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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-03-27

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, March 27, 2003








  • [01] HUMANITARIAN AID FROM MUNICIPALITIES AND NGO'S Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyanni and NGO representatives decided on sending humanitarian aid to Iraq, during a meeting they had on Monday. The concentration of medicines and other items will begin on Monday.

    The meeting was attended by the President of UNICEF, Lambros Kanellopoulos, the Director of Missions Abroad of Doctors of the World Elli Xenou, the Director of the Red Cross' International Affairs Olga Monachou, the Representative of the UN High Commissi on on Refugees Robert White, Costantinos Kotsopoulos from Action Aid, and the Vice President of the "Greek Council for Refugees K. Megaleconomos" Haris Birsim.

    After the meeting, Mrs. Bakoyanni appealed to other organizations to become active in the same direction, so that this joint effort can be serious and effective, and reach the children and people of Iraq as soon as possible.

    "The destruction taking place in Iraq today, can leave no Greek unmoved", she pointed out.

    At the same time, the vice-mayoralty for social policy of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, announced that the concentration of food for the Iraqi people will take place in the SAE (Komotinis 2) for the eastern sector of Thessaloniki, while for the weste rn sector, the aid will be concentrated in containers in the Ancient Market Square.

  • [02] MARKET BOMBING CONDEMNED "The massacre of Iraqi civilians in the Baghdad market by American and British cannons is one more war crime, one more piece of evidence of their imperialistic ferocity", stressed the KKE in an announcement.

    "In the face of all that is transpiring, the government and ND limit themselves to wishes for the war to end soon and crocodile tears for the dead!

    The government has one obligation: It must get Greece out of this war now! That is the only way it will show it is really interested in the innocent victims. Otherwise it will be an accomplice to slaughter", underlined the KKE announcement.

    Its anger and abhorrence with the bombing of the Baghdad market was also expressed by the Coalition of the Left.

    "The Coalition expresses its anger with the bombing of Iraqi television transmitters, obviously aiming at limiting information, as well as its abhorrence with today's barbaric bombing of the Baghdad central market, which resulted in the death15 innocent civilians and the wounding of dozens more", pointed out the announcement.

    "The continuing criminal invasion of the US and the UK in Iraq, is turning into an incredible human tragedy which has now had blind bombings added to it, thus showing the rawness of this war in the most graphic way", underlined the Coalition.

    Furthermore, it asked for the immediate termination of the US invasion of Iraq and pointed out that it is the Greek government's obligation, in the framework of its responsibilities and rights as Presidency of the EU to ask for an immediate meeting of th e UN Security Council with an immediate truce as the only topic.

    "Such an initiative, which is fully aligned with the feelings of the vast majority of European citizens, will be a contribution to the effort to reinstate the principles of International Law and legality", ended the Coalition.

  • [03] WITNESS NAMES KOUFONTINAS An eyewitness in the case of the murder of industrialist Alexandros Athanasiadis - Bosodakis, recognized the killer in the person of 17N suspect member Dimitris Koufontinas during this morning's proceedings, which marked the trial's 17th day.

    Dimitris Paparounis was called to testify regarding the murder, and he recognized Dimitris Koufontinas as the shooter that killed the businessman. According to Paparounis' testimony, his car had stopped next to the Athanasiadis' car at a traffic light, w hen a motorcycle stopped between them and the second rider shot and killed Athanasiadis.

    Dimitris Paparounis stated that that man was Dimitris Koufontinas. "I am sure that the face I saw from a very short distance was that of Dimitris Koufontinas. His eyes remind me of that man", claimed the witness, who saw a picture of Koufontinas at a you nger age. The witness could not say who the driver of the motorcycle was.

  • [04] EU COUNCIL OF JUSTICE AND INTERIOR AFFAIRS IN VERIA TOMORROW The two-day works of the Informal Council for Justice and Interior Affairs of the European Union will begin tomorrow morning at 9am in the "Eges Melathron" hotel in Veria, at which Greece will be represented by Ministers of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos,

    Public Order Michalis Chrysochoides and the Interior Costas Scandalides.

    The relevant EU Ministers will discuss issues concerning the development and securing of a region of Freedom, Security and Justice.

    On Friday, the EU Ministers, presided over by Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrysochoidis, will discuss the definition of a joint policy on asylum, immigration, effective administration of the Union's outer boarders, as well as combating illegal immi gration and human trafficking.

    These issues are especially important in view of the upcoming institutional changes developing in the European Convention and the assessment of the political directions of Seville at the Thessaloniki European Summit.

    Also, on the first day of the meeting, the discussion on the incorporation of legal immigrants into EU member-states' societies will be concluded presided over by Minister of the Interior Costas Scandalidis.

    On the meeting's second day, Saturday, the sector of Judicial cooperation, presided over by Minister of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos, will discuss legal procedure guarantees for suspects and the accused in the penal process.

    Meanwhile, the city of Veria will be surrounded by police forces which started arriving today, in order to offer security from the protests to be held during the meeting.

    The Greek Social Forum in cooperation with the Veria Worker-Employees' Center, the prefectural sector of the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants and the Technical Chamber of Greece has organized two rallies. The first at 19:30 on Friday in the

    Elia Park and the second on Saturday at 12:30, in Orologio Square. A protest to the hotel where the meeting is being held will follow.

    "Action: Thessaloniki 2003" and the United Workers Front of Greece have organized a rally at 13:00 on Saturday at the Elia Park, and a protest to the hotel.

    Both the Greek Forum and "Action" will be reinforced with protesters from Thessaloniki.

  • [05] EU CONCERNS ON DRUGS Significant progress has been noted in the materialization of the EU action program on drugs since 1999 when the Strategy was first adopted to deal with the phenomenon, as it was ascertained at the works of the high level Council on Drugs, in Athens on M arch 6 and 7, under the auspices of the Greek Presidency, however, it was pointed out that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to achieve the goals that had been set.

    During the opening of the works, the Greek Presidency stressed the need for cooperation and coordination of the actions of EU member states, of the open dialogue and the search for effective policies, based not on "banishments" and theoretic positions, b ut on day-to-day practice and scientific knowledge. The new member states were called to actively participate in the forming of the EU policy on drugs.

    The Greek Presidency pointed out that with this conference it aims at causing a dialogue, so that through the expression of different opinions a final combination can arise, which would lead to a more effective policy. It was also stressed that the confe rence's goal is to contribute to, with the exchange of views, the forming of the position of the EU at the upcoming 46th UN Drug Committee Meeting to be held in Vienna from April 9 to April 17, 2003.

    The Conference recognized the progress achieved in the sectors of coordinating the drug policy in member states and the EU, the availability of reliable data, the strengthening of priorities for prevention and therapy, the cooperation of drug enforcement

    services among member states, the development of initiatives to deal with synthetic drug trafficking, the strengthening of the fight against money laundering, and the strengthening of coordination mechanisms on a national level.

    It was stressed that changes in the drug phenomenon, such as the appearance of new synthetic drugs, procurement through the Internet and new therapies, have led to more pragmatist and multi-faceted approaches towards the various aspects of the problem. I n most EU countries the problem of addiction, and consequently policies dealing with addiction, are considered, to a significant degree, a Public Health issue.

    The need to fully cover the therapeutic needs of addicts for their re-incorporation to society through the public health and social welfare systems was stressed. Training of doctors and other healthcare professionals and social scientists in dealing with

    addiction is a requirement.

    The Greek Presidency underlined the importance of a complete plan to fight drug trafficking in the Balkans. Heroin trafficking in Central Asia and mainly from Afghanistan is carried out through Balkan countries. There was reference to the successful semi nar on the roads through which heroin is trafficked in the Balkans and the Balkan action plan that was submitted by the Greek Presidency and is being discussed by the Horizontal Team on Drugs. The Greek Presidency would appreciate comments on the plan and

    possible proposals on its completion, and hopes that the program will be supported by member states soon, and that it's materialization is initiated.

    The trends expressed concerned the view that UN treaties on drugs must be fully applied, instead of having a discussion on possible reforms, on the one hand, and the view that the change in the international situation both in trafficking as well as in th e decrease in supply and use of drugs, requires a dialogue with the prospect of setting new bases for a more effective policy, on the other. In the frameworks of this trend, the views that were expressed referred to the following points:

    UN treaties on drugs are not unchangeable.

    There is an almost unanimous agreement on the usefulness of the three UN treaties on drugs.

    There is a need for the three international treaties to be evaluated, as to their effectiveness, in the framework of an open dialogue.

    The points of disagreement in these treaties must be located and discussed according to scientific and medical developments and not based on political choices.

    The framework of freedom in the treaties between member states must be discussed, so that a balance can be found in their global application and differentiation of member states.

    Attention must be paid to the issue raised by Bolivia and Peru on the status of the coca leaf.

    The European Union must find a common definition and common framework in practices for harm reduction.

    Scientific and analytical work on the issue of drugs must be strengthened. A dialogue must held overcoming the mentality of criticism and rejection For the further study and particularization of the proposals and thoughts above, a proposal was made for the formation of a consultation team during or after the April Conference in Vienna, consisting of specialists in the various bodies of the UN and oth er international organizations.

  • [06] GREEK PRESIDENCY POSITIONS ON EUROPEAN POLICY IN JUSTICE SECTOR The belief of the Greek Presidency that European policy in the Justice Sector should be distinguished by consistency, should balance between the various challenges we have to deal with at the present, and stand on the European principles of the Justice S tate and Human Rights, will be underlined by Minister of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos at the Informal EU Council for Justice and Internal Affairs, to be held tomorrow and the day after.

    Mr. Petsalnikos underlined that "it would be a mistake to believe that our efforts for the creation of necessary security conditions for our citizens presumes limitations in the framework for the protection of human rights and liberties, which is a basic

    element of our legal culture. More safety does not necessarily mean less freedom. Our policies must be distinguished by a balance and that is possible.

  • [07] SERVICES ON STANDBY TO RECEIVE REFUGEE WAVE Related ministries are preparing for the reception and hosting of refugees who are expected to search for a new home in camps, both around Athens and near the boarders, due to the war in Iraq.

    Preparations mainly concern the healthcare sector, as the refugees, whose number is estimated to reach 2 million, are expected to be exhausted, possibly wounded and carriers of contagious diseases, as they are forced to live in terrible conditions.

    Hospitals and healthcare centers, mainly on islands and boarder regions, are on standby, while they expect to be reinforced with doctors, nursing staff and medicines, if it is deemed necessary.

    Meanwhile, the Athens Prefecture is concentrating humanitarian aid for the thousands of children and Iraqi citizens that are in immediate danger. Citizens interested in contributing medicine and food can drop it off at the Health Ministry's warehouses in Tavros, between 8am and 4pm.

  • [08] GREEK EU PRESIDENCY ON DR. SAAD EDDIN IBRAHIM'S CASE The European Union very much welcomes the decision by the Court of cassation of the Arab Republic of Egypt to dismiss the case against Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim.

    This decision brings to a satisfactory conclusion the ordeal endured by Dr. Ibrahim and his co-defendants, in a long-running and difficult case which the European Union has followed closely from the beginning.

    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.

  • [09] BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER: THE GREEK EU PRESIDENCY IS DOING A GREAT JOB In an exclusive interview with Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner presents her country's positions on a number of crucial issues for the EU, while at the same time she stresses that the Greek EU Presidency is doing a "great job".

    Responding to the question which is the major challenge for the EU she stressed that "The major challenge is arguably making the enlargement work. The drafting of a new Constitutional Treaty which is currently the task of the European Convention is an im portant contribution to meet this challenge. On the basis of the results of the European Convention the Intergovernmental Conference will make the final decisions on the amendments of the European Treaties".

    She added that the results of the European Convention will have to match the high expectations of Europe's citizens. Citizens are calling for an open, effective and democratically controlled European Union, which is more involved in foreign affairs, secu rity and defence, in other words, greater and better coordinated action to deal with crisis and trouble spots in Europe and in the rest of the world.

    Referring to the next day of the Enlergement, Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner stated that the final frontiers of the European Union have not been defined yet. She added that the European Union shall remain open to all European States whose peoples share the same v alues, respect them and are committed to promoting them together.

    On the way relations between the EU and the CIS could develop she commented that "the upcoming enlargement will further increase the importance of the relations between the EU and the CIS. At the EU-Russia summit scheduled to take place in St Petersburg

    on May 31 we will discuss the future of EU-Russia relations. But we should not concentrate only on Russia, at the European Council in Copenhagen last December the EU underlined its wish to enhance the relations with Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus based on a long-term approach promoting democratic and economic reforms, sustainable development and trade".

    Referring to the EU-US relations Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner commented that the most sensitive issue is Europe's position towards the Iraq crisis. "Though the EU managed to agree on a common text at the European Council in Brussels in February EU Member States still do not have an identical approach in the Iraq crisis, some Member States are closer to the US position than others. Other sensitive issues concern for example trade questions. EU-US relations cover so many fields that certain disagreements will alwa ys exist. We should discuss those sensitive issues in mutual respect and in an open manner. But above all, we should not forget that the issues on which we have the same position as the US are far more important and numerous than the points of disagreemen t".

    Concerning the Convention for the Future of Europe, she pointed out among others that "huge progress has been made on a number of points which would have been unimaginable several months ago. To give you a few examples, there is a consensus in the Conven tion to write a single constitutional treaty thus abolishing the pillar structure and to insert the EU Charta on Fundamental Rights in the new Treaty. The EU will have a single legal personality and there is broad agreement to strengthen the function of t he High Representative.

    But it is also true that very difficult institutional questions still have to be addressed by the Convention. We would like to underline that the future institutional set-up of the EU must be based on the respect of certain principles: the balance betwee n the EU institutions and the balance between large and small Member States".

    Responding to the question which European policies can promote employment, the Austrian minister stated that "the EU adopted three years ago the so-called Lisbon Strategy with its emphasis on the integration of all aspects of economic reform, enhanced em ployment, social inclusion and sustainability which has proved to be the right answer of the European Union to these challenges. A comprehensive approach is necessary, past isolated measures have shown to be futile patchwork".

    On the migration policy, Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner stressed that the migration policy is one of those areas where purely national policy measures cannot be effective since migration is a truly transnational phenomenon which affects all Member States of the EU . Therefore, the EU has to pursue a common policy in the field of visas, asylum and immigration as foreseen by the EC Treaty.

    Referring to her expectations from the Greek EU Presidency, the head of the Austrian diplomacy pointed out that "it is doing a great job". She stressed that it plays a vital role in the organization and work of the Council, one of its main tasks is to wo rk out compromises capable of resolving difficulties between the members of the Council.

  • [10] SIMITIS: GREECE CAN HANDLE DEVELOPMENTS Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis expressed deep regret for the victims of the war in Iraq, addressing the political party leaders in Parliament today.

    He pointed out that Greece was against the war from the start, adding that it was possible for the war to be avoided and the country does not participate in any war operations. Mr. Simitis stated that Greece can deal with developments and fears of nothin g.

    Mr. Simitis maintained that the Greek EU Presidency undertook initiatives before and after the war, while he stressed many times that the UN should have a central role and be at the center of decision-making.

    He said that there are three major risks that could result from the Iraqi crisis and the EU must avert them through specific initiatives. He said that the risks are the downgrading of the UN and its international role, the breaking up of Iraq and the spr ead of the crisis in the wider region.

  • [11] MR. KARAMANLIS' SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT ON IRAQ Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis, addressing the Greek Parliament on the developments in Iraq called for a Political Party Leaders' Council Meeting chaired by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Mr. Karamanlis stated that his party will support national understanding and unity and in case Turkey undertakes expansionist action in northern Iraq, New Democracy will back the government in the revision and activation of NATO's charter article 4 on th e withdrawal of the Greek AWACS crews.

    He expressed regret because the EU was unable to intervene for a peaceful settlement of the crisis over Iraq and wished for a quick end of the war. He also called for the humanitarian aid to reach the people of Iraq as soon as possible.

  • [12] LOSSES IN THE ASE Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.80% at 1.539,40 points, while the volume of transactions was small at 58.6 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 230 recorded losses and 66 had gains, while the value of 88 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [13] NEW TURKISH PROVOCATION OVER THE AEGEAN Armed Turkish fighter jets made 14 Athens FIR violations and 4 violations of the Greek airspace in the region southeast of the Aegean island of Limnos reaching the islands of Samos and Chios.

    In all instances, the Turkish fighter jets were intercepted by Greek Air Force jets, while in some cases the pilots engaged in dogfights.

  • [14] EU PRESIDENCY STATEMENT ON THE SLOVENIAN REFERENDUM The EU Presidency welcomes the decision of the Slovenian people regarding their future as part of the European Union. This is the second country that says a clear "yes" to its participation in the EU.

    This unambiguous sign gives further impetus to the current enlargement process. The Presidency remains committed to bringing this process to a successful conclusion in accordance with the agreed deadlines.

  • [15] PROTOPAPAS ON IRAQ Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas stated that countries which participate in the US military operations directly or indirectly have agreed inside the EU over the role of the UN in the post-war era.

    The statement was made by Mr. Protopapas when he was called to comment on US Sectretary of State Colin Powell's statement based on which, the UN will have no role in Iraq after the war. He said that Iraq does not belong to anybody and it is not a protect orate, stressing that international law must be implemented.

    The government spokesman stated that the risk for thousands of civilian victims is obvious and pointed out that in spite of the fact that there is a deplorable dictatorship in Iraq nobody is justified to kill innocent people.

    Responding to questions by reporters, Mr. Protopapas stated that no war is legitimate if it is not based on UN decisions and added that the European Union is in a difficult position because six of its members disagree with the rest.

    When asked to comment on the likelihood of a meeting between Greek Prime Minister and EU President Kostas Simitis and US President Bush, Mr. Protopapas stated that no other meeting is planned at this time except from the one scheduled to take place in Ju ne.

  • [16] SOCIAL INTEGRATION OF LEGAL IMMIGRANTS IN THE EU JUSTICE MINISTERS COUNCIL Greek Minister of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation, Mr. Kostas Skandalidis will preside over the Justice and Internal Affairs EU Informal Council meeting to take place in the northern Greek city of Veria on March 28.

    The Council proceedings will be completed on Saturday and Greece will be represented by Minister of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos and Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrisochoidis.

    The main issues to be discussed concern the social integration of legal immigrants and include the following: 1. Creation of a common framework based on parameters for the national integration plans of legal immigrants applied by the EU member states. 2. Initiatives of the European Union at political level as well as to the mass media promoting a new common policy of immigrants integration. 3. An annual report on integration issues, presented by the Presidency in cooperation with the European Commission. The report shall include the experiences and practices of all member states, their progress in order to achieve convergence as well the res ults from the promotion of specific common policies to be decided in the framework of the Council. 4. Promotion of a common European policy for the social integration of third country nationals, which will prevent their social exclusion.

  • [17] THIRD MEETING OF THE JOINT EU-MEXICO COUNCIL IN ATHENS The close historical, cultural and economic ties were reconfirmed by the EU and Mexico in the Third Session of the Joint EU-Mexico Council held in Athens today. The Joint Council was established by the Economic Partnership, Political Co-ordination and Co -operation Agreement. Minister for Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez led the Mexican delegation, while Greek Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Tasos Giannitsis led the EU delegation in his capacity as President of the Council of the EU and Commissione r Pascal Lamy represented the European Commission.

    The parties proceeded to the evaluation of the results of the Agreement thirty months after its entry into force. Furthermore, they discussed the short and medium-term perspectives of bilateral relations, in view of the forthcoming enlargement of the EU to ten new member states.

    Within the framework of political dialogue, Ministers welcomed the progress achieved so far and exchanged views on fundamental issues of the global agenda.

    The Mexican delegation thanked the EU for its support to the initiatives of the Mexican government aimed at consolidating democracy and strengthening public institutions.

    The two delegations expressed their common commitment to the United Nation's System and the Rule of International Law; the promotion of Human Rights; the abolition of death penalty; sustainable development and the protection of the environment, and the fight against internationally organised crime.

    Both parties underlined the importance of establishing regular contacts between EU and Mexican senior officials, in order to intensify their collaboration and to deepen the bi-regional political dialogue.

    The meeting of the Joint Council was also an occasion to exchange opinions on the multilateral trade discussions, in regard to the Fifth WTO Ministerial Meeting, which will take place in the Mexican city of Cancun in September 2003.

  • [18] MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE ANDEAN COMMUNITY AND THE EU IN ATHENS The Foreign Ministers of the Andean Community and the EU reiterated their strong commitment to the respect of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and international humanitarian law in their meeting in Athens today.

    The Andean Community and the European Union exchanged ideas and opinions on the political and economic situation in both regions, and on the state of and prospects for relations between them.

    The EU Ministers expressed satisfaction with the Andean Community's commitments and developments attained with respect to democratic and regional institutions and supported the further implementation of the "Lima Commitment: Andean Charter for Peace and Security and the Limitation and Control of the Expenditure on Foreign Defence" as well as the "Andean Charter for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights" in the region. They supported the Andean initiative of establishing a sub-regional "Peace Zone"

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