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

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, April 3, 2003








  • [01] THE PENULTIMATE FILE The statements of Michalis Kassimis, brother of alleged ELA founder Christos Kassimis who was killed in an armed confrontation with the AEG in 1977, will open the file of May 1st, in the penultimate round of investigations regarding Greek terrorism. Mr. Kassimis, who is accused of complicity in the attempted murder of President of the General Union of Greek Workers at the time, G. Raftopoulos, denies that he is involved and claims that he can prove it.
  • [02] STRIKES AND RALLIES AGAINST THE WAR New major antiwar rallies have been organized in Greece today, while an antiwar strike has been declared by the Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants and the General Union of Greek Workers. There have also been changes in air transports and the mass transit system due to the participation of those sectors' employees in the strike. The KKE has organized a rally with Party Secretary General Aleka Papariga as the speaker.
  • [03] ANTIWAR RALLIES IN ATHENS-THESSALONIKI Their opposition to the war, and specifically US military operations in Iraq, will be expressed by all the country's citizens today, both through the rallies to be held this morning, as well as with strikes and walkouts that have been decided on by the S upreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants (ADEDY) and the General Union of Greek Workers (GSEE).

    Specifically, the protest meeting has been set for 10:30 at Kamara by "Initiative Struggle Thessaloniki 2003" and "Resistance 2003", and at 11:00 at the statue of Venizelos by the Greek Social Forum, the Thessaloniki Workers' Center, "Action: Thessalonik i 2003" and other bodies.

    An hour later, the Struggle Coordination of Thessaloniki schools has organized a rally for all students of Thessaloniki at Aristotelous Square, as all schools will remain closed today. All marches will end at the US Consulate

    Meanwhile, a major antiwar rally will be held in Athens at Syntagma Square at 11:00, with the participation of the ADEDY, the Greek Social Forum, and other bodies, while a march to the US Embassy will follow.

    A second rally will be held at 19:00 by the KKE, where the Party's Secretary General Aleka Papariga will speak.

    Meanwhile, the US attack on Iraq has been condemned with resolutions by the Federation of Middle School Teachers, the Panhellenic Federation of Teaching Associations and Research Personnel, the National Confederation of People with Special Needs, the Tea ching Federation of Greece, the Union of Thessaloniki Trade Employees, municipalities and other associations.

  • [04] SIMITIS COMMUNICATION WITH CHIRAC, SCHROEDER, VERHOFSTADT Prime Minister and President of the European Union Costas Simitis had communications with French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt yesterday.

    According to information, he discussed the initiative undertaken for the formation of a joint European defense. The same information mentioned that Mr. Simitis characterized their initiative as useful. He sees it positively, but Greece holds the Presiden cy of the EU and cannot participate in their meetings, and Mr. Simitis asked them to bring the discussion to the pertaining bodies of the European Union.

  • [05] JOINT EUROPEAN DEFENSE Athens characterized the initiative undertaken by France Germany and Belgium aiming at forming a joint European defense as useful. Prime Minister Costas Simitis had telephone discussions with the three countries' leaders and made it clear that Greece vie ws the initiative positively but cannot participate because it holds the Presidency of the EU. At the same time he called the three leaders to bring the issue to European bodies.
  • [06] DEADLY FROM FACTORY EXPLOSION An explosion left 6 dead in a pipe factory on the old Corinth-Patra highway. The explosion, the cause of which is as of yet unknown, although it has been attributed to a leak in a liquid gas canister, took place at 10:30 and caused an interior factory wa ll to collapse on the workers in that area. Three people were injured by the explosion, one of them is in serious condition, while another has been hospitalized. No missing persons have been reported.
  • [07] TERRORIZED WITNESSES A witness recognized Savvas Xeros today as the man who locked the car with the three rockets that were used in the attack against businessman Vardis Vardinogiannis, in November 1990.

    Eyewitness to the attempted murder of Vardinogiannis, Ioannis Kanaris, recognized Savvas Xeros and claimed that he spoke with the defendant shortly before the explosion.

    At that point Savvas Xeros approached the witness at the stand in what the prosecution considered was an attempt to intimidate him. In fact Mr. Kanaris said that he would not continue his testimony after the incident, as he was terrified.

    On that note, witness Georgia Anastasiou, who had been called to testify in the same case, and who had recognized Dimitris Koufontinas, stated that she could not continue and that she was not feeling well. Her testimony was interrupted and she was taken to the general state hospital.

    There were also testimonies on the Pavlos Bakoyannis murder case, with taxi driver Zisis Vozoras, who allegedly drove Savvas Xeros from the murder site in Abelokipous.

    According to Mr. Vozoras, when Savvas Xeros heard about the murder of Pavlos Bakoyannis over the radio, he said "I wonder who is next in line?"

    Meanwhile, the trial was interrupted at 12 noon, due to the walkout organized by the Athens Bar association, in protest to the war in Iraq.

  • [08] STILL TERRORIZING Two witnesses had serious problems in testifying at the trial on crimes carried out by 17N. Eyewitness C. Kanaris, who recognized Savvas Xeros in the V. Vardinogiannis attempted murder, stated that he was terrified and could not continue with his testimo ny, after Savvas Xeros approached him on the stand, while immediately following that testimony, eyewitness G. Anastasiou, who recognized D. Koufontinas in the same case, stated she felt faint. The trial was interrupted.
  • [09] IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO MPA: RESISTANCE WILL CONTINUE I don't think that there will be a winner in this war. Even the life of one human being is more important than the goal of this war, stated Iraq's ambassador to Athens Faruk Al Fityan speaking to MPA.

    He underlined that Iraq has tried to avoid the war and that is why it cooperated with the UN and the weapons' inspectors and accepted UN resolution 1441 in spite of the obstacles raised by the Americans aimed at making Iraq unable to accept it. After fou r months of cooperation with the UN and when Bush saw that he was unable to get the backing of the UN Security Council he launched the invasion together with Blair.

    The reason why I think that there will be no winner in the war is that the Iraqis defend their country. Resistance will continue, said the Iraqi ambassador. It was obvious from the start, he said, that resistance in Iraq would be strong but unfortunately

    we have suffered extensive damages and many civilians have lost their lives.

    On the antiwar response of the Greek people, the Iraqi ambassador stressed to MPA that the Iraqis, and the Arabs in general, regard the Greeks as their brothers.

    Mr. Fityan stated that for him Greece is his second home and stressed that the effort made at this moment in Greece is not seen in any other country. He referred specifically to the mass antiwar rally of February 14 in Athens, pointing out that Greece ha d raised its voice in favor of peace long before the war. Addressing the Greek people through MPA, he said that this stance is deeply appreciated and respected.

    He said characteristically that even though Greece has other obligations and problems, like the Cyprus problem, the top story on all the Greek mass media is the war in Iraq.

    Responding to the question on the recent deportation of Arak Abdullah, second in rank diplomat in the Iraqi embassy in Athens, he expressed doubt that it had anything to do with the war in Iraq.

  • [10] DIAMANTOPOULOU TO MPA: THE UNITED STATES DO NOT WANT OTHER POWER CENTERS Greek European Commissioner Mrs. Anna Diamantopoulou stated to MPA that in the past two years the United States have adopted a new attitude and perception at a world level both regarding their security dogma and the protection of their economic interests .

    Mrs. Diamantopoulou stated that it is "the logic of the superpower" which was prepared for years aimed at having no rival power center at a world level. She also observed that there is an unprecedented anti-Americanism in Europe and an anti-European sent iment in the United States which makes dangerously difficult any kind of cooperation at a political level.

    She maintained that the unilateral policy of the United States that does not take under consideration the international organizations and treaties is also observed in the conflicts with the EU on a number of political issues.

    It appears that there is a new security dogma namely, when the US chooses to attack and for what reason, which is very different from the past, she stated, adding that the US does not take under consideration the world system when it comes to defending i ts economic interests.

    Referring to the war in Iraq, Mrs. Diamantopoulou expressed fears over the likelihood of a widespread destabilization that will affect every part of the planet.

    On the candidate states for EU accession, which have backed the US positions regarding the war in Iraq, she stated that this is not only because of their pro-American feelings and the deficiencies of their political systems but also because of the lack o f a common European stance. There is a deep rooted sense that the Americans played the major role in their liberation from the Soviet system and that if it wasn't for the Americans the Soviet system, that was oppressing them, would never disintegrate.

    Mrs. Diamantopoulou was against the logic backing the protection and patronage of the new EU states maintaining that they have a great history and culture and they have made a great contribution to Europe and the world in general.

    Mrs. Diamantopoulou also pointed out the risk of a political conflict between the EU and the United States as a result of the anti-American and anti-European climate at peoples' level which is likely to lead to cooperation problems between the two sides.

  • [11] GAINS IN THE ASE The Athens Stock Exchange general index followed the upward course observed today in the major European stock markets.

    The ASE general index rose to +0.71% at 1.518,02 points, while the volume of transactions was at 69.9 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 225 recorded gains and 74 had losses, while the value of 86 stocks remained unchanged.

  • [12] CONFERENCE OF THE PRESIDENTS OF EU EXTERNAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEES ON THE WAR IN IRAQ The crisis in Iraq was the main issue in the EU and Euro-parliament External Affairs Committee Presidents' Conference on the role of Europe in the modern world which took place in Athens within the framework of the Greek EU Presidency.

    All the speakers were against the war and pointed out that the UN should have a central role in international law and order. They also expressed the hope that the EU will overcome its cohesion problems that appeared after the crisis in Iraq to have a str onger and bigger role and become a factor of peace and stability in the world scene.

    Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis opened the conference proceedings and referred to the bloodbath and horror in Iraq and to the new superpower that is being created, namely the power of societies, stressing the need for the EU to back the U N initiatives.

    He said that the peoples of the world look up to the European countries, which have strong democracies, as a last hope to end this horror.

    Greek Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Yiannis Magriotis gave an emphasis to the emergency humanitarian aid that has to be sent to Iraq.

    Responding to the representative of Poland, one of the countries that support the US, who said among others that "we are called to follow the EU policy when we do not participate in its formation", Mr. Magriotis said that the EU regulations are clear. "B ased on them and given the fact that you have an active observer status, your policy will be formed within this framework. You will have the right to participate in the formation of the EU policy starting on May 1st when you will become a full member", sa id Mr. Magriotis.

    Euro-Parliament External Affairs Committee representative, Mr. Christos Zacharakis stressed that the common foreign and security policy of the EU as well as the transatlantic relations can be characterized as a collateral damage of the war in Iraq.

    Alberto Navaro, representing the EU common foreign and security policy high representative Javier Solana, backed indirectly but clearly the initiative of the "four" for the promotion of the EU defense cooperation. Addressing the representatives of the co untries under EU accession, he pointed out that very soon they will find out that it will be much more useful for them to be EU members than NATO members. He said that the good side of the crisis is that the European public opinion demands stronger and gr eater role for Europe in the promotion of principles and values.

    Greek Parliament External Affairs Committee President Karolos Papoulias pointed out that the United States of today worry us, adding that the White House does not echo the voice of President Lincoln.

    On his part, Hungary's External Affairs Committee representative underlined that there could be no unification if the EU enlargement starts based on the view that the new European Union countries will be puppets in the hands of the Americans.

  • [13] SIMITIS: THE EU SHOULD DEAL WITH DEFENSE POLICY ON AN INSTITUTIONAL BASIS Greek Prime Minister and EU President Kostas Simitis characterized as useful the initiative undertaken by Chirac, Schroeder and Verhofstadt on Europe's defense policy in a telephone communication he had with them. Mr. Simitis suggested that their proposa ls should be brought for discussion in the EU bodies.

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas stated that the Prime Minister mentioned that the EU should deal at an institutions' level with major issues. Namely, the defense policy, the policy of security, the EU stance on major international problems

    and the delimitation of the bounds of its relations with the United States.

    On Italy's proposal for the initiative to be broadened and become an initiative of the "15", Mr. Protopapas stated that Italy will express its views in the discussion that will be held and the first step will be made probably after April 29 in the inform al General Affairs Council.

    Asked to comment on the financial cost of the initiative, Mr. Protopapas stated that in order for Europe to have a role it should have its own defense and its own presence on issues of foreign and defense policy. This will help in the overall internation al balance and the best implementation of international law, added Mr. Protopapas.


  • [14] EUROPE-US BRIDGES US Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet with the leadership of EU Foreign Policy J. Solana, Ch. Patten, and G. Papandreou in Brussels today, in order to discuss the issue of the "day after" the end of the war in Iraq, which Prime Minister Costas Sim itis said yesterday, should be carried out with the responsibility of the UN. Mr. Powell will also meet with Mr. Ivanof today.
  • [15] THE NATIONAL TEAM'S GUARDIAN ANGELS The Greek national football team's 2-0 victory over N. Ireland in Belfast yesterday, has kept it in the hunt of qualifying for the EURO 2004. The national team took the lead with Aggelos Charisteas' early goal in the 3rd minute, which he followed with on e more at 55'. N. Ireland's team completed the game with 9 players, after two team members received red cards.
  • [16] PAPANDREOU-DE VILLIPEN The war in Iraq, EU-US relations and the development of Europe's defense were the major issues discussed at the meeting Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou had with this French counterpart Dominique de Villipen in Paris.

    "We all have our worries about the developments, worries about radicalization and stability in the broader region", stressed Mr. Papandreou in reference to Iraq, in statements following their meeting, while he underlined that "the problem is not just how

    to win a war, but how to win peace".

    He also mentioned that he and his French counterpart discussed the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell to Brussels.

    Mr. Papandreou pointed out that there may be great disagreements in the EU concerning the war, but there are also important points of agreement, which are constantly being promoted, and which will be presented at the meeting with the US Secretary of Stat e today.

    "The decision we made two weeks ago at the Summit Meeting was an important decision, that was criticized as not pertaining to the war - of course it did not refer to or evaluate the war - because there was a difference within the EU, but there were very important points for the course from now on. The EU is united on the role of the UN in Iraq, the humanitarian problem there, relations with the Arab and Muslim world and the need to move towards resolving the Palestinian problem intensely and directly. We

    agree on these issues and will strongly emphasize them at our meeting tomorrow", he said.

    Furthermore he stressed that Greece is presiding in the EU and is very close to Muslim states and Muslim populations, and thus it has a much greater reason to be concerned with the developments and insist on movements that could decrease the consequences

    of the crisis and will bring peace and stability to the region on a more permanent basis.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that he hopes there will be an honest exchange of views with Mr. Powell, that different approaches and positions on the war are heard, and that the UN's role, the Middle Eastern issue, relations with the Arab and Muslim world are di scussed, all of which are current and important events.

  • [17] PAPANDREOU-ROBERTSON ON IRAQ AND THE TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou and NATO general secretary George Robertson pointed out in a joint press conference in Brussels that the EU and NATO share the same views on the issue of Iraq. They also stressed that there is no rift in the EU-U S relations.

    The Greek Foreign Minister, who is also presiding over the European Council, reiterated the EU commitment to offer assistance in the effort to solve the humanitarian problem in Iraq. He stressed that the EU wants stability to return to the region and Ira q's territorial integrity to be preserved.

    Mr. Papandreou welcomed the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, that they do not want to be involved in northern Iraq, characterizing them as very important. He also added that the EU is re ady to help the neighboring country deal with any humanitarian problems that could emerge.

    Mr. Papandreou pointed out that in order to achieve stability in the region the peaceful solution in the Middle East should become a priority. He also pointed out the need to reform the transatlantic relations to face the new threats and problems that ha ve arisen because of the crisis in Iraq. He pointed out that a climate of consensus is being formed that can help in the creation of a future community of peace and stability.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that a UN resolution is a precondition for the EU involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq after the war is over.

    On his part, Mr. Robertson stated that there are no irreconcilable differences between the EU and NATO. He stressed that there is consensus in three points: the war in Iraq must end as soon as possible, losses should be minimal and humanitarian aid shoul d be sent to the Iraqi people urgently.

    The NATO general secretary stressed that the United Nations should become activated for the reconstruction of Iraq and added that it is premature to speak about the role of NATO.

    Finally, he underlined that the EU and NATO resolve to cooperate and promote their joint interests is stronger than ever.

  • [18] POWELL MEETING WITH THE EU TROIKA The developments in Iraq and the day after the war were under discussion in the meeting US Secretary of State Colin Powell had in Brussels with the EU Troika made up of Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou, EU High Representative on the Common Forei gn and Security Policy Javier Solana and European Commissioner Chris Paten, responsible for External Affairs.

    According to information, Mr. Powell pointed out that the victory of the US in the war is certain and gave an emphasis to the reconstruction of the country after the war is over.

    He also made it clear that after the Saddam Hussein regime is overturned Iraq will be under a US administration. He stressed that the goal of the US is not the exploitation of Iraq's natural resources but the implementation of a new democratic government

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