|Saturday, 18 January 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-04-09
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 SIMITIS: THE FUTURE OF THE BALKANS IS WITH EUROPEBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (17:26 UTC+2)
The future of the Balkans is with Europe and the European Union will offer every support for the political and economic reconstruction of the region , stressed Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis in the Summit meeting of the southeastern European countries taking place in Belgrade.
Mr. Simitis pledged that Greece, as the country currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, will promote the European prospect of the Balkans.
Mr. Simitis stated that in the Summit meeting of June 21 in Thessaloniki a clear message will be sent that the Balkans are a priority for the EU and every effort for the stability and development of the region will be supported.
He said that the combating of organized crime is an issue of major importance and pointed out that this problem will have to be dealt with in cooperation with the EU.
The Prime Minister pointed out in his speech that there is a need for closer cooperation among the Balkan states in the sectors of energy, transportation and communications.
 PAPANTONIOU: 50% PROFESSIONAL ARMY IN 2005Athens, 9 April 2003 (15:05 UTC+2)
In 2005, 50% of Greece's Army will consist of Professional Soldiers, stated Minister of National Defense Giannos Papantoniou, who observed the oath taking ceremony of Professional Soldiers (EPOP) at the Training Center in Haidari.
Mr. Papantoniou announced that the materialization of the program for the construction of housing for the EPOP will begin in one month, while he referred to the war in Iraq, expressing his wish that it be over as soon as possible.
 UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ELECTIONSThessaloniki, 9 April 2003 (11:09 UTC+2)
University students began arriving at the ballots at 8am today, in order to vote for the promotion of the parties' power, as well as their representatives at association administrative committees.
The elections are being held in the shadow of the war in Iraq and the US-UK attacks this year. The antiwar mobilization with the mass participation of young people, has created an environment for major student participation in the elections.
Estimates foresee that this year's participation of students will be even greater than that of 1974. The increase of participation also increases the possibility of changes in electoral percentages of the parties on the whole.
The ballots opened with great expectations in Thessaloniki this morning, at the schools of Aristotle University, University of Macedonia and the Technical Schools. The electoral procedure is expected to be completed at 8pm.
 IOC INSPECTING OLYMPIC PROJECTSAthens, 9 April 2003 (11:09 UTC+2)
All Olympic projects will be visited today by the delegation of the IOC's Coordination Committee, headed by Dennis Oswald, who is on a formal visit to Athens. Mr. Oswald will meet with Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyanni at 6pm today.
Tomorrow, the President of the Coordination Committee will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while he will then hold a press conference in reference to the progress of the works.
In any case, on the first day of the inspections, the IOC officials noted impressive progress in all Olympics projects in relation to their inspection in November.
 EU PRESIDENCY DECLARATION ON THE CONCLUSION OF THE INTER-CONGOLESE DIALOGUEAthens, 9 April 2003 (20:36 UTC+2)
The European Union welcomes the conclusion of the inter-Congolese dialogue in Sun City, South Africa on April 2, 2003 as a further significant step towards lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the whole Great Lakes Region.
The European Union pays tribute to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, to the UN Special Envoy Mr. Moustapha Niasse and to the Facilitator Sir Ketumile Masire for their successful mediation efforts.
The European Union is confident that the Congolese signatory parties will now summon the political courage and wisdom to make the peace process irreversible by setting up without delay the transitional institutions, including the agreed security arrangements, and working together for the reconstruction of the country and for a prosperous and democratic future. The EU reiterates its commitment to assist such a process politically and financially, as long as it is fully respected and implemented by parties.
As a matter of urgency, every effort should now be made to defuse the tensions in the eastern part of the DRC, where the Ituri Pacification Commission has begun its work. In this framework, the EU insists that the success of its work is an essential condition for reconciliation in the country. Every effort should be made to avoid any external pressure during its sessions.
The European Union welcomes and fully supports the UN Security Council resolution 1468 (2003). It also welcomes President Mbeki's initiative to convene a Summit meeting on April 9, 2003 between the Presidents of the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.
 GOV'T SPOKESMAN ON THE GREEK JOURNALISTS IN IRAQAthens, 9 April 2003 (19:39 UTC+2)
After contacts of the Ministry of Press, the Foreign Ministry and the Athens Journalists' Association it was decided that the Greek journalists in Baghdad will remain at their hotel. The US authorities have been informed of the decision and gave the assurance that all necessary measures will be taken for their protection. Mr. Protopapas also stated that the Greek government is at their disposal for their safety.
Responding to questions by reporters, Mr. Protopapas stated that Greece had no information that the hotel, where the journalists were staying, was a military target as certain countries maintain and wondered how could it be possible for a hotel with journalists to be a military target.
On the explanations given by the Americans concerning the attack on the hotel, Mr. Protopapas stressed that nobody can be satisfied when human lives are lost.
 GOV'T SPOKESMAN: THE ROLE OF THE UN IN CYPRUS IS IMPORTANTAthens, 9 April 2003 (19:17 UTC+2)
Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas welcomed the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the EU Summit meeting and the ceremony for the signing of the Accession Act by the 10 new EU member states in Athens on April 16. Mr. Protopapas pointed out the important role played by the UN in the efforts to find a solution in Cyprus and its significance in world developments.
Responding to questions on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Protopapas stated that it is a top priority issue for the Greek foreign policy. He also called on Turkey to abandon its intransigent stance and accept a discussion based on the Annan Plan.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 9 April 2003 (18:24 UTC+2)
Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.84% at 1.579,62 points, while the volume of transactions was at 71.9 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 223 recorded gains and 84 had losses, while the value of 78 stocks remained unchanged.
 THE EU MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE DISCUSS TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF POLICY REFORMAthens, 9 April 2003 (18:18 UTC+2)
The European Union Agriculture Ministers discussed yesterday technical aspects of the proposals for the reform of the 15-nation bloc's common agricultural policy.
Greek Minister of Agriculture Giorgos Dris, who presided over the meeting as Greece is currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, told reporters after the meeting in Luxembourg that efforts were being made on a political level to find points of agreement in the proposals.
 EU PRESIDENCY STATEMENT ON RESTRICTIVE MEASURES AGAINST ZIMBABWEAthens, 9 April 2003 (17:58 UTC+2)
A declaration was issued by the EU Presidency, the Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria and Romania, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe.
The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria and Romania, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, declare that they share the objectives of Council Common Position 2003/115/CFSP of February 18, 2003 amending and extending Common Position 2002/145/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe. They will ensure that their national policies conform to that common position.
The European Union takes note of this commitment and welcomes it.
 KOFI ANNAN WILL VISIT ATHENSAthens, 9 April 2003 (17:30 UTC+2)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will attend the ceremony for the signing of the Accession Act by the 10 new EU member states, while he will also be present in the meeting of the countries participating in the European Conference in Athens on April 16-17.
Mr. Annan will be in Athens at the invitation of the Greek EU Presidency and Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou, who is also the President of the EU Council of Ministers.
 S XEROS ADMITTED PARTICIPATION IN SEPOLIA CLASHAthens, 9 April 2003 (15:38 UTC+2)
Defendant in the case of the 17N terrorist organization's crimes, Savvas Xeros admitted he was involved in the clash with the police in Sepolia, Athens, in 1991.
Savvas Xeros refuted the statement of witness Giannis Papafotis, who recognized the man who shot at the police in the face of Sotiris Condylis.
Savvas Xeros claimed that Condylis did not fire, while making mention of false identifications on the side of the witnesses. There was an effort to fit the charges to the identifications, he supported.
Also, in evaluating the testimonies of the witnesses on the Sepolia clash, defense attorneys stated that there were several conflicting statements.
Meanwhile, there was tension at the trial after the testimony of a witness on the bombing of the police Special Forces bus in 1991.
Eyewitness, Michalis Thiotakis supported that after the explosions he saw a van with two men and a woman leaving the site. According to Mr. Thiotakis, the woman was of a small build with dark long hair.
His testimony caused the reaction of defense attorney of Aggeliki Sotiropoulou and Dimitris Koufontinas, Ioanna Kourtovic, who supported that it is not possible for every woman to be identified with her client.
There was also an intervention from defendant Dimitris Koufontinas regarding the two rockets launched against VIOHALKO in 1991 by the terrorist organization.
The witnesses could not identify any of the 19 suspects as the perpetrators of the crime, because they were wearing hoods concealing their characteristics.
Dimitris Koufontinas drew on the Viohalko case to comment on the explosion that took place in the SOLINOURGIA SA plant last week in Corinth, killing 6 workers. The defendant made mention of the murder of 6 people, accusing justice of not being done properly, as company officials were indicted, but not the owners.
The President of the court, Michalis Margaritis responded: Mr. Koufontinas, we cannot place people in prison for manslaughter due to negligence. It would be good if you read some case briefs.
 SIMITIS AND ERDOGAN DISCUSSED THE CYPRUS ISSUE AND IRAQBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (20:15 UTC+2)
Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed there is a need for the solution of the political problem in Cyprus in their meeting in Belgrade today. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Summit meeting of the southeastern European countries.
After the meeting, which was held in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Erdogan agreed that a solution is necessary and that the political problem that was not settled through negotiations must be solved.
Mr. Simitis stated that Greece believes that a solution is possible only within the UN framework. He said that this is Greece's stance since 1974 when the problem was created, adding that the two communities should play an important role in the efforts for a solution and that the Annan Plan is a basis for the solution of the political problem.
The Turkish Prime Minister was in favor of the continuation of the negotiations setting as a precondition that the Annan Plan will favor the interests and the needs of the two communities on the island. He added that both sides want a solution that will safeguard the friendship and prosperity of the two communities.
In the meeting they also discussed the issue of Iraq on which their views converged as to the point concerning the main role the UN should play in the reconstruction of the country after the war is over.
Mr. Simitis briefed Mr. Erdogan on the European Council position regarding the role of the UN in Iraq and also on the fact that Iraq's territorial integrity should be preserved.
On the issue of Iraq, Mr. Erdogan stated that the oil wealth of the country should belong to all its citizens and added that the necessary steps should be made to secure that all the wounded will have the right medical care in hospitals of other countries, including Turkey.
 BALKAN SUMMIT MEETING IN BELGRADEBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (11:13 UTC+2)
The leaders of Southeastern Europe will be meeting in Belgrade today, in order to discuss cooperation issues, and the agenda of the EU-Southeastern European Summit Meeting, to be held in Thessaloniki in June, prior to the EU Summit. Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with Turkish counterpart R. T. Erdogan in the Summit's margin.
 SIMITIS-ERDOGAN MEETING IN BELGRADEBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (11:12 UTC+2)
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Belgrade today, in the margin of the if the Convention of Southeastern European country leaders.
The meeting's agenda is open and two days ago, the Greek Prime Minister and President of the EU sent a message to Ankara regarding its position on the Cyprus issue in relation to its European prospects, by stating that the Green Line in Nicosia also divides Turkey from Brussels.
 SE EUROPE SUMMIT MEETING IN BELGRADEBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (11:09 UTC+2)
The 6th Summit Meeting of member states in the Procedure for Cooperation in Southeastern Europe will begin in Belgrade today, from which, according to Serb media, the 9 participating presidents and prime ministers will send a message for the promotion of regional cooperation and liberalization of trade, for the strengthening of the fight against organized crime, while they will sign a joint announcement on Iraq.
The participants in the Summit are: the Presidents of Albania, Alfred Moisiu, Bulgaria, Georgi Paravanov, FYROM, Boris Trajkofski, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dragan Covic, and Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, and the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey, Costas Simitis and Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the President of the Parliament of Romania, Nikolai Vakaroniu. The Summit will be presided over by the President of Serbia-Montenegro Svetovar Marovic.
The informal meeting of the Procedure member-state Foreign Ministers was held in Belgrade last night, during which a declaration was drafted, which will be signed today by the Presidents and Prime Ministers of SE European countries. Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic stated that his counterparts agreed that in 2002, the countries of Southeastern Europe noted significant progress as far as political and economic stabilization are concerned.
It should be noted that Serbia-Montenegro will turn over the Presidency of the Procedure for Cooperation in Southeastern Europe to Bosnia-Herzegovina today.
 IRAQ WAR AND EU POSITIONS IN BALKAN FOR. MIN. MEETINGBelgrade, 9 April 2003 (09:23 UTC+2)
Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou informed his Balkan counterparts on developments in the war in Iraq and the positions of the European Union on the issue, during their informal preparatory meeting for tomorrow's meeting of Southeastern European countries in Belgrade.
In his statements after the end of the Foreign Ministers' meeting, Mr. Papandreou referred to the role the UN must have in post war Iraq and the Bush-Blair discussions in Belfast.
I think that the European Union can significantly influence international developments with a common voice. The decision of the 15 was correct, one could even call it wise, even if it was at the beginning of the war, when some were saying that we were discussing the following day of the war. But our position there has proved to be a very important decision for the future of the region, said Mr. Papandreou.
Regarding the meeting in Belfast, Mr. Papandreou appreciated that Mr. Blair, definitely entrenched with the common EU position on the UN, managed to get a convincing message over to the US.
Let us hope that the essential role of the UN is promoted, so that it can contribute, because that is our reason, consolidating international law and stabilizing the broader region, he stressed.
In response to a question on whether the Foreign Ministers came to a common announcement on Iraq, Mr. Papandreou stated that there have been some observations on the final text of the proposal, and that political directors will process it today.
But we are all agreed that the essence of the text must concern humanitarian aid and the UN's basic role in the next phase of the reconstruction of Iraq, he added.
Regarding the meeting today, Mr. Papandreou stated that Greece, with specific initiatives, is playing the leading part in the accessional course of Balkan countries.
In Thessaloniki, with the initiative of the Greek Presidency, the European Union will meet with Balkan countries, and we are aiming for a double message. A powerful message towards our neighboring countries that they are part of Europe and a powerful message from them that they are ready to move to the necessary changes and interior reforms, and also that they are ready to deal with problems, such as organized crime, as well as issues concerning interior democratic reforms and issues of regional cooperation, underlined the Foreign Minister.
If we do in fact manage to promote these issues at the Thessaloniki Summit, then we will have had a successful presidency as far as the Balkans are concerned, he appreciated.
 THE EU ENLARGEMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTStrasbourg, 9 April 2003 (19:02 UTC+2)
The European Parliament approved the accession reports for the 10 new EU member states. The positive votes given to the acceding countries were the Czech Republic (489), Estonia (520), Cyprus (507), Latvia (522), Lithuania (521), Hungary (522), Malta (521), Poland (509), Slovenia (522), Slovakia (521).
Just before the voting took place, European Commissioner Gunter Ferheugen, responsible for Enlargement issues, expressed regret over the fact that no political solution was found to the Cyprus issue.
On Turkey, he said that in 1999 a door was opened for Turkey in Helsinki and that Copenhagen gave a political road map to Turkey last November. At the end of the year, it will be decided if it meets the political preconditions for accession.
On Bulgaria and Romania, Mr. Ferheugen stated that after the first ten states become members the talks and negotiations will continue with these two countries for the EU to have 27 members soon.
 YIANNITSIS ON THE ACCESSION OF THE 10 NEW EU MEMBER STATESStrasbourg, 9 April 2003 (17:40 UTC+2)
The countries that will be the new EU member states are part of our common history, heritage and culture and their EU accession signals the end of the fabricated division of the European continent. The above were stressed by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Tasos Yiannitsis in his speech on the occasion of the approval by the European Parliament of the applications of the 10 acceding countries.
Mr. Yiannitsis stated that today is a historic day for the European Union as the goal concerning the creation of a united Europe materializes based on democracy, pluralism, human rights and the market system economy.
He also referred to the difficulties in the enlargement process and expressed optimism for the future of Europe in spite of the adverse international situation.
 US RESERVATIONS ON EU-UN IMPLICATION IN IRAQBrussels, 4 April 2003 (09:17 UTC+2)
US Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared reserved towards the position of the EU expressed by Mr. Papandreou, that a UN resolution concerning the involvement of the EU on the day following the end of the war. Mr. Powell has had meetings with 22 of counterparts in the first few days following the beginning of the war, while Washington is preparing the post-war Iraqi government.
 PAPANDREOU STATEMENT AFTER THE EU TROIKA-POWELL MEETINGBrussels, 3 April 2003 (21:16 UTC+2)
The statement made by Greek Foreign Minister and European Council President Giorgos Papandreou after the meeting of the EU Troika with US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Brussels has as follows.
The European Union stressed the great importance it places on the role of the UN during the next phases of the war. We support international legitimacy and wide consensus in every phase, every development or transition period. In parallel, we support this organization which we consider to be the key to international security and stability.
This view is recognized by the US and Mr. Powell. It is a view that we strongly support. I believe that there is an emerging consensus on several points and though we have not gone into detail- I think that it could be achieved. We hope that substantial dialogue will take place so that consensus is reached in the Security Council concerning the role of the UN in the next phases of the war in Iraq.
 GREECE SECURES EXIT FOR PRESSBaghdad, 8 April 2003 (14:16 UTC+2)
A British official attributed the bombing of the Palestine hotel, the primary host of foreign journalists covering the Iraq war, during which there was an unknown number of victims, was due to an error. Earlier, the offices of the Arab television channel Al Jazeira had also been bombed, resulting in the lethal injury of one cameraman. Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou stated that the exit of any Greeks wishing to leave will be secured.
 INFORMATION LOSSESBaghdad, 8 April 2003 (12:13 UTC+2)
One Spanish journalist was killed and five more were injured, two of which are in serious condition, when the Palestine hotel, where the journalists were staying, was struck, because there were snipers on the roof, as US authorities announced. Among the targets was the Reuters news agency's offices. Earlier, the offices of the Arab television channel Al Jazeira had also been bombed, resulting in the lethal injury of one cameraman. There are no snipers, transmitted NET correspondent P. Charitos, who is staying in the same hotel.