It is an issue between the European Union and NATO, Simitis added, stressing that it is not a Greek-Turkish affair or an EU-Turkish affair.
On Friday, in Brussels the 15 Union leaders approved a text that concerns the cooperation of the EU member-states in peacekeeping missions with NATO infrastructures.
Also, the summit's conclusions included a second text, in which the principles of the EU treaties and those of the United Nations' Charter are reaffirmed and presents a framework for the actions of the European Union.
According to Simitis the 15 leaders agreed on the two texts and asked of European Union security and defense high representative Javier Solana to discuss the issue with NATO, so that the two sides may come to an agreement.
''At that time we will refer to a third text and then there will be a common statement between the EU and NATO concerning the Euroforce issue,'' Simitis said, adding that ''it is expected that the whole issue will conclude in Prague, during the NATO summit set for November 22 and 23''.
''With a common statement we will reaffirm our common principles. Now the EU member-states and the non-EU member-states, but NATO members will forge forward in common peacekeeping actions with NATO infrastructure,'' Simitis said.
''The European Union comes out ahead because it strengthens its position in the European space. It will also be able to undertake initiatives and contribute to peace. It is an important step and the capabilities that are given should be utilized,'' he noted.
''In the event that the EU and NATO agree on text No 3 and of course there is the common statement, then the EU will be able to undertake the peacekeeping process in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) beginning on December 15,'' the Greek premier said.
''It will be the first peacekeeping mission of the European Union in the aforementioned framework,'' Simitis said.
Speaking on his assessment of the final outcome concerning the Euroforce, Simitis said ''I am optimistic that there will be a final outcome, but I am not certain that there will be a final outcome''.
The premier clarified that all the aforementioned texts ''are complementary to each other and all of them together create the full picture in the issue's development. With today's decisions, the principle of the EU autonomy of decision was secured''.
It should be noted, he added, that for Greece the issue of the Euroforce was connected with the country's all other objectives in the European Union.
The premier concluded that a strong EU is secured, one that will develop relations with NATO on an equal footing, it is a very important step, which needs several more actions-decisions.
He specified that the 15 leaders of the Union approved a plan for the resolution of problems concerning the ''Euroforce'' and he was given the mandate to negotiate it with NATO over the coming days.
''This is a significant moment and we want this process to conclude before the NATO summit, which will take place on November 21-22 in Prague,'' Solana said.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday appeared satisfied of the common position the European Union's 15 leaders arrived at on the issue of the ''Euroforce''.
Speaking to journalists, Papandreou said that the text to which the 15 agreed on secures the principle of autonomy of EU and NATO, as well as the issue of national sovereignty of states and the respect for the national interests of all member-states, taking out of the text any possible discriminatory treatment for any country.
This agreement, Papandreou said, also secures the principle for the non-use of violence, expressing the hope that this text will be accepted by Turkey and thus finalize the agreement over the next few days.
Solana also stressed that it is a text ''that will be included in the conclusions of the Summit, that could be acceptable by Turkey'', adding that it is a ''good compromise''.
He announced that he would discuss the agreement text with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on Monday, while later the same text will be discussed officially in NATO, expressing his hope that it will be adopted.
Solana noted that after the agreement is finalized, the Union will be in a position to exercise its responsibilities regarding peacekeeping missions and the operational capability of a rapid reaction force, by the beginning of next year.
''We dedicated many hours to this agreement. The time spent is indicative of the emphasis the Union places on the security and defense policy,'' Solana said.
Responding to questions, Solana said that the agreement will be relevant only in the event that the Union uses NATO infrastructures.
Speaking at the close of the summit, Simitis said that for now there is no problem regarding Cyprus' EU accession and that what remains is for the final step to be taken at the EU summit in Copenhagen in December.
European Union leaders meeting in Brussels on Friday night endorsed the recommendations of the Commission that Cyprus and nine other countries become members of the EU in 2004.
According to the final conclusions of the Brussels informal European Council, the 15 leaders agreed that all ten countries fulfill the political criteria for accession and will be able to fulfill the economic criteria and assume the obligations of membership from the beginning of 2004.
The Union confirmed its determination to conclude accession negotiations with these countries - namely Cyprus, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia - at the European Council in Copenhagen on 12-13 December and sign the Accession Treaty in Athens in April 2003.
The Greek prime minister noted that the informal summit in Brussels reconfirmed the decisions of the Helsinki summit which refer among other things that a settlement of the Cyprus issue does not constitute a prerequisite for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
On EU-Turkey relations, Simitis noted that although Turkey has made progress towards fulfilling the political and economic criteria of the Copenhagen summit, this progress must continue to enable the EU to set a date for the start of talks for Turkey's accession to the EU.
Referring to Bulgaria and Romania, the prime minister said the ''15'' decided on Friday that if the course of reforms continues, these two countries will be able to achieve their objective of joining the EU in 2007.
On the other decisions of the summit here, and particularly on the credits concerning the agricultural expenditure, the prime minister also expressed his satisfaction, noting that the decisions reached will hardly have any adverse affect on Greek farmers.
On developments in the shaping of a new Common Agricultural Policy in light of EU enlargement, the spokesman said it was clear that from 2006 there will be a reduction in subsidies for the agricultural sector.
He said the government was obliged to secure that with the new CAP which will go into effect from 2006, the revenue from the EU, both for the agricultural sector as well as from the structural funds, will not be restricted in a way unfair for Greece.
Specifically, Greece and the Greek-Cypriot sides postpone the ''Toxotis'' and ''Nikiforos'' exercises and Turkey postpones the ''Tavros'' exercise, Simitis said.
The Greek premier said that this development proves a dynamic for the formulation of positions that will secure even better Greece's interests in the political and economic sector, as well as in the sector of Greece's international relations.
On his part, Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed that this decision contributes to the creation of a climate of trust in Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking to reporters after the first round of summit talks, during a working dinner, in the Belgian capital late Thursday night, Simitis noted that the primary target, for Greece, was to ensure the completion of the issue of EU enlargement and Cyprus' accession at the 15-nation-bloc's summit in Copenhagen in December.
Elaborating on Thursday night's deliberations, Simitis said that there were two trends in the EU regarding farm spending. The first trend, spearheaded by Germany, sought the greatest possible cutback in farm spending, the premier said, adding that the second trend, endorsed by the countries of the European South, felt that farm spending should continue to increase after the Union's enlargement.
Simitis said that France and Germany informed their EU partners Thursday night on the content of their compromise agreement, which foresees that EU farm spending would not be reduced up to the year 2006, but would be essentially 'frozen' after that date and be placed on a regime of automatic cost-of-living indexation. According to the French-German calculations, he continued, the mean annual increase in farm spending after 2006 would be 1.5 percent.
Greece, however, was in favor of a European Commission proposal that farm spending for the new members be gradually increased up to the year 2013, although noting that the Berlin agreement on the EU's finances had a termination date of 2006.
Simitis also noted that the German-French proposal did not affect EE spending on agricultural development, an issue which he said was of direct interest to Greece due to its large number of small farms.
Turning to the issue of the European rapid reaction force, Simitis referred to talks he had on Thursday with Xavier Solana, who also had talks earlier in the day with Greece's Foreign
Minister George Papandreou. The discussions focused mainly on the question of under what conditions the EU would use NATO means for the needs of its defense policy, or cooperation with NATO members who did not belong to the EU.
Simitis said the goal is to achieve a clearly-defined, explicit single position of the '15'.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told reporters on Friday that the 15 also reaffirmed the Helsinki agreement calling on the leaders of the two communities on the island to work towards a resolution.
Regarding the EU prospects of Bulgaria and Romania, candidacies that Athens has vigorously backed over recent years, Papandreou said the Greek government will work at the upcoming Copenhagen so that both Sofia and Bucharests commitment to fully meet criteria for accession by 2007 is recorded.
Referring to Turkey, Papandreou reminded that Athens supports that countrys European course, something that is at the heart of Ankaras deliberations with the EU. Additionally, he said a decisive role in Ankaras long-standing desire for a date to begin accession negotiations would emanate from the outcome of early Novembers general elections in Turkey.
Commitments by the new Turkish government will have a major impact for this issue at the Copenhagen, he stressed.
Acting government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris merely noted that the governments readiness vis-a-vis Turkey is standing, with policy conducted within the NATO and EU bodies when necessary.
At a moment when discussions over expansion are underway in the European Union ... cool-headedness and repose towards Turkey must be exhibited, he added during a regular press briefing.
The meeting unanimously adopted a Greek proposal to take advantage of the Greek EU presidency in order to enhance EU relations with the BSEC. The Greek presidency intends to promote talks on a political level between the two organizations and to organize a meeting in Thessaloniki for European, Black Sea and Caucasus business people.
They also agreed to begin a cultural communications network linking ports in Greece and the Black Sea.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Magriotis had talks with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta and other local officials.
During the meetings, Magriotis stressed that Greece would continue to support Albania's European prospects and contribute to its development and modernization. He also noted that Greece was particularly interested in Albania's ethnic Greek minority, which it considered a "bridge of communication and friendship" between the two countries.
Stephanopoulos, who will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign Ministers Yannis Magriotis and Andreas Loverdos, will be in S. Africa from October 29 to November 2, for talks with Mbeki on bilateral issues, mainly economic matters, as well as international affairs.
The President, who will visit Cape Town and Johannesburg, will also meet with members of the Greek community of S. Africa.
During his four-day visit, from October 27 to 30, Hederstedt will meet with the Armed Forces' military and civilian leadership to discuss matters of mutual military interest. He will also visit Naval and Air Force units for briefings on their activities.
''Erdogan's stance allows us to hope that there will be constructive dialogue on issues of common interest. We should not be prejudiced against any Turkish party,'' Simitis said, referring to the pre-election conditions in the neighboring country.
The premier also said that he may have contacts with Deniz Baikal, whom he met time and time again in the Socialist International.
On arrival in Thessaloniki to attend the October 28 national holiday celebrations, Stephanopoulos said ''we are witness to a criminal act,'' against innocent people which regardless of its cause, is condemned by all.
Noting that the world ''is going through a difficult time,'' the president said that in view of the dangers on the international horizon, Greeks are obliged to remain united and on the alert and be prepared to confront any situation.
The protagonist of the Moscow Art Theatre, Irina Miroshinshenko, which is performing in Thessaloniki, expressed shock over the tragic events in Moscow, stating that she and the other performers are in constant touch with colleagues and relatives to hear the latest news about the tragic event.
Miroshinshenko, 58, is a member of the Moscow Art Theatre since 1965.
Greece's solidarity with Moscow over hostage situation
Greece on Friday expressed hope for a "good ending" to the hostage situation in a Moscow theatre, and its solidarity with the Russian government.
"Greece hopes and wishes for an auspicious end to the dramatic event in the Russian capital, and expresses its solidarity with the Russian government," government spokesman Tele-machos Hytiris said.
Hytiris said that there were no Greeks among the hostages, according to "all the indications we have from the Greek embassy in Moscow".
According to sources he accepted the charges of participating in the robbery, saying however that he did not know that it was organized by ''N 17''.
According to the same sources he denounced terrorism, saying that he never supported terrorist actions even during the 1967-1974 dictatorship, a period that he was very active.
Parliament has in its possession a prosecution file saying that evidence in the case pointed to Drys, who is now agriculture minister.
In a letter to parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, the prosecutor said the deadline to set up a criminal enquiry fell at the end of this year's parliamentary session ending in June 2002.
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party is likely to seek creation of a fact-finding committee to look into political responsibility for the case. Under the expired process, criminal responsibility would have been investigated, ND sources said.
According to the findings given to parliament, responsibility in the case was shared by Drys and board members of Athens-quoted Intralot, which ran the ''Xysto'' lottery.
The investigation was launched over a year ago to look into a complaint that distribution of lottery profits to winners was inadequately monitored.
In addition, renewal of the contract with the Scratch Lottery Consortium on July 31, 1998 was illegal, the findings said.
The complaint also accused Drys of tolerating the consortium's failure to meet its contractual obligation of electronically monitoring winnings.
An appeals court public prosecutor had then asked for a preliminary inquiry into whether the distribution of winnings was electronically monitored; whether the consortium had met its contractual obligations; and whether contract renewal had been legal, as Intralot owned 60 percent of the consortium.
Investigators were also asked to look into 7.6 billion drachmas spent on advertising in the first four years of the lottery's operation.
Speaking to reporters, during a news conference on the occasion of the 18th Philoxenia International Tourism Trade Fair, to be held in the Thessaloniki Trade Centre October 31-November 3, Mr. Kourtesis stressed that the 18th Philoxenia maintained the quality, size and dynamism of the large tourist trade fair market despite a crisis in the international tourism sector in 2002.
A total of 655 exhibitors from 38 countries around the world (535 domestic and 120 foreign) will participate in this year's trade fair. Foreign exhibitors include companies from Egypt, Albania, Armenia, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Spain, India, Iran, Italy, Kuwait, Croatia, Cyprus, Lebanon, UK, Malta, Bahrain, Norway, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Finland.
Twelve countries (Egypt, Albania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Spain, India, Italy, Cyprus, Poland, Thailand, Turkey and Tunisia) will have official state pavilions.
Helexpo has organized a series of parallel events during the Philoxenia trade fair. This year's focus is ''Tourism and Sports''.
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is expected to discuss with Russia's tourism minister ways to speed up visa issuance procedures, a major problem in facilitating tourist arrivals to Greece. The two ministers are expected to meet October 31.
Greece's National Tourist Organization chairman, Ioannis Patelis, speaking to reporters urged for drastic changes in the quality and quantity of Greek tourist product.
"We have to sweat a lot to maintain our position," Mr. Patelis said, referring to the likely impact of September 11 attacks in the US, and to a recent wave of terrorist attacks in Bali and Moscow. "We have to cooperate closely with the private sector and to leave behind our slogan of Sun-Sea-Beach," he said.
Mr. Patelis stressed the need to seek new tourist markets, mainly in Asia, and to promote new tourist products. He said that the Greek tourist market was expected to decline by 1-2.0 percent this year, despite Bank of Greece's estimates of a 2.5 percent increase in tourist foreign exchange revenues.
Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys on Friday met visiting EU official Jorgen Holmquist, the new head of the European Commission's fisheries division, to discuss the management of fishing reserves in the Mediterranean.
Among actions being mulled by the Commission is a Fisheries conference with the participation of all Mediterranean countries and measures to ensure greater discipline in managing fishing reserves and to crack down on illegal fishing and over-fishing.
Drys said that Athens supported the Commission's proposals for the Mediterranean and was prepared to undertake initiatives to ensure their success. He noted that Greece could undertake to organize a Mediterranean conference on fishing during the first half of 2003, when Greece took over the EU presidency, so that there could be an in-depth discussion of EU proposals.
He also pointed out that Mediterranean EU member-states were conscious of the need for more coordinated action on over fishing by all Mediterranean countries and also by fishing craft originating in countries far from Mediterranean shores.
The Greek minister further stressed the importance of EU social-structural measures for Greek fishermen and said that Athens would on no account agree on these being scaled down under a revision of Common Fisheries Policy.
Following his meeting with the minister, Holmquist also met with high-ranking agriculture ministry officials.
Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis said on Friday that he wanted coordination in the road building sector with the country's Balkan neighbors so that Greek highways to the border continued northwards.
"We would like coordination with adjoining countries. We do not wish to see highways that lead nowhere. These roads should give form to Balkan cooperation," Paschalidis told a meeting of northern local authorities.
Attending the session was Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.
Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, said on Friday that it had received approval from Romania's government for a share capital increase of 200 million US dollars to be staged by Romtelecom.
The increase had been sought by OTE, which wants to raise its stake in the Romanian telecom to a majority holding of 51 percent.
The secretary general for the Olympic Games, Kostas Kartalis, told reporters that a key element in keeping to the original 4.8 billion euros requested by Simitis were discounts offered by contractors undertaking the projects, totalling about 265 million euros.
Kartalis added that cost rises in some projects were more than offset by the contractors' discounts.
The budget is handled by Kartalis' department and the finance ministry.
In commemorating the victory of the Greek Armed Forces against the Fascist Italian invasion of Greece on Oct. 28 1940, Kaklamanis said that the ''No'' cried out by the generation of the 1940s ''remains always an inexhaustible beacon of freedom, patriotism and heroism''.
On his part, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that ''Greece today inspired by the epic 1940, supports justice and the values of democracy and human dignity and participates actively in all efforts for the solidification of conditions of peace and freedom around the world''.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) in its message for the national holiday said that unfortunately even to this day the non-negotiable values of freedom, independence, democracy and the respect of international law are not self evident.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas in his message said that the best honor for the fighters of the 1940s, as well those to the Polytechnic University of Athens uprising against the dictatorship is resistance to defeatism and lack of national dignity.
The collection is currently on display in the town of Wurzburg in Germany and spans the history of writing in all cultures from the earliest Neolithic symbols and ideograms circa 3000 B.C. to modern printed letters. The exhibition also spans all cultures, from runic scripts to Chinese ideograms and Egyptian hieroglyphs and also includes a section on musical notation. In Greece, it will further include characteristic examples of Greek inscriptions that illustrate the development of Greek script, in particular.
The exhibition is taking place under the auspices of the culture ministry and will be officially inaugurated next Thursday at 18:00.
It will be open to the public between 10:00-13:00 and 17:00-20:00 daily, except on November 16-17, and entrance will be free of charge.
Authorities said the illegals, 13 women and 11 men, hailed from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and the Palestinian territories. According to reports, the would-be migrants said they were ferried to the small islet of Panagia, in the Oinousses chain off Hios, from the adjacent Turkish coast.
The entire group is scheduled to appear before a local prosecutor.
The three suspects were identified as Christo Christov, 27, Petia Loseva, 38, and Atanas Borgradov, 34.
According to reports, police found a notebook allegedly belonging to Loseva listing dates, bank codes and cash amounts from the sale of forged passports. Belgian, Norwegian, Spanish and several blank French passports were recovered.
All three are due to face a local prosecutor.
Great progress has been made in Greece these past few years in orthopedics through microsurgery, it was announced at a medical conference in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Friday.
The latest developments in the sector of orthopedic surgery enable the expert scientists to rejoin severed fingers and legs and other parts of the body with great success.
Operations which were impossible to be performed in the past are done today with the aid of the surgical microscope.
This was stated during the sessions of the 58th Panhellenic Orthopedics Conference which was organized in Thessaloniki by the Greek Society of Orthopedic Surgery.