|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-05-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 25 May 2007 Issue No: 2602
 Reforms to be continued, PM says in message to Greek Industries FederationPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed in a message sent and read on Thursday at the General Assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, that reforms are continuing and will be continued "because they are necessitated by the new era, they are demanded by the citizens, they are supported by society and the country needs them".
"Reforms are a continuous and evolving process. They always take into consideration the endurances of the economy and the wish of society. They are shaped far from dogmatisms and produce a benefit for all social groups, for all citizens. This is our strategic option. This strategy is being continued with an intensification of efforts. With self-confidence and optimism," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis pointed out that in the past "dogmatic political conceptions, increased tax and bureaucratic burdens, the lack of necessary structures and infrastructures harmed the entrepreneurship of the Greek, the competitiveness of the economy, the industrial fabric of the country. The consequences for the economy and for Greek society in its entirety were reflected in the fiscal deviation, the swelling of the public debt, the reduction in investments and exports, the upsurge in unemployment."
The prime minister further said that a new mixture of economic and development policy has promoted fiscal restructuring and refuelled balanced growth, while entrepreneurship is being facilitated and strengthened with reduced tax rates, increased investments incentives, services that are being upgraded continuously and the framework for joint ventures with the public sector. In parallel, procedures required for the founding of businesses are being simplified and infrastructures supporting entrepreneurship are being improved all over the country.
Consequently, as Karamanlis pointed out, Greece is becoming more competitive, foreign investments are coming back to the country again, unemployment is being gradually reduced, the fiscal deficit is falling in the most mild of manners and, with the decision taken recently by the European Commission, Greece is departing from the excessive deficit procedure.
"All these results are satisfactory, but we are not complacent since fiscal restructuring has not been achieved fully and it is continuing with milder rates, with the new goal of reaching 2010 with balanced budgets to enable us to confront the scourge of the public debt that we inherited. Safeguarding the new prospect requires the continuation of reforms," Karamanlis concluded.
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said in an address at the General Assembly that "we have laid the foundations for the longterm and stable progress of the economy. For a progress belonging to all Greek women, to all Greek men. Greece is walking forward steadily. It is facing the future with optimism and self-confidence."
The finance minister further said that Greece is responding effectively to the opportunities and challenges being created by European and global economic integration. The government, he added, is implementing reforms with a plan and with consistency, not only to monitor developments, but in order to be ahead of them.
Alogoskoufis also said that Greece has a considerable opportunity before it which concerns the utilisation of the great possibilities of the region and that it can function as the focal point of the Balkans and of the Eastern Mediterranean.
He referred to positive economic developments taking place in past years, adding that achievements in the economy did not take place by chance nor are they circumstantial, but are the outcome of the consistent implementation of a well-planned reformist programme.
Lastly, Alogoskoufis stressed that there is no ground for slackening the effort and pointed out that "there is no ground for postponing reforms. There shall be no deviation from this principle."
 SEB president calls for cooperation in shaping national optimism environmentFederation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos addressed the Annual General Assembly on Thursday, referring to the new image of SEB that wishes to "embrace" the business world.
"SEB is not a closed caste of people and interests, a 'chamber' of economic power that has nothing to do with society and that has no right to appeal to it," Daskalopoulos said and called on "every modern business to cooperate with the Federation on an equal basis in shaping a national environment of optimism, dynamic development and progress."
"Subsidised development is now unattainable. The struggle of trenches waged by various social groups for their narrow union interests is a vicious circle," the SEB president further noted.
"The dividing line today is not between the Right and the Left, but between those who see the future as a source of fear and those who see the furture as a challenge. Between conservative phobia and progressive daring. Between those who are inert and those who dare," Daskalopoulos added.
Lastly, the SEB president underlined that "the dividing line in this country today is between state-nourished Greece and Greece of free creation. Between Greece of stagnation and Greece of initiative. Between Greece of inflexibilities and Greece of developments."
 Federation of Greek Industries changes name on 100th anniversaryThe Federation of Greek Industries (www.fgi.org.gr) on Thursday announced that it was renaming itself into the Federation of Enterprises and Industries. The decision was taken during a general assembly of Greece's largest employers' group.
SEB president D. Daskalopoulos said the change "signalled the objective unity of the business world; of the forces that produce wealth and job positions, and in response to needs and challenges of the times." He added that the federation's members hailed from the all sectors of the wider business community in the country.
"It represents the positions and dynamism of all private initiative forces," he added.
Daskalopoulos said 50 percent of the group's members were from the manufacturing sector and another 50 percent from the services sector. The change in name coincided with the 100th birthday of the Federation, which was founded in 1907 under the name "Federation of Hellenic Industries and Craftmanships", evolving into "Federation of Greek Industrialists" in 1946 and into "Federation of Greek Industries" in 1979.
 President Papoulias addresses SEB's General AssemblyPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday evening addressed the General Assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) which changed its name to the Federation of Enterprises and Industries. The meeting was held at the Athens Concert Hall.
"Today's challenges of a henceforth open world is unprecedented for the Greek and European enterprise. Maybe this is not valid for the very big industries, few, however, Greek ones are on this level. This reality must concern all of us, both on a national and European framework," Papoulias said.
The president noted that "in today's conditions, the Greek but also in general the industries of the western world are at a crucial curb" and directing himself to the representatives of the country's industrial world stressed that "in this extremely complex environment you are called on to operate with objective not only the growth of your enterprise, but mainly its contribution to the broader economic growth and social prosperity."
Papoulias also noted that "the pressure by countries outside the European Union with the very low daily wages and often the absence of social grants, creates serious concern and many traditional sectors face difficulties.
 PM Karamanlis meets with South Australia State Premier RannADELAIDE (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis, on an official visit to Australia, met Thursday in Adelaide with South Australia State Premier Mike Rann, who had recently visited Athens and whom he thanked for his steadfast friendship to Greece and his support of the flourishing local Greek community.
Rann noted that he had met Karamanlis several years ago in Thessaloniki, and praised the role of the Greeks of Australia, stressed also the common struggles of the Greeks and Australians during WWII.
Rann further described as "historic" the bilateral social security agreement signed between Greece and Australia on Wednesday.
Karamanlis also met with Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, while his wife Natasha, a doctor, visited a local women's and children's hospital.
In a brief address later during a recption with the local Greek community, Karamanlis stressed that "the interest of all of us now focuses on the children who have not come to know Greece, but who are learning Greek in afternoon schools and do not have the opportunity to witness first-hand the pictures and traditions of the homeland".
"It is these children who have the priority in our plans. We don't want them to be deprived of Greek education, Greek traditions. We don't want them to be far removed from Orthodoxy. It is the duty of all of us to keep these children in the national, cultural and linguistic embrace of Greece. Education and culture comprise a basic priority of our government's overall policy," Karamanlis said.
In that framework, he said, the possibility was being examined of establishing a Greek teachers' training school in Australia, while adding that "we are aspiring, with many initiatives, to help you consolidate your pensions, to live Greece on your holidays or to visit it by taking advantage of one of the special programmes, to learn about Greece on a daily basis through free television, and to feel that you are taking into your own hands the course of ecumenical Hellenism from within the constant upgrading of the SAE (World Council of Hellenes Abroad)".
Karamanlis further reiterated his government's intention that the oversees Greeks will acquire the right of absentee voting in Greek election from the countries of their residence, noting that "we want you to maintain your voting rights in Greece and participate, with your vote, in the political developments in our country".
Karamanlis later left for Melbourne, where he will address members of the ethnic Greek community at a dinner.
The Greek prime minister will meet with Victoria State Premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a mass gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.
On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by Martin.
At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour of Oceania, where he will have talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.
 Greece-Australia social security agreement, message by HowardGreece and Australia signed a long-awaited bilateral social security agreement in Canberra on Wednesday, providing for recognition of Greek-Australians' pension and healthcare rights, during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Australia and following talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.
The agreement was signed by Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who is accompanying Karamanlis on his Australia visit, and Australian Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, and will enter into full force in about four months' time, after administrative arrangements are finalised and the necessary treaty and legislative processes are completed in both countries.
A statement issued by Australian Prime Minister Howard welcomed the agreement as a "significant achievement between the two countries", adding that, in recognition of the importance of the "close and constructive relationship" between the two countries "based on strong community ties", the Australian government would be committing over 165 million Australian dollars over four years for the Agreement.
Below is the full text of Howard's message:
"I am pleased to announce the signing today of a new Social Security Agreement between Australia and Greece. The signing of the Agreement is a significant achievement between the two countries, which enjoy a close and constructive relationship based on strong community ties. In recognition of the importance of this relationship, the Australian Government has committed $165 million over four years for the Agreement.
"This Agreement will provide improved access to age and retirement benefits for people in Australia and Greece, allowing people who live in either country to claim their entitlement to pensions from both countries. After the Agreement enters into force, former residents of Australia living in Greece will be able to claim an Australian Age Pension for the first time, with periods of insurance in Greece to be counted towards the residence requirements for Australian Age Pension. Similarly, many Greek-Australians living here will be able to claim a Greek old age pension, with periods of Australian residence being taken into account in working out eligibility for the Greek benefits.
"In addition, the Agreement will reduce costs for businesses operating in both countries by removing the requirement for compulsory contributions to be paid into both countries' superannuation/pension systems in respect of temporarily seconded workers. Compulsory contributions will only be paid into the superannuation/pension systems of the home country.
"The Agreement will take effect following the completion of all necessary treaty and legislative processes in both countries and once all necessary administrative arrangements have been finalised. At this stage this is expected to occur some time in 2008. Centrelink will write to all its Greek-Australian customers next year and will liaise with Greek-Australian organisations to ensure people know when they can apply for pensions under the new arrangements and how to go about doing so. Further information will be available on the following website: http://www.facsia.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/international/agreements-new.htm.
"Large numbers of Greeks migrated to Australia during the 1950s and 1960s and today there are around 125,000 Greek born people living in Australia. Around 50,000 people in both countries are expected to claim a pension from Australia or Greece after the Agreement commences. "
 PM Karamanlis condemns terrorist attack in AnkaraADELAIDE (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis condemned the terrorist action in Ankara and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, while also wishing a speedy recovery of those injured in Tuesday's suicide bomb attack in a busy shopping district in the Turkish capital, in which six people were killed.
The condemnation was made in a statement by Karamanlis in Adelaide, during the Greek prime minister's ongoing official visit to Australia.
"We condemn in the most categorical way the cowardly criminal terrorist attack which struck the heart of the Turkish capital and cost the lives of innocent citizens and the injury of many others. We express our heartfelt condolences and sincere solidarity to the families of the victims, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured. The effective combatting of international terrorism requires the greatest possible cooperation among the international community, so that the perpetrators are arrested and punished, and so that the causes that give rise to and breed it may be effectively confronted," the prime minister said.
 FM Bakoyannis on developments in LebanonADELAIDE (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos)
Greece's steadfast support for Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora and his government was reiterated on Thursday by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, currently in Adelaide accompanying Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis on an official visit to Australia.
To a press question on the developments in Lebanon, Bakoyannis said: "In this critical moment for Lebanon, I wish to once again express our unreserved solidarity and our steadfast support to prime minister Siniora and his government in the major effort they are making to safeguard the country's stability, achieve unity, and proceed with its reconstruction at a rapid pace".
 Prime Minister arrives in MelbourneMELBOURNE (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos)
Continuing an official visit to Australia, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday arrived in the city of Melbourne, which is home to the largest Greek Australian community in the country and possibly the largest Greek expatriate community in the world.
Attending a reception given by Greek Australians in his honour, Karamanlis thanked them for everything that they had offered Greece and for supporting the country's just causes.
"We are working together and will continue to work closely together for this purpose. The systematic activation of Australia's Greeks in this direction has yielded and will continue to yield important fruit," he stressed, while also referring to the cooperation between Greeks and Australians during World War II and in the present day.
Karamanlis emphasised the Greek state's support for the efforts of Greeks abroad to preserve their national identity in an open multicultural society.
He also pointed to the new prospects being created in Greece itself, "which has acquired and is constantly developing a friendly developmental environment. It is emerging into an international energy conduit, into a business, shipping and financial centre, into a modern tourist destination and is helping to strengthen cooperation, stability and growth in the surrounding region," Karamanlis said.
"Greece is proving to be a country that is safe, hospitable and attractive for investments and visitors. Modern Greece embraces all Greece, wherever they might live," he added.
On Friday, the Greek prime minister is to visit the Greek Orthodox College "Agioi Anargyroi" in the city, after which he will meet with the Victoria state governor and prime minister.
On Friday night he is to speak at an event organised by the City's Greek community at the Rod Laver Arena.
 Papandreou cites employment measures, tax regime changesMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday unveiled a series of policies he said will form the centrepiece of a future PASOK government's economic reform package, during an address at the annual general assembly of Greece's largest employers' union, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB).
Papandreou, a former foreign minister in two successive PASOK governments until 2004, initially referred to a "new social pact for development and employment" before listing off a number of measures to boost employment and job security, including a four-year period of lower social security contributions by newly hired young people. Another measure would allow laid-off older workers the opportunity to transform state-allocated unemployment benefits into an "employment" or self-employment subsidy, whereas wage-earners laid-off shortly before reaching retirement age will be given priority in certain public sector hirings in order to accumulate the necessary amount of work days towards obtaining a full pension.
Papandreou also announced several measures he said aim at widespread simplification of the corporate tax regime, such as index-linked tax scales. Conversely, he said profits and dividends paid out by enterprises to staff and shareholders would be taxed as personal income, in tandem with a new tax on short-term market transactions.
Additionally, he said various property taxes would be lumped into one unified duty, whose proceeds would be funnelled towards local government entities, while more effective measures would be taken to tax real estate holdings in the country belonging to off-shore companies.
Finally, Papandreou said the so-called large property holding tax would be overhauled to benefit truly small property owners while exacting a fairer share from large property owners.
"My personal commitment is not to exercise a personal policy of favouritism, but a policy that will ensure healthy competition, with the goal being the country's (increased) competitiveness. We do not want citizens or businesspeople to act as beggars vis-ą-vis the state for the things they are entitled to," Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader said a simplification of Greece's often maze-like tax codes means less bookkeeping procedures and regulations for firms, and more transparency in dealing with tax authorities. Moreover, he also said a PASOK government goal will be to create "national and regional" business champions.
He began his address by again sharply criticising the government over the ongoing bonds purchase affair, charging that the current government has squandered state's trustworthiness and undermined the justice system, public administration, the political parties, the business world, the law enforcement sector and the unions.
In briefly touching on foreign policy issues, Papandreou again accused the government of being absent and completely indifferent towards practically every national issue on the country's agenda, charging that "Greece has lost its strong negotiating position in the past three years" on every front.
"In foreign policy it is not enough to raise your voice for self-evident things: international law, respect of good-neighbourly relations, as well as Turkey's obligations and FYROM's vis-ą-vis the European Union and Greece," he said.
 KKE sharply attacks PASOK leader's address to SEBThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday reacted to earlier statements by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou at the annual general assembly of Greece's largest employers' union, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB).
"With his speech today George Papandreou revealed, yet again, how harsh the rivalry between PASOK and (ruling) New Democracy (ND) leaderships is for who will gain the confidence and support of plutocracy in order to form a government," KKE said in a statement.
The 'new social pact' proposed by the main opposition leader is, according to KKE, an "offer and promise towards industrialists that PASOK can give them an even cheaper labour force, new incentives and tax breaks, securing the submission of workers and youth better than ND."
Papariga reiterates KKE position against 2-party dominance
Support for the country's two main political parties, ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, must be challenged in the next elections, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Thursday during a press conference in Athens.
Papariga called on voters to show no faith in pledges made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and PASOK leader George Papandreou.
"KKE is already in a pre-election period and is presenting its positions concerning problems faced by the country," she stressed.
The communist leader also accused the government of announcing the construction of projects that will materialise through collaboration with the private sector, charging that private capital is continuously being offered more ground in primary sectors and services.
Referring to the problems in the wider Athens region, the subject of Thursday's press conference, Papariga underlined the lack of infrastructures and also opposed changes to land use
Finally, Papariga said various Olympic venues must be retained by the state, with state coffers paying for their maintenance and operation, whereas the privately financed and constructed Attiki Odos motorway extending from Elefsina, west of Athens, to the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in eastern Attica prefecture should cease being a toll road.
 Synaspismos leader Alavanos visits TrikalaCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday visited the prefecture of Trikala, central Greece, where he visited the pharmaceutical company VIOSER. He was briefed by the board on the business's course and the problems it is facing, while he also held talks with the personnel.
In a press conference later, Alavanos said, "We are in the process of preparing for the (general) elections which are coming. Our party is at the phase of establishing its election ticket, giving great emphasis to the youth."
Regarding the bill for voting by overseas Greeks in the Greek parliamentary elections, Alavanos, having said "we will vote against it," clarified that "instead of a more substantial participation by overseas Greeks being sought in Greek society and the economic reality through vote,, it diffuses the vote of the Greeks of the diaspora in all the electoral regions of Greece, while it takes away the right of the overseas Greek to have in Parliament its own representative which will come from the overseas countries."
 President to pay state visit to Russia next weekPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will pay a four-day state visit to Russia next week, at the invitation of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, it was announced on Thursday.
Papoulias is due to begin his visit next Wednesday, running through June 2.
The President will be accompanied by foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, national defence minister Evangelos Meimarakis, culture minister George Voulgarakis, and tourism development minister Fani Palli-Petralia, while the delegation will also include representatives of institutional agencies and businessmen.
 Athens rejects Turkey's statement on Pontian genocideHistory can neither be falsified or rewritten, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed on Thursday in his reply to Turkish foreign ministry statements disputing that a genocide of Pontian Greeks had taken place.
"History cannot be written off. It cannot be rewritten. It cannot be falsified. Nor can it, of course, be the victim of domestic political rivalry and expediency," Koumoutsakos underlined.
The spokesman stressed that Greece "respected history but also had its gaze turned on the future" and thus wanted "full normalisation" of its relations with Turkey, for the sake of stability and development on a bilateral and regional level.
"Stability and development that only full respect of good neighbourly relations can ensure," he added.
According to a Turkish foreign ministry statement, claims that the Greeks living for centuries along the shores of the Black Sea had been the victims of genocide at the hands of Turkish authorities in the early 20th century had "no historical and scientific basis". It also criticised a law passed by the Greek Parliament in 1994 establishing May 19 as a day of memory of the Pontian genocide, saying that it targeted the founder of the modern Turkish state, Kemal Ataturk.
 Pontian Federation of Greece reacts to Turkish foreign ministry announcementThe Pontian Federation of Greece on Thursday reacted to an announcement by the foreign ministry of Turkey regarding the establishment of May 19 as a day of memory of the genocide of the Pontians.
The Federation represents 334 associations scattered all over Greece and in the past five years has the responsibility of organizing events of the memory anniversary of May 19 in Athens and Thessaloniki, central Macedonia.
In an announcement, the Federation's president, professor George Parharidis, stressed that the Federation "is promoting combatively the demand for the international recognition of the genocide and answers that no expediency can write-off historical events which have been recorded through the archives of the diplomatic services and no one will obstruct us in publicizing this truth, to honour the memory of our ancestors and to demand international recognition of the genocide."
 Souflias endorses German elections model for GreeceEnvironment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias on Thursday endoresed the establishment of the German mixed electoral system model in Greece, via Constitutional revision, noting that such a system would bring "new blood" to politics and would tackle the "main source of the pathogeny of the Greek political system", which he said was the cross of preference on the voting ballots.
Under such a system, he explained, every citizen would be able to vote for whichever party he wished, but there would be a uniform system of preference crosses for MPs, in other words "the voters would be able to place preference crosses not only for the candidates of the party they voted for, but also for candidates of other parties".
He clarified that, under the German system, "people who are important faces, with a contribution to politics, and independent of party, are rewarded by all the voters", and thus "many people who wish to contribute will enter politics".
Souflias noted that he has endorsed this view since 1994, and opined that it was gaining ground in the Greek political system.
"This idea is maturing in the thoughts of many, and I consider that it is necessary for this system to be established in Greece, too," the minister said.
To a press question that he was being criticised by the opposition for "announcing (public works) projects pre-electorally", Souflias repied that "the opposition is wrong, because these projects are the culmination of three years of work, and are now being finalised...they are not projects made in one day".
 Champions League final another success for Greece, gov't saysThe Champions League final held in Athens was yet another sporting event that Greece had organised with great success and security, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Thursday. The UEFA Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool ended at the OAKA Olympic Stadium in Athens on Wednesday night with a 2-1 victory for Milan.
"Several thousand supporters, chiefly from two European countries, came here and, for a few hours, they experienced Greek hospitality, the beautiful areas of Athens, the perfect sporting facilities. Greece has proved, for one more time, that it sets high goals and achieves them, creating great opportunities for tourism and the economy," Antonaros said.
In response to other questions, he said the successful organisation of a major sports event was an important achievement and showed the country's readiness to handle such a big and many-faceted sporting event.
Questioned over the protests planned by police on Wednesday at the same time as the final, which were called off just hours before the game kicked off, Antonaros stressed that the event had in the end gone extremely well, with very few exceptions that were hardly worth mentioning.
"From what I've been told, at no other time in the last 30 years has a final been carried out so flawlessly," he said.
Regarding the violent behaviour of the taxi driver toward a British supporter, the spokesman said that it was "an isolated incident" and stressed that it could not be used to judge the behaviour of thousands of professional taxi drivers.
So far, there is confirmation that eight people have been arrested and charged in Athens for various minor offences linked to the game that occurred outside the OAKA stadium. These include a Norwegian national charged with profiteering, a Spanish man charged with breaking laws on sports held outside school, a Greek and a Briton charged with stealing tickets, two Romanians charged with attempting to use a fake ticket and attempted profiteering and two Bulgarians charged with fraud.
All eight are to stand trial.
 OECD: Greek GDP to grow by 4% annually in '07-08Robust real GDP growth in 2006, boosted by lively domestic demand, is expected to continue both this year and in 2008, with the Greek economy growing at around 4.0 percent annually, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.
In its bi-annual Economic Outlook report on the Greek economy, the Paris-based Organisation said, however, that inflationary pressures would probably remain strong, undermining competitiveness, because of a positive "production gap" and a strong increase in cost per labour unit. The report also said it expected the country's current accounts deficit to remain huge.
Because of strong growth rates and the future high cost of an ageing population in the country, OECD urged for a continuation of fiscal consolidation efforts, probably speedier than originally planned, and stressed that containing spending and further expanding the tax base would be decisive factors towards this goal.
Long-term fiscal viability can be achieved only through widespread reforms of the pension and social security systems, more competition was needed in industries with network infrastructure, reforming the labour market and maintaining strong growth rates, the report said.
OECD said it expected Greek economy growth at 3.9 pct this year and 3.8 pct in 2008. Rising interest rates could lead to a slowdown of domestic demand growth rates, although activity would be supported by lower incomes taxation and initiatives to boost investments.
The Organisation expects the unemployment rate to fall to 8.1 pct of the workforce this year, from 8.4 pct in 2006, and to fall further to 7.9 pct next year.
The general government deficit is projected to fall to 1.9 pct of GDP this year, from 2.3 pct in 2006, but to rise to 2.2 pct of GDP in 2008 if no new corrective measures were taken. OECD's forecasts did not taken in view the permanent increase of the country's contribution to the EU, after a GDP revision, nor the one-off retro payment resulting from this revision -a development likely to affect this year's data.
The current accounts deficit is projected at 9.4 pct of GDP this year, and to 8.9 pct of GDP in 2008. Exports are expected to rise by 5.2 pct this year, from 5.0 pct in 2006, and by 7.2 pct in 2008, while imports to slowdown rising by 6.3 pct in 2007 and 5.3 pct in 2008, from 6.9 pct in 2006.
Harmonised inflation is projected to fall below 3.0 pct this year, to 2.8 pct, after a 3.3 pct rate in 2006, rising again to 3.0 pct in 2008.
 New initiative for repurchase of Greek structured bondsThe JP Morgan company announced a new initiative in London on Thursday for the repurchasing of Greek structured bonds.
According to a relevant announcement, JP Morgan agreed in principle with the North Asset Management (NAM) company to the submission of a new offer for the repurchase of the structured bonds valued at 280 million, that were issued by the Hellenic State on February 22, 2007. JP Morgan acted as a sponsor in the issuing of the bonds and sold the entire issue to NAM.
The announcement said that "the offer will result in the reacquisition by the social security funds, which had acquired these bonds in the second stage market as final investors, of the amounts they had paid for the bonds, less possible interest paid in accordance with the terms of the bonds."
 PASOK on situation in Hellenic Telecommunications OrganisationFifty-three deputies of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), headed by the Telecommunications Department of the party's Parliamentary Council chief, Dinos Rovlias, submitted a question in Parliament on Thursday concerning the prevailing situation in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).
"OTE is daily becoming defamed without a plan, without a policy, without a compass, sunk in partisanship, scandals and inter-governmental disputes. Spasmodic, unplanned, temporary and unacceptable 'initiatives' or 'ideas' are projected and daily withdrawn without there being any responsible government official really being interested about OTE," the deputies said.
 Rokas ABEE reports mixed 1st quarter resultsCh.Rokas ABEE on Thursday reported a 10.4 pct decline in its consolidated turnover to 12.5 million euros in the first quarter of 2007, from 14 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
The company attributed the drop in turnover to lower sales in electromechanical projects, despite an 11 pct increase in energy projects which accounted for 87 pct of total turnover (up from 70 pct in 2006).
Gross profits rose 23.2 pct to 5.8 million euros in the January-March period, from 4.7 million last year, while gross profit margin jumped to 46.2 pct from 33.6 pct over the same period, respectively.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) totaled 7.8 million euros in the first three months, from 7.9 million euros lastyear, while pre-tax and interest earnings rose 6.3 pct to 5.7 million euros.
Pre-tax earnings rose 13.4 pct to 5.6 million euros, while profits after tax and minorities jumped 66.1 pct to 4.8 million euros.
 Greek companies in the "Alimentaria-Lisboa 2007" food exhibitionTen Greek companies will participate in the "Alimentaria-Lisboa 2007" international food exhibition to take place in the Portuguese capital on May 27-30.
According to the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF), organizer of the Greek participation, dairy products, wines, saffron (grown exclusively in the region of Kozani, northwestern Greece), olive oil, olives and Greek puff pastry (sfoliata) will be on display in the 275sqm Greek pavilion.
Alimentaria is a major European exhibition attracting the biggest companies in the food sector worldwide and is regarded as the gateway to the Latin American market.
 Greek Postal Savings Bank approves 0.60 euro dividendThe General Assembly of Shareholders of the Greek Postal Savings Bank on Thursday approved dividends amounting to 0.60 euros per share for the 2006 fiscal year.
The beneficiaries of the dividends will be the bank's shareholders at the end of the Athens Stock Exchange's session on May 25, 2007. Payment of the dividends will begin as of June 5, 2007.
Addressing the General Assembly, the bank's President Panos Tsoupidis said that further extension in the sector of retail banking is continuing at a speedy pace with the aim of the market share in the specific sector reaching 10 percent by 2009, from about 6.4 percent that it is at present.
 Elais-Unilever reports improved 1st quarter resultsElais-Unilever SA on Thursday reported a 6.0-pct increase in first quarter turnover to 69 million euros, up from 65.1 million euros in the corresponding period of 2006.
Gross profits totalled 30.9 million euros in the January-March period, from 26 million last year, while EBITDA rose 2.2 pct to 11.6 million euros.
Pre-tax profits rose 5.0 pct to 11.57 million euros, and after tax profits jumped 11.5 pct to 8.32 million euros.
 Greek car market to grow by 19.4 pct by 2010, reportThe car sector is steadily strengthening its contribution to the Greek economy, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
The report said that the setor's participation in the country's Gross Domestic Product totaled 1.9 percent in 2005, from 1.4 pct in 2000, while employment in the sector totaled 118,718 workers, up 13.7 pct compared with 2004.
The sector also accounted for 5.0 pct of regular budget proceeds in 2006, while adding proceeds from a fuel consumption tax the car sector's contribution to state budget revenues reached 11 pct.
IOBE said it expected car sales to grow this year in all vehicle categories, with passenger car sales expected to grow by around 1.0 pct, light trucks up 3.0 pct, heavy trucks up 13 pct, buses up 35 pct and motorcycle sales up around 2.0 pct.
The report noted that domestic car fleet more than doubled in the last 11 years to 5,462,291 vehicles in 2006, while it stressed that a high average age of the Greek car fleet further burdened the environment with more emmissions.
IOBE said the car market was increasingly competitive and noted that the sector faced a risk of lower profitability and higher operating expenses in the coming years.
The Institute recommended a gradual reduction of registration duties and a gradual shift of tax burdens based on the use of a vehicle. It also urged for measures to monitor the development of the car fleet and drafting a national strategy on the car sector. IOBE said it expected the car market to grow by 19.4 pct by 2010.
 Greek Stock Exchange Holdings SA company announces share capital decreaseThe Greek Stock Exchange Holdings SA company announced on Thursday that the Repeat General Assembly of Shareholders on May 24, 2007, decided among other things to decrease the company's share capital by 35,135,731.50 euros with a reduction in the face value of each share by 0.50 euros and its payment to shareholders.
The beneficiaries of the above return of capital will be the holders of company shares at the end of the Athens Stock Exchange's session on June 29, 2007. The payment of the return of capital will take place on Thursday July 12, 2007.
 Greek stocks end 0.23 pct higherGreek stocks moved higher on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange to a new seven-year high. The index ended at 4,936.14 points, up 0.23 percent, with turnover a moderate 353.8 million euros.
Sector indices were mixed. The Healthcare (1.80 pct), Oil (1.07 pct) and Food/Beverage (0.99 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Media (1.78 pct), Chemicals (1.78 pct) and Technology (1.22 pct) suffered losses.
The Big Cap index rose 0.19 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.10 pct and the Small Cap index fell 0.38 pct.
AEGEK (13.24 pct) and Rilken (9.88 pct) were top gainers, while Lanacam (17.24 pct), Viosol (13.33 pct) and Marfin Investment Group (11.27 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 174 to 94 with another 37 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.07%
Personal & Household: -0.37%
Raw Materials: +0.01%
Travel & Leisure: +0.24%
Food & Beverages: +0.99%
Financial Services: -0.42%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, Bank of Cyprus and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.08
Public Power Corp (PPC): 20.80
HBC Coca Cola: 33.82
Hellenic Petroleum: 11.60
Emporiki Bank: 21.04
National Bank of Greece: 43.58
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 26.90
Titan Cement Company: 42.98
 ADEX closing reportTurnover rose slightly to 107.196 million euros in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with the June contract on the FTSE 20 index traded at a discount of 1.35 pct and on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 0.22 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the FTSE 20 index totaled 7,012 contracts worth 91.196 million euros, with 38,572 open positions in the market, while on the FTSE 40 index volume was 224 contracts worth 6.945 million euros, with 1,509 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 5,184 contracts worth 9.053 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (649), followed by PPC (530), National Bank (365), Intracom (201), ATEbank (464), Hellenic Petroleum (403) and Motor Oil (223).
 Greek bond market closing reportŌurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totalled 2.609 billion euros on Thursday, of which 1.377 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.232 billion were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 730 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 0.21 pct. The Greek bond yielded 4.59 pct and the German Bund 4.38 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate fell to 3.84 pct from 3.85 pct on Wednesday, the two-day rate rose to 3.86 pct from 3.84 pct, the one-month rate rose to 3.97 pct from 3.95 pct and the 12-month rate fell to 4.41 pct from 4.42 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.355
Pound sterling 0.682
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 9.269
Japanese yen 164.51
Swiss franc 1.664
Norwegian kroner 8.170
Cyprus pound 0.587
Canadian dollar 1.466
Australian dollar 1.648
 Monastiraki-Egaleo metro route opensThe Monastiraki-Egaleo metro Line 3 connecting the centre of Athens with the outlying southwest working-class district of Egaleo will open on Friday morning, officials said on Thursday.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias hailed the project's completion and the new underground mass transit link between the centre of Athens and its western suburbs.
The long-awaited expansion of metro service to Egaleo includes three stations -- Keramikos, Eleonas, and Egaleo -- while the 4.2-km-long distance separating with Egaleo with Syntagma will be covered in seven minutes and finally link Athens' western suburbs directly with the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Greece's largest facility.
In addition, noted archaeological findings during construction will be displayed at the Egaleo and Eleonas stations.
Souflias stressed that a 450-car capacity underground garage will soon be constructed under Estavromenos Square in Egaleo, while similar parking spaces will soon be constructed in Keramikos and Eleonas as well.
The expansion of the metro service to the adjacent Haidari district will be ready by the end of 2008, while an 8.2 km-long metro line expansion to the port of Piraeus -- Greece's primary commercial and passenger shipping hub -- is also underway with seven stations planned.
After the metro service expansion to Piraeus is eventually completed, Line 3 from the airport to Piraeus will be 50kms long, while next year additional Line 2 stations in Peristeri will be ready, namely, the City Hall and the Anthousa Stations.
 Rain causes flooding in west Athens districtsThe torrential rain that abruptly drenched Greece's capital on Thursday afternoon converted districts on the foothills of Mount Parnitha into small lakes as water came pouring down the mountain. The problems were most acute in Menidi and Thrakomakedones, where the water rose as high as a metre on certain roads and several drivers were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated by the fire department.
So far, the fire department has received more than 150 calls reporting flooding and 100 firemen are on hand with 30 fire engines in order to pump out water from flooded buildings.
 Antonaros opens seminar on print mediaAlternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday kicked off a seminar on "The Press in Europe: contemporary challenges and prospects" that began in Athens, expressing conviction that the print media was not on the verge of disappearing or going through a crisis but would merely have to adapt to the new state of affairs.
The seminar took place in the Old Parliament building in Athens and was organised by the embassies of France, Germany, Spain and Italy and the European Parliament's office in Athens.
Comparing the electronic to the print media, Antonaros said the former was marked by "lightness" in its handling of the news, whereas the traditional printed media showed greater seriousness and a deeper analysis of events.
"Whoever adapts with a new choice of subjects and a new style of writing will do well," the spokesman predicted.
Other speakers included the chief editors of respected newspapers and electronic news sites from Greece and various European countries.
 Protest rally by teachers in central AthensTeachers and kindergarten teachers went on a 24-hour strike on Thursday and held a protest rally outside the offices of the National Federation of State School Teachers (DOE) at Syntagma Square in central Athens.
DOE president Dimitris Bratis said that the main reason for the strike was the stance by the government and the National Education and Religious Affairs Ministry regarding the issue of the establishment and operation of kindergarten stations.
As he said, the amendment passed in Parliament on Wednesday "gives the opportunity for the establishment and operation of private and municipal kindergarten stations outside the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry."
 President Papoulias briefed on Gyaros island initiativePresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received a committee led by MEP Nikos Sifounakis, which briefed him on the efforts being made to make the former exile island of Gyaros an "area of historic memory and homage to the resistance fighters exiled to the island".
The committee asked the president to exercise his influence so that the studies for the project that were scheduled in 2001-2004 might be included in the Aegean ministry's programme.
Afterwards, Papoulias received the presidency of the book publishers' association and discussed the book publishing trade in Greece.
 Public sector to participate in World Environment DayAn interior, public administration and decentralization ministry circular issued on Thursday calls on public agency, local government and prefectural personnel to participate in the June 5 World Environment Day celebrations and symbolically switch off office lights at 10 am for ten minutes.
According to the ministry circular, participation in the "switch-off the lights for ten minutes" worldwide initiative aims at raising public awareness on environmental issues, and particularly global warming.
 Woman in 90s braves taxi trip from UK to visit Aristotle's SchoolA British woman in her 90s braved the arduous overland trip from the UK to Greece in a taxi - a journey of several days and thousands of kilometres - in order to visit the site of Aristotle's School near the northern Greek city of Naousa. This was the spot, called Isvoria, where in 342 B.C. the ancient philosopher had taught the precepts of Plato and classical Greek philosophy to Alexander the Great when he was a teenager, and to other scions of the Macedonian nobility.
Former teacher Kathleen Searles hired a taxi and, accompanied by her nurse, set off across the long miles between her country and northern Greece in order to fulfill her life-long dream, with her sole destination being the Cultural Centre of the School of Aristotole that now stands on the site of the ancient school.
As she explained to staff at the centre who showed her around, she had studied ancient Greek and remembered several ancient Greek words, while she had always been fascinated by Aristotle and his works. For this reason, she had wanted to visit the recently inaugurated cultural centre that has been built on the site.
After a tour of the centre lasting approximately half an hour, she got back into the taxi to start the return trip to the UK.
The Cultural Centre of the School of Aristotole occupies a site covering 6,200 square metres and includes a gallery where statues and vessels are on display, a conference room and landscaped grounds of exceptional natural beauty, where archaeological remains bear witness to the ancient structures that were once erected there, such as the Nymphaio, or temple to the Nymphs.
The school where two of the key personalities of the ancient world came into contact - a meeting that was probably decisive for the future of the world and western culture in particular - is about two kilometres from the modern city of Naousa in the heart of the Greek province of Macedonia.
 Six prosecuted for possessing stolen Champions League final ticketsAn Athens prosecutor on Thursday launched legal proceedings against six foreigners for moral complicity in grand larceny and attempted profiteering after being found in possession of 188 stolen tickets of Wednesday night's Champions League final between AC Milan of Italy and Liverpool FC of England. The stolen tickets include 43 name tickets stolen from a downtown Athens hotel.
Earlier, an Athens court acquitted seven foreigners and a Greek who had been brought before a public prosecutor, as well as two other foreigners accused of attempted profiteering and arrested for trying to sell overpriced tickets.
 New book by journalist Bruce ClarkGreeks and Turks are the protagonists of journalist Bruce Clark in his new book titled "Twice a foreigner", which was presented at the events hall of the Byzantine Museum in Athens on Thursday.
The Irish author, chief editor on international security issues in the Economist magazine, gives an account of selected stories of Greek-speaking Turks and Turkish-speaking Greeks who became refugees with the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
Using meanings and analytical tools of the past two decades, Clark renders the exchange of populations, within the framework of the Lausanne Treaty, matter of the 21st Century and the cornerstone of today's Greek-Turkish relations.
Living in Greece in the 1980s as a correspondent for Reuters, and having visited Turkey and Cyprus, the Irish journalist declared that through the publication of "Twice a foreigner", he completed a lengthy journey during which, as he said, he made important discoveries. Not scientific but personal.
 Blood drive held at Greek ParliamentA higher response by both staff and MPs was recorded at the annual blood drive on Thursday at the Greek Parliament, where a total of 92 bags were collected from 97 volunteer blood donors. The blood drive was organised by the Parliament Employee Association at the Parliament canteen, where all those present received the congratulations of Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki.
 American university students visit ThessalonikiTwelve students from Texas A&M University are on a visit to Thessaloniki at the initiative of the Aristotelion Polytechnic University.
During their two-day stay in the northern city, the twelve engineering and business undergraduate students, escorted by a professor, will meet with the Aristotelion University Dean, attend a discussion on nanotechnology and visit local government buildings before launching a tour of Vergina, Meteora, Athens and Patras.
 US embassy closed on MondayThe US embassy in Athens, including the consular section, the US consulate general in Thessaloniki, and all US federal government offices in Greece will be closed on Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day, an American national holiday, according to an embassy press release on Thursday.
In addition, the consular section in Athens is closed to the public on Wednesday for internal administrative reasons, the embassy added.
For true emergencies on these days, the embassy noted, individuals should call 210-721-2951 (working hours) and after 5 p.m. 210-720-2490 or 210-720-2491.
 Mostly rainy on FridayRainy and stormy weather is forecast in most parts of Greece on Friday, mainly in the Peloponnese, Crete, central Macedonia and Thrace. Temperatures will range between 12C to 26C. Winds variable, light.
Scattered showers in Athens, with temperatures ranging between 17C and 24C. Same in Thessaloniki and temperatures ranging from 15C to 23C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe structured bonds affair, the National Health System (ESY), the Amnesty International report, the real estate market, and AC Milan (Italy)'s clinching of the European soccer Championship after defeating Liverpool (England) 2-1 in the final held in Athens on Wednesday, were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Another wager won - European personalities and over 50,000 soccer fans came to Athens".
APOGEVMATINI: "20,000 OTA (local government) employees with 15-year work stamps to be eligible for hazardous employment status, according to government decision".
AVGHI: "Pan-European reaction to structured bonds - Beware of high-risk investments".
AVRIANI: "(PASOK government ministers) Christodoulakis, Dris and Floridis are accountable for 400 billion euros - The government sends to the prosecutor those involved in the 'green' bond (the main colour on PASOK's emblem) with the 18 Swaps".
CHORA: "The Queen of Italy, AC Milan, is the European Champion".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "LAOS party president Karatzaferis' interview on the situation in the mass media".
ELEFTHEROS: "Hirings based on oral interviews - Green light is given by (Supreme Staff Selection Council) ASEP vice-president Bakopoulos".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Do we have the most ailing health system in Europe?".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Back to a new cold war - Shocking Amnesty International report on the world we live in".
ESTIA: "The current election law facilitates the likelihood of a (main opposition party) PASOK-Left collaboration".
ETHNOS: "Confusion over building construction costs - New corrections 3 months after objective values skyrocket".
KATHIMERINI: "J.P. Morgan is getting ready to buy back the bond - Consultations in London with North Asset Management".
LOGOS: "90 billion euros are owed to the banks - Small decline in the withdrawal rate".
NIKI: "The ASEP vice-president hinted at the job interview practice".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Unacceptable scheming aimed at handing over kindergarten schools to private concerns says the (Greek Communist Party) KKE party organization in Athens".
TA NEA: "(North Asset Management) Papamarkakis' deposition to prosecutor Zorbas on 19.4-million-euro kickbacks".
TO VIMA: "Papamarkakis names Priniotakis (Acropolis brokerage firm) as the recipient of an 8.4-million-euro commission".
VRADYNI: "Real estate prices drop 20 percent - Where to find best buys".
 Cyprus deplores Turkish demands to revisit UN resolutionsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
It is regrettable that instead of implementing Security Council resolutions and complying with international law, Turkey now voices new provocative demands to the international community to revisit and eliminate resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) on the ground of the implausible assertion that they have allegedly become "tools for suppressing and isolating" the Turkish Cypriots, Cyprus Permanent Representative to the UN Andreas Mavroyiannis said in a letter he sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The letter sent on 15 May 2007 as a response to the letter of Turkey's Permanent Representative to the UN to the UN Secretary General, also said that Turkey "obviously prefers to ignore the fact that the measures adopted by the international community through resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984) are not aimed against the Turkish Cypriot community, but against the purported state of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus".
Mavroyiannis added that "it is obvious that by blurring the concepts of what is the 'Turkish Cypriot community' and what is the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus', Turkey is simply trying to erode the aforementioned resolutions to achieve its steady political goal of upgrading the status of the illegal entity in the occupied areas of Cyprus."
He noted that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is convinced that the international community, in particular the United Nations, will continue to reject such unfounded and unlawful attempts.
He underlined that "the sooner Turkey realizes that it cannot pursue its illegitimate political agenda and that the only option available is full compliance with international law, the more likely it is that we will succeed in preparing the ground for the resumption of he negotiations on the Cyprus issue within the framework of the good offices mission of the Secretary General."
Mavroyiannis added that "the negative effects of the craftily cultivated myth of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots are also manifested in the form of other provocative demands by Turkey aimed at the elimination of another Security Council resolution, resolution 186 (1964), which established the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus."
"In fact, the Permanent Representative of Turkey repeats in his letter the well-known Turkish attack against Security Council resolution 186 (1964) because it upheld and confirmed the legality of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus," he noted.
He stressed that "caught in the political deadlock in which it has placed itself by pursuing the objective of promoting the illegal secessionist entity in the occupied areas of Cyprus, Turkey entertains the illusion that it might be able to achieve its goals by promoting the implausible scenario of the downgrading of the status of the Republic of Cyprus, through the elimination of Security Council resolution 186 (1964), ignoring the reality that is defined by and based on international law".
As regards the position of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and/or the continental shelf, Mavroyiannis underlined that it is fully in line with relevant international law and the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
He reiterated that the Government of Cyprus has no doubts about the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus over the maritime areas surrounding the island and the natural resources therein and rejects any claim by the Government of the Republic of Turkey to the contrary.
Mavroyiannis noted that "the Government of the Republic of Cyprus similarly rejects the Turkish objections with regard to the bilateral agreement that Cyprus signed with France in the field of defence, since, in accordance with international law, this matter is an inter alios acta for Turkey."
He added that "Turkey has no right whatsoever to challenge bilateral agreements that sovereign States, members of the United Nations, wish to sign. Indeed, the claim by Turkey that an international agreement between sovereign States is null and void because a third State (Turkey) does not like it is a rather peculiar and strange approach to international law," he said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 US: elections should not hold up peace processNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The US believes that progress towards a negotiated settlement in Cyprus should not be obstructed by any election process.
The US also believes that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities must move forward with the implementation of a UN-brokered agreement, last July, with a view to beginning substantive negotiations.
Speaking after a meeting with Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment Fotis Fotiou on Thursday, the American Ambassador here Ronald Schlicker said he reiterated to the minister that is the strong desire of his government that the two communities find a way under UN auspices to move forward on the July 8 process and to get those technical committees and working groups up and running.
"It is through committees that we are going to make progress on daily issues and find a way back to the substance of the engagement of the issues of a final settlement that would result in reunification of the island the reunification that my government strongly supports," he added.
Responding to questions about possible developments in Cyprus, after elections in Turkey and here in February next year, the Ambassador said "we should not hold progress hostage to elections dates."
"Often things work out that way but I strongly believe that all of us need to keep pushing for as much progress as can be made and to try to avoid letting different excuses for not making progress blocking that progress," he added.
He said he wants to encourage everybody in a positive way to get to work right now.
The July agreement provides for working groups and technical committees to discuss substantive issues concurrently with issues that affect the day to day life of people on the island with a view to begin negotiations towards a settlement.
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