|Tuesday, 25 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 25 July 2009 Issue No: 3254
 Democracy celebratedThe 35th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, after the collapse of the 7-year military dictatorship, was celebrated on Friday in a modest ceremony at the Presidential Mansion, hosted by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and attended by the country's political and military leadership and 1,200 guests, of which some 700 were resistance fighters during the junta years.
President Papoulias noted, in an address, that every such anniversary demands thought and vision for the future.
He said that the celebration of this specific anniversary was "a choice that proves deep respect for all those who struggled against the dictatorship", adding that lavish affairs and receptions were incompatible with the spirit of the struggle against the dictatorship, provoked the public sentiment and offended the measure that the political world had a duty to set out through its own deportment.
Referring to the resistance struggles, Papoulias said that the were the most powerful proof that "there is a light and magnificence in the Greek society", and "the struggles of the Greek people are the nucleus of an optimism that gives rise to creative forces, casts off defetism, and brings the aura of a better tomorrow".
Turning to the global financial crisis, the President noted that at a time when the prevalent economic model has been put in doubt, unfortunately no alternative proposal for a growth that will eliminate poverty and unemployment has been put forward in a compprehensive and efficient way.
The personal impasse of every unemployed person, the agony of every youth seeking work with no success, are the "raw materials" of inevitable social tensions, Papoulias warned.
He added that the crisis in the people's confidence in the political system was deep, not only because some representatives of the people use politicals as a springboard to a life of indulgence, nor because the long-standing pathogenies in public administration still exist. "The crisis is a deep one mainly because the code of values has eroded. All forms of facilitations and clientele attitudes have been morally legitimised, while success is frequently construed as exceptional ability, although it may have been achieved not by merit".
The President stressed the need to re-establish the rules, "what is right and what is wrong, what associates the individual with the collective interest and, finally, what kind of world we want to turn over to our children", and described those who fought against the dictatorship as an example of reference, because they gave so much without expecting anything in return.
Turning to the Cyprus issue, Papoulias said that Greece's steadfast goal was termination of the Turkish occupation and a solution to the problem founded on international law and the UN resolutions.
The European Union, he said, has a responsibility to contributing to the "therapy of this wound, which comprises one of the greatest shames of global civilisatoin".
"The key to a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue is in Ankara's hands, but for the time being we see no desire on Turkey's part to overcome and transcend anachronistic percpetions and ethnicist rationale. Quite the contrary, we are following with worry the escatlation of the provocations in the Aegean and the constant projection of unilateral and historically-unfounded claims".
But Turkey is deluding itself if it believes that it can bend our determination to defend and safeguard our rights with threats and overflights over our islands, Papoulias warned.
Also attending the event, at Papoulias' invitationk were 20 pupils from a highschool in Galatsi who had sent a letter to the President outlining their concerns and worry on the environment.
 PM's stern rebuke to PASOK over 'flu' letterPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis issued a stern reply to main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday afternoon, following the latter's high-profile letter to the premier requesting additional action and information on state efforts to prevent any outbreak of the novel influenza, an issue that received extensive local press coverage this past week.
"I regret the fact that, with your letter, you demonstrate either ignorance or intent to approach this very serious issue in partisan manner," Karamanlis' letter begins.
In listing off the government's actions to date, Karamanlis said the state has diligently followed the WHO and the EU directions and recommendations, taking all necessary measures and, in fact, receiving kudos from the WHO.
"We are the first (country) in Europe to employ a preventative check at airports and entry points, at the same time briefing visitors and citizens with special pamphlets. Additionally, within the national action plan, a specific series of actions has been established to brief susceptible groups within society and the general population ...
"I do not understand why you even ignore the operation of the inter-ministerial committee, which I convened for the first time on May 9, 2009, as you now recommend its establishment, namely, three months later. You should also not forget that the health minister has already briefed the relevant parliament committee over all of these related issues. Allow me to inform you that he (health minister) will again appear next week and, naturally, whenever necessary in the future," Karamanlis said in his written response, adding:
"In conclusion, I would like to assure you that we do not oppose anyone's advice or ideas, quite the opposite. However, it is lamentable to attempt to exploit such an issue for petty party expediencies at such a moment," the premier charged.
 Papandreou letter to PM on novel influenzaMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, in a letter on Friday addressed to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, expressed strong concern over the likely aggravation of the situation as regards the A/H1N1 novel influenza (swine flu).
He suggested setting up a Standing Ministerial Committee chaired by the prime minister, stressing that he puts all party cadres and members at the disposal of the competent authorities to contribute to the "national effort", as he characterized it, to limit the negative impact of the novel influenza on the country. He also underlined the need for a comprehensive national plan and accurate information "with no more delays and inconsistencies in the public dialogue."
Papandreou mentioned that "my own concern, stemming from the lack of a serious operational planning as regards preparation and coordination, is shared by the country's medical and scientific communities."
The leader of PASOK underlined that the problem is taking the form of a management problem, concerning preparation, planning, coordination of responsible agencies, public information and mobilization of the state and social mechanisms.
Papandreou mentioned that his concern becomes more intense due to the lack of policies observed in recent years that would have reinforced infrastructure and manpower in the sector of health.
 Gov't reacts to opposition on flu concernsThe letter on the novel influenza issue addressed to the prime minister by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou will be answered in writing, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated, adding that "it took him (Papandreou) roughly three months to become alarmed".
Antonaros added that a short while ago PASOK maintained that the issue was in essence non existent and that it was used by the government to divert the attention of the public opinion away from other issues.
He said that state services remain vigilant and ready since the onset and referred to the steps made by the government, pointing out that the PASOK leader and his associates appear to be unaware of them.
Antonaros underlined that a total of three alternative plans are ready to be implemented against an anticipated outbreak of novel influenza.
On his part, main opposition spokesman George Papaconstan-tinou stated that hopefully the prime minister's written response to the letter "will rise to the occasion".
Referring to the prime minister's address on Thursday during an event hosted by the Constantinos Karamanlis Institute of Democracy, Papaconstantinou stated that it "reflected his anxiety to hold on to power".
As regards the Eurostat announcement on unemployment in Europe, Papaconstantinou stated that according to the figures published, Greece currently occupies the third worst position in the Euro-zone and the fourth in the EU.
 Gov't on IMF report, state of economyThe pessimistic description of the economic situation of different countries is a routine practice for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international agencies, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated in response to a question concerning the existing information on the IMF report as regards the performance of the Greek economy.
He added that the Greek government has clearly defined targets and have been honest when speaking about them before the Greek people. "To meet its goals the government exercises a responsible economic policy amidst an international crisis that is still unfolding and has not been completed yet," Antonaros said.
 Parliament TV interviews d'EstaingIn an interview with Parliament's television channel broadcast on Friday, former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing attributed his initial love of Greece to an education firmly grounded in the Classics and his introduction to the writings of Homer and Plato.
"The language of intellectuals is Greek," he told reporter Alexia Koulouri. "The words of politics, philosophy, and the sciences are Greek. The French do not know this but the roots of the words are Greek."
Questioned about the "Greece-France Alliance" that began with himself and the late Constantine Karamanlis and was recently 'renewed' during a visit to Greece by current French President Nicolas Sarkozy, d'Estaing said that it had begun at a time of real need, when Greece faced external dangers in the Aegean and an unstable political scene at home, and was still continuing.
"Essentially it is the same alliance, which is continuing. I believe there is an unbroken continuity. It is due to our history, our culture, and our roots and to the fact that there have never been conflicts between our peoples. On the contrary, it began with the formation of the first, free government [of Greece] in Nafplion. It is an alliance that began with the birth of the Greek nation and continues."
On the future of Europe and the chances of creating a workable and politically united Europe, d'Estaing appeared less than sanguine, blaming what he called too-rapid enlargement for alienating ordinary Europeans from the idea of European unification and making them indifferent to European institutions. He also agreed that the latest expansion to a 27-member Europe was a "shock", expressing the opinion that further enlargement needed to be put on hold.
"All nations have their borders; for reasons of security, for reasons of migration. We cannot move the borders without stopping first. There are still many inequalities in income and in work conditions. One of the reasons for the negative vote of Europeans was due to enlargement," he said.
He also cited the 40 percent abstention rate at the European Parliament elections as indicative of this trend, noting that it was much higher than the first European elections held when he was president in 1979.
According to the French statesman, this trend toward Euro-scepticism was partly because people had become more nationalist and also because there was no longer any simple message to put across about the need for unity.
"In 1979, in that union, we were all together seeking what was good for Europe. In today's union there is the view, 'what will I gain from this Europe'. The question is to organise Europe," he said, stressing the need explain to people the complex mechanisms involved while conceding that there was no simple way to do this.
"It was simple to say that there will no longer be wars. Everyone was satisfied. In all the 'family' no one remembers war any longer. There are no longer injured or dead. We were saying something specific and serious," he pointed out.
D'Estaing was clear on the need for European unification to continue, however, though warning against attempts at further enlargement.
"Everyone is organised in big groups...If we are small, then we will be lost. It is a matter of size. If we have unity, then Europe's size plays a role."
On a more promising note, he pointed out that when major problems arose, such as the current crisis, people tended to ask what Europe was doing about it. "This means that subconsciously they want us to be united," he added.
The veteran politician warned, however, that any further enlargement could "kill" the original concept of the European Union.
"The original plan was extremely interesting and the people that had proposed it were very intelligent. The idea was to create a European Union that would culminate in a European state, not in the classic sense, but as a political European union. The Greek citizen would be a Greek-European, I would French-European, etc. If there are nations that do not share this idea, then the original plan is over. Europe will be transformed into a regional organisation of united nations," he concluded.
 Gov.t meeting the challenges of the futurePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Friday with Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Stavros Kalafatis at the Maximos Mansion, the government headquarters in Athens.
In statements afterwards, Kalafatis said that the government is picking up pace and exercising modern and groundbreaking policies, responding to the challenges of the future.
"The necessary guidelines and directions given by the prime minister were based on these axes," Kalafatis stated after briefing Karamanlis on issues that concern northern Greece.
Kalafatis stated that special attention is placed on the daily life agenda, focusing on quality of life issues, social assistance and development.
He also underlined the initiatives being undertaken, referring to the Business Forum in Northern Greece and the Tourism Regional Development Committee.
"These are policies that strengthen the development prospects of northern Greece and bring together the healthy business forces," he said.
 PASOK leader holds telephone talks with Cyprus presidentMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou held a telephone conversation on Friday with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, a party press release said.
According to the press release, the main opposition party leader was briefed by President Christofias on the course of the ongoing inter-communal talks on the island republic aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem
"The stance of Turkey in the recent period and particularly in light of her ongoing provocative actions in Cyprus and the Aegean, were also assessed," the press release added.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to find a solution to the problem.
 OTE CEO released without restrictions after statementHellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE S.A.) president and CEO Panagis Vourloumis, slapped with a breach of faith charges, was released without restrictions following his testimony before a examining magistrate on Friday.
The charges concern 40.6-million-euro contracts signed between OTE and other companies in 2005 for overpriced, according to claims in the indictment, technical support services supplied two years ago.
Another OTE Board members have already testified before the examining magistrate and have also been released without restrictions.
 Skarpelis to testify on SundayFormer Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE S.A.) board member Georgios Skarpelis was given additional time to prepare his testimony when he appeared before an examining magistrate in charge of the Siemens investigation on Friday. Skarpelis, who faces bribery and money-laundering charges, will now appear before the magistrate to testify on Sunday morning.
The former trade unionist is being required to testify anew after a Misdemeanours Court Justices Council cancelled the testimony that he had given on June 3, as well as a warrant for his detention on remand that was issued on the same day.
After his release on Tuesday, however, the examining magistrate issue a new warrant for his arrest and Skarpelis remained in custody.
Skarpelis is one of several suspects in a large-scale bribery and money-laundering case involving the German multinational Siemens and its Greek subsidiary, Siemens Hellas, regarding lucrative contracts awarded to Siemens by OTE.
 PPC consortium highest bidder in privatisation of Montenegro's EPCGPublic Power Corp. (PPC), Greece's state-run power utility, on Friday said a consortium with GoldenEnergy One Holdings Ltd - a member of Restis Group of companies - was the highest bidder in tender to buy up to 45 pct of shares in Electroprivreda Crne Gore AD Niksic (EPCG), a state electricity company in Montenegro.
According to a report by the German press agency, the PPC-GoldenEnergy One Holdings Ltd consortium, has offered 11.10 euros per share to buy a 18.3-pct equity stake in EPCG, up from an offer of 8.4 euros per share by Italian company A2A. The two companies are the only bidders for EPCG after the withdrawal of NORD-Troendelag Elektrisitsverk of Norway and Russian Inter Rao from the tender.
Morgan Stanley, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Law Firm Sardelas, Saxonis, Liarikos & Associates and Law Office Velimirovic acted as consultants to the bid.
 Tourism minister meets with UAE diplomatTourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos met on Friday with United Arab Emirates embassy charge d' affaires Adel Al Marjouki for talks on the signing of a tourism development memorandum by the two countries, mainly on on transport and investment. Markopoulos accepted an invitation to formally visit the UAE in the second half of November.
 Eurobarometer: 40% of Greeks fear for their jobsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Forty percent of people in Greece are worried that they may lose their jobs as a result of the economic crisis, compared with 32 percent in EU countries. These were the findings of a Eurobarometer poll regarding the impact of the economic crisis on the labour market that was released on Friday.
Greeks, along with Luxembourgians, are among EU citizens that have been least affected by the repercussions of the economic crisis so far, with only 4 percent stating that they have lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis compared to 9 percent throughout Europe as a whole. At the same time, 69 percent of Greeks think the worst is yet to come for the labour market, compared to 61 percent in the EU.
The poll was carried out between May 29 - June 15 among a sample of 26,756 individuals from countries in the EU, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Croatia.
According to 28 percent of those asked in Greece and the EU, the impact of the crisis on the labour market has already reached the worst point and things will now gradually improve.
In Greece, 28 percent stated that they know of a friend or relative that has lost their job (compared with 36 percent in the EU), while 12 percent of those asked said they knew of a colleague that had lost their job (24 percent in the EU).
In terms of the present circumstances, 27 percent of Greeks interviewed said they were in employment, (42 percent in the EU), 20 percent said they were self-employed (8 percent in the EU) and 53 percent that they were not employed (50 percent in the EU).
The Community poll also found that 43 percent of Greek citizens and 38 percent of EU citizens are worried that their spouse may lose their job as a result of the economic crisis, while 54 percent of Greeks and 47 percent of Europeans are concerned that their children will be unable to find work.
Only 47 percent of Greeks - compared with 66 percent of Europeans - are confident that they will be in work two years from now and, in the case that they are fired, 66 percent of Greeks believe they will receive compensation that will be less that half their present income (28 percent in the EU), 13 percent considers that they will receive compensation that is between 51-70 percent of the present income (28 percent in the EU) and 2 percent consider that they will receive compensation amounting to 71-100 percent of their present income (20 percent in the EU).
 Trade balance deficitGreece's trade balance deficit was more than halved in May year-on-year, posting a 53.8 percent decline to 1.667 billion euro from 3.608 billion euro in May 2008, according to figures released on Friday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE) on imports/arrivals and exports/despatches to and from Greece.
The trade balance deficit further dropped 44.4 percent in the five-month period of January-May 2009 to 9.792 billion euros from 17.624 billion euros in the corresponding period of 2008.
The total value of imports/arrivals in May marked a 42.8 percent decrease without the inclusion of petrol products, which fell by 29.6 percent.
The total value of exports/despatches in May posted a 17.5 percent decline over the corresponding month last year, without the inclusion of petrol products which fell by 8.6 percent.
The overall value of imports/arrivals dropped by 36.7 percent in the five-month period, while the value of exports/despatches fell by 17.4 percent in the same period.
 National Bank raises 1.25 billion euros from share capital increase planNational Bank of Greece on Friday said the Greek state had purchased 2,915,314 common shares of the bank during a share capital increase plan, for 32.94 million euros, covering the part of the capital increase that was not covered by the bank's shareholders.
In a statement, the bank said that the Greek state had purchased 2,915,314 common nominal shares at a price of 11.30 euros per share. National Bank raised a total of 1,247,154,049 euros from the share capital increase scheme.
 Geniki Bank completes 175-mln-euro share capital increaseGeniki Bank on Friday announced the successful completion of a share capital increase plan worth 175,724,341 euros through a rights issue.
Under the plan, the bank issued 244,061,585 new common, nominal shares of a nominal value of 0.72 euros each and at an offering price of 0.72 euros, which were exchanged at a ratio of 2.2 new shares for one existing share.
Geniki Bank said existing shareholders bought 229,114,642 new shares worth 164,962,542 euros, while another 5,859,053 shares worth 9,087,890 euros were distributed to Societe Generale.
 Stocks end 1.57% higherGreek stocks continued moving higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 2,300 level. The index rose 1.57 pct to end at 2,331.32 points, with turnover an improved 180.7 million euros, of which 9.4 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Health (5.92 pct), Media (3.84 pct) and Constructions (3.43 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (1.13 pct), Utilities (0.43 pct) and Food/beverage (0.19 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.79 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.82 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index jumped 2.09 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 164 to 58 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.44%
Personal & Household: +1.22%
Raw Materials: +2.84%
Travel & Leisure: +1.73%
Food & Beverages: -0.19%
Financial Services: +2.34%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 9.25
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.75
HBC Coca Cola: 15.20
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.20
National Bank of Greece: 20.00
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.96
Bank of Piraeus: 8.25
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 750 million euros on Friday with the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds at 138 basis points. The Greek bond yielded 4.86 pct and the German Bund 3.48 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.37 pct, the six-month rate 1.17 pct, the three-month rate 0.92 pct and the one-month rate 0.55 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover remaining a low 45.248 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,162 contracts worth 31.011 million euros, with 23,860 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,457 contracts worth 14.237 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,931), followed by OTE (1,243), OPAP (758), Piraeus Bank (835), Alpha Bank (1,265), Marfin Popular Bank (1,219) and Eurobank (443).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.434
Pound sterling 0.873
Danish kroner 7.504
Swedish kroner 10.684
Japanese yen 136.0
Swiss franc 1.533
Norwegian kroner 8.930
Canadian dollar 1.553
Australian dollar 1.755
 Culture minister inaugurates Patras new archaelogical museumCulture Minister Antonis Samaras inaugurated on Friday evening the new archaelogical museum of Patras, in northwestern Peloponnese..
In his speech, Samaras noted that the new museum "highlights the extremely reach - but not particularly unknown - cultural heritage of Achaia."
The new museum, he added, puts the city of Patras in the cultural map, not only in Greece but internationally.
 Migrant-traffickers nabbed in twin car crashHopes for a better life brought 14 illegal immigrants very close to disaster on Friday, who in their efforts to enter Greece wound up in hospital as road accident victims. All 14, among them two children, are now being treated at Alexandroupolis General University Hospital in the northern Greek prefecture of Evros, where doctors say they are out of danger.
The immigrants were passengers in two vehicles that were under police surveillance because they suspected that they were being used to traffic immigrants. The drivers became aware of the pursuit and increased speed, heading off in different directions to avoid being stopped and checked.
The first of the two cars crashed into another four vehicles stopped at a traffic light at the junction with Apalos, leading to the injury of the immigrant-trafficker that was driving the car and the seven illegal immigrants riding inside it.
The second vehicle was heading down the Egnatia Highway toward Komotini and tried to come off at the Makri junction but the driver lost control because of the car's excessive speed and it overturned, injuring the six illegal immigrants on board and the driver.
During a preliminary inquiry, police discovered that the illegal immigrants had entered Greece by crossing the Evros River. The two immigrant traffickers now face the prospect of lengthy prison sentences for the incident under the law, which was recently modified.
 Restored sculpture returned to central Athens squareA special Athens municipality crew on Friday morning returned a noted outdoor sculpture, known as "Theseus rescues Hippodamia", to its original location in the middle of central Victoria Square, as Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis looked on, following the completion of restoration and cleaning works carried out on the artwork.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe 35th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, early election speculations and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Bill affecting 80,000 private law contract employees in public sector - Ability to climb up the promotions ladder just as the tenured employees".
APOGEVMATINI: "Health Ministry decides free prescription of buprenorphine (used for medication-assisted trreatment for opioid addiction) via the ESY (National Health System), pharmacies and private physicians".
AVGHI: "SMEs: 36,000 layoffs and 9,000 shutdowns".
AVRIANI: "All the political parties in an election orbit - Snap elections call in September not excluded".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "PASOK leader (George Papandreou) sees...Turkish 'heatwave' in the Aegean - Worry over the increasing, daily violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish jetfighters".
ELEFTHEROS: "All the parties have a tough policy line on Turkey - The government is not alone, provided it makes use of the inter-party front".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "I fear the future - Eurobarometer: Greeks see their labor future as murky".
ESTIA: "Elections in the midst of the flu pandemic! Papandreou should rethink the matter".
ETHNOS: "Heads or tails, the state wins - The balance of the old car withdrawal and the increase in circulation fees".
KATHIIMERINI: "The clash over the Presidential election escalating".
LOGOS: "The target is to exit the crisis as quickly as possible - Prime minister's address on the 35th anniversary of the return to democracy" after the fall of the 7-year military dictatorship.
NIKI: "The death of the salesman - SMEs and employees in despair".
PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Sweeping reshuffle after mid-August - Who are switching ministries, who are leaving, who are waiting for...the telephone call".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Public primary healthcare and access for all to prevention and treatment - KKE leader's meeting with Health minister".
TA NEA: "Pre-electora checks to 50,000 professionals - The money now, the audits later".
TO VIMA: "The government giving out subsidies of 250 million euros to professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants)".
VRADYNI: "Constantine Karamanlis returning to Athens at 12 noon (on July 23, 1974, after the collapse of the dictatorship) - This is how history was written".
 National Council to continue discussions on Cyprus and Turkey in SeptemberNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The National Council will convene on September 14 and 15 to continue the discussion on the course of the ongoing UN-led direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to find a political settlement and on the progress report on Turkey's EU accession course.
Speaking after Friday's meeting of the National Council, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said President of the Republic Demetris
Christofias briefed the members of the Council in detail on the course of the talks, based on documents submitted, adding that in September the members will be presenting their views.
The National Council is the top advisory body to the president on the handling of the Cyprus problem, and comprises leaders and representatives of parliamentary parties.
Replying to questions, Stephanou said all political parties submitted positions and views on Turkey's EU accession course, verbally or in writing.
''Today there was a truly constructive atmosphere,'' he said, adding that discussions to follow ''will deal with what needs to be done and how it should be done, so that through Turkey's accession course, the effort to solve the Cyprus problem is assisted.''
Stephanou clarified that Turkey's progress report and talks to solve the Cyprus problem are two separate matters, adding that the Greek Cypriot side would be striving for a settlement through the negotiations, despite obstacles.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
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