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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-05-05

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, May 5, 2003








  • [01] SAUNDERS MURDER IN COURT The widow of British military attache Steven Saunders, will be the first witness to testify today in the trial on the crimes allegedly committed by the 19 suspect members of the "17 November" terrorist organization. D. Koufontinas, Ag. Sotiropoulou, S. X eros, and V. Xeros are accused of the British brigadier's murder in the summer of 2000, an event that involved Scotland Yard in the investigations that led to the eradication of the organization in the summer of 2002.
  • [02] BELL SOUNDING ARIS' RETURN Aris conquered the first Champion's Cup in its European history, in a last second victory over the Polish Prokop, with a score of 84-83 in Thessaloniki last night. This was Aris' third European cup, after the team's successes in 1993 and 1997, and the 20 th title for the basketball team. This Cup is the bell sounding Aris' return, stated federal coach Giannis Ioannidis. Aris had a lot of spirit and reached the cup, commented Nick Galis.
  • [03] PRAISING THE PRESIDENCY More than 4 out of 5 Greeks see the Greek Presidency of the EU positively, while the accession of Cyprus to the EU met with enormous acceptance surpassing 90%, according to the poll carried out by Metron Analysis, which also recorded a positive view of t he Summit for the enlargement held in Athens, although there were some complaints on the traffic measures enforced in the city.
  • [04] C. SIMITIS-G. AGGELOPOULOU INAUGURATED INTERNATIONAL RADIO-TELEVISION CENTER The International Radio Television Center to host all journalists, television and radio stations of the world during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, was inaugurated this morning by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    After the inauguration of the Press Center, the Prime Minister stated: "Today, 15 months before the 2004 Olympics, we turn over the International Radio Television Center to Athens 2004. This impressive building. Consistent with our schedule, we secure th e conditions for the successful holding of the Olympics. This building will house the television and radio stations to cover the Olympics and that is why today it is a shell".

    "Over the next few months Olympic projects will gradually be delivered. Modern projects fully meeting Olympic standards and designed so that they may be utilized after the Olympics. Nothing is left to luck. Every euro we spend bears a result. And tomorro w we will all be proud of Athens' Olympic Games, of the work carried out by Greece, of the heritage we leave behind for the new generation", ended the Prime Minister.

    The President of the Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee, Gianna Aggelopoulou - Daskalaki, stressed that Greece will show a new image at the Olympics.

    I her statements to the press, she stressed: "We fully understand our enterprise, we believe that Greece will show a different image, with this work turned over on time, it shows that it has learned to prepare, plan, find alternatives, and show that it i s a modern country that really smiles".

  • [05] GREEKS TRUST GOVERNMENT'S FOREIGN POLICY The political scenery in Greece has changed according to a poll carried out by Metron Analysis for the Greek Presidency, immediately following the two-day Summit at the Zappeion.

    Decades of stereotypes have been reversed and the atmosphere being formed - as it is recorded by the poll - has created favorable conditions for an extroverted and confident foreign policy, for the continuation and intensification of the policy aiming at

    peaceful coexistence with Turkey and mutual promotion of interests in the region. At the same time a wave of support to institutional changes of the EU in the federal direction is being created, even though we are still "playing it safe", since national identity is still dominant. As far as the Zappeion Summit is concerned, it was considered a great success by public opinion.

    According to the Metron Analysis poll:

    At the moment, Greek citizens consider their country more powerful than Turkey- in all sectors, expect in military infrastructure. First of all, the myth of Turkey's invincible diplomacy has collapsed. 56.2% of Greeks believe that Greece is more powerful

    in diplomacy and foreign policy, in contrast to 33.5% who believe that Turkey is more powerful, while 3.7% believe that they are equal and 6.7% did not answer. 74.9% believe that Greece's economy is stronger, in contrast to 9.3% who believe that Turkey i s stronger. In military infrastructure, Turkey is considered more powerful than Greece by 45.3%, while 29.4% believe that Greece is more powerful.

    For the first time the majority of those asked were in favor of Turkey's European prospects, even if the opposing view is still strong. Specifically, 45.5% are in favor of Turkey's future accession if it meets the requirements, in contrast to 43.3% who a re against it, while 5.6% who stated that they are "neither for nor against".

    80.5% believe that now that Cyprus is a member of the EU there is a greater chance for the Cyprus issue to be resolved than before, while only 8% believe that the chances have decreased.

    European issues

    Greeks appear to be very highly in favor of the federal direction of European integration. The joint defense policy of the Union finds 84.8% agreed, while 5.4% disagree. 77.1% agree that the President of the EU should be directly elected by the people, w hile 13.3% are opposed. 73.6% are in favor of instituting a position of a Foreign Minister and 12.5% are opposed. 72.6% are in favor of adopting a European Constitution and 11.6% are against it. Furthermore, 55.8% stated that they are in favor of creating

    a common European government, with 28.3% against it.

    However, the permanent position of a President of the European Council with a longer and more steady tenure has met with resistance, as 36.1% of those asked were in favor, while 54.9% were opposed, supporting that the rotating Presidency should continue.

    Furthermore, the question "what do you believe we need at the present: More Europe and less Greece, or less Greece and more Europe?" has created doubts as to the degree of tolerance of the majority in favor of a federal Europe. 68.7% asked for "more Gree ce and less Europe", while 18.9% asked for "more Europe and less Greece". In any case, a federal Europe would require resigning national decisions and rights and a less "national state", and that, according to the poll, is something Greeks are not at all sure they want.


    The government's foreign policy has now become its strong suit, as it is highly accepted. On the issue of Cyprus' accession, 85.4% judged government policy positively, while only 5.1% were critical. On the resolving of the Cyprus issue, 70% also judged g overnment policy positively and only 11.7% negatively. Lastly, government policy on Greek-Turkish relations was also seen in a positive light by 48.9% and negatively by 24.6%. The Greek Presidency is also evaluated positively so far by 79.7% and negativel y by 7.4%.

    76.4% are in favor of the EU enlargement (in contrast to 68.7% in November 2002), and 12% is against the enlargement. As far as the accession of Cyprus is concerned, 33.6% considers it the most important event since Greece became a member of the EU, whil e 56.6% consider it an "important event", while 4.3% see it as an "event of minor importance" and 2.9% are "indifferent".

    76.8% of those asked believe that the UN should play a central role in Iraq after the end of the war, agreeing with the position discussed at the EU Summit, while 10.2% disagree and 3.9% "neither agree nor disagree".

    As far as the Athens Summit is concerned:

    The enlargement and Cyprus' accession are considered its most important issues by 30.4%, while the issue of reforms in EU functioning follows with 26.5%, trailed by the situation in Iraq with 24.8%.

    The majority of those asked judged all sections of the Summit positively, such as its organizing (86.4%), service and hospitality of guests (84.6%), security measures (76.1%), with the exception of the traffic measures, which were judged positively by 34 .6% and negatively by 44.5%.

  • [06] PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM SUES METROPOLITE OF VOSTRA A lawsuit was submitted to Athens DA of First Instance D. Asprogerakas, against the Metropolite of Vostra Timotheos, by Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos. In his lawsuit, the Patriarch of Jerusalem accused Metropolite Timotheos of planning to have him kille d, using hired killers.

    The case came to light last month, when an Orthodox Arab, 40-year-old Yussef El Mufti, who is in the custody of the Palestinian Authorities, confessed that he had received orders from a Metropolite of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to kill Irineos in Palestinian territories, for $500,000.

    After being questioned by the authorities of the Palestinian Direction, he confessed that he received $100,000 as a down payment, and tried to kill the Patriarch shortly after the Christmas holidays.

  • [07] SIMITIS TO VISIT 7 EUROPEAN CAPITALS President of the European Council and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit 7 European capitals this week in view of the upcoming Thessaloniki Summit.

    Today, May 5th, on the eve of his departure on his tour of the capitals, Mr. Simitis will address the 29th Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees (COSAC).

    Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will travel to Talin (Estonia) and on the same day he will depart for Riga (Latvia), where discussions have been planned for the following day.

    On Wednesday, Mr. Simitis will travel to Vilnious (Lithuania) and then to Warsaw, where, on Thursday, he will have discussions with his Polish counterpart, before departing for Budapest.

    On Friday, the Prime Minister will have discussions with his Hungarian counterpart and will then depart for Bratislava, to hold discussions with his Slovak counterpart. On the same night, he will travel to Prague, were he will have discussions on Saturda y, May 10, before returning to Athens.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis will also be abroad on Sunday May 11, when he will travel to Panama.

  • [08] TURNING TO NEONAKIS... I have never been a layabout or a sinecurist, and I have never touched a cent of public funds, stated MP and member of PASOK's Executive Office M. Neonakis, in response to an "Avriani" publication, according to which he placed approximately 880,000 euro in an investment fund. A second lawsuit for libel was pressed by Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas, against the owner of the "Avriani" newspaper and the newspaper's publisher - director, G. Tsirogiannis, regarding the publication on the constructi on of Mr. Protopapas' house, according to which, the house is worth almost 3 million euro and there were planning violations during construction.
  • [09] NO TO SCANDAL MONGERING His categorical reassurance that the government will not change anything in its agenda, in which the EU Presidency is its priority, was repeated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while he expressed his discomfort for those trying to move "scandal mongeri ng and talking politics" into the government's priorities. More than 4 out of 5 Greeks evaluate the Greek Presidency of the EU so far positively, according to a poll carried out by Metron Analysis, while more than 9 out of 10 consider Cyprus' accession a success.
  • [10] AKINJI: CYPRUS IS THE COMMON HOME OF TWO COMMUNITIES "Cyprus is the common home of two communities and there is plenty of room", commented Mustafa Akinji, former president of the Turkish Cypriot "Party for Communal Liberation", in Mr. Denktash's Opposition.

    On the historic developments taking place in Cyprus, with the movement of thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, he said that it is something expected for a long time, and the two communities should have met a long time ago. The movement of Turkish and

    Greek Cypriots show to both the international community and us, that the two communities can indeed coexist, as long as there is the proper infrastructure.

    However, he observed, what is happening today, is not the solution to the Cyprus issue. The solution will be achieved with an overall settlement based on the plan of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. This is what the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots want s, as well as the accession to the EU.

    He also stressed that events in Cyprus have marked the beginning of the weakening in the Denktash regime. "If the military and non bureaucracy stop supporting Denktash, then the Turkish Cypriots will show what they really want with their participation in

    the elections".

    Drawing on the upcoming visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the occupied territories, he pointed out that "the Erdogan government says that it wants a solution for the Cyprus issue, but it is not consistent. It is not consistent in it s promises to Cyprus, either".

    He stressed that "the problem with Turkey is that the government does not make decisions alone, there are other factors making decisions". He would like the Erdogan government to become a real government and hoped that it carries out all that it has prom ised.

  • [11] INTENSE REACTION ON WITNESS TESTIMONY Aggeliki Sotiropoulou reacted intensely in today's proceedings of the trial on the crimes committed by the "17 November" terrorist organization, when a witness recognized her and Dimitris Koufontinas as the couple she had seen a day earlier at the site o f British Brigadier Steven Saunders' killing.

    Witness Theodosia Mania stated that the couple must have been connected to the Saunders murder, and supported that there is a great possibility that they were Sotiropoulou and Koufontinas.

    Mrs. Manias' statement caused the rage of Aggeliki Sotiropoulou, and when the President of the court, Michalis Margaritis, asked the defendant to approach the witness, Mrs. Sotiropoulou responded: "If I go any closer I'll hit her. You have never seen me in your life. You should be ashamed. You should spat on".

    Meanwhile, alleged leader of 17N Alexandros Giotopoulos disagreed and condemned all actions carried out by 17N, and denied any participation in the Saunders killing. Dimitris Koufontinas and Savvas Xeros did not respond to the same question.

    Brigadier Saunders' widow, Heather Saunders, stated that her husband was an innocent man, and she could not explain the reasons for which he was selected as a target and killed. "There is no excuse for a person to be killed".

    There were also claims made by Savvas Xeros that he was being administered drugs affecting his mental state, while he stated that there are members of the antiterrorism squad in the prison, posing as guards.

    The court DA asked that an investigation be carried out in order to ascertain the validity of Xeros' accusations.

    The court also decided that the Corydallos penitentiary psychiatrist and psychiatrist Theodoros Christodoulakis, proposed by Savvas Xeros, take the stand as witnesses.


  • [12] GRADUAL UNDOING OF ATTILA? Ankara's decision to withdraw a large portion of Turkish forces stationed in Cyprus, was announced by the Turkish press, according to which an announcement will be made on the issue by Tayyip Erdogan on his visit to the occupied territories. The Cypriot government expects a change in Turkey's position in order for the Cyprus issue to be led directly to negotiations based on UN resolutions, aiming at a solution, stated Cypriot Government Spokesperson, Kypros Chrysostomidis. The opening of certain points i n the line up does not constitute a solution, appreciated Special Consultant of the UN Secretary General Alvaro De Soto.
  • [13] PUBLICATION ON ERDOGAN ANNOUNCEMENTS The gradual withdrawal of occupational forces and reinstallation of Greek Cypriots to their homes and the returning of part of Ammochostos to its legal residents, will be announced, among other things, by the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoga n, during his upcoming visit to occupied Cyprus this Friday. "Kiprisli" newspaper, calling on valid sources, stated that during Tayyip Erdoan's visit, measures will be announced, according to which:

    Every year a number of soldiers will be withdrawn

    Every year a specific number of Greek Cypriots will be allowed to return The UN, the EU and other international organizations will secure funding for restoration works

    Special courts staffed by Turkish judges will begin functioning, in order to resolve property cases

    The lifting of the movement restrictions will be extended to other sectors, such as transportations, communications, sports and culture, while free movement of cars will also come into effect for ships and aircrafts.

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