NEWS

Full EU support for USA

The leaders of the 15 European Union countries met in the Belgian city of Ghent yesterday and issued a strong statement of support for the United States in the fight against international terrorism, following a meeting of the leaders of France, Britain and Germany which angered many other members. The EU leaders closed ranks around the United States, declaring their total solidarity in the fight against terrorism and the military campaign that began in Afghanistan on October 7. We expressed our firmest support for the military operations which began on October 7 and we declare that these operations are legitimate under the United Nations charter, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt told reporters. The 15 leaders said the strikes were targeted and they would do all in their power to ensure the civilian population was spared, a gesture to EU neutrals such as Sweden which have voiced concern at civilian casualties. They said in a joint statement that the aim was to eliminate Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network, which is suspected of having carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. European Commission President Romano Prodi and the leader of EU Christian Democratic parties, Wilfried Martens, criticized the three big powers for holding a separate meeting. Luckily we are united against terrorists, luckily on the main issues we are together, Prodi said in a bitter comment. Prodi told BBC radio that summits were meant for cooperation among all EU leaders, Reuters reported. In Athens, a government spokesman, Telemachos Hytiris, said that Greece agreed with Prodi’s prior objections to the tripartite meeting. Prime Minister Costas Simitis represented Greece at the summit. The European Popular Party leaders also met in the city, where New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis represented the Greek conservatives. He called on the EU to guarantee security and democracy for all its citizens. We must have initiatives both in the Balkans and the Middle East, Karamanlis added. Foreign Minister George Papandreou is to take part in the EU summit tomorrow. On October 25 and 26 he will visit Morocco to take part in the 11-member Mediterranean Forum. There, foreign ministers will review the situation created by the September 11 attacks on the United States, in particular on the security front, and study the social and economic consequences of the current international crisis for the region, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Forum, created in 1994, brings together Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. Ancient find. Children found the head of an ancient marble statue while playing in a riverbed near Mesimeri, Thessaloniki, yesterday. The head was handed over to the local police. According to initial evaluations by archaeologists, the head dates from the Late Roman period.