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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-04

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

June 4, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Large-scale police operation uncovers ''Nov. 17'' hideout in Athens
  • [02] Premier and Ukrainian president discuss EU-Ukraine ties
  • [03] Stephanopoulos inspects navy vessels
  • [04] Deputy DM and Georgian counterpart discuss cooperation
  • [05] Latest poll gives ND 9.4% lead over ruling PASOK
  • [06] Government delegation from FYROM to visit Lesvos
  • [07] Christodoulakis calls Third CSF "generator for employment"
  • [08] Gov’t restates public debt figure
  • [09] Eurostat adopts new public debt assessment system
  • [10] Greek minister and FYROM prime minister at pipeline event
  • [11] OTE to strengthen presence in foreign countries
  • [12] Mixed figures for tourist arrivals in June
  • [13] Gov’t to present new accounting legislation soon
  • [14] Eurodeputy Trakatellis loses 'battle' over GMO directive
  • [15] Greek stocks continue losing ground on Wednesday
  • [16] 3 consortia in first phase of Athens 2004 lodgings program
  • [17] Greek agencies' role in int'l drug interdiction efforts praised at event
  • [18] Cyprus settlement not a precondition for accession, says Denmark
  • [19] Alvaro de Soto: framework of final solution not ready

  • [01] Large-scale police operation uncovers ''Nov. 17'' hideout in Athens

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Police launched a large-scale operation on Wednesday, locating a ''November 17'' terrorist organization hideout in the Athens Patisia neighborhood, discovering weapons, rockets of all types, printed material and a computer.

    Among the arms were military rockets of several types and firearms, while tests will be conducted on the computer to assess whether it was the one used to write the shadowy murderous terrorist organization's latest proclamations.

    Initially, police evacuated the apartment complex and then entered the basement apartment, where the weaponry was discovered, with police bomb disposal experts entering first in the event that the apartment was booby-trapped.

    The hideout was discovered at around 5 p.m. and the investigation was continuing at press time, while at about 8.15 p.m. police officials released photographs of alleged terrorist Savvas Xiros to the media.

    The officials stated that the photographs, which depict Xiros at different times of his life, were released to solicit additional information from the public.

    Savvas Xiros, 40 was wounded in a would be terrorist attack in Piraeus on Saturday, and continued to be closely guarded on Wednesday in an Athens hospital, where he was taken as he sustained injuries during the premature explosion of a bomb he carried. According to sources, police have questioned over one hundred people in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as throughout the country, while several witnesses of past ''November 17'' attacks voluntarily provided information to police.

    Such witnesses placed Xiros, a church mural and icon painter, at the site of late Shipowner Peratikos' murder by the elusive, to date, terrorist group, which took place on May 28 1997, the sources said.

    Police was also looking for the former wife of Xiros, according to sources, so that she may be questioned.

    Public order minister briefs PM on terrorism developments: Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis visited Prime Minister Costas Simitis at his residence at 10.15 p.m. on Wednesday and briefed him for 45 minutes on latest developments concerning terrorism.

    Speaking to reporters waiting for him outside Simitis's home afterwards, Chrysohoidis said ''I have no statement to make. I came to brief the prime minister. The investigations are continuing. We are doing well.''

    Statements in public are not the way to handle terrorism, PM says: The handling of issues related to terrorism had to be responsible and there was no room for public statements and comments, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said here on Wednesday while on an official visit to the Ukraine.

    ''The anarchic and opportunist act of terrorism, which creates impressions and results in innocent victims...has to be handled with great responsibility so that Greek citizens are provided with greater safety,'' he said.

    Breaking a rule not to answer questions on domestic issues while abroad, Simitis praised the systematic work being done by Greek authorities to combat terrorism and said that the latest developments would allow this work to bring results.

    He was referring to the arrest of a suspected terrorist by Greek police last Saturday, who is believed to have been injured when the bomb he was planning to set, went off prematurely. Police announced earlier this week that the evidence pointed to a link between the injured bomber Savvas Xiros and the elusive urban guerrilla group ''Nov. 17''.

    Speaking in Athens, meanwhile, government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday urged the media to show restraint and refrain from rampant speculation about the course of the investigation and from unsubstantiated reports regarding arrests and people being brought in for questioning.

    "We are approaching this issue responsibly, with due serious-ness and consistency. There is no excuse for either excessive optimism or scenarios," he said.

    He was particularly scathing about press reports referring to people that were absolutely unconnected to the case, forcing the government to officially deny reports that arrests had been made.

    The spokesman denied that Simitis and US officials had discussed specific names linked to terrorism during the Greek premier's last trip to the United States.

    ND leader says party will be uncompromising with terrorism: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Wednesday current developments provide the opportunity for a crushing response to the scourge of terrorism, adding that ND which has mourned victims will be uncompromising on the issue of terrorism.

    Karamanlis, who was speaking at a conference on local administration, said responsibility and effectiveness is necessary on the part of the government and noted that important evidence was obtained from a circumstantial event.

    He accused the government of planning its next moves with the next elections being its only concern and made the assessment that the government and the prime minister will follow a populist policy and attempt to polarize the climate in view of the municipal elections in October.

    Karamanlis announced his party's support for the mayoral candidacies of Vassilis Papageorgopoulos in Thessaloniki and Christos Agrapidis in Piraeus and underlined the elections' pro-found political significance for local administration.

    ND honorary president reacts: In a related development, former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis called the arrest of Xiros a chance event, underlining that for this reason the authorities have more chances of confronting the shame that ''November 17'' is to the country.

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) honorary president, speaking to Antenna television station said that the timing was correct, as the Greek public opinion was mature and underlined that international pressure on Greece concerning the terrorism issue was intense.

    He added that this pressure was connected to the organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, which were in danger of being damaged or possibly taken from Greece if there was a flare up of terrorist activity.

    Mitsotakis stressed that there was good cooperation of the Greek authorities with their U.S. and British counterparts and underlined that the issue from that point on was a political one, questioning the decisiveness of the government to clear up the issue at any cost.

    He expressed the hope that this time it will not happen what took place in the past, alluding to the stance of the ruling party, but recognizing that if 'November 17'' is brought to justice the government will have a political advantage.

    US envoy on terrorism investigation: US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller expressed his satisfaction on Wednesday over the unprecedented and ongoing investigation throughout Greece to stamp out urban terrorism, especially efforts to hunt down members of the notorious “November 17” group.

    Miller spoke on the sidelines of an event in Athens the same day to highlight Athens’ involvement in a handful of major international drug busts over the past three years, with the US envoy also presenting three agencies – Greek Police (EL.AS), the coast guard and the financial crimes unit (SDOE) – with US$ 750,000 each from seized assets in the first of the operations.

    A botched bombing attempt over the weekend that resulted in the apprehension of an injured man believed to be the would-be bomber along with a handgun linked to “November 17” has provided Greek authorities with a veritable “Rosetta Stone” breakthrough in the campaign against the urban terrorism phenomenon.

    Miller termed the recent developments “very significant”, while noting that US and British experts are cooperating with Greek authorities.

    Moreover, he reiterated that he feels completely safe in Greece, before reminding that Thursday’s July 4th celebrations – the anniversary of America’s Independence Day -- will be the first since last year’s dastardly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

    Communist party leader on terrorism issue: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) secretary general Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday, referring to the November 17 organization and the issue of terrorism, ''who can tell us that conditions have not matured for the end of 'November 17' and the creation of a new organization?''

    ''What does it mean I am discovering and punishing '17N' which is serving those who are using terrorism as a bugbear for the popular movement. It is an apparatus related to secret services, either it was created by them or utilized,'' Papariga also said while speaking at a press conference.

    Referring to October's municipal elections in the country, Papariga said KKE is combatting the model of the manager-mayor, adding that candidates to be supported by the party for municipalities and prefectures should not have any economic or other commitments with the central government.

    [02] Premier and Ukrainian president discuss EU-Ukraine ties

    KIEV 04/07/2002 (ANA-H. Poulidou)

    Relations between the countries of Eastern Europe and the European Union needed to be stable, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed here on Wednesday, the second day of his official visit to the Ukraine.

    Speaking after a meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Simitis said that the Greek government was in favor of policies that encouraged the participation of these countries in European processes, while Athens wanted all European countries to join the EU in the long term, for both economic and security reasons.

    The Greek premier, who heads an informal 'eurozone' presidency since non-eurozone-member Denmark took over the EU presidency on July 1, stressed that this was far from being an immediate prospect, however.

    Among factors militating against the entry of Eastern European states in the Community was the EU's desire for good relations with Russia and its reluctance to undertake initiatives that ran counter to Russian strategies, Simitis said.

    Another factor was a desire to complete the present wave of enlargement and assess the difficulties, especially after the economic recession of 2001 and the cumulative difficulties created by additional member-states in the operation of EU institutions, he added.

    Eastern European countries were themselves faced a strategy dilemma in making a choice between the EU and Russia, to which a great part of their production capacity was geared, the Greek premier noted.

    On a more positive note, he said that the final outcome would depend on developments and cited Romania's bid to join NATO as an example, noting how this had seemed all but impossible three years ago, until general conditions and Russia's attitude changed.

    With respect to the Ukraine, Simitis said that it was an important intermediate station between Russia and the EU, since the largest and most important energy networks passed through that country.

    He particularly stressed a mini-summit taking place in Copenhagen on Thursday between the EU and the Ukraine, with Kuchma, European Commission President Romano Prodi and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen attending.

    The Ukraine wants the EU to accord it the status of a ''market economy'' though the latest reports indicate that the EU still has strong reservations and will advise the Ukraine to carry out further reforms.

    Simitis also emphasized a planned 'eurozone' summit to be held in Athens with the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact countries.

    The Greek premier referred to the progress made by the Ukraine in improving its macroeconomic indices and stressed that its bilateral economic relations with Greece could be further developed.

    While conceding that former Eastern Bloc markets were more accessible to Greece than those of Western Europe, as well as being the traditional markets for Greek products, he underlined that the development of bilateral trade would be directly linked to the progress of reforms in the Ukraine.

    As an example, he said that Greek businesses found it difficult to invest in the Ukraine because there were no Greek banks, while Greek banks hesitated to establish branches in the Ukraine because of rampant instability and bureaucracy.

    On Tuesday night, meanwhile, the Greek prime minister addressed a Greek-Ukrainian business forum on the eastern European country's efforts to pass from a central to a market economy.

    ''The process of transition involves unpopular decisions and it is important to make sure that this transition does not increase poverty and widen inequalities,'' Simitis had stressed.

    He suggested that the Ukraine's shipyards and Greek know-how in tourism were two promising areas for bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

    [03] Stephanopoulos inspects navy vessels

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday inspected Hellenic Navy vessels out at sea at a special event held in the waters off the island of Hydra.

    Escorted by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and top military officials aboard frigate “Adrias”, the president was saluted by 46 vessels sailing by the frigate, while three P-3 Orion aircrafts and Hawk helicopters were flying over the fleet in perfect formation.

    Clearly satisfied with the inspection, Stephanopoulos declined any comments on the recent developments on the terrorist issue, saying that the developments were followed by public opinion the same as everyone else.

    [04] Deputy DM and Georgian counterpart discuss cooperation

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis and his Georgian counterpart Jela Bejuasvili discussed issues concerning bilateral military cooperation between Greece and Georgia during their meeting in Athens on Wednesday.

    Talks focused on the Georgian navy's restructuring, the training of Georgian armed forces' officials at Greek academies, the appointment of a Greek liaison officer at the Georgian armed forces general staff and Greece's assistance for Georgia's rapprochement with Euroatlantic structures.

    Apostolidis reiterated Greece's desire for the further widening of relations between the two countries in all sectors for the promotion of peace and security in the wider region.

    [05] Latest poll gives ND 9.4% lead over ruling PASOK

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    The gap between ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) is apparently widening in favor of the latter, according to the latest voter preference poll released on Wednesday.

    According to results of a poll conducted by the MRB firm, as a regular public opinion measurement, 37.7 percent of respondents favored ND to 28.3 percent for PASOK. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), meanwhile, earned 5.6 percent, the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) 3.2 and the out-of-Parliament Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) 2.4 percent, while 4.2 per cent states other than the aforementioned parties and 18.6 per cent declares no preference.

    The 18-month-old Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) was not part of the poll as it was disbanded before the poll was conducted. During the last poll of MRB six-months ago the party that was created by outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, received around 4.3 percent of respondents’ approval.

    Regarding the question of which political leader is best suited as prime minister, ND leader Costas Karamanlis earned 40.7 percent to Premier Costas Simitis’ 37.2 percent.

    On the question of which party would win the elections if they were to take place over the upcoming weekend, 50.8 percent of respondents said ND, with 30.6 choosing ruling PASOK.

    Karamanlis appears to be the most popular political leader with 45 per cent approval rating, with Simitis placing second with a 33.9 per cent, then comes Nikos Constantopoulos of Synaspismos with 33.3 per cent and Aleka Papariga of KKE with 16.6 per cent.

    PASOK leads ND in the opinion poll concerning the organizing of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, but trails ND in all other categories of governance.

    In a similar MRB poll released last April the main opposition party was ahead of PASOK by 8.4 percent, while Karamanlis led Simitis by 3.2 percent in the “head-to-head” comparison.

    [06] Government delegation from FYROM to visit Lesvos

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    A government delegation from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is to visit the Aegean island of Lesvos on July 8-10 to be briefed on the Aegean ministry's 'Asterias' program for helping islanders carry out transactions with the public sector.

    The delegation will see the program in action in the island's capital Mytilene and will be received next Tuesday by Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis.

    [07] Christodoulakis calls Third CSF "generator for employment"

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    A Third Community Support Framework program must become a "generator for employment" National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the country's major employees and employers unions, Mr. Christodoulakis expressed his satisfaction over the implementation progress of the program so far.

    Christodoulakis told the meeting that from now on every project funded by a Third Community Support Framework should promote new job creation and preserving existing job positions.

    The minister told ANA that the difference with the past was that employment was from now on inherent element of a project's efficiency.

    [08] Gov’t restates public debt figure

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Greece's public debt will be shown five percentage points higher than current figures after a decision by Eurostat to include all "prometoha" and other securitisation revenues in measuring the country's debt figures for the period 2000-2001, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.

    Christodoulakis said that the value of "prometoha" issued in the period 2000-2001 accounted for 2.4 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product and the value of other securitisation accounted for 2.8 percent of GDP. He noted that these revenues were used for reducing the country's public debt.

    The minister said that Greece's public debt's figures would rise from 99.7 percent of GDP to around 105 percent of GDP.

    Christodoulakis said that these developments did not affected a stability and growth program and stressed that the government was sticking to its goal of achieving a surplus of 0.8 percent of GDP this year.

    [09] Eurostat adopts new public debt assessment system

    BRUSSELS 04/07/2002 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greece's public debt will be revised and increased for the years 2000 and 2001, although continuing to follow a downward trend, as a result of the new public debt assessment system adopted by the European Union's statistical service Eurostat.

    For the year 2000, the public debt will amount to 103.9 percent from 102.8, which was the initial assessment, while for 2001 it will increase to 102.6 percent from 99.7.

    According to the European Commission, the implementation of the new rules on future revenues has now been finalized and the amount of the public debt for 2000 and 2001 can be considered final.

    As a result of this development, Italy's public debt will increase by 0.56 percent and Austria's by 1.2, while Finland's public debt will not be affected by the new assessment rules.

    [10] Greek minister and FYROM prime minister at pipeline event

    SKOPJE 04/07/2002 (ANA - N. Frangopoulos)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski attended on Wednesday an event at a downtown hotel here on the occasion of Tuesday's official opening of the Thessaloniki-Skopje oil pipeline.

    ''With the construction of the oil pipeline we are expressing our profound faith that the two countries can creatively build the future of the southeastern region of Europe and live up to the share of responsibility corresponding to them to enable this region of the Balkans to find the path of convergence with a common Europe and a common security,'' Tsohatzopoulos said in his address.

    He said with the opening of the crude oil pipeline a new energy corridor has been created in the Balkans, linking the two countries and creating necessary conditions for the construction of two more pipelines. One from Skopje to Kosovo and a second from Skopje to Serbia.

    Tsohatzopoulos further said the new energy corridor is expected to be supplemented with a natural gas pipeline securing the planned transportation of natural gas from Caspian countries to central Europe through Turkey and Greece.

    Georgievski said that the two countries showed that friends prove themselves in difficult times, adding that Greece should be thanked for its constructive position and contribution to the country's economic recovery effort.

    [11] OTE to strengthen presence in foreign countries

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) Vice President and President of OTE-International Investments George Skarpelis told reporters on Wednesday the strengthening of OTE's international activities is a leading objective for the organization’s administration.

    Its main priority is to further strengthen its activities in countries in which it already has a presence, carrying out new investments and achieving new business deals, while Skarpelis ruled out the possibility of the organization extending its activities to other countries.

    A change in the business plan in Armenia is being examined to enable OTE to achieve an 8 percent share of the mobile telephony market by mid-2003. The organization’s subscribers in the specific market amount to 66,000, representing about 3 percent.

    Skarpelis mentioned the recent agreement reached between OTE and the Romanian state, while in Serbia OTE controls 20 percent of Telecom Serbia. OTE is not expected to spend more money for new investments in this specific case, but continues to be interested in acquiring an additional share.

    [12] Mixed figures for tourist arrivals in June

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Greek tourism authorities on Wednesday unveiled mixed figures for tourist arrivals in the country in June, with increased numbers in Rhodes and Cephalonia, declines in Mytilene and Heraklion and flat figures for Mykonos.

    National Tourism Organization said that tourist arrivals in the island of Rhodes totalled 218,500 in June from 217,726 the same month last year, in the island of Cephalonia totalled 34,812 from 30,243, in the island of Mytilene 13,764 form 14,986, in Heraklion 311,717 from 326,675 and in Santorini 48,966 from 55,421.

    [13] Gov’t to present new accounting legislation soon

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday said that the government would submit in the next few days its draft legislation for the upgrading of auditing of listed companies in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Christodoulakis said that a wave of recent accounting scandals abroad did not affect the course of the Greek economy.

    The new legislation would envisage a clear distinction between consulting and accounting services offered by businesses, Christodoulakis said.

    [14] Eurodeputy Trakatellis loses 'battle' over GMO directive

    STRASBOURG 04/07/2002 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    New Democracy (ND) Eurodeputy Antonios Trakatellis on Wednesday failed to win a hard-fought battle at the European Parliament to pass his report on a proposed new EU directive for the establishment of a trace ability and labeling system of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

    The outcome of Wednesday’s vote resulted in significant amendments that alter the position of the Greek rapporteur, establishing much stricter provisions and mandatory labeling and trace ability of modified products from ''field to plate'', regardless of trace ability in the final product.

    Trakatellis said he was partially happy with the outcome since the new text was less ''extreme'' than the one proposed by the Environmental Commission, but, nevertheless, unhappy about the rejection of his proposed amendment which requested a combination of the proposed directive with scientific methods for tracing the differences between GMO and conventional products.

    Trakatellis called the proposed directive ''inapplicable'' and a ''source for problems to come'', saying that at a first glance it seemed to favor product adulteration, unfair competition and an increase in the cost of certain products.

    The amended directive was passed with 308 ''Yes'' votes, 208 ''No'' and 39 abstentions.

    [15] Greek stocks continue losing ground on Wednesday

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange set a double record on Wednesday with the general index falling to a new year low while it fell below the 2,150 level in intra-day trade, reflecting negative sentiment in the market.

    The general index ended 0.75 percent lower at 2,164.41 points, after falling to 2,143,74 points during the session.

    Turnover was a low 75.6 million euros.

    The Construction, IT Solutions and Textile sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.22 percent, 0.34 percent and 0.29 percent, respectively), while the Metals, Insurance and IT sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (2.91 percent, 2.44 percent and 1.32 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.55 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.69 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 0.68 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 221 to 88 with another 45 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded shares in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, Aktor and Elliniki Technodomiki.

    Equity index futures finish lower: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Wednesday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a slight discount, but those of the medium showed a 0.40 per cent discount.

    Turnover was 96.1 million euros.

    The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 0.55 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks dropped by 0.69 percent.

    Bond prices almost unchanged in heavy trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Wednesday finished almost unchanged in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.

    The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.2 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 31 basis points.

    Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totaled 2.1 billion euros.

    Buy orders accounted for more than half of trade.

    [16] 3 consortia in first phase of Athens 2004 lodgings program

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    Three consortia were selected on Wednesday in the first phase of an international tender declared by the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) in order to find two contractors to manage the all-important private lodgings program during the Games.

    Companies in the three consortia include some of the biggest companies in Greece’s tourism and hospitality sector, along with several top banks.

    The first consortium is led by Athens-based Alpha Bank, the second by the Latsis banking group and the third by the Lambrakis media and travel agency group.

    [17] Greek agencies' role in int'l drug interdiction efforts praised at event

    Athens, 04/07/2002 (ANA)

    High-level Greek-US cooperation in the international narcotics interdiction campaign, especially against the transport of drugs aboard ocean-going freighters, was the focus of a presentation here on Wednesday, complete with the handing over of more than US$2 million in seized assets by Washington to three Greek agencies.

    US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller presented Greek police (EL.AS), the Hellenic coast guard and the financial crimes unit (SDOE) – the three agencies comprising the country’s joint counter-narcotics unit -- with three separate checks of US$750,000 each, all from assets seized in operation “Odessa” in 1999.

    That case marked one of the first major multinational efforts at intercepting a merchant vessel loaded with drugs -- four tons of cocaine in this instance -- along with coordinated operations in the South American countries where the drugs were originated, the 'destination countries' in western Europe, and finally Greece, were the ship’s owners and top officers were based.

    Another four such high-profile multinational operations involving Greek authorities over the next three years netted more than 40 tons of cocaine and heroin, seven confiscated freighters and millions of dollars in seized drug-related assets, as well as numerous arrests in a variety of countries, including two dozen Greek nationals, all active in the east Mediterranean country's massive shipping sector.

    [18] Cyprus settlement not a precondition for accession, says Denmark

    BRUSSELS 04/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The political settlement of the Cyprus question is not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, Danish Premier and current president of the European Council Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.

    He said EU enlargement is a priority for his country but noted three obstacles that need to be ironed out, which are financing enlargement, the question of Cyprus and the Irish referendum for the ratification of the Treaty of Nice.

    ''Cyprus has done well in the accession negotiations. Cyprus is the country that has closed most negotiation chapters - 28 out of 31 - and as a candidate country, Cyprus has a right to accession once the country is ready,'' he told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

    However, he added, ''at the same time it is a problem that the island remains divided.''

    ''The Helsinki European Council determined that a solution to this problem would be an advantage but not a condition for accession,'' he said.

    ''At the same time, it was emphasized that a final decision will be taken on the basis of all relevant factors and the Danish presidency will continue the work on this basis,'' he said.

    Rasmussen called on ''all the parties involved, on both sides, to do their utmost to find a solution as swiftly as possible.''

    [19] Alvaro de Soto: framework of final solution not ready

    LARNACA 04/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The top UN envoy on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto has said the framework of the final solution of the Cyprus question is not ready and expressed disappointment that it has not been possible to crack the core issues (governance, security, territory and property) which the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot sides are discussing at the ongoing direct talks.

    Speaking on his departure on Wednesday morning for Vienna, to brief the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan about the course of the negotiations the UN have been conducting for the past six months, Alvaro de Soto said the two parties must ''enhance and redouble'' their role and called on them to show ''more political will and an increased spirit of compromise''.

    He also said he has some ideas about what should be done in the coming months, which he will discuss with Annan at their meeting Wednesday evening in Vienna.

    The fourth round of direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was concluded on Tuesday. De Soto said he will be back in Cyprus for separate meetings with the two leaders on July 15, before the start of the fifth round on the following day.

    Asked if the framework for the final solution of the Cyprus question is ready, he replied ''No, the framework of the final solution is not ready. We had hoped that by the end of June there would be a basic sense of the main points, the core issues and we felt that this would have greatly facilitated the legal drafting that remains.''

    Expressing his disappointment, he recalled a statement by the Secretary General during his May visit to Cyprus that it was possible to ''break the core issues'' by the end of June, but political will and a spirit of compromise were required.

    ''Obviously more of that is going to be needed in the coming period if the opportunity that is available here is going to be seized,'' de Soto told reporters at Larnaca airport.

    ''I am going to meet the Secretary General tonight (Wednesday). I will report to him and I expect to receive his guidance as to how to proceed when we resume work in mid July, after I brief the Security Council,'' he said.

    The UN envoy said work will continue in July, ''to see whether it is possible to compensate for the work that has not yet been accomplished.''

    Asked if he intends to get involved in the discussions himself, he told journalists that he is ''actually involved'', noting that he frequently meets with Clerides and Denktash between meetings and he makes the contribution he feels is appropriate at the talks.

    ''We will make a judgment as we go along as to what is needed,'' he added.

    Asked whether the framework within which the talks are taking place is going to change, de Soto said the role of the UN is ''to assist the parties reaching a settlement.''

    ''I am here and I will be coming back soon in the exercise of the Secretary General's good offices. That's an ample term that allows plenty of flexibility to what role we ourselves play. But what is most important is the role that the negotiating parties play and that is the role that needs to be enhanced and redoubled,'' he added.

    Asked if he is going to present proposals to the parties when he gets back, he said he would not say now what he is going to do.

    ''What I would like to do is talk to the Secretary General, discuss with him what we can do to encourage the process once it resumes,'' he said, adding that he has ''some ideas'' that he will discuss with Kofi Annan.

    Asked if he believed it was wise to continue the talks, since they appear to have produced no result so far, he said ''I think it is absolutely necessary to go on with the talks and indeed to intensify them''.

    Invited to name the side that displays no political will to find a negotiated settlement, de Soto said he would refrain from pointing a finger at anybody and that he would discuss the matter with the Secretary General and the UN Security Council.

    De Soto leaves Vienna on Thursday for New York, where on July 9 he is scheduled to brief the Security Council on the course of the Cyprus talks, which began in mid January, under UN auspices, with a view at finding a comprehensive settlement.


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