|Wednesday, 19 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 27, 2006
 Karamanlis: Turkey must revise its stance, behavior
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday reinforced a more-or-less hardened stance by Athens this week vis-à-vis neighboring Turkey, following an unprecedented mid-air collision on Tuesday in the southeast Aegean between Greek and Turkish warplanes.
While both governments quickly and effectively defused any potential tension arising from the incident -- which left a Greek F-16 pilot missing and presumed dead and his Turkish F-16 counterpart picked up after an ejection -- the fact that two Turkish F-16s fighter planes were accompanying an RF-4 aerial reconnaissance "Phantom" on a west-by-southwest course headed straight for the large island of Crete brought to the forefront Athens' displeasure with continuing Turkish military activities and demands in the wider Aegean Sea region -- activities Greece has long criticized as anything but good-neighborly.
"Turkey must contribute to a full normalization of bilateral relations. Only (with this policy) can it continue on its path towards the European Union; this is absolutely clear," Karamanlis told Parliament during a debate on higher education.
Regarding what he called a "precarious situation" following the incident, Karamanlis referred to speedy crisis management "along with fully ensuring our rights and exclusive responsibilities in the Aegean" -- the latter a direct reference to Greece's search and rescue privileges and capabilities in the wider Aegean area.
Additionally, the Greek premier repeated a statement he made this week from Paris, namely, that the incident should be taken under serious consideration by the neighboring country's leadership, and, moreover, lead to a change in behavior "that is not conducive to good-neighborly relations".
The mid-air collision occurred 35 kilometers southeast of Greece's Dodecanese island of Karpathos and roughly 175 kilometers from the nearest Turkish coastline, or, 97 kilometers from the shores of eastern Crete.
"Such practices cannot continue ... Ankara must demonstrate that it is adapting to the principles and values of the European Union; it must demonstrate, in practice, that it wants to be a good neighbor, as we Greeks are proving; it must demonstrate the necessary respect for International Law and international treaties; meeting its obligations towards Europe, as clearly defined in European texts with which it (Turkey) began its course towards European harmonization, in other words, the negotiating framework, the statement of last September and in the Commission's progress reports," the prime minister emphasized.
Greece has recently served as one of Ankara's most active supporters in its course towards the EU, although Athens has persistently reminded that a successful accession path absolutely necessitates the fulfillment, by the neighboring country, of all the criteria prescribed by the 25-nation bloc.
 Search for missing pilot extended by 48 hours
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)The search for missing Greek Air force pilot Constantine Iliakis, whose plane went down on Tuesday following a collision with a Turkish fighter jet above the Aegean, has been extended by another 48 hours, search-and-rescue teams announced on Friday.
The accident occurred 35 kilometers southeast of the island of Karpathos, 175 kilometers from the shores of Turkey and 97 kilometers from the shores of Crete.
The Turkish pilot in the other plane was picked up safe and well after ejecting from his aircraft but the only trace of the Greek pilot found so far has been a survival kit and helmet in the water.
 U.S. Embassy statement on U.S. aircraft north of Crete
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)"Aircraft from the USS Enterprise conducted this afternoon flights north of Crete. The aircraft were in contact with civil aviation control towers," Elizabeth Corwin, Counselor for Press of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, stated on Friday.
"It is our understanding that Hellenic Air Force planes approached and visually confirmed the identity of the US planes.
"At the request of the Hellenic Ministry of Defense, we moved immediately to order the recall of the aircraft to the USS Enterprise," Corwin said.
 PM outlines gov't goals for higher education reforms
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday outlined a series of measures aimed at upgrading the country's universities and tertiary technical institutes, noting that the reinforcement of higher education institutes' self-governance, resolving the problem of 'eternal students', adoption of a textbook list and respect of university asylum are among the goals of reforms promoted by the government.
Karamanlis made the statements during an off-the-agenda Parliament debate on higher education initiated by Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga.
Referring to proposals by ruling New Democracy (ND) for a revision of Constitutional Article 16 to allow the establishment and operation of private, non-profit universities in the country, Karamanlis underlined that support for the initiative by the current leadership of main opposition PASOK constitutes a positive development.
The prime minister also stated that the government definitely wants to allow the establishment and operation of non-profit higher education institutes outside the state domain.
Finally, he said changes and reforms aimed at improving the quality of education must continue, offering more opportunities to the young generations and by lifting the burden of higher education costs off the shoulders of many Greek families.
 Downed pilot's fate dominates Parliament debate on education
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Foreign policy, relations with Turkey and the fate of missing Air Force pilot Constantine Iliakis shared the stage with private universities in Parliament on Friday, during an off-the-agenda debate on education requested by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
All the opposition parties used the opportunity to rap the government over the latest incident above the Aegean - an unprecedented collision between Greek and Turkish fighter jets - and to express support for the family of Iliakis, father of two, who has been missing since his plane went down in waters near the island of Karpathos on Tuesday.
During Friday's session, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki announced that Parliament agreed to provide financially for the two underage children of the missing pilot, in accordance with a proposal made by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, reading out a letter sent to her by Papandreou.
"In the last dramatic event in the skies above the Aegean, our country lost a pilot as he was heroically defending our sovereign rights.
I express the hope that the heroic Costas Iliakis will not remain missing," Papandreou said in the letter, proposing a special debate in Parliament to honour the missing pilot and all those who had fallen in the line of duty.
The proposal was immediately seconded by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Papandreou attacks government but backs change to article 16
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)During his speech in Parliament, Papandreou focused on ruling New Democracy's failure to fulfill pre-election pledges related to students and education - such as free computers for top students and cheap Internet rates - and the slow pace of those reforms and measures that the government had initiated.
He also dismissed ND's attempts to open the way for private universities as an attempt to evade its funding obligations to state-sector tertiary education institutes and said it was trying to reverse measures it had itself taken in 1974, when it had sought to ensure state control of developments in education and student movements.
"For you to talk about private universities sounds like an insult to the young person that today attends university. Do you want high-quality education for the rich and mediocre free education for the less well-off?" Papandreou accused the government.
At the same time, PASOK's leader criticized the opposition of the smaller left-wing parties to changing article 16 of the Constitution, which confines universities to the state sector.
"Article 16 does not restrict the private owner but the state. It restricts the right of the State, of the government and of Parliament to pass laws to supervise private tertiary education establishments that already operate in collaboration with institutes abroad. Is it left-wing for the state to be unable to regulate the operation of these bodies and for them to get their certification from foundations in Eastern Europe or the United States? This is the conservative view, which suits the worst profiteers on the private-sector side and the worst bureaucrats on the other side," he said.
Referring to the loss of missing pilot Iliakis during his rejoinder, meanwhile, Papandreou stressed the need for progress in improving Greek-Turkish relations and accused the government of lacking strategy and "frittering away the dividend of peace" that PASOK had worked hard to amass.
"We all owe him a lot. Even more, we have a debt to all the young people in the Armed Forces to establish, through strong political will and action, a climate of peace and cooperation in our surrounding region," he said.
PASOK's leader slammed what he called a slow Greek response to the incident, saying that no minister had come forward, while the premier had appeared after a full 24 hours, so that Turkish view had dominated the international media.
He asked the government for a full briefing on Tuesday's incident and on the political goals behind the buyout of Turkish Finansbank by the National Bank of Greece (NBG), saying that the buyout without the participation of the bank's social insurance fund stakeholders created a regime of complete non-transparency.
 KKE stresses opposition to private tertiary education
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga also led her address by referring to the tragic incident in the Aegean, expressing her sorrow and support for the family of the missing pilot and criticizing Turkey's stance in disputing Greece's territorial rights in the Aegean.
"Our question about the unjust loss of the pilot is: Will he be the last?" Papariga stressed, while she also questioned the 'equal distances' policy adopted by NATO, the European Union and the United States over the long-term dispute.
Concerning universities and tertiary education, KKE's leader once again underlined her party's complete opposition to private education, including private universities, and said that both the main parties were responsible for "phenomena of crisis and corruption" seen in education today.
"We agree on the need for major changes and reforms. We don't defend the existing education system. But we want an education system that will be free, accessible and not devalued," she said.
The introduction of universities operating along private-sector lines would force those in the state sector to operate in a similar way and increase the dependence of universities on business and the rules of the market place, Papariga claimed.
She also predicted that universities would operate without moral inhibition, carrying out 'made-to-measure' research that would be used to manipulate public opinion and stressed that her party would strenuously oppose changes to university asylum rules, so that they remained places where more radical ideas could freely circulate.
 Alavanos stresses opposition to private universities measure
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)The leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Alekos Alavanos also opened his address by referring to the aircraft collision in the Aegean, expressing hope that no more young people would be lost in the state of "virtual" war with Turkey.
He reiterated a Coalition proposal for a mutual reduction of armaments by Greece and Turkey and called on the government to immediately undertake initiatives to resolve Greek-Turkish problems on the basis of international and European rules and principles.
Regarding education, Alavanos said his party opposed measures to allow private, non-profit universities and dismissed PASOK arguments as a ruse, since poor students would be effectively barred from attending these.
He was also strongly critical of education ministry measures for the assessment of universities and their staff.
 University teachers warn of more strikes over private university measures
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)University teachers on Friday warned of further strikes ahead and asked that the government abandon plans to change the Constitution so as to allow private universities, even if these were non-profit.
In a meeting on Thursday night, the Panhellenic Federation of University Teaching Staff decided to begin a long-term strike on June 1 over the measures, as well as a rally in Athens on that day.
Meanwhile, protesting students have staged sit-ins at several university departments to express their opposition to the planned changes and the foundation of private universities, while others gathered in Omonia Square in Athens and are planning to march to Parliament, where the political parties on Friday took part in a debate on education requested by the Communist Party of Greece.
 FM Bakoyannis meets with China's Wu Bangguo
CRETE, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with visiting high-ranking Chinese official Wu Bangguo on Crete late Thursday, as the chairman of the Far East nation's National People's Congress Standing Committee continued an official visit to Greece after first meeting with Greek leadership in Athens.
Addressing the large Chinese delegation during a formal reception, Bakoyannis stressed that a high level of cultural awareness brings the Greek and the Chinese peoples closer in forging bilateral relations based on a mutual respect for each other's lengthy history.
She also stressed that Greece, due to its geographical position and stable economic and political situation can become an excellent entry point for Chinese products headed to Europe, the Black Sea region and the Balkans.
Bakoyannis welcomed Chinese investments towards upgrading Greek ports, stressing that the goal is to transform major ports -- Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos and Irakleio -- into world-class transit hubs.
She also stated that the number of Chinese tourists visiting the east Mediterranean country can further rise, given that Greece is a holiday destination where Chinese nationals can feel at ease.
In terms of political issues, Bakoyannis referred to Beijing's standing interest in a solution of the Cyprus problem, while conveying Athens' wishes for the best of luck to the hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games.
On his part, Wu Bangguo cited his attraction towards Greece and wished that the future of Crete always resemble its weather, "bright and alluring".
He also thanked Bakoyannis for her warm words and for the fact that, in spite of her heavy schedule, she traveled to Crete, and specifically to Hersonissos, to meet him and host the formal reception.
 Chinese National Assembly Permanent Committee president visits Crete
CRETE, 27/5/2006 (ANA)The president of the National Assembly's Permanent Committee of the People's Republic of China, Wu Bangguo, was given a guided tour of the archaeological site at Knosos on the island of Crete on Friday.
Bangguo, accompanied by his wife and the large delegation that traveled to Crete with him, indicated that prospects for cooperation in the sectors of shipping, tourism and farm products are great.
The Permanent Committee president left for Moscow at noon with about 150 government officials, businessmen and reporters.
 PASOK to hold nationwide conference on local government on June 2-3
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK is to hold a Nationwide Conference on Local Government at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Athens on June 2-3, the party announced on Friday.
A PASOK announcement said the conference was a follow-up to a series of regional conferences organized by the party throughout the country and will open with an address by PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 The Governor-General of New Zealand to visit Greece in June
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Governor-General of New Zealand Silvia Cartwright will carry out a formal visit to Greece on June 5-7 at the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.
 Foreign minister meets Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday had a meeting with Alexandria and All Africa Patriarch Theodoros II for talks on issues concerning the Alexandria Patriarchate and missionary work in Africa.
 SAE president Athens to visit Georgia
CHICAGO, 27/5/2006 (ANA-MPA)The president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens is due to visit Tbilisi in Georgia on May 28 for talks with the Georgian government concerning the country's ethnic Greek minority, particularly protecting the property of Greeks in Calka.
During the trip, which is scheduled to end on June 1, Athens will be received by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and other Georgian government officials, the Greek and U.S. ambassadors in the city and others.
The trip will also be an opportunity to discuss SAE humanitarian aid and its medical program in Georgia.
 Greek economy: weekly review
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Greece chaired a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the first time since 1976 this week. The meeting, in Paris, was characterized by the determination showed by the organization's 30 member-states to proceed rapidly with reforms supported by social cohesion and cooperation.
Speaking to reporters, during a press conference, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis -who chaired the meeting- stressed that the government would not take any new measures and underlined that a strategy currently implemented was already bearing fruit. He reiterated that the country's fiscal deficit would fall below 3.0 percent of GDP this year.
The Paris-based OECD, in its latest report on the country's economic outlook, said fiscal deficit was expected to reach 3.0 pct this year and 3.3 pct in 2007, while unemployment was expected to ease from 10 percent in 2006 to 9.7 pct in 2007.
In other headline news this week:
National Bank will hold its repeat general shareholders' meeting in June 1st after a request by its workers' funds calling for a more detailed information over the bank's strategic plan to buy Turkey's Finansbank. NBG's chairman, Takis Arapoglou said Finansbank was the ideal choice for expansion in the neighboring country and said the deal was not in any danger.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the government would not raise a 23 percent ceiling on pension funds reserves' allocation to stocks. The Greek minister said National Bank's decision to expand in Turkey was clearly a business move and stressed that it was not the role of politicians to act as consultants to businesses. Meanwhile, PASOK deputy Vasso Papandreou urged National Bank to withdraw its offer for Finansbank.
Greece's current accounts deficit jumped 74.4 pct in the first quarter of 2006 to 8.0 billion euros, reflecting higher oil prices' cost. Greek exports, however, rose around 19 percent over the same period.
Greece and China was determined to boost their bilateral economic relations, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said this week during a meeting with visiting China's National People's Congress Standing Committee Chairman, Wu Bangguo. The Chinese official expressed his country's interest in building new docks and warehouse facilities in Greek ports since China wished to use Greece as a transit hub for the wider region.
A joint venture by Akropol Charagionis and Sonae Sierra has won the rights to use the Galatsi Olympic Center sports facility for the next 40 years. The joint venture plans to develop a commercial and entertainment centre, a project budgeted at 78 million euros.
 Tourism Minister to Cyprus
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia leaves for Cyprus on Monday to visit the island republic's international trade fair.
The minister will also meet President Tassos Papadopoulos and hold talks with sector officials, her office said on Friday.
 Gov't may create investment ministry
NICOSIA, 27/5/2006 (ANA-MPA/K Halkiadakis)The Greek government may set up a ministry of private investment, visiting Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias said on Friday.
The move would strengthen business and liberate companies from red tape, Folias told reporters on the sidelines of the Cyprus international trade fair.
The ministry had commissioned a survey to find the weak points in the system, he added.
 Greek trade deficit up 2.4 pct in Jan-March, yr/yr
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Greece's trade deficit rose 2.4 percent in the January-March period, compared with the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
NSS, in a report, said the trade deficit totaled 7.772 billion euros in the first quarter of 2006, from 7.690 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2005.
The value of import-arrivals totaled 11.613 billion euros, up 8.4 percent, while the value of export-deliveries totaled 3.841 billion euros, up 22.8 percent.
 Antibiotics and pesticides affecting fish production in rivers and lakes
THESSALONIKI, 27/5/2006 (ANA)The depletion of water reserves, pollution, excessive fishing and the harming of the water level and of the food chain with chemical and biological factors that are harmful for human health are some of the repercussions of human activities in "closed" water systems.
These conclusions were drawn from addresses made by special scientists who participated in a conference of the Geotechnical Chamber of Greece/Central Macedonia Branch in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday.
Assistant professor of the Thessaloniki Aristotelio University's Veterinary Faculty, Eleni Iosifidou, presented data by the FAO organization according to which the world's production of sea food in 2003 was 132 million tons and the corresponding production of sea food by fisheries was 42 million tons, while fish from fisheries in inland waters represented 64 percent of production, but she also underlined the negative repercussions for production emanating from the inconsiderate use of pesticides.
 Cyprus sees investment opportunities in Greece
NICOSIA, 27/5/2006 (ANA-MPA/K Halkiadakis)Major investment opportunities in tourism exist in Greece for Cypriot businesses, the island republic's minister of trade, industry and tourism, Ioannis Lillikas, said on Friday.
At the same time, red tape could be deterrent in Greece; Lillikas told a news conference on the sidelines of the Cyprus international trade fair.
Tourism was also a link between the two countries with 300,000 Cypriots visiting Greece and 130,000 Greeks traveling to Cyprus, he added.
 Voulgarakis visits Herod Atticus Odeonin Athens
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Promoting the Herod Atticus Odeon so that it gains the status of a world monument is the goal set by the Ministry of Culture, stated minister George Voulgarakis after visiting the Roman-era theatre on Friday. He also expressed hope that it will help attract tourists coming to Greece to attend live performances given in this unique Greek monument.
Voulgarakis announced that the renowned Herod Atticus Odeon, located beneath the southern side of the Acropolis, will be closed during the first three weeks of August -- traditionally the peak period of the annual Athens Festival -- due to much-needed maintenance work.
He made the statement during a tour of the Roman-era outdoor theatre, which along with the Classical-era Epidaurus (Epidavros) theatre in the northeast Peloponnese is Greece's foremost ancient venue for various live performances that form the backbone of the annual Hellenic Festival.
Among others, the minister said he favored "reasonable" use of the ancient Herod Atticus theatre.
The ministry has decided that the theatre will no longer be available to event organizers free of charge and that part of the proceeds to be received will be directed to the Archaeological Resources, Expropriations Fund. The decision was necessary as the cost of each Festival night (stage lighting, escorting people to their seats, security) had reached an average 30,000 euros.
Any decisions allowing live performances will be reached by the Central Archaeological Council in cooperation with the Greek Festival.
The monument needs to be protected from the insensibility and abuse of spectators. As it was characteristically stressed, a total of 27 kilos of chewing gum were recently removed from the theatre floor.
 Herod Atticus Odeon closed for most of Aug.
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Friday announced that the renowned Herod Atticus Odeon, located beneath the southern side of the Acropolis, will be closed during the first three weeks of August -- traditionally the peak period of the annual Athens Festival -- due to needed maintenance works.
Voulgarakis made the statement during a tour of the Roman-era outdoor theatre, which along with the Classical-era Epidaurus (Epidavros) theatre in the northeast Peloponnese constitutes Greece's pre-eminent ancient venue for various live performances.
Among others, the minister said he favored "reasonable" use of the Herod Atticus venue.
 Wife of poet Sikelianos dies aged 105
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Anna Sikelianou, the second wife of the great Greek poet and playwright Angelos Sikelianos, died on Friday at the age of 105. The funeral will be held on Monday.
Angelos Sikelianos (1884-1951) is one of Greece's most important 20th-century lyrical poets. He emphasized national history, religious symbolism, and universal harmony in poems such as The Light-Shadowed, Prologue to Life, Mother of God, and Delphic Utterance. His plays include Sibylla, Daedalus in Crete, Christ in Rome, The Death of Digenis, and Asklepius.
Sikelianou had co-authored two books on her life with Sikelianos, during the 11 years they shared together from their marriage in 1940 until the poet's death.
 Theodorakis honored by Univ. of Thessaly
VOLOS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)Noted Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis was declared professor emeritus in all eight faculties of the University of Thessaly during a special event this week held in the central city of Volos.
 Production of books in Greece increasing
THESSALONIKI, 27/5/2006 (ANA)The production of books has followed an upward trend in Greece over the past years despite the steadfast "refusal" of a large percentage of citizens, compared to other European countries, to read books.
Although research carried out by the National Book Centre (EKEBI) two years ago showed that only 25.4 percent of citizens had read between 1-9 books in a year, 8.6 percent over 10 books a year and 43.8 percent did not read any books at all, new titles published in Greece in 2004 amounted to 7,888 (production increased by 6.8 percent compared to 2003).
According to a report on Greek book production carried out by EKEBI and presented in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday in the framework of the 3rd International Book Exhibition taking place at the installations of the Thessaloniki International Fair, following a period of ups and downs over the past five years the production of new titles returned to an upward trend in 2004, exceeding the level of 7,800 titles and approaching the limit of 8,500 titles together with new editions.
 Yemen festival at ACS Arts Centre on June 8-9
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)A festival celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Yemen, the first-ever organized in Greece, is set to take place at the ACS Arts Centre (Garyttou 53, Halandri) on June 8-9. Admittance on the first day will be by invitation only, opening to the public on the second day from 11:00 to 20:00.
The festival will include a photography exhibition, historical exhibits, performances of Yemen dances and projections of Yemen's exotic countryside, which unlike that of other Arab countries is relatively lush due to regular monsoon rains, as well as the country's unique architecture, which is included in the UNESCO world heritage list.
 Moderate quake recorded off Zakynthos
ATHENS, 27/5/2006 (ANA)A moderate earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale was recorded in a sea region some 120 km southwest of the Ionian island of Zakynthos in the early morning hours of Friday (2:14 a.m.).
However, seismologists at Thessaloniki's Aristotelion University stressed that the early Friday morning quake was not related with the recent seismic activity that plagued the area for the past month and a half.
 Foreign Minister Iacovou says Cyprus will not deviate from UN framework
LARNACA, 27/5/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said on Friday the Greek Cypriot side will not deviate from the line that the Cyprus talks should be held under UN auspices.
In statements before departing for Vienna to take part in the informal EU Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Iacovou also called on the US to direct appeals for a resumption of talks to the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side.
Commenting on Thursday night's dinner in the Turkish occupied areas between former president of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Iacovou said he would have preferred that the dinner did not take place at the so-called presidential palace because ''this will make things difficult for our side.''
Although ''Mr. Clerides is a private citizen, he is still a former President of the Republic,'' Iacovou said.
Asked if this meeting gives the impression that President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos does not view positively a meeting with Talat, Iacovou said these two are not comparable.
Iacovou reminded that meetings between the President of the Republic with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community were held within a specific framework, within the framework of the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-General and under his aegis.
''We will not deviate from this line,'' Iacovou said, adding that although Talat insisted on a meeting, when he was given the opportunity to have one with President Papadopoulos he postponed it and continues to do so.
Invited to comment on statements made here Friday by US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher who said that each day that goes by without any negotiation on the Cyprus problem is a wasted opportunity to solve the Cyprus issue, Iacovou said Schlicher ''should direct his appeals to the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side.''
Iacovou said the government agreed in Paris for committees to meet on a technical level to begin, amongst others, the preparation for the negotiations.
One of the preconditions, he added, would be to start negotiations ''when these are sufficiently prepared, therefore I think that these appeals should be directed to the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side.''
Referring to the Informal Foreign Ministers' Meeting, he said among the issues to be examined is the future of Europe.
 US Ambassador warns over wasted opportunities for Cyprus solution
NICOSIA, 27/5/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Each day that goes by without any negotiation on the Cyprus problem is a wasted opportunity to solve the Cyprus issue, US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher said on Friday.
He also expressed hope that talks on technical level between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities will start as soon as possible.
"I think that every day that goes by where there is no negotiation, is a wasted opportunity and I expressed that opinion on many occasions," the Ambassador said, replying to a question whether after the parliamentary elections in Cyprus it is time for new efforts to solve the problem.
Schlicher expressed the wish that "the parties will engage with the United Nations Secretary General's Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller and that the talks lead to quick success."
"We hope to see the earliest possible start of the talks of the committees which deal with issues that parties have agreed to deal with on the technical level," he added.
The US diplomat noted that if there are any disagreements between the parties, then they should talk them through with Moller so that the technical committees can start work.
 EC Vice President says Turkey must open its ports to CyprusBRUSSELS, 27.5.2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)
EU Transport Commissioner and European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot has urged the Turkish government to implement the Ankara Protocol and open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and airplanes.
According to EU sources, during a meeting he held last Friday in Brussels with Turkish State Minister for the Economy and Turkey's Chief Negotiator with the EU Ali Babacan, Barrot asked Turkey to meet the commitments it has undertaken.
The French Commissioner reminded Ali Babacan of Turkey's obligation regarding the lifting of restrictions in the free movement of goods, including the transport sector.
Barrot referred to the lifting of restrictions to ships under Cypriot flag, and ships that serve Cypriot commerce, as well as to airplanes of Cyprus Airways and other Cypriot transport companies.
Last Friday, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Oli Rehn also referred to Turkey's obligation to fulfill its commitments towards the EU.
Rehn had pointed out that the implementation of the Customs Union Protocol is not linked with the approval by the Council of Ministers of the direct trade regulation between Turkish Cypriots and the EU.
"There is no connection between the two issues," he said, adding that the only connection is that of the commencement of the EU-Turkey accession negotiations with the implementation of the Customs Union Protocol by Ankara.
 EU Environment Commissioner impressed by work done in CyprusNICOSIA, 27.5.2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)
EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas, who is paying an official visit to Cyprus, stated on Friday that he is impressed by the work done by the Cypriot authorities for the creation of an environmental consciousness as well as by the fact that all Cypriot political parties rank environmental issues high on their agenda.
Speaking at a press conference, Dimas also said that he is impressed by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos', with whom he met earlier in the day, knowledge on the environment and his concern in promoting environmental issues.
Dimas added Cyprus has incorporated the biggest part of the EU legislation regarding the environment in its national legislation, adding that he found understanding from Cyprus' Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment in dealing with some issues.
''We agreed on common dealing with these issues and to exploit the financing opportunities from the various structural funds and other financing means, provided by the EU,'' he said, adding that ''the implementation of the EU law for the environment is of paramount importance.''
He added that his visit's agenda included the management and prevention of solid and liquid waste, as well as waste recycling, composting and disposal.