|Wednesday, 1 April 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-04-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 27 April 2007 Issue No: 2580
 Visiting Indian president meets with Greek leadership, bilateral accords signedPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday met with the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, who is on a state visit to Greece, the first such visit by an Indian head of state in 21 years.
The Indian head of state was later received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the latter's Maximos Mansion office.
Two noteworthy agreements were signed by the Greek and Indian delegations: one on cooperation in science and technology signed on behalf of the two governments by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and India's Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar; and the other on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, signed by Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias and the Indian ambassador in Athens Dr. Bhaskar Balakrishnan.
In a joint statement after their meeting, the two presidents stressed Greece's and India's common goal for commercial exchanges between the two countries to reach and exceed one billion euros in 2010, while Kalam noted that India planned to invest more than 300 billion dollars in infrastructure over the next decade.
Papoulias announced that Greece and India would work jointly towards wiping out the scourge of illegal trafficking of persons, a problem which he said "injures human dignity and shames society".
Asked whether they discussed international issues, such as Iran's nuclear programme, the Middle East or the Cyprus issue, Kalam noted that over the past 50 years his country has placed great emphasis on development and for this reason has used nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, such as electricity supply and in the agricultural sector, among others.
"We do not meddle in the affairs of our neighbours. However, we generally believe that there will be, and must be, disarmament of the entire region. But this must be an initiative that is supported by all the sides involved," he said.
On Iran's nuclear programme, Kalam replied that it should continue, provided it is used for strictly peaceful purposes.
Papoulias said talks were held in a very friendly climate, which was an exceptionally auspicious sign for the further development of relations between the two countries.
"President Kalam has come with a large delegation of politicians, scientists and technocrats, which reflects the importance he places on cooperation between our two countries," Papoulias said, adding that there were "many sectors for cooperation between the two countries, given that India is interested in the development of tourism and renewal energy sources, in which it holds one of the top positions in the world".
Papoulias said he was absolutely satisfied with the outcome of the talks, and expressed certainty that the development of multi-faceted relations between Greece and India would be rapid.
After meeting Papoulias, the Indian president also had a meeting with Greek Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia to discuss bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector.
After the meeting, Petralia noted that both Greece and India have a strong interest in the tourism industry and very cordial relations, while the meeting set the seal on a bilateral cooperation accord signed between the two countries.
Kalam arrived in Athens on Wednesday for a four-day state visit to Greece, leading a high ranking delegation, including minister of state for New and Renewable Energy Sources Vilas Muttemwar, Rajya Sabha (Council of States, the upper house of the Indian parliament) members T.R. Zeiland and Pyaremohan Mohapatra, four eminent scientists and senior officials.
This visit comes 21 years after the last State visit by an Indian President to Greece in November 1986.
Earlier, Kalam was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit of the City of Athens by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis during a ceremony at city hall.
 Parliament president meets with visiting Indian presidentParliamnet President Anna Psarouda-Benaki met on Thursday with visiting Indian President Dr. Abdul Kalam.
The Greek official termed Kalam's visit a "strong link in the relationship between the two states and peoples", ties based on "common cultural values and convictions regarding peace, respect of human rights and democracy."
She also noted that Greece supports a cooperation agreement linking India and the European Union.
The Indian president referred, on his part, to "the positive momentum created on an international level by such cooperation between nations", while he expressed the Indian people's "feelings of friendship and respect towards Greece."
The Indian President also met with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 President Karolos Papoulias hosts dinner in honour of Indian counterpartPresident Karolos Papoulias hosted a dinner on Thursday evening in honour of India's President Abdul Kalam, who is currently on an official visit to Greece, underlining the deep roots of friendship existing between the two countries and pointing out that Greece places great importance on its relations with India that has a "considerable presence and influence in international developments."
The Greek President said that "Greece is aware of the special weight of India. I am, therefore, confident that the excellent level of our relations will not only be maintained but will also develop in many ways for the benefit of our peoples, since our cooperation in the political, economic and cultural sector will be widening continuously."
President Papoulias said that India is currently playing a leading role in an economic revolution, underlining the high level of bilateral relations in the economic sector and expressing hope that "in 2010 we shall reach the goal of one billion dollars in our trade transactions."
The President also noted cooperation existing between Greece and India at the UN that "began from the time of the struggles against colonialism and developed into mutual understanding for the issues facing each of our countries."
 President of India addresses ELIAMEP eventThe President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, who is on a state visit to Greece, addressed an event organised by the Foundation of Foreign and European Policy of Greece (ELIAMEP) at a central Athens hotel on Thursday evening on the theme "Peace and Prosperity".
The Indian president referred to the proclamations that in 2020, India aims at being self-sufficient in energy, to have eliminated poverty and illiteracy and to have been transformed into a modern country which will prosper.
He explained that his country's hopes for the future, with its one billion population, is placed on its 540 million youths, of which 50 per cent are below the age of 20.
"We must inspire the youths and to also link our country and the 20 million Indians who are in all parts of the world," said Dr. Kalam. The president explained that India has a multi-cultural structure and on the basis of this legacy has many institutional investors and attempts to project a system of investments.
The Indian economy presents an increase of between eight and nine per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and it believes that it will soon reach 10 per cent.
 Bakoyannis attends informal meeting of NATO FMs in OsloOSLO (ANA-MPA/N. Melissova)
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is attending an informal two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers which began in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday.
The discussions are focused on anti-missile defence, Afghanistan, Kosovo and NATO's enlargement.
The informal nature of the meeting, which started in the afternoon with an open agenda and without the commitment for official conclusions, gives an opportunity for discussion on a broad spectrum of issues and for interesting contacts to be held on the sidelines of the conference.
Thursday's talks mainly centred on anti-missile defence, which is being promoted by the American side and is opposed by Russia. The centre of attention is turned to the presence in Oslo of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and of her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
An informal session of the NATO-Russia Council was also expected to take place late Thursday night.
 Valinakis stresses Athens' support for EU Constitutional TreatyBERLIN (ANA-MPA - P. Stangos)
Greece supports the efforts of the German EU presidency to find a solution on the issue of the EU Constitutional Treaty at the next European Council in June, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told German officials in Berlin on Thursday.
Greece considers a base for the solution to be the same Constitutional Treaty already ratified by 18 of the 27 EU member-states, Valynakis said in a meeting with German State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office Reinhard Silberberg and the head of the chancellery's European Affairs office Uwe Corsepius.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Valinakis said the meeting had been interesting and useful and that the negotiations over the EU Constitution begun by the German presidency had already entered a crucial phase, since Berlin wished to wrap up the exchange of views by May 6, when the next round of the French elections is due to take place.
The aim is to reach a first set of proposals that will be finalised at a higher political level before the summit on June 21.
"We in Greece are interested in Europe going forward, not back. We are interested in more Europe and not less Europe. We are interested in ensuring that this European constitutional treaty is at its centre and not the thing that weakens it. In practical terms, this means that we will contribute positively with our own powers in the direction of the German presidency so that the result will be positive and good for all Europe next June," he said.
While not overlooking the difficulties involved in finding a solution that satisfied everyone - including the 18 countries that had already ratified the treaty - Greece insisted on the fundamentals of the constitutional treaty.
Regarding the term "constitutional treaty" that had already been removed from the Berlin Statement of March 5, Valinakis said that Greece "insists on the terminology because we respect our signature and the ratification process carried out in our country".
 Greek, Bulgarian defence ministers meet in AthensGreece and Bulgaria are close to signing two new cooperation memorandums, Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and his Bulgarian counterpart Vesselin Bliznakov announced after their meeting in Athens on Thursday.
The first memorandum is for cooperation between the hydrographic services of the armed forces of the two countries. The second is concerned with cooperation between the air forces of the two countries and aims at better control of air borders in the framework of NATO, in order to deal with terrorism.
In their statements, the two ministers reaffirmed the excellent climate of cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria in defence technology and said they intended to develop this further.
Also discussed during the meeting was the security situation in the region, with Meimarakis and Bliznakov agreement on the need to establish a climate of security for economic growth and democracy in the region.
Referring to Kosovo, Meimarakis reiterated Greece's support for finding a viable and functional solution with a long-term horizon and stressed the importance of having a multi-ethnic military force in the region to ensure a smooth transition to the new status whenever this was agreed, as well as the EU's planned political operation after the new status was established to reinforce the rule of law.
Bliznakov, who thanked Greece for its support of Bulgaria's effort to join EuroAtlantic structures, was later received by President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.
 PASOK party leader addresses Economist magazine conferenceMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou addressed the Economist magazine's conference in Athens on Thursday, stressing that the "new patriotic wager is the guaranteeing of the strong and effective voice of the Greek people in international developments, as well as that our identity must be an identity of peace, cooperation and justice."
Papandreou added that the socialist party's democratic wager is to give the citizen political strength and to guarantee that his voice will be heard at all levels.
He further said that the social wager for PASOK is to give the citizen confidence and protection, while the development wager concerns the utilisation of our comparative advantages.
Papandreou stressed that PASOK "is creating the correct mixture of balance between the market and state regulatory intervention to guarantee the dynamism of economic action on the one hand and freedom and the protection of citizens and of the environment on the other."
PASOK today, Papandreou said, was setting new priorities for Greece that are different even from those of the party's previous governments that prepared the country for a more creative, dynamic and fair society.
Papandreou defined his government's three main goals as follows:the first goal is viable development that will be based on knowledge and the green economy. The economy will have as a goal its transition into an economy of knowledge intensity and not of cheap, uninsured and unskilled labour.
He went on to say that "one will not only speak of convergence with the other European countries but also of a new development leap, considering that education is a crucial issue for the leap to take place", while also referring to the role of the public university and not at all to non-state-run universities.
The second great goal, that Papandreou termed a visionary one, is social agreement that will safeguard the society of solidarity and will focus on man. He also said that the state must guarantee the social insurance system, meaning viability and tripartite funding, and stressed that social insurance is a guaranteed collective commodity and not an individual issue for each person.
The third goal is the creation of an effective state with strong regions. There will be a new structuring of the country with fewer and stronger municipalities. He said that it is a great and difficult reform that, however, is absolutely necessary.
Papandreou said that the government "is creating harm now" and reiterated his appeal for elections (elections are normally due in the country in March 2008).
He also mentioned that there are many today who, regardless of whatever motives, are expressing concern over the prolonged period that the country has entered.
Lastly, Papandreou stressed that PASOK is ready to rule and accused the government of preoccupying itself with the production of fictitious reforms, undermining the future of the economy and weakening the social fabric.
 Joschka Fischer, James Rubin touch on Europe, Iraq during Economist addresses in AthensTwo former high-ranking foreign policy decision-makers for their respective governments, Germany's ex-foreign minister Joschka Fischer and former assistant secretary of state James Rubin, were the latest international speakers to address the 11th "Economist Government Roundtable" in Athens on Wednesday evening.
"European Union is not strong, is not united enough to face the current global challenges," Fischer said, among others, regarding Europe's role in the world. He also stressed that Europe is not in a good shape due to the fact that it still coping with the consequences of the Cold War.
Furthermore, Fischer stressed the need for institutions that will secure Europe's strength and unity.
Making reference to security issues, he strongly favoured the aspect that a path to the European family should open for all the Balkan countries.
Touching upon Russia's geopolitical role, Fischer charged Russia with exhibiting an "arrogant behaviour", as he pointed to what he termed enormously high prices of its energy resources.
Regarding Iraq, Fischer estimated that the United States will reconsider its policy.
On his part, Rubin, a well-known figure in the Clinton administration, said that Washington and the Union previously followed a common policy, a fact that was dispelled in the case of Iraq. He supported the notion that US policy should promote multilateralism and he sharply criticised US President George W Bush.
 Parliament ratifies Convention against corruptionParliament's plenum on Thursday ratified the Justice Ministry's bill titled "Ratification and implementation of the penal law Convention against corruption and the Added to this Protocol".
 Government backs Tsitouridis statements in ParliamentAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday fully supported statements made the previous day by Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis before a Parliamentary committee investigating pension fund investments in high-risk structured bonds.
"Mr. Tsitouridis covered all the issues that fall into his brief," the spokesman said concerning the overall picture presented by the minister.
His backing extended to Tsitouridis' assertion of "collective responsibility" by the government, which he stressed was being quoted out of context and actually referred to the government's overall effort for reforms.
"It does not help inform the Greek people if certain words are taken in isolation to create impressions. All that was said by Mr. Tsitouridis in Parliament was clear and concerned the government's effort to promote reforms that will benefit citizens," he said.
The spokesman pointed out that the government, led by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, had made a promise which it was carrying out, namely to ensure transparency and to lead to justice any case where corruption was implication.
Questioned about Tsitouridis' statement that the finance ministry "has and will give explanations" regarding the bonds affair, Antonaros replied only that "the government acts collectively. It is a collective body".
The spokesman also ruled out any possibility of a cabinet reshuffle, in response to questions, stressing that the government had no such intention.
 FinMin briefs Parliamentary Finance Committee on bonds issueFinance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis briefed the Parliamentary Finance Committee on Thursday on the issue of the purchase of structured bonds, stressing that procedures for issuing the bonds were absolutely transparent and favourable for the Hellenic state.
"If, however, we are convinced that with the proposal by J.P. Morgan on the return of the bonds the 4 social insurance funds will be fully compensated then we shall accept the proposal, even if it means a small loss for the Hellenic state," the minister said.
The Committee's briefing took place at the initiative of Alogoskoufis, who thanked his deputy minister Petros Doukas for his work at the State General Accounting Office.
 Government dismisses 'Vima' report on bond issue as "ill-informed"The government on Thursday dismissed a report run by the Greek newspaper "Vima" regarding the payment of an advanced commission for the controversial structured bond bought by pension funds.
According to alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, by running the article the newspaper demonstrated that it had "either understood nothing or is attempting to create certain impressions."
"There is no issue of advance commission from the figures presented in 'To Vima'. It is obvious that all the terms of a loan are agreed shortly before it is finally issued," the spokesman said.
According to the newspaper, some 20 million euros were earned before the bond was issued.
Antonaros flatly denied this was the case, saying that there was certainly no payment of money before the final issue of the bond.
 Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis addresses conference on foreign ministries' roleDeputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis addressed a conference on Thursday evening on the role played by foreign ministries in promoting the goals of economic diplomacy, stressing that Greece has promoted economic diplomacy to an equal pylon of its foreign policy.
Stylianidis referred to Greece's activities to strengthen relations with a number of Balkan countries, as well as of southeastern Europe, the Black Sea and the Arab world.
He also spoke specifically of initiatives aimed at developing economic diplomacy both in the economic and services sectors and focused on the importance of energy diplomacy, underlining the importance of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline and of the natural gas pipeline from Tbilisi to Greece and Italy.
 Minister warns businesses to respect Greek positions on FYROM's nameDeputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Thursday warned all businesses based in Greece to fully respect the country's positions regarding the name used by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in their dealings with that country.
"All those who have commercial or investment activity in the specific neighbouring country must absolutely respect our national position on this issue. Of course, we will take measures, if needed, in order for every person to take on their responsibility," he said.
Stylianidis was replying to a question put to him in Parliament by main opposition PASOK MP Yiannis Magriotis.
Magriotis had presented a photocopy of a promotional leaflet prepared by the company Hellenic Petroleum that was distributed in London, bearing a map in which FYROM is depicted with its adopted name of 'Macedonia'.
Magriotis demanded the resignation of Hellenic Petroleum's board over the issue.
 Spokesman on Almunia's statements, Al Qaeda rumourGreece's alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday said that statements calling for pension reforms by European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia the previous day were a "general position on social security issues and the ageing of Europe's population".
"The government's positions on the social insurance issue are known and there is no change to its position," he added.
The spokesman also dismissed rumours that members of Al Qaeda might be activated in Greece, saying that he had no information to that effect.
 Public order minister meets KKE delegationPublic Order Minister Vyron Polydoras on Thursday received a delegation from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which briefed him on an issue that arose the previous day during the police mobilisation in response to information of a possible terrorist threat targeting the U.S. Embassy in Athens.
After the meeting, the minister said he had outlined to the delegation the necessity of taking the specific measures.
 Farakos widow presents his archives to ParliamentThe widow of Grigoris Farakos, the late leader of the Communist Party of Greece, has offered his archives and some of his personal effects to the Greek Parliament in a letter sent to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday.
In her reply, the Parliament president expressed her thanks for the offer, describing Farakos as a "special figure with a determining presence in forming the events of modern Greece".
 FinMin presents gov't's main economic goalsEconomy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday presented the main goals of the government's economic policy for the coming years, saying a consolidation of public finances on a permanent basis was the biggest challenge facing the Greek economy.
Addressing a conference on the future of Europe, organised in Athens by the economy and finance ministry, Alogoskoufis said more efforts were needed despite the very positive achievements made in reducing the country's fiscal deficit to 2.6 pct of GDP last year. "We must continue reforms to other directions as well," he said.
The Greek minister stressed that other main goals of economic policy were ensuring the long-term viability of the social security system in conditions of maximum social consensus and politics, a more efficient management of EU funds in the period 2007-2013 and exploiting the country's geopolitical position "which has already begun to bear positive economic results," he said.
Alogoskoufis said no country can copy others' experience completely in order to implement its own model of growth, while he stressed that a reform policy implemented in Greece was a "synthesis" of reform policies implemented in other EU member-states, although he expressed optimism that "in some years we could refer to a Greek model".
Former FinMin and current PASOK MP Nikos Christodoulakis (Alogoskoufis' predecessor) urged for a beginning of a debate in the country regarding a new wealth tax, such as on off-shore and corporate profits, along with new and higher tax factors.
Yiannos Papantoniou, who was Christodoulakis' predecessor in a previous PASOK government as well, emphasised the need to maintain economic growth rates above 4.0 percent for the 11th consecutive year, and to promote more structural reforms.
Finally, economy ministers from Malta, Portugal, Sweden and a government official from Ireland presented the economic models implemented by their governments.
 ASE head invites Southeast European markets to participate in common platform project"Our vision is to create a single capital market in the wider Southeast European market, which will maintain the characteristics of an emerging market. The size of this market will help attract part of liquidity directed towards emerging markets," Spyros Kapralos, chairman of the Athens Stock Exchange said on Thursday.
Addressing an Economist conference in Athens, Kapralos said financial markets have experienced significant structural changes in the last decades, mainly because of the technology boom and the continuing effort by investors for more transparency, better prices, lower costs and equal opportunities for all.
Stock markets will face increased competition, Kapralos said, adding that this could lead to more consolidation in the industry with the aim to cut costs through scale economies and raising the number of their products and services.
Kapralos said it was too early for any prediction over the winners in this race, but stressed it was more than clear that the industry was entering a new phase of consolidation. "Stock markets that will not invest in technology, won't improve their operations or timely decide on their strategy, will enter this new environment with a reduced negotiating power," he added.
He refered to the cooperation between the Greek and Cypriot stock markets through the introduction of a common platform project, which was fully successful. Kapralos said the Athens Stock Exchange has already expressed interest to forge a cooperation with the Bulgarian Stock Exchange, including the purchase of a 44 pct equity stake expected to be offered to investors. Other markets have also expressed interest in buying this stake (OMX and the stock markets of Germany, Italy, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic), while other smaller markets in the region were seeking alliances (such as the Slovenian market).
"We would like to invite stock markets in Southeastern Europe to participate in this common effort, through adopting the common platform project to acquire access fast and with low cost to international liquidity, to open their markets to new products by maintaining their operational independence and reducing their operating spending," Kapralos said.
 European Parliament ratifies report on fishing boat modernisationSTRASBOURG (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)
The European Parliament plenum on Thursday provided new modernisation possibilities for fishing boats with the ratification of a report by Greek Eurodeputy Yiannis Glavakis on behalf of the Fisheries Committee.
Adopting the report with 572 votes in favour, 35 against and 10 abstentions, the Eurodeputies acknowledged the possibility of European Union member-states to make a "limited increase in the capacity of their fishing boats."
The ultimate aim of this increase is "the improvement of safety, work and hygiene conditions, as well as the quality of products on board with the creation of refrigeration facilities."
 Greek fishing fleet largest in the EU, EurostatGreece has the largest fishing fleet in the European Union, Eurostat said on Thursday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said the Greek fishing fleet totaled 18,275 vessels, or 20.4 pct of total EU fleet, followed by Italy with 16.2 pct, Spain 15.3 pct and Portugal 11.1 pct. Greece's fishing fleet totaled 19,962 boats in 2000.
Eurostat said 93.8 pct of the Greek fishing fleet included boats less than 12 metres in length, up from an 81.6 pct average rate in the EU-25, while the Greek fishing fleet's average age was 23.9 years, up from an average of 20 years in the EU-25.
The report said 96.7 pct of the Greek fleet was less than 25 tons, up from an 87.7 percent in the EU.
 Athens municipality, NBG sign land deal for new Panathinaikos sports complexAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and representatives of the National Bank of Greece (NBG) on Thursday signed a real estate contract for 7.5 hectares in the Greek capital's previously industrial district of Votanikos (central Athens) for 20 million euros.
A new sports complex -- football stadium, indoor court, auxiliary facilities and some commercial space -- for the Panathinaikos Athens club will be built on the purchased land and adjoining plots.
The 20 million euros comes from the municipality's coffers as part of a deal for a double redevelopment project -- at the Votanikos site and in the Alexandras Avenue area where Panathinaikos' antiquated pitch lies today.
Immediately after the signing of the contract, Kaklamanis said it was necessary in order for work on the ambitious Votanikos project to begin.
"The obstacles are being overcome, one by one. I hope that in the next few days we will also wrap up a cooperation memorandum with Panathinaikos Amateur. After that, the road - while not necessarily easy - will begin to become broad," Kaklamanis said.
 World Intellectual Property Day celebrated in GreeceWorld Intellectual Property Day is celebrated this year in Greece, for the second year. The Day aims at making people aware and of recognising the contribution of the creators, inventors and others' rights to intellectual property.
On Thursday, in the course of events organised on the occasion by the Intellectual Property Organisation, an agency supervised by the Culture Ministry with the participation of all the agencies which represent intellectual property rights, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis gave an address.
"The protection of intellectual property encourages investments, including the financing of research and development, creates jobs and improves the value of products," Stylianidis said. He added that "these beneficial actions are under threat of being abolished by the modern plague of piracy, which constitutes a world phenomenon affecting all developed countries and which is acquiring disturbing proportions, despite the institutional framework which they possess and the international agreements."
 World Day for Safety and Health at Work honoured in GreeceThe securing of satisfactory conditions of safety and health at work and the improvement of the labour environment constitute an essential priority of the government's policy, Deputy Employment and Social Protection Minister Gerassimos Yiakoumatos said in a press conference in Athens on Thursday.
April 26 has been established as World Day for Safety and Health at Work, while initially in America and Canada, it was regarded by the trade unions as a day of memory for workers who lost their lives in labour accidents.
Yiakoumatos said that according to data of the International Labour Organisation, 2.2 million people die every year from labour accidents and related illnesses. At the same time, about 270 million working people worldwide have suffered non-fatal labour accidents, while it is estimated that about 160 million suffer from labour related illnesses. The total cost of the accidents and of the labour related illnesses is estimated to annually exceed four per cent of the world Gross Domestic Product.
Yiakoumatos also noted the value of the social dialogue but also of training and briefing for the improvement of the conditions of health and safety at work. He also referred to the improvement of the functioning of institutions, such as the Hellenic Institute for Health and Safety at Work and the Labour Inspectors Corps.
 Deputy development minister inaugurates technology and applications exhibitionDeputy Development Minister Tassos Neratzis inaugurated the 9th Greek Aluminium Technology and Applications Exhibition on Thursday, calling for active participation by businesses and working people in the government's effort to strengthen productivity and to make development all over the country and for all citizens more substantive.
The deputy minister said that for the "business spring" to be continued, the businesses themselves must take advantage of the new implements being offered to them which are undertaking innovative investments initiatives and applying new technologies, systematically utilising European Union programmes, shaping a socially responsible strategy and adopting technologies that are friendly for the environment.
Neratzis also underlined the important role that will be played by the Greek Aluminium Development Centre's testing laboratory in the production of quality aluminium products and upgrading the position of Greek businesses in the sector in the international competitive environment.
 SYN leader discusses social insurance funds' reserves with GSEE presidiumCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos met Thursday with the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), to discuss the issue of the social insurance funds' reserves.
After the 90-minute discussion, Alavanos told reporters that "no one has the right to speak about uninsured work by youth, about reduction of pensions, when we have immense leakage of monies from the funds".
Alavanos called for opening up of the file on contribution-evasion, since "contribution-evasion reached 4.5 billion euros a year", adding that the discussion on the unification of the funds should also be opened up in the same framework.
The SYN leader called on the government for a full briefing, adding that information supplied thus far has not been adequate, and reiterated his party's proposal that a parliamentary fact-finding commission be set up to review the issue of the funds' reserves in-depth.
Alavanos further reiterated that all the monies must be returned to the funds, and called again for a new institutional framework and a new mechanism so that workers, too, will have the ability of control of the funds' reserves.
GSEE president Yannis Panagopoulos said it was "obvious that, following the social insurance funds' reserves scandal, no one has the political stature to speak of deterioration of the terms of insurance of the working people", adding that a major crisis existed on the issue of social insurance, due to the ways in which the funds were governed.
Panagopoulos called for the return of all the monies to the funds and punishment of the guilty individuals.
He said he called on SYN to seek the submission of data from the government, in the context of the parliamentary procedure, since "the government is not saying how much and what funds invested, and with what agreements".
Panagopoulos further said that the issues related to social insurance and that of the funds would be very high on the GSEE agenda, in view of the events marking May Day.
 Greek wrist watch market grew 10 pct in 2006, reportThe Greek wrist watch market grew by 10 percent in 2006, after rising 3.7 pct in 2005 and 1.9 pct in 2004, an ICAP report said on Thursday.
The report stressed that the domestic market shrank by an annual rate of 6.8 pct in the 2000-2003 period, after a volatile period in 1995-1999.
ICAP said the biggest part of sales (78 pct) covered wrist watches with a sale price of no more than 150 euros, followed by watches at a price range of 150-600 euros (13.5 pct) and watches at a price range of 600-1,700 euros (6.2 pct). The report said that sales of watches with a sale price of more than 1,700 euros accounted only for 2.3 pct of total sales in 2006.
The retail sales network in Greece has expanded including various types of shops, although traditionally the main distribution channel remained jewelry shops. Expensive watches, particularly for women, were considered as jewels by most consumers. The wrist watch sector in Greece comprised mostly of import enterprises, with no domestic production.
 FURNIMA opens its gates to enterprises in ThessalonikiThe 12th machinery, raw material, tools, and furnitute equipment "FURNIMA" international trade fair officially opened its gates to enterprises and professionals on Thursday in the International Exhibition Center of Thessaloniki.
This year's FURNIMA includes 204 exhibitors from 18 countries (up from 172 exhibitors last year) covering an area of 6,090 sq.m. The trade fair will focus on "Innovation Scout" with exhibitors presenting innovative products. The trade fair will remain open until Sunday.
 Greek stocks end 0.37 pct higherGreek stocks ended 0.37 percent higher on Thursday, remaining on an upward trend for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index ended at 4,854.71 points while turnover was a strong 414.9 million euros.
Most sectors ended higher, with the Travel (2.10 pct), Utilities (1.32 pct) and Healthcare (0.91 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Insurance (1.74 pct), Raw Materials (1.20 pct) and Financial Services (1.17 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.58 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.49 pct down and the Small Cap index edged 0.03 pct higher.
Ideal (19.23 pct), Shelman (8.89 pct) and ANEK (8.63 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (common) (16.72 pct), Marfin Financial (11.43 pct) and Epilektos (7.35 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 154 to 108 with another 47 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.54%
Personal & Household: +0.05%
Raw Materials: -1.20%
Travel & Leisure: +2.10%
Food & Beverages: +0.60%
Financial Services: -1.17%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 24.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 18.96
HBC Coca Cola: 32.38
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.38
Emporiki Bank: 22.14
National Bank of Greece: 42.92
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 31.22
Titan Cement Company: 43.00
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices maintained their discounts in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover an improved 192.121 million euros.
The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.80 percent and the April contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.85 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 9,142 contracts worth 117.020 million euros, with 31,728 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 972 contracts worth 29.485 million euros, with 1,647 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,517 contracts worth 4.925 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (705), followed by OTE (549), PPC (361), OPAP (481), National Bank (448), Intracom (376), ATEbank (268) and Mytilineos (159).
Volume in stock repos was 13,685 contracts and in reverse stock repos 640 contracts.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market eased to 2.567 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.203 billion were bid orders and the remaining 1.373 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 565 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.23 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.44 pct and the German Bund 4.21 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.84 pct, the two-day rate was 3.84 pct, the one-month rate was 3.85 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.28 pct from 4.26 pct on Wednesday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.370
Pound sterling 0.687
Danish kroner 7.510
Swedish kroner 9.225
Japanese yen 163.56
Swiss franc 1.656
Norwegian kroner 8.183
Cyprus pound 0.586
Canadian dollar 1.535
Australian dollar 1.654
 Greeks fear repercussions of climate change, opinion poll showsGreeks are aware that the climate change is the result of human activities and believe that the country will be greatly affected, with severe repercussions for the drinking water supply and irrigation, according to an opinion poll released here on Thursday.
The poll was held to assess the stance of the Greeks toward climate change and its repercussions and was sponsored by the Ethniki Asphalistiki insurance company in cooperation with the environmental organisation WWF-Hellas.
The main repercussions feared by Greeks are limited rainfall and drought (56 percent) and rising temperatures (23 percent). The economic sector they expect to be most affected is agriculture (81 percent), much more than sectors like tourism, industry and trade.
Only 58 percent of the Greeks state that they are well or adequately informed on the issue. They rely on the academic community, non-governmental organizations and the mass media for information on the subject, while they show little trust in the EU and national governments.
They largely blame governments for climate change (55 percent) and at the same time they do not trust them to provide a solution to the problem.
They believe that only the scientific community can deal effectively with the problem and acknowledge that the solution to the problem depends on themselves. They are willing to change their everyday habits, limit household energy consumption (49 percent), purchase energy efficient appliances (38 percent), limit the use of cars (34 percent), and use Renewable Energy Sources, RES, (32 percent).
They call on the state to implement stricter inspections on industrial plants (37 percent), and offer incentives for the use of RES (30 percent), energy saving (12 percent) and natural gas use (12 percent). Only 5 percent believe that the improvement of the mass transportation network is the best way to deal with the problem of climate change.
Greeks believe (76 percent) that non state-run organizations can play a very big or considerable role in tackling the climate change, while 57 percent regard as positive the cooperation between non state-run organizations and enterprises.
 Marathon negotiations between police and Malandrino Prison inmatesA new round of negotiations got underway just before noon on Thursday between police authorities and long-term convicts in Malandrino Prison, central Greece, who spent the night on the correctional facility's roof burning flammable materials to keep warm.
A strong police force is deployed in the region waiting for the outcome of the negotiations while announcements are being heard over loudpeakers calling on the protesting convicts who are still on the prison roof to return to their cells without fearing repercussions.
A police intervention to end the prison roof occupation is ruled out for the time being considering that the inmates are armed with makeshift weapons and there is fear for loss of human lives.
The Malandrino Prison unrest started on Monday with the inmates demanding better detention conditions and shorter sentences.
 MAT facilities attacked by young troublemakersThe riot police (MAT) facilities in Goudi, Athens, became the target of petrol bomb attack by roughly 30 youths on Thursday at noon.
According to police, the group of the assailants arrived from the Polytechnic region in the Zografou district and attacked a MAT sentry box with 8 Molotov cocktail bombs, rocks and other objects.
Four of the petrol bombs exploded, causing no injuries to the guard on duty or material damage.
 Police precinct targetedA central Athens police precinct on Thursday afternoon was the latest target of self-styled anarchist and anti-state youths, following similar attacks against a handful of Parliament MPs' offices a day earlier in the same general vicinity.
According to reports, around 30 masked suspects threw firebombs at the police precinct in the Exarchia district of Athens, long a hotbed for alternative, anarchist and anti-state elements in the Greek capital.
Wednesday's attacks were purportedly made in "solidarity" to a partial uprising at a prison north of Athens as well as the alleged mistreatment there of a prisoner awaiting trial for armed robbery, as the defendant reportedly belongs to the fringe anti-state movement in Greece.
 Armed robbers take 15,000 in hit on Nea Smyrni bankArmed robbers got away with 15,000 euros after holding up a branch of Emporiki Bank in the southeast Athens suburb of Nea Smyrni at 11:00 on Thursday morning.
The three robbers were armed with two Kalashnikov rifles, and managed to surprise the bank's security guard, relieving him of his own revolver. They then took 15,000 euros from the tills and escaped in a car driven by an accomplice.
 Transport minister meets youths attending World Youth Assembly for Road SafetyTransport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday met the four young people that represented Greece at the first World Youth Assembly for Road Safety that took place in Geneva on April 23-24. Participants came from around 100 countries and were either from the families of road accident victims or from non-governmental organisations.
The Greek participants were relatives of teenagers killed in the accidents at Maliakos Bay and at Tempe, who presented recent action taken by Greece to improve road safety.
 Flower show to open in Kotzia Square in AthensAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis is to officially open the 3rd Flower Show organised by the Athens municipality and the Attica Nursery-owners Cooperative in Kotzia Square, outside the Athens City Hall, on Friday evening at 8:00
The flower show will run from April 27 until May 13, while the same square will also be the venue for a spring concert by the municipality's symphony orchestra on Monday night at 20:30, which will play songs from well-known Greek operettas and musicals, with tenor Nikos Stefanou and soprano Eleni Stamidou.
 Arson attacks in AthensA series of arson attacks were recorded in the early morning hours Thursday in Athens.
Two diplomatic cars of the embassy of Uruguay parked in the district of Nea Erythrea were seriously damaged by a makeshift incendiary device made of propane canisters.
Shortly afterwards a similar device damaged a National Bank of Greece ATM cash machine in Aghios Panteleimonas.
Four private cars and a motorcycle were destroyed in Pangrati when two makeshift explosive devices planted at an apartment building parking space were set off.
 Fishermen protest against deep sea fishing boats in N. AegeanLocal fishermen brought tens of trawlers into Thessaloniki's Thermaikos Bay on Thursday in a show of protest objecting to the presence of deep sea fishing boats in the Northern Aegean.
The protesting fishermen warned that if large fishing boats are allowed in the region the effect on local fishing industry will be devastating, while fish stocks will be reduced below acceptable levels as a result of overfishing.
The small port town of Nea Michaniona, near Thessaloniki, from where most of the protesters come, has the largest fishing boat fleet in Greece consisting of 65 trawlers and 30 acetylene lamp boats.
 Boat with illegal immigrants spotted off KeaA wooden boat, packed with some 150-200 illegal immigrants, including children, was spotted Thursday by the Vessel Tracking System (VTS) and Coastguard vessels, as it was sailing between the islands of Makronyssos and Kea. The boat was escorted to Lavrion by the Coastguard vessels.
The immigrants, and the boat's captain, were disembarked at Lavrion, and taken by coach to the local Health Centre for medical examinations, given that many of them presented signs of exhaustion.
 Beijing unveils route for Olympic Torch relayThe organising committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing on Thursday unveiled the planned route for the Olympic Torch relay that will carry the Olympic Flame from ancient Olympia in Greece to the Olympic Stadium in Beijing.
Though Chinese organisers said the planned route is the longest ever - and will include an attempt to carry the flame to the world highest peak in the Himalayas - the route through Greece is much smaller than the Greek Olympic Committee apparently hoped for.
The relay will begin with the lighting of the Olympic Torch in a traditional ceremony at ancient Olympic on March 25, 2008 and will travel through various parts of Greece before arriving - again according to tradition - at the Panathinaiko Stadium in central Athens, where the first-ever modern Olympics were held.
After an official reception and handover ceremony, it will then be taken to Beijing on March 31 and from there to dozens of cities on all five continents before returning to China and conducting a tour of hundreds of Chinese towns and provinces.
It is due to arrive back in Beijing for the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8, 2008 while the last person to carry the torch remains one of Beijing's most closely guarded secrets.
Political hiccups connected with the planned route from Taiwan appear to have been overcome through a compromise deal, under which the Olympic Torch will arrive and leave Taiwan through neutral territory rather than China itself, such as Hong Kong or Macao.
 Overcast, windy on FridayOvercast and windy weather is forecast in all parts of the country on Friday, with the possibility of intermittent rain in northern and central mainland Greece. Winds northerly, northeasterly, moderate to very strong. Temperatures in Athens ranging between 9C and 24C and in Thessaloniki from 7C to 19C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe congratulations by EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the course of the economy, the bonds affair and the hooded troublemakers' parade in downtown Athens were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The bonds' fairytales do not stand anymore - Clear answers by (Employment Minister) Savvas Tsitouridis in Parliament".
APOGEVMATINI: "Hooded troublemakers' descent - 100 known-unknowns disrupt activities in Solonos Street district".
AVGHI: "Tsitouridis' ignorance puts the government in difficult position - Ignorant governors of pension funds 'parade' in Parliament".
AVRIANI: "The TOR-M1 kickbacks are an election rocket - The government knows who the recipients of the 25-million-euro are and holds (main opposition party) PASOK hostage".
CHORA: "Almunia heralds lifting of supervision - In common line with (Finance Minister George) Alogoskoufis".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Tsitouridis is left exposed".
ELEFTHEROS: "ND cadres exchange accusations while (Environment, Twon Planning and Public Works Minister George) Souflias admits extended pre-election period".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The supervision is lifted - Almunia congratulates the prime minister on the course of the economy".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tsitouridis maintains that the government operates on collective basis".
ESTIA: "Greece's position in the 27-member Europe - 9th in population size, 12th in terms of GDP, and 15th in per capita GDP".
ETHNOS: "They're turning on each other in (ruling party) New Democracy - Incidents of disintegration and finger-pointing on the bonds affair".
KATHIMERINI: "Disastrous downtown parade by hooded troublemakers in scandalous absence of police".
LOGOS: "(Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis issues ultimatum on the bonds affair - Threatens with sanctions".
NIKI: "I will take you down with me - Tsitouridis warns the (government headquarters) Maximos Mansion".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The Education struggle is political - (Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka) Papariga visits the university".
TA NEA: "Blame is put on Alogoskoufis, (deputy finance minister Petros) Doukas - Everyone trying to save themselves in ND".
TO VIMA: "They collected commission before the bond was issued - The ten days of kickbacks".
VRADYNI: "Health Ministry-sponsored draft law changes everything for the new doctors".
 Slovenia would like to see a reunified Cyprus as soon as possibleLJUBJANA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of Slovenia Janez Drnovsek described the division of Cyprus, an EU member state, as the result of a violent act, noting his country would like to see a reunified country as soon as possible.
He also said that "a just situation needs to be developed and prepared and the injustices that have happened have to be abolished. This is the only way to reach a stable solution that will be acceptable for the people of Cyprus".
Drnovsek was speaking after a press conference following talks Thursday with Cypriot President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and delegations from both countries at Brdo castle outside the Slovenian capital.
Papadopoulos said that Cyprus supports Turkey's EU orientation, provided that it fulfils the obligations deriving from the Ankara protocol.
The Cypriot president also thanked Slovenia for its positions on Cyprus and congratulated it for its achievements, being the first EU country since the 2004 enlargement to adopt the Euro.
In his statements Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek said that "Cyprus and Slovenia share very close and friendly links, especially through the process of joining the EU and common rapprochement", noting the two are "trying to continue these relations".
He said they paid "special attention to the Cyprus issue which continues to be unresolved and this is a problem both for Cyprus and the EU, which would want the issue to be resolved as soon as possible".
He also said they discussed other topics, such as the situation in south-eastern Europe and the constitution in the EU.
The two leaders, as he added, also discussed economic links between the two countries noting his country would "like to exploit and expand the possibilities that are there" in Cyprus.
As regards the Cyprus issue, the Slovenian president said "we perfectly agree with the position of Cyprus and the President who is trying to achieve a just solution after long years of occupation of part of the island.''
''We would all like to see Cyprus reunified as soon as possible and the situation normalised, however it is difficult. Today's situation, the division, was caused by a violent act a couple of decades ago, and that is why we should not accept it as something which goes without saying. A just situation needs to be developed and prepared and the injustices that have happened have to be abolished. This is the only way to reach a stable solution that will be acceptable for the people of Cyprus", Drnovsek added.
On his part, President Papadopoulos expressed Cyprus' gratitude for Slovenia's firm policy of principles and position on Cyprus, noting that it is the first country from the 10 new member states which assumes the EU presidency in 2008 and it was the first country which adopted the Euro.
Noting "we have a lot to learn from Slovenia", President Papadopoulos congratulated the country for its achievements and expressed the hope that with this visit "a new era will start in closer cooperation in the field of business, tourism and culture".
Referring to the Cyprus problem, the Slovenian President described it as "difficult", noting that the international community has been following it for a long time now "unfortunately without success".
He said that if there "is a window of opportunity during the Slovenian EU presidency, we should work on it to move things forward. That is why we support a just principle for this problem", he added.
On Turkey's EU course, President Papadopoulos said "we support the orientation and progress of Turkey to the EU, on one important condition, provided that Turkey will fulfill all its obligations towards the EU and complies with the conditions the EU has set out for every other applicant state."
"It is a paradoxical situation that Turkey does not recognise us unless it wants our vote", the president said, noting that Turkey is violating the obligations undertaken within the framework agreement which it has signed with the EU and the conditions laid down in December 2004, when Cyprus agreed to accept Turkey to start negotiations for EU membership.
The Cypriot president said "there is a lesson to be drawn concerning the last proposal of the SG, the so called Annan plan for a solution on Cyprus. The obligation which Turkey would have undertaken in the Annan Plan would have been performed in the span of 18 -21 years".
He said Turkey has failed to implement the obligations it has undertaken in 2004 to confirm, ratify and implement the so called Ankara protocol. "It is therefore not surprising that Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan where Turkey would have had to perform its obligations in 18-20 years" when it failed to implement those since 2004, he added.
The president also said that "problems which are led to drag on, create more obligations and fait accompli. We are very keen", he added, to "see a new round of negotiations and I refer to my meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the presence of Imbrahim Gambari, the UN Undersecretary General, achieved just that. The framework for a new round of talks should start as soon as possible. However this was not possible because of the Turkish Cypriot side.''
The president said the five permanent members of the Security Council have urged the Turkish Cypriot side to proceed with the process.
Asked by CNA if he can give Slovenia's experience from adopting the Euro, the Slovenian President said that "Slovenia accepted the Euro very well, it was a normality. It was just money we changed". Noting that this is a technicality that was manageable, Drnovsek said that fears that the Euro would bring increase in prices were not justified "and I wish the same will happen in Cyprus".
Invited to comment on the recent statements by a German minister that other criteria will have to be considered before Cyprus adopts the Euro next year, President Papadopoulos said that Cyprus received assurances by the chairman of the German Central Bank that the only criteria required will be economic and nothing else.
He also said that the German Embassy in Cyprus issued a statement "explaining its position so I hope this will be the case for Cyprus and will not open up the box of Pandora and allow other kinds of considerations to be injected into countries' obligations to adopt the Euro".
After the talks the president attended an official luncheon given in his honour by Drnovsek.
Later on the president visited the National Assembly of Slovenia for a meeting with its President France Cukati and talks between delegations from the two countries.
 Britain and Cyprus announce new stage in relationsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
British Minister for Europe Geoff Hoon said here on Wednesday that with Turkey's application to join the EU "there is a strategic opportunity to resolve long-standing, difficult, sensitive questions," adding that ''the UK is willing to help."
Speaking after talks held in Nicosia with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Lillikas, Hoon noted that the British government can help facilitate the process of the July 8 agreement but it is "the others" who have "to make it happen," adding that diplomatic issues "require flexibility, require confidence, require mutual understanding."
The two officials agreed that Hoon‘s visit marks the beginning of a new and still better relationship between the two countries.
Lillikas and Hoon announced "a new stage in our relationship," namely the creation of a UK-Cyprus forum in which government ministers, political leaders, opinion formers and academics will have the opportunity of exchanging views on a range of matters of mutual interest.
Referring to the structured dialogue between Cyprus and the UK, Hoon said ''we have made real progress in two years since President Papadopoulos and Prime Minister Tony Blair met in London but we believe that we can do still more so there will be regular meetings between officials in both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to look at significant new developments and issues of concern, obviously including within the Cyprus problem."
Responding to questions regarding relations between the two countries, Hoon said "it is a pretty long-standing relationship and what we have agreed today is how to ensure that relationship gets stronger."
As regards the issue of direct flights with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, he made clear that "we have rejected a proposal for direct flights and I turned it down because I did not judge that the legal situation was right and I recognised that it is important that we make progress more generally on the issues in which that is one part."
Asked to what extent is it compatible for an EU candidate country, Turkey, to maintain a military presence on the soil of a member of the EU and still go on with accession talks, the British official expressed the belief that with Turkey's application to join the EU ''we have a strategic opportunity,'' adding that ''strategic opportunities do not come out regularly, we have an opportunity to resolve long-standing, difficult, sensitive questions and our approach is to try and find a way of doing that."
He said that Britain could help facilitate the July 8 agreement process, but 'it is for other people to make it happen and the government here has made significant steps forward."
"We want to see a reaction to those steps. I want to see some response to some of the initiatives that have been made. All these diplomatic issues require flexibility, require confidence, require mutual understanding and in the end the UK government can help, the others have to make it happen," Hoon said.
Asked if Britain in time would reconsider withdrawing its Bases from the island, Hoon said the UK position is clear that "these Bases inevitably are a product of particular circumstances in history and the range, the extent of those Bases is something we are always willing to discuss with friends.''
''But our legal position is absolutely clear and I don't see that that is going to change. There is an international agreement. These are issues that we can always discuss and we are willing to," he added.
Lillikas said that the two sides mainly discussed bilateral relations and that the objective of the visit is the further improvement and development of ties between Britain and Cyprus.
He concluded that in the framework of the forum established there will be an opportunity for a wide range of contacts at every level.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of UN official Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS