|Thursday, 17 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 7, 2003
 Simitis blasts Denktash's intransigence after talks with Cyprus president
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday met with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and discussed the current developments on the Cyprus problem, in light of the meeting called by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at The Hague.
Following their tree-hour meeting, Simitis underlined that he had a detailed discussion with Papadopoulos, which ''concluded to common conclusions''.
Simitis added that Annan called him last (Wednesday) night to point out the necessity of the presence in The Hague of all interested parties, namely the two sides in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and Britain, in such a way that would allow for decisions to be taken.
Simitis, with whom Papadopoulos agreed, said that it was up to the people of Cyprus to take decisions on its future and noted that during their meeting, they reached common conclusions regarding further handling of the national problem.
Regarding Cyprus' European course, Simitis said accession to the EU was a guarantee that any difficulties in the new period of the island's history would be overcome.
In his opening statement, Simitis said they discussed all matters regarding the latest developments, especially the third Annan plan and the UN chief's invitation to The Hague.
Annan presented the two sides in Cyprus with a solution plan on 11 November 2002 followed by a revised one on 10 December 2002. The UN chief visited the island in late February and presented the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side with a third plan, just hours before his February 28 deadline for an agreement expired.
He has invited the two sides to The Hague on March 10, to tell them whether or not they will put his plan to separate referenda on March 30 for the two communities to decide if they will accept or dismiss it.
Referring to the Annan plan, Simitis said they discussed the differences compared to the previous two, and ''what we have to look out for'', adding that the main topic discussed was the UN Secretary General's invitation to The Hague.
''We discussed how we will respond to Annan's invitation, what our tactic will be, in view of the tactics and thoughts of the other side, of course'', he said. The Greek prime minister described his meeting with Papadopoulos, which lasted three hours instead of the scheduled one hour, as ''constructive and long'', noting that ''it led to common conclusions''.
He added that despite the Greek Cypriot side's constructive stance, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, ''although he said he would travel to The Hague, is so far intransigent, ignores the dynamic mobilizations in the Turkish Cypriot community in favor of a solution and accession to the EU, ignores the clear will to solve the problem, the clear will throughout the island and the international community''.
Simitis said Denktash's stance not only leads to the ''total isolation of the Turkish Cypriot side but in general undermines Turkey's EU accession course'' as it is ''clear that the EU wants all open issues to be settled, does not want dividing lines in Cyprus, and Ankara's approach to Europe passes through the elimination of the dividing lines in Cyprus''.
''For this reason, I believe that the Turkish government must contribute decisively in lifting the deadlock and I want to note that so far the delaying tactics of Mr. Denktash have placed huge obstacles in the whole handling of the issue'', he said, adding that ''the European framework, which will accompany the Republic of Cyprus from its accession to the EU and afterwards, is the guarantee for the overcoming of any difficulties in a new period of the history of Cyprus''.
He said ''we want peace, cooperation and security in the region'', noting that it was ''up to the leadership and the people of Cyprus to take decisions about its future''.
Simitis then reaffirmed that the Cyprus problem was the number one priority of his government, which would continue to work with the Cypriot government in order to reach their common goals. Papadopoulos agreed with all Simitis had said, adding that their talks Thursday were ''constructive and productive''.
Replying to questions, Simitis said Annan sent him a letter on Wednesday on the procedure to be followed in The Hague, and last night called him to point out ''the necessity for the presence at The Hague of all interested parties, in a manner that would allow for decisions to betaken there''.
''Because we are not called upon and no-one is called upon to express himself in one word, it is proper for a discussion to take place. Every solution needs a discussion. Every future that stands on sound feet needs an exchange of views and such regulations that would safeguard the viability of any agreement. What we are interested in is not to say yes or no but to achieve something that would guarantee peace, cooperation and security in the region'', Simitis stressed.
ND leader and Cyprus president discuss latest developments in Cyprus issue: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos discussed latest developments regarding the Cyprus issue on Thursday in light of the crucial meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at The Hague on Monday.
Karamanlis said the future of Cyprus might be determined at The Hague which, as he said, must be consolidated with a workable and viable solution, in accordance with UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire, to be auspicious.
Karamanlis and Papadopoulos discussed Annan's third revised plan, while ND believes that more changes should be made for a workable solution to be secured.
Karamanlis once again expressed his support for Papadopoulos and the political forces of Cyprus, pointing out that the barren denial and intransigence displayed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the Turkish establishment should make the wider international community skeptical which is being called on now, as the ND leader said, to seek ways of handling this phenomenon effectively.
 Papandreou to represent Greece at meeting on Cyprus at The Hague
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will be representing Greece at a meeting called that will take place at The Hague on March 10 to decide on further developments for the Cyprus issue, foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis announced on Thursday.
The meeting was called by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and will seek to obtain the agreement of all sides involved to separate referenda among Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots regarding his proposed peace plan for Cyprus, without requiring their simultaneous agreement or commitment to the plan itself.
Beglitis said that Papandreou's presence at the meeting was not linked to the level of representation chosen by the other two guarantor powers for Cyprus but because the Greek foreign minister wanted to have talks with Annan about Iraq and the Cyprus issue.
The spokesman clarified, however, that the signature of a memorandum that would OK referenda on the UN plan for Cyprus would have to be carried out by officials at the same level.
He also noted that the first meeting between Greece and Turkey on Cyprus security issues had not yielded any results and that the Turkish side had refused to commit to a new meeting and was using delaying tactics on this issue, despite repeated declarations by Greece that it was available to repeat dialogue.
 FM to follow UN Security Council meeting on Iraq crisis
NEW YORK 07/03/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)Foreign Minister and EU Council of Foreign Ministers president George Papandreou will follow Friday's UN Security Council meeting on the Iraq crisis.
Papandreou is expected to have meetings or brief talks with his counterparts from the U.S., the European member-states of the Security Council and other members of the Council as well as with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
France, Germany and Russia have made it clear they will use a veto at the Security Council if the U.S. and Britain present a new resolution for approval which will give the green light for a military attack against Iraq.
China is also opposed to a new resolution.
 Greek foreign ministry issues travel advisory on Iraq
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday issued a travel advisory calling on Greek citizens to postpone any planned visits to Iraq, ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said.
Asked what measures the government intended to take concerning Greek peace activists already in Iraq who intend to take part in a human shield aimed at averting the bombing of public utility installations there, Beglitis said that every Greek citizen who was in Iraq was there "on their own responsibility".
He added that the foreign ministry had asked the Greek Embassy in Iraq to stay in contact with all the Greek citizens, businessmen, peace activists and journalists in Iraq.
 Greek EU presidency welcomes scrapping of Iraqi missiles
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)EU president Greece on Thursday said that all necessary initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis would be taken, while he expressed satisfaction at Iraq's decision to destroy its al-Samoud 2 missiles and Baghdad's more active cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.
Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that the coming weeks were very crucial and stressed the potential for the formulation of benchmarks to bind Iraq's disarmament process within specific time limits.
Iraq on Thursday said it had destroyed six more al-Samoud 2 missiles at a military base near Baghdad.
Asked to comment on a joint statement by French, German and Russian foreign ministers on Wednesday to block any UN Security Council resolution authorizing war in Iraq, Beglitis said the statement was very significant since it reasserted the will for a peaceful settlement on the issue and the need to reinforce weapons inspections.
He said it was within the common European Union position and reasserted the efforts made by everyone to avert and obtain Iraq's complete disarmament.
He confirmed that US Secretary of State Colin Powell had reiterated his country's position to Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou at their meeting last week, a position already known through public statements on the use of force even in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution.
Beglitis said that Papandreou on Thursday travels to New York to attend United Nations deliberations on the Iraq issue and that once there he would meet with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, as well as his counterparts from France, Germany, Spain and Russia.
 Greece rules out double name solution for FYROM
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday ruled out a double name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in order to overcome a long-standing impasse between Athens and Skopje over the tiny republic's name, saying this was not a realistic proposal.
Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis had been asked to comment on a proposal by a United States official calling for a double name solution, with Washington mediating.
He also noted that an interim agreement between Greece and FYROM had been silently renewed, as provided for within the agreement itself.
"Greece wants the adoption of one and only one name by the neighboring state for all purposes. We have the desire to continue negotiations within the framework of the United Nations for a jointly acceptable solution," he said.
Greece objects to the use of the name 'Macedonia' for FYROM, which shares a border with a northern Greek province with the same name.
 Greek air force plane harassed by Turkish fighter jets
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)A Greek Air force C130 transport aircraft conducting a scheduled flight toward Alexandroupolis was harassed by a pair of Turkish fighter jets between the Aegean islands of Hios and Lesvos on Thursday afternoon.
The two Turkish aircraft passed over the C130 at a distance of 500 feet while it was flying at 14,000 feet.
Both Turkish planes had entered infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) by entering without submitting a flight plan and were subsequently intercepted by Greek air force fighter planes.
 PASOK secretary responds to U.S. ambassador's statements on terrorism
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)U.S. ambassador to Greece ''Mr. Miller with his latest statements about terrorism is continuing the tradition of his predecessors, the prophecies of whom have never come true. They did not prove to be gold, rather they were coal,'' ruling PASOK party Secretary Costas Laliotis said on Thursday.
Speaking of statements by Thomas Miller that not all ''November 17'' terrorist group members have been arrested, Laliotis said that ''Mr. Miller, with his statements, his interventions and his doings, provokes Greeks, provokes the Greek Republic and at the same time he offers the worst possible services to his country and his people''.
''Unfortunately there were Greek politicians from (main opposition) New Democracy with first and foremost (Constantine) Mitsotakis that appeared as self-appointed lawyers of Mr. Miller's, adopting as usual, without judgment the unfounded theories and his unacceptable insinuations,'' Laliotis said.
 Greek EU presidency condemns Wednesday's terrorist activity in Haifa
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said the Greek EU presidency condemned Wednesday's terrorist activity in the port-city of Haifa where a suicide bomber attacked an Israeli bus killing 15 people.
Asked about the activities on Thursday of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, where 11 Palestinians were killed in a major raid, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that the Greek presidency would issue a relevant statement and denied that the presidency's criticism mainly targeted Palestinians.
Dr. Lerman focuses on Iraq, Haifa bombing in press conference in Athens: "Peace requires sacrifices," Director of the American Jewish Committee's branch in Israel Dr. Eran Lerman, said during a press conference in the Israeli embassy in Athens on Thursday, where he took the time to explain in detail the committee's view on a possible war in Iraq and current conditions in the region and Israel.
Lerman voiced his support for the efforts of the current U.S. administration, while he expressed his sorrow over the Haifa suicide bombing this week that caused multiple fatalities and scores of injuries.
Speaking of peace in the Middle East, Lerman defended the positions of the U.S. administration comparing them with those of the Ronald Regan U.S. presidency and contrasting them with the years of Richard Nixon's era.
He rejected the Henry Kissinger view of "the balance of power idea" for the Middle East, saying that since the "Sept. 11" terrorist attack in the U.S., elements that want to democratize the Middle East have gained the upper hand in the country, abandoning the idea of supporting non-democratic regimes for the sake of stability.
"The price of this catatonic stability is too high," he said in response to those that want to maintain stability in the region at any cost, while he rejected the view that the Arab people would rise against the U.S. intervention, saying that larger protests took place in Europe and the U.S. that did in the Middle East.
He conceded, however, that the possibility for chaos caused by a war in Iraq was existent, but stressed that inaction would cause greater problems.
Lerman called racist the statement of "many in Europe" that the Arabs are not ready for democracy, comparing directly the case with that of sub-Saharan Africa, where according to him most countries have turned to democracy.
He stressed that a war in Iraq or a peaceful change of leadership in the country that would lead to democracy is the only road toward democratization of the region, since other countries of the Arab world, would then have to liberalize their societies, at least in the long term.
Lerman rejected the view that a possible war in Iraq, would be staged for the control of petrol, saying that the big multinational oil companies already control the flow of oil and they purchase it in market prices.
He also rejected the idea that the U.S. would be interested to control the region to avoid oil being used as a weapon, since that strategy proved to be a "myth... as the Saudi's found out that it had limited and short term success".
Speaking of the Haifa bombing he said that "the children that were massacred went to the same school that I went to," adding that "Israel is at war for two years now," not with the Palestinian people, but with the Hamas and Jihad organizations.
"This is not an intifada and it is not a conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people," he underlined, it is a war with Hamas and Jihad," a certain kind of virulent elements ... very specific groups".
He stressed that "peace requires sacrifices" from both sides of the conflict, adding that the current government of Israel is ready to make more steps toward peace that those some decades ago.
Lerman called on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to step aside allowing more moderate elements of the Palestinian leadership to work for peace.
He closed the press conference responding to a question on Israel's identity, saying that the people of Israel are neither Middle Eastern nor European, rather they are Mediterranean.
 EU Presidency statement on Gaza attack
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek Foreign Ministry, on Behalf of the Presidency of the European Union, issued a statement on Thursday condemning the use of violence in the West Bank and Gaza.
The full text of the statement follows:
“During the last two months, a significant number of Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, even more civilian casualties have been added to the death toll.
“The EU Presidency strongly deplores the indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces, which only fuels the vicious cycle of violence. Whilst recognizing Israel’s right to ensure security for its citizens, the EU Presidency calls on the Israeli authorities to do everything in their power to prevent further deaths of civilians. Terrorist acts and violence are not an alternative to the peace process.
“The EU Presidency urges both the Israeli government and the P.A. to put an end to this situation and to contribute constructively to the resumption of the political process”.
 Athens lodges demarche over arrest of Greek student in UK
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek Embassy in London on Thursday lodged a written demarche with Britain's Foreign Office over its failure to inform Greek authorities about the arrest of a Greek student on terrorism-related charges, foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis announced.
In addition, Athens demanded to be officially informed about the conditions in which the student is being held and the charges against him.
Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, who wrote the demarche, also expressed displeasure over the fact that Britain's ambassador to Greece, Sir David Madden, had not informed him about the arrest during their meeting on Wednesday.
The news of the student's arrest eventually reached Greece after a delay of several days through the BBC.
Beglitis reiterated the 'displeasure' of the Greek side at the stance of UK authorities and said that no representative from the Greek Embassy in Britain had yet met the student.
He said the incident provoked even stronger negative feelings in the light of the very good and close cooperation between Greek and British authorities on the issues of organized crime and terrorism, especially since London had ''moved heaven and earth'' over the Britons caught illegally photographing Greek military aircraft.
According to sources, 25-year-old Greek student Haralambos Dousemertzis was arrested by police in Northumbria on February 25 and will stand trial on the basis of article 57 of Britain's counter-terrorist laws on March 11. He has been charged with possession of objects that could have been or were intended for use in terrorist actions.
Among his personal effects, police apparently found posters of the Greek terrorist organization ''November 17'' and books on international terrorist organizations.
The UK has adopted some extremely tough counter-terrorism legislation that does away with longstanding fail-safes and precedents that go back several centuries, such as that of habeas corpus.
 UN information directress says failure to receive protest a misunderstanding
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The UN Information Center’s directress in Athens Maria Luisa Chavez said on Thursday the fact she did not accept to receive a written protest and condemnation by 112 Greek Parliament members against a possible war in Iraq was due to a "misunderstanding".
Chavez, in a telephone conversation with the Athens News Agency, said she herself did not speak with Coalition of the Left and Progress Deputy Fotis Kouvelis but her secretary did and what was conveyed to her was that three people, including Kouvelis, wanted to see her at 1.30 p.m. on Thursday to deliver a protest to her, without her knowing that it was a protest by 112 Parliamentary deputies.
 Defense minister addresses Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou was the main speaker at an event organized on Thursday night by the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.
Also present at the event was U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller.
In his address, Papantoniou referred to the grave repercussions which a possible war in Iraq would have on the economy and security.
The minister warned that in the event that the United States proceeds in war operations against Iraq without the support of the international community, as expressed by the United Nations, this would result on the one hand in the rift with Europe further deepening and on the other in increasing the possibilities of general and prolonged instability in the Middle East.
As for Greece, he warned that it must be prepared to deal with a wave of refugees of a magnitude similar to that which was caused by similar crises in the recent past.
 FinMin to chair Eurogroup, ECOFIN meetings in Brussels
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis will chair a Eurogroup meeting today and an ECOFIN meeting on Friday in Brussels.
In the eurogroup meeting, Mr Christodoulakis will brief his eurozone counterparts over a G7 ministerial meeting last weekend. The 12 finance ministers will also discuss the latest economic developments in the EU and the global economy and assessing the impact of accessing the EU's new members to an ERM II system with the aim of finally adopting the euro currency.
The ECOFIN's agenda on Friday includes discussion of preparations of an EU Summit in Brussels (March 21), adopting an annual report by the Economic Policy Commission on structural changes in the EU, improving coordination of fiscal policies, adopting a joint report by the Council and the Commission on adequate and viable pensions, a joint report on national strategies on health and welfare, examining an update stability program by Luxembourg and Portugal.
EU finance ministers will also discuss European Central Bank's recommendations on voting procedures in its governing board, savings tax, a corporate tax code, energy products' taxation and the council's conclusion on the EU budget's priorities for 2004.
 EU Commissioner opposes UK proposal on curbing funds
BRUSSELS 07/03/2003 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)The European Union's employment commissioner on Thursday criticized a UK government proposal to limit EU structural funds to new entrants into the 15-nation bloc, scrapping the monies for existing members.
''What emerges from the article by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown (published in The Times) is a proposal for re-nationalization of structural policies, with the exception of candidate countries. My initial reaction is to disagree totally,'' Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulos told reporters.
Scrapping the funds for existing members would hurt economic and social cohesion in both capital cities and remote country areas, said Diamantopoulou in reply to a media question.
In addition, member states and regions should have greater leeway in managing cash from EU funds in order to comply with the principle of subsidiarity, which Brown had raised to back his argument, Diamantopoulou added.
 GDP down by 0.3 pct in the last quarter of 2002
BRUSSELS 07/03/2003 (ANA/B.Demiris)Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2002 against the third quarter, Eurostat, the EU's statistics service, said on Thursday.
In the EU and in the eurozone, GDP in the last quarter of 2002 rose by 0.2 percent, Eurostat said in a statement.
Greece was the only member country to show a decline in GDP growth in the period under review.
In comparison with the fourth quarter of 2001, Greek GDP showed a 3.5 percent rise against 1.4 percent in the EU and 1.3 percent in the eurozone, Eurostat said.
 EU Employment and Social Affairs Council enacts tripartite social summit
BRUSSELS 07/03/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)The European Union's Employment and Social Affairs Council convened here on Thursday and enacted the tripartite social summit, which will meet before every spring summit.
The tripartite social summit, according to Council President and Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, will be attended by the prime ministers of the country holding the presidency and of the next two presidencies, the labor ministers of the ''15'' and employers' and employees' representatives in Europe.
Reppas said ''the new institution will strengthen social dialogue at European level and will constitute a useful tool for the achievement of our objectives.''
 Greek stocks end off five-year lows on Thursday
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)A decision by the European Central Bank to lower its key interest rates by 25 basis points to 2.50 percent on Thursday disappointed European investors and had a limited impact on market sentiment across Europe.
Greek stocks ended slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange halting a several-day decline to five-year lows. The general index ended 0.20 percent higher at 1,567.63 points, with turnover a low 47 million euros.
The Cement, Construction and Industrial sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (1.71 percent, 0.91 percent and 0.67 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunications, IT and IT Solution sectors scored the biggest gains (1.19 percent, 0.94 percent and 0.91 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.19 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.19 percent. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index rose 0.20 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 139 to 130 with another 86 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 27.1 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 27.1 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 ATHOC chief and PM discuss Olympics preparations
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)A scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, was held on Thursday in what was described as an "excellent climate".
The meeting, which was due to be held since the last meeting of a government committee for the Olympics, had been postponed due to the prime minister's heavy workload. It covered all issues in view of a visit by the International Olympic Committee Coordinating Commission in April.
It particularly focused on the issues that are currently high on the agenda of both ATHOC and the government, such as Olympic overlays, construction of sports facilities, cooperation with local government and problems created by certain municipalities who object to the construction of certain Olympic projects.
According to sources, the meeting with the premier on Thursday and the high level of cooperation between the ATHOC chief and the Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday indicate that a period of cool relations between ATHOC and the government has ended.
 FM opens EU presidency-sponsored conference on drug abuse
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)A high-profile conference on illegal narcotics and drug abuse sponsored by the Greek presidency of the European Union, in collaboration with the European Centre for Monitoring Narcotics and Addiction and the European Commission, kicked off at Zappeion Hall in central Athens on Thursday with an address by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Entitled "Narcotics: scientific proof, daily practice and political choices", the conference was organized jointly by the Greek ministries of foreign affairs, health and welfare, justice and public order.
It aims to bring together politicians and scientists working in the field with the staff of state agencies and non-governmental organizations involved with the phenomenon of drug abuse, so that they can exchange notes and suggest ways of making European Union policy against illegal drugs more effective.
In his opening address, Papandreou stressed the importance attached by the Greek presidency to tackling the multi-faceted social problem and make a decisive contribution to implementing the five-year EU Action Plan (2000-2004), in part through this conference.
"We all feel that there is something wrong with our policies, and at the same time there are some developments," he stressed.
The aim of the conference was to create guidelines for a new action plan that would assist the next three EU presidencies and to allow the Union to present a unified and better-documented stance at the 46th meeting of the United Nations Narcotics Committee in April.
EU president George Papandreou launches new e-Vote questionnaire on drug policy: Greek Foreign Minister and EU President in office George Papandreou on Thursday announced a new e-Vote questionnaire on drug policy at the High Level Conference ''Towards an Effective Policy on Drugs'' in Athens, a Hellenic European Union Presidency press release said.
Papandreou told participants at the Athens conference that he was pleased with the high level of early interest in e-Vote, and was especially enthusiastic about the launch of the latest questionnaire on drug policy, the release said.
''Drugs are a very controversial issue and a subject of concern for many Europeans'', Papandreou stressed, adding ''It is through initiatives such as e-Vote that citizens can make their voices heard''.
e-Vote is a bold new experiment in e-democracy from the Greek Presidency aimed at gauging the views of citizens across Europe on a range of key issues facing the EU. For the first time ever, an EU Presidency has sought the views of European citizens and brought those views directly into EU official meetings.
More than 70,000 people have so far participated in e-Vote, already making it the most popular exercise in e-Democracy ever.
e-Vote offers anyone the opportunity to visit http://evote.EU2003.gr and to share their ideas, opinions and suggestions about the present and future EU.
For further information interested parties can contact the e-Vote Press office at tel.+32-2-743-6601, e-mail:email@example.com
 Court rules against TV coverage of November 17 trial
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The presence of TV cameras during the trial of 19 alleged ''November 17'' terrorists was finally ruled out on Thursday after the Three-Member Criminal Court decided that the law did not allow televised coverage of proceedings.
After hearing the arguments for and against, presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis said the law was clear in banning the presence of TV crews if any of the parties at the trial objected.
He also refuted arguments that the law was unconstitutional, saying that publicity for the trial was ensured by allowing the public to attend and not through live TV broadcasts.
As the trial entered its fourth day, it continued to be mired in procedural issues raised by the defense and dozens of lawyers representing families of the victims.
Objections to the constitution of the court and the way that the panel of judges had been selected were also rejected during the day's proceedings. The court found that the relevant laws were constitutional in that they would apply to all similar cases and did not contravene the requirement that the defendants be tried by their ''natural judges''.
The defense had objected to the selection process that produced the panel of judges, who were chosen by lot among 30 appeals judges pre-selected by their peers, saying that the law used was passed while the examination into the case was underway and was ''made to measure'' for the specific case.
Under the previous law, the panel of judges was chosen directly by lot among the entire body of appeals judges, with no pre-selection.
Dimitris Koufodinas, who stands accused as one of the key figures within the terrorist organization and one of its top hit men, at one point during the presentation of arguments on this issue called on Judge Margaritis to resign or risk ''ending his career as the appointed head of a special court that, being forced to pass judgment, will impose harsh penalties based on non-existent evidence.''
He also said that the court was ''dependent and under pressure'' and that Judge Margaritis was ''put in a position where he was forced to move on the level of political action''.
Another objection to the court itself rose by the defense, namely that the crimes of which the defendants were accused were political and that they should be tried by the Mixed Jury Court and not the Three-Member Criminal Court, will be discussed when the court resumes on Friday.
The defense has also raised objections to the presence of cameras in the courtroom that relay the proceedings to the giant screen in the adjoining press room and one of the defense lawyers claimed that the court had been illegally recorded on video - prompting the public prosecutor on the bench to order an investigation into the allegation.
 Cultural events in framework of Greek EU presidency
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Cultural events scheduled in the framework of the Greek European Union's presidency will take place in 40 countries throughout the world.
The events include the archaeological exhibitions ''Athens, the cradle of democracy'', with replicas of items used in the functions of the Athenian democratic form of government, and the ''Greek jewel'' with 74 jewels dating from Neolithic to Byzantine times, an exhibition which has already begun a tour from Prague and will continue in Warsaw and Budapest.
Another interesting event is the program ''Cinema'' with the screening of Greek films of international acclaim.
 Greece steps up drive to lure tourists amid Iraq war fears
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Offices of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) abroad have been asked to step up publicity for Greece as a holiday destination amid industry fears of a slump in the market should war is declared on Iraq.
Given by GNTO chief Yiannis Patellis, the order also asked staff to make use of personal contacts in the tourism market to help promote Greece.
Patellis visited a tourism trade fair in Paris on Thursday.
Visiting the Greek pavilion was France's deputy tourism minister, Leon Petran, who noted that Greece was a preferred holiday destination for French travelers.
According to major tour operators, bookings to Greece from France this year have shown a 3.0 percent rise.
 US Coast Guard chief welcomes performance of Greek service
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)The head of the US Coast Guard has written to the Greek government congratulating the domestic coast guard on its abilities and professionalism.
In a letter to Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis, Admiral Thomas Collins also congratulated the government on the support it provided to the International Maritime Organization.
 Women protest for peace in Athens
Athens, 07/03/2003 (ANA)Women, members of pro-peace organizations organized a rally in Athens on Thursday, outside the U.S. embassy, releasing scores of balloons, while chanting "No to war".
The rally was organized in light of this Saturday's International Women's Day, by the General Confederation of the Workers of Greece (GSEE), Greece's Civil Servants' Union and EKA, in cooperation with the Greek Social Forum, the Internationalist Workers' Left and the coalition "Stop the War, along with the equality section of the ruling PASOK party and the Women's section of the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos).
 President Papadopoulos: our reply to the UN Secretary-General will be clear
LARNACA 07/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here Thursday the Greek Cypriot side's reply to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan during their meeting at The Hague on Monday will be "clear," with views and positions.
Speaking on his return from the Greek capital, Papadopoulos said his talks on Thursday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his close associates were "useful and constructive," noting "we have examined all alternatives and scenarios as well as the possible choices we have."
"The decision on what will happen, will of course be taken in Cyprus by the National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem)", Papadopoulos stressed.
Explaining what he means about many scenarios, the president said that the Athens meeting examined "all possible situations, i.e. what might be the Turkish stance, which is our (the Greek Cypriot) stance, the views of the National Council, the views of both sides, and other."
Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot side's reply will not be "one-worded" but that "some discussion will take place to see" whether there is any room for improvement.
"Our position is, and remains, that we want negotiations to be held, in an effort to improve the provisions of the Annan plan. This does not mean re-negotiating all the provisions of the plan, but only those which will make it functional and therefore viable," he added.
The president said he will convey to the National Council the views of the Greek government "and the National Council will evaluate them and take final decisions."
Asked if the National Council will decide its final decision on Saturday during its next meeting or in The Hague, Papadopoulos said he has asked the members of the National Council to accompany him to The Hague "so they can be there if anything arises, such as an invitation for further discussions, and to take decisions."
Everyone said "yes", Papadopoulos said, "but whether any decisions will be taken either here or in The Hague, that will be decided during the next meeting of the National Council."
"Our position will be clear. That is what the Secretary-General has asked us. It will not be merely one-worded but clear, together with our views," he said.
Invited to comment on statements from Turkey that the third Annan plan does not meet the basic expectations and concerns of the Turkish side, Papadopoulos reminded, "the Turkish positions are not new, they are well known. I should remind that the Secretary-General's invitation to the two sides is to travel to The Hague and reply with a 'yes' or 'no' after they have completed the negotiations each side wants," he added.
"A desire for negotiations, alone, is not sufficient because such negotiations should have a date of expiry as well as a foundation in which to be conducted," he said.
During his visit to Cyprus last month, UN Secretary-General Annan asked President Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to travel to The Hague and 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.
 UN: leaders can still make refinements to Annan plan until March 25
NEW YORK 07/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)The United Nations announced here Thursday the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus can still make "refinements" to the Secretary-General's plan for a comprehensive settlement up until March 25, 2003.
During his visit to Cyprus last month, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to travel to The Hague and tell him 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.
"The Secretary General has said that his plan is structured in such a way that should a positive outcome be reached in The Hague the two leaders can still if both of them agree to, make further refinements to the plan up until the 25th of March," a written statement by a UN Secretary-General's spokesman said.
 Schedule of The Hague meeting announced
NICOSIA 07/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's meeting with the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will be held on Monday in The Hague at 10 am local time (0900 GMT) CNA has learned. UN sources told CNA that the meeting will be held at the ''Peace Palace'', where the International Court of Justice convenes.
The UN Secretary-General is expecting a reply from both sides whether they are committed to put to referenda his peace plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.
Lord David Hannay, British special representative for Cyprus, will also be in The Hague, at the request of Annan.
The Secretary General has also asked Greece, Turkey and Britain, Cyprus' guarantor powers, to be represented at The Hague next Monday, ''at a level commensurate with the importance of the meeting.''
If the two leaders agree to hold separate simultaneous referenda on March 30, they will sign on Monday a commitment to that effect. The representatives of the three guarantor powers will be asked to sign a statement expressing agreement with the holding of referenda and commitment to signing with Cyprus the Treaty on matters related to the new state of affairs in Cyprus.
Cyprus President Papadopoulos leaves for The Hague on Sunday, accompanied by political party leaders. Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash, who is currently in Ankara for consultations with Turkish officials, has said he would go to The Hague to explain to the Secretary General the thinking behind his reasoning for rejecting his suggestion to put to the people the peace plan.
Meanwhile, US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, arrived in Ankara Thursday where he is expected to meet Justice and Development Party leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Ministry officials, prior to Monday's meeting.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.