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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-03-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 29, 2004
 Annan expected to present final Cyprus peace plan on Monday
BURGENSTOCK, Switzerland 29/3/2004 (ANA /A. Panagopoulos)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Zurich on Sunday evening to participate in closely watched UN-sponsored talks here for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.
According to press reports from the Swiss resort where the talks are being held, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will present the final peace plan to all sides in the morning, and not at the same time due to its size – reportedly more than 9,000 pages.
Karamanlis, who was expected to be briefed by Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on the latter's talks with UN mediator Alvaro De Soto held earlier in the day, is to return to Athens on Wednesday.
 FM Molyviatis, UN envoy Alvaro de Soto meet in Buergenstock
BURGENSTOCK 29/3/2004 (ANA/F. Karaviti)Greece's foreign minister Petros Molyviatis met at noon Sunday with UN secretary general Kofi Annan's special envoy on the Cyprus issue Alvaro de Soto, to discuss the procedure to be followed following the submission of the new, revised 'Annan plan', expected on Monday morning.
According to reliable sources, all the delegations have expressed disgruntlement over the fact that they will have very limited time to study the UN plan, which comprises some nine thousand pages, written on four diskettes.
It has also been made known that Annan, who arrived in Buergenstock on Saturday to join the ongoing Cyprus negotiations, will not leave Monday for Tunisia as originally planned, given that the meeting of the Arab League, to which he was invited, has been cancelled.
Greek deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis is due to meet separately later Sunday with US state department special envoy on the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston, and with the Russian special envoy on the Cyprus issue Alexei Alexeyev, while at 6:00 p.m. Swiss time (7:00 p.m. Greek time), Molyviatis will chair a broad meeting of Greek officials attending the talks to discuss strategy for the next three days, which are considered crucial.
Afterwards, Molyviatis will attend a reception being hosted by Annan for all the sides participating in the talks, while Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis is due to arrive in Buergenstock at 9:00 p.m. (Swiss time, 10:00 p.m. Greek time).
The UN chief invited the heads of the four delegations attending the Buergenstock negotiations to a reception on Sunday evening, which will be of a social nature, providing an opportunity to all the sides to discuss the Cyprus issue informally.
Annan, who arrived in Buergenstock on Saturday to head the negotiations process, was conferring constantly with his associates and Alvaro de Soto's team.
Given the postponement, indefinitely, of the Arab League meeting in Tunisia, Annan will have all of Monday at his disposal for talks with the representatives of the four negotiating delegations.
The revised plan comprises the main text of the Fundamental Agreement, numbering some 250 pages, as well as legislation, international treaties, maps on the territorial aspect, and the constitutions of the two constituent states.
There is very little information available on the new draft. Sources said that one new aspect is the inclusion of a list of the members of the Presidential Council, which would abolish the transitional provisions with respect to the executive authority, thus averting a co-presidency for 30 months, provided the proposal is accepted by the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.
Reliable sources said the Turkish side appeared very displeased with the references in the new draft -- the fourth Annan plan -- on the issue of the transitional government.
 UN chief arrives in Burgenstock for Cyprus talks
BURGENSTOCK 29/3/2004 (ANA/CNA)United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has arrived in the Swiss resort of Burgenstock for the UN-led Cyprus talks in a bid to help push discussions forward.
He is to see his special adviser Alvaro de Soto and members of his team who will brief him on developments so far at the talks, between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides. Present in this Alpine resort are also the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers.
Annan spokesman Fred Eckard said on Friday that the Secretary General had asked that all concerned be in a position to make final commitments at Burgenstock.
''He will be personally involved in the effort as it draws to an end'', the spokesman added.
Talks aim at finding a negotiated settlement that would allow a reunited Cyprus to join the European Union on May 1 this year.
 Cyprus solution near at hand, US ambassador Miller says
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)A Cyprus solution was near at hand, according to US ambassador in Athens Thomas Miller, in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini daily.
"We are very close to a solution of the Cyprus issue", given that the conditions had formulated and there were factors today that did not exist a few years ago, as well as the desire of the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey for a solution, Miller said.
 Event on Cyprus issue held in Patras
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)Hope for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue were voiced late Saturday by Cyprus' defense minister Kyriakos Mavronicolas, Greek former defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, KKE deputy and 5th parliamentary vice-president Panayotis Kosionis, and SYN international relations officer Panayotis Trigazis, during an event titled "Cyprus 2004 - Critical turning point", organized by the Journalists' Union of the Peloponnese, Epirus and the Islands and local Cypriot organizations in the western port city of Patras.
Mavronicolas welcomed Cyprus' accession to the European Union, which he said had ended a cold-war period and vindicated the struggles of the Greeks and Cypriots since 1990. He expressed reservations, however, as to progress in the ongoing UN-sponsored Cyprus talks in the Swiss alpine resort of Buergenstock and the prospect of reaching a solution, due to the intransigence of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
"We, the Greek Cypriots, desire a solution before May 1, so that a reunited Cyprus may join the EU. But the first stage of the talks in Nicosia did not justify our expectations. Denktash's intransigence is leading to a permanent partition of Cyprus. In Lucerne (Buergenstock), the second round of talks commenced with bad omens, due again to the stance of Denktash, who refused to participate in the dialogue," the Cypriot defense minister said.
"Turkey, following its standing position, is attempting to validate the partitionist status quo of 1974 on the island," whereas the Greek Cypriots "desire a functional and viable solution, a reunification of our homeland with the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots creating the future within the united Europe based on the UN Security Council resolutions and the acquis communautaire," he explained.
Tsohatzopoulos, in turn, stressed that the Lucerne conference proved the critical nature of the negotiations, since Cyprus would become a full member of the EU on May 1. "This means the vindication of the long struggles and common stance of Greece and Cyprus, which responded to the Turkish occupation presence on the island with peaceful procedures".
He said the joint defense doctrine had been a support to the entire effort, and that a strengthened Cyprus was taking part in the negotiations for a joint political agreement. "It is not begging for a solution. It is equal with the European states. The solution must be functional and viable and mark the need for some changes. It must also secure the immediate return of territories," Tsohatzopoulos added.
He said that the UN secretary general, prompted by Cyprus' EU accession, was attempting to "bridge diametrically opposing visions - The Greek Cypriot side seeks a functional federation and the Turkish Cypriot side a partnership of two separate states...This is difficult, and the prospects for success are slim".
Kosionis noted that Cyprus cannot celebrate May Day because it had a noose around its neck. "The KKE is extremely worried about the developments. Cyprus is walking down a dark tunnel. In Lucerne, the four-party conference supposedly expects a bridging of the chasm, and this is so because Cyprus is geopolitically located in an inflammable region and, at this specific moment in time, interventions are being made by imperialist forces. The Cyprus issue is being undermined, as it is being converted from an issue of invasion and occupation by Turkey into a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey".
He said that the Annan statements left open the prospect for an intervention by the US and Britain, while the KKE was trying to reinforce Cyprus' position for a viable solution for the two communities in a free state, without faits accomplis.
"In Lucerne, they are heading for a solution in the manner of an ultimatum, for the creation of a monstrosity. The Annan plan should not serve as the basis for discussion," he said.
Trigazis said that it was a time of great responsibility for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, with "universal and pan-human principles and values at stake".
He said a reunified Cyprus would emit a message of hope in the turbulent Middle East for a policy different to that of the US, which he said peaked with the war on Iraq.
The Annan plan, Trigazis said, created a new prospect for a solution to the Cyprus issue, provided Denktash's intransigence was overcome.
 Deputy public order minister, Athens mayor hope for good outcome of Cyprus talks
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)Deputy public order minister Christos Markoyannakis and Athens mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Sunday expressed hope for a positive outcome of the UN-sponsored Cyprus negotiations underway in Switzerland, speaking at the annual political memorial service of the late Cretan-born statesmen Eleftherios and Sophocles Venizelos in Chania.
''The Cyprus issue is at a very delicate stage and I would like to make a wish. Prime minister Costas Karamanlis's thesis for his PhD was on Eleftherios Venizelos' foreign policy. I would, therefore, like to wish that the solution that is given will be worthy of the solutions given at such difficult moments by Eleftherios Venizelos,'' Markoyannakis said.
Bakoyianni, in turn, said that a difficult battle was being waged in Switzerland, and expressed ''hope that all will go well and that the perspective and the European vision will prevail for Cyprus''.
 President Stephanopoulos leaves Monday for two-day state visit to Moldova
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos leaves Monday for a two-day state visit to Moldova next week, at the invitation of Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin.
Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by deputy foreign minister for international economic relations Euripides Stylianidis.
Three bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the visit, on avoidance of double taxation, on air transports, and a cooperation protocol in the sectors of social insurance, social protection and the job market.
Also, a delegation of Greek businessmen accompanying the two officials will meet with Moldovan entrepreneurs in the framework of the Greek-Moldovan Economic Forum, at the initiative of the Greek foreign ministry.
The initiative aims at strengthening the export orientation of the Greek enterprises.
 Synaspismos congress after Euro-elections
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left party (Synaspismos), identified on the March 7 ballot as the Coalition of the Radical Left grouping, is expected to hold its congress following European Parliament elections in June, following a proposal by Synaspismos president Nikos Constantopoulos on Saturday.
The small leftist party entered the current Parliament as it nudged just over the 3-percent minimum of the general election vote necessary for representation in the 300-deputy legislature.
 Turkish academic's sabre-rattling seen as 'un-European', at best
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)"Extreme" and "outdated" were the unofficial responses from government sources over the weekend to a Turkish university rector's comments on Friday, namely, that ''if necessary'' Turkey could conquer Greece and Cyprus even if it meant 135,000 Turkish combat fatalities.
Istanbul university rector Kemal Alemdaroglu was identified as the high-ranking academic that made the statement, following the screening of a film in Istanbul about the Dardanelles campaign (1915) and subsequent quips about ongoing negotiations in Switzerland over the Cyprus issue.
Alemdaroglu also told a Turkish audience that he belonged to a generation that demonstrated for "partition or death", another direct reference to the partially Turkish-occupied island republic.
His exact statement was: "Don't dare make concessions over Cyprus, if necessary, even with 135,000 dead, we can conquer Greece and Cyprus."
"(He's) unable to understand the new realities that are being created by Turkey's European prospect, as well as that of the wider SE European region," sources said.
On his part, noted Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, in statements on Sunday, asked whether the regime to be imposed on a conquered Greece will be "that of an Ottoman sultan ... or that of Hitler".
Finally, both the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) disparaged Alemdaroglu's comments.
Another fact regarding the Istanbul rector is that he is a past winner of the Ipekci award, bestowed on individuals that have promoted Greek-Turkish rapprochement.
 Deputy FM represents gov't at NYC Greek Independence Day events
NEW YORK 29/3/2004 (ANA)New Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis represented the Athens government at events here marking Greek Independence Day (March 25), where he reiterated that the Olympic Games this year will be the best and safest on record.
The Greek minister added that the 2004 Games will also showcase modern Greece.
Skandalakis led a Greek Parliament delegation here, which had talks with Greek-American political and Church leaders.
In other comments, he stressed that new Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is keenly aware of the issues affecting expatriate Greeks and will work for their solution.
 Palestinians protest outside Israeli embassy
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated outside Israeli embassy in Athens on Saturday, days after the assassination of the Hamas group's spiritual leader in Gaza by Israeli forces.
 US ambassador Miller: Greece has main responsibility for Olympics security
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)The Olympic Games are being organized by Greece, and Greece has the main responsibility for the security, US ambassador Thomas Miller said Sunday in an interview with NET state television.
"The Olympic Games are being organized by Greece, and Greece will have the main responsibility for security, not only of our athletes, but of all the athletes," Miller said.
He also denied as "unfounded scenarios and gossip" rumors that the Americans were planning to distance their families from Athens for the duration of the Games for security reasons.
Referring to the sailing of an American aircraft carrier, he noted that the US, as a member of NATO, would provide assistance also at sea, under the Alliance umbrella.
Asked whether the security level in Greece was satisfactory, he replied: "We are in end-March. Every week things change, and usually for the better. However, evaluation judgments are misleading, since things are developing constantly...The critical date is not end-March, but August 13", the opening date of the Olympic Games.
To another question on whether US agents would be coming to Athens, Miller replied that experts were in Athens almost on a permanent basis, training was taking place, and there were numerous visits by officials, adding that such visits would take place constantly.
"The cooperation between our governments on the issue of security is impeccable, and things are moving in the right direction," the US ambassador added.
 Baseball, softball Olympic sports events conclude at new venue
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)Greece's national team won the first-ever international baseball tournament held in the country, which served as a 'test event' for the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games.
The Greek team, put together over the past few years and mostly comprised of Greek-American players, beat Russia's national team 5-1, making up in the process for an earlier defeat to the Russians during the tournament's preliminary round.
Meanwhile, the UK team defeated Greece 3-0 on Sunday evening in the final of the softball tournament, another Olympic 'test event'.
Both tournaments were played at new venues in the coastal Hellenikon Olympic complex.
 Moderate quake in Halkidiki
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)A moderate earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale was recorded Saturday in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece. The same region was hit by a more powerful tremor (5.8 on the Richter scale) in May 1995.
 4 Albanians arrested on burglary charges
Athens 29/3/2004 (ANA)Four Albanian nationals, aged between 20 and 48, were arrested over the weekend in the Oropos district, north of Athens, on multiple burglary charges.
Police added that a large cache of stolen goods was also recovered.
The names of the suspects were not announced.
 UN Secretary General hosts cocktail for sides in Cyprus talks
BURGENSTOCK 29/3/2004 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was due to host Sunday evening a cocktail for the four delegations that are currently in Burgenstock for the second phase of the Cyprus talks (the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, Greece and Turkey).
Annan has asked each delegation to be represented at the cocktail by three members, the UN has confirmed.
The Greek Cypriot side was to be represented by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, former President Glafcos Clerides and President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias.
The cocktail will take place at the Park Hotel, where the UN team is staying.
According to CNA sources on Sunday the UN Secretary General did not have any meeting with the Greek Cypriot side, but he continued to be briefed by his team on developments.
Earlier on Sunday the National Council, top advisory body to President Papadopoulos on the Cyprus issue, convened here for three hours. The members of the Council examined recent developments and exchanged views on the course of the negotiations, which began in this Alpine resort on Tuesday.
The UN-led talks, which resumed in Cyprus in mid February, moved to Burgenstock this week for the second phase of discussions with the participation of Greece and Turkey.
Cyprus House President calls for self-restraint
Cyprus House President and left-wing party AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias on Sunday called for self-restraint and said that there has been no outcome yet from the ongoing UN-led talks in Burgenstock, aiming to reach a settlement of the Cyprus question by May 1st.
Christofias, who is among the political leaders accompanying Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, also said that Monday morning UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would probably present the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides with the final version of his proposal on a comprehensive settlement.
''We must keep cool, self-restraint is essential. The give and take procedure has not yet started, I believe that by tomorrow (Monday) morning we will have something concrete,'' he said.
The UN ''are likely to give us tomorrow (Monday) the Secretary General's final text and we will probably spend two long nights and two long days during which an attempt for a give and take procedure will be made,'' he added.
He noted that the end result, according to the 13th February New York agreement, would be conveyed to the people of Cyprus, to the Greek Cypriots by the Greek Cypriot delegation and to the Turkish Cypriots by the Turkish Cypriot delegation ''in order to jointly decide at the referenda what will happen.''
Christofias said that the people would vote in separate referenda, currently scheduled for 20 April, on the final proposal for a settlement which would be the solution of the Cyprus question.
Responding to questions on possible attempts by the UN to get the two sides sign some documents before leaving Burgenstock, he said ''signing of any document is not included in the New York agreement.''
''We believe that the UN was probably sounding out the sides or perhaps they have indicated the way the final procedure will move on,'' he added.
The New York agreement led to the resumption of the talks on the basis of the Annan plan with a view at finding a comprehensive settlement that would be put to separate simultaneous referenda in Cyprus.
''We believe that any agreed text must go to Cyprus, for the political parties and others to take their position on it and give their own advice to the people and the people will decide on the day of the referendum,'' he concluded.
 British MP says foreign troops on Cyprus soil incompatible with EU
NICOSIA 29/3/2004 (CNA/ANA)It would be nothing short of a disaster for a referendum to be put to the Cypriot people on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem ''only to be resoundingly rejected, because its terms are unacceptable,'' British Conservative MP Bob Spink said in a letter to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
In his letter, Spink asks the British Minister to discuss with the UN, America and others issues such as the remaining foreign troops on Cyprus soil, the very high cost to the Cypriot people, issues of settler's property, free movement which they would be ''a major stumbling block in any referendum''.
''The Cypriot people would find it entirely unacceptable to have foreign troops on their soil in large numbers or in any numbers indefinitely'', notes Spink.
He adds that ''this would also be incompatible with EU membership and no derogation in this matter could possibly be a permanent one''.
''Of course, issues of settler's property, free movement and other such issues need extremely sensitive handling to ensure that a just settlement is proposed'', the MP concludes.