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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 14, 2002
 PM asks cabinet for level-headed approach to Annan plan
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday urged his government to take a calm and pragmatic approach in assessing the set of proposals for a Cyprus settlement put forward by the United Nations, while noting that this might well be the last opportunity to seek a solution in this way.
Addressing a Cabinet session devoted to the plan presented on Monday by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the premier stressed that this had been an ''unusual move'' that would be hard to repeat, since the UN could not keep risking its prestige on dead end efforts.
According to government spokesman Christos Protopapas - who conveyed the results of the meeting to reporters - the premier was able to ascertain that there was general agreement to using the Annan plan as the starting point for "constructive negotiations" and on the need to be "united, consistent and speak with one voice".
In analyzing the plan, Simitis reminded the gathered ministers that Greek governments had been pressing for UN intervention in the Cyprus issue since 1974, in order to overcome Turkish objections that sought to establish the occupation as a fait accompli.
In the past, the UN had submitted ideas and proposals but this was the first time that it had presented a comprehensive plan, Simitis added.
In response to those who advised against haste, meanwhile, the prime minister said it was uncertain whether there would equivalent opportunities for a final solution in the future, especially since the Turks had installed settlers on the island since the invasion.
With the passing years, the premier noted, the international community might be left with the impression that attempts to solve the Cyprus problem were ''futile'' and simply accept the occupation forces on the island.
''We must not approach the Annan plan with emotional reactions - our viewpoint must have depth and strategy,'' he stressed.
More specifically, he said that the Greek side must focus on "essentials rather than symbolism" so that the negotiations would be constructive and so that it could it could prove that it was cooperating responsibly.
"In this way, if we end up rejecting the plan, we will have convinced others that our viewpoint is right," he added.
The prime minister also pointed out that Cyprus' accession into the EU would significantly alter the situation, since it would reduce the Turkish-Cypriot side's dependence on Turkey and bridge the differences of the two communities, thus increasing the chances of peaceful coexistence.
Finally, he reminded the Cabinet that the primary say belonged to the Cypriot people and called for a united stance, both with Cyprus and within Greece.
The government spokesman also announced that Annan's proposed Cyprus solution would be discussed during a joint session of ruling PASOK's Parliamentary Group and Central Committee on November 28-29.
On Thursday, meanwhile, Foreign Minister George Papandreou will present the government's views on the issue to the Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, while a meeting of the government's communications team to discuss the Annan plan would be held on Wednesday evening.
The results of the cabinet meeting were also commented on later by Papandreou, who said there had been an excellent discussion with very constructive and useful suggestions.
In response to questions, meanwhile, he said the government wanted to wrap up the Cyprus issue as soon as possible.
"But if the negotiations have not ended by December 12, we will pull all the stops to make sure that Cyprus joins the EU, even as it is," he added.
 UN plan does not foresee founding of new Cypriot state, Deputy FM Loverdos says
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)UN secretary general Kofi Annan's draft solution for Cyprus did not foresee the establishment of a new state, but the continuity of the state of Cyprus, Greece's deputy foreign minister Andreas Loverdos said Wednesday.
Loverdos was replying to questions during a session of the standing parliamentary committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs to discuss a foreign ministry bill on the training and appraisal of foreign ministry employees.
Loverdos said that the Annan plan was in line with the western European models, and specifically those of Belgium and Switzerland, and he denied rumors of a Dayton-style of Lebanon-style proposal.
"No issue arises of the establishment of a new state. From nine or more provisions of the Annan plan, the continuity of the Cypriot state arises," Loverdos said.
He also said that the prospect existed for the plan to be discussed in a coordinated manner by the political parties of Greece and Cyprus.
Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, honorary president of the main opposition New Democracy party, expressed hope that Loverdos' appraisal that there was no issue of a new state being established would prove true, but said he was not absolutely certain of it.
Mitsotakis further called for intense and frank dialogue and briefing.
"We are at a crucial turning point, and must not be hasty...The situation is difficult and cannot be easily overcome," he added.
Meanwhile, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said in an interview with Cyprus Radio (RIK) that any effort to impose a binding timeframe in view of the EU summit in Copenhagen next month and the tentative April 16 date set for the signing of the Accession Agreements by the 10 EU candidates, which include Cyprus, would undermine the negotiations (on the Annan plan) and their positive outcome.
Beglitis said that it would be a mistake for such a message to be sent on the part of the United Nations, because this would not create the conditions and prerequisites for the smooth course of the negotiations.
He also stressed that the two communities on Cyprus should be left undistracted to the negotiation, without deadline dilemmas or 'take it or leave it' rationales.
Beglitis further said it would be a mistake to link or involve the negotiation process for a Cyprus solution with the process of completing the European Union accession negotiations and the decision on Cyprus' EU membership.
 Greek and Cypriot DMs discuss Cyprus blueprint
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his Cypriot counterpart Socrates Hasikos on Wednesday discussed the blueprint for the issue of Cyprus delivered to the sides involved by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Papantoniou said the plan is a historic opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus issue. It forms a starting point for intense negotiations and points will have to change until a finalized text is reached which will be presented to the people of Cyprus who are sovereign and will decide on their future.
He further assessed that demilitarization anticipated by the plan can constitute a positive development regarding the course of Greek-Turkish defense expenditures, provided the other side acts in this direction as well.
In any case, he added, Greece stands by Cyprus' side for a positive result, which will be achieved through difficult negotiations.
Hasikos said it is a period in which calm and seriousness should prevail and many words should be unnecessary, whether it is a positive or negative comment on the plan, which will be judged in its entirety.
Both ministers reassured that the unified defense doctrine is valid as long as there is no solution to the Cyprus issue.
Papantoniou said if a solution is found and Cyprus is rid of threats the defense doctrine will be raised from a completely different aspect.
Hasikos said as long as there are occupation forces the unified defense doctrine, the national guard and the armed forces will exist and, of course, they will be strengthened to the end.
Asked whether he has any problem from the possibility of his ministry being abolished through the Annan blueprint, Hasikos said he has no problem provided a viable and workable solution is found for the benefit of Cyprus and all of Hellenism, which will safeguard the future and prosperity for all citizens, which is the aim of all.
 Gov't questions expediency in presenting Greek positions on UN Cyprus planAthens, 14/11/2002
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday expressed reservations over the expediency of presenting Greek positions on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue.
He added that the government should have freedom of handling situations during the negotiations' process.
Speaking on the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides, Protopapas said that they seem to be accepting the plan as a base for negotiations and if this is confirmed it would be a positive development, adding, however, that since during the discussions Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot sides will raise objections there is a necessity for national consensus on the Greek side and close cooperation with Cyprus.
''The resolution of the Cyprus issue will facilitate the development of the country, it will strengthen the security of the region and affect in a positive way the climate of the Greek-Turkish relations and the European prospect of Turkey,'' he said.
 Powell calls on both sides to study UN plan carefully
WASHINGTON, 14/11/2002 (ANA/T.Ellis)US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said the presentation of a peace plan on Cyprus by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was an important initiative and expressed hope that both sides will study the initiative carefully.
He said "the initial response from both the Greek and Turkish and all parties in this difficult situation has been encouraging.''
Powell, who was speaking to the press after meeting Annan in Washington on Tuesday said he had extended his congratulations to the Secretary General on the new initiative that he put forward with respect to Cyprus, underlying that ''there are many difficulties ahead, but I think it's important that both sides take this opportunity, with this new initiative to reach a solution to this most vexing of problems.''
Powell noted they discussed the Cyprus issue extensively but said he did not want to get into any detailed comments on the UN initiative as he had not studied it yet.
''We'll study it very carefully. It's more important for the sides to examine it carefully and enter into this discussion in the spirit of finding not problems, but finding ways of moving forward, of finding a solution,'' the US Secretary of State added.
Annan said that he had spoken to both Cyprus leaders Monday and appealed to them to take time to study the document, not to give him any quick reactions, but come to him within a week.
''And once I receive their reactions we'll make a judgment how we carry the process forward,'' he added.
 ND leader expresses reservations about provisions of UN plan for Cyprus
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday expressed, for the first time in public, his reservations for some of the provisions of the UN plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue that was submitted on Monday.
Karamanlis, who chaired a meeting of his party's cadres that focused on the Cyprus issue, issued a warning that the settlement of the Cyprus issue does not constitute a precondition for accession to the European Union, adding that this meant that even in the event of the non-resolution the entry of Cyprus in the Union will be without obstacles.
The ND leader, following, as he said, the first reading of the UN plan, noted that the state structure and the government system proposed by the plan are problematic, adding that this meant that a substantial problem of functionality was created, while there was a serious problem with the full harmonization of specific provisions of the plan with the European Union's acquis communautaire.
Karamanlis went on to criticize the government and the stance taken by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, stressing that ''beautifications'' do not help, rather they weaken ''our negotiation capabilities''.
He underlined that great effort would be necessary, as well as tough negotiations to achieve the viability, functionality and harmonization with the European institutions.
The ND leader reiterated his call for the convening of the council of the political leaders of the country under the auspices of the President of the Republic, saying that this straggle demanded the highest degree of national understanding and cooperation.
 Communist party rejects UN peace plan for Cyprus,
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rejected the set of proposals for solving the Cyprus issue put forward by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, KKE leader Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Papariga described the plan as having been "dictated by the Americans and the leading forces within the EU" and claimed that it amounted to an institutional recognition of the division on the island and acceptance of the invasion and occupation as the status quo.
She rejected the plan overall as "unacceptable, dangerous and not viable" and said that it could not form the basis for negotiations.
The Annan plan created an unprecedented system of government that was essentially just a concealed form of confederation and a concealed division. The dysfunctional operation of the "joint state" would result in dangerous situations and the island would be under the constant supervision of the UN, the EU, the English and Americans, she added.
KKE's General Secretary also raised question about the timing of the report - given the upheavals in Turkey, the situation in the Middle East and preparations for an attack on Iraq - while she was sharply critical of the tight 'deadlines' incorporated into the proposals.
She urged the Cypriot people to join in mass protests against the proposed solution and the "ultimatums and solutions dictated by the imperialists".
 DHKKI leader says in no way Annan plan a base for dialogue
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday on the ''Annan blueprint'' for Cyprus, said in no way can the Annan plan form a base for dialogue for a solution to the Cyprus issue, adding that it is much worse than the present de facto situation.
Tsovolas said the plan clearly describes a confederation (since it anticipates two separate ''component states'', with separate constitutions, internal citizenships and geographic limits) which, in addition, will clearly prove to be unworkable since the adoption of a law by the Senate (the supreme body of the central legislature) will require the approval of the Turkish Cypriot side which will participate with a 50 percent share.
He further underlined the content of article 4 of the Annan plan which links fully and substantively the acceptance of the plan with Cyprus' accession to the EU.
''Unfortunately Europe is not ruled by Europe but, every day that passes, by the United States. Control of Europe also takes place through NATO, as well as internally through Britain and now it is promoting Turkey at no cost. No serious observer, or politician (particularly after the agreement on the European army where Cyprus was excluded) does not link the security of Cyprus with its accession to the EU. In fact, with the closure of the Cyprus issue, the argument which existed against the prospect of Turkey's accession that it is observing a negative stand on the Cyprus issue is also annulled.''
 Greek envoy in US reviews Greek foreign policy and Cyprus developments
WASHINGTON, 14/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's Ambassador in Washington, George Savvaidis, reviewed Greek foreign policy, with emphasis on the current developments in the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' EU accession course, as well as the priorities of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003, during an event in his honor Tuesday night organized by the Hellenic American Heritage Council.
During the event, which was also attended by representatives of major US companies active in Greece, Savvaidis described the present level of Greek-US relations as ''excellent''.
He outlined the course of the Greek economy and its participation in the euro-zone, and also the opportunities arising given Athens' hosting of the 2004 Olympics, as well as security matters following the Greek authorities' arrests of the November 17 terrorist organizations members.
Savvaidis further noted Greece's constructive role in the economic and political stabilization of the Balkans, and stressed the importance of the Greek-Turkish rapprochement of the past few years.
Meanwhile, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US strongly supported UN secretary general Kofi Annan's draft plan for a Cyprus solution, which was released to the sides concerned on Monday.
"We consider this to be an important effort by the (UN) secretary general, which we totally support," Boucher reiterated, adding that the US had for many years been working for a Cyprus solution that took into consideration all the demands of the sides on Cyprus and reinforced stability in the wider region.
 Erdogan says time limit of Annan's Cyprus blueprint 'mistaken'
ROME, 14/11/2002 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)Turkish Justice and Development Party leader Recept Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi here on Wednesday, saying he received the Italian government's support for setting a date for the start of negotiations for Turkey's accession to the European Union.
Speaking at a press conference and commenting on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's blueprint for the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said ''the time limit for the reply is mistaken. A government should be formed first (in Turkey). Then we shall take the other steps.''
Referring to the plan, Erdogan had said in an interview with the newspaper ''Republica'' that a solution should be found inspired by the 'Belgian model' with two equal sovereign and separate states.
''In principle, both sides are in favor of a solution. Politics is an art which produces solutions and does not create problems. And for this reason we are in favour of the solution. Inspired by the 'Belgian model' for two equal, sovereign and separate states. However, not that we shall implement the Belgian (model) exactly. When we shall have all the details we shall examine them as soon as the government is created. At this moment there is a plan. The time limit given is mistaken. We must form a government first and then the other steps will be taken,'' Erdogan said.
 Beglitis, Pangalos: 'No' to binding timeframe, ultimatum deadlinesNICOSIA,14/11/20002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)
Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said on Wednesday that any attempt to impose a binding timeframe for a settlement of the Cyprus issue, in view of the EU summit in Copenhagen in December and the signing ceremony for the ten candidate countries' accession to the EU in Athens on April 16, 2003, would undermine negotiations and their positive outcome.
In statements to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, Beglitis added that it would be wrong for such a message to be sent by the United Nations as it would essentially not create the prerequisites and conditions for the unhindered course of the negotiations.
He stressed that the two communities in Cyprus should be left to concentrate on the negotiations without chronological dilemmas or through the logic of ''take it or leave it.''
Beglitis said it would be wrong to link the negotiations procedure for a settlement of the Cyprus issue with the procedure for the completion of the accession negotiations and the decision for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Greek former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday called on the Greek Cypriot side, without rejecting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for a comprehensive settlement, to immediately ''say the first no'' to what he termed the ''ultimatum deadlines'' raised by the UN chief.
Pangalos, who was speaking to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, said there were so many serious issues which require time for serious negotiations and that it was impossible for the Greek Cypriot side to answer with a ''yes or no'' by Monday, November 18.
He further indicated that the Annan plan links the political settlement of the Cyprus issue with Cyprus' EU accession and for this reason, ''the issue must remain open for discussion after (the EU summit in) Copenhagen.''
 ELDR leader says Annan plan 'significant opportunity' for Cyprus solution
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The visiting leader of the European Parliament's European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) group, Graham Watson, said Wednesday that UN chief Kofi Annan's draft plan was a "most significant opportunity" for resolving the Cyprus issue and for Cyprus' prosperity, adding that it formed a good basis for discussion and suggested a way towards a solution to the issue.
Watson, the British MEP who chairs the 53-member ELDR, was received Wednesday by prime minister Costas Simitis, after holding talks on Tuesday with Greek officials.
Speaking to the press after his meeting with the Greek premier, Watson said his party welcomed the UN plan for a Cyprus solution, adding that great political will was required on the part of the two sides concerned and their leaders, and warned that one must not underestimate the problems that existed.
Replying to press questions, Watson said that his party wished to see a solution to the problem. He noted that if the whole of Cyprus joined the EU, the various problems could be solved, with good will, noting for example that the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island could also benefit from the EU's structural funds and the investments that would be channeled there.
In his view, Watson said, the entire European Community, including Britain, would be greatly pleased if Cyprus' political problem could be solved before the EU's expansion, noting that in the event that only the free part of Cyprus acceded to the EU, the problems would be many in number.
He also said that much faith was required by both sides involved for the resolution of the political problem, "just as is required for a successful marriage", noting that of the six points
required for the success of a marriage "the first point concerns faith in the marriage, and the other five points concern confidence".
Replying to other questions, Watson said that Greece had all the prerequisites for a very good and successful EU presidency, and also endorsed the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
 EPP calls on European Commission to probe Cyprus plan
BRUSSELS 4/11/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)The European Peoples' Party (EPP) on Wednesday called on the European Commission to examine the compatibility of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's blueprint for the Cyprus issue with the acquis communautaire.
An announcement by the party said the EPP's Parliamentary Group unanimously adopted a relevant amendment by main opposition New Democracy party Eurodeputies Christos Zacharakis and Kostis Hatzidakis to the report on European Union enlargement, expected to be ratified by the European Parliament's plenum next week.
According to the amendment, the European Parliament notes the submission of the UN secretary general's blueprint for a solution to the political problem of Cyprus, encourages the sides involved to examine it carefully and objectively and calls on the European Commission to ascertain whether its provisions can form the base for securing a viable and workable solution in the framework of the EU and in harmony with the acquis communautaire.
Greece reiterates support for Bulgaria's and Romania's NATO entry Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA) Greece and Turkey on Wednesday reiterated their support for the entry of their Balkan neighbors Romania and Bulgaria into NATO, during a meeting between the defense ministers of all four countries in Bulgaria's Plovdiv.
Present at the meeting were Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolayo Svinarov and Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu.
Representing Greece and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis said that Athens considered that a geographic link between NATO and the countries of southeastern Europe would establish conditions of stability, peace and security in the region.
Greece believed that the expansion process should be a continuous effort by the Alliance until all the countries in Europe had been incorporated without exception, so that collective European security could be achieved in the near future.
At another point during the meeting, Apostolidis referred to the EU summit in Copenhagen and said he expected good results with respect to setting a date for the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the Community.
The NATO summit in Prague later this year will decide to allow seven new countries to join the Alliance, including Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
 German Chancellor talks of steps to upgrade EU-Turkish relations
BERLIN, 14/11/2002 (ANA - P. Stangos)German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday announced that steps will be taken toward the upgrade of the European Union relations with Turkey during the Copenhagen Summit.
He stressed, however, that there was the precondition that it would be made ''crystal clear'' that the new political leadership of Turkey has the will to forge forward unwaveringly on the road to reforms.
According to a Chancellery official, the German government includes in this aforementioned framework a ''self-evident'' constructive stance of Turkey toward the resolution of the Cyprus problem and the entry of the island republic in the European Union.
Schroeder did not specify the kind and width of the steps to be taken, since Germany considers premature the satisfaction of the Turkish request for the setting of a date for the initiation of accession negotiations.
He did say, however, that he supports ''without any reserva-tions'' the rapprochement and deepening of the EU-Turkish relations.
According to the Chancellor, the first positions taken by the winner of the Turkish elections, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Justice and Development Party, are messages of ''optimism'' and what must follow are ''similar signs'' when the new government is formed in Turkey.
Meanwhile in Turkey, according to an ANA dispatch, the vice-president of the Justice and Development Party Abdullah Gyul said that ''it is not a resolution the non-resolution of the Cyprus issue''.
''The resolution should be more realistic,'' Gyul said speaking to the Turkish parliament, adding that ''the most important point is that which concerns the security of the Turkish Cypriots and the guarantees of Turkey''.
While, outgoing, acting Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit called ''unjust'' the tabling of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue was tabled during a time that Turkey experienced a void of power and while Turkish Cypriot Community leader Rauf Denktash is experiencing health problems.
Ecevit, however, spoke of the positive points, from Turkey's stand point, as well as the negative points of the plan.
 Alternate FM meets Russia's Kaliningrad alternate envoy
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis held talks on Wednesday with the Vice President of the Russian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and the Russian president's alternate special envoy for Kaliningrad Sergei Shiskarev.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the finding of a mutually acceptable solution regarding the Kaliningrad enclave between the European Union and the Russian Federation.
The Greek EU presidency has three issues to raise: the promotion of processes on the expediency study for the operation of the high-speed train, the reaching of a re-entry agreement between Russia and Lithuania and the beginning of the process for a re-entry agreement to be concluded between the EU and Russia.
The special group created at the Greek foreign ministry will form the main impetus for this effort to enable what has been anticipated in the joint statement to become practice by June 2003.
The Cyprus issue was also discussed for which Russia has always shown a positive stand, based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Both sides expressed the view that the proposals contained in the plan constitute a base for negotiating which can lead to a positive conclusion of the Cyprus issue, provided there is also a constructive stance by the other parties involved as well.
 Parliament speaker receives OSCE Parliament counterpart
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The Cyprus issue and the set of proposals put forward by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan dominated a meeting on Wednesday between Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) assembly's president Bruce George, who is currently visiting Athens.
George, who also chairs the UK Parliament's Defense Committee, noted that a good agreement would be painful for both sides, since neither would get exactly what it wanted.
He called for ''good, tough negotiations and an agreement that satisfies both sides''.
Kaklamanis, on his part, similarly called for ''reliable, serious and responsible negotiations'' to follow the initial positive reactions to the plan expressed by the two sides.
He said these should lead to a just solution that would respect everything that had been said so far by international law and the international community and would result in a functional, effective solution that would benefit both communities, so that Cyprus within the EU could be a state that was useful to other Europeans and to the two communities.
According to a Parliament press release, Kaklamanis also raised the issue of the Parthenon Marbles in his talks with George, asking that they be returned, in only temporarily, during the Olympic Games. George agreed to convey Kaklamanis' request to the management of the British Museum.
 Alternate FM meets with Finnish external trade minister in Athens
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Wednesday hosted a dinner for Finnish External Trade Minister Jari Vilen, who is also responsible for European Union issues.
Talks between the two men focused on latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue, EU enlargement, the future of Europe, the Greek presidency of the EU and Balkan cooperation.
Vilen stressed his government's steadfastness on the Helsinki summit's decisions for the accession of Cyprus to the EU, irrespective of the resolution of the Cyprus problem.
Regarding the UN plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, the two sides expressed the opinion that the provisions of the plan constitute a base for negotiations, which might lead to a positive conclusion if there is a constructive stance from both sides.
On the question of the enlargement process, Yiannitsis said that Greece wishes to contribute constructively to adherence to political commitments towards the candidate member-states.
 Finance Minister meets European Liberal Democrats on Greek EU presidency
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday met a delegation of European Liberal Democrats in an exploratory meeting ahead of Greece's rotating presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003.
The group was led by a UK eurodeputy, Graham Watson.
Christodoulakis underlined the need for proper application of the European stability and development pact as an anchor for economic growth.
 Lawyers of alleged N17 terrorists to request jury trial
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Lawyers of the 18 alleged November 17 terrorist organization told a press conference on Wednesday they will resort to relevant judicial bodies to have the trial conducted by a court of jurors, as anticipated for political crimes.
The lawyers said they consider the organization's actions a political offence ''since its members had political motives and their purpose was to have a blow dealt at state authority.''
They further said that with the press conference they wished to protest their clients' detention conditions and to comment on facts revealed so far by the investigating and interrogating process.
Detainees in the special sector of the women's prison intend to extend their abstention from meals until their claims regarding their detention conditions are met, as well as the issue of their communication with their defence lawyers, they added.
The lawyer of the Xiros brothers said Savvas Xiros is also abstaining from his medication.
Rally of Serifis' supporters in Athens: In a related development, dozens of motorcyclists, members of the Rally against State Terrorism, drove their motorcycles from the Pedion tou Areos Square to the Korydalos prison where Yiannis Serifis is being held for alleged participation in the November 17 organization.
They shouted slogans such as ''Freedom for Yiannis Serifis'' and ''No to the white cells'', while strong police forces, including riot police and 30 police motorcyclists, kept them under surveillance.
Police also took measures to prevent demonstrators from approaching the prison's main gate.
Demonstrators said all they want is the truth about Yiannis Serifis to come out.
 Greek economy to grow faster, inflation high, Commission forecasts
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The European Commission expects Greek economic growth to accelerate, employment conditions to improve, although it warns over a high inflation rate in the next few years.
In its autumn forecasts for Greece's main economic indicators for 2002, 2003 and 2004 published on Wednesday, the EU's executive stressed that public debt would continue falling, although it would remain at higher levels compared with the EU average, and reaffirmed the reappearance of fiscal deficits after the adoption of stricter Eurostat fiscal rules.
The Commission report, approved by the Commissioners assembly, forecasts that Greek economic growth rate would reach 3.5 percent this year, rising to 3.9 percent in 2003 and falling to 3.7 percent in 2004. Forecasts for growth rates in the EU-15 are 1.0 percent, 2.0 percent and 2.6 percent, and for the eurozone 0.8 percent, 1.8 percent and 2.6 percent, over the same periods.
Unemployment would continue falling in Greece, although remaining above EU averages in the next two years, the Commission said. Unemployment is forecast at 9.9 percent the workforce in 2002, 9.4 percent in 2003 and 9.1 percent in 2004, compared with average unemployment rates of 7.6 percent, 7.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, in the EU-15.
Eurozone's unemployment rates are projected at 8.2 percent, 8.3 percent and 8.0 percent in 2002, 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Greek inflation is expected to reach 3.8 percent this year, falling to 3.2 percent in 2003 and rising again to 3.3 percent in 2004. The inflation rate is forecast to drop from 2.1 percent this year to 1.9 percent in 2003 and 1.8 percent in 2004 in the EU-15, and from 2.3 percent in 2002 to 2.0 percent in 2003 and 1.8 percent in 2004 in the eurozone.
The Commission expects Greece's public debt to rise to 105.8 percent as a percentage of GDP this year, easing to 102 percent in 2002 and to 98.5 percent in 2004.
The Commission report also forecast a fiscal deficit of 1.3 percent as a percentage of GDP this year, and deficits of 1.1 percent for 2003 and 2004.
 EU releases revised Greek economic indicators for 2000-01
BRUSSELS, 14/11/2002 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)The European Union's statistics agency on Wednesday released revised estimates for Greek economic indicators in 2000-2001.
Greece's government gave Eurostat the revised estimates early in November following collaboration on tighter rules of calculation for indicators.
The data is as follows:
 Import penetration in Greece doubles in 1998-2000, report says
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Import penetration in Greece doubled in the last decade with imported goods covering around half of the domestic consumption in the primary and secondary sectors, a report by the Panhellenic Exporters' Union said on Wednesday.
The report by the Centre of Export Research and Studies (KEEM) on "Export performance and import penetration in the Greek industry: sector analysis", covering the period 1988-2000, showed that even in traditional sectors, such as tobacco industry, clothing, footwear and textile, imported goods accounted for an increasing percentage of domestic consumption.
In the last decade, imported goods' share of the domestic market doubled, while in the manufacturing sector, in general, their share rose from 34 percent in 1988 to 51 percent in 2000.
In the primary sector, export performance was limited with the total extroversion index below 10 percent. In the manufacturing sector, however, export performances improved in the period 1988-1998, with the extroversion index rising from 22 percent in 1988 to 31 percent in 2000, remaining among the EU's lowest.
The report said that a negative development in export performance was a chronic competitive disadvantage of Greek products, with the exception of high technology, telecommu-nication equipment and chemical product sectors.
 No safe predictions over Greek tourist market, report
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Greece's Institute of Tourist Research and Forecasts (ITEP) on Wednesday said it was unable to make safe predictions over the Greek tourist market next year because of uncertainties over the safety of international travel from any terrorist attacks around and the world and several negative signs and criticism over the domestic tourist policy.
In its report, ITEP said the international tourist market's prospects were gloomy, although it stressed that Greece, a traditionally safe country, could benefit from fears over the safety of other tourist destinations. The report expected that the German market, Greece's main source of tourists, was not expected to improve next year.
ITEP accused the government of inaction resulting to lose market shares in the global tourist market. The report said that Greece recorded a 2.5 percent drop in tourist arrivals in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period in 2001, while Turkey recorded a 10.1 percent increase over the same period, Spain a 3.7 percent rise in the first eight months and Croatia a 5.2 percent increase in the first seven months of 2002.
ITEP urged for a more aggressive promotion and advertising campaign abroad under a specific strategy, something not currently happening.
The report said that Greece was absent in the advertising "game" in 2002 and that promotion funds were inadequate.
 Investment firms' assets ease slightly in October
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Greece's 23 listed closed-end investment funds' asset value eased slightly in October to 1.73 billion euros, from 1.76 billion euros in September, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors also showed that the investment index in the Athens Stock Exchange was down 32.83 percent so far this year, slightly up compared with a 31.1 percent drop in the general index of the market over the same period.
The average return of the sector is -24.65 percent so far this year, while returns of investment firms' internal value ranged from -9.60 percent to -32.72 percent in 2002.
On October 31, most companies in the sector were trading at a discount, ranging from 7.18 percent to 35.53 percent, with the exception of Domus and Exelixi which were trading at a premium of 161.22 percent and 2.60 percent, respectively.
Net asset value of the 15 non-listed closed-end investment funds also eased slightly to 254.64 million euros at the end of October from 256.80 million the previous month.
 Greek-owned refinery in FYROM to lose monopoly Skopje,
FYROM 14/11/2002 (ANA/N.Frangopoulos)The Greek-owned OKTA refinery in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is to lose its monopoly, the neighbouring country's government said on Wednesday.
Athens-quoted Hellenic Petroleum, which acquired the refinery, is currently paying 1.0 percent in FYROM import taxes for Greek petroleum products against 19 percent for other fuel importing companies, according to media reports in Skopje.
The reports said the European Union's executive Commission viewed the lower tariffs as representing preferential terms and unfair competition.
The lower tax, in place until 2004, was allowed in the past to help ailing OKTA become a viable industry.
 Missing speleologists found safe and well
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The three speleologists that went missing while exploring the Sarhos cave in Iraklio, Crete were found safe and well on Wednesday, 90 hours after they were first trapped about 1,000m into the cave's interior, at a depth of 140m.
Despite being experienced cavers, the three became cut off on Saturday when heavy rain falling in the area caused the level of water within the cave to rise, blocking their escape.
Rescue workers established the first contact with Methodios Psomas, 35, Chrysa Mavrokosta, 30, and Russian postgraduate student Victoria Koutnasova, 25, at 2:00 on Wednesday morning, while they emerged from the cave at around 9:00.
All three were in good health and high spirits, despite their three-day ordeal.
 Supreme Court upholds slander conviction of Roussel
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)The high-profile father of Onassis shipping heiress Athina Roussel, French national Thierry Roussel's petition to cancel a decision by an Athens appellate court, by which he was found guilty of slander, was rejected by the criminal law section of Arios Pagos, Greece's supreme court, on Wednesday.
Roussel was convicted in March 2001 by the appellate court, which decreased his prison sentence to three years and six months, from the initial five years imposed by a lower court.
The prosecutor of the supreme court had proposed that the petition be turned down, as the decision of the appellate court was well reasoned.
Roussel, a permanent resident of Switzerland, had been found guilty by an Athens misdemeanor court of slander, perjury and of filing a frivolous lawsuit against the board members of the influential Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, whom he had charged with mismanaging the foundations financial assets.
The fine was calculated based on the days he was to serve, for a total amount of 7.5 million drachmas (1 euro=344.75 drachmas).
Roussel was married with the late Christina Onassis, the daughter of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
 Greek edition of ''The trial of Henry Kissinger'' presented in Athens
Athens, 14/11/2002 (ANA)Ilias Dimitrakopoulos, a journalist, on Wednesday presented the Greek edition of Christopher Hitchens' book entitled ''The trial of Henry Kissinger'' here in Athens.
The veteran journalist called on the judicial authorities of Greece and Cyprus to "snap out of their indifference" and to investigate the responsibilities of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in the Cyprus tragedy and the support for the seven year military dictatorship that ruled Greece unconstitutionally in late sixties and early seventies.
Dimitrakopoulos provided the examples of Chile, France and Spain that went down this road and pointed out the data in the book he presented concerning the criminal actions of Kissinger in Vietnam, East Timor, Chile and of course in the U.S. relations with the Greek military junta, as well as the botched military coup attempt in Cyprus that inadvertently led to the Turkish invasion.
 FM Kassoulides: Initially we will negotiate plan
NICOSIA, 14/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said here Wednesday the initial response of the Greek Cypriot side is that it will negotiate on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a Cyprus settlement.
Speaking after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Kasoulides said although the National Council decides on its own, he has ''no doubt that there will be full agreement between Athens and Nicosia''.
Kasoulides said the Greek Cypriot side would reply to the Secretary-General after Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides returns from Athens over the weekend and the National Council meeting next Monday.
''If the decision is to negotiate the proposed plan, which at first glimpse this is how things will be, we will genuinely negotiate and defend the best interests of this land'', he said.
Asked if the reply of the Greek Cypriot side will be given next Monday, bearing in mind Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will not be able to reply by the proposed date, Kasoulides said ''realistically, we will not make it by Monday. Whether we will reply by Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, I don't know''.
He said the Council of Ministers was informed about the plan and members received copies to discuss it during the next meeting.
The foreign minister said surely the people of Cyprus should be informed on the plan but pointed out that the plan is not simple. ''It is not merely a political document. It is a political and legal document, complex, with completely new models/pictures which the Cypriot people are not familiar with'', he noted.
He recommended that gradually and with patience, people should be explained and informed about the contents of the plan. At the same time, the plan should not be judged piece by piece but in its entirety, Kasoulides explained.
Asked if the Greek Cypriot side will negotiate the Annan document, the foreign minister said ''initially - and you have heard so from the political leaders who said it in public - we will negotiate on the basis of the plan''.
Representatives of the UN Secretary-General delivered the Annan plan to President Clerides in Cyprus and to Denktash in New York. The two sides were given seven days to reply whether they will negotiate.
 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot party leaders say UN plan must be studied carefully
NICOSIA, 14/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)Greek Cypriot party leaders said here Wednesday an agreement in principle on a UN proposal for a comprehensive settlement would be very difficult to achieve by December 12, when the European Union summit takes place in Copenhagen.
Turkish Cypriot party leaders talked about an historic opportunity and said the UN proposal must be studied carefully.
Leaders from both sides, speaking after a meeting in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, organized by the Slovak Embassy, said the plan should not be rejected outright, adding that it contains positive and negative elements, which must be dealt with at the negotiating table.
AKEL General Secretary, Demetris Christofias said it was not realistic to expect to sign an agreement in principle on a solution by December 12, as suggested by the UN Secretary-General. ''We have to see the developments calmly and seriously'' Christofias said, adding that the plan contains important issues but also negative elements on core aspects of the problem, such as the issue of sovereignty, citizenship and the creation of a state, ''which the negotiators should discuss seriously and persistently''.
The Annan plan, said Democratic Party leader Tassos Papadopoulos, could constitute a basis for serious and substantive negotiation.
He too agreed that the signing of an agreement in principle by December 12 was very hard, if not practically impossible to achieve.
Social Democrats' leader, Yiannakis Omirou said it would be irresponsible for the Greek Cypriot side not to reply positively to the Annan invitation for negotiations to reach a settlement.
He said his party has already begun studying the plan, which contains some negative elements, as he said, pointing out however that ''during the negotiation, an effort will be made to find ways to make the state function effectively after a settlement''.
RTK leader, Mehmet Ali Talat said the solution to the Cyprus problem became imperative primarily because of Turkish Cypriots.
 Denktash says UN plan contains negative and positive points
UNITED NATIONS, 14/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said here Tuesday the document submitted on Monday by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the two sides in Cyprus contains some ''positive and negative'' points and that he did not believe either side would be satisfied with the territorial aspect.
Denktash, who is recovering from open-heart surgery, performed on October 7 in New York, said he would study the plan along with his associates when he returns to the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus possibly at the end of the week.
The Turkish Cypriot leader said he was ''very hopeful'' to be back in Cyprus, adding that this will depend on his doctors.
Regarding his meeting on Tuesday with UN officials at the office of the Turkish Permanent Mission to the UN, Denktash said they had a ''very good discussion on everything''. He cited the SG's appeal not to make any hurried statements about the plan and ''to really consider every aspect of it as a whole''. Denktash also met Turkish Permanent Representative to the UN Umit Pamir and other associates.
Denktash said he was not yet in a position to carefully study the plan because he is away from his advisers and his illegal ''government'', ''parliament'', and the Turkish Cypriot political party leaders.
He said he hoped to very careful study the plan when he returns to Cyprus as his ''friends in Cyprus are doing and we shall have a joint statement when the time comes'', he added.
Asked if there are positive things in the plan, Denktash said ''to both sides there are positive things and negative things. And naturally there are very important aspects of it, especially on the question of territory'', he said, adding he did not think ''either side will be satisfied with what is on''.
 France calls on both parties in Cyprus to redouble efforts
NICOSIA, 14/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)France has called on the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides to intensify their efforts with a view at reaching a settlement of the protracted Cyprus question, consistent with UN resolutions.
France expressed unreserved support for the UN Secretary General's efforts on Cyprus and said a political settlement would serve the interests of the island and regional stability and security.
''We support without reservation the efforts of the Secretary General who is seeking a comprehensive, just and viable settlement of the question of Cyprus, consistent with the relevant UN resolutions,'' a French Foreign Ministry statement said.
Today, the statement added, ''it seems to us necessary to call on the parties to redouble their efforts in order to reach a settlement in the best timeframe.''
This will be in the interest of the people of the whole island as well as the interest of stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The statement notes that the Secretary General handed the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot communities a plan, which was also communicated to the three guarantor powers, Turkey, Greece and Britain (as defined in the 1960 Constitution that established the Republic of Cyprus).
''This plan was not disclosed to the members of the Security Council in its entirety, who received a summary of the plan,'' it said, adding that it is under consideration.
On Monday, Kofi Annan gave the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides a 137-page long proposal as a basis for negotiations for a comprehensive settlement.
The two sides have until Monday, November 18, to inform him whether they accept the proposal to carry their negotiations forward.