NEWS

PM: Civilization vs. terrorism

Prime Minister Costas Simitis once again condemned last week’s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in unequivocal terms yesterday, and reiterated Greece’s strong support for the United States and retaliatory military action. On the other hand, he and his fellow European Union leaders made it clear that the US will undertake the military operations alone, with the Europeans providing logistics and other help to each country’s ability. The decision was taken at an emergency summit of European Union leaders yesterday. The summit was called to consider moves to fight terrorism, reassure jittery European markets and hear from European leaders who have visited the US, including French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on US plans for political and military action. The EU will concentrate on the political fight against terrorism by helping to assemble the widest possible coalition against the terrorist forces and intervening more actively in the Middle East. The Europeans did declare that the US has the right to respond (to the terrorist attacks) in a focused way. The area in which the US forces will operate is far away from Europe, Simitis said. Earlier yesterday, addressing a symposium in Athens, Simitis said that the terrorist attack against the United States expresses a mentality incompatible with civilization. Late on Thursday in Brussels, Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said that Greece will take part in any specific anti-terrorist actions decided by the US and NATO. There is solidarity (within NATO) and an intention to create a very wide coalition and participate in military action, provided that (this action) is not going to mean general attacks on whole countries or civilizations, but will aim at this specific source of terrorism and will be part of a wider political process. NATO has canceled a defense ministers’ meeting due to take place in Naples next Wednesday and Thursday, citing crisis management responsibilities as the reason. In Greece, most opposition parties declared themselves in support of the effort against terrorism but warned against widespread military action that would lead to the deaths of innocent civilians. Conservative opposition New Democracy has declared itself in support of US action and has said that it would cooperate closely with the government. It has also asked for the President of the Republic to convene the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, a move which the government has rejected, based on the experience of similar meetings a decade ago that achieved no unified positions and resulted in selective leaks by the participants. The government has accepted, however, the creation of a Foreign Policy Council, a consultative body in which party representatives will have a seat. Both Nikos Konstantopoulos, leader of the Left Coalition, and Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, leader of the recently-founded Movement of Free Citizens, yesterday called for the terrorists to be brought to justice and urged the US and their western allies to avoid a massive retaliation that would kill civilians. The glaring exception was the Greek Communist Party (KKE), whose general secretary, Aleka Papariga, declared yesterday that a war against the peoples of the world is underway by the Americans and their allies. On the aftermath of the terrorist attack, Papariga had declared that we should see whom this action benefits, implying that they could have been staged by the US government itself to act as an excuse for expanding its global hegemony. Europeans call for UN role At an extraordinary summit in Brussels last night, the leaders of the 15 European Union members agreed that the United States’ retaliation for the terrorist attacks of September 11 was legal but they stressed that the actions should be well focused and conducted under the aegis of the United Nations. The 15 leaders agreed to shape a joint list of terrorist organizations which operate on European territory. Sources in Brussels said that the list, which will be drawn up by the ministers of public order and defense, may not be made public but will be used as a tool for police cooperation within the EU. The EU leaders also called on their ministers of public order and justice to agree by December on specific proposals for the common definition of terrorism and to present plans for the introduction of union-wide arrest warrants. They also instructed transport ministers to work out a package of measures to increase security for air travel. The 15 also declared that the terrorist strikes in America were not a reason for an international recession and expressed certainty that stability will soon return to European economies and financial markets. The EU leaders agreed that each member state will decide the extent to which it will take part in the US operations against terrorism and stressed the political role that the EU can play.