NEWS

Athens content with EU warrant

Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos said yesterday that Greece’s concerns had been met in the EU’s efforts to design conditions for an arrest warrant that would replace unwieldy extradition procedures with an EU-wide warrant to cover 32 serious crimes, including terrorism. In a statement, he said that the other EU members had agreed to Athens’s demand that terrorist acts be defined as having been committed with intent to terrorize the population or destroy or destabilize fundamental political, constitutional, economic and social structures of a country or international organization. Also, the deal should not violate rights and freedoms such as the right to strike, to meet, to express oneself and to stage demonstrations, Petsalnikos said. Only Italy remained isolated yesterday when the other 14 member states rejected its proposal for a compromise that would see some crimes falling under the new system as late as 2008. Italy wants to exclude financially sensitive issues like fraud, corruption and money laundering. Rome yesterday offered to accept the full list of 32 crimes, but to delay implementation – until 2004 for 16 crimes and 2008 for the rest – including money laundering. This was rejected by others who wanted the warrant to cover all 32 crimes by 2004. The issue will now move to next week’s EU summit. It overshadowed Thursday’s agreement on a common definition of terrorism. The ministers also agreed on minimum 15-year sentences for leaders of terrorist groups and eight years for those who commit terrorist crimes. Putin expressed hope that «there will be a response» from Greek business. «Some Russian companies feel especially comfortable in Europe, have sufficient self-confidence and are ready to take part in the liberalization of markets and the energy sector,» he said.