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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-06-05

Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and




    Athens, 5 June 2003 (14:17 UTC+2)

    Preparations for the EU Summit Meeting in Chalkidiki and the issues to be discussed at it occupied today's Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simtis.

    Upon leaving the Maximos Mansion, Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou referred to the issues to occupy the Summit, last night's discussion in Parliament and said that he had a telephone communication with US Secretary of State Collin Powel, who briefed him on developments in the Palestinian issue.

    The Foreign Minister stated that very important decisions will be made at the Thessaloniki Summit. First of all is the future of Europe itself, with a new Constitution for the citizens of Europe, and hopefully, the Constitution to be submitted will be the basis for further discussions and negotiations among the member-states, and open further prospects for a powerful, united, economically healthy democratic Europe. Secondly, there are issues concerning the course of Balkan countries towards accession, thirdly the issue of legal and illegal immigration and incorporation of immigrants, and another very important initiative of the Greek government will also be submitted, a strategic dogma.

    I believe that the Thessaloniki Summit will be a very crucial Summit, and we have prepared these topics very carefully, stated Mr. Papandreou.

    The Minister also mentioned that last night's discussion in Parliament was not a topic at this morning's Cabinet meeting, that the government will do everything in its power to guarantee the free movement of protestors in Thessaloniki, help them get their messages across and concerning the meeting between US President Bush and the Prime Ministers of Israel and Palestine, he said this event should be greeted by the EU Presidency. He stated that he received a call from US Secretary of State Collin Powel who gave him the details of the meetings, and stated that Mr. Powell seemed optimistic. It has not finished, we are only at the beginning, and we know that there will be many obstacles. But for the first time there is a sense of willingness from both sides to move forward. And we as the European Union must continue to support the road map, he ended.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (18:20 UTC+2)

    The EU congratulates the Venezuelan government and opposition in signing a political agreement on May 29. The EU also recognizes the invaluable role played by the Secretary General of the Organization of the American States, the Carter Center and the UNDP in helping to facilitate a mediation process over the last seven months between the government and opposition representatives. The EU calls upon all parties to proceed without delay to the necessary follow up, e.g. re-establishing of the electoral council, updating the voters' register, and other preparations as mentioned in the agreement. The EU stands ready to assist in the implementation of the agreement and provide technical assistance for the preparation of any type of electoral consultation.

    The EU hopes that this latest agreement will prove a significant step and solid basis for the process of solving the political crisis in Venezuela within the framework of the constitution, the rule of law and democratic principles.

    The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (18:15 UTC+2)

    The Euro-army operates very effectively, assured Greek Minister of Defense and President of EU Ministers Council Yiannos Papantoniou, after the inspection of the European CONCORDIA Force in Skopje, FYROM today.

    The Euro-army operates very effectively, the FYROM authorities want it. Law and order and security in the country are being preserved, while the acts of violence have been limited and overall, it is a very good start for the European Military Force, the European Policy on Security and Defense, stressed Mr. Papantoniou.

    After reminding that the Greek EU Presidency laid the foundations for the Euro-army, he underlined that if this force gains additional dimensions and covers the EU borders, through the European Constitution, it will be a very important conquest for Greece. Greece is the only one among the 25 EU countries that faces a visible and major threat against its territory, said Mr. Papantoniou. He stated characteristically that from now on the Greek people can now lean on Europe for their security.

    However, he admitted that there is still a long way before enjoying a real European defense.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (17:11 UTC+2)

    Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.41% at 1.832,08 points, while the volume of transactions was at 175.1 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 105 recorded gains and 212 had losses, while the value of 61 stocks remained unchanged.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (17:03 UTC+2)

    Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou outlined the Thessaloniki EU Summit agenda after the meeting he had in Athens today with Prime Minister Kostas Simitis.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that the basic points, to be discussed in the Summit that will take place in Porto Karras, Chalkidiki on June 19-20, are the new Constitutional Convention draft, the European prospect of the western Balkan countries, immigration and illegal immigration.

    He characterized as very important the imminent presentation of the strategic dogma text by EU High Representative for CFSP, Javier Solana at the initiative of the Greek EU Presidency.

    Commenting on the protests planned to take place in Thessaloniki during the Summit, Mr. Papandreou stated that the government will do everything it can to allow the protesters to convey their views. He added that the views of the movements and the non governmental organizations on the major issues of globalization and those concerning the development of the third world countries are useful.

    The Foreign Minister also characterized as issues of major importance, the limitation of poverty, the protection of the environment and the genetically altered products.

    Referring to the developments in the Middle East, Mr. Papandreou reminded that for one more time the EU will play a decisive role in the drawing up and adoption of the Road Map.

    Mr. Papandreou announced that US Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned him yesterday and briefed him on the details of those meetings, adding that himself is optimistic that things are on the right track.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (16:32 UTC+2)

    The EU Presidency welcomes with great pleasure the meeting between the US President and the Prime Ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Aqaba, Jordan. We consider it as an important step, which opens up a substantial perspective for peace after a long and dramatic period of a stalemated conflict and bloodshed.

    The EU supports, with all its strength, this initiative and calls on both parties to take appropriate measures for the speedy and full implementation of the Road Map, which, in any case, constitutes the only hope for the revitalization of the Peace Process. This opportunity should not be missed.

    The international community is ready to support the efforts of both sides by all means at its disposal, including the establishment of a reliable and efficient verification mechanism of the Peace Process. It is certain that all leaderships of the region are faced with historic decisions and responsibilities for the future of their societies. It is time for hard but necessary compromises both for the leaderships and the societies, which will lead to the creation of a viable and democratic Palestinian state as well as to the guarantee of security and peace for the state of Israel.


    Athens, 5 June 2003 (13:29 UTC+2)

    The pre-agenda discussion in Parliament on the economy, proposed by New Democracy, turned into an all out clash between the Prime Minister and the Head of the Opposition. The points of conflict were the issue of shady dealings and the Stock Market.

    Prime Minister Simitis attacked the Opposition intensely accusing it of serving specific business interests and of being scaremongers.

    When you are politically poor, when you have no policies, then you follow or discover para-politics, slander, populism and scandal mongering. I will not tell ND how to be the opposition, but I will say that the government has a duty of preserving the country's steady political course, the stable atmosphere and the successes and credit of Greece, noted the Prime Minister characteristically, adding:

    ND is prepared to sacrifice everything at the altar of party interest, the altar of its commitment to certain private interests. Its position in Parliament, where it stood alone against the both the government and all of Europe, in order to defend certain ship owners, who, in the name of profit, refuse to conform with the European decision to reinforce their tankers to prevent sea pollution. Is there greater proof of the shady dealings within ND than this? At the same time, it exposes Greece and Greek shipping. I wonder who those ship owners are.

    The Prime Minister also referred to the ELPE-PETROLA merger, characterizing it a positive event for the strengthening and extension of the potential of Greek economy in the field, while he noted that a competing company reacted and called ND to intervene, and it obeyed immediately.

    The President of New Democracy, Costas Karamanlis, attacked in turn, questioning the evidence presented by the Prime Minister, and accused him of lying, while he stressed shady dealings and the Stock Market issues, and asked that the party's proposal for an Auditing Committee be accepted.

    Specifically on the ELPE-PETROLA agreement, he supported that it is not an incision. It is an agreement to make a profit which is neither a privatization nor will it benefit competitiveness nor will it create jobs.

    Mr. Karamanlis referred to the statements of the Minister of Defense, who said that this was a privatization, while the Minister of Development stated that they were against privatization, pointing out the difference in views within the party itself.

    On unemployment he wondered if the Prime Minister was lying on purpose, since he had said that unemployment would be at 7% and that 300,000 new jobs would be created.

    On the issue of the Stock Market he stressed that they delayed in discovering the problems on purpose despite the fact that he had sent the government a letter in 2002, to which the government responded that it had a set up a complete legal framework. Mr. Karamanlis accused the government of instituting shady dealings with its actions and enforcing the loss of transparency, calling them to accept the formation of an Auditing Committee.

    On the issue of the tankers, the President of ND said that the Prime Minister was lying since ND only asked that the rate of replacement be decreased, on opinion shared by the Minister of the Merchant Marine.

    The Secretary General of the Greek Communist Party Aleka Papariga attacked the two major parties accusing them both of trying to hide the contrasts of capitalist economy, in order to put the people in the frame of mind of sacrifice, acceptance of guidance and fatalism.

    Regarding the issue of shady dealings, she pointed out that when PASOK was the Opposition it accused ND of corruption, and now it's the other way around. The essence of shady dealings can be found in the relation between the economic dominance of capital and political authority.

    Shady dealings are part of our political system's structure. It didn't suddenly creep into political life. It was promoted to the position of a superpower by the governments that raised it and fattened it up, underlined the President of the Coalition of Left Movements and Ecology, Nikos Constantopoulos.

    Addressing the Prime Minister, Mr. Constantopoulos stated that if he believes there are interests undermining him, he should wonder who formed conditions of such unhealthy competition, so that economic interests can play such a direct political role. Never before has such a great portion of public wealth been offered to such a small number of individuals.


    In the rejoinder, Prime Minister Simitis accused Mr. Karamanlis of not presenting any proposal, while he rejected the request for an auditing committee of the Stock Market.

    A difference between PASOK and ND was made obvious today, as was a difference between Mr. Karamanlis and myself. For us politics means responsibility towards the people and the country. Nobody said that everything in this room is pretty and that there are no problems. On the contrary, we know what the problems are and we are working to eradicate them. All the Opposition has done is darken things because it has proposed no solution, he mentioned.

    Mr. Simitis returned to the issue of the CSF, stressing that the first CSF which was handled by ND was worth 4.9 trillion drachmas, while the second and third ones handled by PASOK reached 7.9 and 15.1 trillion drachmas.

    I submitted my surveillance papers when you were in power. Today, no citizen has to do that I fought against the dictatorship. When others sat at home I was placing small bombs. What did you do? You didn't feel that you should not divide the citizens. And the Greek people know it, mentioned the Prime Minister.

    The last statements of the Prime Minister caused the intense reaction of ND President Costas Karamanlis, who stressed:

    Mr. Simitis you are not claiming exclusivity for the dictatorship. Do not choose the path of aggression. You are the one who wants the division and disorientation of the people. But no one will forget about his problems with division lines. The citizens are not interested in ghosts and shadows. Try to lose with some dignity, stated Mr. Karamanlis.

    Upon ending, the Head of the Opposition returned to the issue of transparency, accusing the government of having its tail in it. You have to answer because you have been ruling for 20 years, and I ask, who is negotiating?

    Mr. Karamanlis stated that the government has rejected all proposals by ND, because it does not want to be checked on, it wants to cover everything up, for itself and its partners.

    On her side, Aleka Papariga responded to the Prime Minister's argument that no citizen is under surveillance in Greece today, and supported:

    The patrolman was abolished, but surveillance was not. We have had suppression and violence at union meetings. There is an orgy of surveillance both at protests and of individuals and parties.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Constantopoulos pointed out that politicians are judged not for how they started off, but how they ended, adding:

    Struggles are not justified by escaping to the past. The bones and clothes of the Greek people have been shared, enough is enough. This is the atmosphere in which elections are to be held? By setting fire to everything?.


    Athens, 4 June 2003 (21:28 UTC+2)

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis referred to the priorities of the Greek EU Presidency in the Thessaloniki Summit Meeting addressing the European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg.

    Mr. Yiannitsis referred to five major chapters on which the Thessaloniki Summit is expected to focus:

    Advancement of the necessary institutional changes that have been the main object of the Convention on the Future of Europe since March 2002.

    Foreign policy and defence, with special emphasis on transatlantic relations, the shaping of a strategic concept for EU security and the issue of weapons of mass destruction.

    Immigration, asylum and external borders, an area of particular concern to the Greek Presidency and of constantly growing significance for the European Union.

    Issues concerning employment and the Lisbon Strategy, in general, that must be discussed at European Council level.

    EU policy with regard to Western Balkans, a fifth chapter to be discussed on the Council's second day, i.e. on Saturday, June 21.

    Regarding the issue of institutional reforms, Mr. Yiannitsis said that the President of the Convention will present in Thessaloniki the conclusions of its 15-month proceedings. The role of the Council, naturally, does not consist in making decisions as to the substance of the Convention's mission, but in determining how to proceed with the next phase and giving the Intergovernmental Conference the mandate to begin its work, so that we could achieve results acceptable by all, said Mr. Yiannitsis.

    On transatlantic relations, Mr. Yiannitsis stressed that the picture of the EU relations with the US should improve and reflect reality. A great effort is being made to secure that the next EU-US Summit meeting, to be held a few days after the European Council, will become an important step for the further development of this strategic relation.

    In Thessaloniki, the European Council is expected to endorse the Presidency's report on the progress achieved over the past six months in the development of ESDP and also the annual progress report on the Implementation of the EU Programme for the Prevention of Violent Conflicts, which is the cornerstone of the security mechanism of the Union.

    The issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction is an important topic of the agenda and will probably remain there for some time to come. Their proliferation is a huge challenge for the international system. The critical question is how to increase and intensify efforts to prevent further WMD proliferation which endangers not only our security, but also international peace and stability. The immediate goal of the EU Presidency is the drafting of a Comprehensive Strategy and Plan of Action, to be adopted in Thessaloniki, said Mr. Yiannitsis.

    On the immigration issue, the EU Presidency intends to seek a political agreement to include immigration as a necessary parameter in the assessment of the cooperation of third countries with the EU. Mr. Yiannitsis expressed the hope that a political agreement will be reached on a directive concerning the long-time immigrants and the definition of the term refugee.

    Regarding external borders, the EU Presidency intends to issue a statement on burden sharing.

    On the chapter of the Lisbon Strategy, the main issue will be the approval of directions regarding the general orientations of the economic policies and the revised European strategy on employment.

    The European Council in Thessaloniki is expected to signal a turning point in the EU relations with western Balkans with the adoption of a text of conclusions expressing the political will to support the European prospect of the countries in the region as a follow up to the Feira, Nice and Copenhagen decisions.

    The Thessaloniki European Council decisions will be reflected in the Declaration of Thessaloniki signed by all interested parties in the EU-Western Balkans Meeting on June 21, held after the European Council with the participation of the EU acceding and candidate states.

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