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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 06-02-02

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

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.


CONTENTS

  • [01] MOBILE PHONE- TAPPING PLOT UNCOVERED
  • [02] KARAMANLIS- MAROVIC DISCUSS STATE UNION, EU PROSPECTS, KOSOVO
  • [03] FOREIGN MINISTRY ON TURKEY'S EUROPEAN RAPPROCHEMENT
  • [04] SSEPAG CHIEF ON FIGHT AGAINST CROSS-BORDER CRIME, WEAPONS SMUGGLING

  • [01] MOBILE PHONE- TAPPING PLOT UNCOVERED

    Athens, 2 February 2006 (15:44 UTC+2)

    The government on Thursday confirmed that an almost year-long investigation is focusing on a mobile phone-tapping plot targeting the prime minister himself, top ministers and well-known business leaders.

    A trio of the government's top ministers, in fact, was holding a nationally televised press conference at press time to answer questions over the unprecedented affair.

    News of the investigation was the object of a front-page article in the Athens daily "Ta Nea" on Thursday.

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos along with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras told reporters that 14 pre-paid cell phones, all operating in the Vodafone network, monitored mobile phone conversations of the targeted individuals. Additionally, what the ministers referred to a "phantom software" was located by the company in its system, before it was disabled.

    [02] KARAMANLIS- MAROVIC DISCUSS STATE UNION, EU PROSPECTS, KOSOVO

    Athens, 2 February 2006 (14:33 UTC+2)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday met with visiting Serbia-Montenegro President Svetomar Marovic, with whom he discussed the issue of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, the country's European prospect, and the future status of Kosovo.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Karamanlis stressed Greece's suppport for the European prospects of the western Balkan countries, while, regarding the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, Karamanlis said there was understanding between the government and the opposition, with EU intermediation, adding that the result of the referendum on the issue must be respected by all, on condition that it was transparent and democratic.

    Karamanlis stressed that the Greek government would respect the volition of the people of Montenegro under such conditions.

    Regarding Kosovo, he said there must be self-restraint and moderacy, adding that the negotiations must commence in an environment of mutual understanding, in which the treaties concerning the Serbs of Kosovo will not be violated.

    Marovic said his discussion with Karamanlis had been a "friendly" one, adding that the case of Ratko Mladic should be an obstacle to Serbia-Montenegro's European course. "We cannot give promises. We want to resolve the issue and cooperation with the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and are preparing for Mrs. Del Ponte's (the int'l Court's chief prosecutor Carla) visit to Belgrade," he said.

    The Serbia-Montenegro Defence Council on Wednesday acknowledged that Serb officers had aided prominent war crimes fugitive Mladic, who is wanted on two counts of genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnia war, by allowing him to hide on army premises until mid-2002, and then letting him get away. It said a group of former Bosnian Serb army and former Yugoslav army officers hid Mladic after that. The Military Intelligence Agency (VBA) is currently investigating who was involved and if any officers were still in touch with the former Bosnian Serb Army commander, who is accused of orchestrating the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of an estimated 8,000 Muslims, which is said to be Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

    Regarding the State Union, Marovic thanked the European Union for its intermediation, noting that there was understanding between government and opposition on the issue, and stressing that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, relations between Serbia and Montenegro must remain good, given their historic bonds, "which no politician must forget".

    On Kosovo, he stressed that any solution must not be the product of imposition, adding that the situation must improve for the non-Albanian citizens so that they may live better, and their homes, monuments and culture will be protected.

    Marovic said the present situation must be corrected, and that conditions must be forged of confidence among the populations, stressing that the participation of the Serb population in the Kosovo institutions was important, as were relations with Serbia.

    He warned that a unilateral solution would benefit neither Kosovo nor the Balkan region.

    [03] FOREIGN MINISTRY ON TURKEY'S EUROPEAN RAPPROCHEMENT

    Athens, 2 February 2006 (15:47 UTC+2)

    The Greek government was steadfast in its chosen strategy for Turkey's rapprochement with Europe, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos noted on Thursday. He stressed that Turkey had before it a specific negotiation route with prerequisites and that its progress was being constantly assessed.

    He made the statement in response to questions concerning Turkey's progress in the five months since the start of EU accession negotiations and the 10th anniversary since the crisis at Imia.

    [04] SSEPAG CHIEF ON FIGHT AGAINST CROSS-BORDER CRIME, WEAPONS SMUGGLING

    Athens, 2 February 2006 (15:46 UTC+2)

    Specialised and dangerous operations in which agents were sent to infiltrate weapons trafficking networks and collect information and data on the activities of criminals were among the practices implemented by the South Eastern European Prosecutor Advisory Group (SEEPAG) in their efforts to tackle this specific form of cross-border crime, SEEPAG chairman Jovan Krstic, Serbia's deputy prosecutor general, told ANA-MPA on Thursday, who is in Thessaloniki for a two-day seminar on Combatting Cross-Border Crime in SE Europe organised by the Thessaloniki-based Stability Pact and the Pact's Secretariat for combatting organised crime.'

    The problem of weapons trafficking exists in all the countries of SE Europe, and more intensely in the region of former Yugoslavia, where criminal groups in posession of large quantities of weaponry were active, he explained.

    "To wipe out weapons smuggling, careful planning of the operation and being inside the racket is necessary. These operations naturally entail great professional risk and demand significant preparation," Krstic said.

    He stressed that, in addition to planning the operations, an analysis was also necessary of the causes for which weapons continued to be an immensely profitable smuggling commodity.

    Regarding the problem of illegal posession of weapons in the countries of SE Europe, Krstic said that there needed to be standards and a system of checks of the citizens and military, stressing that there was a problem in the control of borders, the manufacture of weapons, and the training of weapons holders. "We cannot sit and wait, but must check every national legislation and ascertain whether it provides control measures," he said, adding that the state must exercise authority as a regulatory state. "Our countries have not developed as states with a regulatory role, but simply administrate the problems. This is why strong state institutions that will control posession of weapons and narcotics are required," the SEEPAG chief stressed.

    Turning to cross-border crime in general, Krstic underlined the need for the law enforcement agencies to intensify their investigations and include prosecutors in the special operations on organised crime, adding that the prosecutors should be present at the police headquarters, the customs houses, and the secret services in order to collect the necessary proof so as to ensure that the evidence is adequate to secure judicial prosecution and conviction of those involved in cases of organised crime.

    He noted that SEEPAG employed specialisted tactics, techniques and methods in its efforts to wipe-out organised crime groups, and also brought protected witnesses for the prosecution to court proceedings.

    "From the experience we've acquired in previous cases, we learn more and exchange valuable information. We know each other well and are in contact 24 hours a day, so as to make possible the provision of information to other countries and guidelines for investigations that are underway," Krstic explained.

    SEEPAG is the fourth largest network of prosecutors worldwide active in combatting organised crime, and its members include representatives from 12 countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, FYROM, Moldova, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia, and Turkey. Established in 2003, SEEPAG is headquartered in Belgrade.

    SECI Centre coordinator for cyber-crime speaks on counterfeiting and forgery

    Financial crime, and especially document forging and currency counterfeiting, has taken on "aggressive dimensions" in the SE Europe region in recent years, according to Ilinka Dimitrieva, the FYROM representative to the seminar and coordinator of the SECI Centre's group on economic crime and cyber-crime.

    She told ANA-MPA that increasingly larger numbers of criminals and crime groups were becoming involved in this form of organised crime, which she said had links with all the other forms of organised crime, such as trafficking, particularly drug and weapons trafficking, given that criminals as a rule used forged passports and counterfeit money.

    Dimitrieva said that the most prominent crime rings involved in forgery and counterfeiting were from Romania and Bulgaria, while organised crime groups were also active in FYROM, Serbia and Moldova.

    She said in recent years an intense problem has also arisen with credit card forging, the tackling of which the SECI (Southeast Europe Cooperation Initiative) Centre has also focussed its attention, and was cooperating with other agencies in the region.

    "We have consolidated very good contacts with the financial and credit institutions (of the countries of the region) and with the National Fora on Fraud -- the specialised enforcement agencies on financial crime that have been established in almost all the countries of the region," she said.

    The SECI Regional Centre for Combatting Trans-Border Crime, which is headquartered in Bucharest, in 2005 organised the first meeting of representatives of the National Fora on Fraud, banks, police and judicial authorities of the region and representatives of the US department of justice and the US secret services, aimed at finding the best possible solution for averting this specific type of crime, while a new meeting is being planned.


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