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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-28

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

April 28, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis, Australian PM Howard meet in Athens
  • [02] PM addresses IDU, says year is very crucial for western Balkans
  • [03] Commission formally asks Greece to change primary shareholder law
  • [04] Greek defense minister meets U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jack Crouch
  • [05] Meimarakis on gov't communications policy
  • [06] Deputy FM cites Athens' interest in peaceful Orthodox Easter services in Jerusalem
  • [07] Social dialogue on economic and social policy responsibility of the Economic and Social Committee, FinMin says
  • [08] Merchant marine minister visits Piraeus port, comments on Easter measures
  • [09] Evros prefecture hosts Russian delegation as part of tourism initiative
  • [10] Gov't imposes 500,000-euro fine on FAGE
  • [11] Gov't welcomes PPC buyout of Bulgarian power plant
  • [12] DEPA, Sofregaz sign capacity-boost for liquefied gas terminal
  • [13] Stocks drop in heavy, late selling
  • [14] PM pays symbolic visit to Traffic Management Control Centre in view of Easter exodus
  • [15] Easter message by president of World Council of Hellenes Abroad Andrew Athens
  • [16] Jailed former archimandrite brought before public prosecutor to answer charges of fraud
  • [17] Police officer among 3 suspects arrested for migrant smuggling
  • [18] Greek Ambassador in Cyprus: No dramatic change in occupied north

  • [01] Karamanlis, Australian PM Howard meet in Athens

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met with visiting Australian Premier John Howard, as talks focused on bilateral relations, the situation in the wider region as well as the issue of transferring pension rights of Greek-Australians.

    Howard expressed his support for Athens' positions regarding Turkey's European prospects, a solution to the long-standing Cyprus issue and over the FYROM "name issue".

    On his part, Karamanlis underlined the very close relations enjoyed by the two long-time allies, noting Greece's pride with the status and contributions of the tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks that call Australia home. The Greek prime minister also cited the common struggles of the two countries during the Second World War, emphasizing Athens' reverence for the Australian soldiers that fell on Greek soil in the cause of freedom and democracy.

    Karamanlis also stressed that there is room for improvement in bilateral relations, particularly in terms of trade and tourism, while he referred to serious political volition to resolve the pension rights transfer issue.

    Howard repeated his government's position of a "generous" offer to eligible beneficiaries, while noting that one of the problems lies in the fact that payments will flow only in one direction, namely, from Australia to Greece.

    Finally, Howard praised Athens' hosting of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, adding that the Australian side hopes that the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be as successful as the Athens and Sydney Games.

    Earlier, the Australian premier was received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [02] PM addresses IDU, says year is very crucial for western Balkans

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the meeting of the International Democratic Union (IDU) on Wednesday, emphasized that "this year is very crucial for the western Balkans."

    Karamanlis stressed that Greece supports the European prospects of the countries in the western Balkans, as well as the participation of political parties in such organizations as the IDU, to the degree that there is respect for principles and European models.

    The prime minister said the western Balkans are one of the most sensitive regions on the international scene and the time has come for them to be transformed from a field of national tensions and upheavals into a modern European neighborhood.

    Intransigence and prejudice are completely incompatible with the spirit and rules of good neighborly relations, cooperation, mutually acceptable solutions and a state of law which are being promoted by the European Union and the international community, he said.

    Karamanlis also referred to "the great scourge of our times - terrorism" and underlined that wherever democracy takes roots terrorism is unable to flourish because its main elements are contrary to the principles of a free democratic state, which are tolerance and respect for different ideas and cultures.

    He further said terrorism and organized crime have a global field of action today, which makes cooperation at international level absolutely necessary so that they can be handled in a coordinated and effective way.

    Karamanlis also referred to the IDU's aims and actions, saying that in its capacity as an internationally strong political union it has responsibility for the promotion of freedom, democracy, justice and prosperity in the world.

    FM reiterates Athens' support for Balkan states' EU prospects, opens IDU event in Athens: Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday reiterated Athens' standing policy in favor of Balkan countries' European prospects, speaking during the opening of an International Democrat Union (IDU) executive meeting in the Greek capital.

    Molyviatis stressed that the European Union is a process and institution based on consensus and one that produces consensus. He added that participation in European processes creates the conditions for reforms and expansion of democracy within participating countries, while also normalizing bilateral relations between member-states.

    As far as the "name issue" still plaguing relations between Greece and its northern neighbor, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Greek minister said the Skopje government must respond to the latest Nimetz proposal and jumpstart a dialogue that will lead to a mutually acceptable solution on the issue.

    He also said recent elections in FYROM demonstrated certain irregularities in that country's democratic processes.

    Regarding Turkey, the veteran Greek diplomat reminded of Athens' standing support for Ankara's EU prospects, adding however, that Turkey must proceed with corresponding progress.

    Finally, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis called for political stability, economic independence and a rapprochement of all Balkan nations so the progress achieved so far in terms of regional peace, security, democracy and those countries' European Union future is not squandered.

    [03] Commission formally asks Greece to change primary shareholder law

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission on Wednesday formally requested Greece to change a law preventing companies "interconnected" with Greek mass media businesses from participating in procedures for the award of public contracts. The EU's executive said its request, in the form of a "reasoned opinion", was the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. The Commission said that in the absence of a satisfactory response within three weeks, it might refer Greece to the European Court of Justice.

    An EU Commission spokesman, speaking to reporters, reminded that the Commission's reaction against Greek legislation was not something new as it referred to an older legislation, while he stressed there was no issue of non-compatibility of the Greek Constitution with Community law.

    More analytically, a Commission announcement said that "Following a letter of formal notice sent to Greece on 23 March 2005 and the reply from the Greek national authorities received on 7 April, the European Commission has decided to formally request Greece to change its law 3310/2005 which prevents companies "interconnected" with Greek mass media businesses from participating in procedures for the award of public contracts. The Commission considers that this law breaches the Community directives on public procurement and the principal of equal treatment of the participants, as well as the exercise of almost all the fundamental freedoms acknowledged by the EC Treaty. The Commission's request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion', the second stage of the infringement procedure under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. In the absence of a satisfactory response within three weeks, the Commission may refer Greece to the European Court of Justice".

    EU public procurement law aims to ensure that all European companies have a fair chance to bid for public contracts. Open and transparent tendering procedures mean more competition, stronger safeguards against corruption, better service and value for money for taxpayers and, ultimately, a more competitive Europe. EU public procurement markets are worth over 1 500 billion, more than 16% of total EU GDP. The existing EU public procurement Directives have increased cross-border competition in procurement markets and reduced by around 30% the prices paid by public authorities for goods and services, according to a European Commission working document

    Law 3310/2005 implementing Article 14(9) of the Greek Constitution prevents companies interconnected with Greek mass media businesses from participating in public procurement proceedings. The Commission considers that this is contrary to secondary Community law (the Directives on public procurement), in that it lays down exclusion criteria that are not provided for in the Directives, and does not respect the equal treatment of participants. It is also contrary to primary Community law (the EC Treaty), in that it lays down measures that impede, or render less attractive, the exercise of almost all the fundamental freedoms acknowledged by the EC Treaty.

    Given that the law in question is already producing its effects, the Commission has given the Greek Government three weeks to reply and reserves the right to ask the Court, if it brings the matter before it to lay down the requisite interim measures, i.e.d the suspension of the application of law 3310/2005 .

    The Commission said it was prepared to work together with the Greek authorities and to examine proposed solutions. Francois Le Bail, a spokeswoman for the Commission president , speaking to reporters said the EU executive wanted Greece to amend its primary shareholder law.

    Primary shareholder law should have been compatible with constitution and EU law, PASOK party spokesman says: Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, commenting on new developments concerning the issue of the "primary shareholder" law, called on the government on Wednesday "to abandon absurd positions of 'victories' and 'successes', because in no way was the country's constitution the problem and the law should have been compatible with the constitution and with EU law."

    Athanassakis reiterated the position that "for transparency and combatting corruption, we must move and we can move on an inter-party basis and with inter-party understanding but, on the contrary, nothing can be achieved for as long as the government handles it in the field of petty-partisan rivalry and petty-partisan animosity."

    [04] Greek defense minister meets U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jack Crouch

    WASHNGTON 28/4/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    The Greek national defense minister on Tuesday briefed U.S. President George W. Bush's government on Turkey's behavior in the Aegean during a meeting he had with U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jack Crouch at the White House.

    According to Greek sources, the American side showed that it knows in detail the situation and to face it with concern. The Greek argument centered on the ascertainment that the stance of the neighboring country does not only obstruct the further improvement of Greek-Turkish relations but is also not compatible with the safeguarding of stability in the broader region.

    On his departure from the White House, the Greek defense minister termed his meeting with Crouch as "very useful and interesting" and stressed that during the course of their discussion a broad spectrum of issues concerning Greece were brought up.

    "They thanked us for our participation in the peace missions," said the Greek minister who had the opportunity to discuss in depth the problem of international terrorism. He agreed with Crouch for the need of cooperation for a common confrontation of the asymmetric threats, while he briefed his interlocutor on the course of the reform of the structure of the Greek armed forces with American weapons systems (aircraft, ships and missiles.)

    Later, the Greek defense minister visited Congress where he met with member of the Senate armed forces committee and senior cadre of the Republicans, John McCain, as well as with Greek-American Democratic Senator and member of the foreign affairs committee, Paul Sarbanes.

    On Wednesday, the Greek minister will be received by his U.S. counterpart Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

    [05] Meimarakis on gov't communications policy

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party secretary Vangelis Meimarakis on Wednesday indirectly dismissed recent reports in a portion of the local press claiming disagreements within the party over the government's communications policy.

    Speaking on the sidelines of an International Democrat Union (IDU) executive meeting in Athens, Meimarakis again underlined that the role of the government and ruling party are distinct, while adding that the party will continue to make its presence felt in a democratic and productive manner.

    Finally, the top ND deputy said his cooperation with government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos is excellent.

    [06] Deputy FM cites Athens' interest in peaceful Orthodox Easter services in Jerusalem

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis on Wednesday met with the Israeli embassy's charges d'affaires, Sylvia Berlatski-Barouch, for talks focusing directly on tension at the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem due to opposition against embattled Patriarch Eirineos (Irineos).

    Skandalakis referred to Athens' concerns over the prospect of increased tension during a much-revered Orthodox Easter service late Saturday evening at the venerable Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, where the Holy Fire (Holy Light) is lit and passed to the faithful.

    He also cited the Greek government's interest in the unhindered and safe stay of Greek pilgrims in the Holy Land during this week's Orthodox Easter services.

    Earlier, the deputy minister spoke with the Palestinian authority's charges d'affaires in Athens, Ismat Sabri, regarding the same issue.

    [07] Social dialogue on economic and social policy responsibility of the Economic and Social Committee, FinMin says

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said that according to the Constitution, the Economic and Social Committee's (OKE) mission is to conduct the social dialogue on economic and social policy.

    Alogoskoufis called on social agencies participating in OKE, which the government has charged with opening the social dialogue on social security reform, to respect the committee's institutional role.

    "The dialogue cannot be hindered by small minorities," the minister said.

    "Article 82, paragraph 3 of the Constitution clearly states that the Economic and Social Committee's mission is to conduct the social dialogue concerning national policy in general and the direction of economic and social policy in particular, as well as to state its opinion on draft laws when asked," Alogoskoufis explained.

    The committee is to begin the social dialogue on social security reform at the same time the political debate on the same issue will be conducted in Parliament.

    Coalition (Synaspismos) party leader meets trade unionists to discuss pensions reform dialogue: The leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday met the leadership of Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), to discuss the latest developments concerning social insurance, pensions and labor legislation, following the start of dialogue initiated by the government to discuss reforms.

    Afterward, Alavanos said his talks with trade unionists had focused on the "clouds that today hang over the social insurance system".

    While conceding that there "are, of course, problems with the Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) and the insurance funds," he also pointed out that this was inevitable given the huge amounts owed to them by the state.

    "Who wouldn't have problems if someone owed them nine billion euros. At this time, the state - and I'm not talking about private enterprise - owes nine billion euros to IKA," Alavanos said.

    "We cannot accept that IKA will pay off the Olympic projects decided by the Olympics Organizing Committee - many of which are now useless - and will not fulfill its obligations to those insured with it. We cannot accept that these burdens that belong to the state or to private individuals or to big business will be covered by workers by raising the age of retirement or by lowering pension levels. We will fight over this point, which we consider to be crucial," he said.

    Alavanos presented GSEE with his party's proposals for solving the social insurance system's problems and stressed that workers should "operate in a unifying way," organizing common marches, common demonstrations, common strikes and forming a huge social and political front that would bring about solutions that were in their favor on this issue.

    GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said that he had agreed with Alavanos on a number of points and stressed the need to secure resources and pay debts to the social insurance system, as well as to raise pensions.

    "We do not agree with simply leaving things for the future. Things must be done now so that there are no problems in the future," he said.

    [08] Merchant marine minister visits Piraeus port, comments on Easter measures

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Wednesday paid a visit to the port of Piraeus, where he boarded one of the ferries departing for Iraklion, Crete to wish passengers and crew a safe trip and happy Easter.

    As he left the ship, Kefaloyiannis stressed the importance of the special measures taken for the Easter period for passengers, noting that both the coast guard and the merchant marine ministry have been placed on alert to ensure the best and safest transportation of thousands of expected ferry passengers.

    [09] Evros prefecture hosts Russian delegation as part of tourism initiative

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    The Evros Prefecture in northern Greece will be hosting a large Russian delegation, comprising journalists, media executives, business figures, officials and travel agents, during the Greek Easter holiday as part of an initiative to promote the region as a tourist destination.

    Members of the Russian delegation, who will arrive in Evros on Thursday and will stay through Easter Tuesday, will visit various sites, including Alexandroupolis port, museums, archaeological sites and beaches, the Dadia forest, as well as the island of Samothrace, among others.

    Evros' prefect Nikos Zampounidis will host a dinner in the visitors' honor on Tuesday evening. Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos, who will also be present at the dinner, will hold a press conference on the tourism potential of the region as well as on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.

    According to Zampounidis, the promotion of Evros prefecture was launched on April 20. It is broadcast in seven languages on a European satellite channel. The Russian version of the campaign airs three times a day.

    The Evros prefecture and the prefecture's Tourism Committee initiated the promotional campaign.

    [10] Gov't imposes 500,000-euro fine on FAGE

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Wednesday accepted a recommendation by the Food Inspection Agency (EFET) to impose a fine of 500,000 euros on dairy company FAGE.

    A ministry announcement said the fine was imposed because FAGE failed to immediately notify the public and agencies over problems with its yoghurt products as well as for failing to withdraw its problematic production from the market in a timely manner.

    [11] Gov't welcomes PPC buyout of Bulgarian power plant

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday welcomed news that Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) had won a tender for the sale of a Bulgarian thermo-electric power plant.

    "PPC winning the international tender for Bulgaria's Bobov Dol lignite-fired station is a major event for shareholders, management and staff," Sioufas said in a statement.

    "The acquisition marks PPC's outward-looking orientation, which has the necessary capital and know-how and may play a leading role at home and in the wider region," the minister added.

    Earlier in the day, Bulgaria's privatization authority announced that PPC had won the tender for acquisition of 100% of stock in the 630-MW plant for 282.09 euros per share, or a total of about 70 million euros.

    [12] DEPA, Sofregaz sign capacity-boost for liquefied gas terminal

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    DEPA SA and the Sofregaz-Athina consortium on Wednesday signed an agreement to boost capacity at a liquefied natural gas terminal on the island of Revythousa at a cost of 37.7 million euros.

    Under the terms of the agreement, the state-of-the-art facility will boost hourly output capacity to gasification of 1000 cubic meters from 267 cubic meters; taking annual capacity to 4.7 billion cubic meters from 1.7 billion presently. The completion deadline for the project is end-2006.

    Works are co-financed under a competitiveness program in the European Union's Third Community Support Framework.

    DEPA, Edison Gas sign pact on cross-border natgas pipeline: DEPA SA of Greece and Edison Gas of Italy on Wednesday signed a memorandum in Athens setting a timescale for decisions on construction of an undersea natural gas pipeline between the two countries.

    The supply line will form a part of a horizontal axis of a network carrying natural gas from central Asia to western Europe via Turkey and Greece.

    The two firms, which have formed a consortium named Poseidon Co. to build the pipeline, will share costs and revenue in the first phase of the project. If Botas of Turkey or any other firm joins the arrangement, outlays and inflows again will be shared, under the terms of the pact.

    The 220-kilometre pipeline is estimated to cost about 600 million euros. Financing will be sought from the European Union's Fourth Community Support Framework.

    [13] Stocks drop in heavy, late selling

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in heavy profit-taking, especially in high-capitalization paper and late in the session, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,868.78 points, marking a decline of 1.03%. Turnover was 112.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.29% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.40% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.27% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 158 to 92 with 73 remaining unchanged.

    [14] PM pays symbolic visit to Traffic Management Control Centre in view of Easter exodus

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday visited the Traffic Management Control Centre and the Emergency Action Operations Centre at the police headquarters in Athens, where he was briefed on preparations made for the anticipated Easter exodus by Athenians. He was accompanied by Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis and the leadership of the Greek Police (ELAS).

    This was the prime minister's first visit to the newly-established traffic control centre, set up for the Athens Olympics last summer.

    In statements after the visit, he stressed that the new service was equipped with the latest technical resources and monitored traffic on a 24-hour basis, helping both to regulate its flow but also to provide immediate assistance to accident victims and quick solutions to problems.

    "With this new service, the establishment of a national highway traffic police and improvements at problem spots on the road network through the construction of modern motorways, the State is trying to fulfil its obligation to offer the safest possible environment for drivers and travelers.

    "But I must also stress that all citizens must be aware of their own personal responsibility, and meet their own obligations. We are all aware of the rules for a safe trip, we know what we must do and what we must avoid. I therefore think that it would be good for this year, in view of the upcoming exodus for Easter, if we set ourselves a target: no more lost lives on the tarmac. Happy Easter to all," Karamanlis said.

    After the visit, Voulgarakis drove up to the Afidnes toll post to monitor the start of the Easter exodus and wish traffic police a happy Easter. He also launched a campaign begun on Wednesday by the Greek traffic police, handing out leaflets containing Easter wishes, maps of the 14 sections of the national highway with the highest accident rate and advice to drivers for the avoidance of accidents, as well as a CD with Greek folk music

    [15] Easter message by president of World Council of Hellenes Abroad Andrew Athens

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    In a message for Orthodox Easter on Sunday, the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens underlined the ties between Greeks and the Orthodox faith.

    "These holy days, expatriate Greeks all over the world confirm the unbroken ties of Greeks with Orthodoxy, two concepts that are interlinked and have kept our nation united through the centuries."

    "Keeping alive the customs, traditions, beliefs and values of home, these days we are called on to transmit to the new generation the messages that arise from the greatest religious holiday of the Orthodox faith, messages of love for one's fellow man, messages of struggles and sacrifices wherever these might be needed," he said.

    "On these days we turn our thoughts once again to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other Orthodox Patriarchates, and to our brothers in every corner of the earth that need our support. Particularly, we turn our attention to our fellow Greeks in Calka, Georgia that are facing their own Mount Golgotha. Fulfilling our obligation along with Greece, united we have made every effort and promised that we will not give up until their basic human rights are fully protected and they are safe to live in the land of their ancestors, as they wish," he added.

    [16] Jailed former archimandrite brought before public prosecutor to answer charges of fraud

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Remand prisoner Iacovos Yiossakis, a former senior member of the clergy jailed in connection with antiquity-smuggling, trial-rigging and other offences, was brought before a public prosecutor on Wednesday to answer additional charges of fraud and forgery related to the illegal sale of property belonging to the late Metropolitan of Limnos (a rank of the Orthodox Church equivalent to that of bishop) in the 1980s.

    Yiossakis has denied the charges, claiming that he had legally inherited the property from the metropolitan. Yiossakis had reached the rank of archimandrite in the Greek Orthodox Church when his arrest in an antiquities-smuggling case triggered a hugely embarrassing storm of scandal surrounding the courts and clergy, revealing links with organized crime, drug dealers and judicial corruption.

    The affair had widespread repercussions in the Church and judicial body, leading to the resignation of the former Metropolitan of Thessaliotidos Theoklitos, who supported Yiossakis' promotion, and charges of money-laundering and embezzlement against the Metropolitan of Attica Panteleimon, who was suspended from his duties for six months by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece.

    Panteleimon, who also faces permanent dismissal, was also called before the Holy Synod to answer questions over unusually large bank deposits in his name and his participation in an offshore company, as well as his ties with Yiossakis as revealed by a tape-recording of him and the former archimandrite discussing the rigging of a trial.

    [17] Police officer among 3 suspects arrested for migrant smuggling

    Athens, 28/4/2005 (ANA)

    Three local men, including a police officer serving in Thessaloniki, were arrested on Tuesday in northern Grevena prefecture on migrant smuggling charges.

    The trio was reportedly apprehended while transporting eight Albanian nationals, all of whom allegedly entered the country illegally, in the policeman's private vehicle. The illegals paid 250 euros each for their transport, police reports state.

    All of the suspects are expected to face a local prosecutor. The names of the suspects were not released.

    [18] Greek Ambassador in Cyprus: No dramatic change in occupied north

    NICOSIA 28/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The transfer of power in the Turkish Cypriot leadership, following a recent poll in occupied Cyprus, cannot be seen as a ''dramatic change'', believes Christos Panagopoulos, Greek Ambassador in Nicosia, pointing out that thousands of Turkish troops and settlers still remain on the island.

    In an interview with CNA on Wednesday, shortly before the end of his posting here, Panagopoulos stressed that the cornerstone of a Cyprus solution lies in Ankara, adding that he can only hope that the newly elected ''president'' Mehmet Ali Talat will prove to be the springboard for real change in the intransigent stance of the Turkish side.

    He noted that the European perspective, with Cyprus a member of the European Union and Turkey aspiring to become a member, can still act as a catalyst for a just and viable Cyprus settlement, only this time round, he points out, talks must take place without arbitration,

    suffocating deadlines or resort to referenda without a prior agreement between the island's two communities.

    Panagopoulos served in Cyprus for the past five years during which he witnessed a change of government in both Greece and Cyprus, the achievement of the ''strategic goal'' of the island's EU accession, in addition to last year's UN-led negotiations and its aftermath, when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN-sponsored solution plan (the Annan Plan).

    Against this background Papanagopoulos has warned against a new failure in the efforts for a settlement, which, he said, could lead to an ''open crisis."

    ''In the case of Cyprus, the process to be followed is of the utmost importance. We agree with the process Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has defined. We do not want any suffocating deadlines, which could lead to unbearable pressure on the parties, as we experienced at the latest effort last year. Furthermore, only an agreed solution will be put to any referendum and there should be no arbitration either'', he said.

    Responding to questions, he explained that there is an understanding about the process of a new round of talks but there is also an obligation on the part of the Greek side to raise these matters at every given opportunity to ensure that there will no be arbitration and that all issues will be agreed on at the negotiating table.

    Noting that at ''Turkey's European examinations, Cyprus will be one of the examiners," he said that there is now a ''tool'' at the disposal of the Cypriot side to help the effort towards a negotiated settlement that would be just and viable.

    Asked about Greece's role, as a guarantor power, in the peace effort in Cyprus, he said that ''a lot of work is being done'', which very often is not in the public domain.

    He said Cyprus is increasingly consolidating its presence and position as an EU member state and noted that the reasons for which Greek Cypriots rejected last year the UN-proposed solution plan are gradually becoming clear and accepted.

    ''Cyprus' EU membership places the country in a different position.

    European leaders cannot demand from President Papadopoulos to accept something they would not be able to accept for their own people," said the Greek diplomat, adding that on a political level it is becoming more and more obvious that there must be changes to the Annan plan.

    He described Cyprus' accession to the EU a ''vindication, rarely witnessed, of a strategic goal'' whose full potential and benefit has not been realized yet because of the continuing Turkish occupation of the island's northern part.

    ''Of course there are problems, but these problems are now common for the 25. The EU is a one-way street where Cyprus has possibilities for cooperation not only with Greece but with the rest 24 EU member-states in all fields and especially the political and the economic'', Panagopoulos said.

    Concluding he expressed Greece's support to rapprochement between the two communities, stressing that the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement to and from the occupied areas has proven that former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was wrong in his long-standing position that the two communities could not live together.


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