|Saturday, 19 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 5, 2003
 PM says court should be let to do its work in N17 terrorist suspects' trial
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis inaugurated a new university hospital in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, on Tuesday and, referring to the trial of 19 November 17 terrorist organization suspects taking place in Athens, pointed out that the court should be let to do its work.
''It has all the preconditions to its job well and let us preoccupy ourselves with Greece which is changing. With Greece which is creating and with Greece which is eluding situations such as those being examined in the trial,'' he said.
Simitis also referred to the Iraq crisis, saying it is a difficult period for peace.
He added that, unfortunately, the European Union is not in a position institutionally to take initiatives to force, to push in a direction, while what it can do is to create convictions, to create a climate and to convey the need for all to take care for war to be averted.
''The Greek p[residency from the beginning, with two decisions by the General Affairs Council and the summit, I believe it gave a message of will towards a world in doubt that we should continue, pressure and mobilize ourselves to be able to avert the war. To secure disarmament and create a world which will be safer. We shall continue in this direction,'' he said.
 Papantoniou speaks of Iraq crisis and new world challenges
LONDON 05/04/2003 (ANA. L. Tsirigotakis)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou was one of the main speakers at a public debate held at the London School of Economics on Tuesday on the theme ''Europe's foreign and defense policy and the new world challenges.''
Other speakers included NATO Alternate Secretary General Minuto Ritso and British defense analyst Paul Beaver.
On the Iraq crisis, Papantoniou noted that ''the Greek EU presidency's priority is to work in the direction of a peaceful settlement to the various military disputes and particularly now in the Iraq crisis, in the context, of course, of the international laws which the United Nations secures as a suitable starting point for dealing with such issues. In view of this, we look forward to the efforts by the United Nations to bring about positive results.''
The European Union wants to see the complete disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and at the same time supports every possibility for a peaceful settlement of the crisis, he said, adding that ''Greece is making every effort to bring all the partners of the European Union to a common line on the Iraq issue.''
Papantoniou acknowledged that ''if the United States and Britain undertake a military operation in Iraq without a second United Nations resolution, then the consequences for the unity of the members of the European Union will be negative.''
The Greek defense minister also met on Tuesday with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and discussed the repercussions which a possible war in Iraq would have on the world economy.
''We agreed that if the war is brief the repercussions for the world economy will be limited, if however it goes beyond the timeframe provided in the initial plan, then it is certain that the negative consequences will be great for the world economy and for the national economies,'' Papantoniou concluded.
 EUís Verheugen: non-solution of Cyprus may block Turkeyís accession
BRUSSELS 05/04/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)Failure to reach a solution on the Cyprus issue by 1 May 2004 when EU enlargement and Cyprus' accession will be completed, would make the commencement of accession negotiations with Turkey difficult, a spokesman for European Union Commissioner in charge of Enlargement Gunter Verheugen said here on Tuesday.
The spokesman said the EU Commission would present a revised partnership association with Turkey in late March, to be accompanied by a doubling-up of pre-accession assistance to Ankara, currently at 177 million euro.
''The European Commission finds it hard to imagine that accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey could commence in the absence of a solution to the Cyprus issue by 1 May 2004, when the EU enlargement will be completed'', the spokesman said.
He also said that Turkey should concentrate its efforts on meeting the Copenhagen political criteria, which, he said, constituted a key-point for the commencement of accession negotiations with the EU, and called on Ankara to contribute to efforts toward resolving the Cyprus issue and assisting to UN Secretary General Kofi Annanís work.
He said that within the scope of the pre-accession strategy for Turkey and pursuant to the conclusions of the Copenhagen Summit, the Commission would present a revised partnership association in late March in support of reforms to take place in Turkey, aimed at Ankara's full compliance with the political criteria set by the EU, accompanied by a significantly increased pre-accession financial aid of at least double of the current 177-million-euro assistance to Turkey.
The spokesman was responding to press questions on the opportunity of a speech delivered by Verheugen at a conference in London on Tuesday, in which the Commissioner said that ''with regard to its aspirations for joining the EU, Turkey should seriously consider the implications of the absence of a solution to the Cyprus issue.''
In that case, the Commissioner said, on 1 May the EU will be in a situation where Turkey would not recognize one of the EU member states, which would make it difficult for the Commission to imagine how it would be possible to commence accession negotiations with Turkey.
Verheugen reiterated that with or without a solution, Cyprus would join the EU on 1 May 2004.
 Gov't spokesman says U.S. envoy must be patient in N17 terrorist case
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday appeared reserved over the accurate reporting of statements by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, who reportedly said only the operational part of the November 17 terrorist group has been brought to trial.
''Until a few days ago Mr. Miller was congratulating the Greek government for cracking down on terrorism. He should know now that since the trial has begun the hearing process everything shall be proved. Therefore, he must have patience to receive answers. He should not be hasty and not change his statements because then there is a major issue of credibility,'' Protopapas said.
Replying to questions from the press, the spokesman said Greece will not depend its policy on statements by foreign officials.
Referring to rumors of shadows in Greek-U.S. relations, Protopapas said ''there is no issue on our part'', adding that statements made by some that American officials inspected the court before the trial were ''absurdities and known exaggerations.''
 State Department spokesman says U.S. envoy has his own knowledge of terrorism
WASHINGTON 05/04/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, referring to statements made to the New York Times newspaper by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller that suspects currently on trial for alleged involvement in the November 17 terrorist group form the group's main operational body, said on Tuesday his assessment is based on his own knowledge of what happened.
''His assessment is based, I think, on his own knowledge of what has happened since then and during the investigation carried out by the Greek government,'' Boucher said, adding that the Greek authorities have stated similar positions on many occasions on people kept in custody.
''They say they believe that they have arrested the main elements involved in the case,'' he added, referring to statements which, as he said, have also been made by Greek officials.
Boucher reiterated the interest of the United States in the course of the trial, pointing out that victims of the group included Americans and noting that Washington was absolutely right in praising the Greek government and the Greek authorities on the overall handling of the case and its bringing before justice.
 Suspected N17 terrorist slams court as 'biased, unjust and illegal'
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Suspected terrorist Savvas Xiros, 40, on Tuesday accused the court trying the sensational ''November 17'' case of bias, saying it was unjust, illegal and not competent to judge the acts for which he and his fellow defendants stand accused.
In a statement prepared beforehand that was read out in court by presiding judge Michalis Margaritis, Xiros said the court was being called on to pass judgment on political acts that ''only history and the people can judge''.
As each of the 19 suspected terrorists on trial were called to make their plea, several took the opportunity to question the court itself.
With the bullet-proof glass surrounding the prisoners' dock removed from the start of the day's proceedings, the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court first called Dimitris Koufodinas, who is accused of being a leading figure within N17 and the hit man known as ''Poison Hand''.
Koufodinas said that he denied the charges against him ''as these are attributed to me'' but said that his stance toward the court ''would be consistent in terms of accepting political responsibility''.
He also stressed that he considered the trial to be a political trial with ''special measures and special penalties''.
Next to be called to the stand was Savvas Xiros, who stressed that the state's entire case was based on confessions and that he had been indicted based on ''special laws imposed by a supra-national elite that...contravene even the Constitution''.
He also claimed that the confessions he made had been extracted from him under duress, through the use of intimidation, psychotropic drugs and psychological disorientation ''that turned me into a witless child''.
The group's alleged leader Alexandros Giotopoulos denied all the charges against him and claimed that the case against him had been fabricated by the ''Americans and the government''.
''I come from a well-known Leftist family. I placed a bomb in their Embassy during the junta years. I never cashed in on my action.''
Dismissing the charges against him ''as inventions and confessions made in intensive care units by people destroyed by drugs and blackmail'' he accused the court of ''trying a political crime without a jury''.
Of the other 16 defendants, hardly any pleaded guilty to the charges against them and very few admitted to being members of the group.
Patroklos Tselentis admitted to being a member of N17 between 1983 and 1988 but denied taking part in the hit against US air force sergeant Robert Judd and in a robbery against the Marinopoulos supermarket.
Vassilis Tzortzatos admitted to being a ''peripheral member'' of N17 that quit in 1992 for ''personal and political reasons'' and said that confessions had been extracted from him by intimidation and the use of psychotropic drugs.
Thomas Serifis pleaded guilty to some of the charges but not all, while Costas Telios admitted to being present during the hits on Costas Androulidakis, Yiannis Paleokrassas and the robbery of a bank branch in Patissia.
Sotiris Kondylis said that he accepted everything he had confessed to under questioning, while Vassilis Xiros said that he ''did not accept the charges as these are attributed to me''.
Defense asks N17 terrorism court to allow TV crews inside: The defense for suspected "November 17" terrorist Patroklos Tselentis on Tuesday asked the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court conducting the sensational terrorism trial to allow the presence of television crews in the courtroom.
The motion was also backed by the defense counsel for alleged N17 leader Alexandros Giotopoulos, who said that the article 93 of the Constitution did not empower the government to impose limitations on media coverage for the proceedings.
According to sources, lawyers representing the families in four civil suits against the terrorists intend to oppose the motion, while others will ask for cameras to be allowed except when the four specific cases are being tried.
The motion was opposed by the public prosecutor on the bench Christos Lambrou, who denied that there were Constitutional irregularities in the law imposing a broadcast media ban for the proceedings.
Poll shows public opinion divided over N17 terrorist trial: Public opinion is divided on whether the trial of suspected ''November 17'' terrorists is criminal or political in nature, according to the findings of a poll conducted by VPRC for the radio station Sky 100.3 that were released on Tuesday.
Asked if the crimes involved were political or criminal, 49.6 per cent of those responding said they were probably criminal, 32.5 per cent said they were probably political and 17.9 per cent replied ''don't know, won't answer''.
Terrorism in general was rated as an extremely serious problem, while there was widespread agreement on the need for harsher measures.
An overwhelming majority of the public considered the defendants certainly guilty but, at the same time, a sizeable 30.3 per cent of those asked expressed doubts as to the fairness of the trial.
A majority of the public also considered the revelations by the media over the recent months concerning the terrorist group to be controlled by the police, while 53.5 per cent said they were not satisfied with the quality of news coverage for the N17 case, as opposed to 41.3 per cent who said it was adequate.
On the presence of TV cameras in the courtroom, a large majority (69.3 per cent) were in favor and 23 per cent were against.
Commenting on the results of the poll, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that interest in the trial would increase as the days went by.
He also claimed that the court's decision to remove a bullet-proof glass ''cage'' that had been constructed around the prisoners' dock by the authorities was the best possible answer to those who doubted the independence of the court and the fairness of the trial.
Earlier on Tuesday, meanwhile, Protopapas said that the head of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) Panos Sobolos had expressed satisfaction because all the union's demands regarding facilities for reporters covering the trial had been met.
The trial would henceforth proceed smoothly, the spokesman noted, with full transparency and full publicity.
Main opposition New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the public's doubts as to the fairness of the trial concerned whether all the facts that lay behind terrorism and N17 would be revealed.
He noted that information about specific individuals was often first disclosed by the media and subsequently confirmed by official sources.
 V. Papandreou chairs EU Council of Environment Ministers meeting
BRUSSELS 05/04/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The EU Council of Environment Ministers convened here on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Greek Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou and in a composite text to the EU spring summit on March 21 proposed for particular action to be taken in such sectors as the environment, energy, transport, fishing and forestry.
Speaking at a press conference, Papandreou said that it is the first time the Council approves a common text with all the sectors of activities and timeframes for the next twelve months - with priority on energy, transport, human hygiene and natural resources.
 Greek EU presidency: Lisbon policies and labor market flexibility
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)The Lisbon policies and their basic objective of rendering the European Union economy the most competitive on the planet by 2010, as well as the upcoming EU Summit on 21 March in Brussels, was due to be the focus of a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday in Athens with his government's labor and finance ministers.
Greece has been systematically preparing for the Brussels Summit, which it is feared will be overshadowed by Iraq developments that could dominate the discussions among the EU leaders, at least during their working meals and the customary dinner.
Under ''normal'' circumstances, discussions at the Brussels Council may be central to issues such as taxation, energy taxation in particular, the future of the Stability and Development Pact, small and medium size enterprises and improving their competitiveness, as well as issues associated with research.
Naturally, the Council is not expected to come up with solutions for all the questions on competitiveness, employment or taxation. The Greek presidency, however, is hoping for a new momentum on the basic Lisbon objective regarding the EU economy.
Of particular interest is the labor market flexibility debate currently underway in the EU, not without some disparities in views and positions among the ''15''. Risking simplification of the positions adopted by the member states, one could say that Britain is pushing for even greater flexibility in the labor market, while France is on the opposite end, and Germany, Holland and Denmark are somewhere in between. Greece supports the so-called ''composite flexibility'', a term that has not been precisely defined so far.
According to experts, flexibility in the labor market translates into relaxation of hiring and firing rules, collective bargaining between employers and employees regarding the hours of work and the insurance rights of the employees, but also adaptability of the labor force with increased possibilities for professional training that can be reinforced by national governments within the context of ''composite flexibility''.
One of the basic goals is to raise the overall employment rate from the current 63 percent to 70 percent, while there is a parallel Lisbon Council commitment to boost employment among women from the present 53 percent to 60 percent.
The Greek presidency is systematically advancing procedures for the convergence of views and positions among EU institutional bodies so that the basic objective of rendering the European economy the most competitive by 2010 can be reaffirmed at the Brussels Summit and that specific conclusions can be adopted by the European Council in Thessaloniki in June.
 Greek EU Presidency telecommunications priorities
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)A safer use of the Internet, information network safety, radio communications and the development of third generation mobile telephony are just a few of the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency in the area of telecommunications.
These goals are being promoted by the Greek Transport and Communications Ministry, with action so far including the following: - A draft decision on safer use of the internet: a European community action plan to eradicate illegal and harmful internet content. - A three-year program (2003-2005) to monitor the ďe-Europe 2005Ē Action Plan, dissemination of optimal practices and improvement of network and information safety. The Greek EU Presidency would seek to achieve political agreement on the specific issue at the EU Council of Transport Ministers, May 27. - International Radio-Communications Conference: discussions will include the scarce resources of radio frequencies range. - Third generation mobile telephony: the Greek Presidency has prepared the draft conclusions of the EU Council of Ministers, which are to be reviewed during the Spring EU Council of March 21. - Directive recommendation for the further use public sector documents: the relative directive recommendation is aimed at the legislation of a basic framework to arrange the use and utilization of general access public documents of the EU members-states by natural persons and legal entities. - International Conference of the Society of Information: the initiative to convene the conference was taken by the International Telecommunication Union. The conference will take place in two phases, the first in Geneva in December 2003 and the second in Tunis in 2005.
 Greece hails EU agreement on Community patent system
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday hailed the political agreement on a European patent system, accomplished in Brussels the previous day at the European Union's council on fair competition chaired by Greek development minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, currently the presiding minister in office.
''The settlement of a perennial issue regarding the establishment of a Community patent is a very significant development'', Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said, adding ''this new institution boosts the integration of the internal market, reduces the cost of businesses in safeguarding their innovations and reinforces protection to small-medium-size enterprises since now they can apply for direct protection in the market of '15' plus '10' member states''.
Protopapas said that the agreement was accomplished after Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis contacted his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi on the phone so that Italy would withdraw certain objections it had raised on the subject.
 Greek participation in "EU Gateway to Japan" program
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Greece began implementing this year a third community program to promoting European exports to Japan under the name "EU Gateway to Japan", funded and managed by the European Commission and aiming to boost trade between the EU and Japan.
The program, with duration of four years, is an extension of two previous similar programs (1994-1996 and 1997-2001) and will have two co-organisers, the European Commission and the EuroChambers Union. National chambers unions will participate in preparation and support procedures in the program-me.
A total of 880 European Union's small- and medium-sized enterprises have benefited from the two previous programs (of which 87 were Greek).
The new program envisages a total of 32 trade events, one for each sector annually. A total of 25 selected EU enterprises (and 45 for the food and beverage sector) will participate in each weekly event.
The eight sectors selected for this new campaign are: food and beverage, medical-pharmaceutical equipment, building material, IT and communications technology, environment technology, outdoor life and entertainment equipment, interior lifestyle, fashion and new designers.
 Airline representatives' union urges govít support
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)The Union of Airline Companies' Representatives, representing 80 airlines in Greece, on Tuesday expressed its satisfaction over measures promoted by the Transport ministry, in the framework of the Greek EU Presidency, to protecting airline transport from an extended crisis in Iraq.
In a letter sent to Transport Minister Christos Verelis, the union demanded an immediate intervention by the Greek presidency to agree on a political decision to indirectly subsidise all European airlines during the EU Transport Council in Aghia Pelaghia, Crete, in May, with a percentage support totalling 50 percent of all European airport use charges from February until the crisis was over.
The union said that such a decision would be fair for European airlines as it would balance the support given to other airlines around the world, and a special bankruptcy protection status existing in the US.
 Greek stocks plunge to new five-year lows
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks plunged to new five-year lows in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as a negative climate in international markets led to massive liquidation of stocks holdings in the Greek bourse.
The general index dropped 2.60 percent to end at 1,570.03 points, breaking the 1,600 support level, after negative comments for selected blue chips, like Hellenic Telecommunications Organization and Commercial Bank, made by international investment banks.
Hellenic Telecom's shares fell 5.43 percent as US funds liquidated holding pushing its share price to new record lows.
Turnover was an improved 100.5 million euros.
The Textile, IT, Construction and Telecommunications sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (5.49 percent, 5.46 percent, 3.73 percent and 3.48 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 2.78 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 2.04 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 3.45 percent down. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index fell 2.72 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 320 to 21 with another 21 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 56.0 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 56.0 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 PM inaugurates new university hospital in Alexandroupolis
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday hailed the Greek national health system as a conquest of the Greek people that no one could doubt, undermine or abolish as he inaugurated the new 673-bed University General Hospital in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis.
Work on the new hospital, the largest to be built in the country, first began in 1996 and it borders Thrace University's Medical School. The hospital will become fully operational in tandem with the medical school.
Simitis said that the state had allocated 88 million euros for its construction and equipment and that several new doctors and nursing staff would be hired within 2003.
During his address, the premier referred to efforts to upgrade state health services and said that improving the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) were a key part of this attempt.
Among the government's plans was to ensure that temporary pensions were paid out within two months of retirement and extending a system of phone appointments to all IKA clinics.
With respect to overall social spending in Greece, Simitis said this had increased by 6 per cent in real terms and that the rate of convergence had accelerated after 2000, with Greece now spending 25 per cent of its GNP on "social solidarity".
 Interior minister represents Greek EU presidency at UN event for gender equality
NEW YORK 05/04/2003 (ANA - P. Panikos)European Union president Greece on Monday said here that the EU was actively participating in the UN Information and Communication team, contributing to preparations for the World Information Society Summit.
Greece's interior, public administration and decentralization minister Costas Skandalidis, speaking on behalf of the EU, told the audience of the 47th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women that the ''EU is promoting the values that fully acknowledge human rights for girls and boys, women and men. Gender equality, constitutes a basic element of the founding principles that govern EU policies''.
The opening day of the 47th session of the Commission, which will run from March 3-14 at the United Nations headquarters in New York with the participation of women from around the world, provided the forum for speeches and approaches that evidenced a broad consent and commonality in goals and objectives rather than contention or disparity among participants.
''The EU is committed to the implementation of the Millenium Declaration that places the principle of gender equality in the centre of efforts for development'', Skandalidis said.
The Greek minister said that a conference on gender equality and information society would be held in Athens in May.
 EU: Gender equality - women and the future Treaty
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)A high level conference on gender equality and the future Treaty is held on Tuesday in Brussels, organized by the European Commission which is called to respond to crucial questions regarding the status of women, including the necessity for including in the future European constitutional treaty an article on gender equality with direct legal effect.
Sixty university professors, several political players, including Greek Commissioner on employment and social affairs Anna Diamantopoulou, Chairwoman of the European Parliament's Committee on women's rights Greek Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou and Messrs Dehaene and Mendez de Vigo, members of the Convention will ''cross their swords'' in presenting a variety of views on the issue.
The aim of the conference ''host'' Commissioner on education and culture Viviane Reding is to put forward specific proposals to the members of the Convention on the future of the European Union.
So far, a debate among feminist lobbies, members of the European Parliament and the members of the Convention on the future of the EU at how to improve gender equality provisions at EU level looking ahead to the adoption of the new EU constitutional treaty has not produced any specific results.
The Conference, which is open to the press and is held under the aegis of the European Commission's Directorate -General for Education and Culture, seeks to push forward with the dialogue already under way.
 Party youth groups discuss TV news boycott with media minister
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Representatives of youth groups of nearly all the main parties met Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Tuesday to discuss their call for a general boycott of all TV news on Wednesday between the hours of 19:00 and 21:00 to protest against the quality of TV news coverage.
The initiative, backed by the youth groups of ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy, the Coalition of the Left and Progress and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), also urged the public to voice their protest to TV stations actively by sending faxes and e-mails.
Protopapas said the meeting had focused on a code of conduct for journalists that is to be signed by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, the issue of commercial breaks during newscasts that will be discussed with the National Radio and Television Council (ESR), reinforcing self-regulation by TV channels in starting and ending newscasts simultaneously and the measurement of viewer ratings.
The protest boycott was triggered by the relatively low media coverage of the Greek anti-war rallies of February 15, which were ousted from the top slot by most private channels in favor of Greece's former king Constantine, who arrived in Greece unannounced with his family on the same day.
 Ex-king Constantine's lawyer makes arrangements for property compensation
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Ex-king Constantine's representative, lawyer Petros Machas, visited an internal revenue office in the Aharnon area in Athens on Tuesday to make arrangements for the disbursement of compensation awarded by the European Human Rights Court for so-called royal property.
According to relevant documents signed by the lawyer, the Bank of Greece is instructed to disburse the amount of 13.7 million euros for ex-king Constantine, his sister Irene and his aunt Catherine.
The bank was further instructed to deposit the money in an account with the Bank of Piraeus to enable it to be sent to a bank in Zurich for withdrawal.
According to reports, the three money orders were issued in the names of ''Constantine, ex-king of the Greeks'', ''Irene, former princess of the Greeks'' and ''Catherine, former princess of the Greeks'' in accordance with the European Human Rights Court's decision.
 Truck drivers arrested for attempting to smuggle illegal immigrants to Italy
Athens, 05/04/2003 (ANA)Three truck drivers were arrested on immigrant smuggling charges and 33 illegal immigrants were detained in two separate incidents in the ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa on Tuesday.
In Patras, truck driver Thanassis Haralambopoulos and co-driver Agathi Antonopoulou, both 30, were arrested and their truck was confiscated after 21 Kurdish illegal refugees were found hidden in the back of the truck.
The illegal immigrants were spotted during an inspection by harbor authorities as the truck was preparing to board a ferry bound for Italy.
The illegal immigrants told authorities they had paid 1,500 dollars each to be taken to Italy.
In a second incident in the port of Igoumenitsa, truck driver Epaminondas Balis was arrested after 12 Iraqi illegal immigrants were found in his truck as it was preparing to board a ferry to Italy.
 Papadopoulos hopes there is still room for changes in UN plan
NICOSIA 05/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed the hope that there is room for changes in the third Annan plan on issues, which the Greek Cypriot side is raising.
Speaking after a meeting here Tuesday with UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, attended by the members of the Greek Cypriot Negotiating Team at the UN-led talks for Cyprus, Papadopoulos said he would meet de Soto again on Wednesday afternoon.
Asked if there is any room for negotiations to take place, President Papadopoulos said, "we are discussing with Mr. De Soto these issues," adding he hopes there is room.
Spokesman says National Council not expected to reply to Annan yet: Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the National Council is not expected on Wednesday to take a decision on the UN Secretary-General's request whether the Greek Cypriot side will put the Foundation Agreement to a referendum.
He said Tuesday afternoon's meeting between President Papadopoulos and de Soto aims at ''investigating the possibility to further negotiate issues regarding the (UN) plan's functionality.''
Asked if the Greek Cypriot side will answer ''yes'' on condition or ''no'' under condition to the Annan request, Chrysostomides said this was an issue which will surely be placed before the National Council meeting on Wednesday.
The spokesman said President Papadopoulos is expecting the members of the National Council to give their views in the form of advice.
Chrysostomides reiterated the Greek Cypriot side's positive response to Annan's invitation to The Hague.
The spokesman further said the government was not aware that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had sent a letter to Kofi Annan asking him to clarify whether he needs to travel to The Hague if he responds negatively to the UN Secretary-General's request for the referendum.
Regarding Papadopoulos' visit to Athens on Wednesday, Chrysostomides said it was a ''working'' visit and a continuation of last week's talks in the Greek capital between Papadopoulos and Greek Premier Costas Simitis.
''I am certain that there will be a complete discussion of all the issues. In any case, our accession course has been officially declared by the EU and by the Greek government, that it is a simultaneous procedure, completely independent from a Cyprus settlement,'' he added.
Chrysostomides said that the names of the three Greek Cypriot judges who will participate in the Supreme Court to be established after a settlement, will be an issue to be discussed at the National Council and will be raised during the meeting with de Soto.
Former President Glafcos Clerides has been invited to participate at Wednesday's National Council meeting, said Chrysostomides, although he was not certain if Clerides accepted the invitation.
 Annan to brief UN Security Council over Cyprus
UNITED NATIONS 05/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due to brief on Tuesday the members of UN Security Council over the outcome of his recent three-nation trip that took him to Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, in relation to a Cyprus settlement.
During this meeting he is expected to brief the members of the
Security Council that the new Cyprus President, Tassos Papadopoulos, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, have accepted his invitation to travel to the Hague on March 10, in order to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment in the Hague 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.
No statement is expected after this Security Council informal session, which will take place behind closed doors.
 US Ambassador announces launch of anti-terrorist campaign
NICOSIA 05/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson announced here on Tuesday the launch in Cyprus of the ''Rewards for Justice Program'', which is a new tool in the international war on terrorism.
Klosson, who announced the campaign at a press conference in Nicosia, said, ''this campaign aims to cut off the oxygen of terrorist groups -the financing that they need to carry out their deadly activities.''
He added that there will be a reward of up to 5 million US dollars to persons who will provide the US government with ''any information leading to the arrest or conviction of those who planned or aided in any act of terrorism against US persons or properties'' as well as with ''any information leading to the dismantling of any system or scheme used to finance a terrorist organization.''
The US Ambassador said this program has been very effective in the past seven years and that the US has paid more than 9.5 million US dollars to 23 people who provided credible information.
Asked whether the witness protection program will be applicable in Cyprus, Klosson did not exclude this possibility.
He added that any person that has information leading to combat terrorism against US interests, should contact the US Embassy in Nicosia.
Asked whether the US is aware of any terrorist groups coming from Cyprus, Klosson said ''I am not aware of any at this point.''
Klosson reiterated his country's appreciation regarding the level of support and cooperation it has received from Cyprus after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.