|Thursday, 18 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 12, 2003
 Athens-Nicosia-UN chief 'disappointed' at talks' failure, vow to continue effort
THE HAGUE 12/03/2003 (ANA-F.Karaviti)The governments of Greece and Cyprus and UN secretary general Kofi Annan early Tuesday expressed regret and disappointment at the failure of UN-brokered marathon talks at The Hague for reuniting the divided island republic of Cyprus, following the Turkish Cypriot side's rejection of fundamental points in Annan's peace plan, but pledged to continue their efforts for a Cyprus solution.
''Regrettably, these efforts were not a success. We have reached the end of the road,'' Annan said in a statement ready out by his special envoy to Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, after the collapse of the marathon talks between Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the UN chief collapsed early Tuesday.
The collapse of the marathon 15-hour talks, held after months of intensive deliberations by Annan on a peace plan he initially tabled in November with the with the internationally-recognized Cyprus government and the leader of the minority Turkish Cypriot community in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, means that only the Greek Cypriot side will sign the Accession Treaty to the European Union on April 16, and not a reunited Cyprus.
According to the Annan statement read out by de Soto, the talks were irrevocably deadlocked by the Turkish Cypriots' rejection of basic points of the UN chief's peace plan.
Annan said that he was deeply saddened by the collapse of the talks, and announced that the office set up by de Soto in Nicosia 18 months ago to support the intensified peace effort would close, adding that he was not sure ''another opportunity like this will present itself again any time soon'', but nevertheless pledged not to abandon the Cyprus issue and to utilize every opportunity arising in the future for resolving the problem.
Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos also expressed sadness and disappointment at the talks' failure, but pledged that the Cyprus government ''will continue the effort for a solution before and after Cyprus joins the EU'' and, addressing himself to the Turkish Cypriots, added ''I hope wiser thoughts prevail so that we can create the conditions to get a solution''. He also thanked the UN for its ''unfailing effort and patience''.
The Greek government's sadness and disappointment at the collapse of the talks were expressed by the head of the Greek delegation to the negotiations, foreign ministry secretary general Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis, who added Athens' intention to ''support every effort for finding a Cyprus solution so that the current momentum may be maintained''.
Earlier, in Washington, prior to the breakdown of the talks, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the UN plan for a Cyprus solution was ''fair'' and should be put to a referendum before the two communities on Cyprus, saying it was the best way for the Cypriots to decide on their future and for a united Cyprus to sign the EU accession treaty.
The full text of the Annan statement, as read out by Alvaro de Soto, appears below:
Full text of Annan statement:
"As agreed on 28 February, the two leaders came to The Hague yesterday (Monday) for a very specific and agreed purpose: I asked each of them whether they were prepared to commit today to submit my 26 February 2003 plan to approval at separate simultaneous referenda on 30 March 2003, in order to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus Problem.
"Mr Papadopoulos answered that he was prepared to do so, as long as the people knew what they are being asked to vote on. To that end he wished to be sure that the gaps regarding federal legislation, as well as constituent state constitutions, would be filled. He underlined the importance of Greece and Turkey agreeing and committing to the security provisions in the plan. Furthermore, considerably more time was needed than was available for a proper, public campaign on the referendum to be carried out. These conditions need to be fulfilled before a referendum can take place. He said he was prepared not to re-open its substantive provisions if the other side was prepared to do likewise.
"Mr Denktash answered that he was not prepared to agree to put the plan to referendum. He said he had fundamental objections to the plan on basic points. He believed that further negotiations were only likely to be successful if they began from a new starting point and if the parties agreed on basic principles. He added that Turkey was in any case not in a position to sign the statement requested of the guarantors because this first required the authorization of parliament.
"Efforts have continued in the course of yesterday and during the night to salvage the process and keep open the prospect of a reunited Cyprus acceding to the EU. I even suggested that negotiations could continue until 28 March with a view to holding the referenda one week later, on 6 April. Regrettably, these efforts were not successful for the reasons stated above.
"Accordingly, as I said when I left Cyprus on 28 February, we have reached the end of the road. The two leaders have expressed their willingness to continue talks. But without a firm commitment to proceed energetically to a conclusion according to a strict work program, culminating in separate simultaneous referenda, it will clearly not be possible to achieve a comprehensive settlement before the accession of Cyprus to the European Union on 16 April. That commitment is not in place at this time. I have therefore asked Mr de Soto to proceed to New York to prepare a detailed report to the Security Council. Mr de Soto's office in Cyprus will be brought to a close in the coming weeks.
"I share tonight with all peace-loving Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Greeks and Turks a deep sense of sadness. I am not sure another opportunity like this one will present itself again any time soon. Nevertheless, I want the people of Cyprus to know that I have not given up on them. I saw in their eyes their longing for peace and reunification. I regret that they have been denied the chance to decide their own future.
"My plan remains on the table, ready for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to pick it up and carry it forward to a solution if they summon the will to do so. If I see that there is clear and realistic prospect of finalizing negotiations, with the full backing of the motherlands, I will be ready to assist. Let us hope that that day is much closer than it seems this morning."
Athens expresses 'disappointment, sadness'
at Cyprus talks' failure: The Greek foreign ministry on Tuesday expressed Athens' “disappointment and sadness” at the failure of intense UN-brokered Cyprus unification talks at The Hague this week, following Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's rejection of yet another revised UN peace plan.
Spokesman Panos Beglitis stressed that the Turkish Cypriot leadership bore the full blame for the talks' collapse.
''Throughout this period the goodwill and constructive stance of the Greek Cypriot side was ascertained,'' he said, adding that new Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos had demonstrated his genuine desire for a resolution of the long-standing problem.
The Greek side, Beglitis said, also thanked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for his efforts, and believed that The Hague round of talks was ''not the end of the road'' or of efforts for a Cyprus solution.
Replying to press questions, Beglitis said the process had not been terminated, and that from the secretary general's announcement -- issued after the collapse of The Hague talks -- Annan remained at the disposal of the two Cypriot communities for a continuation of efforts.
In a statement by Annan read out at The Hague by his special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, the UN chief said:
''My plan remains on the table, ready for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to pick it up and carry it forward to a solution if they summon the will to do so. If I see that there is clear and realistic prospect of finalizing negotiations, with the full backing of the motherlands, I will be ready to assist. Let us hope that that day is much closer than it seems this morning.''
Continuation of the process was also a strategic target of the Greek side, Beglitis said.
Replying to other questions, Beglitis rejected speculation that Cyprus' EU accession was put at risk by the breakdown of talks. Additionally, he said Cyprus' accession course would continue normally, culminating in the signing of Cyprus' EU accession treaty in Athens on April 16.
''We remain firmly ... at the side of the Greek Cypriot side, with which we are in close cooperation,'' Beglitis added.
Asked to comment on the Turkish government's stance, Beglitis said the Turkish side had its share of the responsibility, but noted that the negotiations were carried out by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash himself.
Finally, he said the negative conclusion at The Hague did not contribute to the advancement of Greek-Turkish relations, although he expressed a view that Greek-Turkish relations had reached a level that now acts as a deterrent to tension.
ND, Coalition of the Left blame Turkish Cypriot leader over Hague talks collapse: The main opposition New Democracy party and the Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos) in announcements on Tuesday blamed Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash over the failure of the Hague talks on the issue of Cyprus.
ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos expressed ND's regret because ''despite the constructive stance of the government of Cyprus the intransigence of both the Turkish side and Mr. Denktash thwart the effort for a workable solution to the issue of Cyprus being found.''
Roussopoulos expressed hope that despite the deadlock, the efforts of the UN secretary general and the international community will continue and added that ''in every case the accession of Cyprus to the European Union must go ahead unimpeded.''
The spokesman further said that ''Turkey's insistence on its barren intransigence should make all skeptical, particularly the government, our partners and our allies.''
The Coalition of the Left and Progress party said in a similar announcement that Denktash is responsible for the failure of the Hague talks.
The Coalition added that the failure of the talks once again distanced the possibility of a solution being found and that an opportunity was lost despite the fact the Greek Cypriot side was constructive, accepting to negotiate on the basis of the Annan plan.
The party went on to say that despite this the Greek government and political forces in Greece and Cyprus should continue their efforts for a just and viable solution to be achieved and, in this direction, the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU should also be utilized.
 Gov’t: No hope for Turkish EU bid without Cyprus solution
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)In later statements, a Greek government spokesman echoed the foreign ministry’s stance on the aborted Cyprus talks, saying the blame lies in the intransigence of the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish sides.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas added that T/C leader Denktash merely traveled to The Hague “in order to not agree, supported by the Turkish side’s stance.”
“Greece wants a solution and will continue to work (for one) until the Turkish side’s stance changes, given the fact that Turkey’s own European course depends passes through a solution to the Cyprus problem. It’s not possible for Turkey to hope that it will join the European Union without a Cyprus solution,” Protopapas warned.
Moreover, he cited a phone conversation on Monday between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the leader of Turkey’s ruling party, Tayyip Recep Erdogan, following the latter’s crucial election to Turkey’s national assembly – a development that allows him to assume the premier’s post.
In terms of the latter contacts, he said Athens did not link its policy over the issue with deadlines.
 EU Commission: Cyprus accession on schedule, pressure on Turkey
BRUSSELS 12/03/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Tuesday expressed regret over the failure of UN-led talks for Cyprus, which collapsed early on Tuesday in The Hague, proceed as foreseen under existing timetables and that accession negotiations with Turkey would be difficult.
A spokesman for Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Ferhaugen told reporters here that the Commission expressed regret over the failure of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's efforts toward a solution to the Cyprus issue and said failure to have an agreement by the end of 2004, when the Commission is scheduled to issue a new report on Ankara's reform progress, would make the start of negotiation talks with Turkey very difficult.
He said the Commission had fully supported the process of the UN secretary general and reiterated the wish of the EU for a settlement of the issue pursuant to the principles of the Union.
The spokesman reiterated the EU's preference'' in the accession of a reunited Cyprus to the EU and noted Annan's statement that the settlement plan was still ''remains on the table'', stressing the Commission's intent to contribute to the achievement of a solution. He also said the Commission encouraged all interested sides and ''particularly Turkey'' to strive to achieve a settlement.
He said the Commission expressed its solidarity to all Cypriots pointing to the ''courage'' of the Turkish Cypriots in expressing their European beliefs, adding that the Commission would continue to support the process in Cyprus through programs that will benefit both communities, ones geared toward reducing economic disparities on the island and building confidence between the two communities.
 Verheugen says difficult for Commission to be positive on Turkey's EU accession
STRASBOURG 12/03/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)European Union Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said on Tuesday that, under the circumstances, it is difficult for him to believe that the European Commission will be able to provide a positive opinion for Turkey's accession to the EU.
Verheugen was replying to a question by Greek Eurodeputy Alexandros Alavanos on whether the Commission can confirm that the Annan plan can form the basis for a viable and workable settlement of the Cyprus issue in the framework of the EU and in accordance with the acquis communautaire.
Verheugen further pointed out that when he visited Turkey last January he stressed to the country's leadership the repercussions of a failure to resolve the political problem in Cyprus, reminding that at the end of 2004 the Commission will have to provide an opinion and a recommendation on whether Turkey meets the political preconditions for accession, one of them being the Cyprus issue.
The commissioner noted that if at the end of 2004 the situation in Cyprus has not changed, then the paradox will appear of a country like Turkey, which is making negotiations to accede to the EU, not recognizing a member-state which will be Cyprus.
 9th round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks to take place on Wednesday
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The 9th round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will take place on Wednesday in Ankara, with Greece being represented by Foreign Ministry General Secretary Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis and Turkey by his counterpart Ugur Ziyal, according to a press release issued by the foreign ministry.
 State Department places main blame on Denktash for Cyprus talks failure
WASHINGTON 12/03/2003 (ANA/T.Ellis)The U.S. State Department on Tuesday evening expressed its ''deep disappointment'' over the collapse of the Cyprus peace talks at The Hague and placed the blame mainly on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the failure of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's intensive efforts to reach a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.
''We are deeply disappointed over the fact that the Secretary General's talks with the two leaders at The Hague did not end in an agreement ... The U.S. have been supporting for a long time the UN SG's efforts and his initiative for the finding of a viable solution," State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"The fact that Mr. Denktash did not allow the Turkish Cypriots to have the opportunity to determine their future by voting on such a fundamental issue, is a sad thing," Boucher noted.
 Athens: Security Council only legitimate body to decide Iraq war
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Tuesday said the need for adherence to legality was inscribed in the framework of common efforts to avert war, replying to questions on the UN secretary general's recent statement about the Iraq crisis.
Spokesman Panos Beglitis said the UN Security Council remained the only legitimate institution that could decide on military operations against Iraq, and within this framework, efforts and deliberations were continuing, ''particularly this critical week''.
UN chief Kofi Annan, at a press conference in The Hague on Monday, appealed for a peaceful solution to ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, stressing that war must ''always be a last resort'', and that the UN has "a duty to search until the very end for the peaceful solution of conflicts".
"The members of the Security Council now face a great choice. If they fail to agree on a common position and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support of any such action will be seriously impaired,'' Annan said, referring to a draft resolution tabled by the US, UK and Spain setting a March 17 deadline for Iraq to cooperate fully with disarmament demands.
Asked whether an attack on Iraq without UN Security Council authorization would violate the UN charter, Annan replied: ''If the US and others were to go outside the Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the Charter".
Gov't spokesman: Meanwhile, in later comments, the Greek government spokesman referred to Prime Minister Costas Simitis’ comments late last week when again asked about Athens’ stance vis-a-vis a possible military strike against Iraq.
“No unilateral development is acceptable by Athens,” government spokesman Christos Protopappas said in echoing Simitis statement that “whatever development occurs over the Iraq issue must pass through the United Nations.”
He also said Athens has not received any request by Washington to deport an Iraqi diplomat.
 DM Papantoniou on informal Council of Defense Ministers
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)An informal European Union Council of Defense Ministers is to be held in Athens on March 14 and 15, focusing primarily on the crisis in Iraq, achieving functional and operational readiness of the European Rapid Reaction Force and issues pertaining to the EU's Common Defense and Security Policy (CDSP).
Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, currently presiding over the Council of Ministers, referred on Tuesday to progress achieved during the Greek EU Presidency with regard to the Helsinki targets on CDSP.
Papantoniou specifically referred to the tabling of the conclusions by 40 working teams on covering deficiencies in arms systems of the European Rapid Reaction Force, with its first mission being to be deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in April.
He further said that a political agreement has been achieved for EU-NATO cooperation on an equal basis, while a Defense Ministers' committee of representatives has been set up to look into funding ways to cover deficiencies.
The defense minister added that the European Commission is favoring the adoption of Greece's initiatives to boost spending for research and technology, as well as for the implementation of a European armaments policy.
In reply to a question on Iraq, Papantoniou refrained from outlining the content of discussions to take place during the informal Council, saying that they depended on developments in the United Nations Security Council.
He also reiterated that the Greek EU Presidency stresses the need to exhaust all possibilities for peacefully resolving the conflict.
 Top UN official predicts 600,000 refugees from possible Iraq war
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said here on Tuesday that his agency expects some 600,000 refugees to be created from a possible war in Iraq.
High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister, was quoted in a press release by Greece’s Parliament, and following his meeting with Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
Lubbers reportedly focused on the international organization’s efforts for an effective solution to the Iraqi crisis, one based on disarmament via peaceful means.
On his part, Kaklamanis repeated that the United Nations has the first word and responsibility in terms of implementing Security Council decisions and of upholding international legality -- and not any country unilaterally.
 Greek EU presidency hails results of referendum in Malta
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)European Union president Greece on Tuesday expressed complete satisfaction over the results of Saturday's referendum in Malta, where 53 percent of cast votes favored joining the Union.
''We express our complete satisfaction over the positive results of Saturday's referendum in Malta,'' Greek foreign minister and EU Council president in-office George Papandreou said, adding: ''With their positive vote the people of Malta made an historic decision for the accession of their country to the large European family.''
''We believe the referendums that will be held shortly in other candidate-countries will be just as positive, so that the enlargement process and their accession to the EU can advance unimpeded,'' Papandreou concluded.
 Turkish war-jets harass Israeli C-130 within Athens' FIR
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Two Turkish fighter jets on Tuesday a little after 11 am, harassed an Israeli airforce C-130 flying 15 nautical miles east of the island of Rhodes, still within the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).
The C-130 took off from the Rhodes airport and it was on a training flight, part of a Greek-Israeli defense agreement.
The Turkish F-16s were intercepted by Greek war-jets.
Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated that the unpleasant actions of the neighboring country always include the danger of accidents, adding that such behavior does not coincide with the behavior of civilized countries. He also noted that such actions were conflicting with the statements of the Turkish leadership that expressed the will for improvement of bilateral relations. Papantoniou underlined that he had not yet received an answer from his Turkish counterpart on the issue.
 Prosecutor dismisses claims that 'N17' crimes 'political'
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The second week in the unprecedented trial of 19 “November 17” terrorists began on Tuesday with a reading out in court of defense and prosecution witnesses, nearly 230 names.
In a later development, the prosecutor in the case expectedly called on the three-judge appellate court trying the case to reject standing defense motions requesting that the trial be shifted to a first instance jurisdiction, thereby allowing for a mixed panel of jurists and jurors to issue a verdict.
The prosecutor also said “N17’s” crimes can in no way be characterized as “political”.
“Can a democratic Constitution consider a crime that aims at its abolition as preferential? Of course not, and any other thought violates democracy,” prosecutor Christos Lambrou stressed.
To make his point, he said the April 21, 1967 coup leaders were tried in Greece seven years later in 1974 for numerous felonies but not political crimes.
Witnesses: In terms of witnesses, most of the prosecution’s did not attend Tuesday’s proceedings, although several family members of victims were in the specially modified jail room courthouse at Korydallos prison.
Attorneys for some of the defendants, however, failed to announce defense witnesses. Those defendants included the Xiros brothers, reputed “N17” operations chief Dimitris Koufodinas and the so-called “Thesprotia group” of cousins.
Attorneys for alleged “N17” leader Alexandros Giotopoulos, aka Michel Economou, are expected to call about 35 witnesses, many of them French citizens.
French Euro-MP Alain Krivine, meanwhile, is expected to be amongst the 30 defense witnesses called for accused “N17” suspect Theologos Psaradellis.
Another noteworthy defense witness is former minister and veteran PASOK deputy Evangelos Yiannopoulos, who was announced by the defense team for Yiannis Serifis, the only one of the defendants free on bail.
In his opening statement before the court, the lead attorney for Giotopoulos said his client disagreed with the notorious terrorist group’s practices, saying, “November 17’s actions were in opposition to the traditional left’s perception about armed violence. And that’s where Alexandros Giotopoulos disagrees.”
Giotopoulos had maintained his innocence since his arrest last July.
Earlier, the same lawyer, Yiannis Rahiotis, called the group “part of an attacking left. It is the hunted that decides to become the hunter”.
"...Call it a crime, but also call it a political crime,” he said in promoting a basic line of all the defense attorneys, namely, that the trial should be heard by a panel of jurists and jurors instead of the current three-member panel of appellate judges.
Finally, in a rare outbreak of courtroom decorum to date, an attorney representing several foreign victims of “November 17” caused a verbal reaction by Koufodinas when he lambasted claims that the terror band’s actions were politically motivated.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? I would be ashamed,” Ilias Anagnostopoulos said in an opening statement.
He pointed to the murders of two drivers of assassination targets as well as a super market robbery pinned on the shadowy ultra-leftist group.
“If some of these people had the audacity to commit (these acts) why now do they not have the courage to say so?” he added.
“Haven’t you ever heard of collateral losses?” Koufodinas, a self-described beekeeper, retorted.
In response, a defense attorney for Koufodinas, Ioanna Kourtovik, noted that the defense side has attempted to keep proceedings calm, to which Anagnostopoulos shot back:
“You don’t have any dead. What heated tones can you have?” he asked.
 Greek student accused of breaking British anti-terror law indicted
LONDON 12/03/2003 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)A first instance court in Burlington, Britain decided on Tuesday to indict Greek university student Haralambos Dousemetzis on two counts of violating the British anti-terrorist law, while it denied the request of the defense for release on bail.
Dousemetzis will be tried by a higher court.
The state supported that the actions of the Greek student are not a threat for public order and the life of persons, but the fixation of Dousemetzis on terrorist organizations and his sympathy for the aims of ''November 17'' terrorist group, could cause illegal actions in the future.
The state also supported that Dousemetzis traveled to Lebanon and had contacts with the Hezbolah, Al Fatah, and Hamas organizations, while objects that incriminate the student include two seals with the star and logo of ''N 17'' and a proclamation of ''N17'' to which the Greek student had added his prologue.
The lawyer defending Dousemetzis supported that the student collected material for ''N17'' for this dissertation and to impress his English girlfriend.
Greek General Consul in London Alexis Hatzimichalis was present during the court hearing and met with him for a half-hour. The Consul said that he asked Dousemetzis if he needed any assistance and according to him the student did not express any complaints or problems concerning the conditions of his jailing.
In a related development ''Scotland Yard'' representatives apologized for not informing the Greek embassy in London about the arrest of the Greek student.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas noted that the British authorities did not inform the Greek anti-terrorist squad of the arrest either, while stressing the presence of the Greek consul in the hearing.
 Current FYROM ambassador in U.S. new representative in talks on name issue
SKOPJE 12/03/2003 (ANA - N. Frangopoulos)The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) current Ambassador in the United States, Nikola Dimitrov, will be his country's new representative in talks being held at the UN's headquarters on the issue of its name, according to a report appearing in the Skopje-based newspaper ''Dnevnik'' on Tuesday.
According to ''government sources'' quoted by the newspaper, the appointment of Dimitrov was jointly decided by the government and FYROM's president.
FYROM's former representative in the talks, Ivan Tosevski, resigned at the end of last month, accusing President Boris Trajkovski of harming the country's prestige with his latest moves on the name issue (with an initiative on creating a group of experts).
 Greece to keep economic policy stable
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday that the government's financial policy would remain stable.
"I believe that by keeping economic policy stable and implementing all that we have decided, while simultaneously being on the alert for international developments, we can and will absorb current adverse circumstances, as well as consolidate the climate of growth in which the country finds itself," Christodoulakis said.
He was speaking after a meeting on the economy with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
 Greece to speed up merger between EBO and PYRKAL
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday said it planned to speed up a merger procedure between Hellenic Arms Industry (EBO) and PYRKAL, the country's ammunition manufacturer.
Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to discuss the future of the Greek defense industry, said that all large defense industries were currently undergoing restructuring programs aimed to increase their participation in the domestic production. The meeting also discussed a plan for cooperation between Olympic Airways' technical department with Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB).
Mr Christodoulakis also stressed that the Skaramanga and Elefsis shipyards were also implementing restructuring plans.
 Greek unemployment falls to 9.7 pct in 2002
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The unemployment index fell to 9.7 percent of the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2002 in Greece, from 10.9 percent in the corresponding period in 2001, but up from 9.5 percent in the third quarter, the National Statistics Services said on Tuesday.
NSS said that the average unemployment rate fell to 9.9 percent in 2002 from 10.5 percent in the previous year and stressed that Greek unemployment has fallen by two percentage points since 1999.
The statistics service said that the unemployment rate for men fell to 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter 2002 from 7.5 percent in the same period in 2001, while it dropped to 14.6 percent for women from 16.1 percent, over the same period.
From a total of 428,000 registered unemployed people in the country, 163,700 (or 38 percent of total) said they wished to
return to full employment jobs, while 54.4 percent said they were willing to accept part-time jobs.
The number of unemployed youths totalled 171,800 last year, down 33,200 (or -16 percent) compared with 2001, while the number of long-term unemployed people totalled 225,250, off 11,400 (or -4.8 percent) over the same period.
The regions of Ionian Islands and Thessaly recorded the biggest percentage decline in the unemployment rate in the October-December 2002 period, while the Northern Aegean region recorded the biggest percentage increase.
NSS said that total employment rose 2.7 percent in the last quarter of 2002, compared with the same period in 2001, the highest rate since 1998. The part-time employment rate rose to 4.5 percent last year from 3.8 percent in 2001.
 Greece, Turkey to debate closer business ties Wednesday
ANKARA 12/03/2003 (ANA/A.Ambatzis)Greece and Turkey are to hold two-day talks in Ankara on Wednesday seeking closer economic cooperation between the two countries.
Head of the Greek delegation to the Greek-Turkish ministerial committee meeting will be Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.
The committee first met in Athens on February 12-13 when it signed a memorandum of cooperation.
An aim of the committee is to secure the abolition of double taxation.
 Bidders submit final offers in Athens 2004 Olympics security tender
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The interim winner of a government tender seeking a firm to undertake security at the Athens 2004 Olympics on Tuesday submitted its final offer, while the group that came second also had a last shot at winning the contract.
The frontrunner SAIC group offered 278 million euros to assume the project while Telemachus (TRS), which came second, bid 264 million euros.
In a letter to the national defense and public order ministries, TRS also said it could complete the work in less than 12 months.
Insiders said that the government could informally ask SAIC to match TRS' lower offer.
 Delay in tourist bookings for 2003 amid Iraq war fears
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday that tourist bookings to Greece were sluggish due to fears of war on Iraq, part of a trend of delay in southern Europe.
''Certainly there will be a slowdown, a later start for the tourism market, although the season's peak will be little affected,'' Tsohatzopoulos said in Berlin on the sidelines of a world tourism trade fair.
''There will, however, be a shortage in April and May, which we hope can be made up at the end of the year, in the ensuing months, so that we secure a favorable average,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.
 Greek stocks plunge 2.52 pct on Tuesday
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks plunged to new multi-year lows on Monday in the Athens Stock Exchange, hit by uncertainties over developments in Iraq, a negative climate in international markets and worries over increased inflationary pressures in the domestic economy.
The general index ended 2.52 percent lower at 1,501.90 points, with turnover a low 78.6 million euros.
The IT Solutions, IT, Publication, Cement and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (6.53 percent, 6.26 percent, 6.17 percent, 5.10 percent and 4.72 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 3.0 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 2.75 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 3.79 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 3.05 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 314 to 21 with another 16 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 56.7 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 56.7 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Funding for municipalities, overlays dominate gov't-ATHOC meeting
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Funding for municipalities hosting 2004-related facilities and activities during the upcoming Summer Games as well as costly “Olympic overlays” and the all-important 2004 volunteerism program dominated Tuesday’s inter-ministerial meeting here, chaired by Greek PM Costas Simitis.
In later statements, a government spokesman announced that the premier has received a report by the chairman of the IOC Coordinating Committee supervising preparations for the 2004 Games, Denis Oswald, regarding “actions, decisions and deadlines” for Olympic overlays.
The meeting, which again brought together several top ministers and the Athens 2004 organizing committee’s leadership, comes weeks before the next IOC inspection visit to Athens, as sources said it was held amid an upbeat mood.
In terms of funding for municipalities, a figure of around 330 million euros has been quoted by the government, while negotiations with the economy ministry over the city of Athens’ funding are continuing.
In a later press conference with ATHOC chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis said the ministry will provide all the funding envisioned in a memorandum of understanding signed between the ministry and ATHOC and aimed at financing various projects in municipalities.
To date, Skandalidis said, some 68 million euros from regional operational programs has been disbursed for 2004-related projects.
In another development, Skandalidis said the government is considering extra vacation time – as mandated in a future draft law – for volunteers as well as no-hassle three-month work permits for certain foreign nationals wishing to work in Greece during the Games.
 Int'l conference on return of Parthenon Marbles on Wednesday
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Athens’ vigorous campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is the focus of an international conference here this week, only a few weeks after the British Museum’s director curtly dismissed the idea of ever returning the sliced off friezes or even loaning them for display during the 2004 Athens Olympics.
British Museum Director Neil MacGregor was quoted in the “Sunday Telegraph” last month as saying the London-based museum was the best venue to display the antiquities in "the context of the wider world”. The ancient sculptures -- depicting mythological scenes -- have long been known as the “Elgin Marbles” after the early 19th British diplomat who bribed local Ottoman officials in order to slice them off the Parthenon before shipping them to England.
On his part, MacGregor said they should never be returned to Greece, while he was terminating "substantive discussions" on the matter.
A panel of local and international experts are expected to participate at the conference, scheduled at the Zappeion Hall in downtown Athens. Additionally, delegates will be briefed on the course of preparations to construct a new Acropolis museum to house the marbles before the Athens Olympics in August 2004.
Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will host a dinner for the delegates later in the evening, with former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen speaking on the subject during the reception.
Venizelos was quick to address MacGregor’s uncharacteristically sharp comments late last month, saying the British museum director would change his view if he came to Athens.
"I invite him to visit the Parthenon at the Acropolis. I am certain that this will help him put things into perspective," the Greek culture minister stated.
 Yiannitsis hails the institution of the International Criminal Court
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis represented Greece on Tuesday at the official opening ceremony of the operation of the International Criminal Court.
“I personally feel that it is a privilege to represent my country at this significant moment, and it is crucial for our countries to be committed to fighting war crimes, genocides and crimes against humanity, to support this new institution and not to hesitate to be exposed to its judgment, providing in this way an essential confirmation that they would refrain from committing such acts”, Yiannitsis said in a statement.
He added that the International Criminal Court was a real achievement for the international community, an institution that would contribute to fighting and averting the most serious of crimes and strengthening global peace and security.
The alternate foreign minister said the European Union has pledged on principle to support international institutions defending human rights and facilitating the peaceful co-existence of peoples.
 Women's network from Europe and Arab countries contributing to cooperation
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)The creation of a ''Women's network from Europe and the Arab countries'', promoted at the initiative of ND Eurodeputy Rodi Kratsa and Lebanese Deputy and President of the Arab Interparliamentray Union's womens committee Baia Hariri, is contributing towards strengthening Euromediterranean cooperation.
Kratsa and Hariri presented the initiative at an event held at the European Parliament's offices in Athens on Tuesday.
The purpose of the initiative is to promote a dialogue, develop mutual understanding and mutual respect, determine common values between Europe and the Arab world and have commitments undertaken for their implementation.
Another target is providing better information on the possibilities of Euromediterranean cooperation in the framework of European policy and the utilization of the EU's funds for the benefit of women in all sectors, as well as the development of cooperation and solidarity.
 Greece to participate in three book exhibitions abroad
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Greece will participate in three book exhibitions in 2003, in London, Paris and Leipzig in a coordinated effort to strengthen Greek book production in the world book market.
The effort is coming from all the relevant agencies. Namely, the National Book Centre, the Panhellenic Federation of Publishers and Booksellers, the European Translation Centre of Literature and Human Sciences and the Writers' Society.
The book exhibitions will take place in Leipzig on March 20-23, London on March 16-28 and Paris on March 21-26.
 Greek initiative on sports infrastructures at refugee camps signed in Athens
Athens, 12/03/2003 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and UN Refugee High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers signed a Greek initiative concerning the creation of sports infrastructures at certain refugee camps throughout the world in Athens on Tuesday.
''Greece is a country of refugees and neighbors with regions having refugees,'' Venizelos said, adding that ''being the country which will organize the 2004 Olympic Games, we have taken the initiative for the creation if light-duty sports infrastructures in refugee camps to enable the different aspect of the Games to be promoted, with the exception of the commercial one prevailing today, and for refugees to receive the message of culture and peace.''
Venizelos also said the signing of the relevant memorandum with the UN High Commission will permit the specialization and implementation of the Greek initiative.
In another development, Lubbers was given an award by the International Biopolitics Organization for his humanitarian and environmental activities.
 Papadopoulos ready to continue for solution despite Tuesday's failure
THE HAGUE 12/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here that in spite of Tuesday's failure to come to an agreement with the Turkish Cypriot side on holding referenda on a UN peace plan, he will continue his efforts to find a viable solution that will ensure the proper functioning of the state.
Speaking at a press conference early Tuesday morning, at the Peace Palace, the Cypriot president assured the Turkish Cypriots that he wishes to see wiser thoughts prevail so as all Cypriots can benefit from EU accession.
He also said that the changes Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash wanted to the UN peace proposal went far beyond the philosophy of the plan whereas his proposed amendments fell well within the parameters of the plan.
''I express sadness and disappointment that the efforts of many months the work done as well as the intensive talks here have ended in failure,'' President Papadopoulos told a packed room at the Peace Palace here at five in the morning after about 20 hours of intensive negotiations between the UN, the two sides in Cyprus and the three guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and Britain).
The Secretary General was very explicit, very specific as to what actually happened, he said, adding that ''on our side we gave our clear answer to the question he posed when he asked us to come here and say with a yes or no on whether we are ready to put his plan to a referendum.''
''Our reply was yes we are ready to do that as long as the documents required for the whole package were ready in time and in particular the legislation which related to the functioning of the government of the common state,'' Papadopoulos said.
The Cypriot President pointed out that according to the recognition of the Secretary General ''all the things we have asked were within the parameters and the overall Annan plan''.
Denktash, he said, has stated repeatedly and more so early Tuesday morning and Monday night at the talks that he wanted to bring about radical changes to the whole philosophy and the foundation of the plan.
''I want to give an assurance that despite of this setback we will continue our efforts for reaching a solution to the Cyprus question both before and after Cyprus joins the EU and the fact that this setback here today is not going to put us outside the course of trying to find a solution outside the parameters of the Annan plan,'' he said.
Addressing himself to the Turkish Cypriots, he expressed the hope that second thoughts would prevail and that soon enough ''we would both build the foundation which will allow us to have a viable solution so that a unified Cyprus would be able to enjoy the benefits and the advantages which the accession will produce.''
Papadopoulos expressed thanks to the UN team which worked hard and intensively for many months in Cyprus and more specifically he thanked Kofi Annan for his ''unfailing efforts, patience and wisdom in trying to promote a solution.''
Replying to questions, he said that the Annan plan would still be at the table in the future, as his experience has shown that ideas and documents produced during negotiations seem to be always present.
''Nothing that is placed at the negotiating table goes away permanently,'' he said.
Papadopoulos said it is possible after a solution has been found for the EU Council to incorporate everything that is agreed in the accession agreement.
Commenting on the issue of security, in response to claims by Denktash that the Cypriot President wanted security concerns agreed before an overall agreement, Papadopoulos explained that he would like to see any treaty signed by the three guarantors and Cyprus implemented. ''We must have assurances that such an agreement is implemented,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos thanked the Greek delegation to the talks and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis for their support.
 Britain: Denktash to blame for breakdown of talks in The Hague
LONDON 12/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Britain has agreed with UN Secretary General Kofi Anan that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is to blame for the breakdown of the Cyprus peace talks in The Hague earlier on Tuesday.
Foreign Office official Spokesman told CNA that ''it is sad that the attitude of one of the parties forced that decision on the UN
Secretary General and we have to agree with Kofi Annan that the blame principally lies with Mr. Denktash''.
The spokesman added that Denktash rejected the idea to put the UN proposals to a referendum, as well as to continue the work on the legislation committees.
''Kofi Annan had no choice but to reach the conclusion that he reached'', the British official told CNA.
He agreed with UN SG, who ''made it clear that the attitude of one of the parties to the process makes further progress impossible''.
The spokesman thanked the UN team under UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto for carrying out the negotiations ''skillfully and professionally, bringing the efforts closer to a solution than any other occasion''.