|Monday, 12 April 2021|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 06-01-30
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 PASOK LEADER UNANIMOUSLY ELECTED SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENTAthens, 30 January 2006 (14:25 UTC+2)
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou was on Monday unanimously elected as the new president of the Socialist International, during a meeting of the organisation's Council in Athens.
Papandreou was the uncontested candidate for the position, following his nomination by a working group of the International headed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, and the group's proposal was unanimously adopted in a show of hands.
Socialist International began its session with a concert at the Athens Concert Hall on Sunday evening featuring world music.
Papandreou was due to address the meeting later on Monday, which would be followed by a luncheon in honour of the delegates.
The afternoon session was slated to discuss the situation in the Balkans and the Middle East, as well as the alliance of cultures.
 BIRD FLU INSTANCE REPORTED IN TURKISH- OCCUPIED CYPRUSNicosia, 30 January 2006 (14:36 UTC+2)
Two European Union experts arrived in Nicosia Sunday evening to investigate the first instance of bird flu reported on the east Mediterranean island, and specifically, in the Turkish-occupied areas in the northern third of the island republic.
According to government officials in the internationally recognised Cypriot government, the two EU experts are expected to travel to the occupied areas to review the situation and whatever measures are being taken.
Roughly one-third of the island remains under the occupation of Turkish military forces since 1974, while a pseudo-state declared in 1983 is recognised only by Ankara, the occupying power.
 THE GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ON THEFT OF MILITARY JEEPAthens, 30 January 2006 (17:19 UTC+2)
The government on Monday downplayed continuing press criticism centring on the theft of a military jeep from inside an army base last week by a fugitive conscript, emphasising that the Cabinet is not liable for the incident.
"The government is not responsible for the theft of a jeep from a base. This incident is significant - maybe not as much as the incident involving the theft of weaponry from a base on the island of Kos a few years ago - but responsibilities will be assigned where they ought to be, given that an investigation has begun," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.
The spokesman's statement came in response to a question on the prime minister's reaction to the incident.
 ALOGOSKOUFIS CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE DIALOGUE ON PENSION SYSTEMAthens, 30 January 2006 (17:18 UTC+2)
The country's pension system is a "time-bomb" that is likely to explode in the next 15, 20 or 30 years, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis warned on Monday.
Addressing a seminar entitled, "The future of Greece's Pension System and the Third Pylon", organized in Athens by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece, the Greek minister said the problem was not urgent, "but close", adding that the issue needed mild and well focused interventions.
Alogoskoufis stressed that the government was committed to its promise that no decisions would be taken on reforming the pension system by the end of its ongoing four-year term, while urging for a dialogue on the issue to begin.
The pension system is expensive, ineffective and unfair, Alogoskoufis said, adding that together with Labour Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos they have been trying for months to persuade political parties, employers' groups and employees' unions to begin a dialogue. The state's contribution to the pension system totaled 5.0 percent of GDP and could reach 15 pct in the future, Alogoskoufis said.
The Greek minister said a dialogue would help to find an answer to the question of funding the pension system in the future, while adding that a milestone reform in 1992 ensured the viability of the current system.
 GREEK AND BULGARIAN PM'S MEETING IN ATHENSAthens, 30 January 2006 (17:17 UTC+2)
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Bulgarian counterpart Sergei Stanishev confirmed the very good bilateral ties between Greece and Bulgaria during their meeting in Athens on Monday.
Karamanlis stressed that the two countries were progressing steadily toward a "new stage of deepening their multi-faceted cooperation" and announced that he had accepted an invitation to visit Sofia on April 14.
He said their meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the European prospects of western Balkan states and note their joint desire to support the prospects of countries in the region "with respect for good neighbourly relations and to consolidate stability in the region via the resolution of all outstanding problems."
Expressing his satisfaction with Bulgaria's progress toward EU accession, Karamanlis said that he looked forward to welcoming Bulgaria and Romania as new EU member-states on January 1, 2007.
Concerning Kosovo, meanwhile, the Greek premier reiterated Athens' position in favour of a "multicultural Kosovo that respects human and minority rights" and stressed that any future regime in Kosovo must be compatible with the principles and values of the EU and promote stability and security in the region. He said that similar positions were expressed by the Bulgarian side.
Finally, Karamanlis thanked his Bulgarian counterpart for supporting the election of George Papandreou, leader of Greece's main opposition party PASOK, as president of the Socialist International.
Stanishev, on his part, confirmed the good relations between Athens and Sofia and the general agreement on the issues discussed, while he also thanked Greece for its support of Bulgaria's EU accession.
The Bulgarian prime minister stressed that Greece was the second-largest investor in Bulgaria and that economic transactions between the two countries were over 14 billion in just the first eight months of 2005.
He said that Karamanlis' visit to Sofia would be an opportunity to discuss joint infrastructure projects in particular, such as the 'corridor 4' road link and railway axes or the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline that both countries were very interested in.
With respect to Kosovo, Stanishev stressed that "the standards and historical monuments must not be forgotten, so that the people of Kosovo can live peacefully and quietly, irrespective of their religion or ethnicity."
Such a regime would benefit stability in the entire region, he added.
Concerning the EU prospects of the western Balkans, the Bulgarian premier pointed out that the European Union could not be a "fortress in Europe" and that a steady policy for the European prospects of all countries in the western Balkans was needed, including for Croatia which led this group.
 TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS FAIR TO BE HELD IN THESSALONIKI IN MAYAthens, 30 January 2006 (15:45 UTC+2)
EU Transport Commission Jacques Barrot will visit Thessaloniki in May for the 2nd Transport & Logistics international trade fair to be held in the city.
The trade fair, organised by Helexpo, will be held May 19-22 and will bring together enterprises from road, sea, railway and air transport, storage-packaging, third party logistics, machineries, IT, software and management consultant firms.
The Transport & Logistics fair is under the auspices of Development and Transport ministries. Helexpo has scheduled a seminar on "Port and logistics development", to be attended by ESPO president Patrick Verhoever and Bulgarian government officials.
 THESSALONIKI TO HOST SEMINAR ON ORGANISED CRIME IN SE EUROPEThessaloniki, 30 January 2006 (15:44 UTC+2)
A two-day seminar on ways to combat cross-border organised crime in southeastern Europe is to take place in Thessaloniki on February 1-2.
The seminar is taking place with the support of U.S. diplomatic authorities in Greece and the Centre of International and European Financial Law in Thessaloniki, under the auspices of the ministries of foreign affairs, justice, public order and Macedonia-Thrace.
It will be attended by officials representing the police and judiciary in southeastern European countries, the Secretariat of the Stability Pact for Fighting Organised Crime, the European Commission and other international organisations. Its aim is to assist police, prosecuting authorities and customs in the region to effectively fight cross-border crime and present figures and statistics on the impact of international organised crime such as arms-smuggling, human-trafficking, illegal immigration and counterfeiting.
 GREECE "PARTNER COUNTRY" IN PLOVDIV TRADE FAIRAthens, 30 January 2006 (14:37 UTC+2)
A delegation of Greek businesses and financial institutions will participate in a 4th international trade fair in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, to be held February 15-17.
Greece will participate in the trade fair as a partner country and will incluce representatives of banks, enterprises, diplomatic and stock market officials, Dr Dimitris Zomas, first consultant of Economic and Trade Affairs at the Greek embassy in Sofia, told ANA-MPA.
The Greek pavillion will be organised by the Greek embassy in Sofia. A round table discussion is scheduled for February 16, while a day earlier a conference on Greek investments to Bulgaria will be held.
 GREEK RETAIL SALES UP 5.1 PCT IN NOVEMBER, YR/YRAthens, 30 January 2006 (14:34 UTC+2)
Greece's retail sales index rose 5.1 percent in November 2005, compared with the corresponding month in 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
NSS, in its regular report, said the November increase (current prices) reflected a 5.8 pct rise in the food stores category and a 4.5 pct increase in other stores.
Supermarket stores reported a 6.2 pct increase in November sales, while electric-electronic-home appliance stores reported a 5.7 pct rise in the month.
The retail volume index was up 1.6 pct in November from the same month in 2004, reflecting a 3.4 pct rise in supermarket stores over the same period.