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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-03-04

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, March 4, 2003








  • [01] HEAVY CHARGES The trial of the 19 suspect-members of "N17" is continuing today with the reading of the charges, which include 88 attacks, which resulted in 23 killings and dozens of injuries. The bulletproof cage that had been placed for the protection of the defendan ts was removed after the request of the defense. Seven out of ten Greeks are interested in the trial.
  • [02] SADDAM, SELF CONTRADICTION AND COOPERATION Aerial bombings, which, according to Baghdad, resulted in the death of 6 civilians, were carried out by US and UK bombers, while the Iraqi government destroyed its Al Samud rockets in the presence of the inspectors, something Saddam had ruled out last we ek. Germany and France asked for the intensification of inspections. There is one more chance for peace according to Foreign Minister G. Papandreou.
  • [03] NEW HOSPITAL IN ALEXANDROUPOLI The new Alexandroupoli university-prefecture hospital, which is one of the largest and most modern in the country, is being inaugurated today by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The Prime Minister who is expected to have meetings with local authority, hosp ital administration and employee representatives during his visit to the hospital, will be accompanied by the Minister of Health, Costas Stefanis.
  • [04] THE TRIAL CONTINUES The trial of the "November 17" terrorist organization member suspects moved into its second day this morning at 09:00 with the reading of the indictment, in the specially constructed facilities of the Corydallos Penitentiary.

    The trial will continue without the glass cage in which the defendants were seated, while the court's President, Mihcalis Margaritis, stated that on Clean Monday the iron base will also be removed. However, the removal of the glass screens that were ther e for the protection of the defendants has made the police authorities increase security measures inside the courtroom.

    On the front of the trial's television coverage, the President of the Judges' and District Attorneys' Association, Dimitris Kyritsakis, was in favor of reasonable use of a camera during the trial. Mr. Kyritsakis stated that a camera could be used to docu ment the beginning and the end of the trial "for historic reasons". However, he stated, the constant presence of a camera would not help the trial.

    The President of the Association underlined that the victims of N17 "are not seeking revenge", and that the trial is a tragedy for them.

    He also called the journalists covering the trial to be responsible, and in general to keep the serious tone that is required".

    Other improvements and facilitations in the trial include the installation of microphones in front of the defendants' seats and tape recorders and mobile telephones being allowed in the press center for the journalists.

    Meanwhile, suspect member Giannis Serifis made three points this morning on his way to the Corydallos Penitentiary, being the only suspect who has not been jailed for the duration of the trial.

    Specifically, G. Serifis characterized the trial as staged, saying that as far as he is concerned, it is travesty. He also spoke of "cooking up" procedures, which he is going to talk about and show what he means.

    He also characterized himself as leaderless, as he never had leaders and chiefs, while in the end he encouraged journalists to fight a battle in favor of information and not authority, in favor of the fair, in favor of informing the public. Foreign interest

    There is intense foreign interest in the trial according to indications in foreign press, specifically French, British and American.

    The New York Times published a statement of the US Ambassador to Athens, Thomas Miller, according to which he believes that the organization's main operational body is on the stand, while he let it be understood that there are still organization members at large. The article connected the trial to the blackmail under threat of N17 case, pointing out that "Greece will try and end a large chapter in its history, that has caused a lot of shame".

    "The trial of the Greek terrorist suspects is beginning" is the title of the Washington Post, which gave a brief description of the courtroom, while there was also reference to the thousands of charges against the defendants.

    French newspapers Le Monde and Liberation concentrated their attention on the organization's suspected leader Alexandros Giotopoulos. The title of Le Monde's first page today was "the journey of Alexandros Giotopoulos to the center of the November 17 tri al".

    "Terrorist faction on trial in Athens" is the title of the Guardian's publication, which mentioned that "November 17 is facing charges for murder, bomb attacks and robberies, an event many Greeks never thought they would witness".

    The London Times gave an account of the first day of the trial, in an article titled "the trial of Greek terrorism starts with confusion".

    The trial is also being monitored by the US government, which greeted its beginning.

    "It is an issue we are interested in and which we are watching closely. We believe that the criminals must be brought to justice for their crimes. The US fully support the Greek government on the indictment of the defendants, on multiple counts, to trial ", stated State Department Spokesperson Richard Bauer.

    He also stressed that "the Greek government deserves recognition for its success against the infamous terrorist organization, as well as for the fact that they have been brought to justice".

    Mr. Bauer said that Washington would be watching the development of the trial with interest, as "there are four American citizens among N17's victims, while a fifth was a Greek employee at the US Embassy in Athens".

    Comments from the political world

    "We must trust that Greek Justice will apply the sentences that are deserved for these heinous crimes", stated Minister of National Defense, Giannos Papantoniou, on the N17 trial.

    In statements he made after a meeting with his counterpart in London Geoff Hoon, Mr. Papantoniou stressed that during his visit to the UK last year, he attended a ceremony at the Foreign Office in the presence of Brigadier Saunders' widow.

    "I had then promised Mrs. Saunders that the Greek government would do everything in its power to find the guilty parties and lead them to Justice. I am especially glad that one year later, my visit to England coincides with the day the suspected culprits

    of N17's crimes, are being brought before Greek Justice."

    "With complete respect to Greek Justice we must trust the Greek judges and let them bring out all the truths and make just decisions, without distractions", stated the Secretary of PASOK's Central Committee Kostas Laliotis, when asked to comment on the f irst day of the trial.

    Mr. Laliotis stressed that the President of the court seemed calm and objective, and that that is a guarantee of a fair trial.

    When asked if there should be television cameras present in the courtroom, Mr. Laliotis expressed the belief that the court and the President will make the correct decisions.

  • [05] SIMITIS SPEECH AT NEW ALEXANDROUPOLI HOSPITAL INAUGURATION The new Alexandroupoli university hospital was inaugurated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis today, while he made extensive reference to the government's work in the health services and social welfare sector.

    The National Health System (ESY) is a triumph of the Greek people, no one can dispute, undermine or negate that, stressed the Prime Minister, noting that its modernization is progressing and will be completed. In the framework of ESY there are 11,000,000

    examinations each year, 1,700,000 patients are treated in hospitals and 70,000,000 lab tests are carried out.

    Concerning IKA (Foundation for Social Insurance), he pointed out that efforts are being made so that by the end of 2003 pensions can be issued within two months.

    The new Alexandroupoli university hospital can host 673 patients and it's construction cost 88 million euro. Its functioning, stated the Prime Minister, is connected to the development of the Alexandroupoli Medical School, and will contribute to the impr ovement of the quality of life in the broader region of Thrace. He announced that in 2003 new hospitals would be delivered to Serres, Pyrgos, Grevena, Argos and Thebes. Also, in the first six months of 2003, 50 new intensive care and special care units wi ll function.

  • [06] GIANNITSIS MEETING WITH GREEK-TURKISH FORUM The enlargement of the European Union, the Cyprus issue, developments in Iraq, Turkey's European prospects and trans-Atlantic relations, were the issues focused on at the meeting and the discussion alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis had with a delegation of the Greek-Turkish forum and Turkish businessmen.

    Mr. Giannitsis pointed out the efforts being made by the Greek Presidency to avert the war in Iraq, as they were expressed at the recent informal Meeting of the European Council on February 17.

    In the same framework, the consequences of a possible war in the broader region were discussed and both the importance of a united European position on the Iraq issue and the importance of cross-Atlantic relations, which must overcome the problems of the

    present, were underlined.

    The two sides discussed a series of aspects of Greek-Turkish relations, especially the Cyprus issue, which is still open, since the Turkish side has taken no specific position.

    The alternate Foreign Minister also underlined that the completion of the enlargement during the Greek Presidency, offers a unique opportunity to resolve this problem. There was an open exchange of views on enlargement issues, relations with candidate co untries and the policies of the new Turkish government as far as Greek-Turkish relations are concerned.

  • [07] GREECE 2ND IN DRUG O.D. DEATHS IN EUROPE Greece is the country with the second most deaths due to drug overdose among EU member-states, according to the annual State Department report on production and trafficking of narcotics.

    The report recorded the significant increase in the number of drug traffickers active in Greece, however there is mention of excellent cooperation between Greek and American authorities.

    The report also mentioned cases where large drug networks were eradicated in Greece.

  • [08] WESTERN POLICY CENTER DIRECTOR INTERVIEW TO MPA The possible war in Iraq, Balkan issues and the Cyprus issue were discussed in the interview Director of the Western Policy Center in Washington John Sytilidis gave to the Macedonian Press Agency.

    According to Mr. Sytilidis, the programs carried out by the center at present are focused on the Iraq crisis and the war, which, he pointed out, is unavoidable, and the US will move on it by the end of March at the latest, stressing that their goal is to

    oust this terrible dictator who surely has connections to Al Quaeda.

    Last Thursday, the WPC organized a meeting on the protection of Kurd refugees to flee due to the imminent war in Iraq in its new facilities, in cooperation with the Institute for Immigration Policy, which is directed by Mr. Dimitris Papadimitriou who is also of Greek descent.

    Participants in the meeting included former US Defense attache to Greece Steve Norton, a partner of the WPC, former US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Golbrathe, and Ambassador Alex Rodos, who stressed that the Greek Presidency and the EU are in favor of res olving the crisis peacefully, and that all means in that direction must be exhausted. He also discussed EU-US cooperation in a post Saddam era.

    Concerning the echoes of Mr. Papandreou's visit to Washington and the discussions he had with Secretary of State Collin Powel, Mr. Sytilidis stressed that the discussions were very good and that the Greek Foreign Minister is very well respected in the US

    and is acknowledged as an honest interlocutor. He also stressed that Powel is the best partner of the EU in Washington.

    The next seminars of the WPC are focused on Balkan issues and the cooperation of the US and Europe on the region's security issues, while political officials from Southeastern Europe have been invited.

    "The strategic aim of the WPC is to raise the profile of the Balkans in the eyes of the Americans within the next two years", said Mr. Sytilidis. "I am afraid that the region has been somewhat forgotten by Washington and Brussels, while there are many se rious problems, which Greece knows better than anyone. Problems that require solutions, such as Kossovo, the future of Serbia, the Skopje national issue, etc. These issues, and those of South America, Southeastern Asia and elsewhere require our serious at tention, regardless of the war on terrorism".

    This October, the WPC will organize the 4th Conference on Security Issues between Greece and Turkey in Athens, with the participation of veteran high-ranking officers from both countries. The Conference's goal is to contribute to the strengthening of the

    approach between Greece and Turkey.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Mr. Sytilidis spoke of a difficult but also positive period. He expressed his certainty on Cyprus' accession to the EU in May 2004, regardless of the solution of the political problem, but he raised questions of what the gener al position of France, Germany and Belgium will be concerning the accession of Eastern countries, due to their position on the Iraq issue and that possibility, as he said, should be taken into account, as it could affect the enlargement.

    "We evaluate the US government because we believe that American initiative for pressure is necessary, without which the Cyprus issue will not be resolved", said Mr. Sytilidis. "The goal is stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which will become,

    within the next 5-10 years, the front of the United West to "strategic threats" in the Middle East, North Africa, and "rogue states", such as Iran, Libya, Syria and other countries which constitute new sources of danger".

    On the solution of the Cyprus issue, he appreciated that it can be achieved in the beginning of 2004, as until then there will be no conciliatory moves on Turkey's side, which does not seem to have powerful motives to deal with the issue, in view of the war in Iraq.

    Mr. Sytilidis pointed out that with Cyprus as a member of the EU without the political problem being resolved, its negotiating position will grow stronger for further discussions and the Turkish Cypriot side will be the one insisting on a solution then.

  • [09] THE TRIAL OF THE 17N MEMBERS CONTINUES The defendants in the terrorist group "17 November" trial were called today to state their position on the indictment and most of them denied all charges.

    Alexandros Giotopoulos denied the charges and stressed that he is a defendant in the case because it was the wish of the Americans and their collaborators in the government due to the fact that he fought against the junta. He said that he is a defendant because he comes from a leftist family and declared that he had planted a bomb in the US embassy in Athens during the dictatorship. Giotopoulos said that the accusations against him were made up by the Americans and the British and were based on confessio ns of people who were in the intensive care under the influence of psychotropic drugs. He also added that a special law was passed for the selection of the judges, while an attempt is made to try the case as a common penal law case, make him appear as the

    group's leader and have the case closed.

    The political responsibility for the 17N actions was assumed by Dimitris Koufodinas who stressed, however, that he denies the accusations against him as they are expressed, while he characterized the whole procedure as a trial of "emergency measures" and

    "political beliefs".

    Savvas Xiros submitted a written statement for health reasons, stressing that the court does not have the jurisdiction to try the case. He stressed that the court is called to rule on political actions, which can only be judged by the people. Xiros state d that the court is illegal because it was formed after a special law that was passed by just 20 Parliament deputies. He stated characteristically that in essence it is a military court. Referring to the conditions under which he was hospitalized after th e bomb explosion in Piraeus last June, he said that he was a detainee for 40 days with his eyes covered with bandages, and tied up with ropes, in an atmosphere of fear in which he gave his preliminary testimony. He also said that he would not request pref erential treatment, which is provided by the anti-terrorist law, and will not take his case to the European Court.

    Christodoulos Xiros denied all charges and pointed out that he will respond to them during his testimony in court.

    Theologos Psaradellis stated that he is being tried for his struggle against the junta, while Yiannis Serifis adopted a similar stance as well, stating that he is being prosecuted because of his political beliefs.

    Dionisis Georgiadis characterized the accusations against him as groundless and stated that he denies them. Konstantinos Karatsolis and Iraklis Kostaris also denied the accusations.

    Pavlos Serifis stated that he was never a member of "17 November". Nikos Papanastasiou and Angeliki Sotiropoulou adopted the same position.

    Sotiris Kondilis referred to his testimony, while Anestis Papanastasiou stated that he has nothing to do with the accusations against him.

    Vasilis Tzortzatos denied the charges, maintaining that his testimony was the product of psychotropic drugs and torture. However, he admitted that he was a marginal member of the group from 1985 to 1990 and in 1992 he left the group for political reasons .

    Patroklos Tselentis denied the charges concerning the assassination attempt on Robert Judd and stressed that he did not take part in the Supermarket Marinopoulos robbery. He said that he became a member of the terrorist group at the end of 1983 and left in 1988. He denied the charges on gun possession and participation in the group in the period until the year 2002.

    Thomas Serifis denied the charges but not in their entirety. Kostas Telios stated that he admits that he was present in the attack against Androulidakis, the assassination attempt on Ioannis Paleokrassas and the Ergasias Bank robbery in Patisia, Athens.

  • [10] EU PRESIDENCY STATEMENT ON THE SITUATION BURUNDI The European Union has taken note with regret of the communique by the CNDD-FDD stating that that movement is suspending its participation in the negotiations.

    The European Union wishes to emphasise once again that there can be no military solution to the Burundian conflict. It calls on all the Burundian parties to respect the population's rights and aspirations, to follow the logic of the ceasefire agreements

    and resume talks without delay and without preconditions, under the aegis of the mediator.

    It reaffirms its intention to continue to support the peace process and encourages the African Union and the countries of the subregion to continue their efforts to restore peace in Burundi.

    The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area a lign themselves with this declaration.

  • [11] BIG LOSSES IN THE ASE Big losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -2.60% at 1.570,03 points, while the volume of transactions was at 100.2 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, just 25 recorded gains and 312 had losses, while the value of 43 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [12] PROTOPAPAS ON MILLER'S STATEMENTS Just a few days ago, Mr. Miller was congratulating the Greek government on its efforts against terrorism. Now, that the trial got underway everything will be proved and therefore, he should be patient and will receive the answers. He should not rush and change his statements because this stance creates a major credibility issue, stated Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.

    The statements were made in response to US ambassador Thomas Miller, while Mr. Protopapas expressed reservations on whether the US diplomat statements to the New York Times were interpreted correctly. Based on the US newspaper, Mr. Miller has allegedly s tated that only those making up the executive branch of the terrorist group were caught and led to court.

  • [13] THE EU POSITIONS ON THE EQUALITY OF THE SEXES Greek Interior Minister Kostas Skandalidis presented in New York yesterday the EU positions and the progress made on equality of the sexes issues. Mr. Skandalidis attended the 47th Summit of the UN Committee on the Status of Women.

    The EU promotes a society of values recognizing the rights of all people, and the equality of the sexes is an important element in the principles of the EU policy on equality, solidarity, social justice, human rights and the right governance. He also str essed that the EU supports the Beijing Action platform and the outcome document adopted in the 23rd Special Summit of the UN General Assembly.

    Mr. Skandalidis stated that the EU has pledged that by 2010 will increase the percentage of women in the EU labor market from 53% to 60%. Also, ways will be found to harmonize the family and professional life, stop wage inequality, and increase the numbe r of women employees at all levels especially, in managerial positions.

    On the equality of the sexes in political life, he stressed that the EU believes that the governments and the international community should continue to seek the increased participation of women in decision making.

    Regarding the violence against women, he said that the EU within the framework of the implementation of the Beijing Action platform has intensified its efforts to combat the phenomenon in a more effective way since 1996. He announced that the EU Presiden cy plans to develop further the existing institutional framework and host a comprehensive dialogue with specialists and EU member states in May 2003.

    On the human trade and trafficking issue, the EU is determined to produce policies to protect society from this gross violation of human rights. It also urges the governments to sign and ratify the Treaty against the International Organized Crime and the

    protocols aiming to avert, control and punish human trade and trafficking especially, that targeting women and children.

  • [14] SHARE BUY BACK BY OTE Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA (ASE: HTO, NYSE: OTE), the Greek full-service telecommunications provider, today announced that it will proceed with its share buy back based on the one year authorization granted by the shareholders on October

    17, 2002 and following the program activation by the Board of Directors. OTE is authorized to purchase up to the remainder of the 10% of its share capital, or approximately 7.4% of all shares outstanding, for a price per share comprised between 1 euro an d 30 euros.

    Mr. Lefteris Antonakopoulos, Chairman and CEO, noted "the OTE share price has reached unreasonably low levels substantially under performing the European telecommunications indexes despite our strong fundamentals and our expected dividend yield now excee ding 7%, significantly above our cost of borrowing. Under the circumstances we have decided to take advantage of the share buy back authorization granted by our shareholders."

  • [15] MAGRIOTIS MET WITH THE AMBASSADORS OF RUSSIA AND GEORGIA Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Yiannis Magriotis had separate meetings with the ambassadors of Russia and Georgia.

    In the meeting with the Georgian diplomat, Mr. Magriotis expressed Greece's full support to the country to deal with the problems it faces and backed its European orientation. He also referred to the issue of Abhazia and the members of the Greek communit y trapped in the region. He called on the Georgian side to make every effort to solve this major issue.

    Mr. Magriotis stated that he will visit Georgia soon within the framework of his tour of the region on the occasion of the BSEC Summit to take place in Yerevan.

    Mr. Magriotis also met with the Russian ambassador and discussed issues concerning bilateral cooperation within the framework of BSEC based on the experience gained in the recent Summit of BSEC high-ranking officials in Istanbul.

    In the meeting they referred extensively to the issue of Iraq and the Russian ambassador presented his country's policy in view of the crucial talks in the UN Security Council where Russia is a permanent member.

    Mr. Magriotis referred to the efforts made by the Greek EU Presidency for a peaceful solution in Iraq within the framework of UN resolution 1441.

    The Russian ambassador announced the establishment of a Greek-Russian Businessmen Association in Thessaloniki to further promote the economic and trade transactions.

  • [16] THE 17N COMMITTED PENAL CODE CRIMES The view that terrorist group "17 November" committed penal code crimes is shared by 49.6% of the Greek people, according to an opinion poll conducted by polling company VPRC on behalf of Athens "Sky 100.3" radio station.

    Also, 32.5% of those asked responded that the crimes were possibly politically motivated, while 17.9% were undecided.

    According to the poll, the majority believes that the defendants are guilty but 30.3% believe that they will not be given a fair trial. Also, the majority believes that the revelations made by the mass media on 17N in the past few months were controlled by the police.

    Meanwhile, 53.5% responded that they are not satisfied with the quality of information offered by the television stations, while 41.3% state that they are satisfied.

    The majority of 69.3% is in favor the television coverage of the trial and 23% are against.


  • [17] GENERAL STRIKE FOR ANNAN PLAN The people of Nicosia are determined "to stop life" in any way they can, by means of a general strike and political indiscipline, in order for Rauf Denktash to move to a referendum for the acceptance of the Annan proposal, but the Turkish Cypriot leader insists that the majority of the parliament is against such a referendum.
  • [18] PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT European policies on environmental issues are being discussed by the Council of EU Ministers of the Environment, which is meeting in Brussels, presided over by Minister of the Environment, Planning and Public Works Vasso Papandreou. They will also discus s the preparations of the European Ministerial Meeting "One Environment for Europe", to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 21-23.
  • [19] PAPANTONIOU: NO FACILITATIONS WITHOUT UN APPROVAL Developments in Iraq, the Cyprus issue and the initiative of the Greek Presidency for the functioning of the Euroarmy were the main topics of discussion at the meeting between Minister of National Defense Giannos Papantoniou and his British counterpart G eoff Hoon.

    Mr. Papantoniou appreciated that there is still a strong possibility for war in Iraq, but it is not as strong as it was a few days ago.

    "I believe that Greece and the Greek Presidency is a diplomatic window for Iraq, which is more open today than in previous days. The vote of the Turkish Parliament, which rules out, for the time being at least, the installation of US military forces for a war on Iraq, is indicative of the change in the atmosphere as far as a possible war in Iraq is concerned. The same holds true for the development on international public opinion - and that is especially important here in England, because British public opinion demands a second UN Security Council resolution in order for the British government to move to possible military operations - and it also points out an important political problem", he stressed.

    The Minister of National Defense appreciated that in this framework, the initiatives that Greece has taken as President of the EU in order to promote diplomatic solutions to the problem and to secure a peaceful resolving of the Iraq crisis, are becoming all the more timely.

    "The message to everyone is that diplomatic efforts must intensify within the next few days, so that we can secure the disarmament of the Iraq regime from weapons of mass destruction without resorting to war", he stressed.

    He also added that a possible war under present circumstances, with public opinion opposed, with unsure and unclear UN inspector reports, and with the military difficulties the enterprise is facing, would involve serious dangers to the stability of the r egion, not mentioning the great cost it would have in human life.

    In reference to Turkey's rejection of the installation of US troops, he stressed that the Greek side faces no such dilemmas. "The Greek side stands by its view that its participation, by facilitating possible war efforts in Iraq, presupposes the full sup port of the international community, as it is expressed by the UN Security Council", he added.

    The Minister of National Defense pointed out that the Greek Presidency does not wish to change the leadership in Iraq, because it is not a country's business to impose regime changes on any other country in the world. However, as he said, that does not m ean that Greece approves of Saddam Hussein's regime.

    As far as the Cyprus issue is concerned, Mr. Papantoniou stressed that his British counterpart appreciated that there is a strong possibility of reaching a solution, and he promised that the British government will influence things in the right direction .

    Mr. Papantoniou noted that Mr. Hoon expressed his support to the efforts of the Greek Presidency for a functional Euroarmy by June.

    As he said, at the March European Council, the Greek Presidency will submit proposals aiming at strengthening the effort of Europe for research connected to defense issues and the creation of a European armaments' organization which will form a functioni ng weapons systems market framework in Europe. Mr. Papantoniou stated that these proposals have the support of England and France.

    As far as the first operation of the Euroarmy is concerned in FYROM, the two Ministers of Defense stated that the planning is coming along well, while Mr. Papantoniou stressed that the EU force will be installed in FYROM in the beginning of April.

  • [20] EU-GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL: WAR CAN BE AVOIDED Developments in Iraq and the Middle East, as well as the strengthening of the two sides' economic cooperation as far as petroleum products, aluminum and natural gas are concerned, were the focal points of the discussions between the Gulf Cooperation Coun cil and the delegation of the European Union, headed by Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou, in Qatar.

    "There is a window of opportunity to avoid the war if Saddam makes a dramatic gesture of full compliance and disarmament", stressed Mr. Papandreou, after the completion of the 13th joint Ministerial meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council with and the EU .

    During the joint press conference with the President of the GCC and Qatar's Foreign Minister, Mr. Papandreou underlined that the common position of the Union is the full disarmament of Iraq.

    The two sides explored the ways Arabs and the EU can cooperate on the Iraq issue, as well as on what concerns possible problems that could arise from a war.

    "It is of vital importance that a clear message for Saddam's compliance be sent", stated the Greek Foreign Minister.

    "All of us at the EU are united as far as our goal is concerned, we all prefer a peaceful solution. There are individual differences in our approaches, on the procedure, but there is also a very strong unity in the will to exhaust all peaceful means", un derlined Mr. Papandreou, adding that the Union is in continuous contact with the region's countries.

    "We are working day by day to find a peaceful solution. We all support the resolution of the Security Council", stated the Foreign Minister of Qatar on his side, who was in favor of using oil as a political weapon and expressed his hope for a peaceful so lution.

    The two sides also discussed financial cooperation between the Union and the GCC as far as petroleum products, aluminum and natural gas are concerned. According to Mr. Papandreou's statements, the EU has the political will to make the Free Trade Zone a r eality. Such an agreement would be beneficial to both sides, he stated characteristically, while he added that further progress must be noted and negotiations must continue in 2003.

    There are continuous efforts to avoid double taxation, stated Qatar's Foreign Minister, expressing his hope that the agreement on the Free Trade Zone will be signed in the immediate future.

  • [21] EE COMMON POLICY ON PATENTS A common political approach on the issue of the Community Patent Diploma was achieved during the meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels yesterday.

    Extensive talks and a lot of effort to find compromises were made by many Presidencies, especially last year, while the common political approach achieved yesterday is the culmination of all those efforts.

    With the proposal it submitted, the Greek Presidency facilitated this political approach, which responds to the need for a Patent Diploma within the EU, which comes to complete national Diplomas as well as the European Diploma of Munich.

    "Our Council gave European industry an important message that will strengthen its effort for international competitiveness", stated the President of the Council, Greek Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos.

    The main points of the agreement focus on:

    The formation of a central jurisdictional system attached to the European Community Court of First Instance based in Luxembourg, which provides security for justice, unity of law and low cost. Appeals will be tried here at a first level, while at a secon d level they will be tried at the European Communities Court of First Instance.

    The common political approach foresees the formation of a Court by 2010 at the latest.

    As far as the language is concerned, all claims will be translated into all community languages.

    The European Patent Diploma Bureau will play the central role, while the role of national offices will also be important As far as the distribution of fees and the distribution key are concerned, the new system is supported on several criteria, among which is the size of the market. At the same time, the need for a balancing factor for member states with small activity in t he patent sector, has also been taken into account.

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