|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 9, 2003
 'November 17' terrorist group trial verdicts passed down by criminal court
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The criminal tribunal trying the 19 suspected members of the elusive 'November 17' terrorist group on Monday convened to pass down the verdicts on the accused, which were read out by Appeals judges’ president Michalis Margaris, who presided over the court proceedings, which lasted 162 sessions.
On the charge of setting up and participating in a criminal group, which all 19 detainees were charged with, the court ruled ''guilty'' the following: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Dionyssis Georgiadis, Vassilis Xiros, Costas Karatsolis, Thomas Serifis, Pavlos Serifis, Alexandros Giotopoulos, and Nikos Papanastasiou.
Acquitted of this charge, by majority vote, are the following: Costas Telios, Yannis Serifis , Theologos Psaradellis and Patroklos Tselentis, while Angeliki Sotiropoulou was found not guilty due to doubts. The court ruled that criminal proceedings for this crime are halted against the five.
Psaradellis was acquitted of the charges he faced of participation in two robberies.
Sotiropoulou was further acquitted, by majority vote, of charges of participation in the killing of British defense attache Steven Saunders, while Anestis Papanastasiou was also acquitted.
Sotiropoulou was also acquitted of the final charge she faced, of complicity in the incident during which a bomb exploded in Savvas Xiros' hands in Piraeus on June 29, 2002, that resulted in the first ever arrest of a 17N suspect (Savvas Xiros) and snowballed into the arrests of a further 18 suspects.
Sotiropoulou, therefore, was due to be released from prison later in the day.
Savvas Xiros was not present in court due to illness.
The long-awaited trial opened Monday, March 3, at the women's section of the Korydallos prison, near Piraeus, under stringent security measures, and adjourned on November 24, after 162 sessions.
The court proceedings were presided over by Appeals judges’ president Michalis Margaritis, 64, who joined the judicial corps in 1972 after receiving a degree from the Athens Law School and post-graduate studies specializing in European Law in London. The other justices sitting on the bench were appeals judges Nikolaos Zairis, 57, and Vassilis Kourakakis, 63. The prosecutor representing the State was 64-year-old appeals judge Christos Lambrou, a veteran to the judicial corps which he joined in 1969.
Prosecution witnesses numbered more than 350, among them 40 foreign nationals. Defense lawyers numbered 150, while the accused were facing charges for an overall total of some 2,000 crimes. - Alexandros Giotopoulos, 59, (code-name Lambros and believed to be the terrorist group's leader), faced some 1,000 charges as, according to the indictment sheet, he was considered the moral instigator of all the 17N activities. He was believed to have been a member of 17N from its founding in 1975 up until his arrest in July 2002. - Nikos Papanastasiou, 52, (code-name Nikitas) faced eight charges for participating in three 17N attacks: the 1984 attempted assassination of US air force sergeant Robert Judd, the 1984 robbery of a National Bank branch in Kato Petralona in which police officer Christos Matis was killed, and the 1985 assassination of Athens daily 'Apogevmatini' publisher Nikos Mompheratos and his driver Panayotis Rousetis. He is considered to have been a 17N member from 1975 up to his arrest in July 2002. - Dimitris Koufodinas, 45 (code-name Loukas, believed to be the organization’s top hit-man) faced 253 charges for participation in 84 17N activities, including participation in many 17N killings, including those of police officer Christos Matis in 1984 National Bank robbery in Kato Petralona; 'Apogevmatini' publisher Nikos Mompheratos and his driver Panayotis Rousetis in 1985; industrialist Dimitris Angelopoulos in 1986; industrialist Alexandros Athanasiadis-Bodosakis in 1988; fatal shooting of prosecutor Costas Androulidakis in 1989; New Democracy (ND) MP Pavlos Bakoyannis in 1989; US sergeant Ronald Steward in 1991; Turkish embassy assistant press attache Gyorgu Cetin in 1991; and British embassy military attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders in 2000, among others. He was believed to have been a 17N member from early 1983 to his arrest in July 2002. - Savvas Xiros, 41, (code-name Michalis) faced 206 charges for participation in 78 17N activities, including the assassinations of: US embassy military attache William Nordeen in 1988; New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyannis in 1989; former National Bank governor Michalis Vranopoulos in 1994; Turkish diplomat Omer Haluk Sipahioglu in 1994; shipowner and former shareholder and director of Elefsis Shipyards Costis Peraticos in 1997, among others. Believed to have joined 17N in 1986. - Christodoulos Xiros, 45, (code-name Manolis, older brother of Savvas Xiros), faced 190 charges for participation in 78 17N activities. Believed to be a 17N member from late-1983 to his arrest in July 2002. - Patroclos Tselentis, 43, (code-name Alekos or Tainias) faced 41 charges for participation in ten 17N activities, including five assassinations. Believed to have joined 17N in 1983. - Vassilis Tzortzatos, 48, (code-name Stamatis) faced 175 charges for participation in 33 17N activities, including 7 assassinations. Believed to have joined the group in 1985. - Vassilis Xiros, 31, (code-name Panais, younger brother of Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros), faced 39 charges for participation in 28 17N activities, including accessory in the assassinations of shipowner and former shareholder and director of Elefsis Shipyards Costis Peraticos in 1997; and British embassy military attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders in 2000. Believed to have joined the group in 1995. - Iraklis Kostaris, 37, (code-name Haris), faced 30 charges for participation in 9 17N activities, including accessory in the assassination of shipowner and former shareholder and director of Elefsis Shipyards Costis Peraticos in 1997 and as an accomplice in the assassination of New Democracy (ND) MP Pavlos Bakoyannis in 1989. Believed to have been a 17N member from 1988 up to his arrest in July 2002. - Costas Karatsolis, 37, (code-name Stelios), faced 13 charges for participation in six 17N activities, mostly concerning armed robberies, and one assassination attempt. Believed to have joined the group in late 1987. - Sotiris Kondylis, 43, (code-name Aris), faced 18 charges, including accessory in the assassination of Turkish diplomat Omer Haluk Sipahioglu in 1994. Believed to have joined the group in 1990. - Pavlos Serifis, 47, faced three major charges under the counter-terrorism law faced by most of the accused, concerning set-up and membership in a criminal organization, arms possession, and construction, procurement and possession of explosive materials. Believed to have been a member of 17N from its founding in 1975 up to his arrest in July 2002. - Yannis Serifis, 65 (cousin of Pavlos Serifis) faced the same charges as Pavlos Serifis. Believed to have been a member of 17N from its founding in 1975 up to his arrest in July 2002. - Costas Telios, 38, (code-name Markos), faced 14 charges for participation in four 17N activities. Believed to have joined the group in 1988, and of being a member up until his arrest in July 2002. - Thomas Serifis, 37, (code-name Stathis), faced eight charges for participation in four 17N activities. He was not facing charges related to the 17N assassinations. Believed to have joined the group in late 1988. - Theologos Psaradellis, 60, (code-name Fotis), faced six charges for participation in two 17N armed robberies -- that of the ELTA post office in Patissia, Athens, in 1988, and at the ELTA post office in Egaleo in 1988. Believed to have joined the organization in 1978. - Dionyssis Georgiadis, 27, (code-name Alexis), faced nine charges for participation in four 17N activities. Was not charged with participation in 17N assassinations. Believed to have joined the organization in 1988. - Angeliki Sotiropoulou, 41, (the only woman arrested for alleged membership in 17N, former wife of another defendant, Savvas Xiros, and long-time companion of defendant Dimitris Koufodinas, whom she married in a civil service at Korydallos prison after their incarceration) faced five charges for participation in two 17N activities: the assassination of British embassy military attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders in 2000, and an attempted explosion in the port of Piraeus. She was believed to have joined the group in 1986. - Anestis Papanastasiou, 41 (cousin of defendant Nikos Papanastasiou). He was not charged with participation in any 17N attack, but accused of set-up and membership in a criminal organization.
Reduced sentences will be imposed on Patroklos Tselentis, Costas Telios, Thomas Serifis and Sotiris Kondylis, since the court recognized as mitigating circumstances their "genuine repentance".
Alexandros Giotopoulos is the only one of the 19 defendants to be found guilty of the crime of "moral instigation" in all the cases of murder with which the '17 November' terrorist group is charged.
Angeliki Sotiropoulou, Yannis Serifis, Theologos Psaradellis and Anestis Papanastasiou have been acquitted and will be released.
'November 17' terrorist group mastermind Alexandros Giotopoulos and top hit-man Dimitris Koufodinas, as well as Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Iraklis Kostaris are facing life sentences, after being convicted Monday by the three-member criminal court trying 19 suspected 17N suspects.
Giotopoulos, Koufodinas, Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos are expected to be handed down sentences of several times life, when the court reconvenes later in the week to pass sentences.
Judicial sources believe that Nikos Papanastasiou and Pavlos Serifis, who were convicted only for the crime of "setting up and participating in a criminal organization", will face prison sentences of 5-10 years.
Sentencing on Wednesday: Convictions of defendants in the murders and other felony crimes carried out by 'November 17', as announced by the court on Monday:
For the murder of police guard Christos Matis in the 1984 National Bank robbery in Kato Petralona, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Christodoulos Xiros, Patroklos Tselentis and Alexandros Giotïpoulos. Acquitted: Nikos Papanastasiou.
For the murders of 'Apogevmatini' publisher Nikos Momferatos and his driver Panayotis Rousetis in 1985, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Patroklos Tselentis and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Nikos Papanastasiou.
For the murder of industrialist Dimitris Angelopoulos in 1986, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortatos, Patroklos Tselentis and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder of industrialist Alexandros Athanasiadis-Bodosakis in 1988, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Christodoulos Xiros.
For the murder of US embassy military attache William Nordeen in 1988, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Patroklos Tselentis, and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder (fatal shooting) of prosecutor Costas Androulidakis in 1989, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Costas Telios and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the attempted murder of Supreme Court prosecutor Panayiotis Tarasouleas (shot and wounded in the legs) in 1989, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the attempted murder of former public order minister George Petsos and two of his police bodyguards (their car was blown up) in 1989, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Christodoulos Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos.
For the murder of main opposition New Democracy MP and party spokesman Pavlos Bakoyannis (husband of current Athens mayor Dora Bakoyianni) in 1989, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Iraklis Kostaris and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the attempted murder of businessman Vardis Vardinoyannis (booby-trapped car, no one was injured) in 1990, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Iraklis Kostaris.
For the murder of US sergeant Ronald Stewart in 1991, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Iraklis Kostaris and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder of Turkish embassy assistant press attache Gyorgu Cetin, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the attempted murder of then finance minister Yannis Paleokrassas in 1992, in which teenage pedestrian Thanos Axarlian was killed and five other passers-by were injured, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Costas Telios and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder of former National Bank of Greece governor Michalis Vranopoulos and injury of his driver in 1994, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder of Turkish embassy diplomat Omer Haluk Sipahioglu in 1994, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Sotiris Kondylis and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the murder of shipowner and former shareholder and director of Elefsis Shipyards, Costis Peraticos, in 1997, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Iraklis Kostaris.
For the murder of British embassy military attache Stephen Saunders in 2000, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos. Acquitted: Angeliki Sotiropoulou.
For the attempted murder in 1988 of US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Athens station chief George Carros, all five defendants (Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Patroklos Tselentis and Alexandros Giotopoulos) were acquitted.
For the rocket attack against the US embassy in Athens in 1996, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Xiros, Sotiris Kondylis and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
For the rocket attack against the residence of German ambassador in Athens Karl-Heinz Albert Kuhna in 1999, convicted are: Dimitris Koufodinas, Savvas Xiros, Vassilis Xiros and Alexandros Giotopoulos.
Alexandros Giotopoulos was also convicted for moral instigation in the double murder of CIA official and head of the US military mission in Athens, George Chades, and his driver Nikos Veloutsos, in 1983.
The court adjourned until Wednesday, when bench prosecutor Christos Lambrou's proposed sentences for the convicted defendants will be announced.
 Gov't hails ends of 'N17' trial as victory for democracy
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Monday hailed the end of the ''November 17'' trial as a victory of democracy over terrorism, saying the trial had been carried out flawlessly and with respect for the individual rights of the accused.
Earlier on Monday, the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court announced its verdicts for the 19 defendants on trial as N17 members, acquitting four and recognizing mitigating circumstances for another three.
According to the spokesman, Greece society had finally been freed from the scourge of terrorism after decades and the country was now considered one of the safest on the planet.
Protopapas said the court's decision also confirmed the thorough job done by the government and Greek law enforcement authorities.
Asked to comment on statements by Public Order Minister George Floridis regarding the possibility of further terrorism-related arrests, Protopapas stressed that N17 had been operationally dismantled.
He said it was natural for Floridis to declare the readiness and determination of law enforcement agencies to pre-empt any move that might arise from marginal members of N17 or international terrorism.
Justice Minister: ''triumph of our legal culture''
Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos on Monday said the court's decision was a ''triumph of our legal culture'' and ruled out any possibility of extraditing those acquitted to the United States or any other country.
He said the entire procedure leading up to the verdict had ensured protection of the defendants' rights, that lawyers and other participants in the trial were able to exercise their functions unobstructed and that there was the maximum possible news coverage of the proceedings.
Main opposition New Democracy: New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that justice had done its duty and that the decision was an important landmark in the fight against terrorism.
''Terrorism is the enemy of democracy, therefore the fight against it is incessant,'' he added.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos): Synaspismos leader Nikos Constantopoulos responded to questions of journalists saying "the decision of the court must be respected. Until the judicial process concludes its second (appeal) phase, everyone should let justice do its job, following the principles of a just trial and democratic guarantees, which is the content of our civilization.
 US State Department hails court decision on N17
WASHINGTON 09/12/2003 (ANA/T. Ellis)The United States hailed the decision announced by an Athens court on Monday concerning the trial of 19 suspects allegedly involved in the November 17 terrorist group.
Replying to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA), the US State Department's spokesman Richard Boucher said ''the US welcomes the decision to convict'' and expressed the hope that the issue will also close for the families of the victims.
Boucher added that Washington will have further comment when Greek justice announces the specific sentences.
Asked whether the US intends to request the extradition of specific persons involved in the case, he said ''I have nothing to say at this stage.''
Boucher also declined any comment on a statement by Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos that there is no question of extradition to the United States.
Replying to another question on whether the US believes that the case has closed altogether, Boucher said ''you mean if they have arrested all who are related to November 17? This is a question for the Greek prosecuting authorities. This specific case appears to be coming to its end. I am not aware whether there is the right of appeal or other aspects of judicial procedure. It is not a question the US can reply to. It is an issue concerning the Greek prosecuting authorities and Greek justice.''
Urged again to comment on whether all have been arrested, the State Department's spokesman reiterated that it is not something the US can say, adding that ''the Greek prosecuting and judicial authorities, which are resolute and which showed their determination in the prosecution of November 17, are those which can reply whether they still have an open case or not.''
US envoy's reaction to N17 verdicts: The first official US response to Monday’s verdicts in the closely watched “November 17” terrorism trial came hours later from the US envoy to Athens, who noted that Washington will wait until after the sentencing phase to officially comment.
US Ambassador Thomas Miller was quizzed about the judgment after arriving to speak at a previously scheduled American-Hellenic Chamber luncheon in a downtown Athens hotel. The notorious terror gang killed a handful of US embassy personnel -- as well as other foreign diplomats, local businessmen, publishers and politicians -- since it first emerged on the scene 28 years ago with Dec. 23 assassination of the reputed CIA station chief in Athens at the time, Richard Welch.
Miller again praised Greece for apprehending what local authorities believe is the once-elusive organization’s entire membership, while adding that the “(judicial) process is only half-way there”.
Conversely, he emphasized that his comments, hours after a three-justice special court convicted 15 out of 19 defendants, entailed no “signals” whatsoever.
“My government wants to look at the sentences and will offer comment afterwards ... this (trial and verdict) is an extremely important milestone for Greece,” Miller said, before again praising Greek-US cooperation in the anti-terrorism sector. Moreover, he merely noted that close bilateral cooperation in investigations will continue when asked whether he believed any other N17 cadres remained at large.
Asked about the prospect of Washington requesting the extradition of one or more of the convicted defendants, the US envoy said that at the moment “this is a question I am not prepared to address,” before referring to statements on the issue by the Greek justice minister.
 PM Simitis to carry out lightning visit to Rome on Tuesday
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to carry out a lightning visit to Rome on Tuesday for talks with his Italian counterpart and European Council President Silvio Berlusconi, in view of the upcoming European Union summit in Brussels.
The trip was announced on Monday by government spokesman Christos Protopapas, during the regular briefing on the premier's agenda for the coming week.
After he returns from Rome, Simitis will head a government meeting on the EU summit on Wednesday morning at 10:00, followed by a meeting with PASOK Central Committee Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis at noon and with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis at 13:00.
Protopapas also announced an inter-ministerial meeting on Monday evening to discuss the development of the old Athens airport grounds at Ellinikon, which will be chaired by the premier.
The spokesman said that Simitis' previous statements regarding the fate of the site were still valid.
The premier had pledged to turn 400 hectares within the site into a metropolitan park, donate 30 hectares for use by public benefit organizations and the remaining 100 hectares, or roughly 18.8 per cent of the total, will be sold to the private sector in order to fund the creation of the park and carry out improvements to rundown and underprivileged areas in Athens.
On Thursday, Simitis will visit Thessaloniki to address the 5th World Convention of World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), while on Friday he will leave for Brussels to attend the two-day EU summit.
He will return via London, where he is due to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday.
 European defense at center stage in council of ministers meeting in Brussels
BRUSSELS 09/12/2003 (ANA/G. Zitouniati)European Union foreign ministers on Monday dealt with the European defense issue, as it is institutionalized by the European Constitution draft.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou said that the only outstanding issue is that of the article on mutual defense solidarity, since some member-states have objections, requesting that it should not be ''automatic'', arguing that it should be activated following a request by the member-state which is under attack by a third country, while also they requested that a special decision should be made for every case.
The draft Constitution's other mandates met with no reactions. Such are the structured cooperation -meaning that only the member-states that participate in the defense system will have the right to decide and the defense system is open to all to enter - and the establishment of a European Armaments Service for the coordination of the defense industry of the EU.
Papandreou also said that the German-French-British agreement was one of consensus, with the exception of the European armed forces headquarters, which is not included in the text of the Constitution while the objections against it stem mostly from the United States.
The ministers also focused on ''thorny'' issues, such as the double majority voting system, which is still open to compromise solutions, one being the decrease in the number of votes required by the minority to block a decision of the EU Council.
Papandreou concluded expressing his satisfaction for the content of the final draft for the conclusions of the European Summit of Brussels, which begins on Thursday, especially concerning sectors of Greek interest, such as the development of Cyprus' accession to the Union in coordination with the resolution of the island republic's political problem and the prospect of Turkey's accession to the EU.
 Syrian president al-Asad to visit Athens next week
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Syrian president Bashar al-Asad will pay a three-day state visit to Athens next week, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos, it was announced Monday.
An announcement from Stephanopoulos' office said that al-Asad, accompanied by his wife, would be making an official visit to Athens from December 15 to 17.
 Greek and Slovak DMs discuss, Iraq, Afghanistan and Balkans
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and his Slovak counterpart Juraj Liska discussed developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans on Monday, as well as European defense and bilateral cooperation in the defense sector.
Papantoniou briefed Liska on Greece's positions regarding Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue. He added that Turkey has not accepted the plan by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a framework for negotiating a just and viable solution for the issue of Cyprus, despite strong pressures from the international community.
The Greek defense minister said that if a solution is not found by May 1, 2004 when the Republic of Cyprus will join the European Union, the paradox will occur of Turkey occupying part of the territory of a European country which constitutes a very serious violation of international legality and will dynamite the course of Turkey towards the EU.
Papantoniou expressed the hope that Turkey will realize the risks for itself and its European prospect and will contribute to the finding of a fair and viable solution to the issue of Cyprus, in accordance with the principles of international law as they are safeguarded by the Annan plan.
The two ministers signed a defense cooperation protocol between the two countries concerning the exchange of experiences in the sectors of operations and training to enable the Slovak armed forces to adjust to NATO's norms.
The two countries are also examining, at expert level, the possibility of their cooperation in the defense industry sector. Liska further announced the appointment of a military attache in Athens to facilitate better cooperation between the two countries.
The Slovak defense minister also said the two countries have common positions regarding the EU's defense policy and its cooperation with NATO.
Slovakia will join the EU on May 1.
 Loverdos on two-day tour of Romania,
FYROM BUCHAREST 09/12/2003 (ANA/E. Boukaouri)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Monday began a two-day tour of Romania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to discuss bilateral economic relations and the course of the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans.
During his visit here he met with his Romanian counterpart and discussed bilateral economic affairs and the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans, as well as the level of Greek private investment in the country that has attracted some 500 Greek businesses.
''Cooperation in the Balkans is totally necessary, that is the title of my speech tonight here at the University of Transylvania … much more so since the Balkans are a market or a community of 65 million people,'' he said.
Later in the day he addressed the faculty of the University of Transylvania, where he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Transylvania, Brasov Campus, for his academic work, as well as his contribution as Greek deputy foreign minister to the promotion of Greek-Romanian relations and Romania's European orientation.
Romania expects to enter the European Union by 2007, along with Bulgaria.
 Proclamation unveiled for alliance of Centre-Left political forces
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The Proclamation for setting up the ''Initiative Committee for the Centre-Left'' was unveiled Monday in Athens, while it was also announced that local ''initiative committees'' would be set up shortly to organize informative events.
The first such event will be held on Wednesday in Larissa.
According to the Proclamation, the upcoming general elections, the proposals and dialogue for progressive governance, the measures announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis for the weak social strata and for social convergence comprised a ''significant opportunity for a substantial change in the relations among the political forces of the Centre-Left''.
The text said that it was ''time to set aside the suspicions and reservations of the past'', adding that these political forces expressed a ''steady majority of the Greek citizens'' who steadfastly desire cooperation among those forces in order to tackle the major problems of the present as well as the prospects and uncertainties of the future, and to ensure Greece's progressive contribution to the prospect of the United Europe.
''Today and tomorrow, the only policy with substantial prospect is that which aspires to rally together, on a common platform, the entire political spectrum of the Centre-Left, in which each social and political entity will respect the particularities and autonomy of the others. Only such an alliance can reverse the trend towards conservatism already evident in the social body,'' it said.
Only such an alliance ''will be able to utilize the positive achievements of the Simitis governments thus far, but also overcome the delays and wavering, and promote the necessary reforms that our country greatly needs,'' it added.
The proclamation noted that the program and political content of such that alliance would be in the direction of ''progressive modernization, social solidarity, a multi-cultural society, ecology and the cultural rejuvenation of the country in the framework of a strong European Union''.
''Naturally, we do not ignore the political conjuncture, nor do we underestimate the risk of political sovereignty of the conservative party in the next elections. The elections, however, do not comprise the horizon of our initiative, which goes farther,'' it said.
The proclamation was signed by 159 personalities comprising the Initiative Committee for the Centre-Left.
 Coalition party leader meets with European police union federation
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday met a delegation from the federation of European police unions.
After the meeting, he said that the rights of those working in the police force and other services had to be protected as labor rights, while the protection of their personality and their role as active citizens had to be respected.
 Parliament ratifies decision for amendment of election of EU deputies
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The Parliament plenum on Monday ratified the ''decision of the Council of June 25, 2002 and September 23, 2002 for the amendment of the act for the election of representatives at the European Parliament with a direct, universal suffrage.''
According to the decision, the EU member states must jointly decide on the probability of speeding up the Euro-elections one year before the expiring of the five-year period of the European Parliament.
 No risk of Greece losing EU funds, finmin says
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Greece is not in jeopardy of losing European Union funds for 2000-2003 under the Third Community Support Framework, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Monday.
Other more developed EU countries were facing a possible loss of funding under the package, Christodoulakis told a conference of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce.
Addressing the same meeting, the main opposition New Democracy party's economic spokesman, George Alogoskoufis, said that Greece was the EU's laggard based on statistics from the bloc.
Greece's per capita income was currently 66 per cent of the EU average against 70 per cent in 1980; and unemployment was at 10 per cent in 2002, the second highest rate in the bloc, Alogoskoufis said.
 Ministers express satisfaction over course of CSF after meeting
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis, Agriculture Minister George Drys, Health and Welfare Minister Costas Stefanis and Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Christos Pachtas on Monday expressed their satisfaction on the course of the Community Support Framework (CPF) following several meetings chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
As stated by Pachtas (as coordinator of the regional programs), the danger was averted of a loss of funds from the 3rd CSF for the 2000-2003 period. He added that also discussed at the ministers' meeting was the distribution of the ''reserve performance and planning'' through which Greece will provide about two billion euros for the programs of the ''third package.'' Within this framework, he said, it was decided for the additional funds to be allotted for regional projects.
Furthermore, the deputy minister expressed optimism on the achievement of the objective for the absorption of community capital in the order of 30 per cent until the end of the current year.
On his part, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis stated that his ministry's program was progressing smoothly and he referred to the course of projects concerning the tram and suburban railway.
 US envoy comments on Greece's EU-leading growth rate
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The US ambassador on Monday expressed his view that there is no reason why Greece cannot maintain its current EU-leading growth rates after the upcoming Olympic Games of Athens.
US envoy Thomas Miller made the comments during the annual conference of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, hours before National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and top main opposition George Alogoskoufis addressed the same gathering on the course of the Greek economy.
In speaking to an audience comprised of some of the country’s top entrepreneurs and corporate executives, Miller cited a handful of economic strengths now featured by the east Mediterranean country (better infrastructure, a stable currency, improved telecoms, assured EU structural funds in the coming period etc) while citing a simplified tax system and liberalized labor markets as necessary to continue this growth.
However, Miller praised what he said were openings in the banking, telecoms and energy sectors, while adding that US business leaders have told him over recent years that Greece has become a “more attractive place to do business.”
Miller especially focused on what he said were “opportunities” in the energy sector vis-a-vis Greece, citing pending deregulation in the local power industry, new equipment purchases for Greece’s lignite mining industry, as well as regional gas networks and oil pipelines.
“There are no certainties in this world, no guarantees,” Miller concluded, before stressing however his optimism for Greece’s economic outlook.
 OTE to up line subscription fees under new pricing policy
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The management of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Monday announced a new pricing policy that will reduce call rates for domestic and business users while raising the monthly subscription fee for all connections.
The fixed fee is charged regardless of the number of calls made and is set to rise by 3.8 per cent on average.
The OTE fixed-line network is used by a number of new telecoms firms offering cheaper rates that have emerged since fixed-line telephony was deregulated. Customers continue to pay OTE for the use of the line but are billed separately for calls made using alternative telecoms firms.
OTE said its new price policy would reduce the cost of its services by 6.3 per cent on average. This figure rises to 9.6 per cent if the reductions made since May are calculated, while customers can achieve savings up to 66 per cent by buying certain OTE packages.
 Balkans, EU pave the way for energy link
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Balkan countries and the European Union on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement on completing energy networks in southeastern Europe and connecting them to the EU's grid.
Signing for the EU was Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio.
Balkan countries to join the pact are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania and Turkey.
EU members working for the project's implementation are Greece, Italy and Austria.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slip in modest trade
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Monday but outperformed remaining European markets with the euro's sharp rise hurting quoted exporters.
The general share index shed 0.39 percent to end at 2,178.74 points. Turnover was 121.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.41 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.69 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with losses of 1.31 percent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 245 to 53 with 54 issues remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 48.9 mln euros Monday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Monday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of December 8 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,231 1,203
 Opposition MP says 2004 security costs reach 900 million euros
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) on Monday charged that expenditures for Athens 2004 security have reached the 900-million-euro mark, considerably higher that the 650-million figure that the government steadfastly maintains.
A Synaspismos deputy told a press conference that the cost of the Olympic Games will break every record, while claiming that “terror-related pressure” is continuing.
Deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis criticized previous estimates by the government as inaccurate, particularly statements by Public Order Minister George Floridis last October citing a 600-million-euro cost for security, with a deviation of 10 to 20 percent upwards.
“In a question I tabled on Sept. 27, 2002, the public order ministry responded that the costs (for security) totaled 788 million euros, while in a new question … the ministry, in its response, cited the total estimated cost at 898,367,337 euros…” Lafazanis said.
The deputy, one of six from Synaspismos in the 300-member Greek Parliament, detailed what he said were expenditures for each specific ministry involved with security, such as the merchant marine, public order and defense ministries, in order to calculate to the 900-million figure.
He also charged that the C4I security network, the one based on the “Tetra” system, will not be transferred to Greek authorities but only “leased” for 10 years.
Finally, he claimed that the NATO alliance, of which is a member, wants to implement its new anti-terrorism “dogma” in Greece as well, a plan he described as based on “prevention, dealing with and quashing terrorist actions around the world.”
 ATHOC managing director presents shot-put plan for Olympic Games
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) managing director Spyros Kapralos said on Monday the holding of the shot-put event in Ancient Olympic during the Olympic Games is aimed at promoting the unique character of the location, Greek culture and respect for history.
He was speaking during the presentation of the relevant operational plan prepared by the Organizing Committee.
''Our purpose is also to show that the Greeks know how to safeguard and promote their cultural treasures. Both ATHOC 2004 President Mrs. Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki and all of us who are involved in this case have placed as a precondition absolute respect for the historical character of the location above all,'' Kapralos said.
He also pointed out that the shot-put event will take place at the stadium in Ancient Olympia on August 18, both for men and women.
 Authorities meet with 7-nation advisory group on 2004 security
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Greek authorities and 2004 organizers (ATHOC) met with representatives of a seven-nation Olympic security advisory committee here on Monday. No announcements or a press release was issued afterwards.
The latest meeting also included the participation of a top Scotland Yard cadre.
Officials from Greek Police, the defense ministry, a specially formed Olympics security directorate as well as ATHOC met with representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Spain, Israel and Australia.
The meeting, held at the public order ministry, is part of regular contacts between the sides to focus directly on 2004 Games security.
 Greece, UK to cooperate in port safety for Athens 2004 Olympics
LONDON 09/12/2003 (ANA/L.Tsirigotakis)Greek and UK government authorities are to cooperate in port safety for the Athens 2004 Olympics.
The decision was taken at a meeting in the UK capital on Monday of Merchant Marine Minister George Paschalidis and an undersecretary for the Department of Transport, David Jamieson.
The alliance will cover Greece's ten major ports, Paschalidis told reporters.
 Interior minister inaugurates public admin Auditors-Investigators' offices
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Monday inaugurated the new office building of the Public Administration and Decentralization Auditors-Investigators Corps in central Athens, calling the corps ''a basic building block of the modern Greek state''.
The minister spoke of the big problem of corruption in the public administration, which, as he said, is very difficult to deal with, adding, however, that in order for the corps to prove effective it was equipped with the ability to conduct investigations and has the right to intervene and investigate cases without having received a complaint.
Skandalidis also stressed that the position of the Public Administrator Inspector General was created to lead the corps.
 Arms-smuggling ring dismantled, police claim
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Greek authorities on Monday said they had dismantled a ring of Greeks and Serbs involved in smuggling arms across the Greek border and selling them in Greece.
Police said the guns were loaded onto a tourist coach traveling from Belgrade to Athens as an unaccompanied parcel and were destined to reach the gang via Albanian accomplices.
Two Greeks and two Serbs were arrested after being found in possession of six guns and 40 rounds of ammunition, 15 Kalashnikov rifle cartridges, a bayonet and a counterfeit 50-euro banknote. Police said the gang intended to sell the weapons to criminal groups in Greece.
The four were led before an Athens Misdemeanors Court public prosecutor to be charged.
 Deputy interior minister addresses one-day conference on public administration
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)Deputy Interior Minister Nikos Bistis was the main speaker of a one-day conference held in Athens on ''Modern views on administrative reform'', which was organized by the European Center for Administrative Law, in cooperation with the ministry of interior.
Bistis spoke of the government's achievements to date on public administration issues, reminding that the basic aim of his ministry was to achieve transparency, participation, accountability, effectiveness and cohesion.
He focused on the adaptation of the 1994 system of hiring in the public sector, which secures meritocracy and supports institutions of transparency with the establishment of auditing controls.
Bistis also discussed the creation of the Citizens' Service Centers, which, as he said, have 827 branches around the country, while soon their number will rise to 877, adding that this experience of Greece can now be implemented in Eastern and Central European countries.
 ABNA to present yearly awards to journalists of Balkan media
Athens, 09/12/2003 (ANA)The representatives of the news agencies of the Southeastern Europe decided to establish special awards for journalists working for the mass media of the Balkans, during the weekend's general assembly of the Balkan News Agency's (ABNA) in Thessaloniki.
In adopting the proposal for the awards tabled by ANA Managing Director Nicolas Voulelis, the ABNA members decided to present them on a yearly basis and they will be given for reporting on issues that promote the Balkan cooperation, as well as the course of the Balkan countries to the European Union.
They also decided the common appearance of the news agencies of the Southeastern Europe on the Internet, with the ABNA logo and content comprised of archival material.
ABNA to establish Balkan journalism awards: The Association of Balkan News Agencies (ABNA) has decided to establish special annual awards for journalists working in the media in southeastern Europe.
According to an announcement on Monday, the association adopted a proposal for the awards made by Athens News Agency Managing Director Nicolas Voulelis during the ABNA general assembly in Thessaloniki.
The awards will go to journalists and photo-journalists for articles, reporting, research and photographs appearing in the Balkan media that promote Balkan cooperation and the progress of Balkan countries toward the European Union.
The general assembly also decided on a joint Internet presentation for Balkan state news agencies through the ABNA portal that is due to start operating in January.
Through this, users will have access to a wealth of information and photographs posted by the news agencies on the site, as well as access to a databank on the Balkan area.
 Cyprus President Papadopoulos satisfied with CHOGM communique
LARNACA 09/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said the reference to Cyprus in the final communique of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was satisfactory.
Speaking to reporters on his return from Nigeria where Commonwealth leaders concluded their meeting on Monday, the president said after Sunday's illegal parliamentary elections in Turkish occupied Cyprus, he will ask the UN Secretary-General to reconvene peace talks, based on Kofi Annan's proposals on a comprehensive settlement.
Papadopoulos said in Abuja he held a number of contacts with heads of government and a communique was issued at the end of the meeting.
''I consider it a satisfactory resolution. It covers the issues which deal with the Cyprus problem,'' he said.
Papadopoulos said he will meet in the next two days with the political leadership ''on issues concerning the Intergovernmental Conference which are pending.''
Answering questions, President Papadopoulos reiterated that the Greek Cypriot side ''is ready for negotiations, whenever the Secretary-General calls for them, on the basis of his plan.''
He said he had discussed this with Kofi Annan while in New York in September, as well as with US State Department Coordinator Thomas Weston during multiple meetings. Weston is due on the island in the next few days, the president announced.
''We are ready for negotiations if and when the Secretary General calls for them,'' Papadopoulos said, adding that before his departure he had declared that once the illegal elections in the occupied areas were over, ''my intention is to appeal to the UN Secretary-General and ask him to convene a new round of negotiations based on his plan.''
Regarding press reports about plans prepared by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Papadopoulos said, ''I believe the SG is not ready to start negotiations on any other basis apart from the one he has outlined in his plan.''
''The procedure and basis of the negotiations is determined by the UN and we will adhere to that,'' the president stressed, when asked about Denktash's idea to hold proximity talks.
On US interest in Cyprus, Papadopoulos said that has continued over this period and ''Mr. Weston's visit is part of the American effort to show that it remains committed to efforts to resume negotiations. It is nothing new, neither is it a new initiative.''
Invited to comment on statements by Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that a solution should be reached before 1st May 2004, President Papadopoulos replied: ''this is our position too.''
''We have repeatedly stated that we want a united Cyprus to enter the EU, something which is in the interest of Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Cyprus and the Union. I believe that if the Turkish attitude and intransigence change, it will be possible to find a solution so that a united country can join to avoid any problems that might arise if Cyprus is not united when it joins,'' the president added.
Replying to questions, he said the payment by Turkey of damages ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou was ''a vindication of the principle that Court judgments should be implemented by all member states.''
Ankara's move, he pointed out, confirms that it accepts responsibility being an occupation force in Cyprus and acknowledges that Denktash's regime is a local subordinate administration to Turkey.
CHOGM regrets continuing negative approach by Turkish Cypriot leader: Commonwealth Heads of State and Government on Monday expressed their wish for a solution in Cyprus before May 1 next year to enable a reunited country to join the European Union.
They noted that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's negative approach ''hinders the resumption of negotiations based on the Annan plan."
In their Communique, Commonwealth leaders who on Monday wrapped up their meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, regretted that the latest UN effort to reach a negotiated settlement, in March this year, collapsed "due to the negative approach taken by the Turkish Cypriot leader."
They called on all parties concerned and in particular Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to cooperate fully with Kofi Annan for the resumption of peace talks.
The full text of the four paragraphs relating to Cyprus in the final Communique is as follows:
''Heads of Government welcomed the signing by the Republic of Cyprus of the Accession Treaty to the European Union on April 17, 2003 and expressed the wish that a solution of the Cyprus problem would be found before May 1, 2004 that would allow a reunited Cyprus to become a member of the European Union.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their support for the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus.
They regretted that the latest effort of the United Nations Secretary-General under his mission of Good Offices in Cyprus collapsed at The Hague meeting on March 10, 2003 due to the negative approach taken by the Turkish Cypriot leader.
They further regretted that the Turkish Cypriot leader continues to maintain the same negative approach, thus hindering the resumption of negotiations based on the Annan Plan.
Recalling and reaffirming previous UN Security Council resolutions and reaffirming their previous Communiqués on Cyprus, Heads of Government called upon all parties concerned and in particular Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to cooperate fully with the UN Secretary-General so as to enable the early resumption of substantive negotiations based on the UN Secretary-General's proposals, aimed at the conclusion of a just, lasting and functional settlement consistent with relevant UN Security Council resolutions."
 Brussels Council favors reunited Cyprus joining
EU BRUSSELS 09/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Brussels European Council conclusions were prepared on Monday, with the draft on Cyprus reiterating the Union's preference for a reunited island joining the bloc, so as to permit all Cypriots to benefit from accession.
The draft conclusions, prepared in Brussels by EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, are expected to be adopted on Friday by the 15 EU leaders and the ten heads of the countries that will join in May 2004. Cyprus was represented at Monday's meeting by Foreign Minister George Iacovou.
According to sources, the draft conclusions on Cyprus, which is not included in the enlargement chapter, reiterates the Union's preference for a reunited island joining the bloc, so as to permit all Cypriots to benefit from accession.
It also notes that there are good prospects for reaching a just, viable and functional settlement based on UN resolutions before May 1, 2004, when Cyprus will become a full member of the Union.
In this context, the interested parties and especially Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are called on to support the UN Secretary General's efforts for a solution.
All involved parties are furthermore urged to resume negotiations on the basis of a solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The EU reiterates its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement according to the principles that comprise the foundations of the EU.
The text, at the request of the United Kingdom and the Italian presidency of the Union, makes reference to the issue of funding the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus with 206 million euros, with the funding being subject to a prior solution of the island's political problem.