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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-12-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 11, 2006
 FM again details Athens' position on EU-Turkey talks ahead of General Affairs Council meeting
ATHENS, 11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis again detailed Athens' oft-enunciated policy vis-a-vis increasingly complex relations between the European Union and EU hopeful Turkey, especially ahead of a closely watched General Affairs Council in Brussels this week.
In statements carried in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily 'Eleftheros Typos', Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece wants a "unified European position that clearly includes a message over the future of Turkey's negotiations with the EU."
Asked about the timely issue of establishing a timetable and evaluating procedure for gauging Turkey's accession course, Bakoyannis said what was significant was for "whatever decisions to remain at the council of ministers' level.
"In other words, decisions should be taken by the 25 member-states or in the future by the 27. This is what has heightened significance, because unanimity is mandatory."
Regarding the most recent counter-proposal by the Erdogan government to open one port and one airport on Cyprus, Bakoyannis was mostly dismissive, saying the idea "obviously serves PR needs ... the real facts at the moment are that Turkey has not honored its signature" to implement the customs union protocol.
Conversely, she reminded that it was both in Greece and Cyprus' interests to keep Turkey "on the path towards Europe".
Bakoyannis-Pangalos meeting: Bakoyannis met on Saturday with PASOK deputy Theodoros Pangalos -- who heads his party's and coordinator for foreign and defense policy portfolio -- and both agreed that the main target should be for the European Union to have a unified position which would give a clear message to Turkey for it to abide by its obligations so that its European orbit to remain stable.
After their meeting at the foreign ministry, Bakoyannis stated that she briefed Pangalos on the ministry's moves "these past 15 days and on the difficult session which we have ahead of us at the General Affairs Council meeting on Monday."
As the foreign minister said, the primary Greek and Cypriot target is for there to be a unified European Union position towards Turkey.
"From the moment when the EU has ascertained that Turkey does not maintain the obligation to implement the Ankara Protocol, our position is that there should be a unified position with a clear message, for Turkey to maintain its obligations so that its European orbit remains stable," Bakoyannis said.
All the Greek political parties are directed towards the same position, she added, and giving emphasis in the striving of a climate of consensus, noted that "the target of Greek foreign policy is to express the whole of the parties and the whole of the Greeks. This is what we shall try to do."
The climate of consensus was confirmed by Pangalos, who, upon departure from the ministry, said in a separate statement that "all the political forces of Greece agree that Turkey's course towards European unification must be safeguarded, but at the same time Turkey must completely fulfill its obligations towards Europe and all the member-states, therefore Cyprus as well." "This is the clear position which arises from the facts. There can be no differences between us and all should orientate towards there. That is the solution."
Referring to the latest Turkish proposal to allow Cypriot commercial vessels and passenger planes to travel to one Turkish port and to one Turkish airport, Pangalos said: "The proposals, which Turkey has submitted, are not serious and express the domestic confusion existing in Turkey. The framework is clear, all the peoples of Europe and us and the Cypriots have an interest to see it (Turkey) to step ahead towards European unification and adapt to the European acquis communautaire, but this means that it must implement all the agreements which it has signed and this concerns the European Union in its entirety and of course concerns the member-states and Cyprus."
To reporters' questions on the position of the United States ostensibly in favor of Turkey in the European Union, Bakoyannis replied: "The American position is known, but it is Europe which decides on the procedures and the time-frames and on the degree of the implementation of its decisions."
 Turkey obliged to withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus, Papandreou says
11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou addressed the 6th world convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) in Thessaloniki on Saturday and referred to Turkey and the Cyprus issue.
"Turkey is obliged to withdraw the occupation troops from the Republic of Cyprus," said Papandreou from the podium of the SAE Convention.
Speaking on the second day of the Convention, Papandreou called on the international community and the European Union to undertake an initiative for the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus.
"Turkey is obliged to withdraw the occupation troops from Cyprus. Occupation troops have no place in the common European family. We must not forget that the Cyprus issue in reality is an issue of occupation by Turkish troops. Occupation of territory of an independent state, member of the European Union and of the United Nations, of the Republic of Cyprus. This is a clear message to Turkey. I call on the international community and the EU to undertake the political, moral and responsible initiative for the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish troops from Cyprus," the PASOK leader said.
Regarding Turkey's European prospects, Papandreou noted that "Ankara is obliged to respect its obligations without diversions," and argued: "Instead of tolerating negotiations, and I would say bargaining, on whether one port or another will open or whether one or another airport will open, that is, instead of us negotiating the self-evident, Turkey's obligations to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and ratify the Protocol with regard trade and the ports, we should turn our attention to the essence of the cause, at last of the Cyprus issue, which is the illegal occupation."
The PASOK leader criticized the New Democracy (ND) party, saying: "It lost substantial opportunities in 2004 and 2005 to formulate a policy and to achieve important results towards Turkey. Now we are talking about a bazaar which does not lead to substantial results."
The conference took place with the participation of 450 expatriate Greeks from different parts of the world. Among the foreign officials attending the conference were former foreign minister of Cyprus George Iacovou, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and the newly elected Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos.
 Deputy FM Stylianidis attends informal SEECP meeting in Croatia
11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Saturday attended an informal meeting in Rijeka of the South Eastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP) at which was examined the progress of the countries of South Eastern Europe in relation with the accession to the Euro-Atlantic structures and the strengthening of the region's European prospects.
The sessions of the informal SEECP meeting was chaired by Croatia's Foreign and European Integration Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
The participants expressed their support to the ambitions of the SEECP member-countries for accession to the European Union and NATO and underlined the importance of them as a framework for the securing of stability and prosperity in this specific part of Europe.
They also examined the situation in the region, in light of the negotiations on the final status of Kosovo and noted the common interest of the countries of South Eastern Europe, for the solution of this important matter to be to the benefit of the peoples and of stability in the region.
 Pavlopoulos speaks on equal participation of women
NICOSIA, 11/12/2006 (CNA-MPA)Greece's Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stated here on Saturday that "the consolidation of substantial equality between women and men and the promotion of equal opportunities for their participation in the social, economic and political life of the country constitutes the fundamental principle of democracy."
Pavlopoulos, who began a two-day visit to Cyprus on Friday, was the main speaker at an event on the theme "Equality between Men and Women in Local Government", which was organized in Nicosia by the Cypriot foreign ministry's National Apparatus for the Rights of Women.
In his speech, the Greek interior minister noted that despite the greatly significant gains achieved by women, the implementation of the equality of opportunities continues to be called for, particularly on a level of employment and pay.
 SAE world convention ends with election of new president
11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Stefanos Tamvakis, from Alexandria, Egypt, was elected as the new president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), during the sessions of its 6th world convention, in Thessaloniki on Saturday.
Tamvakis, in the second round of the elections for a new SAE president, garnered 238 votes (55.74 per cent), against 189 votes (44.26 per cent) for Christos Tomaras, from Chicago. Olga Sarantopoulou, from Vienna, was elected secretary and Costas Dimitriou, from Cologne, treasurer.
Philip Christopher, from New York, was elected representative of the Cypriot overseas organizations POMAK and PSEKA.
On his part, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, at the close of the convention on Sunday, expressed his satisfaction and readiness for another aspect to be given to SAE as a coordinating organization for all overseas Greeks and affiliated organizations.
The SAE convention closed with the issue of four resolutions. Unanimously approved were motions regarding the "name issue" of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM); a solution of the Cyprus issue; the education of expatriate Greeks and recognition of the genocide of the Pontic Greeks.
Papandreou: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday hailed the contribution of expatriate Greeks while at the same time criticizing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for his high-profile proposal to grant voting rights to ethnic Greeks living abroad, beginning after the upcoming general elections.
Addressing the 6th world convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) in Thessaloniki, Papandreou underlined that PASOK never viewed overseas Greeks as "remittances or revenue; it views them as a creative force for change and as a great force for issues of Hellenism."
He also criticized the prime minister, saying that "he did not hold a dialogue with (Greek political) parties and organizations" of expatriate Greeks on their right to vote.
"It has not been clarified who will vote, where and how. We heard nothing about mail-in voting. Others speak of 1.5 million voters and others of 100,000," he said.
Gov't reaction: In response to Papandreou's comments, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos noted that "Mr. Papandreou and PASOK are obviously confused. They cannot explain why for three entire years, from 2001 to 2004, they did absolutely nothing to implement Article 51 of the Constitution regarding the granting of voting rights to overseas Greeks."
 PASOK leader again cites support for allowing non-state universities
ATHENS, 11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday outlined his positions favoring the revision of controversial Article XVI, the constitutional provision that prevents the establishment of recognized non-state universities and colleges in Greece.
The prospect of overturning the unique -- by western standards -- ban, has generated impassioned debate over the past year, with the Karamanlis government unwavering in its intent to allow non-state institutions in the face of resistance by the leftist political opposition, trade unions, certain student groupings and the university professors' union.
On his part, Papandreou's standing support for the revision has run up against some opposition from within his own party, although in published comments on Sunday he clarified that PASOK MPs have the right to vote freely when constitutional revision draft bills arrive in the next Parliament.
In differentiating his stance with that of the government's, Papandreou referred to "two lines leading to different directions, which converge at only one point".
Moreover, he again aired his proposal for a referendum on a variety of education issues, including the revision.
"Our (PASOK) position is clear, but I understand that there are certain issues that, for instance, deal with religion or other matters, where some people may have another view. However, PASOK has an official position," he noted.
 Latest poll puts ND lead over PASOK at 1.6 points
ATHENS, 11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The latest in a series of opinion polls expected to be released before the New Year was published on Sunday by an Athens daily, with this particular poll giving ruling New Democracy a 1.6-percentage point lead over rival main opposition PASOK.
The latest opinion poll, commissioned and published by the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", gave ND a slightest smaller lead over PASOK, 37.5 percent of respondents favored the former over 35.9 percent for the latter.
In terms of smaller parties, the Communist Party garnered 6.8 percent; 3.7 percent for the Coalition of the Left and 4.1 percent for the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party.
The poll was conducted by the GPO firm on a sample of 1,000 respondents.
 Vartholomeos message to Christodoulos over latter's Vatican visit
11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Saturday conveyed his best wishes to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos over the latter's upcoming official upcoming visit to the Vatican and his scheduled meetings with Pope Benedict XVI.
Vartholomeos, two weeks after the Pontiff's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, also expressed his hope that talks between the two men prove productive.
 EIB to invest nine billion euros in Balkan states
11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)The European Investment Bank (EIB) will allocate capital amounting to nine billion euros in various Balkan states over the next three-year period, significantly raising its investment level in comparison to the 7.5 billion euros over the previous five-year period.
This was announced on Saturday evening by EIB executive Eleni Kavvadia during the "Money Show 2006", in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
Speaking at a forum sponsored by the Association of Northern Greece Exporters (SEBE) in Thessaloniki, the capital of the Macedonia province, Kavvadia further announced that EIB will allocate a major investment package in the Mediterranean region for the 2007-2012 period.
Specifically, 8.7 billion euros will be allotted, from which fewer countries will benefit -- given that Turkey will henceforth receive pre-accession funding, while Cyprus and Malta joined the Union.
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.338
Pound sterling 0.683
Danish kroner 7.515
Swedish kroner 9.127
Japanese yen 154.7
Swiss franc 1.601
Norwegian kroner 8.182
Cyprus pound 0.582
Canadian dollar 1.539
Australian dollar 1.695
 Results of the Greek Super League soccer matches played over the weekend
ATHENS, 11/12/2006 (ANA/MPA)Ionikos Piraeus - Iraklis Thessaloniki, 2-2
(match interrupted in the 92nd minute)
Panathinaikos Athens - Larissa, 1-0
Apollon Kalamaria - Aris Thessaloniki, 1-1
Ergotelis Crete - Kerkyra (Corfu), 1-1
Panionios Athens - OFI Crete, 1-0
Xanthi - AEK Athens, 0-0
Olympiakos Piraeus - Egaleo Athens, 3-2
PAOK Thessaloniki - Atromitos Athens, 0-3
Standings after 14 weeks of play:
Olympiakos 36 points
Apollon Kalamaria 12
Note: Ionikos was deducted two points for disciplinary reasons, while a decision on the outcome of the Ionikos-Iraklis game is pending.
 FM: Amendments to EU conclusions welcomed, but not yet satisfactory
LARNACA, 11/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas on Sunday welcomed the latest amendments to the draft conclusions relating to Turkey's accession course, to be discussed on Monday at the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels, stressing however that the proposed text is not yet satisfactory, as no set timeframe for the fulfillment of Turkey's EU obligations is included.
In statements before his departure for Brussels, Lillikas described as "positive" the amendments circulated on Saturday night by the EU Finnish Presidency, noting that ''the significant element for us remains the fact that the rendezvous included in the new conclusions should be determined in a timeframe.''
"It is very important for us to include a timeframe for Turkey in the final conclusions. I welcome the amendment relating to a new rendezvous, which is an improvement but not a satisfactory one," the minister said.
He explained that Cyprus has suggested a period of 18 months, as a deadline, noting that a longer or shorter period could be discussed but not an indefinite period in the depth of time.
According to Lillikas, the amendments were introduced after Friday's discussions at the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER).
''The fist discussion on a political level starts tomorrow aiming at reaching, if possible, conclusions,'' he added.
Replying to questions, Lillikas indicated that it would be preferable not to issue any conclusions, if circumstances so demand, in order to safeguard our sovereign rights as a member state.
''We could live without conclusions but this is not our objective. This is our line of defense,'' he added.
''The aim is not to punish Turkey but to see Ankara willingly fulfill its obligations towards the EU and the 25 member states,'' Lillikas stressed, adding that judging from past experience only through strong pressure and monitoring mechanisms will there be hope for Turkey to comply with its obligations.
He said there is understanding among EU partners and expressed hope that this will continue at Monday's meeting.
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.
Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, by opening its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.
 Papadopoulos: Turkish proposal a 'disorientation move'
LARNACA, 11/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Saturday described Turkey's proposal to open one port and one airport to Cypriot vessels and airplanes a "disorientation" move, made ahead of an EU meeting on Monday to discuss recommendations relating to Turkey's refusal to meet its European obligations.
Turkey offered on Thursday to open one port and one airport to the Republic of Cyprus, in exchange for the opening of an illegal airport in Cyprus' Turkish-occupied areas and the operation of the port of Famagusta, also in the occupied northern part.
The Turkish proposal, put forward at the last minute, has not received any support, he said, adding that ''it was obvious to everybody that this was a disorientation move,'' Papadopoulos said in statements on his return to Cyprus from China where he paid an official visit.
The Cypriot president said Monday's EU General Affairs Council will discuss Turkey's EU bid.
Papadopoulos added the objective is to find common ground so that a common decision is reached, as decisions must be unanimous.
''Turkey's obligations to the EU are separate and independent from the Cyprus problem and Turkey has to meet these obligations,'' Papadopoulos said, adding that ''there can be no link between Turkey's obligations and developments in Cyprus.''
He also pointed out that ''even if the Cyprus problem were solved, Turkey would still have to comply with these obligations.''
Commenting on the climate at Friday's deliberations at the Security Council on a draft resolution for the renewal of UNFICYP's mandate that expires on December 15, Papadopoulos recalled that since 2005 the government's policy has been to engage all five permanent members, and not only the US and Britain as in the past, in every new effort of the UN.
He said this has been communicated to France, Russia and China.
President Papadopoulos said he was satisfied with the outcome of his visit to China, as bonds of friendship were renewed and business opportunities explored.
 Britain maintains long-standing policy of non-recognition
LONDON, 11/12/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)British Minister of State for Europe Geoff Hoon reiterated that his country does not recognize the Turkish Cypriot regime in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, noting that more needs to be done in relation to direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the European Union.
Replying to a question by Labor MP Ben Chapman, Hoon said that the government maintains its long-standing policy of non-recognition of the self-declared Turkish Cypriot regime, but "maintains an open and constructive dialogue with the leadership of the Turkish Cypriots on all aspects of the situation in Cyprus.''
Recalling Britain's support for measures pertaining to the lifting of the so-called ''isolation'' of the Turkish Cypriot community, Hoon welcomed the implementation of the EU' financial aid regulation for the Turkish Cypriots.
''However, we recognize that more needs to be done, particularly in relation to direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the EU,'' Hoon said, adding that ''progress in this area will help bring the Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU and, by reducing the economic disparities between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, will make a future settlement easier to achieve.''
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.