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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

June 5, 2003


  • [01] Premier defends government's fiscal and economic policy
  • [02] Top gov't meeting to focus on EU Summit; PM in Paris this week
  • [03] Greek, Turkish FMs discuss problem of warplane violations in Aegean
  • [04] DM to visit FYROM, as EU's presiding minister
  • [05] Alternate FM addresses EU parl’t on agenda of Thessaloniki Council
  • [06] Alternate FM report on Turkey's European course to Europarliament
  • [07] Gov't expresses support for Cyprus' response over Strovilia
  • [08] PM, FinMin discuss economic developments
  • [09] National Bank: Balkan expansion plan completed
  • [10] Boards of Hellenic Petroleum, Petrola approve merger deal
  • [11] Europarliament approves double-hull vessel mandate
  • [12] Greek stocks jump to new year highs on Wednesday
  • [13] President's message for World Environment Day
  • [14] Trial of Ocalan affair continues with testimony of airport staff, police
  • [15] N17 trial considers fake ID and other evidence against Giotopoulos
  • [16] Vartholomeos heads symposium for the salvation of the Baltic Sea
  • [17] Albanian president visits ethnic Greek town in S. Albania
  • [18] EU Commission presents road safety plan to halve lives lost on roads
  • [19] PM briefed on 'neighborhood policeman' scheme
  • [20] Van der Meer: EU measures for Turkish Cypriots very good
  • [21] Lord Hannay's term terminated
  • [22] Annan: UN has not given up on Cyprus
  • [23] Government making representations over Strovilia issue

  • [01] Premier defends government's fiscal and economic policy

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday stressed that the government's priority up to 2006 is the decrease of unemployment to 7.5 per cent and of the public debt to 90 per cent of the GDP, while he lambasted main opposition New Democracy (ND) for ''its relations with special interests''.

    Speaking during an off the agenda parliamentary debate on the economy and the social state, called by ND leader Costas Karamanlis, Simitis stressed that according to PASOK's program workers will not become subservient to the demands of the employers but to have more growth with education and training of workers.

    He said, the aim of the government is to decrease unemployment to less than 7.5 per cent by 2006, while speaking of Greece's rate of development, he said that it is the highest of the European Union's member states, despite high defense spending, "for which no one stepped up to request their decrease".

    He underlined that a second priority for the government is to decrease the public debt down to 90 per cent of GDP also by 2006.

    The premier went on to lambaste ND for its ''commitments toward economic interests'', saying that the main opposition, alone in Europe, defended the shipowners on the issue of double hull vessels.

    ''Is there greater proof that special interests dominate the policy of ND?'' Simitis said, adding that during the vote in Euro-parliament for the double hull issue 501 Eurodeputies voted for the mandate, while of the 14 Eurodeputies that abstained 9 were elected with ND.

    Commenting of the agricultural policy of the government, and speaking to the farmers in first person he said ''in 1993 you received 15,000 drachmas when inflation was 15 per cent, now you receive 58,000 drachmas and next year you will be receiving 60,000 drachmas, while Karamanlis had promised you that during the current four year term you would have been receiving 50,000 drachmas''.

    Speaking directly against ND, he said that the main opposition party has a past of using disaster mongering, adding that the PASOK government ushered Greece into the Economic Monetary Union, placing the country in a higher league.

    As for the recent bankruptcies he said that fewer businesses are closing their doors than open them, adding that in the early 1990s tens of thousands of Greeks lost their jobs, because many businesses left the country.

    The premier also spoke of the increases above inflation in salaries during the 2000-2002 period and spoke of the post-Olympiad period and the third community support framework funds.

    ND leader responds to premiers' accusations, criticizes gov't economic policy: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday said that ''once again, I am of the impression that (Prime Minister Costas) Simitis is fully cutoff from Greek reality.''

    Speaking during an off the agenda debate on the economy and the social state, called by him, Karamanlis underlined that ''farmers are not happy'', commenting to reactions of PASOK deputies that interrupted him.

    ''Large portions of the Greek regions are been deserted, live in misery and nationally vital areas are in danger. You (Simitis) claim that farmer borrow money with favorable terms. Where? In the country of the compounded interest?'' Karamanlis said.

    ''You discovered now the vested interests. During the summer of 2001, you had responded to my letter that the governments of PASOK completed the institutional framework. What happened since them Mr. Simitis? We can talk about this any time,'' he said.

    Responding to Simitis' remark of ND's 'entanglement with shipping vested interests', because of the party's abstention in Europarliament's vote on double hull vessels, Karamanlis said that ND had proposed such regulation since December 2001.

    ''We did not say that we disagreed with the policy of replacement. We, in defense of Greek interests, supported the slowdown of the rate of replacement. To say that this was your position all along is a blatant lie,'' Karamanlis said.

    ''For some months, your minister, not only agreed with our position, but he strongly insisted that he did not agree with the speeding up of the timetable,'' he added.

    Commenting on the government's policy on privatizations, he mentioned the merger of Petrola with the state owned Hellenic Petroleum company, underlining his comment with a question on whether the government was for or against privatizations.

    Speaking of the economy, Karamanlis stressed that with the current ''PASOK rates, convergence can not be achieved, not even in a half a century,'' adding that his data originated from the report of the governor of the Bank of Greece.

    ''Greece increased it’s per capital income by 9 per cent, while Ireland by 44,'' he noted and spoke in detail of the widening of new loans by households and businesses by six-fold.

    He also charged the government with a "low rate of EU third community framework funds' entry into Greece's development process and accused it of renaming ''sellouts'' into ''reforms'', just to cover budget shortfalls.

    Papariga, Constantopoulos argue PASOK and ND are caught up in vested interests: Speaking on Wednesday during an off the agenda parliamentary debate on the economy and the social state, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga accused both main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and ruling PASOK of ''a guilty past'' on the issue of particular vested interests.

    Papariga claimed that vested interests are based on the particular relations of the economy and political power, noting that businessmen usually also play with polarization.

    The KKE leader said the opposition between the ND and PASOK ''is real, is not rigged and is due to the fact that even though they represent the same class interests, they express different sections of the bourgeoisie. Their competition takes place for power.''

    She noted that the rate of growth has actually increased but is accompanied with a decline in living standards, stressing that ''much tougher measures will be taken against the working people in the coming years as PASOK and the ND have in their policy the protection of businesses which cannot withstand competition.''

    Concluding, Papariga stressed that Greek entrepreneurs do not make investments if they do not have state EU funds, adding that on the basis of the European Union's directives, the sector of capital and not employment is strengthened, something which means fewer jobs in the future.

    On his part, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nicos Constantopoulos, referring to the issue of vested interests, said during the parliamentary debate that ''the government and New Democracy accuse each other over vested interests with specific economic complexes and the first ascertainment is that the country's political life is a prisoner of the opposition of economic complexes who seek the role of the national partner in crucial sectors of the economy and of public interest.''

    He further warned that the general elections will take place under conditions of ''savage and relentless polarization as even from now democratic normalcy is caught up in the fire of bipartisanship.''

    On the economy, Constantopoulos claimed that the current period is one of economic enlargement but that it will not last long because it is based to a great degree on conjuncture and external factors.

    PM Simitis says all have 'an obligation to public interest' : In his closing remarks during Wednesday's off the agenda parliamentary debate on the economy and the social state, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stated that ''our message is that everyone here in parliament has an obligation only towards the country and public interest.''

    Directing himself to New Democracy (ND) deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis, the prime minister said that during the time the ND was in power he was under police surveillance ''while such a thing does not occur now.''

    Asked by the ND parliamentarians why he was being kept under surveillance, Simitis replied that ''I had fought against the dictatorship while others were sitting in their homes.''

    Commenting on main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis's address, he said that all he did was to criticize without offering any solutions or prospects.

    The prime minister, having reiterated that ruling PASOK better handled the Community Support Framework (CSP), went on to refer to the major projects undertaken by the government, such as the Athens Metro, the ''Eleftherios Venizelos'' International Airport and the Rio-Antirrio Bridge, noting that despite the ND's negative forecasts, these projects proceeded smoothly.

    [02] Top gov't meeting to focus on EU Summit; PM in Paris this week

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a top government meeting – foreign and press ministry leaderships -- on Thursday focusing on this month’s EU Summit at a resort west of Thessaloniki. Greece currently holds the rotating six-month European Union presidency.

    Afterwards, the Greek premier will depart for Paris where French President Jacques Chirac will receive him on Friday. Simitis will also meet separately with the head of the Convention for the Future of Europe, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

    Simitis, the current EU president-in-office, is scheduled to visit the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria next week, part of his continuing tour of all 25 capitals of EU Member- and Acceding-States in light of the June 20-21 Thessaloniki.

    Meanwhile, the premier toured a central Athens police precinct on Wednesday along with Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, before chairing a meeting on economic policy. The latter attended by Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.

    [03] Greek, Turkish FMs discuss problem of warplane violations in Aegean

    MADRID 05/06/2003 (ANA – F. Karaviti)

    The latest spate of Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean – an often-recurrent problem poisoning bilateral relations for more than a decade – earned comments by both the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers here on Wednesday, as the two attended a NATO Summit here.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou noted that he hopes the problem will be solved “based on international rules.”

    On his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressed his “confidence” that “both sides, which from time to time face problems, will be able to solve (problems) peacefully.”

    The two met on the sidelines of the spring summit of NATO members’ foreign ministers, which was hosted in the Spanish capital.

    Moreover, Papandreou reiterated Greece’s support for Ankara’s European prospects, while saying Athens was satisfied with a new series of reforms readied by the Turkish government.

    Asked about the possibility of a visit by Gul to Athens, Papandreou cited an early summer date and following the conclusion of an EU Summit in Thessaloniki.

    The two foreign ministers also discussed the long-standing Cyprus issue.

    [04] DM to visit FYROM, as EU's presiding minister

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Thursday will depart for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to participate in the administrative inspection of the European Union's CONCORDIA peace keeping force.

    CONCORDIA is the first EU military mission undertaken by the Union's rapid reaction force.

    During his stay in FYROM, Papantoniou will meet with the country's Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and President Boris Trajkovski, as well as other political leaders.

    The minister who is presiding over the European Union's defense ministers' council will be accompanied by the EU's high representative for defense Javier Solana and the permanent representatives of the EU member-states.

    [05] Alternate FM addresses EU parl’t on agenda of Thessaloniki Council

    STRASBOURG 05/06/2003 (ANA/ O.Tsipira)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis was warmly welcomed here by the plenum of the Europarliament on Wednesday, where he presented the main issues on the agenda of this month’s Thessaloniki EU Council, giving a brief account of Greece’s efforts while at the helm of the European Union for the first half of the current year.

    At the discussion that followed, European Commission President Romano Prodi, political groups’ leaders, and Euro-deputies extended their congratulations to the Greek Presidency at the way it handled the crucial matters during the six-month period, ending June 31.

    Prodi spoke of an exemplary cooperation and the “passion and intelligence of (Greek) politicians, who put their cultural heritage to the service of the common European interest.”

    Socialist group leader Enrique Baron Crespo praised the Greek presidency for its courage and decisiveness in which it steered the Union amidst a tough period of Euro-Atlantic relations.

    Presenting the agenda of the Thessaloniki Council, Yiannitsis summed up the major topics: Convention on the Future of Europe, EU-US relations, mass destruction weapons, immigration, asylum and external borders, as well as issues pertaining to the Western Balkans.

    Pointing to the stability and association process for the Western Balkans, which he described as the cornerstone in EU policy on Balkans, Yiannitsis said the targets set by the Greek Presidency with regard to that region have obtained consensus among EU member-states and the five W. Balkan nations.

    The associated decisions would be taken during the EU General Affairs Council, June 16 and would be ratified by the Thessaloniki EU Council, June 20.

    This, according to the minister, would signal a crucial point in EU-W.Balkans relations following up the decisions taken in of Feira, Nice and Copenhagen.

    [06] Alternate FM report on Turkey's European course to Europarliament

    STRASBOURG 05/06/2003 (ANA/O. Tsipira)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Wednesday called on Turkey to effectively confront the issue of disentangling the political power from the armed forces of the country.

    Speaking to the plenum of the Europarliament, Yiannitsis, who represented Greece's EU presidency, made that statement, reporting on developments on Turkey's accession strategy.

    ''It is not possible to have statements by representatives of the army in that country, which from time to time show a different policy with that followed by the government,'' he said.

    Commenting on human rights in Turkey, Yiannitsis said that unquestionable progress has been made, but despite all that, many outstanding issues still exist, such as accusations for torture, contradicting judicial decisions, limitations on the status of religious institutions and communities and the securing of the right of all Turkish citizens, irrespectively of their ethnic origin to enjoy full cultural rights.

    He recalled that the EU's relations with Turkey did in fact date back to 1963 but it was only at Helsinki that Turkey's situation as a potential candidate member of the EU was recognized.

    "The EU had committed substantial funds to help with pre-accession aid and enable Turkey to take on board the ''acquis''. Now it was important for Turkey to respect the political criteria for membership as laid down at Copenhagen," Yiannitsis said, while acknowledging that progress had been made, he felt it was important to lay down just what should be expected from Turkey by 2004.

    In this sense, he recognized progress on the human rights front through, for example, the abolition of the death penalty and the recognition of minority languages but he did say that a lot remained to be done with accusations of torture, arbitrary arrests and unacceptable prison conditions still a problem.

    In addition, there were question marks over whether there was in fact respect for freedom of speech and full recognition of the rights of minorities. In addition, there was the case of Sakharov prize-winner Leyla Zana, where Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee is calling for a fair retrial, he said.

    Indeed, as he put it, there were doubts about whether or not the reform process was being effectively implemented.

    Two other points to be considered concern Cyprus and Greek/Turkish relations. Yiannitsis called on leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community on the island republic to reassess their position with regard to EU membership.

    He acknowledged, however, there had been an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

    [07] Gov't expresses support for Cyprus' response over Strovilia

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday expressed Athens' support for the initiatives undertaken by Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou regarding the activities of the illegal Turkish-Cypriot regime in Strovilia, a village in the no-man's zone on the divided island republic.

    The Cyprus government denounced the Turkish occupation forces for widening a road in the area and cutting off the electricity supply to its residents in order to pressure them join the grid in the occupied territories.

    The Cyprus government is also in talks with the British High Commission in Nicosia to discuss practical measures for returning to the previous status quo in the demilitarized zone.

    Iakovou said that British High Commissioner Lyn Parker had fully agreed in talks on Tuesday that the Turks had no right to carry out works in the area without UNFICYP's consent.

    [08] PM, FinMin discuss economic developments

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government, in Wednesday's debate on the economy in parliament, will present the real figures over the course of the economy, its performance, its real problems and all the solutions promoted by the government, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr Christodoulakis said the meeting focused on today's debate in parliament and the latest developments in the European Union, particularly a deal reached by ECOFIN on Tuesday to harmonize taxation on savings in member states.

    The Greek minister stressed that "for the first time EU member-states can collect tax on savings held by their citizens in other countries, like Switzerland, a development expected to enhance transparency and supervision in the market, and EU budget revenues."

    [09] National Bank: Balkan expansion plan completed

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece has achieved its target and is currently the largest banking group in southeastern Europe, Theodore Karatzas, the bank's governor, said on Wednesday while speaking to reporters during a press conference to present UBB, National Bank's subsidiary in Bulgaria.

    Apostolos Tamvakakis, the bank's deputy governor, said that with the exception of Romania (where the Greek bank was currently negotiating the purchase of a domestic bank) National Bank has completed its expansion program in the Balkans.

    He stressed, however, that National Bank would consider any new opportunities arising in the region. ''National Bank has invested a total of 350-380 million euros in the Southeast European area, and plans to raise its investments to a total of 420 million euros in the near future,'' Tamvakakis said.

    National Bank owns 90 percent of UBB's equity capital, Bulgaria's second largest bank. Tamvakakis said that National Bank would set up a bank assurance company in Bulgaria and was examining ways to promote the sale of mutual funds products in the Bulgarian market.

    Bulgarian PM meets with NBG governor: Meanwhile, Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha received Karatzas on Wednesday on the sidelines of the two-day conference.

    According to reports, the two men exchanged views on the Bulgarian economy, the county’s EU prospects as well as the banking sector’s contribution towards this end, especially National Bank’s presence in this endeavor.

    Karatzas reportedly presented the NBG group’s strategy and immediate targets in Bulgaria.

    [10] Boards of Hellenic Petroleum, Petrola approve merger deal

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    The boards of Hellenic Petroleum SA and Petrola SA, both quoted on the Athens bourse, on Wednesday informed market authorities that they had approved a merger plan between the two oil firms, which was first announced last week.

    Under the terms of the merger, state owned Hellenic Petroleum, the larger of the two companies, would absorb private sector Petrola, the firms' management told the Athens Stock Exchange in a letter.

    The absorption process is to begin with formulation of a financial statement dated June 4, 2003 incorporating the two firms' assets and liabilities, the letter said.

    In addition, Petrola's management has frozen an investment plan it was to implement, leaving the matter to the board of the new firm to be created in the merger, it added.

    [11] Europarliament approves double-hull vessel mandate

    STRASBOURG 05/06/2003 (ANA/O. Tsipira)

    The European Parliament approved on Wednesday the Com-mission's proposal for a Regulation for maritime safety, made only few days after Greek-owned tanker Prestige’s disaster off Spanish coasts.

    The Europarliament approved the regulation by 501 votes, while there were five votes against it and 14 abstentions. Among those that abstained there were nine Greek main opposition New Democracy Eurodeputies and 2 Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) Eurodeputies.

    This proposal aims at accelerating the phasing-out of single-hull tankers and prohibiting the carriage of heavy oil in single-hull tankers.

    In particular, the oldest and most vulnerable types of single-hull tankers, constructed before 1982, will be phased out when they reach 23 years of age, as compared with 28 years of age under current rules, and by 2005 at the latest for the most recent ones.

    The other categories of large single-hull tankers will be phased out by 2010, with a stricter calendar than provided for by current rules. With this new regulation, the European Union will apply rules as strict as those applicable in the United States of America for the phasing-out of single-hull tankers.

    Moreover, the carriage of heavy oil in single-hull tankers will be immediately prohibited.

    The approval of such an important legislation in hardly 7 months is not very common in the decision-making process of the European Union.

    Commenting on the development, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Transport and Energy, Loyola de Palacio, said: “These are spectacular steps ahead which are taking place and I am very happy to see these crucial initiatives finally approved by the European parliament, which paves the way for a definitive adoption and an entry into force in the coming weeks.''

    ''The agreement on the accelerated phasing out of the single hull tankers, as well as the prohibition of carriage of heavy oil in single hulls, only 7 months after the 'Prestige' disaster, are a very strong signal for increased maritime safety: Europe was able to react,'' she underlined.

    [12] Greek stocks jump to new year highs on Wednesday

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Athens Stock Exchange ended sharply higher on Wednesday pushing the general index above the 1,800 level to a new record high for 2003, supported by strong buying interest in blue chip stocks, mainly banks.

    The index jumped 3.35 percent to end at 1,839.69 points, with turnover a heavy 559.3 million euros, with net value at 215 million euros. Turnover was boosted by the transfer of a total of 43.5 million shares by Hellenic Petroleum to Petrola, at a price of 7.5 euros per share (worth 326,250,000 euros).

    All sector indices scored gains, with the Insurance, Banks, Textile and Holding sectors leading advancers (6.67 percent, 5.13 percent, 4.71 percent and 4.52 percent, respectively), while National Bank (7.34 percent), Emporiki Bank (5.70 percent), Alpha Bank (4.83 percent) and EFG Eurobank (4.32 percent) were leading gainers.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy trading stocks jumped 4.18 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 2.78 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 2.53 percent up and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index jumped 3.76 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 294 to 39 with another 32 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 205.1 mln euros Wednesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +4.18 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +2.53 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (700)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 205.1 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Wednesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 3.84 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 12 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 4.0 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 3-year, expiring June 2006 (772 mln euros)


    Closing rates of June 4 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,178 1,151

    [13] President's message for World Environment Day

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    In a message to mark World Environment Day on Thursday, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos noted the extensive damage that economic and technological development had wreaked on the natural environment, especially in the past few decades, and the serious disruption of the planet's ecological balance.

    In many cases, he said, the damage was dangerous or even irreversible.

    Stephanopoulos underlined the need for the more economically developed countries, as well as all other nations in the world, to appreciate the seriousness of the problem and to act decisively to deal with the dangers that threaten both the present and coming generations.

    V. Papandreou issues message in light of Environment Day: Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday issued a message in light of the International Environment Day, stressing that the maintenance of the environment is a never ending process.

    ''The International Day for the Environment can not become an alibi for the relevant lack of action during a year. To the contrary it should be a beginning for greater and more effective effort toward the direction of the protection and the improvement of the environment,'' she said.

    Athens airport to grant three scholarships in honor of World Environment Day: Athens International Airport on Wednesday announced that it would fund three scholarships for post-graduate studies at the Aegean University in honor of World Environment Day on June 5.

    The scholarships will support studies into environmental issues by students participating in the university's "Environmental Policy and Management" program in order to encourage them to undertake degree papers on noise-level management, water resources management and reducing threats to birds.

    The initiative falls within the framework of activities by the airport's Environmental Service to sensitize the public to environmental issues and brief them on the airport's goals and programs in this area.

    US scholar: Vital US-EU relations will recover and continue to develop

    A noted US scholar on Euro-Atlantic relations and the European Union offered a mostly optimistic view on the timely issue during a lecture here on Tuesday, noting that the latest strains in the vital relationship will be overcome no matter what administration is in the White House.

    “Europeans have more impact on foreign policies than they think, and the Union also has common policies, for instance, on Mexico, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and of course, the Palestinian issue,” Prof. Roy H. Ginsberg told an Athenian audience, before emphasizing that the exception was Iraq, where individual European countries had opposing policies for decades.

    In pointing to policy over Iran, Ginsberg said Europe’s refusal to follow Washington’s policy of isolation now leaves the EU “in the driver’s seat” vis-a-vis influence in Tehran.

    “We’re not going to agree on everything, but neither do the Europeans … Administrations come and go, the EU-US relationship, however, is deep and lasting”.

    In drawing a parallel to today’s situation in the wake of the Iraq crisis, the American professor said the Nixon administration treated a united Western Europe as practically a hostile entity in 1970-72, only to reverse itself in 1973.

    Moreover, he also noted that although tension is currently evident in some bilateral relationships between the top governmental echelons, day-to-day work on the bureaucratic levels is continuing, while cautioning that the Bush administration cannot “aggravate the Europeans much longer”. Ginsberg recalled that it was George Bush Sr., however, that inaugurated the post-Cold War round of upgraded trans-Atlantic cooperation, while he did stress that George W. Bush, and not Bill Clinton, included the EU in the diplomatic “quartet” for the Middle East peace process.

    Finally, in terms of EU enlargement and concerns in some quarters of Europe that new members will weaken the bloc’s foreign policy cohesion, Ginsberg forecast“convergence” by new members to existing members’ views.

    “I don’t think the new countries (in the EU) will be ‘bad Europeans’,” he stressed, offering Greece, Spain and Portugal as examples where EU membership helped consolidate democracy and brought those countries from the continent’s “periphery” to its mainstream.

    Ginsberg spoke during an event held at the Hellenic American Union (HEU) on Tuesday evening, which was sponsored by the American Universities Alumni Association of Greece.

    Ginsberg is a professor of government at Skidmore College in Saratoga Strings, New York, while he also served as the 2002-03 Glaverbel Chair in European politics at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He has also served as the director of Skidmore’s international affairs program, as a visiting professor at the Center for European Studies at New York University and as the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, among others.

    Additionally, he co-founded and chaired the European Union Studies Association of the United States.

    [14] Trial of Ocalan affair continues with testimony of airport staff, police

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Policemen and other airport staff on duty when rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan arrived in Greece on January 29, 1999, on Wednesday told the court conducting the trial into the Ocalan affair that they had no prior warning of Ocalan's arrival.

    Airport security department head Andreas Mihas said that no one had informed him that the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was expected to arrive, while the same was asserted by passport control officers Haralambos Tsaktsanis and Ioannis Sarantopoulos.

    They also noted that no alert had been posted on their computers, as usually happened when there was a problem with an arrival, nor had they been informed about the arrival of any official, otherwise they would have opened the VIP lounge.

    Private flights controller Panagiotis Papaioannou, meanwhile, said that no one had alerted him regarding the arrival of a private plane at the airport.

    The trial was adjourned until Friday.

    Thirteen people face charges for bringing Ocalan into Greece, among them retired Navy Captain Antonis Naxakis and two of Ocalan's associates, Yakar Chedkiz and Kaya Aifer. All three are also charged with compromising the country's harmonious foreign relations.

    Ocalan himself faces a charge of illegally entering Greece, while another nine people are charged with assisting Naxakis bring him into the country, including author Voula Damianakou and her daughter Eleni Vasilopoulou, airline pilot Zisis Bechlivanidis, state airport public relations chief Stefanos Evangelatos and airport employee Evangelos Stergiopoulos, Aegean Airlines representative Antonis Simigdalas and Aegean Airlines employee Georgios Mavros, police officer Dimitris Karagiorgis and a police officer detached to EYP, Georgios Magginas.

    [15] N17 trial considers fake ID and other evidence against Giotopoulos

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    A forged French driving license, a fake police identity card in the name Mihalis Economou and other evidence found against Alexandros Giotopoulos was presented in the ongoing trial of 19 suspected members of the urban guerrilla group ''November 17'' on Wednesday.

    Giotopoulos is charged as the alleged leader of the terror band.

    According to documents read out by presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis, the driving license was made out in the name of French national Hons Cristian and had been found by French authorities in a Popular Revolutionary Struggle (LEA) hideout in Paris.

    The document said Cristian was a French teacher living in Athens since 1971.

    Following protests by the defense, however, the memorandum on Christian’s identity and activities sent by French authorities was withdrawn from the evidence because it lacked an official stamp denoting the authority from which it had been sent.

    Giotopoulos denied any acquaintance with Cristian after seeing a photograph and said the driving license had been made for him by an old resistance fighter that he had met during the 1967-1974 dictatorship in Greece and that he had filled out the details on his typewriter at home.

    He said he would provide more information in his address to the court.

    Giotopoulos was also grilled by the bench regarding the police ID in which he appears as Mihalis Economou, issued in 1996.

    Asked if he had another ID prior to 1996, he said the ID-card dated back to 1976 and the driving license was made for him in the '80s.

    The court was also told that three keys among a set of 40 found in the apartment shared by Giotopoulos and his French partner Marie-Therese Peynaud opened the doors to the N17 safe house discovered by police in Damareos Street.

    The defense moved that this evidence be struck from the list because the keys had been tested without a magistrate's order but was countered by the lawyer representing the civil suit brought against the suspects by the Bakoyiannis family, who noted that the keys were tested in the framework of the police investigation since the keys were at police forensics labs since the previous July.

    [16] Vartholomeos heads symposium for the salvation of the Baltic Sea

    TALLINN 05/06/2003 (ANA - M. Papoutsaki)

    Headed by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, representatives of religions, special academics, ecologists and journalists, are continuing to take part on board a ship in a symposium for the salvation of the Baltic Sea.

    The ship is currently at Estonia's port of Tallinn and the President of Estonia was present at the start of Wednesday morning's sessions. He thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for his initiatives for the environment, at the same time noting the particularities of this closed sea which for the past forty years has started showing serious pollution problems.

    On his part, Vartholomeos said it was the duty of humanity to protect and respect the planet.

    Taking part in this fifth symposium, organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, are 250 personalities.

    Vartholomeos said that he will visit Ankara on June 12 where he will give an address marking the 25th anniversary of the Pope's election.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch will also meet the Turkish prime minister to whom he intends to raise the issue of the reopening of the School of Halki.

    The symposium will continue over the coming days in Helsinki and Stockholm.

    [17] Albanian president visits ethnic Greek town in S. Albania

    GJIROKASTER 05/06/2003 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    Albanian President Alfred Moisiu on Wednesday visited Dervitsani, a town in the region of Gjirokaster, in which population is mostly ethnic Greek.

    Speaking to the Greek minority of the town, Moisiu said that ''with your work, your efforts, your life and your culture, you represent the model of culture and democratization of Albanian society''.

    He expressed his appreciation for the active role of ethnic Greeks in the maintenance for the climate of peaceful co-existence of Greeks and Albanians in the southern part of the country, adding that ''the religious, ethnic and cultural co-existence is an invaluable asset, which should be maintained and developed''.

    Speaking on Greek-Albanian relations Moisiu stressed that this is ''the first time that we have good relations with our neighbors. We meet with them, we cooperate intensively in the sectors of the economy, education, culture and work to build a common European future''.

    [18] EU Commission presents road safety plan to halve lives lost on roads

    BRUSSELS 05/06/2003 (ANA/V. Demiris)

    Greece records the highest rate of deaths, compared to its population, from road accidents, while it sadly has the lowest reduction rate of such accidents among the European Union in the past decade.

    This is the conclusion of the data contained in the European Road Safety Action Program 2003-2010, which the EU Commission presented here on Wednesday. The program pursues an ambitious overall objective that of halving the number of people killed on the roads by 2010.

    According to 2001 data, Greece is in top position among member-states, with 180 deaths per million of population per year, followed by Portugal with 163, Luxembourg 156 and Belgium 145.

    The lowest number of road victims is enjoyed by Britain with 60 deaths per million per year, followed by Sweden with 66. The EU average is 105 deaths on the road per million people per year.

    A press release issued by the Commission on Wednesday said that “Over 40,000 people killed and 1,700,000 injured each year, is a sad testimony to the lack of safety on the roads in the EU”.

    With this initiative, the Commission is seeking to guide action by the EU in the field of road safety, complement the Member States' efforts and define a clear framework for the sharing of responsibilities between all the parties concerned.

    In particular, it wants to encourage users to behave better, make vehicles safer, and improve road infrastructure. In addition, the Commission will continue to enforce and promote new measures aimed at safe and high-quality commercial road transport, while promoting the harmonization of penalties across Europe.

    ''Saving human life through a genuine road safety policy is a challenge and an obligation, and all the public authorities should work together to this end: it is high time that, at all levels, actions are commensurate with intentions'' said Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the European Commission with special responsibility for transport and energy.

    ''For its part, the Commission will shoulder its responsibilities and will not hesitate to make all necessary proposals to make it possible to radically change the trends observable in many countries,'' added the Commissioner.

    [19] PM briefed on 'neighborhood policeman' scheme

    Athens, 05/06/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis paid a visit to a police station at Aghios Panteleimonas in Athens on Wednesday morning to be briefed on the "neighborhood policeman" pilot program that is being tested in 35 police stations in Attica and two in Thessaloniki.

    The program currently involves 354 officers in Attica and 20 in Thessaloniki, who patrol neighborhoods on foot and come into direct contact with the residents and give immediate solutions to their problems.

    Simitis was accompanied by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis and Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris and Greek police chief Fotis Nasiakos.

    [20] Van der Meer: EU measures for Turkish Cypriots very good

    NICOSIA 05/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Head of the European Commission's delegation in Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer said on Wednesday that an EU package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots announced on Tuesday is a very good one.

    He said that on June 17 and 18 EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen will be on the island to explain the package and various details and promote its implementation.

    ''It is a very good package. It has all the necessary ingredients which can help the northern part of the island to get better informed on EU measures to further extend our activities and it is a way forward to ease the trade restrictions,'' he said prior to a visit here at the Central Offices of PEO Trade Union.

    Van der Meer called upon all parties in Cyprus to be flexible and pragmatic in order to work on implementation details.

    He said he expects a reaction from the Turkish Cypriot community regarding the measures later on Wednesday night or on Thursday.

    Asked if the package is on a ''take it or leave it'' basis, he said that ''there is always room for consultation and discussion.''

    The package is a comprehensive one and covers the areas of trade, bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU and financial assistance, he added. It provides for 12 million euros for infrastructure projects, development of middle size businesses, research, boosting civil society and trade unions and organizing seminars to inform the Turkish Cypriots about the EU.

    ''It is a comprehensive package and we are going to work on all three avenues to make it work. It is not a matter of choose and take. This is it. On that basis we are going to work with all parties involved to make it happen and we hope that in that respect understanding of the aquis in the north will improve,'' van der Meer stressed.

    Asked if there is an alternative plan in case the Turkish Cypriot side rejects the package, he noted ''the Commission never thinks a plan b''.

    He expressed conviction that the package will be implemented as proposed.

    On his visit to PEO, van der Meer said that it will cover a number of areas regarding the implementation of the aquis communautaire in the labor field. He said implementation of the labor law in Cyprus is on the right track but added that there are still a number of important issues to be implemented.

    On June 30 an EU monitoring mission will be in Cyprus to check on the implementation process.

    [21] Lord Hannay's term terminated

    NICOSIA 05/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    British Foreign Minister Jack Straw announced on Wednesday before the Parliament the termination of Lord David Hannay's term as Special Representative for Cyprus with effect as from Wednesday.

    Straw said that in the light of recent developments in the Cyprus problem, Britain has been reviewing the arrangements for ensuring an active British input into Cyprus diplomacy. He said no further appointment would be made for the time being.

    He assured though that ''this announcement in no way indicates a weakening of the government's determination to work with others under the aegis of the UN to find a solution to the Cyprus problem'' and said that ''should events again make it appropriate for a Special Representative to be appointed, the government will not hesitate to do so.''

    Referring to UN efforts for a Cyprus settlement, the British Foreign Minister noted that ''the UN process culminated in the second revision of the Plan which the UN Secretary-General presented to the parties on 26 February, and in negotiations which reached a climax in The Hague on March 11 this year.''

    ''For reasons set out in the subsequent report by the UN Secretary-General and endorsed in UN Security Council Resolution 1475, this final effort ended in failure, for which the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Denktash, bore the prime responsibility. It is the British government's firm view that the Annan Plan remains the best way forward,'' Straw stressed.

    He noted that Britain concurs with the Secretary-General's judgment ''that he should not take a new initiative unless and until he is given solid reason by all the parties to believe that the political will exists necessary for a successful outcome and that they are prepared to commit to finalizing the Plan by a specific date and to putting it to separate simultaneous referenda on a date soon thereafter.''

    [22] Annan: UN has not given up on Cyprus

    UNITED NATIONS 05/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    ''We have not given up on Cyprus,'' UN Secretary General has told CNA, adding that he is really prepared to work with the parties but he wants to see genuine political will to make progress to resolve the conflict in Cyprus.

    ''And I think both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots as well as the motherlands are looking into prospects for pressing ahead with the process. But I will wait to see the signal that both sides are ready,'' Annan said.

    UN Secretary General's spokesman Fred Eckhard announced that Annan in his latest report on the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus recommends that the Security Council extend the mission's current mandate for further 6 months until the 15th of December.

    He underlined that in his report the Secretary General notes ''that these recent developments are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement.

    It seems highly unlikely that such a settlement can be achieved without the genuine political commitment to the proposal I've put forward and a firm timetable to finalize the negotiations.''

    Asked if the SG considers sending his Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto to the area, Eckhard said: ''To my knowledge, no. From his report (I understand), he is still waiting for a signal from the two sides that they are willing to negotiate in good faith on the basis of his latest proposal.''

    [23] Government making representations over Strovilia issue

    NICOSIA 05/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The violation of the status quo ante by the Turkish occupation troops in the southeastern area of Strovilia is serious and the Republic of Cyprus is making all necessary representations to all directions, government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said here Wednesday.

    Replying to questions after a Cabinet meeting, Chrisostomides said the President of the Republic has raised the issue to many recipients.''

    ''It is a serious situation. It is under examination and observation by the relevant authorities of the state,'' Chrisostomides said.

    Turkey is violating the status quo ante in the Strovilia area, which is in the ceasefire line. Greek Cypriot residents in the area are facing problems with electricity and water supply and telephone connections.

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