|Monday, 24 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 20, 2003
 EU moving towards common immigration policy, Simitis says at Thessaloniki summit
THESSALONIKI 20/06/2003 (ANA)Europe is apparently moving towards a common policy vis-a-vis immigration, both legal and illegal, Greek Prime Minister and European Union president-in-office Costas Simitis said here on Thursday following an official dinner with European leaders during the first day of the Thessaloniki EU summit.
European leaders of both EU Member-States and Acceding-States arrived at the luxury seaside resort of Porto Carras -- 80 kilometres south-east of the northern port city of Thessaloniki -- amid menacing thunderstorms only hours earlier, bypassing anti-globalization protesters in the process.
Besides the tricky issue of illegal migration to the continent, an unambiguous concern for outlying Greece, Simitis said the situation in post-war Iraq as well as the Middle East peace process 'Road Map' were discussed during the late evening dinner.
The Greek premier said European leaders favored a Union-wide 'visa information system' to harmonize policies throughout the EU, and to ''develop common structures for the better protection of Europe's external borders'', as he said.
Speaking after Simitis at the near midnight (local time) press conference, European Commission President Romano Prodi said the Union was ''putting its money where its mouth is'' in terms of immigration policy, namely, to the tune of 140 million euros between 2004-2004.
Simitis also noted that EU leaders accepted a proposal to evaluate third countries' ''behavior'' in re-admitting migrants.
''We are coming up with an immigration policy that deals with illegal and legal immigration, all of the EU countries must have the same policies on these issues,'' the Greek PM said, a reference to a unified policy for asylum as well.
In terms of Iraq, Prodi stressed that the European Union will participate in a UN pre-conference next week regarding the reconstruction of Iraq, saying the Union hopes to coordinate the efforts of ''all'' Member-States for Iraq's reconstruction.
Prodi said the short-term goal was to ''only support the UN role'', while the midterm goal was to make proposals, ''but always in coordination and in agreement with UN.''
As far as the Mideast situation is concerned, he said pressure was now needed for the new Palestinian government and the Hamas group to agree to cease fire, ''so that the Road Map is allowed to proceed. Pressure is also needed on Israeli side, so it implements what is mentioned in the Road Map, and so it cooperates with the Palestinian side.''
Asked about the Union's nascent foreign policy maneuvering, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said the EU has always been in favor of supporting democracy and human rights, although this ''should not be equated with regime change, which is a dubious concept,'' he said, asking the question of ''what do you consider regime change and how do you implement it?''
Finally, in response to a press questions, Simitis said there is no question of a selection over the new European Central Bank governor being decided on Saturday, pointing instead to an EU summit in October, and that farm policy would not be discussed at the Thessaloniki Summit.
Although the discordant Iraq war sapped some of the Greek EU presidency's mid-term vigor, Athens nevertheless presided over the Union during a period when one of its primary and standing foreign policy goals 'Cyprus' Union accession' was finally achieved two months ago. Another eight eastern and central European countries, along with the Mediterranean island republics of Malta and Cyprus, signed Accession Treaties in Athens -- the undisputed high point of the Greek presidency thus far.
Greece has deployed thousands of police in the verdant prefecture to the east of Thessaloniki to prevent protesters, local and foreign, from disrupting the Summit. Helicopter transfers of leaders from Thessaloniki's ''Macedonia Airport'' to Porto Carras, in fact, were stopped due to thunderstorms for about an hour in the afternoon, leading to a delay in sessions.
On the table during Friday's sessions is the much-vaunted draft EU constitution crafted under the watchful eye of French statesman Valery Giscard d'Estaing -- which Papandreou earlier called ''a historic step forward for Europe'' a view Simitis repeated at the press conference.
 Cox says Cyprus question special challenge for Europe
THESSALONIKI 20/06/2003 (ANA)European Parliament President Pat Cox said on Thursday night that the Cyprus question is a special challenge for Europe, both politically and geographically.
Speaking at a press conference after meeting the members of the European Council in Porto Carras, where the EU summit began on Thursday evening, Cox said Europe must ''raise its game'' and give an extra spur to reaching a settlement in the coming months. ''We note and welcome signs of renewed diplomatic activity by the United States on the Cyprus question but Cyprus, politically and geographically, is a special challenge for us, as Europeans, involving in the front line a member state, an acceding state, and a state with a vocation to join the EU'', he said.
Cox noted that ''Europe must raise its game and give an extra spur to reaching a settlement in the coming months''.
He added that ''external help and support is welcomed but it cannot be a substitute for European leadership''.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The Republic signed its Accession Treaty to the EU on April 16, 2003, and is participating in EU meetings as an observer until its full accession on May 1, 2004.
Regarding the draft treaty for the institutionalization of the Constitution of Europe, Cox described it as completely clear and balanced, stressing that ''this balanced result must not be rejected.''
Referring to the critics of the draft, he charged that they were attempting to undermine the broad understanding achieved.
He also referred to Turkey's European prospects, recognizing that Greece's neighboring country has made major steps of progress in the course of harmonizing itself with the acquis communautaire, observing however that it still had a long road ahead.
 Draft Constitution good basis for start of Intergovernmental Conference talks
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)The European Union's draft Constitution, which Convention for the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard d'Estaing will submit to the European leaders at the EU summit in Halkidiki on Friday, is considered ''a good basis of negotiations for the start of the negotiations of the Intergovernmental Conference.''
The EU summit draft resolution, according to information made known to the Athens News Agency, stresses that the European Council calls on the Italian presidency to start the relevant procedures in order for the Intergovernmental Conference to start in October and be completed ''as soon as possible and before the Euroelections of June 2004,'' with the participation on an equal footing of the new EU countries.
The draft resolution also states that the new constitutional treaty should be signed by all the member states as soon as possible after May 1, 2004.
Regarding the sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference, it is clarified that the member countries will participate on a level of heads of state and government, accompanied by the members of the General Affairs Council and the Foreign Relations Council, while a representative of the European Commission will also take part.
 Papandreou on EU Constitution, Turkey, Cyprus, immigration and EU-US ties
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Just hours before the opening of the European Union Thessaloniki Council on Thursday, Foreign Minister and EU General Affairs Council president-in-office George Papandreou said he believed that European leaders would welcome the draft European Union Constitution as “a good basis for discussion and negotiation” at the Intergovernmental Conference to follow the EU Council.
Papandreou said that the draft Constitution is the result of laborious and complicated work, which should be taken into account by the Intergovernmental Conference, stressing that irrespective of conclusions to be made by the Conference, the EU Council is expected to underline the importance of the democratic participation in the preparation process by all EU member-states, national parliaments, the European Parliament and deliberations held with social representatives.
The draft EU Constitution would change Europe, and Greece would defend its national interests at the Intergovernmental Conference, Papandreou added.
In reply to a question, the Greek foreign minister said the EU welcomed the package of reforms promoted by Turkey to comply with European standards. However, he underlined that reforms should also promptly be implemented in the daily life of Turkish citizens.
Papandreou further noted that there were now certain favorable conditions to facilitate settlement of the long-standing Cyprus problem, which Turkey should utilize and constructively contribute to lifting the current deadlock.
With regard to the first issue to be looked into by European leaders participating in the EU Council – asylum, immigration and illegal immigration – Papandreou said the Greek Presidency achieved to expand debate beyond the external borders aspect to the productive utilization of immigration flows and migrant inclusion into European communities.
Referring to the funding for Europe’s immigration policy, the foreign minister said discussions would be held on the basis on European Commission proposals, with the Greek Presidency seeking an increase in funding, in spite of objections by some member-states.
EU – US: At the debate to be held during a working luncheon on Friday, Papandreou is to make a recommendation stressing the need for common action by the EU and US in dealing with threats emanating from proliferation of mass destruction weapons, terrorism, poverty and diseases.
He said that Europe favored a multilateral approach to such crises, recognizing the need for this direction to become more effective.
Meanwhile, according to sources, in a delivery to the EU Council, Papandreou would propose the setting up of a committee, to comprise EU and US’s most active and capable officials, to jointly examine the need for further tightening of relations between the two.
 EPP meeting opens in Halkidiki
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)The Group of the European People's Party (EPP) conference opened Thursday in Halkidiki, northern Greece, with discussions in the EPP presidium, while the European Union's 10 centre-right prime ministers were due to arrive later in the day to discuss the European Convention's draft Constitutional Treaty for Europe ahead of its discussion at the EU summit on Friday.
Current EU president Greece's main opposition New Democracy party (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, whose party belongs to the EPP grouping of the European parliament and who is hosting the conference, in a joint statement with PPE chairman Wilfried Martens, stressed that the completion of the work by the European Convention on the Future of Europe was a very important event, adding that a very good job had been done.
Karamanlis told reporters, however, that he maintained certain reservations, adding that there were still outstanding issues while there was also concern over the EU's will to move with more decisive steps in the direction of deeper and more substantive unification.
He added that most of the proposals made by the EPP to the European Convention had been incorporated in the draft text of the Constitution for Europe submitted by the Convention to the Thessaloniki/Halkidiki summit.
Karamanlis called for further strengthening of the European Commission and European parliament, stressing that every EU member state must have its own Commissioner on the Commission and at the same time endorsing the abolition of the rotating EU presidency and the introduction, instead, of the post of European Council president.
The ND leader further insisted on the need for reinforced cooperation on defense policy, stressing that the ability should be provided in the future for all member states that desired so to join.
He also said that his party aimed at the adoption of a solidarity clause for assistance, even with military means, with member states in the event of attack, be it a terrorist attack or a military attack.
Noting that the EPP was the majority group in both the European Council and European Parliament, Karamanlis further said that he would call on the EPP prime ministers to support the Greek EU presidency for a successful outcome of Friday's summit, as ND believed that a good outcome of the presidency was a national cause.
Martens, in turn, said that the EPP had achieved consensus on the important issues the new Europe of the 25 would have to face, stressing that he agreed with Karamanlis' position and endorsed a "Europe for all".
"We believe that no member state should be left behind the future processes regarding the future of our continent," the EPP chairman said, adding that "our belief is that no member state should emerge from the Inter-Governmental Conference with a feeling that its fundamental concerns have not been confronted".
Martens urged that the EU should proceed with more rapid steps in confronting the needs and expectations of all the citizens of Europe, adding that the discussion among the EPP leaders on the first draft of the new Constitutional Treaty had yet to be completed.
On the Balkans states, Martens said that the "Balkan void" in the EU's enlargement needed to be gradually filled in and the countries of the region incorporated in the Union, beginning with Bulgaria and Romania. He added that the EPP had high expectations in that direction from Friday's summit.
On the external borders of the EU, Martens insisted on the creation of a European partnership with the neighboring countries which, for the time being, were unable to become EU members.
EPP adopts resolution on W. Balkans' European prospects: The European Peoples' Party (EPP) concluded its enlarged summit on Thursday with the participation of nine prime ministers and about 50 party leaders from around Europe, at a resort near the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki.
French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was the only one absent from the meeting.
EPP, at the conclusion of the summit, issued a resolution concerning the Western Balkans, adopting the proposal tabled by host New Democracy, Greece's main opposition party.
The resolution placed ''special emphasis on cooperation which will be based on good neighborliness, the non inviolability of borders, the peaceful resolution of differences and the respect for democratic principles and the rule of law''.
It is also stressed that war is unthinkable as well as the use of violence among these countries or with their neighbors, while contribution to regional stability and the European relations of good neighborliness constitute a basic precondition for all EU candidate member states.
According to ND leader Costas Karamanlis' associates this precondition makes the accession criteria more austere for Turkey's European prospects as well and secures better Greece's national interests.
The summit also decided to hold a special conference in Macedonia in the Fall to examine the European course of the Balkan countries.
On his part, EPP President Wilfried Martens said that the result of the summit was very positive and the center-right parties called for the speedy conclusion of the negotiations on the European constitution and in any event by December 2003.
Martens also stressed that the center-right parties are satisfied, since most of their proposals from the Estoril congress were adopted by the constitutional assembly.
EPP, Martens said, agreed with the institution of a presidential post for the European Council, adding, however, that Karamanlis and the prime ministers of Luxembourg, Portugal and the Austrian chancellor were of a different opinion.
The Spanish and Italian premiers did not take a stand during the summit.
Karamanlis underlined that he maintains his skepticism, adding that ND considers the issue open for negotiations during the intergovernmental conference. Also speaking of the provision for mutual military assistance, he noted that the text of the resolution included a limited mention, but ND insisted that ''solidarity'' should be included, a solidarity via increased cooperation in the defense sector in the event of military attack.
 Protest groups limber up for Thessaloniki 'Counter Summit'
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)With the EU summit in Halkidiki just hours away, protestors representing dozens of groups and organizations around the world began gathering in the nearby port city of Thessaloniki on Thursday to participate in the series of street demonstrations and events dubbed the 'Counter Summit'.
This will kick off on Thursday afternoon with the first demonstration organized by the Greek Communist Party-affiliated trade union faction PAME at 16:30, followed by a rally against racism organized by the Greek Social Forum and other movements at the ancient agora at 19:00.
The events are mainly organized by the organizations 'Action: Thessaloniki 2003', the Greek Social Forum, 'Resistance: Thessaloniki 2003' and 'Anti-authoritarian Movement - Salonika 2003'.
Hundreds of trade unionists, activists and members of political parties and movements from all corners of the globe were pouring into the city, with more expected later in the day.
About 500 protestors representing anti-capitalist, social and trade union organizations are staying at the camping site in Epanomi to take part in events organized by 'Resistance-Thessaloniki 2003'.
The city's traffic police are taking special measures, such as diversions and closing roads from 17:00 on Thursday until the EU summit ends on Saturday and have asked to the public to avoid using these roads or parking there.
Meanwhile, Macedonia Thrace Minister George Paschalidis appealed to protestors to show a responsible attitude and respect the city, noting that the Macedonia-Thrace ministry had supported the demonstrations and 'Counter Summit' events through a program called 'Hospitality and Respect'.
''I believe Thessaloniki and Halkidiki have an important opportunity to become linked with both important decisions that concern European issues - especially the new Constitution - but also with the conclusions of a polymorphic dialogue, the summit of citizens, which I believe could reveal new elements in how we can organize a world that is fairer, more human and peaceful,'' he said.
Paschalidis was speaking during a visit to the Press Centre set up at pavilion 13 in the Thessaloniki International Fair facilities specifically for coverage of the summit in Porto Carras, Halkidiki and events in Thessaloniki.
Greek trade unionists pledge to keep 'Counter Summit' peaceful: Greek trade union organizations on Thursday pledged to protect the Thessaloniki and ensure that the protests and demonstrations held during the 'Counter Summit' in the city remained peaceful, preventing any 'excesses' on the parts of demonstrators.
At a joint press conference, representatives of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, and the Thessaloniki Labor Centre said the concern shown by the city's residents, particularly shop owners, was unjustified and belied the image of a hospitable city that welcomed the protestors.
 Int'l meeting of communist, labor parties opens in Athens
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Thursday urged communist and labor parties to hold a more detailed discussion on the problems that arose after 9/11 and on finding common ground for the development of the anti-war, anti-imperialism, and anti-globalization movements.
She was speaking at the opening an international conference of communist and labor parties taking place in Athens, bringing together representatives of 71 communist and labor parties from 60 countries throughout the world.
On the prospects of the anti-war movement, Papariga said the effectiveness of the movement's intervention relied on its composition but also its orientation.
''We see this movement developing from the realization of the need to put forward a strong resistance to the aggressiveness of imperialism. It is a movement that is trying to form itself along some anti-war, anti-capitalist characteristics, and could be described as a movement of resistance to the present state of affairs'', she said, adding that the firm goal of the communist and labor parties should be, from within this emerging international climate, to strengthen the anti-imperialist and anti-monopoly democratic characteristics that dispute the present system, and to stand firmly on the movements developing at national level. Otherwise, she warned, the movement would be absorbed by those forces that enter the movement with the purpose of dragging it into other directions.
She called for coordination among all the communist and labor parties, adding the issue of alliances was vital for the internationalization of the struggle.
Papariga further said that there needed to be a more coordinated intervention on issues such as condemnation of wars carried out on the pretext of combatting terrorism, support for the struggles for basic democratic rights and freedoms in a series of countries where the situation was particularly aggravated, and the fight against the establishment of an international law that reflected the right of the mighty.
Replying to press questions, Papariga said that the Greek EU presidency was ending with a 'big stain'', as it had handled the judicial cooperation agreement with the US, and more generally ''the agreement that violence may be imposed where the diplomatic means of the imperialists supposedly have no effect'', and called on all the political parties to take a stand not only on justice issues, but also on the ''identification of the EU with the US concerning the use of violence in international affairs''.
 Kosovo Albanians and Serbs expected to discuss low policy issues in July
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Kosovo Albanians and Serbs are expected to sit at a dialogue table in July, according to reports on the sidelines of the European Union's summit at Porto Carras in Halkidiki on Thursday.
The reports said the dialogue will begin in Brussels and will concern low policy issues, adding that any thought of discussions on major problems such as Kosovo's final status and the return of Serb refugees was premature.
Conclusions to be drawn at the summit will hail the beginning of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, while some symbolic move in this direction cannot be ruled out, with the encouragement of European leaders, such as a handshake between Ibrahim Rugova and Serb Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic.
 Deputy minister says PM's initiatives 'including reshuffle' in early July
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris said on Thursday political initiatives to be undertaken by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, ''including a reshuffle'', will be announced in the first 10 days in July.
Hytiris was speaking to reporters at the press centre of ''Porto Carras'' on the sidelines of the European Union's summit.
On the question arising with the report by the Capital Market Commission, Hytiris clarified that ''the prime minister, while he was on an official visit to Rome, was informed that the actions of Mr. Manikas and Mr. Neonakis were not punishable by law.''
Minister of State Stephanos Manikas and ruling PASOK executive bureau member Michalis Neonakis resigned on Wednesday for ''reasons of sensitivity'' following the disclosure in parliament that they had carried out stock transactions valued at more than 22 billion drachmas on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) during the period 1998-2000.
Even though the report cleared both men of any wrongdoing, such as insider trading or other irregularities, the pair were lambasted by the press on Wednesday.
Replying to questioners, Hytiris added that the prime minister was informed of the amount in transactions mentioned by the report of the Capital Market Commission on the following morning after returning to Athens.
Hytiris also referred to a statement by the prime minister in the past that all charges must be examined and the implementation of this principle includes all, both ''friends and associates.''
 Twenty Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek airspace
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Seven formations, 20 aircraft, of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Thursday which developed into seven violations of national airspace in the northern and central Aegean, press reports said.
In all cases, the 20 Turkish planes were recognized and intercepted by Greek warplanes, while in seven cases the interception process developed into an engagement.
The reports said five of the Turkish aircraft recognized were armed.
 EU member-states and Commission fail to agree on new
CAP LUXEMBOURG 20/06/2003 (ANA/M. Kourmousis)Despite efforts made by the European Union's Greek presidency on Thursday, a convergence of the conflicting interests of EU member-states and the Commission was not possible and late in the evening Agriculture Minister and Council of Agriculture Minister President George Drys discontinued its session once again and set a new meeting here next Wednesday.
Three issues many countries consider as being absolutely vital are blocking a decision on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), an issue which might be examined at the EU summit in Thessaloniki.
The first issue is milk quotas raised in a tough manner by Mediterranean countries (Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal). The second is France's refusal to accept a decrease in the price of cereals by 2.5 percent (this percentage is the Commission's last concession) and the third is the refusal of northern countries (Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) to accept arrangements regarding butter, milk powder and rye.
According to reports, French President Jacques Chirac, for purely domestic reasons, ''blocked'' a decision at the Council of Agriculture Ministers in order to raise the problem of CAP at the summit.
However, reports said European Council President and Prime Minister Costas Simitis will not raise the issue of CAP in Halkidiki.
 Greek stocks end 1.99 pct down on profit taking
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended sharply lower on Thursday hit by a wave of profit taking with only seven sessions remaining until the end of the first half in the Athens Stock Exchange.
Traders said blue chip stocks were particularly hit.
The general index fell 1.99 percent to end at 1,911.70 points, with turnover a heavy 213.5 million euros.
The Textile sector was the only one to score gains (0.36 percent), while the Insurance, Holding, Construction and Food-Beverage sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (5.0 percent, 3.49 percent, 3.42 percent and 3.16 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 2.41 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 2.43 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 2.12 percent lower and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index dropped 2.39 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 269 to 64 with another 29 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 128.8 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Sellers match buyers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of June 19 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,174 1,148
 Earthquake activity continues in Evia with three tremblers on Thursday
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Seismic activity continued in Evia, as three earthquakes measuring 4.8, 4.6 and 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted the area at dawn on Thursday.
The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute and the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory said that two successive earthquakes measuring 4.6 and 4.7 on the Richter scale were recorded at 4:00 a.m. at a distance of 70 kilometres north-northeast of Athens, with its epicenter in the Psachna area of Evia, followed by a stronger, 4.8 Richter trembler at 6:38 a.m.
A moderate earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale jolted Evia on Wednesday morning, coming from the same epicenter, which had also produced two weaker quakes of 4.6 and 4.4 Richter magnitude on Friday evening.
Wednesday morning's quake caused cracks in several older buildings in the area, while engineers from the environment, town planning and public works ministry were continuing inspections of buildings following the seismic activity and mobile seismographs had been set up.
Seismologists continued to be reserved on the seismic activity, and Athens University seismology professor Constantine Makropoulos told ANA that the current ''seismic swarm'', as this type of seismic activity is called, ''will abate in a week or two''.
A ''seismic swarm'' is by definition a localized surge of earthquakes, with no one shock being conspicuously larger than all other shocks of the swarm. Seismic swarms typically last longer than more typical earthquake sequences that consist of a main shock followed by significantly smaller aftershocks. Seismic swarms occur in a variety of geologic environments. They are not known to be indicative of any change in the long-term seismic risk of the region in which they occur.
Inspectors from the Town planning ministry and prefecture condemned seven houses in Psachna later on Thursday due to damage incurred in the tremor, while another 42 have been deemed unsafe and in need of repairs.
Local residents have been alarmed, meanwhile, by a number of small aftershocks that occurred throughout the morning.
Athens Geodynamic Institute director Giorgos Stavrakakis on Thursday was guarded in his assessments of future seismic activity, while noting that historically the region was not known for major earthquakes.
He also noted that there had been a similar phenomenon in Evia a few years back, with a series of minor tremors that abated after a short while.
 N17 trial hears defense witnesses for Psaradellis, Tzortzatos
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)The trial of 19 alleged members of the terrorist group "November 17" continued in Athens on Thursday with the testimony of defense witnesses for the defendants Theologos Psaradellis and Vassilis Tzortzatos.
First on the stand was Eleni Varika, a teacher of political sciences at Paris University, who said that Psaradellis rejected individual violence as a means of changing society and socialist revolution and that it was 'politically incompatible' for him to belong to a group like N17.
Regarding his participation in an armed robbery, which Psaradellis has confessed to, the witness called this a "political mistake" that Psaradellis had recognized.
Responding to questions from the bench, meanwhile, Psaradellis admitted to taking part in a robbery at the Drosopoulou Road branch of the National Bank of Greece in 1983, with four others.
According to the defendant, he had not received any of the money taken in the robbery and had been told by one of his accomplices - who was only known to him with the codename 'Yiannakis' - that the money had gone 'to a better cause'.
The next witness on the stand was Klearchos Smyrnaios, testifying on behalf of Vassilis Tzortzatos.
Smyrnaios, himself accused and cleared of terrorist charges in the past, also wished to testify in support of Alexandros Giotopoulos, who is accused of being the leader of the terror band.
While not personally acquainted with Giotopoulos, the witness said he knew of him through his resistance action during the 1967-1973 military junta in Greece and considered him "a hero of the anti-dictatorship struggle."
During Thursday's session, a number of witnesses that had been accused of terrorist actions and were later cleared in court testified in defense of Tzortzatos, outlining their experiences and the tactics used by security forces in terrorist cases.
 Chief suspect Naxakis addresses court in trial over Ocalan affair
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Retired Navy captain Antonis Naxakis, the man accused of being chiefly responsible for illegally smuggling rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan into Greece in 1999, on Thursday addressed the court trying him and 12 others for bringing Ocalan into the country for two hours during his rejoinder to the charges against him.
Naxakis claimed in his statement to the court that he had been used as 'bait in a vile plan' to bring Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), into the hands of the Turks.
''I feel remorse and after your decision I will have to answer to the court of my conscience, since I unwittingly contributed to the betrayal of Ocalan,'' he told the Athens Mixed Jury Court.
Ocalan was eventually captured in Kenya, where he had taken refuge in the Greek Embassy, in a secret cloak-and-dagger operation involving the Greek, Turkish and US secret services that Hollywood would envy.
The accused claimed there had been an organized plan set up by the Greek government to turn Ocalan over to Turkish authorities and said he had personally been in contact with then foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.
He said that there had been an agreement with Pangalos in 1991 to create a secret support group for Kurds that, apart from Naxakis, also had among its members a number of MPs for the two main Greek parties, PASOK and New Democracy.
Under the agreement, if the existence of the group became known its members were to deny everything.
Thirteen people face charges for bringing Ocalan into Greece, among them 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.
 At least three seamen killed in Greek-owned Malta-flag tanker explosion in Gulf
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)At least three, and possibly four, foreign seamen were killed in an explosion aboard a Greek-owned Malta-flag tanker in the Gulf early Thursday as the vessel was anchored off the port of the emirate Fujairah, Greek merchant marine ministry sources said.
According to initial reports, the explosion occurred, for reasons as yet unknown, aboard the 21,454 grt ''Efxinos'' tanker, belonging to Dimitris Melissanidis' ''Aegean Shipping'' maritime company.
On board the vessel were approximately 30 crew members, including a Greek captain, first engineer and cook.
 Coast Guard intercepts 24 illegal immigrants
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)Twenty-four illegal immigrants and two human-traffickers were arrested by the Greek Coast Guard on Thursday.
The first 20 illegal immigrants were intercepted on the coast of East Evia at dawn, where they had been dropped off by the Belarus-flagged sailing yacht 'Gemini'.
Coast Guard vessels caught up with the 'Gemini' shortly afterward and arrested Bellorussia national Victar Vonjlon, 32, and Ukrainian national Sushko Andy, 32.
In a separate arrest, Corfu Coast Guard officers intercepted four Albanian nationals that had illegally approached Greek shores using small craft.
 Greek bar associations voice objections to EU-US agreement on extradition
Athens, 20/06/2003 (ANA)A coordinating committee appointed by the Greek Bar Associations presidents' plenum on Thursday voiced objections to an agreement for extradition and mutual judicial support that is to be signed between the European Union and the United States on June 25.
The committee said there were unclear points within the agreement and that it allowed the U.S. to exert pressure to achieve its aims, while they also objected to simplified extradition procedures that provided no guarantees and troubled the legal profession.
They also strongly objected to the fact that the agreement applied to acts committed both before and after it comes into effect.
 President Papadopoulos pledges readiness to resume Cyprus peace talks
LARNACA 20/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot side is ready without reservations or preconditions, whenever UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan invites the two sides, to enter negotiations based on Annan's plan.
President Papadopoulos was speaking on Thursday before departing for Thessaloniki, northern Greece, to take part in the EU summit.
''We are ready, whenever we are asked by the UN Secretary-General, to come forward for dialogue based on the Annan plan, without any reservation, without any precondition,'' the president said.
 Turkey agrees to pay damages to Greek Cypriot
NICOSIA 20/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Turkey has announced that it would pay damages worth nearly one million dollars to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou, for human rights violations in Cyprus, with regard to property rights.
Loizidou and her lawyer Achilleas Demetriades welcomed Ankara's decision as a positive move but stressed that Turkey also has to allow Loizidou access to her property in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus for peaceful enjoyment, as prescribed in the relevant judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.
According to reliable sources from Strasbourg, Turkey's permanent representative to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe told a Committee meeting on Thursday that his government had begun taking the necessary measures with a view to allow the Committee to ascertain at its meeting in early October the payment for just satisfaction to Loizidou.
The Cypriot and the Greek representatives sought certain clarifications from their Turkish colleague who assured them that his declaration did not contain any preconditions and explained that the damages will be paid by October this year.
''This is a very positive move which shows that the system for respect of human rights is functioning properly, in spite of delays.
It also shows that Turkey is forced to execute the Court decision without any terms,'' Loizidou told CNA.
She pointed out, however, that it was very important for Turkey to allow her access to her property in occupied Cyprus.
Demetriades told CNA Ankara's decision is ''a milestone for the respect of human rights because the supreme law of Europe, namely the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights, has despite difficulties been upheld.''
Turkey, he said, ''has acknowledged the value of the judgments of the Court and now one has to concentrate on the second level of the judgment which is the restoration of the peaceful enjoyment of Loizidou's property in Kyrenia.''
''I would hope that the system will again manage to enforce the judgment of the Court,'' he added.
The Court ordered Turkey to pay 600,000 dollars for loss of use of the property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of July 28, 1998.
 Cyprus president satisfied with EU, US views
NICOSIA 20/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has welcomed statements by senior officials from the European Union and the US, who were critical of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash with regard to the latter's views on the resumption of peace talks and on EU matters.
''Verheugen and Weston uttered nothing more than the truth and I am happy because I see they both agree with the line we follow,'' the president said.
EU Commission for enlargement Gunter Verheugen told a press conference here Wednesday that Denktash had rejected EU proposals on trade but said Denktash would take funds offered by the Union. The Commissioner also said Denktash rejected a UN peace proposal for a comprehensive settlement. The EU official called on Turkey to settle the question of Cyprus if it wants to facilitate its accession course.
US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Ambassador Thomas Weston said Denktash had hardened his positions on the peace effort.
Both Verheugen and Weston had lengthy meetings with Denktash in a bid to press on with him the need to work for a settlement.
 Greek Ambassador says Denktash has no intention to negotiate
NICOSIA 20/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has no intention of returning to the negotiating table, in the UN framework, according to Greece's Ambassador here Christos Panagopoulos, who called on Turkey to force the Turkish Cypriots adopt a different course, since their leader will not.
He told CNA that the international community as well as the European Union continue to have an interest in the question of Cyprus, which is high on its agenda.
''The picture is quite clear. Denktash has no intention of returning to the negotiating table on the basis of the parameters laid out by the UN Secretary General,'' Panagopoulos said, invited to comment on the prospects for a settlement prior to Cyprus' accession to the EU and following Denktash's hardened position on the issue.
The Ambassador wondered whether Ankara would find the political will to persuade the Turkish Cypriot community to follow a different course of action to that their leader is adopting.
Replying to questions, he welcomed statements by EU Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen and US State Department special coordinator on Cyprus Thomas Weston that Denktash needs to change his tune with regard to the resumption of peace talks.
 US Senator calls Denktash a relic of the Cold War
NICOSIA 20/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis accused Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of being ''an obstructionist who refuses to recognize the logic of compromise and the economic benefits of having a unified Cyprus as part of the new Europe.''
Noting Denktash's latest refusal to engage in new negotiations on a solution for the Cyprus problem, Raptakis suggested that the Turkish Cypriot leader is behaving ''like a relic from Europe's Cold War past.''
''Time after time, Rauf Denktash has had the opportunity to make history and demonstrate the courage that is needed to bring about meaningful change for his people,'' said Raptakis in a press release, adding that ''unfortunately he has chosen to cling to the failed policies of division and hatred.''
It is time, he added, ''for Mr. Denktash to earn the title of leader and revive the settlement talks so that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can find common ground and become part of the European Union.''