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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 18 July 2009 Issue No: 3248


  • [01] 'Transparency high in government's priorities'
  • [02] Bakoyannis: Greece remains committed to end Turkish occupation of Cyprus
  • [03] Greece on Turkish research in eastern Mediterranean
  • [04] Gov't dismisses reports about pensions
  • [05] Gov't spokesman on Papandreou's comments
  • [06] PASOK spokesman on domestic policy
  • [07] PASOK calls for immediate briefing by the health minister on the measures against novel influenza
  • [08] Greek kids return after swine flu bout in UK
  • [09] President receives MIG chief
  • [10] Package of measures for peach producers announced
  • [11] Greek trade deficit shrank sharply in April
  • [12] Horse breeding farm in Lazarina marks 77th anniversary
  • [13] ATEbank says business plan under revision
  • [14] Folli Follie to pay 0.10 euros dividend to shareholders
  • [15] Greek stocks end higher
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [19] Greek oncologist receives Pride of Australia award
  • [20] Two drug arrests in Sparta, southern Greece
  • [21] Bank robbery in Thessaloniki
  • [22] Two WWII bombs found on Crete
  • [23] Sunny and hot on Saturday
  • [24] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [25] President Christofias says Cyprus solution a dire necessity
  • [26] Leaders to begin discussion on aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship
  • [27] Leaders discuss security

  • [01] 'Transparency high in government's priorities'

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Friday with development minister Costis Hatzidakis for a review of the bill currently being drafted aiming at simplifaction of the procedure for establishing a company from the present 17-18 steps to just 3-4 steps.

    "The goal is to make life easier for new entrepreneurs, and especially for the small and medium size enterprises (SMEs)," Hatzidakis told reporters after the meeting.

    He also announced that the government to further advance transparency in public sector procurements through a more modern, more transparent and more European system that will take advantage of the possibilities offered by the internet.

    "Transparency is high in the government's priorities," the minister stressed, noting that the aim is to make public all the procurements and tenders via the internet.

    [02] Bakoyannis: Greece remains committed to end Turkish occupation of Cyprus

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed on Friday that Greece's aim remains to end the Turkish occupation of Cyprus in the framework of an overall, mutually acceptable, just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, on the basis of UN resolutions and European Union principles.

    In a statement on the occasion of the completion of 35 years since the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in the summer of 1974, Bakoyannis reiterates Greece's support to the initiative and the effort of Cypriot President Demetris Christofias to reach a Cypriot solution to the Cyprus problem and calls upon Turkey to prove in deeds that it can follow European principles and values.

    "The wounds which the invasion and continuous occupation of the Republic of Cyprus have left behind must close and the Cypriot people should be able to live again reunited and safe in the EU", she says.

    Bakoyannis notes that Turkey still holds the key for the solution of the Cyprus problem, pointing out that Turkey's role is crucial.

    "A positive response by Turkey would contribute to the achievement of a solution that would give a new impetus to its EU accession course and to the promotion of Greco-Turkish relations", she notes.

    Referring to the 20th of July 1974, day of the Turkish invasion against Cyprus, she points out the tragic consequences of the invasion, the refugees, the mass violation of human rights, the destruction of cultural sites and the humanitarian issue of the missing persons.

    The foreign minister points to Turkey's policy to illegally bring to Cyprus settlers from Anatolia, saying that this policy continues until today, "changing the demographic and cultural structure of the island".

    "The international community has not accepted and will never recognise the faits accomplis of violence in Cyprus", she concludes.

    Turkey invaded Cyprus in July 1974. As a result of the Turkish invasion 37% of the Cypriot territory remains under Turkish occupation since 1974.

    [03] Greece on Turkish research in eastern Mediterranean

    The Greek foreign ministry said on Friday that it would continue following develpoments on the issue of a Turkish government decision to proceed to geophysical researches in the eastern Mediterranean and specifically in the region south and east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, while it would "proceed to all appropriate actions in order to defend Greece's sovereign rights."

    "Yesterday's (Thursday's) publication in Turkey's Government Gazette of a decision taken on July 30, 2008, regarding geophysical researches in the eastern Mediterranean and specifically in the region south and east of the island of Kastellorizo, is contrary to the rules of the Law of the Sea and in no way can harm Greece's sovereign rights and responsibilities which are founded on International Law," Foreign Minister Spokesman Gregoris Delavekouras said in a statement.

    "Our positions on the issue are given and have been repeatedly communicated to the Turkish side. According to the relevant provisions of the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, part of the region mentioned in the (Turkish) publication includes Greek continental shelf," the spokesman added, indicating that Greece's ambassador to Turkey has already contacted relevant Turkish foreign ministry officials.

    "The foreign ministry will continue following developemnts on the issue and it proceeds to all appropriate actions in order to defend Greece's sovereign rights," Delavekouras concluded.

    On its part, a main opposition PASOK spokesman, commenting on the issue, said that while "everyday Turkey tables a new issue which aggravates Greek-Turkish relations, at the same time, it is being confirmed, every day, that the New Democracy (ND) government has no plan, has no tactics and no strategy vis-a-vis Turkey."

    [04] Gov't dismisses reports about pensions

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday dismissed reports that social insurance funds might be unable to pay pensions as "exaggerations bearing no relation to reality".

    He stressed that the state guaranteed the pensions and benefits due to Greek citizens and that state insurance funds, following the reform currently being carried out and the difficulties that this had faced, were "now on the path to getting their house in order".

    The spokesman reported that steady progress was being made in computerising state social insurance funds, with 7.5 million Greeks having received the social security numbers AMKA.

    "This isn't just a formality but something that will greatly facilitate relations between the insured and their social insurance funds," he stressed.

    For pension funds facing financial difficulties, such as freelance professions insurance fund OAEE, the deficit was covered by the state budget each month, the spokesman stressed.

    He admitted to the existence of "some problems" but stressed that the reports, in the form and extent of the claims they were making, were unjustified and sought merely to cause concern.

    The spokesman urged patience, saying the reforms could not have an effect from one day to the next and that problems that had built up and been out of control for many years could not be fixed in the space of a few months.

    Concerning professions classed as heavy or hazardous to health - and whether a reduction in pensions or later retirement for these were ways envisaged as ways of solving the problems of state insurance funds - Antonaros stressed that clear answers had already been given on these issues by the government.

    He pointed out that the government had announced plans to change the list of heavy and hazardous professions beforehand and then conducted a public dialogue through committees set up to "rationalise" this list.

    The spokesman noted that many of the professions on this list no longer exist, while for others their inclusion was no longer justified. He also clarified that the measures decided on would only apply to those entering such professions from now on.

    "In spite of the government's clearly stated position on this, there are people trying to generate concerns and doubts in those already working in these professions," he added.

    [05] Gov't spokesman on Papandreou's comments

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros suggested Friday that main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou should focus on drawing up a plan of substantive proposals concerning the real problems facing the country when called to comment on statements made by Papandreou at the Symi Symposium.

    Antonaros underlined that "the government never hid the problems from the Greek people" and added that if PASOK's suggestions were implemented, they would cost billions of euros to Greek taxpayers. The main opposition avoided adopting a substantive and binding stance toward specific problems, he added. "Their position is always negative. This is no contribution to the solution of the country's problems," Antonaros stated.

    "On the contrary, the government gives solutions and offers a way out of the problems that arise, considering that we are in the midst of a global economic crisis that only naturally has an impact here as well," Antonaros stated. "Its repercussions, however, are smaller than those in other neighboring countries, which are comparable to us both in terms of the structure and size of their economies," he concluded.

    [06] PASOK spokesman on domestic policy

    Main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou stated Friday that regulations which are an insult to public sentiment will not be supported. He was commenting on a regulation sponsored by Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas suggesting that parliament take over the social insurance bills for MPs who do not practice a profession following the abolition of the "professional incompatibility" clause.

    Referring to the proposals made by PASOK President George Papandreou regarding "green development", he stated that ruling New Democracy (ND) should realize that "these are proposals that are being adopted across Europe even by conservative governments."

    On the state of the social insurance funds, Papaconstantinou noted that figures presented by the workers showed them to be "in the worst position of the past 60 years." "Five major social insurance funds need roughly 5 billion euros to meet their obligations," he added, while underlining that "social insurance contribution evasion is out of control."

    Regarding the"closed professions," Papaconstantinou stressed that PASOK has repeatedly backed their change of status, underlining that such a reform would improve the services provided to the people. He added, however, that their "opening" should take place with certain guarantees.

    On the meeting of the Liquidity Implementation Supervision Council concerning the utilization of the 28-billion-euro package allocated by the State in support of the banking system, Papaconstantinou maintained that "the ritual will continue but the small and medium size businesses will see no results," accusing the government of "failing to introduce liquidity to the real economy, as proven by the figures concerning bounced cheques and business financing."

    "We are following with great concern the novel influenza phenomenon as it unfolds," Papaconstantiou stated referring to the pandemic. He underlined that it is "the duty of a well-governed state to keep the people informed on what they should and should not do," and called on the ministry of health to provide that information.

    Referring to the incidents in Grammatiko, in northeast Attica, and the reactions of local people who oppose plans to establish a landfill site for Attica in the area, he underlined that a solution can be found through discussion, adding that "certain old plans need to be reconsidered."

    [07] PASOK calls for immediate briefing by the health minister on the measures against novel influenza

    Twelve main opposition PASOK MPs have requested that the minister of health immediately brief the parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs on the measures taken to cope with an anticipated outbreak of A/H1N1 novel influenza (also known as swine flu).

    In a letter addressed to committee chairman Panagiotis Melas, they underlined that based on the World Health Organization (WHO) the confirmed novel influenza cases worldwide have reached 100,000 warning of further increase in September.

    [08] Greek kids return after swine flu bout in UK

    A group of Greek school children and their escorts that contracted A/H1N1 novel influenza while attended summer courses at the universities of Oxford and York in the United Kingdom began returning to Greece on Friday, having fully recovered from their bout with the illness.

    Sixteen of the 22 Greek students attending classes at Oxford came down with the disease and were treated in their rooms, as well as 12 of the 16 attending a summer course in York. All of them have fully recovered and the last five are due to return to Athens tonight.

    [09] President receives MIG chief

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday received Marfin Investment Group (MIG) chairman Andreas Vgeno-poulos.

    To a relevant question by the President on his arrival, Vgenopoulos replied that the preparations for the group's assumption of the activities, as of October 1, of Olympic Air (OA) -- as the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways has been renamed following its recent acquisition by MIG -- "are progressing very satisfactorily".

    Asked by the President about how MIG was faring amidst the global financial crisis, Vgenopoulos replied that "everyone is working hard under very adverse conditions", adding that "it appears that the crisis is continuing".

    He noted, however, that there have been "optimistic messages", mainly from the US, where indications are that there will be somewhat of a reversal by the end of the year.

    "If this is the case the impact, unfortunately, will not be immediate on Greece. We have a very difficult period ahead of us," Vgenopoulos added.

    Financial News

    [10] Package of measures for peach producers announced

    Minister of Agriculture Sotiris Hatzigakis presented a package of measures Friday in support of peach producers calling on them to end their mobilizations.

    Following a three-hour meeting with representatives of peach farmers and canning industries from the prefectures of Imathia and Pella in northern Greece, Hatzigakis announced a minimum guaranteed price of 18 cents per kilo that can increase up to 21 cents per kilo for peaches delivered to canning industries while the labor cost of the industries will be supported by the Employment and Vocational Training Fund (LAEK).

    Hatzigakis also stated that the Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) will offer full compensation for damages caused by adverse weather conditions.

    The peach farmers' representatives rejected the measures stating that their mobilizations will continue, as opposed to the canning industries that expressed the will to consider them.

    Peach producers in Imathia and Pella prefectures in northern Greece have closed off sections of the "Egnatia Odos" national motorway since Thursday demanding state assistance to absorb surplus peach production and calling for a settlement as regards compensation for their unsold peach stockpiles.

    The peach farmers demands include state assistance to absorb the surplus peach production and reaching a settlement as regards compensation for their undisposed peach production. The canning companies maintain that they can absorb only 170,000-200,000 tons of this year's 400,000-ton production as a result of the decreased demand in the international market attributed to the economic crisis.

    [11] Greek trade deficit shrank sharply in April

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    Greece's trade deficit shrank to 9.5 billion euros in April 2009, down 3.4 billion euros compared with the corresponding month last year, Eurostat said on Friday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said Greek exports totaled 4.5 billion euros, while imports totaled 14 billion euros in the month. Greek exports were down 17 pct compared with the same month last year, while imports fell 23 pct over the same period.

    Eurostat said Germany (36.8 billion euros) and Ireland (12.7 billion euros) recorded the biggest trade surplus in the EU-27, while UK (31.2 billion), France (20.3 billion), Spain (17.5 billion) and Greece (9.5 billion) the biggest trade deficits in April.

    Eurozone recorded a trade surplus of 1.9 billion euros with the rest of the world, while the EU-27 a trade deficit of 6.8 billion euros.

    [12] Horse breeding farm in Lazarina marks 77th anniversary

    The stud farm in Lazarina, central Greece, celebrates its 77th anniversary in December, after having produced hundreds of horses.

    Established in 1932 at the Zografos Farms in the plain of Thessaly, it started out with 19 mares and 2 stallions bought in Romania with the sole purpose of breeding horses for the then newly created Greek horse racetrack.

    The Ippotour S.A. stud farm in Lazarina is one of the largest and best in Europe with 70 mares and 10 stallions, while its annual horse production ranges between 50 and 60 foals - all of them British thoroughbreds with pedigree certificates - corresponding to roughly 16 pct of the horse production in Greece.

    The 700-stremma-farm is divided into 24 pastures of 25 stremma each meeting the international specifications and allowing the animals to have enough space to mature. Each pasture is home to 8-9 horses of similar condition (e.g. mares with foals are kept separately etc) to avoid conflict. The maintenance of the facilities and pastures is the responsibility of a 40-member staff.

    The plain of Thessaly has a long history in horse breeding because the wet climate, thick vegetation and terrain are extremely favorable.

    Famous "representatives" of the horses of Thessaly were Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, and the Centaurs of Mt Pilio, while the Trikki cavalry had accompanied the Greeks in the Trojan War.

    [13] ATEbank says business plan under revision

    ATEbank on Friday said its three-year business plan, for the period 2007-2009, was under revision following fundamental changes in admissions and hypothesis on which the business plan was based as a result of a global financial crisis.

    The bank said its first half results would be announced on Wednesday, 26 August 2009, after the closing of the Athens Stock Exchange.

    [14] Folli Follie to pay 0.10 euros dividend to shareholders

    Folli Follie on Friday announced it would pay a 0.10 euros per share dividend to its shareholders for the year 2008. The company said its net dividend, after a 10 pct withholding tax, would total 0.090657 euros per share. Folli Follie said its shares will be traded in the Athens Stock Exchange, ex-dividend from Monday, 20 July.

    [15] Greek stocks end higher

    Greek stocks rose 0.77 pct in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index of the market closing at 2,230.44 points. Turnover was a moderate 135.4 million euros. Most sectors moved upwards, with the Travel (3.18 pct), Constructions (2.99 pct) and Insurance (1.34 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (2.50 pct), Media (1.99 pct) and Oil (0.86 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.93 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.18 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.01 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 110 to 87 with another 59 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.34%

    Industrials: -0.51%

    Commercial: +1.18%

    Construction: +2.99%

    Media: -1.99%

    Oil & Gas: -0.86%

    Personal & Household: +0.23%

    Raw Materials: +1.04%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.18%

    Technology: +0.18%

    Telecoms: +0.56%

    Banks: +0.76%

    Food & Beverages: +0.88%

    Health: -0.17%

    Utilities: -2.50%

    Chemicals: +1.12%

    Financial Services: +0.38%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Alpha Bank and Public Power Corp (PPC).

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.50

    ATEbank: 1.51

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.52

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.75

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.20

    National Bank of Greece: 19.03

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.23

    Intralot: 4.12

    OPAP: 16.85

    OTE: 10.70

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.59

    Titan Cement Company: 18.98

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 700 million euros on Friday, with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds at 157 basis points. The Greek bond yielded 4.96 pct and the German Bund 3.39 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates eased further. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.39 pct, the six-month rate 1.20 pct, the three-month rate 0.95 pct and the one-month rate 0.58 pct.

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.14 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover a low 52.916 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,348 contracts worth 41.703 million euros, with 26,317 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,170 contracts worth 11.213 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,786), followed by Eurobank (453), OTE (379), PPC (793), OPAP (1,620), Piraeus Bank (852), Alpha Bank (987), Cyprus Bank (1,159) and Hellenic Postbank (1,113).

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.420

    Pound sterling 0.872

    Danish kroner 7.504

    Swedish kroner 11.136

    Japanese yen 133.12

    Swiss franc 1.531

    Norwegian kroner 9.068

    Canadian dollar 1.586

    Australian dollar 1.776

    General News

    [19] Greek oncologist receives Pride of Australia award

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA / S. Hatzimanolis)

    Greek-Australian oncologist George Kannourakis received the Pride of Australia Care and Compassion medal in recognition of his service to the community of Ballarat in the State of Victoria.

    The newspapers "Herald Sun" and "Weekly Times" have instituted the Pride of Australia award and recipients are voted by their readers.

    According to the Pride of Australia, he received the award because "in an area where public transport is limited, Ballarat's oncologist, Professor George Kannourakis, has returned good old fashion service to each and every one of his patients. Instead of getting cancer patients to come to him, he lightens the load by driving to his patients every fortnight."

    Dr Kannourakis studied medicine in Melbourne and worked as pediatrician-oncologist at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne. For two years he stayed in Boston where he was involved in research at Harvard's Medical School. Since 1996 he practices medicine in Ballarat.

    [20] Two drug arrests in Sparta, southern Greece

    Two people were arrested on the Tripolis-Sparta national motorway in southern Greece on Thursday on drug possession charges following a routine police search in their car that revealed a total of 71.5 grams of heroin, it was announced on Friday..

    Both suspects were led before a prosecutor in Sparta.

    [21] Bank robbery in Thessaloniki

    Two men carried out an armed robbery at a Bank of Cyprus branch in the Thessaloniki district of Toumba on Friday morning, getting away with 20,500 euros.

    The men had concealed their faces and forced the cashier to hand over the cash at gunpoint then escaped on a motorbike.

    Police have launched an investigation.

    [22] Two WWII bombs found on Crete

    Two World War II bombs have been found in Halepa, in the prefecture of Hania on Crete, one in a ravine and another at the bottom of a well in someone's garden.

    The bomb in the ravine has already been neutralised by army bomb-disposal experts and taken to a special area in the Agias army base to be safely disposed of. In the next few days, authorities will also attempt to raise the bomb found down the well but this is a more complicated procedure since the well must first be drained by the fire department and cleaned.

    Weather forecast

    [23] Sunny and hot on Saturday

    Sunny weather with higher temperatures is forecast throughout Greece on Saturday, with some cloud from the afternoon. Winds variable, rising to a maximun of 6 Beaufort. Temperatures will range between 19C and 39C. Sunny and hot in Athens, with temperatures between 24C and 38C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 23C and 36C.

    [24] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Plans to tackle the deficits in the country's five largest social security Funds and the fight against organised crime and terrorism were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Education, construction, tourism and other sectors to be deregulated - Bill on the 'closed' professions soon in parliament".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Warning bell for the Funds, whose deficits are a bomb with a slow-burning fuse".

    AVGHI: "Personal Data Protection Authority belies justice minister Dendias, who said he asked for a report/recommendation on the regulation allowing the use of surveillance cameras and establishment of DNA files on criminals".

    AVRIANI: "Felony indictment for the crime syndicate's lawyer, who had urged Vlastos (inmate in Trikala prison believed to be the leader of the abductions and hired killers gang that was behind the January kidnapping of shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos) to kill Nastoulis (notorious leader of another major organised crime gang".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The Funds have dried up - 4.7 billion euros are needed for until the end of the year, in addition to the subsidy".

    ESTIA: "Timid measures by the government - No determination for deep changes".

    ETHNOS: "The Funds are sinking into a 19 billion euros hole".

    KATHIMERINI: "The Funds need another 4.7 billion euros, according to the employees - Contribution-evasion rampant".

    LOGOS: "The major social security Funds heading towards collapse - Visible danger of their not being able to pay the pensions".

    NIKI: "They're 'marrying' the Revolutionaries Sect (urban guerrilla group) with Vlastos (organised crime gang leader) - They're searching for the link between syndicate-terrorists".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Implementation of Bolkestein Directive (for creating a single market for services in the EU internal market) with painful consequences for the working people - The monoplies in the services sector will be strengthened".

    TA NEA: "The door is opening to the 'Polish plumber' - Bill to be tabled in parliament provides for elimination of the current restrictons on the practice of a series of professions by professionals from all over the EU in Greece".

    TO VIMA: "The Chinese 'steam engine' has started to accelerate - Growth rate at 7.9 percent, industrial production at 10.7 percent".

    VRADYNI: "24 categories of professionals to be deregulated - First step for the opening of the 'closed' professions".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [25] President Christofias says Cyprus solution a dire necessity


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias pointed out on Friday that the solution of the Cyprus problem is a difficult aim to meet but is nevertheless a dire necessity, since only a solution would safeguard the future of the country and people.

    He expressed hope that Turkey would understand that meeting its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus, as well as maintaining a constructive stance in the Cyprus problem, were to its own benefit, noting that Cyprus would be monitoring Turkey's EU accession course, in view of the progress report of December.

    Speaking at an event at the Presidential Palace to mark the anniversary of the 1974 coup and Turkish invasion, President Christofias said that ''it is necessary to remember and correctly interpret all the events that led to the tragedy of 1974 because, without the correct reading of the historical events, history cannot act as a compass in our struggle to reach a just, under the circumstances, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    President Christofias said everyone should know the role foreign decision making centres played in the events of 1974 and also pointed out the responsibilities of Cyprus.

    ''We assure the people that we will ceaselessly and unwearyingly continue the struggle for justice. To justify those who suffered, our refugees, enclaved, wounded, disabled and dead. To justify the relatives of our missing persons, who for 35 years are living with the angst of the determination of the fate of the loved ones,'' he added.

    He pointed out that while the Greek Cypriots are mourning the tragedy, the Turkish Cypriot side is celebrating the division of the island.

    ''In practice, the losers are both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots,'' President Christofias pointed out, adding that the solution of the Cyprus problem would heal the wounds of division and would reunite the territory, people, institutions and economy of the island, in the framework of a bizonal bicommunal federation, which would allow Cyprus to function within the EU.

    President Christofias said ''it is time for Turkey to see and acknowledge its responsibilities for the tragedy of 1974 and the continuing unacceptable situation in Cyprus,'' adding that within the EU, ''the United Federal Republic of Cyprus will not need guarantees and guarantors.''

    Commenting on Turkish statements regarding the guarantees, President Christofias said the chapter of security and guarantees was currently being discussed at the negotiating table with the Turkish Cypriot side, adding that the treaties of guarantee should be discussed in the presence and with the participation of the Republic of Cyprus because above all they concern and affect the Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    President Christofias pointed out that ''division is an option of disaster so we must be rid of it the soonest possible,'' adding that ''our policy for reaching a solution of the Cyprus problem is based on a comprehensive strategy,'' with the two sides in Cyprus holding the leading roles and with the UN and the EU assisting the process.

    ''In order to avoid the traumatic experiences of the recent past, we sought and this was accepted by the UN Secretary General that the ownership of the process is Cypriot. This means that the leaders of the two communities decide on how the process proceeds and how we can reach a mutually acceptable agreement, which will be approved in separate and simultaneous referenda by the two communities,'' he said.

    He pointed out that the international community has accepted that no deadlines or arbitration would be imposed.

    President Christofias did not rule out reaching an agreement by December but noted that it was necessary for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership to make corrective moves concerning the content of the solution.

    ''This is why it is necessary for the international community and especially the EU to exert influence on Turkey, in the light of its EU accession course and European aspirations, to change its stance and cooperate towards a solution. This is what we are requesting from the EU, keeping in mind Turkey's EU progress report in December,'' he added.

    President Christofias reiterated that the Republic of Cyprus supports Turkey's European prospects as long as Turkey meets its obligations and commitments towards the EU and Cyprus.

    ''The stance of the Republic of Cyprus in December will depend on Turkey's stance. Until then we will continue to monitor developments,'' in cooperation with Greece and Cyprus' European partners, he said.

    He expressed hope that ''Turkey will at last understand that meeting its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus, as well as maintaining a constructive stance in the Cyprus problem, are to its own benefit.''

    Regarding Turkish remarks that a solution to the Cyprus problem should be adopted as EU law, President Christofias said this position is ''expressly dismissed'' and that the solution should provide for a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, as set out in UN resolutions, a single state with a single sovereignty, citizenship and international identity.

    ''The solution of the Cyprus problem is a difficult aim to meet. However, it is a dire necessity because this is the only way in which to safeguard the future of our country and people,'' he said.

    President Christofias pointed out that ''we knew the difficulties from the outset'' and called on the people of Cyprus ''to remain calm and not be misled by remarks or alarmism referring to pessimistic or dangerous scenarios, to continue supporting the efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    ''Our positions and aims are clear. We know what we want, what we are pursuing and we are working hard to achieve it,'' he said and pointed out the necessity for ''unity and solidarity on the home front.''

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

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

    [26] Leaders to begin discussion on aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship


    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has described as "very significant" the first reading of issues on aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship - as part of the chapter on governance and power sharing - to take place at the next meeting he will have with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    In his remarks after his 37th meeting Friday with Talat, in the context of UN-led negotiations, Christofias said they talked about security and each side presented its initial positions on the issue and there was a discussion.

    Next week, he added, the two will also discuss under the first reading governance and power sharing and in the context of governance and power sharing they will discuss issues relating to aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship.

    He clarified that the issue of security will probably finish next week and then the procedure which he described will commence within the context of governance. "This issue for us is very significant," he added.

    Asked to comment on the Turkish position that the issue of guarantees in a future settlement is non-negotiable, the president said he reserved the right to reply to such statements in his speech later, on the occasion of the 1974 coup and the Turkish invasion and occupation of the island's northern third.

    "I do not agree with the view that one or the other side should talk about red lines - as long as negotiations continue - as a matter of principle. By this I mean that the Turkish side cannot, legally speaking, talk about non-negotiable issues", the president underlined.

    He also said that during the talks, he provides specific and documented answers on these issues. "Our aim is to create a Cyprus which will be truly independent, united, that will secure its territorial integrity and sovereignty, its people will enjoy all freedoms and human rights in a bizonal, bicommunal federation which will restore the human rights and freedoms of all Greeks and Turkish Cypriots in conditions of peace", he said.

    Christofias congratulated a group of young Turkish Cypriots who offered Talat - before Friday's meeting - two bouquets of olive branches with the word "peace" written in English, Greek and Turkish. Talat handed Christofias one of the bouquets.

    "I congratulate these young people, who consider themselves peace activists working for the reunification of Cyprus and I told Talat that I hope we both share the same feelings," said Christofias.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.

    [27] Leaders discuss security

    President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat discussed here Friday the security issue relating to guarantees, during their 37th meeting, in the framework of the UN-led direct negotiating process, aiming at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    In statements after the meeting which lasted for 2 and half hours, UN Secretary General's Special Advisor on Cyprus, Alexander Downer said that two leaders "predominantly discussed the security issue in the plenary session with the United Nations presence".

    He noted that "at one point they had a brief tete-a-tete meeting that lasted for about 5-10 minutes".

    Downer announced that "next week, the leaders will continue to discuss security and they will also discuss under the first reading governance and power sharing", adding that "in the context of governance and power sharing they will discuss aliens, immigration, asylum and citizenship".

    He also said that "the leaders had at the end of the discussion today a brief discussion just to review the mechanics of the Limnitis agreement, the opening of the Limnitis crossing".

    The top UN envoy on Cyprus pointed out that "the European Union is now ready to fund the preliminary study for the construction of the entire portion of the road inside and outside the buffer zone".

    He said it has been agreed that funding for the preliminary study will proceed, noting this "has to be done to make an assessment of the cost of the construction".

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