|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 19, 2004
 PM Karamanlis discusses Cyprus issue with UN chief Annan
NEW YORK 19/5/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, currently on an official visit to the United States, said on Tuesday that an effort for a solution to the Cyprus problem in order to reunite the divided island republic should start again.
Addressing reporters after meeting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday, said:"An effort should begin again for a resolution of the political problem aiming at reuniting the island republic so as to have Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots enjoy the benefits from the island republic's accession to the European Union."
Karamanlis said that the UN chief "shares our thoughts that there should be a resumption of the effort," underlining that the Annan Plan can be a basis for new negotiations, primarily for issues concerning security and guarantees.
"I understand that he (Kofi Annan) does not consider (the results of the referenda of) April 24 as the end of the process," Karamanlis said. The Greek premier also said that it was reasonable that there should be a "period of meditation" after the referenda.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, the prime minister said that he was reservedly optimistic that the situation can improve, underlining that the personal relations help creating a suitable environment and also help shaping relations of confidence.
"The will of both the sides is to change the climate of the past two decades but, this should be proved in practice," Karamanlis said, adding that the serious problem is the issue of the continental shelf.
 PM Karamanlis begins US visit, to meet with UN chief - Pres. Bush
New York 19/5/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis arrived early Tuesday (Greek time) in New York for a five-day official visit to the US that will include talks with UN secretary general Kofi Annan later in the day and with US president George Bush on Thursday.
Karamanlis and his wife Natasha, accompanied by foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, deputy foreign minister Yannis Valynakis, deputy foreign minister for Greeks Abroad issues Panayotis Skandalakis, state minister and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos and other government officials, arrived in NY at 1:30 a.m. Greek time and was greeted by Greek-American children at the St. Regis hotel in Manhattan, where they will be staying until Wednesday night (Greek time), with bouquets of flowers.
Karamanlis is due to meet first, at 5:00 p.m. (Greek time, 10:00 a.m. NY time) with Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America, to discuss cooperation between the Greek State and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, including the educational system of the Greek-American schools in the US, which fall under the authority of the Archdiocese. One hour later, Natasha Karamanlis is due to visit nursery and high schools in the Aghios Dimitrios parish in Astoria.
The prime minister is due to attend a lunch in his honor at the 'New York Times' building, hosted by the newspaper's publisher, which will be attended by the paper's press staff and several Greek-American personalities. According to press sources, the journalists were expected to pose questions on all aspects of the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, particularly Games security, as well as on the Greek Cypriots' rejection of the Annan Plan in a referendum on the island last month, while they were also expected to ask his view on the current situation in Iraq.
At 10:00 p.m. (Greek time, 3:00 p.m. NY time) Karamanlis and the Greek delegation are scheduled to have a half-hour meeting with the UN chief, focusing on the Cyprus issue, particularly in view of Annan's much-awaited report to the UN on Cyprus. The meeting will also be attended by Under-secretary general for political affairs Kieran Prendergast, possibly by the UN chief's special advisor on the Cyprus issue Alvaro de Soto, and other general secretariat officials.
At 10:40 p.m. (Greek time, 3:40 p.m. NY time) Karamanlis will hold a press conference, at the UN building, for Greek and foreign journalists, to be followed by an interview on CNN.
At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday (Greek time), the National Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will host a banquet in the prime minister's honor, to be attended by presidents of overseas Greeks organizations, university professors, and people of the arts and letters.
Karamanlis will continue his NY program on Wednesday morning (US time) with a meeting with the 'Wall Street Journal' press staff, while at noon he will attend a lunch hosted by the Hellenic American Business Council, which he will address on the investment opportunities provided by Greece in the area of SE Europe, before the Greek delegation's afternoon departure for Washington D.C., where he will meet Thursday with Bush.
Natasha Karamanlis is also scheduled to visit the Ronald McDonald House foundation, where hundreds of children of various nationalities -- including children from Greece and Cyprus -- suffering from cancer are hosted, with their parents, for the duration of their treatment at NY hospitals.
Costas and Natasha Karamanlis will further visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, where they will be given a guided tour of the exhibition "Byzantium, Faith and Strength".
 PM Karamanlis meets Archbishop of America Demetrius
NEW YORK 19/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. who is currently on an official visit to the United States, held a meeting here on Tuesday with Archbishop of America Demetrius.
During their one-hour meeting, they discussed the role of the Church and the strengthening of the Greek-American community.
The prime minister stressed that the role of the church is very important not only for the spiritual work it offers but also as a strong spiritual link between Greece and the Greek-American community which lives and works in the United States. Karamanlis described the work of Archbishop Demetrius as important and opportune and congratulated him for this.
On his part, the Archbishop of America said that they discussed, but not in great depth, the dispute between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, noting characteristically, "whatever difficulty and whatever problem exists must be solved and will be solved. This is clear."
Demetrius wished Karamanlis every success in his visit to the U.S. and stressed that they exchanged views and thoughts on the modern needs of Greece and of the Greek-American community, underlining that one fifth of the Greek population lives in the United States.
Referring to issues regarding the education of the Greek-American community, he said they are continuing to be resolved and that the efforts never stop.
PM's wife visits Greek community schools in New York: Natassa Karamanli, wife of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, visited Greek community schools in Astoria, New York, on Tuesday as her husband continued his official visit to the United States.
She was given a guided tour of school premises and spoke to pupils in Greek, while members of the Greek community and parents gave her a warm welcome.
"These buildings and these schools were created with the expatriates' money," said one school official who called on Karamanli to convey the Greek American community's "optimistic message."
She said in reply to the affection shown to her "I am much moved and very happy. You are worthy of praise and congratulations. You are a small Greece in a great country and you are making this small Greece proud."
Natassa Karamanli was accompanied on her visits by the Archbishop of America Demetrius and by the wife of the Greek ambassador to Washington Maria Savvaidou.
 US reiterates 'absolute confidence' that Greece will host 'safe and secure Olympics'
Washington 19/5/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)The US government reiterated on Monday that it had "absolute confidence" in Greece's ability to host secure Olympic Games.
State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli, in reply to press questions during a regular press briefing, Ereli said that " the position of the U.S. Government is that the Greeks have committed to hosting a safe and secure Olympics, and we have every confidence that they will do that, and we will continue to assist them in every way that's appropriate".
Asked to comment on recent incidents involving Olympics security, mainly the arrest and temporary detainment of British journalists while attempting to trespass on Olympic venues, Ereli said he would leave it to the Greek security authorities to comment.
To a question on US ambassador to Greece Tom Miller's activities, Ereli said Miller "is an ambassador who is very busy" and whose role also included managing relations, as President Bush's representative "between the Government of Greece and the Government of the United States, and he's doing that very ably on the issues across the board that concern Greece and the United States.
 Public order minister Voulgarakis discusses bilateral, Olympics security issues with German envoy Spiegel
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Public order minister George Voulgarakis met Tuesday with German ambassador to Greece, Albert Spiegel, and discussed issues of bilateral interest.
The two men particularly discussed matters pertaining to the security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 Armed Forces to help guard railway network under Olympics Security program
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)The Armed Forces will contribute to the guarding of sensitive hubs, fuel storage areas, and tunnels along the country's extensive railway network, in the framework of measures being taken for security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, it was announced Tuesday after a meeting between transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis and national defense minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos.
The two ministers said after their meeting that the Armed Forces would do "everything humanly possible" for the security of the railway network.
The public order, defense, and transport ministers were due to meet in the next few days to draft a master plan for guarding the railway network, while a readiness exercise would also be held for training the personnel.
It is estimated that several hundred armed forces personnel will be required to guard the sensitive hubs along the network.
 PASOK leader demands TV debate with PM before Euro-polls
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday demanded a televised debate with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in the run up to the European elections in June.
According to PASOK press spokesman Spyros Vougias, Papandreou wants the debate to focus on European policy and to be separate from a debate with the participation of all four party leaders agreed by the cross-party committee for the elections.
Papandreou met with PASOK party coordinators on Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the elections, while he is due to embark on a series of countrywide tours as of Wednesday, beginning with Kalamata.
PASOK's list of candidates in the European polls is due to be announced by the end of the week.
 New Palestinian representative presents credentials to President Stephanopoulos
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)The new representative of the Palestinian Authority in Athens Marwan Rida Abdelhamid presented his credentials to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday.
A former member of the Central Council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Abdelhamid also presented Stephanopoulos with a personal letter sent by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and conveyed the latter's warm regards to the Greek president, while informing him of the current situation in the Gaza Strip.
He referred to the recent demolitions of houses and to "dozens of dead and hundreds left homeless by the latest activities of the Israeli army".
The new Palestinian representative to Athens has also served as the first deputy chairman of the World Federation of Engineering Federations (WFEO), as well as the Palestinian Authority's deputy minister of public works & housing.
 Cypriot foreign minister discusses financial aid for Turkish-Cypriots at EU
BRUSSELS 19/5/2004 (ANA - V. Demiris)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou has had talks with a number of his European Union counterparts on measures for financial assistance to the Turkish Cypriots, on the sidelines of the EU General Affairs Council on Monday and Tuesday.
He has discussed the European Commission's proposals for the development of trade between the EU and the occupied northern section of Cyprus, which are currently being prepared by the EU enlargement services and will be presented soon. Iakovou stressed that the Cypriot government is in favor of economic support for the Turkish-Cypriots, which he said should be given within the framework of legality arising from customary international law, EU treaties, the Cyprus accession treaty, the decisions of the European Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
Diplomatic sources said that the Cyprus government's positions are seen as based on the correct legal framework by the Council of Ministers' legal service but not by certain circles within the European Commission, which intend to include provisions in the draft regulation that will allow direct trade transactions between northern Cyprus and the EU.
 Greek gov't will present credible budgets from 2005, FinMin says
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek government will save funds, equaling 1.0 percent of GDP, after the Olympic Games to fund Greek economic growth, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday, adding that the government would present credible budgets from 2005 in contrast with "fake" budgets in the past.
The Greek minister stressed that budget divergences totalled 11.5 billion euros in the last few years and added that this year's budget was problematic because its provisions were far from reality.
"Our target is to cut public spending, with the exception of spending for the Olympic Games," Alogoskoufis said. He reiterated that fiscal deficit was higher from previous government's estimates.
Speaking to ANA, the Greek minister said: "I am puzzled by the enormous lack of transparency used by the previous government. There are difficulties in recording state organizations' debt while Eurostat was not convinced over figures presented for 2002".
Alogoskoufis reiterated the government's will to meet its pre-election policy commitments. Commenting on a recent surge of oil prices, the Greek minister said that the issue would be discussed by an Energy Ministers Council and an ECOFIN council, with the latter likely to decide on a demand to cut fuel taxes in an effort to contain prices.
The Greek minister has sent a letter to the presidency of ECOFIN council demanding a discussion on the issue, while he added that the government was not planning to impose a ceiling on fuel prices. "The market must function freely with competition leading to price control," Alogoskoufis said. Commenting on the government's privatization program, Alogoskoufis said that it envisaged a three-speed procedure, with a number of privatizations due for this year, others in 2005 and some in the years after.
 Greek banks' profits steadily rising, EFG Eurobank says
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Greek banks need to boost their capital to meet their increased growth of operations, Eurobank's chief executive Nikolaos Nanopoulos said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in London, on the sidelines of an EFG Eurobank presentation to international institutional investors, Nanopoulos stressed that the Greek banking system was fully competitive, although he noted that there were worrying signs. The Greek banker said that despite higher profitability, domestic banks needed to raise their capital rates to meet operation growth and higher capital adequacy rates.
The banking system presented a moderate concentration degree compared with other European countries, such as Portugal, Belgium and Ireland, Nanopoulos said. Eurobank's head said that foreign banks operating in Greece - totalling 20- were steadily losing market share (currently at 10 percent), while Greek banks managed to raise their shares in foreign markets (19 percent in Bulgaria, 10 percent in Romania and 35 percent in Skopje).
Nanopoulos said that efficiency rates were satisfactory, although down compared with the European average, because Greek banks showed higher labor costs.
2003 was a satisfactory year for Greek banks, although profits totalled 75 percent of profits in 2000, Nanopoulos said adding that he expected this year's profits to remain around these levels. The Greek banker stressed that European banks showed bigger profit increases (20 percent on average) with slower operation growth rates.
Greek banks' loan portfolios rose by 15 billion euros in 2003, while savings deposits increased by 11 billion euros over the same period, a "worrying development" according to Nanopoulos. Banks' pre-tax profits totalled 1.6 billion euros or 1.1 billion euros after taxes.
 Alogoskoufis calls for cuts in public expenditures, except Olympic Games
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)National Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday noted that resources equaling roughly 1 percent of GDP will be put aside after the 2004 Olympic Games for re-investment into the Greek economy.
Moreover, Alogoskoufis promised a "reliable budget" for 2005, a departure from past "fake" state budgets, as he said -- a direct criticism by the minister aimed at the previous PASOK governments.
He also charged that divergence in the annual budgets over the past few years reached 11.5 billion euros, whereas the execution of this year's fiscal budget is "problematic", as he stated, "because the figures given are unrealistic".
"Our goal is to restrict public expenditures, except those related to the 2004 Olympic Games," he said.
In terms of what he called "hidden debts", Alogoskoufis mentioned those related to hospitals and those of dealing with defense expenditures.
 Gov't sees tourism in 2004 steady vs 2003
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Tourist movement in 2004 will hold the same level as 2003, an unsatisfactory state of affairs, Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos said on Tuesday.
A strategy should have been devised by the previous government to reverse the negative climate in the sector by linking the country's tourism product with the Olympic Games, Liaskos told a news conference.
"We are doing whatever possible to reverse the current situation," he added.
Replying to a reporter's question on complaints of inflated hotel rates in Attica, Liaskos said the phenomenon had been seen in five per cent of hotels, which had not signed a cooperation agreement with national organizers of the Athens 2004 Olympics. Another five percent of hotels that had not signed, along with the remaining 90 per cent of hotels that had signed a contract with the games' organizers, had not shown any problems. Inspections by authorities would resolve the problem.
 Greece has highest inflation in the eurozone
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Greece has the highest consumer inflation rate in the eurozone at 3.1 per cent in April 2004, according to data released by Eurostat on Tuesday.
The eurozone average was 2.0 per cent in April, and the European Union's was 1.9 per cent, the data showed.
 Gov't says olive oil producers to receive subsidies by early autumn
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek government expects to have completed payment of subsidies to olive oil producers for the year 2003 by early autumn, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said on Tuesday.
Addressing a Production and Commerce Commission meeting, Tsitouridis stressed that several ministry departments recorded absorption rates between 0-23 percent with the previous government, a comment rejected by PASOK party deputy and former Agricultural Deputy Minister Vaggelis Argyris.
Tsitouridis pledged that speedier procedures and a revision of the program would secure full absorption of funds from a Third Community Support Framework and urged for the support of main opposition parties in this effort. The Greek minister announced that he would unveil the ministry's proposals for the reform of EU's Common Agriculture Policy next month.
 Greek gov't assesses higher oil prices' impact on economy
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Greek inflation is burdened by one percentage point annually when oil prices rise by 10 percent, Economy and Finance ministry officials said on Tuesday.
This estimate is included in the ministry's semi-annual report on the condition and outlook of the Greek economy. Ministry officials said that higher oil prices were negatively affecting the economy, not only by burdening inflation but by burdening the country's payment balance by 450 million euros annually or cutting the country's Gross Domestic Product by 0.3 percentage points when oil prices rise 10 percent. The report said that higher oil prices also affected consumers' incomes.
 Gov't plans to boost use of new technology
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)The government wants to boost the use of new technology in Greece in order to aid businesses and the public, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.
Addressing a world congress on information technology in Athens, the minister said that Greece was lagging in the sector, but could rapidly make up lost ground at low cost.
In addition, computer illiteracy in Greece was at a fairly low level, he added.
 Competition Commission to begin inspections in domestic markets
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Greece's Competition Commission on Tuesday announced it would start a series of inspections in the domestic markets of dairy products, bottled water, beverages, olive oil and banking services as part of its efforts to contain a price increase trend in the country ahead of the Olympic Games.
In an announcement, the Competition Commission said it would also seek to charter the Greek economy's most significant sectors and that it has already formed a special working group to begin inspections.
The food and non-alcohol drinks sector affected the country's consumer price index by 18.5 percent, the Commission said and added that the turnover of all companies in the above mentioned four markets was very high, highly affecting consumers' incomes.
 Stocks nose up following previous decline
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher on the bourse in a weak recovery from a decline in the previous session, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,435.33 points, showing a 0.15 per cent increase. Turnover was 119.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.01 per cent higher; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.09 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.07 per cent higher.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 152 to 125 with 80 remaining unchanged.
 IOC satisfied with Athens' progress in Olympic preparations
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki briefed the IOC Executive Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland for the last time on Tuesday.
"Last week in Athens, the IOC Coordination Commission witnessed the progress made in regards to Olympic Games preparations. Today, this progress was presented to the IOC Executive Committee and if preparations continue at this pace, then everything necessary for a successful Games will be ready," IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Denis Oswald said.
After the meeting, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki stated, "Today we presented the progress we have made to the IOC in Lausanne for the last time. Next time we will receive the IOC in Athens, a few days before the Games. Day by day, Athens is completing preparations and everyone recognizes this: the IOC, the sports federations, the sponsors. And let's not forget that the success of the Games is judged from the opening ceremony through the closing ceremony - not before."
 Ministers of Defense and Transport discuss Olympic Games security
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Minister of Defense Spilios Spiliotopoulos agreed to the Armed Forces safeguarding vital areas of the railroad network, such as fuel tanks and tunnels, following his meeting with Minister of Transport and Communications Michalis Liapis on Tuesday.
Both ministers emphasized that the Armed Forces will do everything humanly possible to ensure the railroad network's security.
The ministers of defense, transport and communications, and public order will be meeting over the next few days to formulate a plan and will conduct an exercise for the training of personnel.
 Kapralos included in the working group of Olympic Games experts
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kapralos was among the experts chosen by IOC President Jacques Rogge to staff the working group charged with selecting the candidate cities for the 2012 Games.
Out of nine applicant cities the working group on Tuesday announced the following five as candidates for 2012: Paris, New York, Moscow, London and Madrid.
It is the first time in modern Olympic history that a member of the Greek government took part in the IOC's selection process of Olympic candidate cities.
 Greek champion meets with Yasser Arafat
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on Tuesday emphasized the significance and symbolism of Greek javelin thrower Sofia Sakorafa's initiative to represent the Palestinian team at the Athens 2004 Games. Arafat added that these type of actions strengthen relationships between the two countries as well as the struggle of his people.
Astoria, referring to Palestine's situation said, "Whenever my country received Olympic champions it tore down walls. Recently, Europe tore down the last wall that divided the world into two. I am sure that people from both sides will tear down this wall with their own hands."
 Athens mayor gives medal of honor to Georgia Patriarch
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni gave the medal of honor to the Archbishop of Tbilisi and Patriarch of Georgia Ilias II on Tuesday in recognition of his considerable religious, spiritual and social work.
Welcoming him, Bakoyianni said "your successful tenure as president of the World Council of Churches shows an ecclesiastical leader who does not only act in his national framework, but who has the prestige, strength and radiance to act at high international levels."
Hospitals, boarding houses, orphanages and elderly people's homes have been placed under the auspices of the Patriarchate, providing many social and treatment services in an ancient country of a great spiritual and cultural tradition which is still trying to recover from the historic upheavals of past years.
 Illegal immigrants on Samos go before public prosecutor
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Twenty-five illegal immigrants were intercepted by the coast guard on Samos and led before the public prosecutor on Tuesday. The migrants managed to cross the Mykalis straits into Greece by various means on Monday.
Six Palestinians were picked up in the Vlamaris area by the coast guard on Monday morning, while a further eight Indians, five Somalis and six Sudanese nationals were picked up on Monday evening and night.
They told the authorities that they had arrived on Samos in a wooden boat from Turkey and had each paid 2,500 U.S. dollars for their passage to a Turkish immigrant-smuggler who escaped arrest.
The immigrants are now being held at the immigrant reception centre on the island, where they have undergone medical examinations.
 Tribute to four journalists cum playwrights at Olympia Theatre
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)Four Greek journalists that also made their mark writing for the theatre were honored in a tribute organized at the National Opera's Olympia Theatre by the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) Educational Institute and the Greek Theatrical Writers Society.
The tribute on Monday night was a retrospective on the work of Dimitris Psathas, Alekos Lidorikis, Asimakis Gialamas and Alekos Sakellarios, with Stefanos Linaios as art director and George Katsaros as musical director. Selected scenes of their work were performed by contemporary Greek actors, while speakers referred to the witty and insightful commentary on modern Greek life.
 Athens public prosecutor launches legal proceedings for bad faith in DEKA case
Athens, 19/5/2004 (ANA)An Athens public prosecutor launched legal proceedings on Tuesday for bad faith against the Hellenic state and complicity in the offence in connection with the case of the Public State Securities Enterprise (DEKA).
According to the file of proceedings, DEKA reportedly supported the Stock Exchange during the election period in 2000 by purchasing shares of major state-controlled organizations.
The file on the DEKA case had been sent to Parliament since, following an investigation by a public prosecutor in 2000, responsibilities had surfaced concerning political figures.
However, by order of the Supreme Court public prosecutor, the investigating public prosecutor visited Parliament about a month ago to obtain copies of the file of proceedings regarding persons involved who are not political figures to enable the case to move ahead.
According to the law on the responsibility of ministers, actions by political figures which reportedly took place in the case in question by April 9, 2000, have been written off.
 EU determined to reunify Cyprus
BRUSSELS 19/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)The determination of the EU for the reunification of Cyprus was expressed at Tuesday's meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council, which dealt mainly with the Turkish government's course towards fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria.
In the joint statement of the 25 member states, presented today to Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul by Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Council President Brian Cowen, the EU notes the results of the April 24 referenda in Cyprus on a UN plan for a Cyprus settlement, and expresses its regret over the fact that the island joined the EU on May 1 divided.
It also expresses its appreciation over the decisive efforts of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his aides in seeking a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and welcomes the contribution of Greece and Turkey.
The EU expresses its determination for the Cypriots to achieve their common future as citizens of a united Cyprus within the EU.
It furthermore says that the EU is determined to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of the island, by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots.
On the relations between Athens and Ankara, the joint statement says that the EU is satisfied over the improvement of relations in various sectors and looks forward to further progress.
Regarding Turkey's EU aspirations, the joint statement says that the new package of constitutional reforms is a significant step forward and expects further legislative reforms to tackle pending issues.
In a press conference given after the Association Council, Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen said Turkey's progress was impressive both in fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria and in implementing reforms.
Referring to Cyprus, Verheugen said the European Commission would be ready to present proposals soon that would end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and would bring the two communities on the island closer.
Speaking at the press conference, Gul said Ankara had fulfilled the obligations it undertook in the context of constitutional reforms and is in the process of implementing them.
On Cyprus, he said the Turkish government and the Turkish Cypriot side had done all they could to achieve a settlement and bore no responsibility for the non-solution of the problem.
 Papadopoulos in touch with Karamanlis on US trip
NICOSIA 19/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos was in touch with Greek Premier Kostas Karamanlis before the latter left forth US where he is set to discuss the question of Cyprus with US President George Bush, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Tuesday.
The spokesman said Karamanlis would brief Papadopoulos about the outcome of his contacts in New York with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Washington.
Responding to questions, the spokesman said he was sure the Cyprus issue would be on Karamanlis' agenda, adding that Kofi Annan's report on Cyprus was expected in the coming days.
''Papadopoulos is in continuous touch with Karamanlis,'' Chrysostomides added.
Annan's report will follow the rejection by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots (76 per cent) of his plan for a comprehensive settlement. Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the UN proposal by 65per cent in last month's referendum.