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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2002-11-12

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, November 12, 2002








  • [01] PARTY REACTIONS TO ANNAN PLAN "A very important period of consultations and negotiations which will be hard and strenuous is beginning now. We have a historic opportunity for a solution and everyone must contribute to uninterrupted negotiations, without setting dilemmas of time", poi nted out Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, concerning the solution plan submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    The Prime Minister admitted that the Annan plan includes some tough spots. "The plan submitted today raises all the familiar aspects of the Cyprus problem, the constitutional, the territorial, the refugee, and the local property aspects. It is clear that

    the arrangements proposed have their tough spots. It is also clear that a fragmented appreciation of each arrangement individually is not correct or advisable. What is important, is the balance of the solution as a whole, a balance that this plan can fin ally lead us to after negotiations", he underlined.

    After his meeting with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou made mention of positive movements surrounding the Cyprus issue.

    "For the first time we can see movement in the Turkish Cypriots and in Turkey, concerning the Cyprus issue, positive movement, and let us hope that we will be able to welcome them together, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, in a united Cyprus, democra tic and free in the EU. If not, Cyprus will come as it is today", stressed Mr. Papandreou.

    "There can be no "spoonful of sugar" in this major case. At this historic juncture, there are painful compromises", underlined Mr. Karamanlis, Head of the Opposition and President of New Democracy, who asked for a meeting of the Council of Party Leaders under the President of the Republic.

    "We are waiting for the immediate publication of the plan to all parties. New Democracy, after having studied the text, will take its position, as always, placing the interest of Hellenism above all", he stressed.

    Honorary ND President Konstantinos Mitsotakis was unable to comment on the plan. "We do not know the Annan plan. Thus, I cannot tell you how it seemed to me. First we will see it, study the whole thing, and then take our position", he stated.

    He continued, however, to criticize the government for not entrusting the political parties with the whole plan. "As a result, we are looking for fragments of information from the US, Istanbul, Ankara, and anywhere else we can think of. It was not handle d properly. The goal in an issue as important as the Cyprus issue, which is indeed at a crucial turning point as was expected, is national unity". "And first of all there must be honesty and a complete briefing of the other parties", stated Mr. Mitsotakis .

    "We are standing before rapid developments of historic importance to the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots", stressed President of the Coalition of the Left, Nikos Konstantopoulos, and pointed out that the Coalition would receive the pl an today and judge it as a whole, so that it could assume a responsible and specific position.

    "The solution of the Cyprus issue based on a federation with two zones and two communities, must be fair, viable and functional, a solution which must be able to form a sovereign state, an international entity and citizenship, a state that guarantees hum an rights within it, as well as UN principles and European acquis", noted Mr. Konstantopoulos.

    In contrast, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) characterized the Annan plan as "unacceptable, unfair, and very dangerous in the immediate future if it is applied". The KKE also pointed out that the plan "is a torpedo to the rights of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot peoples".

  • [02] POSSIBLE LENDING OF PARTHENON MARBLES TO GREECE The returning of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece under a long term state of lending, was raised by Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos for the first time, in his discussion with the Director of the British Museum Neil McGregor, during his visit to Lo ndon.

    Mr. Venizelos stated that the Greek government is not facing the return of the Marbles as a legal or historical issue, but as a cultural and practical matter.

    "We want the Marbles to return to Athens, and that is why we are proposing a long term lending, and specifically, the exhibition of all the Parthenon Marbles in the New Acropolis Museum, will be a joint activity of the New Acropolis Museum and the Britis h Museum, and are we prepared to organize a whole series of very significant periodical exhibitions here at the British Museum, which will allow visitors access to both the Parthenon Marbles as well as other major Greek antiquities, from all periods of Gr eek History", he stressed.

    Furthermore he expressed the belief that the relevant parties will seriously take into account the sensitivity of British public opinion, which, according to the Mori poll, is in favor of returning the Marbles to Athens.

  • [03] THE GREEK FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN ON THE ANNAN PLAN Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis characterized as positive, in its basic principles, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Beglitis stated that all the chapters of the plan are under negotiation and nothing was agreed in advance, while the goal of the Greek side is to find a fair solution that will be based on the UN principles and the European standards.

    The Foreign Ministry spokesman pointed out that the Greek side believes that the Annan plan can be the basis for a negotiation aimed at reaching a functional solution. Regarding the time given, he said that the seven-day period was given to the two sides

    to study the plan. He also stated that Mr. Annan expressed the wish that the talks will come to a favorable conclusion and the agreed solution will be approved by the two communities in Cyprus through a referendum on March 30.

    The signing of the EU accession treaties by the 10 new EU member-states will take place in Athens on April 16.

    According to the Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman, the goal of the Greek side is the leaders of the two communities to have direct talks but in case Turkish Cypriot Rauf Denktash's health does not allow this it would be best to have proximity talks with constant flow and complete information.

    Mr. Beglitis predicted tough and laborious negotiations and underlined the need to promote the compatibility of a solution with the European standards which are a safe framework and a guarantee for a functional solution. Toward this direction, Foreign Mi nister Giorgos Papandreou will have contacts with German Foreign Minister Yoshka Fischer, as well as his other counterparts in the EU and European Commission President Romano Prodi to secure that the European standards will be respected.

    However, the Foreign Ministry confirms that if no agreement is reached the UN Secretary General does not have the power to impose a solution on the two sides.

  • [04] SIMITIS: THE ANNAN PLAN WILL BE CONSIDERED AS A WHOLE Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis characterized the UN Secretary General plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem as the starting point of a negotiation. Mr. Simitis delivered the 137page text to President Kostis Stephanopoulos today.

    Speaking in front of the television cameras, Mr. Simitis stressed that the plan should be considered carefully as a whole in order to be assessed in its entirety. He also said that Cyprus' EU accession during the Copenhagen Summit will not be affected by

    the Annan plan, underlining that this is a positive fact.

    In statements he made after the meeting with President Stephanopoulos, Mr. Simitis expressed the Greek government's support to the Cypriot leadership which will hold the negotiations. He stated that the Annan plan will be presented to the Greek political

    parties to be able to express their positions and form a view that will help in the solution of the problem.

    He also reiterated that Cyprus' EU accession is a process that is not associated with the solution of the political problem in Cyprus and pointed out that Greece had sought for years the presentation of a UN proposal on the Cyprus issue. He added that th is opportunity should be exploited now and efforts must be made to reach a solution.

  • [05] THE GREEK ECONOMY GROWTH RATE AT 3.4% IN THE THIRD TRIMESTER The growth rate of the Greek economy slowed down in the third trimester of 2002 and was at 3.4% compared to the same period last year. Compared to the second trimester of the current year, the GDP increased by 1.1%, based on figures provided by the Natio nal Statistics Agency.

    In the second trimester of 2002, the growth rate of the Greek economy was at 4% on an annual basis and at 0.3% compared to the first trimester of 2002. Meanwhile, investments increased by 8.6% and exports by 1.7%, while imports increased by 2.8%.

  • [06] LOSSES IN THE ASE Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today under the weight of the strong pressures exerted on the sector of banking and securities in spite of the upward trend in the major European markets.

    The general index dropped to -0.21% at 1.828,23 points, while the volume of transactions was at 80.7 million Euro.

    Of the stocks trading today, 158 recorded gains and 137 had losses, while the value of 80 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [07] NEW SIMITIS-PAPANDREOU MEETING ON CYPRUS Prime Minister Kostas Simitis discussed with Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou the next moves of the Greek side concerning the issue of the UN Secretary General plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Papandreou expressed the wish for an agreement to be reached before the Summit in Copenhagen. On Greece's position, he stated that Greece wants a solution for Cyprus, stressing that this was the demand for years. He added that now that this opportuni ty has come it should be exploited.

  • [08] PROTOPAPAS ON THE ANNAN PLAN Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas left open the possibility for a Political Party Leaders Council meeting held under the President of the Republic. He pointed out that the Prime Minister will open a round of contacts with the political party

    leaders on Monday or Tuesday to reach conclusions on the Annan plan and afterwards it will be established whether the Council should convene.

    Responding to questions by reporters, Mr. Protopapas stated that it was unfair on behalf of the main opposition party to protest because it had not received the Annan plan, pointing out that neither the Cypriot political parties had received it and this will take place today.

    Commenting on the reservations expressed by the political party leaders concerning the Annan plan, he stated that in a democracy everybody are allowed to express their opinion, stressing that at this phase the issue should be faced with caution, seriousn ess and calm without many words but with responsible actions.

    When called to comment on the Annan plan, he reiterated the position expressed yesterday by Prime Minister Kostas Simitis according to which, it is to our benefit a solution to be reached in Cyprus after 28 years. He also pointed out that the view based

    on which, we should not get involved in negotiations leads us to dangerous paths and to a de facto partition.

    He said that the Annan plan is the starting point for negotiations and stressed that the last word for the approval or the rejection of the negotiations' results belongs to the Cypriot people who will make a decision on the issue through a referendum.

    Mr. Protopapas reiterated that it would have been best if the two sides had reached an agreement before the Summit in Copenhagen stressing, however, that this is not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus into the European Union.

  • [09] PAPANTONIOU: THE CYPRUS ISSUE HAS ENTERED ITS MOST CRUCIAL PHASE The view that the Cyprus problem has entered its most crucial and sensitive phase of the past decades, was expressed by Minister of Defense Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Responding to a question by reporters on the likelihood for a solution in Cyprus based on the Annan plan, Mr. Papantoniou referred them to the statements made yesterday by Prime Minister Simitis, stressing that this is a time of responsibility for everyb ody both in Greece and in Cyprus.

    He said that he feels that this is a period of historic decisions and added that calm, firmness and a sense of responsibility are necessary because it is hard to predict the final outcome.

  • [10] OTE ANNOUNCED ITS DECISION TO INCREASE THE FUNDING OF HELLAS SAT The Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, Board of Directors has decided to increase the funding in HellasSat, contributing $30 million to the company's share capital.

    HellasSat is a company responsible for the launch and commercial use of a satellite that will be positioned at 39o East and have a wide coverage. The satellite will have two deployable antennas through which it will provide Pan European coverage, while t he two available steerable beams can be moved to cover South Africa and the Middle East. The satellite is expected to be operational in time for coverage of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    Previously, OTE had contributed $12.5 million in HellasSat's share capital. Through the current injection of capital OTE will temporarily hold a large majority of the company's share capital; however, as there is interest from other investors to particip ate in this venture, OTE's interest is expected to decrease over time.

  • [11] OTE ANNOUNCED THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT ON ROMTELECOM Greek Telecommunications Organization, OTE, announced the terms of a transaction with the Romanian government regarding RomTelecom.

    The transaction includes a $243 million increase of RomTelecom's capital, to be fully subscribed by OTE. This amount comprises $98 million of conversion of debt into equity (55 million representing a bridge loan from OTE to RomTelecom and $43 million re presenting trade debt payable by RomTelecom to OTE).

    Following this capital increase, OTE will own approximately 51% of RomTelecom's share capital. In addition, the transaction will involve the acquisition of a further 3% interest in RomTelecom's expanded share capital from the Romanian Ministry of Communi cations as representative of the Romanian State for approximately $31 million. The two transactions will see OTE assume 54% ownership of the share capital of RomTelecom.

    Separately, the company's restructuring program, in addition to reducing capital expenditure and operating expenses, will entail restructuring of RomTelecom debt. It is currently estimated that debt of $250 million will be required, partly to restructure

    existing debt.

    Both shareholders will use their best efforts to support this process. Details of the restructuring plan together with the company's strategic and operational priorities will be announced following the completion of the transaction.

    Lefteris Antonacopoulos, OTE's Chairman and CEO, noted "we are pleased with the outcome of our negotiations with the Romanian government, as we believe that this transaction is a positive development for both sides and provides a strong base for the tran sformation of RomTelecom into a modern profitable organization offering high quality telecommunications services to individual and business customers in Romania."


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