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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 24 January 2011 Issue No: 3702


  • [01] Finmin: Greece can avoid debt restructuring
  • [02] Central banker strongly opposes debt restructuring
  • [03] Petalotis on economic policy, scandals
  • [04] Report on Siemens to Parliament on Monday
  • [05] Former minister to face charges for inaccurate statement of assets
  • [06] Foreign minister praises Christofias' approach on Cyprus issue but sees slim hope of solution
  • [07] Athens replies to Turkish displeasure over Papoulias' statements
  • [08] Australian foreign minister to visit Greece on Feb. 1
  • [09] Citizens' Protection minister on terror breakthroughs, financial police and illegal migration
  • [10] Greece, Bulgaria to begin joint police patrols in Bansko
  • [11] Draft presidential decree for financial police, electronic crimes dept.
  • [12] Pharmacists announce 3-day strike next week
  • [13] Higher road tolls this week
  • [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [15] OSE power cable thieves caught
  • [16] Two arrested with 1.468 kilos of heroin
  • [17] Authorities intercept truck carrying 32 illegal migrants
  • [18] Pakistani teen reports abduction on Rhodes
  • [19] Patras Carnival kicks off
  • [20] Greek Soccer results
  • [21] Cold, wet on Monday
  • [22] Athens Newspaper Headlines
  • [23] Greek Cypriot side insists on a Cypriot-owned process, says spokesman
  • [24] Archbishop Chrysostomos says brotherly ties with Russian Church will continue

  • [01] Finmin: Greece can avoid debt restructuring

    The 2010 fiscal austerity programme will continue for the next three years, with emphasis on lowering state spending, broadening the tax base and cracking down on tax evasion, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said in an interview published by the Athens-based newspaper "Eleftherotypia" on Sunday.

    The finance minister said he did not expect any further increases in either overall taxes or VAT and that the higher state revenues needed would be collected by combating tax dodging and by cutting back spending in order to avoid burdening wage-earners and pensioners.

    Papaconstantinou appeared confident that Greece would manage to avoid restructuring its debt. He said the country would be able to do this if it could create and sustain primary surpluses of around 5-6 percent for several years and also make major structural reforms and changes that would raise the real growth rate of the economy to above 2 percent, in combination with an extension of the repayment period for the 110 billion euro EU-IMF loan and "more favourable funding terms in the framework of new European decisions that will be taken."

    The minister said that Greece hoped to return to borrowing from financial markets within the year, starting with a 'diaspora bond' that would be offered to Greek expatriates living abroad and have an interest rate smaller than the current market rate.

    Papaconstantinou said he was opposed to the prospect of early elections and all-party governments, saying that experience had shown that strong governments were needed in order to make real changes.

    [02] Central banker strongly opposes debt restructuring

    Stern warnings against the possibility of restructuring Greece's debt were voiced by Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos during an interview published by the Athens-based Sunday newspaper "Ethnos tis Kyriakis".

    "Even simply discussing restructuring harms the country," he stressed and warned that such a move would trigger "uncontrolled chain reactions that would open a new, long-lasting cycle of mistrust in the future of the Greek economy".

    According to Provopoulos, the political and economic cost would be much greater than the short-term cost of the fiscal adjustment that the country now had to make.

    The central banker said that an extension of the repayment period of Greece's debt would be a positive development but not a cure-all, pointing out that no extension could "relieve us of the obligation to proceed absolutely steadfastly and at a fast pace down the road of fiscal and structural reform."

    He also underlined that the discussion underway for a comprehensive European response to the crisis in the eurozone did not mean that Greece could relax its efforts but, on the contrary, that it needed to intensify them further.

    The banker stressed that the goals laid out in the Memorandum for the EU-IMF loans were the "bare minimum" that Greece needed to achieve in order to tackle the crisis effectively, while straying from these goals would have "catastrophic consequences".

    "On the other hand, the memorandum is not a overall policy framework. It merely makes provision for what is absolutely necessary. This is why I support the parallel existence of an equally binding, cohesive action plan for growth, basic aspects of which have been presented in detail in the last monetary policy report," he added.

    Concerning the banking sector, Provopoulos predicted that Greek banks will face serious challenges after the crisis, in which mergers and strategic alliances could prove a useful tool. He also appeared sanguine that the 'correction' now seen in the Greek real estate market would not turn into the kind of "open crisis" seen elsewhere.

    [03] Petalotis on economic policy, scandals

    The European financial support mechanism ensured Greece's access to unobstructed funding and its ability to continue paying wages, pensions and unemployment benefits, government spokesman George Petalotis stressed in an interview printed by the newspaper 'To Karfi' on Sunday.

    He promised that the government had no plans for further measures to cut wages and pensions and that its next measures would concern major structural reforms, such as restructuring public utilities, liberalising closed professions and introducing a uniform pay scale.

    Asked whether anyone would "go to jail" for the scandals that had rocked public life, Petalotis insisted that the government was not afraid to fully investigate everything and bring it to light.

    While admitting that the cuts in wages and pensions were painful, he emphasised that they had been necessary for the country's survival. He also asserted that several of the government's pre-election pledges had already been carried out, with some incorporated in the Memorandum agreement and others in the midst of being implemented.

    On economic policy, Petalotis said the government's goals was to revive the economy on a firm footing, through quality investments rather than thoughtless subsidies, and to increase productivity by spreading investments regionally.

    [04] Report on Siemens to Parliament on Monday

    The report of the Parliamentary probe into the Siemens kickbacks scandal is to be tabled before the Parliament plenum next Monday, with the varying conclusions reached by the political parties already triggering heated reactions.

    Former premier Costas Simitis angrily attack main opposition New Democracy on Friday for recommending that his part in the affair be further investigated, accusing ND of trying to create false impressions using "inaccurate, incomplete and false evidence".

    Former finance minister under ND also angrily denied any involvement, as did former PASOK transport minister Christos Verelis and former ND finance minister Yiannis Papathanassiou in response to the committee's decision to refer them to a more formal Parliamentary hearing to determine whether they should stand trial in connection with the case.

    Other former ministers that the committee believes should be investigated further in connection with the case include former PASOK finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou, ND interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, former ND transport minister Mihalis Liapis, and former PASOK ministers Nikos Christodoulakis and Akis Tsohatzopoulos, among others.

    [05] Former minister to face charges for inaccurate statement of assets

    Former minister Tassos Mantelis, who served under the 2000-2004 government of Costas Simitis, has been indicted by the Appeals justices council for submitting an inaccurate statement of his means and assets.

    The charge is a misdemeanour and concerns the former minister's failure to disclose sums he received from the German multinational Siemens as a campaign contribution in 2006-2007. Mantelis admitted to receiving a donation from Siemens via a Swiss bank account in the name A. Rocos in his testimony to a Parliamentary committee examining the Siemens scandal.

    The Council also decided to cease prosecution for a charge concerning the period June 2004 until June 2005 because it had become statute barred.

    Mantelis is currently facing charges in connection with the Siemens kickbacks investigation and was released on bail of 200,000 euro and the condition that he does not leave the country. The charge against him says that Mantelis demanded a bribe from Siemens to be paid into the A. Rocos account, which was opened on his behalf by a close associate and had been used in 1998 and 2000 for the wire transfer of 450,000 German marks.

    According to the charge against him, the money was given to secure approval of a contract to supply Hellenic Telecommu-nications Organisation digital centres.

    [06] Foreign minister praises Christofias' approach on Cyprus issue but sees slim hope of solution

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)

    The approach taken by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias was the only way to make any progress in negotiations to solve the Cyprus issue, Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said in an interview to the Cyprus-based newspaper "Haravgi".

    "There is no other way apart from that being followed by President Christofias," Droutsas said to the newspaper. Just four days before a meeting between Christofias, Turkish-Cypriot community leader Dervis Eroglu and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in Geneva on January 26, the Greek minister did not appear to hold much hope for a breakthrough, however, noting that the stance of the Turkish-Cypriot side did not allow "great expectations".

    Droutsas appealed to Ankara to act responsibly and withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus, rejecting Turkish arguments that a military presence was needed to protect the Turkish-Cypriots.

    "There is no point in Turkey continuing to hide behind the referendum [on the Annan Plan in 2004] and treating the Cyprus issue as a communications game. The time has come for a solution," the minister stressed.

    He also underlined that Christofias' proposals touched on the essence of the Cyprus problem and sought to speed up the process for its solution. Those of the Turkish-Cypriot proposals that had been made public, by contrast, "appear to move in the direction of division".

    Commenting on Greece's relations with Turkey, the foreign minister emphasised that there could never be any dialogue on Greece's sovereign rights.

    "The regime in the Aegean is not changing. Nor will Turkey's tactics in order to 'force us' into such a dialogue be tolerated," he underlined.

    [07] Athens replies to Turkish displeasure over Papoulias' statements

    The past cannot be changed but Greece and Turkey have made significant steps in improving their bilateral relations, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras noted in response to a Turkish foreign ministry statement complaining about the views expressed by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias during a recent meeting with his Armenian counterpart. Among others, the meeting had referred to the 1915 Armenian genocide, which Turkey refuses to acknowledge.

    "History cannot be rewritten or overlooked. History teaches us how to build a future of peace, provided that we respect it and work steadfastly toward this goal," Delavekouras noted on Saturday.

    "Greece and Turkey have made significant steps in the effort to improve our bilateral relations. But the biggest and most difficult [steps] still lie before us," the spokesman added, while stressed Papoulias' decisive contribution to promoting understanding between Greece and Turkey.

    "With his stance and actions he daily confirms that the people of the region can hope for and achieve a future of peace and cooperation," Delavekouras said.

    [08] Australian foreign minister to visit Greece on Feb. 1

    MELBOURNE (ANA-MPA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Australia's foreign minister Kevin Rudd is due to visit Greece on February 1. This will be the first visit by an Australian foreign minister to Greece since 1997, when Alexander Downer had visited Athens.

    Rudd, who formerly served as Australia's prime minister, is to hold talks with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on bilateral relations, global security, fighting terrorism, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the economic crisis.

    He will also have a meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    Apart from Greece, Rudd will visit a number of countries in order to drum up support for Australia's bid for a place on the UN Security Council, attending a summit of the 53 African Union member-states in Ethiopia, visiting Ankara in Turkey and also Switzerland, where he will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    [09] Citizens' Protection minister on terror breakthroughs, financial police and illegal migration

    Greece's counter-terrorism squad has recently dealt some heavy blows to terrorist groups but the fight was not yet over, Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told the Thessaloniki-based newspaper 'Macedonia' in an interview published on Sunday.

    He expressed concern that young people appeared to be easily adopting the ways of violence and terror against society.

    Papoutsis said that the fight against crime now required a series of policies on a legislative but also an operational level that aimed to modernise and improve the efficiency of the police.

    In this framework he emphasised the role of a specialised financial police, saying that their main goal would be to strike at the financial crime that harmed the national economy and public interest. He said the targets were tax evasion, corruption, illegal use of Community funds, capital transfers and contraband trade. Other goals could be inflated prices for pharmaceuticals, doctors that failed to issue receipts, illegal prescriptions and other offences.

    He said this department would be organised in accordance with international standards and cooperate fully and parallel to the SDOE financial crimes unit.

    On the problem of illegal migration, Papoutsis said the government would go ahead with construction of a 12.5-kilometre wall on the land border between Greece and Turkey, pointing out that this would also backed up by thermal cameras, vehicles and other detection devices.

    He said these would allow Greece to stabilise the situation so that it could work together with other countries of the EU in order to devise long-term solutions.

    "Europe seems to have understood - and to actively show this - that the problem of illegal migration is a European problem. And one that Greece cannot possibly handle on its own," he said.

    Concerning cooperation with Turkey, he said that this was now at a good level and that meetings and communication between the two countries would be more frequent on all levels, with a rapid and detailed exchange of information between the appropriate services concerning rings and individuals involved in migrant trafficking.

    [10] Greece, Bulgaria to begin joint police patrols in Bansko

    Greek police officers are to carry out joint patrols with their Bulgarian counterparts in the Bulgarian ski resort of Bansko as of Monday, under a bilateral cooperation agreement signed by the two neighbouring countries.

    Greek Police Chief Lieutenant General Yiannis Rahovitsas is due to visit the Bulgarian resort on Monday in order to meet his Bulgarian counterpart and inaugurate the project, which is taking place for the first time.

    Two Greek police officers have been in Bansko since January 16 and their presence aims to assist Greek tourists in Bansko, ensuring their safety and security, while also helping to tackle organised crime.

    European Union rules allow joint patrols by the police forces of two neighbouring countries for a radius of 10 kilometres on either side of the border line but the agreement between Greece and Bulgaria extends the jurisdiction of joint action further.

    [11] Draft presidential decree for financial police, electronic crimes dept.

    A draft presidential decree for the formation, organisation and operation of a Financial Police and a sub-directorate for prosecuting electronic crime was tabled with the Council of State for legal processing earlier this week.

    The two new services will have nationwide jurisdiction and will be answerable the chief of the Greek Police. They will be funded from the Citizens' Protection ministry budget with 242,650 euro in 2011 and 212,000 euro in 2012. Staff in the new police units will have access to the files of the police and other services, organisations and foreign agencies.

    The brief of the financial police will include offences related to the legalisation of income from illegal activity, embezzlement of state assets, illegally occupying public land, illegal transactions and activities by financial institutions, misuse of Community funds or state grants and subsidies, illegal capital transfers, contraband trade, adulterated goods and products, tax evasion, failure to issue receipts and other illegal financial activities.

    The electronic crime sub-directorate will have four departments, one dealing with general affairs and protection of personal data, one with the protection of minors, one for protecting software and copyright and one for electronic communications security.

    [12] Pharmacists announce 3-day strike next week

    Pharmacists on Saturday announced that they will continue a nationwide strike on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week, on January 26-28, in protest against government draft bill designed to liberalise their profession.

    Heads of pharmacists' associations throughout the country took part in a meeting that decided to escalate protest action unless the government agrees to make modifications to the planned legislation, which they said had been agreed in talks between pharmacists and the health minister.

    "The insured will be able to procure their medication normally with prescriptions from their social insurance fund. On Monday and Tuesday from all pharmacies and on the other days from the duty and overnight pharmacies," said the head of the national pharmacists' association.

    The Piraeus Pharmacists Association decided on an even tougher stance, however, and has announced rolling 48-hour strikes from Monday. According to the head of the Piraeus association Constantine Kouvaris, pharmacists in Piraeus have not been paid by five social insurance funds in the past five months and can no longer afford to hand out drugs to the insured on credit.

    In statements on Friday, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos had not appeared willing to compromise and announced that public hospitals would be enlisted if pharmacies refused to supply social insurance beneficiaries with pharmaceuticals.

    Financial News

    [13] Higher road tolls this week

    Higher road tolls on Greek national highways will go into effect after midnight on Monday, as announced by companies operating the tolls.

    On the Corinth-Kalamata road the new tolls at Spathovouni will be 1.70 euro for motorbikes, 2.40 euro for cars, 6.20 euro for small trucks and 8.70 euro for large trucks.

    At the Nestani tolls the prices will now be 1.60 euro for motorbikes, 2.30 euro for cars, 5.90 euro for small trucks and 8.20 euro for large trucks.

    At the Asea tolls the prices will be 1.30 euro for motorbikes, 1.90 euro for cars, 4.80 euro for small trucks and 6.70 euro for large trucks.

    Finally, at the Elefsina tolls vehicles will have to pay 2.20 euro for motorbikes, 3.10 euro for cars, 7.90 euro for small trucks and 11.00 euro for large trucks.

    Similar tolls will be charged at the Isthmus heading for Athens, at Zevgolatio heading for Patras and at Rio, heading for Athens.

    Protest against bus fare increases in Thessaloniki

    Members of the Thessaloniki Passengers' Movement organised sit-ins on 20 Thessaloniki public transport organisation buses on Saturday, protesting against fare hikes that would raise tickets from 0.60 euro to 0.80 euro.

    The protestors hung banners on the buses, which carried out their normal routes, handed out printed flyers and stickers presenting their demands and encouraged passengers not to pay a ticket for boarding the bus.

    A representative for the movement said the members would not agree to any increase in fares but would continue to pay the current price of 0.60 euro. Their demands included cheap state-sector public transport with free travel for students, school children, unemployed and those on low pensions, as well as free travel for working people going to and from their jobs.

    [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.362

    Pound sterling 0.855

    Danish kroner 7.512

    Swedish kroner 9.030

    Japanese yen 112.76

    Swiss franc 1.311

    Norwegian kroner 7.955

    Canadian dollar 1.358

    Australian dollar 1.377

    General News

    [15] OSE power cable thieves caught

    Police on Sunday reported the arrest of four Romanian men aged 21, 25, 19 and 27 years old, respectively, that were caught carrying 480 kilos of copper power cables stolen from the Greek Railways (OSE) railroad tracks.

    The four were arrested when the Serres police crime prevention and prosecution unit stopped and searched their car on the 22nd kilometre of the Thessaloniki-Serres road.

    The cables are used by OSE to move electrically-powered trains along the track. An investigation showed that the cables found hidden in the boot of the car had been removed from sections of the Thiva-Lamia overground cable lines in the past 10 days. Also found in the car was a small quantity of cannabis.

    All four will be led before a Serres public prosecutor on Monday.

    [16] Two arrested with 1.468 kilos of heroin

    Two foreign nationals aged 25 and 31 years old have been arrested by police in Thessaloniki for possession of nearly 1.5 kilos of heroin.

    The two were arrested late on Saturday night by drugs squad officers, who confiscated three packages containing 1,468 grammes of heroin, five cell phones used to carry out drugs transactions and the sum of 2,050 euro from drugs sales as evidence.

    [17] Authorities intercept truck carrying 32 illegal migrants

    During a stop and search at dawn on Sunday, Greek police found and arrested 32 illegal migrants hidden in a truck travelling down the national highway near Corinth, as well as the 26-year-old Ukrainian driving the vehicle.

    The truck was taking the migrants from Athens to the port of Patras, where it would have boarded a ferry sailing to Bari, Italy.

    The 32 migrants arrested included 26 men from Afghanistan and six Iraqis, including two adult women and two minors, a boy and a girl.

    The truck driver displayed a German vehicle registration, license plates and insurance that all proved to be fake. The truck's Vehicle Indentification Number (VIN) was later found to belong to a truck owned by a company in Agious Anargyrou in Attica.

    The migrant-trafficker and the migrants were detained and will appear before a Corinth public prosecutor while the vehicle has been confiscated. An investigation is being carried out by the Corinth police.

    [18] Pakistani teen reports abduction on Rhodes

    A 17-year-old Pakistani national has told police on the island of Rhodes that he was abducted and held by three unknown men demanding a ransom for his release, and subsequently let go without any ransom being paid.

    The 17-year-old said that he had arrived on the island on Thursday morning when three unknown men accosted him and asked whether he was looking for work. When he said yes, they asked him to get into a truck to go to another location.

    Instead of taking him to a place of work, however, the three men drove the 17-year-old to a rural area on the outskirts of the town of Rhodes and then entered a wood where they beat him and demanded that he contact his family and ask them to send 3,000 euro so that he would be released.

    Finally, however, the three men just let him go at around 8:00 p.m. on Friday night for unknown reasons and without having received any money. The 17-year-old then reported the incident to police on Rhodes, who have launched an investigation to find and arrest the culprits.

    [19] Patras Carnival kicks off

    The Patras Carnival will kick off on Saturday with the customary launch ceremony taking place in the city's Agios Georgios Square at 9:00 p.m. The city promises a number of surprises, fireworks and lots of music during the opening ceremony, saying the square will be transformed into a giant dance floor.

    This year's presenters will be Zakelina Kyrousi and Dimitris Politis, with Patras Mayor Yiannis Dimaras declaring the official opening of the 2011 Patras Carnival.

    After the opening ceremony there will be an party open to the public at Agios Georgios Square.


    [20] Greek Soccer results

    Olympiacos Piraeus downed Asteras Tripolis 1-0 away on Sunday and widened its lead in the Greek Super League standings over the weekend. Second-place Panathinaikos Athens drew 1-1 with Panionios away also on Sunday, while AEK Athens was heavily defeated 4-0 at home by a surprising Olympiacos Volos on Saturday.

    In other action:

    Kerkyra-Larissa 1-0

    PAOK Thessaloniki-Xanthi 2-1

    Kavala-Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-0

    Panserraikos Serres-Atromitos Athens 0-1

    Ergotelis Crete-Aris Thessaloniki 0-0

    Standings after 19 weeks of play:

    1. Olympiacos Piraeus 48 points

    2. Panathinaikos 41

    3. PAOK 33

    4. AEK 30

    5. Kavala 27

    6. Olympiacos Volos 25

    7. Atromitos 25

    8. Ergotelis 25

    9. Xanthi 24

    10. Aris 24

    11. Kerkyra 23

    12. Iraklis 22

    13. Panionios 20

    14. Asteras Tripolis 19

    15. Panserraikos 16

    16. Larissa 14

    Weather forecast:

    [21] Cold, wet on Monday

    Colder weather with rain, storms and even snow on high ground is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday. Winds will blow north, northeasterly in Macedonia-Thrace, 3-6 Beaufort, westerly in other parts of the country, 4-7 Beaufort. Temperatures will range from a minimum of 1C in Macedonia-Thrace to a maximum of 16C in the Cyclades and Crete. Cloudy with sunny intervals in Athens, with temperatures from 6C to 15C. Initially the same in Thessaloniki followed by rain in the afternoon, with temperatures from 5C to 11C.

    [22] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The conclusion of a Parliamentary investigation into the Siemens scandal, continued austerity measures and fallout over the prospect of restructuring Greece's debt mostly dominated the headlines in Sunday's papers.

    APOCALYPSES: "Turkish Invasion (article on takeovers of Greek businesses by Turkish interests)"

    ARTHRO: "The restructuring and the elections"

    AVGHI: "A parody of cleansing with cross-party consensus in view of the new Memorandum of 2012-2014".

    AVRIANI: "Controlled bankruptcy with the new harsh long-term Memorandum".

    CHORA: "A 20 percent 'trim' of public-sector staff salaries".

    ?LEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government restructuring with a ministerial haircut".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The unveiling of a cover-up"

    EPOCHI: "Austerity for life".

    ETHNOS: "The mandarins of the state are still partying."

    KATHIMERINI: "Rage over the inability to achieve cleansing".

    NIKI TIS DIMOKRATIAS: "4+1 secrets to beat the tax man"

    LOGOS ON SUNDAY: "Renegotiation of road tolls under fears of popular revolt."

    PARON (weekly): "The Irish hung tough." [makes (unfavourable) comparison between Memorandum drawn up for EU loans to Ireland with that for Greece].

    PROTO THEMA (weekly): "Tax 'snitch' for everyone".

    REAL News (weekly): "Silence over the party coffers"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Sovereign rights sacrificed to the profits of monopolies".

    VIMA (weekly): "From the church and piano lessons to...the dock for the 'Cells of Fire'. They were all of them boys and girls from next door."

    VRADYNI: "Shock measures for pensions".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [23] Greek Cypriot side insists on a Cypriot-owned process, says spokesman


    The Greek Cypriot side will insist on the UN Security Council decisions, providing for a Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led process for the solution of the Cyprus problem, without suffocating timeframes and arbitration, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Sunday.

    In a written statement, three days before the meeting in Geneva between the Cypriot President Demetris Chrisofias, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Stephanou said ''in Geneva our side will insist on the UN Security Council decisions which determine the UNSG's mandate and provide for a Cypriot-owned and Cypriot-led process without suffocating timeframes and arbitration.''

    ''The President of the Republic will outline once more our view concerning the time and the content of an international conference, which will solely deal with the international aspects of the Cyprus problem.''

    With regard to suggestions made that the president should be escorted by the National Council (the top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus problem), Stephanou said that no member of the National Council, or the president, have raised such issue during the Council's meeting last Wednesday. He added that in Geneva the president will be escorted by the negotiating team.

    Cyprus, a full EU member-state since May 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and since then occupy 37% of Cyprus' territory. UN-backed talks are underway between President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu with a view to reunify the country.

    The UNSG has invited both leaders at a meeting in Geneva on the 26th of January to review progress made so far at the Cyprus talks and decide on the next steps.

    [24] Archbishop Chrysostomos says brotherly ties with Russian Church will continue


    The brotherly relations between the Church of Cyprus and the Russian Church will continue, Primate of the Cypriot

    Church Archbishop Chrysostomos II said on Sunday upon his return from Moscow.

    Chrysostomos traveled to Moscow to receive a prize awarded by the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations ''for his outstanding contribution to the consolidation of unity of Christian Orthodox peoples and consolidation and promotion of Christian values in the society.''

    ''The relations between the Church of Cyprus and the Russian Church are brotherly and will continue,'' the Archbishop remarked.

    Commenting on Patriarch of Moscow and All Russians Cyril's remarks on the Cyprus problem, Chrysostomos said he briefed the Patriarch on the Cyprus problem ''and he knows very well that we wish the smooth cohabitation of the two communities (in Cyprus), as the Russian Patriarch also desires.''

    Chrysostomos referred to his meeting with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev who ''during the talks expressed joy for the good relations between the Cypriot Church and the Russian Church.''

    He added that Medvedev was ''fully informed both from an ecclesiastical and a national point of view.''

    Invited to comment on reports concerning the condition of Apostolos Andreas Monastery in Karpasia, under Turkish occupation since 1974, Archbishop Chrysostomos said that he does not believe that the Monastery will collapse as it is firmly underpinned.

    ''I dare say that the Monastery is not a monument, it is a pilgrimage. We have many notable centuries-old monuments, which have not been underpinned and are in danger of collapsing. I have no concern for Apostolos Andreas as it will not collapse even if its restoration is delayed,'' he added.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

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