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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-02-26

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and




    Athens, 26 February 2003 (08:54 UTC+2)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will be traveling to Nicosia today, in order to submit his new reviewed plan for the solution of the island's political problem to the two communities. Mr. Annan spoke of a unique opportunity for a solution, which would not remain open forever, and Athens and Ankara are approaching the initiative positively. Pressures on the Turkish Cypriot side so that it would adopt a more constructive position, which would make a solution more attainable, were asked for by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while a solution within March was predicted by Mr. Erdogan. His support to the Annan effort was expressed by US President George Bush who spoke on the phone with greek PM.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (11:05 UTC+2)

    Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou will be in the US tomorrow (heading the EU troika) along with High Representative on Foreign and Defense Policy Javier Solana, and Commissioner on Foreign Relations Chris Patten, in order to have meetings with US Secretary of State Collin Powel and Special Consultant of US President George Bush, Contoleezza Rice, regarding developments in Iraq and the Middle East.

    The visit was announced by Mr. Papandreou at a press conference, following the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (08:55 UTC+2)

    An intense attack against private television channel owners, whom it accuses of lack of a mean and an inability to understand the important work that they have undertaken with the holding of television frequencies, was launched yesterday by the National Radio-Television Council, drawing on the antiwar protests being covered over by the visit of the former monarch. It should be noted that there had been harsh criticism on the issue by distinguished composer Mikis Theodorakis.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (08:55 UTC+2)

    The cost of the requirements for a steady trial for November 17, which is scheduled to begin this Monday, has been estimated at approximately 2 million euro, by Minister of National Defense Ph. Petsalnikos, who inspected the related facilities at the Corydallos Penitentiary. The list of willing defense witnesses includes international terrorist Carlos the Jackal and Professor V. Aggelopoulos. The President of the National Radio-Television Council in favor of televising the trial.


    Thessaloniki, 26 February 2003 (12:29 UTC+2)

    The issue of the realization of the EU Summit Meeting on June 20-22 in Marmaras, Chalkidiki, ended after an agreement was signed between the Foreign Ministry and the direction of the Porto Carras hotel complex.

    The agreement was signed a few days ago, and works to reform the complex facilities and the creation of new infrastructure to host the EU leaders, the national delegations and the journalists to cover the Summit, are fully underway.

    Foreign Ministry services gave their assurance that everything has been foreseen for the perfect organizing of the Summit, and all that is left is a race against time, so that everything is ready by the beginning of June and the systems can be tested. A separate chapter is the hosting of 3000 journalists and the functioning of a press center, as it is the first time that so many journalists will arrive in Greece to cover an event.

    Security issues are being looked into by the Ministry of Public order, which has all information at its disposal and is preparing its plans for the event as well as the protests being planned, and the protesters who will arrive in Thessaloniki from all over Europe. In that framework, the issue of how the EU leaders will be transported from Macedonia airport to Porto Carras, which is 120 km away, is still open.

    The Meeting of the European People's Party will be held in the Sani hotel complex, in Sani, Cassandra, during the same period, while the location of the European Socialist Party meeting has not yet been announced.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (20:49 UTC+2)

    The Athens Journalists' Association Presiding Board protested strongly to the government over the issue concerning the coverage of the trial of the alleged 17 November terrorist group members.

    In a meeting with Minister of Press and Mass Media and government spokesman Christos Protopapas, the association's Presiding Board raised the issue of the meaningful, and in accordance with the constitution, coverage of the trial.

    The association wants the journalists covering the trial to be allowed to have continuous visual contact with all the parties of the trial present in the courtroom.

    The Athens Journalists' Association stresses that the fact that the journalists are not allowed to use tape-recorders and mobile phones (except in certain areas of the courthouse) deprives the journalists of their basic tools. It is underlined that the journalists will be forced to agree to an inadequate information, given to the public in small dosages, which is absolutely unacceptable.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (19:42 UTC+2)

    The television and radio coverage of the alleged members of terrorist group 17 November trial is banned by the new law and it will be allowed only if the court rules in favor with the agreement of all parties involved in the trial, stressed Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas.

    Mr. Protopapas stated that all necessary measures have been taken to facilitate the work of journalists.

    He said that a total of 120 journalists will be inside the courtroom and 250 more will be at the Press Center where the trial will be broadcast through closed-circuit television system on two video walls. Also, 40 card-phones will be installed for the journalists covering the trial and 13 direct telephone lines will be given to national television networks and radio stations to be able to broadcast the news immediately. In addition, 64 personal computers will be installed in the Press Center.

    The journalists will have access to the transcripts of the trial but concerning the use of tape-recorders, Mr. Protopapas stated that this is a matter on which the court will have to decide.

    Mr. Protopapas stated that the government wants absolute publicity during the trial but it does not want it to turn into a television show.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (19:17 UTC+2)

    The "Jean Pictet" International Humanitarian Law Competition is a competition for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of law and political sciences, as well as for military, naval and airforce cadets, aiming at improving the knowledge-but above all the understanding-of international humanitarian law, through processes of simulations and role playing.

    The English-speaking session of the 15th Competition of Jean Pictet will be held in Nafplio on March 8-16, 2003, under the auspices of the Greek EU Presidency.Greece has been selected to organise this event due to the fact the Competition is taking place during the Greek Presidency in the EU, whose main priority is the promotion of humanitarian values and humanitarian law in the European Union.

    Thirty-five Universities and Military Academies from all over the world are taking part in the Competition-some of them for the first time.

    Named after the author of the "Commentaries" of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, Jean-Pictet Competition was first held in 1989 in Clermont-Ferrand (France) following an initiative by the French Institute of Humanitarian Law with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Henry-Dunant Institute. Today, the Competition also receives support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country which every year undertakes to organise the competition.

    Participants in the Competition are not only trained in humanitarian law, but also and mainly in implementation in practice, through a pedagogy based on role-playing and self-training. As a consequence, training objectives are reached through placing participants into factual situations of crises, armed conflicts, humanitarian dilemmas, negotiations leading to peace agreements or agreements between combatants and humanitarian organisations, procedures before international criminal courts or before international organisations (UN, NATO etc.).

    At the closing ceremony, judges announce the results and award Jean Pictet Prize to the Best "Team" and "Gilbert Appolis" to the best oralist of the competition.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (18:36 UTC+2)

    The status of refugees, the strengthening of the EU external borders' control, the measures against organized crime in western Balkans and the cooperation of the EU-US judicial authorities are some of the issues included in the agenda of the Justice and Interior Ministers Council. The Council will meet in Brussels on February 27-28, chaired by Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis.

    The responsible ministers will discuss three directive proposals concerning the minimum criteria and the status of individuals coming from third countries, individuals without a nationality (refugees) and the individuals in need of international protection. Also, they will discuss the reunion of families and the status of individuals from third countries who are residents of an EU member state for a long period of time.

    The Council will be briefed by the European Commission and will discuss a study on the distribution of responsibilities concerning the management of the EU external borders. Also, a study for the improvement of the sea borders' control and the strengthening of the passport control procedure at the entry points in the Schengen agreement implementation area.

    An open discussion will be held to examine measures against organized crime in the region of western Balkans. They will also study a judicial cooperation draft plan between the EU and the US concerning the extradition of criminals.

    Also, a discussion will take place to consider measures against racism and xenophobia, the implementation of the mutual recognition of economic sanctions principle and the attacks on information systems-networks.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (17:55 UTC+2)

    The view that February was a hard month for inflation was expressed by Greek Minister of Finance Nikos Christodoulakis confirming the concerns of market officials and the government's economic staff.

    Based on his statements, the rekindling of inflation in February was due to the increase in the international prices last month as a result of a likely war in Iraq and also because of the extreme weather affecting the country.

    However, Mr. Christodoulakis added that the developments mentioned above cannot be associated with the long-term de-escalation of inflation, a phase which the Greek economy has already entered.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (17:14 UTC+2)

    Losses were recorded again today in the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index dropped to -0.37% at 1.617,37 points, while the volume of transactions was at 65.2 million euros.

    The losses were the result of the strong pressures exerted mainly on the telecommunications sector. An additional factor was the fact that the positive climate in the European stock markets was reversed.

    Of the stocks trading today, 129 recorded gains and 160 had losses, while the value of 90 stocks remained unchanged.


    Thessaloniki, 26 February 2003 (16:37 UTC+2)

    In the EU informal ministerial meeting on Energy held in Thessaloniki last week, OPEC Secretary, Mr Calderon, commented upon the oil market situation (Iraq) and referred to the OPEC countries contribution of 40% of the world oil production. OPEC commitment to increase production in order to offset any further disruption in supply was confirmed as well as its willingness to increase dialogue with consumers.

    Proposals for Directives on Security of Oil and Natural Gas Supply

    Following a constructive exchange of views between the Participants the Presidency considers that Member States, whose positions reflect their national situations with respect to oil and gas, could retain an approach including the following elements:

    - More visibility could be given to a common European policy in this field based on the concept of Community solidarity and better co-ordination between Member States, giving due regard to subsidiarity and proportionality and, for oil, taking into consideration the IEA role and relevant mechanisms.

    - Cross-border cooperation and synergies, in terms of use of national security back-up capacities, have to be more fully exploited, including through bilateral agreements.

    - Efficient, visible, reliable, transparent and cost effective national structures for the definition, accessibility and management of stocks should be promoted.

    - The technical and scientific assistance and high level of expertise needed to assist in the proper application of EU legislation should be made available within the Commission

    - Regarding oil: the existing legislation should be improved and updated, without increasing the current oil reserves level; a clear no to using oil reserves to influence prices; the energy dialogue between producing and consuming countries should be further strengthened, creating thereby, a long term framework favorable to price stability and the protection of consumers; consider the principle of intervention in well-defined cases of widespread perception of an imminent risk of physical disruption,

    EU could play a more visible and co-ordinated role within the IEA; explore how compatibility and synergies between EU and IEA mechanisms could be improved.

    - Regarding natural gas: bearing in mind relevant provisions of the new Gas Directive Member States should set minimum security of supply standards, possibly subject to minimum common standards to ensure that coverage exists for exceptional demand peaks; the Directive should recognize the importance of long-term gas supply contracts and safeguards the possibility for Member States to conclude such contracts.

    In well-defined cases of sustained major loss of gas supply in a significant area of the Community ("extraordinary gas supply situation") the possibility of a solidarity mechanism, limited to the strict minimum, could be explored.

    EU/Russia relationship in the field of Energy - Energy Charter developments

    The Participants had a useful discussion on EU/Russia reviewing the progress made so far in the relevant energy dialogue and pointing out additional areas of interest to be included in this dialogue.

    While acknowledging the important role of market players they also noted the contribution of the projects of "common interest", identified by the dialogue so far, to addressing the EU demand for energy and to the further development and enhanced efficiency of Russia Energy sector. They examined to what extent a better geographical balance between the northern and the southern part of Europe could be achieved among such "common interests" projects.

    This was also the occasion of reaffirming the importance of long-term contracts, which remain a key contribution to the EU security of supply as well as a necessary guarantee in many financial ventures in Russia. A mutually satisfactory solution regarding the conclusion and implementation of these contracts in a manner consistent with Community law should be found, especially as regard destination clauses.

    The Participants do see the EU/Russia Energy Dialogue and the Energy Charter process as mutually supportive and complementing each other. The most important issue under this process is for Russia to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty, which it sees as linked to ongoing negotiations on a Transit Protocol.

    The Participants reviewed the state of these negotiations and confirmed their support to the forthcoming consultations between the Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, the Commission and the Russian delegation scheduled in the coming weeks on the Transit Protocol.

    To that effect they confirmed their readiness to explore various angles regarding the three pending issues "Regional Economic Integration Clause", "Right of First Refusal"; and "Transit Tariffs".

    They also briefly considered the Energy Charter - Mediterranean Expansion Initiative and are willing to further promote the gradual accession of Mediterranean Partners to the Energy Charter process.

    The Presidency feels that this initiative could usefully supplement the EU own effort in the framework of the Barcelona process and needs to be carefully co-ordinated with it.

    The Participants were also informed on the next Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Energy Ministers, which will take place on May 20-21, 2003, in Athens, with important topics for the region on its agenda, such as financing and safety of energy infrastructures; security of supply; promotion of renewable energy sources. They welcomed Italy's offer to organise a similar meeting in December 2003.

    The Development of the Energy Dimension of Southeast Europe

    At the Ministerial meeting in Thessaloniki Member States were informed by the Stability Pact cocoordinator, Mr. Busec, on the recent positive developments, under the Stability Pact framework, regarding the Regional Energy Market of South-East Europe, including Turkey, as well as on the successful outcome of a Ministerial Conference on this matter, held in Athens on November 15, 2002. The Presidency and the Commission contributed to the information of delegations as well.

    Based on comments made, the Presidency and Member States support the following orientations:

    - Pursuing the development of the Energy Dimension of South-East Europe in creating a reliable and competitive energy market, through the reconstruction and expansion of the necessary electricity and gas interconnections and energy investments to strengthen the security of energy supply and the effective operation of the market.

    - Supporting in this respect the Commission's initiatives in bringing forward the new approach for neighboring States and applying it in the Balkans region for electricity as well as for gas. The Commission should report at the Energy Council in May.

    - The Energy Dimension of South-East Europe, together with the Northern Energy Dimension and the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Co-operation, constitute a flexible framework for regional energy co-operation and contribute to the creation of an area of political and economic stability, growth and prosperity.

    - The approach followed for the development of the South-East Energy Dimension can constitute a model framework for other similar regional energy cooperation initiatives under way, such as the Euro-Mediterranean one.

    IEA Ministerial meeting, April 28-29, Paris

    The Participants had a constructive discussion on the relevant topics on the agenda, namely: The Investment Challenge, The Near-Term Response, New Dimensions of Energy Security, Extending the IEA Shared Goals to the Rest of the World, and Reinforcing the Shared Goals Actions Now for Sustainability.

    The Presidency considers that the key messages which emerge from the discussion are the following:

    - Addressing security of supply issues requires a wide range of instruments and approaches, including alternative and clean technologies, and the security agenda should be seen in a very broad sense

    - Diversification of energy sources should be pursued and the growing reliance on gas and its impact need to be assessed in this respect

    - EU countries should be prepared (including in the IEA framework) to act together to respond to new risks, such as those resulting from the growing interdependence between countries and between energy sectors. To that effect EU countries will intensify their efforts to improve synergies among themselves and between EU and IEA, and share their positive experience with IEA partners

    - The EU (and this also true for the IEA) cannot approach these issues in isolation and should continue to engage third country partners in a proactive way not only from a pure trade point of view but also through various dialogues, without excluding any particular regions or countries

    - Meeting energy needs will require substantial investments both in EU countries and in third countries

    - Liberalization of energy markets contribute to security of supply

    - New commitments in relation to sustainable development following the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 have to be addressed by energy policy. The EU recent experience demonstrates that this is compatible with the liberalization of energy markets. The three pillars of energy policy (security of supply, competitiveness, protection of the environment) are indispensable components of sustainable development.


    Thessaloniki, 26 February 2003 (15:16 UTC+2)

    Sturdy foundations for the building up of cooperation between Greece, Bulgaria and FYROM, were set with the signing of the agreement for the founding of a Euro-region with the name Belasica by the Aristotelis company of the municipality of Kilkis, the Evroregion Struma Foundation of FYROM, and the Regional Struma Association of Bulgaria.

    The Mayor of Kilkis characterized the agreement as especially important, underlining that it will be a vehicle for the undertaking of common initiatives of the bodies involved, aiming at friendship and the development of the regions people.

    With Belasica, as was pointed out by Bulgaria and FYROM body representatives, their countries, and specifically their municipalities, are given the opportunity to promote specific programs and make plans, aiming at their development. Emphasis will be placed, as was made known, on factors that are important to the regions' economy, such as tourism where investments are foreseen and culture.

    The mayor of Strumnica (FYROM) pointed out that their municipality has moved to the drafting of an especially satisfactory plan, while he was very optimistic on the progress of Belasica.

    On his side, the President of the Regional Struma Association and President of the Blagoevgrad municipal council informed the body representatives that Struma represents 6 Bulgarian municipalities, among which that of Sadaski.

    It should be noted that Aristotelis is a civic non-profit company. Its goals are the application, materialization and administration of communal and national programs, or parts thereof, overseeing and applying developmental programs, as well as promoting cooperation on issues of financial development, health, know-how exchange with Black Sea, Balkan and Mediterranean countries.


    Seoul, 26 February 2003 (14:10 UTC+2)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis met with the new President of South Korea, Mr. Roh Moo Hyun, while visiting South Korea to attend at the oath taking ceremony of the new President.

    He congratulated the new President on behalf of the Greek Prime Minister and President of the European Council, Mr. Costas Simitis, whom he represented at the oath taking ceremony, and briefed Mr. Roh Moo Hyun on the progress of EU-South Korean cooperation and conveyed the interest of both the EU and Greece in further strengthening that cooperation.

    Mr. Giannitsis underlined the seriousness of the problem that has arisen with the nuclear program of the People's Republic of Korea, and the efforts being made by the EU to resolve it, stressing the close cooperation and broad coincidence of views on the issue between South Korea and the EU. Also, the Alternate Foreign Minister assured the President that the EU will continue sending humanitarian aid and characterized Collin Powel's statement that the US will also continue sending aid, encouraging, pointing out however, that North Korea must understand that it cannot follow a policy that would cause a confrontation with the international community.

    On his side, the new President of South Korea thanked Mr. Giannitsis for the participation of the EU in the oath taking ceremony, and expressed his appreciation both on EU-South Korea relations, as well as on bilateral relations with Greece. Mr. Roh Moo Hyun praised the important role of the EU and its help to South Korea. He repeated his intention to work for the development of Northeastern Asia according to the EU model, and expressed his appreciation for the Union's actions in the crisis the region is going through and for their contribution in keeping the peace in the Korean peninsula.

    Mr. Roh Moo Huyn expressed his categorical disagreement with tolerating North Korea's nuclear program, and stressed that he hopes the dialogue with the US is reopened so as to avoid an escalation in the crisis, while underlining the crucial role of the US in resolving the problem, which can be achieved through economic assistance and guarantees as to the security of the regime. The South Korean President characteristically added that we are trying to avert a war, that is why we are asking the US to resolve the problem peacefully through a dialogue.

    Mr. Hyun referred to the bilateral relations between Greece and South Korea and the especially close cooperation is certain sectors such as shipping. Regarding the 2004 Olympics, he stressed that they have a very special meaning, both for Greece and the world Olympic movement, and he expressed his belief that they will be held successfully as well as his hope of visiting Greece.

    Mr. Giannitsis thanked the President and invited him to visit during the Olympic Games.


    Athens, 26 February 2003 (11:55 UTC+2)

    The Life of Jesus, a comic book published by Oxy publications, was confiscated from major Athens bookstores by men of the Attica State Security yesterday, after the decision of the Court of First Instance DA Maria Mallouchou, on January 30, 2003. The DA, calling on provisions of the law on insulting religion in the press, ordered the preliminary investigation be completed within 40 days from the day the case brief is received, that all copies be confiscated under article 14 of the Constitution, and that an investigation take place on the possible punishable act of advertising drugs.

    Publisher Nikos Chatzopoulos went to the DA today to testify concerning the charges against himself, the author, the translator and the legal representative of Oxy publications.

    In an announcement, Oxy publications mentioned that the book is an artistic cartoon and is neither insulting nor shocking, in its text or its illustration, but purely humoristic. The announcement, made known to the Minister of Culture, referred to an unprecedented, in this day and age, censorship and deprivation of the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and it is noted that the last time this happened was more than 20 years ago, in 1981, with the publication of a book by the Marquis de Sade.

    The Life of Jesus, by Gerhard Haderer, was published in Greek in December 2002. Its author and illustrator is the main illustrator of the well known Stern, Geo, Profil and Trend magazines. The announcement stressed that book is a very caustic comment on the commercialization of religion, and as such, it strengthens real religious convictions.

    The book has been published in Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden, Holland and Austria, where it was particularly successful, selling approximately 80,000 copies, and although it did disturb some people, it was not taken off the market since it is a cartoon, mentioned the announcement.


    New York, 26 February 2003 (09:23 UTC+2)

    The change of the inspection completion date to March 28 was proposed by Canada, while the US-UK resolution proposal will be discussed today. In the US, the EU Foreign Policy Troika, G. Papandreou, J. Solana, and K. Patten. Saddam rejects self-exile. Bush congratulates Simitis on the way he handled EU Summit.

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