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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-14

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

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

June 14, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Papandreou briefs President Stephanopoulos on foreign policy, EU issues
  • [02] Draft EU constitution dominates Simitis-Schroeder meeting in Berlin
  • [03] Simitis due in Austria for talks on the EU summit agenda on Friday
  • [04] Greek EU presidency - Thessaloniki Council schedule
  • [05] Draconian security measures to be taken for EU summit in Halkidiki
  • [06] US aims at resumption of Cyprus talks on basis of Annan plan in autumn
  • [07] Greek FM to take part in Quartet meeting in Jordan
  • [08] Greek deputy FM to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia
  • [09] Greek and Turkish FMs hold telephone talks
  • [10] Turkish FM wants Aegean a 'real sea of peace'
  • [11] Declaration of EU presidency on deportation of Tibetan asylum seekers
  • [12] Greek Euro-MPís report throws strong support to EU cohesion policy
  • [13] Greek eurodeputy says US State Dept human trafficking report is unfair to Greece
  • [14] Drys optimistic over decisions on EU farming policy reforms
  • [15] Gov't pledges to reduce payment delays for pensioners
  • [16] Halkidki miners not reassured by minister; vow to remain in mines
  • [17] Greek weekly economic review
  • [18] Profit taking halts rally of prices in ASE
  • [19] Foreign ministry's Dollis receives Livanos award
  • [20] European conference opens on 'Media and Disability'
  • [21] Quake measuring 4.6 points on Richter scale jolts Evia
  • [22] N17 court continues hearing testimony of defence witnesses
  • [23] Weston says many provisions in Annan plan should change
  • [24] FM Iacovou meets Hastert and Senate members

  • [01] FM Papandreou briefs President Stephanopoulos on foreign policy, EU issues

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign minister George Papandreou on Friday briefed President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on foreign policy issues and matters concerning the European Union, which Greece currently chairs.

    During the one-hour meeting, Papandreou briefed the President on the agenda for the EU summit in Thessaloniki on June 19-21, which essentially marks the end of Greece's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2003. Stephanopoulos, who will also be at the summit, will be hosting a dinner in honour of the EU heads of state and government on Friday night, June 20.

    After the meeting, Papandreou told reporters he had outlined to Stephanopoulos the Greek EU presidency's targets for the summit.

    Replying to press questions on the Cyprus issue referring to his talks on Thursday with visiting US state department coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston, Papandreou said that the gist of Weston's comments was that far from having been forgotten, it was necessary to bring the Cyprus issue back to the international scene, adding that the prospects were auspitious given the momentum of Cyprus' EU accession.

    Papandreou reminded that Turkey's course to the EU required that it tackle the Cyprus problem, adding that Weston's message was the that the US consistently backed UN secretary general Kofi Annan's effort and proposal, and would act in coordination with the EU so that ''we may see a resolution of the Cyprus issue, soon''.

    Commenting on statements made by Turkish prime minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan on Turkish television Thursday night claiming that it was the Greek aircraft that were provoking the Turkish planes, Papandreou stressed that Greece has asked the Turkish side to submit flight plans for its aircraft. "If that occurs, then if matters of misunderstanding arise, they will be clarified. If, on the contrary, harassments indeed occur, this too will become apparent," he said.

    Papandreou said that it had been agreed with the Turkish side that the political directors would discuss, within the framework of the international rules in effect on national waters, airspace, etc., to see how this problem could be overcome, noting that it is a dangerous matter, because an accident could cause a tragedy, and also greater tension in Greek-Turkish relations at a time when efforts were being made to resolve major problems, such as the Cyprus issue and Greek efforts to contribute to Turkey's European course.

    [02] Draft EU constitution dominates Simitis-Schroeder meeting in Berlin

    BERLIN 14/06/2003 (ANA/P. Stangos)

    The draft Constitution of the European Union has been the center of discussions here on Friday, between Greeces Prime Minister and current European Council President Costas Simitis and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    The specific issue would dominate debate during the EU Thes-saloniki Council, next weekend, in order to set a binding time-table for a prompt conclusion of the subsequent Intergovern-mental Conference aiming at the endorsement of the EU Consti-tution also by the ten new member-states to fully enter the Union in May 2004. The current rationale envisages that the EU Constitution should be adopted before the Euroelections of June 2004.

    The key to achieving the specific target is to avert the like-lihood of the Intergovernmental Conference re-opening delibera-tions on the draft Constitution. This means that the EUs 15 heads would have to accept the plan, to be presented to the EU Council by Convention on the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

    During a joint press conference after their meeting, Schroeder played down EU-US and specifically US-Germany problems which arose as a result of the Iraq war, while said that a joint defence initiative by four European nations (Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg) was an effort within NATO, envisa-ged to strengthen also the North Atlantic Alliance.

    Simitis clarified that the EU Thessaloniki Council is not to deal with the reform of the Unions Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

    In reply to reporters question on the possible repercussions of certain bilateral extradition and judicial cooperation agreements signed between some Western Balkan states (e.g. Albania) and the US which bars referral of US nationals of military officials to the International Court at The Hague Simitis said that the issue was not to be examined during the EU Council in Thessaloniki, and further stressed that the EU does not impose sanctions, each country has its own policy on that issue.

    According to reports, the German side has expressed support to Greek Presidency efforts to enhance EU policy on and relations with Western Balkans, recommending however that the Unions steps should move forward in a reserved pace.

    [03] Simitis due in Austria for talks on the EU summit agenda on Friday

    VIENNA 14/06/2003 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to arrive in Vienna later on Friday for talks with Austria's leadership on the agenda of the European Union summit in Halkidiki next week.

    Simitis is currently in the midst a tour of the 24 EU capitals in his capacity as head of the European Council to prepare for the final summit at the end of the Greek EU presidency.

    Simitis' visit is to conclude his visit to Vienna on Saturday.

    [04] Greek EU presidency - Thessaloniki Council schedule

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Illegal immigration, population mobility and the need to implement Readmission agreements between the European Union and third countries in which both parties reciprocally agree to accept the return of illegal migrants into their territory, will dominate discussions on the opening day at the upcoming European Council in Thessaloniki on 19 June.

    Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis on Friday said that migration issues have been for some time now the focus of discussions among the Union's 15 public order and interior ministers, adding that the Greek side had achieved a significant perspective on the issue of safeguarding the outer marine borders of the EU.

    The heads of state from the bloc's members will continue their talks following a press conference on the works of the first day of the Council, at working dinners hosted separately for the government heads, the foreign ministers and their delegations. The talks will focus on current international issues, including developments in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and facing the threat of international terrorism.

    Constitutional Convention President Valery Giscard d' Estaing on Friday morning, 20 June, will present the Council with the proposals that will be used as the basis to launch discussions on the European Constitution at the Inter-governmental Conference. It is expected that the discussions on the draft Constitution will be long. After the 25 EU partners present their views, Greek Prime Minister, whose country currently holds the EU presiden-cy, will undertake to present the conclusions of their discussions.

    The Greek presidency is seeking a framework mandate handed by the Thessaloniki Council to the succeeding Italian presidency, with the inclusion of a specific time schedule and provisions over the participation of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, which have been proposed the observer status without a voting right.

    At any rate, a minimum consensus is noted in major issues in the Constitution, while each country reserves its positioning on the institutional reform for the Inter-governmental conference.

    At the press conference and the working luncheon that will follow the EU partners will exchange views on the progress of transatlantic relations, which will be discussed in depth at the US-EU Summit in Washington on 25 June where the Union will be represented by Simitis, EU chief diplomat Javier Solana and Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.

    The text of the European Security Strategy, better known as the European strategic dogma, will be presented by Solana to the EU partners, and according to Beglitis, this will offer the necessary guidelines to launch a broad and evolving discussion that will be progressively supplemented with the contribution of all member-states. He said that discussions at the Thessaloniki Council would be recorded as the institutional ''take off'' of common efforts for forging a consolidated European response to global challenges.

    Following the press conferences in the evening, President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will host a dinner for the heads of states and their cabinet members.

    On Saturday morning the ''25'' will meet with the leadership of the Western Balkan states to confirm the European prospect of the countries by adopting the ''Thessaloniki Declaration''.

    [05] Draconian security measures to be taken for EU summit in Halkidiki

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Draconian security measures will be taken for the EU summit in Halkidiki, northern Greece, next week, with Public Order Mi-nister Mihalis Chrysohoidis heading coordination himself.

    Greek Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos and the deputy-chief of police as well as senior officers will be moving between Thessa-loniki and Halkidiki coordinating the police officers.

    A total of 16,000 police officers have been assigned to protect, both from land and sea, the site of the summit. Warships and helicopters will also be involved in the security measures.

    The security forces will also take special security measures at places where attacks could possibly occur. Such places are the U.S. consulate and buildings related to the interests of U.S. and western European countries.

    [06] US aims at resumption of Cyprus talks on basis of Annan plan in autumn

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    The United States intend to make an effort for the resumption of Cyprus talks on the basis of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan, visiting US state department special coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston told main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday, sources said.

    The sources also cited Weston as saying that the US would aim for resumption of the Cyprus talks in the autumn, and submit an informal timetable for finalisation of the plan by December, to allow the holding of referenda in the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus before the island republic's formal accession to the European Union in May 2004.

    Weston spoke of technical adjustments to the Annan plan, essentially ruling out negotiations on the substance of the provisions contained in the plan, the same sources said.

    New Democracy's firm position is that a Cyprus solution must be viable and functional, based on the EU acquis communautaire while, according to information, it disagrees with the view that techncial adjustments to the plan were needed, as it believes that there are issues that could cause problems in the viability and, chiefly, the functionality, of the solution.

    [07] Greek FM to take part in Quartet meeting in Jordan

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou will depart for Amman in Jordan on Sunday June 22, immediately after the European Summit in Halkidiki, to take part in the Quartet meeting on the Mideast crisis.

    Papandreou chairs the European Council of Ministers until Greece hands over the EU presidency to Italy in July.

    Alongside his counterparts from the United States, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU external affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, who will also attend the Quartet meeting, Papandreou will discuss developments in the Middle East and the application of the 'road map' for peace.

    [08] Greek deputy FM to visit Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis is to embark on a tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia on June 16-18, foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis announced on Friday.

    The trip seeks to strengthen European Union ties with these countries and collect information regarding the appointment of a special emissary for the region.

    Regarding a request by Rom gypsies in Kosovo seeking political asylum in Greece, Beglitis said Greece was bound by the Schengen Treaty and that this issue would have to be solved through collaboration between authorities in Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    [09] Greek and Turkish FMs hold telephone talks

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister and EU Council of Foreign Ministers President George Papandreou held telephone talks with his Tur-kish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Friday afternoon.

    According to a foreign ministry announcement, the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers discussed the infringements and viola-tions in the Aegean, the course of reforms in Turkey, develop-ments in the Middle East as well as the issues which will be debated at the European Union simmit in Thessaloniki next week.

    [10] Turkish FM wants Aegean a 'real sea of peace'

    ISTANBUL 14/06/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abullah Gul said in Ankara on Friday, referring to Greek-Turkish rela-tions, ''our purpose is to make the Aegean a real sea of peace.''

    Gul added that ''what must be done is for us all to move carefully. there is no sense in tension escalating for superfluous things.''

    The Turkish foreign minister said Greek-Turkish cooperation must be shown to the whole world, as well as cooperation in all sectors, because living in the region with mutual respect and peacefully is in the interests of all.

    On the question of whether Turkey has delayed reacting on the issue of aircraft harassment, Gul said ''we have not delayed in anything'' and that he will be discussing the issue with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou soon.

    [11] Declaration of EU presidency on deportation of Tibetan asylum seekers

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek European Union presidency on Friday issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union on the Deportation of 18 Tibetan Asylum Seekers from Nepal to China. The full text of the declaration follows below:

    ''The EU is seriously concerned over the recent decision by His Majesty's Government of Nepal to forcefully return 18 Tibetan asylum seekers from Kathmandu to China. Such a deportation order against a group of asylum seekers that also included eight minors, while access to them by UNHCR was denied, clearly violates humanitarian principles and contravenes international law.

    ''The EU expresses its regrets over the fact that repeated appeals by EU Missions in Kathmandu to release the asylum seekers from prison and to process them in accordance with established practice and in cooperation with UNHCR were ignored by HMG without offering any explanation or justification for the harsh measures now taken against this group.

    ''Respect for international norms and human rights is one of the fundamental pillars of cooperation between the EU and Nepal as it is for all of the EU's development partners.

    ''The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Nor-way, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.''

    [12] Greek Euro-MPs report throws strong support to EU cohesion policy

    BRUSSELS 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    There can be no European Union without a Cohesion policy, Greek Eurodeputy Manolis Mastorakis stressed here on Thursday while presenting the second European Commission report on the progress of Economic and Social Cohesion in EU Regions. He further underlined that the Cohesion policy should be seriously funded, especially in view of enlargement.

    In a report tabled for discussion in the Europarliaments plenum in September, described as a high-quality one by Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier and MPEs from all political groups, Mastorakis rejects all ideas for re-nationalization of the regional policy.

    In addition, Mastorakis' report places emphasis on additional funding and supplementary action of various sector policies and regional policy, regarded imperative for the effective implementation of the EU's Cohesion policy.

    [13] Greek eurodeputy says US State Dept human trafficking report is unfair to Greece

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek eurodeputy Anna Karamanou on Friday said the recent US State Department report on human trafficking that ranked Greece in ''Tier 3'' category, the lowest category reserved for countries deemed not to comply with minimum standards regarding illegal human trafficking, was ''discriminatory, unsubstantial and unfair''.

    Karamanou, who also heads the European Parliament's Com-mittee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, said that the US State Department report was based on information compiled at local US embassies, and it pointed to a clear intention to be used as a ''diplomatic tool'' for exerting pressure on third coun-tries.

    ''In no case could Greece rate worse than some Asian or African countries that systematically violate basic rights of women'', the eurodeputy noted.

    She said the Greek government as well as local governments and non-governmental organisations in Greece had taken signi-ficant measures to tackle the problem. She admitted, however, that a problem existed in Greece, comparable to that existing also in other European countries.

    [14] Drys optimistic over decisions on EU farming policy reforms

    BRUSSELS 14/06/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Agriculture Minister George Drys on Friday said that he was optimistic that the reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would be concluded during the meeting of the Union's ministers next week before the Thessaloniki Summit.

    Drys said that discussions on the compromise proposal of the Greek EU presidency progressed substantially, but it became apparent that more time was necessary for the agreement to mature.

    He added that the council of ministers will meet again on Tuesday in Luxembourg, following briefings of the ministers in their respective countries, meanwhile the presidency will prepare a new improved proposal.

    "I would like to note that the presidency has realized the willingness of the member-states to made decisions now. Our aim is to be lead to an sincere and honest compromise next week and to conclude the reform immediately," Drys said.

    [15] Gov't pledges to reduce payment delays for pensioners

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Labour Minister Rovertos Spyropoulos on Friday told Parliament that the time-lag between retirement and the first pension payments was steadily being reduced and pledged that OGA pensions, in particular, would be paid without a single day's delay after 2003.

    He said the time required to receive a pension from the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) had already been halved and was expected to be reduced by a third after July. The situation was similar in OGA, while similar improvements had taken place in all other social insurance funds.

    He noted that delays were inevitable, however, when a person had been insured by a succession of insurance funds, especially in a foreign country, or where insurance stamps had been lost or mislaid.

    Spyropoulos was responding to questions put by main oppo-sition New Democracy MP Theofilos Leontaridis, who insisted that the situation for most pensioners was tragic, with average waiting times from retirement to receiving the first pension payments ranging from over six months in OGA, over eight months for IKA and over 18 months for those seeking disability pensions from OGA.

    [16] Halkidki miners not reassured by minister; vow to remain in mines

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Halkidiki miners who have been holed up underground for nearly two weeks to demand that they keep their jobs on Friday said they were determined to stay put, in spite of government assurances that they would not be made redundant.

    They have, however, decided to end a hunger strike that was in its second week.

    The miners barricaded themselves within the mines at the start of June after mine-owner TVX Hellas filed for bankruptcy, raising the spectre of unemployment.

    Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas vowed that a successor scheme would be found to take over the mines, which would stay open and continue operating.

    [17] Greek weekly economic review

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    The International Monetary Fund this week urged the Greek government to take further measures to reforming the country's social security system to deal with an expected fiscal problem because of a large increase in pension spending in the next decades.

    In its latest report on the outlook of the Greek economy, the IMF urged the government to take measures for a more flexible labour market, deregulating markets, restraining pay rises in the public sector and reducing the public sector in the economy.

    The IMF also forecast that the Greek economy would grow by 3.6 percent this year, down from a budget target of 3.8 percent, while inflation will average an annual rate of 3.8 percent in 2003.

    In other headline news this week, the Bank of Greece said it was abolishing all restrictions in the domestic consumer credit market from June 20.

    "Our common goal is the development of the Greek economy, improving competitiveness and boosting employment," Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, Greek Industries' Union chairman said this week. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, the Greek industrialist rejected talk of "cloudy" relations between the employers' union and the government.

    Greek enterprises have to become more competitive, through restructuring programme, and to take more risk, if they want to have a future and prospects in an expanded European Union and in a globalised market, Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas said this week.

    Greek car sales fell by 4.38 percent in May from the previous month to a total of 22,736 units, official figures showed. Toyota led the list of bigger sales in the month, followed by Hyundai, Opel, Ford and Fiat.

    Greek inflation rose to 3.8 percent in May from 3.4 percent in April, the National Statistics Service said. The service attributed the rise in the consumer price index to big increases in fresh fruit and vegetable prices in the month.

    Building activity rose 19.9 percent in the January-February period this year compared with the same period in 2002 (based on the volume of new buildings).

    Investments in the manufacturing sector fell 37.7 percent last year, or 42.6 percent excluding the oil processing sector, official figures by the Greek Industries' Union said this week.

    [18] Profit taking halts rally of prices in ASE

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a positive week with losses as many investors preferred to take profits after a several-day advance and ahead of the weekend in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index ended 0.91 percent lower at 1,910.6 points for a net gain of 1.81 percent in the week, or 11.89 percent higher in the first 10 sessions of June.

    The Telecommunications and Cement sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.76 percent and 1.98 percent, respectively), while the Publication and Insurance sectors scored the biggest gains (9.07 percent and 1.29 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell by 0.89 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.46 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.27 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 189 to 135 with another 38 issues unchanged and turnover was a heavy 242.2 million euros.

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Friday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 3.62 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 9 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring Jan 2013 (428 mln euros)

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 113.8 mln euros Friday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.89 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.46 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): National Bank of Greece (876)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 113.8 mln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of June 13 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,184 1,157

    [19] Foreign ministry's Dollis receives Livanos award

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Dimitris Dollis, the Greek foreign ministry's General Secretary for Hellenes Abroad was honoured with the George P. Livanos award, along with Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou and United States Senator Paul Sarbanes, an announcement by the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) said on Friday.

    The awards were given at the Grand Banquet of the 14th Annual PSEKA/SAE Cyprus conference on June 11, before an audience of 170 Greek-American leaders and others in Washington.

    The awards are given to those held to have ''utilized ancient Hellenic values to realise extraordinary achievement in modern society while contributing to the improvement of our civilisation.

    Previous recipients have included US presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, US ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte and former senior advisor to President Clinton, George Stephanopoulos.

    [20] European conference opens on 'Media and Disability'

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    A two-day European conference on ''Media and Disability'', organised by the health and welfare ministry in the framework of the European Union's Greek presidency and the European Year of the disabled in 2003, was inaugurated on Friday by Health and Welfare Minister Costas Stefanis.

    Emphasis was placed during the first day of the conference on the fact that the media must develop and strengthen their cooperation with organisations of disabled people with the purpose of highlighting issues concerning disabled people and improving the way of presentation.

    Speakers at the conference stressed that disabled people continue to be ''invisible citizens'' in European societies due to branding and prejudice.

    ''The way with which disabled people are treated depicts the degree of culture characterising a society,'' Stefanis said in his address.

    [21] Quake measuring 4.6 points on Richter scale jolts Evia

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    An earth tremor measuring 4.6 points on the Richter scale occurred on Friday afternoon in the town of Psachna, in Evia, eastern Greece.

    According to the Geodynamic Institute of the Athens National Observatory, the epicentre of the earth tremor was 70 kilometres north of Athens. A short time later a new tremor measuring 4.4 points on the Richter scale occurred in the same region.

    The tremor was also felt in many parts of Athens.

    [22] N17 court continues hearing testimony of defence witnesses

    Athens, 14/06/2003 (ANA)

    Five more witnesses called by the defence for Dimitris Kou-fodinas - who stands accused as the operations chief of the terrorist organisation November 17 - testified in the ongoing trial on Friday.

    Nineteen people are on trial as suspected members of the group before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals court in Athens.

    The witnesses, among them an architect, an advertising executive and two journalists, asserted that Koufodinas and N17 were politically motivated in their actions and aimed to improve society.

    [23] Weston says many provisions in Annan plan should change

    LARNACA 14/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said on Friday that many provisions in the Annan plan should change, given the fact that Cyprus has in the meantime signed the Accession Treaty to the EU and given the positive reaction of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots after the easing of Turkish occupation regime restrictions on free movement.

    Weston, who arrived on Friday on the island for talks on the Cyprus issue, reiterated that a solution to the Cyprus problem should be achieved before the actual accession of Cyprus to the EU, in May 2004.

    Referring to the political will for solving the Cyprus issue, Weston said that ''since the Greek Cypriot leader said in The Hague that he was willing to finalise the plan and to put it to re-ferenda, and his position has not changed, obviously the phase where the necessary political will has to be expressed is the other side.''

    ''We are working for a restart (of the negotiations) as soon as possible,'' he said, adding that the Cyprus problem is a priority issue for the US and that his country will continue its work for a just and viable solution.

    Weston noted that during his contacts in Athens this week, he discussed ''what had to be changed in the Annan plan, what had to be finalised and what could be re-examined, given the dif-ferent situation that existed when the Annan plan was presented, before Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty with the EU.''

    ''With Cyprus having actually signed the Accession Treaty, there is a need to re-examine certain provisions in the negotiations given the very positive experience that is taking place on the island'' with the easing of restrictions on free movement, Weston added.

    He said that there were some other issues that had to be re-examined, which ''were raised by the government of Cyprus, like financial aspects of the plan.''

    Weston noted that there was political will to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus issue, but added that there should be a demon-stration of the political will to resume the UN effort, and an ex-plicit agreement to finalise the Annan plan by a certain date and agreement to put the plan to simultaneous referenda.

    Asked if he was optimistic that during his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Monday the latter would show good will for the solution of the problem, Weston said that he would not use the word optimism, ''given all of his (Denktash's) statements of the last weeks or months or years.''

    He said that during his meeting with Denktash he would make every effort to obtain an answer from him that he would finalise the Annan plan and put it to a referendum.

    ''If you are asking whether I do expect to get that answer within the next couple of days, I could not honestly say,'' Weston added.

    He noted that there was no American plan or initiative sug-gesting some revision of the Annan plan.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The latest effort to reach a settlement collapsed when the Turkish side refused to put to a referendum the solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    [24] FM Iacovou meets Hastert and Senate members

    WASHINGTON 14/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou has informed members of the US House of Representatives that Cypriot companies are in a position to contribute to efforts for the reconstruction of Iraq.

    The minister also said that Cyprus already offers important humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.

    Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert said the Turkish Cypriot side has lost an important opportunity to settle the question of Cyprus when it rejected the UN Secretary-General's peace plan for a comprehensive solution.

    Welcoming Iacovou to the House, Hastert said recent develop-ments in Cyprus, such as the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement to and from the Turkish occupied areas of the island, are very important and noted that these moves can help towards a final resolution of the problem.

    Iacovou also met senators Joseph Biden and Paul Sarbanes, both members of the Foreign Relations Committee, and congress members

    Michael Bilirakis and Carolyn Maloney who are co-chairing the Hellenic Caucus.

    The minister explained the government's position regarding the resumption of negotiations based on the Annan Plan, and said that the collapse of the peace talks is solely due to Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's intransigent position towards the Secretary-General's mission of good offices.

    He stressed the need for Washington to intensify efforts towards Ankara to change its policy and resume substantial negotiations.


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