|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 28, 2003
 FM and U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice discuss Middle East, Iraq
WASHINGTON 28/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)Foreign Minister George Papandreou and U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice discussed the need for progress in implementing the ''road map'' for a solution to the Middle East issue and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005, as well as the Iraq issue, in talks held at the White House on Thursday.
The talks were attended by the European Union's Security and Foreign Policy High Commissioner Javier Solana and Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten.
Speaking on behalf of the EU after the 40-minute meeting, Papandreou said ''we discussed the visit I will be making to Egypt in coming days with the summit of Arab countries and the message which we, as Europe, must convey. I also had the opportunity to discuss it here with Mrs. Rice.''
Papandreou further said ''we discussed the Middle East, the peace process, the so-called road map for a solution to the Palestinian problem and, of course, Iraq where, as President Bush has announced, he is preparing for a possible military operation.''
On the question of Iraq, the foreign minister assessed that if Saddam Hussein cooperates fully with the UN weapons inspectors it is possible that war can be averted.
''There is hope if indeed Saddam wants and goes ahead with drastic demilitarization measures. I think that this is an important message on behalf of the EU as well and we have repeatedly stressed that demilitarization is what the international community expects. I want to stress once again, despite this last moment, that war is not unavoidable, that the EU and we, being the presidency, will make every move for a way to be found, if possible, for a peaceful solution to this crisis but, of course, Saddam Hussein himself has a big part, a basic part of responsibility with his move for demilitarization. Until now, of course, the crisis is mixed, there are steps, others consider them smaller others bigger but, in any case, we do not have the full cooperation the UN would like. I think this is an important point which must be conveyed to Saddam Hussein from both us and the Arabs,'' he said.
Apart from Iraq, the Cyprus issue was also discussed with an identity of views being reached and with the United States and the EU expressing their full support for the efforts of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
''There is full support for the efforts of UN Secretary General Mr. Annan. Certainly, it is a considerable opportunity which we must utilize,'' Papandreou said.
 Powell hosts dinner for Papandreou, Solana and Patten
WASHINGTON 28/02/2003 (ANA-T. Ellis)U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has invited his Greek counterpart George Papandreou as well as EU High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana and EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten for dinner at his residence in Washington on Thursday night.
Powell was due to host the dinner a few hours after the official U.S.-EU meeting at the State Department which was due to take place later on Thursday in the context of the established contacts between the two sides.
Immediately after the dinner, Papandreou and the EU representatives will depart from the U.S. capital.
 FM Papandreou meets with Bulgarian counterpart Passy in Washington
WASHINGTON 28/02/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)Foreign minister George Papandreou and his Bulgarian counterpart Solomon Passy, both in the US for Thursday's (US time) crucial UN Security Council meeting on Iraq, met briefly early Thursday morning (Greece time) in Washington shortly after Papandreou's arrival in the US capital.
''We discussed coordination of our efforts on the Iraq issue'', Papandreou told reporters after the meeting that took place in his hotel room, adding ''Bulgaria is a member of the Security Council, a neighbor and a candidate to join the European Union. It was a useful meeting before our respective meetings with US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell''.
Passy had earlier accompanied Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha at his meeting with US President George Bush in the White House.
Papandreou said the agenda of the meetings that he, as well as EU Chief diplomat Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten will have later in the day with Bush administration officials will include the Iraq issue, North Korea, the peace process in the Middle East, the utilization of EU-Arab relations vis-a-vis the upcoming Arab League summit, as well as the Cyprus issue where ''an increased mobility and particular activity on the part of UN Secretary-General which Greece supports''. Papandreou's meetings scheduled for Thursday night (Greece time) with Rice and Powel are within the scope of established US-EU contacts.
 PM Simitis tells parliament Iraq has last chance to comply
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Thursday during a parliamentary debate on a possible war in Iraq that ''it is not the first time'' that the head of the UN weapons inspector, Hans Blip, has stressed in a report that ''Iraq has not cooperated smoothly and has not given all the necessary information so that it becomes certain that it does not possess any more weapons of mass destruction.''
It is the second or third time of recent, showing that ''the continuous appeals for compliance have no value if they are repeated without results,'' Simitis said.
The prime minister referred in particular to the point of the decision taken by the ''15'' during the emergency European summit on February 17 on the basis of which ''Iraq has a last chance to settle the crisis peacefully.''
''If someone does not adhere and continuously invokes procedural issues, this means stalling, and there should be a serious message to Iraq, because there has to be a sense of the time pressure in the developments,'' Simitis said.
Noting that the Greek EU presidency was obliged to seek the shaping of a common and unanimous position by the ''15'', he stressed that the crisis in Iraq showed an acute lack of understanding between the EU and the U.S. but also a lack of an EU Common Foreign and Security Policy. He said that he did not claim that the Common Foreign and Security Policy was non-existent - as in its development dimension towards third countries - ''buy surely it is not an integrated policy as the policy of the economic and monetary union.''
He also called, in light of the convention for the future of Europe, ''for us to be concerned on how we are shaping a stronger Europe in a global multi-centre system.''
The prime minister added that ''the Iraq crisis is at the same time a message for us EU member-states to act decisively in order for us to overcome our present weaknesses. Until then the shaping of common positions will always require persistent efforts with an uncertain result.''
Simitis also referred to the stance of the ''8'' member-states and candidate countries which ''pointlessly burdened the climate and the EU's feeling of unity.'' He noted that the right of every country to express its solidarity towards those with which they are linked with historic bonds of friendship is self-evident, but ''it created impressions of a divided Union, without cohesion in its foreign policy.''
Opposition parties: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday outlined five principles for the handling of the Iraq crisis by Europe and the Greek European Union presidency, saying the first principle is finding a peaceful solution to the problem.
''For this reason the international community's pressure on Baghdad's dictatorial regime should be as intense as the will of peoples for peace,'' he said.
Karamanlis, who was speaking in Parliament during a debate on the Iraq crisis, called by the Coalition of the Left and Progress party, said safeguarding the EU's unity and speeding up political unification was the second principle.
ND's leader further said whatever decisions to be taken should be taken by the UN Security Council, while harmonious and rational relations should be consolidated between the EU and the United States, based on the Western World's common values.
Lastly, Karamanlis said possibilities provided for Greece by the European presidency should be fully utilized.
''Europe is obliged to take up a position against dictatorial regimes which constitute a problem for peoples and a risk for the security of the world. The Baghdad regime is dictatorial and dangerous. The peace loving mood of peoples downgrades neither the need to disarm Iraq nor the need for a change of regime in Baghdad,'' he added.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said in her address that Simitis ''developed the new world order logic of the Americans, which he adopted, supporting all the arguments of the United States on the war, meaning the weapons of mass destruction and the dictatorial regime of Iraq.''
She also spoke of the risk of political rights curbs and special arrest measures in the event of war.
Papariga also pointed out that peoples should punish with their votes governments and parties which support the practice of resorting to war.
Coalition of the Left and progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos called on the government to side clearly with the views of France and Germany on the Iraq crisis, regardless of the moves the EU presidency has to make to secure necessary compositions, even if they are pretext compositions.
Constantopoulos also accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis ''of having countersigned the war against the Balkans and who should not repeat this because such a thing would be unjust for the people, unjust for himself and the supporters of PASOK.''
He wondered for what reason U.S. President George W. Bush congratulated Simitis on Tuesday during their telephone conversation. Namely, if he congratulated him for all that has been done so far or for what has to be done in the immediate future and raised the question of what other participation is being requested from the country.
Constantopoulos also pointed out that the consequences of a war will be disastrous for the country, economic indicators will be affected negatively and additional difficulties will be created for the Cyprus issue, which will be distanced from the front line of international interest.
PM briefs Cabinet over Iraq: Prime Minister Costas Simitis briefed his Cabinet on Friday over his talks here this week with visiting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, noting that the latter wants developments focusing on Iraq to remain under the auspices of the United Nations.
Simitis also cited a pending decision by Baghdad over whether or not a batch of missiles it retains will be destroyed. UN weapons inspectors have ruled that the missiles exceed a UN-mandated range and are therefore a violation of Security Council Resolution 1441 .
The Greek prime also said the upcoming period will be crucial, whereas Greece’s position revolves around three principles, namely: initiatives should be undertaken by the UN; Iraq should fully comply with Resolution 1441, and third, the self-evident view that war is a last-ditch solution still stands.
 Alternate FM and Bulgarian minister agree to single EU position on Iraq crisis
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Bulgarian European Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva agreed on Thursday on the need for a single European Union position on the issue of Iraq.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, Bulgaria's accession course to the EU and developments on the issue of Iraq were discussed during the meeting.
Kuneva congratulated the Greek EU presidency on the special political courage it showed in handling the issue of Iraq and in particular for the success of the Brussels summit.
An overall assessment was made of Bulgaria's accession course to date, while the Bulgarian minister conveyed her government's thanks for the Greek government's continuous support.
 PM: Third Annan plan for Cyprus a 'basis for negotiations'
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)A third proposed solution for the Cyprus problem presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was a ''basis for negotations'', Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told his cabinet on Thursday, but predicted that an immediate agreement and signature of the plan was unlikely.
Briefing reporters on the results of the meeting, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that the premier had informed the cabinet about a revised plan presented by Annan to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the ambassadors of Greece and Turkey on Wednesday.
According to Simitis, the revised plan had been pre-announced in a memorandum distributed by UN envoy Alvaro de Soto and most of the points in this were contained in the third plan. In addition to these, however, there were some new comments and explanations that presented problems and required additional clarification, such as a statement about referendums to be held by the two communities on Cyprus.
The Greek premier said that he had stressed in his talks with Annan that it was impossible for one side to state its agreement without knowing the view of the other.
''As a result, an agreement is only possible if it is declared simultaneously by both sides and if the two sides are convinced that there is no more room for negotiations,'' he added.
The prime minister said that Annan intended to allow a short period for negotiations, after which he would invite the sides involved to New York between March 10 and March 14 to sign a statement assenting to two referendums on the island republic on March 30.
Simitis noted that the specific statement contained issues that required further discussion, while Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has announced plans to hold a local referendum the second Sunday in March.
The Greek premier said he had relayed concerns over whether this referendum would be fully democratic to Annan, but the UN chief had replied that the local referendum would be ''useful'' in terms of relations between Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots.
Simitis noted, however, that if the Turkish-Cypriots expressed their opposition to the plan in this earlier referendum then there was no reason to hold a similar referendum for the Greek-Cypriot side.
In his own analysis, the government spokesman said it was highly likely that Annan would seek referendums, even if no prior agreement were reached by the leaders of the two communities on the island.
He also slammed the Turkish-Cypriot side for stalling the peace process on Cyprus.
Asked about Denktash's refusal to allow international observers at the local referendum he plans to organize, the Greek spokes-man said that this issue remained "open".
 UN may seek to go directly to referendum for Cyprus solution, sources say
NICOSIA 28/02/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)The United Nations may have come up with a new formula for sidestepping a total impasse on the Cyprus problem by asking the sides involved to agree to a referendum on the proposed solution without first signing any agreement.
According to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia on Thursday, various sources are saying that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is to ask the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot sides, as well as Greece and Turkey, to agree to holding referendums on the issue on March 30.
Whereas before the sides involved were asked to put their signatures to an overall agreement for a solution of the Cyprus issue, the new formula gives each a specific deadline within which they must respond with either a 'yes' or a 'no' about whether they agree to a referendum.
This deadline is said to be March 10, which is 10 days after Annan departs from Cyprus.
If there is no change to the current situation and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continues to refuse to sign a comprehensive plan for a solution, the UN general secretary will invite all the sides involved to a conference in New York or possibly a European city on March 10 to sign an agreement on holding referendums in the north and south of the island republic.
Denktash has apparently planned to pre-empt the procedure by holding his own ''pre-referendum'' on March 8.
Athens sees Annan call for referendum on Cyprus, even without deal: Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Thursday said it was highly likely that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan would ask for simultaneous referendums on a proposed solution for the Cyprus issue by the two communities on the island, even if no prior agreement were reached by their leaders.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting that discussed a third proposed solution presented by Annan to all the sides involved the previous day, Protopapas said the UN chief would probably ask them to agree to separate referendums in the north and south of the island republic on March 30.
He also slammed the Turkish-Cypriot side for stalling the peace process on Cyprus.
According to earlier an ANA dispatch from Nicosia, various sources have said that the UN is mulling a new formula that can sidestep the impasse by asking the Greek-Cypriots, Turkish-Cypriots and Greece and Turkey to agree to a referendum rather than sign a comprehensive agreement for reuniting the island.
Under the new formula, each side will probably have until March 10 to respond to a referendum with either a 'yes' or a 'no'.
Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash is apparently planning to pre-empt the process by holding his own ''pre-referendum'' on March 8, though Greece has expressed concern about whether this will be fully democratic.
Asked about Denktash's refusal to allow international observers at the local referendum he plans to organize, the Greek spokesman said this issue remained "open".
 CoE Schwimmer: 'Cypriots must not miss date with history'
STRASBOURG 28/02/2003 (ANA)Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary General Walter Schwimmer on Friday said he was confident that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would achieve what he called a “breakthrough” towards the acceptance of a UN plan by the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders.
“International disappointment would be considerable if this effort fails. Achieving peace in Cyprus after three decades of conflict would be a powerful example for the whole neighboring region of the Middle East. Cypriots must not miss their date with history,” he said.
Schwimmer also noted that the CoE is preparing to support implementation of the proposed settlement and, in particular, to back the work of the foreseen “Reconciliation Commission”.
FYROM asks Greek EU presidency for rapid OK to association pact SKOPJE
28/02/2003 (ANA/N.Frangopoulos, A.Lidorikis)The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Boris Trajkovski, on Thursday said he hoped Greece's presidency of the European Union would soon ratify his country's association and stability pact with the 15-nation bloc.
In a statement released after a meeting in FYROM's capital with Greek Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Trajkovski also told reporters that he would like to see the EU's Thessaloniki summit pressing ahead with the process of incorporation into European structures of countries in the region.
Also present at the meeting was the governor of the National Bank of Greece, Theodoros Karatzas, who earlier in the day hosted a business conference arranged by the bank.
Christodoulakis told delegates that Greece's EU presidency backed strengthening a European perspective in the Balkans, also pledging that the reconstruction plan for the region would be implemented down to the last detail.
FYROM's prime minister, Branco Crvenkovski, called on Greece businesses to increase investment in his country.
National Bank of Greece, a blue chip on the Athens bourse, is an active investor in the Balkans.
 FYROM president's spokesman criticizes nation's former name issue representative
SKOPJE 28/02/2003 (ANA - N. Frangopoulos)Borjan Jovanovski, a spokesman for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) President Boris Trajkovski, on Thursday strongly criticized Ivan Tosevski, who resigned his post on Wednesday as FYROM's representative in talks with Greece at the UN's headquarters on the issue of the country's name.
Commenting on Tosevski's letter of resignation to Trajkovski, the president's spokesman said it is an unprofessional move by a career diplomat which is aimed directly at the country's ''national interests.''
He added that the president was not displeased with Tosevski's actions all these years in talks on the name (the latter was FYROM's representative in talks with Greece since 1995), adding that Trajkovski decided (last September) to undertake an initiative on the formation of a ''group of experts'' which would replace Tosevski with the purpose of giving a new impetus to talks in New York.
The composition of the ''group of experts'' has not yet been revealed officially, nor the name of the country's new representative in the talks.
Tosevski, in his letter of resignation to Trajkovski, said he is no longer the country's representative in talks at the UN on the name issue and accused the president that with his latest moves in the talks he created an upheaval which harmed the country's prestige.
 New York Times report on resignation of U.S. diplomat at embassy in Greece
NEW YORK 28/02/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)The resignation of a U.S. career diplomat serving at the U.S. embassy in Greece came as a surprise for diplomatic circles in the United States.
The New York Times newspaper, in a report on Thursday, refers to the letter of resignation by John Brady Kisling, who invokes reasons of principle, expressing his opposition to his government's policy on the Iraq crisis.
''Our ardent desire for war with Iraq is leading us to the betrayal of international legality which was the strongest defensive and aggressive weapon of America since the days of Woodrow Wilson,'' he said in his letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, which was sent on Monday, and after he notified Ambassador Thomas Miller first.
Kisling was a political adviser at the U.S. embassy in Athens, while he had previously served at the U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv, Casablanca and Yemen and is considered one of the good experts on problems of the Middle East and the Arab world with 20 years of service in the diplomatic corps.
The newspaper contacted the 45-year-old diplomat who, in a statement, criticized the whole policy on Iraq which ''invested a great deal in war'', considering it dangerous for his country's interests.
Five State Department officials had also resigned due to the Clinton administration's Balkan policy between 1992 and 1994.
 Mexico's statement on country's stance vis-a-vis Iraq crisis
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The Mexican embassy in Athens on Friday released a press statement circulated a day earlier by the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs regarding the Iraq crisis, and in light of that country’s position as a non-permanent member of the United Nations’ Security Council.
“On the Iraq conflict, the position of Mexico remains independent and Autonomous,” the statement begins, before adding:
“Given the versions released in different media about a change in Mexico’s position on the Iraq conflict, the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs ratifies that the position of our country remains independent and autonomous.
“Concerning the new draft resolution proposed by the United States, Great Britain and Spain, which has been recently presented before the Security Council, as well as the memorandum on the same issue that was jointly signed by the governments of France, Germany and the Russian Federation, supported by China; Mexico is at this moment evaluating their contents and will participate in the consultations arising; will formulate the proposals, that at its own judgment are convenient, and will determine its position.
“As it was already stated by the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, since the presentation before the Security Council of the United Nations Organization, February 14, 2003:
“The same way that is clear that today’s report (presented by Hans Blip and Mohamed El Baradei) shows some improvement in Iraq’s attitude, it is also clear that the Iraqi government remains avoiding its international responsibilities; it continues not responding to the calls that have been formulated by the community of nations under Resolution 1441 for cooperating unconditionally in the completion of the disarmament that is demanded to this country (…)
“... Mexico ratifies its absolute reliance on the United Nations to resolve the international conflicts, in the exhaustion of all possible peaceful means and above all in the strengthening of the values that gave origin to the organization which takes renewed importance in the light of the current conflicts,” the statement concludes.
 Greek, Russian diplomats discuss Iraq crisis, upcoming Russia-EU summit
MOSCOW 28/02/2003 (ANA)Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov held talks with Greek Ambassador in Moscow Dimitris Paraskevopoulos on Thursday at which their two countries' identity of views on the Iraq crisis was ascertained, according to an Itar-Tass news agency dispatch.
A Russian foreign ministry announcement said that the two diplomats discussed the positions of Russia and the European Union on the Iraq crisis as well as a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including preparations for the Russia-EU summit to be held in St. Petersburg on May 31.
 Material damages total 600 mln euros, gov’t says
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)Material damages from a recent wave of very bad weather conditions that hit the country total around 600 million euros, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas said on Thursday.
Mr Pahtas noted that this estimate did not include damages in the country's livestock and farming.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said that a number of government ministries were cooperating in determining compensation payments. The government plans to offer more money to regional authorities to help in repairing damages in the country's road network.
Mr Pahtas dismissed talk of using funds from a Third Community Support Framework to help pay damage and stressed that government would seek to raise funds from the EU's solidarity fund.
 SAIC consortium gets initial nod for 2004 security contract
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) on Friday, in a more-or-less sudden decision, appointed the SAIC consortium as the temporary contractor in a massive security tender for the 2004 Games.
The security issue had been the focus of International Olympic Committee (IOC) concern over the past few weeks, following the annulment of a first invitation to tender.
No other details were announced.
 Euro-MP: Greek absorption of CSF funds at 16%
BRUSSELS 28/02/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)A New Democracy (ND) Euro-MP on Thursday said Greece had absorbed only 16 percent of 3rd Community Support Framework funds it was entitled to by the end of 2002.
In a relevant press release, ND Euro-deputy Costas Hatzidakis cited a written response by EU Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer to a relevant question on the matter.
Hatzidakis said Health Sector Program absorption had reached 8.7 percent; in Information Society 9.9 percent, while in the sectors of Fisheries-Railways-Airports and Urban Transportation the absorption of community funds ''barely reached 7 percent''.
 Greek tourism expands promotion cooperation with intl TV networks
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)Greece's National Tourist Organization (GNTO) is expanding its international partnerships with foreign media companies on promoting Greek tourism around the globe.
Following completion of a cooperation agreement with Visa International and NBC television network in the US (with no financial burden for the organization), GNTO announced agreements with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC, TVN2 (New Zealand), 7 Network Limited (Australia) and AOJC (Athens Olympic Japan Consortium).
Under the agreements, GNTO will promote - free of charge - Greek tourism and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games around the world this year and in 2004.
Meanwhile, China's television station ''Phoenix'' recently visited Greece to take television promotion footage on the invitation of the country's tourist authorities.
 Government funded programs to aid Balkans, Black Sea
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Centre and Balkan and Black Sea Business Centre are to carry out government funded programs to help boost business activity.
Financed by the foreign ministry, a scheme budgeted at 95,000 euros will support local business communities in Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro.
Another program worth 40,000 euros is designed to support economic and social growth in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia in order to strengthen their ties with Greece.
 New regulations for food exports to US announced
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)A new US federal law scheduled to go into effect in December 2003 requires companies exporting food to the United States to register their facilities and provide notice of food shipments destined for the United States, a press release by the American embassy in Athens stated on Friday.
It adds that the new law is designed to ensure that food exports to the US are free from contamination and “bio-terrorist attack”.
For more information, visit the US mission in Greece’s website at http://www.usembassy.gr
Details about the new law are also provided in the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) section.
The press release also notes that the US Mission will offer seminars for exporters interested in learning more about how to comply with the new law. For registration, contact FAS at (210) 7202.231 or 2233.
 Greek stocks drop to new five-year lows
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks dropped to new five-year lows on Thursday in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a negative trend in international markets.
The general index eased 0.23 percent to end at 1,613.58 points, with turnover a low 94.2 million euros.
The IT Solutions, Insurance and Cement sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.46 percent, 1.15 percent and 1.0 percent, respectively), while the Telecommunications (1.69 percent), Construction (0.71 percent) and Textiles (0.47 percent) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.45 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.54 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.45 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.27 percent lower.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 169 to 107 with another 78 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 45.2 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 45.2 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 Cabin of crashed medicopter, with the bodies of the 4-member crew, located
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The cabin of a medical helicopter that crashed into the sea while approaching the airport on the Aegean island of Ikaria three weeks ago to transfer a patient was located on Thursday and the body of one of the four crewmembers aboard has been recovered.
The wreckage of the medicopter was pinpointed in the sea region of Fanari, Aghios Kyrikos, off the Aegean island of Ikaria by the oceanographic vessel AIGAIO at a depth of 75 meters, and the bathyscaphe Thetis would attempt to tie the helicopter's cabin so that a platform crane due at the site later in the day could lift it out of the water.
The “Agusta Bell” medi-copter, belonging to the EKAB state ambulance service, had taken off late at night on February 10 from the Aegean island of Lesvos to pick up a 70-year-old woman suffering from gastro-intestinal bleeding from the island of Ikaria for transport to hospital on nearby Samos island, but the Ikaria airport's control tower lost contact with the helicopter and it went off the radar shortly after midnight as it was flying approximately two kilometers from the airport.
The wreckage was positioned in the sea at a geographical extension of the runway the helicopter was heading for landing.
The families of the medicopter's four-member crew, comprising a pilot, co-pilot, doctor and paramedic, were expected to fly to the island later in the day.
 Prosecutor's office eyes felony blackmail counts for publisher
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The prosecutor’s office is apparently ready to file felony blackmail and fraud charges against a controversial Athens publisher accused of extorting or attempting to extort a handful of well-known business tycoons and even a senior cleric.
Outspoken local publisher Grigoris Mihalopoulos has been at the centre of a blackmail furor for the past month and a half, following the publication of a slain industrialist Dimitris Angelopoulos’ diary, in which the latter wrote in 1985 that the publisher warned him he was a target of the notorious “November 17” terrorist group. Angelopoulos also wrote in his diary that Mihalopoulos offered to mediate so that his name would be removed from the ‘hit list’. The well-known industrialist was, in fact, assassinated by “N17” a year later.
Mihalopoulos, the publisher of the low-circulation conservative daily “Eleftheri Ora” and a shareholder in a small local television station, has twice provided lengthy testimony over the past week.
According to court documents, Mihalopoulos has also been accused of blackmail by Athens 2004 organizing committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and her husband Theodoros, Dimitris Angelopoulos’ nephew; shipping heiress Marianna Latsi; convicted entrepreneur Argyris Saliarellis and even Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chrysostomos.
 Public order minister refers to priority of combatting illegal immigration
BRUSSELS 28/02/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The European Union's first directive on legal immigration, ever since the issue has preoccupied the EU, has been adopted after three years of preparation and tough negotiations, while its adoption coincided with the first meeting of the Justice and Interior Council under the Greek EU presidency here on Thursday.
Justice issues were chaired by Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos, while interior affairs issues by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.
The directive recognizes the right of ''family reunion'' for refugees already in possession of one-year residence permits in a EU member-state and the ''prospect of obtaining a permanent residence card.''
Chrysohoidis referred to the Greek presidency's priority of combatting illegal immigration and, in this context, to the allocation of burdens in managing the EU's external borders and to cooperation with third countries, stressing that the Council has already agreed to definitions and preconditions for the recognition of refugee status or of additional protection.
Referring to the issue of organized crime in the western Balkans, Chrysohoidis said the Greek presidency intends to promote the political dimensions of the problem and, primarily, the European prospect of these countries.
On his part, Petsalnikos stressed the significance of political dialogue with countries in the western Balkans and of effective judicial cooperation in combatting organized crime, the strengthening of the state of justice, cooperation with Interpol and help and protection for victims.
He also added that technical and social preconditions for the effective combatting of organized crime should not be disregarded.
 Conference on dealing with immigration begins in Athens
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)A two-day international conference dealing with the economic and social integration of migrants, organized by Greece's Economic and Social Committee, began at the Old Parliament building on Thursday with an address by Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas.
The conference hopes to make an overall assessment of the phenomenon and reach conclusions that will be useful to the Greek presidency of the European Union, which has made immigrant issues one of its top priorities.
 Civil rights groups demand 'open political trial' for N17
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)The left-wing civil rights groups "Network for Political and Social Rights" and "Rally Against State Terrorism" on Thursday demanded a "public, open, political trial by a state of law not a police state" for those accused as members of the "November 17" terrorist group.
In a press conference given with other leftist organizations, they also accused the authorities of "fabricating guilt," of participating in the globalization of oppression and of organizing a "travesty of a trial in which human and social rights have no place".
The trial is due to begin next Monday and several left-wing groups have announced plans to protest throughout the proceedings.
Also present were friends, family and the lawyers representing the accused, who expressed their objections to a glass partition that will surround those on trial in the courtroom and prevent all communication with their relatives, reporters or their lawyers.
During the press conference, a letter written by French academics was read out that protested against the conditions of the suspected terrorists' incarceration, while it was revealed that over 70 witnesses would be appearing for the defense and 10 international civil rights groups would be present as observers.
 Launching of first Greek satellite at Cape Canaveral temporarily postponed
Athens, 28/02/2003 (ANA)HELLAS-SAT announced on Thursday that the launching of the first Greek satellite at Cape Canaveral, scheduled for March 14, has been temporarily postponed for technical reasons.
During technical quality checks and tests carried out by Lockheed Martin on the Atlas-V rocket, who will carry Hellas Sat, a problem of a technical nature was ascertained.
HELLAS-SAT is in constant contact with the rocket's American manufacturing company (Lockheed Martin) to enable the satellite's new launching date to be set as soon as possible without the whole undertaking being affected.
 Greenpeace asks Greek EU presidency to move on ship safety
BRUSSELS 28/02/2003 (ANA/A.Simatos)Greenpeace on Thursday asked Greece's presidency of the European Union to take action in the safety of workers employed to clean ships sent to Asia for dismantling.
In a statement, the pro-environment group cited as an example the recent death of six workers and injury of five in India during dismantling operations for the Amina, a tanker owned by Greece's Chandris.
The group said that the International Maritime Organization should be pressured into seeing that safe procedures were adhered to.
 President-elect Papadopoulos: very good, civilized and humane meeting
NICOSIA 28/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President-elect Tassos Papadopoulos has described his first meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, ''very good, very civilized and very humane.''
''The meeting dealt with procedural matters, we talked about how and when we will meet and this is why today's encounter was rather brief,'' he said, after the 45-minute long meeting, adding that there was no discussion on the substance of the Cyprus problem.
Annan is on the island in a bid to make headway towards a negotiated settlement on the basis of a third proposal he has submitted to the two leaders at their meetings here Wednesday.
Asked after Thursday's meeting if current procedures allow time for negotiations on the third plan, Papadopoulos said ''this is something we talked about today and we have agreed to give the Secretary General our response on the issue tomorrow.''
Referring to Annan's third plan, Papadopoulos said that ''the plan should be looked at as a whole, we cannot examine single paragraphs or provisions on their own, we have to study it in its entirety.''
He said the Greek Cypriot side is particularly interested in specific aspects of the plan and in others which are of a lesser importance.
Present at Thursday's meeting was outgoing Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Annan's aides on Cyprus, including his special adviser Alvaro de Soto who has been conducting direct talks between the two sides for over a year now.
Papadopoulos will assume office officially on Friday from Clerides, at a special session of the House of Representatives. He will announce his cabinet on Saturday.
 National Council to study Annan plan and convene next week
NICOSIA 28/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)The National Council met on Thursday afternoon and exchanged views on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
It will convene anew next week, when its members have studied a revised peace plan presented to the parties involved in the Cyprus problem by Annan himself.
After the meeting, which was held under outgoing President Clerides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou read out a statement which said that the members of the National Council ''exchanged views on the latest developments.''
''The members, having studied the revised plan in detail, will convene anew next week,'' the statement read.
It added that ''President Clerides bid farewell to the members of the National Council,'' as he will no longer be chairing it, and thanked them for their cooperation.
In turn, the members thanked the president for his ''cooperation and great contribution.''
Clerides hands over the presidency to Tassos Papadopoulos on Friday afternoon. Papadopoulos was the winner of the February 16, 2003 presidential elections.
The National Council meeting was attended by leaders and representatives of leftwing AKEL, rightwing Democratic Rally, centre-right Democratic Party, the Movement of Social Democrats, the New Horizons, the United Democrats, the Fighting Democratic Movement, and the Movement of Ecologists and Environmentalists.
Also present were Attorney General Alecos Markides, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, government spokesman Papapetrou, Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros, and members of the Greek Cypriot side's negotiating team in talks to solve the Cyprus problem.
The National Council is the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem.
UN chief hopes for solution in next couple of days: Annan wondered why there should not be an outcome of the negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem in the immediate future.
Speaking after a working lunch he hosted here on Thursday for political party leaders from both sides of the divide, Annan said he would be meeting afresh on Friday morning with Cyprus President-elect Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash.
The meeting will be attended by outgoing President Clerides.
Annan: Where there is will, a lot can be done: The UN Secretary-General applauded Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists for their bicommunal exhibition, at the Hilton Hotel where the UN chief is staying.
Annan told CNA about his impressions of the exhibition that it was a ''great idea, it's wonderful, and the fact that they did it in four days, gives us the message that where there is will, a lot can be done. And the same goes for peace.''
The exhibition included 46 works by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot artists and was organized by the bi-communal organization ''Artists & Artists''.
A press release says the aims and objectives of the organization is to create a ground for artists and writers of both sides to work on common projects, to promote peace culture through art and literature and to bring out the multicultural aspect of Cyprus and help serve harmony and unity rather than division and conflict.
 Demonstrators call for Denktash's resignation
NICOSIA 28/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)Holding olive leaf wreaths and blue balloons, and waving EU flags, more than 45,000 Turkish Cypriots gathered in occupied Nicosia on Thursday, demonstrating in favor of the Annan plan and the accession of a united Cyprus to the European Union.
Demonstrators gathered in Inonu square, in the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia, chanting slogans such as ''Hail brotherhood of peoples'', ''Denktash, resign'' and ''You cannot prevent peace''. There were only a few Turkish flags or ''flags'' of the Denktash regime.
The rally coincided with the visit to Cyprus by Annan, in an effort to make headway towards a negotiated settlement on the basis of a third proposal he has submitted to the two leaders at their meetings here Wednesday.
Shops and business closed while teachers also attended the morning rally.
US State Department's Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, accompanied by US Ambassador in Nicosia, Michael Klosson, went to the occupied areas to watch the rally.
Speakers stressed the rally was a message to Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash and asked him to listen to the ''people's will'', while everyone talked about the need to hold a referendum. Demonstrators jeered whenever reference was made to Denktash.
They also said that demonstrations would continue until a solution is found, while one speaker said, ''If there is no solution, there will be a social uprising.''
Attending the rally were leader of the United Cyprus party Izzet Izcan, Mehmet Ali Talat of the Republican Turkish Party, Communal Liberation Party leader Hussein Angolemli and the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce Ali Erel Talat said ''today, history is being made'', adding reports that two bombs were allegedly discovered were mere provocative actions aiming to prevent the rally from being held. Erel said no explanation was given about the ''packages'' that were found.
Other speakers said ''we want a solution for democracy, for peace and not for the money, we don't want Turkey to be dragged to human rights courts.''
 Vassiliou says UN Secretary-General seeks commitment for referendum
NICOSIA 28/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)United Democrats' leader and former president of the Republic, George Vassiliou, said here on Thursday he was impressed by UN Secretary-General Annan's decision not to ask for a commitment by the two sides on his new revised plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem ''but to ask for a commitment for a referendum.''
Speaking to reporters before a National Council meeting, Vassiliou said ''what I would like to stress is that what Mr. Annan is seeking is a commitment from the two sides to put the plan to a referendum.''
He said ''this was different from what they said in the past, about Annan seeking a commitment on the plan before moving forward.''
Both referenda (in the Greek Cypriot community and in the Turkish Cypriot community), said Vassiliou, will be held on March 30.
Vassiliou described Thursday's lunch with Annan attended by political party leaders from both sides of the divide as ''excellent''.
Talat says Denktash vague about pre-referendum: Leader of the Republican Turkish Party Mehmet Ali Talat said here on Thursday Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash's statement about holding a pre-referendum in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus in early March was ''vague''.
Answering a question on the possibility of a pre-referendum, prior to the referenda on either side on March 30, the Turkish Cypriot politician said ''that is a vague argument. I don't know about it.
That was voiced by Mr. Denktash as far as I heard but I don't know its validity or its firmness.''
Talat, who was speaking to the press after the luncheon that Annan hosted for political party leaders from both sides of the divide, said the plan was handed over to the political leaders. ''We will analyze and we will discuss it. We need some time, of course, but we know the main points of the plan. As you know it was distributed before,'' he added.
Invited to say whether they discussed separate parts of the plan, Talat replied negatively. ''It was just a social event plus some ideas about the necessity of a solution. That is all,'' he added.
Asked if they had the opportunity to tell the Secretary General what they think about the solution of the Cyprus problem, Talat said ''we have this opportunity always. I mean, we have contacts with the diplomats every time and this time we did it also during the meal.''
To a question what Annan's expectations were from the political leaders, Talat noted ''a solution. First of course you know the referendum on March 30. A commitment for a referendum.''