|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 12, 2003
 Simitis concludes tour of new EU members
PRAGUE 12/05/2003 (ANA)Prime minister and European Council President-in-office Costas Simitis on Saturday concluded his tour of seven newly acceding countries to the European Union, in light of the European Union Summit that will take place in June, in Thessaloniki.
Simitis visited Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic and held talks with the presidents and premiers of those states, appearing optimistic over the future of the enlarged European Union.
At the end of his talks with Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Simitis held a press conference, marking the end of the tour.
''They believe that Greece, a small country, managed to promote itself in the European Union and for that reason they look at its experience and for its aid,'' Simitis said, adding that they believe that the confrontation and resolution of the problems they face can be accomplished only within the European Union that can offer them stability and prosperity.
He stressed that talks focused mainly in the future institutional form of the European Union, fearing that changes may function to their disadvantage. ''In addition the memory of the Soviet past is very intense and for that reason they are concerned greatly about issues of security, issues of foreign policy, issues of defense,'' Simitis added.
''They want to have the certainty that in the future they will not relive that which existed in the past,'' Simitis stressed.
The issues of immigration and European security will top the agenda of the EU Summit in Thessaloniki, especially in light of the enlargement.
On his part, Spidla said that "we poised the questions and discussed different ideas on general lines and not on details."
The Czech premier added that he also voiced his country's stance that each EU member should have one European Commissioner, a position taken in light of the institutional changes of the EU.
Both men stressed that they did not discover any points of substantial disagreements between the two countries.
Prague was the last stop of Simitis' current tour.
Statements on Cyprus: At the end of the press conference, the Greek PM responded to questions on developments concerning Cyprus, Turkey and the European Union, stressing that the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that the ''Cyprus problem can only be resolved if the two communities (Greek and Turkish Cypriot) discuss between them without the aid or without the framework of the United Nations,'' can not be followed, since ''I would like to stress, once more, that the Cyprus problem is not a problem between the two communities. It is a problem of occupation of a part of the island by the Turkish military''.
''The United Nations have made decisions, concerning the Cyprus problem, for example they imposed an embargo (on Turkey). For this reason the United Nations have submitted time and again Plans for the resolution of the problem,'' Simitis said.
''Thus our position is that the problem should be resolved, in accordance with the principles of International Law and within the framework of the United Nations at the initiative of the General Secretary,'' Simitis underlined.
''It is up to Turkey to decide to accept the Annan Plan, to state its readiness that it accepts it as the base for negotiations, which will then follow between the interested parties, so as to have a decision made by the two communities based on the Annan Plan and under the auspices of the United Nations.
 DM inaugurates two-day EU-Med defense conference in Corfu
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Saturday inaugurated a two-day conference in Corfu, Greece that focused on the Mediterranean prospects of the European defense and security policy, with the participation of representatives from the European Union, Balkan countries and those of the Mediterranean.
"The Mediterranean partners should not believe that our defense effort aims at expanding the strategic influence of Europe in the Mediterranean or the strengthening of the military force of NATO, especially concerning the development of the intervention capabilities in domestic crises," Papantoniou stressed.
He added that the aim of the initiative is to coordinate the efforts, so as to avoid any surprises in the event of crises, while at the same time to develop a co-understanding on issues of security on both shores of the Mediterranean.
Papantoniou underlined that the EU defense initiative would not be subordinated to NATO, stressing that for the EU defense to be credible it must secure the widest participation possible.
DM calls ND incapable of ruling the country: Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said that main opposition New Democracy (ND) is incapable of governing the country, in an interview to the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" newspaper.
He also said that an ND government would force the county in dangerous paths, adding that "ND has failed on all its prediction and is unable to state alternative proposals of governance".
He also accused the main opposition of taking advantage of the muck racking that has been aimed against the government, saying that when ND is not in government "it follows such tactics".
Papantoniou underlined that ruling PASOK would go to the polls headed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who, as he said, "has been identified with the great successes and belongs to the circle of the great prime ministers of the country".
 ND leader Karamanlis sends from Limnos message of peace to Turkish people
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, on a tour of the Aegean island Limnos on Sunday, referred to Greek-Turkish relations, underlining that ''on the occasion of my presence here, I want to send to the neighboring Turkish people a sincere message of peace and cooperation''.
''Our neighbors should know that all Greeks want harmonious bilateral cooperation. We want for our neighbors those things which we also strive for. This is why we support, within the framework, of course, of the terms of the European Union, their European orientation. We hope and expect the new leadership of the neighboring country to rid itself of the nationalistic remnants of the past and show respect to international legality. We are not seeing this yet,'' he added.
Regarding Greek politics, the ND leader said that Greece ''needs another mentality'' and ''a new government which is not directed by non-institutional bosses.''
The ND leader added that ''we are in the 21st Century and it is high time for us to put aside the mentality of the past and party opportunism so as to shape a new relationship between the citizen and politics, based on understanding and cooperation.''
The ND leader reiterated his party's position for ''the refounding of the state and the institutional safeguarding of the state against impunity, corruption and vested interests,'' describing the present situation in the public sector as being in a state of ''decomposition''.
Finally, Karamanlis said ''the government is already facing a serious problem of non-governance,'' stating that Prime Minister Costas Simitis ''appears uncertain on the time of the (general) elections,'' adding that ''they have governed for 20 years and built a state synonymous to corruption.''
Commenting on the ND leader's statements, government spokesman Christos Protopapas remarked that ''Mr. Karamanlis is going against reality because the country is being governed well, work is being produced and the prime minister's initiatives are progressing. He (Karamanlis) should at long last stop his populism and if he at least possesses positions and a program, let him discuss on the qualitative upgrading and the changes which are required for our political system.''
ND leader strongly criticizes gov't, premier, gov't spokesman responds
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday strongly criticized the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis during a speech in Mitilini island Northeastern Greece.
Karamanlis stressed that the country is hostage to corruption and vested interests, adding that the premier placed his government on notice, while he said that the country entered a period of lack of governance and is in need of immediate new aggressive policy.
He underlined that the public sector is in need of restructuring, calling the ''reinvention of the state'', saying that the public sector has become a big problem for the Greek citizens.
In response to the strong criticism, government spokesman Christos Protopapas accused Karamanlis of losing his temper as he is witnessing the government's successfully completed projects.
He also called on Karamanlis to respond to dealing with vested interests leveled recently against him.
Mitsotakis criticizes gov't: Former prime minister and main opposition honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis made the prediction that the government "unfortunately" will use all its remaining time of its four-year term, stressing that he could not see any signs of a break up of ruling PASOK.
Speaking during a press conference he held in Veroia, Northern Greece, Mitsotakis underlined that the government was in an internal uproar and stressed that the Athens Stock Exchange scandal was the greatest scandal of the last fifty years.
He added that the issue has not closed and that it is the government's duty to clear up the situation.
 Cyprus president views as 'unrealistic' possibility of new initiative by Annan
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)In an interview published in the supplement magazine VIMAGAZINO of the Sunday edition of ''To Vima'' newspaper, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said he believed as ''unrealistic'' the eventuality of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan undertaking a new initiative for the political settlement of the Cyprus issue.
The Cypriot president said Annan himself made clear to him that he had no intention of undertaking a new initiative ''if there are no indications beforehand of the will of the two sides to reach solutions.''
Furthermore, Papadopoulos said, UN Secretary General's special envoy on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto, interpreting Annan, said that what the UN chief means by the word ''indications'', is ''for his plan to be accepted as it is, without conditions and for a date for referendums to be set.''
Papadopoulos stressed that the Greek Cypriot side ''does not accept the Annan plan as it is,'' but ''as a basis for negotiations,'' something ''the UN Secretary-General does not want.''
"On this basis and in this phase, in which the position of Cyprus is believed somewhat strengthened," Papadopoulos assessed that he has no reason to make a retraction ''and to accept the Annan plan as it is and without terms.''
As Papadopoulos stated in the interview, the Greek Cypriot side wants the Annan plan providing it is improved and amended so that it be rendered functional, ''so as not false impressions to be created to our people.''
As stated by Papadopoulos, the disagreements of the Republic of Cyprus to the Annan plan are located, among other things, to the following: - The Presidential Council cannot function. - The decisions of the European Union cannot be subject to the veto of either the Greek Cypriot or the Turkish Cypriot side. - There is a lack of human rights, which refers to the right of property and the right of the democratic election of Parliament. - There is a discriminating handling against the Greek Cypriot refugees, who are more in number, compared to the corresponding Turkish Cypriots. - The number of Turkish settlers (65,000) expected to remain on the island is excessive. The Cyprus government believes that 35,000 settlers can remain who have married in Cyprus with Turkish Cypriots and have children.
 Conference on audiovisual media opens in Corfu
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)A conference on audiovisual media began on the Ionian island of Corfu on Sunday in the presence of Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas and European Union representative Emmanuel Jolie.
In his opening address, Protopapas said the aim of the conference is ''to seek an answer for a balance between the viability and social role of the media,'' and a balance in the competitiveness of television.
Referring to television ''without borders'', he underlined that ''there are new challenges and concerns and for this reason we must now prove that the European institutions also have endurance but also the depth and quality to make the necessary steps of progress.''
On his part, Jolie, who also referred to the relevant EU directive on television without borders, said that ''it must be reformed and improved and for this reason the European Union will accept proposals until June 15.''
The conference is being held under the auspices of the Press and Mass Media Ministry.
 Stephanopoulos calls on Greeks to undertake their responsibilities
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Sunday called on Greeks not to expect everything from others and noted that everyone has the responsibility to do something for its country.
Speaking in the municipality of Eordaia, Northwestern Greece, during a memorial service for the 319 victims of a 1943 Nazi massacre of the villagers of Pyrgoi, Stephanopoulos underlined that ''must we expect everything from others? Doesn't everyone have his responsibilities?''
''Every Greek man and woman have the obligation to place his or her little stone in the building process, we have the obligation to participate in the wider effort of achieving our purposes,'' Stephanopoulos said.
Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis and former Prime Minister Tzanis Tzanetakis represented the government and the main opposition New Democracy respectively.
 Tsohatzopoulos comments on closure of Schiesser Pallas unit
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday ad-dressed a conference entitled "Businesses in the internal market - Opportunities and Prospects", organized by the Central Association of Greece's Chambers and the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry.
The conference, which is taking place in the shadow of the Papastratos cigarette producer by US giant Philip Morris and the closure of the Schiesser Pallas clothing production unit in Greece, also included addresses by main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Marietta Yiannakou and academics.
Tsohatzopoulos called the closure of the Schiesser Pallas unit a tragic event as some 500 people lost their jobs, stressing that the state should have laws that protect workers in such events.
He underlined that the solution to the problem is the creation of new jobs through new investment, adding "we need new investments, if we can have an increase of 6 per cent in private investment and 8 per cent in public sector investment every year we can secure new jobs".
Yiannakou, on her part, said that in this era of globalization such phenomena as that of Papastratos and Schiesser Pallas can be viewed as normal, but need immediate confrontation.
She added that the great challenge for the Greek businesses is the enlargement of the European Union, adding that Greek businesses should take advantage of the new conditions, which favor expansion for businesses in the new EU states.
 Verelis presents tram car system
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis on Sunday announced that the countdown for the full function of the Athens tram system has began, as he presented the first of the wagons and engines that will be used in the system.
TRAM S.A. presented the 31.9 meter long rail car and engine assembly that will have a 200 passenger capacity and announced that the tram system will be in full use in April 2004 and will have a daily capacity of 80,000 passengers.
 Athens 2004 Games the focus of Sidney's newspaper report
MELBOURNE 05/12/2003 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)Sidney's "Sunday Telegraph" newspaper included a full page report on, compiled by journalist Bruce McDougall, on the radical changes in Athens in light of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The report, that was very positive toward Greece's efforts to organize these historic Games, focuses on the municipality and new Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, the historic monuments in the city, spanning thousands of years of history and also focuses on the Marathon run on the original route.
 Thessaloniki Jewish community holds holocaust memorial
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)The Thessaloniki Jewish community on Sunday held a memorial service for the 50,000 Greek Jews of the city that were exterminated by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Representatives of the city's academic, political and spiritual communities participated in this 60th memorial since the destruction of an once bustling community.
Central speaker to the event was Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis, while Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also addressed the event.
Israeli Ambassador to Athens Ram Aniram and U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller were present in the event, which was also attended by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos' message to the event condemned the holocaust and the president of the Jewish community David Saltiel said that a memorial state day should be assigned for the holocaust of the Greek Jews.
 Illegal immigrants arrested, police exchanges gunfire with robbers
Athens, 05/12/2003 (ANA)Mitilini island, Northeastern Greece, port authorities on Sunday morning located and arrested 42 illegal immigrants as they disembarked from a 12 meter Turkish flagged boat, which was confiscated.
Earlier, around 1 am, in Athens police exchanged gunfire with two Albanian nationals who fired first against them, when police attempted to arrest them on charges of robbery.
One of the Albanians was killed and a police officer was injured during the exchange. The names of the Albanians and the injured officer were not released.
 President Papadopoulos to undertake initiative towards EU, UN on Cyprus
NICOSIA 05/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos intends to undertake initiatives towards the European Union and the United Nations on the Cyprus problem, he told here Sunday 'Phileleftheros' daily.
In an interview with the newspaper, Papadopoulos said he intends to ask the UN to approach the Turkish side and ascertain whether it is willing to change its position and allow peace talks to resume, noting that as long as Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash remains in 'power' the Cyprus problem will not be solved because the latter will continue his protracting policy.
Papadopoulos said, "if there is no clear indication for a change in the Turkish positions, or if there are no behind-the-scenes assurances that Turkey is ready for a solution, then I don't think the UN Secretary-General will undertake an initiative".
Asked what he anticipates until May 2004, when Cyprus is scheduled to become a full-fledged EU member state, Papadopoulos said what he intends to do "during this period is make sure all interested and non-interested parties in the EU become familiar with our positions on the Annan Plan, and realize which points are considered unacceptable for them, and not just for us".
He said, "then, we will ask the UN to approach the other side, which has been negative so far, to find out whether it is willing to change its attitude and allow the resumption of the negotiations".
However, he expressed the view that as long as "Denktash remains there (in power) the Cyprus problem cannot be solved".
President Papadopoulos said, "Denktash has the power to influence Ankara" noting that if "Turkey is to change attitude, this will have to take place before May 2004 or December 2004".
However, he said he would like things to become evident by next February.
President Papadopoulos said that he is in constant contact with the Greek government.
On the recent easing on restrictions in the freedom of movement, Papadopoulos told ''Phileleftheros'' he did not believe the economy of the Denktash regime in the Turkish occupied north would be saved by the visits of the Greek Cypriots, nor the economy in the government-controlled areas of the Republic in the south would be affected.
There are other repercussions, he said, and referred to the failure of Denktash's argument that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cannot live together, something which Papadopoulos described as ''great advantage''.
 Turkish Cypriots drivers cross the divide in their vehicles
NICOSIA 05/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriots crossed to the government controlled areas of the Republic here Saturday for the first time with their vehicles since the 1974 Turkish invasion, as the new checkpoint at Agios Dometios, a western suburb of Nicosia, the world's last divided capital, opened Saturday morning for vehicles crossing from both sides of the divide.
The Cyprus House of Representatives approved on Thursday a new legislation amending vehicle regulations so as to make possible the movement of Turkish Cypriot motorists in the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission, Zbigniew Wlosowicz told CNA "we are witnessing the opening of a new road to reconciliation on the island".
He said, "this is a very impressive project, efficiently and beautifully executed by the sides. UNFICYP is happy to facilitate. We hope more good things will follow as a natural consequence of what has been happening on the island".
Defense Minister, Kyriakos Mavronicolas said the government is closely monitoring the crossing of the vehicles belonging to Turkish Cypriots and the situation is developing smoothly, adding that all necessary measures were taken.
Speaking to reporters at the new checkpoint, he said the government’s presence at the checkpoints aims at making sure movement is taking place as efficiently as possible.
Earlier Saturday, the Republic's authorities called on the UN and the so-called "authorities" at the Turkish Cypriot control point at Agios Dometios to speed up the flow of vehicles from the occupied areas.