|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 18, 2003
 Greek EU presidency to press on with Iraq peace initiatives, FM Papandreou says
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU presidency will continue its initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis, Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou, who currently chairs the EU Council of Ministers, said Monday after talks in Athens with Turkish former foreign minister Ismail Cem, leader of the New Turkey political party.
The two men -- who gained global renown for their work towards rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, fuelled by ''earthquake diplomacy'' when each country helped the other in the wake of severe tremblers in 1999 -- discussed developments in the Iraq crisis, Greek-Turkish relations, and the Cyprus issue.
In statements to the press after the meeting, Papandreou reiterated the Greek EU presidency's determination to continue working for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis up to the last minute, and said over the past 24 hours he had had several telephone contacts with his EU counterparts and the UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq Hans Blix.
"We must take advantage of even the final days and hours to achieve a peaceful solution in the framework of the United Nations," said Papandreou, who was due to leave at noon for Brussels to chair a General Affairs meeting of the EU Council of (foreign) Ministers.
Cem, who is in Athens to address a two-day Western European Union (WEU) Assembly's Interparliamentary European Security and Defense Assembly colloquy on "Europe and the new Unites States' national security strategy - fighting terrorism together" co-hosted by the WEU Assembly and the Greek WEU/EU Presidency, warned that the war would benefit those "who want a conflict of civilizations" and would cause a "new wave of terrorism".
"We must do the best possible to achieve a diplomatic solution in the framework of the UN," Cem said.
Papandreou also recalled that his cooperation with Cem, as foreign ministers, had developed into a personal friendship, and paid tribute to Cem's past and continuing contribution to Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
Greek foreign minister pledges to keep fighting for peaceful solution in Iraq: European Union president Greece would continue to fight for a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis until the last moment, Greek Foreign Minister and head of the EU foreign ministers' council George Papandreou pledged on Monday.
Papandreou made the statement as he emerged from a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis regarding the Olympic Torch relay.
Greece was in contact with all sides, including the United Nations, regarding the Iraq crisis, the minister said.
''Last night I had an in-depth discussion with the head of the U.N. inspectors Hans Blix. I also contacted my counterparts in the European Union, the Arab world and the Arab League. These days we are making every possible effort in order to solve the problem peacefully,'' Papandreou noted.
Asked to comment on the Azores meeting, Papandreou rejected the term 'enemies of Europe' for the premiers of Britain, Spain and Portugal who participated in the meeting and agreed with the attack on Iraq.
Europe had a joint position on Iraq but there were differences within its ranks on the best approach to take in practice, he said.
DM: As war clouds thicken, diplomatic efforts for Iraq settlement must continue: Although the war clouds were growing denser, diplomatic efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis should continue, Greece's national defense Minister Yannos Papantoniou urged Monday, although he added that war appeared to be the most likely prospect.
''The clouds of war may be growing denser, but so long as the window of diplomacy has not closed completely we should continue to work for a peaceful settlement of the problem. Realistically speaking, however, war remains the most likely prospect,'' Papantoniou said in reply to press questions on the sidelines of a day-seminar on ''Prevention of Substance Abuse in the Armed Forces'' organized by the ministry in cooperation with the OKANA drug rehabilitation centre.
Questioned on the prospect of the US proceeding unilaterally with war on Iraq, Papantoniou reiterated that any military action should have the ''seal'' of the United Nations. He added that in the event of a unilateral intervention, Greece would align itself with the EU countries vis-a-vis the stance they will take.
Gov’t: Greek presidency will 'exhaust all margins' for averting Iraq war: EU president Greece was continuing efforts for peaceful disarmament by Iraq even at the eleventh hour, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday. His responses to other questions, however, indicated that the Greek presidency did not rule out the start of war before the start of the EU spring summit on Thursday in Brussels.
Referring to the summit, he left open the possibility of changing its agenda if the war operation in Iraq had begun.
In the meantime, the spokesman said, even though the margins were narrower and despite the difficulties and differences of view within the EU, the Greek presidency was doing all in its power to make use of what margins there were.
He said that Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou had contacted his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio and U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix over the Iraq crisis, while the Greek presidency was also in close contact with all EU members on the U.N. Security Council.
At the same time, he appealed to Iraq to being unconditional disarmament and to comply with UNSCR 1441.
Asked to comment on the fact that Britain, Spain and Portugal had taken part in the Azores meeting and moved outside the framework of EU decisions taken at the recent Brussels summit on Iraq, Protopapas said only that the different views within the EU were known.
He also noted that the vision of a common EU foreign and defense policy would require even greater effort to come about, stressing that this effort had to be made, while he criticized but did not name countries within the EU ''whose views do not coincide with the prospects of a common foreign policy and defense policy.''
Asked if Greece planned to close down its diplomatic mission in Baghdad, Protopapas said that staff would be evacuated and would depart without closing the mission when it was judged that all margins for a peaceful resolution had been exhausted.
The spokesman also announced that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at 11:00 on Tuesday to inform him about the latest developments before his departure for Brussels.
He said the premier would not have another opportunity to brief the president in person in the event of war breaking out in Iraq while he was in Brussels, since he is scheduled to return on Saturday afternoon.
Simitis will depart for Brussels on Tuesday at 17:00 and while there will have successive meetings with European Commission President Romano Prodi, EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign Policy and Defense Policy Javier Solana, European Parliament President Pat Cox and representatives of European trade unions.
On Thursday, there will be a meeting of the EU Troika, while the summit will begin on Thursday afternoon and focus on the Convention for the Future of Europe. The Iraq crisis is presently due to be discussed by EU leaders over dinner.
The spokesman also noted that a visit by the prime minister to Cyprus on April 18 would go ahead as planned when asked if developments in Iraq might affect this.
 Colin Powell briefs FM on U.S. positions on Iraq
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell contacted, at his own initiative, Foreign Minister and EU Council of Ministers President George Papandreou at noon on Monday to brief him on his country's positions on Iraq in light of the UN Security Council's afternoon session.
According to Greek diplomatic sources, Powell notified Papandreou that the U.S., Britain and Spain will not ultimately submit a second draft resolution for ratification permitting the use of force, underlining that diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis have in essence been exhausted.
Powell also told his Greek counterpart that the next moves will be announced by President George W. Bush in his proclamation to the American people.
Papandreou intends to brief his EU counterparts during Tuesday's working dinner on the content of his telephone conversation with Powell.
 Alternate FM tells Commission of Human Rights terrorism must be confronted
GENEVA 18/03/2003 (ANA - N. Robin)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis addressed here on Monday the Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the European Union.
In a statement at the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights High-Level Segment, taking place in Geneva from March 17-20, Yiannitsis said ''the scourge of terrorism, which has taken on unprecedented proportions, must be confronted through the firm a concerted effort of all members of the international community,'' adding that ''all anti-terrorist measures adopted must be in full conformity with human rights and the principles of the rule of law and democracy.''
The Greek minister noted that the acceding countries, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia and the associated countries, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey declare that they have aligned themselves to this statement.
Yiannitsis congratulated Sergio Vieira de Mello on his appointment as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, noting that ''the EU looks forward to hearing Mr. de Mello's response to the Secretary-General's report entitled ''Strengthening of the United Nations: An agenda for further change.''
The minister went on to evoke the ''tragic loss of the Prime Minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic,'' stressing that the European Union ''has condemned this cowardly act, which proves, in an appalling way, the dangers to democracy and to human rights posed in this region by all forms of political extremism and organized crime.''
Yiannitsis said the European Union recognizes the Commission’s pivotal role in the promotion and protection of human rights.
''As the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Mary Robinson, pointed out, 'the Commission on Human Rights has been the central architect of the work of the United Nations in the field of human rights,''' the minister said.
Yiannitsis went on to say that ''we must not become complacent'' as ''human rights continue to be violated in many parts of the world.''
''The European Union is, moreover, convinced that protection and promotion of human rights significantly contributes to peace, security, stability and sustainable socio-economic development,'' Yiannitsis said, adding that ''the European Union welcomes the role of NGOs in the Commission's work and firmly believes in reinforcing the relationship between civil society and governments.''
The minister said that for its part, the European Union ''has made a great effort to implement these universal rights and improve its own human rights mechanisms,'' noting that ''it has developed programs and taken measures to combat at home scourges such as intolerance, racial discrimination and trafficking in human beings.''
 European Parliamentarians target new U.S. national security strategy
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)European Parliamentarians, members of the Western European Union's Assembly participating in a WEU conference in Athens on Monday, targeted the new national security strategy of the United States.
Speaking at the conference on the common combat against terrorism and the new national security strategy of the U.S., held under the auspices of the Greek Parliament, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis warned that the target of handling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction ''cannot be achieved with a fragmented international community and with European and world public opinion rising up and deploring the means which, ignoring the international community's relevant agencies, are being selected unilaterally, at the moment against Iraq, despite the repulsive picture humanity has of both the dictator Hussein and his tyrannical regime.''
Kaklamanis stressed that the task of UN weapons inspectors should be supported, provided they request a time limit to complete their work.
He added that, on the other hand, cooperation should be encouraged with the Arab world ''which does not understand the logic of double standards'', a logic also not understood by Hellenism regarding continuing Turkish military occupation in Cyprus.
Kaklamanis further noted the isolation of the Baghdad regime by the Arab world, adding that at this stage isolation will be more effective than the pressure of whatever acts of force.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis said ''President Bush's strategy of the pre-emptive handling of threats against the United States, before their full formation as well, risks bringing international law to it limits.''
He further said there is the danger of other countries following the example of the U.S. and, in parallel, of ''the turning of other countries to weapons of mass destruction to protect themselves from the Bush doctrine, will be encouraged.''
Magriotis proposed an international dialogue on the issue of security, with the desirable outcome being the adoption of the view that the world community's authorization should be a primary element in whatever military action, that the excellent security of communities is always of a defensive form and that just punishment also contains the element of proportion in its application.
Former WEU President Luis Maria de Puig underlined ''alarming elements in the new Bush doctrine'', determination for unilateral action, the target of the continuous preservation of military superiority over all the other countries and, above all, ''the newfangled idea that the U.S. has a special mission on the planet.''
De Puig added that ''the Europeans have the obligation to think of the consequences of such a strategy and to defend their own values and visions.''
Ivan Eland, a member of the Independent Institute, in Oakland California, said the government of the United States is using the events which took place on September 11 as an excuse for an attack against the ''axis of evil'', with Iran and North Korea being possible new targets.
He went on to say that if the U.S. wants to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction it should limit its aggressiveness, adding in parallel that ''Europe (or countries lying closer to a threat) should also undertake a bigger part of defense expenditures.''
Russian Parliamentarian Vladimir Lukin spoke of a ''peculiar doctrine'' and stressed that ''the United States does what it likes. It names those who bother it and says that it will not permit anybody to obtain its own power. What will happen if China activates itself? Will it also start a war against China?''
Former Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in a statement on the sidelines of the conference ''the war has already started'' and that ''it is clear that the text of the three is not interested in the UN. They have decided to be indifferent.''
Pangalos also said ''the Greek presidency has gone beyond itself and as a country we can do nothing. The machines of war have already been turned on'' and that neither can the UN avert the war.
 Interior minister discusses administrative convergence with Italian counterpart
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis discussed issues concerning administrative convergence with his Italian counterpart Luigi Mazzella on Monday.
Administrative convergence will be attempted both by the EU Greek presidency and the Italian which will follow immediately afterwards.
Mazzella said issues discussed concerned electronic governance and training, which are currently of particular importance due to the EU's enlargement.
The Italian minister also underlined excellent relations existing between the two countries, which are linked with ties of friendship, not only for geographical but primarily for historical and cultural reasons.
Skandalidis assured that initiatives presented to him by his Italian counterpart will be supported by Greece to enable the steps to become reality.
 Diamantopoulou: Lisbon targets need more time
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)European Union Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou appeared pessimistic on Monday on the attainment of the Lisbon targets for the EU’s socioeconomic future within the set timetables.
“In Lisbon we decided that our target is to make Europe the globe’s most competitive economy, while at the same time creating new job positions and developing the society of information. However, current conditions point to the need of a new deal to come closer to these targets,” Diamantopoulou said during a press conference, held at the Foreign Press Association central office in Athens on Monday.
Referring to the consequences the Iraq crisis may have on European economy, the EU Commissioner noted that the EU’s economic problem were pre-existed the September 11 attack (2001) in the U.S. and the Gulf crisis, but owing to Europe’s internal crisis because of Iraq, the situation worsened.
However, she said that “if the monetary union needed ten years of preparation, a common external policy would need more than fifty years.”
Diamantopoulou further referred to the cost a likely war in Iraq would have for Europe, saying that a serious problem would be if the war was waged without United Nations approval. “It would be very difficult to arrive at a decision on the cost of the war if we have not participated in a decision for staging a war,” she said.
With regard to employment and structural reforms policy, Diamantopoulou said that it was over-simplistic to blame unemployment for all of Europe’s economic evils, and stressed that decisions with regard to structural funds tended to be re-nationalized.
 Greek current account balance rise to 1.284 bln euros in January
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Greece's current account balance recorded 1.284 billion euros deficit in January, 326 million euros higher than in January 2001, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
This increase resulted mainly from the widening of the trade deficit and the narrowing of the transfers surplus, while the income account deficit also grew. There was little change in the services surplus.
More analytically, the widening of the trade deficit was mainly accounted for by the considerable rise in the net oil import bill. By contrast, the non-oil trade deficit was reduced, since the decrease in export receipts was more than offset by the decline in the import bill. There was no significant change in the services surplus, as there was a small drop in net receipts from travel and other services, and a small rise in net transport receipts. The income account deficit increased because of the rise in net payments for interest, dividends and profits. Finally, the narrowing of the transfers surplus reflected the fall in net receipts of general government (mainly net receipts from the EU).
Financial account balance: Greek direct investment abroad totalled 229 million euros in January, of which 197 million euros accounted for the participation of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) in a Romtelecom's share capital increase. Indirect investments recorded a net inflow of 1.189 billion euros, mainly reflecting the inflow of non-residents' funds for the purchase of Greek bonds. "Other investments'' recorded a net outflow of 376 million euros, reflecting mainly the increase in deposits and repos holdings abroad by residents.
Greece’s reserve assets came to 8.4 billion euros in January, the central bank said.
 Greek shipowners' new leader seeks improvement of sector image
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)The new president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, Nikolaos Efthymiou, said on Monday that the trade group's priority was to improve the global image of shipping, starting in Europe.
''Unfortunately, European politicians have failed to realize the role of shipping on a world level, and due to the Prestige (accident), they have worsened the image world public opinion has of shipping,'' Efthymiou told a news conference.
He also said that if the Prestige had been given the assistance it required then the shipwreck would have been averted.
''As the matter was handled, whether it had a double or a triple hull, the vessel would still have sank,'' Efthymiou added.
He welcomed the fact that Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis had underlined the responsibility borne by Spanish authorities in handling the incident.
 Greek consumer group urges for boycott of bank transactions
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)EKPOIZO, a Greek consumer group, on Monday urged consumers to join in a week-long boycott of credit card transactions and signing of loan contracts with domestic banks, in protest against banks' lending policies.
The group began circulating a protest text, urging consumers to sign it, protesting against banks' lending policies. EKPOIZO said last week that Greek households were over-debted and that several thousands assets (cars and real estate) were confiscated and auctioned because borrowers were unable to repay their debts.
These claims, however, were dismissed by ICAP's survey last week which showed that Greek households were not over-debted and that the vast majority of borrowers were regularly repaying their debt.
 Fruit & veg prices jump up to 117 pct since start of the year
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Fruit and vegetables prices have risen by up to 117.81 percent since the beginning of January due to adverse weather and the impact on crops, the development ministry said on Monday.
In a regular statement on prices, the ministry also warned that the increase was likely to continue, acting as inflationary pressure.
Green peppers posted the sharpest rise at 117.81 percent, followed by spring onions at 104.27 percent, and spinach at 95.31 percent.
 National Export Council meets for first time
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Greece's National Export Council is expected to adopt, in its next meeting in April, a package of measures aimed to facilitate export procedures in customs and creating an on line information system including all state agencies and private sector enterprises.
The council met for the first time on Monday, chaired by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.
The measures to be adopted include exports' VAT returns on the same day and drafting of a program to boost exports during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Greece's National Export Council will meet once a month. Economy and Finance ministry secretary-general, G. Zanias, told reporters that its aim was to boost exports by 100 basis points as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) each year.
The meeting agreed to give more emphasis on promoting Greek exports to Asia and China in particular.
 Greek tourism unveils promotion plans
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Greece's National Tourism Organization on Monday unveiled eight programs for the promotion of the country's tourist product, aiming to boost and enrich Greek tourism.
The eight promotion plan is linked with similar plans by the private sector and cover: promoting the Attica region, conference tourism, winter sports, spas, sports, religious tourism, gastronomy and city travel in Greece.
 Greek shipping FX inflows 8.5 bln euros in 2002
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Shipping foreign exchange inflows totalled 8.5 billion euros last year, a very significant development as it reached the 9.5 billion euros in tourism foreign exchange income over the same period, Greece's Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis said on Monday.
The Greek minister stressed that these figures, amid an international economic slowdown, reaffirmed the shipping sector's strong participation in the country's current account balance as it covered around 25 percent of Greece's trade deficit (totalling 22.708 billion euros last year).
Mr Anomeritis stressed that the merchant marine ministry was promoting the sector's high contribution to the Greek economy through a package of measures and incentives aimed to boost shipping competitiveness.
 Measures to aid fuel supply needed if war launched on Iraq
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Monday that measures would be needed to ensure fuel supplies for the market if war is launched on Iraq.
The war also would lead to a rise in output costs for products and services, Tsohatzopoulos said.
At the same time, the trend may reverse in the second half of the war, the minister added.
 Greek stocks plunge on Monday
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended sharply lower on Monday following a negative climate in international markets as fears of an imminent war in Iraq led investors to the safety of fixed-income assets, gold and the Swiss franc.
The general index fell 1.68 percent to end at 1,488.49 points, with turnover a low 46.5 million euros.
The Publication, IT Solutions, Textile and Investment sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (6.46 percent, 5.29 percent, 5.16 percent and 3.69 percent, respectively), while the parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks dropped 3.34 percent.
The Food-Beverage and Retail sectors suffered the smallest losses of the day (-1.27 percent and -0.74 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.96 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 2.10 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 2.61 percent lower. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 2.04 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 296 to 37 with another 26 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 63.4 mln euros Monday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 63.4 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Monday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Iraq war will not affect Olympics, culture minister says
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)There were at least 18 months between the Iraq crisis and the start of the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the two issues were in no way related, Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday as he emerged from a meeting on the Olympic Torch Relay chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Asked if the Olympic Torch would be passing through Baghdad, the minister expressed hope that ''the flames of war will have died out in the world by 2004'' and stressed that the messages of the Cultural Olympiad, the Olympic Truce and the Games themselves were a ''prelude to peace''.
Apart from Venizelos, the meeting was also attended by the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
Commenting on the meeting, Papandreou said that it had focused on practical issues, such as programming, the cities that the Olympic Torch would be passing through and events along the route.
''This process is important, because the message of the Olympic Games is a message of peace, a message of truce. We are highlighting this tradition through an Olympiad that links sport and the arts, particularly the dimension that is a fundamental aim of the Olympic Games and which is none other than the peaceful coexistence of nations during the Olympic Games,'' he said.
 Journalism conference in Samothrace to be dedicated to 2004 Olympic Games
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)The 11th Panhellenic Journalism Conference, which will be held this year on the island of Samothrace from July 3-6, will be dedicated to the 2004 Olympic Games.
Taking part in the conference will be approximately 400 journalists from Greece and abroad, including representatives of international journalist unions, journalists with international acclaim, politicians, world sport personalities, Olympic Games medalists and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
 Wild, gale-force winds cause problems throughout Greece
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Intensely strong winds reaching as high as 11 on the Beaufort scale scoured Greece overnight from Sunday to Monday morning, ripping up trees, stripping away roofs and taking down phone and power lines.
Reports of problems were coming in from both the north and south of the country on Monday morning, from Patras and Tripoli in the Peloponnese to the Ioannina prefecture in the northwest.
Residents of the city of Ioannina woke up to find that storm-tossed Lake Pamvotida had risen and flooded roads and lakeside homes, while the prefectural authorities decided to close schools for the day.
Along with the high winds came falling temperatures, with snow disrupting transport, especially at high altitudes.
A number of districts, such as in Achaia prefecture, had problems with power cuts, while the wind also swept away loose and heavy objects such as road signs, TV antennas, roof-top water-heaters, even dumpsters.
Ferry crossings at Rio-Antirrio, Aigio-Ag. Nikolaos, Kyllini-Zakynthos have been stopped due to the very rough seas, as ferry communications to the islands.
Traffic on the Pyrgos-Patras national highway has also come to a halt due to fallen trees on the road.
The Georgian-flagged freighter ''Moro 2'' ran aground on Monday when strong winds drove it onto a sandy bank while it was anchored in Kiato harbor. No injuries were reported and no pollution has so far been observed.
The Greek capital did not escape unscathed, either, with the fire department having received 120 calls by 10:30 on Monday morning regarding fallen trees and other problems.
The problems were most intense in the southern suburbs by the sea, such as Voula, Glyfada and Faliro, while traffic on Syngrou Avenue was down to one lane after protective railings set up around road works were knocked down and blocked the road.
One falling tree smashed into a parked car in Veikou Street in Galatsi, while elsewhere flying objects and falling trees smashed shop windows. Traffic on the Athens-Lamia national highway in the lane toward Piraeus was also seriously disrupted, with a tailback reaching as far as Afidnes earlier on Monday, when a large road sign fell onto the road at Treis Gefyres and an articulated lorry overturned on the 14 kilometer going toward Piraeus.
 British television producer refers to necessity of Parthenon Marbles' return
WASHINGTON 18/03/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)British television producer William Stewart, speaking at an event jointly organized here by the Greek embassy's press office and the National Geographic Society and attended by about 200 people, referred to the necessity of the Parthenon Marbles being returned to Greece.
Stewart described the removal of the sculptures by Lord Elgin, the controversy which had broken out in England in 1816, when the unique sculptures came into the possession of the British Museum, the change in the British Labor Party's stance on the controversial issue and support for Greece's claim by the British people as indicated by repeated opinion polls.
He also referred to the need of negotiations between the two governments and cooperation between the two museums to enable the Parthenon Marbles to return to their historic location, particularly now that the issue of ownership is not a point of friction.
Stewart's address was the last of five presentations of his in cities in the U.S. and Canada, organized by the Greek Studies Faculty at the University of Missouri under professor Mihalis Kosmopoulos.
 Interior minister presents forest protection plan
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis on Monday presented the preparation plan on protecting forests from wildfires, as well as proposals for changes in the ''Xenokratis'' emergency plan.
Skandalidis also announced the hiring of 5,500 forest firemen and 1,020 people who will be involved in cleaning up areas around urban centers.
Their hiring will take place after the signing of a relevant presidential decree.
Another point announced by the minister is the handling of problems related to forest roads, disclosing that seven million euros will be provided for forest roads and 18.5 million euros for the cleanup of areas around urban centers and the control of landfills.
 Criminal complaint filed in Athens against Henry Kissinger
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)A noted anti-dictatorship activist during the late 1960s and early 1970s on Monday became the latest accusant against former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, filing a legal complaint with Greece’s top Supreme Court prosecutor.
Long-time Washington D.C. resident Elias Demetracopoulos, a vociferous critic of a seven-year military junta that brutally ruled Greece between 1967-1974, emphasized during a press conference in downtown Athens that his complaint on Monday comes 28 years to the day after he first began probing Kissinger’s alleged knowledge of a plot by the colonels’ junta to snatch him from the United States with an intent of later assassinating him.
Demetracopoulos claims Kissinger knew of the plot in advance, while pointing to a specific reference in a controversial book about the former US secretary of state by British journalist and historian Christopher Hitchens, the author of “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”.
Among others, Demetracopoulos demands in his complaint -- filed with Supreme Court chief prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis -- that the International War Crimes Tribunal’s charter be implemented in the case, as a list of wrongdoings he links to Kissinger -- besides the plot against him – include support for a Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974. He also cites an assassination attempt against then Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios as well as “the subsequent and continuing until today Turkish … occupation on Cyprus.
“... These two incidents (the Cyprus invasion and the plot to kidnap Demetracopoulos) were part of a wider framework of close cooperation between the Nixon administration and Kissinger, personally, with the colonels’ junta, as well as its (junta) use as a means of neutralizing the Greek people in Greece and Cyprus. This plan of incapacitation, using another illegal government as its means, namely, that of (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash, continues to be implemented until this very day against the Greek Cypriots, and as such, comprises a continuing crime...” the complaint reads.
Demetracopoulos’ attorney added that the complaint was filed in Greece but also ultimately aims at a hearing before the International War Crimes Tribunal, while adding that Washington’s refusal to agree to be a signatory for the new Hague-based tribunal in no way shields the one-time “architect” of US foreign policy in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Attorney Zoe Constantopoulou said most of the crimes Kissinger is accused of by her client were committed in Greece and Cyprus, both signatories to the treaty establishing the international tribunal, “therefore the tribunal has jurisdiction based on its charter”.
Asked why he didn’t file a lawsuit in a US federal court, Demetracopoulos said the political climate in America following 9/11 would have made such litigation very difficult, although he did mention that the widow and son of a Chilean general killed in 1973 coup in Santiago have done just that.
Finally, asked about the likelihood of any prosecution against the influential Kissinger ever reaching a courtroom, Demetracopoulos appeared optimistic, pointing to the high-profile detainment of one-time Chilean strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Britain a few years ago, Slobodan Milosevic’s ongoing trial at The Hague and even the a judicial inquiry by a French magistrate into the deaths of three French citizens during the 1973 coup in Chile. In the latter case, the French judge sent three bailiffs to question Kissinger in May 2001 when he was in Paris to attend an UNESCO conference.
Similar investigations focusing on allegations that Kissinger is linked to crimes against humanity have been initiated by prosecutors in Chile, Argentina and France.
 One of 3 Xiros brothers claims he was coerced into making confessions
Athens, 18/03/2003 (ANA)One of 19 defendants currently on trial in the high-profile “November 17” terrorism case on Monday claimed, via a statement read out by his defense attorney, that his confessions were the “product of psychological coercion, and blackmail” involving his family.
Christodoulos Xiros – the older brother Savvas Xiros, who botched bomb attempt and injury at the port of Piraeus led to the subsequent arrest of almost two dozens ‘N17’ suspects over the next two months – also claimed that interrogators threatened him with extradition to the United States and also used psychotropic drugs on him.
“As for the co-defendants that continue to identify me (as the ‘N17’ member known by the alias of ‘Manolis’), I believe they have the anti-terrorism law as a strong incentive in order continuing lying,” he said in attempting to dismiss testimony by a handful of other “N17” suspects on trial with him.
 Cyprus briefs foreign diplomats on peace talks deadlock
NICOSIA 18/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has briefed all ambassadors of the UN Security Council member-states accredited to Cyprus, on the failure of the UN efforts in The Hague earlier this month to resolve the Cyprus issue because of the Turkish side's negative stance.
An official press release issued here on Monday said Iacovou called upon the ambassadors' countries to blame through the Security Council Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkey for the collapse of the Cyprus talks.
The Cypriot minister also met with the ambassadors of the EU member- states in Nicosia.
Moreover, Cyprus' Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Sotos Zakhaios met with his counterparts of the UN Security Council member-states, to brief them on Cyprus' positions, stressing that the responsibility for the deadlock lies exclusively to the Turkish side and the blame should be allocated accordingly.
All Cyprus ambassadors abroad acted on the same line in the countries they are accredited to.
 Christofias: Success of renewed Cyprus effort depends on UN's stance
NICOSIA 18/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias has stressed that a successful UN renewed effort to resolve the Cyprus issue depends on the decisive stance on behalf of the UN towards the side that is responsible for the continuation of the deadlock in the Cyprus issue.
In a letter sent to his counterparts of the UN Security Council member states, the EU member and candidate countries, as well as the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Christofias refers to the failure of the UN efforts in The Hague earlier this month to solve the longstanding Cyprus problem because of the Turkish side's intransigent stance.
''The Greek Cypriot side wishes for a renewed effort to resolve the Cyprus issue on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions,''
Christofias says, adding that ''a successful UN renewed effort to resolve the Cyprus problem depends on the decisive stance on behalf of the UN towards the side that is responsible for the continuation of the deadlock in the Cyprus issue.''
The Greek Cypriot side expects UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Security Council to blame Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the Turkish government that fully supports him for the failure of the Cyprus talks in The Hague, the House President points out in his letter.
He expresses Cyprus' intention to continue efforts for the promotion of a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
Christofias notes that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos' constructive stance at The Hague talks reflects the wish of the Greek Cypriot side to reunite the island and its people.
Referring to the Turkish stance in The Hague, the Cypriot official notes that ''Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continued his intransigent stance, rejecting not only a referendum among Turkish Cypriots but the whole of the proposed UN peace plan and stating, in addition, that the Turkish Cypriots are interested in a separate accession to the EU, at the same time with Turkey.''
''Despite the disappointment of the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriot side will continue the hard effort for the promotion of a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem based on the relevant UN resolutions,'' Christofias notes in his letter.