|Friday, 24 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-10-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Premier says 15 have moved closer to agreement on EU institutional reforms
BIARRITZ, 16/10/2000 (ANA M. Spinthourakis)European Union institutional reforms should be focused on reinforcing its effectiveness and democratic, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said during a press conference on Saturday, following the conclusion of the two-day informal EU summit in this French seaside resort.
Simitis noted that there was definite progress in discussions to amend the Amsterdam Treaty, adding that quite possibly the 15 would reach an agreement during their formal Summit in Nice, France, in December.
He said that the Union should retain the community method in decision-making processes, irrespectively of the reforms to take place.
He added that the opinions of the 15 seemed to converge on the issue of member-states power to block decisions using their right to unilaterally veto decisions, as well as on the issue of flexibility of member-states to develop closer cooperation with a limited number of other member-states.
Specifically, Simitis said that the 15 agreed that decision-making, on issues regarding judicial cooperation, social policy, asylum policy and environmental policy, as well as policies regarding some other sectors, should be taken by majority vote and not by consensus.
He added, however, that decisions on the taxation in member-states and on the common external trade policies - and especially on shipping- should be taken by consensus in the future, as they are now.
Regarding the issue of flexibility of member-states to develop closer cooperation with a limited number of other member-states, the Greek premier said that almost all member-states accepted it, on condition that all member-states would have the right to join such forms of cooperation in the future.
Simitis stressed that the right to veto decisions by one or more member-states should be maintained in foreign affairs and defence policy-making matters.
The premier also noted that the "15" did not seem to be close to a decision on the number of the European Commissioners, as member-states with large populations, such as Spain, Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy, proposed that a ceiling be placed on the number of Commissioners.
He added that should that proposal be adopted there may be a time in the future when some countries would not be represented in the Commission, as more countries become members of the Union.
Simitis said that Greece disagreed with such a proposal, adding that along with other member-states with small populations, it supports the idea that all member-states should be represented in the Commission.
According to diplomatic sources, the size of the Commission was the subject of heated discussions during Friday's dinner between the "15" leaders. The same sources added that French President Jacques Chirac, currently presiding over the EU, said to the leaders of member-states with smaller populations that the future enlargement of the Union was endangered, if they disagree with the proposal for a ceiling on the number of Commissioners.
Belgian and Portuguese premiers responded Chirac calling him to maintain the institutional balance on which the Union was built, noting that larger member-states were interested in increasing their role in decision-making process of the Council of Ministers and for that reason they were using the argument of a ceiling on the number of Commissioners, the sources noted.
Speaking for Greece, Simitis said that decisions should be adopted if it was agreed upon by member-states that represent the 60 per cent of the accrued votes, as well as 60 per cent of the Union's population.
Simitis, also said that irrespectively of discussions on specific issues, member-states should make clear what kind of Union they wish to have in the coming years.
He underlined that there danger of creating a Europe of "two speeds" seemed to appear during discussions, adding that Greece supported the upgrade of the European Parliament, in efforts to block such a development.
He also said that Greece supported the view that should closer cooperation between limited number of member-states begins then their number should not be smaller than eight.
He noted, however that a Union of "tow speeds" could be created even under the current institutional conditions.
Speaking on the Human Rights Charter, he said that the "15" did not decide yet on whether it would be adopted as law to be enforced within the Union. He added that this charter included the "classic human rights" as well as newer, brought to the forefront by technological advances, such as the protection of personal data and biotechnology.
Finally, he said that the "15" discussed issues regarding shipping, based on a text presented by the Commission, stressing that Greek ships were safe as compared with international data.
 Simitis, Kostunica meet at sidelines of EU Summit
BIARRITZ, 16/10/2000 (ANA - V. Mourtis)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday met with newly elected Yugoslavian President Vojislav Kostunica, following the dinner held by the "15" for the new Yugoslav leader.
Following their meeting, Kostunica said that he thanked Simitis for Greece's support, adding that Greece's role in the relations between Yugoslavia and the European Union was very important.
On his part, Simitis said that he could not imagine a Europe without Yugoslavia, adding that he hopped that this country was making a new beginning and a new era was dawning for Yugoslavia.
 Greece is ready to provide short and long term aid to Yugoslavia, Simitis says
BIARRITZ, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Greece welcomed the political changes in Yugoslavia, since that country is central to creating the necessary conditions through which policies of development, peace and cooperation in the Balkans can be achieved, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Sunday, while en route to Athens from an informal European Union Summit in Biarritz, France.
During a briefing on his meeting with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, Simitis said that a "policy of development, peace and cooperation in the Balkans, without Yugoslavia and especially without Serbia, could not be achieved. This was proven true in the past".
"Serbia must participate, and this means that Serbia is in need of the rule of law, is in need of a state mechanism that cooperates with Greece and the other European countries, a state mechanism that is part of the effort for a European common course and cooperation," Simitis said.
He also stressed that Greece was ready to provide financial aid to Yugoslavia, to the tune of 15 million dollars to cover immediate needs in the balance of payments and state salaries, while another 80 billion drachmas was made available through the Stability Pact for projects within Yugoslavia.
"I reiterated to President Kostunica, what was said at noon (Saturday) during discussions of the "15" (European Union leaders), that for the money to become available, they (Yugoslavs) themselves will have to present plans, as soon as possible," Simitis said.
He stressed that one of the most obvious project plans should be made for is the cleaning up of the Danube shipping passage, which has been blocked by debris, since the NATO bombings.
"The damages of the Danube bridges have obstructed development, they have a negative economic impact on Bulgaria and Romania as well. The clean up of the Danube is a project of great importance," he added.
Simitis also stressed to Kostunica that Greece was ready to provide aid above and beyond the aforementioned amounts, noting that "for this reason we will be in touch".
Speaking on discussions he had with Kostunica on Montenegro's relation with Yugoslavia, Simitis said "President Kostunica was especially concerned over relations with Montenegro," adding that Kostunica planned to call on all parties to participate in the new government.
The Greek premier also said that Greece and Yugoslavia were in agreement that the future of Kosovo should be based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, stressing that borders in the region should remain as they stand.
Discussing the future of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, Simitis said that "President Kostunica noted that the political role of Milosevic has ended. Maybe, however, Milosevic believes that he could continue, but his (Kostunica's) opinion is that the Yugoslav political system and Yugoslav society could not bare his presence in politics anymore".
Milosevic will not be handed over to The Hague, Kostunica says: Newly elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on Sunday that indicted war-criminals Radovan Karadjic and Ratko Mladic should not be taken to the International Court at The Hague, to face charges for their role in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.
"I have stated that I will not send (former Yugoslav president Slobodan) Milosevic to the International Court at The Hague, but I think that neither Karadjic nor Mladic should be taken there. The Hague is more of a political institute than a court," Kostunica said in an interview with the Athens' "Sunday Typos" newspaper.
Regarding Kosovo, he said that it is within the borders of Yugoslavia and if it becomes independent there would be problems, not only in Yugoslavia, but also in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Speaking on Montenegro, he said that a "common language of communication" would be found, adding "the elements that unite us outnumber those that separate us".
Before the elections in Yugoslavia, Kostunica said in an interview to the same newspaper that he would not surrender Milosevic to the international court at The Hague.
 Balkan leaders to meet soon in Ohrid, on Greek initiative
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)The leaders of the Balkan countries will meet soon in Ohrid, on the initiative of Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the premier said Sunday after his return from an informal EU summit in Biarritz.
Simitis said the other Balkan leaders, including Yugoslavia's new president Vojislav Kostunica, had agreed to the meeting, which the Greek premier proposed following a suggestion by FYROM president and prime minister Boris Traikovski and Ljubco Georgievski immediately after last month's general elections in Yugoslavia that the Balkan countries issue a declaration in support of their neighboring country.
Simitis said efforts were being made to convene the Ohrid meeting before the November 24 EU meeting with Balkan leaders in Zagreb called by the EU's French presidency. He said it was not yet clear, though, whether the Ohrid meeting would take place before or after the October 28 municipal elections in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo.
Kostunica, who has accepted an invitation from Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos to visit Greece but no date has yet been set, could likely visit Athens before the Ohrid meeting.
Simitis further said that French president Jacques Chirac would also visit Athens after the Zagreb meeting to discuss the topics of the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) in Nice on December 8-9.
 Defense Minister speaks on NATO, Aegean in press conference
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Greece's air force jets taking part in an Allied exercise in Turkey will remain grounded until NATO calls Turkey to order so that what had been agreed by NATO general staffs on the maneuver will be observed, Greece's national defense minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said Sunday in Thessaloniki.
On Thursday, Greece ordered six Greek Air force warplanes taking part in the allied exercise "Destined Glory" to withdraw after Ankara requested changes in the previously-agreed air corridors to exclude those passing over the Greek islands of Limnos and Ikaria in the Aegean.
"Greece demands of NATO that it call Turkey to order so that what was agreed on the holding of the allied maneuver Destined Glory is restored," Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that until that occurred, the Greek jetfighters taking part in the exercise would remain grounded.
The minister noted, however, that there was time for such to occur, since the aerial operations of the exercise were due to begin Tuesday, and expressed hope that by then NATO would "find a way to convince one of its members to adhere to that which it had promised" to observe.
Tsohatzopoulos said there was an "explanation" for Turkey's action, attributing it to "broader reasons such as its concern over the events in the wider area, including the moves in northern Iraq for the creation of a strong autonomous Kurdish state, the imminent vote in the US Congress of a resolution on the Armenian genocide, etc".
"These events influenced Turkey's stance," he said.
Speaking during a press conference, Tsohatzopoulos also said that, regarding the Aegean, there was no ambiguity over Greece's sovereignty, and "whoever disputes the validity of the international treaties and accords regresses into a threatening attitude".
The minister warned that Greece would not accept an indirect, via the Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), negotiation of the status quo in the Aegean.
"The discussion on the CBMs and the reduction of tension between the two countries do not concern the substance of the differences between Greece and Turkey, but they due provide, if implemented, an environment of non-tension and peaceful co-existence," he said.
Turning to his imminent visit to Cyprus, the defense minister reiterated the Greek government's determination to fully safeguard the national sovereign rights of the Greeks and the Cypriot Hellenism, and stressed that Greece actively supports the joint defense doctrine.
Tsohatzopoulos further said that Greece endorsed Cyprus' accession to the European Union and the allied structures, and warned that the Greek side would head off any effort to obstruct Cyprus' EU membership.
 Meeting of Greek and Turkish FMs postponed
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)A meeting scheduled between Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem for Sunday, October 15, was postponed, as it would seem "out of place" to discuss issues such as tourism, in the light of developments in the Middle East, diplomatic sources said on Saturday.
The two men were scheduled to meet on the island of Rhodes and near the Turkish Aegean coastline opposite the Greek island.
According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul, the Turkish foreign ministry noted in a press release that the meetings would take place later, on a date to be announced, as Cem's schedule was overloaded by the conditions in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, responding to a question, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who was in Biarritz, France for the European Union Summit, said that a meeting between him and his Turkish counterpart Bulent Ecevit would be meaningless, if it could not yield positive results for Greek-Turkish relations.
He added that the climate between Greece and Turkey could be better, adding that the climate alone would not be enough to resolve the problems between the two countries, while stressing that the only existing problem between Greece and Turkey is that of the delineation continental shelf of the Aegean.
 Greek premier calls on Albania to respect the rights of the Greek minority in that country
BIARRITZ, 16/10/2000 (ANA - V. Mourtis)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday called on Albania to respect the rights of the Greek minority in that Balkan country, during a press conference, following a two-day informal European Union summit in this French seaside resort.
Greece stands by its positions for unobstructed relations of cooperation with Albania, he said, in light of problems that arose days before local government elections in the neighboring country.
Press reports noted that the Greek minority in Albania was faced with problems arising from pressures applied to minimize the vote to representatives of the Greek community in that country, including the obstruction of voters' ability to travel to their home-districts.
On his part, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou contacted the Albanian government on Friday evening noting that efforts to obstruct ethnic Greek Albanian citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote were unacceptable and non-friendly.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Dora Bakoyianni called on the Greek government to undertake measures to secure the free movement of people at the Greek-Albanian border and to inform international organizations of the affair.
Meanwhile, the Greek ambassador to Tirana handed a relevant demarche to the Albanian government, Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
"The stance of the Albanian government is negative and has repercussions. Greece possesses all the means necessary to defend the democratic rights of the Greek minority and will do so. Thus the Albanian government should immediately confront and resolve the problem," Reppas said.
 Greek minority Albanian parties charge irregularities, violence in Sunday's elections
GJIROKASTER, 16/10/2000 (ANA - P. Barkas)Run off elections for local government officials in Albania were plagued by violence and fraud, according to charges made by the Greek minority leaders in that country.
Accusations for fraud and violence, by "Omonia" and the Human Rights Union parties, were growing in number as the election day came to a close, charging beatings, ballot box stuffing and inaccurate voter registration lists.
Press reports on Friday and Saturday noted that voters coming from Greece also faced obstruction of travel to their home-districts.
 Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch begins Athens visit on Wednesday
ISTANBUL, 16/10/2000 (ANA -A. Kourkoulas)Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is scheduled to arrive in Athens on Wednesday for a seven-day visit to Greece.
During his stay, Vartholomeos will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, among other notables.
On Thursday, Vartholomeos is to inaugurate the Patriarchate's "Representation Office" in Athens, and the Metropolitan Mansion of Peristeri.
 Simitis denies Cabinet reshuffle rumors
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday denied rumors of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle.
Asked after his return from an informal EU summit in Biarritz whether he intended to reshuffle the government, Simitis replied "Good God, no".
 Coalition of the Left Central Committee approves political positions
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party Central Committee concluded its two-day meeting on Sunday, following approval of political positions presented by its leadership.
The political positions of the party noted that following the elections, the PASOK government has lost the initiative and stagnated under the pressure of "the impasses of its policies, its internal contradictions and the upset of its internal balance".
Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos, in his closing speech, addressed Greece's internal and foreign policies, saying that the government's "inability to resolve problems", gave room to the Coalition to improve its role and increase its influence in the political stage of Greece.
He added that Coalition's aim should be to "create ideological and theoretical fronts and to formulate a modern and consistent alternative government program for the country".
Speaking on the allocation of funds provided by the third community support framework of the European Union, he proposed the creation of an all-party committee, which would be in control of the allocation of funds.
 PASOK appeals for end to 'irrational bloodshed' in Middle East
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)The ruling PASOK party on Sunday expressed its concern over the developments in the Middle East and appealed to all sides to contribute to terminating the "irrational bloodshed that is leading the relations between Israelis and Palestinians to a total impasse", in view of Monday's emergency Middle East crisis summit attended by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and US president Bill Clinton in Cairo, Egypt.
"We express our deep concern over the tragic developments in the Middle East. Peace in the region can be achieved only through the recognition and respect of the principles of international law and the UN resolutions," a PASOK press bureau statement said.
"PASOK condemns in the most categorical manner the acts of violence from wherever they originate, and stands in solidarity for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, which is a necessary prerequisite for permanent peace in the region," it said.
"It is time to stop the irrational bloodshed that is leading the relations between Israelis and Palestinians to a complete impasse".
"We express the hope and wish that Monday's summit meeting in Egypt will bring about a truce as the first step, and contribute in a substantive manner to finding a just and lasting solution to the Middle East problem," the announcement said.
 POL.AN leader to file lawsuit against Mitsotakis
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Political Spring (POL.AN) leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday said that he would file a law-suit against former prime minister and current honorary president of the main opposition New Democracy party Constantine Mitsotakis, for the latter's statements that Samaras was "bought off" to overturn the New Democracy government in 1993.
In an interview to the Athens Sunday edition of the "Vima" newspaper, Mitsotakis said that "Samaras was bought off and they overthrew us. I believe it. No one doubts it. There was a regular purchase."
 Tsohatzopoulos calls on collective government responsibility
Athens, 16/10/2000 (ANA)Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday that a single event couldnt be generalized to give the impression that there is no transparency in the functions of the government.
Speaking on PASOK cadres' support for the government, he said "the prime minister and the members of the government and the party are all co-responsible for the course of the government's working results, for the support of the party's policies and the government".
He denied rumors that he did not support Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying "the impression some people want to promote and which is harmful to PASOK does not reflect the reality".
 Clerides says prepared to sign 'best possible' bizonal, federative solution
NICOSIA, 16/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)President Glafcos Clerides stressed here on Saturday he is prepared to sign an agreed settlement on Cyprus, if he considers that such a settlement is the best possible solution that can be reached and is a bicommunal, bizonal federation within the framework of UN resolutions.
The president warned against a sudden decision to leave the negotiating table, stressing that this would be tantamount to "an act of national suicide and a highly irresponsible act" with serious repercussions.
President Clerides also warned of the risk to see the fait accompli created by the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus consolidated and witness the international recognition of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus.
He also stressed that perpetuating the situation in Cyprus entails "grave dangers", adding that substantive negotiations on all the aspects of the Cyprus question is the option to help find a settlement.
Speaking during an event organized by the main opposition party AKEL to mark 40 years since Cyprus' independence, the Cypriot president pledged "I shall continue to work hard to fulfill the mission for which the sovereign people of Cyprus have elected me. I reiterate that I am determined to exploit every real opportunity to find a peaceful solution to our national problem."
"Undertaking my responsibilities, I shall continue until the end, if I believe that the solution that can be found is the best feasible, it is not a confederation but a bicommunal, bizonal federation in the framework of UN resolutions and that this solution will safeguard the survival of Cypriot Hellenism in the land of their ancestors," the president pointed out.
In a brief review of the Cyprus Republic's history, President Clerides acknowledged that the ills of the Republic are not solely the responsibility of the Greek junta (in the 60s and 70s) and Turkey but also "of the two communities on the island which through their mistakes and omissions they facilitated those hardships."
"The mistakes of the past should not be repeated in the political arena," he said, adding that "waiting for possible better circum-stances that may suit our purposes to solve the political problem is not a way to go about seeking a settlement."
Outlining the serious risks the Republic of Cyprus would face if the political question is not resolved, the President said "the unproductive passage of time creates and strengthens a suitable foundation to consolidate the fait accompli of the Turkish invasion and the international recognition of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus."
"If of course in the future appropriate international circumstances emerge, then the situation will become utterly dangerous," the President warned.
Referring to the ongoing UN-led proximity talks, due to resume in Geneva next month, he said the non-papers presented at the last round of talks in New York aimed at sounding out the views of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.
"I cannot exclude the possibility of having before us, in the future, a draft outline solution, if the talks continue," he said, stressing that in his assessment such a blueprint would be "negotiable."
The president, appeasing critics of such possible developments, explained that prior to any tabling of a draft agreement, the Greek Cypriot side would have the chance to press on with its views and "have the possibility to influence the content of the draft."
"It would be an act of the utmost irresponsibility and national suicide if we were to decide suddenly to leave the talks because there are concerns about some ideas aired or some that may be presented or their interpretation," the president said.
Clerides stressed that the best way to face any such risks would be to "fight through negotiations with a view to see any ideas assume the content and the interpretations which are in line with UN resolutions, the acquis communautaire, international law and order and human rights convention."
"If we dare abandon the talks, we shall be accused by the international community of being responsible for their interruption and because we are the weak side, we shall not be able to reverse the avalanche of negative repercussions against us," he added.
He said withdrawal from the talks would mean loss of interest in Cyprus by the international community, an end to any influence on Turkey to find a settlement, increasing likelihood of international recognition of the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus, a halt in Cyprus' European Union accession process, isolation of the Republic of Cyprus and downgrading of ties with Athens.
"I am not claiming that the road ahead is easy but all political forces here, united we have to try and achieve our goals," he said, in an appeal to the island's political leadership.
 Britain supports a bizonal, bicommunal federation for Cyprus, official says
LONDON, 16/10/2000 (CNA/ANA)Britain continues to support a bizonal, bicommunal federation for Cyprus, the Head of the Southern European Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Jeremy Hill has said.
Hill has also welcomed the fact that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides continue to participate in talks and said a settlement is not a prerequisite for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
At a meeting between Barnet Conservative Councilors in London, Hill reiterated his government's position for a solution of the Cyprus problem based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
He pointed out that the political solution of the problem is not a precondition for the Republic's EU membership, adding that the continuing peace talks are an encouraging sign.