|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 21, 2003
 Three EU summit aims achieved, Simitis says
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The three aims set for the European Union Thessaloniki summit were achieved, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday, following the conclusion of the meetings of the second and final day of the summit.
He stressed that the work of the Convention for the future of Europe was completed, as the European draft Constitution was presented, despite the fact that only days ago several officials expressed their reservations over the possibility of success concerning the issue.
Simitis stressed that the success in accomplishing this task was due exclusively to the work of the Greek presidency, adding that in addition to achieving the goal a timetable for the further processes was decided.
The second aim which was achieved, he said, was the formulation of a common policy on immigration and asylum for refugees, noting that the problem was the funding for this policy and the forms of cooperation with third countries, so that they may implement the agreements. He added that the 15 also decided on the best possible coordination between member-states in efforts to combat the phenomenon of illegal immigration.
Simitis also referred to the third aim of the summit, which was the formulation of a European common position on issues of defense and security on the basis of a proposal drafted by EU high representative for defense Javier Solana.
He noted that Solana presented the text, but underlined that discussions on this issue will continue until December, when, during the Italian EU presidency a more extensive and detailed text might be presented.
Evaluating the Greek EU presidency, Simitis said that the past six months were rather difficult, since the presidency was marked by the Iraq crisis, adding that no other presidency had to deal with such a crisis.
He said that the handling of the situations by the Greek presidency was successful, noting that the cohesion problems, that occurred during the crisis, were overcome and now the Union is in a position to clear up the issues in which friction became apparent in light of the Iraq crisis.
Simitis underlined that it was a great success of the presidency that all EU domestic issues were dealt with despite the problems with the crisis in Iraq.
On his part Solana, also present during the post-summit press conference, said that a great part of the Friday afternoon meetings were consumed in dealing with the resolution adopted for the Middle Eastern problem and especially concerning the role of ''Hamas'' and other Palestinian organizations.
He stressed that the text of conclusions supported the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to achieve a cease-fire, adding that everyone else who is supporting peace should be convinced to contribute toward that goal.
He added that Hamas and other Palestinian organizations, should accept the cease-fire, while in the event they refuse, the Union should undertake measures towards lifting its economic support to them.
Solana also said that he spoke with both Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell about this issue on Friday.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, addressing the press conference, spoke of the Greek presidency saying that Europe went through a very difficult moment, but now it is emerging stronger.
Commenting on Solana's text he said that through the text the role of the Union is promoted, while for the first time a policy is formulated on certain issues, such as weapons of mass destruction.
 EU Thessaloniki Council approves draft EU Constitution as a good basis
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The draft European Union Constitution prepared by the Convention on the Future of Europe was approved on Friday by European leaders attending the EU Thessaloniki Council, as a starting point for debate by the Intergovernmental Conference, to open session in October.
Greek Prime Minister and EU Council president-in-office Costas Simitis said that “in spite of the initial doubts and questions, the work concluded forms a good compromise.”
However, Convention President Valery Giscard d'Estaing preferred to use the term “composition” rather than “compromise” to describe the approval of the draft Constitution, stressing that the Convention created a new structure and a balance.
The French statesman, however, expressed concern for further developments with regard to the EU Constitution.
Commenting on the draft Constitution’s approval, EU Commission President Romano Prodi spoke of a “very significant outcome”, as the incorporation into the Constitution of the fundamental rights Charter and the extension of joint decision-making would make Europe more democratic, as well as more transparent and simple to its citizens.
Summing up, Prodi noted the important progress achieved and the “gigantic move forward.”
 European leaders clear way for debate on constitution
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)European leaders on Friday gave the “green light” to a much-deliberated draft plan to allow for substantive discussions leading to a European Union constitution, with French statesman Valery Giscard d'Estaing calling it more of a ''synthesis'' rather than a ''compromise''.
The former French president and head of the Convention preparing the draft plan spoke on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki EU Summit here, minutes after European leaders gave their 'thumbs up' for the draft.
''For the first time the European Union, through dialogue, possesses a plan for a constitution, as the EU presidency we are pleased,'' Greek Prime Minister and outgoing EU president-in-office Costas Simitis said with Giscard d’Estaing at his side.
''All of the (European) countries recognized Mr. Giscard d'Estaing's work, and the convention delegates' work … this effort is completed, this effort is positive, this effort is a compromise for which positive work can follow...'' Simitis stressed at a press conference at the Porto Carras resort, east of the port city of Thessaloniki.
“We can now say Europeans are waiting for their constitution. We hope that further work will be expeditious,” Giscard d’Estaing said.
On his part, a beaming Simitis said the EU council decided that the draft Constitution is a “good basis” for the Intra-governmental conference, adding that Italy, as the next EU president, will inaugurate the process for the conference in October.
“The Intra-Governmental should start and be completed before the Euro-Parliament elections on June 15, 2004. The signing of the constitution should take place as soon as possible after May 1, 2004, after which newcomers become full members of the Union,” the Greek premier said.
In bypassing rumored friction between himself and Giscard d’Estaing, European Commission President Romano Prodi said the “draft constitution is a proof the Convention’s success … We have a full text suitable to govern the future of Europe. We now have a significant outcome, for a more democratic, clearer and simpler Union … able to respond to the expectations of its citizens and to assume a bigger international role.”
He also praised the inclusion of the fundamental charter of human rights in any future constitution as well as the principle of majority voting, which he said will make the Union more democratic, transparent and simpler for EU citizens.
Finally, D’Estaing said a great deal of work was still needed with Part III of the draft constitution, which he said should be completed by July 15 the latest.
 Greek MEP to assess draft EU Constitution for Euro-Parliament
BRUSSELS 21/06/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)Professor Dimitris Tsatsos, an MEP for the ruling PASOK party in Greece, and Spanish MEP Jose Maria Gil Robles - a former Euro-Parliament president - have been appointed to write a report assessing the draft European Constitution presented by the Convention for the Future of Europe on behalf of the European Parliament.
The decision was made unanimously on Friday by MEPs on the European Parliament's Institutional Issues Committee.
The report will be presented to the full Euro-Parliament plenum for ratification before the start of the Inter-governmental Conference next October.
Prof. Tsatsos had represented the European Parliament during the last Intergovernmental Conference that produced the Nice Treaty and was also appointed to assess the EU's Amsterdam Treaty for the Euro-Parliament.
PASOK's Parliamentary group welcomed Tsatsos' appointment as ''one more confirmation of Greece's standing in European institutional organs''.
 EU Thessaloniki Council: EU leaders approve Solana’s text on defense, security
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)\A text on European defense and security prepared by High Representative for EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, proposing three strategic targets to enhance European defense and security and the EU’s role as a global stabilizing agent, was approved on Friday by EU leaders meeting in Thessaloniki.
The 16-page text entitled “A Secure Europe in a Better World”, was handed on Thursday to EU foreign ministers and was considered by EU leaders at today’s session of the EU Thessaloniki Council.
Specifically, Solana’s paper proposes that “we can make a particular contribution to stability and good governance in our immediate neighborhood. Second, more widely, we need to build an international order based on effective multilateralism. Finally, we must tackle the threats, new and old.”
The text places emphasis on an increase in EU defense spending and greater ability to use non-military means in handling crises, while it stresses the need for cooperation with the US and further openings to Japan, China, Canada and India, to develop strategic partnerships for defense and security, stressing that: “In a world of global threats, global markets and global media, our security and prosperity depend on an effective multilateral system. The development of a stronger international society, well functioning international institutions and a rule-based international order should be our objective.”
In conclusion, the report notes that “This is a world in which there are new dangers but also new opportunities. If it can become a fully effective actor, the European Union has the potential to make a major contribution, both to dealing with the threats and to helping realize the opportunities. An active and capable European Union would make an impact on a global scale. In doing so, it would contribute to an effective multilateral system leading to a fairer and more secure world.”
 Commission: Management of 'legal immigration' a priority
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The European Commission on Friday said it favors a “permanent structure” to unite and coordinate various national centers already involved in immigration issues, an issue that apparently dominated much of the discussions at the Thessaloniki EU Summit here so far.
The Commission’s statements came on the heels of an eyebrow-raising British position, namely, that the asylum system throughout the EU is “not working properly and is subject to abuse”.
Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppenen stressed that managing legal immigration is a priority for the Commission, while noting that the Council shares the British side’s concerns.
“Member-States are free to do whatever they feel in the area of asylum,” he said, adding that in terms of biometric identification and a harmonized passport, only a political decision remains to proceed with the first measure. “However, the technical debate is still open.”
As far as the Union’s contentious agricultural policy is concerned, the Commission said that ministerial level discussions on CAP reforms that were suspended in Luxemburg would resume on Wednesday.
“We feel we are close to an agreement. We are close to a compromise; we are ready to proceed with necessary measures without diluting the reforms. Compromise should not occur at the expense of reforms,” the Commission’s representatives said, while simply noting that the Commission does not want to discuss CAP at the Summit but at the agricultural ministers’ level – a position echoed by Greek Premier and EU president-in-office Costas Simitis on Thursday.
Straw says Britain's proposal on immigrants leading Europe closer to 1951
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Friday Britain's proposal on the creation of immigrants' ''camps'' in their countries of origin, meaning outside the limits of the European Union, is leading Europe closer to the initial idea on which the treaty of 1951 for refugees was based.
''Nobody expected at the time that this treaty would allow illegal immigrants to exploit its predictions and we believe that the problem must be handled in the refugees' country of origin,'' Straw said immediately after the end of the EU summit in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and expressed satisfaction over the formulation ultimately selected by the European Council.
The British minister also expressed satisfaction over the paragraph of conclusions concerning the European Assembly's work. However, he pointed out that the plan submitted by the Assembly only forms the basis for dialogue to begin at the Intergovernmental Conference, ''where, in any case, decisions will be taken unanimously.''
He further said the warning by the European Council concerning the funding of the Islamic Hamas organization is a ''clear message.''
''The final formulation is strict and correct, just as we wanted it,'' Straw said.
He also commented favorably on the paragraph of conclusions regarding Cyprus and the proposal by EU High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana, speaking of ''an excellent result which also expresses our view absolutely.''
 Commissioner Vitorino on asylum policy and British proposal
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs Antonio Vitorino said on Friday that the existing EU asylum system is not effective enough, throwing support to the British proposal for control of asylum beyond EU borders, at immigrants’ home countries.
However, the Commissioner, who is currently in Thessaloniki for the EU Council marking the end of Greece’s rotating six-month EU Presidency, clarified that member-states’ leaders do not regard current conditions proper for going ahead with such a ‘test’.
“The Commission would present within the year a Report on the consequences of implementing the British proposal and would also present its own recommendations,” Vitorino said.
 Cyprus pleased with EU Summit references to solution
THESSALONIKI 21/06/2003 (ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Friday that a paragraph in the Summit conclusions that specifically refers to the island republic includes all of the points his government wanted, namely, a call for a continuation of dialogue on the divided island under the United Nations' auspices.
Papadopoulos, one of 10 Acceding-Members' leaders at the Thessaloniki EU Summit here, also said a reference was made to the measures his internationally recognized government has taken, while noting that a partial lifting in the ban on the movement of people between the free parts of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied areas on the island -- recently allowed by T/C leader Rauf Denktash -- is not a solution.
According to Papadopoulos, the European Council called on both sides to demonstrate political volition for a solution to the long-standing problem of division, especially Turkey and the T/C leadership.
''In general, the paragraph is satisfactory for us, and was unanimously approved without any comment,'' he told reporters after a customary ''family portrait'' with other European leaders.
He also denied that the Cyprus issue will get bogged down in EU institutions after the island republic formally accedes to the Union, saying the Cyprus issue will remain under the UN's auspices ''no matter what''.
Finally, he charged that only ''double-speak'' and not ''differing opinions'' exist between the T/C leader and Ankara. ''We judge that there is full agreement by Turkey for Mr. Denktash's tactics,'' he stressed.
 French president congratulates Greek PM for adequate and effective EU presidency
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)French President Jacques Chirac, speaking at a press conference at the end of the European Union's summit in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Friday, congratulated the Greek presidency and Prime Minister Costas Simitis personally for ''adequacy, effectiveness and delicate handling'' during the presidency's six-month period.
Chirac said that a profound and open discussion on the European constitution took place in the framework of the Council, terming its plan a ''very good composition'' and a very stable base for the Intergovernmental Conference's further discussions.
''Nobody finds satisfaction for all problems he raises. We are looking ahead at the Europe of tomorrow,'' he said.
The French president said the EU summit ''ratified, as was natural'' the candidacy of Frenchman Jean-Claude Triche for the post of European Central Bank president.
''The candidacy of Mr. Triche for the post of president of the European Central Bank was naturally ratified and the (European) Council decided to request from the Council of Economy and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) to begin the process without delay'' for his appointment,'' he said, congratulating Wim Duisenberg for the adequacy with which he handled his duties during a difficult economic period.
Commenting on the crisis experienced in Euro-Atlantic relations, the French president said ''the bond with the United States is strong'', adding that both sides share the same values and visions.
However, he expressed support for an equal cooperation relation and not a relation of dependence.
 Italian PM praises his Greek counterpart's handling of the EU presidency
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose country assumes the six-month EU rotating presidency on July 1, on Friday termed as positive the outcome of the Greek EU presidency.
In a press conference he gave at the end of the EU summit in Thessaloniki, Berlusconi noted the important decisions which were taken by the European leaders, at the same time praising the manner with which Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis directed the sessions during the Greek EU presidency, particularly during the period of the Iraqi crisis when the danger of a disruption in transatlantic relations was visible.
Regarding the work of the Assembly for the European constitution, Berlusconi said the Italian EU presidency's objective will be for the sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference, which will begin on October 15, to conclude before the end December in order for the ''Second Treaty of Rome'' to be signed during the second half of 2003.
 EU Council: Commissioner Patten on EU-Western Balkans ties
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)European Union External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten on Friday stressed here that ''the destiny of the people of southeast Europe is membership with the EU'', one day before a EU-Western Balkans Summit is set to follow the ongoing Thessaloniki EU Council.
Speaking on the sidelines of the EU Council, Patten emphasized that the sessions – held at the Porto Carras resort – will demonstrate to the Western Balkan leaderships that the stabilization and association agreements that achieved long-sought-after EU accession for central and eastern European states are ''exactly the same'' for them.
''Of course, they have to make changes on their part and should continue the economic and political reform on which they embarked. But we wish to be more hands-on in helping them with
that process; and we proposed that we should turn the annual assessments on the progress they make on economic and political reform into partnerships,'' Patten said during a press conference.
Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are currently considered candidate-states, while once strife-plagued western Balkan countries, particularly Croatia, have recently pushed for a firm path towards eventual EU accession.
 PM Simitis meets delegations of candidate countries for EU accession
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis met in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Friday night with the members of the delegations of the three candidate countries for EU accession, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and briefed them on the results of the European Union summit which was held at Porto Carras.
Simitis on Saturday will preside over the EU-Western Balkans Summit, at which the leaders of the three candidate countries for EU accession will also take part as observers.
 Simitis: Iraq crisis the worst faced by Union during his tenure
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister and outgoing EU president-in-office Costas Simitis on Friday referred to ''a good day for the European Union'' near the conclusion of the Thessaloniki Summit, citing agreement over a draft plan for a nascent European constitution as well as substantive deliberations over the all-important immigration issue.
His third reference was over the Solana plan outlining a common foreign policy and defense strategy for the expanded European Union.
Simitis, with European Commission President Romano Prodi and High Commissioner Javier Solana at his side, also stressed that the Iraq crisis was the worst the Union has faced during the eight years he has been the prime minister of Greece.
 Rain, specter of protests at Thessaloniki Summit
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Torrential rain poured on the luxury northern Greek resort where European leaders were set to hold their second day of meetings on Friday morning at the Thessaloniki EU Summit, the same day as thousands of anti-globalization and pro-labor protesters were expected to try and make their presence felt near the Summit.
A presentation of a draft plan for a much-discussed -- at least by European leaders and their delegations over the past year and a half -- constitution for the Union was expected to dominate the spotlight at Friday's sessions.
Among others, groups affiliated with the Greek Communist Party (KKE) threatened to marshal as many as 10,000 demonstrators in a march towards the Porto Carras complex, which is situated 80 kilometers from Thessaloniki proper in a more-or-less isolated stretch of a verdant peninsula.
Anti-globalization protesters affiliated with the energetic Greek Social Forum grouping, meanwhile, had loaded protesters in about 100 coaches in the late morning prior to a short journey towards the EU and Acceding-States' leaders' summit, although police presence in and around Porto Carras is draconian.
Several foreign correspondents and European officials have noted that security for the Summit will rank as a benchmark of sorts for the all-important security aspect at next summer's 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
 DM Papantoniou to pay official visit to Russia next week
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Greece's defense minister Yannos Papantoniou will pay an official visit to Russia next week, that national defense ministry announced on Friday.
Papantoniou, who leaves Sunday for Moscow on a six-day visit to Russia, will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Ivanov and with the chairman of the Russian Federation's defense committee Nikolaev, for talks focusing on bilateral defense and military cooperation, EU-Russia relations, and NATO-Russia relations.
Papantoniou will further meet with the chairman of the Russian Duma, Selezniov, as well as with the Russian president's representative V. Matvienko in St. Petersburg, where he will also attend the inauguration of an international shipping exhibition.
 EU close to CAP reform compromise agreement
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The European Union is very close to achieving agreement on the compromise text for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, in spite of the interruption of Thursday’s Luxembourg session of the informal Agricultural Ministers Council, EU Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen said on Friday in Thessaloniki, on the sidelines on the EU Council.
“The interruption of discussion is not a dramatic development given the significant issues that are on the table; that is why the Commission would not wish a hasty compromise on the expense of reforms that have to be decided”, said the spokesman.
Kemppinen added that the informal EU farming ministers Council would resume Wednesday.
 Greek economic weekly review
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The Bank of Greece on Friday officially lifted all restrictions in the domestic consumer credit market, removing all caps on personal and consumer loans. During the week under review, Greek commercial banks continued announcing cuts in their lending and savings interest rates in the aftermath of a decision by the European Central Bank to lower interest rates in the eurozone.
The Greek government is promoting new legislation seeking to reforming all buildings currently in discord with the natural and architectural environment in the Aegean islands. Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis said that the ministry was currently promoting a pilot program envisaging the partial or full demolishing and reforming of buildings or their parts, by offering incentives to owners.
Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis this week unveiled a new draft law on electronic communications (telecoms, interactive television, communications networks, etc) based on EU directives.
The Greek state - through the finance ministry - will retain a 21 percent equity stake in National Bank, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said this week. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with National Bank's governor Theodore Karatzas on the future of a convertible bond issue, accounting for 6.9 percent of the bank's equity capital, Mr Christodoulakis stressed these bonds, worth 895 million euros, would be replaced with new state bonds after maturing (July 15).
Greece's mutual funds' assets totalled 28.99 billion euros in June 17, up 4.36 percent since the end of May, with the number of shares rising 5.10 percent over the same period, official figures showed this week. The Union of Institutional Investors said that domestic equity mutual funds' assets rose 11.13 percent in the first two weeks of June, reflecting a spectacular increase in share prices in the Athens Stock Exchange. The category's average numerical returns turn positive in June (+8.71 percent) after ending May with a negative return of 2.32 percent.
Development Deputy Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos this week unveiled a package new projects, worth 20.6 million euros, aimed to improve the quality of small tourist enterprises and another 4.1 million euros to support small- and medium-sized tourist enterprises.
 Greek stocks ease further, correction continues
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the last trading session of the week lower as investors continued taking profits, this time from smaller capitalization stocks, in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index fell 0.31 percent to end at 1,905.83 points, for a net loss of 0.25 percent in the week.
Turnover was a reduced 141.7 million euros.
The Textile, Food-Beverage and IT sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.15 percent, 2.0 percent and 1.83 percent, respectively), while the Publication, Construction and Wholesale sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (2.85 percent, 1.54 percent and 1.17 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.67 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.77 percent, the FTSE/ASE SMALLCAP 80 index dropped 1.66 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.80 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 246 to 73 with another 39 issues unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Friday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of June 20 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,174 1,148
 Contractors for 2004 Olympics accommodation begin work
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Two companies that won a tender to handle accommodation for the Athens 2004 Olympics have begun work on the project despite delays in the issue of official documents allowing the scheme.
Alpha Hospitality and Hellenic Hospitality also reached agreement with the Greek National Tourism Organization on details of the arrangement in a separate dispute that had also delayed implementation.
The firms have begun vetting 15,000 private homes that will be rented out to visitors of the games in August next year.
 Alleged accomplices in Ocalan affair address court, deny charges
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The pilot of the aircraft that brought rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan into Greece in January 1999, and the policeman accused of deliberately omitting to check Ocalan's passport on his arrival addressed the Athens Mixed Jury Court trying the Ocalan affair on Friday, denying the charges against them.
Airplane pilot Zissi Behlivanidis and police sargeant detached to the Greek intelligence service (EYP) Giorgos Magginas are both charged as accomplices to retired Navy Captain Antonis Naxakis in disrupting Greece's harmonious foreign relations.
Behlivanidis told the court in his rejoinder that he had not known that the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was among his passengers and that he thought he was transporting the then Russian deputy defense minister.
He also denied that the aircraft had been originally scheduled to land in Romania, saying the flight plan had been direct to Greece.
Responding to charges that he had deliberately omitted to check the passports of the passengers on the plane and taken them straight to the VIP lounge - even though he was under orders to prevent Ocalan's entry into Greece - police officer Magginas claimed to have suspected nothing until he had seen Naxakis' passport, at which time he had immediately informed his superiors.
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 Behlivanidis and Magginas are among nine people charged with assisting Naxakis bring Ocalan into the country, including author Voula Damianakou and her daughter Eleni Vasilopoulou, state airport public relations chief Stefanos Evangelatos and airport employee Evangelos Stergiopoulos, Aegean Airlines representative Antonis Simigdalas and Aegean Airlines employee Georgios Mavros and police officer Dimitris Karagiorgis.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas, who has been engaged as the defense lawyer for retired Navy Captain Antonis Naxakis in the trial over the Ocalan affair, on Friday said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis, members of the government at that time and other state officials, should be charged with high treason for engineering the surrender of the rebel Kurdish leader to the Turks.
Tsovolas also asked that the court records be sent to the Athens Primary Prosecutor following revelations made in court by one of the accused during his rejoinder.
Thirteen people, including Naxakis, are on trial before the Athens Mixed Jury Court on charges of bringing the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan illegally into Greece in January 1999.
In his rejoinder to the court, police sargeant detached to the Greek intelligence service (EYP) George Magginas said that he had been informed by his superiors about the arrival of two Turkish secret agents from Bucharest on the same day as Ocalan arrived in the country. The head of EYP Haralambos Stavrakakis was also in Bucharest at the time and references to an attempt to land Ocalan's plane in the Romanian capital have been made during the trial.
Magginas is charged with assisting Naxakis bring Ocalan into Greece for failing to check the passports of Ocalan's party on their arrival.
Tsovolas claimed the Greek government of the time, which was headed by current prime minister Costas Simitis, had plotted to surrender Ocalan to Turkish authorities in Bucharest. After this plan failed, it then facilitated the PKK leader's entry into Greece so that he could finally be handed over to the Turks in Kenya, Tsovolas said.
He asserted that there had been a ''betrayal of the Nation, the Greek sense of honor and Greek traditions'' and called for the prime minister, then foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos, Stavrakakis, the interior and public order ministers of the time and cabinet secretary Sokratis Kosmidis to stand trial on charges of high treason.
After his arrival in Greece, Ocalan was taken to Kenya to the Greek Embassy in that country. He was eventually captured by his pursuers in a mystery-shrouded operation involving the secret services of several countries after he left the Embassy for an allegedly safer location.
The court has reserved judgement, while the public prosecutor's proposal is expected when the trial resumes on Monday.
The DHKKI party headed by Tsovolas gained 2.69 per cent of the vote in the last general elections in Greece, short of the 3 per cent minimum required for a seat in Parliament.
 Defendants in N17 trial again claim police used intimidating tactics
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The defendants in the ongoing November 17 terrorism trial on Friday reiterated that the anti-terrorism squad forced confessions out of them through the use of violence and intimidating tactics.
During the testimony of defense witnesses for alleged N17 member Vassilis Tzortzatos, his sister Margarita Rapti said that she had seen bruises on the defendant inflicted by the police.
Her testimony triggered an uproar as several of the prisoners in the dock rose up and repeated earlier claims of threatening behavior by police during interrogations and the magisterial examination by 4th Examining Magistrate Theoni Boura, forcing the judge to call a five-minute recess.
Alexandros Giotopoulos, the alleged leader of the terror group, told the court that anti-terrorism squad officers had been in the room bearing fire-arms when he was being questioned by the magistrate.
Theologos Psaradellis remarked that he had ''not undergone interrogations like these even under the junta'', referring to a repressive military dictatorship that ruled Greece in 1967-1973.
Rapti's testimony was backed by Pavlos Serifis, who said Tzortzatos had shown him signs of abuse by police when he had seen him prison in November 2002, while defendant Vassilis Xiros said he had heard the sound of someone being beaten in the office next door while he was being held at police headquarters and had later recognized the voice as belonging to Tzortzatos when he met him in prison.
Earlier, Tzortzatos' sister Evangelia Mitsiou had said that he had received threats from anti-terrorist squad officers to force his confession and that he had signed things he had not done.
''He wanted to change them. His lawyers refused and resigned,'' she said.
Several members of Tzortzatos' family and friends said that the defendant was a non-violent, hard-working person, while one witness said that his skills as an electrician would not have allowed him to construct bombs.
 Demonstrators wanting to cross into FYROM leave Niki border checkpoint
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)About 200 demonstrators who had gathered at the Niki border checkpoint in Florina, northern Greece, on Friday morning in an effort to cross into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) left the area at about 6 in the evening.
The demonstrators had wanted to cross into FYROM to express their solidarity to about 700 gypsies from Kosovo who have camped in the ''buffer zone'' and to deliver humanitarian aid to them.
After hours of negotiations, the Greek side allowed a delegation of demonstrators to cross the border to deliver the humanitarian aid.
However, the same did not happen on the other side and a Greek local senior police officer told the Athens News Agency (ANA) that police in the neighboring country assured the demonstrators that their government is providing the gypsies from Kosovo with everything necessary and called on them to return to Greece.
After this development, the demonstrators boarded buses and left the area, heading probably for the city of Thessaloniki.
 Cox visits Mt. Athos monastic community
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Europarliament President Pat Cox on Friday visited the Mount Athos Orthodox Monastic Community, as part of his visit to Halkidiki, northern Greece, where the European Union summit is taking place.
Cox flew to Karyes, the capital monastery of the 1,000-year old all male autonomous monastic community, where the first overseer Stephanos Helandrinos and the leadership of the community welcomed him.
Stephanos addressed Cox focusing on the recent resolution of the Europarliament calling for the abolition of the 1,000-year old religious tradition of the autonomous region banning women from visiting it. He called the resolution unfortunate and called for the protection of the monastic community's status via the European Constitution.
Cox said that the European Constitution now under formulation does not change or replace the articles of the national constitutions of the EU's member-states, concerning religious communities. He added that the resolution was not a legislative act, but in his opinion it was a reflection of current societal opinion.
 Bulgarian merchant posing as doctor arrested
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)A Bulgarian merchant who approached Greek citizens who had been hospitalized in Sofia in the past and posed as a doctor, taking money to supposedly bring medicines from Bulgaria, has been arrested in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, local police said Friday.
They said the 49-year-old man, identified only by the initials K.M., had between early March and mid-June approached Greek citizens, most of them elderly, who had undergone surgery in the past in Sofia Hospital, and, introducing himself as a doctor specialized in the field of medicine related to the specific victim's ailment (neurologist, orthopedist, cardiologist, etc.), would take money from the former patients on the pretext of bringing them medicines from Bulgaria.
The man usually went by the false name of Pavel Chankov and claimed he was a university professor and director of Sofia hospital.
He also approached individuals with obvious signs of health problems, promising them medical treatment, again taking money from them.
The Bulgarian was identified by some of his victims, while police found in his posession and confiscated 2225 euros, notes containing the victims' telephone numbers and home addresses, and 9 small plastic bags containing an unidentified thick liquid substance.
 Gas tanker intercepted in border region carried 32 illegal immigrants
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)Border guards in the Soufli region of northern Greece were surprised when they stopped a gas tanker for a routine check on Friday and found it was carrying 32 illegal immigrants inside its tank.
The vehicle was stopped on the Soufli-Alexandroupoli motorway and the ensuing searched revealed the illegal imp-migrants (Burmese, Palestinians, Kurds and Turks) concealed in a specially arranged compartment.
The tanker's driver, G. K, 41, and the illegal immigrants, who were being brought into the country's interior for a fee, were arrested and were due to be brought before a public prosecutor in the town of Alexandroupoli.
 U.S. ambassador hosts reception for 35 Greeks receiving Fulbright scholarships
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)United States Ambassador to Greece Thomas J. Miller hosted a reception on Thursday for the 35 Greek students, artists and researchers who have received Fulbright scholarships to study at American academic institutions this autumn, according to a press release issued by the foundation on Friday.
''This is the premier student exchange program between the United States and the rest of the world. Since the program was established in 1948, it has enabled over 4,000 American and Greek scholars to study in each other's country. I believe that the Fulbright Program is a key way for Greeks and Americans to interact positively with a real long term benefit for both countries,'' Miller said.
''We are delighted that, thanks to the Greek and U.S. government and private support, we will be able to send for 2003-2004 35 Greek scholars to the U.S. Higher education is a field where the U.S. excels, and this program helps Greek students to surmount the obstacle of tuition and living expenses. We are also thrilled that 19 Americans came to Greece for research and study of the Greek culture and civilization during 2002-2003,'' he added.
This year's Fulbright scholars came from the major Greek universities and the American College of Greece. Their academic interests are diverse - from dance and musicology to computer science, environmental economics and architectural design - and they will study at universities such as Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, John's Hopkins, Juilliard School of Music, etc.
 Book on Greek presidency by Trivizas given to EU delegations
Athens 21/06/2003 (ANA)The Greek Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the European Union's Greek Presidency Office entrusted writer Evgenios Trivizas with the creation of a book on the Greek presidency.
The novel has as its central character a pigeon, the logo of the Greek presidency, and its pictures are the art work of Rania Barbaki. It was translated in English by Bruce Walter and in French by Gilles Decorvet and Jean-Marc Matallana.
The book will be given to all members of the European Union's national delegations and to all journalists that were here for the Summit.
 US remains actively engaged in Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA 21/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson has reiterated Washington's firm engagement in the search of a viable solution in Cyprus, stressing this is at a high level of government.
Klosson said that US-Cyprus relations would expand further as a result of the Republic's accession to the European Union and noted that discussions with Ankara aim at moving things in a positive direction.
''The US remains very vigorously and actively engaged in seeking and promoting a comprehensive and durable settlement for the Cyprus question,'' Klosson said after a meeting with Social Democrats Movement leader Yiannakis Omirou on Friday.
He said Washington continues to pursue this goal at a high level of the US government.
The Ambassador said Cyprus, as an EU member, is called to play a broader role on the wider stage of Europe, a development which would broaden the dialogue between Washington and Nicosia to cover a whole range of issues.
''We are interested in talking about all kinds of things that matter to Europe and Cyprus is very much a parcel of the EU,'' Klosson added.
Asked about US-Turkish relations, he said Turkey is an important strategic partner and the US is interested in moving that relationship forward. ''The net effect of all these discussions is to move things in a positive direction,'' he added.
On the effort to revive the stalled peace talks, Klosson said the US continues to subscribe to the view of the UN Secretary General that all parties have to commit themselves to finalizing a UN peace proposal by a certain date and put it to a referendum.
''The Secretary General put forth his recommendations and we support them as the other 14 members of the Security Council. What the Secretary General has recommended remains the way forth,'' he added.
In his remarks Omirou said during the meeting it was agreed that the Cyprus problem should be solved urgently and that any good will measures cannot substitute the solution but they could create a positive climate to facilitate a settlement.
''The US is trying to break the current deadlock in the peace effort, we are ready at any time to return to the negotiating table but the Turkish Cypriot leader continues to be intransigent,'' Omirou added.
 UN Assembly approves peacekeeping funding
NICOSIA 21/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)The UN General Assembly adopted Thursday a budget of some 2.17 billion dollars to finance 11 active peacekeeping missions for 2003/2004, including the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus(UNFICYP).
UNFICYP's total budget amounts to 45.77 million dollars, for the period 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004. This includes 43.8 m. for the maintenance of the force, 1.51 m. for the support account and 462,400 for the logistics base.
The Assembly decided also that 1.78 m. would be returned to the government of Cyprus and 853,400 to Greece.
The Assembly noted with appreciation that one third of the net appropriation will be funded through voluntary contributions from the government of Cyprus and some 6.5 m. from the government of Greece.
In May this year UNFICYP comprised about 1,228 military personnel and 35 civilian police officers from nine countries.
The force came to the island in March 1964 with a mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities. Following the 1974 Turkish invasion, this mandate was extended to include maintaining a buffer zone between the two forces (Greek Cypriot in the south and Turkish in the north).