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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-03-28

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, March 28, 2003

SECTIONS

  • [A] NATIONAL NEWS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • NEWS HEADLINES

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] COMMON EU POLICY ON ASYLUM-GUARANTEES
  • [02] PASOK-ND CONSENT FOR A MORE POWERFUL EU
  • [03] RECOGNITION FOR THEIR "WORK"
  • [04] TSOCHATZOPOULOS OPTIMISTIC ON TOURISM
  • [05] THE WORKS AT EU JUSTICE-INTERIOR COUNCIL MEETING HAVE BEGUN
  • [06] ANTIWAR EVENTS IN ATHENS-THESSALONIKI
  • [07] CALMNESS IN THE FACE OF A GLOBAL CRISIS
  • [08] C. SIMITIS RECOMMENDS CALMNESS AND RESPONSIBILITY
  • [09] SCANDALIDES-PETSALNIKOS: STOP THE HORROR OF THE WAR
  • [10] $1 MILLION IN GREEK AID TO IRAQ
  • [11] THE GREEK GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ON IRAQ
  • [12] CLARIFICATIONS ON THE HUMANITARIAN AID TO IRAQ
  • [13] BIG LOSSES IN THE ASE
  • [14] PEACE DECLARATION BY 50 EURO-DEPUTIES
  • [15] NEW GREEK AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS BY TURKISH JETS
  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [16] OIL FEEDING CIVILIANS
  • [17] EU TELECOMMUNICATION COUNCIL MEETING
  • [18] GREEKS MOST CONCERNED WITH THE ENVIRONMENT AMONG EUROPEANS
  • [19] KARAMANLIS-CHIRAC MEETING
  • [20] THE EU CONDEMNS THE PERSECUTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
  • [21] EU PRESIDENCY DECLARATION ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA
  • [22] EU MEASURES ON SEA TRANSPORTATION NEWS IN DETAILS

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] COMMON EU POLICY ON ASYLUM-GUARANTEES The determination of a common EU policy on asylum, immigration and effective control of the Union's outer boarders, will occupy the EU Justice and Interior Council meeting in Veria. Tomorrow, rules on legal procedure guarantees for suspects and defendant s in penal proceedings will be discussed. PAME and Social Forum protests. More than 1000 police officers will make sure the meeting runs smoothly.
  • [02] PASOK-ND CONSENT FOR A MORE POWERFUL EU Prime Minister Costas Simitis characterized the strengthening of the EU's role as an imperative, while briefing the Parliament on the Spring Summit Meeting. President of ND Costas Karamanlis characterized the avoidance of disputes at the council as posit ive, and was in favor of strengthening cooperation and the creation of a defensive eurozone. Secretary General of the KKE Aleka Papariga asked that Greece's implication in the war cease. N. Constantopoulos asked that the war stop immediately.
  • [03] RECOGNITION FOR THEIR "WORK" Eyewitnesses are continuously recognizing the culprits of the murder cases being tried in the faces of the 17N terrorist organization suspect members. Of the accused, C. Tellios named D. Koufontinas and V. Jorjatos as the men that killed DA Androulidakis , while he admitted his own role in the case. Two days ago, P. Tselentis had named Ch. Xeros as the man who killed industrialist Mr. Athanasiadis, admitting he was driving the motorcycle carrying them.
  • [04] TSOCHATZOPOULOS OPTIMISTIC ON TOURISM His appreciation that the consequences of the war will only be felt in Greek tourism during the present period of time, was repeated by Minister of Energy Akis Tsochatzopoulos, who referred to the drop in hotel bookings for March and April.

    During his interview to Mega TV yesterday however, he expressed his optimism as far as tourist traffic in Greece is concerned after May.

    Referring to the advertisement campaign of the Hellenic Tourism Organization (EOT), the Minister of Development stated that "the planned promotion is already being run normally throughout Europe and the rest of the world".

  • [05] THE WORKS AT EU JUSTICE-INTERIOR COUNCIL MEETING HAVE BEGUN The works of the two-day meeting of the Informal EU Council of Ministers of Justice and the Interior began this morning at the "Eges Melathron" hotel in Veria, with discussions on the allocation of community funds to the sectors of immigration, boarder a sylum and repatriation policy, presided over by Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrysochoides.

    The Ministers are also discussing the issue of immediately upgrading the network of officer liaisons concerning immigration in third countries and the role they play in the coordination of joint policies and the cooperation of the EU with third countries .

    During the meeting, there will be a presentation of the recent British initiative on asylum. Mr. John Bruton, a member of the Presidency of the Convention for the European Constitution, will make a short presentation of the Convention's progress on asylu m, immigration and boarder issues. High Commissioner of the UN on Refugees, Mr. Lubbers, is also expected to participate in the discussion.

    This afternoon's meeting will be presided over by Minister of the Interior Costas Scandalides and will concern the forming of a unified framework for national programs for the incorporation of legal immigrants, EU initiatives on a political level and tow ards the media, for the formation of a new joint confrontation of the issue of incorporating immigrants. The promotion of a joint European action for the strengthening of the smooth incorporation of third country citizens and the composing of an annual re port by the Presidency at the time in cooperation with the Commission, on immigrant incorporation issues.

    Tomorrow's meeting will be presided over by Minister of Justice Philippos Petsalnikos and the issues to be discussed concern the institution of rules for minimum legal procedure guarantees for suspects and the accused in penal proceedings, especially aft er the recent publication of the Green Bible of the European Commission.

  • [06] ANTIWAR EVENTS IN ATHENS-THESSALONIKI At 12 noon on Saturday, an antiwar rally has been organized at Syntagma, jointly by all political youths, in the framework of the global antiwar rendezvous set for Saturday by movements and organizations around the world.

    A rally calling all the citizens of Athens has also been organized for Thursday, April 3, at 11am, in Syntagma Square, to be followed by a protest march to the US Embassy, after the decision at yesterday's meeting of the General Union of Greek Workers (G SEE) with union representatives, peace movements, social bodies, representatives of Local Government and political youths.

    A 24-hour strike has been organized on the same day by the Civil Servant's Union, while the Athens and Piraeus workers' centers, in cooperation with the GSEE and the Federations will declare a 4-hour walkout from 11am to 3pm, for private sector employees , so that they can attend the rally.

    A protest rally and march against US war operations in Iraq has been organized for tomorrow by the Greek Social Forum at 1pm, at the statue of Venizelos in Thessaloniki.

    The Greek Social Forum will also begin a program for daily pro-peace activities for children. The activities will be materialized by the "Color in Education" Teachers' Association, and includes musical games, chalk drawing on the street, puppet shows, et c.

    The Stop the war Alliance has organized a protest to be held at 6pm today at Kamara and at 12 noon tomorrow at the Venizelos statue. The Alliance has called people to participate in the protest, which will include the poetry readings and photographs, org anized by Iraqi poet Tahak Tarik along with other Iraqis who live in Thessaloniki.

    Meanwhile the musical antiwar party that had been organized yesterday from 11am to 6pm at the Venizelos statue, turned into a protest march.

    Approximately 500 protesters set off at 6pm stopped at the US Consulate and ended their protest at the British Consulate in Aristotelous Square.

    The protest had been organized by the "Antiwar Committee of Thessaloniki Bodies", the "Initiative for Peace", and the "Doctors Near Man" organization, while members of PAME and "Action: Thessaloniki 2003" also participated. Protest on the mountain of the Gods

    A 1,100 square meter sheet reading "Stop the war" will be placed on the slope of Mt. Olympus this Sunday, by the members of the Pieria Social Forum, in cooperation with the Mountain Climbing Association of Litochoro. The sheet was prepared by the Arts Sc hool of Thessaloniki.

  • [07] CALMNESS IN THE FACE OF A GLOBAL CRISIS We support every effort to end this war, repeated Prime Minister Costas Simitis in his speech today concerning the consequences of the war. At times like these what we need is to stay calm, said Mr. Simitis, who said that Greece is facing the consequence s of the crisis. The Prime Minister repeated Greece's interest in protecting civilians and offering humanitarian aid.
  • [08] C. SIMITIS RECOMMENDS CALMNESS AND RESPONSIBILITY Prime Minister Costas Simitis recommended a high sense of responsibility and calmness during the crucial period we are going through at the present, and he expressed his hope that the war in Iraq ends as soon as possible, that the civilian population is effectively protected and that peace and democracy are reinstated.

    Speaking at a PASOK meeting on "Social Europe, The modern social state, Development with cohesion and solidarity", at the administration building of the National Bank, the Prime Minister underlined the need for international legality to be supported whol eheartedly and added that Greece supports every effort to end the war.

    "We want Greece to continue moving on safely and stably through this crisis", said Mr. Simitis, supporting that despite the fact that Greece is far from the center of the crisis, it is also facing some of the consequences, just like the rest of Europe is . "Consequences that affect the conditions in which our financial and national interests, the security issues of our country, move. This is a development that can affect the present and future of us all", he stressed characteristically.

    At the same time he referred to Greece's accession to the EMU. Stressing that "with the euro and our financial policy, we are giving our economy the stamina that the economies of larger countries with powerful currencies had in previous crises", while he

    added that it is the first time that our country's currency has not fallen victim to a crisis.

    Regarding the results of the Spring Summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister pointed out that "we promoted the decisions for an economy with more rapid growth, a society with greater cohesion in the framework of the enlarged Europe of the 25", and supporte d that "we can and will take all the initiatives necessary to move in that direction decisively and effectively".

    Mr. Simitis stressed that "we will not let the Union be immobilized", as that -according to his statements - would be a terrible strategic error.

    "The Union must move, and the Greek Presidency, in an unprecedented international crisis - a crisis trying the Union itself - has the potential, the knowledge and the calmness to look ahead and act accurately, insightfully, stably and realistically".

  • [09] SCANDALIDES-PETSALNIKOS: STOP THE HORROR OF THE WAR "It is obvious that this is a common European problem, but we have already held discussions with the High Representative of the UN on refugees, as well as on a European level, to find the best way to deal with it", was the response of Minister of the Int erior Costas Scandalides, to a question regarding what would happen if Iraqi refugees reached Greece.

    The need for the horror that is the war in Iraq to stop was expressed by Ministers of the Interior, Costas Scandalides, and Justice, Philippos Petsalnikos, with their statements in the margin of the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Justice and the Int erior in Veria.

    The consequences of the war in Iraq and the refugee problem was discussed thoroughly at the meeting today, where all Ministers were unanimously in favor of aiding Iraqi refugees with the creation of Hospitality centers, both within Iraq and in neighborin g countries. In fact the European Commission has disposed a significant sum to that end, in cooperation with the High Commission of the UN on refugees and NGOs.

    Minister of Public Order Michalis Chrysochoidis, who is presiding over the Council, pointed out that the Ministers discussed ways of dealing with the threat of terrorism, fighting organized crime, and illegal immigration, and agreed to upgrade their coop eration. The reinstatement of the Task Force that had been created after the September 11 strike on NYC, aiming at full cooperation among security services in EU member states in the sector of information exchange.

    "Greece as a country and Europe as a power, are determined to continue their efforts and initiatives and to offer their services in order for this destructive war to stop as soon as possible", said Mr. Scandalidis.

    Regarding the issue of the refugees from Iraq, the Minister of the Interior observed that the best choice would be for their vast majority to settle in countries around Iraq and for Europe to actively participate in sending humanitarian aid and help in i mproving the conditions the refugees are to stay in as well as the services provided to them.

    Greece is protecting its boarders and at the same time it is searching, along with other European countries, for better ways of solving the problem, no matter how large it is, based on humanitarian values.

    "We must all make an effort to restore international legality", stated Mr. Petsalnikos, while adding: "We must make every effort possible so as to stop the horror of this war as soon as possible, if possible to end it immediately. This war is causing pro blems to Iraq and its people, but it has also caused problems to EU-US cooperation, it has shaken relations at the level of the entire international community and in the interior of the EU. We must all help overcome these problems, bridge the gaps that ha ve been created, and, above all, give the EU the opportunity to continue its course for the unification and integration of a series of important decisions".

  • [10] $1 MILLION IN GREEK AID TO IRAQ Greece is offering the sum of $1 million to Iraq as humanitarian aid. This was announced by the Permanent Greek Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Adamantios Vassilakis. During his meeting yesterday with the alternate Secretary General of the UN, he delivered a l etter by alternate Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    It is an initial show of support from Greece to the especially vulnerable people of Iraq - mentioned the letter - while the support of Greece to the efforts of the UN to promote an emergency program for Iraq was stressed.

    During the open session of the Security Council yesterday, Mr. Vassilakis, as a representative of the EU, stressed that it supports the territorial integrity of Iraq, its political stability, respect to the human rights of the Iraqi people, while at the same time supporting the peacekeeping procedures in the Middle East, the broadening of the dialogue and cooperation with the Arab and Islamic world, ended Mr. Vassilakis.

    Meanwhile the Prefecture Council of Thessaloniki unanimously accepted the proposal of Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiades to concentrate humanitarian aid for Iraq.

    Specifically, the Prefect proposed that a committee be formed with the participation of prefecture consultants of all political orientations in the Council, which will begin studying and determining the terms and requirements for the safe concentration, transportation and distribution of humanitarian aid (clothing, food, medicine) in specific cities in Iraq.

    There was a similar reaction to the call of the Social Policy Bureau of Municipality of Serres, which, in cooperation with the "Man for Fellow Man" Association, took the initiative to concentrate humanitarian aid towards Iraq.

    A joint decision was made by the bodies participating in the meeting at the Serres City Hall, to coordinate efforts, and a bank account has already been opened at the Bank of Attica (84661279), which will accept donations until Thursday, April 10.

    The money concentrated will be used to buy medicines from the Pharmacists' Association.

    However, the citizens of Serres who also wish to contribute with powdered milk, bottled water, and medicines (mainly antibiotics and painkillers) are concentrating these items at the old Market.

    Initiatives for the concentration of humanitarian aid have also been organized by the General Body of Greek Workers, the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants, and the Association of Attica City Councils. In fact, there will be cooperation with Prefecture Local Government, UNICEF, Doctors of the World, and other humanitarian organizations, that have respective networks to receive and send this aid to the region at war, so that it can reach those who really need it.

    At the same time, another center for the reception of refugees will be created in Evros, in the framework of the emergency measures being taken in order to deal with the wave of illegal immigrants on the eastern boarders of the country, due to the war in

    Iraq. It should be noted that there are 4 centers functioning in total in the region. They can host approximately 2000 immigrants.

    Apart from the new center, a fund will also be set up to cover the cost of hosting the immigrants.

  • [11] THE GREEK GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN ON IRAQ The latest statements by Mr. Blair and Mr. Aznar according to which, the framework of the last EU Summit decision on Iraq is binding, show that the initiative undertaken by the Prime Minister and EU President for the March 21 decision concerning the UN r esponsibility regarding Iraq's political reconstruction was right, stressed Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.

    On the likelihood of Iraqi refugees entering Greece and the measures taken by the Greek government, Mr. Protopapas stated that the refugees will have to be cared for and protected before they are returned back to countries bordering with Iraq.

    The Greek government spokesman also stated that the 16 Greek journalists, who are still in Baghdad, should be persuaded to leave the city for their own safety. He said that the Press Ministry is in continuous cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and way s for their evacuation are being considered however, many of them refuse to leave.

  • [12] CLARIFICATIONS ON THE HUMANITARIAN AID TO IRAQ The Greek Foreign Ministry prepared action plans some time ago to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the wider region, stated Greek Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Andreas Loverdos.

    He stressed that at this time there is no refugee wave, while the arrival of humanitarian aid to Iraq and its distribution are very difficult due to the war operations underway.

    Mr. Loverdos stated that the package of humanitarian actions is aimed at covering the needs that will arise as a result of a refugee wave. Also, medical care will be offered to the population on the scene with the emphasis on children. He clarified that the Greek humanitarian aid is being promoted through the UN and its special institutions (UN High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, etc), the European Union and in cooperation with the Greek embassies and non governmental organizations.

    He said that a list of organizations with which the Foreign Ministry cooperates will be issued soon to facilitate the Greek people who wish to make a contribution.

  • [13] BIG LOSSES IN THE ASE Big losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.39% at 1.517,94 points, while the volume of transactions was at 86.7 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 232 recorded losses and 72 had gains, while the value of 80 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [14] PEACE DECLARATION BY 50 EURO-DEPUTIES Fifty Euro-deputies will sign a Peace Declaration at the Acropolis in Athens on March 31 and will call for an end to the madness of war in Iraq.

    The initiative belongs to governing Socialist Party of PASOK Euro-deputy and Women's Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee Chairperson Mrs. Anna Karamanou.

    The meeting will focus on the participation of women in the European dialogue and the legal, economic and social dimension of the rights of women.

  • [15] NEW GREEK AIRSPACE VIOLATIONS BY TURKISH JETS Eighteen Turkish F-16 fighter jets violated international air traffic regulations ten times today, while two violations of the Greek airspace were also recorded over the Aegean.

    The Turkish fighter jets flew in seven formations over the sea region between the Aegean islands of Lesvos and Limnos and east of the island of Rhodes.

    Four of the Turkish aircraft formations were armed and Greek Air Force jets engaged in eight dogfights.

  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [16] OIL FEEDING CIVILIANS The UN Security Council has approved the proposal for the reactivation of the UN "food for oil" program, in principle, with which Iraqi civilian population will be supplied with food. The proposal had been made by President Bush, and had initially met wi th the disagreement of other Council members, such as Russia, which said that the supply of civilians is a responsibility of the occupying forces. Humanitarian aid worth $1 million was sent by Greece.
  • [17] EU TELECOMMUNICATION COUNCIL MEETING The priorities of the Greek Presidency in the sector of telecommunications were discussed at yesterday's meeting of the EU Telecommunications' Council in Brussels, Presided over by Greek deputy Minister of Transports and Communications, Sof. Stratakis.

    After the end of the meeting, Mr. Stratakis held a joint press conference with EU Commissioner on Telecommunications, Paavo Linaken, in which he stressed: "We are working to speed up the steps of the European Union in the direction of the Lisbon objectiv es. Through today's fertile dialogue, member-states were given the chance to exchange views and experiences on the strategies they are following, and coordinate their actions to resolve problems in the telecommunications' sector and the effective applica tion of the programs followed".

    As was stressed by the deputy Minister, Greece is on a good path as far as the promotion of individual actions required by the goal of an Electronic Europe are concerned. "We have a complete strategy at our disposal and the funds required for the constru ction of the society of information", he said characteristically.

  • [18] GREEKS MOST CONCERNED WITH THE ENVIRONMENT AMONG EUROPEANS The most concerned citizens of the 15 EU member-states are the Greeks, as far as environmental problems are concerned, according to the results of a poll carried out by the Eurobarometer.

    Specifically, the poll's results showed that Greek citizens are more concerned with environmental issues, at 58%, and are followed by the citizens of Luxembourg and Italy at 44%. Less worry is exhibited by the Dutch (21%), the Finnish (24%), and the Swed es (25%).

    Regarding the degree to which the environmental situation can be affected by individual actions, the French are the most pessimistic (58%), the Greeks (56%), and the Italians (50%), while the Finnish are the most optimistic (66%), the Swedes (63%) and th e Germans (56%).

  • [19] KARAMANLIS-CHIRAC MEETING President of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis will meet with the leader of the French UDF Center party, Francois Bayrou today. Mr. Karamanlis has been in Paris since yesterday afternoon, following an invitation of the Charles De Gaulle Foundation and the Karamanlis Foundation, which are holding a two-day international meeting at the French Academy.

    Mr. Karamanlis will then speak at a conference titled "France and Greece in the world, in the age of de Gaulle and Karamanlis".

    In the afternoon he will meet with French President Jacques Chirac, with whom he is expected to discuss Europe's contribution to the reconstruction of and humanitarian aid to Iraq.

  • [20] THE EU CONDEMNS THE PERSECUTIONS IN ZIMBABWE The EU strongly condemns the unprecedented violence and repression against the opposition after the protest actions of March 18-19, 2003. The EU is especially concerned by the recent events and condemns the wave of arbitrary arrests of approximately 400 opposition supporters many of whom have suffered illtreatment and even torture by security forces. At least 250 people had to be hospitalized, dozens are reported missing, at least one MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) member has died.

    The European Union calls on the government of Zimbabwe to respect the constitutionally guaranteed right of the Zimbabwean people to protest peacefully. The stay away of March 18-19 was predominantly peaceful. While, in spite of MDC's calls for peaceful action, serious incidents took place at the margins of the protest action, under no circumstances can this justify this unprecedented violence against opposition supporters.

    We strongly condemn President Mugabe's recent appeals on March 21-22 to smash any democratic opposition. These appeals actually triggered this new wave of violence.

    The EU reiterates her call on the government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights, to immediately cease its campaign of violent repression and to call to account those responsible for the use of violence and torture.

    To this end, the EU calls on the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the results of the by-elections in the constituencies of Kuwadzana and Highfield reflect the freely expressed choice of the electorates there.

    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 (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), mem bers of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.

  • [21] EU PRESIDENCY DECLARATION ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN ARMENIA The EU took note of the preliminary findings of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) on the presidential elections in Armenia of February 19 and March 5, 2003.

    The EU expresses its concern that, according to the IEOM preliminary findings, the overall election process did not meet international standards, i.e.voting and counting were marked by serious irregularities, such as confirmed cases of ballot box stuffin g.

    The EU also expresses its preoccupation over the fact that during the election campaign people were detained because of their involvement in non violent campaign activities. Although most of these detainees have been released, some remain in custody.

    On the other hand, the EU notes the progress made since the last presidential elections in Armenia, especially concerning the technical preparations and is pleased to see that a large number of international and domestic observers have monitored the elec tions. The EU also acknowledges the positive fact of a broad public involvement in the election process. The EU welcomes the fact that, despite the tense political atmosphere, no serious incidents of violence occurred between the two rounds of voting and now calls for calm and restraint from all sides in the aftermath of the elections. Finally, the EU expects that the necessary improvements of the election process will be made in time for the upcoming Armenian parliamentary elections in May 2003, and especially calls upon the central electoral commission to carry out its mission fully a nd fairly.

    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 (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), mem bers of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.

  • [22] EU MEASURES ON SEA TRANSPORTATION The EU Council of Maritime Transport Ministers convened in Brussels today, chaired by Greek Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis. Greece was represented by Merchant Marine Ministry Secretary General Lambros Lambropoulos, accompanied by other minis try officials.

    EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio presented the main points of a draft Regulation to be submitted shortly, the aim of which is to incorporate maritime transport and port security measures in the framework of efforts to combat terrorist and othe r illegal actions.

    The Council called for the immediate examination of the draft as soon as it has been submitted by the Commission. Discussion focused on a proposal for the amendment of the Regulation on the gradual phasing-out of single-hull oil tankers and a ban on such

    tankers carrying heavy grades of oil in EU waters.

    The Council adopted a general outline of the draft Regulation, agreeing on 2010 as a deadline for the phasing-out of Category 2 and Category 3 oil tankers, except those with double sides or double bottoms, which will be allowed to remain in operation unt il 2015 or the completion of 25 years of service on the basis of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS).

    In the case of small, single-hull tankers (600-5000 dwt), a transitional period up to 2008 was agreed, after which the ban on the transport of heavy grades of oil will be applied. Lastly, agreement was reached on the definition of heavy grades of oil as well as on the scope of implementation of the new phasing-out timetable, which will apply not only to vessels under Community flags but also ships arriving at Community ports.

    In addition, the Presidency undertook the commitment to work closely with the European Parliament in order to ensure approval of the Regulation at its first reading and keep within the June 2003 deadline. The Council also adopted a common approach to neg otiations in the framework of the IMO - so as to secure global implementation of the measures - and asked the Commission to prepare a text for submission to the competent committee (MEPC) of the IMO before April 11.

    During the Council meeting, the European Commission also presented the draft Directive on pollution caused by ships and the imposition of penalties, including penal sanctions for pollution offences. The Council in turn instructed the Committee of Permane nt Representatives to begin examining the draft Directive and submit its report at the Council meeting in June.

    Lastly, the Council adopted a general approach to a draft Directive amending Directive 2001/25/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers, providing for a simplified procedure for the recognition of seafarer training certificates issued by third co untries.


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