|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-05-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Simitis and visiting Czech premier sign economic cooperation agreement, discuss EU-related matters
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)During a warm and friendly discussion on Thursday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting Czech counterpart Milos Zeman discussed developments regarding the European Union and agreed that central and eastern Europe had a very important role to play in the continent's future.
After his meeting with Zeman, Simitis said Greece shares common problems with the Czech Republic, which will be one of the countries in the first wave of EU expansion. Specifically, he mentioned issues related to EU expansion, the role of member-states in European agencies and the goals that need to be pursued. Other topics discussed included the course of cooperation in the Balkan region and shared interests of their two countries.
According to the premier, there are many Greek businesses currently operating in the Czech Republic, while a plan is being developed for a joint venture to supply electricity.
After the meeting, the two delegations signed an economic cooperation pact.
As the Czech premier explained, his visit to Greece was not just formal. All candidate-states for EU membership, Zeman said, needed to deeply explore issues relating to a common foreign and defense policy.
The Czech Prime Minister also referred to a joint Greek-Czech initiative to include all Balkan countries in the efforts of the Balkan reconstruction process.
Describing the agreement to expand economic cooperation with Greece as "very good", Zeman expressed his satisfaction over the long-term investment plans of Greek companies active in his country. In this way, he said, Greek businesses would participate in the privatization process in the Czech Republic, which he said was one of the leading countries in central Europe with respect to attracting foreign capital.
Zeman arrived in Athens earlier Thursday, accompanied by Czech agriculture minister Jan Fencl and industry and trade minister Miroslav Gregr, the deputy ministers of foreign affairs, defense, finance, and industry and trade, and a group of 20 representatives of major Czech companies, including Skoda automobile manufacturer.
On Friday, Zeman will be decorated with the Medal of the City of Athens by the mayor of the Greek capital, Dimitris Avramopoulos, after which the two men will hold brief talks.
Later, Zeman will hold talks with parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and will be received by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.
A reception will also be held at the Czech embassy in Athens in honor of Zeman's visit before the visiting premier and his delegation depart Athens in the afternoon.
During the two-day visit, the accompanying Czech ministers, deputy ministers and other senior Czech officials will hold separate meetings with their Greek counterparts.
Apostolakis and Novotni discuss Balkans and NATO: Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis and his Czech counterpart Yaromir Novotni on Thursday exchanged views on bilateral relations, including security issues in the region and prospects for the further enlargement of NATO.
Sources said the two sides agreed on the need to safeguard existing external borders in the Balkans and seek a permanent solution to the Kosovo problem within the borders of Yugoslavia.
Apostolakis informed Novotni of Greece's support for the integration in NATO of all Balkan countries, which fulfilled the necessary criteria.
Czech PM calls for Greek investments: The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, on Thursday, called for Greek investment in his country.
Speaking at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Zeman said that foreign investments were safe due to stability of the economic environment.
The Chamber's president, Eleftherios Antonakopoulos, said Czech investment opportunities existed for Greek businesses in telecommunications and energy. Also of interest was the country's privatization program.
The Czech premier was accompanied by a 20-member business delegation.
 Papandreou, Albright meet and discuss Balkan issues
FLORENCE, 26/05/2000 (ANA - A. Podimata)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Thursday met with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright here and discussed developments in the Balkans, focusing on Kosovo and Yugoslavia.
Following the meeting, which took place at the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting, Papandreou noted that "our allies in NATO in general, and the United States in particular," recognized that Greece is an important country in promoting peace and stability in the Balkans.
He added that they also recognized that Greece has put forward realistic proposals and ideas in confronting the problems of the region.
Albright as well as other representatives of NATO members made positive comments regarding the Greek brigade participating in KFOR, Papandreou said.
He said he reiterated that sanctions and the isolation of Yugoslavia from the international community are counterproductive and do not promote the democratization of the country.
Papandreou noted that the United States have begun to understand the correctness of this logic noted by Greece, as well as the need for the creation of venues by the international community to the Yugoslavian people.
Papandreou and Albright decided to continue and strengthen the further cooperation between Greece and the United States regarding the Balkans and more particularly developments in Yugoslavia and toward that aim they decided that contacts between the two countries should be scheduled so as to promote ideas and proposals for the democratization of Serbia, reliable sources said.
The two ministers also discussed the Cyprus problem, with Papandreou noting to Albright that substantial negotiations should begin during the third round.
Papandreou briefed Albright on his meeting Wednesday with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Albright reiterated that the US was ready and willing to aid the two countries if they need it. According to sources Albright noted the same thing to Cem during their meeting, which took place earlier in the day.
The same sources added that Albright indicated to Cem the need for the initiation of substantial talks on the Cyprus problem, while on his part, Cem reiterated the Turkish stand for the establishment of a confederation in Cyprus.
 Papazoi meets de Miguel
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi and her Spanish counterpart Ramon de Miguel, who met in Madrid on Wednesday, reaffirmed the excellent state of relations between the two countries and exchanged views on the Inter-Governmental Conference and planning ahead of the French Presidency, particularly on the possibilities for certain member-states to implement policies without the participation of all others.
The two officials also discussed Cyprus, Greek-Turkish relations and issues relating to the implementation of rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and developing Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
According to the statement issued, de Miguel stressed Greece's central role in promoting stability and economic reconstruction in the Balkans.
 Tsohatzopoulos reiterates conditions for an improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday that Greece expects tangible results and actions from Ankara proving that its policy of threats against Athens has come to an end.
Tsohatzopoulos reiterated conditions set by Greece for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations which are the principles of international law and respect for international treaties in handling pending issues, a just solution to the Cyprus issue based on a bizonal federation and the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, and the withdrawal of unilateral claims against Greece.
Tsohatzopoulos said what is positive is the fact that thoughts exist in Turkey on changing the image of its policy, but added that this is the case because Turkey is being placed at the consideration of the EU countries.
He also said that another condition was the implementation of confidence-building measures based on the memorandum prepared by former Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers Karolos Papoulias and Mesut Yilmaz.
Tsohatzopoulos clarified that the Greece's foreign and defense ministries have agreed that military dialogue with Turkey was not desirable at present.
He also announced that the Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) would be convened in July to discuss the armed forces' new armaments program.
 Tsohatzopoulos denies intentional omission of Limnos from NATO planning
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Greece's defense minister on Thursday again dismissed recent press reports claiming that the NE island of Limnos has been excluded from the planning of an ongoing major NATO exercise, underway over much of the country.
In response to a question tabled in Parliament by a Communist Party of Greece deputy, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said only portions of Greek territory were requested for holding the exercise, code-named "Dynamic Mix".
"If such a thing had be requested, undoubtedly, Limnos would have been included, and this issue would have been finally cleared-up..." he said, adding that the entire matter stems from statements by a previous NATO secretary general over a past exclusion of the strategically located Greek island from NATO planning.
Regarding the issue of flight plans by aircraft taking part in the maneuvers, Tsohatzopoulos said Turkish fighter planes entering the Aegean most definitely file such document, while other alliance aircraft arriving from outside the Athens FIR "maneuver based on directives issued by the (NATO) commander in Naples who files the plans with Greek authorities under his responsibility."
 Planes entering FIR have made "five point declaration" to NATO, Tsohatzopoulos says
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)All airplanes participating in the NATO exercise Dynamic Mix 2000 recognized the jurisdiction of Athens' Flight Control Region by submitting the "five point declaration" to the NATO Command in Naples, Italy, Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Thursday.
This declaration essentially constitutes their flight plans, Tsohatzopoulos said, adding that the NATO Command in Naples has the overall control of the exercise and hands over operational control to the Greek commanders of the Land and Air Subcommand at Larissa.
He also noted that the Greek defense ministry issued a demarche to NATO for the violation of one of the "five points" by two Turkish plans on Tuesday, as Greek aircraft immediately intercepted the Turkish planes, when it became apparent that they entered the Athens' FIR from a different than the declared point of entry.
Meanwhile, it was reported that the exercise Dynamic Mix was progressing according to plans, as navy forces exercised in regions of the central and southern Aegean, while airforces concluded successfully 217 sorties in various regions of mainland Greece and sea regions.
 Russian shipyard starts construction of patrol boat for Greece ST
PETERSBURG, 26/05/2000 (ANA/AFP)The Almaz shipyard in St Petersburg started construction of a patrol boat for the Greek Navy on Thursday, which is part of a 101 million-dollar contract.
According to Almaz, the contract signed with Greece last January anticipates the building of a Zoubr patrol boat and the refitting of another boat of the same class.
The patrol boat, having a displacement of 550 tonnes and equipped with four anti-aircraft systems and two gun batteries, is capable of transporting three tanks and about 360 men, according to the newspaper "Ventomosti."
 Government not anxious for problems with Church but will uphold the law, Reppas says
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)It is the government's job to put the laws of the state into effect, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Thursday, responding to questions regarding a decision to omit record of religion from new identity cards.
Disregarding the strong objections of the Greek Orthodox Church and Archbishop Christodoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis had announced on Wednesday that new Greek identity cards would not include records of religion, not even on a voluntary basis - as per the dictates of a new personal data protection bill.
The decision has prompted angry responses from the Church and religious groups, as well as criticism from some members of parliament, even some PASOK deputies.
Reppas ventured the opinion that the issue had been blown up out of proportion, pointing out that the law did not concern just religious beliefs but all sensitive personal data. He also stressed that the government did not wish a falling out with the Church or to strain relations.
Regarding the various reactions and criticism, Reppas said simply that everyone has a right to legal protest that respects the rights of others and that democracy means that all opinions are respected and heard.
Expressions of fanaticism and bigotry, he countered, however, are hard to reconcile with the Orthodox faith and he expressed the government's conviction that reason would finally prevail.
Asked to state a reasonable time period, in which the decision would be implemented, as the Prime Minister had said, Reppas said it was premature to talk about specific dates. "All we can say," he added, "is that it will be a matter of days or months, not years."
 Greek, Turkish journalists to attend meeting in Rhodes
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)The 1st Greek-Turkish Journalists' meeting in Rhodes will take place between May 26-28 and will focus on "Means of information and local societies as mechanisms for improving relations between the peoples of Greece and Turkey."
Many mayors from southern Turkey, representatives from scientific societies and chambers of commerce and industry, as well as journalists from both the public and private mass media will participate in the meeting which was organized in response to an invitation from the mayor of Rhodes and the "Permanent Contact and Cooperation Group of Greek and Turkish Journalists and Members of the Mass Media."
The issues to be discussed on Saturday are the role of the mass media in improving relations between the two peoples from the point of view of journalists, social partners, local administration and the promotion of tourism and environmental protection.
 PSEKA event honors US policy makers
WASHINGTON, 26/05/2000 (ANA)US based National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) last week held a conference during which US and international personalities who worked for the establishment of the US 1974 arms embargo against Turkey were honored.
The event at the 11th Annual PSEKA/SAE Cyprus conference brought together more than 150 Greek-American leaders from across the country and Hellenes from around the world together with more than 50 of America's top policy-makers to discuss the settlement of the Cyprus issue.
Among those honored were Greek-American Senator Paul Sarbanes, former Democratic nominee for the US presidency Michael Dukakis, special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses and Cyprus' Presidential Commissioner for Overseas Cypriots Manolis Christofides.
 Banca Bucuresti renamed Alpha Bank Romania
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)The Bucharest-based Romanian bank "Banca Bucuresti" was officially renamed Alpha Bank Romania on Thursday.
The Athens-based international Alpha Bank Group has been present in Romania since 1994, via its subsidiary Banca Bucuresti.
Banca Bucuresti has been renamed Alpha Bank Romania to stress it links with the parent group and its commitment to the growth of the Romanian economy, offering premium banking products as well as edge-cutting investment and consulting services to corporations and entrepreneurs, a bank spokesman told ANA.
The Alpha Bank Group has a majority 90 percent holding in Alpha Bank Romania, with the remaining 10 percent interest belonging to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
 Thessaloniki, Moscow Chambers sign cooperation protocol
THESSALONIKI, 26/05/2000 (ANA)A cooperation agreement was signed in this northern port city on Thursday between the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the corresponding one in Moscow in the framework of a visit made by a business mission from the Russian capital.
Among others, the protocol anticipates cooperation between the two sides on expanding and widening commercial ties between companies and exchanging information on economic and foreign trade issues, as well as whatever changes or reforms are being promoted in each country in these sectors.
It also calls for cooperation between the two agencies and the granting of subsidies for organizing exhibitions and cooperation on issues concerning quality assurance and control for products imported or exported to the two countries.
 Deputy finance minister announces new 'express' processes in tax system
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)New "express" processes in the tax system will greatly speed up the issue of tax rebates and tax clearance forms, Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis announced on Thursday, while the ceiling for automatic tax rebates will be raised to 500,000 drachmas instead of 250,000 as previously.
According to the minister, taxpayers with no outstanding debts will receive their tax clearance form immediately, with which they will be able to cash any rebates from the bank within 15 days. Until now, rebates exceeding 250,000 drachmas were paid by cheque and were often greatly delayed.
 Piraeus Port privatization to be announced next month
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek government will seek a speedy privatization of the country's two major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis said on Thursday.
A government's economic team meeting decided that valuations of the Organizations of Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports would begin shortly to proceed with their planned flotation.
The flotation plan for the Piraeus Port Organization is expected to be finalized early next month, while a decision was taken to set up a Thessaloniki Port Organization affiliate, covering all its assets, before its final flotation.
 Government now plans partial privatization of Helexpo
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)The Greek government decided the partial privatization of Helexpo-Thessaloniki International Fair after two failed attempts to sell the company, a meeting, chaired by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, announced on Thursday.
The plan envisages offering Helexpo an equity stake up to 45 percent, selling a 25-30 percent stake to a private investor who will also take over the management of the company, and the remaining equity stake to be floated in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The Greek state currently owns a 100 percent of Helexpo.
Final decision are expected to be taken early next month following completion of a report by ETEBAbank, the governments consultant to the sale.
 Small caps lead Athens bourse to recovery
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)A wave of buying for smaller capitalization shares helped the Athens Stock Exchange to a modest rebound on Thursday, after a three-day decline, which pushed the market 5.24 percent lower.
The general index ended at 4,560.84 points, up 0.21 percent, but off the day's highs of 4,602.45 points. Turnover was a moderate 192 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.27 percent lower at 2,520.47 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index jumped 1.57 percent to 669.48 points.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: 8,560.24 -0.21% Leasing: 956.62 +0.08% Insurance: 2,838.96 -0.15% Investment: 1,837.71 +0.28% Construction: 2,657.72 +5.11% Industrials: 2,779.76 +0.29% Miscellaneous: 4,821.40 +0.85% Holding: 5,333.15 +0.51%
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 959.60 points, up 5.79 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 288 to 51 with another six issues unchanged.
Lambrakis Press, Hellenic Telecoms, Klonatex and Naoussa Spinning were the most heavily traded stocks.
Leading shares' closing prices (in Drs): National Bank: 16,620 Alpha Bank: 21,970 Commercial Bank:
18,950 Ergobank: 7,000 Eurobank: 10,070 Heracles Cement: 9,000 Titan Cement (c): 14,600 Hellenic Telecoms: 9,140 Panafon: 4,285 Hellenic Petroleum:
4,370 Intracom: 14,475 Minoan Lines: 6,190 Hellenic Bottling: 6,005
Bonds edge up in thin, buy-oriented trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market ended slightly up in scant trade on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept its interest rates unchanged.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.22 percent, the same as in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.314 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 91 basis points from 90 basis points a session earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 44 billion drachmas from 32 billion drachmas in the previous session.
Buy orders accounted for 42 billion drachmas of trade and sell orders the remainder.
Drachma drops vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Thursday fell against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 336.990 drachmas from 336.980 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 373.540 drachmas from 370.400 drachmas a day earlier.
 Central bank sees drachma's euro-zone parity unchanged
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Central bank governor Lucas Papademos said on Thursday that the drachma was likely to reach its central parity of 340.75 to the euro before Greece's anticipated entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.
Speaking to reporters after a ceremony inaugurating the Bank of Greece's electronic secondary bond trading system, he noted that the seven-month period until Greece expects to become a euro-zone member was ample time to allow an early approach.
Asked if the drachma's central parity might be adjusted before entry, Papademos said the rate will be set at an EU summit in June, and that there would be no surprises.
 Pension funds' investments plan under way
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)A Mutual Fund Management Company, a government-sponsored fund aimed to attract pension funds' reserve capital, is expected to file an operation license application to the country's Capital Markets' Committee in the next few days.
Greece's three largest pension funds (IKA, OAE and OGA) are expected to deposit around 600 billion drachmas with the mutual fund company, aiming to ensure a more professional portfolio management.
National Bank of Greece, the Social Security Institution (IKA), the Farmers' Security Organization (OGA) and the Traders and Craftsmen Security Organization (OAE) will be the exclusive shareholders in the mutual funds' management company, with a 40 pct, 30 pct, 15 pct and 15 pct share, respectively.
Miltiades Nektarios, Social Security Institution's governor, said that funds invested would not exceed the current invested capital to stock shares, and noted that other pension funds would be urged to participate.
Greece's social security organizations reserves exceed 3.5 trillion drachmas.
Panayiotis Katsoulas, general manager at Diethniki Mutual Funds, a National Bank's affiliate, is expected to head the mutual funds management company.
 Hellenic Petroleum shows Q1 profit jump, plans new ventures
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Hellenic Petroleum, which is listed on the Athens bourse, on Thursday reported first quarter pre-tax profits of 16.2 billion drachmas from 5.9 billion drachmas a year earlier, up 173 percent, president and managing director Eleftherios Tzellas told a news conference.
Tzellas said that the Group's consolidated first quarter pre-tax profits rose by 114 percent to 17.0 billion drachmas from 7.9 billion drachmas in the same period of 1999.
Improved performance resulted from a rise in sales volume, better international refining and chemicals margins, and continuous amelioration since 1998 of operational efficiency in crude oil supplies, production and product distribution.
Also reflected in results were profits from inventories in comparison with the previous year that will not be maintained, Tzellas said.
He also announced that the Hellenic Petroleum Group planned to expand its activities in the exploration and exploitation of petroleum products and in fuel distribution.
Following an agreement with OeMV of Austria for the joint exploration of oil in Iran, the two companies planned to make a new deal for joint ventures in Albania, Tzellas said.
Hellenic Petroleum was also in negotiations for the acquisition of a stake in Petrom of Romania in conjunction with the European Investments Bank, he added.
 Stephanopoulos attends Athens University event
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday attended and event marking the 163th anniversary of the founding of the University of Athens.
Addressing the event, Education Minister Petros Efthymiou said the government planned to upgrade tertiary education through increased funding and legislative reform to promote scientific research and expand postgraduate programs.
Other attendants included Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
 Scientists-Philhellenes are ambassadors of the Greek spirit, Kaklamanis says
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis met on Thursday with 47 scientists from various countries, primarily from eastern and central Europe, who attended an eight-month educational program on the Greek language and culture held at the Athens University and funded by the State Scholarships Foundation.
"What consolidates friendship, cooperation and the progress of all the peoples in the world is mutual respect for the history, tradition and contribution of each people," Kaklamanis said.
He expressed fondness and love felt by the Greek state for the scientists, calling them Hellenists, admirers of the Greek language and culture, who have been visiting the Greek Parliament in past years, adding that they are the ambassadors of the Greek spirit and the conveyors of the feelings of friendship felt by the Greek people for all peoples and particularly the neighboring ones in southeastern Europe.
Kaklamanis further referred to the ancient Greek civilization, whose values continue to affect the course of humanity today, and expressed the wish that the scientists will contribute to the spreading of the ideals of the Greek spirit in their countries with the knowledge and experience they acquired during their stay in Greece.
 Evert accuses Lynch of trying to 'pull' right-wing daily; he tried and failed, counters Reppas
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)In a question put to Transport minister Christos Verelis in Parliament on Thursday, high-ranking New Democracy deputy Miltiadis Evert exposed what he said was an attempt to stop supplying the right-wing newspaper "Kathimerini" aboard Olympic Airways flights.
Evert produced a document showing that the national carrier's British manager, Rod Lynch, had issued an order that "Kathimerini" no longer be included in the papers provided on OA flights after it published articles strongly criticizing Olympic's management.
Saying that Lynch should realize "Greece is not a colony of the British Empire," and that his action "compromised the free transmission of ideas" and prevented citizens being fully informed, Evert called on Verelis to take measures.
 Greeks photograph Istanbul and Turks photograph Athens
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)Five Greek photographers are in Istanbul to take photos of day-to-day activities in the city. In cooperation with five Turkish colleagues of theirs, they are participating in the publication of a Greek-Turkish album, which will include photos taken of Athens by Turkish photographers and of Istanbul by Greeks.
 Onassis Foundation Laureates to be announced on Monday
Athens, 26/05/2000 (ANA)The Onassis Foundation announced on Thursday that the names of the persons to be awarded the Onassis International Prizes for the year 2000 will be made public during a press conference on Monday at the foundation's offices in downtown Athens.
 President Clerides appeals to international community to exert influence on Turkey
NICOSIA, 26/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Thursday appealed to the international community to exert influence on Turkey so that this time the talks on the Cyprus problem, which the international community aspires to be substantive, may be fruitful.
Inaugurating the 25th Cyprus International Fair, President Clerides stressed that the government wants to see progress made by autumn and noted that it is not willing to cooperate in any effort of the Turkish side to waste more time.
President Clerides said that "we must reach a just, viable and workable solution to the Cyprus problem, which, following the Turkish invasion, has been a permanent hot-bed of political tension and a possible point of military confrontation on the island with wider repercussions for the region, where there is a need for stability and security as well as cooperation between all states".
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied the northern third of the island. UN-led proximity talks began in December 1999 and a third round is scheduled to begin July 5, aiming at preparing the ground for substantive negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.
"Our side, as the international community has repeatedly witnessed, has proved its genuine and strong political will to find a solution to the Cyprus problem", the President said, noting that "now it remains to find out, in substantive negotiations, whether the Turkish side has the political will for a solution, abandoning its extreme positions which fall outside the targets of the international community".
He said "what we are seeking is the evolution of the Cyprus Republic into a federal, bizonal and bicommunal state, with one international personality, one sovereignty and one nationality, as provided by the relevant UN resolutions, consisting of two politically equal communities, according to the relevant report of the UN Secretary-General".
The President added that "the independence and the territorial integrity of this state will be safeguarded and any form of division or secession will be ruled out".
He furthermore noted that "the fundamental rights, which are being recognized and protected by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of the United Nations and other international organs and conventions, which are binding on the Cyprus Republic, should be safeguarded and respected".
"In view of our accession application to the European Union", he added, "the new Constitution should also be compatible with the acquis communautaire and should not contain provisions that will obstruct the effective application of the decisions by the executive or legislative bodies of the European Union".
At this point, he emphasized that "we have an equal concern for the future of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in a united Cyprus as we do for Greek Cypriots, and we reiterate our willingness to cooperate with them to facilitate our accession into the big European family".
He also appealed "to the international community to exert the greatest possible influence on Ankara so that this time the talks, which the international community aspires to be substantive, may be fruitful" and stressed that "we want to see progress made by autumn and we are not willing to cooperate in any effort of the Turkish side to waste more time".
 Cyprus has no reason to be concerned over accession to EU, Verheugen says
BRUSSELS, 26/05/2000 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunther Verheugen gave reassurances on Thursday regarding concerns expressed by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party Eurodeputy Yiannis Marinos on the issue of Cyprus' accession to the EU.
"The Republic of Cyprus is the best pupil, among candidate countries for accession to the EU and has no reason to be concerned since the decision taken in Helsinki on accession stands, regardless of whether the problem with Turkey has been resolved, while neither the Council of Ministers, nor the European Commission, nor the governments of member-states have changed views," Verheugen said.
 Israel apologizes for FIR violations
NICOSIA, 26/05/2000 (CNA/ANA)Israel has apologized to the government of the Cyprus Republic for the violation of the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations by Israeli military aircraft, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced here Thursday.
Papapetrou said an Israeli military officer would be coming to Cyprus for consultations aiming at enforcing existing agreements between the two sides.
The apologies were given at a meeting the Israeli ambassador to Cyprus Shemi Tzur had on Wednesday with Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Michalis Attalides following representations made by Nicosia early this month on two separate occasions over violations of its FIR by Israeli military planes.
"The Israeli ambassador conveyed the Israeli Air Force apologies over the problem created as well as its obligation to strictly comply with agreed procedures between the two sides," Papapetrou said.
He added that "an Israeli military officer will be coming to Nicosia for consultations with the Cyprus Republic authorities in order to implement what has been agreed with the Israeli government."
"The ambassador underlined that there was no intention on the part of the Israeli side to negatively affect the long and good cooperation between the flight information centers of the two countries," Papapetrou said.
Tzur also pointed out to the fact that the Cyprus' national air space was not violated.
The FIR Nicosia covers a wide area around Cyprus and aircraft entering it should inform the competent authorities beforehand.