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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-01

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 1, 2003


  • [01] 'Window of opportunity' still open for Iraq, Papandreou says after Paris talks
  • [02] EU, US stress need for Iraq to comply with UNSCR 1441, and for Cyprus solution
  • [03] Qatar next stop on Greek deputy FM's Mideast tour
  • [04] DM heads for London on Sunday for meetings on EU security and defense
  • [05] Gov't confirms UN plans for joint statement on Cyprus referenda
  • [06] Cyprus President Papadopoulos to visit Athens on Thursday
  • [07] Romanian president meets Greek leadership in Athens
  • [08] US 'regrets' US Athens embassy official's resignation in protest to Iraq policy
  • [09] Defense minister meets Mitsotakis, discusses Cyprus, Iraq
  • [10] Main opposition says Greece has entered 'pre-election' period
  • [11] Simitis chairs ruling PASOK communications body meeting
  • [12] Main opposition to table 'anti-graft' bill
  • [13] EU Council of Justice Ministers postpones EU-U.S. judicial cooperation decision
  • [14] Presiding judge visits N17 courtroom; gov't comments on trial
  • [15] Gov't charges opposition with unfair attack on the economy
  • [16] Athens mayor addresses EU conference on social inclusion
  • [17] Hellenic Stock Exchanges shows loss in 2002
  • [18] Greek stocks end the week 3.95 pct lower
  • [19] FIBA, ITU delegations the latest to inspect 2004 facilities
  • [20] Health minister inaugurates advisory centre for teenage drug users
  • [21] Education minister and EU education commissioner visit school
  • [22] Papadopoulos says Cyprus settlement to be a compromise
  • [23] Annan stresses need for referenda on March 30

  • [01] 'Window of opportunity' still open for Iraq, Papandreou says after Paris talks

    PARIS 01/03/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    A ''window of opportunity'' remains open even now for Iraq, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said during a press conference held at the French foreign ministry on Friday.

    Papandreou also stressed that the Greek EU presidency requested of the United States the convening of an U.S.-EU summit in June to discuss international security, adding that the request met with a positive response and so U.S. President George Bush and the European Union leadership will meet to discuss the issue.

    The Greek minister arrived in Paris on his way to Europe from the U.S. capital to meet with his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

    Papandreou conceded that in his meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top U.S. officials he experienced a climate of preparations toward a possible intervention in Iraq.

    He underlined that despite the different approaches to the issue, Powell said that ''the war is not inevitable'', while Papandreou said that he aimed at taking that message to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, where he will participate as the representative of the European Union's presidency.

    ''I will try to pass on the message in the hope that it will be taken to Saddam Hussein. The opportunity still exists, if his moves are in accordance with the demands of the United Nations, so that no doubt may be left to anyone concerning his disarmament,'' Papandreou said.

    Speaking of the European Union's stance on the issue, he said that the only thing that he can say as president of the foreign ministers' council is that the EU provides support for the inspectors in means and time.

    Papandreou added that the issue of mass destruction weapons is of immediate importance for the EU, which also has its attention focused on North Korea as a priority.

    He stressed that the Iraq crisis was an opportunity for Europe's voice to be heard louder, despite differences of opinion on the EU's domestic front, adding that the citizens of Europe have played an important role.

    Papandreou also underlined the importance of a more intensive exchange of views in the immediate future between the U.S. and the EU on issues of security all over the world, saying that his proposal was confronted in a positive way by Washington.

    He added that the Greek presidency will organize a summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and the EU. ''We do not know what may transpire in the meantime, we, however, aim at placing it on the agenda. Our aim is to understand which are the most effective methods for the resolution of crises by peaceful and diplomatic means and to find better ways of cooperation and dialogue with the United States,'' he said.

    Speaking of Bush's statements on efforts to introduce democracy in Iraq, he said ''of course we are for democracy in the world. The question is, however, how that can be achieved. I believe that we should respect our Arab neighbors and cooperate with them. Democracy cannot be imposed with force, but should be implemented in a natural way. And so I believe that the EU should cooperate with the Arabs if we want to progress''.

    On his part, Villepin welcomed the work of the Greek EU presidency ''in an epoch that times are hard and Europe is divided''.

    He stressed that Papandreou briefed him on discussions he had in Washington and on the two different opinions that dominate there, the opinion that wants a military intervention and the opinion for peace, based on the success of the UN inspectors.

    Based on this data, Villepin said, France takes into serious consideration the decision of Iraq to destroy the missiles Al Samud, without delay beginning on March 1st.

    ''It is a significant step for the peaceful disarmament of Iraq, through which it is reaffirmed that inspections yield results, despite the fact that much remains to be done, concerning chemical and biological weapons. The ballistic weapons, however, could become an example''.

    The French minister stressed that in this way the choice of France is strengthened, as well as that of the majority of the international community in support of the work of the UN inspectors.

    He refrained from commenting on scenarios in the case Iraq does not comply with the demand for the destruction of the missiles, reiterating that the UN resolution 1441 on Iraq is sufficient at this time. He also refrained from responding on the possibility for the use of France's veto in the UN Security Council.

    [02] EU, US stress need for Iraq to comply with UNSCR 1441, and for Cyprus solution

    WASHINGTON 01/03/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The need for Iraqi president Saddam Hussein to come into compliance with UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1441 were stressed late Thursday (US time) by US secretary of state Colin Powell and visiting Greek foreign minister George Papandreou, whose country currently chairs the 15-nation European Union, after a 45-minute meeting in Washington that was also attended by EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and EU foreign affairs commissioner Chris Patten.

    Replying to questions after the meeting, Papandreou attributed the differencing approaches on the issue within the EU as the natural consequence of the democratic functioning of free countries.

    Questioned on the role that the EU and the Arab World could play, Powell encouraged both groups to send Saddam Hussein a ''clear message'' that he must comply with Resolution 1441 immediately because the time margins were running out.

    On the Cyprus issue, Papandreou and his US counterpart said UN secretary general Kofi Annan's initiative and draft plan recently submitted presented an excellent opportunity for resolving the problem, while Powell added that he was willing to intercede with the sides concerned so as to pave the way for acceptance of the plan.

    Importance was further placed on progress in implementation of the ''roadmap'' for a solution to the Middle East problem and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005, and Papandreou said this issue was one of the EU’s priorities.

    Powell, in turn, said that Washington was determined to press for materialization of the stalled roadmap, but made it clear that this would occur after the ''successful development'' of the Iraq issue.

    The Iraq crisis, the Cyprus issue and the Middle East problem, as well as North Korea, were also discussed during an EU-US ministerial meeting, held in the context of established twice-yearly consultations between the European Union and the United States.

    Papandreou and Powell again addressed the issues at joint conference after the meeting.

    On Iraq, Powell said that the common target was Baghdad's disarmament on the basis of UNSCR 1441, adding that ''some differences'' between the US and ''some of our European friends...with regard to the next steps that should be taken'' were being explored ''in an open, honest and candid fashion''.

    Expressing satisfaction with the EU summit resolution of February 17, which he said had strengthened the need for Saddam's compliance and disarmament, Powell opined that the US and EU hoped for a peaceful solution, but at the same time acknowledged that Resolution 1441 provided for serious consequences in the event that Saddam failed to comply with the resolution's requirements.

    Papandreou, in turn, said that Iraq ''is on our minds, and we stand united in purpose'' for Sadam Hussein's full compliance with UNSCR 1441 and Iraq's full disarmament. ''We are very concerned on the issue of weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation, not only in Iraq but all over the world. That is why we are also prepared to help in every possible way also on the issue of North Korea''.

    He said that the EU officials had the opportunity to again convey the consultations they had had with their EU colleagues and with heads of states and governments, and had stressed that ''we have the same goal''.

    Without ruling out the use of violence, ''we must exhaust all the diplomatic means, every window of opportunity, in our effort to resolve this crisis peacefully, even at the last minute. And, of course, we stressed the importance of the UN's role in this process,'' Papandreou said.

    On the Cyprus issue, Powell said that a unique opportunity presented itself for ''a historic settlement'' in the days ahead, in the hope that a united Cyprus would join the EU. He said he had assured Annan -- who was currently in Cyprus -- during a telephone conversation Wednesday evening that the US continued to support the UN chief's efforts, adding that he would be in contact with Annan again in the coming days so as to find a way ''to encourage both sides to be willing to yield somewhat in their positions in order to achieve an agreement that has been long coming and is very badly needed''.

    Papandreou noted the close cooperation between the EU and US on the Cyprus issue, adding that Annan ''who is in Cyprus today, gives us big hopes for a possible solution after many decades of impasses and failed efforts''.

    ''I believe that this will be a big moment both for the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. It will also be a big moment for Greek-Turkish relations as well as Turkey-EU relations. A great opportunity presents itself for Cyprus to become a model of multiculturalism, where Moslems and Christians, Greeks and Turks, can live peacefully side-by-side,'' the Greek foreign minister said.

    On the Middle East, Powell stressed the common commitment for speedy advancement of a roadmap for Mideast peace and establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005, while regarding North Korea he expressed deep concern over the violation of that country's international obligations, stressing the need for weapons limitation and suspension of its nuclear program.

    Papandreou said the two sides had a "very constructive discussion" on the Middle East and would continue their close cooperation.

    "In our discussions in the EU, we consider this issue very important for wider stability in the region of the Middle East. Europe, with the EU's enlargement, finds itself increasingly closer to the Middle East," Papandreou said.

    In a separate joint press conference at the EU diplomatic representation's headquarters in Washington, Papandreou and EU foreign affairs Commissioner Chris Patten briefed European and American reporters on their talks with Powell and US national security advisor Condoleeza Rice.

    Papandreou stressed the importance of the twice-yearly EU-US consultations which, he said, provided the opportunity for an exchange of views on issues of common interest. He added that the Washington talks had covered a wide range of issues, including Iraq, North Korea, the Middle East, and Cyprus.

    On Iraq, Papandreou said that the EU and US were in agreement that Saddam Hussein was not in compliance in UNSCR 1441 and were concerned about the weapons of mass destruction that needed to be destroyed, adding, however, that a peaceful solution to the problem could still be achieved.

    In the same light, the two sides were also concerned on the North Korea issue, which he said had been one of the main topics of discussion, and agreed on the urgency of the issue of weapons of mass destruction being solved there, also.

    Talks further focused on the Middle East and the joint efforts of the US, EU, UN and Russia to advance the peace process, Papandreou continued.

    On the Cyprus issue, Papandreou said that "we are ahead of significant developments", noting that the UN chief was currently in Cyprus to press ahead his peace plan.

    Patten, in turn, referred at length to EU humanitarian aid to many parts of the world, and particularly to Palestine, adding that the role of EU humanitarian aid would becoming even greater in the event of war in Iraq.

    [03] Qatar next stop on Greek deputy FM's Mideast tour

    DOHA 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos arrived in Qatar late Thursday evening for a series of contacts with the leadership of the small but very prosperous Gulf emirate focusing mainly on bilateral trade and economic potential.

    Protection of mutual investments, tourism sector cooperation, maritime shipping as well as a pact on avoidance of double taxation are expected to top Loverdos’ agenda. The Greek deputy FM is currently on a tour of several Middle Eastern countries, having already visited Syria and Lebanon.

    Another issue expected to be discussed is the prospect of Athens opening an embassy in Doha, Qatar’s capital city, something decided in 1998 but never implemented.

    Loverdos’ visit here comes ahead of an EU-Gulf States council meeting on Monday in Doha, where Greek FM George Papandreou will represent the EU Troika. On Wednesday, a World Islamic Summit convenes here as well to discuss the Iraq crisis.

    The Greek official leaves on Friday evening for Kuwait.

    [04] DM heads for London on Sunday for meetings on EU security and defense

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Greek National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou heads for London on Sunday for talks with British leaders and European Union officials in the wake of a European security conference to be held here on Tuesday at the London School of Economics, a ministry press bulletin stated.

    Papantoniou, who currently chairs meetings on European security and defense policy, on Monday, will meet with his British counterpart Geoffrey Hoon to present the Greek presidency's priority focusing on the development of cooperation in the defense industry sector through the establishment of a Joint European Organization for Armaments. The two men will also discuss the Iraq crisis, the bulletin said.

    During his visit, Papantoniou will also meet with UK finance minister Gordon Brown for an exchange of views on the European and international economy in light of new developments associated with the Iraq crisis. He will also meet with British reporters and will grant interviews to CNN and BBC.

    [05] Gov't confirms UN plans for joint statement on Cyprus referenda

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday confirmed that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had asked the leaders of the two communities on Cyprus to sign a statement at The Hague on March 10 in which they agree to conduct referenda on his proposed plan for a Cyprus solution.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the signature of the statement did not also constitute a commitment regarding the third, revised plan presented by Annan.

    Responding to questions, he stressed that any agreement from the Greek side would be given on condition that the other side also agreed.

    Protopapas reiterated that the Greek side wanted ''constructive dialogue and a solution of the Cyprus problem'' while noting that further developments were dependent on the will of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for honest discussion.

    Athens refused to comment on the revised plan presented by the UN chief, saying only that it agreed with any remarks made by newly elected Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    He said that Annan had also invited Greece to sign the joint statement on holding referenda because it was involved in an agreement for security guarantees for Cyprus and had to make a commitment to accept the results of the referendums as a guarantor power.

    He said the referenda would solely concern the Annan plan and did not also contain any second questions about Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    The spokesman said he had no further information regarding Denktash's stance to the UN proposal.

    ''Should Rauf Denktash refuse to go the The Hague, in other words refuse to respond to the demands of his people, the referendum will not take place unless there are other developments within the Turkish-Cypriot community,'' Proto-papas said, adding that such a stance by Denktash would indicate the Turkish-Cypriot leader was trying to undermine the prospects of a solution.

    [06] Cyprus President Papadopoulos to visit Athens on Thursday

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos will visit Athens on Thursday March 6, Deputy Mass Media and Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris announced on Friday.

    The new visit to Athens by Papadopoulos aims at coordination between Greece and Cyprus, in light of the invitation extended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the new Cyprus president and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to meet him at The Hague on March 30 to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit a peace plan for approval with referendums on March 30.

    Earlier this week, Papadopoulos, then president-elect, visited Athens for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    [07] Romanian president meets Greek leadership in Athens

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Romanian President Ion Iliescu arrived in Athens on Friday for a private visit, during which he met briefly with his Greek

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    No statements were made after the meeting with Simitis.

    Iliescu meets Kaklamanis: In a meeting in Athens on Friday morning, Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and Romanian President Ion Iliescu found that they shared a ''common vision for Europe'', an announcement from the Greek Parliament's press office said.

    Kaklamanis expressed satisfaction over the identity of views regarding Europe's future ascertained during the meeting, ''with equality of all its peoples and a common effort for a democratic, social and progressive Union that will reflect its citizens' vision for justice, progress, democracy and peace,'' he said.

    Iliescu underlined the ability shown by the Greek presidency of the European Union in handling the crisis that arose within the EU over the prospect of a military operation against Iraq and expressed his full support for the results of the informal summit in Brussels and for the efforts to avoid a division of forces within Europe.

    He thanked the Greek Parliament for supporting Romania's course toward EU accession and for the acceleration of the relevant procedures under the Greek presidency.

    Athens mayor meets Romanian President Iliescu: Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni met Romanian President Ion Iliescu at the town hall on Friday and said a coincidence of views exists between Greece and Romania on issues concerning the wider Balkan region.

    Referring to the economic sector, she said there is a continuous positive course and Greek investments in Romania have reached two billion euros.

    Iliescu said he came to Athens for the presentation of a book of his which was published in Greek, while mentioning his friendly relation with former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis and the Olympic Games, for which he wished their success.

    The Romanian president also pointed out that Greece is one of Romania's supporters for its accession to the European Union and NATO.

    Romanian president presents monograph on ''Romania's Vision'' in Athens: Romanian President Ion Iliescu on Friday presented his monograph ''Romanian Vision'' in Athens at the foreign Ministry's auditorium, in the presence of Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who represented the Greek government, following an invitation to come to Greece for that propose by the International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS).

    Romanian Ambassador Caius Traian Dragomir was also present in the event that was hosted by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and was moderated by International Center for Black Sea Studies (ICBSS) General Director Yannis Papanikolaou.

    ''It was said that Hadrian was the most Greek of all Roman Emperors, it can be said that President Iliescu is the most Greek of all Romanian presidents,'' Romanian Ambassador Caius Traian Dragomir said in presenting Iliescu to the event.

    ''One can say that the ancient Greek civilization provided us with the first example of globalization ... since then this has happened several times,'' Iliescu said in presenting his view of today's globalization processes, while responding to a question he stressed that ''globalization is not Americanization to the extend that the European Union can promote its social model to the rest of the world''.

    The Romanian president underlined that colonial efforts toward globalization in the 18th and 19th centuries failed mainly because ''the colonial powers failed to integrate the colonies, creating discontent that eventually brought down the system,'' stressing that integration is the key to future success of globalization.

    Iliescu noted that the question of North-South has reemerged now and answers are necessary for progress, adding that a response may come with the second wave of globalization.

    ''We are witnessing the transformation of the globalization from the nation-state actors to the supra-state organizations actors, such are the European Union and NAFTA,'' he said

    Speaking to the crowded auditorium, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos greeted Iliescu saying that ''it is a personal joy for me to be here today, that President Iliescu is presenting his book on the 'Romanian Vision' ... during this historic moment for his country''.

    ''Society, citizens, peoples are the ones that must cooperate for the correct development of globalization,'' Tsohatzopoulos said adding that ''Greece's support for Romania's accession to NATO and the European Union is a given as is for all peoples of the region.

    Publisher G. Doudoumis, who was instrumental in the translation and publication of the book also addressed the event.

    [08] US 'regrets' US Athens embassy official's resignation in protest to Iraq policy

    WASHINGTON 01/03/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The US State Department late Thursday expressed regret at the decision of the political counselor at its embassy in Athens to leave the American diplomatic service in protest over Washington's policy on Iraq.

    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher confirmed to reporters press reports that John Brady Kiesling, a 45-year-old career diplomat who has served in several diplomatic posts over the past 20 years, had sent a letter of resignation to secretary of state Colin Powell in protest of the US government's policy on Iraq.

    "I don't think I can say much on the issue, beyond that naturally we read the letter," Boucher said, adding that people had "different ways of expressing their views".

    "It is said that the gentleman felt that he could not continue in the diplomatic service, given his views. But these things happen," the State Department spokesman said.

    Kiesling informed both Powell and the US ambassador in Athens, Thomas Miller, on the reasons for his decision to leave the diplomatic service.

    [09] Defense minister meets Mitsotakis, discusses Cyprus, Iraq

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Friday received main opposition New Democracy's honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis for talks that focused on the Cyprus problem, the Iraq crisis, and the coming promotions within the armed forces.

    After the meeting, Mitsotakis was optimistic that the Cyprus issue would finally be resolved since the entire international community was putting pressure on Turkey for a just and viable solution.

    He praised the maneuver by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to go direct to a referendum on the issue and urged Greek Cypriots to vote in favor of Annan's plan, saying it would open the way for a united Cyprus within Europe, which would be a safe refuge.

    Commenting on Iraq, meanwhile, Papantoniou noted that the climate was deteriorating with each passing day and said that Greece, as presidency of the European Union, would do everything in its power to achieve a peaceful resolution.

    "We are not the ones who can avert unpleasant developments, however," he stressed.

    [10] Main opposition says Greece has entered 'pre-election' period

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Addressing the main opposition party's central committee, New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday launched a full-frontal assault on the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis personally, focusing particularly on the performance of the economy, delays in preparations for the Olympics and corruption.

    He said the country had essentially entered a pre-electoral period and that members of government and ruling party officials were ''jostling for position'' in the line for succession.

    At the same time, he warned that PASOK would not fall like a ''ripe fruit'' and that ND would have to work hard and stand united in order to carry the day come election time.

    Elsewhere in his address, Karamanlis referred to the impact of the Iraq crisis on the economy and on international politics and called for a peaceful resolution of the problem that respected international laws and the prestige of the United Nations.

    He also stressed the need for a united stance and cohesion within Europe.

    On Cyprus, he attacked the Turkish-Cypriot side and Ankara for intransigency that warned that Turkey could not expect to come closer to the EU as long as it maintained occupation troops in a third country.

    The Greek side had proved its good will, he added, and he reiterated that ND supported the newly-elected Cyprus president and Greek Cypriots.

    The central committee's meeting ended with a speech by ND Central Committee Secretary Vaggelis Meimarakis, in which he outlined ND's action program in the coming months.

    Meimarakis predicted that general elections would take place in October this year or May 2004 at the latest but did not rule out the possibility of elections immediately after the end of the Greek presidency of the European Union and called on the party to prepare for a victorious electoral race.

    On Saturday morning, meanwhile, ND is to elect a new political council at its headquarters in Rigillis Street.

    Responding to Karamanlis' comments during the meeting, government spokesman Christos Protopapas accused him on Friday of "being stuck in the past and not thinking forward" and of hurting the economy by creating "an extended climate of a so-called pre-election period".

    [11] Simitis chairs ruling PASOK communications body meeting

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday chaired a meeting of the communications body of the ruling PASOK party in his capacity as party president, focusing on all the important current political issues.

    The Cyprus issue, the possibility of war in Iraq, the stance of PASOK towards the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and the press coverage of the upcoming November 17 terrorist group trial were the main issues examined during the meeting.

    [12] Main opposition to table 'anti-graft' bill

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy's Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Friday announced that the party planned to table a bill to combat graft and vested interests within the next few days.

    He said the bill would propose the abolition of articles that constituted an "institutional hatching ground for non-transparency and the pervasion of the state by vested interests".

    Pavlopoulos said the bill would test the resolve of the government and the prime minister to truly stamp out corruption and the influence of powerful vested interests. If the bill was not passed, he added, ND would table it again once it was in government.

    [13] EU Council of Justice Ministers postpones EU-U.S. judicial cooperation decision

    BRUSSELS 01/03/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    The European Union's Council of Justice Ministers convened here on Friday, under the chairmanship of Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, and postponed its decision on judicial cooperation between the EU and the United States, concerning the extradition of terrorist act suspects, until its next meeting in May.

    Speaking at a press conference, Petsalnikos said contributions have been made to the finalized proposals he presented by previous presidencies (Belgium, Spain and Denmark) and the European Commission, while the Greek presidency concluded relevant negotiations with the United states over the past two months.

    The justice ministers also reached a draft agreement on attacks on informatics systems.

    ''It is a very important decision which handles various cases of criminality which harm the informatics society,'' Petsalnikos said.

    In addition, the Council achieved considerable progress in two more draft agreements. The plan on combatting racism and xenophobia and the plan on the mutual recognition of decisions imposing fines.

    [14] Presiding judge visits N17 courtroom; gov't comments on trial

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis, who heads a three-member panel of judges that will try the high-profile ''November 17'' terrorism case, on Friday inspected the special courtroom in Korydallos women's prison where the trial is due to begin on Monday. He was accompanied by the head of Athens Appeals justices and the president of the Athens Bar Association Dimitris Paxinos, as well as the general secretary of the press ministry.

    According to sources, the two justices appeared satisfied with the courtroom, while Paxinos again expressed concerns over conditions in a chamber next door shared by lawyers and the press and called for measures to cover the needs of both.

    Commenting on the impact of the trial, meanwhile, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said during Friday's regular press briefing that it would provide ''catharsis from the drama of terrorism'' for Greece and would prove to Greek society that terrorism could be both uncovered and given a fair trial.

    ''Through this trial, Greece will give violence and fanaticism an answer couched in terms of democracy, dispel the myth surrounding terrorism and be fully informed about what happened,'' he said.

    Regarding the coverage of the trial by the media, where journalists' groups have reacted to stringent restrictions on the use of cameras and tape-recorders, he said the press and media ministry was in constant communication with the journalists' union ESHEA.

    He announced that a private company would record the proceedings on tape and supply a steady flow of recordings roughly every three hours through the Athens News Agency.

    Finally, he noted that the use of tape recorders had not been banned by the government but lay at the discretion of the court, and that each journalists covering the trial would receive a phone card worth 25 euros each month.

    In a meeting at ESHEA on Friday morning, however, union president Panos Sobolos told reporters covering the trial that the government did not appear willing to substantially improve working conditions for journalists and that ESHEA would issue an announcement indicating its reaction later that day.

    An announcement was also issued by the National Radio and Television Council (ESR), Greece's independent broadcasting regulator, calling on all TV and radio stations to ''rise to the occasion and realize that the trial was exclusively outside all forms of commercialization''.

    Urging them to cooperation with the ESR to ensure the ''quality and objectivity'' of coverage, it issued a five-point directive to all stations calling on them to respect the presumption of innocence for the accused and the memories of the victims and their families.

    Athens Journalists' Union on 'N17' trial coverage: The Athens Journalists’ Union’s board of directors (ESHEA) met on Friday with many of the reporters expected to cover the much-anticipated “November 17” trial, in the wake of an ongoing furor regarding media coverage of the proceedings and the general set-up of the courtroom.

    Acting ESHEA President Panos Sobolos said the journalists’ union has not ascertained any attitude on the part of judicial officials to improve conditions in the specially modified jailhouse courtroom.

    Two developments, however, that arose during the meeting was news that Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas had informed Sobolos that the government would not oppose the use of reporters’ tape recorders inside the courtroom as long as the judges allowed them.

    Of lesser importance was an announcement that state services would issue reporters covering the trial a phone card worth 25 euros.

    [15] Gov't charges opposition with unfair attack on the economy

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday accused the main opposition New Democracy party of making unjustified attacks about the economy's performance.

    ''At a critical time for the Greek economy, which has been hit by adverse weather as well as instability on the global economic scene, New Democracy is following an irresponsible tactic, making denigrating criticism that does not correspond to reality,'' Christodoulakis said.

    ''This tactic of denigrating achievements in the economy is not the mark of a party with a sense of responsibility...We are continuing to show high growth rates...and inflation is under control despite the pressure from bad weather,'' he added.

    [16] Athens mayor addresses EU conference on social inclusion

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union needs political and social stability in order to become the most competitive and strong economy in the world, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni said on Friday in an opening speech at “The EU Strategy for Social Inclusion: Making it Work at the Local Level” conference.

    The event is organized in Athens by the European Anti-Poverty Network and Eurocities in partnership with the City of Athens, under the patronage and with the participation of EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou.

    Bakoyianni referred to the annoying phenomena in modern European communities, such as poverty, social exclusion and xenophobia. She proposed that more powers be given to the local government to deal with such challenges.

    In her address to the gathering, EU Commissioner Diamantopoulou presented data according to which one in six citizens in the EU survives on less than 60% of the average national income, and one in ten faces the danger of poverty, a rate that would climb to 25% should social security was put aside.

    Diamantopoulou also referred to the target of the EU Lisbon Council, that a social inclusion strategy involving common targets and action plans for all EU member-states be adopted by 2010. She added that the conference was taking place at crucial time for the development of that strategy, at a time when European governments have been asked to produce their second round of National Action Plans on social inclusion by July 2003.

    The Conference, taking place in the context of the Greek EU Presidency, was also addressed by Health and Social Affairs Deputy Minister Dimitris Thanos on behalf of the Greek government.

    The conference brings together more than 100 representatives of key stakeholders - the local authorities of the major cities and NGOs from across the EU member-states and candidate countries - who are directly involved in working to tackle poverty and social exclusion at local level.

    [17] Hellenic Stock Exchanges shows loss in 2002

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, the quoted owner of the Athens Stock Exchange and affiliated markets, on Friday reported consolidated losses in 2002 of 20.2 million euros against earnings of 25.5 million euros a year earlier.

    Consolidated turnover totalled 51.0 million euros, down 35 percent on 2001, the company said in a statement.

    The reason for Hellenic's losses and decline in turnover was a drop in market trade, with the value of transactions declining by 42 percent and average market capitalization falling by 19 percent, the statement said.

    Consolidated earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITDA) were 14.8 million euros in 2002, down from 36.7 million euros.

    The parent company showed losses of 131.5 million euros against profits of 49.0 million euros, Hellenic Stock Exchanges added.

    [18] Greek stocks end the week 3.95 pct lower

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    A recovery in European markets helped the Athens Stock Exchange to end the last trading session of the week in positive territory on Friday, although it ended the week with a net loss of 3.95 percent.

    The general index rose 0.03 percent to end at 1,614.06 points, remaining near its five-year lows, with turnover a low 89.3 million euros.

    The Metals and Construction sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (3.72 percent and 1.53 percent, respectively), while the parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks rose 1.23 percent.

    The Textile, Telecommunications and Cement sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.68 percent, 1.41 percent and 1.35 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.23 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 1.01 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.52 percent. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.05 percent higher.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 175 to 121 with another 60 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 58.5 mln euros Friday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.24 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.99 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (613)

    Day's Market Turnover: 58.5 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Friday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.18 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 21 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.6 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 15-year (355 mln euros)

    [19] FIBA, ITU delegations the latest to inspect 2004 facilities

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    A FIBA delegation on Friday concluded its latest visit to Athens following this week’s tour of basketball-related facilities and the main venue for competition during the upcoming Athens 2004 Olympic Games, with the international organization’s general secretary later saying that several operational and administrative issues had been solved.

    FIBA General Secretary Patrick Baumann said his delegation’s meetings with ATHOC were very productive, while he called talks “excellent”.

    Baumann said relevant construction has begun, with progress now visible.

    However, he cautioned that no delays were possible in the face of pressing 2004 deadlines, including the all-important Test Event. Moreover, he said a FIBA delegation will again visit Athens in the near future to review progress for the basketball venue at the Hellenikon site, southeast of the Greek capital’s downtown near the former Athens airport.

    Meanwhile, in a related development, ITU International Triathlon President Les MacDonald also led a delegation on a tour of related venues and facilities.

    Afterwards, he said certain problems of his organization’s agenda before coming to Athens were solved by “90 percent”.

    “We visited Vouliagmeni (southeast of greater Athens), which I am starting to get to know better than my hometown of Vancouver. We were impressed by the quality of the waters, as the swimming will be held there, while we also determined the cycling route so that it’s friendlier for television coverage.”

    FM presents results of first Union-wide 'e-Vote' ANA 01/03/2003 (BRUSSELS)

    Foreign Minister and EU president in office George Papandreou on Friday briefed EU foreign ministers here on the initial results from e-Vote, a new experiment in so-called “e-democracy” from the Greek presidency, aimed at gauging the views of citizens across the continent on a range of key issues facing the Union.

    More than 30,000 people participated in e-Vote, set up and running for the past two weeks.

    Papandreou told EU counterparts that he was pleased with the high level of early interest in e-Vote and called on them to encourage participation in whatever way possible.

    “For this experiment to be a success, we need the widest possible public participation,” he said.

    e-Vote offers anyone the opportunity to visit and to share their ideas, opinions and suggestions about the present and future EU. Five votes are currently active – on the EU today, the EU’s role in the world, the future of the EU, the Iraq crisis, and last week’s extraordinary EU summit. Additional polls will be added over the course of the Greek presidency.

    Among the initial results reported by Papandreou on Friday: -- More than 70 percent of e-Voters think that the European Union, and their own country, are generally moving in the right direction today; -- By far the biggest concern of e-Voters (47 percent) are economic issues; terrorism is only the biggest concern for 3 percent; -- 84 percent think the EU should have a larger and more active role in world affairs; -- 64 percent think that UN weapons inspectors should be given more time in Iraq.

    [20] Health minister inaugurates advisory centre for teenage drug users

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Health Minister Costas Stefanis inaugurated the first advisory healing centre for teenage drug users, apart from heroin, in the region of Gyzi on Friday night.

    The centre, named ''Atrapos'', is the first to be created in Athens, as well as in the entire country, and is aimed at helping drug users, primarily of hashish and synthetic drugs, aged between 15 and 20 to rid themselves of their addiction and to brief their families and help them stand by these children.

    Twenty-two families and 17 teenagers are already participating in the new center’s first program.

    The center’s officials said it is a ''dry'' program, while Stefanis referred once again to the phenomenon of social groups which react to the creation of such centers in their areas, on the occasion of the cancellation of a similar centre operating in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, as well.

    Stefanis said all should realize that children fear nothing at this sensitive age, they try everything and for this reason there should be supportive structures to help them to get rid of their addiction.

    He added that these centers should be supported by the social groups themselves since society is not in a position to predict the development of drug use in the country in coming years, letting it be understood that nobody knows when this problem might ''knock at his door.''

    [21] Education minister and EU education commissioner visit school

    Athens, 01/03/2003 (ANA)

    Education Minister Petros Efthymiou and European Union Education Commissioner Viviane Reding visited the 5th junior high school in the Piraeus suburb of Nikea on Friday, where they spoke to pupils, listened to their problems and replied to questions on education in the EU.

    Reding is currently visiting the country to attend the informal meeting of education ministers of the EU and candidate countries due to take place over the weekend.

    Efthymiou and Reding attended the informatics lesson, together with the pupils, and afterwards they participated in a teleconference held between pupils of the 5th junior high school of Nikea, the 1st senior high school of Syros island and the 8th senior high school of Patra on the issue of the environment.

    Efthymiou said ''the aim of the Greek presidency is to encourage and support common policies in education even more.''

    [22] Papadopoulos says Cyprus settlement to be a compromise

    NICOSIA 01/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    New President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos said the final solution of the Cyprus problem would be a compromise, but noted that this compromise could not cause problems to the implementation of a settlement because ''if the solution is not functional, it cannot be viable, and if it is not viable, it cannot be lasting.''

    Speaking before the House of Representatives, after giving his affirmation as new President of the Republic, Papadopoulos assured he was ready to tackle all developments in the Cyprus problem.

    ''It remains for us to prove, and we will prove, that we dare to reach a compromise, a constructive compromise, in the solution of our huge national question,'' he said, noting that ''we dare to walk with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots towards reconciliation, cohabitation, peace and welfare, in a common, united homeland.''

    He said ''the vision for a united Cyprus within the European family, the vision for a peaceful and certain and secure future, the vision for a society of equality and justice, the vision for a better quality of life, is the common vision of all.''

    Papadopoulos said his election coincided with ''a sensitive phase of developments in the Cyprus problem'', adding that ''we are ready to face these developments in a responsible, serious and realistic manner.''

    He said the Greek Cypriot side wanted a solution as soon as possible because ''we, as victims of a continued invasion and occupation, want the immediate termination of the tragedy of our land, the reunification of our people and our country, the establishment of security, the safeguarding of human rights and the construction of a hopeful future for all the legal inhabitants of our homeland.''

    ''A non solution is not a solution. On the contrary, it will mean the beginning of new perils and new problems,'' he said.

    Papadopoulos expressed hope that the National Council, top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus question, will study the third peace plan presented to the sides by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and would evaluate it.

    ''I will work and strive for a workable and viable solution,'' he assured, adding that ''our aim is the solution of the Cyprus problem and the accession of a reunited Cyprus'' to the EU.

    During his speech, Papadopoulos reiterated his pre-election campaign commitments for his home administration policy.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. On April 16, Cyprus is due to sign the Accession Treaty with the EU, after being invited to join the bloc during the December 2002 European Council in Copenhagen. Annan left the island on Friday, having presented the two sides with a third peace plan, which followed the original on November 11, 2002 and a revised one on December 10, 2002.

    [23] Annan stresses need for referenda on March 30

    LARNACA 01/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has said he believes ''it will be a sad day for the people'' of the island and for the region if the current opportunity for a political settlement in Cyprus was lost.

    He also said it was important the ''people are given a chance to decide'' on their future in separate referenda.

    Speaking on departure at Larnaca airport on Friday, at the end of his three day visit to the island, Annan said this was a unique opportunity that must not be missed and added that he believed a UN peace plan for a settlement that is on offer is ''fair and balanced.''

    In his opening statement, Annan said ''I am very satisfied with the outcome of the mission which I have conducted over the past few days in Ankara, Athens and Nicosia, in relation to a Cyprus settlement.''

    He said, ''in particular, I am glad that the two leaders, Mr (Rauf) Denktash and Mr (Tassos) Papadopoulos, have agreed to meet me again in The Hague on March 10.''

    ''I have asked the two leaders to arrive at The Hague prepared to tell me, there and then, whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement to approval at separate simultaneous referenda on March 30 in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,'' he said.

    The Secretary-General said he has also asked ''the two leaders to arrive in The Hague having completed all necessary internal consultations and processes so that the response on March 10 is definitive''.

    ''At the end of my visit,'' said Kofi Annan, ''I am convinced that all concerned - Greece, Turkey and the two parties in the island - understand that the holding of referenda on March 30 is the key to a reunited Cyprus signing the Treaty of Accession on April 16.''

    ''I myself am absolutely certain that a Cyprus settlement which brings about a new state of affairs, would be a great benefit to all the people of Cyprus, as well as to the motherlands, the region and the entire international community,'' said the UN Secretary-General. Annan said that ''there is a unique opportunity that must not be missed. As I said on arrival, Cyprus has a rendezvous with destiny. I believe very strongly that the Plan for a Settlement that is on offer is fair and balanced.''

    ''Of course it is a compromise. But all negotiated settlements require compromise. I urge all concerned to catch the tide before it turns, perhaps irreversibly,'' Annan noted.

    Annan said he would pray and hope that ''you will soon have the settlement so long hoped for and so long denied.''

    Asked what would be the purpose of the meeting in The Hague given that Denktash said he would not sign the plan, Annan said that he made it very clear in the statement he issued on Friday morning ''and in my discussions with the leaders, that I want them to come to The Hague, to tell me that they are going to put the settlement plan to a referendum and that they will let the people decide.''

    ''I think it is important that the people are given a chance to decide,'' he added.

    Annan said, ''I have not asked Mr. Denktash to sign the agreement.

    What I want is a commitment from him when we meet, that the issue be put to referenda on March 30.''

    Asked what would happen if the people say no at the referenda, Annan replied ''if one party or the other says no, there should be no doubt we are at the end of the road.''

    ''We have put lots of effort in it and I am not sure this opportunity will come again soon, if it ever comes again. I think it will be a sad day for the people of this island, for both communities and for the region,'' the Secretary-General said.

    ''We have an opportunity to reunite this island, and get them into the EU, a development that would improve the Turkish-Greece relationship, the Turkish-EU relationship and relationships in the region. And so I think we should all consider the downside very carefully,'' he added.

    Invited to say what would happen if one party tries to put off its response to his call beyond March 10, Annan responded, ''no one has that choice. I have stated to them very clearly that if a reunited Cyprus is to enter the EU to sign the Accession Treaty on April 16, we must have that referendum on March 30. They don't have the time.''

    ''I know this process has taken a very long time, but we are really at the end of the road, and I think we have to be very careful not to think there is lots of time and one can continue business as usual,'' he concluded.

    Leaving with Annan was Britain's special representative for Cyprus, Lord David Hannay, who has been having contacts here over the past week.

    Denktash: We will go to The Hague even if our answer is ''no'': Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said here on Friday that he accepted an invitation by UN Secretary-General to travel to The Hague to tell him whether or not he would submit a foundation agreement to approval at a referendum.

    Speaking after an hour-long joint meeting here on Friday with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Cyprus President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos and outgoing Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Denktash noted that ''the point which was clear was that we should not be going to The Hague to say 'yes'. If the answer is 'no' we should still go and explain to him why it is 'no'.''

    Asked if he agreed to go to a referendum the Turkish Cypriot leader answered ''no'' adding that ''we agreed to tell him whether we should go to a referendum or not.''

    He refrained from answering to a question whether he will continue campaigning against the new revision of the UN Secretary General's plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after the meeting Annan said the Cyprus leaders ''will

    arrive in The Hague on March 10 to tell me whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the foundation agreement to approval at separate referenda on March 30 in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.''

    Commission hopes sides in Cyprus will accept UN proposal: The European Commission hopes that the two sides in Cyprus will accept a proposal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to reply positively by March 10 at The Hague about signing a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement on a political settlement to approval at separate referenda on March 30.

    The Commission assures that there would be no problem with the timetable for preparations to sign the Accession Treaty of ten new EU members, including Cyprus, on April 16 in Athens, current EU president.

    A spokesperson said on Friday the Commission is in close contact with the UN and supports all its initiatives on the Cyprus problem.

    The Commission also hopes that the two sides will seize the opportunity presented by Annan's peace plan, which the UN Secretary General has handed to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides.

    The spokesperson clarified that the short extension of the February 28 deadline for an agreement on Cyprus would not cause problems to preparing the Accession Treaty and signing it on April 16 in Athens, because in its initial planning, the Commission had taken into consideration the possibility of a short delay in the UN chief's deadline.

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