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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

December 10, 2003


  • [01] Greek and Italian PMs meet in Rome, discuss intergovernmental conference
  • [02] Italian presidency to table proposal for impasse resolution at EU Summit
  • [03] Gov't says no issue of extradition in N17 case
  • [04] US wants fair and transparent Turkish-Cypriot 'elections', Grossman says
  • [05] ND tables questions on gov't policy vis-a-vis pending Euro-issues
  • [06] ND leader pushes Piraeus as HQ for EU's east Med border security
  • [07] Greece, FYROM agree to open new consulates
  • [08] Greek and Spanish Ombudsmen give joint press conference in Athens
  • [09] UN budget includes funds for Cyprus issue
  • [10] DM briefs pair of ND deputies on 2004 security planning
  • [11] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace
  • [12] Church of Greece Synod to meet after Christmas for Patriarchate's letter
  • [13] Greece-UNDESA sign deal for export of public admin know-how to Balkans
  • [14] Best-performing CSF programs to earn 'bonus' funds, gov't says
  • [15] HAU seminar on business conversation skills
  • [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose up, tracking European markets
  • [17] Official Olympics soundtrack to be dedicated to Theodorakis, Minos EMI says
  • [18] Eurobarometer says Greeks and Italians keen supporters of European constitution
  • [19] UNICEF telemarathon raises nearly one million euro for child abuse victims
  • [20] Hefty cache of ancient coins seized in NE Greece; Italian man arrested
  • [21] Firebombings of PASOK offices reported in Thessaloniki
  • [22] AHEPA applauds convictions of 15 members of 17N terror organization
  • [23] Justice minister inaugurates new court house in Kalavryta
  • [24] Weston due in Cyprus next week to press on with peace talks
  • [25] Annan requests funds for good offices in Cyprus

  • [01] Greek and Italian PMs meet in Rome, discuss intergovernmental conference

    ROME, 10/12/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with Italian Prime Minister and European Council President Silvio Berlusconi here on Tuesday and in statements afterwards stressed the need for the completion of the work of the intergovernmental conference on the European constitution during the European Union's summit in Brussels on December 12-13.

    Simitis said that if the issue is referred to the Irish EU presidency and negotiations are prolonged for a long time there is a serious risk of divisions and confusion, adding that the EU must send a message of a common course and mutual concessions in preparations for the European constitution.

    The Greek prime minister further said the European draft constitution, prepared by the constitutional assembly and presented at the Thessaloniki summit, is a good document despite it’s whatever imperfections and reiterated Greece's position on the need for its ratification without great changes.

    Greece, on the issue of the European Commission's composition, supports the position of ''one commissioner for each member-state with full rights'' which, as is already known, is not included in the European draft constitution.

    According to reliable sources, a lengthy discussion on the issue of European defense took place during the two prime ministers' meeting, which was a dominant issue at the latest General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

    Simitis mentioned to his Italian counterpart the proposal presented to his counterparts by Foreign Minister George Papandreou to overcome the reactions and objections of the so-called neutral countries for the ratification of the mutual assistance clause.

    The same sources said the Greek side proposes a compromise formula by which decisions to be taken on the creation of the European defense will not affect the constitutional status and the special security character which certain EU member-states have. Talks between Simitis and Berlusconi were also attended by Papandreou, European Affairs Secretary General Ilias Plaskovitis, the prime minister's adviser on European issues Panayiotis Ioakimidis and the head of his diplomatic office Nikos Zafeiropoulos.

    [02] Italian presidency to table proposal for impasse resolution at EU Summit

    BRUSSELS, 10/12/2003 (ANA/G. Zitouniati)

    The Italian EU presidency is expected to table a new proposal to resolve the ''hot'' outstanding issues of the draft European Constitution of Europe, in an effort to achieve agreement during the Summit negotiations, which will begin on Friday here.

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis said on Tuesday that the developments in the Intergovernmental Conference are on hold in light of the new Italian proposal and mainly about proposals concerning the voting system of the new enlarged Europe, as well as the composition of the European Commission, European defense and the issue of the alternating presidency system.

    He noted that the voting system matter is expected to become a major issue of contention during the Summit, since proponents and opponents of the double majority system are very steadfast on their positions.

    France and Germany, he said, consider ''catastrophic'' any delays in decision making on the specific issue, while they stress that they would not move ahead with an agreement ''at all cost''.

    [03] Gov't says no issue of extradition in N17 case

    Athens, 10/12/2003 (ANA)

    The government reiterated on Tuesday that there is no issue of extraditing “November 17” defendants, including the four out of the 19 acquitted on Monday, to third countries.

    “The innocent are innocent, and the guilty will serve out their sentences at the Korydallos prison,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas told reporters at his regular press briefing.

    Fifteen out of the 19 terror suspects were found guilty by the special three-judge appellate court a day earlier, whereas of the four acquitted, the court cited insufficient evidence to convict two (one female defendant Aggeliki Sotiropoulou and long-time anti-state activist Yiannis Serifis). Sotiropoulou and Serifis were acquitted in a split decision.

    Self-described Trotskyite Theologos Psaradellis was acquitted because a bank robbery he confessed to fell beyond a 20-year statute of limitations, while other counts of armed robbery were dismissed by the court. He had initially told authorities he participated in one sole bank robbery in order to publish a book about his brand of politics.

    Finally, Anestis Papanastasiou, an unassuming mid-level bank employee from Thessaloniki related to one of the other N17 suspects, was unanimously acquitted by the three jurists.

    On his part, Protopapas declined to comment on statements a day earlier by the US ambassador in Athens.

    [04] US wants fair and transparent Turkish-Cypriot 'elections', Grossman says

    ISTANBUL, 10/12/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The United States was interested in the holding of ''fair, transparent and honest'' elections by Turkish-Cypriots in the occupied north of Cyprus, US Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman said on Tuesday while visiting Turkey.

    Grossman said the United States had backed the peace plan for Cyprus put forward by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and asked all the parties involved to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible.

    [05] ND tables questions on gov't policy vis-a-vis pending Euro-issues

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Six main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputies on Tuesday tabled a Parliament question calling on the government, and specifically on the prime minister, to clearly state what Athens' positions are regarding the much-anticipating and still pending European constitution.

    The tabled questions, as the opposition deputies noted, come before a crucial European Council session this weekend in Brussels.

    The six deputies – Dimitris Sioufas, Petros Molyviatis, Marietta Yiannakou, Aristidis Pavlidis, Evr Stylianidis and Prokopis Pavlopoulos – also charged that the Simitis government’s positions on the matter “are not always specific”.

    Their Parliament-tabled questions ask, among others, how the Greek government intends to support the principle of “one commissioner, with full rights, per every member-state”? The ND deputies also ask why the government's positions on this matter constantly changed during the course of negotiations, as they claimed.

    The ND deputies also called on the government to reply on whether it supports the abolition of the legislative Council of Ministers, the only body of ministers where they said the principle of public deliberations is applied.

    Furthermore, the Parliament question calls on the Simitis government to respond on whether it accepts a proposal by the current Italian EU presidency regarding the Council of Ministers, namely, Rome's idea to create a “troika” that will collectively preside over the Union for a period of 18 months.

    Other queries focus on the Greek government’s intentions regarding an ECOFIN proposal to reduce the European Parliament’s influence over budgetary issues; Athens' position on establishment of a solidarity clause to ensure the reciprocal support, with every possible political and military means, in case of a terrorist or conventional attack, regardless of the source of such a threat.

    Finally, the ND deputies called on Athens to clarify its position on whether it will support a reference to Christianity and its influence on European civilization in the preamble of the European Constitution.

    In closing, the six ND deputies demanded to know what positions Athens will take vis-a-vis the aforementioned issues at the upcoming General Affairs Council session in Naples.

    [06] ND leader pushes Piraeus as HQ for EU's east Med border security

    BRUSSELS, 10/12/03 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greece's main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis, head of the New Democracy party, on Tuesday stressed the advantages of Piraeus as a base for the soon-to-be established operations centre for sea border security in the eastern Mediterranean, in talks with European Commissioner for Justice and Internal Affairs Antonio Vitorino in Brussels.

    Karamanlis said that they discussed the issue of controlling and managing the EU's external borders at length, stressing that it was of prime importance to Greece since it was the only EU member-state that did not share borders with other EU countries.

    Greece was also a country with extensive sea borders that made it vulnerable to waves of illegal immigration, he added.

    Karamanlis said it was important that Piraeus become the base of the operations centre for sea borders in the eastern Mediterranean, noting that this would be an important step forward in controlling such phenomena.

    [07] Greece, FYROM agree to open new consulates

    SKOPJE, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Tuesday signed a bilateral agreement for the establishment of new consulates, a deal that allows Athens to open a diplomatic mission in the southern FYROM town of Bitola.

    Greece’s northern neighbor, meanwhile, will open a consulate in the major northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki.

    Greek Deputy FM Andreas Loverdos and his FYROM counterpart Fuad Hasanovic signed the agreement during an official visit here by the former.

    “There is a friendly people, a friendly country to the north of Greece,” Hasanovic stressed after the agreement’s signing, while also thanking Athens for its support of FYROM’s Euro-Atlantic prospects.

    The agreement follows the opening of a Greek commercial and trade section in Skopje as well, as economic ties between the two neighboring states have skyrocketed over the past decade.

    Moreover, Loverdos said the implementation here of Greece’s ambitious Balkan reconstruction plan was also on the agenda of talks, as Athens has budgeted 74 million euros in funding for the land-locked Balkan state located between Bulgaria and Albania.

    “Seven proposals have already been tabled by Greek companies ... the Greek liaison office in Skopje already has three low-cost projects ready, while we have received (from the FYROM side) numerous proposals for infrastructure works...” Loverdos said.

    The Greek deputy FM added that is was up to the Skopje government to prioritize its proposals, as Athens will insist on funding on comprehensive projects.

    Earlier, FYROM President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski had received the Greek minister here.

    Proposals for projects include two power supply lines, one from Skopje to the southern Serbian city of Nis and the other from Bitola to the northwest Greek town of Florina. Other proposals for funding are water treatment plants on the Axios River and two FYROM towns (Strumitsa and Gevgeli) as well as road works.

    According to the latest figures, Greece ranks first in terms of foreign investment in FYROM at roughly 300 million euros. The largest Greek investment is an under-construction oil pipeline from Thessaloniki to Skopje.

    Relations between Greece and the more than 10-year-old country to its north have dramatically improved since the two countries signed an interim agreement in New York under the UN’s auspices more than eight years ago. Currently, on the 'name issue' ranks as the only major difference between Athens and Skopje.

    Under the terms of the agreement, Greece and FYROM are responsible for commencing and continuing negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution for the “name issue”.

    [08] Greek and Spanish Ombudsmen give joint press conference in Athens

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis met with his Spanish counterpart Enrique Mugica Herzog in Athens on Tuesday and exchanged views and experiences with him on the course of the institution of the ''Ombudsman'' in Greece and Spain.

    In a joint press conference, they referred to the number of citizens' recourses, which in Spain comes to about 22,000 annually, while in Greece to 11,000.

    According to Herzog, the main problems the Ombudsman has to deal with concern immigrant policy, family violence and juvenile delinquency.

    ''Regarding immigrants, we ask for the unification of legislation in order to avoid clashes between civil and penal sanctions,'' he said.

    Immigrants and political refugees resort more often to the Ombudsman, Kaminis said, underlining that immigrants, even the illegal ones, have the right to medical treatment in accordance to international treaties and the Greek constitution, while their children have the right to attend school for as long a period the immigrants remain in Greece.

    [09] UN budget includes funds for Cyprus issue

    NEW YORK, 10/12/03 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to be active on the Cyprus issue in 2004, as he requested some 1.3 million dollars to be written in the budget, which he may use in efforts to resolve the problem.

    Such money is usually earmarked for salaries and expenses of his colleagues, who are working to promote the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

    The total budget for all 20 special missions of the office of the secretary general stood at 140 million dollars.

    Concerning Cyprus, diplomats here said that at present there is no indication that the Turkish side is willing to hold substantive talks based on the Annan plan.

    [10] DM briefs pair of ND deputies on 2004 security planning

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The defense ministry’s political leadership on Tuesday briefed a pair of top main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputies on the course of security preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens.

    The defense ministry, which oversees the country’s military branches, is an active participant in security planning for the Games.

    Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Deputy Minister Lazaros Lotidis received ND deputies Fani Palli-Petralia and Spilios Spiliotopoulos at the ministry.

    [11] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Four formations of Turkish warplanes infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) four times on Tuesday and on eight occasions they violated Greek national airspace in the northern and central Aegean, press reports said.

    In all cases, the 10 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek jets. It was also reported that one of the Turkish jets was armed.

    [12] Church of Greece Synod to meet after Christmas for Patriarchate's letter

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece will convene after the Christmas holidays to discuss the response that should be given to the letter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Holy Synod, concerning the election of bishops in northern Greece.

    According to information provided by sources on Tuesday, the letter sent to the Church of Greece was tabled at a committee of the Holy Synod, which will study it and propose a draft response.

    [13] Greece-UNDESA sign deal for export of public admin know-how to Balkans

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The Greek government and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) on Tuesday signed a cooperation memorandum for the export of know-how in reforming public services and public administration to Balkan countries, as well as for the development and preservation of local culture.

    The agreement also called for the induction of the UN Information Centre in Athens into the UN International Centre for Public Administration based in Thessaloniki.

    The memorandum was signed at Zappion Hall in Athens, where there had earlier been a meeting between UN officials and ministers for public administration from Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia and Montenegro, Romania and Greece.

    Greek Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis said that Greece hoped to make use of new technologies to pass on the idea of Citizen Service Centers to the Balkan area and beyond.

    He also referred to the extensive technical assistance that Greece had received from the UN centre in Thessaloniki that would also benefit the other countries in southeast Europe, followed by central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet states.

    He proposed regular meetings to examine actions and possible solutions for problems such as corruption, illegal immigration and organized crime, as well as examining ways for more advanced cross-border cooperation to promote decentralization, local authorities and economic activities such as agrotourism.

    Deputy interior minister Nikos Bistis stressed that Greece was a part of the Balkans and underlined its commitment to assisting the European course of western Balkan states.

    UN officials referred to the prize awarded by UNDESA to Greece's for the invention of citizen service centers, stressing that this know-how was exportable to the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states via the Thessaloniki centre.

    [14] Best-performing CSF programs to earn 'bonus' funds, gov't says

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The best-performing programs of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) in Greece, or those that had been most successful in attaining their targets, will be the main beneficiaries of a 2.0-billion-euro ''bonus'' to be shared out among 3rd CSF programs, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas said on Tuesday.

    The minister announced that final decisions on how the ''performance reserve funds'' are to be shared out will be made when the 3rd CSF Monitoring Committee meets in Thessaloniki on December 17, and that this decision would then be forwarded to the European Commission for its approval by the end of March 2004.

    Pachtas said all the 13 regional and 11 sectoral programs had been assessed by the monitoring committee and would receive additional funds based on their performance.

    Top performers stand to gain an additional 8 per cent of their original budget, those whose performance was judged satisfactory will receive up to 4 per cent of their original budget, while under-performing programs will get nothing, Pachtas added.

    Among the front-runners, he named the programs for employment, culture, education and road-making, followed by the agriculture and fisheries programs.

    Conversely, the health and welfare program and the Information Society program will not be getting a share of the 'bonus' funds.

    [15] HAU seminar on business conversation skills

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The Hellenic American Union’s deadline for signing up for its upcoming seminar on the topic of “Business Conversation Skills for Successful Business Interactions” ends on Thursday.

    The seminar will take place on Dec. 15 through Dec. 17 at the HAU’s downtown Athens campus. 22 Massalias St.

    For more information, contact Georgia Dede at the HAU, (210) 36.80.006,

    [16] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose up, tracking European markets

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished higher on Tuesday, tracking a positive performance in other European markets.

    The general share index gained 0.89 percent to end at 2,198.23 points. Turnover was 150.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.18 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.98 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with gains of 0.07 percent.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 169 to 115 with 69 issues remaining unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover

    at 54.6 mln euros Tuesday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +1.18% percent

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

  • Underlying Index: +0.98 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (2,207)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 54.6 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers

    match sellers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.48 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 15 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (710 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.6 bln euros


    Closing rates of December 9 2003

    Parities in euro


    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,235 1,207

    Athens 2004

    [17] Official Olympics soundtrack to be dedicated to Theodorakis, Minos EMI says

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The official soundtrack of the Athens Olympics in 2004 will be dedicated to Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, the head of the recording company Minos-EMI Makis Matsas said on Tuesday during the presentation of a new CD containing re-released work by the composer.

    According to Matsas, Theodorakis was the ''only Greek that could convey the message of the Olympic Games'', while he promised that more details will be released soon.

    The announcement was made during the presentation of the latest in a series of 13 CDs planned by Minos-EMI that will re-release the entire volume of work recorded by Theodorakis, after it has undergone digital sound processing.

    The first in the series was released in September, while it is expected to be completed in December 2005.

    Also present at Tuesday's presentation was Theodorakis himself, who joked that the 30 years that his work was repressed and kept in 'cold storage' had helped ''preserve it to the present day''.

    The composer also criticized music industry for ''ousting'' song-writers, poets and lyric writers from the limelight and concentrating only singers and the star system, which he said had led to the poor quality of current popular music.

    [18] Eurobarometer says Greeks and Italians keen supporters of European constitution

    BRUSSELS, 10/12/2003 (ANA/V. Demiris)

    Greeks and Italians are the European citizens desiring most the creation of a European constitution, according to the European Union's eurobarometer opinion poll publicized here on Tuesday.

    The opinion poll was carried out between October 1 and November 7 with a sample of 16,082 European citizens.

    More specifically, 74 percent of Greeks and Italians believe that ''the EU must have a constitution'', compared to an EU average of 62 percent.

    On the question of confidence in the institutions of their political system, 47 percent of Greeks ''tend to trust the country's government'' as against 50 percent who ''tend not to trust it'', while the EU averages are 31 and 60 percent respectively.

    Moreover, 54 percent of Greeks ''tend to trust the national Parliament'' compared to 43 percent who ''tend not to trust it, with EU averages amounting to 35 and 53 percent respectively.

    As regards confidence in the EU, 65 percent ''tend to trust the EU'' as against 30 percent who ''tend not to trust it'', while the EU averages are 41 and 42 percent.

    On the other hand, only 36 percent of Greeks ''tend to trust the UN'' as against 59 percent who ''tend not to trust it'', with the EU averages being 48 and 36 percent respectively.

    According to the Eurobarometer, 23 percent of Greeks believe the financial state of their household will improve in 2004, 27 percent that it will worsen and 47 percent that the situation will remain the same.

    In the EU, 23 percent of citizens believe that the financial state of their household will improve, 20 percent that it will worsen and 53 percent that it will remain the same.

    [19] UNICEF telemarathon raises nearly one million euro for child abuse victims

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    The nine-hour 'love telemarathon' organized on Monday night by the state broadcasting organization ERT on behalf of UNICEF managed to raise nearly one million euros to help abused children throughout the world.

    The telemarathon was broadcast from the state-run television channel ET1, starting at 4:00 pm on Monday and ending at 1:30 on Tuesday morning. Among its guests were politicians, performing artists, athletes and many others.

    The money targets an estimated 180 million children around the world that are the victims of abuse, of which 100 million live on the streets, six million are forced to work in conditions tantamount to slavery, 300,000 are involved in armed conflicts and two million are caught up in the international sex trade, the third most lucrative business in the world after the arms and drugs trades.

    The exact total raised was 915,065 euros, the highest collected in all past years of the telemarathon, while the ET1 call centre counted 13,250 calls offering donations.

    One of the largest donors was the Greek Parliament, which offered the sum of 50,000, while sizeable sums were also offered by the Italcementi group Halyps Cements (8,000 euros), the National Bank of Greece (6,000 euros), NOKIA Hellas (6,000 euros), the Alexandros Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (5,000 euros), Alpha Bank (5,000 euros), the School Buildings Organization (3,000 euros), the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (1,500 euros) and the Athens Journalists Union (1,500 euros).

    Commenting on the issue, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis stressed that the phenomenon of child labor was tending to increase despite laws making it illegal and stressed that sexual abuse and exploitation of children was ''a syndrome of enrichment of a society with no morals or values''.

    ''The issue is not how much money we raise but how many times we do not close our eyes and pretend we do not understand. For this reason, we must strike the evil at its root and wipe out the causes that create the problem,'' he added.

    [20] Hefty cache of ancient coins seized in NE Greece; Italian man arrested

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Authorities in northeastern Greece on Tuesday confiscated roughly 620 gold, silver and bronze coins dating from pre-Classical antiquity all the way down to the Ottoman era.

    Another 49 ancient artifacts were also discovered in a residence in the town of Komotini temporarily leased to an unnamed Italian national, aged around 60. The latter was arrested at the scene.

    Police were reportedly acting on a tip.

    The cache of valuable coins and artifacts was transferred to the antiquities service in nearby Kavala for evaluation.

    [21] Firebombings of PASOK offices reported in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    A barrage of firebombings against local offices of the ruling PASOK party were reported in the northern city of Thessaloniki in the early morning hours of Tuesday.

    Police said the assailants used small camping gas canisters, the preferred makeshift incendiary device of self-styled anarchist groups, as firebombs.

    Besides the two local PASOK offices, a branch of the state-run telephone utility (OTE) and a supermarket were also targeted. The attacks follow the conviction of 15 "November 17" terrorist suspects a day earlier.

    [22] AHEPA applauds convictions of 15 members of 17N terror organization

    WASHINGTON, 10/12/2003 (ANA-T. Ellis)

    The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the largest and oldest association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, on Monday expressed great satisfaction with the conviction of 15 members of the “November 17” terrorist organization, which is responsible for 23 slayings, including the deaths of four American citizens, according to an AHEPA press release.

    “Justice in Greece has prevailed,” said AHEPA President A. Jack Georgalas.

    “The Greek government is to be commended for enacting tough anti-terrorism laws two years ago enabling it and law enforcement authorities to successfully prosecute the perpetrators of these terrorist acts.”

    "The 'November 17' convictions along with Greece’s unprecedented spending for and collaboration on security measures for the 2004 Olympic Games demonstrates Greece’s strong resolve to pre-empt and combat any form of terrorism, domestic or international, he added.

    As a further indication of this commitment, Georgalas cited a December 5 letter sent to Prime Minister Costas Simitis that was signed by 70 members of the U.S. Congress, commending Greece on its security planning for the Games.

    [23] Justice minister inaugurates new court house in Kalavryta

    Athens, 10/12/03 (ANA)

    Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos inaugurated the new court house in the town of Kalavryta, in the Peloponnese, on Tuesday.

    ''In the demanding era of the 21st century, securing speed and effectiveness constitutes a central pursuit for us, with the parallel achievement of quality, in the giving of justice. Citizens resorting to it are entitled to it and we must safeguard them,'' Petsalnikos said in his address.

    ''Consolidating the citizens' feeling of trust in Greek justice is a priority for us and we have promoted considerable institutional reforms to achieve this target. We are modernizing our judicial system and we are shaping infrastructure for justice which signals a different conception of its functioning,'' he added.

    [24] Weston due in Cyprus next week to press on with peace talks

    NICOSIA, 10/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Ambassador Thomas Weston, US State Department special coordinator for Cyprus, will be on the island in the middle of next week for talks with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot side to press on with the need to resume negotiations.

    Weston will be received by President Tassos Papadopoulos, who announced on Monday night Weston's arrival in the coming days, and see Foreign Minister George Iacovou.

    The visit here comes after Sunday's ''parliamentary elections'' in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus and following the European Union summit this weekend.

    The ''elections'' are being contested by the parties that support the policies of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and those that back a change in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community. Many observers consider Sunday's poll as a referendum on the will of the Turkish Cypriots for a solution and accession.

    Weston's visit is part of renewed efforts by Washington to rekindle interest in the stalled peace process to enable the resumption of negotiations next year aiming at finding a political settlement before Cyprus joins the EU in May 2004.

    Tuesday's contacts in Ankara between US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Turkish officials is also part of these attempts.

    Last week, Weston had a meeting with Cyprus Ambassador to the US Evripides Evriviades, after the latter had presented his credentials to President Bush. Weston plans to visit Athens and Ankara as well.

    According to press reports, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will meet Bush on January 28.

    The Turkish daily ''Sabah'' said all indications are that Washington is convinced that Turkey will not be able to secure a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU in December 2004 unless the question of Cyprus has been settled.

    Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974 in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    [25] Annan requests funds for good offices in Cyprus

    UNITED NATIONS, 10/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has appealed to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly requesting more funds for the maintenance of the work his special adviser on Cyprus and his team of experts are expected to carry out in 2004 to press on with a political settlement, if possible before Cyprus joins the European Union in May next year.

    The estimated requirements relating to Alvaro de Soto, Annan's

    Special Adviser on Cyprus, for a one-year period from January 1 to December 31, 2004, amount to 1,365,400 dollars, Annan's report to the Committee said.

    These funds would provide for staffing resources at the maintenance level of four staff (439,700 dollars), services of experts to advise the Special Adviser on various topics (451,100 dollars), official travel (334,700 dollars) and other operational and logistical costs (139,900 dollars).

    The report presents an historical outline of Annan's more recent efforts to help the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to reach a negotiated settlement, which began in June 1999.

    The two leaders started proximity talks in December 1999, followed by direct talks in January 2002, which collapsed in March this year at The Hague.

    The Secretary-General submitted a comprehensive settlement proposal in November 2002, a first revision on December 10, 2002, and a second revision on February 26, 2003. The plan required a referendum before April 16, 2003 to approve it and reunify Cyprus. At The Hague on March 10 and 11, 2003, it became clear that it would not be possible to achieve agreement to conduct such a referendum, the report said.

    The Security Council stressed its full support for the Secretary-General's mission of good offices and requested the Secretary-General to continue to make available his good offices for Cyprus as outlined in his report.

    ''It is anticipated that the role of the good offices of the Secretary-General with regard to Cyprus will continue during 2004,''it added.

    Alvaro de Soto, now dealing with Western Sahara, and his team of experts are no longer on the island to facilitate peace talks.

    However, it is understood that they would be willing to return, should negotiations begin sometime in the not too distant future.

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