|Saturday, 22 February 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 2003-06-21
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY Thessaloniki, June 21, 2003
[A] NATIONAL NEWS
[B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS
[A] NATIONAL NEWS
European interest can be traced to countries of the Balkans such as Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro, FYROM, and Albania.
The issues of Balkan countries will come to the forefront of European interest today, after yesterday's positive developments towards the adoption of a common European Constitution, which was recorded in the positive achievements of the Greek Presidency,
along with the formulation of positions on the reconstruction of Iraq, EU-US relations, carrying out checks on Iran's nuclear program, the completion of the dynamic accession of the ten new member-states, as well as the clarifications on the beginning es sential political and social reforms in Turkey, after it applies the decisions of the Copenhagen Summit.
Security has been concentrated on the areas surrounding the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, the General Police Direction, and the US Consulate, where the police will block roads with metal panels and armored vans, in order to avert any approaches by protes ters.
There is concern within the leadership of the Greek Police, coordinating the operation from the police HQ, with the large number of "hardcore protesters" (members of antiauthoritarian organizations), as there are fears that yesterday's confrontations wit h the police will be repeated in Thessaloniki today.
According to the authorities' plan, there will be a strong police force around the university where these "hardcore elements" are staying, while depending on the situation in the streets during the protests, streets may be closed down.
During his stay in Moscow, the Minister will meet with the President of the Russian Federation's Defense Committee, Mr. Nikolaev, as well as his counterpart Sergei Ivanov. The topic of discussions will be the bilateral defensive-military cooperation betw een the two countries, EU-Russia relations and NATO-Russia relations.
Mr. Papantoniou will also meet with the President of Dumas in the Russian Federation, Mr. Zelezniov, as well as with the spokesperson of the Russian Federation's President, Mrs. Matvienko.
The Minister will also participate in the opening of the International Nautical Fair being held in St. Petersburg.
Security has been concentrated on the areas surrounding the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, the General Police Direction, and the US Consulate.
In a press conference held after the end of the Summit's works, Mr. Erdogan referred to the meeting Prime Minister Simitis had with Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
As he said, in this meeting he expressed Turkey's willingness to actively participate in the course towards the drafting of the Constitutional Treaty of the EU, and thanked the Greek Presidency for its good intentions.
Furthermore, he underlined that his country has made very fast steps in approaching the EU, which were not taken into account at the Summit.
Mr. Erdogan expressed his dissatisfaction with the absence of Turkish journalists from the family photograph of the EU leaders, as well as with the fact that it was not possible for Turkish MPs to observe Summit discussions.
According to the announcements of social organization spokespersons, there will be at least 6 rallies, at different points in town, followed by marches, while the main body of the protesters will finally reach Niki Avenue and the new seafront, where conc erts, speeches, happenings, etc. will be held tonight.
Specifically, the Greek Social Forum will hold a rally in Democracy Square, "Action: Thessaloniki 2003" in Aristotelous Square, the GSEE (Workers' Union) and the EKTh (Workers' Center) at the statue of Venizelos, "Resistance Thessaloniki 2003" in Makedon omachon Square, and "Initiative Struggle Thessaloniki 2003" in Kamara.
At the same time the antiauthoritarian movement "Salonika 2003" and anarchist groups staying in the AUTh will hold marches, while it is unknown if they will hold gathering rallies earlier.
In any case, social movement spokespersons appreciate that today's mobilizations will be greater that those preceding them, as more protesters are expected to arrive in Thessaloniki early this morning.
In response to a journalist's question on whether Turkey will stop considering the 12 mile issue a casus belli, Mr. Erdogan responded that the issue is being discussed on a technical level between both sides, and that a discussion on a political level ha s not yet begun.
There was no separate meeting between Prime Minister Simitis and Prime Minister Erdogan in the margin of the Summit.
It was the second meeting, following that in Zagreb, and as Mr. Simitis said, the EU's goal is for countries of the Western Balkans to become members of the EU as long as they meet the criteria. We need, he said, a strong effort from the countries of the
Western Balkans, and the EU has decided to contribute to that effort. Thus, the EU has agreed to contribute further financial assistance worth 200 million euro during the 2004-2006 period. Besides this amount, the funds allocated to the Western Balkans f rom 2000 to 2007 reach 5 billion euro.
The President of the European Commission Romano Prodi underlined that the economic assistance that had been asked for was greater, and added that the amount 200 million euro may be increased if the countries show that they are moving to the reforms they
have committed themselves to.
Mr. Simitis stressed that the EU considers the formation of a special agreement for stability and cooperation in these countries necessary.
Mr. Prodi pointed out that the procedure of European Integration will not be completed if the Western Balkans do not become members of the EU. The EU enlargement is a path of no return and he welcomed the Western Balkans to the European Home. He also ref erred to the need for development in regional cooperation and the confrontation of problems such as returning refugees, fighting organized crime and the formation of a market suitable for investments.
The High Representative of the EU on Foreign Policy and Defense issue, Javier Solana, praised the great importance of a dialogue before July, between Belgrade and Pristina in order to overcome the problems in their relations.
According to an "Imerisia" newspaper publication, the discussions will last more than three hours and will cover all issues concerning America and Europe.
He pointed out that the Stabilization and Association Procedure, SAP, comes out of the Summit more strengthened and enriched, while it is already underway for Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, FYROM and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Thanks to the tireless efforts by the Greek EU Presidency, the Summit seals an impressive negotiation process among the EU, the region's governments and the "players" involved in the strengthening of the European course of those countries. The above were
stated by Mr. Busek in the press conference he gave today after the EU-Western Balkans Summit at Porto Carras in Chalkidiki.
He also pointed out that the Stability Pact could play a "key-role" in the acceleration of the European course of the Western Balkans especially, regarding the creation of "tools" of inter-regional cooperation in the five SAP states.
Mr. Erdogan arrived at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport at 3.30pm on board a helicopter. The Turkish Prime Minister was at Porto Carras, Chalkidiki where the EU Summit took place.
It is the first post-war visit to the house of Kemal Ataturk by a Turkish Prime Minister.
Referring to the European Constitution, he said that it is a significant and positive step for the future of Europe and pointed out that the draft Constitution is a good basis for further discussion.
Commenting on the fact that the Christian religion is not mentioned in the draft Constitution, he said that there are difficulties in the process of the drawing up of the European Constitution.
More than 5,000 police officers are in a full state of alert, while the security measures are mainly focused on the regions around the buildings of the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace and the US Consulate.
Police forces used teargas to break up the anarchists. Thessaloniki downtown turned into a battlefield and smoke covers most of the city center.
In the statement it is clarified that it was decided to hold periodical EU-Western Balkans fora to discuss issues of common interest and review the progress made. Within this framework, the Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Interior will hold ann ual meetings.
In the Thessaloniki statement it is underlined that the EU confirms its unequivocal support to the European prospect of Western Balkans and recognizes that the Stabilization an Association Procedure will be the framework for the European course of the We stern Balkans until their future accession into the EU.
The EU backs the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 on Kosovo and the political fulfillment of the preconditions before the recognition of UNMIK.
The viable return of the refugees and the internally displaced persons are crucial issues, while the divisions based on ethnic criteria are meanings not compatible with the European prospects.
Those participating in the Summit reiterated that organized crime and corruption are a setback for democratic stability, the state of law, economic development and the strengthening of the society of citizens in the region's states causing serious concer n in the EU.
Biblical disaster is reported in the commercial center of the city in the area surrounded by the streets of Egnatia, Agias Sofias, Iasonidou and Platonos.
According to police sources, masked protesters have spread in different parts of the city and inside the peaceful demonstrations to avoid being arrested by the police.
According to unconfirmed information, a total of 12 individuals have been taken to hospitals, which are in a state of alert.
Meanwhile, the situation at the Aristotle University campus is explosive as the police make extensive use of teargas and police forces are reinforced.
According to information, two anarchists have been arrested. Earlier, the anarchists burned down a McDonald's and a Goody's fast food restaurants, a Eurobank and an Alpha Bank branch, a pharmacy, a bookstore, a supermarket and a number of private cars.
A police helicopter flies over the city center and watches the situation, while sporadic clashes are being reported between police and anarchists.
In his statements stressed that he came as an ambassador of peace and that he is happy with the fact that his visit coincides with the completion of the extremely successful Greek EU Presidency.
Responding to a question whether he wants to send a message to the Turkish military with this visit, he said that the military played a significant role in the modernization of Turkey since the first years of the founding of the Turkish republic. He said
that Ataturk was the head of the military and the military did everything it could for the implementation of democratic reforms when the country made the transition to democracy. He added that now there is absolutely no problem with the functioning of de mocracy in Turkey.
Asked to comment if there is a special significance to the fact that he went from Chalkidiki to Thessaloniki on board a Greek army helicopter, he said that lately there is a very positive atmosphere in the Greek-Turkish relations. There is an enthusiasm for peace between the two governments and the people even though there are negative impressions from time to time.
Mr. Erdogan stated that his country proceeds with the adoption of a series of reforms and stated characteristically that a few days ago a law was passed on the 6th harmonization package with the EU and another law on the 7th package is expected to be pas sed on August 1. He said that these reforms are not made just because Turkey wants to become an EU member but because it wants to improve the living standards of the Turkish people.
He said that in the meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis they did not discuss the Aegean issue, which will be discussed by committees of technocrats.
[B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS