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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-04-29

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

April 29, 2003


  • [01] PM welcomes opening of partition checkpoints in Cyprus
  • [02] US hopes opening of Cyprus divide will show the way forward
  • [03] Country's leaders spend Orthodox Easter with the troops
  • [04] Patriarch deplores warmongers' hubris in face of divine law
  • [05] EU presidency backs integrated action with UN on sustainable growth
  • [06] Government project to develop Ilia coastline
  • [07] Crossing of divide continues as National Council to convene Tuesday

  • [01] PM welcomes opening of partition checkpoints in Cyprus

    Athens 29/04/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday welcomed the opening of the ''Green Line'' in Cyprus that divides the island republic and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish-occupied north for nearly three decades.

    ''For the first time in 30 years, the Green Line in Cyprus has ceased to be a dividing line. Turkish Cypriots have passed into southern Cyprus and Greek Cypriots have passed into the north,'' Simitis told an Easter celebration by the Greek military.

    A nine-nation U.N. peacekeeping force guards the Green Line to deter violence. The line, which stretches for 180 kilometers along the northern part of Cyprus, has four crossing points.

    ''The regime of (Turkish Cypriot leader) Rauf Denktash was unable to maintain the restrictions established in 1974,'' Simitis said in the Andravida air force unit in Ilia.

    The prime minister noted that lifting restrictions at the checkpoints for two-way movement of people just before Orthodox Easter this weekend was no chance event.

    ''This was the result of a plan our country had, a two-pronged plan of securing Cyprus' entry into the European Union and securing acceptance of Turkey's candidacy to participate in the EU,'' he said.

    Cyprus's entry into the bloc had led to pressure from European Union partners for a final resolution of the island's political problem, and for the Turkish Cypriot community to abandon its intransigent policy.

    ''This did not happen at the Hague finally, but we saw it immediately afterwards, and we saw it a few days ago, that this intransigent stance was not viable, and that there would be developments,'' Simitis said.

    ''Acceptance of Turkey's candidacy laid out a path for that country, which means it is increasingly obliged to accept EU law and the terms of international law, and to agree to overcome the differences that it created with Greece,'' the prime minister added.

    Greece is rotating president of the European Union for the first half of 2003.

    [02] US hopes opening of Cyprus divide will show the way forward

    Athens 29/04/2003 (ANA)

    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was interested to see a recent opening of the ''Green Line'' partitioning Cyprus for nearly 30 years, and he voiced hope that the move would help point the way forward.

    ''I'm somewhat fascinated by the opening of the transit areas, the border areas, so that people can go back and forth,'' Powell told Greece's TV NET in an interview.

    ''This is an interesting development and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the days ahead as people start to interact with one another more closely. And maybe that will bring pressure to bear on their political leaders to find a way forward,'' he said.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

    Asked to comment on failure of a recent UN plan to find a political solution for Cyprus, Powell replied: ''We were disappointed that we were not able to achieve progress on (UN) Secretary General Annan's plan...But we believe there are positive elements in that plan that are still there, available for the two sides to use and to work with as they move forward.''

    Concerning Turkey and its relationship with Europe, Powell said the country knew what it had to do in order to secure entry into the EU.

    ''We believe that Turkey belongs in the European Union. I don't think the European Union will ever be complete without Turkey being a member of that union. And so we hope all the conditions will be met and I hope at some future time when it's taken up for consideration again, all the factors will be positive,'' he added.

    Asked to comment on Greece's role as rotating president of the European Union at a critical time globally, including the war on Iraq, Powell answered: ''I think the Greek presidency handled the difficulties with great skill. There was a split within the European Union over Iraq and how to support or not support what the coalition was doing, and I think the Greek presidency, and especially my colleague Foreign Minister Papandreou, did a good job of modulating those differences so that it didn't result in a complete rupture.''

    The full text of Mr. Powell’s interview is available at  HYPERLINK ""

    [03] Country's leaders spend Orthodox Easter with the troops

    Athens 29/04/2003 (ANA)

    The country's leaders on Sunday spent Orthodox Easter with troops nationwide.

    The President of the Republic, Costis Stephanopoulos, joined in Easter customs with army, air force and navy personnel in units in the northern border Evros prefecture.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis visited an air force unit in the Ilia prefecture; and the head of the Coalition of the Left and Progress, Nikos Constantopoulos, went to the same unit in a separate visit.

    The leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, spent Easter at an air force base at Tatoi, near Athens; and the leader of the Communist Party of Greece, Aleka Papariga, also visited the same unit in a separate trip.

    [04] Patriarch deplores warmongers' hubris in face of divine law

    ISTANBUL 29/4/2003 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Saturday delivered a stinging condemnation of military might lacking right in his traditional Orthodox Easter message.

    In a sermon due for distribution to churches later in the day, the Patriarch warned that the consequences were dire when people sought to assume divine powers, replacing the ethical law of God with human desire and ambition.

    Flourishing empires had fallen due to greed, said Vartholomeos, in what was construed as a reference to the US-led war on Iraq.

    ''The rubble of buildings and other edifices, remains of human bodies, limbs, the environment wrecked, but, primarily, ethical and civilized values shattered,'' he said.

    ''Arrogance accompanied by power demolishes all,'' the Patriarch added.

    [05] EU presidency backs integrated action with UN on sustainable growth

    NEW YORK 29/04/2003 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)

    Greece, the European Union's rotating president, said on Monday that it supported an integrated approach to sustainable development, working with the United Nations and other bodies.

    Speaking for the EU at a UN committee meeting in New York on sustainable development, Greek Deputy Public Works Minister Rhodoula Zissi said that justice needed to be done to the three dimensions of the sector.

    ''Each cycle (of the committee for sustainable development's work) should address the relation between the respective themes and the overarching objectives and cross-cutting issues,'' Zissi said.

    The issues included poverty eradication, sustainable production and consumption, sustainable management of natural resources, means of implementation, gender equality, governance, globalization and health, she said.

    ''Coherence in the follow-up to Johannesburg, Monterrey and other major UN conferences is crucial....Civil society, including NGOs, should be actively involved in the whole work-cycle of the committee, both implementation/review and policy sessions,'' Zissi added.

    She also called for a better balance in representation of major groups from the north and south in the committee for sustainable development, whose current meeting ends on May 9.

    [06] Government project to develop Ilia coastline

    Athens 29/04/2003 (ANA)

    The government is to develop the coastline in the prefecture of Ilia, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday.

    ''Use can be made of the entire coastline in Ilia; there is much potential,'' Simitis told inhabitants during an Easter holiday visit to his grandfather's birthplace in Korakohori, Ilia.

    Studies for the project were completed and a tender would be called in the near future. Protection of the environment in the area was a key concern, he added.

    [07] Crossing of divide continues as National Council to convene Tuesday

    NICOSIA 29/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Nearly 15 thousand Greek Cypriots have crossed to the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus early Easter Monday and nearly 800 Turkish Cypriots are visiting the southern government-controlled part of the island on the sixth day since the easing of restrictions on the free movement of Cypriots, imposed by the Turkish occupation regime.

    As the flow to and from the free areas continues, the National

    Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, will meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the situation and the measures which the government will announce to support Turkish Cypriots.

    From early morning long traffic jams stretched for 13 kilometers at the Pergamos checkpoint near the Dhekelia British Bases in

    Southeastern Cyprus while the queue to the Ledra Palace checkpoint had reached Freedom (Eleftheria) Square in central Nicosia.

    Police announced that a total of 14,048 Greek Cypriots had crossed into the occupied areas by 1300 local time (1000 GMT), 7,167 of them through the Ledra Palace checkpoint, 4,800 through the Pergamos checkpoint and 2,081 through Strovilia.

    A total of 772 Turkish Cypriots had crossed into the government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus, 662 of them through the Ledra Palace checkpoint, 107 through Pergamos and three through Strovilia.

    On Easter Sunday, 9,158 Turkish Cypriots crossed to the free areas and 22,948 Greek Cypriots visited the occupied areas.

    Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said Cyprus' European path and the international situation led Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to announce the easing of restrictions on free movement of Cypriots.

    Speaking from the western coastal town of Paphos, Chrisostomides criticized the occupation regime for insisting on asking Greek Cypriots to show their passports as they cross into the occupied areas.

    He also said the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement, although is a very important development, it does not constitute a Cyprus settlement.

    Meanwhile, House President Demetris Christofias, speaking before departing to Brussels to attend the 15th meeting of the European Parliament President with the presidents of parliament of the countries participating in the enlargement process, said the government is expected to announce soon the package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots.

    He said that once the government announces them, it would be ready to implement them too.

    Christofias also said the National Council meeting on Tuesday will examine the situation, in view of the announcement of the measures.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.

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