|Monday, 23 November 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-02-18
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 EU AGREES ON DISARMAMENT OF IRAQBrussels, 18 February 2003 (11:43 UTC+2)
The peaceful application of UN Security Council resolution 1441 was agreed on by the 15 leaders of the UE member-states, during the informal Summit Meeting held in Brussels.
According to the decision adopted by the 15, announced by Greek Prime Minister and President of the EU Kostas Simitis, after the end of the works, the UN Security Council is the body wholly in charge of making decisions regarding Iraq's disarmament. The decision points out that more time must be given to the UN inspectors and that Iraq must cooperate with them fully.
The inspections cannot continue indefinitely, mentioned the Prime Minister, asking that Iraq fully comply with UN resolutions.
The joint announcement also underlined that war is the final solution and is not unavoidable.
The Prime Minister stressed the disposition expressed during the Summit for constant cooperation and a common position of EU member-states in dealing with such issues. He also stressed the EU's support of the UN Security Council and the UN inspectors.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou expressed the satisfaction of the Greek Presidency on the results of the Summit.
In statements to Antenna Television, the Foreign Minister stressed that a very good, honest conversation, both at the Foreign Minister level and at the level of state and government leaders, which allowed for understanding the difficulties and the complicated nature of the issue, as well as the joint message and goal of the EU, the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.
He noted that the text of the 15 cannot mention Iraq's disarmament vaguely and indefinitely, but Iraq is asked to answer specific questions set by UN inspectors as far as biological and chemical weapons are concerned.
If these questions are answered in a reliable way, the threat of war is driven further away, stressed Mr. Papandreou.
Mr. Papandreou stressed that during the discussions a position was expressed that more time must be given for new UN reports, but he pointed out that the EU has not set time limits because it is not responsible. The UN Security Council, and in specific the UN inspectors are responsible, as they are the ones who will evaluate the time they need
Finally, he stressed that Kofi Annan's visit to Brussels is very important, pointing out that with his invitation, the EU wanted to stress that the UN has the final word, the UN will decide on the next steps to be taken.
The full text of the Summit's conclusions were as follows:
CONCLUSIONS OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL
17 February 2003
The European Council held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the crisis over Iraq. Its members also met with the UN Secretary Kofi Annan and the President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox.
We reaffirm the conclusions of the GAERC of 27 January and the terms of the public demarche of 4 February 2003 to Iraq which remain valid.
The way the unfolding of the situation in Iraq will be handled will have an important impact on the world in the next decades. In particular, we are determined to deal effectively with the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
We are committed to the United Nations remaining at the center of the international order. We recognize that the primary responsibility for dealing with Iraqi disarmament lies with the Security Council. We pledge our full support to the Council in discharging its responsibilities.
The Union's objective for Iraq remains full and effective disarmament in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, in particular resolution 1441. We want to achieve this peacefully. It is clear that this is what the people of Europe want.
War is not inevitable. Force should be used only as a last resort. It is for the Iraqi regime to end this crisis by complying with the demands of the Security Council.
We reiterate our full support for the ongoing work of the UN inspectors. They must be given the time and resources that the UN Security Council believes they need. However, inspections cannot continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi cooperation. This must include the provision of all the additional and specific information on the issues that have been raised in the inspectors' reports.
Baghdad should have no illusions: it must disarm and cooperate immediately and fully. Iraq has s final opportunity to resolve the crisis peacefully. The Iraqi regime alone will be responsible for the consequences if it continues to flout the will of the international community and does not take this last chance.
We recognize that the unity and firmness of the international community, as expressed in the unanimous adoption of resolution 1441, and the military build- up have been essential in obtaining the return of the inspectors. These factors will remain essential if we are to achieve the full cooperation we seek.
We will work with the Arab countries and The League of Arab Nations. We will encourage them, separately and jointly, to bring home to Saddam Hussein the extreme danger of miscalculation of the situation and the need for full compliance with resolution 1441. We support Turkey's regional initiatives with the neighbours of Iraq and Egypt.
In this regional context, the European Union reiterates its firm belief in the need to invigorate the peace process in the Middle East and to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We continue to support early implementation of the roadmap endorsed by the Quartet. Terror and violence must end. So must settlement activity. Palestinian reforms must be speeded up and, in this respect, President Arafat's statement that he will appoint a Prime Minister is a welcome step in the right direction.
The unity of the international community is vital in dealing with these problems. We are committed to working with all our partners, especially the United States, for the disarmament of Iraq, for peace and stability in the region and for a decent future for all its people.
 INSISTENCE ON SOLUTION IN FEBRUARYAthens, 18 February 2003 (09:21 UTC+2)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is continuing to express his belief that a solution in Cyprus can be achieved by February 28, one week before his visit to Cyprus, which will be proceeded by a visit of Cyprus' new President T. Papadopoulos to Athens. A Simitis-Kliridis meeting will be held today. Rauf Denktash is cultivating an image of intolerance concerning the new President. Am. Gul will clarify the Turkish position, from the occupied territories.
 TESTIMONY IN EXPECTANCE OF 9 MIL IN DAMAGESAthens, 18 February 2003 (09:21 UTC+2)
His testimony to DA in charge of the blackmails in the name of N17 case D. Papaggelopoulos, is being given by publisher of the Eleftheri Ora newspaper Gr. Michalopoulos, whom a series of witnesses have named as the perpetrator of the blackmails. Mr. Michalopoulos, who denies any implication in the blackmails, filed suits for libel and slander against the Kathimerini newspaper, the Metropolite of Zachynthos Chrysostomos and journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos, asking for damages of approximately 9 million euro in total.
 SCHOOLS-PUBLIC TRANSIT SNOWED INThessaloniki, 18 February 2003 (09:22 UTC+2)
Dozens of villages all over the country are snowed in due to heavy snow throughout the night. The mountain road network is unusable without skid-chains, while all ferry boats will remained tied in. The Rio-Antirrio itinerary is being carried out normally. The cancellation of classes at schools is at the discretion of headmasters. The Athens-Thessaloniki highway is barely open. Traffic in Katara has been interrupted, as snow reached 50cm.
 VENIZELOS-CELIK JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE INTERNETAthens, 18 February 2003 (20:20 UTC+2)
Culture Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Evangelos Venizelos and Huseyin Celik, gave a joint press conference hosted in the Council of Europe site on the Internet. The two were in Strasbourg on the occasion of the Council of Europe Culture Ministers Summit meeting to discuss cultural polymorphism and dialogue.
Both stressed the significance of culture in the political rapprochement of the two countries using as an example the need to transcend certain stereotypes a people has for another, mostly cultivated through a country's education system.
Mr. Venizelos stressed the importance of Turkey's European course for its domestic stability as well as for peace and stability in the wider region, especially under the present circumstances concerning Iraq. He said that the next main goal is the political solution of the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish Culture Minister agreed that the solution of the Cyprus problem is important, stressing characteristically that the present situation on the island cannot continue.
 THREE-DAY EVENTS ON THE GREEK-TURKISH BUSINESS COOPERATIONThessaloniki, 18 February 2003 (19:00 UTC+2)
Three-day events for the promotion of the Greek-Turkish business cooperation will be organized in Thessaloniki by the Industries Association in Northern Greece, the Commerce and Industry Chamber and the Economic and Commercial Affairs Office of the Greek Consulate in Istanbul.
The events will take place on February 20-22 and will be of preparatory nature in view of the Partenariat to be held in Istanbul in May with the participation of over 100 companies.
 KARAMANLIS MET WITH THE AMBASSADORS OF GERMANY AND FRANCEAthens, 18 February 2003 (18:39 UTC+2)
Right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy leader Kostas Karamanlis met with the ambassadors of Germany Albert Spiegel and France Jean-Maurice Ripert.
In the meetings they discussed current developments and the emerging prospects on the issue of Iraq, the Cyprus issue, issues concerning the future of Europe, as well as Franco-German initiatives.
Mr. Karamanlis stressed that New Democracy gives a special significance to a common and strong EU voice, while the EU can play an important role in international developments as a factor of peace, security and cooperation.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 18 February 2003 (18:29 UTC+2)
Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.48% at 1.693,78 points, while the volume of transactions was at 52.4 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 192 recorded gains and 102 had losses, while the value of 85 stocks remained unchanged.
 THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRAISES THE GREEK EU PRESIDENCYAthens, 18 February 2003 (17:48 UTC+2)
The European Commission on Tuesday praised the Greek EU Presidency for the convergence and results achieved at a special EU summit held in Brussels yesterday to discuss the Iraq crisis.
'We hail the courage that was so necessary for the Greek Presidency to call the summit but chiefly the results that this initiative brought, Chief Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull said when asked to comment on the summit's conclusions.
The spokesman also stressed that the agreement achieved by the EU leaders at the Monday summit showed that the EU was truly united in a difficult international crisis.
 GREEK GOV'T SATISFACTION WITH THE EU INFORMAL SUMMIT MEETING OUTCOMEAthens, 18 February 2003 (17:40 UTC+2)
Acting Greek government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris expressed the Greek government satisfaction on yesterday's conclusions of the EU informal Summit meeting in Brussels, pointing out that the Prime Minister was totally vindicated for his persistence to hold the specific summit meeting.
Mr. Hitiris stated that the goal was met, the EU had a single voice yesterday and this was very important compared to what had happened earlier. He added that the unanimous decision reached is characterized by sense and reason and gives peace a chance. He also pointed out that the European leaders congratulated the Prime Minister and spoke in a positive way for the outcome of the EU informal Summit meeting.
He said that peace is given a chance through the appeal made to Saddam Hussein for disarmament, while the use of force will be the last option.
 THE BLACK SEA BANK SEEKS COOPERATION WITH THE EUThessaloniki, 18 February 2003 (17:23 UTC+2)
The Black Sea Bank seeks close cooperation with the European Union aiming to function as a channel attracting community funds to its geographic action area. The development of cooperation is regarded as certain, while its form is expected to be finalized in the second half of 2003.
Toward this direction, the responsible Black Sea Bank officials had meetings last month with representatives of the General Directorates of Economics and Finance, Regional Development and Enlargement.
The directorates mentioned above control programs concerning undisposed capital directed for Turkey, the states in the Caucasus, Bulgaria and Romania. The directorates' representatives saw the Black Sea Bank proposal positively and pledged to form a committee to handle the issue.
 THE STANCE OF THE EU LEADERS ON IRAQ IS A EUROPEAN VICTORYAthens, 18 February 2003 (17:00 UTC+2)
European Parliament Petitions Committee Chairman Mr. Gemelli congratulated Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis for the Greek EU Presidency contribution to the establishment of a common European stance in the Iraqi crisis within the framework of yesterday's EU informal Summit meeting in Brussels. The statement was made in the Greek Parliament European Affairs Committee meeting in Athens today.
From his side, the Greek Parliament's 3rd Vice-President and European Affairs Committee President Dinos Vrettos characterized yesterday's unanimous decision/stance reached by the European leaders as a victory of Europe.
In the Greek Parliament committee meeting, held in the presence of European ombudsman professor Nikiforos Diamantouros, the Euro-deputies outlined the work of the Petitions Committee namely, the examination of complaints made by European citizens against national institutions that do not implement the Community Law in the right way.
 THE ECOFIN MEETING AGENDABrussels, 18 February 2003 (20:39 UTC+2)
A range of important issues of economic policies in Europe was discussed in the ECOFIN meeting in Brussels today.
The present international situation only underscores the importance of the EU decision to strengthen the coordination of budgetary policies. Building on work by the Commission and the EFC, specific elements of interpretation of the SGP have been discussed and was agreed that their importance will be highlighted by their endorsement in the Conclusions of the Spring 2003 European Council.
The meeting reviewed and approved the 2002 updates for the stability programmes of Belgium, Ireland and Spain and the convergence programmes of Denmark and the UK. Concerning the last one, it was understood that the rise of the cyclically-adjusted budget deficit is related to a rebound of net public investment relative to GDP.
As to the projection of a 1.5% deficit for the later years of the programme the Council recommends that the UK should aim to a medium-term strategy to achieve a budgetary position in line with the close to balance requirement of the SGP.
However, some members felt that specific note should be taken as to the compatibility of the projected deficit with the provisions of the SGP. Consequently, the Opinion of the Council was adopted by qualified majority.
On the issue of energy taxation, it was decided to postpone the discussion until the next meeting in March and work in the meantime in the direction of finalizing the agreement, feeling that it is particularly important to reach, especially in view of the enlargement.
During the breakfast meeting, an informal exchange of views was held with respect to the work already underway on the Draft Constitutional Treaty relating to economic policies. It was regarded as useful to define the landscape, though there is no question of seeking a formal common view to present to the European Convention.
There is a fundamental understanding that the existing system of economic governance, including the Stability and Growth Pact and the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines, is broadly appropriate and no radical changes are called for. The current procedures concerning the BEPGs are also adequate.
Overall, an enhanced recognition and representation of the euro area would be both appropriate and welcome. Although the need for the Eurogroup to retain its informal role is appreciated by all, a number of ideas have surfaced during the discussion to this end, including the possibility of a longer-term Eurogroup Presidency and the suggestion, that many share, to create a euroarea ECOFIN.
Finally, there was extensive discussion on the voting modalities in the Governing Council of the ECB.
 THE JOINT STATEMENT OF THE EU TROIKA WITH THE ACCEDING AND CANDIDATE COUNTRIESBrussels, 18 February 2003 (19:22 UTC+2)
European Council President Kostas Simitis, European Commission President Romano Prodi, Secretary-General/CFSP High Representative, Javier Solana, the heads of states and governments and the Foreign Ministers of the 13 acceding and candidate countries, met today to discuss the crisis over Iraq. They also met with European Parliament President Pat Cox.
The input of the 13 has been and will continue to be an invaluable contribution to our common will to resolve the Iraqi crisis and support the Middle East Peace Process. The Presidency will cooperate closely with all to coordinate our steps concerning further developments.
The Heads of State or Government of the 13 acceding countries and candidates countries aligned themselves with the content of the conclusions adopted by the European Council on Iraq in its extraordinary meeting on February 17. They also reaffirmed their alignment with the conclusions of the GAERC on January 27 and the terms of the public demarche of February 4, 2003 to Iraq which remain valid.
The message for the Greek EU Presidency, following the historic decisions taken at Copenhagen last December, is Our Europe. Europe's strength lies in its set of common values. Our common wish is to make Europe the family of democracy, dialogue, tolerance, freedom, peace and progress. It is Our Europe that can have a strong and united voice on the world scene and that can best contribute to the international community's efforts to tackle effectively the major challenges of our times. It is Our Europe that cherishes its strong partnership with the US. It is for this Europe that the input of the acceding countries and candidate states will be of fundamental importance.
The European Union and the 13 reiterate their determination to ensure a common stance, avoid new dividing lines and promote stability and prosperity within and beyond the borders of the new Union. They will continue to work together in their joint endeavour to accomplish these goals.
 SIMITIS WAS WARMLY RECEIVED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBERSBrussels, 18 February 2003 (18:05 UTC+2)
Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis, the current European Council president-in-office, briefed MEPs today following the previous day's special EU summit on Iraq, and on the occasion of a Euro-parliament presidents' conference, which was open to all Euro-deputies.
On his part, Europarliament President Pat Cox congratulated Simitis on what he called the summit's success, which he said had enabled the Union to present a coherent position. Cox said the summit entailed a clear political risk, but its successful outcome had confounded the critics.
We decided to go ahead because the European Union must be present on the international stage and must overcome its differences'', Simitis said, adding that Saturday's global demonstrations in favour of peace were a reflection of deep anxiety and that it would have been paradoxical for EU leaders not to respond to them.
The Greek premier also outlined the main points of Monday's joint statement by the 15 EU leaders, who agreed that all means of achieving peace must be fully exhausted, while the UN must continue to play a central role in managing the crisis.
Referring to the high-profile statement in support of US policy by 8 European nations earlier in the month, Simitis said differences of opinion over UN weapons inspectors' results did exist, although there were also common points within the EU that emerged to the surface during Monday's summit.
Moreover, he stressed that a common view revolves around the notion that war is a last resort, and in the event that no alternative exists. At the same time, he emphasised that Iraq must fully cooperate with the UN, with pressure applied to Saddam Hussein by the international community.
On behalf of the Socialists' group, Enrique Baron Crespo noted that the European Council's statement included the essentials of the European Parliament's Jan. 30 resolution. He also argued that European and world public opinion had acquired the dimensions of a ''new superpower''.
Regarding the issue of the candidate-countries' stance, three of which had signed the recent letter in support of Washington, he stressed that European solidarity was not expressed purely through the agricultural policy or structural funds, but was also based on common values.
On behalf of the EPP grouping, Hans-Gert Poettering called for European states to avoid adopting unilateral, bilateral or multilateral positions that ignore the decision-making processes of the Union.
He also stressed that the EU should not be seen as the anti-thesis of the United States but that the two entities should be partners. Poettering reminded the meeting's participants that the problem was not the United States but the regime of Saddam Hussein, who needed to understand that this was his last chance.
ELDR (Liberals) grouping president Graham Watson said the European Council's position represented considerable progress and placed the UN back at the heart of the process. Moreover, Watson said he believed that if rapid progress was not made on cooperation by the Iraqi authorities, a new resolution with a deadline should be envisaged. Watson also criticised comments by French President Jacques Chirac aimed at candidate-states.
Representing the EUL/NGL grouping, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann stressed that the way in which the international community resolved the Iraqi crisis would have consequences for decades. The 15, she said, were in flagrant contradiction with European and public opinion when they kept open the option of using force, even as a last resort.
Finally, European Left and Greens representative Monica Frassoni argued that when the question of a deadline for the inspections came up, the EU must reach a clear position on this too. Meanwhile it could seek to play a constructive role once more.
Winding up the deliberations, when asked why the candidate-countries had not been present at the European Council on Monday, Simitis said they had been invited to a briefing the next day (Tuesday) and would take part as observers in forthcoming European Councils after April 16, when they will sign the Accession Treaty, and as fully-fledged members after May 2004.
 POSITIVE REACTIONS TO EU STANCE ON IRAQBrussels, 18 February 2003 (14:30 UTC+2)
President of the European Parliament Pat Kox and the representatives of all groups welcomed the statement of the Summit Meeting on the Iraq crisis warmly, and greeted the initiative of the President of the EU, Prime Minister of Greece Costas Simitis, on calling the Extraordinary Summit.
Mr. Simitis spoke at the European Parliament this morning and explained his initiative: When the Greek Presidency took the initiative of calling the Summit Meeting, certain countries reacted. They said that it was premature, that it would lead to discovering disagreements within the EU, that we should put it off until later. However, after discussions, we moved on our decision, because we believe that Europe must be present on the global stage. That despite disagreements, different approaches, the EU must show that its procedures are alive and that they make an effort to bridge the differences.
He made special mention to the major antiwar rallies in Europe and all over the world, and pointed out that the Summit Meeting responded to the worries of European citizens, stressing: Besides, the citizens of Europe were expecting a contribution from us that would lead to a unified position. The protests that took place last Saturday all over the world, that mobilized millions of people, were proof of the great concern there is in the world. And it would be paradoxical, if we, the EU, the leadership of the EU, did not respond and answer that concern. Perhaps yesterday was not satisfying for those who wanted a specific schedule with determined positions on what will happen in the next few days. But we believe, that under the present circumstances it is impossible to have such schedules. There should be a weighting of what can happen at fixed intervals, the initiative belongs to the Security Council. What was possible, and what the EU did, was show its interest, its joint discussion, its common principles and confirm that it is on the course towards the formation of a common policy. There is an overall decision and we must materialize it every time.
In his rejoinder, he underlined: Yesterday's decision showed that we can both understand each other and pursue issues together and have common principles. Of course this does not constitute a solution to problems and what will happen in the future is definitely not clear yet. There may of course new differences, but if we do not press, if we do not say that we want a common Europe with force, we will not achieve it. And yesterday we said it and that was positive.
This afternoon, Mr. Simitis and the other EU Troika members will inform the new member states.
 ONE VOICE, DOUBLE MESSAGEBrussels, 18 February 2003 (09:22 UTC+2)
With a double message to the US and Iraq, the EU proved that it can hold a common position and intervene on current events. In the statement following the Summit Meeting, it was stressed that war is not inevitable, and today Mr. Simitis is briefing and asking for the countersigning of candidate countries.
 THE CRISIS OVER IRAQ DOMINATED IN THE CONTACTS MR. KAKLAMANIS HAD IN INDIANew Delhi, 18 February 2003 (19:49 UTC+2)
India expressed its interest in averting the war in Iraq and securing peace in the region. In the meetings Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis had with India's leadership in New Delhi, the leadership of India hailed the informal EU Summit meeting decision in Brussels, while it praised the Greek EU Presidency contribution to its positive conclusion.
Mr. Kaklamanis, who continues his formal visit to New Delhi, had separate meetings today with the President of the Republic of India and the country's Foreign Minister.
The Greek Parliament President stated that all peaceful and diplomatic means should be exhausted to avoid violence and in any case the UN Security Council should have a decisive role in the decisions.
The Foreign Minister of India stated that if suspicions are taken seriously then the war will be unavoidable. The availability of hard evidence and total honesty are necessary on behalf of Iraq, stated the Foreign Minister of India, stressing that if a war is launched not based on hard evidence the UN will be undermined.