|Tuesday, 21 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 2 May 2007 Issue No: 2584
 PM: The islands are a 'precious national capital'Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday called the country's islands a "precious national capital", and pledged that his government will place even greater weight on solving the problems they face, addressing a meeting of local officials and government members on the island of Kasos, which he visited on May Day, and was declared an honourary resident of the island.
Karamanlis arrived on Kasos early Tuesday morning, after a 14-hour overnight sail aboard a Navy gunboat named after the island, accompanied by national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis.
Shortly after his arrival, the premier chaired a meeting at the Kasos City Hall, where he was briefed on the local problems and pledged that his government would contribute in every possible way to solving them.
The meeting was attended by Meimarakis, minister for the Aegean and island policy Aristotelis Pavlidis, deputy foreign minister Yannis Valynakis, Southern Aegean Periphery chief Charalambos Kokkinos, Dodecanese Prefect Yannis Macheridis, and other local authorities.
Local authorities and inhabitants of the island, who greeted Karamanlis on his arrival, thanked him for fulfilling a past pledge and tendering a project for the construction of the island's harbour, which is considered a project of vital importance for Kasos.
The contract for the project is slated to be signed on June 12.
After the meeting, Karamanlis was declared an honourary resident of Kasos, following a unanimous decision by the City Council in appreciation for the premier's advancing of a solution of the 27-year-old problem of the island's harbour.
Addressing the event, Karamanlis thanked the local residents and outlined his government's efforts for an integrated island policy, and the steps it was taking for the development of the periphery with funds from the EU's 4th Community Support Framework (CSF), and for the development of tourism.
Karamanlis later left for the island of Rhodes, from where he would return to Athens.
During a visit to Kasos in 1999, Karamanlis, as main opposition leader at the time, had pledged that a Navy vessel would be named after the island. Six years later, as prime minister, Karamanlis fulfilled his pledge, and the gunboat that brought him to the island on Tuesday was named "Kasos" in 2005.
 May Day marked throughout Greece with separate ralliesMay Day was marked throughout Greece on Tuesday with rallies and wreath-laying ceremonies.
Two separate rallies were held in Athens, one organised jointly by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) at the Pedion tou Areos Park, followed by a march to Syntagma Square, which was addressed by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alekos Alavanos, while a second was organised by the PAME trade union group at Syntagma Square, addressed by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, which was followed by a march to the US Embassy in Athens.
In Thessaloniki, three separate rallies were held, one organised jointly by the Thessaloniki Labour Centre and the Union of Civil Servants' Organisations at downtown Aristotelous Square, a second organised by PAME, and a third organised by non-parliamentary Left groups.
Addressing the GSEE-ADEDY rally, GSEE alternate president Alekos Kalyvis called for the return of the social insurance funds' monies invested in overpriced bonds, adding that the trade unions will demand a new institutional framework that will safeguard the management of the funds' reserves, seek self-management of the funds, and a reinforcement of pensions and the working people's social insurance rights.
GSEE president Yannis Papadopoulos, speaking to reporters, said that the bonds affair was a huge scandal, and also demanded the return of the monies and the punishment of those responsible, while he called workers to take part en masse in the 24-hour general strike called by GSEE and ADEDY for March 15.
Main opposition PASOK secretary Nikos Athanasakis, who also attended the rally, accused the government of implementing anti-popular and anti-labour policy, and called the bonds affair a "looting of the funds", while casting blame on the government's economic staff and prime minister Costas Karamanlis personally over the handling of the issue.
SYN leader Alekos Alavanos criticised all the organisations that held separate rallies of "divisive" tactics, calling on workers to act in unity, solidarity and joint action, and reiterated his proposal that a fact-finding commission be set up in parliament to investigate the bonds affair.
Absent from the Pedion tou Areos rally was the ruling New Democracy (ND) affiliated trade union group DAKE, which held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kessariani Firing Range marking the spot where members of the Greek Resistance were executed by nazi forces during WWII. DAKE plans to hold its own event in the next few days in Lavrion to pay tribute to the pioneers of the labour movement, the trade Unions and May Day.
DAKE abstained from all May Day rallies, following a rift with GSEE, splitting ranks with the majority within the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation, in the wake of a deeply divisive decision for a protest strike over the pension funds' issue on May 15, with DAKE 'freezing' its participation in GSEE's presidency until the DAKE conference at the end of May..
Meanwhile, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga addressed the PAME rally in Syntagma Square, calling for a reversal of the government's policy, "and not just a change of the political scene".
She said that if the working people wanted to strike a blow against unlawfullness and the illicit scandals, they needed to focus their attention on the licit scandals, "those taking place with the seal of the law, the scandals that have to do with the most callous exploitation of the working class".
PAME central secretariat member George Peros, addressing the rally, severely criticised the Turkish government for "beating communists and working people" at the May Day rally in Istanbul, and also condemned the two-party system and the policies of both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, as well as the "shameful salary increases" agreed by GSEE and the government and the "reactionary changes being planned in social insurance".
 UN chief addresses Greek-sponsored int'l symposium in NY on enhancing effectiveness of SC sanctionsUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lauded Greece's "distinguished service" during its 2-year tenure on the Security Council (2005-2006) and its "determined and creative approach" that resulted in the adoption of important recommendations for improving the effectiveness of SC sanctions, addressing an International Symposium on "Enhancing the implementation of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions", which was held Monday at the UN Headquarters in New York.
He further praised Greece's successful chairing two sanctions committees -- Ivory Coast and Sudan-- as well as the Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions during its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, stressing that effective implementation of SC sanctions could avert blood-shed.
The symposium, organised by the Greek Permanent Delegation to the UN in cooperation with Notre Dame University's "The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies", was also addressed by, diplomats, academics, and personalities known for their contribution to improving the efficacy of the Security Council sanctions, including George Lopez, David Cortright and Peter Wallensteen, while a message from Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis was also read out by Greece's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis.
Opening the symposium, Ambassador Vassilakis said that Greece can declare that it is proud of its contribution to the UN Security Council's work during its two-year tenure as a non-permament member.
Vassilakis noted that during Greece's two-year tenure on the Security Council, which ended recently, "we took part in deliberations and decisions on a number of important issues faced by the international community".
He said that one of the most important issues dealt with in-depth during Greece's tenure was the role that member countries could play, within and outside the Security Council, inorder to advance issues of importance to the international community.
Below is the full text of the Secretary General's address:
I am honoured to have this opportunity to address you on the important issue of Security Council sanctions.
It is particularly fitting that Greece has sponsored this symposium. We are all aware of Greece's distinguished service during its recent two-year tenure on the Council, including the leadership it demonstrated in chairing the Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Sudan committees as well as the Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions. Greece's determined and creative approach resulted in the adoption of a report containing important recommendations for improving the effectiveness of Security Council sanctions, which the Council took note of in resolution 1732. Greece has demonstrated that leadership in this area can bring positive results.
The legal basis for sanctions is contained in Article 41 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, under which the Security Council may seek to restore international peace and security by "measures not involving the use of armed force". Indeed, if implemented effectively, sanctions can avoid the costs in blood and treasure that might otherwise ensue from the use of armed force. While not a solution in themselves, sanctions can play an effective role among the panoply of measures to prevent and resolve conflict.
Following the end of the Cold War, a renewed sense of common purpose among members of the Security Council set the stage for more active and wide-ranging collective action. One of the foremost expressions of that newly revived political will was the establishment of sanctions regimes, starting with the measures imposed on Iraq in August 1990, which were the most comprehensive and long-lasting in the history of the United Nations. At the same time, the unintended humanitarian consequences caused lingering doubts regarding the efficacy of Security Council sanctions.
During the 1990s, the Council imposed sanctions on a number of targets for a variety of purposes: to restore a democratically elected government; to reverse aggression; to respond to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law; to counter terrorism; and most recently, to prevent nuclear proliferation and the spread of other weapons of mass destruction.
The Council reacted by shifting its focus from comprehensive economic sanctions and "stand-alone" arms embargoes to a combination of "smart" or "targeted" measures aimed at decision-making elites. These new measures include the freezing of financial assets, travel restrictions, aviation bans, and strictures on commodities such as petroleum, diamonds and timber. They are meant to deny States the means with which to fuel conflict, while minimizing the effects on the general population. This effort to refine the sanctions instrument has been greatly assisted by Germany, Switzerland and Sweden.
The Council has also increased the use of humanitarian impact assessments, and established expert groups to monitor compliance with sanctions. Ambassador Fowler of Canada, who is with us today, deserves special mention for leading the effort to put in place a monitoring group on UNITA in Angola.
The Council has also sought to strengthen compliance by including in the mandates of peacekeeping missions the provision of assistance in monitoring arms embargoes. Two notable cases of this are UNOCI in Côte d'Ivoire, and MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A more recent challenge to effective implementation of sanctions revolves around the issue of due process in the listing and "de-listing" of individuals designated for targeted sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans. The Council has moved to address these concerns, and maintain confidence in the credibility and legitimacy of its measures, again with the assistance of Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, and in cooperation with the Watson Institute at Brown University. Further to the Council's resolution 1730, the Secretariat has created a focal point for delisting, which provides direct access of listed persons and entities to Committees.
Experience has shown that sanctions as a means of coercion, not punishment, can apply the necessary pressure on a target to change its behaviour. David Cortright and George Lopez, eminent experts on multilateral sanctions who are here with us today, have identified several cases in which sanctions resulted in partial compliance with the Council's demands or helped to bring conflicting parties to the bargaining table. These cases include Libya, the former Yugoslavia, UNITA in Angola, and the Charles Taylor regime in Liberia. Peter Wallensteen of Uppsala University, who recently presented his study on Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia at the United Nations, has noted similarly that sanctions have had a restraining effect on their targets.
But as we know only too well, the implementation of sanctions faces a number of challenges. All too often, there is insufficient political will. States can lack capacity to enforce sanctions. And great difficulty has been encountered in exerting leverage on non-state actors.
To strengthen compliance and increase effectiveness, sanctions must be understood as a manifestation of the strong and unified political will of the international community. Their goals must be clear and unambiguous. And the goal posts must not be changed arbitrarily or without explanation in order to meet unstated political objectives.
Moreover, sanctions should include carrots along with sticks -- not only threats, but inducements to elicit compliance. The target must understand what actions it is expected to take. And partial or full compliance should be met by reciprocal steps from the Council, such as easing or lifting sanctions as appropriate. At the same time, targets must not be allowed to exploit real or perceived differences among those who impose sanctions. This would only hold the international community hostage to a target's capricious or wily behaviour.
Non-compliance should be dealt with on an equal basis, and in a decisive manner. "Naming and shaming" in reports prepared by expert groups should be followed by effective action to deter any recurrence of violations.
There is ample evidence that sanctions have enormous potential to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security when used not as an end in themselves, but in support of a holistic conflict resolution approach that includes prevention, mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. We should welcome the evolution of sanctions that has taken place: where once they were an often blunt and unfocused instrument, today they have become a more precise tool. Their increased use attests to their growing power. Our challenge is to ensure their credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the world is unassailable. Only by our combined efforts can we hope to realize the full promise of sanctions in the interest of global peace and security.
I look forward to working with you in that effort. I extend my full support to Greece in this important endeavour, and wish you every success at this symposium.
 PASOK leader criticises governmentMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the government, speaking to reporters in Heraklion, Crete, saying that his party will "strike out at every rationale of appropriation of state property".
A blow will be struch against depravity, hypocrisy and cover-up, he said, adding that "we are at the side of the working people, the Greek citizens and the Greek family, in the struggle they are waging for a just society, and together we will put an end to a blatantly unjust policy, that of New Democracy, which has shrunken the family income, and has arbitrarily backed the few and the 'friends' against the many".
Papandreou further accused the government of "undermining the social state, public education, health, social insurance and welfare".
"We shall put an end to a policy that perceives that the state belongs to them, that it is the spoils to be divvied up in a depraved political looting of the Greek people's toil and the social insurance funds," he said.
Responding to the PASOK leader's statements, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said later that "Mr. Papandreou has nothing to say about the present, seeing that the current government is tidying up the economy, creating new job positions, institutionally safeguarding transparency, and shedding light on every suspicious dealing and bringing it to justice".
"Mr. Papandreou has nothing to guarantee on the future, and is 'absent' from all the major rforms to the Constitution and in the education sector, systematically avoiding to submit even one specific proposal for the land and the citizens," Roussopoulos said, adding that the PASOK leader "wants the Greeks to forget the past, to forget the (PASOK) governments of the fiscal lies and intransparency, unemployment and the stockmarket crime, in which he participated as a top-ranking minister," Roussopoulos continued.
"Acrimony and polarisation are the last 'life boat' for Mr. Papandreou and his party," the government spokesman concluded.
May Day was marked in Heraklion with a rally outside the local Labour Centre, attended by merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyannis who represented the government, Papandreou, MPs, and local authorities, officials and working people.
After the rally, which was addressed by Heraklion Labour Centre president George Skouladakis, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Monument to the Working Class.
A separate rally was held at Eleftherias Square by the PAME trade union group.
 State Department 'Country Reports on Terrorism' released - GreeceWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
Greece continues to fight domestic and international terrorism, using the improved counter-terrorism infrastructure it acquired in its organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, according to the chapter on Greece contained in the US State Department's annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" just released.
The chapter on Greece makes reference to the bomb explosion in May near the home of former public order minister George Voulgarakis, while also noting that police officials have not closed their investigation into the 2004 killing of a Greek special guard at his post outside the residence of the British Defence Attache, which is regarded as a domestic terrorist incident.
Regarding the 'November 17' terrorist organisation, the report noted the release from prison of 17N convicted terrorist Nikos Papanastasiou for health reasons, the third convicted organisation member to be released for such reasons, while it also listed the convictions and sentences of all the arrested members and details of the trial and appeals proceedings.
It further listed the actions by the Revolutionary Struggle group, including the bomb explosion near Voulgarakis' home.
Finally, in a separate chapter listing terrorist organisations throughout the world, the report makes mention of 17N and the Revolutionary Cells group, noting the events of the past five years since the disbanding of 17N in 2002 and the actions claimed by the Revolutionary Cells.
In a chapter on "other" groups, note is made of the Revolutionary Struggle group, which is described as the most dangerous terrorist organisation active in Greece, opining that it comprised fewer than 50 members, and noting that the group claimed responsibility for the rocket attack at the US embassy in Athens in January 2007 (which caused material damage but no injuries).
 State Department reply on terrorismWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)
The State Department on Tuesday issued a written reply to a question raised during the presentation of the annual report on terrorism, concerning whether the US views that the Greek November 17 terrorist group does not exist any more.
"The Greek government achieved to lead to justice leaders and members of November 17, but it seems that offshoots of November 17 are still active. November 17 remains on the catalogue with the foreign terrorist organisations," the State Department said.
 Archbishop Christodoulos: 'Partition of Cyprus is not a solution, but dissolution'NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
"Partition of Cyprus is not a solution, but dissolution", Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece stressed on Tuesday, during a visit to the Seat of the Morphou Metropolitan Church, situated in the town of Evrychos in the free area of Cyprus, as the church is in the Turkish-occupied north of the island republic.
Christodoulos, the first Primate of the Church of Greece to pay an official visit to Cyprus, endorsed a reunification of Cyprus so that "the Republic of Cyprus may comprise, soon, a united community of Greek Cypriot Christians and Turkish Cypriots that will be founded on the principle of coexistence".
"It is unacceptable that Cyprus, a member of the European Union, is suffering an inhuman occupation that aspires to the creation of faits accomplis. God does not toleratate injustice, he warned.
On the occasion of May Day, Christodoulos addressed the inhabitants of Evrychos, praising "the honest workers and labourors who toil incessantly at the anvil of their daily routine".
Christodoulos, who arrived on Cyprus on Sunday on a week-long visit at the invitation of the primate of the autocephalous Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos, was greeted by Metropolitan of Morfphou, Neophytos, the local clergy and authorities, and a large gathering of faithful.
The Primate of the Church of Greece officiated at a doxology at the St. George church, during which he prayed for the restoration of harmony, love and smooth coexistence and cooperation "with the Turkish Cypriot brothers".
Those two virtues, he noted, "know no boundaries or political aspirations", because "they emanate from the people, and are a decisive factor for the correct operation of society and for the prosperity of the peoples".
Greece and Cyprus, he said, were the two Greek-speaking member countries of the European Union, and ensured the preservation of the Greek language, the projection of the Greek Christian spirit, and the use of dialogue as "the only means for the resolution of problems and demands".
"The vision of the present-day Europe, in other words the creation of a multi-ethnic cultural scheme that respects the particularity of the other and will advance peace and cooperation among peoples and cultures, is embraced in its entirety by the Church of Greece, and I believe that the martyrous Church of Cyprus is moving along that axis," Christodoulos said.
Christodoulos later went to the Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos, where he was met by Episcopal (Bishop) Nikiforos, abbot of the monastery, and the monastery's monks, where a te deum was held, after which he was given a tour of the famed monastery and attended a lunch in his honour hosted by Nikiforos.
Addressing the lunch, Archbishop Christodoulos referred to the monastery's contribution to preserving Greek education in times of slavery.
Christodoulos further officiated over a memorial service for, and placed a wreat at the grave of the late Archbishop Makarios, first president of the Republic of Cyprus.
 Sioufas to meet Spanish deputy FM on WednesdayDevelopment Minister Dimitris Sioufas will meet at noon on Wednesday with visiting Spanish Deputy Foreign Minister Bernardino Leon Gross, the ministry announced on Tuesday.
Issues relating to bilateral economic relations and energy will be at the focus of the meeting, the press release said.
 Greece at "Arabian Market 2007" fair in DubaiDUBAI (ANA-MPA/M. Tsivgeli)
Tourism development minister Fani Palli-Petralia inaugurated the Greek pavilion on Tuesday at the "Arabian Travel Market 2007" exhibition in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), the Middle East's and Pan-Arab Region's premier travel and tourism show, which got underway in the morning at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre featuring some 2,600 exhibitors from 64 countries.
UAE vice-president and prime minister Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktum, Ruler of (the emirate) Dubai, visited the Greek pavilion, and was given a tour by Petralia.
Petralia also met with minister of finance and industry Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, whom she informed that her ministry aimed at further strengthening the tourism and business ties between Greece and the UAE.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Petralia stressed Greece's very good and close relations with the Arab world.
"We are laying very strong foundations in the tourism sector. We are inaugurating close cooperation here in Dubai. We are opening a Greek tourism office, and Greece's relations with the UAE will develop much more in the future. Greece is particularly popular with the UAE citizens, and so is Dubai for the Greeks, as it is a miracle of growth in recent years," she said.
Sheikh Hamdan also referred to the very good relations between Greece and the UAE, and the bonds of friendship uniting the two peoples.
He said that Greece was the UAE's gateway to Europe, and expressed the desire for exchanges of tourism products between the two countries.
Petralia further met with the president of the multinational company ISTITHMAR, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayen, with whom she discussed tourism investment opportunities in Greece.
 'Thessaloniki' Day celebrated at Hermes Expo in US"Thessaloniki Day", due to its "distinguished participation" at HERMES EXPO, was celebrated within the framework of the Greek-American exhibition which was organised over the weekend at Atlantic City in the United States.
In this year's organisation, which constitutes the most important economic, cultural and social event of the Greek-American community, taking parts were 130 exhibitors with pavilions and it is estimated that more than 5,000 Greek-Americans visited them.
This year's theme participant was Crete, with pavilions from the Region's General Secretariat and the four prefectures, at which were exhibited the island's traditional products and issues regarding tourism were presented.
Thessaloniki, central Macedonia, as "Distinguished Participant", presented three pavilions (of Thessaloniki Prefecture, of Thessaloniki Municipality and of HELEXPO), with informative material on the history, present face but also the region's prospects.
Greek-American entrepreneurs, who discussed with the mission's mayors, showed great interest for business cooperation and the possibility of the export of Greek products to the US.
 Court approves recourse by Civil Servants' Social Insurance FundAn Athens court (Social Insurance Measures Department) on Tuesday approved the recourse by the Civil Servants' Social Insurance Fund (TEADY) for the issuing of a temporary order for the non-change of the property situation of those responsible in the "Acropolis Securities" and of their two Cypriot subsidiary companies.
According to the decision by the court, the non-change of the property data of those involved concerns the sum of 10 million euros and will be valid until May 29, when the Fund's major recourse will be discussed at the court.
 May Day wreath in Crete seeks place in Guinness BookA huge May Day wreath in Heraklion, Crete, is vying for a place in the Guinness World Records Book. The wreath, made of more than 20,000 flowers contributed by the prefecture's florists, has a diameter of 18 meters and weights more than 1.5 tons. It stands outside the Heraklion City Hall, and more than 30 people worked on its construction.
The impressive wreath was raised by crane outside the City Hall, and tourists rushed to photograph it.
Heraklion mayor Yannis Kourakis praised the endeavour by the association of Heraklion's florists and shopowners, saying it contributed to the promotion of the island and more particularly the prefecture.
 Patras Scientific Park participates in INNOVA projectThe Patras Scientific Park, in western Greece, in cooperation with the Epirus Technological Educational Institute (TEI) and with the Italian agencies Universus Csei, Tecnopolis Csata and Cittadella della Ricerca, is taking action concerning the transfer of innovation in strategic sectors within the framework of the inter-state INNOVA project.
In the context of the project, 40 young graduates (20 Greeks and 20 Italians), will be trained in the promotion and support of research, aimed at the growth of new technologies in various productive sectors, focusing on energy and the environment, information and communication technologies for culture and tourism.
The 20 Greek graduates who will be chosen, will be given grants to participate in specialised training seminars which will transfer business experience, capable of spreading innovation in economic and social sectors of major interest which the specific project aims at.
 Youths attack PASOK headquarters in AthensA group of youths on Tuesday afternoon attacked the headquarters of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), located at Athens' Harilaou Trikoupi Street. The culprits threw stones, bottles and other objects at the offices, but no damage was caused.
Earlier, just before noon, a group of hooded individuals threw a fire-bomb against a building housing the underwear company "Galop" and the "Klonatex" company.
The fire-bomb exploded at the ground floor and minor damage was caused by the fire.
 Mostly fair on WednesdayMostly fair weather is forecast throughout most of the country on Wednesday, with local showers and isolated storms in the north, and a small rise in temperatures, ranging from 8C and2 7C.
Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 13C and 26C. Partially overcast in Thessaloniki, with chance of local rainfall or sporadic storms on high ground at noon, and temperatures ranging from 11C to 24C.
 US says Cyprus has taken clear stand against international terrorismNEW YORK (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The US State Department Report on Terrorism notes that Cyprus has taken a clear stand against international terrorism and supported US counterterrorism efforts.
In the State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism, as far as Cyprus is concerned, it said that "despite limited resources, Cyprus took a clear stand against international terrorism and supported U.S. counterterrorism efforts". It said the Cypriot government continued to allow blanket overflight and landing rights to U.S. military aircraft supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, it noted, "the government raised concerns about the allegations in a Council of Europe report identifying Cyprus as a 'staging post' for U.S. rendition flights". It also said that "Cyprus was generally supportive of international efforts to block and freeze terrorist assets, implemented Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, and conformed to EU directives on counterterrorism", noting that in 2005, the Director of the Cyprus Central Intelligence Service (KYP) drafted and submitted to parliament legislation to restructure, modernize, and strengthen Cyprus' intelligence-gathering capabilities.
The report maintained that "the Kongra Gel/Kurdistan Workers' Party (KGK/PKK) maintained an active presence throughout Cyprus and reportedly used the island as both a fundraising and transit point". Experts estimated the Kurdish community in the government-controlled area to number 1,500, it said, and indicated that "among Kurdish-origin Turkish settlers in the north, the KGK/PKK reportedly enjoyed significant support. Cyprus maintained that it was fulfilling all responsibilities with respect to the EU designation of the KGK/PKK as a terrorist organization".
The report said that authorities in both the area under government control and in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots "believed there was little risk the KGK/PKK would conduct operations on Cyprus and were reluctant to take any action that they perceived could make the island a potential target for PKK action".
In addition, Turkish authorities believed that the large Turkish troop presence in the north acted as a significant deterrent to open KGK/PKK activity.
According to the report, "third-country nationals comprised approximately ten percent of the Republic of Cyprus population, and the asylum community was growing. The government had concerns that this population was a potential source of recruits for terrorist groups looking to extend their reach into Europe".
Moreover, it added, "the UN-patrolled ''Green Line'' dividing north and south is relatively porous. Immigration controls were uneven, and it was relatively easy for asylum seekers to cross from the Turkish Cypriot-administered area. Such border conditions posed a potential vulnerability and access point for terrorist groups seeking entry into an EU member state (the EU's ''acquis communitaire'' currently is suspended in the north of Cyprus)".
The report also indicated that Cyprus' eastern Mediterranean location and the large volume of container traffic moving through its ports made the island potentially convenient for terrorist organizations seeking transshipment points for WMD and other items of concern. Stressing that Cypriot agencies responsible for nonproliferation assessed there was only a small risk that illicit materials might move through transit cargo, the United States said it "continued to work for increased maritime cooperation".
Reacting to the report and the reference to the presence of Kurds on the island, House President Demetris Christofias called on the State Department to look into its country's own affairs and violations of human rights and only afterwards teach lessons to other peoples' and governments.
He said the State Department has no right to judge other peoples and governments over the implementation of human rights and it "should look into its own country where there is racism and flagrant violation of the rights of peoples and workers of various nationalities".
In statements, Justice and Public Order Minister Sofoklis Sofokleous said Cyprus has no connection with international terrorism and "it is a safe destination and we are proud that we never participated in such actions or attitudes".
"We will continue to condemn any terrorism action", he added.
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