|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 24, 2003
 EU, UN advocate safeguarding of borders of Iraq and neighboring countries
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek European Union presidency and UN secretary general Kofi Annan on Sunday advocated the safeguarding of the borders of Iraq and its neighboring countries, while Athens expressed concern over the moves of Turkish forces in northern Iraq.
Greece's foreign minister and current chairman of the EU Council of Ministers George Papandreou on Sunday had a telephone conversation with UN secretary Kofi Annan, whom he briefed on the outcome of the recent EU summit vis-a-vis the Iraq issue, and mainly on the EU position endorsing support for the role of UN throughout the duration of the military intervention in Iraq as well as in the context of relief efforts for the Iraq population and reconstruction of the region.
Papandreou also reassured the UN chief of Greece's backing of the UN's role, and expressed Athens' intentions to undertake initiatives, on behalf of the EU presidency, for the submittal of a draft resolution providing for UN involvement in the provision of humanitarian assistance to and the reconstruction of Iraq.
The two men also discussed the situation in northern Iraq, with Papandreou expressing concern over the movements of Turkish forces in the region.
He asked Annan that the UN monitor the developments there, while the two officials agreed that a strong message needed to be sent on the safeguarding of the territorial integrity of Iraq as well as its neighboring countries, including Turkey.
On the Cyprus issue, Annan thanked Papandreou for Greece's constructive stance throughout the negotiations for a Cyprus solution, and expressed his intention to continue providing his good services aimed at a resolution of the island republic's political problem.
Papandreou said that Greece remained firm in its position for maintaining the momentum that would enable the finding of a Cyprus solution, adding that Athens would make every possible effort in that direction.
The Greek foreign minister and UN chief agreed, however, that the attention of the international community had inevitably turned to the Iraq crisis, which overshadowed any action that could be undertaken at this time on the Cyprus issue.
 FM Papandreou outlines EU presidency initiatives on Iraq in radio interview
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Greece, as a country and as the current EU president, has repeatedly endorsed and taken initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis, with close contacts with the Arab world, and consultations within the EU as well as with UN members and the UN chief, Kofi Annan, Greece's foreign minister said Sunday in a radio interview.
''Everyone is worried over the development of the war, and of course an extended war will have even more negative effects for us all, not only economic ones, but our attention is on the Iraqi people themselves, and we have stressed, both as EU and as the EU presidency, and also the '28', that the sooner the war ends the better for all, particularly for the Iraqi people themselves,'' he said, asked to comment on a statement by US president George Bush on Saturday in his weekly radio address to the nation that the war could be ''longer and more difficult'' than some thought.
Questioned on assessments regarding margins for EU intervention from here on, and what the Greek EU presidency intended to do in that direction, Papandreou said that the EU had margins in the humanitarian sector, ''although before the war, to the degree possible, Greece moved multilaterally for a diplomatic solution''.
''We in fact had created, with the Arabs, a significant initiative. I had personally spoken, at top level, with all the Arab leaders and urged them for an initiative with (Iraqi leader) Saddam (Husein), but also towards all the sides in order that a compromise solution be found. Unfortunately, the war started, and therefore we are facing a new, sad fact, which does not mean, however, that we will remain idle,'' Papandreou said.
''First of all, there is the humanitarian aspect. Yesterday, we had a consultation at the ministry with all the diplomatic officials and the political leadership, and we have already planned several initiatives of support for non-governmental organizations for the humanitarian assistance, cooperation with neighboring countries in that sector. But we are also the EU presidency, and we are coordinating, with Mr. Patten (the EU's external relations commissioner Chris) and Mr. Nielsen (EU development and humanitarian aid commissioner Poul) on the issue of humanitarian aid also at the level of the enlarged Europe,'' Papandreou explained.
Asked to comment on views that the end of the UN had come, and of a deep chasm within the EU, Papandreou said that an unprecedented peace movement had emerged on a global scale, and ''I believe that a significant political force internationally...raising the demand of the international citizen for rules of operation of the international community is being born, and naturally the UN is at the crux of this effort''.
As for the EU, he added, the recent EU summit's decisions spoke of the bloc's dedication to the UN. ''I think that this also shows that we do not have the end of the UN, but the emergence of perhaps even greater support, or the need of an international governance founded on rules and values".
"The crisis has naturally brought a deep bitterness, and we, as the Presidency, witnessed this phenomenon in Europe -- the clash between the member states -- more than anyone else. But I believe that first of all the citizens of Europe once again demand the creation of a strong Europe with a strong and uniform voice internationally. And there is also the political volition, to a very large degree, to see this in action in the governments and the parliaments of the member states," Papandreou continued. Asked to comment on rumors of disagreements within the Greek government, according to which Papandreou championed a more pro-American stance versus the premier's European stance, Papandreou said he was "surprised" by the "persistence" of certain quarters with this "myth".
"I believe that the Greek people know very well the positions that I have expressed, and in close cooperation with the prime minister, we, as Greece, have put forward important initiatives. I believe that this close cooperation with the premier is precisely that which has succeeded in us having not just simply a coordinated presence, but also of having big successes as the EU presidency," Papandreou said.
He said it was not incidental that European leaders, such as Jacques Chirac, have repeatedly acknowledged the importance and success of the Greek EU presidency's efforts in such a difficult time, and shrugged off the press speculations of a rift in the government as serving "petty political expediencies".
 Greece opposes any re-delineation of borders in Iraq, DM says
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Greece opposed any re-delineation of borders in Iraq, defense minister Yannos Papantoniou said late Saturday, after being briefed by the chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), general George Antonakopoulos, on the development of US-led military operations in Iraq.
At the same time, Papantoniou expressed concern over information according to which Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq, given that such an eventuality affected the national security environment of Greece.
 Rising concern in Greek gov't over Iraq, Turkey's incursion
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Concern over events in Iraq was mounting within the Greek government on Saturday, particularly over the incursion of Turkish troops into the north of the country.
In statements to the state-run television channel NET, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, current head of the European Council, was constantly monitoring developments in Iraq since his return from Brussels on Friday night, while the foreign and defense ministries were on high alert and holding continuous meetings.
According to Protopapas, the sooner the war ended and international legality was restored, the better it would be, while he predicted that there would be bad repercussions for the Arab world from the war but did not specify what they might be.
While avoiding making any links between the war in Iraq and the situation in the Balkans, he nevertheless noted that the Balkan region "required great attention".
The spokesman reiterated, meanwhile, that Athens was strongly opposed to the war and to Turkey's efforts to 'enter' north Iraq, which he said the government was watching closely.
He dismissed Ankara's claim that it was trying to prevent the entry of a wave of refugees into Turkey as "not convincing" and said that it "hid something else".
Protopapas also stressed a resolution by European Union leaders that called for the protection of Iraq's territorial integrity after the war and warned that "no one should be under the illusion that they will receive some part."
Describing Turkey's policies as contradictory - as shown by its stance on the Cyprus issue, its efforts in northern Iraq and Ankara's relations with the United States - the spokesman stressed that these would lead nowhere.
He announced that the prime minister would be departing for a one-day visit to Brussels on Wednesday in order to brief the European Parliament on the results of the EU informal summit on Thursday and Friday and the latest developments in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Simitis had contacted Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and asked him to call a special session of Parliament on Thursday, in which the premier will inform MPs on the summit results and Iraq.
The smaller opposition parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the more moderate Coalition of the Left and Progress have both asked for a debate in Parliament on the war in Iraq and Greece's position, while both parties have asked that Greece avoid any form of involvement in the war.
The government has insisted that Greece is not involved in the US-led war on Iraq but has stopped short of denying the Americans access to air-space, the use of the naval base in Souda, Crete and other facilities, saying that it will honor its commitments under international agreements and treaties.
 Foreign ministry braces for wave of refugees from Iraq
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Staff at the Greek foreign ministry was busy deliberating on Saturday about the humanitarian problems that will arise due to the war in Iraq, during a meeting chaired by Foreign Minister George Papandreou to assess the situation and make plans for dealing with waves of refugees fleeing the war.
Responding to questions about Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq, Papandreou expressed his opposition to the involvement of ''any country that borders on Iraq'' in the war and noted the European Union's willingness to help Turkey with the refugees displaced by the hostilities.
As EU president, Greece had made a number of proposals to the EU on how to deal with the problems that Turkey might face from a possible wave of refugees, he said.
Papandreou noted that a plan for offering humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people had been drawn up and he invited non-governmental organizations to cooperate in dealing with the problem.
He also announced that there was constant contact and close coordination between the Greek presidency, EU Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten and EU Common Foreign Policy and Defense Policy coordinator Javier Solana so that the '15' EU member-states and the 10 countries due to join the Union in April could contribute to this effort.
In addition, there was close contact with Arab countries, the Arab League and members of the United Nations Security Council, he said.
Meanwhile, according to an ANA dispatch from Cyprus, the first refugees fleeing the Iraq war arrived on the island republic at dawn on Friday through Jordan.
Cyprus authorities said they were a small group of people that arrived on a Jordan Airlines flight, had adequate financial means and legal visas that would allow them to travel to third countries.
They were immediately handed over the United Nations humanitarian services in Cyprus, as per agreements between the Cyprus Republic and the U.N.
 Main opposition ND condemns war on Iraq, MP Kouvelas says
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party condemned the "unjust, irrational and illegitimate" war on Iraq, ND deputy for Thessaloniki Sotiris Kouvelas said Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference in the northern Greek city of Kavala, Kouvelas said: "Above all, New Democracy defends freedom of opinion and the national interest. It therefore has no hesitation in condemning this unjust, irrational and illegitimate war".
"Those who began it should prove that they at least had the moral right -- because they did not have the legal right -- to do it..." Kouvelas said.
Kouvelas recalled that in 1974, when then prime minister Constantine Karamanlis, the party's founder, had "ascertained that our allies were not acting like allies but on the contrary were creating problems at our country's expense, he withdrew Greece from NATO, placing the national interest above everything else".
New Democracy, he continued, was worriedly monitoring the developments "firmly dedicated to the principles of peace and international legality".
"A small country such as Greece has the luxury of believing in principles and values. It is not carried away by expediencies, it is not carried away by the mania and arrogance of power. It is its duty to unite its voice with the rest of the genuinely progressive peoples and found its progress and its relations on the international legal order," Kouvelas said.
He said that ND whole-heartedly supported the UN initiatives and resolutions "because we believe that is the only way that better conditions and prerequisites will be created".
 Opposition to Iraq war continues unabated in Greece
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)As the ''pre-emptive war'' waged on Iraq by the United States and Britain continued for the third day, opposition from the public and political parties in Greece showed no sign of lessening as thousands took to the streets in protest throughout the country.
For the third day in a row, the U.S. Embassy in Athens found itself besieged by crowds shouting for an end to the war and the capital was choked with demonstrations and protest marches.
A rally organized by the Greek Social Forum, the ''Stop the War'' Alliance, left-wing progressive organizations, high-school children and students kicked off at midday in Syntagma Square, before setting off on a march to the U.S. Embassy.
Further down at Propylaia, the gates to the Acropolis, a rally comprised of workers, pensioners and students organized by the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), the Communist-party-affiliated trade union faction PAME and other trade union organizations was being urged to ''stop the crime of war and our country's involvement in it''.
In the northern city of Thessaloniki, protestors camped outside the U.S. Consulate until 18:00, keeping Tsimiski Road closed for more than three and half hours, as they shouted for the release of two marchers arrested in a scuffle with police earlier in the day. The two were eventually set free after appearing before a public prosecutor, whereupon the protestors departed.
As on Thursday and Friday, protest marches took place in other Greek cities, including Patras, Iraklio and Kavala, while a symbolic picket was set up outside the Araxos airport for one hour.
In an announcement on Saturday, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos denounced the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq, saying that ''Baghdad is in flames and is being flattened by thousands of ''smart'' bombs in the hands of cynical and idiotic military leaders wearing the mantle of liberators.''
He also criticized the stance adopted by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis as president of the European Council during the informal EU summit in Brussels, accusing him of ''choices that were beneath the historic occasion''.
DHKKI leader Dimitris Tsovolas similarly denounced US and British ''indifference for the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians'' and called on the Greek government to shut down the U.S. base in Souda and stop providing any form of facility either at sea or in the air to the U.S.-led campaign.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga told a rally of demonstrators that unless the war against Iraq was stopped, Iraq would end up with an American regime under a military governor and a government controlled by the United States, while Europe would stand by fighting over a share of the spoils.
''We must not stop (opposing the war)...other countries will be next,'' she warned darkly.
Charges filed against 23 over incidents during protest march: Twenty-three people were charged on Saturday in connection with clashes with police during an anti-war protest march the previous day.
The rest of the 61 people detained after Friday's incidents were set free without charge.
Most of those arrested were Greek nationals, with a small number of Iraqis and Kurd that flung objects at police guarding the U.S. Embassy in Athens.
 European left-wing parties denounce Iraq war after Athens meeting
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)European left-wing parties represented at a meeting organized in Athens by the Coalition of the Left and Progress party, on Saturday denounced the war launched on Iraq by the United States and Britain, expressing their horror at the intensifying attacks. In a joint appeal they rejected and decried the doctrine of pre-emptive war, warning of the dangers for the Middle East and pointing to the long-suffering Iraqi people, especially non-combatants and children, who now faced a new and unprecedented slaughter on top of the heavy toll taken by successive wars, the international embargo and the cruel dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
They also raised the specter of increased terrorist attacks and rising religious fanaticism fed by the new war in Iraq.
''We repeat our absolute opposition to this illegal, extraordinarily destructive and barbarous war that is a flagrant violation of the United Nations charter and international laws and a full frontal assault on all humanity,'' they added.
They called for an immediate end to the war and the resumption of diplomacy and political action initiated by the U.N. to resolve the Iraqi crisis, urging a special meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
Participants included the Cypriot party AKEL, the French Communist Party, the Spanish United Left party, Germany's Democratic Socialism party, the Italian Communist Refoundation party and Greece's Coalition of the Left.
 Archbishop Christodoulos' sermon condemns war, 'hypocrisy of the powerful'
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece in a sermon Sunday condemned the "hypocrisy of the powerful of the earth" and the "arrogance of power", charging that "those fighting Saddam" were the same ones who had "armed him".
Delivering a sermon at the Church of Aghia Irini (Saint Irene, whose name means 'peace') in central Athens, Christodoulos said the powerful "very facilely trample upon and disdain the institutions, the laws and International Law".
"No one knows where arrogance can lead man," he warned.
The Archbishop spoke of the "bloodshed" of the previous century (meaning World War II), saying: "There were people who were conscious of and comprehended their powers, and by abusing those powers they wished to conquer the entire world, resulting in all of mankind tasting the venom from the hate and animosity".
Today, he said "those who are fighting against Saddam Hussein are the same ones who armed him. This is where the hypocrisy lies".
He also criticized the countries that opposed the war on Iraq, however, noting that ten years ago, they were in favor of another war "which shows that most of the powerful of the earth have (personal) gain as their incentive".
"So long as people put (self) interests ahead, there will never be true peace and dignity," the Archbishop warned.
 Greek chapter of Amnesty Int'l seeks clarifications from US, UK
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek chapter of Amnesty International on Saturday asked the governments of the United States and Britain to clarify what measures they had taken to protect civilians in Iraq.
The international organization warned both countries that, according to international law, operations that would clearly result in disproportionate deaths of civilians had to be cancelled or called off.
It said the warnings issued by the United States toward Iraqi civilians did not relieve it of the obligation to avoid attacks that were indiscriminate or disproportionate.
 Athens Bar Assoc. to examine referring Blair to ICC over war on Iraq
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Athens Bar Association (DSA) president Dimitris Paxinos intends to bring before the Bar board of directors an issue of referring British prime minister Tony Blair and all others involved to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of violating International Law, in deciding to take part in the war against Iraq, Paxinos said Sunday.
According to sources, the Athens Bar Association board will examine whether a similar lawsuit may be lodged against Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as well.
''All the crimes taking place against the Iraqi people cannot leave us indifferent. It is an illegal and aggressive war, without any legal basis whatsoever, being carried out without the permission of the UN Security Council,'' Paxinos said, adding that ''it is our duty to act on the basis of the existing legal framework against those who violate international legality and International Law''.
The matter will be introduced for discussion at the DSA board meeting on Wednesday, March 26, so that a decision may be taken vis-a-vis tabling a suit with the newly-established ICC against Blair "and all those responsible for the illegal war and are under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court", Paxinos said.
 European Court gives EU Commission extension in OA case
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)The Luxembourg-based European Court on Saturday agreed to give the European Commission an extension to prepare its response to the evidence submitted by Olympic Airways, which has been accused of the Commission of financial irregularities.
The Commission had asked for a 2.5-month extension on the grounds that the file presented by the airline was massive, being comprised of 180 pages and six large dossiers.
The court agreed to give the Commission until June 25 to prepare its counter-arguments but warned that no further extension could be expected beyond that date.
OA is challenging a European Commission order that it must return 194 million euros in illegal state subsidies that it allegedly received from the Greek state since 1998.
 Kaklamanis sends message on occasion of March 25 national anniversary
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a message on Sunday on the occasion of the March 25 national anniversary marking the 1821 revolution against Ottoman rule, said that this year's anniversary coincided ''with one of the darkest hours of humanity.''
Kaklamanis said ''the United States and the newly-established 'Iberian-atlantic alliance' is uprooting international legal order, its institutions and its rules, replacing them with the interests of 'new Rome' and the means it uses for their imposition.''
He said ''the Greek people, along with the peoples of Europe are participating in the world peace movement and condemns the neutralization of the United Nations and the undermining of the European structure.''
The parliament president, on the occasion of the national anniversary, turned his thoughts to ''our brothers in Cyprus who along the Turkish Cypriot community are struggling for the liberation of their homeland from the Turkish military occupation which is continuing for nearly three decades with the tolerance of the U.S.''
''Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the reconciliation of the two communities, their common resistance to Ankara's plans and that of (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash and the prospects of a new social and economic reality in the EU, is certain that will lead slowly but surely to the reunification of the suffering island and to a peaceful future for the whole of the Cypriot people,'' Kaklamanis concluded.
 Senior officials of the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean to hold Athens talks
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)Sessions by senior officials of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean begin on Monday at the Asteras hotel in Vouliagmeni, a resort just outside Athens.
During the course of the week, within the framework of the Greek EU Presidency, ministerial meetings will also be held on a European Union level with counterpart ministers from Mexico and Chile, the countries of the so-called Rio and Andes group.
The sessions of the above-mentioned meetings will end on Friday, while press conferences will be given in the course of the week.
 Iraq-Greek movie directors urge boycott of US films for duration of war
Athens, 24/03/2003 (ANA)The Association of Greek movie directors on Sunday called on Greek audiences to boycott US-made films for the duration of the US-led war on Iraq.
In an announcement, containing relevant comments by tens of directors, the Association said "we are not condemning the American people, nor American art...We want to salvage the grains of humanity and resistance we have".
"The Greek directors, the Greek creators, a living intellectual piece of our society that rarely concerns the pres and even more rarely appears on the TV 'windows'...today speaks out publicly, because we have a minimum personal choice: To refuse to financially reinforce those whom we consider responsible for this unjust war...," the announcement said.
"We ask of the Greek viewers to boycott American films for the duration of the war. And this act is not an ideological clash, nor an intellectual stance. It is the moral stance of the Greek creators in these difficult moments of war. We do not condemn the American people, or American art. We wish to salvage all grains of humanity and resistance that we have," the statement said.
 Cyprus satisfied with European Council conclusions
LARNACA 24/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Brussels European Council conclusions on Cyprus are very satisfying and indirectly, albeit clear, blame the Turkish Cypriot side for the collapse of the UN-led peace talks in The Hague, Foreign Minister Giorgos Iacovou stressed here on Saturday.
Speaking to the press at Larnaca Airport on his arrival from Brussels, Iacovou said the Brussels Summit had a special meaning, since ''it was the last we attended as an acceding country that is briefed but has no right of speech''.
He also noted that European foreign ministers he met in Brussels shared the view that peace talks in The Hague had collapsed due to the Turkish intransigence. |
''At the next Summit, after Cyprus will have signed the Accession Treaty, the island will have the status of an active observer, and we will have the right to take part to all procedures except voting'', Cyprus FM added.
He furthermore congratulated the Greek EU presidency, Greek premier Costas Simitis and Greek FM Giorgos Papandreou, saying that despite all difficulties the summit was successful.
''We consider the European Council's final statement on Cyprus to be very satisfactory because, indirectly, albeit clear, it allocates the responsibility for the collapse of the talks in The Hague on the Turkish Cypriot side'', Iacovou told reporters.
Referring to his meetings in Brussels he said that he met with EU
Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, European Parliament President Pat Cox and Chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Elmar Brok.
Referring to his meeting with Verheugen, Cypriot FM said that the EU Commissioner is absolutely sure that Cyprus' EU course will proceed without any obstacles.