|Sunday, 26 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Karamanlis backs mutually acceptable solution for multi-ethnic KosovoBELGRADE (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined Athens' backing for a mutually acceptable solution in Kosovo that would define and promote its multi-ethnic character, following talks with Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in Belgrade on Tuesday.
Karamanlis stressed that Greece, as a country within the region, was fully aware of the need for such a solution for the security and stability of southeastern Europe.
Kostunica said that a solution must be based on compromise and must be in agreement with international law, while respecting the borders and the integrity of the country.
He said that Serbia would not accept any solution that did not respect international law and the United Nations charter, nor any solution that was imposed and did not arise through compromise.
The Serb premier also stressed that compromise could only be achieved through negotiations and voiced complaints about the lack of movement in UN-led negotiations over the past six months, though noting that UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari was expected to present his proposals on January 26, shortly after general elections taking place in Serbia on Sunday.
Karamanlis and Kostunica also discussed the construction of new roadways to enhance infrastructure in the area.
Earlier on Tuesday, after being received by Serb President Boris Tadic, Karamanlis had stressed that the solution for Kosovo must respect human and minority rights, while providing protection to the Serb Orthodox Church in the province.
The Greek prime minister underlined that all sides must avoid unilateral actions that attempt to pre-empt the results of the process now underway.
Tadic stressed that Belgrade could not accept any form of independence for Kosovo and said that this would lead to destabilization, noting that the Serb position could be summed up as "full autonomy, not independence". He also underlined that Serb policy for Kosovo would not be affected by the upcoming elections.
In response to questions on possible independence for Kosovo, Karamanlis said that Greece had not shifted its position on this issue and was awaiting the UN envoy's proposals.
In addition to Kosovo, Tadic and Karamanlis held talks on bilateral relations, noting that these were excellent and that Greece steadily supported Serbia's EuroAtlantic and European orientation. The Serb president noted that EU membership was among Belgrade's goals.
They also discussed economic cooperation and the plan for Serbia's reconstruction, to which Greece will contribute significant funds.
Karamanlis pointed out that supporting Serbia's EU and EuroAtlantic prospects was a strategic choice for Greece.
The Greek prime minister expressed hope that Serb general elections on Sunday would be carried out in a way that demonstrated the country's democratic maturity to the international community, adding that a democratic government with a European orientation would accelerate the rate of progress toward the EU after the polls. He noted that the climate toward Serbia within the EU was more positive than in the past.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who accompanied Karamanlis on his tour of SE European countries, met in Belgrade on Tuesday with her Serb counterpart Vuk Draskovic.
In the meeting, held in a very cordial atmosphere, they discussed bilateral issues, Serbia's European prospect and the issue of Kosovo. It was ascertained that bilateral relations are excellent while on the future status of Kosovo they expressed the need for a mutually acceptable solution.
Bakoyannis also conveyed a message of friendship and cooperation regarding Serbia's course toward European integration.
Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis stressed that Greece supports Serbia's Euro-Atlantic course, adding that the future of the entire region lies with the great European family, a future that can ensure growth, stability and prosperity.
Referring to the same issue, Draskovic stated that there is no obstacle that can't be lifted in the course toward European integration and expressed the belief that the 'Europe or not' dilemma will be solved once and for all through the imminent elections.
 U.S. appreciates cooperation with Greek authorities, spokesman saysWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T.Ellis)
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said on Tuesday his government appreciated "very much" the existing cooperation with the Greek authorities in investigating last Friday's terrorist attack against the U.S. embassy in Athens.
"We, again, appreciate very much the cooperation we've received from the Greek government and Greek law enforcement officials. Their investigation into this matter is still ongoing, and certainly we do want to see that investigation move for-ward as quickly as possible and the perpetrators brought to justice," Casey told reporters.
 'I feel absolutely safe in Greece,' U.S. ambassador saysU.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries, speaking in an exclusive interview with the NET television network on Tues-day, said he is absolutely satisfied with cooperation with the Greek authorities to resolve the terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy last Friday and stressed that he feels absolutely safe in Greece in representing his country and will continue to travel and do his work as best as he can.
He also referred to investigations to detect the perpetrators, that are taking place under the supervision of the Greek authorities.
"We must always be prepared and in a state of vigilance for the possibility of terrorism. Unfortunately, in our era it is a reality in the lives of all. The American embassies in particular are targets all over the world. We are in a state of continuous and increased alert," he said.
Ries said that being a diplomat and not an investigator, he cannot assess whether the perpetrators are usual suspects from the past, stressing that he feels that nothing must be ruled out.
"We are cooperating very closely with the public order minister, Mr. (Vyron) Polydoras and all his associates to find what evidence we can. The embassy staff cooperated with the public order ministry and the Greek Police throughout the weekend. They have taken testimonies from citizens and they have collected evidence. Yes, we have a tape that has been taken from cameras around our embassy and we have delivered it to the Greek police," he said.
Asked whether it is material that can be utilized and whether there is a clear picture, Ries said "it shows the rocket that is being ignited opposite the road to the embassy. It was dark and it is not as clear as we would like. We are bringing some experts to see what they can do in relation to the picture and find ways of improving it. I hope the tape will be improved, but there are limits to how good it can become under these circumstances."
In reply to whether the tape provides evidence on the suspects, the U.S. ambassador said "there is an investigation that is under way under the supervision of the Greek authorities. I do not wish to go into elements of the investigation with details. I will repeat that both authorities will not leave any opportunity unused in our effort to find and convict those who are responsible for this terrorist act. This attack is directed in reality both against Greece and the U.S. embassy. It is the country that has been dealt a blow by this attack. I know that the government, the Greek police and all who are involved will not leave any opportunity unused in the effort to achieve an absolute in-depth investigation to enable us to find what we can."
Urged to disclose whether he had any information that such an event could take place, Ries said "I think that we must always be prepared and be in a state of vigilance for the possibility of terrorism."
Commenting on the level of cooperation between Greek and American security services, Ries said "excellent. We brought some experts over the weekend to help out. The Greek government is supervising the investigations in all sectors. We are cooperating fully and we are giving every piece of information that can contribute to the investigations to the government, the police and the ministry. In such cases, the way leading to the success of investigations is very often unpredictable."
Asked whether the FBI is involved in the investigations, the ambassador said "the FBI has been involved, but its involvement has nothing to do with the dimensions that have been given. Some of its good members have come."
Questioned whether he is satisfied with the work of the Greek counter-terrorism service and of the other Greek authorities, he said "as I said from the beginning on Friday, I am very satisfied. Absolutely satisfied with the cooperation and the enthusiasm with which the Greek authorities are approaching the problem."
On the question of whether he does not rule out the possibility of an international connection, Ries said "there is an assumption of responsibility by a local group and I think that we must take it into serious consideration. I am not saying that there is clear evidence of an international connection, but I am saying that every good investigation for me must examine evidence from all sources and we must not start with prejudices."
Lastly, Ries was asked whether he loves the country and travels frequently with his wife, if he will continue to travel and if he feels safe and said "absolutely. I feel safe. My job here is to represent the United States in Greece. I have taken it seriously and I will continue to travel and do my job as best as I can."
 Foreign minister to meet U.S. envoy on WednesdayForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will receive U.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries on Wednesday morning on the latter's request, the foreign ministry announced on Tuesday.
The meeting will focus on developments and prospects in the Balkan region and issues of bilateral political and economic interest, the announcement added.
 Gov't again backs use of traffic cameras for security surveillanceThe government on Tuesday defended its position to overturn prohibitions on the use of CCTV cameras along central Athens' main thoroughfares for law enforcement surveillance, instead of simply traffic management, as is the case today.
The issue jumped to the forefront of debate on Friday, hours after an RPG slammed into the front of the US embassy, damaging a third-floor bathroom after barely missing the US emblem. Unknown assailants fired the small anti-tank shell from just across the street, Vassilissis Sofias Boulevard, a major roadway monitored by traffic cameras set atop tall metal poles.
"The Greek state has acquired, at a great cost to Greek taxpayers, a system by which cameras were installed to protect both foreign visitors and the country's reputation during the (2004) Olympic Games," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Tuesday. "Use of this system was judged to be positive. Therefore, how can some people claim that this effective system should not be employed for the protection of Greek citizens' lives and property? This is what the government desires, and for this reason it has taken recourse to the Council of State, whose decision is pending".
The government and law enforcement community want to use the cameras, more than 200 out of the initial forecast of roughly 500, to monitor Athens' main roadway, whereas leftist groups have bitterly opposed the measure. Currently, a ruling by the independent Hellenic Personal Data Protection Authority prevents use of the cameras for anything but traffic management.
Moreover, Antonaros declined to comment on the course of the investigation into the pre-dawn rocket attack.
In a later development, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed his party's opposition to what he called the "monitoring of citizens", while speaking to PASOK's parliamentary council.
He added that the concepts of citizens' fundamental rights and their security should not clash, with protection of the right to privacy comprising a segment of citizens' security. He also said that while in power, PASOK achieved success in the battle against urban home-grown terrorists without violating such rights.
 Telecoms watchdog urges national strategy for communications securityA call for a national strategy to ensure the privacy and security of telecommunications and networks in Greece was made by speakers at a seminar organized by the local communications privacy watchdog ADAE on Tuesday.
The head of the Authority of Assurance of Information and Communication Privacy and Security (ADAE), Andreas Lambrinopoulos, highlighted the dangers arising from the use of new technologies in telecommunications and said that it was simply a matter of time before the country's electronic systems came under attack, with devastating results.
Noting that ADAE's capabilities and powers were limited, speakers called for the creation of an oversight agency that would manage the implementation of such a national strategy nationwide, monitor the threats to network systems and keep abreast of developments on a global level.
They said its remit should also be to update the national strategy and submit proposals to the ministries and government on harmonising privacy strategy with global developments.
 Foreign policy council to meet on ThursdayThe national council on foreign policy (ESEP) will convene Thursday morning, chaired by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The meeting will focus on developments in the Balkans in the light of the recent EU accession of Romania and Bulgaria as well as the parliamentary elections in Serbia and developments regarding the final status of Kosovo.
Papandreou: Gov't 'criminally negligent' on environmental issues
Main opposition leader George Papandreou on Tuesday accused the government of "criminal negligence" on the issue of the environment, following a meeting with environmental organizations. The meeting was held in preparation for Wednesday's discussion of proposed changes to article 24 of the Constitution, which refers to protection of forested land, by a Parliamentary committee.
The president of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said the government was promoting measures that were policy favors for specific interests, with untold consequences for the life of the majority and future generations.
"It is PASOK's duty to stop the degradation of the environment by this government," he stressed, underlining that PASOK did not view the environment as an obstacle to the country's development but as a comparative advantage and that this would be a fundamental choice in the new party programme.
He invited environmental groups to take part in the discussion that will be held in the run-up to his party's programme conference, while informing the organisations attending the meeting that PASOK will refuse to agree to a revision of article 24.
 President Papoulias receives KKE general secretaryPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tues-day received Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who briefed him on her recent trip to the Palestinian territories.
Papariga said that she raised the issue of the 680-kilometre wall being constructed around Palestinian areas by Israel, stressing that this determined the political borders of Palestine.
According to KKE's leader, the United States were attracted to solutions that suited Israel, whose aim was to convert Palestine into cantons within the Israeli state.
Noting that this would essentially create a protectorate, she stressed the need for the government, Greek parties but also the international community to adopt a position on this issue.
Asked about the use of CCTV cameras in the investigation of last Friday's terrorist strike against the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Papariga noted that there were no technical means that could solve problems of this sort.
"We will not agree, in the name of any kind of danger, to have 10 million Greeks under surveillance and to make them hostages of the information that is collected," she added.
 DM sends letter to ADAE president regarding military service issueNational Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Tuesday sent a letter to the Authority of Assurance of Information and Communication Privacy and Security (ADAE) president D. Gourgourakis calling on him to judge which categories of persons who had been exempted from military service could have their names published by the defence ministry.
In his letter, Meimarakis listed all the categories of those exempted from military service, as these have arisen from the to date checks which the defence ministry is continuing to conduct "for the combatting of such morbid phenomena which took place particularly in the past," among them being the legally exempted from military service, the illegally exempted, those who received a suspension of service for health reasons, those judged unsuitable for service and after the checks by the ministry were deemed capable of serving, the draft dodgers domestically and abroad and those who bought off their military service.
 Justice minister attends EU ministerial meeting in DresdenJustice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras outlined Greek positions on justice issues during the European Union's Council of Justice and Interior Affairs Ministers on Tuesday.
According to an announcement by the justice ministry, issues concerning the future of European judicial cooperation in the sector of family and inheritance law, the implementation of the program of the Hague in the sector of freedom, justice and security were discussed during the meeting, as well as "electronic justice", meaning access to justice application organs and communication with them with electronic means instead of documents.
The announcement added that Papaligouras stressed Greece's support for the German presidency's relevant effort on the issue of developing judicial cooperation with the promotion of the taking of decisions that will facilitate the recognition and carrying out of court rulings between EU member-states.
Papaligouras also had the opportunity of having bilateral contacts with counterparts on the promotion of the Greek initiative to facilitate the transfer of prison detainees to serve their sentences in their countries of origin, a prospect that will relieve Greek prisons, in which 40 percent of the detainees are foreigners.
 Rodi Kratsa elected first vice president of European ParliamentSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
Greek Eurodeputy Rodi-Kratsa-Tsangaropoulou was elected as the European Parliament's first vice president with 322 votes out of a total of 696 valid votes. Her distance from the second consecutive vice president is 22 votes, a position that was taken by Alejo Vidal Cuantras from Spain.
Kratsa said in a statement that "my election is a great honour for me, for (Greece's ruling) New Democracy party and for our country. Apart from the honor, I also feel the weight of obligations in an era that is very ambitious, because European citizens trust the European Parliament more today than the other European institutions. For this reason we must meet their pursuits. To bring Europe closer to them, make it more effective and inspire confidence in them for the common future and for the value of our common efforts.
"In parallel, we must protect them from all that create concern for them, such as the spreading of terrorism, globalization, and I believe that I have the possibility of placing myself in the service of these targets."
 Deputy FM meets minister from Australia's state of VictoriaDeputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis met in Athens on Tuesday with Industry, Development and Public Works Minister of Australia's state of Victoria, Theo Theophanous.
Theophanous, who is of Cypriot origin, was accompanied by Australian Ambassador in Athens Paul Joseph Tighe.
The basic issue of the meeting was their common interest for the strengthening of Greece's relations with the state of Victoria, the capital of which is Melbourne, the largest "Greek city" abroad.
 'Martin Luther King' award presented to Greek ambassador in the U.S.WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The "Martin Luther King" award has been presented to Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias.
The Washington Times newspaper noted that the Greek diplomat was honoured for his contribution to peace in the Balkans where he served from various positions as responsible for the policy of Greece and of the European Union towards Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Romania.
During the presentation of the award by the organisers of the 16th annual celebration in memory of the American Nobel peace price winner and civil rights leader, underlined was the contribution of the Greek ambassador to peace in the Balkans, in Greek-U.S. relations and in international matters such as the combating of the illegal trafficking of persons, which, as it was noted, constitutes the modern form of slavery.
Receiving the award, Ambassador Mallias linked Martin Luther King's struggles for freedom and against discrimination with the messages of the Greek classics but also with the struggles of Hellenism for peace and democracy and against discrimination, which was the basic motive for the creation of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) in 1922.
 Former PM Costas Simitis addresses event on democracyFormer prime minister Costas Simitis addressed an event organized on Tuesday night by the Reflection Group on the Modernization of Society (OPEK) on the issue of "Democracy in crisis?", stressing that "the so-called 'crisis of democracy' is not due to a permanent weakness of the institution of democracy to function smoothly under new conditions (but) in reality it is a crisis of policy."
The event, attended by former president Kostis Stephanopoulos, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, former ministers, deputies, university professors and a large audience, is the first of a series of lectures OPEK will be carrying out under the general title of "Gazing at the future."
Simitis said the policy crisis is related to the multiple collective tactics of parties and their effort to limit the political activation of citizens to frameworks controlled by them, while the crisis is caused by the way politic is exercised that does not adjust to new developments and is unable to respond to the demands and needs of citizens.
The former prime minister proposed the "repoliticalization of politics", adding that "the plans for the new era are the responsibility of the political forces", which he criticised for distancing themselves and refusing to claim the position of the guide of society with ideas and initiatives.
 Public works minister announces projects worth 18 billion eurosEnvironment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias announced projects worth 18 billion euros on Tuesday, speaking of the biggest projects program in the country's modern history. They concern the projects of the fourth programming period from 2007 until 2013.
The program includes public works to be implemented during this period (budgeted at 10 billion euros) and major road projects that are being carried out and function with the system of contract assignment (budgeted at 8 billion euros).
The overwhelming majority of the projects will be carried out in the countryside since 80 percent of the program, meaning 14.5 billion euros, will go to this sector.
The projects are divided into two categories. The first includes communications infrastructures projects (mainly road works, Metro projects and ports) valued at 13.7 billion euros, that are being implemented through the operational program "Strengthening accessibility."
The second category includes projects for upgrading and protecting the environment valued at 4.3 billion euros, that are being implemented through the operational program "Environment and sustainable development."
 Greece, Bulgaria say talks on oil pipeline project in final stageTalks on signing an agreement to build the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline are in their final stage, Greek and Bulgarian Development Ministers Dimitris Sioufas and Assen Gagauzov said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting in Athens, the two ministers expressed their optimism over the signing of the agreement. "We are in a very good point. We are at the final stage before the signing of the agreement," the two ministers said.
The Bulgarian minister will visit Moscow in Thursday for talks with the Russian side of the tri-party project.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister noted that the Bulgarian and Russian sides would show a spirit of under-standing in resolving any differences and to finally sign the agreement. "The project is of great importance not only for the three countries but for the European Union as a whole," Mr Gagauzov said.
 Coordinator for regulatory authorities in pipelineA coordinating committee will be created for banking and bourse regulatory authorities in order to help concert their action, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.
"Taking part in the committee will be the Bank of Greece (central bank), the capital market commission, and the private insurance supervisory committee, which will each hold the new body's rotating presidency," the minister told a conference held by the capital market commission and Federation of Greek Industry (SEB).
"The committee will not overshadow regulatory authorities but rather coordinate and advise them," he noted.
In addition, the government was working on new organizational legislation for the capital market in order to harmonize with the European Union.
Furthermore, a bill was in the pipeline on information for the investing public and transparency of company accounts and share composition of quoted firms, Alogoskoufis reported.
"The government does not cut corners where transparency and safeguarding the credibility of the banking system are concerned. It will ensure normal operation of the market, without acting as an investment consultant," he added.
The head of the capital market commission, Alexis Pilavios, noted that the regulatory authorities of the European Union's 27 member states, now including Bulgaria and Romania, should join forces to create a unified and competitive market, ensuring common rules of the game.
Finally, SEB president Dimitris Daskalopoulos proposed the creation of a body of judges for financial cases in order to better protect companies and investors.
 Greece eighth in use of windpower energy in the EU-25Greece ranks eighth among the EU-25 member states in the use of alternative energy powers, particularly windpower energy, European Energy Commissioner A. Piebalgs said on Tuesday.
Replying to a question by Greek ND Eurodeputy Manolis Mavrommatis, the Commissioner said Greece showed a strong interest in the development of windpower energy projects and noted that the country expected new investments totaling 2.5 billion euros by 2010.
Germany topped the list of EU member-states in the use of windpower energy, followed by Spain, Denmark, Italy, Holland, Austria and Portugal. The percentage of windpower energy use in the EU, currently at 5.0 pct, is considered low, with 58 percent of energy coming from thermo-electric energy plants, 19 pct from nuclear plants and 18 pct from hydro-electric plants.
 Intracom Defense Electronics in 17-mln-US dollar contract with RaytheonIntracom Defense Electronics on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract, worth 17 million US dollars, with Raytheon for the co-production of ASPIS II protection systems for F-16 Block 52+ fighter aircraft supplied with Hellenic Air Force.
The 2.5 year contract adds to the significant activity by Intracom Defense Electronics in the development and production of aircraft application electronic systems.
Intracom Defense Electronics will invest 1.2 million US dollars in the project. The Greek company aims to expand cooperation with Raytheon and other defense contractors. The two companies continue successful co-production cooperation in Patriot and Hawk anti-aircraft systems, ESSM and Maverick missiles and Phalanx support systems.
 Deputy FM Stylianidis addresses 'Euromoney' organization conference in ViennaVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis attended in Vienna on Tuesday an international conference of the ""Euromoney" organization.
Addressing the conference, Stylianidis expounded on Greece's new potential, after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, to play a role of a modern and safe investment centre for the broader region of the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caucasus.
Presenting his experiences from the contacts which he had with leaders of the Black Sea countries, but also the experiences of the particularly successful Greek presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization one-and-a-half years ago, the deputy foreign minister referred to the development of the infrastructures, of Greece's relations and networks these past years, which renders the country all the more as a business centre for this regional market, which has comparative benefits.
Stylianidis stressed that "the strong and reliable network, Greece's excellent political relations, its geographic neighborliness and its great experience from the broader region, renders it a useful gateway towards the developing markets and a valuable ally on a market level for profit-making businesses. The business alliances which Greek companies based in Greece offer, is certain that they reduce the eventuality of business risk for European investors and increase the eventuality of benefit arising from the new opportunities."
In statements to ANA-MPA in Vienna, Stylianidis said that he was invited to the conference so as to present the Greek experience from the region of southeast Europe but mainly from the Black Sea region, and this, because Greece's mobility these past few years in this region has been recognized. He added that Greece has developed a very good network of relations with the relevant ministers but also with the heads of government of the countries there, while it has conducted a particularly successful presidency of BSEC.
Stylianidis further noted that following the Greek presidency, the political capitalizing on Greek mobility was made with the election of Greek Ambassador Mr. Chrysanthopoulos in the important position of Secretary-General of BSEC, based in Istanbul.
 PPC's managing director resignsThe managing director of Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation resigned from the post on Tuesday but will remain in the state firm in another capacity.
Dimitris Maniatakis said that he would like to work on the international operations of PPC's subsidiaries.
The board of directors thanked Maniatakis for his contribution to the company, whose president will take over until the ministers of finance and development announce a new appointment.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas also welcomed the outgoing CEO's performance over the last two years, especially the implementation of a new domestic and international business plan for the expanding firm.
 PASOK, Coalition parties comment on DEH issueThe main opposition PASOK party and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party commented on Tuesday on the situation created at the Public Power Corporation (DEH) with the resignation of its managing director Dimitris Maniatakis.
PASOK's development, tourism and shipping sector chief Christos Papoutsis said "the government and Mr. Maniatakis must explain what the real reasons are for the resignation of the managing director of DEH. Is it the confession of the 'secret agenda' for DEH? Is Mr. Maniatakis the scapegoat for the dissolution of DEH? Or are there other aspects as well? Categorical replies are urgently needed for all this."
The Coalition's economic and social policy sector chief Panayiotis Lafazanis said "the resignation of Mr. Maniatakis expresses the intensifying crisis and the bigger and bigger deadlocks to which the government policy of party-clientele relations in the corporation and of delivering the sector of energy to local as well as foreign private interests are leading DEH."
 Cypriot regulators fine Marfin bankNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A Viketos)
Cyprus' capital market commission is to ask Marfin Marfin Popular BanK (MPB) to withdraw its offer to buy stock from shareholders of Bank of Cyprus and Bank of Piraeus.
The statements of intention to call public offers breached market regulations, although the moves were not made in bad faith, the commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a result, MPB would be fined 10,000 Cyprus pounds, the statement said.
 Interior minister presents three projects to benefit womenInterior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday presented the successful course of three programs that are of great importance for safeguarding equal opportunities for women and men in the country's economic life, in the framework of the four-year program "National Policy Priorities and Action Axes for the Equality of Genders", together with Equality General Secretary Evgenia Tsoumani.
They are programs that have been included in the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) and concern thousands of women, whether unemployed or not, as well as a host of businesses all over the country.
The first project, which is already under way, is titled "Positive actions for women in small, medium-size and big businesses." It is a program taking place for the first time in the country and is aimed at helping working women to obtain additional qualifications to enable them to contest their advancement in a business with better terms.
In the framework of the second program titled "Training and Initial Vocational Preparation", the General Equality Secretariat is performing the project "Positive Actions for women", budgeted at 1.3 million euros. Its main aim is to combat discriminations and professional separation between women and men.
The third program is being applied by the Research Centre for Equality Issues, supervised by the General Equality Secretariat, and concerns "The improvement of accession conditions for sensitive groups of women in the labor market", budgeted at 2.4 million euros.
 Retail sales enterprises protest against excessively high municipal feesThe Association of Retail Sales Enterprises of Greece (SELPE) on Tuesday called for a reduction of municipal fees after a survey showed unjustified and excessive increases of fees by municipal authorities in the last five years.
SELPE said the increases sharply exceeded the inflation rate and seriously burdened both enterprises and households. The Association, in cooperation with other market agencies and representatives of the commerce sector will participate in a campaign to inform consumers over the unfair practices by municipal authorities while they will ask for meetings with municipal authorities to achieve a "freeze" of municipal fees.
 Continental to launch regular New York-Athens flightsThe US-based carrier Continental Airlines will commence regular flights between New York and Athens beginning June 8, with daily service throughout the summer season, the airline announced on Tuesday.
During the summer season, the NY-Athens flights will be daily, while in the periods September-October and March-April there will be five weekly flights, and in the November-March period there will be three flights per week due to the anticipated seasonal reduction in demand.
The flight from Athens to New York, which will take approximately 11 hours, will have the code number CO105, departing from the Eleftherios Venizelos international airport at 12:20 and arriving at New York's Newark Liberty International Airport at 16:30 local (NY) time.
The return flight (NY-Athens), which will take approximately 10 hours, will have the code CO104, departing New York at 17:30 and arriving in Athens at 10:20 the following morning.
The flights will be carried out by 174-seat Boeing 767-200ER planes, of which 25 seats will be business class.
Ticket prices have not yet been determined, but according to airline officials the prices will be competitive and will be announced in the next few days, following agreement with American and Greek authorities.
Continental Airlines, which employees 44,000 people, is the fifth largest airline world wide, with a fleet of 350 airplanes carrying out more than 3,200 departures daily to the US, Europe and Asia which serve 151 destinations in the US and 136 destinations worldwide, transporting approximately 61 million passengers annually.
Athens thus becomes the 29th city in Europe, and Greece the 16th country, in Continental Airline's overseas network.
 Greek tourism board at US travel fairNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/M Panayiotou)
The Greek National Tourism Organization will act as a sponsor in the New York Times' travel fair on February 23-25.
The exhibition is to be held in Manhattan at the Jaboc Javits Convention Centre.
 Cycladic Chamber of Commerce representatives meet President PapouliasThe Cycladic Chamber of Commerce met with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion on Tuesday and discussed with him the issue of the shipping link of the Cycladic islands.
The Cycladic Chamber of Commerce was represented by the president of its board Yiannis Roussos, 1st vice-president Nikolaos Vassilikos and the Chamber's director Alexis Tsiantis.
Roussos referred to the problem of the insufficient shipping link between the Cycladic islands, but also towards the country's major ports, stressing that the issue is of top priority given that the existing conditions create particularly grim repercussions both in the growth of business and the life of the islands' inhabitants.
 Nireas to expand in TurkeyAthens-quoted Nireas SA is to further expand in Turkey in 2007 as part of a growth plan, chairman and managing director Aristidis Belles said on Tuesday.
Vertical output in the neighboring country is already proceeding, Belles told a news conference.
In addition, an acquisition in Spain is due to be announced; and in the Caribbean management is in talks for a buyout, he said.
 Hotel room occupancy rates up in Nov., yr/yrRoom occupancy rates of hotels located in Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area) rose in November 2006 compared with the same month in 2005, although the total rate remained below 45 percent, official figures showed on Tuesday.
A monthly report by the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers said four-star hotels recorded the biggest percentage increase in room occupancy rates in November (9.7 pct), followed by three-star hotels (8.0 pct), two-star hotels (7.5 pct) and five-star hotels (5.9 pct).
The hoteliers' association, in an announcement, reiterated its demand for a joint intervention by Tourism Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia and Economy and Finance Minister Minister George Alogoskoufis to table an amendment abolishing subsidies for the building of new luxury hotels in Attica and Thessaloniki, claiming the region is already "saturated".
 Greek stocks fall 0.56 pct on TuesdayGreek stocks fell 0.56 percent on Tuesday as investors took profits after a recent rally of prices on the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended at 4,612.59 points with turnover at 382.7 million euros.
Sector indices ended lower with the Food-Beverage (2.14 pct), Raw Materials (1.32 pct) and Healthcare (1.29 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Chemicals (2.30 pct), Technology (2.17 pct) and Financial Services (0.73 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index fell 0.70 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.16 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.05 pct lower. Hitech (19.44 pct), Tasoglou (18.64 pct) and MLS (13.13 pct) were top gainers, while Tria Alpha (19.28 pct) and Klonatex (14 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 157 to 104 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.01%
Personal & Household: -0.05%
Raw Materials: -1.32%
Travel & Leisure: -0.25%
Food & Beverages: -2.14%
Financial Services: +0.73%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, OPAP, and Bank of Cyprus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 25.10
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.44
HBC Coca Cola: 29.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.80
Emporiki Bank: 22.98
National Bank of Greece: 36.50
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.00
Titan Cement Company: 42.40
 Derivatives Market Close: ATEbank top in stock futures tradeEquity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark at 4.30 pct
 Foreign Exchange RatesReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.305
Pound sterling 0.664
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.134
Japanese yen 157.5
Swiss franc 1.626
Norwegian kroner 8.380
Cyprus pound 0.583
Canadian dollar 1.524
Australian dollar 1.664
 Train derailment in N. Greece, no injuries reportedThe last car of an express train, en route from Alexandroupolis in extreme northeastern Greece to Athens, derailed early Tuesday afternoon. No injuries were among the approximately 100 passengers on board.
The derailment occurred in the Sindos region, outside Thessaloniki.
According to Hellenic Railways (OSE) officials, passengers will be bused to the Thessaloniki railway station to catch another train to their destination.
 Torchings overnight in Athens, Thessaloniki, ChaniaCoordinated arson attacks on two Eurobank branches using homemade incendiary devices were recorded in the early morning hours of Tuesday in Athens.
A homemade incendiary device made up of small propane canisters exploded outside the Eurobank branch in Paleo Faliro damaging two ATM machines and the bank's facade. At the same time, another device made up of propane canisters and lit candles was placed outside an Open 24 bank in Pagrati but it was spotted on time by the crew of a police patrol car that managed to put the fire out before causing an explosion. The bank's glass window was slightly damaged by the failed arson attack.
Meanwhile, propane canisters placed on a street in Pilea, Thessaloniki exploded at dawn causing extensive damage to a parked car.
Five minutes later propane canisters exploded outside the Emporiki Bank and the Greek Postal Savings Bank in Stavroupoli shattering glass windows.
In Pasakaki, Chania, on the southern Aegean island of Crete, a strong blast, caused by an explosive mechanism planted at a motorcycle dealership by unidentified individuals, was recorded five minutes after midnight causing extensive damage to the store and destroying a number of motorcycles on display. Damages were also recorded in nearby houses.
The dealership owner was unable to say who could be behind the attack, adding that he had no differences with anyone.
Bomb squad specialists are examining the scene of the explosion to determine the type of the explosive mechanism and the quantity of the explosives used.
 Rise in virus infections no cause for concern, health minister saysThe rise in the number of virus infections recorded at Greek hospitals over the Christmas holidays was not a cause for concern, Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said in an announcement on Tuesday.
State hospitals have reported a sharp increase in the number of adults and children seeking treatment for a virus infection causing high temperatures and other symptoms, such as headaches, coughs, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Of 1,000 children that visited out-patient clinics at the Athens children's hospital on Sunday, 600 were diagnosed as having the virus and 65 of these were hospitalised. On Monday, 600 children visited the out-patient clinics, of which half had a virus infection and 67 remained in hospital for observation.
Doctors blame the spike on the unseasonally warm weather, which they said encouraged the growth and transmission of viruses, while they advise that patients be treated only with drugs to reduce fever and not antibiotics.
Health ministry agencies stress that there is no 'flu or virus epidemic but caution more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and children with chronic complaints, to take extra precautions.
 Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis receives 120 young overseas GreeksDeputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis received 120 young overseas Greeks on Tuesday, who are being hosted by the "Greek language and culture program" of the Overseas Hellenism General Secretariat.
After visiting the House of Parliament in the morning, the young people aged between 18 and 25 from nine countries in Oceania, Latin America and Africa had the opportunity of visiting the foreign ministry and having a clear picture of Greece's present position on the world stage.
Kassimis outlined to them the participation of the country of their grandfathers in the European family and the development of specific initiatives that render it a considerable factor of peace and stability in the regions of the Balkans and of the northeastern Mediterranean.
"You must be proud of Greece, not only for yesterday but for today as well," the deputy minister said, stressing that Greece was present during the Lebanon crisis, removing from the war zone citizens of 44 countries, while in the framework of its presidency at the UN Security Council the ceasefire was achieved and the Middle East issue was discussed for the first time.
Kassimis also referred at length to Greece's national issues, the issue of Cyprus, the problems with Turkey and the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Lastly, he underlined Greece's economic support for Balkan countries with numerous Greek investments that contribute to the development and stability of these countries.
 Christodoulos Xiros ordered to appear at his N17 appeals trialA five-judge appellate tribunal in the "November 17" appeals trial on Tuesday issued an order for the appearance of defendant Christodoulos Xiros before in the court chamber on Wednesday. Xiros, along with two brothers, Savvas and Vassilis, were convicted in the first instance of numerous terrorism-related crimes.
Specifically, Xiros was ordered to answer questions put forth by another four N17 defendants regarding depositions he gave police and investigating magistrates following his arrest in 2002 -- depositions that included incriminating statements about his co-defendants, namely, Alexandros Giotopoulos (aka Michel Economou), Vassilis Tzortzatos, Iraklis Kostaris and his brother, Vassilis Xiros.
 All abeyances of businessman Kokkalis closed following ruling by Appeals Court CouncilAll the abeyances of businessman Socrates Kokkalis before the law have been closed following a ruling by the Appeals Court Council.
The judicial Council with Number 3384 of the 2006 ruling deems that the businessman must be rid of a series of charges, such as the legalization of revenue from illegal activity, fraud and forgery which were announced against him in 2002 and 2003.
 New education rally in central Athens on WednesdayA new rally by professors, teachers and students will be held at noon in central Athens on Wednesday.
The teachers of state schools will hold work stoppages from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., so as to facilitate teachers to take part in the rally in the centre of Athens.
In Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) will conduct a work stoppage from 4 p.m. until the evening, while the gathering in Thessaloniki will take place at 5 p.m.
The National Federation of State School Teachers (DOE) announced that it will hold a work stoppage in the last two hours of the morning shift and the first two hours of the afternoon shift.
The rally is a continuation of the previous one on January 10 when debate began in Parliament on the revision of Article 16 of the Constitution which prohibits the founding of private universities.
Meanwhile, the Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) in an announcement on Tuesday called for "the need to escalate rallies throughout Greek society aimed at averting the revision of Article 16 and supporting the state character of the Higher Education Institutions (AEI)."
 Vaccine for cervical cancer now also in GreeceThe vaccine for cervical cancer went into circulation in Greece as well as of January 11 and is already supplied by pharmacies, but at present, its cost is not covered by any social insurance fund.
The vaccine offers protection at a percentage of 70-75%, it is done in three doses and is given in a total period of six months and its cost amounts to 555 euros (185 euros per dose).
The women who will be vaccinated must continue to undergo the Papanicolaou test.
 Greek company to begin production of 'anti-cancer' tomatosA Greek company based in Alexandria, Imathia in northern Greece has announced that it will soon go into production of a strain of tomatos that protect against cancer. In statements to the ANA-MPA on Tuesday, Agritex Energiaki general director Thomas Ferfyris said that 400,000 special tomato seedlings with an estimated yield of 5 - 5.6 million tonnes of tomatoes a year will be planted in a 10 hectare greenhouse by the end of the week.
A company announcement said that the tomatoes produce a substance called licopen that has been shown to combat the emergence of cancer.
 Thessaloniki "100" emergency police number receives over 1 million calls in 2006Police emergency number operators received over 1 million calls in 2006, according to the Thessaloniki police which conducted identity checks on over 30,000 people while in 16 robbery cases the culprits were chased and arrested.
According to official figures, the police squad emergency telephone number '100' received a total of 1,010,220 calls for help and services and the emergency police squad intervened in 231,802 instances.
Of the 31,312 individuals checked, a total of 359 were arrested and other 556 were led to police stations for outstanding court sentences and arrest warrants, while traffic violation tickets were issued to 14,280 motorists.
The Thessaloniki police squad also arrested 161 individuals involved in thefts, break-ins, attempted robberies and purse snatchings while 94 people were also taken in for drug violations.
 Chania police bust burglary ringPolice in the city of Chania, Crete on Tuesday reported that they were close to busting a ring of burglars that had operated in the area over the past months, following the arrest of a Romanian man as he tried to break into an electrical goods store with two accomplices.
Under questioning, the man named another four foreign nationals that had formed a ring and carried out a series of shop break-ins, taking goods worth tens of thousands of euros.
Romanian authorities had recently informed Interpol that the three Romanian nationals involved had been spending large amounts of money during a recent trip to Romania, as well as displaying jewellery taken during a jewelers' heist.
So far, the goods taken in three robberies attributed to the gang have not been found, leading police to believe that they may have been sent to Romania.
 Sit-in at Iraklion PrefectureA group of 40 to 50 anti-establishment youths entered the Iraklion Prefecture building on the island of Crete early in the morning Tuesday and staged a sit-in demonstration, scheduled to end at noon the same day, according to their own statements. The prefect and the deputy prefects were not prevented from going to their offices.
The demonstrators entered the prefecture building chanting slogans for the immediate release from prison of three individuals arrested last May during a protest march, two of whom are on a hunger strike and their health is said to be at risk.
 Exhibition on architect Nikos Valsamakis at Benaki MuseumA retrospective exhibition entitled "Nikos Valsmakis ' Architect" opens its doors on Tuesday at the new Benaki Museum building on Pireos street.
The exhibition is organized by the Benaki Museum and the Modern Greek Architecture Archives, and is comprised of four models and photographs of Valsamakis' buildings.
Valsamakis was born in Athens in 1924 and greatly influenced architectural developments in Greece after graduating in 1953, establishing a style based on simple geometric shapes that can still be seen in landmark buildings around Athens, including the architect's own house in Filothei that was used on the cover of the book "100 Houses for 100 European Architects of the 20th Century".
He is currently an honorary lecturer at the School of Architecture run by Thessaloniki's Aristotle University and at the Athens Metsovian Polytechnic.
 Rare, for Med waters, shark caught off CreteA rare 3.5 meter-long shark species, identified by the Greek marine biology foundation as the Odontaspis ferox, was captured by a trawler at a sea region off Crete, three nautical miles from the coastline.
The shark, also known as the smalltooth sand tiger, belongs to the Odontaspididae family, and is found on the continental shelf in all tropical and subtropical seas, at depths between 10 and 500 m. It can grow to more than four meters long, but is not regarded as aggressive toward humans.
This type of shark is rarely caught by fishermen in the Mediterranean, according to reports.
 Sausage festival in Kozani prefecture villageA local sausage-eating festival will be revived on Thursday at a remote church near the village of Velventos -- Kozani prefecture, northwest Greece -- during the feast day of Aghios (St.) Athanassios -- an annual celebration that draws hundreds of visitors to the area.
The sausages are prepared based on a local recipe, according to a custom observed for 50 years on the specific feast day.
 Weather Forecast: Unseasonally warm on WednesdayUnseasonally warm weather is forecast in all parts of the country, with early morning mist on the mainland. Temperatures in Athens from 6C to 18C; and in Thessaloniki between 0C and 16C.
 The Athens dailies at a glanceThe ongoing investigations into Friday's early-morning rocket attack at the US embassy in Athens, which caused minor material damage but no injuries, prime minister Costas Karamanlis' intervention with statements on the issue of terrorism while on a tour of SE Europe countries, and a Public Power Corporation (DEH) proclamation for 2,035 hirings, were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Fewer withholdings in the bank employees' auxiliary pension funds - The new contribution reductions".
ANO KATO: "They've pinpointed the two - Searching for the hideouts - Police and American agents identifying the terrorists".
APOGEVMATINI: "Unity and rallying together against terrorism asked by (prime minister) Costas Karamanlis - The premier's appeal to the political world and the Greek people".
AVGHI: "The government planning (surveillance) cameras everywhere - Bypassing the independent Personal Data Protection Authority (which has prohibited the use of material from traffic surveillance cameras for any other purpose) and the Council of State being methodized".
AVRIANI: "The confidential report on the dairy industry cartel sent to Brussels by Zissimopoulos - What the Competitions Committee president is hiding".
CHORA: "Indications of reconstitution of '17N' with new seal - They've reopened the old dossiers".
ELEFTHERI ORA:"They claim that soon they will catch the neo-terrorists, but the people have reservations...".
ELEFTHEROS: "Merciless against terrorism - Karamanlis called for rallying together, from Zagreb".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Image-battles for the cameras - The 293+49 'eyes on the street' a political issue".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They're searching but not finding anything on the rocket - Americans full-steam-ahead, but they simply suspect some individuals".
ESTIA: "Professionals in public administration - Grounded article/proposal by Constantine Bakouris".
ETHNOS: "Hirings through two 'windows' - DEH: Proclamation issues that institutes political favors".
KATHIMERINI: "The investigations for the 'new' terrorists in the dark - Karamanlis: Unity and rallying necessary against terrorism".
LOGOS: "Three 'figures' in the...counter-terrorism squad's plate - Investigations still in the dark".
NIKI: "Karamanlis' responsibilities - The government 'toying' with the identification of suspects".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Three-month nationwide campaign (by KKE) on Education".
TA NEA: "100 hours later, they're still...improvising - Polydoras' (public order minister) Task Force missing".
TO VIMA: "Fear of new attacks, following the rocket at the embassy".
VRADYNI: "All together against terrorism - Premier's message, society's demand".
 President committed to federal solution to reunite the countryNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here Tuesday that he is committed to a bizonal bicommunal federal solution that will reunite the country, the people, the society, the economy and the institutions and which will be viable and functional while at the same time it will serve exclusively the interests of the Cypriots themselves.
Speaking to foreign media correspondents in Cyprus, during a lunch hosted by CNA in their honour, in response to their questions, he said "I believe people with good will can find a solution without depriving either Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots of their rights," pointing out that a reunified Cyprus, as defined by the UN, is the best thing for the Cypriots and stressing the crucial importance he lays on the property issue in the effort for a political settlement.
On discussions aides to the leaders of the two communities are having, in the context of the July agreement between the president and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat, Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot side emphasizes the need for preparing the ground for any meeting between himself and Talat, as provided by the July agreement, while the Turkish Cypriot side favours such a meeting, without apparently proper preparation.
The president said he has been in touch with the new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through correspondence, as he replied to Ban's letter but would not disclose anything about the content of the letters exchanged.
Questioned on the possible opening of a crossing point at the end of one of Nicosia's main commercial streets, Ledra street, Papadopoulos stressed that the Greek Cypriot side does not put forward any new terms, recalling his proposals of December 2005 which point to the need for safe passage of Cypriots through the crossing, while at the same time they refer to the idea of demilitarizing the area within the walls surrounding the capital Nicosia.
On a UN-proposed solution plan, the Annan plan, which the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots rejected in a referendum in April 2004, the president said no UN document fades away, noting that the said plan cannot be presented again as it stands. He noted however that it does contain certain useful provisions on various issues and clarified that the new basis of substantive negotiations towards a solution will emerge through the current talks his aide and Talat's aide are having, under UN auspices, as a result of the July agreement he reached with Talat.
On the economic front, Papadopoulos said there will be no devaluation of the Cyprus pound when the country joins the eurozone, expected in
January next year, and on recent developments in the banking sector, he said the government cannot get involved in this and there is very
little it can do to prevent such developments, adding that there are independent authorities in place to oversee such matters.
Asked if he would run for re-election in next year's presidential race, he said he had not taken a decision on the matter.
In his opening remarks to foreign correspondents, the president outlined his positions on the question of Cyprus, the ongoing talks between his aide and Talat's aide, the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, the issue of opening a crossing point at the end of Ledra street, Turkey's accession course to the European Union and Cyprus' joining the eurozone, expected in January next year.
 President proposes demilitarization of walled city of NicosiaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The demilitarization of the walled city of Nicosia is part of President Tassos Papadopoulos' proposals to the UN with regard to opening a crossing point at the end of one of the capital's main commercial streets, Ledra street.
The president stressed the importance of securing safe passage for Cypriots crossing from and into the Turkish occupied areas of the country, at this specific location.
"Our proposal provides for the withdrawal of troops from both sides. We had two alternative proposals, first the troops from the vicinity should be withdrawn by both sides, the area to be turned over to UN control or total demilitarization of the walled city of Nicosia and the policing of the area turned over to the police and UNFICYP," he explained as he answered questions of foreign media correspondents at a lunch hosted by the CNA on Tuesday.
He said that after the demolition of a bridge, illegally constructed by the occupation regime in the area, the Turkish occupation forces have established positions in the area and manned military posts within the buffer zone while he wondered whether the UN, that have the responsibility in the buffer zone, will accept this violation of no man's land.
 Parliaments of Cyprus and Syria sign Memorandum of CooperationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Cypriot House of Representatives and the Syrian People's Assembly signed on Tuesday a Memorandum of Cooperation with the aim to enhance their friendly relations and to coordinate their actions in the international parliamentary arena.
The Memorandum was signed by President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias and President of the People's Assembly of the Syrian Arab Republic, Mahmoud Al Abrash, who is paying an official visit to Cyprus.
In statements after the signing ceremony, Christofias expressed the gratitude of the Cypriot people for Syria's solidarity and support to the efforts of Cyprus to achieve a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem.
He also reassured the people of Syria that Cyprus would continue to support the Arab people in fulfilling their just goals.
The Syrian official said that both Parliaments share common views on all aspects that have been discussed Tuesday during the official
delegations' meeting and added that the enhancement of their relations could contribute to the resolution of various disputes in the area.
''There has been no point of difference between us. Our talks today aimed to enhance our parliamentary relations, which will be developing constantly. I am sure that the cooperation between our Parliaments will contribute to the achievement of solutions for various problems in our area,'' Al Abrash said.
The Memorandum of Cooperation includes the promotion of just, viable and comprehensive settlements of the Middle East and the Cyprus problems based on relevant UN resolutions and international law, the exchange of parliamentary experiences and visits and the coordination of action between the People's Assembly and the House of Representatives vis a vis common causes and in the context of the solidarity existing between the two countries.
Moreover, the Memorandum aims at consolidating the role of the respective Parliamentary Friendly Groups in both countries and to coordinate actions in the international parliamentary arena, particularly the Inter Parliamentary Union.