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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-18

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

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

June 18, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek PM discusses EU summit with Italian counterpart, ends European tour
  • [02] PM in Halkidiki for EU summit from Wednesday
  • [03] Papantoniou: birth of Euroforce a major EU presidency achievement
  • [04] Greek dep. FM at the head of EU Troika at the ASEAN forum 17-19 June
  • [05] Greek dep. FM says EU and Caucasus republics in need of each other
  • [06] Tehran assures Greek EU presidency its nuclear program is for power production
  • [07] Greek Presidency, Commission working on improving CAP reform compromise
  • [08] Greek EU Presidency - Meeting on ROM inclusion in labor market
  • [09] International Democratic Union's Executive Committee begins session in Halkidiki
  • [10] Majority of EU citizens want independent foreign policy from that of U.S.
  • [11] Parliament speaker on future role of EU on world scene
  • [12] Greek SYN party leader vows support for demonstrations at upcoming EU summit
  • [13] Gov't: Parliament debate about bourse won't be broadcast
  • [14] German FM to lay wreath to Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial
  • [15] Top prosecutor pushes for further probes into Kokkalis, bourse cases
  • [16] Athens, Tel Aviv, Cyprus present joint stock market index
  • [17] Greek tourism continues promotion campaign in US market
  • [18] Greek stocks jump to new year highs on Tuesday
  • [19] Justice ministry unveils computerized system for 2004 accreditations
  • [20] Defense witnesses for Georgiadis, Xiros brothers testify in N17 trial
  • [21] FM Iacovou says reference on Cyprus at Thessaloniki will be satisfactory
  • [22] Cyprus and EU wish for political solution before May 1, 2004
  • [23] Weston says Denktash has hardened his position on UN peace plan
  • [24] Russia to continue efforts for a timely settlement in Cyprus

  • [01] Greek PM discusses EU summit with Italian counterpart, ends European tour

    ROME 18/06/2003 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis discussed this week's European Union summit with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi here on Tuesday, ending his tour of European capitals in light of the summit.

    Speaking at a press conference, Berlusconi congratulated Simitis, saying ''I must congratulate President Simitis because in all the previous meetings I had with the European partners nobody presented all the issues of the presidency with such precision and transparency.''

    Simitis in turn thanked the Italian prime minister for the cooperation he had with him during the presidency.

    ''At the Halkidiki summit we shall be deciding the procedure the Intergovernmental Conference will be following. Our proposal on which we agreed is that the Intergovernmental Conference should begin in October and end before May 1 and the new treaty be signed before the Euro-elections,'' Simitis said.

    He further said the combatting of illegal immigration was discussed and agreed on since, according to the Commission's proposal, there will be enough money for a common policy to be implemented for the first time and on a big scale.

    ''I believe that the summit will reach positive conclusions allowing for the progress of the European constitution and the implementation of the policy on illegal immigration,'' he added.

    Replying to a question on whether he believes European leaders are prepared to take a step for a new Europe, he said he ascertained that all want the EU to go ahead with better cooperation between countries and the EU to be more effective and closer to the citizen.

    However, there are many differences on how this will be achieved and differences set out on foreign policy and security policy, differences on the rights the EU must have and on those the countries will have.

    The prime minister went on to say he believes the constitution to be agreed on is a solution for a certain period of time and that Europe will take more steps later, while the Assembly's proposal on the constitution is a good compromise.

    Berlusconi announced that Turkey was invited to attend the Intergovernmental Conference's work on the new constitution as an observer.

    Responding to a question on whether the summit will be sending a message to Turkey, Simitis said Ankara has taken certain steps but everything will depend on the stance it will observe and if it will comply with the European code.

    [02] PM in Halkidiki for EU summit from Wednesday

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to depart for Halkidiki on Wednesday, one day before the final European Union Summit under the Greek EU presidency begins later this week, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.

    Prior to his departure, the PM will have a meeting with the leadership of the foreign ministry.

    On Thursday Simitis will meet EU Commission President Romano Prodi and EU CFSP High Representative Javier Solana, as is required of the head of the EU presidency, and the summit will begin in the afternoon with illegal immigration the first item on the agenda.

    On Friday morning, EU leaders will discuss the proposals for a draft European Constitution presented by the Convention for the Future of Europe, while Solana will present his report on European security at lunch.

    There will be a dinner for the EU leaders hosted by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday evening and EU heads of state and government will discuss EU-Western Balkans relations on Saturday, with the focus on improving these, combatting organized crime and promoting development in the region.

    According to Protopapas, the summit's agenda will be dominated by discussion on the 'future of Europe' and the Greek presidency's goal was to set a date for the start and end of the Intergovernmental Conference sometime before European elections in 2004.

    The Greek presidency is also seeking agreement on the sums and means for dealing with illegal immigration.

    With regard to European security, Protopapas said that the discussion on this was just starting and stressed that upgrading EU-US relations was also a part of this.

    Protopapas said that other issues that are set to occupy the Halkidiki summit are the latest developments in the Mideast crisis and the Cyprus issue.

    The spokesman underlined, meanwhile, that the security and safety of those attending the summit ''was not negotiable'' and called on demonstrators to show a responsible stance, respecting the social-economic fabric of the city and tourism.

    He said the government had made preparations to deal with those that failed to conform to acceptable behavior. Regarding a travel advisory issued by the United States that warned US citizens to ''be careful'' when visiting Halkidiki, Protopapas questioned whether this was necessary, noting that Greece was a ''free country and its citizens are aware''.

    [03] Papantoniou: birth of Euroforce a major EU presidency achievement

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The ''birth'' of the European military force was the most important achievement of the Greek EU presidency in the area of establishing a common European defense policy, Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Tuesday.

    The minister was speaking to a conference of Defense Committee chairmen of EU national Parliaments, the European Parliament and the Parliaments of candidate-states.

    Papantoniou underlined that after the successful takeover of operation 'Concordia' in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by the Euroforce, the United Nations had called on the EU to undertake a mission to provide humanitarian aid, restore security and stabilize the Congo.

    The minister described operation "Artemis" that began on Monday as "very important for the Union" because it was the first autonomous operation and promoted efforts for cooperation between the EU and the UN.

    [04] Greek dep. FM at the head of EU Troika at the ASEAN forum 17-19 June

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, on Tuesday flew to Pnom Penh, Cambodia, to head the EU Troika that will represent the Union at the two-day ASEAN Regional Forum, a Greek foreign ministry press release said.

    The ASEAN Regional Forum is a mechanism for deliberations at top government levels, drawing together 23 countries involved in the security of the Asia Pacific region. It comprises the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), the 10 ASEAN dialogue partners (Australia, Canada, China, North Korea, the United States, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia and the EU) and one ASEAN observer (Papua, New Guinea).

    [05] Greek dep. FM says EU and Caucasus republics in need of each other

    EREVAN 18/06/2003 (ANA/N. Melissova)

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, said here on Tuesday that the three Caucasus republics (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) needed the European Union for developing security, stability and prosperity, and that the Union also needed the southern Caucasus region as it constitutes an alternative route for the transfer of energy reserves to Europe.

    Erevan is the first stop of Magriotis’ three-day tour to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting here with Armenian

    Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan, Magriotis said he had outlined to the Armenian official the steps that the Greek European Union presidency had taken in support of EU convergence of the three Caucasus republics.

    The first step concerned the appointment of an EU emissary to the region with increased authority, including the settlement of regional conflicts, while the second one opened the ''door'' for future inclusion of the three countries in the group of the Union's ''New Neighbors Initiative'' namely Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus, after an EU promise, at the intervention of the Greek presidency, for a fresh look on the issue.

    ''As EU Presidency, we took these steps in spite of the negative conditions created by tensions in Iraq and the Middle East,'' the Greek deputy minister said.

    On his part, Oskanyan recognized the Greek contribution to Armenia's convergence with the Union and did not hide expectations for his country to join the bloc at some point in the future.

    Magriotis also had contacts with representatives from the Greek community in Armenia focusing on Greece's overall assistance programs to the area.

    The deputy minister's next stop is Georgia where he is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili.

    [06] Tehran assures Greek EU presidency its nuclear program is for power production

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek European Union presidency on Tuesday received assurances from Iranian President Mohammed Khatami that his country does not have or intend to build any nuclear weapons, a Greek presidency spokesman said.

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Khatami told Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis over the phone that Iran was only interested in electrical power production. Simitis heads the EU presidency until the end of June.

    According to Protopapas, the Greek prime minister underlined to the Iranian president that Tehran should maintain transparency in its policy, cooperate with the United Nations and sign the additional protocol to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

    [07] Greek Presidency, Commission working on improving CAP reform compromise

    BRUSSELS 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union’s Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers Council resumed here on Tuesday a session adjourned late last Thursday, to work on a compromise text on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform presented by the Greek EU Presidency and supported by the European Commission.

    Presiding over the Council, Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys summarized the key points in last week’s discussions and told participating ministers that hard work had been done since then by both the Commission and the Greek Presidency to improve the compromise text on CAP reform.

    “We are very close to concluding this new, improved compromise proposal to meet the wishes on member-states and safeguard the prospects and the vision of European farming,” Drys underlined.

    He noted however that a major problem in preparing the proposal was that even though all member-states agreed on the governing principles of the compromise solution, there were deferring views as to the means to achieve the compromise.

    “Because of that, we would need to be creative and explore alternatives and flexible approaches. Seeking alternatives in by itself a tough job and would be impossible to carry out without your creative participation,” Drys said.

    He added that together with EU Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler, he would probable need to hold private meetings with farming ministers from EU member-states in the coming hours.

    [08] Greek EU Presidency - Meeting on ROM inclusion in labor market

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The inclusion of Rom people in the labor market has been the central topic in an Athens international meeting organized by the Greek EU Presidency and the Council of Europe on Tuesday.

    The session examined measures taken so far and programs in the planning stage to study, promote and shape an approach to the cultural heritage of Rom people, as well as the possibilities for their participation in the social structure and their cooperation modes with the rest of the population in the context of a pluralist community.

    The European Union’s future that is now being built, should include everyone – says the ROM Network, an organization representing all Rom people in Greece, approximately 150,000 persons.

    The EU, since the mid 1970s, has been making efforts to avert marginalization of the specific group through a number of cultural, training, labor and health programs.

    According to data presented during the meeting, the Rom community in Europe numbers ten million people, of which eight million live in Central and Eastern Europe, 600,000 in Spain and 150,000 in Greece.

    One of the main problems that Europe should address in its relation with Rom people is the many different communities-groups existing in the overall Rom group, which also have different cultures, dialects, vocational directions and education levels.

    The EU, as well as Greece, are directing efforts to offer vocational training to Rom people to minimize the gap as to the group’s ‘difference’, that actually consolidates the margin within they live.

    By promoting the setting up of relevant Information Centers for Rom people, the EU envisages to create a network of offices whose task would be to help young people in their professional orientation, health schemes and information of jobless by official agency of the member-states.

    Speakers stressed that it is now time that Rom people be included in the society without threatening their culture and special characteristics, as most EU member-states have in place cultural programs promoting the rescue of minority civilizations.

    [09] International Democratic Union's Executive Committee begins session in Halkidiki

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The International Democratic Union's Executive Committee began its session in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Tuesday in light of the European Peoples' Party's (EPP) enlarged summit due to take place on Thursday.

    Decisions on issues of an organisatory nature, concerning centre-right parties which are members of the Union, as well as issues regarding the coordination of election campaigns were taken during the session.

    It will end at noon on Wednesday, while in the afternoon party leaders will attend an event jointly organized by the main opposition New Democracy party and the EPP on the future of Europe which, among others, will be addressed by ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

    ND is focusing its attention on the European Union's summit and the new European constitution to be presented by Valery Giscard d' Estaing. What is of primary importance for ND is the safeguarding of the country's borders from an act of aggression (either of a military or terrorist nature) from a country not being a member of the EU.

    [10] Majority of EU citizens want independent foreign policy from that of U.S.

    BRUSSELS 18/06/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)

    A total of 77 percent of European Union citizens, 89 percent in Greece, believe that the EU's foreign policy should be independent from the foreign policy of the United States, according to information collected by the ''Eurobarometer'' service and publicized by the European Commission on Tuesday.

    In addition, 64 percent of EU citizens believe the EU must have its own foreign minister. The most enthusiastic supporters of this idea are Italy (81 percent), Luxemburg (79) and Greece (77), while Denmark (40) is the less enthusiastic.

    Moreover, seven out of 10 Europeans said the EU must have its own seat at the UN Security Council, a rapid reaction force and common policies in the immigration and asylum sectors.

    A further 83 percent of EU citizens (86 percent in Greece) hope that member-states will observe a common stance in cases of international crises in the future.

    European citizens also continue to prefer the taking of decisions concerning Europe's defense policy to take place in the framework of the EU (49 percent) and not by each national government (21) or by the NATO alliance (14).

    The corresponding percentages for Greece are 67 percent in favor of decisions being taken in the framework of the EU, 24 by each member-state and 1 by NATO.

    The report also provides information according to which the image of the United States has faded in the eyes of European citizens, compared to last autumn, regarding its role in combatting terrorism and poverty, environmental protection, the development of the world's economy and the pursuit of world peace.

    More specifically, the percentage of EU citizens having a positive opinion of the role of the U.S. regarding the struggle against terrorism decreased by nine percentage points (45 percent from 54 last autumn).

    On the remaining issues, the majority of European citizens have a negative opinion concerning the role of the U.S. and, in particular, 59 percent (+2) concerning the issue of environmental protection, 58 (+12) concerning the pursuit of world peace, 52 (+3) concerning the combatting of poverty and 37 (+3) concerning the development of the world's economy.

    The corresponding percentages in Greece are very high. A negative view of the role of the U.S. in combatting terrorism and poverty is had by 80 and 86 percent of Greeks respectively.

    The majority of Greeks also have a negative view of the role of the U.S. in connection with the pursuit of world peace (91 percent), environmental protection (85) and the development of the world's economy (79).

    [11] Parliament speaker on future role of EU on world scene

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    In an address highly critical of the role of 'global policeman' that the United States had adopted for itself, Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday stressed that the European Union would have to forge its own autonomous role in the international environment in order to realize the joint European vision and for this it would need an independent foreign and defense policy.

    Kaklamanis was speaking to a meeting of Defense Committee chairmen of EU national Parliaments, the European Parliament and the Parliaments of EU candidate-countries taking place in Athens.

    He also referred to a recent spate of "unacceptable" provocations by Turkey, namely a series of incursions into Greek airspace and the Greek Flight Information Region (FIR) by Turkish planes, saying that these directly concerned the EU since they were being carried out by a country that was knocking on Europe's door, while at the same time trying to force its way in.

    [12] Greek SYN party leader vows support for demonstrations at upcoming EU summit

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek Coalition of Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) on Tuesday said it fully supported the rallies to be staged by the Greek Social Forum during the upcoming European Union Summit from 19 to 21 June, in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

    SYN leader Nikos Constantopoulos told a press conference in Athens that EU summits present ''an opportunity to European citizens to make their presence known and to exert pressure through peaceful demonstrations toward a different EU course''.

    Constantopoulos expressed the wish and hope that demonstrations in Thessaloniki will be peaceful and will constitute one more stage in the development of activist movements.

    Preparations near completion to host demonstrators at EU summit: The first demonstrators from Greece and abroad are due to arrive in Thessaloniki on Wednesday ahead of the EU summit.

    Plans have been arranged for the demonstrators to be hosted at campsites in this northern prefecture.

    The main bulk of the demonstrators are expected to arrive in Thessaloniki on Thursday to take part in an anti-racist rally which will be held in the city on the same day, as well as in the major demonstrations scheduled on Friday and Saturday.

    The police security measures have been intensified both in Thessaloniki and en route towards Sidona, where the EU summit of the leaders of the ''25'' will take place.

    The increased but discreet presence of the police is apparent in all the areas of the city but more so on the route towards the ''Porto Karras'' hotel.

    Police sources say the measures aim at the sessions of the EU summit being held in an environment of absolute security, at the safeguarding of the right of citizens to demonstrate but also to avert, as much as possible, the disruption of the daily lives of citizens in these areas.

    [13] Gov't: Parliament debate about bourse won't be broadcast

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The government on Tuesday said a Parliamentary debate about the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), currently in the third year of a slump, will not be broadcast on state-run television.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas cited the recent live broadcast of a debate about the Greek economy, which also included deputies' references to the bourse and its decline over the last three years, as the reason.

    Speaking during his regular press briefing here, Protopapas also said that although main opposition New Democracy (ND) party has repeatedly tabled a number of Parliament questions about the ASE, it (ND) has not requested a Parliamentary committee of inquiry about the matter.

    [14] German FM to lay wreath to Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer will lay a wreath to the Holocaust Memorial of the Thessaloniki Jewish community in light of his visit in the northern Greek city for the European Union Summit.

    According to sources he will be honored by the Jewish community with the title of honorary member.

    [15] Top prosecutor pushes for further probes into Kokkalis, bourse cases

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    A high-ranking appellate-level prosecutor has recommended that a council of appellate justices consider reopening an investigation into several eyebrow-raising allegations, including espionage, against well-known Greek IT magnate Socrates Kokkalis.

    The decision comes after a lower ranking investigating magistrate assigned the Kokkalis probe recommended in late March that the case be shelved.

    However, top prosecutor Petros Verios on Tuesday said the Kokkalis case was “particularly grave” in nature, while also qualifying for further investigation by a special prosecutor. The first investigation, which was subsequently shelved, was handed to first instance magistrate Konstantina Bourboulia, whose judgment effectively marked the end of the initial probe against Intracom group chairman Kokkalis.

    Even more interestingly, Verios also recommended that Kokkalis’ foreign bank accounts should be checked against Bourboulia's opened accounts.

    The same magistrate, Bourboulia, was assigned another highly controversial investigation -- one involving 23 so-called “bubble” shares on the Athens Stock Exchange -- where Verios con-tends that the former withheld information that would have disqualified her from the case (a personal relationship with an individual involved with one of the companies under investigation).

    Both matters, the bourse “bubbles” and the Kokkalis cases, will be reportedly discussed by the justices’ plenum on June 26, with the body expected to issue a decision on whether another investigation – this time by appellate-level magistrates – is necessary.

    Bourboulia had cited what she called “insufficient evidence” to support the charges of espionage and fraud made against telecoms tycoon Kokkalis. Her recommendation was passed on to the appellate prosecutor's office, resulting in Tuesday’s decision by Verios.

    The espionage charges were filed against Kokkalis in 2002 after an 11-month judicial investigation spurred, mostly, by allegations from main opposition New Democracy deputy Panos Kammenos, who claimed that Kokkalis had supplied information to the former East German intelligence agency, the notorious “Stasi”.

    [16] Athens, Tel Aviv, Cyprus present joint stock market index

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    A new triparty stock market index FTSES-Mediterranean 100, including stocks from the Athens, Tel Aviv and Cyprus Stock Exchanges, will officially begin trading on Thursday, 19 June, Panagiotis Alexakis, ASE's chairman said on Tuesday.

    The new index will include stocks listed in the three bourses, of which 60 will be Greek, 35 Israeli and five Cypriot.

    Selection of the stocks was based on liquidity, volume and market capitalization and the index will be based on 5,000 points.

    Mr Alexakis said that the index would be reviewed every six months and noted that the index would not include shares from the holding and investment sectors.

    Under the plan the index will expand further to include shares from other east Mediterranean stock markets.

    [17] Greek tourism continues promotion campaign in US market

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's National Tourism Organization on Tuesday said it has began a second phase of its promotion campaign in the US market from June 1, based on the theme of the box office hit "My Greek Fat Wedding".

    GNTO said it had completed a very successful cooperation with Conde Nast Bridal Group, a US publishing company and announced that its new promotion phase included exhibitions, announcements, publications and galas in brides' shops in Madison Avenue in New York.

    The new promotion campaign will be completed in October 1, 2003.

    GNTO said that Bride's next issues would include editorials for the tourist promotion of Greece.

    [18] Greek stocks jump to new year highs on Tuesday

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks jumped to new year highs on Tuesday in the Athens Stock Exchange with market sentiment improved following a positive trend in other European bourses.

    The general index soared 2.32 percent to end at 1,954.96 points, with turnover a heavy 214.15 million euros.

    The Cement index was the only one to end lower (off 0.12 percent), while the Retail, Publication, Bank, IT and Wholesale indexes scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (5.35 percent, 5.28 percent, 4.17 percent, 4.0 percent and 3.77 percent, respectively).

    Emporiki Bank (up 7.13 percent), National Bank (+4.79 percent), EFG Eurobank (+4.49 percent), Attica Bank (+3.94 percent), Piraeus Bank (up 3.43 percent) and Alpha Bank (+3.0 percent), were lead gainers.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks jumped 2.65 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 2.68 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 3.08 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 2.70 percent up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 294 to 49 with another 19 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 115.0 mln euros Tuesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): Mixed

  • Underlying Index: +2.65 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): Mixed

  • Underlying Index: +2.68 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (301)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 115.0 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 3.70 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 9 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 3.1 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring Jan 2013 (545 mln euros)

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of June 17 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,189 1,162

    [19] Justice ministry unveils computerized system for 2004 accreditations

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greece’s justice ministry unveiled a new computerized records system this week that will be employed in the process for issuing accreditations for next year’s Olympics Games in Athens.

    The new on-line computer system will be used to check criminal backgrounds of individuals requesting accreditation for the 2004 Olympic Games, the ministry’s leadership said in Athens.

    Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said accreditation requests will be forwarded by the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee’s (ATHOC) security directorate to the ministry’s criminal records division, which in turn will process between 70 to 75 percent of the applications.

    Petsalnikos promised that the independent justice ministry division will send (via the computerized system) replies regarding individuals’ accreditation applications to ATHOC within three days. He also said safeguards of individuals’ personal data, as dictated by Greek and EU law, will be ensured throughout the entire process.

    [20] Defense witnesses for Georgiadis, Xiros brothers testify in N17 trial

    Athens, 18/06/2003 (ANA)

    The ongoing trial of 19 suspected members of the terrorist group November 17 resumed on Tuesday morning after the long weekend with the testimony of defense witnesses for the defendant Dimitris Georgiadis and the three Xiros brothers facing charges.

    Among them were Georgiadis' work associates and a musician named Giorgos Keratsopoulos, who played with Georgiadis in a band.

    According to Keratsopoulos, at the time that Georgiadis was alleged to have been close friends with fellow-defendant Vassilis Xiros, he had been working throughout the day until late in the evening and then going to rehearsals for the band at night.

    Georgiadis himself denied seeing weapons and an N17 proclamation within the Damareos Street safehouse, as asserted by his previous defense lawyer.

    The defendant said he had seen nothing within the apartment except some furniture and that the claims were a defense ploy by the lawyer, who has since retired from the case, and were made without his consent.

    The court also heard testimony from Georgiadis' parents, who said the charges did not fit their son's character and asserted that he had been pressured into making his confession by the anti-terrorism squad.

    The court then moved on to defense witnesses for Savvas Xiros and his brothers Christodoulos and Vassilis.

    Sociologist Epaminondas Skyftoulis described Savvas Xiros as a ''fighter...with humanistic ideas that sacrificed himself for others,'' and claimed that most of the accused were innocent.

    The presence of Angeliki Sotiropoulou in the prisoners' dock was ''proof of the vengefulness of the State,'' he added.

    Taxi-driver Gerassimos Servos, who said he had known both Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros, claimed the two brothers were so unlike as to make it inconceivable that they should join the same organization.

    He said Christodoulos Xiros had been politically active, with open and mass activity, in parties of the Left outside Parliament.

    Savvas Xiros, on the other hand, seemed only marginally involved in organized political activity and the witness claimed to have felt no surprise when he learned about the bomb explosion that led to Savvas' capture.

    Finally, pensioner Nikitas Maragos testified before the court on behalf of Dimitris Koufodinas.

    The witness said he had no personal acquaintance with the accused but had been asked to testify as someone who had been unfairly given the death penalty by a court martial that was later overturned.

    He stressed to the panel of judges that if he had been executed prior to the passage of a law allowing court martial reviews, the people that had condemned him would have been murderers.

    [21] FM Iacovou says reference on Cyprus at Thessaloniki will be satisfactory

    LARNACA 18/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou said on Tuesday he anticipates a paragraph on Cyprus in the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council to be satisfactory.

    Iacovou also said, ''the international community agrees that there has been a violation of the status quo ante at Strovilia (village) and everyone condemns it,'' including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. He also said the international community believes that the UN peace talks will resume in September.

    The foreign minister was speaking during his return from Luxembourg where he took part in the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting there. Before Luxembourg, Iacovou paid a weeklong visit to the US where he met, among others, Vice President Dick Cheney, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

    Referring to the European Council of Thessaloniki, which begins on Thursday, Iacovou said a paragraph on Cyprus is included in the conclusions, which he anticipates would be satisfactory.

    Asked if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's reply is expected for the negotiations to resume, Iacovou said there should be two sides in order to negotiate adding however ''that the impression is that Turkey, as an EU candidate country, cannot remain impassive in view of the repercussions such policy will have on its own EU prospects.''

    Asked what should be anticipated from the European Council in Thessaloniki, Iacovou expressed the conviction that ''the paper approved by the ministers on Cyprus'' for this council ''will be satisfactory.''

    On his US trip, Iacovou said he was very satisfied since all the goals he has set, including informing officials on the positions of the government on the Cyprus problem and to show that the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side are responsible for the collapse of the talks in The Hague, have been fulfilled.

    UN Security Council resolution 1486, approved last week, expressed concern at the recent, further violations by the Turkish Cypriot side and the Turkish forces at the southeastern village Strovilia and urged them to restore the military status quo which existed there prior to June 30, 2000.

    [22] Cyprus and EU wish for political solution before May 1, 2004

    NICOSIA 18/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Union and the Cyprus Republic have expressed willingness to work for a settlement of the island's political problem before May 1, 2004.

    Speaking after a meeting here on Tuesday with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen stressed that ''the door is still open'' for the Turkish Cypriots, adding that it is up to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Ankara to seize the opportunity to solve the Cyprus problem before May 1, 2004, when Cyprus will officially enter the EU.

    President Papadopoulos said that during his ''interesting, useful and friendly meeting'' with Commissioner Verheugen he assured him that his government will make every effort to find a Cyprus settlement before May 1, 2004.

    Referring to the meeting with Papadopoulos, Verheugen said he was pleased that ''we are in full agreement as far as the political situation of the island is concerned,'' noting that ''President Papadopoulos made it very clear that his commitment is clear that Cyprus wants a solution and he is prepared to discuss the Kofi Annan plan and to find and solution build on that.''

    He added that today's message for the Turkish Cypriots is that ''the door is still open. And both sides, the EU and the Republic of Cyprus, would to everything to make it possible that the door is used.''

    ''It is now a decision by Mr. Denktash and his people, and his friends in Ankara to use the window of opportunity before May 1, 2004,'' he said.

    The EU commissioner added he was very sad that the opportunity was missed and the Turkish Cypriots are now the victims ''because if they can not find a political solution here, there is no way to enjoy the benefits of membership in the European Union and that will certainly not improve the conditions of life in the northern part of Cyprus.''

    President Papadopoulos said ''We agreed that we prefer a united Cyprus to accede to the EU. And as we are concerned we want to stress to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots that the door is open. We will do everything possible to find a solution before May 1, 2004.''

    He added during the meeting he had the opportunity to express the appreciation of the Cyprus people to Verheugen ''for his right positions on the Cyprus problem all these years.''

    ''It is not an exaggeration to say that he is one of the important factors that led to the successful completion of the accession negotiations of Cyprus with the EU,'' Papadopoulos said.

    Answering to questions concerning the package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots announced by the Cyprus government taking into consideration the negative stance by the Denktash regime, Papadopoulos said that ''they are implemented smoothly and effectively.''

    Verheugen, who is on his first visit to Cyprus after the signature of the Accession Treaty, expressed his gratitude to Cyprus President, government, parliament and people for the close cooperation over the last years that led to the achievement of ''a dramatic change.''

    ''Who would have believed some years ago that we would be here and could tell you that whatever happens Cyprus will be a full member of the EU the 1st May 2004? It is really a historical achievement and it was due to the strong efforts which the people of Cyprus made as well as the strong preparation and implementation,'' Verheugen said.

    After his meeting with President Papadopoulos, Verheugen visited House President Demetris Christofias. The meeting was followed by a meeting with Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU Takis Hadjidemetriou.

    [23] Weston says Denktash has hardened his position on UN peace plan

    NICOSIA 18/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston said on Tuesday Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's attitude against the Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem has hardened.

    However, Weston said he has made some progress during his tour, noting he has made very clear the US commitment for a Cyprus settlement based on the Annan Plan.

    Speaking at a press conference Weston said he reiterated the ''longstanding position of the US that they foster a settlement in Cyprus based on the Annan Plan,'' before the island becomes a full member of the EU in May 2004.

    He said there ''is no change in the US commitment in fostering a last and durable settlement on Cyprus.''

    Weston said he comes away from his meetings in Europe (Brussels, Rome and Athens) with the view that ''I think I made some progress.''

    Asked if he exerted more pressure on the Turkish Cypriot side, Weston said ''it is clear that from the Security Council resolutions and the view of the international community is, and the US view too, that the attitude of the Turkish side and in particular in The Hague, was largely to a point responsible'' for not putting the settlement to referenda.

    Asked if Denktash's position has changed, Weston said he had a very extensive discussion with the Turkish Cypriot leader, noting he cannot report a change of Denktash's positions on the Annan Plan.

    He said Denktash has become ''publicly much more critical of the Annan plan than he has been in the past and I think he may also be taking a much harder position than I have seen him take in the past about measures designed to improve the situation with Turkish Cypriots put forward by either the Greek Cypriot government of Cyprus or the EU.''

    Weston said there is a ''bit of a change,'' describing it however not positive, but ''a hardening of the position for the worse.''

    Asked what progress was achieved since he has talked about hardening of Denktash's stance, Weston replied, ''to make very clear what the position of the US is in finding a comprehensive settlement.''

    ''It is the opinion of the United States that negotiations should be taking place right now because we believe it's very important to have a settlement no later than May 2004,'' Weston added.

    He noted ''there is no other realistic path through to a settlement than the third Annan Plan.''

    On his meeting with President Tassos Papadopoulos, Weston said, ''the Greek Cypriot leader is very anxious to return to negotiations on the basis of the Annan Plan.''

    Asked if there is a new US initiative, Weston said he has heard the press reports about this, but explained that there is no US initiative in the sense that an alternative plan to that of the Annan Plan is being promoted.

    However, he said a ''US initiative is underway in the sense of a continuation and reinvigoration (of the US commitment) to make progress towards a settlement based on the Annan Plan.''

    Weston said the only way ahead is to encourage a more forthcoming attitude on the part of the Turkish government.

    Referring to the Annan Plan, he said it was built on the ''many years of efforts by the UN in trying to find a way forward to bridge the incredibly wide gap on the core issues of a settlement.''

    ''We believe that the Annan Plan includes the necessary compromises to reach a settlement'' on Cyprus, said Weston, noting it is ''very hard to imagine a different plan that would contain fundamental differences from the Annan Plan.'' Such a plan, he said, would surely look a lot like the Annan Plan.

    He further said that the Annan Plan is not inconsistent with either the Convention on the Future of Europe, or the European Convention on Human Rights or the United Nations Convention of Human Rights.

    Weston described the crossings of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots over the divide without any incidents as ''spectacular and unprecedented.''

    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.

    Cypriots started crossing the divide after the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime eased restrictions on free movement which it had imposed nearly thirty years ago, when Turkish troops invaded Cyprus.

    [24] Russia to continue efforts for a timely settlement in Cyprus

    NICOSIA 18/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Russia will make every effort to secure a prompt resolution of the Cyprus problem, pledged the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    In a statement on resolution 1486 on the renewal of UNFICYP, the Russian Foreign Ministry said with the increase of the UNFICYP civilian police component to meet the increased workload resulting from the partial easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement, "the peacekeeping Force continues to play a serious, stabilizing role in Cyprus."

    "Russia, which consistently expresses support for a prompt resolution of the Cyprus problem, will continue to make efforts in achieving this goal," the statement said adding that it will help towards the renewal of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General, bearing in mind the well known plan for a solution to the problem."


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