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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-03-07

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, March 7, 2003





  • [13] INFLATION LEAP TO 4.3%



  • [01] THE LAST OBJECTION The fifth day of the N17 trial is continuing with the discussion of the objection on the court's pertinence to try the crimes the 19 defendants allegedly committed. The objections on the composition of the court and the television coverage of the trial h ave already been overruled. The Ministry of Justice denied that the trial is being filmed. Witness testimonies will begin on Tuesday.
  • [02] GREEK DISCOMFORT ON BRITISH FAILURE TO INFORM The case of the 25-year-old Greek student who is being held in Newcastle for "possession of objects that would or could be used in terrorist activities", which his family connected to his PhD on N17, will commence on Tuesday. The failure of the British g overnment to inform Athens of his arrest has caused intense discomfort on Greece's side.
  • [03] ANOTHER FIFTEEN UNDER OBSERVATION The stocks of another 15 companies have been put under the observation of the stock market administration, raising the number of companies under observation to 25. Information mentions that the stock market's administration is determined to continue this

    harsh policy in order to secure the solid functioning of the ASE.

  • [04] THIRD OBJECTION ENDS THE WEEK The ruling on the third objection, concerning the character of the crimes, after the overruling of the first two objections on the radio-television coverage of the trial and the court's pertinence, is expected to close the chapter of the N17 trial's firs t week.

    Meanwhile, this morning, Mrs. Kourtovic raised her objection on the inappropriateness of the court, exclusively in the case of Dimitris Koufontinas, as she pointed out.

    Specifically, Mrs. Kourtovic stressed that in her opinion, the Grand Jury is the natural judge for the defendants, since their crimes are of a political character, and as such should be considered political crimes.

    Mrs. Kourtovic also made mention of the unconstitutionality of the law against organized crime, based on which accused are facing the Three Member Court.

    Meanwhile, although the objection on television coverage was overruled, the court's President, Mr. Margaritis, left a loophole, while reading out the ruling of the court on the issue.

    Specifically, Mr. Margaritis expressed his personal, as he pointed out, view, that the issue of radio-television coverage should be reexamined, if it is raised again by the defense attorneys further down the trial, and after the testimonies of the prosec ution's witnesses is over, since they do not wish the presence of television cameras.

    Meanwhile, the intense criticism of Greece's political world concerning US Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller's statements about the trial, prompted his response:

    "I would propose you stop giving your own interpretations to a very simple phrase I used. I would like to remind you that 5 employees of the US Embassy were murdered by "November 17". Of course we have a very great interest in the case, a legitimate inte rest".

    It should be noted that in statements to the press, Mr. Miller said that only the operational branch of the organization was on trial, a statement that was perceived by Greece's political world as meaning that there were still N17 members at large.

  • [05] PROTESTS TO LONDON ON ARREST OF GREEK STUDENT The intense reaction of the government was caused by the arrest of a Greek student in Newcastle, England, on February 25, without the British authorities informing Greece, despite the police cooperation between the two countries. Charalambos Dousemertzis

    was arrested under article 57 of the British anti-terrorism law, on the charges of possession of materials that could be used in terrorist activities.

    The student's arrest was made known on Wednesday by the BBC website, a fact that Government Spokesperson Christos Protopapas characterized as unacceptable, as British authorities were obliged to inform the Greek diplomatic authorities in London.

    "It is our obligation to condemn this action, considering that the sensitivity of Greek authorities was requested and given recently, in the case of the arrest of British tourists who were photographing military aircrafts", stressed Mr. Protopapas. "We c annot have double standards."

    In a letter sent by Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis, he expressed his deepest discomfort to British Ambassador David Madden, since he did not mention the issue of the Greek student's arrest in their meeting the day before.

    As soon as the Greek Embassy in London was informed of the arrest, it came into contact with the police authorities, while in an official note to the Foreign Office yesterday, it asked to be fully informed on all information surrounding the case, the con ditions the student is being held in and the charges on which he will be indicted on March 11.

    "We have asked to be fully informed on the overall situation, because we had not been briefed on the procedures to follow", stated Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou

    The student's mother who learned of her son's arrest on the news, met with Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Panos Beglitis yesterday, and was briefed on the actions the Ministry is taking.

    "We find this situation truly disturbing", stressed Mr. Beglitis. "When there is such a good level of cooperation with the British authorities in all sectors - fighting organized crime, police cooperation, dealing with international terrorism - we believ e that they should have informed the Greek authorities, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Order", he said.

    "Sensitivity is not selective", he underlined, noting that London "had moved mountains" for the British nationals who had been arrested photographing military aircrafts.

    "We have communicated our discomfort and will do so again today, and depending on the answer of the British authorities, we will determine our further position", he added yesterday.

    It should be noted that the student was collecting publications on N17 and other terrorist groups for his PhD at the University of Northumbria. According to "Flash" radio, it is possible that Dousemertzis was arrested after comments were found on a web-s ite dedicated to Che Guevara, which were sympathetic to N17.

  • [06] GREEKS ADVISED TO STAY OUT OF IRAQ The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a recommendation asking Greek citizens to postpone any visits they might have planned to Iraq.

    Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Panos Beglitis was asked about the measures the government has taken or that it is going to take regarding Greek activists who are already in Iraq, and who are willing to act as human shields in order to avert bombing welfar e facilities.

    Mr. Beglitis answered that every citizen is in Iraq of his own responsibility, but he noted that he asked the Greek Embassy to stay in touch with all Greeks, businessmen, activists and journalists who are in the country.

  • [07] LALIOTIS AGAINST MILLER-MITSOTAKIS A new attack was launched against US Ambassador Thomas Miller and Honorary President of New Democracy Constantinos Mitsotakis was launched by the Secretary of PASOK's Central Committee Costas Laliotis, in statements he made to "Flash" Radio.

    "Greece is a country with a democratic system of government, there is autonomy and self-reliance of institutions, and Mr. Miller cannot intervene in such a way", he said, noting that this has happened before. "There are constantly interventions by Mr. Mi ller, constantly incidents that provoke Greek sentiment, provoke the Greek Republic and its institutions. He underestimates the autonomy and self-reliance of the Greek police and justice system".

    He noted that the US Ambassador has his own convictions concerning terrorism in Greece, and called on the statements of US service representatives (i.e. the CIA), which stated that there was no political will to strike at terrorism in Greece. PASOK does not want to, Andreas Papandreou does not want to, because they are involved. "Such squalor, ridiculousness, have been uttered by US spokespersons and ambassadors", he observed. "All the prophecies of Mr. Miller's predecessors were issued as if they were t reasures and turned out to be nothing but charcoal. The Greek police and justice reached this result from the moment that they redefined themselves and restarted the investigations from nil, with the help of British services. If the US were in charge as f ar as the investigations and their orientation are concerned, we would have never had any results. They were not properly oriented. And they have the wrong goal".

    In reference to Mr. Mitsotakis, he called him, as well as ND officials, to "apologize" for the disgraceful statements they had made against Andreas Papandreou, PASOK, Coalition of the Left officials, and the Left in general. Specifically, he underlined: "Mr. Mitsotakis and certain other ND officials, who always rise to the occasion as the self-appointed advocates and defenders of Mr. Miller, uncritically adopting his unsubstantial theories and his unacceptable insinuations, must also think about it. And I think that at some point truth should shine, because we should go back to the statements made by Mr. Mitsotakis and other distinguished ND officials, which implicated Andreas Papandreou and PASOK in terrorism. This must all come to an end, as must the s ordid actions against Coalition officials and the broader Left. Mr. Mitsotakis and ND officials must look in the mirror and apologize for all they have said, for their despicable actions that disoriented the investigations for the eradication of terrorism ".

  • [08] BOOK ON ALEXANDROS GIOTOPOULOS A chance for others to state their intention of testifying as defense witnesses in the N17 trial, was given at the presentation of the book by Victoras Anagnostopoulos, who was one of the men who knew Alexandros Giotopoulos during his years in Paris.

    In a room full of people who will testify as witnesses in the defense of Alexandros Giotopoulos and other suspects, a book attempting a different sketching of the alleged N17 leader's personality was presented. Its title is "The hardest muscle is the hea rt".

    The audience included two university professors and an author, well known for his struggle against the dictatorship in Greece. The participants in the presentation noted that the author was the first to denounce the "friendly interrogations" of Scotland Yard two years ago, and stated that the participating in any event for Alexandros Giotopoulos is a form of resistance for everyone.

  • [09] ONE OUT OF THREE CONVICTS DOING TIME FOR DRUGS One out of every three convicts in the Greek correctional system are serving sentences for drug related crimes, stated Minister of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos, while speaking at the conference titled "Towards a more effective policy on drugs: Scientifi c documentation, everyday action, and political choices".

    According to data submitted by the Minister, out of a total of 8,452 convicts, 2,934 (34.7%) are in prison for drug related crimes, and almost all of those for drug trafficking. As the Minister stated, the convict drug rehabilitation program can only cov er a small number of addicts, due to the condition of correctional facilities, and as he stressed, "the use of addictive substances does not stop at the prison walls".

    Mr. Petsalnikos referred to the inmate drug rehabilitation centers functioning in Eleonas, Thebes, while he announced that by 2004 the second center is expected to begin functioning in Chalkidiki, for the needs of convicts in N. Greece.

  • [10] SIMITIS SPEECH AT CONFEDERATION OF EUROPEAN SYNDICATES All of us that believe in the goal of full employment, the role of the social state, and social policies, we recognize the need to strengthen the effectiveness of interventions, stressed the President of the European Union, Greek Prime Minister Costas Si mitis, during his speech at the Conference of the confederation of European Syndicates.

    Mr. Simitis referred to the goals for employment, battling unemployment, the social state, and the present situation in these sectors in EU countries.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that the group formed by the Assembly for the composing of the European Constitutional Treaty, pointed out that the Constitutional Treaty must include: "Full employment, social justice and peace, viable development, financial social and territorial cohesion, the social economy of the market, quality in employment, life long learning, social integration, a high level of social protection, equality between men and women, no discriminations based on religion, ration or national backgrou nd, sexual orientation, age or disabilities, children's rights, a high level of health, effective and high quality social and general interest services", as goals to found the conquests of the European social model.

    The Prime Minister noted that five years after the instituting of the European Strategy for Employment, "we are being given the opportunity to evaluate our achievements and move to the necessary reforms. At the same time we recognized the need for better

    coordination in the European Strategy for Employment with the EU's macroeconomic policy."

    In reference to Greece, the Mr. Simitis stated: "At present, in Greece we have lowered unemployment below 10% and are continuing our efforts with the same persistence. The international environment is full of obstacles. It isn't helpful. But we will pers ist."

    The goal of the changes is not deregulating work relations, but to secure the necessary adjustability through new reforms, so that enterprise and employment competitiveness can be strengthened, stressed the Prime Minister. "The Greek Presidency is workin g towards publishing the related direction. That direction aims at: Facilitating enterprises in better utilizing human resources, but at the same time providing protection to workers in such categories"

  • [11] N17 ATTORNEYS ON THE CHARGES The charges against the defendants in the N17 trial are political and not penal, and as such, the current composition of the court is inapposite to try them, supported the defense attorneys, during today's hearings.

    Specifically, Dimitris Koufontinas' attorney, Gianna Kourtovic, stated that the organization's actions and motives were political and called on the statements of political leaders, in order to support that claim. She also stated that the court is inappos ite to try the defendants, both because the charges are political and because there is the issue of the law's unconstitutionality, and she asked that the court deem itself inappropriate and refer the case to the Grand Jury. Finally, she pointed out that h er client turned himself in to the authorities on September 5, where he assumed political responsibility for his actions.

    The attorney of the Xeros brothers followed the same line, claiming that the crimes they are being tried for are political.

    Specifically, the targets selected by N17 were not civilians; they were politicians, the financial elite, the police and banks. In that sense the crimes are political and not of common penal law, ended Mr. Agostratitis.

    He also added that the US never gave a traveling direction concerning Italy, for example, due to the Mafia, but they did issue one for Greece due to N17. In fact, he referred to Mr. Miller, saying that "Mr. Miller's statements are not at random. He is an

    American and he wants to show his country's position on the planet and remind us of their dominance".

  • [12] C. SIMITIS: A WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT UNAVOIDABLE "The war in Iraq is not unavoidable", repeated Prime Minister Costas Simitis today, during an intervention at the Conference of the Confederation of European Syndicates in Vouliagmeni, Athens. The President of the European Union expressed his concern on the developments in Iraq and repeated that unilateral actions should not be allowed. At the same time he stressed that every member state must contribute to the efforts for the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.

    He also referred to the consequences a possible attack on Iraq would have on the European and global economy, and repeated that everyone must set their position based in the Security Council resolutions. "The UN Security Council is the center of determin ing policies on international relations, its decisions must be the axis and criterion for everyone's actions, and that is why unilateral actions are not allowed", said Mr. Simitis.

  • [13] INFLATION LEAP TO 4.3% The rise in inflation was greater than expected, with a February increase of 4.3%, in contrast to 3.1% increase recorded in January, a fact attributed to the rise in vegetable prices, due to the bad weather, and fuel, due to the developments in Iraq. Thi s leap broadened the gap from the European average inflation of 2.2%.
  • [14] EU SATISFACTION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF A PRIME MINISTER BY ARAFAT The Greek EU Presidency expressed satisfaction for the decision of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to appoint Mahmut Abas, a PLO leading member, to the post of the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

    In a statement issued by Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis it is mentioned that this decision, which hopefully will be ratified by the Palestinian Legislative Council, promotes the necessary reforms in the Palestinian side. It will also facilitat e the settlement of the crisis and create the preconditions to open the door to a peaceful solution based on the UN Security Council resolutions.

  • [15] LOSSES IN THE ASE Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.72% and setting a new negative record it reached 1.540,74 points. The volume of transactions was small at 46.2 million euros.

    The general index was in a free fall today as a result of the negative effects stemming from the supervision status under which 15 companies trading in the ASE were placed and the downward course of the European stock markets.

    Of the stocks trading today, 51 recorded gains and 256 had losses, while the value of 73 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [16] THE BALKANS AT THE CENTER OF DRUG TRAFFICKING Greek Alternate Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios characterized the Balkans as a significant drug trafficking region, addressing the international conference on drugs taking place in Zappion Megaron Building in Athens.

    A 90-95% of the heroin trafficking takes place from Afghanistan via the Balkan states where there is an increased demand for drugs, stated Mr. Malesios and referred to the drawing up of a Inter-Balkan Cooperation Plan in order to deal with the problem.

    He referred specifically to the production of the "drugs of the future", as he characterized the synthetic drugs, which are usually produced in developed countries.

    Stefanos Skotis, police director of the Public Order Ministry Public Security Office and Drug Enforcement Coordinating Office Chairman, referred to the new threat, the so-called synthetic drugs, stressing that all social classes are affected by the incre ased use of drugs. On the synthetic drugs, he said that no specialized knowledge is needed for their production and those interested can find directions of the "do it yourself" kind on the Internet. A total of 142 illegal labs were located in Ukraine alon e in 2002 and 70% of their production focused on psychotropic drugs and amphetamines.

    Willy Bruggeman, from Europol, stated that the agency's efforts focus on the confiscation of drugs and the break up of drug trafficking networks.

    Drug production has not dropped in spite of the efforts made and their low prices prove it, according to Martin Jelsma, a researcher in the Transnational Institute. The only thing that was achieved was to keep the situation somehow under control, he said .

  • [17] HONG KONG AND GREECE CONTROL THE WORLD FUR TRADE Hong Kong and Greece are the two countries that control the world fur trade in China, Russia, USA, Japan and Italy. Hong Kong controls 80% of the world fur trade and Greece the rest 20% with Russia as its main destination.

    The above were presented in the international fur exhibition in Hong Kong visited by representatives of the Greek fur business. They expressed the belief that the fur sector can be kept "alive" and continue to contribute to the development of the Greek e conomy, exports and employment mainly in regions of northern Greece like Kastoria, Siatista, etc.

  • [18] PAPANTONIOU MET WITH THE EUROPEAN DEFENSE INDUSTRY WORKERS UNIONS FEDERATION CHAIRMAN Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou met today with the European Defense Industry Workers Unions Federation Chairman and their discussion, which was characterized by Mr. Papantoniou as positive and constructive, focused on the strengthening of the European defense industry.

    Mr. Papantoniou stated that he referred to the initiative described in a proposal submitted to the European Council on March 20-21. The proposal has two parts: more funds at European level to finance research on defense issues and the establishment of a European Armaments Organization that will create common specifications for the European weapons systems.

    He said that the common goal is to create new job positions and increase employment in the European defense industry.

    The European Defense Industry Workers Unions Federation Chairman stated that he hopes the Greek government will organize talks that will reach positive conclusions. He said that if a good way to control the industry and its structure is adopted, employme nt in the sector will be safeguarded successfully.

  • [19] HITIRIS ON THE ANNAN-PAPADOPOULOS-DENKTASH MEETING Undersecretary of Press and acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris characterized as very important the meeting of Kofi Annan, Tassos Papadopoulos and Rauf Denktash to take place in The Hague next Monday.

    He pointed out that both Greece's stance and the stance of the Greek Cypriots all that time was constructive as opposed to the stance adopted by the Turkish side.

    Turkey will suffer consequences in its European course as a result of the stance it has adopted so far, stated Mr. Hitiris.

  • [20] HITIRIS ON THE "17 NOVEMBER" TRIAL The "17 November" trial is being held in Koridallos Prison and the government has no say in the trial, stated Undersecretary of Press and acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris.

    Mr. Hitiris made the statement when he was called to comment on the statements made by Savvas Xiros, one of the defendants in the "17 November" trial. Savvas Xiros had stated that history changes only through a bloodbath, the 17N is not finished yet and this will be seen soon.

    Mr. Hitiris added that everything said in the trial will be judged by the court.

  • [21] HITIRIS: THE GREEK DIPLOMATIC MISSION WILL REMAIN IN IRAQ UNTIL THE WAR OPERATIONS Undersecretary of Press and acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris referred to the Greek Foreign Ministry advice to the Greek citizens, who plan to visit Iraq, to avoid doing so at this period of time. However, he pointed out that in spite this, the Greek diplomatic mission will remain in place until the war hostilities are underway.

    When asked to comment on the travel advice issued by the US State Department, Mr. Hitiris stated that we do not know if Greece is included in this region and we have asked for clarifications through the Greek ambassador because we believe that Greece is not inside the crisis zone. He concluded by saying that the travel advice issued by the US State Department targets the US citizens in the whole region.


  • [22] REACTION BY PASSARIS' LAWYER TO THE LIE DETECTOR TEST RESULTS The lawyer of notorious Greek criminal Kostas Passaris will submit a document in the court of Bucharest trying his case, questioning the lie detector test her client underwent on Wednesday to which he has failed, according to the Romanian judicial author ities.

    Mrs. Julia Iliescu stated to MPA that the test lasted many hours and was stressful. Her client was bombarded with hundreds of questions, adding that no human being could tolerate a three-hour interrogation. She added that even the interpreter helping Pas saris stated that she was exhausted after the three-hour long test.

    Mrs. Iliescu will protest in court because she was not allowed to be present during the test and because the results were not announced to her officially but she heard about them on the television.

    Passaris and his attorney will also protest over the results of the lie detector test his codefendant Mioara Badila underwent, who is maintaining that she was with the Greek criminal on the night of the armed robbery in a foreign currency exchange office

    in Bucharest.

    Mioara Badila passed the test and Mrs. Iliescu wondered how could this be possible when her client has failed, adding that in the case of Passaris the test lasted longer.

    The court will resume its proceedings on March 10.

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