|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 10, 2003
 Greek minister appeals for EU unity on Iraq at Munich security conference
MUNICH 10/02/2003 (ANA - G. Pappa)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, currently head of the EU defense ministers' council, made repeated appeals for a united stance on Iraq within the European Union while addressing the 39th International Security Conference in Munich.
The major security conference held over the weekend high-lighted the rift between the United States and Germany, in particular, regarding the prospects of a war against Iraq.
The U.S. was particularly incensed at reports leaked to the press of a Franco-German initiative that would stall preparations for a war against Iraq at the United Nations, stressing that it had not been officially informed of the plan.
As U.S officials, backed by Britain, lashed out against France and Germany and accused them of dragging their feet in the international campaign against terrorism, Papantoniou stressed the need for Europe to act and speak in a united fashion if it was to exert any influence on developments, especially in matters of peace or war.
''The divergent opinions within Europe have weakened its position,'' Papantoniou stressed.
He also noted that Europe had its own value system which, even though it share many common points with that of the U.S., had to be more dynamically promoted on the international scene.
''For this reason, the Greek presidency calls on the EU member-states and especially the countries that are members of the U.N. Security Council to work with it, in order to arrive at a common European position and make a decisive contribution on the issue of Iraq,'' he said.
According to the Greek minister, the coming process at the Security Council in the next few days would be a test of the EU's cohesion and of its determination to take on its responsibilities for world peace and security.
With regard to preparations within NATO for the possibility of war in Iraq, where the rift between the US and certain European countries has again caused obstacles, Papantoniou said in an interview with the German radio station Deutsche Welle that NATO countries were arriving at a consensus about ''securing the planning phase''.
According to the minister, this did not mean activating article V but was a form of military preparation that would allow article V to be activated ''when the circumstances made it necessary''.
In the acrimonious climate of the Munich conference, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld collided head-on German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
Rumsfeld insisted that 10 years of diplomacy and ''17 Security Council resolutions'' had failed to bring about the desired results and that the time for action by the United Nations and the international community against Iraq had come. In response to questions about the margins for a diplomatic resolution, he estimated that the war would begin in matters of ''days or weeks at the most,'' and that the only acceptable alternative was exile for Saddam Hussein with a very small number of his family.
Fischer questioned Washington's priorities on the Iraq crisis and the timing of the operation against Iraq, while disputing that all margins for diplomacy had been exhausted.
''The crucial question is whether the danger is so great that it justifies a war,'' the German minister said.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie appeared to be moving away from Germany on Saturday, however, saying that her country had never ruled out military strikes against Iraq.
Rumsfeld intimated during the conference that a letter in support of Washington's positions on Iraq signed by eight European leaders in Vilnius (five heads of the 15 member-states and three heads of the 10 candidate-states due to join in April) was regarded by the U.S. as sanction for American plans by Europe and that Germany's divergent stance was an ''internal affair'' of the EU.
The U.S. side has also lashed out at Paris, Berlin and Brussels for blocking preparations for an Iraq war within NATO, accusing them of ''undermining the Alliance's credibility''.
According to an announcement on Sunday, Papantoniou had a series of meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the conference in a bid to defuse tensions between the U.S., France and Germany and to promote Greek positions for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis.
Apart from Rumsfeld, Papantoniou also held talks with Alliot-Marie, Swedish Defense Minister Leni Bjorklund, EU Common Foreign and Defense Policy coordinator Javier Solana and NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson.
 War against Iraq should be a last choice, Magriotis says
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)A war against Iraq should be the last choice and not the first or second, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis said on Sunday in Thessaloniki, at an event held at his political offices.
"Saddam is a dictator, a threat to his people, his country and the region, who must abide by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. If he does not do so, we will seek other ways to make him," he said.
He stressed that seven out of the eight European governments that signed a letter in support of the United States' pro-war stance, barring Britain, were conservative.
Magriotis said the country would organize the safest Olympics, while he called on progressive forces in Thessaloniki to unite and "work for our city", putting aside personal ambitions and party-political egotism.
 FM Papandreou to have talks with French, Swedish counterparts on Monday
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister and EU Council of Ministers president George Papandreou will have teleconference conversations with his French and Swedish counterparts, Dominique de Villepin and Anna Lindh, respectively, on Monday.
A foreign ministry announcement on Sunday also said Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis will meet Bulgarian Economy Minister Milen Velchev at 5 p.m. on Monday.
 Communist party leader rules out alliances with parties in Parliament
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)In a two-page article appearing in the Sunday edition of 'Rizospastis', Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga outlined her party's alliance strategy and ruled out all prospects of cooperation with any of the other three parties in Parliament.
More generally, she ruled out all moves and policies that pivoted around the centre-left and the ''unity of the Left'', saying that this was a slogan of the ''Reformist modernization'' movement.
She said that her party's differences with ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy, the two parties that take the lion's share of the country's votes, were mainly class-based.
''The opposition between PASOK and ND does not concern the system but competition for government within the limits of the system,'' she writes.
She also ruled out an alliance with the Coalition of the Left and Progress.
 PASOK suffering from 'political anorexia', Chrysohoidis tells 'Sunday Vima'
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)Both ruling PASOK and its officials but also wide swathes of Greek society were ''satiated with successes'' to the extent of suffering from ''political anorexia'', Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis said in an interview with the Sunday edition of 'To Vima'.
He called for deep-reaching changes within the political system and society to ''avoid arriving as a Nation, before new impasses.''
Elaborating further, Chrysohoidis said that the Greek middle classes of today were the working class of the 70s but appeared to be trying to forget their origins.
''This is a dangerous social amnesia that is offensive to the present-day working class in the country, which is underestimated and marginalized,'' he noted.
During the same period, he adds, the progressive parties in Greece were losing their identity and their framework of values more and more.
According to Chrysohoidis, the way out of the situation is to politicize the middle classes once more, thus leading to a renewal of the progressive faction's identity and guiding the country to a steadily improving future.
This would be achieved not just through a new PASOK, he said, but through reforms of the entire political system.
Responding to questions about the terrorist group ''November 17'', against which the Greek police had a major breakthrough over the summer while Chrysohoidis was public order minister, he said the terror organization was ''the product of a skewed political scene'' and the ''definition of the modern Greek fallacy''.
He admitted that mistakes were made in communications strategy for the N17 and ELA cases, while noting that there were no easy answers to matters related to the publicity for such cases and the issues raised.
He also stressed that the arrests of suspects in connection with ELA were not made on the basis of information contained in Stasi files but were backed up by other evidence.
At another point in the interview, the minister noted that the meaning of 'security' had to be redefined and stressed the dangers posed by contemporary threats. He stressed that fighting for democracy and war against dictatorial regimes should ''be the last resort and not the first choice''.
 Three EU leaders send letter to Simitis on employment issue, newspaper reports
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)The progress of the Lisbon decisions are a priority of the Greek EU presidency, the government spokesman said on Sunday.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas was commenting on an article in the ''Sunday Vima'' newspaper, according to which French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the issue of employment.
''We are interested in a competitive Europe, a Europe with strong growth, a Europe with a single policy for employment and social security,'' said Protopapas, adding that ''every intervention, every help, every contribution in this sector is permissible, but our preparation is proceeding and is proceeding effectively.''
According to the newspaper, Chirac, Schroeder and Blair noted in their letter the need for the European economy's competitive-ness to be safeguarded and improved. On the issue of competitiveness, they stressed that ''when we take political decisions we should have in mind that European industry should maintain its position in world competitiveness. It cannot be used as a laboratory for regulating experiments which increase the cost or the burden on the employer.''
 EU development ministers to convene in Thessaloniki on Friday
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)EU development ministers will hold a meeting in Thessaloniki, northern, Greece, on Friday, Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday.
The sessions will place emphasis on the creation of an action plan for the support of business and competitiveness in the European Union.
The minister said this plan will be discussed at the European Council of Competitiveness which will prepare a proposal for the EU Summit in June.
On Thursday, the Greek EU presidency and the EU Commission will organize a European conference on the theme ''The business future of Europe''.
 Commissioner Diamantopoulou addresses conference on economic policy, growth
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)Greek Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou said on Saturday that the European Union's policies are directed towards full employment with more and better jobs in a labor market without exclusions.
Addressing a two-day international conference on the theme ''Economic policy and new sources of development for Europe: challenges and prospects'', the commissioner noted that the EU, by coordinating national employment policies these past five years, aims at orientating them towards active intervention and their convergence to common objectives and interests, and not to passively deal with the consequences of unemployment.
Among the EU's priorities in reducing unemployment is to train the unemployed and encourage a spirit of entrepreneurialship among youth, she told the conference which came to a close on Saturday.
Diamantopoulou further underlined that what was needed was for regional inequality to be dealt with both between and within the EU's member-states, as well as for discrimination against sections of the population which have special needs to be confronted.
The conference, held at the Athens coastal district of Kavouri, was organized by the Economy and Finance Ministry.
 Polish nationals, Greek, sentenced to 10 years each for people-smuggling
Athens, 10/02/2003 (ANA)Four Polish nationals and a Greek were on Saturday sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each and fines of 290,000 euros for smuggling illegal immigrants into Greece by motor ship.
Polish nationals Rawel Adam Bodnicki, 27, a resident of Athens; Leszek Dabrowski, 37; Pawek Bracickwicz, 23; and Konrad Krawczak, 24; and Greek national Haralambos Glavas, 45, were sentenced by a Halkida court to 10 years imprisonment each and fined 290,000 euros for smuggling 55 Asian illegal immigrants, mostly Pakistanis, aboard the 20-metre motor ship "Scrooge" and abandoning the immigrants in the distressed motor ship off the coast of Karystos, in Evia, on Wednesday.
Local fishermen spotted the distressed motor ship and informed the Coast Guard, which towed the abandoned vessel to safety.
But the high-powered inflatable craft used by the motor ship’s crew to escape suffered power failure in rough seas, forcing the five to issue a distress signal which landed them in the hands of the authorities.