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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 26, 2005


  • [01] Greece, US discuss Balkans, Cyprus issue during Washington talks
  • [02] Molyviatis touches on several Greek foreign policy issues in C-SPAN appearance
  • [03] Nation celebrates 184th anniversary of Greek War of Independence
  • [04] Bush proclamation honors Greek Indepe-ndence Day
  • [05] Molyviatis attends Church service in Manhattan for Greek Independence Day
  • [06] Athens Univ. celebrates Independence Day
  • [07] Gov't reiterates that it will defend constitution vis-a-vis Commission reservations on media ownership
  • [08] PM meets with EU's Dimas, interior minister over Commission warning
  • [09] Papoulias to receive Albanian President Moisiu in Ioannina
  • [10] Defense minister meets with US envoy
  • [11] Palestinian Authority diplomat meets with MP Papathemelis
  • [12] PM Karamanlis confers with finance, development ministers
  • [13] SETE warns against VAT increase on tourism services
  • [14] Petzetakis forges alliance with Canadian pipe maker
  • [15] Intracom contracting subsidiaries plan to merge
  • [16] Athens bourse suspends trade in Veterin
  • [17] Bank shares lift market
  • [18] 59 illegals held captive in Athens by migrant smuggling ring, 11 Kurds arrested
  • [19] Three arrested, 400,000 packs of imitation contraband cigarettes seized in northern Greece
  • [20] Spanish FM: Turkey should sign and implement Customs Union Protocol
  • [21] Russian FM reaffirms Moscow's position on Cyprus
  • [22] British official: No change in our policy on Cyprus
  • [23] Greek Ambassador: Cyprus partition not an option

  • [01] Greece, US discuss Balkans, Cyprus issue during Washington talks

    WASHINGTON 26/3/2005 (ANA - Konstantakopoulos)

    The 'excellent state' of Greek-American relations, according to visiting Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was reiterated here during a joint press conference on Thursday afternoon following talks by the two sides.

    Expectedly, the long-standing Cyprus issue, recent Balkan developments and all-important Greek-Turkish relations dominated the talks between the two long-time allies.

    "We, of course, discussed the Balkans and the Mediterranean and we greeted with satisfaction this mobility towards the spread of democracy and freedom in many parts of the world. I think (US) President (George W.) Bush has reasons to be quite happy these days," Molyviatis said, adding:

    "Also, we discussed, of course, Cyprus and we considered ways in which we can promote our common objective, which is the reunification of the island ... through negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan. And, frankly, I could say that we have both agreed to further strengthen our cooperation in all fields," the veteran Greek diplomat said.

    On her part, Rice noted that "we had an opportunity to review the excellent state of relations between Greece and the United States, the outstanding bilateral relationship that we have, and also our joint desire and commitment for the spread of democracy and freedom throughout the world."

    "Greece has been a strong supporter of the work that we are doing in the broader Middle East, in Afghanistan, in supporting the people of Iraq, as they are concerned and looking forward to a better future based on the elections that they've had," Rice, who took over from Colin Powell as America's top diplomat in the second Bush administration, added.

    She also said discussions focused on the Balkans, noting that "great progress" has been made although "many challenges yet to meet".

    "And we have no better friend in meeting these and other challenges than our friends in Greece," Rice emphasized.

    Moreover, both officials answered, in glowing terms, questions about their "personal chemistry", with Rice stressing that "...I particularly like the foreign minister here. We have a very good relationship. He has a wonderful sense of humor and I always find that when you can share a sense of humor with somebody, that it's maybe one of the most important ingredients for a really warm relationship. And I think we've developed a warm relationship"

    "I just wanted to say that the feeling is mutual," was Molyviatis' reply.

    While Rice fielded a handful of press questions concerning the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan, she also returned to Greek-American cooperation, especially in Athens' immediate region.

    "In terms of Greece's role, there is going to be a broad consultation on where we go with Kosovo. Obviously, Greece is in the neighborhood. The foreign minister (Molyviatis) was describing to me some of the very active diplomacy that they have been doing in the region to try and get all the parties to see that the notion of standards before status can be achieved, that we need to move forward on questions in the region like the surrender of war -- people charged with war crimes to the ICTY (international court), that we need to work on the economic development of the region. And I thought the foreign minister made a very important point that the hope, one day, for the integration of this region into the European structures is also an extremely important incentive and drawing card for the peaceful resolution of all of these conflicts," the US Secretary of State added.

    On his part, Molyviatis again echoed Athens' standing position for a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM 'name issue', the only remaining 'thorn' preventing the full normalization of Greek-FYROM relations, albeit a significant one.

    Asked about what 'strategic areas' Athens and Washington could work together, Rice again turned to the Balkans:

    "... First of all, we did talk about our joint responsibilities as members of NATO and the responsibilities that we hold in trying to promote stable and progressive developments in the Balkans. That is a place where we've had very, very good cooperation and where it's extremely important that that process move forward. We have some reports that will be coming forward, for instance, on Kosovo. We believe that this is an area that is ripe for cooperation between Greece and the United States, as well as the other members of NATO.

    "... We also talked about the Mediterranean, where we share interest and where there are now very active movements toward democracy, and perhaps we could find a strategic common purpose there. The Foreign Minister also talked about what they might be able -- what Greece might be able to do as we continue to try to stabilize Afghanistan and as we try to provide for the Iraqi people support for their newly elected transitional government.

    So this is wide ranging. We did not have a talk today although we have talked, of course, in the past about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, where Greece has an important role with us to play in helping the Palestinian people to develop institutions that can be the institutions on which a state can be built," she said.

    Finally, according to diplomatic sources in Washington, the US side did not bring up the issue of Greek involvement in Iraq or further reinforcements in the anti-terrorism front.

    [02] Molyviatis touches on several Greek foreign policy issues in C-SPAN appearance

    WASHINGTON 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Visiting Greek Foreign Petros Molyviatis on Thursday appeared on the acclaimed public affairs network C-SPAN, answering questions by the host of the television program "Washington Journal" and callers' queries from around the United States on a variety of Greek foreign policy issues.

    Among others, Molyviatis reminded that Greek-Turkish relations have recorded progress over the past few years, while forecasting that both sides will continue in this same direction.

    He called relations with the United States -- one of Athens' long-time allies -- as "excellent", saying his contacts in Washington offer an opportunity to confirm this.

    Regarding Cyprus, he said the island republic's reunification is necessary for the peaceful co-existence and benefit of all Cypriots, whereas Athens' consistently brings up the issue of Turkey's illegal military occupation of one-third of the isle.

    Molyviatis said resolution of the FYROM 'name issue' via a mutual acceptable solution -- by Athens and Skopje -- will remove the only problem in bilateral relations.

    Finally, he said flawless security planning for the 2004 Athens Games was a major success for the country, something achieved through Greece's close cooperation with several countries, including the United States, and via the expenditure of more than one billion dollars on security.

    Besides his high-profile meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Molyviatis also had talks on Thursday with National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

    On Friday, Molyviatis attended a memorial service in New York City Greek Orthodox Cathedral on the occasion of Greek Independence Day.

    [03] Nation celebrates 184th anniversary of Greek War of Independence

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek nation on Friday celebrated the 184th anniversary of the beginning of the 1821 War of Independence with events and celebrations held around the country and by expatriate communities around the world, including the customary military parade through downtown Athens before the country's leadership, foreign envoys and thousands of spectators.

    Pupils and students paraded in practically every school district over the two-day period, as the weather 'cooperated' throughout Greece. Additionally, the annual March 25 memorial service for the War of Independence fallen was held at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, attended by new President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, and officiated by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

    Papoulias later laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -- in front of Parliament -- prior to the start of the all-branch military parade.

    Besides the national holiday, March 25 marks a significant religious holiday in the predominately Orthodox Christian country, the Feast of the Annunciation.

    In terms of the three-day weekend rush, authorities reported heavy traffic on both main highways leading out of the greater Athens area, with backed up traffic recorded on the Athens-Corinth roadway.

    Greek leadership issues messages for March 25 Independence Day: Greek leaders and political parties issued their customary March 25 Independence Day messages a day before the annual commemoration on Thursday, as this year marks the 184th anniversary of the beginning of the national struggle for liberation from Ottoman rule.

    New President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias issued his first such message since assuming the head of state post earlier this month, stressing the need for unity, solidarity, courage and a collective vision to face unresolved national issues and social challenges, as he said.

    Moreover, in a message to expatriates, he said other serious challenges facing the nation include a campaign to eradicate poverty and exclusion, combating corruption at all levels and strengthening transparency in public life.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis noted that "Greeks, united and determined, can improve the present and ensure new prospects for all..."

    "The twin holiday of the national resurrection and of Orthodoxy spiritually links the past with the present and the future of Hellenism. It reminds us all of the historical debt to dutifully meet the legacies of freedom, national independence, justice and democracy with consensus and boldness," Karamanlis said.

    In a press release, main opposition PASOK noted that "today, Greece is a country that can guarantee its interests and play a role in the international community; to comprise a factor of peace and stability in the greater region, as well as to constantly shape improved conditions for a democratic society, creative and dynamic, with optimism for the future."

    On its part, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) stressed that the lessons of March 25 remain timely and extremely useful for the people and youth. "The times are not the same, but the dilemmas, however, are similar ... however the people have faith in their strength..."

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) notes that this year's commemoration will be celebrated in an unstable international environment, citing the 'open wounds' of Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

    Finally, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki stressed that the "struggles of our forbearers cause us to remain worthy of history and the course of our nation in the modern age, where the challenges for the country are varied."

    [04] Bush proclamation honors Greek Indepe-ndence Day

    WASHINGTON 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    US President George W. Bush on Thursday issued a traditional presidential proclamation honoring Greek Independence Day on March 25, while a special ceremony for the occasion will be held on Monday at the White House in the presence of visiting Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Archbishop of America Demetrios, among others.

    The US president's proclamation reads:

    "Well before modern Greece gained her independence, the ancient Athenians adopted democratic principles that guided their society. These principles inspired our Founding Fathers to proclaim the imperative of self-government as they worked to build our great Nation. America's love for liberty has deep roots in the spirit of Greece. On Greek Independence Day, we celebrate our special ties of friendship, history, and shared values with Greece.

    "Our country has welcomed generations of Greek immigrants, and we are grateful for their talents, wisdom, and creativity. We honor the Greek spirit that values family and education, public service and faith. Greek Americans have made a mark in every field -- enhancing our culture, enriching our commerce, and defending our freedom. Their strong record of public service has also strengthened our democracy, and their contributions have made America a better place.

    "As we address the challenges of the 21st century, the United States and Greece remain committed partners in the vital work of advancing freedom and democracy. Our two Nations are founded on shared ideals of liberty, and we are working together to advance those ideals across the world today.

    "Now, Therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 2005, as Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities."

    [05] Molyviatis attends Church service in Manhattan for Greek Independence Day

    NEW YORK 26/3/2005 (ANA - P. Panayiotou)

    Visiting Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Friday referred to the need for national unity of all of Hellenism's forces in the face of various foreign policy challenges, speaking during a Church service at a Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manhattan.

    The foreign minister praised expatriate Greeks for their support of their homeland and also reminded that America has stood by Greece's side since the 1821 War of Independence.

    Molyviatis was due to hold talks with the UN chief's special representative for FYROM Matthew Nimitz.

    [06] Athens Univ. celebrates Independence Day

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The University of Athens celebrated the 184th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence during an evening event attended by new President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who was accompanied by his wife.

    [07] Gov't reiterates that it will defend constitution vis-a-vis Commission reservations on media ownership

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The "marathon" issue of the government's intent to stiffen media ownership rules amid EU Commission reservations -- made official this past week -- over a constitutional article and a pair of executive laws, including the ubiquitous 'primary shareholder' law, again dominated a press conference given by the government spokesman on Thursday, with Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos fielding a cascade of questions on the subject.

    "We're struggling in favor of transparency and against vested interests. The battle is continuing," Roussopoulos told reporters hours after his return from Brussels, where he accompanied the premier during an EU summit.

    In the bluntest terms so far, the Greek minister said a letter by EU Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Charlie McCreevy, does, in fact, challenge the country's constitution.

    At the same time, he expressed his satisfaction that the two smaller parties in Parliament, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), back the government's intent to defend the constitution in the face of the Commission's expressed reservations.

    "The constitutional lawmaker says that whatever media owner wants a contract with the public sector cannot obtain one if he is a primary shareholder in mass media. The constitutional lawmaker -- with the vote of the two largest parties (PASOK and ND) -- wanted to block the practice under which entrepreneurs used the media to possibly influence the awarding of state contracts," Roussopoulos explained.

    Furthermore, he emphasized that the Karamanlis government has no intention of calling early elections, in response to a press question citing statements to that effect by a ND deputy a day earlier.

    "Besides, the battle against vested interests doesn't end, because this is what Greek citizens are expecting from the government," he said.

    PASOK : In a later announcement, main opposition PASOK said it categorically rejects statements by the government side, namely, that the Commission is challenging the Greek constitution with its letter on media ownership laws.

    PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, moreover, said the Commission's reservations focus on the most recent of the so-called 'primary shareholder' laws (3310/2005), passed by the government earlier in the year in a bid prevent individuals with controlling interests in broadcast media from bidding on state contracts, projects and procurements.

    The PASOK spokesman said the Commission does not dispute the reasoning behind the 'primary shareholder' law or the reasoning behind citing an incompatibility between media ownership and state contracts, "but (disputes) the results of measures that have been adopted by Greek authorities, both in terms of appropriateness and as far as proportionality."

    In response, Roussopoulos noted that "from today's comments by the main opposition's spokesman it is clear that PASOK continues to be vested interests' tail."

    [08] PM meets with EU's Dimas, interior minister over Commission warning

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday with Greece's EU Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, as well as with Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos for talks focusing directly on the Commission's recent warning over a constitutional article touching on media ownership and related executive laws, such as the so-called "primary shareholder" law.

    In statements afterwards, Pavlopoulos -- a constitutional law professor by training -- noted that the "government knows how to defend the Constitution and the law, and this is the direction in which it will maneuver."

    On his part, Dimas said the entire issue, namely, whether the specific article and subsequent executive laws are compatible with EU law, "must be viewed in its proper dimensions".

    "... a legal solution must be found that respects the constitution; is compatible with EU law, and achieves its intended purposes," he said, before downplaying the possibility of Community funding towards Greece being frozen due to the matter.

    [09] Papoulias to receive Albanian President Moisiu in Ioannina

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    New President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will receive his Albanian counterpart Alfred Moisiu on Monday in northwestern Ioannina, a picturesque lakeside city that serves as the capital of mountainous Epirus province, Papoulias' home district.

    Bilateral relations are expected to dominate the two leaders' talks, although no formal agenda has been announced.

    The meeting coincides with the 9th joint Greece-Albania inter-ministerial committee meeting, which will also take place in Ioannina. The Greek delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, while the Albanian government contingent will be led by Minister of Economics Anastas Angjeli.

    Contacts between both the ministers as well as work groups will continue over Monday and Tuesday, with the signing of texts on the results of the meetings at noon Tuesday.

    [10] Defense minister meets with US envoy

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The national defense minister on Thursday received new US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries, with discussions reportedly revolving around the former's upcoming visit to the United States.

    [11] Palestinian Authority diplomat meets with MP Papathemelis

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The charges d' affaires of the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic mission in Greece, Ismat Sabri, on Friday met in Thessaloniki with independent Parliament deputy Stelios Papathemelis, with the high-profile reports of the Jerusalem Patriarchate's illegal sell-off of property in east Jerusalem to Israeli interests dominating discussions.

    [12] PM Karamanlis confers with finance, development ministers

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday met with economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis and development minister Dimitris Siouas.

    After the meeting, Sioufas told reporters that he briefed the premier on preparations for the implementation of the developmental law, noting that the issue of the relevant ministerial decisions has been completed and the following week, he and Alogoskoufis would announce the commencement of the submission of the investment plans.

    He said he also briefed Karamanlis on the conditions on the market and the measures being taken, as well as a bill due to be tabled in parliament next week on upgrading and restructuring the Committee on Competition.

    Algoskoufis said, in turn, that the developmental law would be immediately enacted while, asked what measures the government would take, he said that the economy's updated stability and development program would be unveiled next week.

    [13] SETE warns against VAT increase on tourism services

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) on Thursday warned against raising the VAT rate (from the current 8 percent to the highest index, 18 percent) on tourism services, saying repercussions in the crucial sector would be devastating.

    "The price of the Greek tourism product has sustained very significant (upward) pressure over the past three years due to a 48-percent appreciation of the euro against the dollar and due to an increase in production costs," SETE's leadership warned, in response to press reports that the government is considering such a prospect.

    [14] Petzetakis forges alliance with Canadian pipe maker

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted Petzetakis SA said on Thursday that it had forged an alliance with Polytubes Inc., one of the largest producers of polyethylene pipes in Western Canada.

    The agreement, which is part of the Petzetakis Group's strategy of seeking a strong presence in north American markets, involves establishment of a Canada-based joint venture called Polytubes Central Inc., with each party holding a 50% stake, the Greek company said in a statement.

    In addition, Petzetakis will merge two wholly owned German subsidiaries, Behka-Plast GmbH, which produces flexible industrial pipes, and A.Petzetakis GmbH, a seller of flexible pipes. The merger is due for completion by April 30, 2005, the statement said.

    [15] Intracom contracting subsidiaries plan to merge

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Management of Intrakat S.A. and Intramet S.A.on Thursday decided to initiate a merger plan for the two companies, both members of the Intracom Group.

    Omega Bank S.A. has been appointed to determine a share exchange ratio for the two companies. Alpha Finance will act as consultant for the merger, a statement said.

    [16] Athens bourse suspends trade in Veterin

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Athens bourse authorities on Thursday suspended trade in stock of Veterin SA due to the company's failure to adequately inform the investing public on the state of its finances.

    The suspension followed data given to the bourse by the capital market commission after Veterin's management failed to explain the whereabouts of 11.4 million euros earmarked for acquisitions and alliances that have yet to materialize, and whether the funds are available in the event of claims, the bourse said in a statement.

    Trade will resume in the stock if Veterin publicly accounts for the cash, the statement added.

    [17] Bank shares lift market

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,948.08 points on Thursday, posting an increase of 1.33%. Turnover was 209.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.61% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.62% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.01% up.

    Minerals/cement led the individual indices, with an increase of 3.04%, followed by the heavily traded banks index, up 2.10 percent.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines by 185 to 84 with 76 remaining unchanged.

    [18] 59 illegals held captive in Athens by migrant smuggling ring, 11 Kurds arrested

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    Police on Thursday raided yet another residence in the greater Athens area turned into an improvised dungeon for illegal immigrants kept captive by migrant smugglers in order to blackmail relatives in their home countries for their release.

    Authorities said 59 illegals from Bangladesh, Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Iraq were imprisoned in a home in the downtown Neos Kosmos district of Athens.

    Eleven suspects, identified as Kurds from Iraq, were arrested at the location on charges of false imprisonment and migrant smuggling, among others.

    According to reports, the illegals were ferried over from neighboring Turkey across the Evros River in extreme NE Greece, before being transported to Athens by a truck.

    All 11 suspects were brought before a local prosecutor, while the illegal migrants are being held pending their extradition.

    [19] Three arrested, 400,000 packs of imitation contraband cigarettes seized in northern Greece

    Athens 26/3/2005 (ANA)

    More than 400,000 packs of contraband cigarettes, imitations of a well-known brand, were seized by the police finanancial crimes squad (SDOE) and employees of the Thessaloniki Customs house, SDOE officials said Thursday.

    They said that the cigarettes were found in a container that entered the port of Thessaloniki from China, while according to the accompanying documents the container was supposedly loaded with ready-to-wear clothing destined for FYROM.

    The cargo ship transporting the container was initially placed under surveillance, during which it was ascertained that the destination was a warehouse in the Sindos region, and not the border with FYROM.

    SDOE and Customs employees stopped and searched the container in Sindos. The container was found to contain 422,000 packs of the imitation-brand cigarettes. The tax for the quantity of the cigarettes was estimated at 978,880 euros.

    Three persons were arrested, who were due to be taken before a public prosecutor.

    [20] Spanish FM: Turkey should sign and implement Customs Union Protocol

    NICOSIA 26/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    In international relations, when a country signs an agreement it is obliged to implement it, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos stressed on Thursday, referring to Turkey's obligation to sign the Protocol extending its Customs Union with all new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, before the 3rd of October.

    ''In international relations, you sign something to implement it. There is the political will of political leaders. If you sign an agreement in international diplomatic life, you sign to implement it'', Moratinos said here, after talks with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou.

    Iacovou noted that in international practice you have to ratify an agreement that you sign.

    ''There is also the principle of good faith. The idea that you can sign but not ratify so that you can implement is totally outside any international practice'', he said.

    The Spanish foreign minister was also received Thursday morning by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos. He also met with the

    President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias.

    According to an official press release, Christofias and Moratinos discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, the prospects for the resumption of the dialogue to solve the problem as well as the role the European Union can play within this framework.

    Christofias conveyed an invitation to his Spanish counterpart Manuel Marin Gonzalez to visit Cyprus.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, Moratinos stressed after his meeting with Iacovou that Cyprus can count on Spain's good will and offices.

    ''We discussed the relations with Turkey, the way we have to go back to international legality and to support an effort (for solution). Cyprus can count on good will and offices of Spain in order to promote that'', he assured.

    Regarding Spain's stance on the two regulations pending before the Council of Ministers (direct trade of Turkish Cypriots with EU and financial aid to Turkish Cypriots) Moratinos said that a consensus should be reached, adding that the sooner they are adopted, the better.

    ''We work in a very positive and constructive manner and hope that the two regulations can be approved and implemented. I hope that during the Luxembourg presidency we can reach an agreement. We have to get a unanimous report, that is the strength of the EU to have a single vote and position'', he said.

    Moratinos added that during talks with Cyprus FM, Iacovou expressed readiness to work in a constructive and positive way.

    ''The sooner we implement any regulation the better, but we have to get it by consensus and we work in order to get the two regulations approved the soonest possible. But we will be ready to work in the spirit of the majority of the EU countries'', Moratinos noted.

    The Spanish FM also invited President Papadopoulos and George Iacovou to attend a Summit in Barcelona to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the implementation of the Euromediterranean Partnership.

    He said that Cyprus will work with Spain for the preparation of the Summit, since ''Cyprus has always been a very important key actor in the Euromed process''.

    Iacovou noted that Spain has always been a traditionally friendly country to Cyprus and contributed to the efforts of Cyprus to join the European Union.

    ''Spain continues to support us in the EU but also in the UN Security Council'', he said.

    The Spanish minister served in the past as EU's Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process. He was based in Cyprus.

    [21] Russian FM reaffirms Moscow's position on Cyprus

    NICOSIA 26/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow's unchanged position of principle on Cyprus, an official press release said here Thursday.

    According to the press release, Cyprus Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Sotos Zackheos met Thursday in Moscow with Lavrov

    and discussed with him the latest developments in the Cyprus issue and bilateral relations.

    Lavrov also said that he is looking forward to visiting Cyprus.

    Russia's foreign minister has had postponed a visit to Cyprus, due to have taken place at the beginning of March.

    [22] British official: No change in our policy on Cyprus

    LONDON 26/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    There is no change in British policy towards Cyprus, British Minister Baroness Symons has said.

    Responding to a question tabled before the House of Lords, by Lord Maginnis, Baroness Symons said that in the absence of an actual settlement negotiations, the British government is making efforts to end the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, ''which will help to prepare the ground for a settlement by making it easier to implement''.

    She noted that such an approach, is in line with last year's agreement by European Union Foreign Ministers on 26 April and the subsequent report by the United Nations Secretary General on his mission of good offices in Cyprus.

    ''There is no change in our policy towards Cyprus, which is to promote a just, viable and lasting Cyprus settlement acceptable to all the parties'', Baroness Symons said.

    [23] Greek Ambassador: Cyprus partition not an option

    NICOSIA 26/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The solution of the Cyprus problem should be mutually accepted by both communities of the island after mature and substantive negotiations between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots beyond any tight timeframe and arbitrations, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos has said.

    In a message to the Cypriot people on the occasion of the anniversary of the Greek revolution, Panagopoulos stressed that Athens and Nicosia are focused on their common target of the reunification of the island within the framework of the European Union, adding ''partition is not an option for us.''

    Stressing that Greece will firmly remain by Cyprus' side in the struggle for a solution of the Cyprus problem, Panagopoulos noted that ''the solution which will be given to the next generations should be functional at it's implementation.''

    According to Panagopoulos, the solution of the Cyprus problem should be based on the historic compromise of bi-zonal, bi-federal federation, which will unite the common country with one sovereignty, one international identity and citizenship and would guarantee the island's integrity without occupying troops and would guarantee the restoration of human rights and freedoms to all its citizens.

    ''A mutually accepted solution must be the fruit of mature and substantive talks between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots beyond tight timeframes and arbitrations,'' the Greek ambassador said.

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