|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-12-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 2, 2002
 Cyprus issue cannot block island's EU accession, Spanish and Portuguese PMs say
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)A solution to the Cyprus problem was not a condition for Cyprus' accession to the EU and the island republic would join at the Copenhagen Summit if it fulfilled the criteria, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said on Sunday.
He was speaking at a press conference held after a Centre-Democrats International organized by main opposition New Democracy on Corfu.
Also present was Portuguese Prime Minister Juan Manuel Durao Barroso, who said that Cyprus would definitely join the EU on December 12 without any additional terms.
At the same time, he noted that the EU wanted the political problem on Cyprus resolved because it did not want yet another issue requiring a resolution within its borders.
Aznar described the set of proposals for solving the Cyprus issue presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan as a good plan and said that it would be good if these were promoted.
The Spanish premier then turned to Turkey's EU prospects, saying that it would have to meet the criteria that applied to all aspiring members of the EU.
The Copenhagen Summit would judge whether Turkey had met these criteria after careful study of the European Commission's report, he added.
He noted, however, that it would be very positive if the EU could send Turkey a message of friendship and step-by-step rapprochement, though he avoided making a clear-cut statement on whether Turkey would be given a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU.
The Portuguese premier, by contrast, appeared more open to the prospect of naming a date for EU-Turkey negotiations at Copenhagen.
 President Stephanopoulos expresses optimism for Cyprus
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on Saturday expressed optimism for a positive solution of the Cyprus issue via Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
The president was speaking in the western port city of Patras at a lunch in his honor hosted by the municipality, during events honoring the feast day of St. Andreas, patron saint of Patras.
Stephanopoulos said he would not take a position on UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan, as one could not accurately foresee what the results would be of acceptance of the plan ''with its myriad weaknesses'' or of rejection of the plan ''and its myriad consequences''.
''So, instead of saying my opinion, I will rather say that today, at this phase of the Cyprus problem, there is an element that has never existed before. It is the prospect of Cyprus' EU accession. This new hope, this new expectation,'' he said.
The President said that Cyprus' EU accession was an expectation that allowed for optimism, regardless of whether the plan put forward by Annan for negotiation would be improved, or accepted, adding that the decision belonged to ''our Cypriot brothers''.
Stephanopoulos hoped for an auspicious outcome so that those Cypriots living in the occupied areas would no longer feel subjugated and those Cypriots living in the free areas would no longer feel they were under the threat of military forces, and that all the Cypriots could hope that their country will be reunited and become unified and independent.
 Deputy DM optimistic Greek diplomacy will overcome obstacles vis-a-vis Cyprus
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Deputy defense minister Loukas Apostolidis expressed optimism that Greek diplomacy would be able to withstand the pressures and overcome the obstacles so as to achieve Cyprus' accession to the EU, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the ''Axia'' financial newspaper.
That which would serve the national interests and the interests of the Republic of Cyprus ''is to fight for a unified Cyprus, for a Cyprus that will accede the EU and will be in line with the acquis communautaire,'' he said, adding that ''of course we will make tough negotiations so that a united Republic of Cyprus will be able to function, and also to create conditions of security and cooperation among the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots''.
''We, today, have a significant strength, we have important friends in the EU, and it is not the Greece whose policy was once dictated by foreign powers,'' Apostolidis said. ''We ourselves, our government, decide what is in our interests and what is not. There may be pressures, but we have an autonomous national strategy and the power and strength to impose our own (interests). We have formulated a new national self-confidence, and our prime minister, as the nation's leader, is handling our national issues well, and decisively''.
 International Coalition of Center Democrat Parties conference discusses EU enlargement, Cyprus, terrorism
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis said Saturday that Cyprus' imminent EU accession was ''clear proof of the strength of freedom and democracy'', and reiterated that the accession must be effected without conditions and footnotes.
Addressing a conference of the International Coalition of Center Democrat Parties conference hosted by ND on the island of Corfu, Karamanlis noted that the Cypriot people had suffered partition and occupation, and their response had been ''better democracy, more freedoms, intense entrepreneurship''.
''The Republic of Cyprus chose freedom, and at (its summit in) Copenhagen (in December) the EU will reward this choice,'' he said.
According to sources, Karamanlis discussed this matter in detail at a working lunch with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (who currently chairs Centrist Democrat International), Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, and European Commission vice president Loyola de Palacio.
Karamanlis said that for 28 years (since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus) the Greek side had displayed good will, but added that Cyprus could no longer continue to pay for the stance of the ''other side''.
Aznar and Barroso agreed that the Copenhagen summit's formal approval of Cyprus' EU accession should be considered a given fact, and noted that everyone was making efforts to find a solution to the island republic's political problem and end its partition.
On Turkey's EU prospect, sources said that concern was stipulated on ''where Europe's borders will reach'', and that Aznar did not rule out a positive message being sent by the Copenhagen summit on Turkey's rapprochement with the European family.
The talks also covered the economy and unemployment, as well as agricultural policy given that the EU's Mediterranean member states would face bigger problems after the 15-nation bloc's enlargement.
The delegates accepted a proposal by Karamanlis that the Greek and Italian EU presidencies in the first and second half of 2003, respectively, coordinate their efforts for the development of the Union's infrastructure works and networks.
The group further discussed terrorism, and agreed that cooperation was necessary to confront the problem. Sources said that Aznar said that ''we are all threatened and harmed by terrorism, which has many faces''. The Spanish premier added that no country could guarantee total security.
In his address to the session, Aznar said that terrorism could not be tackled piecemeal, since it was based on ideological, philological, economic and religious groups. ''It is like a bull, which we cannot confront individually and piecemeal, and therefore a unified battle against terrorism is necessary''.
Those groups, he warned, could in the future have weapons of mass destruction at their disposition and use them. In Kenya earlier in the week, he said, the same missiles as those used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Chechnya were used.
''We know that these groups had these missiles in their possession, and it seems that there are countries supplying them with weapons and money. Global cooperation is needed to stamp out the phenomenon of terrorism, and we must all together wage the battle for order in the world,'' Aznar impressed upon the delegates.
Earlier, speaking on EU enlargement, Karamanlis told the conference that the dream of reunification of Europe will find itself very close to becoming a historic reality as a new political Union ranging from Ireland to Cyprus could lead to greater prosperity and security for its peoples.
He warned, however, that the challenges remained, and that the impression that existed that those developments affected only the few and strong needed to be confronted.
''It is our duty to make it understood that these developments concern all, and that the policy of the middle sphere (of the political spectrum) has the human being as its basic subject, and that its basic goal is for no one to be left behind,'' he said, adding that the middle sphere continued to remain the top choice of the European citizens.
Karamanlis explained that the speed of the changes had brought about immense difficulties and caused inequalities, and noted that all sides needed to work together to ensure access to the opportunities in the new world.
He said that the danger of international terrorism was preoccupying the majority of the democratic and free societies, noting that ''if terrorism comprises the worst side of globalization, then solidarity to stamp it out must be its best side''.
Karamanlis also said that organized crime, the greenhouse effect on the environment, illegal migration, combatting poverty and corruption, all comprised challenges that required solidarity ''and which we must confront together''.
He said that many of the international problems and new challenges required local action and local solutions, and placed emphasis on tackling the everyday problems that comprised and would continue to comprise the basis of the policy of the centre-right parties.
''We must create the conditions for safe societies, and conditions for employment and creativity for all, since only in this way can the inequalities be reduced and the standard of living of the societies be raised,'' he said.
 International Coalition of Center Democrat votes for Cyprus' EU accession
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)A conference of International Coalition of Center Democrat ended on the Greek island of Corfu on Sunday by passing a resolution presented by organizers main opposition New Democracy that called for Cyprus' accession to the EU on December 12 without additional terms or conditions.
The resolution asked the EU leaders' council and the European Commission to seal the accession of the 10 candidate-states due to join the Community with a ''clear decision'', saying that this would enhance the EU's credibility and its political influence.
Speaking after the end of the conference, ND leader Costas Karamanlis said he had discussed Turkey's European prospects with Spanish Prime Minister and CDI President Jose Maria Aznar and Portuguese Prime Minister Juan Manuel Durao Barroso.
Karamanlis noted that the country's progress toward joining Europe depended primarily on Turkey itself, on whether it made a positive contribution to solving the Cyprus issue and on whether it fully harmonized its domestic and foreign behavior with the body of EU laws and accepted practice.
He also reported that an ND proposal for closer cooperation between the southern member-states of the EU during the presidencies of Greece and Italy in 2003 had been well received by the Spanish and Portuguese premiers.
Aznar and Barroso departed from the island after the end of the CDI conference on Sunday afternoon and were seen off by Karamanlis at the airport.
The main opposition leader said there many areas in which the EU states around the Mediterranean could cooperate closely, including cultural issues, tourism, infrastructure in transport and energy and on environmental issues, particularly for the marine environment. At the same time, they could work together on agricultural reforms and in defending the interests of their farmers.
 US ambassador on recently tabled Annan plan for Cyprus
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, in statements to the state-run NET television network on Sunday, reiterated that the recently tabled Annan peace plan for Cyprus can form the basis not only of negotiations but of a final agreement as well.
Miller noted that the plan currently features several “blank pages” that must be filled during negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.
The US diplomat declined to say if a solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem is possible before Dec. 12 – when a landmark EU summit is expected to convene in Copenhagen – noting only that an agreement over the framework can be worked out in time, with details to follow.
Finally, he said “positive messages” have been emanating from the new Turkish government over the issue in its first few days of power.
 New counter-terrorism law with stiffer penalties due after holidays
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)A second new counter-terrorism law adapted to European legislation is expected to be tabled in early 2003, reliable sources said Saturday.
The new law will be adapted to the EU Council of Ministers' decision of December 2001 and is due to be passed by parliament when it reopens after the Christmas hiatus.
The sources said that, under the new law, the definition of terrorism foresees that terrorist crimes are considered intentional actions which by nature or due to the circumstances could seriously damage the country or an international organization.
Such acts must aim at seriously terrorizing the population or unjustifiably forcing the public authorities or an international organization to carry out any action or refrain from carrying out an action. Such actions could also aim at seriously destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of the country or international organization.
At the same time, heavy penalties are provided for the leaders of terrorist organizations, as the new law amends Article 187 of the Penal Code, and the shortest term provided is 15 years imprisonment. More specifically, for leaders of terrorist groups, prison terms of 15 years to life are provided, while all kinds of participation in a terrorist organization, including the provision of money, material means, etc., carries a penalty of more than eight years' imprisonment.
Also, the statute of limitations for terrorism crimes is raised to 30 years from the present 20, while those served life sentences for terrorist action may petition for release after serving 20 years of their sentence, instead of 16 years under current legislation.
 Conference on Balkan EU prospects discusses enlargement, expectations
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)An International Conference on the European Prospect of the Balkan Countries on Saturday discussed EU policy vis-a-vis the Balkans, the Balkans in the architecture of the United Europe, the Balkans on the road to integration and the challenges emanating from the enlargement.
In the second day of the two-day conference, organized in Athens by the Balkan Political Club in cooperation with Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Turkish former president Suleiman Demirel spoke on Europe's future after its enlargement and the role that Turkey could play in the United Europe.
He said that Turkey should become a member of the EU, that it fulfilled all the criteria and had signed a Customs Union agreement with the EU, and defended all the democratic values, while it also constituted a bridge between the East and West. ''Turkey must become a member of the EU. If it is isolated, there will be no peace. I am neither warning, nor threatening. I am simply stating reality,'' he said.
He said that Turkey's EU membership would ensure for his country a more stable political environment, and give new abilities for economic growth since Turkey was a force in the international economic market.
Demirel also said that Europe should place special attention on the Balkans in order to fulfill the basic goal of peace, security and democracy.
FYROM former president Kiro Gligorov called on the Balkan countries to display realism when speaking with the EU, because the Balkans were linked with problems, the involvement of the peoples was intense, and the biases of the past remained.
''The Balkans are behind in the economic field,'' he said, stressing that the only thing that had changed in the Balkan countries was the ''political elite'' and adding that, according to recent opinion polls, corruption, unemployment and poverty were still rampant in most of the Balkan countries.
Ismail Guner, chairman of FYROM's Strategic Research Centre, stressed the need for expansion of cooperation among the Balkan states in the framework of European integration, which he said would also strengthen stability and security in the Balkan countries.
Mladen Ivanic, prime minister of the Serb Republic of Bosnia, referred to the common approach necessary by the EU for the western Balkans in the course toward European integration to avoid distinctions due to the mix of populations and ethnic minorities.
The director of Belgrade's Centre for Human Rights, V. Dimitrievic, called for a more realistic approach to the EU on the part of the Balkan countries, adding that the EU should not be considered as a source of economic aid but as an institution that could help in ensuring a general improvement in all sectors which, by extension, assisted in economic growth.
 Portuguese President to sign Olympic Truce Declaration
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Visiting Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio will be met by Foreign Minister George Papandreou at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens on Monday at 18:40, where he is to sign a Declaration in support of the Olympic Truce, a foreign ministry announcement said.
 V. Papandreou concludes visit in Rhodes Island
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Sunday concluded a two-day visit in Rhodes Island where she visited public works construction sites and participated in a meeting of the local ruling PASOK cadres.
Speaking of last October's municipal and prefectural elections she said, that "in many areas of the island there were in-party problems," adding that "due to internal differences our forces did not coalesce".
 Coalition leader again rules out cooperation with PASOK
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos once again ruled out the prospects of cooperation or an alliance with ruling PASOK, speaking during a Coalition-organized event on Sunday.
Constantopoulos stressed that PASOK's policy would be judged in the coming elections and the Coalition wanted this policy to be condemned.
Turning to the Cyprus issue, the party leader said that the Coalition supported Cyprus' unobstructed entry into the European Union and supported the efforts of the Cypriot National Council to deal with the non-functional, negative points of the UN plan for Cyprus.
He also said that a council of party leaders on the issue should be convened immediately.
In his speech, Constantopoulos criticized the statements made on the prospects of settling the Cyprus issue by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.
He also extensively criticized the government's economic policy, accusing it of "keeping double books and speaking in two tongues" to hide the deficits and of "sacrificing yet another generation to the Minotaur of vested interests, corruption and waste".
 Main opposition presents its 'shadow' EU presidency emblem
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy on Sunday presented the emblem and slogan of its 'shadow' EU presidency, a team of 100 technocrats that will closely monitor the activities and performance of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.
At a press conference on the sidelines of a Centrist Democrat International (CDI) conference organized by the party on the island of Corfu over the weekend, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said the 'alternative' presidency's emblem would be a multi-colored star symbolizing unity through difference and harmony through synthesis, while the slogan would be "Europe, Prosperity, Security".
 Bakoyianni resigns as ND foreign affairs coordinator
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy MP and high-ranking party member Dora Bakoyianni resigned as ND's foreign affairs coordinator after taking up her new duties as Athens mayor.
In a letter to ND leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday, Bakoyianni said she was resigning in order to facilitate party procedures for her replacement.
Sources claimed that Bakoyianni was displeased at not having been invited to attend the Centrist Democrat International (CDI) conference organized by ND on Corfu over the weekend, as were other ND deputies that manned the party's foreign affairs committee and represented ND abroad.
Bakoyianni's office denies any link between her resignation and not getting an invitation for the Corfu conference.
 EU sets subsidies, raises base price for Greek cotton
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Following tough negotiations in Brussels, Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys and Deputy Agriculture Minister Vangelis Argyris said on Sunday that they had managed to swing the EU Textile Fibers Committee round to Greek government positions with respect to cotton subsidies.
The committee agreed to raise the base price received by Greek farmers for their cotton by 2.6 cents per kilo, while setting EU subsidies for this year's and last year's crop at 8.8 cents per kilo.
The agriculture ministry said that farmers who had already delivered their cotton to cotton gins at the previous base price of 64 cents per kilo could expect to receive subsidy payments of 11.7-14.7 cents per kilo, based on present estimates of the cotton crop.
 Macedonia-Thrace minister in France to promote EXPO 2008 bid
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis will head a Greek delegation to the Bureau of International Exhibitions (BIE) General Assembly on Monday and Tuesday, to promote Greece's candidacy for the EXPO 2008 fair.
During the two days of the BIE assembly in Nice and Monaco, five countries seeking to host the EXPO 2010 will present their bids and the Japanese city hosting the EXPO 2005 will present its progress report.
 One person killed, three injured as aviation club plane crashes near Tanagra
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)One person was killed and three more were injured, two of them critically, when their single-engine plane crashed near Tanagra airport early Saturday afternoon as the pilot attempted an emergency landing after developing engine trouble.
The pilot of the plane, believed to be either a Piper or a Cessna, developed problems with its hydraulic system, and informed the Control Tower at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, which instructed the pilot to head to the military airport at Tanagra, which was the closest.
At 2:15 the pilot attempted an emergency landing, but crashed to the ground in a nearby field. The plane, which belonged to the Athens Aviation Club, was on a training flight, according to initial reports.
Units from the Tanagra base rushed the four passengers to hospital in nearby Halkis, where doctors pronounced one of the passengers as dead on arrival. Two other passengers, who were in critical condition, were rushed to hospital in Athens while the fourth, who suffered lighter injuries, remained at the Halkis hospital.
The identities of the four were not immediately released.
 Project to build authentic Minoan-style ship begins on Crete
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)The Nautical Museum of Crete on Sunday announced the start of an ambitious project to reconstruct an authentic Minoan ship of the type used at around 1,500 B.C., using the tools and techniques available in that period.
Working in collaboration with a scientific research team that has specialized in Minoan vessels, the museum hopes to have the ship ready to launch on its maiden voyage as part of the Cultural Olympiad leading up to the Athens Olympics in 2004.
This is the second attempt to reconstruct an ancient vessel following the attempt with the Kyrenia ship 15 years ago.
The Minoan vessel is of great scientific interest since it was used by Europe's first major civilization to establish its hegemony in the Mediterranean 35 centuries ago.
 Washington Post article cites discovery of antiquities in major projects
WASHINGTON 02/12/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's effort to protect its cultural heritage ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and in light of several major construction projects in the country was highlighted in a report over the weekend by the "Washington Post".
The newspaper details several of the archaeological finds in Markopoulo, east of Athens, as well as in almost every major construction site around the Greek capital.
 Greek entrepreneur honored by Patriarchate
ISTANBUL 02/12/2002 (ANA)Well-known Greek business tycoon Theodoros Angelopoulos was honored here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the weekend during a ceremony where he was declared a ''Grand Archon Logothetis'' by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
"My family and I will support the efforts of the Patriarchate to continue, beyond its current 17 centuries, as the Beacon of Orthodoxy,'' Angelopoulos said.
 Royalist Union of Greece offices vandalized
Athens, 02/12/2002 (ANA)Unknown perpetrators broke into the offices of the Royalist Union of Greece in Thessaloniki on Saturday night, causing extensive damage to furniture and fixtures in the interior and writing slogans against Greece's deposed monarch Constantine on the walls.
An inquiry is being carried out by Thessaloniki police headquarters.
 Vassiliou says Turkish statement prolongs contradictions
NICOSIA 02/12/2002 (ANA/CNA)Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou said a statement issued by Turkey's National Security Council regarding the Cyprus question was a continuation of the Turkish side's contradicting positions on the UN chief's plan to solve the problem.
“This statement is not enough to judge Turkey's stance by'', regarding Kofi Annan's plan, adding that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, ''on the one hand says he does not accept the plan and on the other says he does''.
''My information says that in his letter to the UN Secretary General, Denktash states that he accepts Annan's plan for further negotiations,'' Vassiliou said but pointed out that this was just information.
He added that ''the decision of the National Security Council of Turkey is one of tactics and does not clarify whether negotiations on the UN Secretary General's plan are supported or not''.
Asked if he thought Turkey might receive a date to commence accession negotiations with the EU at the Copenhagen Summit, Vassiliou said, ''this would greatly depend on her stance regarding the Cyprus problem, and we will insist on this''.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The UN Secretary General submitted a plan for a settlement on Nov. 11.
Acquis communautaire: Meanwhile, regarding the course of negotiations with the Union, Vassiliou said the last round of negotiations on the acquis communautaire chapters of agriculture and the budget is expected to be wrapped up on Monday in Brussels, thereby signaling the end of marathon of talks between Cyprus and the EU.
''On Monday, I hope to close the negotiations once and for all'', Vassiliou said, adding that the proposals given to Cyprus on the chapter of agriculture ''basically meet'' the demands put forward by the people in this sector.|
Regarding the chapter on budget, Vassiliou said ''the work we have left is very detailed and has to do with various estimates and the money we will be given and the money they will receive''.
 Papapetrou: Response to Annan positive if Turkey sincere
NICOSIA 02/12/2002 (ANA/CNA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side is ready to respond positively to the Turkish Cypriot side's intention to negotiate a Cyprus settlement based on the solution plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, if the intention of Turkey's leadership is sincere.
Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side would reply to the UN chief in writing early next week, after discussing the issue on Monday at the National Council, which is the top advisory body to the president on the Cyprus problem.
Commenting on the council's statement, issued right after its four-and-a-half hour meeting yesterday and stating that Turkey supports the latest stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash regarding the negotiating process, Papapetrou expressed hope the statement ''means the sincere intention of Turkey to negotiate, based on the plan proposed by the UN Secretary General''.
He added that ''our side is ready, early next week, to submit its positions to (the UN chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus) Alvaro de Soto, addressed to the UN Secretary General''.
Asked about the content of the Greek Cypriot side's response, Papapetrou said ''the National Council will convene on Monday to conclude this study''.
He added that the