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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 3, 2003


  • [01] Papandreou to Arab League: Last hope to avoid Iraq war depends on compliance
  • [02] Kuwaiti leadership press for removal of Saddam in talks with Greek deputy
  • [03] US State Dept. on latest Annan peace plan for Cyprus
  • [04] FM Papandreou congratulates new Cyprus FM Iacovou
  • [05] Gov't spokesman on Monday's opening trials for 'N17' defendants
  • [06] Informal Council of EU Education Ministers ends on Sunday night
  • [07] Ministers call for changes in PASOK party
  • [08] Russian president confirms Moscow's interest in Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline
  • [09] Deputy FM focuses Greek-Qatari economic ties; natural gas discussed
  • [10] Overseas Hellenism secretary signs cooperation memorandum with South Australia
  • [11] Position of G/C side on referendum independent of T/C side's reply
  • [12] US to do everything possible for a 'yes' response to referenda
  • [13] Cyprus’s Cabinet appointed

  • [01] Papandreou to Arab League: Last hope to avoid Iraq war depends on compliance

    SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt 03/03/2003 (ANA – D. Konstantakopoulos)

    Greek Foreign Minister and EU president in office George Papandreou on Saturday told Arab leaders gathered here that a final hope to avert war in Iraq depends on the complete and immediate compliance of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with United Nations Security Council resolutions.

    Papandreou addressed a closely watched Arab League summit at the Egyptian resort, where he also conveyed his observations from a recent official trip to the United States and his talks with American leadership.

    In his statements, the Greek FM cited what he called two general viewpoints apparent in the international community at the moment, namely, one advocating more time for UN weapons inspectors in Iraq -- a prospect that would preclude military operations -- as well as a second viewpoint promoted by Washington stressing that enough time has already been granted and that operations are now necessary.

    Moreover, Papandreou cited what he called a sincere desire in the United States to create a Palestinian state next to the state of Israel – according to US President George W. Bush – and with security for both. However, he said the US side believes the crisis in Iraq must first be resolved.

    The Greek FM stressed that the Palestinian issue must be faced either before or after a resolution to the Iraq crisis, while he called on Europe and the Arab world to remain united in joint efforts to avoid a war. Towards this effect, he again stressed the importance of Euro-Arab dialogue.

    Contacts at the summit: Afterwards, Papandreou met with the leaders of host Egypt, Libya and Morocco on the sidelines of the Arab League summit.

    Additionally, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri handed Papandreou a memorandum on the course of his country’s disarmament of weapons of mass destruction.

    According to reports, the Greek FM told the Iraqi official that the coming week is very crucial, and that the issue lies exclusively with disarmament and not regime change, before again referring to a “last window of opportunity” to avoid war.

    The same sources said the Iraqi FM appeared to fully comprehend the critical nature of the ongoing situation.

    Palestinian issue: In other comments before the summit, Papandreou highlighted the need for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories, underlining also that the EU wants cooperation with the Arab world in order to avoid a so-called “clash of civilizations”.

    Conversely, he did not deny the existence of internal differences within the Union that may appear on the forefront in case of unilateral military operations against Iraq.

    Regime change: Asked later about the prospect of Saddam Hussein stepping down, Papandreou said this is an option promoted by the United States and certain Arab League members – the United Arab Emirates, in fact, publicly aired such a proposal at the summit.

    “We, as the EU, remain constant in the common position regarding respect of resolutions by the UN Security Council, which point to the exclusive goal of disarmament,” he said.

    Finally, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa reiterated the significance that his organization places on closer cooperation with the European Union, before praising the Union’s and Papandreou’s initiatives, especially the latter’s efforts at rekindling Euro-Arab dialogue.

    [02] Kuwaiti leadership press for removal of Saddam in talks with Greek deputy FM

    KUWAIT 03/03/2003 (ANA – E. Boukauri)

    The Greek deputy foreign minister concluded a series of visits to Mideast capitals over the past week with contacts here on Sunday with Kuwaiti leadership, as prospects of a war in nearby Iraq found their way into talks normally reserved for bilateral trade relations.

    In receiving Greek Deputy FM Andreas Loverdos, Kuwaiti Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Khalid al-Jarallah did not mince his words in referring to the prospects of war against Iraq:

    “Saddam (Hussein) must be overthrown; Iraq’s regime must be changed, we have prepared for war, we have taken all the necessary measures to protect our people and the country ...” he said.

    Al-Jarallah reiterated that Greece supported his country during its darkest hours, its occupation by Iraqi forces in 1990-91, before adding:

    “Only if Saddam leaves will things change, you know, war is not far away, just 100 kilometers from our borders ... As far as the next regime (in Iraq), whatever that may be, we hope our relations will be good and that we will cooperate peacefully with it...” he said.

    On his part, Loverdos said Athens maintains that UN Security Council resolution 1441 must be fully implemented, while he expressed concerns over the loss of life from any potential war.

    Agreement over avoidance of double taxation: Earlier, Loverdos was received by Kuwaiti Finance Undersecretary Abdul Mohsen Yousef Al-Hunaif, with whom he signed a bilateral agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. Among others, while it was ascertained that bilateral relations are at an excellent level, trade and economic ties are minimal, especially in terms of investments.

    Later, the Greek official toured Kuwait’s parliament, which was almost completely destroyed during the Iraqi invasion and was subsequently rebuilt.

    In the evening the Greek deputy FM will meet with the president of the committee for the missing and imprisoned during the Gulf War, Sheik Salem al-Salem al-Sabah, before attending a reception in his honor by the Greek ambassador to Kuwait.

    He is expected to return to Athens on Monday, following his trips to Syria, Lebanon, Qatar and Kuwait.

    [03] US State Dept. on latest Annan peace plan for Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 03/03/2003 (ANA – T. Ellis)

    The US State Department on Friday expressed its support for the recently revised Annan peace plan for Cyprus, with a spokesman here noting that the Cypriot people will now have a chance to say “yes” or “no” to their future in Europe.

    In echoing previous statements by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the plan comprises an unprecedented opportunity.

    “Secretary General Annan asked the leaders today to come to their crucial meeting in the Hague prepared to tell him whether or not they will put his revised proposal for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement to referenda in their communities on March 30,” Boucher said, adding:

    “The United States strongly supports the initiative by the Secretary General. We believe that the United Nations revised settlement plan presents a just, viable and durable solution to the division of Cyprus.

    “Putting the plan to referenda is the most democratic and constructive way to determine the future of the people of Cyprus. We think Cypriots should have a chance to say yes to their future, together, and in Europe. This is an opportunity that may not come again,” he added during his regular press conference, while noting that US Secretary of State Colin Powell is being kept abreast of the latest developments and has had telephone contacts with Annan over the matter.

    [04] FM Papandreou congratulates new Cyprus FM Iacovou

    NICOSIA 03/03/2003 (ANA/CNA)

    New Cyprus Foreign Minister, George Iacovou and his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, discussed on Saturday the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.

    According to an official statement issued here, Papandreou telephoned Iacovou to congratulate him on his appointment.

    ''They also exchanged views and observations on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem and agreed to remain in constant touch'', the statement concluded.

    [05] Gov't spokesman on Monday's opening trials for 'N17' defendants

    Athens, 03/03/2003 (ANA)

    The government spokesman over the weekend again commented on the highly anticipated “November 17” terrorism trials, which begin on Monday, stressing that proceedings will be fully open to the press.

    “Finally, let us talk a little about the substance (of the issue). The trial of the defendants for their participation in the terrorist group “N17” begins on Monday morning. They are charged in a case that has shaken Greek society for 30 years, and that has caused serious problems for the country. They are now being led to a fair trial,” spokesman Christos Protopapas said in answer to media criticism over the past week against judicial officials decision to not let cameras inside the courtroom.

    “The eradication of N17 is a major national success. It demonstrates that democracy can provide its own answers to violence, fanaticism and the phenomena that breed terrorism,” he said.

    ND leader on 'N17' trial: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis over the weekend was the latest high-profile political leader in the country to comment on the beginning of proceedings against 19 “November 17” terrorism suspects, who go on trial on Monday.

    “Justice’s hour, the hour of democracy, has come 28 years after the first terrorist attack in Greece,” Karamanlis stated in a press release issued by the party.

    “In light of the historic trial, which begins tomorrow (Monday), New Democracy considers it is vindicated. Over time, with responsibility and consistency, we have been on the front line of an adamant struggle against terrorism.

    “We are the political party, that during a crucial moment, helped ensure for the state that a new institutional framework allowing law enforcement to achieve successful results was in place,” Karamanlis said in reference to anti-terrorism legislation passed a few years ago.

    Almost half of Greeks believe N17 terrorist organization trial will be fair: About half of the Greek population (48.2 per cent) believe the trial of the November 17 terrorist organization suspects, due to start in the Korydallos prison on the outskirts of Athens on Monday morning, will be fair, according to an opinion poll prepared by the Metron Analysis company.

    The poll showed that 28.7 per cent believe the trial will not be fair, while the remaining 23.1 gave no reply.

    In addition, 63.1 per cent believe laws and anticipated procedures were observed during the period of enquiries and 42.8 believe the alleged members of the terrorist organization are common criminals, 37 per cent that they are terrorists and 11.1 that they are social revolutionaries.

    Moreover, 6.8 per cent of elementary school graduates believe the defendants are social revolutionaries, while the same response is given by 15.5 of junior and senior high school graduates and 8.2 of university and technical institute graduates.

    Lastly, 61.3 per cent of citizens are quite or very interested in the trial, 17.3 declare that they are not very interested and 19.7 that they are not interested at all.

    [06] Informal Council of EU Education Ministers ends on Sunday night

    Athens, 03/03/2003 (ANA)

    The two-day informal Council of European Union Education Ministers, focusing primarily on ''electronic enlightenment'', ended on Sunday night, while Education Minister Petros Efthymiou told a press conference the outcome of the meeting was successful.

    The meeting examined the use and implementation of new technologies in education and the minister stressed the decision on cooperation between countries in the sector of know-how.

    Germany, he said, has spent about 200 million euros for the creation of software for its schools. It will also give this software to other countries, meaning that there is a considerable economic dimension in this decision.

    A basic element of the meeting was that the Greek EU presidency succeeded in achieving the consent of the remaining countries for its main pursuits, such as recognition for the need to create an independent educational policy with independent financing.

    Efthymiou also underlined the aim of having the foundations laid for an education summit to take place, on the lines of the Lisbon summit on employment.

    EU Commissioner Viviane Reding said on her part that every country will keep its own educational system, while problems will be handled jointly.

    [07] Ministers call for changes in PASOK party

    Athens, 03/03/2003 (ANA)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper ''Ethnos tis Kyriakis'', said the ruling PASOK party needs renewal and declared that he will be present when the issue of succession is raised in the party.

    ''We need renewal, the reorganization of PASOK, and contact with our social base and we should learn, together with the people, to produce policies which are essential to enable us to respond to the problems of the people,'' he said.

    On the question of whether he will run for the party's leader-ship, Tsohatzopoulos said ''what will happen after the elections, what will happen after PASOK's convention, which will take place at some time, is a matter which will preoccupy us then. I shall be present, mature to take a position, to participate with my progressive political proposal and submit my option.''

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, speaking in an interview with the newspaper ''Imerisia'', said PASOK "is getting rusty" and called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to go ahead with changes.

    Skandalidis said failure to table a new election law constitutes a receipt for defeat and, commenting on talk of succession in the party, said he is not interested in logics of managing defeat.

    [08] Russian president confirms Moscow's interest in Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline

    SOFIA 03/03/2003 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Moscow's interest in the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline during a joint press conference with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov after talks between the two sides.

    Putin made it clear that Russia links its interest in the project to the participation of Russia's petroleum company ''Lucoil'' in the construction of the pipeline in Bulgarian territory.

    ''Lucoil'', one of Russia's biggest petroleum companies, has already invested about 300 million dollars in Bulgaria, Putin said, referring to the buyout of the country's biggest refinery by the Russian company at the port of Burgas three years ago.

    ''We are discussing now the tripartite Greek-Bulgarian-Russian plan for the oil pipeline's construction. In this way another 250 million dollars will be added,'' Putin said.

    He placed emphasis on Russia's interest in developing cooperation with Bulgaria in the energy sector. In this context, the Russian ''Gazprom'' company is ready to invest 50 million dollars for the development of the natural gas procurement network for Greece, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), through Bulgaria, estimated at 12-18 billion cubic meters a year.

    On his part, Bulgaria's Regional Development Minister Valentin Cerovski expressed great satisfaction over the confirmation of Russia's political will for the implementation of the oil pipeline.

    [09] Deputy FM focuses Greek-Qatari economic ties; natural gas discussed

    DOHA 03/03/2003 (ANA – E. Bukauri)

    Qatari natural gas as well as jumpstarting a framework for bilateral economic cooperation dominated Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos’ talks here with the prosperous Gulf state’s leadership.

    Loverdos initialed a framework pact for economic cooperation, in fact, with Qatari Economy and Commerce Minister Hamad bin Faysal bin Thani Al Thani, an agreement now up for official signing by the two countries.

    Additionally, a joint Greek-Qatari inter-ministerial committee will also meet either in July or September in Thessaloniki.

    Loverdos was also received by Qatari Finance Minister Yusif Husayn al-Kamal and Energy Minister Abdallah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

    Qatari officials reiterated their interest in the holding of a “Greek products week” at the Gulf state’s renowned international convention centre, while also promoting a deal to supply Greece with natural gas. Currently, the country receives shipments from Russia and Iran.

    Asked about international oil prices, the Qatari energy minister, who is also the current president of the OPEC oil cartel, categorically disputed that there was any oil shortage on the international markets, although he did mention that the ongoing Iraq crisis was causing price fluctuations. He stressed that no one wants a destabilization of the market and barrel prices of more than US$40, adding that under normal conditions the price of oil per barrel should not exceed the $28 to $30 mark.

    [10] Overseas Hellenism secretary signs cooperation memorandum with South Australia

    MELBOURNE 03/03/2003 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Overseas Hellenism Secretary General Dimitris Dollis and the Prime Minister of South Australia Mike Ran signed a cooperation memorandum between the Overseas Hellenism General Secretariat and the state of South Australia on volunteerism.

    The signing was the successful outcome of the two men's efforts to recruit volunteers from South Australia for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    The agreement was signed in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, on Saturday in the presence of many government members, Greek immigrant representatives and thousands of people who enjoyed the two-day Greek festivity.

    [11] Position of G/C side on referendum independent of T/C side's reply

    NICOSIA 03/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The first official meeting of the Council of Ministers will be held next Friday, President of the Republic, Tassos Papadopoulos announced here Saturday, adding that he will ask the ministers to "set out their priorities and plans" which will be discussed at the Council.

    Speaking to reporters before the affirmation ceremony of his cabinet, President Papadopoulos also said the completion of the island's accession to the European Union (EU) will take place, independent of developments on the Cyprus problem.

    He also said the position of the Greek Cypriot side regarding a referendum on the third Annan plan on 30th March, will be formulated, independent of the Turkish Cypriot side's reply.

    On the choice of ministers, Papadopoulos said it was a matter of choosing those who can offer the most, under the circumstances and in agreement with the forces, which supported him to his election.

    Regarding the Cyprus problem, Papadopoulos said the position of the Greek Cypriot side on the referendum of 30th March on the UN Secretary-General's third plan would be formulated, independent of the reply of the other side.

    However, he said the position of either side affects the other, but does not depend on it.

    Asked if the members of the National Council (top advisory body to the president on the handling of the Cyprus problem) will accompany him in The Hague, Papadopoulos said the issue would be discussed next week during a Council meeting.

    Invited to comment on a statement by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that his new plan was the last chance for a Cyprus settlement and to say whether there will be any danger to the island's accession to the European Union, if the Greek Cypriot side says "no" to a referendum, Papadopoulos replied "no", ad-ding the "accession course is predetermined".

    He referred to the 1999 Helsinki European Council decision, which dissociated the island's accession from the solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Cyprus' accession, he added, will take place, independent of developments on the Cyprus problem.

    Annan said Friday, before leaving the island, that he expects the two leaders to arrive in The Hague to meet him, on 10th March, to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement to approval at separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    [12] US to do everything possible for a 'yes' response to referenda

    LARNACA 03/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, said he leaves the island encouraged by the two sides' acceptance to go to The Hague, adding the US will do everything possible to encourage a 'yes' response to the UN Secretary-General's request for referenda on his third peace plan for Cyprus, on March 30, 2003.

    Speaking to reporters before departing Sunday to the US, Weston referred to the "high level of activity which has been going on, most particularly the SG's most admirable efforts to do everything possible to achieve a settlement to the division of the island".

    The US diplomat said "we are now in a situation in which both leaders have said that they will be meeting with the Secretary-General in The Hague a week from tomorrow (Monday) and that is an encouraging sign".

    "We the US are of course very interested that when they meet with the SG in The Hague that they have the answer yes to his question which is will they commit to a referendum", he said.

    Weston added that Saturday he spent a good deal of the day in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus and had "many discussions about the nature of the referendum with the political leadership there".

    "I am obviously very hopeful and it is the position of the US that we would like to see this go to a referendum as the SG has requested" and that "we intend and do whatever we can as a nation, the US to encourage a yes response to the SG's question".

    Invited to comment on Rauf Denktash's negative statements on a referendum, Weston said, "you may know the answer. I don't. I know what I hope it will be".

    Weston went on to say Denktash had told him he wants to consult his illegal "government" and "parliament", including Turkey before replying. "My hope, my wish is that the answer will be yes to a referendum", he said.

    Regarding his participation at a mass rally in the occupied north on Thursday, Weston said he and Ambassador Michael Klosson, attended it and observed it.

    The US diplomat said "what we observed was a very positive demonstration" and an epidemic of democracy type of demonstrations which convey a very positive message.

    Weston added their presence at the rally gave a "strong message in support of democracy".

    [13] Cyprus’s Cabinet appointed

    NICOSIA 03/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    President Tassos Papadopoulos' government was officially announced on Saturday morning. The new ministers are:

    Minister of Foreign Affairs: George Iacovou

    Minister of Finance: Marcos Kyprianou

    Minister of Interior: Andreas Christou

    Minister of Labour and Social Insurance: Iakovos Keravnos

    Minister of Defense: Kyriacos Mavronicolas

    Minister of Justice and Public Order: Doros Thedorou

    Minister of Education and Culture: Pefkios Georgiades

    Minister of Commerce,Industry and Tourism: George Lillikas

    Minister of Health: Constantia Akkelidou

    Minister of Communications and Works: Kyriacos Kazamias

    Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources

    and Environment: Efthimios Efthimiou

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