|Saturday, 11 July 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-05-03
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 THE GREEK EU PRESIDENCY IN FAVOR OF A DIALOGUE ON EURO-DEFENSERhodes, 3 May 2003 (15:13 UTC+2)
The Greek EU Presidency regards as difficult but necessary the dialogue on Euro-defense. Greek Foreign Minister and European Council President Giorgos Papandreou stated from Kastelorizo, the Aegean's south-easternmost island, where the Informal EU General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting (Gymnich) is taking place, that he does not share the US concerns on the issue.
Events have shown that Europe needs to form its own strategic dogma on foreign policy and defense issues, said Mr. Papandreou. He clarified, however, that the first essential discussion on the issue will be held in the European Council meeting in Thessaloniki after the EU Presidency is prepared and a meeting is held with US President Bush.
Regarding Iraq, the EU reconfirmed the principle of the preservation of the territorial integrity of the country and the need for a legal transitional administration in accordance with international law. On the European role in the post-war developments in Iraq, the EU suggested that working plans should be prepared concerning the provision of humanitarian aid, the policy for the reconstruction of Iraq and cooperation with international financial organizations.
The EU Foreign Ministers also referred to the need for the further promotion of the European security and defense policy, while the EU should be able to act like an international player, and the EU-NATO cooperation should be safeguarded. Referring to the Euro-Atlantic relations, the EU Foreign Ministers underlined the need for balanced relation based on common values.
Mr. Papandreou stated that the so-called road map in the process for the solution of the Middle East issue shows that the EU has successful moments in its foreign policy, while the European Council stressed the need for the quick implementation of the road map.
Responding to questions by reporters, Mr. Papandreou praised the historical personality of Yasser Arafat, who is a necessary player in the peace process. EU High Representative for CFSP Mr. Javier Solana stressed that the EU should exert pressures on the Israelis to accept the road map without terms and preconditions. He also said that, at the same time, the Palestinians should try and control the extremist organizations.
The French Foreign Minister pointed out the need for the economic support of the Palestinians to help them build the necessary infrastructures.
 THE SAUNDERS CASE WILL BE TRIED ON MONDAYAthens, 3 May 2003 (14:11 UTC+2)
The trial of the terrorist group 17 November will continue on Monday and the court will hear witnesses testifying on the assassination case of British Brigadier Stephen Saunders.
Dimitris Koufodinas and Savvas Xiros are accused of carrying out the assassination, while Vasilis Xiros and Angeliki Sotiropoulou are accused of being accomplices in the crime. Alexandros Giotopoulos is regarded as the crime's instigator.
Savvas Xiros was allegedly the driver of the motorcycle that stopped next to the victim's car while in a traffic jam. Dimitris Koufodinas was also riding on that motorcycle.
Among the witnesses will be the victim's widow, Heather Saunders. The terrorist group 17N had claimed responsibility for the assassination and the British secret services became actively involved in the police investigation aimed at bringing the terrorists to justice. The contribution of the British authorities in the effort against terrorism in Greece is regarded as decisive.
 GREECE WANTS THE ASSISTANCE OF THE EU SOLIDARITY FUNDAthens, 3 May 2003 (17:46 UTC+2)
Greek Minister of Finance Nikos Christodoulakis sent a memorandum to the European Union calling for the assistance of the EU Solidarity Fund to help Greece cover the cost for the restoration of the damages caused by floods in the country during the first trimester of 2003. The estimated cost for the restoration of the damages is 312 million euros.
The Greek government calls the EU to cover 50% of the cost.
In the letter, sent by the Greek Finance Minister, it is stressed that the large scale natural disasters that hit Greece in the three-month period of January-March 2003 were the result of extreme weather phenomena recorded in different parts of the country.
 CONCLUSIONS OF THE EU INFORMAL MEETING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAthens, 3 May 2003 (17:29 UTC+2)
The protection and improvement of the environment, as it is specifically mentioned in the Treaty of Amsterdam, is a major goal of the EU, stressed the EU Environment Ministers as well as their counterparts from the EU acceding states in their informal meeting at Lagonisi, near Athens, on May 2-3.
The European ministers pointed out that the EU should have an important and active role in total harmony with the general EU position on sustainable development as it is determined in the conclusions of the March 4, 2003 Council aimed at the implementation of the Lisbon strategic goals.
They also agreed that the existing procedures, strategies and tools should become more effective to achieve sustainable development in the enlarged EU and at a world level as well.
The participants in the meeting also reminded that based on the conclusions of the European Councils in Gothenburg, Barcelona and Brussels (March 2003), the environmental dimension is one of the three pillars of Strategic Sustainable Development together with economic development and social cohesion.
 PROTOPAPAS ON THE WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAYAthens, 3 May 2003 (16:54 UTC+2)
On May 3rd we do not celebrate just the World Press Freedom Day. We celebrate Democracy itself. The rejection of any kind of censorship and oppression, methods that undermine Democracy and hurt society, depriving the people of their right to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings; of their right to be free.
The above were stressed, among others, by Greek government spokesman and Minister of Press and Mass Media Christos Protopapas on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day celebrated today.
He stressed, however, that the freedom of the press should not be used as an alibi to disseminate non reliable information and insult social principles and values.
 DEVELOPMENT OF COOPERATION BETWEEN EU AND JAPANAthens, 3 May 2003 (13:18 UTC+2)
The importance of developing cooperation between the European Union and Japan was mentioned by the Prime Minister of Greece and President of the EU Costas Simitis, the Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koijumi, and the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, in the joint press conference they held in Athens, after the EU-Japan Summit discussions.
The EU has strategic interests in Japan, stressed Mr. Simitis characteristically. Our cooperation has just begun, he added, to continue that this cooperation must extend beyond the economic sector, to other levels of international interest.
Regarding the content of their discussions with the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Simitis said that they discussed the present situation in Korea, and noted that the issues of demilitarization and limitation of weapons of mass destruction must be discussed on a broader field.
The two sides welcomed the efforts for the accession of Iraq to the international community, the consolidation of a government in Palestine and the joint effort to find a solution on the Palestinian issue. The solution to the Cyprus issue can be found in the framework of the UN.
They also discussed relations with China, the Balkans and Afghanistan, while they expressed their concern on SARS.
Mr. Simitis stressed that there is ground for the development of relations with Japan, the promotion of common business activities. Greece wishes to double its economic relations with Japan and change the commercial balance, which is at the expense of Greece at the present.
The Prime Minister of Japan stressed that there was an agreement for the development of EU-Japan economic relations. Japan's goal is to increase foreign investment within its territory. It will encourage Japanese tourists to visit EU countries. Mr. Koizumi expressed his hopes that European tourists also visit Japan. He observed that the development of financial relations with the EU would help secure stability in the region, calling on the geostrategic interests of both sides.
The President of the Commission pointed out the need to preserve the momentum of cooperation between the EU and Japan, spoke of a common protocol and common interests.
The problem with North Korea's nuclear weapons is especially important to Japan, said Mr. Koizumi, and noted the country's aggressive disposition towards Japan. At that point, he pointed out that during the last meeting he had with the North Korean leader, he received a promise that there would be no more aggressions and he expressed his hope that N. Korea would hold a responsible position as part of the international community and will not show aggression towards Japan in the future. As far as the nuclear weapons are concerned, he noted that the issue should be discussed in a package agreement.
Mr. Simitis mentioned the EU's position that N. Korea must comply with international agreements on nuclear weapons. He observed that there are constant disputes that may lead to conflict in the region, aggressive actions must stop and N. Korea must move towards the framework of international legality. The EU will cooperate with Japan so that there are no future crises in the broader regions.
The Prime Minister of Japan stressed that the UN must play an important role in post-war Iraq, in order to secure stability in the region, and the issue must be raised in the meeting he will have with US President George Bush. His visit to Athens and other European capitals helped him further understand the positions of European countries on the war in Iraq.
 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND PEACEAthens, 3 May 2003 (13:14 UTC+2)
An international conference on Sustainable Development and Peace will take place in Athens on May 6-7 organized by the World Bank and the Greek Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Town Planning and Public Works within the framework of the Greek EU Presidency.
In the conference will participate about 150 specialists from Balkan and Mediterranean countries and representatives of international organizations.
The goal of the meeting is to analyze the environmental as well as the economic and political aspects of the issue of the international management of water resources in the wider Balkan, Mediterranean and Middle East region.
The main press conference will be held on May 6 with the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou, Minister of Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Vaso Papandreou and World Bank Vice-President on sustainable development issues Ian Johnson.
 MILITARY AIRCRAFT WITH HUMANITARIAN AID FOR IRAQAthens, 3 May 2003 (13:03 UTC+2)
A Greek Air Force plane will depart tomorrow from Elefsina airport carrying humanitarian aid for Iraq. The plane's destination will be Amman, Jordan and from there the humanitarian aid will be forwarded to Baghdad hospitals.
Greek Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Andreas Loverdos stated that the humanitarian aid includes pharmaceutical supplies and equipment collected by the non governmental organizations Doctors of the World and Greek Rescue Team the activities of which are being financed by the Foreign Ministry.