|Monday, 22 April 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-04-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Prodi, PM, address event for Greece's 20th EU accession anniversary
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)Greece is better off within the European Union and the European Union is better for having Greece within it," European Commission President Romano Prodi said on Saturday night in Thessaloniki, while addressing an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary since Greece joined the EU.
After extolling Greece's role within Europe for the past 20 years, Prodi concluded by saying that "Greece is a shining example of the Europe we want to have: United to share common ambitious goals and united to achieve them by consensus."
Speaking after Prodi, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed the importance of speeding up EU enlargement in order to create conditions for prosperity on the European continent.
Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), he added, was simply a means to this end, not an end in itself.
In his speech, main opposition New Democracy leader hailed the contribution of New Democracy's founder, Constantine Karamanlis senior, in making Greece a part of EU, but said that in joining the euro-zone Greece had in fact diverged from other European countries in its rate of development and in average per capita income.
The event took place at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall and ended with a concert by the State Orchestra of Greek Music performing songs by Stavros Xarhakos.
Milosevic trial: During a press conference earlier on Saturday night, meanwhile, both Simitis and Prodi answered questions regarding the prosecution of former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who was arrested in the early hours of Sunday in Belgrade, and other issues.
Prodi had said that the job of prosecuting Milosevic belonged to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and that Europe wanted him tried by an international court. He added, however, that the European Commission wished to show faith in the new Serb democracy.
"They must make the decision, this is what I recommended to (Yugoslav President Vojislav) Kostunica," he said.
Simitis, on the other hand, said that the Yugoslav government should be left to make its own decision, based on the laws of Yugoslavia. "They can decide what is best for reinforcing democracy...the Yugoslav government can strike a course that will lead to closer cooperation with the rest of the countries in the United Nations," he said.
Asked whether Europe followed the US line in Balkan policy, Prodi denied this was the case, while Simitis pointed to the express support given to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by the EU '15' at the Stockholm Summit, pledges of economic aid to help FYROM overcome the current crisis and the EU association agreement due to be signed with the Balkan republic on April 9.
The Greek premier also denied that planned cutbacks to defense spending would affect Greece's ability to participate in operations decided in the context of Europe's Common Foreign and Defense Policy.
The most important issue at stake for the EU, Simitis added, was enlargement and the rate at which the countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans became part of the Union.
With regard to Cyprus, the Greek premier noted that the island republic's accession course was in no way linked to a resolution of the political problem and that accession negotiations had reached a very good stage, something also confirmed by Prodi, who declared himself "very satisfied with the way that processes for Cyprus' EU accession are progressing"
Prodi: Commission to increase economic and political commitment to SE Europe: The European Commission will increase its economic and political commitment so the region of SE Europe, visiting Commission president Romano Prodi said Saturday in Thessaloniki, but warned that the European Union should not be viewed as a Red Cross.
Prodi declined to give a figure on the economic aid slated for the countries of the region, but stressed the Commission's intent was increasingly greater participation in Balkan activities.
"The Commission's commitment will increase on the basis of a very clear-cut political message. We must embrace the region, the states of which I hope will soon become members of the European Union, on the condition of their prior democratization and economic growth," Prodi said during a visit to the building housing the European Organization for the Reconstruction of Southeastern Europe, and the Stability Pact, in the northern Greek capital, where he is attending events marking the 20th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU.
Turning to the work accomplished so far by the European Organization for the Reconstruction of SE Europe, Prodi said it was "speedy and efficient" and expressed certainty that that had contributed decisively to speeding up the economic reconstruction and democratization of the countries of the region.
Greece's deputy foreign minister Elisavet Papazoi said the Organizations work to date was an outstanding example of the success of the EU's policy, which was differentiated from the conventional interventionism.
"From the discussions that took place during Mr. Prodi's visit to the Organizations seat, it was crystal clear that the European Union is seriously committed to doing all it can so that the region will never again undergo a crisis," Papazoi said.
Later, during a visit to the CEDEFOP (the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training) facilities in Thessaloniki, Prodi stressed the target set out at the EU summit in Lisbon to turn Europe into a knowledge-based competitive economy by 2010.
He said Europe was going through a difficult period in which there was a distorted distribution of income, and expressed certainty that CEDEFOP was a fundamental tool in the Commission's efforts for a more just Europe in which the distribution of the citizens' per capital income would be more equal.
"Agencies such as CEDEFOP can produce better trained manpower so that we can tackle the distorted distribution of the per capita income in the EU," Prodi said, noting that by 2003 the EU would have a deficit of 1.5 million jobs in the sector of new technology.
Turning to continuing education, Prodi said that CEDEFOP, with its 25 years of experience, could provide valuable support to the relevant European Action Plan, which was slated for implementation at the end of the year.
The Mediterranean is the center of the world, Prodi tells COPEAM conference: The Mediterranean is the center of the world, European Commission president Romano Prodi said Saturday, addressing the 8th conference of COPEAM (the Permanent Conference on Audio-Visual Means in the Mediterranean) in Thessaloniki.
Prodi said the Mediterranean had regained "the place it had in the past", but warned that if some form of stability and cooperating were not established, it "risks losing its importance".
Prodi further stressed the necessity of applying "strong policies" at regional level and of boosting cross-regional cooperation.
The goal, he said, was the development of economic activity among the countries of the southern Mediterranean, which, despite the fact that they were neighbors, did not have commercial relations among themselves.
Prodi said that the cooperation among the countries of the region needed to expand into more sectors, such as that of audio-visual media, and called on the representatives of the audio-visual media of the Mediterranean to play a "dynamic role" in such cooperation, which should be founded on equality and justice.
The Commission president said the Mediterranean countries had not perceived the change that had taken place in the region, noting that a decade ago the ports of northern Europe attracted 55 percent of sea navigation and the Mediterranean ports only 25 percent, while today the proportion of sea borne traffic through the Mediterranean ports had jumped to 35 percent due to the fact that numerous exports were effected via those ports.
Prodi meets Karamanlis, is named honorary citizen of Thessaloniki: Visiting European Commission president Romano Prodi met Saturday in Thessaloniki with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, for talks also attended by ND shadow foreign minister Dora Bakoyianni.
Karamanlis and Bakoyianni flew to Thessaloniki on a lightning visit from the ongoing ND party Congress that winds up Sunday. Before returning to Athens, Karamanlis will deliver a greeting Saturday night at an event marking the 20th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU that will be addressed by Prodi and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Prodi praised Greece's role in the European Union, while Karamanlis said ND felt vindicated and proud over the decision of the party founder, the late statesman Constantine Karamanlis, to make Greece a member of the EU.
The ND leader also said that despite Greece's recent entry into the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU), Greece was still behind the other European countries.
Earlier, Prodi was named an honorary citizen of Thessaloniki and given the city's Gold Medal of Honor by mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
About 200 members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) staged a protest outside the City Hall, protesting against the policy followed by the European Union and the Greek government.
After the ceremony, Prodi spoke with representatives of the protestors, who handed him a resolution outlining their positions and expressed their opposition to the EU's "interventionist policy" in the Balkans.
Prodi said he understood their positions, adding that the EU was trying to consolidate peace in the Balkans.
The protestors presented Prodi with a T-shirt with the inscription "Out with NATO from the Balkans". The Commission president thanked them, saying, "I will keep the gift, but I will not wear it"
 Souflias' return gives buoyant note to close of ND congress
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)The highly emotional return of veteran right-wing politician George Souflias to the ranks of main opposition New Democracy, three years after his expulsion by party leader Costas Karamanlis marked the third and final day of the ND's 5th Congress on Sunday.
Visibly moved by the enthusiastic reception reserved for him from the gathered delegates, in his address to the congress Souflias stressed that he was returning without terms and conditions and without any prior consultations with the party's president.
Karamanlis had extended a public invitation to Souflias to rejoin the party as he opened the 5th ND Congress at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro on Friday, as well as giving what was essentially a public apology for removing Souflias from the party three years ago, describing it as a "painful decision" made at a "politically-charged time."
After a tense and nervous two days of waiting for the Thessaly politician to make up his mind, the congress erupted into cheers when Souflias finally turned up at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Sunday and embraced Karamanlis.
Describing Karamanlis' invitation as a "brave political move" he said it opened the way for "overcoming the past and looking forward, united and strong, to the future."
"[Friday's] political statement by Costas Karamanlis, and your own response, convinced me that there is only the one, unavoidable requirement for all of us: to make a broader party, open to society, that puts principles above individuals," he added.
Earlier in the day, the congress had voted in favor of changes to the party charter, which, among others, institute the position of a party general secretary.
The final day was also marked by the election of a new Central Committee, with 437 delegates that do not hold seats in Parliament vying for 150 places.
The congress, which had opened its doors on Friday evening, ended with a closing address by ND leader Costas Karamanlis in a positive, enthusiastic atmosphere created by Souflias' return.
Karamanlis' final speech lingered more on broad and sweeping statements of ideology rather than details of program policy while he stressed the need for the party to distance itself from radical positions that had marked Greek politics in the past.
"For New Democracy, dividing lines belong in the past. We are the party of the political central ground. We leave to others excesses and extremes," he said.
Describing New Democracy's program policies as "human-centered," he said the party would aim to reduce income disparities and linked the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few with corruption and vested interests.
He also reiterated a challenge to Prime Minister Costas Simitis to face him in a public debate.
"My invitation for a public debate with the Prime Minister remains open. He cannot constantly escape, society demands to know. Greeks have a right to know."
He also reiterated a demand, though perhaps less strenuously than in the past, for a "joint and long-term policy on foreign affairs" that showed Greece to be united and firm in defending its territorial rights.
 PASOK, government implements long-term visionary policy, premier says
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)Ruling PASOK is implementing a visionary policy, which needs saturation time to show results to the wider public, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Sunday, addressing several PASOK deputies during a dinner in Thessaloniki.
"We, at this time, are engaged in a visionary policy. Many times this does not become apparent, since what we want to accomplish needs a protracted preparation, a relentless effort," Simitis said.
He pointed out the examples of Greece's entry to the European Monetary Union and consequently to the Eurozone, the success in achieving Greece's induction to the third community support framework fund and the successes of the country's foreign policy.
The premier also mentioned the newly inaugurated Athens airport in Spata, calling it "grand, impressive project, the grandest that was ever completed in Greece".
He added that all the problems, causing flight cancellations and other operational failures at the airport, were nothing new if compared to similar cases, noting those of the Milan, Italy and Seoul, South Korean airports.
He stressed that time was needed for employees to adjust to the new equipment and environment.
He called on the deputies to adopt what he called the "bicycle theory", always-moving forward, saying that "the theory is valid for as, for PASOK, for the government. We must always adjust, open new ways, undertake initiatives, since this shows our strength and this is the focal point of the teaching we learned from the time PASOK was established".
Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and PASOK cadre George Paschalidis were present at the dinner.
 Greek, Albanian defense ministers discuss security situation in region
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)The security situation in the region, with the main focus on the crisis in FYROM, were discussed Saturday during a working meeting between defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his visiting Albanian counterpart Ismail Lleshi in the northern Greek town of Kastoria.
The talks took place in advance of an April 5 meeting of the defense ministers of the countries taking part in the SE Europe multinational brigade in the FYROM capital of Skopje.
Tsohatzopoulos took a stand against the use of violence as a means for advancing human rights, and in favor of political dialogue for a resolution of the crisis in FYROM.
Lleshi backed his Greek counterpart's positions, adding that Albanian was interested in FYROM's territorial integrity and for that reason had distances itself and deplored all forms of violence as a means for the pursuit of civil rights.
The two ministers also discussed expansion of the defense cooperation between their countries.
Lleshi said that Albania had from the very first moment seen appreciatively Greece's assistance to his country, and described bilateral relations as "constructive".
Asked to comment on an attempt earlier in the day by Yugoslav authorities in Belgrade to arrest ousted Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who is wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Tsohatzopoulos said it was an internal issue of the Yugoslav republic, and opined that the issue could not affect the security conditions in the wider region.
Tsohatzopoulos further reiterated Greece's support of the prospect of Albania jointing NATO.
 Nothing has been decided on defense spending, defense minister says in interview
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)The defense spending cuts, announced on Thursday during a cabinet meeting, are not definite and they must be approved by the Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in an interview to Sunday's "To Vima" newspaper.
He said that he was willing to contribute resolving the budgetary problems of the government, stressing, however, that no agreement was concluded during the cabinet meeting on amounts.
He also stressed that all decisions were subject to the approval of KYSEA and the full cabinet, noting that "the security and defense policies were not affairs to be judged lightly ... thus they may not change from one moment to the next".
On Thursday, the inner cabinet decided to divert funds mainly from defense to social spending and to projects of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Tsohatzopoulos, reportedly, reacted strongly to the budgetary cuts, amounting to some 1.7 trillion drachmas (340.75 drachmas per euro).
 Communist Party of Greece calls for the release of Milosevic
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday called for the immediate release of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who surrendered to Yugoslavian police on Saturday.
"The KKE denounces the arrest of Slobodan Milosevic, former president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and president of the Socialist Party of Serbia. It is a coordinated terrorist act of the imperialist NATO-USA with the agreement of the European governments and with the collaboration of the Yugoslav-Serb government," a press release issued by the party said, adding, "the struggle for the immediate release of Milosevic is imperative".
 Christodoulakis represents government at Venizelos memorials
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis described economic policy was the government's strong suit on Sunday, in response to questions on the government's recent budgetary changes. Regarding the problems at Athens' new international airport, meanwhile, he said these were nothing out of the ordinary.
Christodoulakis made the statements while in Hania, Crete, where he was representing the government at a memorial service for early 20th-century politician Eleftherios Venizelos, namesake of the new airport at Spata, and his son Sophocles, a prominent statesman that played a key role in post-war Greek politics.
Regarding the government's economic policy, Christodoulakis said it was a "field where our performance allowed us to transform an economy with deficits, debts and high inflation to one of equal value and equal standing in the euro-zone."
He said the changes being made by the government-concerned priorities in allocating funds within the budget, which he said "will lead us to a distribution that reflects both the country's security needs and the great priorities of social policy."
Regarding the problems in the first days of running Spata airport, where scores of flights have been cancelled and countless items of luggage gone astray, the development minister said the problems were minor when compared to those during start-ups by foreign airports.
"I think it is natural for there to be certain adjustments in the first days and I believe that the size of the project and its importance justify these."
He predicted that it would only be a matter of days before the new airport began to run smoothly, noting that it "exceeds in scale, complexity and service every other project in the country".
Also present at the memorial service was National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas, who was the main speaker at the event and outlined the work and contribution of two of Greece's most important 20th century politicians.
 Farmers' subsidies to be paid without tax or other deductions
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)Farmers will receive all subsidies directly in one lump sum and without any taxes or other deductions, beginning this year, Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis in Kileler, Larissa prefecture, the scene of a farmers' uprising in 1910.
He added that subsidies would not still be allocated after the end of the European Union third community support framework fund in 2006, but those subsidies would be in the form of complete projects for rural areas.
He also noted that the ministry was drafting a bill dealing with product insurance and new institutions for the development of agriculture and rural areas of the country.
 Venizelos calls for contribution of all Mediterranean audio-visual media
Athens, 02/04/2001 (ANA)Greece's culture minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday called on all the audio-visual media of the Mediterranean to contribute to the promotion of all events, particularly the Cultural Olympiad being organized in tandem with the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Addressing the closing session of the 8th conference of the Permanent Conference on Audio-Visual Media in the Mediterranean (COPEAM) in Thessaloniki, Venizelos said that the organization of the Olympic Games in Greece coincided with the period of implementation of the 3rd Community Support Framework, in which substantial capital was earmarked for the sectors of culture and the media.
"We take great join in saying -- frequently naively -- that culture is the great bridge for peace. But culture is also the great womb of wars. Much conscious and systematic effort is needed for one to turn culture, communication, audio-visual creation, into a bridge of peace," Venizelos told delegates.
The closing session was also attended by visiting European Commission president Romano Prodi, who was in Thessaloniki to attend events marking the 20th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU.
 Powell tells Cem US wants UN-led Cyprus talks move forward
WASHINGTON, 02/04/2001 (CNA/ANA)The US has told Turkey it wants to see the stalled UN-led proximity aiming at finding a solution to the Cyprus issue move forward, in a meeting the foreign ministers of the two countries, Colin Powell and Ismail Cem, had here on Friday.
Powell told reporters the Cyprus issue was discussed, while a senior American official told CNA the US Secretary of State pointed out the need for Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to return to the negotiations.
Asked after the meeting if they discussed the Cyprus issue, Powell replied: "We talked about Cyprus. We had a good discussion and we covered every issue one could think of between two friends."
Replying to questions on the discussion, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said "the context of the discussion was the UN process and the UN talks and the importance the US attaches to continuing that process and moving it forward". He refrained from elaborating.
UN-led talks for a settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory in 1974, opened in 1999. After five rounds of meetings Denktash described them as a waste of time and said he would no longer participate unless the format is changed and the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied part of the island is recognized.
A senior American official, present at the meeting, told CNA that the US expressed "strong desire for the resumption of the (UN-led) talks and for Denktash to come back to the negotiations".
Diplomatic sources said Powell gave his Turkish counterpart a strong message with regard to the Bush government's wish to see the UN process resume and Denktash participating in the talks with a desire to negotiate. The State Department spokesman clarified that special Cyprus coordinator Thomas Weston remains at his position.
Replying to questions Boucher also said that Powell and Cem "discussed in general the state of Greek-Turkish relations as well as broader issues with Turkey and the European Union" and declined from giving any specifics.
 Britain reiterates its support for Cyprus settlement, EU accession
NICOSIA, 02/04/2001 (CNA/ANA)British Minister of State Keith Vaz has said that during his recent visit to Cyprus he reiterated the UK's strong support to a settlement on the island and welcomed progress the Republic is making towards European Union accession.
In a reply letter to Hendon Councillor Andreas Tambourides, Vaz says that during his stay he also attended a bicommunal event and reiterates London's support to maintaining contacts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
The British official describes his first official visit to the island in March as "extremely valuable".
"I reiterated the UK's continuing strong support for the UN settlement process and urged both sides to try to find ways to move forward," he says in his letter.
Vaz adds he also "welcomed the progress Cyprus was making towards joining the EU and made it clear that we stood by the conclusions made at Helsinki.'
In Helsinki in December 1999 the EU decided that Cyprus could join its ranks even if a solution is not reached.
Vaz said that during his stay on the island he met young Greek and Turkish Cypriots at a bicommunal event in the UN controlled buffer zone.
"These type of contacts contribute greatly for a solution to the Cyprus problem, by helping to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and progressive thinking," he added.
 Greek EMP tables motion for the release of Tziakourmas
NICOSIA, 02/04/2001 (CNA/ANA)A motion for a resolution calling for the immediate release of Greek Cypriot Panicos Tziakourmas, who was abducted and illegally detained by the Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus since last December, has been tabled by Greek EMP George Katiforis, Vice President of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, and is expected to be approved this week.
The motion demands that "Turkey and its subordinate local administration in the occupied area of Cyprus release Tziakourmas immediately and without preconditions" and calls on Ankara "to withdraw its occupying forces and to comply with the UN resolutions on Cyprus".