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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 16, 2003
 PM Simitis and Tony Blair discuss international affairs, Parthenon Marbles
LONDON 16/12/2003 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)International and European affairs but also the return of the Parthenon Marbles were among the topics discussed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and visiting Greek premier Costas Simitis, during their meeting here on Monday.
The two men particularly focused on developments in the Middle East following the arrest of Saddam Hussein.
As he emerged from the British premier's residence at 10 Downing Street, Simitis stressed that Saddam's arrest was a positive event that created the right conditions for the democratic organization of Iraq and to deal with tensions there that also spilled over into other parts of the world.
Simitis underlined the need for decisive intervention in issues concerning Israel and the Palestinian territories, noting that this area was one of the key sources of current conflict in the world that bred terrorism and concern.
EU impasse on European Constitution: Simitis said his talks with Blair had also covered the failure of efforts to agree on a new European constitution at the European Council in Brussels over the weekend.
''This failure was no ordinary failure, it was not a failure caused by disagreement over certain figures or specific funding. It showed that the member-states have different views on Europe,'' Simitis said.
''Both Mr. Blair and I agree that this is precisely the issue we have to deal with. It's not how we want set up the institutions, it's about what we want Europe to do, on what problems it must make progress. If these issues are cleared up, then it will be much easier to clear up what form Europe will take,'' he said.
Simitis added that Greece wanted a ''strong Europe'', which would be able to make specific decisions about its economy, defense, and foreign policy and for reducing inequalities.
Though Britain did not share Greece's desire for a 'federal' Europe, Blair recognized that the current situation was not at all positive and that the problem will have to be dealt with in the months to come, the Greek premier added.
Results of the Turkish-Cypriot 'elections': Another topic discussed during the meeting was developments on Cyprus and the results of ''elections'' in the occupied territories.
Noting that the Turkish-Cypriot opposition bloc had gained a larger number of votes, Simitis said this showed that a majority of Turkish-Cypriots desired a solution to the Cyprus problem, wanted the implementation of the Annan peace plan for Cyprus and did not agree with the policies of Rauf Denktash that moved counter to this direction.
He also pointed to Saturday's agreement by EU leaders that a solution to the Cyprus problem would play a major part in Turkey's European prospects.
''It is therefore time for Turkey to do something, before May 1, to overcome this problem that has tortured the divided island for over 30 years,'' Simitis said.
Return of the Parthenon Marbles: In his talks with Blair, the Greek premier once again raised the issue of returning the Parthenon Marbles, which are currently on display at the British Museum in London.
He said Blair acknowledged that the Greek government's proposal to the British Museum made it clear that it did not wish to become involved in the issue of the Marbles' ownership.
He announced that Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be visiting London to discuss the issue with his counterpart in the British government.
''We believe that this issue is not one of technicalities and ownership but a political issue and for this reason we want to deal with it politically,'' Simitis stressed.
Asked about Blair's reaction, the Greek premier noted only that the British premier was ''aware of the issues'' and stressed that Greece had to keep raising the issue and pressing the British side over the matter of the Marbles.
Venizelos comments on issue of return of Parthenon Marbles: Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday stated that ''it is a particularly important fact that'' Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his British counterpart Tony Blair ''jointly set the basis of a policy to deal with the matter of the Parthenon Marbles, with the starting point being the known Greek proposal which aims at forming a unified joint exhibition for the Parthenon Friezes.''
Venizelos was responding to reporters' questions following statements made by Simitis in London earlier in the day, which is currently on a visit to the UK, concerning the matter of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
''I have on other occasions discussed the matter with my British counterpart, now however we will discuss it again at the order of our prime ministers and this provides particular political weight for this procedure,'' the culture minister concluded.
 Greece is Middle East's gate to Europe, Syrian president says
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Visiting Syrian president Bashar al-Asad on Monday called Greece the Middle East's ''gate to Europe'', and described Athens' positions on the Middle East as ''just and objective''.
Al-Asad, who arrived in Athens on Sunday on a three-day state visit, said after talks with his host, Greek president Costis Stephanopoulos, that Greece was the gate to Europe for Syria and all the countries of the Middle East.
He also noted the ''historical ties'' between the two countries.
The two men discussed Syria's proposal for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East, as well as the revival of an earlier initiative by (Syria's late president and father of the country's current president) Hafez al-Asad on terrorism.
Bashar al-Asad recalled that in 1986, the only European country that had responded positively to that initiative had been Greece under the premiership of the late Andreas Papandreou, founder of the ruling PASOK party.
Their talks also included bilateral economic relations, tourism, marine transports, and drillings for natural gas and oil.
President Stephanopoulos hosts dinner for visiting Syrian counterpart: President Kostis Stephanopoulos, speaking during an official dinner he hosted for his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad, who is currently on an official visit to Greece, said the effort to rebuild Iraq is difficult but it must go ahead.
''We steadfastly believe that the suffering Iraqi people are capable, with the support and cooperation of the UN and the international community, to regain all powers gradually and soon and, in essence, to undertake the governance of the country,'' President Stephanopoulos said.
The president also underlined bonds of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Syria and their common approaches on major international issues and thanked the government of Damascus and President Assad for their positive stance on issues of special sensitivity for Greece and Cyprus at all international organizations and at the Islamic Conference Organization in particular.
Referring to the Middle East problem, the president stressed that whatever solution must be a comprehensive one and should aim at the prosperity and equal development of the peoples of the region.
On the question of terrorism, he said that the struggle against it is a global affair which is not and should not be considered as a difference between civilizations, religions or peoples.
President Stephanopoulos further said it is a struggle which should be carried out with respect for the fundamental values of modern society and human rights and it will not be effective if the reasons causing it are not handled and serious problems are not resolved which affect international relations in a wider sense, such as the Palestinian issue.
Syrian president meets Parliament speaker: Visiting Syrian President Bashar al Asad on Monday called on Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis at the Greek Parliament building.
After the meeting, Asad commented on the recent arrest of Saddam Hussein, noting that ''Syria is not Iraq''.
''What happened in Iraq is an issue concerning Iraq and not Syria. It does not concern us. Syria is not Iraq. We are a country that maintains relations with all countries in the world and that has an active role in all things concerning international politics,'' he added.
During his meeting with Kaklamanis, both sides expressed concern about the situation in the region.
Kaklamanis stressed that it was imperative, especially after Sunday's events, that the Iraqi people be allowed to govern their own affairs as soon as possible.
He also thanked Asad for Syria's steadfast position on the Cyprus issue, while the Syrian president said he hoped for Athens' support in achieving an EU-Syria association agreement.
Simitis to meet Syrian president on Tuesday: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Premier Simitis will meet visiting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday night on his return from London.
On Thursday, the premier is to chair a meeting of the cabinet to discuss policy for small and middle-size enterprises (SMEs), while he is later due to visit a newly-formed special fund for mutual guarantees for SMEs
 Athens: Results of T/C 'vote' a 'strong message' for solution
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Greece on Monday said the results of an ''election'' in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus were a ''strong message'' to Turkey, the international community, the UN and the European Union that the majority of Turkish Cypriots were looking toward the future.
A Greek foreign ministry spokesman also said that results proved that the Turkish Cypriots desired a solution to Cyprus' political problem based on the Annan plan, as well as the accession of a reunited Cyprus into the EU.
Spokesman Panos Beglitis added that results revealed a ''new political reality'' and a ''new political momentum'' in Cyprus, which no one could ignore. He noted that Athens was in constant contact with the Greek Cypriot side for an evaluation of recent developments.
Beglitis further expressed hope that conditions would be created for the immediate re-opening of talks aimed at a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
The latest developments in the Cyprus problem will be discussed in Athens on Tuesday afternoon by US State Department special coordinator on the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston, the foreign ministry spokesman said.
Weston's talks are within the framework of regular visits to the region, and confirm Washington's interest in advancing a Cyprus solution, Beglitis added.
Gov't spokesman: In a later statement, government spokesman Christos Protopapas also expressed the Greek government’s satisfaction with the “results” in the occupied areas.
“This is a message repudiating the policies of the Turkish side and (T/C leader Rauf) Denktash. It is a message of peace and reconciliation; a message for the necessary commencement of initiatives towards a reunification of the island,” he said.
Protopapas, who also holds the press and mass media portfolio, also stressed that Turkey now has all the opportunity to alter its policy on the long-standing Cyprus issue, allowing for a resumption of talks based on the Annan peace plan.
Ankara: Finally, the Turkish foreign ministry also conveyed its "satisfaction" over the "transparency and calm" manner in which 'elections' took place in the occupied areas.
"We retain the right to continue our unity and solidarity on the Cyprus issue, which is a national matter," an ANA dispatch from Istanbul quotes a Turkish foreign ministry press release as stating.
 US Cyprus coordinator says Turkish Cypriot 'elections' victory for opposition
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (ANA/G. Leonidas)US coordinator for the Cyprus issue Thomas Weston said on Monday he believes the results of ''elections'' held in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus on Sunday is a victory for the opposition, adding that talks on the issue of Cyprus should be resumed.
''This is the message of the elections. An immediate start for negotiations and a solution by May 1, 2004, to enable Cyprus to join the European Union united,'' Weston said in a statement to a Cyprus private television channel.
Weston, who will be visiting Athens on Tuesday in the framework of a new tour of the region, said he will call on the sides to negotiate the Annan plan and agree to have it placed before the people of Cyprus for approval.
The American coordinator said he considers the result a victory for the opposition regardless of the fact that the election law gave an equal number of seats to the opposition and to the parties comprising the ''government.''
After visiting Athens, Weston will come to Nicosia on Wednesday and complete his tour with visits to Ankara and Brussels.
 U.S. says Turkish Cypriots voted for Cyprus solution
WASHINGTON 16/12/2003 (ANA/T. Ellis)''Turkish Cypriots have expressed their wish for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem that will allow them to enter the European Union on May 1, 2004, together with the Greek Cypriots,'' U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said on Monday.
Commenting on Sunday's ''elections'' in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, Boucher told reporters that the party which garnered the majority of votes supported the solution of the political problem of Cyprus and underlined that more than half of the voters have supported candidates wishing a settlement that would be accepted by Cypriots in a referendum before May.
''We hope that the new administration will assume as soon as possible its duties and will express the wish of the majority of Turkish Cypriots. This vote promotes the cause of peace in Cyprus and, it is worth underlining, that it is a vote for hope against fear given the pressures exerted on Turkish Cypriot voters during the election campaign,'' Boucher added.
The state department spokesman said that the U.S. would continue to work for a just and lasting solution of the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan Plan. ''We hope that the wish of the Turkish Cypriots for a solution will be respected through the immediate resumption of negotiations under UN auspices beginning with the stating of the necessary political will of all sides to the UN Secretary-General.''
 Mitsotakis sharply criticizes PM; gov't reaction
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)New Democracy honorary president and former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis on Monday sharply criticized the Simitis government’s policy vis-a-vis the country and its economy as “criminal” due to the premier’s insistence on exhausting his four-year term instead of proclaiming early elections.
Speaking during a morning television program on a private channel (Mega), Mitsotakis charged that no bill had been tabled in Parliament of late that is not tainted by “cronyism” and “pitiful populism”, while he further said that PM Costas Simitis has failed to implement even one major reform during his eight years in power.
Finally, Mitsotakis, the premier between 1990 and 1993, said that “miracles don’t occur without reforms, without displeasing anyone, without firing anyone, without changing the labor rules anywhere … (main opposition ND leader) Costas Karamanlis and ND will implement reforms, they will proceed with unpleasant measures and they will not compromise with the vested interests,” Mitsotakis stressed.
Gov’t reaction: Asked about Mitsotakis’ high-profile statements hours later during his regular press briefing, the government spokesman termed the issue as “exceptionally serious”, while including Sunday’s comments by ND leader Costas Karamanlis in an interview published by an Athens paper (Kathimerini).
Spokesman Christos Protopapas said the statements demonstrate that ND has adopted the model of “Portugal’s right … namely, austerity and unfavorable changes in the labor law, which resulted in low development and the creation of unsurpassable social problems.”
 DM presents study on local defense industry
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou presented a study on Monday concerning the strengthening of the local defense industry, prepared by the Economic Planning and Defense Investments General Secretariat in cooperation with the Athens Economic University's Fiscal Research Centre.
Papantoniou said the ministry's aim is to have technology spread over the widest possible number of companies and the creation of jobs, while the policy on offset benefits is also being revised with the purpose of increasing industrial returns through programs leaving high added value for the country and the economy.
He further said that with the revision stricter apparatuses will be introduced for control and supervision in implementing offset programs to enable the creation of jobs corresponding to them.
Papantoniou assessed that through the involvement of all small and medium-size companies in armaments programs for every job preserved or created in big units two jobs relate to small and medium-size units which will cooperate with them in a complete and systematic network.
The defense minister reassured that when the PASOK government is re-elected it will continue structural changes with full guaranteeing of all jobs and full safeguarding of labor rights.
 Serbia & Montenegro deputy DM in Athens on Tuesday
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Serbia and Montenegro Deputy Defense Minister Vukasin Maras arrives in Athens on Tuesday for talks with the Greek defense ministry’s political leadership. A press conference by Maras and his Greek counterpart Theodoros Kotsonis is scheduled at the ministry at 12:30 p.m.
 Pangalos says PASOK has all preconditions to win elections united under Simitis
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Former Foreign Minister and current head of the ruling PASOK party's election planning Theodoros Pangalos said on Monday night PASOK has all the preconditions to win the elections united and can achieve this with only Costas Simitis leading it.
Pangalos was addressing a large gathering of PASOK supporters who are not registered as voters in their place of residence but in other parts of the country.
He further said PASOK's rivals want to lead the party to adventures and, in light of the elections, to "make it lose its powerful weapon which is an account of the government's considerable work," adding that only Simitis can make this account.
Referring to recent rumors concerning a change in PASOK's leadership, Pangalos attributed them to the main opposition New Democracy party and said all this is happening because "matters are not simple for the right which realizes that it is not easy for PASOK to lose if it struggles with its supporters rallying behind it".
Pangalos also criticized the presidents of the Federation of Greek Industries and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, saying "the representatives of capital have sided with ND on the issue of the elections".
 Coalition leader meets Israeli envoy in Athens
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Monday met Israel's Ambassador to Athens Ram Aviram and discussed the situation in the Middle East, the Cyprus problem, the results of "elections" held in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus and domestic political developments.
 Top Israeli analyst cites shift in Israeli, Palestinian societies
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)One of Israel’s most distinguished scholars stressed here on Monday that an undercurrent of realism between Israeli and Palestinian societies over the past six months flies in the face of an apparent regression on the governmental level, especially tapering US interest amid an ever-complicated Iraq situation.
Prof. Shai Feldman cited what he said was a conclusion by many Palestinians that the “militarization” of the “Intifada” brought enormous pain to their community.
“However, no one on the Palestinian side galvanized public sentiment (against the growing militancy),” Feldman said during a morning address at the Institute of International Relations, in the shadow of the Acropolis.
Feldman, nevertheless, referred to an equally radical realization within Israeli society, pointing directly to a demographic projection that Jews will at some point in the near future become a minority in the lands stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. He said Jewish residents in the same region currently account for 53 percent of the total population, whereas a steady increase in the Palestinians’ numbers due to a high birth rate will alter the balance.
“To remain a Jewish state Israel will have to either deny Palestinian residents before the 1967 borders their political rights, but then (Israel) will not be a democracy … otherwise it will lose its character as a Jewish state,” Feldman, the director of the Tel-Aviv-based Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies, said in reference to the demographical question.
In response to this very real dilemma, he emphasized that roughly two-thirds of Likud (the leading party in the current Israeli government under Ariel Sharon) supporters queried in a recent opinion poll now favor a “two-state solution”.
Moreover, he said this change has not occurred “overnight” but has developed over the past two to three years, something he noted has not been keenly addressed by the European press.
“Likud has moved from the right to the centre. (Israeli PM) Sharon has changed his language,” he said, while declining to predict when this “contradiction” between governments and societies in the Middle East will be bridged.
 MP Theodorou says he won't seek re-election
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)PASOK deputy and former development deputy minister Christos Theodorou announced on Monday that he will not stand for re-election in the next general elections, in the wake of an ongoing investigation into the alleged involvement of his son-in-law in a case of bribery.
The deputy, who represents Evia island, also indirectly criticized the party’s leadership, reiterating that he desires that the issue be thoroughly investigated but accusing the government of playing the role of “Pontus Pilate”, while PASOK remains silent.
 Greek annual inflation rises to 3.3 per cent in September
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Greek annual inflation rose by 3.3 per cent in September 2003 compared with September 2002, the National Statistics Service (NSS) reported on Monday.
The rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was due to rising prices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco (7.4 per cent), foods and non-alcoholic beverages (5.2 per cent), restaurant, hotel and cafe services (4.5 per cent), school fees (4.4 per cent), drugs and medical services (3.6 per cent), housing (3.3 per cent) and other goods and services (2.8 per cent).
NSS said that September's CPI had risen 1.9 per cent in relation to August, which was chiefly due to a 4.4 per cent rise in prices for alcoholic beverages and tobacco and a 12.6 per cent rise in clothing and footwear after the end of the summer sales, as well as a 3,8 per cent rise in durables-household goods and services and a 4 per cent rise in school fees.
NSS said that the harmonized CPI for September 2003 had risen by 2.0 per cent relative to August and 3.3 per cent on an annual basis.
 Syrian group signs protocol with Mediterranean cooperation foundation
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)A Syrian development organization on Monday signed a protocol with the Foundation for Mediterranean Cooperation.
Signing for the Middle Eastern country was Asmaa al Assad, the president of the Fund for Integrated Development of Syria (FIRDOS) and wife of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who is paying an official visit to Athens.
Representing the Foundation for Mediterranean Cooperation was its deputy president, Vicky Pantazopoulou.
Under the cooperation protocol, the two countries will work to promote economic, political, cultural and social development among government and non-government groups in the two countries.
In collaboration with the foundation, FIRDOS is implementing an agro-tourism program funded by the foreign ministry's international development cooperation service.
In the program's first phase a women's cooperative is being set up to produce local handicrafts according to international specifications.
In the second phase, the cooperative will run a traditional hotel that is to be built in the future.
 Greeks say they're accustomed to the euro, poll shows
BRUSSELS 16/12/2003 (ANA/B.Demiris)Greeks say they are well accustomed to the euro following its introduction two years ago but they are also among the most dissatisfied at relinquishing their former national currency, according to a European Union poll released on Monday.
The survey carried Greeks as saying that the euro had failed to contribute to price stability.
The poll was carried out on October 29-November 11 in the euro zone's 12 member countries with 12,017 members of the public questioned.
Sixty three per cent of Greeks said they felt accustomed to the euro against an average of 51 per cent for the euro zone. The highest rate was claimed by the Irish at 76 per cent.
 Intralot gets US state lottery contract
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Athens-quoted Intralot SA said on Monday that it had secured a contract with authorities in Nebraska, USA to supply an integrated online management and service system for the state lottery.
The seven-year project is to be carried out with Intralot's US subsidiary, US Intralot Inc, the parent firm said in a statement.
Intralot is the first non-US firm to penetrate the north American market that has an annual turnover of 50 billion US dollars annually, the statement said.
 Government won't bow to striking taxi drivers' demands
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said on Monday that the government would not bow to striking taxi drivers' demands by rescinding a measure ordering electronic cash registers to be installed in vehicles by January 1, 2004.
Taxis will again be off the roads nationwide on Tuesday as talks continue between the taxi owners' SATA union and the finance ministry.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose down in late selling
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Monday in a burst of aggressive late selling across the board, traders said.
The general share index shed 0.32 percent to end at 2,201.76 points. Turnover was 187.1 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.43 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.11 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with losses of 1.51 percent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 230 to 72 with 57 issues remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 104.5 mln euros Monday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of December 15 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,232 1,204
 Legislation establishing 'Olympic consulate' tabled on Tuesday
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Greece’s foreign ministry is expected to soon establish a special “Olympics consulate” in order to cut red tape for issuing visas to members of the extended “Olympic Family” for of next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, when necessary.
The office will reportedly be based at the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee’s (ATHOC) headquarters.
Legislation allowing the “Olympic consulate” is included in an amendment expected to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the first step in creating the special service.
The “Olympic consulate” will employ a simplified procedure – an exception to Schengen Pact guidelines – for Olympic Family nationals otherwise necessitating a visa to enter the country. The simplified visa procedures for such individuals will continue until the end of the Paralympic Games -- in other words, between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2004.
The same amendment foresees a 10-day leave for civil servants serving as volunteers for the 2004 Olympic Games.
 New tourism chief wants Athens Olympics to trigger lasting upturn
VIENNA 16/12/2003 (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis)The new head of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Nikos Dimadis, said on Monday that he wanted to see the Athens 2004 Olympics act as a trigger to lasting improvement in the sector.
In an interview to the Athens News Agency, Dimadis said that he was optimistic about tourism to Greece next year as figures for the second half of 2003 indicated that an anticipated decline against 2002 would be minor or non-existent.
''After the difficulties in 2002 and the first half of 2003, there is an upturn, and forecasts from the most reliable international institutes for tourism are very positive about the situation worldwide, and in Greece,'' he underlined.
''There is also the major event of the Olympic Games, which is a particular advantage for the country, and the main thing is that in recent years there have been special efforts towards growth of general infrastructure and tourism infrastructure,'' Dimadis added.
He was in Vienna to pave the way for Greece's participation in the next international tourism trade fair in January, at which Greece is the spotlighted country.
 Court to pass down sentences on convicted 17N members on Wednesday
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)The special 3-member criminal court trying the 'November 17' terrorist group case will pass down the final sentences of the 15 convicted defendants on Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m., it was announced on Monday.
The court met on Monday to hear the positions of those of the defendants' defense attorneys who wished to take the floor for final statements and pleas for leniency on the sentences proposed last Wednesday by bench prosecutor Christos Lambrou.
After completion of the lawyers' statements, the court recessed to decide on the final sentences.
The attorneys representing the group's leader, Alexandros Giotopoulos, did not ask to take the floor, while attorney Ioanna Kourtovic, representing the organization’s main hit-man Dimitris Koufodinas, informed the court that her client did not wish to submit a petition for leniency nor intended to exercise any of his procedural rights provided by law.
The Xiros brothers' attorney, Fragiskos Ragousis, said that Savvas Xiros, also, did not intend to seek leniency from the court.
Defense attorney Nikos Protekdikos, representing Costas Telios, called for the minimum sentence on behalf of his client, as did lawyer Panayotis Roumeliotis, representing Nikos Papanastasiou, who said that his client had been found guilty only of participation in the terrorist group, and not for any 17N crime.
Lawyer Marina Valiani, representing Sotiris Kondylis, noted that the court recognized the mitigating circumstance of 'genuine repentance' for her client, which allowed the court to decide against his imprisonment.
The Xiros brothers' second attorney, Yannis Vlachos, sought leniency for the youngest of the three brothers, Vassilis Xiros, while he also asked that the court accept the three brothers' motives as being politically motivated.
Vassilis Tzortzatos' lawyer, Costas Papadakis, severely criticized the court verdict regarding his client, but did not make a plea for leniency.
Attorney Yannis Stamoulis, representing Pavlos Serifis, Costas Karatsolis and Iraklis Kostaris, called on the 3-judge panel to take into consideration the fact that all three defendants had a previously unblemished police file and had children. Specifically for Pavlos Serifis, he asked that the time served in prison awaiting trial be calculated in the final sentence, noting that Serifis had been found guilty only of participating in a criminal organization, his client's serious health problem (multiple sclerosis), and called for the minimum sentence (one to six years imprisonment). For Karatsolis and Kostaris, he called for reduced sentences and elimination of the crime of procurement and possession of explosives from the charges of participation in a criminal organization.
Dionyssis Georgiadis' attorneys Vassilis Papastergiou and George Zisimopoulos called for recognition of the mitigating circumstance of his client's previously clean police record and good deportment following his arrest, and sought a reduced sentence.
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 Kourkakis, 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 faced charges for an overall total of some 2,000 crimes.
Below is the overall tally of the bench prosecutor's proposed prison sentences for the 15 convicted 'November 17' terrorist group members:
Alexandros Giotopoulos: 21 life terms + 2,440 years.
Dimitris Koufodinas: 13 life terms + 2,446 years
Christodoulos Xiros: 10 life terms + 1,640 years.
Savvas Xiros: 6 life terms + 2,076 years.
Vassilis Tzortzatos: 4 life terms + 1,537 years.
Iraklis Kostaris: 1 life term + 67 years.
Patroklos Tselentis: 371 years.
Vassilis Xiros: 176 years.
Costas Telios: 112 years.
Sotiris Kondylis: 49 years.
Kostas Karatsolis: 48 years.
Thomas Serifis: 37 years.
Vassilis Georgiadis: 17 years.
Pavlos Serifis: 10 years.
 Thirty-one illegal migrants picked up off Crete
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)A total of 31 illegal immigrants were picked up on a rugged western Crete coastline in the early morning hours on Monday after a migrant-laden trawler apparently abandoned the entire group in the waters off the large island.
According to police, all of the would be migrants are Palestinian men between the ages of 23 and 40.
The illegals told authorities they were being ferried by a 15-metre wooden vessel from Alexandria to a destination in Italy when the trawler’s crew abandoned them off the sea region of Youdoura, in Crete’s Siteia district.
A massive search and rescue operation by the coast guard, police, fire brigade and volunteer mountain climbers commenced after six of the illegals managed to swim to shore and notify authorities.
Efforts are continuing to locate the migrant-smuggling vessel.
Three of the men were transported to a local hospital, while the rest were taken to a nearby hotel.
All of the detainees are expected to face a local prosecutor on charges of illegally entering the country.
 Politicians from all parties attend launch of Mikis Theodorakis biography
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)Political leaders from across the political spectrum, including main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, joined a panel set up on Monday to present a new biography of composer and renowned Leftist Mikis Theodorakis, written by journalist G. Malouhos.
Karamanlis was joined by veteran politician and former leader of the Greek Communist Party Harilaos Florakis, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nikos Constantopoulos and former foreign minister under PASOK Karolos Papoulias.
Karamanlis stressed during his address that ''the dividing lines of the past have no place in the Greece of today and the future''.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Theodorakis and other speakers at the event, including Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
 Draft bill allowing new AEK stadium tabled
Athens, 16/12/2003 (ANA)A draft bill allowing for the closely watched continuation of construction of a new sports multiplex by the AEK Athens club was tabled on Monday in Parliament, with a plenary debate scheduled for Wednesday.
The amendment referring specifically to the site is included in a culture ministry draft bill entitled “Regulating Issues of Olympic Preparations and other Provisions”.
Among others, the amendment envisions that the maximum height of metal grandstands will not exceed 30 meters, as opposed to the original design of 35 meters.
Building co-efficients will not exceed 1.4, which is the same zoning figure for the adjacent residential area, while the maximum co-efficient for non-athletic areas will not exceed 20,000 square meters, as opposed to 24,000 originally envisioned.
Moreover, in a bid to win-over the local Nea Philadelphia municipality, which initially opposed the popular Athens club’s plans for the new stadium, AEK has committed to pay for the reforestation of five hectares of land in the adjacent urban park. The multiplex’s management has also promised to give local residents 50 spots in a new parking lot at the facility.
 President Papadopoulos congratulates Turkish Cypriots
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has congratulated the Turkish Cypriots on the message of disapproval they have sent, through the expression of their will in Sunday's ''poll'', to the Turkish side and in particular to the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Rauf Denktash.
The president on Monday expressed hope that the outcome of Sunday's ''poll'' in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus will lead to a new state of affairs that would help resume peace negotiations as soon as possible.
He also said it is too early to draw any conclusions with regard to Turkey's future moves.
''The only thing we can say is to congratulate our Turkish Cypriot compatriots and the Turkish Cypriot parties which sent through this poll a message of disapproval to the tactics of the Turkish side and in particular to Denktash's tactics,'' the president said, invited to comment on the outcome of the procedure.
According to unofficial results, political forces among the Turkish Cypriots who oppose Denktash's policies got more than 50 per cent of the vote and secured half the ''parliamentary seats''.
The president expressed hope that Sunday's ''elections'' will lead to ''a new state of affairs which will allow the Turkish side to change its policy so that we can move forward to talks as soon as possible.''
''It must be made clear though that decisions on the question of Cyprus are taken in Turkey,'' he added.
 Cyprus government satisfied with 'elections' in Turkish-occupied areas
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government has expressed satisfaction over the result of the so-called parliamentary elections that took place in the Turkish-occupied areas of the Republic on Sunday.
Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday that ''in any case, it is an illegal and secessionist action,'' noting however that the result was ''a disapproval of the so far policy of the Turkish side and especially of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on the Cyprus problem.''
He expressed hope that ''the result of the voting and what will follow will create the conditions that will allow the resumption soon of talks on the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan plan, which will lead to a timely solution,'' so that a reunited Cyprus may join the EU in May 2004.
Chrysostomides said statements on Monday by Denktash ''indicate that he has not changed his stance'' and reiterated the political will of the Greek Cypriot side for the immediate resumption of peace talks on the basis of the twice-revised solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
''This was and remains our position and is not altered by the result of the elections,'' he added.
Asked if President Tassos Papadopoulos had changed his mind about contacting the UN chief irrespective of the result of the ''elections'', in order to resume peace talks, Chrysostomides said the president's position had not changed at all.
Invited to say if President Papadopoulos would be traveling to New York to meet with Annan or would send him a letter, Chrysostomides said no decision had been taken yet about how to contact the UN Secretary General.
Chrysostomides said ''Turkey still determines the policy on the Cyprus problem and the result of the elections sends a message to Turkey to change its policy so far on the form a solution would take on and lift the obstacles for the reunification of Cyprus.''
He added that ''it has been proven once again that the participation in the elections of settlers and others from Turkey, who are the majority, makes the expression of the true will of the Turkish Cypriots impossible.''
Invited to comment on any possible alliances of political parties in the Turkish occupied areas, Chrysostomides repeated that the ''elections'' were illegal and said ''what interests us is the resumption of talks with the Turkish Cypriot community, under UN auspices, in the context of the Annan plan, so that negotiations and the effort to solve the Cyprus problem can continue.''
Asked what would happen if the ''elections'' were repeated, since the ''ruling'' and ''opposition'' parties gathered the same number of ''seats'' in the so-called parliament, Chrysostomides said the result would once again be a disapproval of Denktash's policy.
 Unofficial election results in Turkish-occupied Cyprus
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Republican Turkish Party of Mehmet Ali Talat secured 19 out of 50 ''seats'' in the so-called Turkish Cypriot Assembly clinching 35.18 per cent of the total votes, according to the unofficial results announced by the so-called higher election board. A total of 554 ballot boxes were opened.
The National Unity Party of so-called prime minister Dervis Eroglu comes second with 32.93 per cent of the votes and 18 ''seats'' in the ''parliament''. Third in the votes is the Peace and Democracy Movement of Mustafa Akinci with 13.14 percent with six ''seats'', followed by the Democratic Party of Serdar Denktash (son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the self-styled president of the bogus-state) with 12.93 per cent of the votes but with seven ''seats'' because of the complicated ''electoral'' system.
Fifth is the Nationalist Peace Party of Ertogrul Hasipoglu with 3.23 per cent, the Solution and EU Party of Ali Erel with 1.97 per cent and the Cyprus Justice Party with 0.6 per cent.
The last three parties secured no ''seats'' since they did not make it to the 5 per cent threshold.
 Annan: no new initiative unless political will exists
UNITED NATIONS 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reiterated on Monday his firm position that he does not propose to undertake any new initiative with regard to Cyprus without sufficient grounds that the political will for a settlement is there, a statement read out by Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard has said.
Annan also said that he hopes all parties concerned will make the necessary commitment to help find a settlement so that a reunited Cyprus joins the European Union in May next year.
The statement was issued a day after Turkish Cypriots ''voted in parliamentary elections'' on Sunday and expressed their will for a solution and accession to the European Union.
Asked by CNA if the UN could draw some conclusions from the outcome of the ''elections'', Eckhard said the difference is very small and refrained from further comment.
Annan's statement, released to the press earlier, said that ''the Secretary General has seen the reports of the Turkish Cypriot voting.
It appears that it may take some time for a new political dispensation to be established.''
''The Secretary General takes this opportunity to restate his position, which is that his plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem remains on the table but that he does not propose to take a new initiative without solid reason to believe that the political will necessary for a successful outcome exists,'' it added.
Annan expressed hope that ''the Turkish Cypriot side - and indeed all parties - will soon be in a position to make the necessary commitment so that a reunited Cyprus may accede to the EU on May 1, 2004,'' when Cyprus joins the EU.
 European Commission: 'Elections' reflect T/C's desire for solution
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)The European Commission has said the ''elections'' in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus reflect the growing desire of the Turkish Cypriots to find a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan plan and to allow for the accession of a reunited island to the EU on May 1, 2004.
A press release issued by the European Commission on Monday expresses hope ''that a new administration will be in place as soon as possible in order for the Turkish Cypriots to grasp the opportunity to reach a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the Annan plan.''
''To that end we call upon all parties to reengage in the UN-led talks without delay. The Commission is convinced that securing a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the Annan plan by May 1, 2004 would be in the best interest of all Cypriots and of the region,'' the press release adds.
It stresses that the Commission ''is ready to offer assistance for a solution and to prepare all necessary steps for the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island.''
''We are also ready to organize an International Donors' Conference in order to mobilize funds arising from a settlement. Moreover, the EU is willing to accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded and to provide additional funds to assist the northern part of the island in the event of a settlement,'' the European Commission's press release concludes.
 US sees strong political signal from Sunday's Turkish Cypriot 'poll'
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)The US has said that Turkish Cypriots have sent a very strong political signal of support for a UN peace proposal and accession to the European Union and they have cast a vote of hope instead of fear, in spite of pressures exerted on them.
US Ambassador here Michael Klosson, commenting on the outcome of Sunday's ''parliamentary elections'' in Turkish occupied Cyprus, pointed out that now the parties concerned should express their political will as requested by the UN Secretary General.
''One thing is quite clear about the vote, by popular margin Turkish Cypriots expressed their desire for a comprehensive settlement that would enable them to join Europe by May 1 together with Greek Cypriots,'' Klosson said, adding that ''this is a vote of hope over fear and it is all the more noteworthy given the pressures that Turkish Cypriots faced during the lead up to the December 14 vote.''
The Ambassador reiterated US readiness to assist in helping move the settlement process forward and noted the visit to Athens, Nicosia and Ankara in the course of the week of US State Department Special Coordinator Thomas Weston.
''We will do what we can to help move the settlement process forward based on the Annan plan,'' he said.
Replying to questions about Sunday's poll, he said ''it is a tremendous political signal that Turkish Cypriots are looking to the future with hope instead of fear and they have signaled with the majority of votes cast for parties that support the Annan plan and EU membership and very much want to join Europe in the same timeframe as Greek Cypriots, that sends an important political signal.''
He also said that ''Turkish Cypriots have sent a very strong signal with their desires and that should be respected.''
 Jack Straw urges all sides to reengage in negotiations
NICOSIA 16/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Monday the will of the Turkish Cypriots, as expressed in Sunday's poll, for a political settlement and accession to the European Union should be fully respected.
In a written statement, following Sunday's ''parliamentary elections'' in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, he urged all sides to show their readiness to respond to the UN Secretary General's call for the resumption of peace talks.
''A majority of the Turkish Cypriot people has voted for a Cyprus settlement and EU accession. The will of the Turkish Cypriots has been clearly expressed albeit by a narrow margin - despite the widespread concerns expressed by many about the way in which the campaign was conducted. It is important that this desire is fully respected,'' Straw said.
He expressed hope that ''a new administration will be in place as soon as possible to allow Turkish Cypriot to grasp the opportunity available to reach a settlement to the Cyprus problem before May 1,2004.''
''We call on all sides to signal their willingness to meet the UN Secretary General's criteria for the resumption of negotiations without delay,'' he added, noting that a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the Annan proposals and accession by a reunited island would be in the best interests of all Cypriots and of the wider region.
Straw reiterates his government's readiness to assist in anyway it can to help achieve that historic goal.