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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-07-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gambari in Athens for talks on Cyprus initiative
  • [02] Yiannis Panagopoulos elected as new GSEE president

  • [01] Gambari in Athens for talks on Cyprus initiative

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met here on Wednesday with visiting United Nations UN Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari, as the latter is in the midst of a three-nation tour -- Greece, Turkey and Cyprus -- in order to gauge prospects for another UN initiative vis-a-vis the long-standing Cyprus problem.

    Gambari told reporters after his 45-minute meeting with Bakoyannis that his mission aims to consider options and ideas for resuming negotiations towards a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue.

    He added that conditions at present are not yet at the point of restarting negotiations, as he is now exploring whether there is "political volition and flexibility" to restart talks.

    After Athens, Gambari will travel to the island republic, where he will meet separately with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. A briefing of UN chief Kofi Annan will follow the completion of his tour.

    On her part, Bakoyannis said she outlined Athens' positions to the UN official, noting that the organisation's latest initiative - following a recent meeting in Paris between Annan and Papadopoulos - is particularly significant.

    "Efforts aimed at allowing the operation of (bilateral) technical committees must proceed," Bakoyannis said, adding that a specific timetable and agenda of substantive issues (i.e. property, a population census) is necessary.

    Conversely, Bakoyannis said Gambari did not convey to Athens any specific letter by the UN chief, reminding that his mission is "exploratory".

    More importantly, she said the so-called Annan peace plan is not on the table following its rejection by a large majority of Greek Cypriots during a referendum in 2004.

    In echoing standing policy by Athens, she said any new initiative towards a Cyprus solution must be based on three parameters: UN resolutions; efforts to date by successive UN general secretaries and the present "European reality", given that Cyprus is a full member of the European Union.

    Gambari later attended a working lunch hosted by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

    In later comments, a government spokesman merely reiterated that any new initiative for Cyprus must be well-prepared in order to lead to a positive result.

    In an unrelated development, Bakoyannis expressed her condolences over the same-day military accident in Cyprus, where two helicopter pilots were killed when their aircraft crashed while on a training mission.

    Gambari meets PASOK leader Papandreou

    Greece's main opposition PASOK party stressed its willingness to support a new initiative to solve the Cyprus issue, provided there was a clear framework and evident political will for a solution, following a meeting ini Athens on Wednesday between Gambari and PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    "We had a long and interesting conversation, and Mr. Papandreou stressed our support for every initiative that might be launched and bring a Cyprus solution closer but with one condition: that there is a clear framework and substantial and clearcut political will for finding a solution," PASOK Political Council member Christos Papoutsis told reporters.

    Gambari appeared restrained in his statements as he left the meeting with Papandreou, stressing that the UN was currently sounding out if the climate was appropriate for relaunching political negotiations on the Cyprus issue.

    Apart from the Cyprus issue, Gambari's talks with Papandreou also covered developments in the Middle East, Iran and Iraq, including the results of a recent visit by Papandreou to the region to promote a Socialist International peace initiative, as well as issues concerning Africa and Europe.

    Clarifying on PASOK's position, Papoutsis underlined that the framework for negotiations must be crystal clear and leave no room for ambiguity or misinterpretation and that it must take into account the United Nations and its past resolutions for Cyprus, as well as European treaties, standards and rules.

    He stressed that the Cyprus Republic was now a member of the European Union and this created a new situation in Europe and had an important influence on developments.

    [02] Yiannis Panagopoulos elected as new GSEE president

    Veteran trade unionist Yiannis Panagopoulos on Wednesday took over the helm of Greece's largest trade umbrella group, GSEE, from Christos Polyzogopoulos, as the latter left the union's presidency in order to assume an organizational position in main opposition PASOK party.

    Polyzogopoulos, who on Wednesday detailed his 10-year tenure as GSEE president, called for unity amongst the trade union movement, saying it was the only way to ensure the effectiveness of labour actions.

    He also referred to a strategy aimed at ensuring unions' autonomy from political parties and distinctive roles between political cadres and trade unionists.

    In his statements, Panagopoulos, who hails from the PASOK-affiliated grouping within GSEE, also defended the concept of unions' autonomy.

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