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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-23

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] Karamanlis briefed by FinMin, central bank Governor
  • [02] Greek economic sentiment index up in 2006
  • [03] FM Dora Bakoyannis hails prevalence of reformist forces in Serbia
  • [04] EU FMs adopt text on financial aid and direct trade regulations with T/Cs
  • [05] Foreign minister at Greece's EU Representation in Brussels
  • [06] Inner Cabinet, KYSEA meeting on Tuesday
  • [07] PM Costas Karamanlis attends party women's event
  • [08] PM receives former FM Molyviatis
  • [09] Antonaros on the university asylum
  • [10] Police chief, supreme court leadership discuss apparent surge in violence by self-styled anarchist youths
  • [11] Government invoking national interest to cover up phonetapping issue, Papandreou says
  • [12] Synaspismos leader Alavanos on phone-tapping issue
  • [13] Alavanos lashes out at the government
  • [14] Synaspismos also opposes return of the European Constitution
  • [15] Ecumenical Patriarch visits Council of Europe
  • [16] Post of Alternate Political Solidarity Secretary General enacted
  • [17] Bar Association presidents oppose use of cameras in public places
  • [18] Thessaloniki mayor refers to FYROM 'name issue' during Melbourne visit
  • [19] Greece, Georgia sign new consular agreement
  • [20] Armenian Community members stage protest outside Turkish embassy
  • [21] Week in solidarity with Palestinian people begins in Athens
  • [22] Gov't clarification on scrapping key property tax
  • [23] Property tax abolition another 'gift' to society's wealthy - PASOK
  • [24] Coalition party criticizes abolition of Large Real Estate Tax
  • [25] Four out of 10 firms breach tax rules
  • [26] Gov't: No hikes in mass transit fares
  • [27] Competition authority to fine Greek banks
  • [28] Gov't sets priority on innovation
  • [29] Winter sales begin
  • [30] Greek diplomat rings NASDAQ open
  • [31] E-travel reservations rose significantly in Greece last year
  • [32] Vivartia raises equity participation in EDITA to 30 percent
  • [33] ASE temporary suspends trading in Tasoglou-Delonghi
  • [34] Lannet to hire Orange as consultant
  • [35] Greek export managers forum Jan 23-24
  • [36] Bourse lifts trading freeze on Delonghi
  • [37] "Furnidec Business" furniture exhibition opens on January 26
  • [38] Greek stocks end flat on Monday
  • [39] Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade
  • [40] Foreign Exchange Rates
  • [41] Minister sounds alarm over waste management crisis in Greece
  • [42] Hazardous waste management
  • [43] Increase of fires in countryside due to high temperatures
  • [44] Culture ministry sends extrajudicial protest to Christie's
  • [45] Voulgarakis also gave the extrajudicial protest to the ambassador of the United Kingdom in Greece.
  • [46] Greek Culture Centre in Sweden at risk due to funding problems
  • [47] Sophocles' Antigone presented in Istanbul
  • [48] Young overseas Greeks meet Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos
  • [49] 'Solidarity' to send more humanitarian aid to Lebanon
  • [50] New round of strike action by students
  • [51] Border guards find 90 kilos of cannabis in Ioannina's forest region
  • [52] Small-scale disturbance in Thessaloniki
  • [53] Instructions on making of bombs found in homes of youths arrested after Panathinaikos-Olympiakos volleyball match
  • [54] Turk arrested on Samos on charge of immigrant smuggling
  • [55] Presidential Decree containing specifications for car racing tracks
  • [56] Government looking forward to a meaningful process on Cyprus
  • [57] EU FMs adopt text on financial aid and direct trade regulations
  • [58] Cyprus anticipates a new effort by UNSG after sufficient preparation

  • [01] Karamanlis briefed by FinMin, central bank Governor

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis as well as Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas on Mon-ay at his office.

    Garganas reportedly briefed the prime minister on issues affecting the central bank, such as an ongoing restructuring. He also referred to international economic deve-lopments and euro-zone developments, ‚as seen in Frankfurt‚.

    Moreover, the central banker briefed Karamanlis on Bank of Greece forecasts for the Greek economy stressing that a monetary policy report he is expected to present in Parliament and the Cabinet is nearing completion.

    Alogoskoufis, responding to a press question, said that at present there is no issue of a rate hike by the Public Power Corp. (PPC).

    [02] Greek economic sentiment index up in 2006

    Greece's economic sentiment index rose to 107 points in December, reversing a two-month decline, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.

    In a monthly report, IOBE said the average economic sentiment index in 2006 surpassed the long-term average at more than 103 points. The Greek indexe's growth rate was the highest in the EU-25 by September but the index still lagged behind the European average.

    The report attributed the December index mainly to an improvement in the consumers' confidence index.

    Business expectations in the manufacturing sector improved in December recording the highest levels in the last four years. The business expectations index in the construction sector fell for the third consecutive month, but was up compared with the average rate in 2005. The business expectations index in the retail sector was almost unchanged at 121 points, up from December 2005 and exceeding the long-term average rate. The business expectations index in the services sector eased slightly to 109.2 points in December, from 110.9 in November, but was still up compared with the long-term average rate.

    IOBE said the consumers' confidence index improved in December, but remained at low levels since consumers remained pessimistic over the forecasts for the future. The index rose to -28 points in December from -33 in November, the highest reading since 2004.

    [03] FM Dora Bakoyannis hails prevalence of reformist forces in Serbia

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who represented Greece at the Council of European Union Ministers together with Deputy Minister Yiannis Valinakis, on Monday hailed "the clear prevalence of reformist forces" in Serbia after Sunday's elections.

    Speaking to the press shortly after the end of the Council, Bakoyannis stressed the particular importance of this development, at the same time expressing the wish that European prospects will constitute a clear incentive for the creation of a democratic government that will lead Serbia to the path of Europe and of stability.

    In parallel, she expressed the wish that the EU will receive the message given by the Serb people on Sunday and open Europe's door to Serbia.

    As regards Kosovo, which was one of the issues that preoccupied the Council, Bakoyannis said that the "27" are awaiting the report by the UN's special representative on Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, who briefed them on its main aspects on Monday.

    The foreign minister said that Greece's steadfast position is that the issue of Kosovo should be handled "with great care and responsibility by all the sides involved so that a mutually acceptable solution can be found."

    On the question of developments in the Middle East, that were also examined by the Council, Bakoyannis expressed the hope that looming prospects for the creation of a Palestinian national unity government will be confirmed.

    As regards Lebanon, the foreign minister said that in the framework of the international conference that will be convened in Paris on Tuesday (at which she will be representing Greece), the European Union will be expressing its will for the political and economic support of the government of Fouad Siniora .

    [04] EU FMs adopt text on financial aid and direct trade regulations with T/Cs

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)

    The European Union General Affairs and External Relations Council, which met in Brussels on Monday, adopted the following text as regards the implementation of the Council Conclusions of April 2004 regarding direct trade with the Turkish occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus:

    "With respect to the implementation of its April 2004 conclusions, the Council notes the progress made in particular as regards the financial aid regulation, the objective of which is to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus. Work aiming at the adoption of the Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on special conditions for trade with areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control, must resume without delay." (See also Cyprus Affairs)

    [05] Foreign minister at Greece's EU Representation in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday attended the official New Year party held at the offices of Greece's Permanent Representation at the European Union, where she cut the traditional New Year cake or 'Vasilopita'. Bakoyannis was in Brussels to attend the EU General Affairs Council.

    In her address, the foreign minister expressed her thanks to Greece's Permanent Representative Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis and the embassy's staff for their work in 2006, noting that 2007 would be a year in which Europe will face major challenges.

    She expressed hope that the new year will be equally positive as 2006 with respect to the political results achieved by Greece.

    Also present at the ceremony were the Metropolitan of Belgium and the Netherlands Panteleimon, representing the Orthodox Church, Greece's Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Ioannis Zepos, Greece's Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU Ambassador Dimitris Iliopoulos, the Greek General Consul in Belgium Eleftheria Galathianaki, Greece's military attaché to NATO and the EU Ioannis Menagias and other diplomats.

    [06] Inner Cabinet, KYSEA meeting on Tuesday

    An Inner Cabinet meeting will convene on Tuesday to focus on tourism development-related issues. The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Afterwards, the high-ranking Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) will convene.

    [07] PM Costas Karamanlis attends party women's event

    Speaking during the cutting of the New Year's cake of the ruling New Democracy party women's sector, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Monday that 2007 will be a milestone year for higher education.

    Karamanlis said that even bigger and deeper changes are necessary, however greater consensus by political forces is required for them to be promoted.

    Referring again to education, the prime minister said that the development of de facto situations in public education must be handled, noting that Greece cannot waste any more time and conservatism cannot continue. On the question of reactions, he said "efforts to create tension reveal phobias and conservative deadlocks."

    Speaking about government policy in general, Karamanlis said that all that has been agreed with citizens is being implemented and this will be continued until the end of the four-year tenure.

    Lastly, he reiterated that the New Democracy party "expresses the modern social and political centre." He added that integrated efforts have been made to improve the lives of women, referring in particular to the law on handling violence in the family.

    [08] PM receives former FM Molyviatis

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received former foreign minister Petros Molyviatis at his office in Athens.

    No statements were made afterwards to reporters.

    Molyviatis, a long-time career diplomat before his retirement, served as the first foreign minister in the current Karamanlis government.

    [09] Antonaros on the university asylum

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, while commenting on the violent incidents caused by troublemakers who then take refuge within universities protected by asylum laws to avoid arrest, on Monday stated that he has no doubt that all political parties represented in parliament condemn and should condemn acts of violence that are inconsistent with the functioning of democracy.

    He added that the government is not accusing a specific parliamentary party and refused to comment on statements referring to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party made by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis.

    Antonaros underlined that public debate on major reforms continues, pointing out that according to the government, a long and exhaustive debate continues, while adding that there are many who do not participate using false excuses.

    On the university asylum issue, he underlined that the government has proved that it respects the constitution and laws, adding that the government will soon be presenting its proposals on the implementation of the university asylum in the future.

    The spokesman clarified that the prime minister has stated that the draft law on the tertiary education institutions‚ framework law will be submitted in the present parliament, underlining that the government‚s intentions on the asylum issue can be made known at a different time.

    On the university student examination period that is likely to be missed, he called on all those in the academic community involved in decision-making to consider the unpleasant repercussions for university students.

    [10] Police chief, supreme court leadership discuss apparent surge in violence by self-styled anarchist youths

    An apparent surge in violence of late by so-called "anti-state" activists -- mostly youths affiliated with self-styled anarchist circles in central Athens - dominated a meeting here on Monday between the country's top law enforcement official and the Supreme Court's leadership.

    Greek Police (EL.AS) Chief Anastasios Dimoschakis was received by Supreme Court President Romulus Kedikoglou and Chief Prosecutor Georgios Sanidas at the high court, following a recent by the former.

    Afterwards, Dimoschakis flatly disputed reports in a portion of the local media claiming a "vendetta" between riot police and the groups of mostly masked youths.

    "Greek Police do not have a grudge with any citizen. It (EL.AS) does not persecute the beliefs of anyone. It does, however, pursue illegal acts from wherever they may originate. There are difficulties, of course, but I am certain that all Greek citizens understand these difficulties ... we enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the Greek people," Dimoschakis stressed.

    He added that a total of 140 individuals were arrested in 2006 during various disturbances in both Athens and Thessaloniki, while 650 were briefly detained to check their identity.

    "EL.AS is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution, and this is how it must be viewed by all," he noted.

    Furthermore, he said a decision, taken jointly with the pro football federation, to forbid the organized presence of opposing teams' fans at football matches has sharply decreased hooliganism and resulted in increased ticket sales, 12 to 15 percent. Previously, opposing teams were allocating blocks of tickets, police protection for their fans during transport to and from the other team's pitch, cordoned off sections in the stands etc.

    On his part, Sanidas referred to a "surge" in recent politically motivated violence - especially on the sidelines of protests on the Greek capital's streets -- while citing the recent use of flare guns by masked youths. Additionally, he said a meeting with Athens universities' rectors and police officials was pending.

    [11] Government invoking national interest to cover up phonetapping issue, Papandreou says

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking in Parliament on Monday during a debate on the creation of a Factfinding Committee to probe the phonetapping issue, said that "the government is invoking national interest to cover up the phonetapping issue, as was the case in America with the Watergate scandal. Since when, however, has the truth contrasted with national interest."

    Papandreou promised that after the elections, PASOK in government "will solve the issue and give the truth to the people."

    At the beginning of his address, Papandreou commented on the absence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis from Parliament (to attend a party event), speaking of a "fugitive and absentee in difficult situations, as usual."

    Papandreou further said that "for PASOK, in a fair society, the citizen is protected from both common crime and the high-handedness of authority. You are doing the opposite:On the one hand we have the upsurge in common crime, the hooded people are becoming more unaccountable and uncontrollable, we have the rocket which shows the Greek government pleading. The citizens' sense of security is at the lowest level in the past 30 years."

    "On the other hand, all the relevant national and international organisations and authorities have issued reports and decisions that during the three years of governance by ND, the rights of the weakest citizens are being violated systematically: Freedom of expression, neutrality of administration, independence of justice are retreating. Police force, torture, discriminations, racism, cases of xenophobia are swelling," Papandreou added.

    Pavlopoulos' response

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said in the wake of Papandreou's address "who are the deputies of PASOK with? With public interest, the revelation of the truth and the protection of the victims or with the effort to exploit the phonetappings for petty-party expediences?"

    Pavlopoulos further said that Papandreou did not come to Parliament for the phonetappings, but for another reason, since he devoted less than half of his address to the request for the creation of a Factfinding Committee. He reminded that when PASOK was in power corresponding requests by ND had not been accepted and that (former prime minister Costas) Simitis had not attended the relevant discussions.

    "Justice will decide, and when it decides, provided there are questions concerning a Factfinding Committee, we shall see them," Pavlopoulos said, reiterating that "only Justice is competent and only she can solve the crime."

    [12] Synaspismos leader Alavanos on phone-tapping issue

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, speaking in Parliament on Monday night on the debate of the joint proposal by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and his party for the setting up of an Investigative Committee on the phone-tapping issue, said that "the New Democracy (ND) party's refusal for the setting up of an Investigative Committee on the phone-tapping issue shows that it does not want to cut the umbilical cord with the international and local para-state."

    He added:"The phone-tapping issue is not an isolated case. It is a matter which expresses the growth of the international para-state which is developing these past years. It is an illegal American apparatus which has to do with the withholding of personal data and illegal transfers."

  • The debate began in Parliament on Monday of the joint proposal by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) for the setting up of a new Investigative Committee which will investigate the phone-tapping issue.

    PASOK's rapporteur was Miltiades Papaioannou who spoke of the "greatest scandal" after the fall of the junta in 1974 and claimed that "the (New Democracy) government attempted to cover-up the issue."

    A corrresponding proposal for the setting up of an Investigative Committee had also been tabled by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) which was rejected due to the insufficient number of deputies' signatures which accompanied it.

    Dodecanese deputy and president of Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee An. Karamarios said "let us leave justice to conduct its work and for those responsible in the phone-tapping issue to be found." He proposed to Parliament to reject the joint PASOK-Synaspismos proposal for the setting up of an investigative committee.

    "All the means and potential of our committee to draw conclusions which were made public have been exhausted and their are no other margins for further probing by Parliament," Karamarios said.

    KKE rapporteur Liana Kaneli said that her party will vote in favor of the joint PASOK-Synaspismos proposal because "the phone-tapping issue is a major national issue and the national issues must not close."

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Parliamentary Group Secretary Apostolos Stavrou said that PASOK, "instead of the road of responsibility, chose the road of complete irresponsibility."

    Having said that that "we were victims of this distressful story," he criticized the main opposition party of attempting "a policy of deceiving the citizens with an apparent industry of lies and distortions of the real cases and facts."

    [13] Alavanos lashes out at the government

    Coalition of the Left (SYN) president Alekos Alavanos lashed out at the government on Monday, while responding to a question on the recent statements targeting SYN made by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party president George Karatzaferis.

    Alavanos stressed that the stand-off is between SYN and the government and the burning issue is whether universities should be public as opposed to private. He added that his party‚s weapons are ideas, values and peaceful mobilizations whereas the government‚s weapon is provocation, stressing that SYN will be the winner in this face-off.

    [14] Synaspismos also opposes return of the European Constitution

    The Party of the European Left, which Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) belongs to, is against the return of the European Constitution, according to a decision reached during the sessions of the Conference of the Presidents and of the Executive Committee in Berlin on January 12-14.

    The decision by the Party of the European Left, which was made public on Monday, stressed that "the crisis of European unification is due to the neo-liberal policies and it opposes the return of the Euro-Constitution."

    [15] Ecumenical Patriarch visits Council of Europe

    STRASBOURG (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira, A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I visited Strasbourg on Monday at the invitation of Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Rene van der Linden and addressed the PACE.

    Presenting Bartholomew, van der Linden underlined his efforts for the reconciliation of the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches and for the protection of the environment, for which he had earned international acclaim, as well as his efforts to initiate inter-faith dialogue with the participation of Moslems and Jews and promote religious tolerance.

    Among others, the PACE president also called on the Patriarch to contribute to international efforts for a viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

    During his address to the assembly, Patriarch Bartholomew called for dialogue in solving intercultural and interreligious conflicts, "especially in times such as ours when our planet is facing many warfronts all over the world." He stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been in "constant dialogue" with the Muslim world. "The necessity and the usefulness of interreligious dialogue has become a property of humanity", he added, while rejecting "analysts of the future of humanity who consider a bloody clash of religions and of religious populations as inevitable".

    At another point, Bartholomew noted that the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the surrounding Greek-Orthodox minority in Turkey feel that they still do not enjoy full rights, pointing out that the Turkish state refused to recognize a legal status for the Patriarchate, prohibited the operation of the Theological School of Halki and caused problems in property issues.

    Noting, however, that the effort for EU accession had brought about internal reforms and some remarkable steps, the Patriarch said that Fanar had always supported Turkey's European perspective in anticipation that the remaining steps toward attaining the standards of the European Union would be made.

    These were also issues brought up by Pope Benedict XVI when he received the credentials of the Turkish ambassador to the Vatican, recently.

    According to political analysts, the Patriarch's references to this issue at the CoE gain added importance in the light of a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the property of minority institutions in Turkey.

    During his visit, the Patriarch also met the CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg and Turkey's Permanent Representative to the CoE Ambassador Daryal Batibay, while he is scheduled to meet the head of the Turkish mission to the CoE later the same day.

    [16] Post of Alternate Political Solidarity Secretary General enacted

    The post of Alternate Political Solidarity Secretary General, based in Thessaloniki and the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, is being enacted in the framework of the draft law titled "Special Arrangements for Migration Policy and other issues falling under the competence of the Interior and Administrative Decentralization Ministry."

    It concerns an announcement and commitment by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that had been undertaken from the podium of the 71st Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), following a proposal made by Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Kalantzis.

    [17] Bar Association presidents oppose use of cameras in public places

    The presidents of the country's Bar Associations, during a session which was held at the Justice Ministry, said in an announcement on Monday that they view as "constructive" the to date cooperation with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras, particularly on an institutional level, and foresee substantial cooperation with the country's agencies, "for the good of justice and society, which we all serve."

    As stated in the announcement by the presidents' plenum, a lengthy and in good faith dialogue was held with Papaligouras and the problems which daily concern justice was discussed.

    At the same time, the plenum dealt with the issue of the use of cameras in public places. In its announcemenet, it said that the installation and operation of cameras should be allowed only for traffic purposes and without technical processing.

    The plenum also viewed that "the constant shrinking of human rights, on grounds of security reasons, leads to the weakening not only of the legal, but also of human culture, transforming citizens from active, as they should be, to persons without will and personality."

    [18] Thessaloniki mayor refers to FYROM 'name issue' during Melbourne visit

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)

    Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos over the weekend called on local philhellenes and the large expatriate community to back Greece's standing positions over the unresolved "name issue" between Athens and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- the only outstanding disagreement still preventing a full normalization of otherwise excellent ties.

    The mayor of Thessaloniki, the largest and most historic metropolis of the entire geographical department of Macedonia, outlined Athens' positions to a local ethnic Greek newspaper, roughly a month before his counterpart, Melbourne Lord Mayor John So, visits the northern Greece port city.

    "We're asking the residents of Melbourne to visit Thessaloniki. The monuments and treasures of Vergina, Pella and Aiges will demonstrate beyond any doubt as to who has the exclusive right to use the sacred name of Macedonia," the Thessaloniki mayor said in listing off the three best-known archaeological sites associated with the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, which corresponds approximately to the modern-day province of Macedonia in northern Greece.

    The latest irritation in the ongoing "name issue" came earlier this month when FYROM officials decided to change the Slavic place-name for Skopje's airport to "Alexander the Great", further irking Athens and public sentiment in its southern neighbor over use of the name "Macedonia".

    [19] Greece, Georgia sign new consular agreement

    Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis on Monday signed a consular cooperation agreement here with Georgian ambassador in Greece Zviad Chumburidze, which among others, foresees the opening of a Georgian consulate in Thessaloniki and a Greek consulate in the Black Sea port city of Batumi.

    Chumburidze reiterated his government's invitation towards Kassimis to visit Georgia, while Kassimis referred to efforts at accelerating procedures to sign a joint law enforcement agreement. He also referred to security problems faced ethnic Greeks in the Tsalka district.

    [20] Armenian Community members stage protest outside Turkish embassy

    Members of the Armenian Community of Greece staged a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Athens on Monday night.

    The march was organized in light of the assassination of the Armenian "AGOS" newspaper's publisher, Hrad Dink, outside the newspaper's offices in Istanbul last Friday.

    The demonstrators stressed in a memorandum that "the genocide of the Armenians is continuing even today" and called for "international support to oblige Turkey to stop the state policy of terrorism and racism."

    [21] Week in solidarity with Palestinian people begins in Athens

    A week of events in solidarity with the Palestinian people began in Athens on Monday.

    The events were due to begin at the Athens Polytechnic on Monday evening with an open debate on developments in the Palestinian issue.

    They will culminate with a protest march to the U.S. and Israeli embassies on Saturday. The march will start at noon from Eleftherias Park in central Athens.

    The Solidarity Week is organised by the Initiative Committee which was set up just before the end of 2006 with the participation of political and social organisations and public movements.

    Financial News

    [22] Gov't clarification on scrapping key property tax

    The finance ministry on Monday issued a clarification of statements by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis in which he pledged that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party would abolish the current tax on large property if it won general elections due in spring 2008.

    On Saturday, Alogoskoufis told a conference of the Panhellenic Federation of Property Owners the levy would be replaced by a small real estate tax, which would also replace other tariffs that drive up the cost of construction; and the move would fall under the third phase of the government's taxation overhaul.

    In Monday's statement, the ministry said: "Mr Alogoskoufis said that in the third phase of taxation reform various taxes that are levied on real estate will be replaced by a single low tax. In this way, a simplification of the system will be achieved as well as relief for property owners.

    [23] Property tax abolition another 'gift' to society's wealthy - PASOK

    A pledge by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis to abolish a tax for larger real estate properties and impose a uniform property tax instead was in line with the government's policy of "taking from the many and giving to the few," main opposition PASOK MP Vasso Papandreou said on Monday.

    "The owners of smaller properties of all types will be called on to pay additional taxes, while [Alogoskoufis] is promising 'gifts' for major real-estate owners, those who have and possess," said Papandreou, who is in charge of economic affairs on PASOK's Parliamentary Council.

    "The farmer's field, the worker's first home will be dealt with in the same way as large luxury residences and country villas. This is one more example of what the government means by the 'just society' that it has recently started referring to," she added.

    [24] Coalition party criticizes abolition of Large Real Estate Tax

    Colition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) Political Bureau member and economic and social policy chief Panayiotis Lafazanis on Monday criticized the abolition of the Large Real Estate Tax, saying "it is a big gift for the richer people of this country."

    "Finance Minister Mr. George Alogoskoufis, instead of proceeding with the stricter implementation of the Large Real Estate Tax so as to deal a blow at the ongoing orgy with the offshore companies in which, for reasons of tax evasion and not only, the owners of large real estate have registered their property, announced the complete abolition of this tax. This announcement constitutes a big gift by the government to the richer people of this country," he said.

    [25] Four out of 10 firms breach tax rules

    Four out of 10 companies inspected in 2006 were guilty of major tax violations, the finance ministry said on Monday.

    The most offending sectors were tobacco product firms, automobile repair and maintenance companies, places of entertainment, and medical services providers, including doctors, the ministry said in a statement.

    Conducted by the Special Inspection Service were 60,522 checks on enterprises and self-employed. Breaking the law were 25,840 firms, representing 42.7% of the total.

    [26] Gov't: No hikes in mass transit fares

    Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis on Monday reiterated that that public transport (buses, metro, suburban train, tram) fares in the greater Athens region will not increase, whereas a 5-percent hike on intercity bus tickets will be allowed as of March 1.

    He added that the same decision stands for public transports in Thessaloniki.

    Additionally, passenger fares will remain unchanged at state-run Hellenic Railways (OSE), while freight rates will rise by 5 percent.

    Finally, an announcement on the cab fares is expected next week, with the ministry pointing to a single-digit increase instead of a double-digit hike demanded by taxi owners.

    [27] Competition authority to fine Greek banks

    Greek Competition Authorities on Monday recommended the imposition of a fine against the Hellenic Bank Association for agreeing a single commissions policy in a contract signed with the Social Insurance Fund (IKA) over payment of employers' contributions.

    The general directorate of the Competition Commission said the case would be examined in April 17. The authority recommended the imposition of a fine against the Hellenic Bank Association saying that the policy hindered competition in the banking sector.

    [28] Gov't sets priority on innovation

    The government has set a priority on innovation, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.

    Each year from 2007 will be named "Innovation Year" with 2005-2010 already dubbed "Competitiveness Year," Sioufas told a meeting on innovation in practice arranged by the ministry.

    "We can and must invest in innovation," he noted.

    [29] Winter sales begin

    Department stores and shops began their winter sales on Monday, that will last until February 24. Both the previous and the new prices of good sold at a discount must be written in conspicuous parts of stores.

    Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou left open the possibility of the sale period beginning earlier as of next year, noting that such a thing will be decided after the course of the institution during this year's crisis as well are evaluated.

    The development ministry and the relevant General Consumers Secretariat have issued a special informative pamphlet containing instructions on what the consumer should take note of during the sales period.

    Consumer General Secretary Yiannis Economou said that the pamphlet is titled "What I must take care of during the sales. I choose carefully, I purchase correctly."

    It contains all necessary information to enable the consumer to know what he must take care of when making his purchases during the sales period and what his rights are. Moreover it contains useful instructions on how to check purchases so as not to burden the family budget needlessly, as well as the quality of goods.

    [30] Greek diplomat rings NASDAQ open

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P Panayiotou)

    A senior Greek diplomat, Adamantios Vassilakis, on Monday rang the opening bell for trade on the NASDAQ market.

    At the ceremony Vassilakis, who is the country's permanent representative to the United Nations, spoke of investment opportunities in Greece.

    "In recent years, a small country like Greece has shown that it can achieve much," he noted.

    NASDAQ's deputy chairman, Willian O'Brien, told the ceremony that the Athens 2004 Olympics were highly successful and had spurred new investment from abroad.

    Vassilakis headed Greece's election campaign for the UN Security Council and on its successful completion was entrusted with leadership of the Greek delegation during its tenure.

    [31] E-travel reservations rose significantly in Greece last year

    The turnover of e-travel reservations in Greece rose significantly to 15.3 million US dollars last year, evidence of Internet‚s significance in the travel and tourism sector, official figures showed on Monday.

    According to figures released by Expedia, turnover of electronic travel reservations almost doubled in the 12-month period from November 2005 to November 2006, to 15.3 million US dollars, compared with the corresponding previous 12-month period. Turnover of e-travel reservations in Greece was just 588,000 US dollars in 2002.

    The figures were released during a series of special events held in Patras and Zakynthos to celebrate the signing of a strategic partnership agreement between the Panhellenic Hoteliers‚ Federation and Expedia.

    [32] Vivartia raises equity participation in EDITA to 30 percent

    Vivartia SA on Monday announced the signing of a shareholders‚ agreement to raise its equity participation in Egyptian company EDITA through the purchase of an additional 5.0 pct stake by its subsidiary Chipita Participations Ltd for 6.8 million euros.

    After completion of the transaction, Vivartia will hold a 30 percent of equity capital in EDITA and will boost Vivartia‚s earnings per share by around 0.01 euros.

    EDITA is a producer and distributor of croissant and cakes in Egypt. Its sales totalled 34.3 million euros and its pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings were 10.9 million euros in 2005.

    [33] ASE temporary suspends trading in Tasoglou-Delonghi

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Monday announced a temporary suspension of trading in the shares of Sp.Tasoglou SE-Delonghi pending the finalizing of details over the acquisition of a textile company and the transfer of a 38 percent equity stake owned by Sp. Tasoglou -the main shareholder of the listed company.

    [34] Lannet to hire Orange as consultant

    Athens-quoted Lannet Communications said on Monday that it intended to sign an agreement of cooperation with Orange Business Services, a subsidiary of France Telecom, for the provision of consultancy services in developing a next-generation network.

    Orange Business Services offers consultancy services to alternative network operators for the design and development of high technology networks, Lannet said in a statement.

    The agreement will not envisage equity participation by Orange Business Services in Lannet's share capital, the statement said.

    [35] Greek export managers forum Jan 23-24

    A conference for Greek export managers will be held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on January 23-24 arranged by HEPO, the country's exports board.

    Taking part in the forum, which is under the aegis of the finance ministry, will be 1,000 companies.

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis is to launch the event.

    [36] Bourse lifts trading freeze on Delonghi

    The Athens Stock Exchange announced that on Tuesday it would lift a freeze on trading in shares of Spyros Tasoglou-Delonghi SA after the firm provided details of its acquisition of a textile company.

    The suspension was ordered on Monday.

    Delonghi said that it would wholly acquire Vasiliou Vellani Brothers for five million euros.

    [37] "Furnidec Business" furniture exhibition opens on January 26

    The Furnidec Business 2007: 1st Professional Exhibition of Furniture opens in Thessaloniki on January 26, launching the 2007 Helexpo SA activities.

    The four-day exhibition, directed exclusively at sector professionals, is expected to attract important trade visitors from Greece and abroad leading to new business deals.

    A total of 152 exhibitors (129 from Greece and 23 from Egypt, Bulgaria, United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Cyprus, Malaysia, FYROM, Turkey, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Poland) take part in the exhibition covering a space of 13,000sqm.

    More subsidies this year for students' food

    This year's subsidies to universities and technological foundations to cover the operational expenditures and the expenditures for students' food-stuff, have increased.

    According to a decision signed by the education minister, the subsidies for operational expenditures in 2007 for universities come to 212 million euros, while the expenditures for students' food-stuff come to 27 million euros.

    Correspondingly for technical foundations, the subsidies for operational expenditures amount to 146.6 million euros, while the expenditures for students' food-stuff come to 19.6 million euros.

    [38] Greek stocks end flat on Monday

    Greek stocks were flat on the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index eased 0.04 pct to end at 4,676.66 points with turnover a strong 480.2 million euros.

    Most sectors ended higher with the Food-Beverage (1.86 pct), Constructions (0.94 pct) and Financial Services (0.57 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Media (2.90 pct), Utilities (2.07 pct) and Oil (1.89 pct) suffering losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.04 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.15 pct higher and the Small Cap index eased 0.48 pct

    Mesohoritis (19.61 pct), Tria Alpha (19.50 pct) were top gainers, while Intralot (14.10 pct) and Ikona-Ihos (9.62 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 129 to 116 with another 66 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.66%

    Industrials: -0.57%

    Commercial: +0.02%

    Construction: +0.94%

    Media: -2.90%

    Oil & Gas: unavailable

    Personal & Household: +0.25%

    Raw Materials: +0.46%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.78%

    Technology: +0.25%

    Telecoms: -1.56%

    Banks: +0.56%

    Food & Beverages: +1.86%

    Health: +0.84%

    Utilities: -2.07%

    Chemicals: +0.36%

    Financial Services: +0.57%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Intralot, Alpha Bank, OTE, and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 25.42

    ATEbank: 4.24

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.84

    HBC Coca Cola: 30.10

    Hellenic Petroleum: 10.80

    Emporiki Bank: 22.80

    National Bank of Greece: 37.60

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 29.76

    Intralot: 24.36

    Cosmote: 24.00

    OPAP: 30.96

    OTE: 23.14

    Titan Cement Company: 43.44

    [39] Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +0.04%

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

  • Underlying Index: +0.15%

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (3733)

  • Total derivatives market turnover: 135.2 million euros

    Bond Market Close: 10-yr benchmark

    at 4.27 pct

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond (exp. 20.7.2016): 4.27 pct yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-year bond, expiring 20.7.2016 (700 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.5 bln euros

    [40] Foreign Exchange Rates

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

    U.S. dollar 1.303

    Pound sterling 0.660

    Danish kroner 7.513

    Swedish kroner 9.197

    Japanese yen 158.7

    Swiss franc 1.631

    Norwegian kroner 8.434

    Cyprus pound 0.583

    Canadian dollar 1.532

    Australian dollar 1.651

    General News

    [41] Minister sounds alarm over waste management crisis in Greece

    Sounding the alarm over waste management in Greece, Environment Minister George Souflias on Monday stressed that it was a vital issue of national importance that was now in the hands of local and regional authorities.

    According to the minister, central government had completed national planning, passed the necessary legislation and outlined specific policy guidelines that local authorities should now put into action.

    He also pointed out that there was no need for a new environ-mental policy but only to implement the policies already formulated by the environment ministry on this issue, which covered all forms of waste management from landfills to recycling, incineration, composting and biological processing.

    Regarding planning for three new landfill sites in Attica, in Fyli, Keratea and Grammatiko, Souflias said a final decision was still pending from the Council of State, Greece's supreme administrative court but noted that the recommendations to the court were positive so that the final decision was also expected to be positive.

    The minister stressed that the government had done its part, which was to pass laws, formulate policy and monitor its implementation, and that it was now up to regional and local authorities to decide which method or methods they will use to handle waste in their district, using the tools provided by the ministry.

    Noting that landfill sites would be necessary regardless of the other waste management methods used, he nevertheless underlined that it must not be the only solution for handling solid wastes:

    "We must not forget that from the management of waste we want the production of power and fertilizer and, in every case, the recovery of recyclable materials - a landfill does not give us any of these," the minister added.

    He advised the use of a combination of waste handling methods that would reduce the volume of rubbish ending up on landfill sites, while pointing out that there will always be a residue, regardless of what methods are used.

    Souflias also warned that the need to deal with the waste management crisis in Greece was imposed both by environ-mental considerations and the prospect of heavy fines from the European Union, advising local authorities to pick up the pace in this area.

    And pointing out that recycling begins at home, he called for publicity campaigns to advise the general public on the need to recycle and separate wastes from recyclable materials.

    [42] Hazardous waste management

    According to Souflias, the ministry had also completed the legislative framework and infrastructure for the handling of hazardous wastes, while the specifications and conditions in a EU directive on this issue would begin to be implemented in September 2007.

    All industries would have to submit studies for waste handling by the middle of the year, while the system would be organized along the lines of a "polluter pays" scheme, in which the ministry would carry out inspections to ensure that the guidelines were followed and impose penalties where necessary.

    Targets for waste management

    Noting that recycling rates in Greece in the past two years had reached 14% and were estimated to rise to 20% in 2007, Souflias listed a series of targets for reducing the volume of biodegradable wastes sent to landfills and the rehabilitation of unsupervised dumps by 2008.

    Regarding biodegradable wastes, he said that the aim was to reduce the amounts going to landfills to less than 1,950,000 tonnes in 2010, 1,300,000 tonnes in 2013 and 900,000 tonnes in 2020.

    With respect to unsupervised dumps, the minister said that 2,626 had been recorded throughout Greece and 1,850 had already closed. Of these, 615 were low-risk and were being restored by local authorities themselves, while for another 552 the restoration work had been inducted into various funding schemes.

    [43] Increase of fires in countryside due to high temperatures

    There has been a marked increase of fires in the countryside this winter due to high temperatures and drought, according to an announcement by the Firebrigade on Monday.

    Specifically, the Firebrigade's headquarters said that since December 1, 2006, 824 fires occurred in agricultural and forest expanses compared to 234 fires during the corresponding period last year. This means that the increase this year reaches about 350 per cent.

    [44] Culture ministry sends extrajudicial protest to Christie's

    By order of Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, an extrajudicial protest has been drafted and sent to Christie's Auction House aimed at the withdrawal from the auction planned in London for January 24-25, "of the cultural goods appearing to belong to the collection of the king of the Greeks, George 1st", as announced by the culture ministry on Monday.

    [45] Voulgarakis also gave the extrajudicial protest to the ambassador of the United Kingdom in Greece.

    The ministry announcement said that the extrajudicial protest notes that "from the list of the auction and from the investigation which is being conducted, it arises that the auctioned goods constitute part of the history of the Modern Greek State and of our cultural heritage, resulting in the issue being raised of the illegal export of cultural goods from Greece."

    [46] Greek Culture Centre in Sweden at risk due to funding problems

    The Centre of Greek Culture set up by the Greek community in Stockholm 12 years ago may be forced to close because of a lack of funds, its president Andreas Boukas told the ANA-MPA on Monday.

    The centre has collected a library of 30,000 books and archival material of mainly Greek interest, in addition to ancient artifacts, works of art and traditional costumes from Greece and a sizeable map collection.

    It was set up with the support of funds from the Stockholm local authority and the Swedish state, which have now been so drastically reduced that the centre, which works predominately with volunteers, is no longer able to cover basic running costs, such as rent.

    A final decision on its fate is expected within the next two-three weeks. In the meantime, on January 27 the centre will open an art exhibition featuring etchings by Nikos Terzis inspired by the book "Report to Greco" by Nikos Kazantzakis, while on January 28 the Swedish edition of Kazantzakis' book, "Rapport till Greco" will be presented by Prof. Torkel Stalmack.

    [47] Sophocles' Antigone presented in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA-A.Kourkoulas)

    Sophocles' 'Antigone' was due to be presented in Istanbul again, 18 years after its last staging, by the 'Theatrical Club' at the Babylon Cultural Center, on Monday evening.

    The tragedy, which is directed by Spyros Vrahoritis, was to be staged in the original text with the cooperation of the General Consulate of Greece and the Arts Society "Synthesi". The event is being organized under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry.

    [48] Young overseas Greeks meet Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos

    A total of 120 young overseas Greeks from countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Oceania visited Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos at his office on Monday night.

    The young people arrived in Greece in the framework of the program "Greek language and culture", that is being implemented by the Overseas Hellenism General Secretariat in cooperation with the Church organization "Solidarity."

    "It is a privilege for one to have Greek roots," the Archbishop said and referred in particular to the contribution of ancient and Byzantine Greece to the shaping of modern civilization.

    [49] 'Solidarity' to send more humanitarian aid to Lebanon

    The non-governmental organisation of the Church of Greece, "Solidarity", will deliver 156 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the people of Lebanon including medicine, food-stuff and primary need items.

    As announced by the Archbishopric on Monday, it is the fourth mission which "Solidarity" conducts in Lebanon, while the gathering of humanitarian aid is continuing.

    [50] New round of strike action by students

    Students are to conduct a new round of strike action, they announced in a press conference on Monday.

    Specifically, the students stressed that they will react against the prospect of the revision of Article 16 of the Constitution as well as against the promotion of the bill for changes in universities.

    The students will hold a rally in Athens on Wednesday, while they are planning to block roads and railway stations.

    They claim that they support all forms of strike action which student associations will take in every city separately.

    [51] Border guards find 90 kilos of cannabis in Ioannina's forest region

    Border guards who patrolled a forest region near the Greek-Albanian borders, in the prefecture of Ioannina, northwestern Greece, located four sacks of cannabis weighing a total of 90 kilos, it was announced on Monday.

    The drugs were hidden in a canal in the forest region of Ioannina's Roupsia and Geroplatanos Pogoniou area.

    [52] Small-scale disturbance in Thessaloniki

    Several self-styled or so-called "anti-state" activists staging a sit-in protest at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki's college of theology are reportedly the culprits behind an early Monday morning disturbance in the city's centre, with riot police later deployed in the area to contain the group.

    Meanwhile, unidentified suspects caused tossed firebombs at a Pireaus Bank branch in central Thessaloniki at roughly the same time.

    [53] Instructions on making of bombs found in homes of youths arrested after Panathinaikos-Olympiakos volleyball match

    Various lethal items and instructions on the making of bombs were found in the homes of two of the six youths arrested in the seaside resort of Glyfada on Sunday for possession of molotov bombs, after the volleyball match between Panathinaikos Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus.

    According to an announcement by the police, items found and confiscated included a pamphlet titled "explosive materials-explosive devices", a 10-centimetre stiletto, a wooden 56-centimetre club containing a nail at the end, a 29-centimetre sword, a 25-centimetre blade, a Cretan knife, a serated knife of the type used by the military and various other items that can be used as weapons.

    [54] Turk arrested on Samos on charge of immigrant smuggling

    A Turkish man was arrested by the Greek coast guard early on Monday morning near the Aegean island of Samos on a charge of immigrant smuggling, after he was caught transporting illegal immigrants to the island's shores.

    So far, Samos law enforcement authorities have found 12 illegal immigrants of various nationalities that were on the boat, who have been taken to the island's reception centre, while the Turk was led before a public prosecutor.

    According to witness accounts, another five illegal immigrants that arrived with them are still at large.

    Sports

    [55] Presidential Decree containing specifications for car racing tracks

    The Tourist Development ministry's draft Presidential Decree concerning "determining specifications for the creation of car racing tracks" has been signed by the President of the Republic and is in the process of being published in the government gazette.

    According to the Decree, the founding and establishing of car racing tracks can take place in a unified plot of land covering an area of at least 100 acres and will lie outside residential areas, forest land, archaeological sites and restricted areas in general.

    On the question of a racing track's location, the Decree contains specifications with town planning criteria, as well as specifications concerning its installation

    Cyprus Affairs

    [56] Government looking forward to a meaningful process on Cyprus

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cyprus government is looking forward to the commencement of a meaningful process which would allow for thorough preparation of the ground, on which basis the good offices of the UN Secretary-General could be fully resumed, aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here Monday.

    Receiving the credentials of the new Ambassador of Hungary to Cyprus Csaba Lovro, Papadopoulos also noted Turkey's refusal to implement the Ankara Protocol with regard to Cyprus, indicating that "the reviews which will take place at the end of 2007, 2008 and 2009 may lead to further measures by the European Council, if Turkey continues not to implement the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement and does not normalize relations and recognize all members of the European Union."

    ő§he Hungarian Ambassador, presenting his credentials, said that from the very beginning Hungary has been firmly in support of efforts aimed at solving the Cyprus issue through peaceful dialogue.

    "A comprehensive, lasting and just solution can be attained through negotiations under the UN auspices, in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions and by the agreement of the parties concerned, in conformity with the EU principles. Hungary plays an active role in UN Peace-keeping operations and will continue to contribute to the activity of UNFICYP," he said.

    Furthermore he said that Cyprus' and Hungary's accession to the EU on 1st May 2004 "marks the commencement of a new era in the life of our countries as well as in our bilateral relations", adding that "EU membership has elevated our bilateral relations to a new level."

    He noted that "Hungary and Cyprus have cordial and balanced bilateral relations, the high-level political dialogue is regular" and said he expected a number of important visits to take place in 2007.

    Replying, Papadopoulos referred to the excellent relations between the two countries, noting Hungary's continued participation in UNFICYP is greatly appreciated by the Cypriot people.

    On the Cyprus question, he stressed that "the government remains committed to the reunification of Cyprus under a bizonal, bicommunal, federal solution of the Cyprus problem, as set out in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The reunification of Cyprus means reunification of the islands territory, society, economy and institutions," he added.

    Referring to the Annan plan, he said that the plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots because it did not provide for true reunification of Cyprus; on the contrary, it clearly provided for the perpetuation of the divisive results of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the continuing occupation.

    "This is why the Turkish side readily accepted the Annan Plan, albeit with the vote of Turkish settlers who were transferred to Cyprus after the invasion," he added.

    He stressed that it is thus of utmost importance that in a new UN effort, the objective should be a Cyprus settlement that would serve exclusively the interests of the people of Cyprus as a whole and not the interests of third countries such as Turkey.

    With regard to the implementation of the 8 July 2006 Agreement, between himself and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Papadopoulos said that "we are looking forward to the commencement of a meaningful process which would allow for thorough preparation of the ground, on which basis the good offices of the UN Secretary-General could be fully resumed, aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem."

    Referring to Turkish Cypriots, he said that the government far from causing the so-called 'economic isolation' of the Turkish Cypriots, on the contrary it has effectively supported the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    "The so-called economic 'isolation' of the Turkish Cypriots is a myth, which aims at political objectives, i.e. the upgrading, of the secessionist entity. This is why recently the Turkish side has stopped talking about 'economic' isolation and is now promoting the slogan of 'international' isolation," the president indicated.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [57] EU FMs adopt text on financial aid and direct trade regulations

    BRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The EU 27 Ministers of Foreign Affairs who met Monday in Brussels adopted a text by which they express their will

    for the recommencement of work aiming at implementing April 2004 conclusions with a view to promote the financial development of the Turkish Cypriot community. Cyprus was represented at the meeting by Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas.

    Diplomatic sources in Brussels said that any discussions are not expected to begin within the next days, as the EU German Presidency wishes to prepare the issue properly, in cooperation with the Cypriot government.

    The text was already adopted by COREPER and no country took the floor on the issue on Monday, while the Presidency made no announcement as regards the deadline for the beginning of the work.

    The adopted text said that "with respect to the implementation of its April 2004 conclusions, the Council notes the progress made in particular as regards the financial aid regulation, the objective of which is to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus. Work aiming at the adoption of the Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on special conditions for trade with areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control, must resume without delay."

    Lillikas met in the framework of the Council with British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon, at the latter's initiative.

    Hoon expressed his will to visit Cyprus before Easter, something which Lillikas accepted, noting that he is more than welcome.

    [58] Cyprus anticipates a new effort by UNSG after sufficient preparation

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cyprus government anticipates a new effort to be launched by the Secretary General of the UN following sufficient preparation of the ground through the full implementation of the agreement reached between the two leaders on the 8th of July 2006, and the process proposed by the UN, Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas said Monday, speaking at the Transatlantic Institute in Brussels on "The Cyprus issue after the accession of Cyprus to the EU".

    Lillikas assured that ''our steadfast aim'' remains the achievement of a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution, actively involving the EU and all five permanent members of the Security Council, adding that "our vision and our ambitions for the settlement have not changed."

    He reiterated the Republic of Cyprus' position in favor of a bicommunal and bizonal federal state in Cyprus, with a single sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, in conformity with international law, UN resolutions, the high level agreements, the EU acquis, and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and the guarantee of the independence of Cyprus and its territorial integrity without the presence of foreign troops on its soil and the possibility of foreign interventions.

    Lillikas assured that ''the solution of the Cyprus problem and the reunification of our country, our society, economy and institutions remains our constant concern and undeviating goal," adding that "current developments however do not leave room for hopes that Turkey is ready to make the necessary gestures in order to achieve progress, either in the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General or on the EU front."

    "The process of bicommunal discussions at a technical level to address substantive aspects of the Cyprus problem, as well as issues that impact upon the day-to-day lives of Cypriots is unfortunately stalled because of the Turkish negative approach. In the EU context, Turkey has maintained a policy of confrontation by refusing to meet its obligations undertaken towards the European Union, including Cyprus," he added.

    He noted that despite Turkey's stated European vocation, she still remains entangled in an anachronistic policy and approach of what it considers to be her geostrategic interests.

    Lillikas said that while the UN retains its leading role in brokering a solution, it must nevertheless ensure that the proposed settlement conforms from the outset to the European laws and principles.

    "This is a legitimate and necessary role attributed to the Union that should have no problem being accepted since all parties involved in the problem are either members or aspire to become members of the EU," he noted.

    Referring to Turkey's EU accession course, he said that despite its legitimate reasons not to consent to Turkey's accession course, Cyprus has rendered its support to this process, prompted by the strong belief that this process will serve the bona fide interests of Cyprus, as well as the mutual benefit of all parties involved, namely Turkey and the EU.

    He added that regrettably, until now, Turkey's continuing intransigence and denial to fulfill its commitments towards the Union and Cyprus ''have not offered us any ground for optimism.''

    ''However, we very much maintain our expectation that Turkey will at least proceed with the implementation of its legally binding obligations vis-à-vis the European Union,'' he added.

    Furthermore he noted that Cyprus' generous attitude towards Turkey's accession to the EU ''is met with a blockade against my country in its bid to join several international and regional organizations and mechanisms, a refusal to open their ports and airports to Cypriot vessels as required and a refusal to take any steps for normalizing its relations with Cyprus.''

    He stressed that ''we expect that Turkey will realize that it has to respect the European principles, as well as its future partners and neighbors.''

    Moreover the minister said that Turkey's provocative stance is not questioned by the Turkish Cypriot leadership, ''which continues to promote policies that do not serve the real interests of the Turkish Cypriots but those of the occupying power."

    He also referred to the EU regulations with a view to promote the economic integration in Cyprus and to the adoption of a series of measures by the Cyprus Government since 2004, to assist the Turkish Cypriot community.

    Lillikas referred to the efforts by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to upgrade the so-called state in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas, "through the ill-conceived notion of 'isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community'.''

    He noted that "despite these actions on the part of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, we are currently working closely with the German EU Presidency in order to move forward the regulation on trade for the areas of the Republic of Cyprus which are not under the effective control of the Government.''

    "In this case too, the Turkish Cypriot leadership and others are aiming at obtaining a trading status that prevents any economic and commercial cooperation between the two communities," Lillikas said.

    He expressed the belief that "in situations such as Cyprus, we ought to be aiming at fostering common interests and incentives between the citizens of both communities, and I would go a step further by saying common problems as well.''

    Elaborating on Cyprus' role in the EU, Lillikas said "the accession of Cyprus to the EU has contributed to the political, economic and military expansion of the Union towards the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus has become a bridge to the Middle East."

    "Furthermore, the strategic importance of Cyprus as an alternative, in relation to Turkey, access to this area is becoming more and more apparent," he said.


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