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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-04

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: New Year to consolidate, widen gains
  • [02] FM outlines Greek foreign policy priorities for 2007
  • [03] FM spokesman reiterates Athens' clear-cut views on Turkey's EU accession course
  • [04] PM briefed by public works minister; latter dismissive over early elections speculation
  • [05] Papandreou hands out posts to PASOK political council members
  • [06] KKE delegation holds talks in West Bank
  • [07] SYN's Political Secretariat discusses education
  • [08] FinMin unveils top economic priorities for '07
  • [09] PASOK, Coalition party officials comment on economic policy
  • [10] Finance ministry approves 2,328 investment plans
  • [11] Papoulias briefed by transport minister
  • [12] Greek Competition Commission unveils measures to restructure domestic oil market
  • [13] PASOK criticizes government over fuel issue
  • [14] Competition Committee report smashes free competition myth, KKE says
  • [15] Government led to great defeat in country's ports, PASOK spokesman says
  • [16] Civil servants' union backs opposition to revision of Article XVI
  • [17] Hellenic Biofuels sells in Germany
  • [18] Business sector wants reform
  • [19] Market report on home appliances
  • [20] Club Hotel Casino Loutraki says visitor numbers up in 2006
  • [21] Eurobank Securities top in 2006 bourse turnover
  • [22] Greek stocks end 0.56 pct higher
  • [23] No problem with garbage in coming months, interior minister says
  • [24] Cold front pushes through NW Greece
  • [25] Mount Athos disagrees with visits made by Pope Benedict and Archbishop Christodoulos
  • [26] Faulty cockpit light causes alert at Athens airport
  • [27] Weather Forecast: Cloudy on Thursday
  • [28] Spokesman: G/C side ready to negotiate solution in 2007
  • [29] Pashiardes: T/Cs should first exhaust Cyprus' legal means

  • [01] PM: New Year to consolidate, widen gains

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Wednesday that the New Year was a time to consolidate and widen policy gains.

    "Resoluteness is required to continue with the changes and reform that have been proven to bring favorable results for all," the premier told reporters before a meeting of the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry.

    "In 2006 and in a difficult global environment, we succeeded in significantly lowering deficits, maintaining one of the highest growth rates in the European Union, strengthening competitiveness, lowering unemployment, and boosting exports," he said.

    "We also succeeded in bringing back foreign investors to Greece," Karamanlis noted.

    Also greeting reporters was Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who forecast that 2007 would be a good year for all, including pensioners, companies and young job seekers.

    "Reforms are starting to pay off, but our endeavour must continue in order to seek what is better, not merely what is good," the minister said.

    Central bank governor Nikos Garganas reported that the outlook was favorable for the economy, but the target should be to lower inflation to 2.0%.

    Agriculture and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos forecast that a high rate of absorption of European Union funds would be maintained in the New Year.

    [02] FM outlines Greek foreign policy priorities for 2007

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis this week listed off Athens' foreign policy priorities for 2007, citing the country's emphasis on playing a leading role on the European and regional levels and in boosting economic diplomacy as a lever of growth in the domestic economy.

    Writing in a special Greek-language "Economist" edition entitled "Greece in 2007", Bakoyannis referred to the western Balkans' and Turkey's European prospects, saying the latter serve as the "strongest guarantee for the achievement of peace and stability in SE Europe."

    She also reiterated Greece's desire to positively contribute to solving whatever pending problems in the region.

    Regarding Kosovo, the Greek FM referred to efforts at finding a "balanced and mutually acceptable" solution.

    As far as the "name issue" still ranking as a "thorn" in relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bakoyannis said Athens has repeatedly shown, "in practice, its volition to find a mutually acceptable solution".

    "...We're awaiting a corresponding and productive spirit from the other side, so that a solution leading to a full normalisation of relations is achieved, one that also facilitates its (FYROM) Euro-Atlantic aspirations".

    In explaining Greek leadership's position on Turkey and the country's EU accession goal, Bakoyannis said Athens backs "the view that Turkey is gradually developing into a modern European democracy; one that adopts European principles and values in its domestic and foreign behaviour; one that is to the benefit of Turkey itself, our country and Cyprus."

    She also reminded that ongoing efforts are continuing on the bilateral level to improve relations with Ankara, particularly through CBMs and a reduction in tensions in the Aegean region.

    In other matters, Bakoyannis emphasised the Karamanlis government's efforts to transform the country from a mere energy consumer to an "energy transit hub" via an overland oil pipeline linking the Black Sea and Aegean, a natgas connection from Turkey that continues on to Italy as well as various high-profile upgrades in the domestic energy networks.

    Finally, she said Greek diplomacy aims to improve trade and economic relations with Far East powerhouses (China, Japan and Korea) as well as energy-producing powers (Russia, Gulf States).

    [03] FM spokesman reiterates Athens' clear-cut views on Turkey's EU accession course

    A recent EU foreign ministers' council that focused on Turkey's accession course sent a "united and clear" message to the neighboring candidate-country, the foreign ministry spokes-man wrote in an Athens daily over the weekend.

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the EU's message succinctly underlines that the "only full-proof way for a smooth course leading to accession is by meeting obligations and commitments."

    Koumoutsakos added that EU decisions also confirmed the correctness of Athens' policy, often expressed via the phrase of "absolute adjustment-full accession".

    The foreign ministry spokesman's signed article in the Sunday edition of the mass morning daily "Vima" appeared on the occasion of the formal accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Union on Jan. 1, 2007.

    "European leaders have realistically come to the decision that they will not close the European Union door but, at the same time, they will be strict when evaluating candidate-states' compliance with the Union's criteria, prerequisites and principles," he noted in his article, entitled "Europe's circle of charm".

    Among others, he also stresses that the response to the dilemma between a more unified bloc instead of yet another enlargement is a major consideration.

    Koumoutsakos adds that Greece does not share calls for a "special EU-Turkey relationship" or the view, according to which, membership can be achieved without clear-cut terms. He notes, characteristically, that a sudden EU decision to delineate the boundaries any future and final enlargement would break the bloc's "circle of charm", eliminating the vision and incentives from potential member-states, which look forward to a future accession and are willing to make an effort toward the European prospect and acquis.

    Koumoutsakos said a special EU-Turkey relationship that is not clearly defined would have the same result. Finally, he stressed that expansions cannot be completed without clear-cut terms, while candidate-countries not meeting obligations and commitments should not be treated with flexibility.

    [04] PM briefed by public works minister; latter dismissive over early elections speculation

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday over a variety of issues under the latter's portfolio.

    Afterwards, and while exiting the premier's office, Souflias emphasised that the Karamanlis government's last full year of its four-year term (2007) will be "amongst the most productive" -- in response to the ubiquitous question of many political reporters in the country, namely, when and if (early) elections will be held.

    In echoing the premier's repeated statements over the past six months or so, Souflias said rampant speculation by the press about early elections is not just "useless" but also impedes effort made for the country's progress.

    He also said it is utterly premature to discuss candidates for a future president of the republic, while adding that he is not interested in the specific post.

    [05] Papandreou hands out posts to PASOK political council members

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday announced the assignment of responsibilities for members of the party's political council, with the sectors of regional organization and campaign mobilizations remaining under the scope of the council's secretary.

    In addition, PASOK's political council members -- the majority of whom are top MPs and former ministers -- were tapped to oversee the opposition party's strategy at the regional and provincial level.

    [06] KKE delegation holds talks in West Bank

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga met in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday with the leadership of the Palestinian People's Party (PPP), the grouping that invited the KKE leader and other party officials to the Palestinian self-rule areas.

    The KKE delegation also met, according to a press release issued by the Greek party, with representatives of all parties in the Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian labour minister and representatives of out-of-Parliament parties.

    The KKE delegation is on a three-day visit to the West Bank, with other meetings planned with social groups.

    [07] SYN's Political Secretariat discusses education

    The Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) convened on Wednesday and focused its session mainly on the issue of education and in particular on Article 16 of the Constitution.

    The Political Secratariat, according to a Synaspismos announcement, "discussed the party's action plan for the coming period in the social struggles and to the general political developments and the procedures of Constitutional revision, dealt by priority with the strike action against the revision of Article 16, which safeguards public and free education, and also against the revision of Article 24 for the protection of forests."

    Financial News

    [08] FinMin unveils top economic priorities for '07

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said 2007 would be a year of continued economic reforms by the Karamanlis government.

    Presenting economic priorities for the New Year, the minister said the government would implement new legislation on restructuring public sector enterprises and utilities, as well as promoting joint projects between public and private sector companies, an endeavor he estimated was worth 800 million euros.

    Alogoskoufis said a new round of privatizations includes the bourse-listed Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Postal Savings Bank as well as the already privately-managed Mont Parnes Casino of Athens, while he noted that a privatization of natgas supplier DEPA would be agreed with the company's shareholders.

    Alogoskoufis said the ministry's policy priorities in 2007 also include draft legislation on regional growth, a new draft bill to sell state-owned real estate assets, a new customs code, implementing a "Basel II" regulations on domestic financial institutions, legislation on better organizing the domestic capital market, establishing a new national commission to combat tax evasion and legislation to promote transparency and more comprehensive information to investors.

    He added that the government would continue its fiscal restructuring to achieve balanced or slightly surplus budges by 2012, in tandem with maintaining high growth rates, reducing unemployment to 6.5 pct of the workforce by 2009 as well as supporting social cohesion. Alogoskoufis said a decision by the EU to lift monitoring of the Greek economy should be expected no sooner than July or October 2007, while underling the significance of maintaining a fiscal deficit below 3.0 pct of GDP.

    Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said government spending and interest payments would total 88 billion euros in 2007, while budget deficits are expected to reach 53 billion euros. Doukas said state borrowing this year would total 33 billion euros.

    [09] PASOK, Coalition party officials comment on economic policy

    Main opposition PASOK party economy sector official Vasso Papandreou said on Wednesday that Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis 'is flattering himself far from reality."

    "His interview is a tiring, monotonous repetition of announcements, triumphs of the economic policy followed by New Democracy, while society is groaning," she said.

    Papandreou also said that the finance minister "is proud of the decrease in deficits that he himself increased artificially and now he is decreasing them in an artificial way. He is proud of the decrease in unemployment, that he reduced statistically."

    Lastly, referring to tax breaks, she said that "there are breaks for high incomes and, of course, salary-earners, the middle and low incomes are already seeing the burdens as of January 1. The self-employed will also be seeing this very soon. However, the big corporations and distributed profits also had breaks, meaning those who have and possess."

    Referring to the same issue, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Political Bureau member Panayiotis Lafazanis said that Alogoskoufis "presented himself as an authentic representative of big, both local and foreign, business groups and their interests."

    "The only 'achievements' of government economic policy are, on the one hand, the boosting of excess profits, the tax immunity and privileges of big capital and, on the other hand, the escalation of the selling of public corporations and of public property. The new measures and the new initiatives announced today by Mr. Alogoskoufis are aimed primarily at continuing these 'successes' in 2007," Lafazanis said.

    [10] Finance ministry approves 2,328 investment plans

    According to the Economy and Finance Ministry, 2,328 investment projects have been approved on the basis of Development Law 3299/2004.

    The foreseen amount of the total investment surpasses 3.429 billion euros and the jobs which are expected to be created reach 10,338 it was disclosed by the ministry on Wednesday.

    Of the 2,328 investment projects which have been approved, 1,375 concern prossessing, 633 tourism, 162 services, while the 128 concern the primary sector.

    [11] Papoulias briefed by transport minister

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was briefed by Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday over a series of major issues managed by the ministry.

    Afterwards, Liapis said talks focused on upgrades in the country's rail network, especially completion of a double, electricity-driven and high-speed line connecting the western port city of Patras with the country's northern borders, as well as the course of efforts to privatise the state-run telephony utility (OTE) and debt-ridden national carrier Olympic.

    [12] Greek Competition Commission unveils measures to restructure domestic oil market

    Greece's Competition Commission on Wednesday unveiled a package of infrastructure measures aimed at promoting competition in the domestic oil products market, such as deregulating operation hours for petrol stations, abolishing all ceilings on oil product prices, revising a monitoring system, and abolishing any limitations in the refinery market.

    The Competition Commission, in a report, noted that an existing price monitoring system presented certain weaknesses, such as creating an Integrated Oil Information System to promote a more efficient market monitoring and to offering ex ante and ex post powers to an Energy Regulatory Authority in the country.

    In the domestic refinery market, the Commission seeks to abolish all significant limitations aiming to facilitate oil product imports. The report also includes measures to restructuring the domestic wholesale and retail markets.

    [13] PASOK criticizes government over fuel issue

    Main opposition PASOK party development, tourism and merchant marine official Christos Papoutsis said on Wednesday that the announcement by the Competition Committee regarding fuel, "proves, from a political point of view, the full failure of the ND government to implement Law 3054/2002 for three years."

    "The Greek people are aware of the results of this policy, the market is aware of them as well as consumers in their entirety: Unaccountability, smuggling, high costs," he said.

    Papoutsis pointed out that it is essential for this reason that the President of the Competition Committee be summoned to present his proposals at a special session of Parliament's Production and Trade Committee.

    [14] Competition Committee report smashes free competition myth, KKE says

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in an announcement on Wednesday that the report issued by the Competition Committee "smashes the myth of 'free competition' and objectively reveals the control of the fuel market by a handful of monopolizing groups."

    "The burdens shouldered by the popular family are due to the profits of these groups from the refining stage to the retail market stage and to the anti-popular state taxation," it said.

    "The measures proposed by the competition Committee move in the framework of the anti-popular options of the government of (ruling) New Democracy and of (main opposition) PASOK. Not only do they not address but will worsen the situation. The 'deregulation' of working hours at petrol stations and facilitating the activities of importers will lead to the acceleration of the gathering and concentration of capital in the sector in question," the announcement further said.

    Lastly, KKE's announcement said that "the outlet lies at the other end of government policy, in the exclusively state-run unified energy agency that will constitute popular property and will serve popular needs."

    [15] Government led to great defeat in country's ports, PASOK spokesman says

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Petros Efthymiou said on Wednesday that the government "was led to a great defeat in the country's ports."

    "The government was led to a great defeat in the ports of the country. But the defeat of the government is also a defeat for the interests of the country. Because there was an incalculable cost throughout this two-month period for the national economy, for all agencies of the economy, but at the same time there was a strengthening of competitive ports to the west and the east of our country," he said.

    Efthymiou also spoke of "supposed reforms" of the ruling New Democracy (ND) government "that lead in every field, to mathematical dissolution, wherever their implementation is attempted."

    The spokesman reiterated the proposal made by PASOK leader George Papandreou "for the government to officially suspend the assignment process to enable the smooth functioning of the economy and for there to be a status at Greek ports that will promote the competitiveness of the country and the competitiveness of the Greek economy."

    Replying to a question on the possibility of early elections, Efthymiou said that "the fear and insecurity of the ND government towards the upcoming popular judgment for its policy is visible to all the Greek people."

    [16] Civil servants' union backs opposition to revision of Article XVI

    The executive board of the country's civil servants' union, ADEDY, on Wednesday announced that it was declaring a work stoppage in the capacious Greek public sector for Wednesday, Jan. 10 --11 a.m. until the end of shift -- to press its opposition to a government initiative aimed at revising constitutional Article XVI in order to allow the establishment of private, non-profit universities in Greece.

    ADEDY's leadership said the union wants to keep higher education strictly within the state's domain and to upgrade "public and free" education, while also citing its positions regarding constitutional revision, civil servants' tenure, provisions on forestland etc.

    Revision of the controversial article was pre-election pledge by the current Karamanlis government and is also supported by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou. Conversely, leftist parties along with most college student groupings and the professors' union strenuously object to recognizing private universities in the country.

    [17] Hellenic Biofuels sells in Germany

    Hellenic Biofuels said on Wednesday that it had contracted seven gas stations in Germany to sell its Rsoil vegetable oil product, aiding Greek truck drivers transiting the European country.

    Germany has granted tax-free status to pure vegetable oil used as fuel, offering truckers annual savings of about 30,000 euros, the company said in a statement.

    In addition, Italian long-haul trucks carrying foods to Austria, Germany and the Netherlands refuel at German borders, taking advantage of the price reduction and a 10% consumption cut offered by Hellenic's technology, the statement noted.

    The firm plans to sell its product in Italy in the near future, it added.

    [18] Business sector wants reform

    Domestic growth, competitiveness and social cohesion in Greece are hampered by the state's business activity, and poor quality in public administration and education, the head of the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry, Konstantine Mihalos, said on Wednesday.

    "If we want Greece to connect with the new era, to rise higher, faster and more securely, there is only one option. Reform today and not tomorrow," Mihalos told an annual meeting of the chamber.

    "Needed are reform with consensus and dialogue, and, if that is impossible, then reform with backing from the majority of the public," he added.

    [19] Market report on home appliances

    Sales of air conditioning systems grew by 3.3 percent in volume and 10.1 pct in value last year, compared with 2005, a report by GfK Market Analysis said on Wednesday.

    The report showed a markedly turn of consumers to brand products, which currently accounted for 46.3 percent of the market's value.

    Personal care products also recorded a 23.3 percent increase in volume in 2006, while sales of coffee machines fell 1.8 pct in volume, and sales of vacuum cleaners also fell by 0.4 pct. Greek consumers bought more espresso coffee machines (+13.2 pct) while purchases of filter coffee machines fell 5.4 pct last year.

    White electric appliances recorded a 3.3 pct decline in volume, although the report said that sales of wash machines and refrigerators rebounded in the second half of 2006 predicting a positive end to the year.

    [20] Club Hotel Casino Loutraki says visitor numbers up in 2006

    Club Hotel Casino Loutraki on Wednesday said visitors to the resort totalled 984,220 last year, an increase of 6.4 pct from 2005, while gross revenues from gaming operations totalled 233.7 million euros, up 13.1 pct over the same period.

    The company said visitors to the Loutraki Casino totalled 113,335 in December, up 12.2 pct from December 2005, with gross revenues from gaming up 19.1 pct, to 25.5 million euros.

    [21] Eurobank Securities top in 2006 bourse turnover

    EFG Eurobank Securities ranked top in brokerage turnover in 2006, gaining 17.08% of the market, the Association of Athens Stock Exchange Members said on Wednesday.

    Eurobank was followed by P&K Securities at 12.25%, National Securities (11.62%), Piraeus Securities (9.81%), Alpha Finance (9.27%), Investment Bank of Greece (6.62%), Kappa Brokerage (5.29%), Egnatia Securities (3.28%), Proton (2.60%) and HSBC (2.48%), the association said in a statement.

    [22] Greek stocks end 0.56 pct higher

    Greek stocks moved higher for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index 0.56 pct up to end at 4,491.67 points. Turnover was a strong 355.7 million euros.

    Sector indices ended higher with the Oil (3.58 pct), Utilities (2.13 pct) and Healthcare (1.35 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Telecommunication (1.26 pct), Food-Beverage (1.01 pct) and Commerce (0.89 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.77 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.03 pct higher and the Small Cap index jumped 0.75 pct.

    Vivere (10.40 pct), Axon Holdings (9.41 pct) and Electra (8.67 pct) were top gainers, while Elviemek (8.73 pct), and Gener (6.25 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 136 to 115 with another 52 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.31%

    Industrials: +0.41%

    Commercial: -0.89%

    Construction: +0.22%

    Media: -0.13%

    Oil & Gas: +3.58%

    Personal & Household: +0.27%

    Raw Materials: -0.63%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.01%

    Technology: +0.93%

    Telecoms: -1.26%

    Banks: +1.34%

    Food & Beverages: -1.01%

    Health: +1.35%

    Utilities: +2.13%

    Chemicals: -0.60%

    Financial Services: +0.01%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank and Hellenic Petroleum.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 23.90

    ATEbank: 4.10

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.04

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.10

    Emporiki Bank: 23.22

    National Bank of Greece: 36.30

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 28.70

    Intralot: 27.50

    Cosmote: 22.24

    OPAP: 29.62

    OTE: 23.48

    Titan Cement Company: 41.96

    Derivatives Market Close: ELTEH top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +0.77%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +0.03%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): ELTEH (1087)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 84.6 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.18 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.18 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (685 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 1.6 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.333

    Pound sterling 0.680

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.091

    Japanese yen 159.0

    Swiss franc 1.626

    Norwegian kroner 8.304

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.558

    Australian dollar 1.677

    General News

    [23] No problem with garbage in coming months, interior minister says

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Wednesday that there will be no problem with garbage in the Attica region in the coming months, since space has been secured in Fyli `with projects worth four million euros that have been carried out in the region.

    The minister also pointed out that all the illegal landfills in the country must close by the end of the year.

    Referring to landfills in Grammatiko, Fyli and Keratea, Pavlopoulos said that in the case of Grammatiko the signing of the contract regarding construction is about to take place, while the checking of the contract by the Auditing Council is pending.

    In the cases of the other two locations, in Fyli and Keratea, appeals have been made to the Council of State and the decisions are being awaited for their construction to go ahead.

    Speaking to Sky Radio, Pavlopoulos said that the regional planning for Attica had been ratified by the previous government, but noted that, apart from planning, nothing at all had been done for funding by the European Union.

    Referring, lastly, to financing for the "Information Society" program concerning the interior ministry, Pavlopoulos said that it is a program totaling 890 million euros and that proclamations for all the works were completed in 2006, covering the project in its entirety.

    [24] Cold front pushes through NW Greece

    Significant snowfall was reported Tuesday evening in the northwestern prefectures of Florina and Kastoria, both in mountainous portions of western Macedonia province.

    The snowfall comes on the heels of what weather forecasts predict will be the first major cold front to pass through the east Mediterranean country this year.

    Authorities in the region said snow chains are necessary for vehicles using the Florina-Kastoria provincial road via the townships of Vigla and Vitsi.

    [25] Mount Athos disagrees with visits made by Pope Benedict and Archbishop Christodoulos

    The Holy Community of Mount Athos in an announcement on Wednesday expressed its "deep sorrow" over the recent visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the Phanar in Istanbul and to that of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to the Vatican.

    Specifically, the Holy Community of Mount Athos clarifies that "it respects and honors the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Greece and also its heads," but describes the two visits as "incompatible with the tradition of Orthodox ecclesiastical law."

    The announcement added that the two visits were "events which surpass simple joint prayers, which the Holy Canons forbid. And all these, while the Papal institution did not at all retreat from its heretic teachings and its policy."

    [26] Faulty cockpit light causes alert at Athens airport

    A cockpit indicator light malfunction caused an Aegean Airlines flight from Bucharest to Athens on Wednesday to delay its landing at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport until emergency precautions were taken on the runway below.

    The aircraft, a Boeing 737, landed without a glitch after 3 p.m. local time. The faulty indicator light reportedly showed that the plane's left rear wheel was not secured in place for landing.

    [27] Weather Forecast: Cloudy on Thursday

    Cloudy weather is forecast in most parts of the country, with high northerly winds and a drop in temperature. Showers or storms in the south. Temperatures in Athens from 3C to 11C; and in Thessaloniki between 2C and 8C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] Spokesman: G/C side ready to negotiate solution in 2007

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Greek Cypriot side is willing to negotiate the solution of the Cyprus problem in 2007, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes reassured on Wednesday.

    Answering to questions after the Cabinet's meeting Pashiardes expressed the view that Turkey's "traditional tactics to use Turkish elections as a pretext for avoiding any discussion on the Cyprus issue could raise doubts as to the possibility of the commencement of substantive negotiations in 2007".

    ''But these doubts, regardless how justified they are, will not reduce our efforts to promote the implementation of the July 8th agreement in 2007", he said, adding that ''it is up to Turkey to prove that the elections in the country this year would not constitute an impediment for the success of these efforts".

    ''On our side, there is no problem at all, to negotiate in 2007 a solution of the Cyprus problem", the spokesman said.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on July 8, 2006, during a meeting in the presence of UN Undersecretary General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    Invited to comment on a statement made by Ferdi Sabit Soyer, the so called prime minister of the Turkish occupation regime, that the Turkish Cypriots would proceed to all necessary political initiatives for the commencement of the work of the technical committees, Pashiardes described the statement as "strange", saying that the implementation of the July 8th agreement constitutes an obligation and not a choice of the two sides in Cyprus.

    According to Pashiardes, the only possible objective of Soyer's statement, "would be that when and if the technical committees and the teams of experts are established, as agreed upon by the July 8th agreement, to present this development as an initiative, or even as a retreat of the Turkish side".

    Regarding Soyer's statement that the United Nations could begin a negotiations process for a solution of the Cyprus problem in 2007, Pashiardes referred to the letter sent by UN Undersecretary for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari to both leaders on the island in which Gambari asks for a speed up of the procedure that was agreed on July 8th, and on the commencement of the work of the teams of experts and the technical committees during the first three months of 2007.

    ''So, you may consider it as certain and not just as an estimation, that the agreed procedure will be promoted", Pashiardes said, noting that ''the only thing that is not certain yet, is whether the Turkish side would contribute to the effectiveness of this procedure".

    The spokesman also called upon the Turkish Cypriot side to proceed to a dialogue through the UN for the opening of the Ledra street, adding that so far the Turkish Cypriots have not replied.

    "The only thing the Turkish occupation regime has stated so far, is its readiness to demolish just the footbridge, but at the same time it is aware that by just demolishing the bridge it is not possible to gain our consent for the opening of the Ledra street", he said.

    Pashiardes said that what really interests the Turkish side is not the opening of the Ledra street, but the creation of impressions and of a pretext in order to blame the Greek Cypriot side.

    Last week, the Turkish Cypriot leadership announced that it would demolish a footbridge, built last year by the Turkish military in the northern end of the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia, which halted efforts to open the Ledra street crossing point.

    The government of Cyprus called on the Turkish Cypriot side, through the United Nations, to attend a dialogue in order to discuss all issues relating to the opening of Ledra Street and the smooth and unimpeded movement of citizens from this particular crossing point.

    EU member state the Republic of Cyprus, is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory.

    [29] Pashiardes: T/Cs should first exhaust Cyprus' legal means

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes said Wednesday it was impossible for the European Court of Human

    Rights to accept the application of four Turkish Cypriots regarding the restitution of their property in the coastal town of Limassol.

    "It is impossible that the ECHR accepts the application of four Turkish Cypriots for the restitution of their property in Limassol since they have not exhausted the internal legal means of the Republic of Cyprus", Pashiardes stressed.

    The spokesman described the move of the four Turkish Cypriots as "an effort to create diversion in the legal applications of Greek Cypriots at the ECHR".

    Pashiardes was invited to comment on information that four Turkish Cypriot siblings intend to apply to the ECHR asking for the restitution of their property which is located in Limassol, as well as compensation reaching seven million euros.

    ''Before the four Turkish Cypriots apply to the ECHR, they should exhaust the internal legal means of the Republic, an action they have not done yet. So, we consider it impossible for the ECHR to accept their application", he said.

    Commenting on a statement made by the Turkish Cypriot attorney of the four applicants, that their case is similar to the one of Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou, Pashiardes said that there is no similarity between both cases.

    "The Turkish occupation regime has been forbidding Loizidou the peaceful access to her property, whereas the Turkish Cypriots, being legal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, have and can enjoy all rights as provided to them by the constitution", he said.

    The spokesman added that Loizidou had no other alternative but to apply to the ECHR.

    "On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots have the right to apply to Cypriot courts for the restitution of their property in the areas that are under the control of the legal government of Cyprus and it is up to the court to reach a ruling. The Cypriot court's rulings may I remind you, are being executed", he concluded.

    EU member state Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in property cases brought against Turkey by Greek Cypriots that they remain the legal owners of their land in occupied Cyprus.

    In one specific case, Ankara has paid compensation amounting to nearly one million US dollars to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou and was ordered to allow her access to her property.


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