|Thursday, 17 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 17, 2003
 EU ministers agree on need to speed up defense unity
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)European Union defense ministers on Saturday agreed on the need to speed up defense unity in the 15-nation bloc in order to minimize or avert the kind of rifts that emerged over handling the Iraq crisis.
Speaking after an informal meeting near Athens, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told reporters that the ministers also agreed that Iraq, a dictatorship, should disarm immediately; but failed to agree on how this objective should be achieved.
Papantoniou, who chaired the meeting as Greece holds the EU's rotating presidency, also said that key decisions would be taken on how to handle the Iraq problem in coming days or weeks at the UN Security Council.
Post-war scenarios were not debated at the EU ministers' meeting because efforts towards peace were continuing and war was viewed as a last-ditch solution, he added.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana expressed cautious optimism that an emergency summit in the Azores on Sunday of the US, Britain and Spain would lead to a peaceful settlement of the crisis; and that worldwide protests against war on Iraq should be taken into account.
Also discussed at Saturday's meeting were the Balkans following the assassination of the Serbian premier last week and instability in Kosovo and Bosnia.
European forces should be kept for some time in the region until stability was restored, Papantoniou said. The first contingent of the EU's rapid reaction force is due for dispatch at the end of March to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In May, European governments are to make a political commitment on supplying weapons systems for the rapid reaction force with announcement of the unit's operational status expected at the EU's June summit in Thessaloniki, the minister added.
 Greece welcomes US backing for Israel, Palestine plan
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)The government on Sunday welcomed a statement by US President George Bush reaffirming support for the application of a road map that would allow the creation of two states - Israel and Palestine - by 2005.
''This is a positive step towards reactivation of the peace process in the Middle East,'' foreign ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said in response to a media question.
''The European Union remains a steady supporter of the road map and the peace process, and President Bush's statement contributes to reinforcement of the role of the ''quartet'', which must now proceed immediately with concrete action,'' Beglitis said in a statement.
A return to the political negotiating table was the only way to stop a vicious cycle of violence and conflict in the region, he added.
 Greece to represent EU at UN human rights meeting
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Tasos Yiannitsis flies to Geneva on Sunday to represent the European Union at a meeting of the UN's human rights commission.
The commission is to meet on Monday, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Greece currently holds the European Union's six-month rotating presidency, which ends in June.
 Greece's EU presidency backs creation of consumer movement
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Greece's current presidency of the European Union would back the creation of a European consumer movement.
The presidency planned to promote talks on the role, possibilities and founding process of a movement, said Tsohatzopoulos at the end of a two-day EU conference on consumers and enlargement of the 15-nation bloc.
''What is needed is dialogue and a juxtaposition of viewpoints, as we want to see a democratic institution of consumer participation in which producers and market players would also take part,'' the minister noted.
The event arranged in the northern port city of Thessaloniki by the economic and social committees of Greece and the EU coincided with European Consumer Day on Saturday.
 Papandreou to meet Cem on Monday
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday is to meet Ismael Cem, the leader of the New Turkey political party.
The meeting with Cem, who was formerly a foreign minister, will take place in Athens.
The two men gained global renown for their work towards rapprochement of Greece and Turkey, fuelled by ''earthquake diplomacy'' when each country helped the other in the wake of severe temblors.
 Greece, EU represented at slain Serbian premier's funeral
BELGRADE 17/03/2003 (ANA/N.Pelpas)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Saturday represented Greece and the European Union at the funeral of Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian premier assassinated by a sniper last week.
''His murder was a tragic event...Our presence here is not only to honor a friend and a prime minister, but also to state our belief in a democratic Serbia, in its future, and in the future of the wider region,'' Papandreou told the Athens News Agency. Hundreds of thousands of mourners followed Djindjic's funeral procession, thronging to Belgrade from around Serbia.
 Main opposition lashes out at government
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Sunday sharply criticized the government for what it called vested financial interests, corruption involving state firms, and failings in infrastructure projects.
Costas Karamanlis, the party's leader, also told an ND women's meeting that Greece's current presidency of the European Union should seek to avert a new wave of migrants to the country linked to the war that is likely to be declared on Iraq.
Turning to Cyprus, Karamanlis accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of being mistaken in thinking that the UN plan on resolving the Cyprus issue was the last opportunity for the divided island.
Later in the day, government spokesman Christos Protopapas charged Karamanlis with an irresponsible approach at a sensitive time for the Greek economy due to the Iraq crisis.
 Laliotis says war on Iraq backs US political, economic interests
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)The secretary of the ruling PASOK party, Costas Laliotis, said on Sunday that a war on Iraq benefited US interests, and that the public could raise its voice for peace.
''The US president and certain European leaders have begun the countdown, the days and the hours, towards a pre-arranged war for the promotion of America's geopolitical and geo-economic interests,'' Laliotis said during a trip to western Greece.
''The countries of Europe, the peoples of Europe, as well as other countries in the world and the peoples of the world - we can move with alertness, uniting our voices, our forces, and our interventions for peace,'' he told a news conference.
 Anti-war protesters stage rallies around the country
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)Thousands of protesters against war on Iraq marched to the US embassy in central Athens on Saturday calling for a halt to planned hostilities.
A rally was also staged outside the national defense ministry, asking the government to keep Greece out of any war.
Among groups taking part were the Coalition of the Left and Progress, the Social Forum from Greece and other European countries, the ADEDY civil servants' union, Greenpeace, and Doctors of the World.
The leader of the Coalition of the Left, Nikos Constantopoulos, called on Greece to express full opposition to the war and refrain from providing facilities.
On the southern Aegean island of Crete, demonstrators blocked access to a base on the island, vowing to encamp there the night.
In the northern port city of Thessaloniki, thousands of protesters took to the streets in a march to the US consulate to call for an end to war plans on Iraq.
Protesters stage anti-war rallies at military bases: Protesters on Sunday held rallies against a planned US-led war against Iraq at military bases around the country.
In Hania, Crete a peace rally of about 3,000 protestors outside the Marathio base was disrupted by youths who threw rocks at police and other demonstrators.
Near Larisa, police cordoned off a NATO military headquarters at Tyrnavos when hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside to protest against war on Iraq and the new world order.
Another rally was also held in Kavala the previous day to protest against the planned creation of a NATO port outside the northern town.
 Olympics soccer stadium due for completion in July 2004
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)A soccer stadium for use in the Athens 2004 Olympics will be completed in July 2004, national organizers of the event said on Saturday.
Demolition of the decrepit Karaiskaki stadium is to begin on April 7 to make way for the new facility that will meet Olympics specifications, the organizing committee told a news conference.
The new stadium, which is to host at least 11 games in the Olympics, will have a seating capacity of 32,000.
In addition, a delegation of the FIFA soccer association said at the end of a visit to Greece on Saturday that it was satisfied with progress towards the games, although deadlines needed to be met as time was short.
 No reports of mystery pneumonia virus in Greece
Athens, 17/03/2003 (ANA)No instances have been reported in Greece of a mystery strain of pneumonia that has killed at least nine people abroad, sparking a warning from the World Health Organization, the government said on Sunday.
The source of the atypical pneumonia was in Southeast Asia with isolated cases reported elsewhere due to travel to the region or contact with travelers, the health ministry said in a statement.
Healthcare authorities have been instructed to remain on the alert for any possible cases of the disease, the statement added.
Initial symptoms of the disease include fever, aching muscles, a dry cough, rapid or difficult breathing, and headache. The condition can evolve into full pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, leading to death, according to Greece's Control Centre for Special Infections.
The virus is transmitted through close contact with carriers, defined as care of patients, cohabitation, or direct contact with respiratory secretions or other bodily fluids, the centre said in a circular to healthcare workers.
The government warned the public to avoid unnecessary trips to China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
 Greek concert in Istanbul
ISTANBUL 17/03/2003 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)Composer and singer Dionysis Savvopoulos gave a concert in Istanbul at the weekend on the eve of a religious Orthodox Christian celebration.
Attending the concert on Saturday were Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
Greek artist holds exhibition in Istanbul: An exhibition of works by Greek artist Kostas Tsoklis opened in Istanbul on Saturday arranged by the University of Mimar Sinan with Greece's foreign ministry.
The works contain a fusion of painting and video images, linked to collective memory.
Taking part in the inauguration were Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.