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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-01-30

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with visiting US Senators
  • [02] Papandreou refers to Mahatma Gandhi's legacy during address at Congress Party con'f
  • [03] Bakoyannis and OSCE Secretary-General discuss Kosovo, OSCE reform
  • [04] Latest developments discussed by FM, Greek envoys to SE Europe countries
  • [05] Greek and Egyptian defense ministers hold talks in Cairo
  • [06] Meimarakis received by Greek community
  • [07] Greece denies report of U.S. pressure linked to visa waivers
  • [08] PM confers with ND MePs leader
  • [09] Chinese deputy PM visiting Greece
  • [10] Cabinet to meet on Tuesday
  • [11] Spokesman: Gov't will table education reforms bill when dialogue completed
  • [12] KKE leader meets with group of rectors
  • [13] Gov't echoes Cyprus' criticism of T/C leader's comments over continental shelf pacts with Lebanon, Egypt
  • [14] Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Mallias gives briefing on the Balkans
  • [15] FinMin in Brussels for Eurogroup, ECOFIN meetings
  • [16] Employment minister comments on protection of European social model
  • [17] EU Commissioner Almunia comments on Greek GDP
  • [18] Sioufas outlines gov't work in Thessaly
  • [19] Agricultural development minister stresses need for increase in competitiveness
  • [20] Greece, Russia, Bulgaria to meet on oil pipeline project, February 7
  • [21] Greece seeks bidders for long-term lease of Phaliro Marina
  • [22] 'Explore Your Senses in Greece' campaign arrives in Warsaw
  • [23] Merchant Marine Ministry on demands of Panhellenic Seamen's Federation
  • [24] U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki pays courtesy visit to Drama
  • [25] Alexandroupolis, Dimitrovgrad delegations present EU's PHARE program
  • [26] Thessaloniki must obtain modern exhibition infrastructures
  • [27] Hellenic Exchanges to present BSE its common platform project with Cyprus Stock Exchange
  • [28] Train passenger traffic up 10 pct in 2005 in Greece
  • [29] Greek gov't agrees 5.5-7.5 pct increase in taxi fares
  • [30] Greek PPI up 2.2 pct in December, yr/yr
  • [31] IOBE report on Greek clothing sector
  • [32] Nireus buys Spain's Predomar for 1.75 million euros
  • [33] Greek stocks end slightly higher on Monday
  • [34] Greek bond market closing report
  • [35] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday
  • [36] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to receive Cardinal Koening International Award
  • [37] Memorial event in honor of Greek Jews killed by Nazis
  • [38] 'Multi-colored Gods' exhibition arrives in Athens
  • [39] Defense ministry delegation visits Epirus Region
  • [40] 13th Symi Festival to be dedicated to late journalist Diakoyannis
  • [41] Concert in Athens in honor of composer Manos Hadjidakis
  • [42] Greek-German conference on 'Prospects of Europe'
  • [43] Presentation of book 'Greek Stone Lighthouses'
  • [44] ND offices, Citibank branch torched in Thessaloniki, Athens
  • [45] Tea expert addresses Institut Francais event in Thessaloniki
  • [46] Horses from Andalusia to dance flamenco in Thessaloniki
  • [47] Cyber-revenge a new trend among jilted lovers, Greek police report
  • [48] Kenteris, Thanou trial postponed until September
  • [49] Spokesman says UN hope for leaders' meeting before end of March
  • [50] Cyprus moves to remove negative points in Contact Group report
  • [51] Cyprus protests EU inspections in Turkish occupied areas
  • [52] AKEL meets Turkish Cypriot Platform ''This country is ours''

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with visiting US Senators

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with a visiting delegation of US Senators, who were accompanied by US ambassador in Athens Charlies Ries, for a discussion that covered the Cyprus issue, terrorism, Afghanistan, and bilateral economic cooperation.

    The US Senators noted that they followed the statistics concerning the Greek economy, stressing that they were satisfied by the positive direction the economy has taken.

    Senator Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) told reporters that the delegation had a wonderful meeting with the prime minister, adding that the senators were in Greece as friends.

    "All the democracies feel at home in Greece, and when our embassy was attacked, we felt as if Greece itself had been attacked," Smith said, adding that "we greatly appreciate your government's reaction to the recent incident against our embassy".

    He also referred to the millions of Greek Americans in the US and the role they played.

    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said that the US manife-sted its respect for Greece by sending to Athens one of the best ambassadors the US had. He also said he felt at home when visiting Greece.

    Leahy added that "we have historic ties, blood ties, with Greece, which will never cease".

    "We rely on Greece's contribution in the region, and will continue to do so," he said.

    [02] Papandreou refers to Mahatma Gandhi's legacy during address at Congress Party con'f

    NEW DELHI (ANA-MPA / V. Mourtis)

    PASOK leader George Papandreou, in his capacity as Socialist International (SI) president, spoke here on Monday at the ruling Congress Party's conference, where he referred to Congress founder Mahatma Gandhi's vision and values, which he said are closely linked with SI's principles, beliefs and its struggle in today's globalized society.

    Papandreou, Greece's former foreign minister, emphasised that Gandhi's life was in itself an example towards others.

    Addressing Congress delegates and international dignitaries, Papandreou presented a policy revolving around the triptych of ‚peace, development and education", all in tandem with the implementation of the values related to social justice.

    He added that the international democratic and progressive movement owes a great deal to Mahatma Gandhi, whose philosophy is almost identified with the principles of the modern socialist movement, as expressed by the Socialist International.

    Regarding Gandhi's renowned promotion of ‚non-violence" as a lever for social and political change, Papandreou said the latter was definitely not a ‚weakness" of the Indian statesman's philosophy but a ‚powerful practice".

    He referred to his own initiative regarding an ‚Olympic Truce" for the 2004 Games, a policy that led the marching of South and North Korea athletes under one banner at the Athens Games. He also said the policy of ‚non-violence" led to tangible results in Greek-Turkish relations, when he and the late Ismail Cem inaugurated a policy of rapprochement following the 1999 earthquakes in the two countries.

    Papandreou called on delegates, and through them the international peace movement, to struggle for the elimination of three walls in the world today, which are ‚none other that the walls of Nicosia, Palestine and Mexico".

    Among others, he said the SI is committed to peace efforts in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Latin America, Asia and Africa, whereas he made particular reference to strife-plagued Nepal, the focus of a SI-sponsored peace initiative in 10 days.

    On Monday, Papandreou was received by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while he also met with 2006 Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Ban-gladesh-based Grameen micro-lending concept.

    World leaders arrived in New Delhi over recent days to attend the conference, part of centennial celebrations commemorating the beginning of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle against British colonial rule. The Congress party has unveiled a year-long series of events to celebrate the founding of the movement, which was first started by Gandhi on Sept. 11, 1906 in South Africa against apartheid.

    [03] Bakoyannis and OSCE Secretary-General discuss Kosovo, OSCE reform

    Greece's Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday held talks with the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, who is on a visit to Athens.

    In statements after the meeting, Bakoyannis said that Greece considered the OSCE a "driving force" for stability and security over a very large area stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok and noted that Greece's great interest in the organization was its main motive for seeking the OSCE chairmanship for 2010 or 2011.

    She also noted that the OSCE Secretariat had a "pivotal" role in efforts to reform the OSCE in line with the "new international collective security and cooperation environment" and underlined Greece's support in this effort.

    Apart from the need to reform the OSCE, Bakoyannis and Brichambaut discussed Greece's candidacy for the OSCE chairmanship, as well as developments in the Balkans and the future status of Kosovo.

    Another topic on the agenda was illegal trafficking in human beings, where Bakoyannis said that Greece "has adopted a plan of action and proceeded to create the necessary legislative, administrative and financial basis" for the success of efforts against this phenomenon.

    "We are determined to intensify this effort even further," the Greek minister added.

    Brichambaut noted the OSCE's high degree of interest in southeastern Europe, pointing out that it currently had 3,000 people stationed there and a significant portion of its budget allocated to that region.

    Up to 1,000 of these had been in Kosovo since 1999, in a bid to help the province set up democratic institutions, protect minorities and create an environment that would allow the people of Kosovo decide on the best possible future status, he added.

    The OSCE Secretary-General thanked Greece for its interest and assistance to the OSCE's efforts to continue its activities and help all sides in Kosovo in order to establish peace, prosperity and rapprochement with Europe.

    [04] Latest developments discussed by FM, Greek envoys to SE Europe countries

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday met with the Greek envoys accredited to SE European countries for talks on recent developments and prospects in the region following the EU accession of Bulgaria and Romania, elections in Serbia and intensified diplomatic activity regarding the future status of Kosovo.

    "Athens hopes that Serbia's European prospects will be a catalyst in the formation of a new government in Belgrade and that the Union will proceed with specific actions and moves in favor of this prospect," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said after the meeting.

    Regarding FYROM, a reference was made to Athens' declared policy in favor of a mutually acceptable solution on the "name issue", a resolution that will have a positive impact on bilateral relations, regional stability and in facilitating progress in Skopje's Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

    Greece's leading economic presence in the Balkans and on ways to secure and reinforce it was also emphasized.

    In addition, the envoys singled out illegal trafficking in humans and organized crime as destabilizing factors in the region that need to be combated.

    The high-ranking diplomats also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, who outlined the EU accession prospects of western Balkan states and Greece's strategic role in the harmonization process followed by the region's candidate and potential candidate-countries vis-à-vis Euro-Atlantic institutions. He also stressed the condition that EU criteria and prerequisites must be met.

    Greece's envoys in the specific countries were called on to continuously monitor the fulfillment of EU criteria and prerequisites, Valinakis said.

    [05] Greek and Egyptian defense ministers hold talks in Cairo

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA/N. Katsikas)

    Greece's National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis had an official meeting in Cairo on Monday with his Egyptian counterpart Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

    After the meeting, Meimarakis expressed his optimism that Greece-Egypt cooperation in the defense sector will be upgraded even further in 2007.

    The Greek minister was accompanied by President of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense Panos Kammenos.

    Meimarakis stressed that "the program of military cooperation between our two countries for 2006 was the biggest on the part of activities which has been signed and it will be even bigger in 2007," noting "the very good level of our bilateral relations, which covers a large section of activities."

    He underlined that "our intention is the broadening and deepening of our bilateral defense cooperation."

    In the context of the excellent cooperation between the two countries, is included the newly set up Greek Language Teaching Department at the Foreign Languages Institute of the Egyptian Armed Forces in Cairo, which started operating a month ago.

    Meimarakis briefed his Egyptian counterpart on Greece's initiative on matters of Mediterranean dialogue.

    The Greek minister is on a three-day official visit to Egypt.

    [06] Meimarakis received by Greek community

    CAIRO (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)

    National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis received a warm welcome from the Greek community in Cairo and Alexandria during his official visit to Egypt.

    Meimarakis attended events in both cities on Sunday, while he also visited the site of the battle of El Alamein.

    The minister conveyed the Greek government's regard and support for the Greeks of Egypt, stressing that the Diaspora were the ambassadors of Greece in their second homeland.

    He also underlined the need to further cement the already excellent relations between Greece and Egypt, noting that bilateral cooperation had already yielded important results.

    Regarding Greece's potential role in the region, Meimarakis noted that it could and should play a part in promoting stability, peace, development and prosperity, cultivating good relations with all neighbouring countries and especially with Egypt.

    In Alexandria, Meimarakis was met by the president of the local community Haralambos Katsimbris and the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Stefanos Tamvakis, as well as Greece's Ambassador to Egypt Panagiotis Vlassopoulos and a representative of the Alexandria Patriarchate.

    [07] Greece denies report of U.S. pressure linked to visa waivers

    Greece's government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday strongly denied reports that Washington had used participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver programme as a lever to press for an increase of Greek troops stationed in Afghanistan. According to the reports, an agreement to this effect had been made during a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday, on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting to discuss Afghanistan.

    "It is self-evident that the one issue is unrelated to the other," Roussopoulos said.

    After the meeting with Rice, Bakoyannis had announced that Greece would extend the stay of a Greek medical unit and engineering battalion already stationed in Afghanistan and of Greek officers manning posts within ISAF.

    [08] PM confers with ND MePs leader

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday morning with the head of the ruling New Democracy Party's (ND) Europarliamentarians Yannis Varvitsiotis.

    Varvitsiotis said after the discussion that the meeting was held in the framework of regular contacts on European and domestic issues.

    He declined to elaborate on the details of the meeting, saying that he never comments on what he discusses with the premier.

    [09] Chinese deputy PM visiting Greece

    The Deputy Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, Hua Jianmin, was expected to arrive in Greece late Monday night for talks with President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on bilateral relations between Athens and Beijing and major international issues.

    The Chinese official will be meeting Karamanlis on Tuesday morning and afterwards, after visiting the National Archaeological Museum, he will be received by President Papoulias.

    Jianmin will be meeting with Bakoyannis at noon, who will be hosting a luncheon, and later on he will be visiting the National Public Administration and Local Administration Centre.

    The Chinese deputy prime minister will be visiting Rhodes after Athens.

    [10] Cabinet to meet on Tuesday

    The inner Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, to discuss issues related to the interior ministry.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Karamanlis will meet Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin, who will also be received by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [11] Spokesman: Gov't will table education reforms bill when dialogue completed

    The government spokesman on Monday appeared adamant in its intent to push through education sector reforms, with the government spokesman noting that when "dialogue is completed the government will table the (higher education reform) draft bill in Parliament".

    Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement in answer to press questions referring to a proposal over the weekend by the head of a government-appointed council on higher education, a proposal calling for a nationwide referendum on the reforms package.

    Prof. Thanos Veremis, the chairman of the high-ranking council, has been amongst the most vocal proponents of higher education reforms.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Roussopoulos sternly defended the culture ministry's track record in winning the return of various antiquities or historically important artifacts illegally taken from Greek territory -- an issue that was thrust onto the national limelight last week with an auction in London featuring silverware and precious objects belong to early 20th Greek monarch George I.

    Along those lines, the spokesman cited long-standing efforts to find Community funding in order to exploit and preserve the one-time royal country estate at Tatoi, located just north of Athens in forestland.

    [12] KKE leader meets with group of rectors

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga met with the rectors of four of the largest universities in the country - Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra and the Athens Polytechnic -- following a request by the rectors.

    The meeting took place at the KKE's headquarters.

    The contacts coincided with a three-month campaign by the communist party's youth wing, KNE, to brief public opinion over the party's positions vis-à-vis the government's high-profile reforms in the education sector.

    The four rectors in question are among the bloc of top university administrators calling for a delay in the government's efforts to reform tertiary education and against a constitutional revision that would allow the recognised operation of non-state universities in the country.

    Another bloc of rectors, mostly from smaller universities in the provinces, are reportedly more receptive to the reforms and constitutional revisions.

    [13] Gov't echoes Cyprus' criticism of T/C leader's comments over continental shelf pacts with Lebanon, Egypt

    The government spokesman on Monday echoed Nicosia's sharp criticism of recent statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who "warned" of increased "tension" in the east Mediterranean due to an agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and Lebanon earlier in the month to delineate an undersea border, a first step in facilitating offshore oil and gas exploration.

    "Such statements exceed the limits of reason. They are statements that destabilize and we consider them unacceptable," spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters on Monday during his regular press briefing.

    In statements on Friday, Talat warned of rising tensions if prospective offshore oil and gas deposits were not jointly exploited by the two communities on the divided island republic.

    "We are partners in everything that goes on in Cyprus and will not allow our interests to be harmed," Talat was quoted as telling a weekly paper on the island.

    Roussopoulos, meanwhile, added that "what's needed in the Cyprus issue is for the T/C side to exhibit a productive stance in order to find a solution based on UN Resolutions."

    In related comments over the weekend, Cypriot FM George Lillikas emphasised that "the only way for all citizens and communities of the Cyprus Republic to share in economic development and generated national wealth, but also to live in peace and harmony, is through the reunification of Cyprus ... If (the Turkish Cypriot community) wishes (to share in oil revenues), the only avenue is through dialogue and not threats."

    A similar accord was signed by the Republic of Cyprus with Egypt last May.

    Meanwhile, according to a CNA dispatch from Nicosia earlier on Monday, Cypriot government spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis stated that a public debate on the issue of drilling for oil in the Cyprus sea area was of no benefit to anyone, adding that Lebanon, which recently signed a relevant agreement with Cyprus, would reply to Turkey's protests on the issue.

    Replying to questions, Pashiardis said that ''if Ankara has made strong or light representations to Lebanon, I understand that Lebanon itself will answer.''

    ''Regarding the more general issue of drilling for oil, all I have to say is that it is of no benefit to publicly discuss this matter. The government has taken and announced all its decisions. Further than that, it has no intention of adding anything and even further, it has no intention of becoming involved in a public debate on this issue,'' he added.

    [14] Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Mallias gives briefing on the Balkans

    WASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)

    Greece's Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias on Monday briefed members of Congress and officials of the State Department and of the National Security Council on developments in the Balkans and on Greek policy in the confrontation of any problems that may arise. It was the first briefing meeting which Mallias had with them in 2007.

    Ambassador Mallias spoke of " the consistent Greek policy of support of the European expectations of Balkan countries which moves in the context of the strategic policy between the European Union and the United States in the Balkans and is of fundamental importance for the achieving of peace, stability and prosperity."

    Mallias also gave emphasis to Bulgaria's and Romania's accession to the European Union and spoke of "the leading role of Greece in the energy and other sectors and in general in the processes of the region's economic unification."

    The Greek ambassador also spoke of propaganda by the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), presenting school and military academy maps of the neighbouring country as well as statements by officials which show that the use of the name Alexander the Great at Skopje airport is incorporated in a broader framework of irredentist propaganda by FYROM.

    In their own statements, experts of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, condemned and described as "absurd" Skopje's propaganda.

    The briefing was organised by the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes organisation.

    Financial News

    [15] FinMin in Brussels for Eurogroup, ECOFIN meetings

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will participate in an ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday in Brussels.

    The agenda of the meeting includes preparation of a European Council meeting, to be held in Brussels March 8-9, presentation of a progress report on the Lisbon strategy and the German EU presidency‚s main policy priorities in the first half of 2007.

    EU Economy and Finance minister will also discuss lifting an excessive fiscal deficit procedure against France and updating general direction lines of economic policy and reducing administrative burden to enterprises.

    The ECOFIN meeting will also examine the adoption of the euro currency by Slovenia and financial aspects of the EU energy policy.

    A Eurogroup meeting (comprising of economy and finance ministers from Eurozone countries) will be held on Monday evening.

    [16] Employment minister comments on protection of European social model

    Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said that "the protection of the European social model and the balance between protection for the working man and flexibility in the labor market constitute a permanent and non-negotiable target for the government."

    Tsitouridis announced that the government is planning for the next five years an increase in the budget's social expenditures amounting to 1 percent of GDP to enable at least 50 percent of citizens living slightly below poverty level to exceed it.

    Briefing Parliament's European Affairs Committee on the initiatives of the European Commission on the preparation of a "White paper for labor", Tsitouridis pointed out that Greece is in favor of maintaining, as well as of promoting internationally, the European social model and it is also moving at European level in this direction as well.

    Commenting on the issue of part-time employment and the extent of its implementation in the country, the minister said "while elsewhere part-time employment percentages reach 25 percent, we are at 5.5 percent. Our target cannot be increasing this percentage, our model remains full employment, but very often the world and the market forge ahead."

    [17] EU Commissioner Almunia comments on Greek GDP

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaqin Almunia, speaking on Monday after the end of a Eurogroup session, said that the European Statistical Service is awaiting all the data by the National Statistical Service of Greece regarding the revision of the Greek GDP upwards.

    The Spanish Commissioner said that from the moment that the necessary data will reach Luxembourg, the European Statistical Service will be in a position to proceed with its verification.

    The EU's Council of Economy Ministers will then in turn be able to decide on the issue of Greece exiting from the excessive deficit process, Almunia said. He clarified, however, that this issue was not among the issues examined by the Eurogroup on Monday.

    [18] Sioufas outlines gov't work in Thessaly

    Development Minister Dimitris Soufas referred to the projects that have materialized so far or are being scheduled to be completed shortly by the government addressing the annual event held by the Chamber of Trikala, central Greece, on Sunday.

    Sioufas clarified that specific targets will be met in 2007 and new tools are being created that guarantee greater momentum in the development process.

    The development minister stressed that 333 investment projects with a budget of 319 million euros and requested subsidies of 133 million euros have been submitted in the region of Thessaly, central Greece, and a total of 232 projects have already been approved with an overall budget of 191 million euros and requested subsidies of 77 million euros.

    Sioufas added that industrial infrastructure development projects with a budget of 12 million euros are under construction in Thessaly, while more measures are being taken to add momentum to the development process.

    He also referred to the expansion of the natural gas network to 13 regions, among them Karditsa and Trikala, adding that the 53-million-euro project will be launched in the following days.

    Another important project mentioned by the development minister was the E-65 motorway in central Greece characterized as a project of strategic importance for the entire region. Sioufas stated that the new 232km-long national motorway will be constructed in accordance with European specifications and will cost 1.6 billion euros.

    Sioufas also referred to the two new Technological Educational Institutes in Karditsa and Trikala, and the Volos-based Research, Technology and Development Centre of Thessaly founded in January 2006.

    [19] Agricultural development minister stresses need for increase in competitiveness

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos, representing Greece at the European Union's Council of Agriculture, stressed the need for effective support for the income of Greek fruit and vegetable growers, an increase in the sector's competitiveness and the need to strengthen and maintain production.

    During the beginning of discussions on the proposed reform by the Commission of the fruit and vegetable sector (that will last for five months and will be resumed in April 2007), Basiakos requested from the Council that, in the framework of the new reform, the provision of adequate funds should be anticipated to meet the needs of the sector and necessary structural changes, wherever and if they arise.

    He also called for measures for the prevention and the immediate and effective handling of crises that are frequently faced by the sector.

    As regards negotiations at the World Trade Organization, Basiakos stressed in his address at the Council that Greece insists on a balanced and just agreement that will not lead to other concessions in the sector of agriculture and will protect the new Common Agricultural Policy, as well as the offensive and defensive interests of the European Union.

    [20] Greece, Russia, Bulgaria to meet on oil pipeline project, February 7

    Greece, Russia and Bulgaria agreed to hold a tri-party working group meeting in Burgas, Bulgaria, on February 7 to finalize details of an Inter-state Agreement for the construction of an oil pipeline linking Bulgaria with Greece, Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.

    In an announcement to the press, the Greek minister noted that the governments of the three countries worked systematically to complete the content of the agreement, with a meeting in Sofia, January 25-26, between experts from Greece, Russia and Bulgaria, while Nikos Stephanou -secretary general of the Greek Development ministry- visited Moscow, January 26-27, for talks with Russian Federation's Industry and Energy Deputy Minister Andrei Dementiev.

    [21] Greece seeks bidders for long-term lease of Phaliro Marina

    Greece's Tourism Development Company SA on Monday announced an international tender to find a successful bidder for the long-term lease (concession and exploitation) of the Phaliro Marina.

    The Marina is one of the most modern marinas in Eastern Mediterranean with building works completed in 2004 ahead of the Athens Olympic Games, while its services are considered of high quality not only by national but by international standards as well.

    The international tender for the long-term lease of the marina aims to find a successful bidder that will ensure the development, operation and maintenance of the marina.

    The tender will be performed in two stages: A) submission of non-binding interest - Prequalification of interested parties, B) submission of binding interest - selection of successful bidder.

    [22] 'Explore Your Senses in Greece' campaign arrives in Warsaw

    Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) officials took the "Explore Your Senses in Greece" international tourism promotion to Warsaw on Monday, as this year's ad campaign was launched earlier than in previous seasons.

    According to GNTO officials, the 2007 campaign targets emerging markets as well as countries whose citizens that have traditionally comprised the majority of tourist arrivals to Greece, i.e. the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Prague will be the next spot of the campaign.

    According to reports, a total of 250,000 tourists from Poland visited Greece last year, turning the east Mediterranean holiday destination into a leading summer choice for Polish tourists, while the goal is to double arrivals in 2007.

    Conversely, a top PASOK deputy, Christos Papoutsis, on Mon-day disputed the tourism development ministry's recent figures showing a 10-percent increase in tourist arrivals for 2006 in comparison with 2005.

    [23] Merchant Marine Ministry on demands of Panhellenic Seamen's Federation

    The positions of the Merchant Marine Ministry regarding the demands of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) were made public on Monday by the ministry and after a recent meeting which Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis had with the Federation's board at which discussion centered on ocean-going shipping, special links by ferries, maritime labor, social insurance, collective labor agreements and other matters.

    The discussion was held in a cordial atmosphere and the merchant marine minister committed himself on the undertaking of appropriate actions.

    Underlining the ministry's positions, Kefaloyiannis said:"Ocean-going shipping constitutes a vital national capital for our country. The securing of the unhindered employment of Greek seamen in parallel with the promotion and improvement of its competitiveness under Greek-flag ships constitutes a major care of the ministry."

    Kefaloyiannis added that "on the basis of the axis 'development, safety, quality, competitiveness, employment', decision was taken for measures for Greek ocean-going shipping, which aim at qualitative and quantitative improvement of the national registry and the increase of the offered jobs for Greek seamen."

    [24] U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki pays courtesy visit to Drama

    U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, Hoyt Brian Yee, on Monday visited the city of Drama for talks with the city's mayor and prefect.

    The courtesy visit by the new U.S. Consul General focused on investments by American entrepreneurs.

    Yee expounded during the talks on the attraction of new investments by American businesspersons and the possibility of growth which is opening after Bulgaria's accession to the European Union and to the operation of the Exohi Customs office.

    Welcoming the U.S. Consul General, Mayor Thomas Margaritis stressed the region's geopolitical importance following the opening of the Exohi Customs office and the opportunities presented for capitalizing on the prefecture's natural resources.

    The U.S. Consul General stressed that his primary aim is to attract businesses based in the U.S. to invest in the region, making known the existing potential.

    Afterwards, Yee visited Drama Prefect Constantine Evmoiridis who briefed the American diplomat on the prefecture's economic conditions, the high rate of unemployment which arose after the collapse of the regimes of the countries of Eastern Europe and the transfer of Greek clothing manufacturing businesses to these countries. The prefect also referred to the high quality of agricultural produce as well as to the region's world renowned wines.

    [25] Alexandroupolis, Dimitrovgrad delegations present EU's PHARE program

    Delegations from the municipalities of Alexandrpoupolis, northern Greece, and from Bulgaria's Dimitrovgrad held a working meeting in Alexandroupolis on Monday.

    At a press conference that followed, the official presentation was made of the European program PHARE, in the context of the start of the implementation of the project "Business Cooperation in Thrace", with partners the municipalities of Alexandroupolis and Dimitrovgrad of Bulgaria's Haskovo prefecture.

    The project is incorporated in the European Union's Program PHARE for the Greece-Bulgaria Cross-Border Cooperation.

    Alexandroupolis Mayor George Alexandris expressed the municipality's willingness for broadening cooperation within the framework of the common European future of the two countries.

    [26] Thessaloniki must obtain modern exhibition infrastructures

    The President of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and of the city's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dimitris Bakatselos, speaking with reporters on Monday said that "Thessaloniki must obtain modern exhibition infrastructures as soon as possible."

    He added that "the city has a historic advantage which we have no right to sell out. If we make this mistake we shall find it in front of us" and referred to moves for the development of exhibition centers that are being promoted by other neighboring countries, such as Turkey.

    In his view, the existing exhibition centre must be modernized at an initial stage and in the future Thessaloniki must obtain modern exhibition infrastructures, preferably on the western side of the city.

    Commenting on projects that Thessaloniki needs, he said that the Metro and the underwater tunnel will improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of Thessaloniki, but what the city needs to "take off" is the extension of the runway at Macedonia airport, the extension of the 6th peer at the port, the completion of the Egnatia motorway and, of course, the city obtaining a modern exhibition centre.

    Lastly, referring to talk of elections, Bakatselos expressed the view that there will be no early elections in the country, but noted that "talk of elections harms business and causes delays in the taking of important decisions."

    [27] Hellenic Exchanges to present BSE its common platform project with Cyprus Stock Exchange

    Hellenic Exchanges Group on Monday said it was organizing a special event in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Tuesday 30 January, to present its common platform project and the results of its cooperation with the Cyprus Stock Exchange to the Bulgarian Stock Exchange.

    The event is part of a strategy by Hellenic Exchanges to expand its activities with partnerships in the region. Spyros Kapralos, the chairman of Athens Stock Exchange, officials from the Cyprus Stock Exchange and executives from BNP Paribas and Citigroup Emerging Markets Trading will address the event. Viktor Papazov, founder and chairman of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange will also address the event.

    A delegation of Hellenic Exchanges, headed by its chief executive Spyros Kapralos, has also scheduled a series of meetings with Bulgarian officials during its two-day visit to Sofia.

    [28] Train passenger traffic up 10 pct in 2005 in Greece

    Train passenger traffic in Greece rose 10 percent in 2005 from the previous year, Eurostat said on Monday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the increase was one of the biggest percentage gains in the EU-25, where train passenger traffic rose 2.2 percent on average.

    Estonia (28 pct), Ireland (13 pct), Greece and Latvia (10 pct each) recorded the biggest increases, while Lithuania and Hungary (9.0 pct) recoded the biggest percentage declines.

    Eurostat said France, Germany, Italy and the UK accounted for 70 percent of total train passenger traffic in the European Union.

    The statistics agency said the railway network in Greece was mainly used for passenger traffic (94 pct), while cargo traffic was only 6.0 pct.

    [29] Greek gov't agrees 5.5-7.5 pct increase in taxi fares

    Greek Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday announced a 5.5-7.5 pct increase in taxi fares. The agreement, far below taxi-owners demands, was reached in a meeting between the two sides.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said both sides reached a compromise agreement to satisfy taxi-owners demands with fare increases moderately above the inflation rate and to contain taxi transport costs in the country.

    [30] Greek PPI up 2.2 pct in December, yr/yr

    The Greek Producer's Price Composite Index (measuring both domestic and foreign markets) rose 2.2 pct in December 2006, compared with the same month in 2005, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    The statistics service said the December 2.2 pct increase reflected a 2.7 pct increase in the domestic producer price index and a 0.9 pct rise in the foreign market producer price index. NSS, in a report, noted that the intermediate goods price index jumped 6.7 pct in December 2006, the durable goods price index rose 2.2 pct, the capital goods price index was up 1.9 pct and the consumer and energy goods price index rose 0.2 pct in the same period.

    The Producer's Price Index was down 0.1 pct in December 2006 from November 2006.

    [31] IOBE report on Greek clothing sector

    Greek clothing enterprises will have to focus on merger and acquisitions, partnerships with foreign enterprises, transferring part or all of their production line in low-cost countries, developing retail sales networks abroad, and adopting certification systems to meet challenges in a globalized environment, a survey by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Monday.

    The survey said that the clothing sector in the EU-15 and the US was currently in a transition phase due to intense competition from low labor cost countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc. Several enterprises are focusing on the production of high added value clothing with high-quality material and design. Others either prefer to stop operations and transfer their production line abroad or outsourcing to similar enterprises abroad.

    The clothing sector's outlook vary depending on the activity and strategy of enterprises, the report said, with companies using corporate brand names and operating a specialized retail sales network enjoying favorable prospects. Representatives of these companies, however, believe that competition will intensify in the coming years and that either large enterprises, or smaller flexible focusing on niche markets would be the ones to survive.

    Domestic demand for Greek clothing eased slightly for an average annual change of 0.3 pct in the period 1999-2003. Domestic production fell by an average annual rate of 7.7 pct in the same period. Domestic demand for prêt-a-porter products rose an average annual 17.9 pct in the 1999-2003 period. Accessories (23.9 pct), women clothes (18.4 pct) and men clothes (15.2 pct) recorded the biggest annual growth rates.

    Clothing manufacturers totaled 319 in Greece in 2002, with a workforce of 13,578, with both numbers down an average rate of 15.4 pct and 9.7 pct, respectively in the 1999-2002 period. Retail enterprises totaled 19,820 with a workforce of 22,013 in the same period.

    Despite a shrinking activity, the sector remained one of the most significant in Greek manufacturing, accounting for 8.3 pct of enterprises and for 5.9 pct of the workforce.

    The retail sector blossomed in the 1999-2003 period with turnover up 128 percent to 4.3 pct of total turnover by commercial enterprises in 2002 from 3.0 pct in 1999.

    [32] Nireus buys Spain's Predomar for 1.75 million euros

    Nireus SA on Monday announced the acquisition of Preengeorde De Doradas Para Maricultura S.L. (Predomar) through its subsidiary Nireus International Ltd.

    Predomar operates acquaculture facilities with a production capacity of 20 million annually, in Carboneras in Southern Spain. Nireus will pay 1,750,000 euros for the purchase of 100 percent of shares in Predomar in cash by May 2008.

    Following the acquisition, Nireus is strengthening its presence in Spain and in the Iberian peninsula in general. Nireus expects its turnover to increase by around 5.0 million euros and its pre-tax profits to rise by 1.0 million euros this year.

    [33] Greek stocks end slightly higher on Monday

    Greek stocks ended Monday's session slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 0.14 pct to end at 4,695.04 points with turnover a low 289.7 million euros.

    Sector indices moved higher with the Chemicals (2.76 pct), Utilities (0.88 pct) and Constructions (0.82 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Media (2.22 pct), Travel (0.70 pct) and Healthcare (0.61 pct) suffering losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.11 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 0.02 pct and the Small Cap index rose 0.06 pct.

    Ikona-Ihos (19.61 pct), Fieratex (12.88 pct) and Kego (10.31 pct) were top gainers, while Hitech (17.54 pct), Mohlos (9.09 pct) and Alter (5.83 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 144 to 102 with another 61 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.65%

    Industrials: -0.01%

    Commercial: -0.06%

    Construction: +0.82%

    Media: -2.22%

    Oil & Gas: -0.31%

    Personal & Household: +0.01%

    Raw Materials: -0.21%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.70%

    Technology: +0.73%

    Telecoms: -0.80%

    Banks: +0.13%

    Food & Beverages: +0.08%

    Health: -0.61%

    Utilities: +0.88%

    Chemicals: +2.76%

    Financial Services: +0.28%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Piraeus Bank, OTE and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 25.30

    ATEbank: 4.24

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 21.70

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.70

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.08

    Emporiki Bank: 22.94

    National Bank of Greece: 39.34

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 30.00

    Intralot: 25.50

    Cosmote: 23.38

    OPAP: 29.48

    OTE: 22.78

    Titan Cement Company: 43.20

    [34] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totalled 3.728 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.651 billion euros were bid orders and 2.077 billion were sell orders.

    The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2016) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.335 billion euros, followed by the 10-year bond (July 20, 2015) with 837 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.25 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.39 pct and the German 4.13 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank‚s overnight rate was 3.57 pct, the two-day rate was 3.58 pct, the one-month rate was 3.61 pct and the 12-month rate was 4.09 pct.

    [35] Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.302

    Pound sterling 0.665

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.145

    Japanese yen 158

    Swiss franc 1.634

    Norwegian kroner 8.240

    Cyprus pound 0.583

    Canadian dollar 1.542

    Australian dollar 1.686

    General News

    [36] Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to receive Cardinal Koening International Award

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will be given the International Cardinal Koening 2007 Award, as unanimously agreed in Vienna by the committee of the foundation "Communio et Progressio", that gives the award bearing the name of the late Roman Catholic Archbishop for many decades and Cardinal of Austria Franz Koening.

    The award will be given to the Primate of Orthodoxy during a ceremony to be held at the Saint Stephen Church in Vienna on March 13, in the presence of all the Catholic bishops of Austria and the heads of the other Churches.

    The decision taken by the foundation underlines the personality of the Ecumenical Patriarch who, in an impressive way, has given a considerable impetus to the Ecumenical Dialogue of Christian Churches and to religious peace in ever-widening Europe, while assuming initiatives to maintain Creation.

    The decision also points out that the indefatigable struggles of Vartholomeos for reconciliation, justice and peace among Christianity are being honored with the Cardinal Koening Award, as well as his relations with other global religions.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch had made a seven-day official visit to Austria in June 2004, which was the first visit to this country in history by a Primate of Orthodoxy, during which the Austrian state, religious and spiritual leadership had honored him with a series of events.

    [37] Memorial event in honor of Greek Jews killed by Nazis

    The anniversary events in honour of the Greek Jews who were wiped out by the Nazis during World War II came to a close at the Vassiliko Theatre in Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, on Monday night with a memorial event.

    "The blood spilt of Christians and Greek Jews in our nation during the last world war forbids us to close our eyes in front of the war and terrorism. With the conviction that the steadfast commitment of Greece in the values of peace, justice and humanitarianism is the recognition of the sacrifice of our compatriots, united we dedicate our strength so that humanity never again witnesses another Holocaust," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a written message."

    [38] 'Multi-colored Gods' exhibition arrives in Athens

    Vincent Brinkmann, the head of a group from Munich University, introduced Monday evening the exhibition "Multi-coloured Gods" to the Greek public, that arrived at the National Archaeological Museum from Munich as part of its tour of Europe.

    "We are offering to you an experiment, or rather an approach to the image of ancient Greek colours as a painting on marble," Brinkmann said.

    The exhibition was inaugurated by Culture Minister George Voulgarakis, stressing its particular nature "on the theories of the scientific community on the painting of the ancient Greek monuments."

    [39] Defense ministry delegation visits Epirus Region

    A delegation from the National Defense Ministry, with the Director General for Economic Planning and Support, Pelopidas Kalliris, met on Monday at Ionnina, northwestern Greece, with members of the Epirus Region General Secretariat to exchange views regarding the new 2007-2013 period program.

    The delegation presented the proposals for Epirus, which the ministry is discussing and for which it will ask for funding. These concern the modernization of the floating lighthouses, which are related mainly to shipping, the tourism promotion of the stone lighthouses, the replacement of asbestos from the military camps, the building of museums at Kalpaki and Bizani and the creation of cultural excursions of military history.

    [40] 13th Symi Festival to be dedicated to late journalist Diakoyannis

    The 13th Symi Festival this summer will be dedicated to the memory of journalist Yannis E. Diakoyannis, according to a decision taken by the island's Municipal Council to honor the inspirer and creator of the Festival. Three days of events will be held in Diakoyannis' memory.

    The Festival will formally open with a concert by a popular Greek singer, who has not yet been named. Other events include a "Sojourn of the world" through the late journalists' articles and correspondences, with musical parentheses.

    The three-day memorial events will end with a day seminar on "Journalism's contribution to history".

    [41] Concert in Athens in honor of composer Manos Hadjidakis

    The Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy will organize a concert in honor of composer Manos Hadjidakis titled "Common Myth", marking the 82nd anniversary of his birth, at the Concert Hall in Athens on Tuesday, February 6.

    Manos Hadjidakis, who received an Oscar in 1961 for his song in Jules' Dassin film 'Never on Sunday' starring Melina Mercouri, was born in 1925 and died in 1994.

    The Institute‚s president, Ioannis Varvitsiotis, in a press conference he gave on Monday, said "it does not concern in any way a memorial service but a celebration."

    Varvitsiotis added that "it is the first time, after the death of the composer, that a scientific political agency such as the Institute, is organizing such an event and this because we want to remind that Politics must draw from Art so as not to lose its inspiration, its strength and mainly its humanitarian character."

    [42] Greek-German conference on 'Prospects of Europe'

    "The prospects of Europe" will be the theme of the Greek-German conference that will be held on February 8-9, under the auspices of Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda and German Parliament President Norbert Lammert, in the Old Parliament building.

    Among other things to be discussed during the conference will be the major issues preoccupying the European Union and the program of the German presidency, the role of national Parliaments and of the European Parliament in European developments, while the cultural roots and the spiritual values of the EU will also be examined.

    The main speakers will be Benaki-Psarouda, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, German European Affairs Minister Gunter Gloser, the Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, European Parliament Vice President Rodi Kratsa and Greek Parliament Vice Presidents Sotiris Hadjigakis and Filippos Petsalnikos.

    [43] Presentation of book 'Greek Stone Lighthouses'

    Lighthouses, symbols of shipping, today constitute modern monuments and their existence witnesses Greece's great ship-ping history.

    The Hellenic-American Union on Monday night presented the new edition of the book of Gisis Papageorgiou "Greek Stone Lighthouses" which has gone into circulation by "Ammos" publishers and in which is registered and presented Greece's stone lighthouses.

    The book first circulated in 1996.

    The presentation of the book was made by managing director of the Hellenic-American Union, Leonidas-Fivos Koskos.

    Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos was also at the presentation.

    [44] ND offices, Citibank branch torched in Thessaloniki, Athens

    Two ruling New Democracy (ND) local party offices in Thessaloniki were the targets of attacks with homemade incendiary devices early Monday.

    The two attacks, made by unidentified individuals, took place in the early morning hours on Monday and took place 15 minutes apart, causing only minor damage.

    Also, a Citibank branch in Melissia, Athens, was torched at dawn by unidentified individuals who used a homemade incendiary device.

    The explosion and fire that broke out caused no damages.

    [45] Tea expert addresses Institut Francais event in Thessaloniki

    "Good for the health and palatable, tea gives energy, relaxes and offers a sense of well-being," French tea specialist Jean-Marie Verlet stressed here on Monday during a guided tour of the "tea routes" campaign at Thessaloniki's Institut Francais.

    Tea drinking is an English habit -- as far as European go -- that has won fanatical followers in France and Germany during the last 20 years, Verlet said, while noting that one main difference is that the British prefer the black variety of tea while the French and the Germans tend to try new varieties.

    Verlet added that Greek consumers have only lately appeared to show a preference to tea, especially in the wake of studies showing the drink's antioxidant qualities.

    According to legend, tea drinking started in 2737 BC when Chinese Emperor Shen Nung decided to boil some water and leaves from a tea tree when the latter fell into his pot by mistake. He was so excited with the flavor and aroma the leaves exuded that he decided to spread tea's consumption.

    Verlet said more than 7,000 kinds of tea can be found in China, but that all tea varieties and flavors come from the same plant. The different processing of the tea leaves produces green tea, black tea or the "Wulong" variety.

    [46] Horses from Andalusia to dance flamenco in Thessaloniki

    Horses bred in the Spanish region of Andalusia, making up the Andalucia Cabalga performance team, will dance flamenco in Thessaloniki in four shows to take place on the HELEXPO exhibition grounds within the framework of Zootechnia 2007: 5th International Fair for Livestock and Poultry, on February 8-11.

    Spectators will have the opportunity to watch the special training techniques used on the horses and observe the way people in Europe used to ride horses in the 16th, 17th and 21st centuries.

    The public will also have the chance to experience a Feria feast day, an original local celebration in the region of Andalusia.

    [47] Cyber-revenge a new trend among jilted lovers, Greek police report

    The Internet is increasingly becoming the method of choice among jilted lovers, particularly men, for getting back at former partners. According to the deputy chief of Thessaloniki's electronic crimes department Nikos Serketzis, the majority of the cases undertaken by the police concerned the publication of personal details on the Internet for reasons of revenge.

    Serketzis said this included the publication of erotic photographs of a former love interest or even the individual's telephone number. He noted, however, that the culprits were often protected from prosecution and arrest by the same privacy laws that they had earlier flouted, since Internet companies refused to give up their identity and details.

    "In order to proceed with solving cases, we have to apply to have privacy rules lifted first," he noted, noting that such orders had already been issued for three cases so far.

    Sports

    [48] Kenteris, Thanou trial postponed until September

    The trial of Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, who along with their coach Christos Tzekos kicked off a storm of scandal just before the start of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens over missed doping tests, was postponed until September 24 by a Piraeus Misdemeanours Court on Monday.

    The two athletes, their coach and another nine people face charges for faking a road accident on August 12 and the subsequent hospitalisation of Thanou and Kenteris for injuries allegedly sustained in the crash, so that they would not have to be submitted to doping tests.

    Tzekos is additionally charged with supplying, importing and possessing banned substances.

    The others charged in the case are seven doctors at Athens' KAT hospital that treated the pair and two private individuals that claimed to have witnessed the accident and have been charged with perjury.

    The trial was rescheduled because the court ran out of time for the hearing.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [49] Spokesman says UN hope for leaders' meeting before end of March

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis pointed out on Monday that in a letter sent by UN Undersecretary General for political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to the leaders of the two communities, he expresses hope that the leaders would be able to meet before the end of March, as long as the preconditions that would contribute to the meeting's success would be met.

    Asked about remarks by Turkish Cypriot so-called prime minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer about a meeting between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Pashiardis said Soyer ''chose to refer to the meeting but failed to mention the preconditions.''

    Pashiardis said ''it is a fact that Gambari's letter mentions a meeting between the leaders of the two communities, of course as long as those preconditions that would strengthen the possibility and prospect of it proving effective prevail.''

    ''In any case, our side is already ready to contribute effectively to meeting the preconditions for a meeting between the leaders of the two communities, just as the July 8 agreement provides for,'' he said.

    Asked if the agreement set a date for the meeting, Pashiardis said it did not but ''hopes it will be possible by the end of March.''

    President Papadopoulos and Talat agreed on July 8th 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [50] Cyprus moves to remove negative points in Contact Group report

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Parliament Contact Group with the Turkish Cypriots is not justified in slipping towards drafting proposals that would tend to upgrade an illegal entity, Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Monday.

    The Cypriot official said Cyprus' Permanent Representation in Brussels had already moved in the direction of ''removing any negative points'' that may be included in the Group's draft report.

    Replying to questions regarding the Group's report, Pashiardis pointed out that ''it is a draft report and not a final and approved text,'' adding that ''we do not yet know the content of the report, it has not been publicised.''

    ''Now, regarding the alleged suggestions in the specific draft, at least as we have seen them in the press, a first general observation is that the proposal to establish a permanent dialogue with the occupation regime and to give the capacity of observer to so-called MPs of this illegal regime, shows a tendency for the political upgrading of the pseudostate,'' he said.

    Pashiardis added that ''the issue of giving the status of observer to so-called MPs of the pseudostate was raised about two years ago and had been dismissed by the Parliament.''

    He said ''the Contact Group has a specific mandate and surely is not justified in slipping towards drafting proposals that would tend to politically upgrade an illegal entity.''

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [51] Cyprus protests EU inspections in Turkish occupied areas

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The Cypriot government has made strong representations to the EU regarding the inspection by the European Commission of establishments in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, and continues to make representations, since it deems as unsatisfactory the explanation that this is done to familiarise the Turkish Cypriots with the acquis communautaire.

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Monday that ''two European Commission delegations would be travelling to the occupied areas over the next few days, in order to inspect the technical infrastructure of the ports and airports.''

    ''Our Permanent Representation in Brussels has already made very strong representations to the EU. The reply was that the purpose of the visit was exclusively to familiarise the Turkish Cypriots with the acquis communautaire, regarding the issue of port and airport safety,'' Pashiardis said.

    He added that ''for us this reply is not satisfactory and the representations to the EU are continuing.''

    [52] AKEL meets Turkish Cypriot Platform ''This country is ours''

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    All issues as regards the opening of a crossing point at the end of one of Nicosia's main commercial streets, Ledra Street were discussed during a meeting between leader of left-wing AKEL party and the Turkish Cypriot Platform "This country is ours".

    Both sides expressed the wish that all crossings open under conditions of safety, stressing the importance of securing safe passage for Cypriots crossing to and from the Turkish occupied areas of the country and noted that further measures from the military, such as demanning, should be taken.

    Responding to questions AKEL General Secretary Demetris Christofias said that he raised the issue of demanning at the meeting, pointing out that the demolishing of a bridge or an observation post are not enough and that other issues that have to do with the presence of the military in the area need to be settled.

    He further noted that AKEL is still working in the direction of opening Ledra Street, reminding the relevant agreement between his party and the Republican Turkish Party (RTP) and expressing the hope that the UN will soon undertake an initiative so as to have positive results.

    Speaking on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot Platform, Hurrem Tulga, said that in order to solve the problems there must be a joint effort and cause.

    It is everybody's wish to open this crossing point as well as other crossings following the same procedures as in the cases of the previous checkpoints, within the UN framework, he said, expressing the hope that the wall on the side of the government controlled areas will also be demolished.


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