|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 11, 2003
 Dramatic talks on Cyprus issue continue at The Hague
THE HAGUE 11/03/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti/CNA)Talks were continuing late Monday night here (at press time) on the Cyprus issue, but according to diplomatic sources, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan did not expect a response on whether his third draft plan would be exposed to two separate referenda in Cyprus, both in the free and the occupied regions by March 30.
According to the same sources Annan, following the denial by Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash to submit his plan to a referendum, he submitted new proposals.
The new proposals, the sources said, included a provision for the referenda to be held on April 6th, a second provision mandated that technical committees of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which were working on the legislative needs of the UN plan, would intensify their work and present it on March 28.
A third provision stressed that the new constitution for the island republic will be tabled to both sides by March 25, while a fourth provision asks both sides to brief Annan on March 28, whether they agree to hold referenda on April 6.
A fifth provision stated that both sides will have to begin preparing immediately, so that the only outstanding issue on March 28th will be the making of the political decision, concerning the referenda, while a sixth and final provision noted that the guarantor powers will state that they adopt and support the process proposed by Annan and begin preparing whatever is necessary, so that the final agreement is signed.
Earlier Annan said that the two sides in Cyprus had not yet answered his question as to whether they would sign a commitment in The Hague to put to the people of the island his plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem at separate simultaneous referenda on March 30.
Speaking at a press conference in The Hague, after a series of meetings with the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, as well as the representatives of guarantor powers Britain, Greece and Turkey, Annan said a simple yes or no took a lot of doing and reiterated that there was now a unique opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem which may not come around again for a few years. In his opening statement, Annan said ''many of you would like me to say something about the Cyprus talks but I cannot give you much because the talks are still going on''.
''I may be able to tell you something later but let me say that one of the difficulties we had to face in this stage of the search for a Cyprus settlement is that our work has been overshadowed by the atmosphere of crisis and great anxiety that is affecting the whole world, the question of Iraq and its disarmament'', he added.
Replying to questions, Annan said he would be meeting with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash ''later on and after that you will have an answer''. He added that ''sometimes, to get to what you call a simple yes or no takes quite a lot of doing''.
Invited to say what the chances were of reaching a settlement, Annan said ''this is a real opportunity, a unique opportunity, which if it is missed I am not sure it is going to come around for a long, longtime and as I have indicated I doubt it will come around again during my term as Secretary General and I have another four years to go''.
On Iraq, Annan said what happens there ''will have a profound complication on other issues in the region'' and noted that ''war must be a last resort''.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Annan presented the two sides with a peace plan on 11 November 2002, followed by a revised one a month later. His third plan for a settlement was submitted during his visit to Cyprus in late February, shortly before his February 28 deadline for an agreement expired.
 FM calls Monday a "historic day" for Cyprus
THE HAGUE 11/03/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)Foreign Minister George Papandreou late on Sunday spoke of a "historic day" referring to Monday's meetings between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash with the good offices of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan here, to discuss the Cyprus issue.
Commenting of his meeting with Papadopoulos he spoke of "close, collaborative and as always coordinated position of the two governments … the Greek side will continue to work towards a solution".
"Also, if during tomorrow's (Monday's) talks do not yield the totally positive result of the resolution, at least the existing dynamic will be maintained and one more step toward the resolution will have been made".
"Mr. Annan can not speak yet of the possibility of a failure of the negotiations … even though the timetables are made to be followed, even the non adherence can not mean that the possibilities for a positive outcome are lost," Papandreou said.
Speaking of the Turkish Cypriot side's intentions he wished that they show a similar political will shown by the Greek side for quite some time now.
Later in the day, Papandreou departed for Athens, as Greece, Britain and Turkey will be represented by foreign ministry officials.
 FM Papandreou, UN chief Annan discuss Iraq crisis, Cyprus issue
NEW YORK 11/03/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)The Iraq crisis and the Cyprus issue were the focus of talks which Greek Foreign Minister and EU Council of Foreign Ministers president George Papandreou and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had at the UN headquarters on Friday night.
On the Iraq issue, the two men agreed that there was still some hope for war to be averted. Papandreou reiterated to his interlocutor that Greece, as European Union president, will continue to work for alternative solutions aimed at a peaceful settlement of the crisis.
Papandreou will be at The Hague on Monday for a meeting with Annan on Cyprus.
During his visit to Cyprus last month, the UN chief asked President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to travel to The Hague to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment to submit the Foundation Agreement to approval at separate simultaneous referendums on March 30 in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The Secretary-General has also asked Cyprus' guarantor powers, namely Greece, Turkey and Britain, to be represented at The Hague on Monday, at a level commensurate with the importance of the meeting.
Papandreou's presence at The Hague is not connected with the level of representation of Cyprus' two other guarantor powers (Britain and Turkey). Concerning the signing of a memorandum in order to put to the Cyprus people a peace proposal for a comprehensive settlement, the representation has to be at the same level.
At Friday night's meeting, it was ascertained that if both sides wish, with the support of ''the motherlands'', to proceed to a solution with the holding of the referendums, then the objective for success at The Hague is feasible.
Papandreou is expected to travel to The Hague on Sunday night.
 Denktash says 'we will not accept' Annan plan if changes are not made
ISTANBUL 11/03/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, speaking to reporters at Istanbul airport prior to his departure for The Hague on Sunday, said ''there are certain important points in the Annan plan which must be changed.''
''We want to negotiate the plan in detail and protect the basic rights of the Turkish Cypriots,'' Denktash said, adding that ''at The Hague we will explain the changes we want made in the plan. If these changes are not made, we will not accept the plan.''
At Monday's talks at The Hague, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will ask Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Denktash to tell him whether or not they would sign a commitment to put to the people of the island his plan for a comprehensive settlement at separate simultaneous referendums on March 30.
Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said ''the common position of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots'' must not be considered negative.
''During the meeting at The Hague, Turkey will explain its reservations as a guarantor power. According to the plan presented by Mr. Kofi Annan, the sides on the island will hold referendums on March 30. Turkey cannot sign any document before it evaluates the results of the referendums,'' Yakis said.
''There are gaps in the Annan plan which are expected to be covered by the sides by March 24. If Turkey signs any document at this moment, this will mean that it accepts these gaps,'' said the Turkish foreign minister, explaining that ''if the sides fail to cover these gaps by March 24, the UN Secretary-General will cover them. We will explain these reservations of ours at The Hague.''
 Greek EU presidency to be "historic" as the enlargement one, Press minister says
LONDON 11/03/2003 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)''The Greek EU presidency will go down in history as the presidency of the enlargement,'' Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas said on Monday, during a speech at the ''Greek Watch'' of the School of Economic Sciences of London, entitled ''A historic and substantial landmark in the course of the European Union towards the future''.
''The Greek presidency is shouldering the responsibility during a critical and historic period now underway for the European Union. It is the presidency during which the 'old Europe' essentially is confronting its future,'' he said, adding ''it is the presidency of the enlargement. This new towards the east and towards Cyprus Europe opens a brand new historic chapter for Europe and we leave behind, irreversibly, the division and all the problems of the Cold War era''.
Speaking of Iraq, he said ''we supported and support the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis. With the utilization of all the political and diplomatic means that the International Community has and those of the institutional system of the United Nations. We did this because armed conflict will lead to huge human miser.''
Protopapas also spoke of the Greek presidency's position on the EU-Turkish relations, noting that one of its aims is to support and strengthen the pre-accession course of Turkey, in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria.
 Agri-ministers of 17 countries & EU candidate countries meet in Sofia
SOFIA 11/03/2003 (ANA - B. Borisov)Agriculture ministers, high ranking officials and experts from 17 nations and the candidate member-states to the European Union are participating in a two-day conference taking place here to examine the challenges confronted by the Common Agricultural Policy of the Union, in light of the enlargement.
The conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys addressed it as presiding minister of the European Union.
''As Greek minister of agriculture, as well as the presiding minister of the Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fishing of the European Union, I envision a wider, better and stronger Europe,'' Drys said.
''It is our obligation to secure for the European rural areas the economic and social prosperity of its people,'' he said, clarifying that the major points of the EU policy in the sector should be the securing of viable and strong local societies, the respect of the natural environment, the eradication of poverty and the maintenance of the cultural identity and heritage of every region.
He also expressed his optimism over the conclusion of the enlargement with the accession of the countries of the second wave in 2007.
 Conference of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank opens in Athens
Athens, 11/03/2003 (ANA)The 4th Conference of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank opened in Athens on Sunday with the participation of World Bank President James Wolfensohn and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Horst Keller.
Opening the sessions of the two-day conference, being held at the Asteras hotel in Vouliagmeni, a resort just outside Athens, Greek Economy and Finance Minister and EU Council of Finance Ministers president Nikos Christodoulakis praised the role played by the parliamentary network for improving relations between the world's parliaments.
Christodoulakis noted that many people do not have access to basic goods and stressed the need for development aid, which can become effective only if it is combined with good governance.
The minister said that Greece, being at the crossroad of three continents, gives emphasis to matters of development, flanked by a social vision.
On his part, Wolfensohn said that poverty was one of the major problems faced by the world and the World Bank, as well as that of the problem of economic development.
''Matters are not easy in the world,'' he said characteristically, noting that economic development is restricted.
Referring to the problem of poverty, he said that concern lay in how to cope on the one hand with the population scale and on the other with the distribution of economic activity throughout the world, when after 25 years the earth's population will reach seven billion people from the present six billion.
Characteristic is the fact that three billion people on the planet have an income of less than three dollars, at a time when defense expenditures are in excess of 900 billion dollars.
Taking part in the conference are about 150 parliamentary representatives of the countries assisted by the World Bank.
The Parliamentary Network of the World Bank is an independent parliamentary network which aims at linking parliamentarians from all over the world in the struggle against poverty and in support of development.
The conference is under the auspices of the Economy and Finance Ministry.
 Development minister announces campaign to advertise Greek tourist product
BERLIN 11/03/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Monday announced the speeding up of the communications campaign to promote Greece's tourist product as soon as the ''uncertainty'' created by the Iraq crisis is over.
Speaking here to representatives of big tourist agencies at the sidelines of the International Tourist Exhibition in Berlin, Tsohatzopoulos stressed that conditions in the region will have cleared up within the next 10 days.
He also said that Greece aimed at improving its international position from the results of 2002, which despite the negative impact of ''Sept. 11'' yielded some 14 million tourists.
 Greek EU presidency welcomes Int'l Criminal Court inauguration
Athens, 11/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU presidency on Monday welcomed the election of the judges of the International Criminal Court by the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Statute last February and the Inaugural Session of the Court due on Tuesday in The Hague.
''This is an achievement of paramount importance for the international community,'' the press release issued by the presidency stated.
''The EU reaffirms its commitment to the International Criminal Court as an essential means for promoting respect for international humanitarian law. We strongly believe that the International Criminal Court will be an effective mechanism capable not only of combating impunity for the gravest crimes of international concern but also of serving as a powerful deterrent against the commission of such crimes,'' it added.
''It will thus contribute to the strengthening of justice and the rule of law as well as to the preservation of international peace and security in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
''After almost ten years of intense work, a long-standing dream of humanity is finally taking shape. The States Parties to the Rome Statute will elect the Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutors at the second resumed session of the Assembly in April 2003. This, together with the early election of a Registrar, will complete the establishment of the ICC. On the shoulders of the elected officials rests the august responsibility to make the ICC into the universal, strong, independent and credible international judicial institution that the Diplomatic Conference of Rome envisaged in 1998,'' the press release of the presidency said.
''The EU reiterates its commitment, as expressed in the Council Common Position of 11 June 2001 as amended on 20 June 2002, to give full support to the effective functioning of the Court and to the preservation of the integrity of the Rome Statute,'' it noted.
''We are convinced that the establishment of the Court will encourage even more States to accede to the Statute, thus further enhancing its universal character, and to fully implement its provisions in their national legislation,'' it underlined.
The press release also stated that the Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria and Romania and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with the aforementioned declaration.
 World Bank President James Wolfensohn awarded medal of the city of Athens
Athens, 11/03/2003 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni bestowed the medal of the city of Athens to World Bank President James Wolfensohn during a ceremony held at the Town Hall on Saturday evening.
Present at the ceremony were members of the municipal council, representatives of the Bank of Greece and diplomats.
Bakoyianni praised the personality and the achievements of the head of the most important world banking institution. The mayor told Wolfensohn ''you have served well the economic and banking sector and are one of just three presidents of the international bank who has been unanimously elected for a second consecutive tenure.''
The World Bank president thanked the mayor of Athens and referred to the need of governments to cooperate in aiding poor countries with high debt.
Wolfensohn is in Athens on the occasion of a two-day conference of the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank which is being hosted this year in the Greek capital and attended by 115 parliamentary representatives of the countries assisted by the World Bank.
 Orthodox bishops of America voice stand against war
NEW YORK 11/03/2003 (ANA/P.Panagiotou)The Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) mobilized against the choice of war, calling on all leaders to ''use all the available means for the arrival at a peaceful solution in the present challenge for security and prosperity of all humanity''.
Following a similar move by the Catholic Church, SCOBA took action, also stating that ''as disciples and followers of Jesus Christ we seek and want peace in prayer, in faith and works. Death, terrorism, destruction and the unending pain are terrible enemies with which we can never come to terms''.
SCOBA was established in March 1992 as the official international humanitarian organization, now chaired by Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Dimitrios.
 Delegates at 'Sports and Women' conference send message of peace
Athens, 11/03/2003 (ANA)The sessions of a two-day conference titled ''Sports and Women'', held in the framework of the Greek European Union Presidency, and came to a close in Thessaloniki on Saturday.
Taking part in the conference were 350 delegates from 17 countries.
Deputy Sports Minister George Lianis, in the presence of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, announced the text of the Thessaloniki Declaration. With this declaration, the delegates sent a message of peace and reiterated their commitment to persist in their efforts for the equal participation of women in all levels of athletic, social and political life.
The closing ceremony of the conference was scheduled to take place in the evening at the Thessaloniki Music Hall with a concert given by internationally-renowned tenor Marios Frangoulis.
At the event, the women Olympic Games medalists, who participated and were honored at the conference, Venizelos and Lianis will sign a painting dedicated to the idea of the Olympic Truce.
The painting will be sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, with the request that it be placed in the UN headquarters as a symbol the message of the Olympic Truce.