|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 20, 2003
 PM Simitis briefs President on Iraq developments, EU emergency summit result
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday briefed President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on latest developments in the Iraq crisis and the outcome of an emergency EU summit on the issue held earlier in the week in Brussels, called by the Greek EU presidency.
Speaking to reporters before the meeting, Stephanopoulos praised the prime minister for his initiative and the summit result, as the leaders of the 15 EU member states reached a common position on the Iraq issue.
Simitis said that the volition had existed for a common confrontation of the problem, and added the hope that ''we shall continue like this in the future''.
He warned, however, that tension was anticipated as ''the Iraq issue is not finished'', but added that ''no one can proceed alone, without the cooperation of the others''.
After the 90-minute meeting, Simitis said he and the President had discussed international affairs, developments in the European Union and the results of the EU leaders' meeting in Brussels on Monday.
He described Monday's summit as a success ''because Europe's common desire to play a role'' was made apparent.
''War is not inevitable,'' he said, reiterating the common EU position agreed at the summit, adding that Iraq must comply with the Security Council resolutions.
Simitis further assured that the Greek government's effort for a peaceful solution were continuing ''because everyone must realize the misfortune that war brings''.
 FM satisfied over Monday's EU summit outcome
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the current European Union foreign ministers' council president, on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the outcome of Monday's special EU Summit on Iraq, saying the crisis within the Union ended with a joint agreement, one echoing European citizens' desire for a ''united voice and will''.
Papandreou made the statements while departing Prime Minister Costas Simitis' office, after a briefing prior to a three-day visit here by European Convention President Valerie Giscard d'Estaing.
''We went over the Council results and reviewed our future strategy vis-a-vis the on-going discussions on the future of Europe, a key priority on the agenda of the Greek presidency'', Papandreou said about his meeting with Simitis.
Asked to comment on British Prime Minister Tony Blair's letter to the leaders of the 13 Acceding and Candidate-countries, where he expressed his regrets for their not having been invited to participate in Monday's special summit, Papandreou said:
''Cooperation with the 13 countries is excellent ... the practice followed by the Greek presidency is in line with standing EU practice''.
''Discussions with Accession-candidates are held after the process of the European Council conclusions is complete'', he said, adding: ''this talk about a 'rift' should stop, it is not helping anyone. As far as we are concerned, following set practices is the best way to avoid misinterpretations''.
The Greek foreign minister also said he had a telephone contact with his US counterpart Colin Powell on Tuesday evening from Brussels, with the Iraq crisis in the aftermath of Monday's special EU summit dominating the conversation.
He said that the US secretary of state ''called the Council's outcome a success for the EU and seemed to understand that we are seeking a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the Iraq crisis within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1441, with the granting of necessary time to (UN weapons) inspectors, but at the same time we are holding Saddam Hussein responsible for his actions''.
 Powell-Papandreou phone contact on Iraq
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou by phone on Tuesday evening, with the Iraq crisis in the aftermath of Monday’s special EU Summit expectedly dominating the conversation.
“He (Powell) understood that we are requesting a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the Iraq crisis, within the framework of Resolution 1441, with the granting of necessary time to (UN weapons) inspectors, but at the same time, we are holding Saddam Hussein responsible for this actions,” Papandreou told reporters shortly after leaving a meeting with the prime minister in Athens.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher referred to the telephone talks Powell and Papandreou had two days before the emergency EU summit in Brussels on Monday on the Iraq crisis, and reiterated that the United States hailed the European Union's declaration on Iraq, underlining that it calls on Saddam Hussein to proceed immediately in taking steps for Iraq's disarmament.
 Gov't: PM vindicated by decision to convene EU summit
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)The government spokesman on Wednesday offered Athens’ latest official comments regarding Monday’s special EU Summit, noting that all those who believed the Greek initiative would fail were categorically proved wrong.
Speaking during his regular press briefing, spokesman Christos Protopapas said the decision to push through with the informal summit completely vindicated Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the current president of the EU Council.
In echoing statements by Greek leadership and the foreign ministry over the past week, the spokesman reiterated that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein must completely cooperate with UN weapons inspectors in order to eradicate weapons of mass destruction in the Mideast country, all within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.
Asked when PM Simitis will brief other Greek opposition party leaders over the latest international developments and the Greek EU presidency’s initiatives, Protopapas said the Greek president has already been briefed, while an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament to discuss Athens’ initiatives vis-a-vis the Iraq crisis is pending.
 EU common position on Iraq presented to UN Security Council
NEW YORK, 20/02/2003 (ANA - P. Panikos)Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations Adamantios Vassilakis, addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, reiterated the position of the 15 European Union
member states that ''war is not inevitable'' with respect to the Iraq crisis and should only be the ''last resort'', at the same time urging Baghdad to ''immediately and fully'' comply with Security Council Resolution 1441.
''The UN inspectors should be given as much time as necessary by the Security Council, but the investigation process cannot continue indefinitely'', he added.
Vassilakis, who coordinates the cooperation among the EU's ''15'' in the Security Council for the duration of the Greek EU presidency through June 2003, linked the Iraq crisis to the general situation in the Middle East stressing that the ''EU is convinced that the peace process has to be enhanced through the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian issue''.
Diplomatic sources in New York said it was certain that the United States and Britain would table a new draft UN resolution on the Iraq issue, adding that if indeed such a draft was introduced for voting, it will have been preceded by a flurry of diplomatic and political deliberations to secure the support needed for its approval.
Meanwhile, the Security Council's open session on Iraq, which was requested by South Africa which currently chairs the Non-Aligned Movement of developing countries, would continue on Wednesday with speeches by delegates from the non-permanent members of the Security Council.
 ND's Parliamentary Group examines EU stance on Iraq crisis
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party's Parliamentary Group convened on Wednesday, focusing primarily on the recent conflict in the European Union on the crisis in Iraq and the future of Europe in light of the new constitution to be ratified.
The meeting was attended and addressed by former European Commission President Jacques Santer, former Irish Prime Minister and current European Peoples Party Vice President John Bruton and the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee President Elmar Brok.
ND leader Costas Karamanlis said Europe should consolidate common foreign policy and defense and security policy in its constitution to be able to play a strong role and to constitute a strong factor of peace.
He added that united Europe and the United States should realize that they must be equal partners and that the EU should create apparatuses and institutions which will brush aside the transient interests of its member-states.
Referring to the Iraq crisis, Karamanlis said war is not unavoidable and necessary time exists for a peaceful settlement of the problem.
On the question of Cyprus, Karamanlis assured the island republic's new President Tassos Papadopoulos that ND will stand steadfastly by the side of the people of Cyprus and their struggles, as well as by the effort for a viable solution to the political problem based on the acquis communautaire and UN resolutions.
Santer, Bruton and Brok, accompanied by ND's Parliamentary Group Secretary General Dimitris Sioufas and ND Deputy Marietta Yiannakou visited Parliament's 1st Vice President Costas Geitonas, who is standing in for Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in the presence of 3rd Vice President and European Affairs Committee President Costas Vrettos.
The meeting focused on an exchange of views on the role of national Parliaments in the framework of the new European constitution.
 Coalition party leader says EU must take specific initiatives to avert war
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said on Wednesday the European Union must take specific initiatives to avert war definitely.
He added that the attitude of U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair was contemptuous and defiant towards both the EU and Iraq.
Constantopoulos said the decision taken by the EU's summit could be far more determined, adopting the explicit condemnation of war, and noted that war is always a crime against humanity.
The Coalition party leader further stressed that the doctrine of war should not pass and that Europe must express the will of the citizens of all European countries.
 French ambassador says UN resolution 1441 provides solutions to avert war
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)French Ambassador to Athens Jean-Maurice Ripert said on Wednesday the UN Security Council's resolution 1441 allows weapons inspectors to continue their investigations and provides solutions for war to be averted.
Ripert, who was speaking at an event titled ''Franco-German cooperation and its repercussions in the Middle East'', organized by the ''Constantine Tsatsos'' Politics Institute in cooperation with the French Diplomatic and Strategic Studies Centre, said France claims the right to have a different view from the United States.
''Iraq is a threat to peace because it has nuclear weapons. France desires peace because it has experienced what war and occupation means. I am not anti-American but we have different interests. All peaceful means must be exhausted,'' he added.
Ripert also referred to the considerable role played by the Greek EU Presidency in Brussels and its dynamic position, while stressing the significance of a united Europe which shall preserve its cultural identity at the same time.
 Papandreou receives Norwegian FM Petersen
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the current EU foreign ministers’ council president, received his visiting Norwegian counterpart Jan Petersen here on Wednesday as part of regular sixth-month meetings between the rotating EU presidency and the Oslo government.
In answer to a standing question posed to Norwegian leadership over the past few years, Petersen said there is no issue at present of Norway re-submitting an EU accession application, although a new round of deliberations in the country over the issue is underway, in light of recent poll results showing a majority of citizens in the affluent Scandinavian country favor accession.
Meanwhile, Papandreou was again queried over the latest developments regarding the Iraq crisis, a day after he spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“The feeling we have is that war is not unavoidable, and that the necessary time and means must be given to the (UN weapons) inspectors for them to complete their job. Time, however, cannot be limitless,” he said.
Finally, he again reiterated that Europe send Saddam Hussein a clear message that a peaceful resolution is possible as long as Iraq fully adheres to UNSC Resolution 1441.
 Alternate FM and Australian envoy discuss UN plan for Cyprus
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Australia's special envoy for the Cyprus issue Jim Short on Wednesday discussed UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for a solution to the issue, the prospect of a referendum in Cyprus, the proposal by the UN for a Donors' Conference and the outcome of the EU's special summit in Brussels on the crisis of Iraq.
Yiannitsis briefed his interlocutor on the decision taken by the ''15'' on the Iraq crisis, while Short conveyed his conclusions to him from his visit to Ankara two days ago and his talks there.
An announcement by the foreign ministry said that ''regarding the already revised Annan Plan, it was ascertained that achieving an agreement by February 28 is now extremely difficult and reference was made to Turkish reservations both on matters of principle and on specific issues such as the territorial issue and the issue of settlers.''
Yiannitsis recalled the constructive stance of the Cypriot and Greek sides and stressed that a solution will be beneficial for all.
Referring to the UN's proposal on a Donors' Conference with the purpose of economic support for the implementation of the Annan Plan, Yiannitsis pointed out that the Greek Presidency has expressed its readiness for the holding of the Conference with a statement, which is also countersigned by all candidate countries, with the exception of Turkey. However, such a Conference is linked to the prospect of a solution being found.
 Greek Ambassador to U.S. expounds on Greek foreign policy
WASHINGTON 20/02/2003 (ANA/T. Ellis)Greek Ambassador to Washington George Savvaides, addressing a lecture held at Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday, expounded on Greek policy in the eastern Mediterranean, with particular reference to the Cyprus issue, relations between Israel and the Arab countries and the need for the resumption of the peace process for a solution to the Middle East problem.
His speech was in the context of a series of lectures organized by the American Jewish Committee which this year invited the ambassadors of Greece, China, Belgium and Denmark.
Ambassador Savvaides also referred to the Greek EU presidency's priorities, Greek-U.S. relations, both on a bilateral level and within the framework of NATO, Greece's stabilizing role in the Balkans, and in particular to Greek business initiatives as well as the national plan for the reconstruction of the Balkans.
Furthermore, the ambassador presented preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the initiative for the establishment of the Olympic Truce.
 Greek EU presidency declaration on Cote d'Ivoire
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU presidency in a declaration on Wednesday on Cote d'Ivoire, said the European Union urges all parties, in particular the Ivorian authorities, to implement immediately the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, which the United Nations Security Council endorsed by Resolution 1464 of February 4, 2003. In that context, the European Union would stress the need for all concerned to maintain a safe and stable environment, the declaration said on behalf of the European Union.
The declaration, released by the Foreign Ministry's press office, said the European Union would like the Prime Minister, Mr. Seydou Diarra, to be given the full support of all Ivorian parties in the work of forming a government, so that it can swiftly embark on the task of achieving reconciliation and an end to the crisis. The European Union accordingly calls on all forces involved in this process to avoid taking any steps that might endanger the national reconciliation process underway.
The European Union would reiterate the firm commitment of the entire international community to full implementation of the undertakings given in Linas-Marcoussis and confirmed at the Paris Summit.
In this connection, the declaration added, the European Union welcomes the role played by the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations in promoting a return to peace and reconciliation in Cote d'Ivoire.
 Minister presents creation of common unit to handle illegal immigrants
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Wednesday indicated the creation of a ''Common Unit'' to undertake the burden of handling the waves of illegal immigrants to European Union countries will be the focal point of the Greek EU presidency's proposals to the EU's other member-states.
The unit will be operational and should be manned by officers from the countries and, according to duties to be allocated, will coordinate the EU's immigration policy.
Presenting the idea, Chrysohoidis linked the activities of organized crime with immigration and the need for organized crime to be handled as a proposal by the Greek EU presidency as well.
Chrysohoidis said the handling of illegal immigrants will also take place on the borders of member-states, as well as within, to the degree that illegal immigrants enter countries and the problem of their incorporation is posed then.
He further said the activities of organized crime include terrorism, which requires political handling, but a greater problem of unemployment is created by these activities and by illegal immigration.
Chrysohoidis added that Greece can receive no more illegal immigrants since it has reached a marginal point.
 Labor union leader and Palestinian diplomat discuss Palestinians' situation
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos and Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Greece Abdullah Abdullah held talks on Wednesday, while the Palestinian diplomat briefed the labor union leader on the situation currently prevailing in Palestinian territory.
Abdullah also referred to the support of the Greek people, and of working people in particular, for the Palestinians' struggle, adding that the issue of the Palestinians' struggle should also be an outstanding point in anti-war demonstrations taking place against a possible war in Iraq.
Polyzogopoulos stressed the "undiminishing interest" of Greek working people in the situation in Palestinian territory and their continuous support for their struggle for an independent state and called for the withdrawal of Israeli military occupation forces and for peace in the region.
He added that these positions were also expressed during recent big and mass anti-war demonstrations in Athens and in other cities in the country, organized by GSEE together with social and mass movements.
 EU spring summit to decide technical changes to Stability Pact, FinMin says
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)A Spring EU Summit in March will finalize changes in a Stability and Growth Pact, envisaging greater flexibility in dealing with the fiscal condition of member-states currently in economic slowdown and stricter criteria to reduce public debt in member-states whose debt exceeds 60 percent of their GDP (Greece among them), Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Christodoulakis stressed that there would not be any change to a 3.0 percent limit for a country's fiscal deficit, as envisaged in the Stability Pact.
The Greek minister, who chaired Eurogroup and ECOFIN meetings on Sunday and Monday, respectively, also noted that there would not be any changes in other parts of the Pact and said that changes envisaging greater flexibility in dealing with increased fiscal deficits by countries witnessing economic slowdown, would be of technical nature. These changes would not apply to Greece because the country was recording high growth rates, he said.
Commenting on the impact from a possible war in Iraq, Mr Christodoulakis noted that higher oil prices were raising production costs for companies, resulting to negative implications for the Greek economy as well. "The Greek economy is not a glass castle...There is no economy invulnerable to an avalanche of economic developments," he said.
The Greek minister attributed higher domestic prices to rising international oil prices and to a rapid worsening of weather conditions in the country. He acknowledged upward pressures on the inflation rate in February saying that "in the front against higher prices the battle must be endless".
He also said that the government would soon public a package of measures aimed at boosting Greek exports and to limit the impact from a slowdown in European economy.
Mr Christodoulakis said that European economic growth would be slower this year, compared with initial forecasts, because of the impact of war fears, and stressed that the issue would be discussed during a ministerial meeting of G7 countries in Paris over the weekend.
The Greek minister said that a move to raise lending interest rates in the domestic market was unjustified.
 EU looks at impact of war on Mediterranean maritime movement
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Maritime transport affairs to be reviewed at a European Union ministers' meeting at the end of March were the focus of talks in Brussels on Wednesday between Greek Merchant Marine
Minister George Anomeritis and EU Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio.
Greece currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc.
Issues examined at the meeting included the gradual withdrawal from service of single hull tankers, seamen's education, the International Fund for compensation against pollution from tankers, and access to port services.
Palacio and Anomeritis also looked at the implications of a likely war in Iraq, placing special emphasis on oil transportation, passenger shipping, and cruises in the Mediterranean.
In addition, they set a timetable of activities up to June 2003, including contacts with International Maritime Organization officials.
 Gov't on Kokkalis participation in defense contracts
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)The government on Wednesday said it cannot exclude companies belonging to the country’s most influential IT tycoon – who is at the centre of an ongoing espionage and bribery investigation by a local prosecutor -- from participating and winning state contracts.
“According to the Constitution and the legal system, no one is guilty unless first convicted, and this also applies to the system of state procurements ... We cannot exclude someone because a case is pending against him,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas said during his regular press briefing, and in reference to questions about Intracom group founder and chairman Socrates Kokkalis.
A local prosecutor is currently investigating allegations that Kokkalis spied for the former East German intelligence agency, the infamous “Stasi”, until 1989, passing state secrets as well as information about Greek politicians and political developments.
"We have nothing to hide or be afraid of. Justice must quickly do its duty," Protopapas added.
The questions came after two main opposition New Democracy deputies tabled a query to the prime minister over the prudence of Kokkalis' firms being involved in national security and defense contracts in the present, as well as with data banks holding taxpayers' and citizens' personal information.
 Greek exporters warn of impact from a possible war in Iraq
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)The Panhellenic Exporters' Union on Wednesday warned that Greek exports could be significantly hit by a possible war in Iraq.
Mrs. Christina Sakellaridi, the Union's chairman, stressed that Greek exports to the Arab world accounted for 10 percent of total exports and noted that the Saudi Arabian and Libyan markets - that had recovered lately - would turn negative again because of recent developments in the region.
Greek exports towards these countries mainly include food, cosmetics and medicines.
The Panhellenic Exporters' Union said that a current negative international climate and domestic hurdles were further burdening efforts to promote Greek exports.
The Union criticized the government for its lack of export strategy and noted that Greek exports have fallen back to 1996 levels.
Mrs. Sakellaridi urged all interested parties to cooperate in an effort to overcome chronic competitiveness problems in the Greek export market.
 European airlines will need insurance coverage if war erupts
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Greek and Italian Transport Ministers on Wednesday agreed that a special EU Transport Ministers Council should be held in case that a war broke out in Iraq to discuss the issue of insurance coverage of air transport.
Greek Transport Minister Christos Verelis and his Italian counterpart Pietro Lunardi said that the issue of air transport insurance coverage was very significant for European air carriers because insurance companies refrained from offering insurance coverage to aircraft flying near a war zone.
The European Union offered insurance coverage to European airlines in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
 Greek stocks end flat on Wednesday
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session flat, as lack of follow-through buying and worries over geopolitical developments halted a two-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index eased 0.02 percent to end at 1,693.44 points, with turnover a low 61.8 million euros.
The Insurance, Wholesale and Bank sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.54 percent, 2.01 percent and 1.21 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunication and Construction sectors suffered losses (1.10 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.06 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.32 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.77 percent. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.17 percent up.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 195 to 81 with another 74 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 83.1 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 83.1 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Spanish royal couple receives ATHOC chief; briefed on 2004 progress
MADRID 20/02/2003 (ANA)Spanish King Juan Carlos I on Wednesday was the latest head of state to receive Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing
Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daska-laki, as the ATHOC chief briefed the Spanish monarch and his wife, Queen Sophia, over the course of preparations for the coming Summer Games.
Honorary International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch as well as Spanish Olympic Committee President Jose Maria Echevarria also attended the briefing in the Spanish capital.
On her part, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki reminded that the Olympic Torch relay will pass through the Catalan capital of Barcelona, the host city of the very successful 1992 Games, while she also cited the contribution of a pair of well-known Spaniards to the ongoing preparations, architect Santiago Calatrava and ISB Managing Director and broadcast executive Manolo Romero.
Moreover, she said some 200 Spanish citizens have already submitted applications to serve as volunteers during the Games.
“It was a great honor that was bestowed upon us today to meet with the royal couple of Spain. I had the opportunity to brief them on the progress of our preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics of 2004,” the ATHOC chief said, before thanking Samaranch for the initiative to brief the Spanish monarchs.
 ANA, Macedonia-Thrace Ministry discuss cooperation in view of EU summit in June
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Macedonia and Thrace Minister George Paschalidis and Athens News Agency (ANA) Director General Andreas Christodoulides on Wednesday discussed the issue of cooperation between the news agency and the ministry in view of the EU summit in Thessaloniki in June and this northern city's bid to host the world exhibition EXPO 2008.
Paschalidis said after the meeting that the Macedonia and Thrace Ministry will support the ANA on technological equipment issues for the setting up in Thessaloniki of a unit which will aim at providing the best possible information on activities in the northern Greek city on the occasion of the June summit.
''Within this context, we also want to help the citizens' movements who will be coming those days to Thessaloniki to have the best possible access to the information networks and on this matter we are asking for the ANA's help,'' the minister said.
On his part, the ANA chief said the news agency will try to give, particularly for foreigners, in English and French, information about Thessaloniki, the city which will host the EU summit. ''We will start this effort very soon,'' Christodoulides underlined.
 Six NATO frigates anchor outside port of Piraeus
Athens, 20/02/2003 (ANA)Six frigates of NATO's Permanent Maritime Force in the Mediterranean anchored outside the port of Piraeus on Wednesday morning, within the context of a courtesy visit to Greece.
The frigates are from The Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece.
The Netherlands holds the command of this maritime force during this period.
The ships will remain in the region until February 24 when they will continue their patrols in the Mediterranean.
Asked by reporters why the government did not permit the NATO ships to dock in the port, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said never in the recent past has a warship anchored in the port.
Replying to another question on whether the U.S. Embassy in Athens had expressed its displeasure over this fact, the spokesman said he was not aware of any displeasure on the part of the embassy.
''The standard practice for warships is, as we say in the shipping dialect, for them to remain anchored outside port. Therefore, it was said that in this specific case, the NATO ships should also remain anchored. Furthermore, many Olympic Games projects are being carried out in the port which do not allow for such permission,'' the spokesman concluded.
Inhabitants of Piraeus demonstrated their opposition to the presence of the NATO ships. Carrying banners, the demonstrators gathered at the port shouting slogans against a possible war in Iraq and against the United States and the government.
 EU takes Greece to court for curbs on foreign engineers, teachers
BRUSSELS 20/02/2003 (ANA-B.Demiris)The European Commission decided on Wednesday to take Greece to the European Court for curbs that discriminate against engineers and teachers from other EU countries seeking jobs or entry into professional registers.
Greece failed to properly incorporate Directive 89/48/EEC into it national legislation, which meant it was out of step with EU law, the Commission said in a statement.
The directive sets up a system of recognition of higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three years' duration. The Directive was incorporated into Greek law by Presidential Decree 165/2000 of 23 June 2000.
The Commission said it did not consider the incorporation to be consistent with Community law, particularly on compensatory measures (aptitude test or adaptation period) that might apply to migrants; and exclusion of persons who have already practiced their profession in Greece under non-regulated arrangements.
Commenting on the decision, EU Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said: ''If European law on the recognition of professional qualifications is not respected, qualified persons run the risk of not being able to exercise their right to practice their profession in any of the Member States.”
It would also appear from complaints received from engineers that the Directive has been incorrectly applied, since Greek authorities require equivalence between diplomas for recruiting engineers in the public sector and determining their conditions of employment; and for registering migrant members of the profession with the competent professional body - the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE).
 President-elect Papadopoulos meets UN envoy de Soto
NICOSIA 20/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos met twice on Wednesday with the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.
Wednesday morning's meeting lasted about two hours, while the afternoon one went on for well over three hours.
Papadopoulos was accompanied by Alecos Markides, an aide so far of outgoing President Glafcos Clerides, and President of the Movement to Restructure the Centre Kypros Chrysostomides and the member of leftwing AKEL's Central Committee Toumazos Tselepis.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks between the two sides are underway with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement. UN chief Kofi Annan has submitted a solution proposal to the two sides and has set February 28 as a target date for an agreement.
UN envoy says new president wants to start negotiations: De Soto said Papadopoulos wants to start the negotiations as soon as possible, something which he welcomed.
De Soto, who was speaking after meeting outgoing President Clerides, said he was ready too.
The UN envoy said his understanding is that Papadopoulos ''wants to get into the negotiations as quickly as possible. I welcome it,'' he added.
The UN official said Papadopoulos met outgoing President Clerides on Wednesday morning and that he ''will be going over the Secretary-General's plan'' with Papadopoulos, adding he is ''ready to answer any questions that he might have. I hope that this will contribute to making progress in the coming days,'' he said.
Asked when the first direct meeting between Papadopoulos, Denktash and de Soto would take place, de Soto replied, ''well, I'll have to let you know by when that will be.''
Invited to comment on the submission of a third UN plan, following statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, de Soto said he was not sure what Gul meant, but the Turkish Premier had met with UN Secretary-General in Brussels. ''I don't know what they discussed,'' he said.
''Everybody seems to be talking about the Secretary-General's new plan. We shall have to see,'' he added.
 Blair hopes Papadopoulos will grasp opportunity for solution
NICOSIA 20/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)British Prime Minister Tony Blair hopes that Cypriot President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos will be able to grasp the ''historic opportunity'' to solve the Cyprus problem, and in this direction has asked his Special Representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay to be at hand for the final stage of negotiations.
In a message congratulating Papadopoulos on his election, Blair hopes that ''Britain and Cyprus will continue to have a close and fruitful relationship," noting that this is ''a momentous time for Cyprus, with the UN Secretary General personally involved in a final effort to achieve by the end of this month a just and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem, enabling a reunited Cyprus to sign the EU Accession Treaty this April."
''I know it is a tall order to take such sensitive and complex decisions so soon after your election but your experience in this field is great and I hope you will feel able to grasp this historic opportunity," Blair adds.
He says he has asked Lord Hannay ''to be at hand for this final stage of the negotiations and to give any help we can to the UN and to those more directly involved than we are in these negotiations."
Among others who congratulated Papadopoulos on his election, is Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who says in a message he is
''convinced that, through the concerted efforts of our two sides, the friendly relationship and cooperation between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Cyprus will be further consolidated and developed in political, economic, cultural and other fields."
In a message to Papadopoulos, European Parliamentarian Mechtild Rothe congratulates him on his election and wishes ''strength and success''
for the ''important decisions and steps to be made in the coming weeks and months."
Rothe co-chaired the EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee with Papadopoulos.
Belgian Senator Philippe Monfils says in a congratulatory message to Papadopoulos that he is ''confident that under your mandate Cyprus will become a strong and active member of the EU'' and that the President-elect will ''certainly successfully pro-mote the Mediterranean dimension of the EU."
 Spokesman says U.S. looking forward to cooperation with new Cyprus president
WASHINGTON 20/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday the United States looks forward to cooperation with new Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
''We look forward to the continuation of cooperation with the new leadership in Cyprus and with all governments in the region, while we are proceeding towards this opportunity for a solution,'' Boucher said, commenting on the results of Sunday's presidential elections in Cyprus.
Boucher announced that ''the special coordinator for the Cyprus issue Tom Weston is leaving for the region today'', adding that ''Secretary General Kofi Annan will also be there at the end of the month.''
He then stressed that ''we congratulate Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos for his election as the Fifth President of the Republic of Cyprus.''
 US Congressmen ask Bush to intervene towards Turkey
NICOSIA 20/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)Greek-American leaders have applauded the 78 members of Congress who called on US President George Bush to undertake efforts to persuade Turkey to support efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
In a statement, the National Coordinated Effort for Hellenes (CEH), said the 78 key members of Congress, called on President Bush ''to undertake, as a high priority and at the highest level, efforts to persuade Turkey to fully support'' Cyprus settlement efforts.
''Despite Turkey's importance to US efforts in Iraq, now is the time to help Turkey bring an end to the division of Cyprus,'' it said.
The statement was signed by Andrew Athens, CEH Chairman, Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus, and Andrew Manatos, President of the Pancyprian Association of America.