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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

September 12, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Top gov't meeting again focuses on 2004 security
  • [02] FM Papandreou sees Cyprus issue returning soon to the spotlight
  • [03] FM calls Turkish Cypriots to become ''active citizens of the EU' '
  • [04] Gov't spokesman on Sept. 11 anniversary
  • [05] Three Greeks detained by Turkish forces in Cyprus, released on Thursday
  • [06] Gov't counters ND criticism of 'Convergence Charter'
  • [07] Greek leadership issues condolences for slain Swedish FM
  • [08] Turkish F16 fighter jets harass naval cooperation plane, violate Greek airspace
  • [09] Synaspismos leader meets with German PDS leader in Berlin
  • [10] Bill ratifying Greece-Romania agreement tabled in Parliament
  • [11] Interior minister meets Albanian Ambassador to Greece
  • [12] Northern Greece industries present education institute program
  • [13] Greece "most favorable" tourist destination in Scandinavia
  • [14] Intrasoft in supply deal with European Parliament
  • [15] Greek industrial production up 2.1 pct in July, yr/yr
  • [16] Deal signed with contractors for 2004 Olympics homes rental
  • [17] Issue of sale receipts becomes mandatory for taxis, gas stations
  • [18] ASE recovers to around 2,100 level on Thursday
  • [19] No word from ATHOC on possible evening start times for rowing
  • [20] New school year begins with visits from political leaders
  • [21] N17 trial prosecutor calls for several changes to original charges
  • [22] Deputy FM receives Canada's Greek Orthodox metropolitan
  • [23] Russian war ships enter Patra Port for official visit
  • [24] US cite measures to combat human trafficking
  • [25] President expresses shock over Lindh's death
  • [26] CoE SG still optimistic about a Cyprus settlement

  • [01] Top gov't meeting again focuses on 2004 security

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    The all-important security issue for the 2004 Olympic Games again dominated a high-level government meeting here on Thursday, with Prime Minister Costas Simitis chairing a session involving several top Cabinet ministers.

    Speaking afterwards, Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris said security measures will not just focus only on the exact period when the Games are held in Athens, but throughout the coming year, “without, however, inconveniencing visitors.”

    Hytiris, who also doubles as a top government spokesman for 2004-related issues, said the cost of using the most advanced security technology is also pre-determined.

    Asked about the sensitive issue of cooperation with law enforcement agencies from other countries, Hytiris cited several countries actively involved in security preparations already, including the United States, Britain, Italy and Germany, among others. He also said the presence of American security consultants is not likely before the Games themselves.

    “Greece, which is applying a systematic and comprehensive Olympic security plan, is a true oasis in relation to what is going on in the rest of the world,” Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos later added.

    Asked about recent comments by the US envoy in Athens regarding security for the US Olympic team next year, Venizelos – whose ministry oversees several 2004-related projects on the government’s side – said it was a standing USOC policy for security personnel to accompany the American team, “a practice employed by many other countries, and one which we could also follow ourselves for Greek sports teams”.

    “We want such measures because this creates a feeling of greater security for all those participating in the Olympic Games, while anyone on Greek territory is subject to Greece’s and the European Union’s rule of law and must duly observe what is prescribed in the Greek Constitution as well as Greek and EU law,” Venizelos, who is also a constitutional law scholar, noted.

    In response to a press question on whether foreign security forces will bear firearms, the minister merely said, “the answer is found in what I’ve just told you”.

    In terms of the whopping 600-million-euro security plan for the Games – unprecedented by Olympic standards but more-or-less expected following the dastardly 9/11 terrorist attacks – he said what’s now necessary is for the project’s various stages to proceed within a specific budget and deadlines. The massive security contract was repeatedly delayed before a final tender was awarded to a consortium led by US-based SAIC in February.

    In a later statement mostly echoing Venizelos, government spokesman Christos Protopapas reiterated that Greece is a free country people can go where they please, “as long as the laws, rules and provisions in force in the country are respected … and especially during the period of the Olympic Games, for them to respect enacted security measures.”

    The spokesman also stressed again that security belongs exclusively within the domain of Greek authorities.

    Finally, Venizelos noted that his ministry is consulting with Sydney 2000 Organizing Committee president Michael Knight over various issues concerning Olympic preparations.

    [02] FM Papandreou sees Cyprus issue returning soon to the spotlight

    NICOSIA, 12/09/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Visiting Greek foreign minister George Papandreou on Thursday expressed his conviction that developments would soon bring the Cyprus issue back into the spotlight, particularly in view of an EU decision due in December 2004 on whether accession talks would begin with Turkey.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Dimitris Christofias, Papandreou said there was a "new dynamic, which is the result of the close cooperation between the governments of Greece and Cyprus and also of Cyprus' EU accession course".

    Papandreou noted the rapprochement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and called Christofias a 'pioneer' of the process.

    Christofias told reporters that he and Papandreou had reviewed the developments on the Cyprus issue and exchanged views for a common handling during their meeting.

    Christofias praised the Greek government's role in the efforts for a Cyprus solution and the advancement of the accession course.

    He stressed that a Cyprus solution would hinge on a change of stance by the Turkish side, and to some degree on the results of the upcoming elections in the Turkish Cypriot community.

    Earlier, Papandreou was awarded the medal of National Martyr Kyprianos by the municipality of Strovolos and declared an honorary citizen of the town for his contribution to Cyprus struggles.

    In presenting the medal, Strovolos mayor Savvas Iliofotou expressed the Cypriot people's appreciation for all that Papandreou had done, and continued to do, for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    Meanwhile, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, who is accompanying Papandreou in Cyprus, said that the excellent relations between Athens and Nicosia and agreement on the past, present and future handlings in the Cyprus issue and Cyprus' EU accession had once again been reaffirmed during Papandreou's talks in the Cypriot capital.

    Beglitis reiterated the basic position of the Athens and Nicosia governments in favor of resumption of talks between the two Cypriot communities on the basis of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan, with some specific changes that would bring it in line with the developments arising and make it more viable and functional.

    The Greek foreign ministry spokesman added, however, that the philosophy of the plan would not change, noting that this aspect had been stressed during Papandreou's meeting Wednesday night with the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot political parties.

    He said Papandreou had briefed the Turkish Cypriot party leaders on the developments in the EU and conveyed a message from the EU on the prospects that would open up and the benefits to ensue for the Turkish Cypriots from the accession of a reunited Cyprus, adding that the Turkish Cypriot politicians had displayed interest in a Cyprus solution based on the Annan plan.

    Papandreou and the Greek delegation further attended a dinner in their honor hosted by Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos at his home.

    [03] FM calls Turkish Cypriots to become ''active citizens of the EU' '

    NICOSIA 12/09/2003 (ANA/Ch.Poulidou)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday called on the Turkish Cypriots to ''be close to us, active citizens of the European Union'', following Wednesday contacts with them, which he called ''especially emotional''.

    Papandreou was speaking at the end of his two-day working visit to Cyprus.

    ''Our message to the Turkish Cypriots is that we want them to be close to us, active citizens of the European Union and that their security is guaranteed by the European Union and not by occupational armies,'' Papandreou said.

    Papandreou also sent a message to Turkey, stressing that ''Greece has opened Turkey's European prospects and struggles for a European Turkey, since in that manner it tried to overcome problems that have tortured many generations''.

    Commenting on talk of a rift between Athens and Nicosia, he said that ''it is a permanent chorus'' and that it was proven that the two governments can cooperate in the best possible way, a fact that has been established.

    Papandreou clarified that the Greek government is on the same track with that of the Cyprus government, adding that henceforth the presence of international observers in the ''elections'' in the occupied north is not necessary, since they are ''pseudo-elections and because in any event the process is judged and evaluated by the international community and the European Union''.

    [04] Gov't spokesman on Sept. 11 anniversary

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Commenting on the two-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack against the World Trade Centre in New York, government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday said that it had been an especially tragic day for the American people and humanity.

    Protopapas stressed that Greece was committed to the battle against terrorism and was cooperating with the international community in all efforts to eradicate terrorism made within the framework of the United Nations.

    He also noted that Europe and the other major powers must deal with the root causes of terrorism, such as intolerance and fanaticism. He said this could be achieved through the smooth development of markets and overall development in countries where these phenomena occur, by increasing the income of their residents and helping international justice prevail.

    Deputy FM issues message for Sept. 11: Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Thursday issued a press release in light of the dark anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack in New York that cost thousands of lives, which included members of the Greek community in the United States.

    ''The attacks against the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center of New York and those against the Pentagon, in Washington, besides being a human drama, did not only change the United States, but also affected the whole planet,'' Magriotis said.

    ''On behalf of the Greek state I would like, once again, to express my deep sorrow to the Greek community in the United States and especially to the families of the victims of Sept. 11 and to reiterate that it is the obligation of us all to work ceaselessly for security and the common democratic principles and values,'' he added.

    ''The thoughts and prayers of all Greeks, and mine personally, accompany all those that lost their lives, and their families, that tragic day,'' Magriotis concluded.

    [05] Three Greeks detained by Turkish forces in Cyprus, released on Thursday

    NICOSIA, 12/09/2003 (ANA/Ch.Poulidou)

    Three Greek nationals detained in Kyrenia, in the Turkish occupied northern Cyprus, on Wednesday by officers of the pseudo state, on charges of espionage were released on Thursday, following actions by the Greek and Cypriot governments, which requested the active mediation of the United Nations.

    The three Greeks are members of the Anogia Municipality of Crete's Rethimnon prefecture, who were visiting the Municipality of Yialousa, as the two towns were to be twinned.

    [06] Gov't counters ND criticism of 'Convergence Charter'

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday countered New Democracy's criticism of the government's 'Convergence Charter', accusing the main opposition party of lacking strategy and 'grasping at inaccurate and contested figures'.

    In a point-to-point reply to ND, Protopapas noted that the public deficit had been 1.9 per cent of GDP in 2000 and had fallen to 1.2 per cent in 2002, even though the public deficit in Europe had increased by 2.7 per cent.

    He said spending on social policy in 1997 had been 23.6 per cent of GDP, in 2000 it was 26.4 per cent of GDP and after the measures announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis this would rise to 28 per cent and rise above the EU average.

    On growth rates, the spokesman said that these were 3.6 per cent annually in 1996 and had risen to 4.4 per cent according to recent figures, at a time when Europe was growing at a rate of 0.5 per cent a year.

    As for employment, Protopapas said the government had more than kept a promise to create 300,000 job opportunities in the 3.5 years since the 2000 elections. In that period 324,367 new jobs were created that had help reduce unemployment from 11.5 per cent to 8.9 per cent, while 69,999 work positions were lost.

    In terms of income, the spokesman claimed that the available income of the average Greek household stood at 97 per cent of the EU average and that Greece was in a much better positions than other EU countries.

    [07] Greek leadership issues condolences for slain Swedish FM

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday sent a telegram to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden expressing his condolences for the tragic loss of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday sent his condolences to his Swedish counterpart Goran Persson, expressing over the assassination of the country's foreign minister Anna Lindh on Wednesday.

    "I am deeply moved by the tragic loss of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh; let me express, in the name of the Greek government and myself personally, the warmest condolences to you and your government,'' Simitis said.

    ''Anna Lindh was truly a European personality, which contributed significantly to the development of Europe and served with courage the interests of her country. Allow me, Mr. Prime Minister, through me, to convey the deep sentiment of true sorrow to the family and be sure that during these moments of mourning our thoughts are with the Swedish people,'' he noted.

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis in his letter to Persson also stressed his deep sympathy for the Swedish people and underlined that the assassination of Lindh was an attack against European values, open society and democracy itself.

    He also expressed a hope that Lindh's legacy will be vindicated.

    ''As the leader of a party that has suffered in the past by the terror of illogical violence, I wish you every success in your effort to strengthen the role of Sweden in the future,'' he noted.

    Also, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos expressed his condolences to the Lindh's family, the Swedish people and the country's government.

    FM Papandreou expresses sorrow over death of Swedish counterpart Lindh: Greece's visiting foreign minister George Papandreou on Thursday expressed sorrow over the sudden death of his Swedish counterpart Anna Lindh early in the morning after being stabbed by an unidentified man in a Stockholm department store on Wednesday.

    After being informed of Lindh's death during a ceremony at which he was honored by the municipality of Strovolos, Papandreou called for a minute of silence in her memory, and urged for solidarity with the people of Sweden, "a people who have fought for democracy and who stood by our side when many Greeks found themselves exiled in Sweden" during the 7-year military dictatorship in Greece.

    Recalling that he had met with Lindh on Tuesday in Stockholm when the two foreign ministers had visited Swedish schools and spoke at a rally in support of a 'yes' vote in the upcoming referendum for Sweden's accession to the Eurozone, Papandreou stressed that Anna Lindh had also fought for Cyprus' accession to the EU, and noted the close friendly relationship they had built as colleagues within the framework of the EU.

    Lindh died early Thursday following prolonged surgery after being stabbed by an unidentified man in a Stockholm department store on Wednesday. A leading campaigner for Sweden to join the euro zone in a referendum on Sunday, and tipped as a future prime minister, she was stabbed in the chest, stomach and arms while shopping.

    Parl't speaker sends condolences over murder of Swedish minister: In a telegram to his Swedish counterpart on Thursday, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis expressed the Greek Parliament's condolences over the ''horrific fact'' of the murder of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.

    He said that Lindh, who was knifed to death on Wednesday by an unidentified man in a Swedish department store, had been a ''particularly highly respected political personality in Europe and had made a decisive contribution to developments within the EU''.

    Swedish embassy opens condolences book for Lindh: The embassy of Sweden in Athens on Thursday announced the opening of a condolences book in light of the assassination of the country's foreign minister Anna Lindh on Wednesday.

    The book of condolences will be open between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, a press release from the embassy noted.

    [08] Turkish F16 fighter jets harass naval cooperation plane, violate Greek airspace

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Two Turkish F-16 jetfighters on Thursday harassed a naval cooperation aircraft between the islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo while it was on a training flight, press sources said.

    They said the Turkish fighter planes flew above and to the right of the Greek naval cooperation plane, a P3 Orion, at a distance of 150 feet at 11:30 a.m.

    The same sources said that earlier the two Turkish planes had violated Greek national airspace, and were reconnoitered and intercepted by Greek fighter planes.

    [09] Synaspismos leader meets with German PDS leader in Berlin

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Thursday agreed with German Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) leader Lotar Biski to work towards speeding up the establishment of the European Party of the Left. According to a press release issued by Synaspismos, during their meeting in Berlin, the two party leaders agreed on coordinating their further actions in a series of issues, ''before these critical political battles that the European Left will wage over the next few months''.

    [10] Bill ratifying Greece-Romania agreement tabled in Parliament

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    A bill for the ratification of an agreement that modifies a previous agreement between Greece and Romania regarding the compensation for social insurance contributions of repatriated Greek political refugees by Romania was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

    Under the agreement, the sum of 12 million dollars owed to Greece by the Romanian government to pay for the insurance rights of repatriated political refugees will now be paid for in cash in three installments.

    The first installment of 2.5 million dollars will be paid within 60 days of when the agreement comes into force, the second will be for 4.5 million dollars and will be paid by December 31, 2004 and the third will be for 5.0 million dollars and will be paid by the last day of 2005.

    The previous agreement called for payment in six installments in kind but was past due.

    [11] Interior minister meets Albanian Ambassador to Greece

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Thursday met with Albanian Ambassador in Athens Bashkim Zeneli for talks concerning Albanian economic migrants in Athens and simplifying procedures for making their residence in Greece legal.

    Zeneli also handed Skandalidis an invitation to visit Albania sent by his Albanian counterpart within the first half of October.

    [12] Northern Greece industries present education institute program

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship of Southeastern Europe (IMESE) presented its new activities during a press conference held on Wednesday in the framework of the 68th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

    IMESE is the evolution of FING Business School created by the Northern Greece Industries' Union (SBBE) with the aim to cover the needs of local enterprises with high-level executives.

    IMESE chairman Vassilis Takas said that the Institute would launch a new post-graduate studies program in cooperation with Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Liverpool Hope University College.

    [13] Greece "most favorable" tourist destination in Scandinavia

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's share in the chartered summer tourism market of Northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark) exceeded 30 percent this summer, by far the biggest share than any other competitor (Spain ranks second in Scandinavia), the National Tourism Organization said on Thursday.

    GNTO said that Greece was the most favorable tourist destination in Norway and Denmark and ranked second behind Spain in Sweden and Finland.

    [14] Intrasoft in supply deal with European Parliament

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Intrasoft International on Thursday announced the signing of a contract, worth 70 million euros, in partnership with Belgian company Trasys (a subsidiary of Tractebel) for the supply of information systems of the European Parliament.

    The Trasys-Intrasoft International consortium won an international supply tender.

    A company statement said that Intrasoft International would be one of the biggest suppliers of software products of the European Parliament in the next five years.

    [15] Greek industrial production up 2.1 pct in July, yr/yr

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's industrial production index, a composite index measuring production in the mining, manufacturing, electricity-natural gas-water sectors, rose 2.1 percent in July compared with the same month last year.

    The manufacturing production index rose 1.7 percent in July, the electricity-natural gas-water production index jumped 4.7 percent and the mining production index fell 7.0 percent in the month.

    The industrial production composite index rose 1.5 percent in the January-July period compared with the same period last year, reflecting a 8.2 percent drop in mining production, an unchanged figure in manufacturing production and a 7.0 percent rise in electricity-natural gas-water production.

    [16] Deal signed with contractors for 2004 Olympics homes rental

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    National organizers of the Athens 2004 Olympics on Thursday signed a contract with two companies that won a tender to handle accommodation for the Athens 2004 Olympics.

    Alpha Hospitality and Hellenic Hospitality, which had begun work on the project before signature of the contract, also recently reached agreement with the Greek National Tourism Organization on details of the arrangement.

    The firms have begun vetting 16,000 private homes that will be rented out to spectators and other visitors to the games in August next year.

    [17] Issue of sale receipts becomes mandatory for taxis, gas stations

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    The issue of sale receipts by taxi drivers and gas station owners will become mandatory, Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis told reporters on Thursday.

    He said the measure would come into force this year for gas stations, where electronic cash registers would be installed at the pumps to record gasoline sales.

    Taxi drivers will issue receipts from January 1, 2004, he said.

    [18] ASE recovers to around 2,100 level on Thursday

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended higher for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as the market easily absorbed intra-session bouts of profit taking.

    The general index ended 0.95 percent higher at 2,094.87 points, with turnover a moderate 164.3 million euros.

    The IT Solution index was the only one to suffer losses (0.40 percent), while the Publication, Insurance and Holding sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (6.87 percent, 3.97 percent and 3.82 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.80 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 2.21 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.73 percent higher.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 274 to 45 with another 48 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecom-medications Organization, Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, Public Power Corporation, and Coca Cola HBC.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 173.0 mln euros Thursday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At fair value

  • Underlying Index: +0.80% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +2.21 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (1,624)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 173.0 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip Buyers on Thursday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.37 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 12 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (705 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.2 bln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of September 11 2003

    Parities in euro

    Banknotes

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,130 1,104

    [19] No word from ATHOC on possible evening start times for rowing

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee (ATHOC) officials on Thursday neither denied nor verified a string of press reports here this week claiming that organizers are considering shifting next August’s Olympic rowing events in the evening to avoid possible high winds.

    Gusty winds hampered the first two days of a junior rowing world championship early last month at the new Schinias Olympic Rowing Centre, northeast of the Greek capital and very near the ancient battlefield of Marathon. Some boats were even overturned, sending athletes into the waters. However, the rowing championship, part of seven Olympic “test

    events” in and around Athens during the month, was successfully concluded after the winds died down.

    On a brighter note, the unprecedented heat wave that struck much of Western Europe missed Greece, resulting in sunny and mostly comfortable summertime weather conditions throughout most of August.

    [20] New school year begins with visits from political leaders

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    All 10,500 schools of the country began their academic year on Thursday, with one and a half million tertiary and high school students attending the opening ceremonies that, as customary, included the sanctification of the Church.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, accompanied by Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, showed his interest in the educational process, by taking time off to visit a Nea Ionia, northeastern Athens suburb, school, which will initiate its new all-day program this year.

    This will be one of the first 5,500 schools to operate on a full-day schedule, which aims at minimizing the time of students spent in private tutorial institutions which increase the cost of education for the Greek family.

    ''The all-day school allows parents, who work, to leave their children to the classrooms until late afternoon and the 300,000 students, who study in those schools, will be able to learn painting, dance, and music and to have activities outside the curriculum,'' the premier said.

    The premier, also, spoke of the introduction of the computer information lesson in all elementary and high schools and Efthymiou spoke of the new aims for education, which include the continual education process for teachers.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis also visited a school to mark his support for the educational process.

    Karamanlis visited a high school in Patisia. A visit full of symbolism, as it was the same school that his uncle, late president Constantine Karamanlis graduated from.

    He wished for a productive year with as few problems as possible and stressed that ''education is a national issue''.

    [21] N17 trial prosecutor calls for several changes to original charges

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Alternate prosecutor Vassilis Markis departed on several points from the original charges brought against the 19 suspected members of the terrorist group ''November 17'' in his detailed recommendations on Thursday to the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court, based on the evidence heard in the courtroom.

    Many of these departures involved acquittals or lighter sentences for the accused but their impact is unclear, given that most of those involved face multiple, scores or even hundreds of serious criminal charges.

    At the start of his address, Markis also referred to what he called the 'dead-end' line of defense adopted by many of the accused in seeking to deny all despite the evidence, while at the same time posturing as 'champions of the people'.

    Specifically, he recommended that Vassilis Tzortzatos and not Dimitris Koufodinas be found guilty of physically carrying out the hit against surgeon Zacharias Kapsalakis.

    Based on the testimony of the victim's wife, he said, it was clear that Tzortzatos had shot the doctor and tried to place the blame on Koufodinas.

    He also recommended that Sotiris Kondylis be cleared of a charge of attempted manslaughter regarding a shootout with police in Sepolia in 1990. If the recommendation is adopted, it means that Kondylis will avoid a life sentence.

    Among other departures from the original charges recommended by Markis, he asked that Alexandros Giotopoulos should be cleared of a charge of morally instigating the Sepolia shoot-out, since the evidence pointed to an accidental incident rather than a pre-planned action.

    On the other hand, he proposed that Savvas Xiros be found guilty of causing an explosion and that Christodoulos Xiros and Dimitris Koufodinas be convicted for attempted manslaughter against a police officer.

    He further called for the court to find Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Xiros and Dimitris Koufodinas not guilty of repeated counts of attempted manslaughter related to a bomb placed in the American Embassy in 1996 and to convict them instead for causing an explosion.

    According to Markis the charges concerned three embassy employees but the evidence heard in court did not prove that they were placed in mortal danger nor did it establish their whereabouts at the time of the explosion.

    He asked that Alexandros Giotopoulos be sentenced for instigating an explosion for the same reasons.

    Finally, he said the court should clear Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Patroklos Tselentis and Alexandros Giotopoulos of charges in the attempted murder of US citizen George Carros in January 1988 because the bomb blast at the entrance to his building had been insufficiently strong due to faulty wiring.

    At the start of his address, the prosecutor referred to the defense strategies adopted by the accused.

    Regarding Alexandros Giotopoulos, the alleged founder and leader of the N17, Markis said his steadfast denial of all 1,000-odd charges against him was consistent with the rules of conspiracy within N17, since a confession would simply have placed the 'final nail' in the terror group's coffin.

    At the same time, the prosecutor claimed that his steadfast denial helped persuade many of those arrested to cooperate with the police in the initial stages by creating an atmosphere of ''every man for himself'', while the surrender of Dimitris Koufodinas was designed to stop exactly this loss of morale.

    Describing Koufodinas as a 'criminal talent', the prosecutor said his recruitment into N17 - the details of which were still shrouded in mystery - was a major milestone in the terror group's history.

    He also claimed that Koufodinas was a man with fixations:

    ''If someone could convince Koufodinas that all his actions were crimes that had caused pain, destruction and nothing else, then he would have only two choices: he would either go mad or commit suicide,'' Markis said.

    According to Markis, the three Xiros brothers were 'tragic figures' - particularly the youngest Vassilis, who only had a minor role in the organization but was now sacrificing himself in order to support the hardline defense of total denial adopted by his brothers.

    [22] Deputy FM receives Canada's Greek Orthodox metropolitan

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Thursday received Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Canada Sotirios and a numerous delegation of Greek expatriates that accompanied him.

    Magriotis spoke of Greece's recent successes on the international scene, including the Greek EU presidency and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, stressing that "from this new strong position Greece has now the capability of supporting its expatriates all over the world, in their effort to promote their mother land in their places of residence," he said.

    On his part, Sotirios briefed the minister on the church's initiatives in Canada and wished good luck in organizing the Athens Olympic Games.

    [23] Russian war ships enter Patra Port for official visit

    Athens, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    Russian cruiser ''Moskva'' and the frigate ''Smetlivi'' docked at the Patra port on Thursday in full ceremonial dress, with all hands at the deck honoring the Western Greek city that is hosting them.

    Russian Admiral Marosin, chief of the Russian fleet, was received by local authorities, while the band of the Russian Navy marched the streets of the city and performed in the central plaza dedicated to the ''Three Allies''.

    On Friday the crew of the ships will the church of St. Andrew protector of the Russian Navy and of the City of Patra. The remains of St. Andrew are kept in the church.

    [24] US cite measures to combat human trafficking

    WASHINGTON, 12/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Bush administration informed the US Congress this week that it has taken 10 countries, including Greece, off a list of countries eligible for sanctions because of alleged inaction to stop human trafficking, especially women falling into sexual exploitation rings.

    In a White House announcement on Wednesday, US President George W. Bush said his administration recognized that the 10 countries – Bosnia, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Belize, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Surinam – took measures to deal with the problem, all listed in a State Department report issued last June.

    [25] President expresses shock over Lindh's death

    NICOSIA, 12/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday sent a letter of condolences to Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson over the ''deplorable attack'', which led to the death of Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh, expressing his shock on hearing the news.

    ''I was very much shocked by the news about the tragic loss of Anna Lindh after yesterday's (Wednesday) deplorable attack against her'', the president notes.

    The president says in his letter that ''Anna Lindh's dedication to the values of peace and human rights and her active promotion of these principles made her one of the most outstanding politicians of our times, both within and outside Europe''.

    ''The people of Cyprus and I personally are deeply saddened over her tragic loss, because the special ties of friendship that bound us and her interest in my country was always evident'', the president notes.

    Concluding, the President requests that the sincere condolences of the people, the government and himself personally be conveyed to the family of Anna Lindh.

    [26] CoE SG still optimistic about a Cyprus settlement

    CHISINAU, 12/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer said he is still optimistic about a solution to the Cyprus problem, stressing that whatever was behind the occupying regime's decision to partially lift the restrictions in the freedom of movement last April presents big advantages for a solution of the issue.

    Speaking to CNA, Schwimmer referred to the crossing of the divide, noting that this move has ''big advantages and it shows what the people on the island want''.

    ''But whatever what was behind the (occupying regime's) decision, the results are positive and now Turkish and Greek Cypriots can visit both parts of the island'', the CoE Secretary General noted.

    He said that the crossing of the divide ''brought both communities closer'' after being ''divided and separated for decades''.

    Asked if he maintains the view that the window of opportunity for the solution of the Cyprus question will remain open only until May 1 2004 when Cyprus will become a full-fledged member of the European Union, Schwimmer replied positively, noting that ''the Turkish Cypriots deserve the full participation and the opportunities of the EU''. ''So therefore one should not lose time'', he added.

    Replying to a question whether he shares the view that the December illegal elections in the northern occupied part of Cyprus will be crucial for the Cyprus question, Schwimmer said he would not want to comment on these ''elections'' because they are not recognized, adding however that the Turkish Cypriots should freely ''elect'' their leaders.

    ''I think everybody who will be elected should be responsible not only for the Turkish (Cypriot) community but also for the future of the whole of the island'', Schwimmer added.

    Asked by CNA whether Turkey will pay the compensation it owes to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou in a case of human rights violation before the European Court of Human Rights, Schwimmer said that he has received ''very firm confirmation from the Turkish side they are going to solve the problem''.

    The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay Titina Loizidou 600,000 dollars for loss of use of her property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of 28 July 1998.

    Loizidou's house is situated in the northern town of Kyrenia, occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.


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