ATHENS-NICOSIA COINCIDE ON VIEWS
Nicosia, January 15 (MPA)Cyprus' Minister of National Defense Kostas Heliades commented today that Nicosia and Athens share the same views on matters of defense, following his talks held in Athens yesterday.
Mr. Heliades stated that the Joint Defense Doctrine between Greece and Cyprus is proceeding as planned, emphasizing that it does not merely constitute a response to Turkish threats, but also strengthens the Greek and Cypriot bargaining positions.
 BULGARIA: STOYANOV INTERVENES TO EASE OFF THE CRISIS
Sofia, January 15 (MPA)Bulgaria's newly-elected President Peter Stoyanov held successive meetings with officials from the governing Socialist Party and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces yesterday, in an effort to bring the two factions closer to one another so that the recent political crisis in his country can be overcome.
According to the Bulgarian Press Agency, Mr. Stoyanov said that these talks aim at relaying to the political leaders the dissatisfaction that permeates most Bulgarian citizens.
Meanwhile, the opposition party has opted to refrain from today's parliamentary session, insisting on early elections.
Yesterday, over 20,000 protesters rallied through the streets of Sofia, angered over income cuts, high unemployment rates and the sky-rocketing inflation.
 F.R.Y.: BELGRADE'S EXITING MAYOR EXPELLED FROM SOCIALIST PARTY
Belgrade, January 15 (MPA)The Serb Socialist Party's Central Committee expelled Belgrade's outgoing mayor Nebisa Tsovic and the local socialist leader in the city of Nis Mile Ilic, both of whom are high-ranking party members.
At the same time, the president of the Prefectural Committee of Belgrade's socialists Branislav Ivkovic has been removed from his post because during the pre- election period he had quarreled with Tsovic, an incident which the party thinks had a negative impact on the voters and contributed to the party's defeat in Belgrade during November 17's local elections.
Complete archives of the Macedonian Press Agency bulletins are available on the MPA Home Page at http://www.mpa.gr/ and on the U.S. mirror at http://www.hri.org/MPA/