|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-12-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 5 December 2007 Issue No: 2765
 Prime minister and Egypt's Mubarak discuss Balkans, Middle EastPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Athens, for talks that focused on bilateral relations but also developments in the Balkans and the Middle East.
In statements afterward, the Greek prime minister stressed Egypt's important role in the Middle East peace process, adding that Greece was a "fellow traveller" in this effort.
"Greece has shown great interest in the events of the region, with initiatives that are both international and in the framework of the EU. We support Mr. Mubarak's efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue. In his spirit, Greece and Egypt took part in the international conference at Annapolis, which constituted progress for a resumption of talks between Israel and Palestine, which must be led to a comprehensive solution of the Middle East problem," he said.
Greece, its European Union partners and its allies in NATO supported this effort, Karamanlis added.
The Greek premier also highlighted Egypt's important role in the framework of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and said his talks with Mubarak had also touched on the Cyprus issue, Greece's relations with Turkey and events in the Balkans. These issues would be discussed further during a dinner with Mubarak that would take place later on Tuesday, he added.
In terms of bilateral relations, Karamanlis pointed out that Egypt was one of Greece's most important trade partners among the Arab countries and referred to the strong historic ties between the two countries.
According to the premier, in his talks with the Egyptian president they had determined that there was "significant room for improving and developing our cooperation on several levels, such as the energy sector and shipping" and had agreed to intensify efforts to improve trade relations.
The Egyptian president, on his part, thanked Karamanlis for a warm reception and stressed the rapid progress in bilateral relations between their two countries since 2004, when the Greek premier had visited Egypt. He also stressed the need to further cement bilateral economic and trade ties, as well as on a political level and in the Balkans.
Referring to a series of existing agreements for taxes, tariffs and financial facilities, Mubarak said that these had yielded high growth rates and that his talks in Athens had also covered issues that included shipping links, tourism, cultural investments and labour issues.
He praised Greece's efforts to help bring about peace in the Middle East and said that his talks in Athens would bring tangible results for improving relations between the two countries.
Mubarak meets PASOK leader
Main opposition PASOK party President George Papandreou had a cordial one-hour meeting Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Athens.
They focused on the Middle East issue in the wake of the Annapolis Conference, the preconditions for a solution to the Palestinian issue and Egypt's role in the Middle East.
Papandreou briefed President Mubarak on his initiatives within the framework of the Socialist International, in his capacity as the organization's president, while the Egyptian President remembered earlier visits to Greece and the friendship he had shared with late PM Andreas Papandreou.
 Greek-Turkish FMs focus on further bilateral cooperation, announce new CBMsExcellent bilateral relations and volition of both sides for further cooperation was reaffirmed here on Tuesday during a meeting between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan, as the latter arrived in the Greek capital for an official visit.
Bakoyannis reiterated that reaching a fair, viable and operational solution to the Cyprus problem -- based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation -- is of heightened importance, while she stressed that opportunities offered by Turkey's EU prospects should be utilised.
"Full membership can and should be achieved by fully meeting the prerequisites set by the EU," Bakoyannis said, adding that Greece firmly supports Turkey's European prospects.
"It is our deliberate choice for a secure peace, unwavering stability, economic development and stronger democracy", she stressed, adding that, at the same time, efforts for the further development of bilateral relations continue.
The Greek foreign minister pointed out that the path of mutual interest should be characterised by respect to international law, good-neighborly relations as well as adoption of the principles and values implemented by modern Europe.
On his part, the Turkish foreign minister stated that his country will make all efforts to solve the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN decisions, while thanked Athens for supporting Ankara's European course.
Babacan emphasised the strengthening of bilateral energy and economic relations. In reference to Turkey's accession course, he pointed out that the EU comprises a set of values shared by its member-states. He stressed that an "open door" policy signals the EU's peacemaking policy and concluded by saying that setting limitations to the Union's enlargement would be a major mistake on the part of Europe.
The two ministers also announced a package of new confidence-building-measures that include exchange of visits by military leaders, establishment of a joint operational military unit involving all branches to participate in NATO peacekeeping missions, as well as the creation of a joint land force unit within the framework of NATO's rapid reaction force. Other CBMs include the establishment of a joint all-branch military unit to manage natural disasters and offer humanitarian aid as well visits by unit commanders at the Greek-Turkish border.
In other matters, in response to a question regarding terrorism, Bakoyannis reminded of her particular sensitivity to the subject -- her first husband, noted journalist and MP Pavlos Bakoyannis, was ambushed in 1989 by an ultra-leftist urban terror gang -- adding that she fully understands the pain being felt by the families of victims and the entire Turkish people.
Moreover, she reiterated that Athens categorically condemns all forms of terrorism and understands the provocations faced by the neighbouring country, "because violence can never serve as the solution..."
On his part, Babacan said the Turkish government wants to play an even more active and effective role in the Union and NATO.
Finally, Babacan laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was received by Greek President Karolos Papoulias following his visit to the ministry of foreign affairs.
 President Papoulias receives Turkish foreign ministerPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who is currently in Greece on an official visit.
Greeting the Turkish official, Papoulias expressed his satisfaction at the visit, which he said was also a preparation for a visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Ankara.
The president harked back to his own efforts to bring about understanding between Greece and Turkey as foreign minister with the Papoulias-Yilmaz protocol and added that the effort to build on and develop this cooperation had delayed, saying it was now up to the younger generation to surpass and enrich past achievement and make them the foundation for good cooperation and peaceful coexistence between the two countries," he added.
"I believe that in your talks with [Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis] you will also have identified some things for which the time is ripe," he added.
 Papandreou, Turkish FM discuss Greek-Turkish relationsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Tuesday, raising all issues concerning Greek-Turkish relations and those regarding Turkey's European course.
Papandreou reiterated his support for the European course and for Turkey's future accession to the European Union on condition that Turkey honours and implements all the terms and preconditions set by the EU.
The PASOK leader also raised issues related to the functioning of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Halki School of Theology and to the rights of the Greek minority in Turkey as being basic preconditions that must be implemented on the part of Turkey on its European course.
On his part, Babacan briefed Papandreou on the reformist plan of the new Turkish government, as well as on its determination to proceed with the implementation of preconditions set by the EU.
Also discussed during their meeting were developments in the Middle East and the Balkans with Papandreou reiterating PASOK's steadfast position on a solution to the issue of Cyprus, "as it constitutes an important international problem", while also calling for the implementation of customs union protocols as an obligation of Turkey towards the EU.
Babacan said that the results of the presidential elections in Cyprus are being expected and expressed Turkey's readiness to move for a solution to the issue of Cyprus within the parametres adopted by the UN.
 KKE sharply condemns CBMs agreed to by Athens, AnkaraThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday sharply criticised a Greek-Turkish decision, announced the same day, to jointly form an all-branch military unit within the framework of a NATO rapid response force, referring, in fact, to a "terrorist act against the Greek and Turkish peoples".
"The so-called CBMs agreed to by the Greek foreign minister and her Turkish counterpart do not deal with the major issue dealing with the dispute of the Aegean's status; they do not deal with 'grey zones', non-recognition of the 12-mile airspace boundaries, exclusion of (Greek) islands from NATO exercises, or the other unresolved issues related to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the School of Halki, property rights of ethnic Greek residents on the islands of Imvros and Tenedos etc." a KKE press release charged.
The communist party said the latest round of CBMs merely strengthen an "imperialistic" NATO and the role of the bourgeoisie in Greece and Turkey.
 FM Bakoyannis, Turkish counterpart address Greek-Turkish Business MeetingForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the Greek-Turkish Business Meeting organised in the framework of the visit to Athens by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, said on Tuesday that "I believe that the time has come for us to aim high, to turn a page, to forge ahead."
Bakoyannis stressed that boldness and a strong will are required "to enable us to say unequivocally that respect for national sovereignty, a peaceful solution to differences based on international law and international treaties far from threats and the use of force, protection for human rights and minority rights, constitute the foundations of our joint aim for a future of peace, cooperation and growth."
Referring to the necessary reforms that Turkey must carry out for its accession to the European Union, she mentioned as a "characteristic example" the case of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which, as she said, does not constitute a threat for Turkey, as is claimed by some, but on the contrary it can constitute a force for it.
Bakoyannis further stressed the need for active contribution to a solution to the issue of Cyprus that will provide the possibility for all the inhabitants on the island, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to proceed together towards a joint European future of peace and prosperity.
She also reiterated the Greek government's steadfast position that the neighbour's full compliance means full accession, stressing that "you can rely on Greece for this."
Babacan expressed his country's adherrence to rapprochement between the two countries through the process of dialogue and cooperation. He referred to Greece's considerable contribution to Turkey's European course and thanked Greece for this, adding that he hopes for the continuation of this support.
The Turkish foreign minister also said that his country's goal is full accession and that he does not agree with any of the scenarios anticipating other forms of association. He pointed out that for the purpose of full accession his country has carried out more reforms since 2002 than have taken place over the past 50 years.
Addressing the Turkish businessmen who were present at the event, both Babacan and Bakoyannis spoke of great opportunities for the development of bilateral economic relations in trade, tourism and joint ventures in energy and other networks, while expressing their satisfaction over the soaring development of trade relations in the past years that have amounted to 2.7 billion dollars.
'Greece extends hand to Turkey', FM tells Turkish daily
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis reiterated that Athens is extending its hand to Turkey and that "the hour has come to proceed forward and to enter a new era."
Bakoyannis was quoted in an interview published in the Tuesday edition of the mass Turkish daily 'Milliyet'.
"Our two countries are destined to co-exist in this part of the world. Our two peoples strongly desire to live together in peace. We, as politicians, have the obligation to create political capital of mutual trust and cooperation, based on the respect of the principles of international law, good-neighbourly relations and human rights. In Ankara, as well as in Athens, we have two newly elected and dynamic governments with a strong mandate. We extend our hand to Turkey. The hour has come to proceed forward and enter a new era."
Bakoyannis also expressed her regret over the fact that there has not been "sufficient and tangible progress" in solving political problems between the two countries.
"The time has come to turn words into actions. The Confidence Building Measures were a positive step. But progress is a matter of vision and leadership as well as a matter of political will and political courage. On the part of the Greek side, political will and courage exists," she noted.
Agreeing that terrorism should be tackled by "all of us together", Bakoyannis cautioned that regional stability should be safeguarded, adding "we must lend importance to Iraq's independence and territorial integrity."
Responding to a relevant question, the Greek foreign minister said she believes that a "window of opportunity opens for a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem in the year 2008."
"Fifteen years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But that of Nicosia still exists. We must, at last, demolish it. Today, more that 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed on the island, at a time when the international community has been struggling for months now to gather 12,000 soldiers for UNIFIL. Why should things be so? We are in favour of reunification of the island through the finding of a permanent and just solution. For us, partition does not constitute - I repeat, it does not constitute - an option," Bakoyannis emphasised.
She also reiterated Greece's steadfast support for Turkey's European Union accession course.
"It is a deliberate strategic option. Turkey's European prospect acts in favour of peace, stability and the welfare in the broader region. The pre-accession period has also become a moving force for changing Turkey," she said.
 Alternate government spokesman on the PM's schedulePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis will address at 19:30 on Tuesday evening the 18th annual "Hour of the Greek Economy" Conference hosted by the American Hellenic Chamber (AHC) in Athens.
On Wednesday morning at 11:00am, the PM will meet with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, at 12:00 with UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz, who is mediating in talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in a dispute over FYROM's name and at 13:00 he will meet with Defence Minister Vangelis Meimarakis.
The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) will meet on current issues at 13:30 Wednesday, announced alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.
 Health minister presents nat'l action plan on AIDS to presidentHealth Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday presented a National Action Plan on AIDS to Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who has expressed personal interest over the issue.
Avramopoulos said Greece is a pioneer in terms of organised efforts at AIDS prevention and information.
"The goal is to deal with AIDS in a substantive manner," he said before unveiling recent figures, according to which, roughly 500 people were added on a list of AIDS sufferers over the past year.
 Parliamentary Committee ratifies in principle protocol on children's rightsA Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday unanimousoy voted in principle for the ratification of the Voluntary Protocol in the Treaty on Children's Rights, concerning the trafficking of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, party rapporteurs and deputies taking the floor stressed the need for toughening the institutional framework on child protection against an international phenomenon which, as they stressed, has taken on alarming proportions.
Hatzigakis indicated that a bill will be submitted which will anticipate the lifting of telephone and electronic confidentiality for those accused of offences against minors. He also mentioned that a draft law is being promoted on the creation of a care unit for young people who are victims of sexual molestation.
 Coalition's 5th Regular Congress on February 7-10The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology's (Synaspismos) 5th Regular Congress will be taking place at the indoor Tae Kwon Do stadium in Faliro on February 7-10.
An announcement by the Organising Committee said that the process during the runup to the Congress will begin immediately and public dialogue on positions as of Wednesday, while public events will be organised in the framework of the course leading to the Congress.
Meanwhile, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos, speaking on Tuesday after the Parliamentary Group's meeting on the social security issue and the question of the Olympic Airlines company, said that a question tabled by SYRIZA in Parliament on the social security issue will be debated on Friday, three days before the strike.
 Symposium in Athens on NATO and its prospectsGreece's support to the efforts of its neigbouring countries to be incorporated in the Euro-Atlantic structures "under the prerequisite that they fulfill necessary criteria," was declared on Tuesday by Deputy National Defence Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis, opening the sessions of th 16th annual international symposium being organized by the Greek Union for the Atlentic and European Alliance, at the foreign minisrrty's amphitheatre on the theme "NATO: Challenges in view of the Bucharest 2008 Summit".
In his address, Plakiotakis described as "an interesting challenge for the European Union and NATO, their cooperation in Kosovo, a region where both sides are called on to play an important role."
At the same time, he stressed that NATO's presence in the western Balkans does not simply strengthen security and stability, but also helps in taking the region towards the Euro-Atlantic community.
On the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the deputy national defence minister reiterated that "our efforts are centred in the achievement of a mutually acceptable solution. We on our part have shown our good will and we are awaiting from the other side to cover the disnace which corresponds to it."
Referring to the same issue, new U.S. Ambassador in Athens Daniel Speckhard, who also addressed the symposium, stated that the United States is aware of Greece's concerns on the situation and appreciates its efforts. He expressed hope for the reaching of a mutually acceptable solution before the Bucharest summit, while he hailed the efforts of UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, expressing the hope that he will manage in proceeding in a solution before Bucharest.
Regarding FYROM's prospects for its accession to NATO, Ambassador Speckhard stated that it is not certain whether an invitation will be issued.
 DM Meimarakis attends Artillery Day celebrationDefence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Tuesday attended an event at the Megalo Pefko School of Artillery, west of Athens, in honour of the feast day of Aghia Varavara (St. Barbara), the patron saint of the specific military branch.
Following a ceremony, the minister and the Greek Army's leadership toured an exhibition of weaponry at the school.
 President Papoulias to visit MilanPresident of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias will visit the northern Italian city of Milan between December 5-8, it was announced on Tuesday.
During his visit, Papoulias will be declared honourary citizen of Milan.
 Fire Brigade chief resignsFire Brigade chief Andreas Kois submitted his resignation to Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Tuesday. The new Fire Brigade chief will be selected by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) during its session on Wednesday.
 PM Karamanlis addresses Hellenic American Chamber of CommercePrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday evening addressed the 18th annual conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce.
Referring to the social security system, he stressed that the government is determined to meet its election commitment for a just social security reform, which rids the social security system from distortions and injustices of the past.
"An in-depth reform which guarantees security of grants and pensions for all. We are moving with consistency and responsibility on the axes which we developed both before the elections and in the government's programme statement. The general average age limits are not increased, the contributions are not increased, the pensions are not reduced," Karamanlis said.
The prime minister noted that the government is moving on the basis of this framework and sent a message to all that "populism does not benefit anyone, responsibility is required by all, we are open to every proposal, view and idea which contributes to the reform for a modern, just and viable social security system. However, we are determined to proceed."
He added, "The social security reform cannot be sacrificed either to partisan nor trade unionist expediencies, it is urgently necessary, socially imperative and we owe it to the many, to the economically weaker, to the young people. It is a matter of responsibility by all the political and social bodies in the entire society, to today's and to the next generations."
Karamanlis referred to his government's economic achievements, noting that three years ago from the same forum, he had expounded on the strategy which would lead to a sustained fiscal adjustment and the sustainable growth. In the period that passed, the prime minister said, "we made important steps" and he referred to the stable high growth rate, the creation of new jobs and the reduction of unemployment.
He also spoke about the energy agreements which were achieved and made special reference to the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline, to the inter-state agreement with Italy for the construction of an under sea pipeline, to the agreement with Turkey and Italy for the creation of the southern European natural gas network and to the agreement for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.
He further noted that nearly 4,000 Greek businesses and more than 2,300 branches of Greek banks "utilize the opportunities given by the broader region of southeast Europe and of the eastern Mediterranean," while he stressed that "Greece operates as a gateway of the Middle East, of the Arab world and of Asia towards Europe, but also as a base for major businesses of the western world which wish to expand in our broader region."
The prime minister emphasized that the Greek economy regained its credibility, acquired increased impetus and gained international trust, adding that "it is a great collective gain for all the citizens, for all who live, work or invest in our country. We are now obliged to safeguard this gain and to enlarge it. We are obliged to give solutions to pending matters, to continue the cycle of reforms so as to further improve the developmental model which we instituted. This is our strategy and this strategy is non-negotiable."
 BoG: Limited impact on local banks from int'l crisisTurbulence in the global economy from a subprime loan crisis will have only a limited and indirect impact on Greek banks, Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor Nikos Garganas said on Tuesday.
Addressing a Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conference on the theme "The Time of Greek Economy", the Greek central banker noted, however, that risks still existed for Greek banks and urged for cautious management of portfolios.
Garganas said turbulence from the subprime home loan crisis in the United States has not affected Eurozone banks, which continued to rapidly increase activities in loans to private borrowers and businesses, something that has ceased in the United States.
Garganas also referred to the need for strengthening the role of supervisory authorities, particularly in cases of banks with cross-border activities.
Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis, addressing the same conference, underlined that more rapid steps are needed rid the Greek economy from its state-based growth and to adopt a more viable model based on exports, private investments, entrepreneurship and innovation.
The minister said this goal could be achieved with modern infrastructure so that the country becomes more attractive for investments, and healthy competition in the domestic markets.
Hatzidakis said the transport ministry focused on the creation of new transport and distribution hubs, promoting combined transports and expanding railway services. He noted that the telecoms sector and new technologies, in general, remained the biggest challenge for the country and said that a state-sponsored digital strategy was significant.
Finally, Hatzidakis said the goal is to achieve a truly deregulated market, operating under national and community regulations.
 Greek FinMin satisfied over economic conditionsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M.Aroni)
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction over the condition of the Greek economy and said it growth was not directly affected by international uncertainties over the price of oil and developments in capital markets.
Speaking to reporters, after an ECOFIN meeting, Alogoskoufis called for alertness to deal with any inflationary pressures in the economy. "We have the Competition Commission and discussions made between Development ministry and representatives of industry and commerce sectors to better deal with inflationary pressures coming from abroad. These pressures do not come from the domestic market, but from abroad. They are the result of high oil and food prices. We have one positive thing against this, a strong euro currency that moderates the impact on prices," he noted.
The Greek minister said economic growth in Greece will remain strong mainly due to community funds from a Third and a Fourth Community Support Framework programs, private investments totaling 8.0 billion euros and joint ventures between companies from the public and private sectors worth 3.0 billion euros.
Alogoskoufis said he wished that a new round of talks over wage increases, expected to begin in 2008, could last two or three years since the government was already moving with a three-year plan.
Commenting on economic conditions in the Eurozone, Alogoskoufis said economic growth will remain relatively high, with higher employment, lower unemployment and reduced fiscal deficits.
 Tourism minister addresses Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conferenceTourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Tuesday addressed the conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and, referring to the issue of the Olympic Airlines company, said that "we must pursue a solution that will be adequate and viable for Olympic Airlines, an issue that is longstanding and for which the Greek people have paid many millions of euros in restructuring programmes."
The minister said that "it is an issue for which we do not have the possibility of closing our eyes, an issue that concerns all of us and directly and even more so when Olympic is mainly linked to the tourist potential of our country."
Spiliotopoulos further said that careful handling is necessary and, "above all, what is important is facilitating visitors if we want Greek tourism to continue to be the great motive power in the production of income, in other words, to exceed 8.5 percent that it is already contributing to the creation of the country's Gross Domestic Product."
 Debate in Parliament on 2008 state budgetDeputy Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday on the 2008 state budget said that fundings through the development law will come to 500 million euros in 2007, against 274 million euros in 2006.
He added that not included in this sum is the investment plans of the Development Ministry, which total about 800 million euros.
The deputy minister was responding to criticism by the opposition parties, particularly by the main opposition PASOK party, which stated that the budget's objectives were a failure.
Papathanassiou responded that already implemented in the country are funding exceeding 500 million euros, "something which has no historic precedent in other developmental laws."
He added that the difference in the approach of the developmental policies since the past is that "the PASOK governments wanted us to have an economy which would be exclusively based on public investments, while the present government wants an economy based also on investments of the economy's private sector, to the strengthening of exports and to the effective backing of small and medium-sized businesses."
 Gov't presses economic diplomacy programmeDeputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas on Tuesday urged Greek entrepreneurs to focus on international activities, as he announced a series of new business missions to showcase modern and innovative sectors of the Greek economy.
Addressing a Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce conference, Doukas said the government will support local business people's efforts to expand abroad and noted that the government's goals were to raise exports, greater penetration of international markets and attracting investments.
The minister announced a series of business trips to North Africa, Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, beginning from Libya in the next few days.
Commenting on the course of the economy, Doukas said the government was steadily slashing deficits although the road for both revenues and spending remained uphill.
"We are reducing unemployment, raising investments and the composite index in the Athens Stock Exchange has jumped to 5,300 points from 2,600 in 2001. Our GDP is growing by 4.0 percent, our banks are leaders in the Balkans, tourism is growing to a new record, the shipping sector is blooming and our direct investments abroad total 20 billion euros," Doukas said.
He acknowledged that high oil prices were a problem for Europe and urged for a turn towards alternative energy sources, saying "green business is good business".
The Greek minister noted that the government offered tax incentives to international businessmen for opening activities in the country.
 Greece and Moldova sign cooperation agreementGreece and Moldova signed a cooperation agreement concerning Standardisation, Certification and Testing issues in the framework of the 1st session of the Joint Interministerial Committee of Greece and Moldova.
The agreement was signed by the managing director of the Greek Standardisation Organisation (ELOT) Nikos Symferis and Moldova's Deputy Industry and Infrastructures Minister V. Mamaliga on behalf of the corresponding MOLDST organisation.
Products of Moldovan origin must, in order to circulate in the Greek market, meet specific requirements, while corresponding requirements exist on the part of Moldova for Greek products that will go into circulation in Moldova.
 Impressive increase in bilateral trade between Greece and RomaniaBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/I.Rantou)
Greek Ambassador to Bucharest Athanasios Dendoulis said on Tuesday that bilateral trade between Romania and Greece has increased impressively during the first seven months in 2007, compared to the corresponding period last year, stressing that "the Romanian economy is one of the most dynamic in central and eastern Europe."
Bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 27.3 percent during the first seven months of 2007, meaning that from 586.65 million euros it reached 746.60 million euros.
Greek exports to Romania during the first seven months this year increased by 35.7 percent, meaning that they amounted to 415.35 million euros as against 309.9 million euros during the same period in 2006. Romanian exports to Greece increased by 18.1 percent over the same period from 280.56 million euros to 331.25 million euros.
Greece is in fourth place on the list of foreign investors in Romania with 4,000 Greek companies being active in the country and with over three billion euros in investments.
The Greek ambassador made the statements while speaking to Greek and Romanian businessmen who had been invited to the opening of the Greek cuisine festival in the Romanian capital.
 Greek Merchant Marine minister unveils policy goalsMerchant Marine Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday unveiled the ministry's four main policy goals, aimed at ensuring the leading role played by Greek-owned shipping in international commerce and supporting competitiveness in the Greek shipping sector.
Addressing Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce's conference, the Greek minister said the policy aimed at further supporting the shipping industry in order to boost its performance during the current favourable conditions in the international freight rate market, introducing new innovative measures and actions to promote the country's shipping product and services, integrating shipping and island policies and finally a social dialogue aimed to achieve consensus and cooperations.
Voulgarakis said the Greek shipping industry was constantly challenging the international shipping industry through its contribution in international trade, its know-how and size, its ability to attract investors, businessmen and workers and to promote actions on environment, technology and research.
 PASOK spokesman on Olympic Airlines issuePASOK party spokesman Yiannis Ragoussis, referring on Tuesday to the issue of the Olympic Airlines company, said that the reforms of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' government which "were being announced all the time but were never carried out are leading, and there is no doubt about this any more, not to a solution but to dissolution."
"The government just like in all issues preoccupying Greece, and so for the problem of Olympic Airlines as well, is moving with an extreme irresponsibility, with an extreme frivolity. Due to this irresponsibility, due to this frivolity, only the interests of Olympic Airlines and of the Greek people are not being served," Ragoussis said.
 Tourism minister attends new EOT board meetingTourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Tuesday attended the first session of the Greek Tourist Organisation's (EOT) new board underlining the government's will to boost the momentum of tourism development "since it constitutes a dominant and privileged field for Greece."
The minister also pointed out that the main priority at the present stage is the full reformation of EOT's offices abroad which, as he said "constitute our country's showcase, as they give Greece's potential visitor the first, and usually decisive, impression."
 Athens city council approves 50-mln-euro EIB loanThe city of Athens' municipal council on Tuesday approved a 50-million euro financing agreement between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the municipality.
The loan will exclusively fund works, at a rate of 25 to 50 percent, which are part of an approved municipal investment programme, according to a press release issued by the city, which also referred to a highly competitive interest rate and 25-year loan repayment period.
The city of Athens, the largest and most populous municipality in the greater Athens-Piraeus region, currently boasts a A1 credit rating.
The city council also approved a proposal by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis for the formation of a nine-member all-party committee, which will oversee the loan repayments and progress of works.
 Greek stocks end 1.34 pct downGreek stocks ended substantially lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 5,000 level. The index fell 1.34 pct to end at 4,985.74 points, with turnover a moderate 407.2 million euros, of which 86.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors ended lower with the Raw Materials (2.56 pct), Financial Services (2.24 pct), Banks (1.87 pct) and Constructions (1.82 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the Utilities (0.24 pct), Chemicals (0.24 pct) and Oil (0.01 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index ended 1.35 pct lower, the Mid Cap index fell 1.39 pct and the Small Cap index dropped 1.55 pct. Desmos (8.0 pct), Allatini Ceramics (7.95 pct) and Informer (5.94 pct) were top gainers, while Praxitelio (8.06 pct), Pairis (8.0 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 222 to 44 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.01%
Personal & Household: -1.17%
Raw Materials: -2.56%
Travel & Leisure: -0.60%
Food & Beverages: -1.51%
Financial Services: -2.24%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Terna Energiaki, Alpha Bank and DEH.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 23.14
Public Power Corp (PPC): 33.18
HBC Coca Cola: 28.62
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.44
National Bank of Greece: 44.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 23.18
Titan Cement Company: 30.50
 ADEX closing reportFutures contract prices ended mixed in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover easing to 169.862 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.45 percent and the December contract on the FTSE 40 index at a premium of 0.08 percent.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 9,250 contracts worth 122.499 million euros, with 32,483 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 330 contracts worth 10.113 million euros with 830 open positions.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,326 contracts worth 26.4 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,973), followed by Eurobank (361), Marfin Investment Group (827), PPC (824), Piraeus Bank (324), Marfin Popular Bank (507), Alpha Bank (543), Intracom (1,705), Mytilineos (1,036) and Postal Savings Bank (135).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.310 billion euros on Tuesday, of which 635 million were buy orders and the remaining 675 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turn over of 635 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.345 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.36 pct and the German Bund 4.01 pct.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate eased to 3.95 pct from 4.01 pct on Monday, the two-day rate fell to 4.0 pct from 4.01 pct, the one-month rate rose to 4.86 pct from 4.84 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.73 pct from 4.71 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.485
Pound sterling 0.720
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.495
Japanese yen 163.14
Swiss franc 1.661
Norwegian kroner 8.173
Cyprus pound 0.588
Canadian dollar 1.493
Australian dollar 1.697
 National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities submits annual report to parliament presidentThe annual report prepared by the National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities, which was submitted to parliament president Dimitris Sioufas during special event on Monday evening, focused on the access people with disabilities have to the job market, branding unemployment as the cruelest form of social disability.
This year's December 3 International Day of Disabled Persons was dedicated to the problems faced by the disabled in Greece and their efforts to find a place in the job market enjoying equal treatment and employment terms with the rest of the Greek people.
Based on the report, disabled persons make up 9.3 percent (959,000 people) of the total population in Greece and 84 percent of them are unemployed. According to European figures, persons with disabilities have the highest unemployment rate, the highest part-time and seasonal employment rate, face the highest risk of being fired, are employed in low expectation jobs not utilizing their full potential, and are the worst paid, while in Greece the majority live in conditions of social and economic exclusion.
 Engonopoulos painting among artworks auctioned in ThessalonikiOne of the hard to find works by poet and painter Nikos Engonopoulos (1907-1985) was sold for 29,000 euros at an auction held Monday in Thessaloniki organized by "Hellenic Auctions" in cooperation with the "Thermaides" NGO Thessaloniki branch.
Starting price for "Melpomeni, the Muse of Tragedy" (41cm x 28cm) had been set at 8,000 euros and art collectors gave a real fight over the painting by Engonopoulos, which finally fetched 29,000 euros.
Other artworks that were auctioned off at a high price were, "Monastary of Kesariani" by Papaloukas (17,000 euros), "Girl behind the curtain" by Sikeliotis (4,500 euros), "Corfu" by Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas (4,500 euros), and "Acropolis" by Maleas (12,000 euros).
The auction was dedicated to Engonopoulos on the 100th anniversary of his birth, and part of the proceeds will be used by the "Thermaides" NGO to establish a children's cardiology unit at Thessaloniki's AHEPA Hospital.
 Nearly 50 Greek restaurants join Amnesty International dinner eventThe Greek section of Amnesty International on Tuesday announced that 48 restaurants in Athens, Piraeus and other cities of Greece have pledged to take part in a two-day event marking global Human Rights Day, offering part of their earnings on December 9-10 to Amnesty International and its work.
The organisation said that customers at these restaurants would have the opportunity to enjoy a "special recipe" for creating a world with justice, security, freedom and dignity.
Diners will also be asked to send a card of support and solidarity to 10 people around the world who are currently defending human rights, including those that have been jailed for their efforts, like the Chinese journalist that was sentenced to hard labour for sending out an e-mail relaying the "instructions" of the Chinese government on coverage of the anniversary of the events of Tien An Men square.
Other recipients of these cards stress that they really do improve the conditions of their incarceration, providing huge moral support and also prompting prison administrations to treat them with greater respect.
Information about the 10 people that will receive cards from Greece this year for December 10 is available at the website www.amnesty.org.g.
The group will also organise a number of other events for the anniversary, such as the staging of an Ariel Dorfman play in collaboration with Techni Experimental Stage in Thessaloniki and a concert at the Mikis Theodorakis Theatre in Argyroupolis. This will feature Amnesty Strings directed by Patrick Evans, Sacha Son with Joel Soto, Marta Moreleon and Los Delsur, Oxygen with Eftychis Zarb, Home Suite HOme with Raymond Caldwell and Peter O' Leary and Without Borders with John Carr. Those attending will also have the opportunity to sign cards for human rights defenders.
A free concert will also be held in the city of Hania on Crete.
Restaurants participating in the Amnestry International events include:
ELAIA (Meg. Vassiliou 41 & Ehelidon, Rouf-Gazi. Tel: 210 3411174. 9/12/2007)
TO (Triptopolemou 43 & Orpheos, Gazi. Tel. 210 3452052. 9/12/2007)
MONOPOLIO ATHENS (Ippothontidon 10, Kato Petralona. Tel. 210 3459172. 9/12/2007)
ATHIRI (Plataion 15, Keramikos. Tel. 210 4940672, tel. 210 3462983. 9/12/2007)
VASILAINA (Aitolikou 72, Piraeus. Tel. 210-4612457. 9/12/2007)
SARDELLES (Persefonis 15, Gazi. Tel. 210 3478050. 9/12/2007)
THALATTA (Vitonos 5, Gazi. Tel. 210 3464204. 10/12/2007)
MAMACAS (Persefonis 41, Gazi. Tel. 210 3464984. 10/12/2007)
ALEXANDRIA (Metsovou 13 & Rethymnou, Mouseio. Tel. 210 8210004. 10/12/2007)
COOKOU FOOD (Themistokleous 66, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3831955. 10/12/2007)
LEFKA (Mavromihali 121, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3614038. 10/12/2007)
SEA SATIN (Fokylidou 1, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 3619646. 10/12/2007)
FREUD ORIENTAL (Xenokratous 21, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 7299595, 2107299597. 10/12/2007)
SPYROS & VASSILIS (Lahitos 5, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 7237575, 2107231005. 10/12/2007)
KUZINA (Adrianou 9, Thissio. Tel. 210 3240133. 10/12/2007)
TZITZIKAS & MERMIGAS (Mitropoleos 12-14. Tel. 210 3247607. 10/12/2007
BAR GURU BAR (Theatrou Square 3. Tel. 210 3246530. 10/12/2007)
METROPOLITAN (Hania, Crete. Tel. 2821040920. 10/12/2007)
TO AVGO TOY KOKORA (Hania, Crete. Tel. 2821055776. 10/12/2007)
BUTCHER SHOP (Persefonis 19, Gazi.Tel. 210 3413440. 10/12/2007)
BRIZOLAKIA.GR (Evelpidon 47 & Kallinovou, Kypseli. Tel. 210 8813121. 10/12/2007)
GIANTES (Valtetsiou 44, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3301369. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
SALERO(Valtetsiou 51, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3813358. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
MYSTIC PIZZA & PASTA (Em. Benaki 76, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3839500. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
RIFIFI (Em. Benaki 69 & Valtetsiou, Exarhia. Tel. 210 3300237. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
KITRINO PODILATO - KOUKOUMAVLOS (Keramikou 116-118 & Iera Odos, Gazi. Tel. 2103465830. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
PASTA LA VISTA(Voutadon 58, Gazi. Tel. 210 3462092. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
OINOBERDEMATA (Meg. Vassiliou and Stratonikis, Gazi. Tel. 2103411461-2. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
TO KOUTI (Andrianou 23. Tel. 210 3213229. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
PRYTANEION (Milioni 7-9, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 3643353-4. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
KIOUPIA (Deinokratous & Anapiron Polemou 22, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 7400150. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07
Q (Haritos 43, Kolonaki. Tel. 210 7253817. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
PROSOPA (Iera Odos & Konstantinoupoleos 84, Rouf. Tel. 210 3413433. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
BERDEMA (Vassilisis Amalias 20, Kifissia. Tel. 210 8013853. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
1-TGI FRIDAY'S (Neophytou Vamva 2, Kolonaki. Tel. 2107227721. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
2-TGI FRIDAY'S (Kifissias Avenue & Alexandras, Ambelokipi. Tel. 210 6475417-8. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07
3-TGI FRIDAY'S (Kolokotroni 35, Kefalari Square. Tel. 210 6233947-8. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
4-TGI FRIDAY'S (Lazaraki 43 & Lambraki, Glyfada. Tel. 210 8982608-9. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
5-TGI FRIDAY'S (Ymittou 110, Millenium Mall, Pagrati. Tel. 210 7560544-5.9/12/07 & 10/12/07
OCHRE & BROWN (Leokoriou 7, Psyrri. Tel. 210 3312940-2.9/12/07 & 10/12/07
LE PIERROT (Freatidos 42, Piraeus. Tel. 210 453 0918,210 4181832.9/12/07 & 10/12/07
AVLAIS (Grevena. Tel. 24620 25402. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
ARGENTINA (Kolymbari. Tel. 28240 22243. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
TO KOUNDOUKI (Hania, Crete. Tel. 28210 96928. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
TAMAM (Hania, Crete. Tel. 28210 96928. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
MERASTRI (Chrysostomou 17, Iraklio, Crete. Tel. 28102 21910. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
ZIOGAS (Kapa Paliadouri 44, Grevena. Tel. 24620 84477, 24620 23031. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
EKAVI (Aimilianou Square 1, Grevena. Tel. 24620 80593. 9/12/07 & 10/12/07)
 Thessaloniki to host the 2009 BALCINET SummitThessaloniki will be the host of the 2009 Summit of the Major Balkan City Mayors, Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos announced on Tuesday.
The decision was reached in the recent Balkan Cities Network (BALCINET) Meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia. The 2008 Summit will be held in Sarajevo while during the same year cultural events will be held in Ankara with the participation of the major Balkan cities.
 Arrests made in case of exploitation of young foreign womenA retired police officer, aged 51, and his Russian wife, 47, were arrested in Athens on Monday by officers of the department for the combating of human trafficking and organized crime, in cooperation with the Ilioupolis police station.
Also arrested was the 53 year-old owner of a bar, at which the retired police officer and his wife forced the young foreign women to work, by exerting psychological pressure.
The case was revealed on Monday morning, when two 19 year-old Russian women, twins, went to the Ilioupolis police station where they asked for help and stated that they had escaped from the retired police officer's house where they were locked up and were forced to work in the bar.
 Scattered showers, windy on WednesdayScattered showers and sporadic storms with norherly, northwesterly winds are forecast in all parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 8-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 01C and 15C. Scattered showers in Athens, with northerly 7-8 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 07C to 10C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 04C to 07C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glancePrime minister Costas Karamanlis' and transport minister Costis Hatzidakis' assurances to the employees of the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways that their interests would not be affected by the government's plans for a 'successor' of OA, and the 22 percent slump in oil demand in comparison to last year, were the main front-page items in Tuesday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Wave of resignations in the Armed Forces due to (planned) pension reforms - More than 1,490 officers already resigning", adding that officers are opting for retirement now rather than risking misadventures in an uncertain future in the framework of the government's planned reform of the social security/pension sector.
APOGEVMATINI: "No one will be sent home - Karamanlis' guarantee to the OA employees".
AVGHI: "Government of threats and failures", saying that threats to the workers and the citizens of the country is now the dominant characteristic of the government's policy, which is being led to constant failures, and adding that OA was being grounded, its employees are literally left hanging, and the promises are proving to be empty words.
AVRIANI: "It's the turn of the cement cartel, which has skyrocketed the price of construction and the cost of public works", adding that following the48.27 million euros fine imposed by the Competition Commission, albeit delayed, on the dairy industries, it's now the turn of the other monopolies, with the infamous cartel in the cement market at the centre.
CHORA: "The OA employees will not lose their jobs - Assurances by Hatzidakis", adding that the minister assured that none of the PA employees would lose their job or social security rights.
ELEFTHERI ORA: "They (US) are putting pressure on us from all sides - They sent the Turkish foreign minister (Ali Babacan, who arrived in Athens on Monday afternoon on an official visit), (UN) special mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz is coming (after his current visit to Skopje)...", adding that no Greek, no matter how well-intentioned or naive he may be, believes that the visits of Nimetz and Babacan are coinciding by chance, and opining that the Americans are not forgetting their sovereignty in the region, nor their blatant dominance in Turkey and Greece.
ELEFTHEROS: "Government setting up (early general) elections backdrop with critical dilemmas, in an effort to exploit the situation in (main opposition party) PASOK".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "End of OA by the summer - The plan for a 'successor scheme' and the final closure of the company - OA debts stand at 2.5 billion euros - 200 million euros annual deficit", adding that transport minister Hatzidakis calculates that by the coming summer, or end 2008 at the latest, the new airline that will comprise the 'successor scheme' (that will succeed) the present OA will be ready to 'spread its wings', after which OA will be placed in liquidation and its operation will be terminated.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Mammoth profits and breadcrumbs for salaries - Business enterprises prospering, working people tightening their belts", saying that business concerns posted record profits, and adding that the profits of 26,000 companies jumped by 60 percent, posting the biggest percentage in Europe, while, with those of the banks, profits reached 12.9 billion euros, while the salaries in the public and private sector increased by up to 5.9 percent.
ESTIA: "PASOK takes to the streets - Papandreou (PASOK leader) now sides with the KKE (Communist Party of Greece)", adding that Papandreou announced at a party meeting on Monday that PASOK will fully back the strike mobilisations, while a few days earlier he had made a similar statement to screaming ADEDY (civil servants unions' umbrella federation), also screaming, that PASOK has not forgotten what 'the street' means and will take part in their struggles.
ETHNOS: "Petrol by the dropper - Consumers also cutting back on heating in order to make ends meet", adding that consumers were now purchasing heating oil on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with average orders having fallen to 600 litres for one-family homes (from 1,200 litres per order last year) and 1,000 litres for apartment buildings (from 2,000-2,500 litres last year).
KATHIMERINI: "Heading towards a smaller OA, if the EU agrees - 'No employee (of OA) will be left without a job, no island will be left without air link'," adding that the political decision has been made and OA will close in the coming months, while the government is mulling OA's replacement with a 'miniature' OA, to be established by the summer of 2008.
LOGOS: "Strong reactions by employees and opposition parties over (government's decisions regarding) OA", adding that the closure of OA appears inevitable following the negative developments in Brussels (referring to the European Commission's insistence that the airline return aid received from the Greek state, which is considered illegal under EU competition legislation), and that the OA employees are on the warpath over the anticipated closure of the company, despite the transport minister's assurances.
NIKI: "The end of the journey - Governmental hijacking of OA", adding that OA was heading towards its last flight, as Hatzidakis intimated at the creation of a new airline, with the participation of private interests, while at the same time attempting to reassure the OA employees that they would not lose their jobs, and the residents of the country's islands that there would be no disruption of their air link with the mainland.
RIZOSPASTIS: "A Public Agency for transport and communications is the way out for Olympic Airways",
TA NEA: "They're improvising on OA's back - Pilots: Government's stance is suspicious".
TO VIMA: "Athens-Ankara bargaining on projects - Turkish FM arrives - Babacan interview with To Vima - He is accompanied by 40 Turkish entrepreneurs", adding that Turkish foreign minister Babacan arrived in Athens on Monday with his briefcase full of proposals for wider economic cooperatin between Greece and Turkey in the sectors of energy, construction, telecoms and water resources, and accompanied by 40 businessmen.
VRADYNI: "All the changes being advanced by the government on 'heavy and hazardous' jobs".
 Spokesman: There is will for a new initiative on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said Tuesday that even though there is no official invitation, with a view to launch a new initiative on the Cyprus question, there is the will for a new initiative on Cyprus at the beginning of 2008, in relation with the 8 July 2006 Agreement.
Palmas expressed the objection of the Greek Cypriot side to the upgrading of the Turkish Cypriot pseudostate in Cyprus' occupied areas, noting that it seems that the main reason for this stance, in favour of the upgrading, is the rejection of the Annan plan by the Greek Cypriot community and its approval by the Turkish Cypriot community.
Referring to the UN Secretary General's report on UNFICYP, Palmas said that one of the positive things of the report is the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP by a further period of six months with the same numerical force, the same mandate and the same operational structure."
He also noted that the report refers to the ongoing violations of the status quo by the Turkish army in Strovilia and Louroujina and the restrictions applied in Famagusta, the Karpas peninsula and elsewhere to the movement of the UN peace-keeping force.
"Despite the fact that, as usually, there is an effort to keep equal distances, it is clear that the stance of our side is generally described as constructive, despite the fact that the report says that political will is required from both sides to make progress," he added.
Palmas said that "a negative point in the report is of course the lifting of the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots."
"Our position is that we must put an end to this myth. From our point of view there is no isolation of Turkish Cypriots, either as individuals or collectively as a Turkish Cypriot community," he added.
Palmas said that despite this negative reference as regards the so called isolation of Turkish Cypriots, it must be noted that the report also noted, twice in the relevant paragraph, that any actions towards this direction must be in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.
Replying to questions, Palmas said that in a letter to the UN, Cyprus' Permanent Representatives at the international organization outlines the positions of the Republic of Cyprus about the report, noting some issues. He added that if the government considers it necessary it will make further representations at the political level.
Palmas also said that the Cyprus government will continue its efforts to explain to those engaged in an effort to upgrade the pseudostate that problems concerning the living standards of Turkish Cypriots and there so called isolation will be once and for all solved with the settlement of the Cyprus question.
On July 8 2006, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the presence of the then UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari signed an agreement, involving bicommunal discussions by technical committees of issues affecting the day-to-day life of the people and, concurrently, consideration by expert working groups of substantive issues of the Cyprus problem.
 Greek Cypriot side expresses reservations over UNSG's report on UNFICYPUNITED NATIONS (CNA)
Cyprus Permanent Representative to the UN Andreas Mavroyiannis has said that the Greek Cypriot side has reservations and objections regarding UN Secretary General's report n the United Nations operation in Cyprus, and particularly as regards his reference to the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Mavroyiannis welcomed Ban Ki-moon's recommendation that the Security Council extend the mandate of UNFICYP by a further period of six months, until 15 June 2008, but expressed the Greek Cypriot side's reservations and objections to the way the UNSG refers to some events and the terminology used.
"I particularly note the objection of our side to the reference of the so called 'isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community'. Our position is that is time to terminate this myth. There is no isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, either as individuals or collectively as a Turkish Cypriot community," Mavroyiannis stressed.
He noted that Turkey has set up an illegal entity in Cyprus' occupied areas, an action that has been denounced through UN Security resolutions 541 and 550, and that resolution 550 called on all states not to recognize this illegal entity.
Mavroyiannis noted that despite the fact that the report refers to the issue of lifting the so called isolation, it also makes clear that any actions towards this direction must comply with the UN Security Council resolutions, and stressed that "this is something of determining importance for us."
The Cypriot diplomat also expressed regret that while the report notes the significance of economic development as a factor that can contribute to a solution, there is no reference to the repercussions of occupation. In addition, no reference is made to the significance of the return of refugees and of their properties and to the consequences of the construction boom and the destruction of the cultural and religious heritage, which encumber efforts for a settlement.
Mavroyiannis also said that despite the fact that there is an effort to keep equal distances, it is clear that the stance of the Greek Cypriot side is generally described as a constructive one, despite the fact that it is said that political will is required from both sides with a view to achieve progress.
"Our side has shown its political will. What is needed is political will from the Turkish side, which unfortunately, as indicated in the framework of efforts to implement the 8 July Agreement, is absent, as well as a series of confidence building measures, including the opening of new crossing points across the cease-fire line," Mavroyiannis concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 Britain's Murphy: Reduction of Turkish troops in Cyprus would help build trustNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The UK/Turkey Strategic Partnership is intended to promote reunification of Cyprus and does not change in any way the long-term policy of Britain on the Cyprus question, which is unconditional support for the implementation of the UNÔs 8 July 2006 agreement, British Minister for Europe Jim Murphy has said.
Responding to questions tabled by British MPs before the House of Commons, Murphy said the UK fully supports the 8 July 2006 process, adding that time is not on the side of a settlement. "We continue to urge both sides to show the flexibility necessary for the technical committees and working groups envisaged under this agreement to begin work, and to prepare the ground for fully fledged settlement negotiations as soon as possible," he noted.
Murphy also said that the British Government estimates that there are between 20.000 and 30.000 Turkish troops in the occupied part of Cyprus and expressed the belief that a reduction in the number of Turkish troops would help build trust on the island.
As he noted, UK ministers have called for a goodwill gesture from Turkey in the form of a troop reduction, in order to build trust on the island.
He also said that property development in northern Cyprus has clearly accelerated since the rejection of the Annan plan, resulting in large numbers of new properties being built and added that the British High Commission in Nicosia regularly raises the issue of property development with the Turkish Cypriot leadership.
"We believe that the difficult and complex issue of property is only likely to be fully resolved in the context of a comprehensive settlement and we urge both sides to engage constructively with the United Nations to enable settlement negotiations to start as soon as possible," he noted.
He said that Turkey "has frequently expressed its support for a settlement in Cyprus on the basis of political equality and a bizonal, bicommunal federation, negotiated through the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General. Our contacts with the Turkish Government, both before and after President Gul's comments, suggest that it is still their objective", he added.
He noted that during his recent meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown underlined the importance of all parties seizing the opportunity for progress next year.
Murphy said the Strategic Partnership agreement with Turkey "emphasises our primary goal of a comprehensive and enduring Cyprus settlement, which would address many of the issues referred to." He noted that the British Government fully supports the EU's desire to end Turkish Cypriot "isolation" and facilitate the reunification of Cyprus.
"We believe that lifting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, and bringing them closer to the EU, will help to build economic and cultural links between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and will make a future settlement less costly to accommodate. Long-standing UK policy is to put market forces at the service of a settlement and promote people to people contacts at all times," he noted.
Murphy said the UK continues to support a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, established on the basis of political equality. "We have fully supported the UN's efforts to restart settlement negotiations between the two communities on this basis and have lent our full support to the 8 July agreement between the two leaders. We engage fully with Turkey , Greece, the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, encouraging them to play a full and positive part in the settlement process," he noted.
As regards Turkish EU bid, Murphy noted that the opening of Turkish ports to Cypriot shipping would clearly have important economic benefits for the region as a whole and noted that the British Government regularly raises with Turkey the importance of fulfilling its obligations to the EU.
Moreover the British minister expressed the belief that increased people to people contacts, and trade between the two communities and the rest of the EU, can make an important contribution towards solving the Cyprus problem.
Murphy noted that officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are in contact with Turkish Cypriot academics on how to raise Turkish Cypriot educational standards. As he said, these contacts have sought to promote an exchange of ideas between educational establishments on practical issues. According to the British Minister the aim is to ensure Turkish Cypriot universities are able to maintain standards comparable with those institutions that are members of the Bologna process.
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS