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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 07-12-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Monday, 10 December 2007 Issue No: 2769

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis addresses EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on migration, climate change
  • [02] Action against climate change an everyday concern, Papandreou stresses
  • [03] Rally for Global Day of Action Against Climate Change in Athens
  • [04] FM: Greece does not accept lessons in democratic sensitivity from anyone
  • [05] SYN criticizes government policy relative to NATO
  • [06] ND secretary addresses event on new governance
  • [07] SAE meeting on education ends with resolution on Cyprus issue
  • [08] Kassimis attends SAE event in Thessaloniki
  • [09] Transport minister speaks on OA future in three newspaper interviews
  • [10] Event in Thessaloniki on alleviating eco-crisis in Lake Koronia
  • [11] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [12] First caryatid transferred to new Acropolis Museum
  • [13] Interior ministry leadership visits Crete
  • [14] Interior minister visits injured special guard in Iraklio
  • [15] Escaped convict from Albanian prison arrested in Athens
  • [16] Aegean Airlines plane lands safely in spite of minor problem
  • [17] Pakistani community stages anti-racism rally
  • [18] AEK win over Kalamaria keeps club in first place
  • [19] Rainy, windy on Monday
  • [20] Russian FM rejects imposition of deadlines for solving international problems
  • [21] UN: Assisting Turkish Cypriots' secession is contrary to SC resolutions Politics

  • [01] Karamanlis addresses EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on migration, climate change

    Migration and climate change were the two issues that Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised at the 2nd EU-Africa summit held in Lisbon on Saturday, which was also the Day for Global Action against Climate Change, while he repeated Greece's support for a common European policy to protect the environment.

    "The destruction of the environment and resulting climate change are the greatest of the challenges facing the entire planet today," Karamanlis stressed, calling for urgent action and coordinated policies on a global level to tackle this issue.

    The Kyoto Protocol had been a common starting point in this direction but none of the things done up until today was enough, he added.

    The Greek prime minister also referred to Greece's own bad experiences of climate change repercussions with the mega-fires that had raged across the country during the summer:

    "In Greece last summer we experienced the consequences of climate change with the unspeakable tragedy left in the wake of an unprecedented outbreak of fires," he said, noting that the destruction of the environment was a multi-faceted challenge that affected all types of economic activity, whether this was in industry, agriculture, fishing, tourism or transport and one that directly affected the quality of everyone's life, human security and the future of the earth.

    "This is not a future and theoretical challenge but a tangible reality," Karamanlis emphasised, adding that climate change and environmental degradation were threats that did not recognise borders and exceeded the ability of individual nations and their state mechanisms to respond.

    He said Greece was in favour of formulating and carrying out a common European policy on these issues that would lead Europe to the forefront of the global struggle to protect the environment.

    Karamanlis also highlighted important EU decisions in this direction, such as pledges to increase the use of renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    "Europe has, moreover, recognised the very negative repercussions of climate change on developing countries, especially African and small island nations, and has promised to find ways to help them better adapt to the changes and become less vulnerable," he said.

    The Greek prime minister then pointed to what he described as a "favourable force" on a European and global level, as ordinary people became sensitised to the issues and demanded that their governments take action.

    Emphasising energy issues, Karamanlis pointed out that these were inextricably linked with protecting the environment and said that Greece was an active participant and supporter of EU efforts to strengthen regional cooperation mechanisms, such as the SE European energy community initiated by Greece.

    Karamanlis said that this convention was signed in Athens in 2005 and provided for cooperation between the countries in the region on energy interconnection and creating and single market for electric power and natural gas. The aim of this was to ensure energy supply diversity and to create a stable legal framework, protect the environment and boost conditions of stability in the region.

    Karamanlis on migration issues

    Referring to migration issues, Karamanlis called for creating conditions that would allow an organised approach toward migrants, one that made it possible to ensure that these people truly had a chance at a better future when they left their homelands while at the same time tackling the problem of illegal immigration, management of legal migration and promote integration in the host countries.

    In this way, migration will contribute to the development of both the countries of origin of the migrants and the countries that they settled in, he said.

    In his statements, the Greek premier noted that migration "is undoubtedly the first priority in EU-Africa relations and our country is particularly affected by this phenomenon."

    He said that Europe and Africa should align themselves and form a united front against all forms of illegal activity linked to illegal immigration and human-trafficking, intensifying their efforts in this area in a spirit of common understanding and shared responsibility, and stressed that the signature and implementation of re-admission agreements was imperative.

    The Greek premier said the 2nd EU-Africa summit was needed in order to extend cooperation between the two continents and establish a strategic relation that met contemporary challenges.

    "Coping with humanitarian crises and conflicts between states, trade and immigration are just some of the shared challenges that will determine the future of our relations with Africa," he added.

    Taking part in the EU-Africa summit were the leaders of 50 African countries and most of the leaders of the EU member-states. Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia boycotted the meeting as a protest against the presence of Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe.

    [02] Action against climate change an everyday concern, Papandreou stresses

    The fight to prevent climate change was both a political issue but also an everyday concern, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said on Saturday in a message to mark Global Day of Action Against Climate Change.

    He stressed that PASOK had moved in this direction with its promise to create an independent environment ministry and that it had included an environmental parameter in its policy statements, as well as special measures for climate change.

    According to PASOK's leader, the main opposition party was also campaigning to establish a new model for growth in Greece that will protect the environment and highlight its role as a comparative advantage.

    Referring to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali and the steps being taken on a worldwide basis to tackle the problem, Papandreou stressed the need to reduce emissions of pollutants and called on the Greek government to fulfil the goals of the Kyoto Protocol.

    [03] Rally for Global Day of Action Against Climate Change in Athens

    Activists in Athens marked the Global Day of Action Against Climate Change on Saturday by staging a protest rally with a difference, featuring street theatre, music, juggling and stilt-walking acts. Thousands of people of all ages and social backgrounds gathered together in the city centre to join the protest for saving the planet.

    Traffic was interrupted in the roads around Syntagma Square shortly after 13:00 when the protestors started arrived in separate groups, one for each of the 102 organisations and movements taking part, and the streets began to become congested with people.

    Encouraged by the bright sunshine and the relatively warm December afternoon, several Athenians from all walks of life swelled the ranks of those clamouring to save the planet and taking part in the worldwide protest against climate change.

    Colourful banners with various slogans also highlighted the local environmental dangers faced by Athens and Greece in general, with the demands of local movements for their neighbourhoods mixing in the more general demands on a national level for restricting greenhouse gas emissions, establishing alternative energy sources and create bike lanes.

    [04] FM: Greece does not accept lessons in democratic sensitivity from anyone

    Greece does not accept lessons in democratic sensitivity from anyone, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said in an interview appearing in the Sunday editiion of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, responding to a question on statements by Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan during a private visit to Thrace last week following an official visit to Athens.

    To a question on the fact that Thrace is the only region in Europe where the Moslem law of sharia is applied, Bakoyannis said that "this is an issue that strongly concerns us", adding that it was an object of dialogue and that "no decision can be made in absentia of the citizens".

    Asked whether the Babacan visit influenced prime minister Costas Karamanlis' outstanding visit to Turkey, Bakoyannis replied that "the trip will take place" while, to another question on whether Karamanlis' visit would also have a 'private leg', she replied that the program of the visit has not yet been drafted.

    On Greek-Turkish relations in general, Bakoyannis said that there is the expressed will on Greece's part for improvement of those relations, adding that "we are expecting the other side to respond correspondingly".

    Regarding Turkey's long-standing casus belli threat, the foreign minister said it was incomprehensible that there should be a threat of war against Greece, and EU member state, by a candidate for EU membership.

    Regarding the FYROM name issue, she said a solution of the matter would not lead to "losers and winners", but said that she ascertained, however, from the public statements by FYROM officials, that Skopje was stuck in intransigent positions, adding that the other side "to now, has not shown any disposition for change".

    She further rejected the Skopje claims of a 'Macedonian minority'. If one existed, she continued, "it would have appeared and would have been recorded", and warned that "minorities cannot be manufactured".

    Asked whether Greece would recognize an independent Kosovo if Kosovo declared independence, Bakoyannis replied that it was important that there be international legitimization of whatever decisions are taken, and opined that a "positive prospect does not appear" on the horizon. She further advocated the continued presence of the Greek contingent in the peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

    [05] SYN criticizes government policy relative to NATO

    The Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology party - the largest participant in the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) alliance in the Greek Parliament - on Saturday criticised the government's policy relative to NATO, claiming that "Atlanticism" was not the future of either the Balkans or of Europe.

    SYN's head of foreign policy issues Panos Trigazis claimed the government was "fully aligned with the choices of NATO" and that this did not serve either "the case of peace nor our national interests".

    [06] ND secretary addresses event on new governance

    "We won't throw money into a bottom-less barrel," ruling New Democracy (ND) party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis said on Sunday, in a reference to the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) while addressing an event in Ioannina organised by the local branch of the Constantine Karamanlis Foundation.

    Zagoritis further said that the government was waging a battle to find the best possible solution for OA, and criticised choices of the past, stressing that the fundamental goal was full streamlining of the air transports sector.

    The theme of the event was "the political environment following the September 16 elections and the new governance", and Zagoritis was the guest speaker.

    Zagoritis focused on the political scene in Greece, and on the ND government's priorities, stressing that the reforms announced by the government would be materialized, aiming at not only solving the present-day problems but also at meeting the challenges of the future.

    Zagoritis said that the citizens made a positive assessment of ND's efforts and re-elected the government in September, giving it a clear parliamentary majority.

    He said it was main opposition PASOK and its leader George Papandreou that had a problem, and fell into their own trap they attempted to set up.

    PASOK, he said, was trying to overcome its own crisis at a time when the heavy words exchanged by its high-ranking officials were still fresh. The then PASOK government changed the electoral law in 2004, wishing to limit ND's victory, and now the main opposition party was called on to manage its own internal issues, Zagoritis said, adding that the present electoral law had been tested in action, and proved that it created a risk of lack of government in the country.

    Zagoritis added that the government, possibly on Monday, would table in parliament the new electoral law, which he said would not affect the proportionality of the vote but would produce strong governments.

    On the planned social security sector reforms, Zagoritis said they entailed mild changes which would tackle the very serious problems of the future.

    The government, he continued, had opened up dialogue on the social security reforms. It would have been easy to postpone the discussion, Zagoritis said, "but we opted for the road of responsibility".

    He said it was mandatory that changes be made now, in a mild way, otherwise, in a few years' time, the social security system would collapse, with dramatic consequences for everyone.

    Zagoritis reiterated that the government was open to proposals and ideas, and assured that the general retirement ages would not be raised, nor would social security contributions be increased or pensions reduced. Rather, he said, the distortions and exaggerations would be corrected.

    [07] SAE meeting on education ends with resolution on Cyprus issue

    The first joint meeting of the presidency and seven regional coordinating councils of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) ended in Thessaloniki on Sunday with the adoption of a resolution regarding the Cyprus issue and calls for further improvement in the teaching of Greek to the expatriate community.

    In the resolution, SAE members hailed and supported the continued readiness of the Cyprus government to enter into substantive negotiations in order to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue based on the resolution of the United Nations charter and the principles of the European Union.

    It also stressed that the continued occupation by Turkey of 40 percent of the territory of the Cyprus Republic was unacceptable and asked for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops and illegal settlers from the island, the return of refugees to their homes, information on the fate of those still missing and restoration of human rights for all Cypriots.

    All speakers at the meeting agreed on the need to further improve the teaching of Greek to expatriates, especially making this attractive to third and fourth-generation children of Greek background now living in other countries.

    Representatives of the Greek education ministry said they were open to new proposals while noting that the number of teachers hired in the past year increased from 50 to 80, with a further increase scheduled for 2008.

    [08] Kassimis attends SAE event in Thessaloniki

    The foreign ministry's efforts for Greeks abroad are currently centred on communication, information and networking, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis said on Saturday in Thessaloniki. He was addressing the first joint meeting of the presidency and regional councils of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), which focused on youth issues, education and the teaching of Greek to the children of expatriates abroad.

    Kassimis announced the publication, by the end of the year, of a three-monthly bilingual magazine linking Greece with all Greeks throughout the world that will be available in English-Greek, Spanish-Greek and Russian-Greek versions with an initial print run of 30,000 copies.

    The aim is to make the magazine a conduit of communication that will convey Greece's positions to Greeks living abroad, especially on issues where it would like to mobilise the support of Greek communities throughout the world.

    The SAE meeting will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the Thessaloniki International Fair facilities and started with a speech by SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis. Also invited to take part are a number of prominent Greeks from all five continents, including SAE honorary president Andrew Athens, German MEP Giorgos Hatzimarkakis and a number of academics.

    Financial News

    [09] Transport minister speaks on OA future in three newspaper interviews

    The solution that will be given regarding the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) will be founded on the solution given in the case of the Belgian carrier SABENA, but with a large and crucial difference, transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis said in separate interviews appearing in the Sunday edition of three Athens newspapers.

    The difference, he continued, was that whereas the Belgian airline was closed down for a month, OA would not be shut down even one day. Further, the OA employees would not find themselves out on the street without a job, as had happened in the case of SABENA.

    "A condition of the solution that will be given is that the company, in its present form, will continue to fly normally until the 'next-day' solution is found", Hatzidakis said.

    In all three interviews, the minister stressed that he never spoke of a 'closure' of or 'lock' on OA, while in the interview with the Sunday edition of Kathimerini he added that the government was not opting for 'bankruptcy" of OA, but liquidation of the company.

    He did not rule out that the succeeding company would be called Pantheon, nor that its logo would be similar to the OA's six interconnected circles (representing the six continents of the world). At any rate, Hatzidakis continued, coverage of the island air links and other domestic and foreign destinations was ensured.

    Hatzidakis said that the government's desire was that the new corporate scheme would be purely private, but added that the final scheme depended on the terms of the market, while he also assured that the technical basis and ground handling would be maintained.

    Asked whether the latest development in the OA issue had been necessary, he attributed the development to the European Commission's decision not to accept the arbitration files of the period 2004-2007 without even opening them up, due to the intervention of the Irish airline Ryanair.

    Regarding the OA employees, Hatzidakis said he wanted them to be participants in the taking of the final decisions, and assured that not one of the employees would be left jobless, adding that prime minister Costas Karamanlis' instructions to the responsible ministers was "not to be stingy, and to act humanely".

    Hatzigakis explained that the solution for the OA employees had three tiers: one section of the employees would continue to work at the new successor airline, those employees wishing to do so would be able to opt for voluntary retirement, while the rest would be transferred to other public sector services. Also, he added, steps would also be taken for OA's contract employees.

    [10] Event in Thessaloniki on alleviating eco-crisis in Lake Koronia

    The agricultural development ministry, in cooperation with the Thessaloniki Prefecture, organised an event titled 'Saving Lake Koronia - Measures for supporting farm production' on Sunday in Lagadas to brief local farmers on ways of compensating and ensuring farm incomes and on turning to environmentally-friendly cultivations.

    Thessaloniki Prefecture planning department director Apostolos Yiantsis presented an overview of the projects underway for restoration of Lake Koronia, which is facing a serious ecological crisis due to pollution from agricultural and stockbreeding work and from industries, causing a high concentration of toxins that is also compounded by a declining water level resulting from inadequate rainfall and unseasonally high temperatures in recent years.

    Yiantsis presented two projects approved by the environment, town planning and public works ministry, budgeted at 2.45 million euros and 8 million euros respective, the tendering of which were currently in progress, while the approval of three more projects was expected soon, aimed at restoration of Lake Koronia, one of the most important wetlands in northern Greece.

    Agricultural development deputy minister Costas Kiltidis is due to call a meeting with representatives of the Lake's managing agency and all other agencies involved sometime in the next two weeks, with the aim of implementation of environmentally-friendly policies as well as supporting the farming and animal-breeding activities in the surrounding area.

    Addressing the event, Kiltidis stressed that organic farming and animal-breeding were, by their nature, actions friendly to the environment, adding that his ministry intended to back and materialize all hydronomic projects relevant to protecting the lake, while at the same time supporting farm and animal production in the region.

    He further noted that subsidized alternative methods of irrigation were foreseen in the new programs for improvement of agricultural production.

    Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis said that three aforementioned projects would commence in 2008, materialized by the prefecture, and promised that the Lake would be gradually restored, provided the State assisted the effort.

    "In a matter of 18 months, we presented a viable solution that is acceptable to the environment ministry experts and also to the European Union. the Prefecture has done its duty, with the means at its disposal," Psomiadis said, adding that the solution to the problem has been set in motion with approximately 65 milllion euros in funding for the revised Lake Koronia Restoration Plan, of which 27 million euros have already been approved by the Cohesion Fund.

    Psomiadis noted the positive course of the projects aimed at solving the problem, with particularly focus on the revised Lake Koronia Restoration Plan, which he explained was being carried out by a total of eight agencies, including four ministries which are responsible for materialization of 21 projects and actions.

    [11] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.476

    Pound sterling 0.725

    Danish kroner 7.519

    Swedish kroner 9.476

    Japanese yen 164.69

    Swiss franc 1.668

    Norwegian kroner 8.081

    Cyprus pound 0.589

    Canadian dollar 1.482

    Australian dollar 1.684

    General News

    [12] First caryatid transferred to new Acropolis Museum

    The transfer of the first of five caryatids from the old Acropolis museum to the New Acropolis Museum in Makrygianni began on Saturday at 11:00 in the morning, using the three-crane relay system set up to carry the priceless antiquities down the hill via the Theatre of Dionysus.

    The caryatid - a sculpted female form that serves as an architectural support for entablature in the place of a pillar - will be placed on the first level of the new museum in an internal "porch" that visitors will see when they first climb up the grand stair at the entrance. There were originally six caryatids on the Athens Acropolis that supported the porch of the Erechtheion Temple, where they have now been replaced by replicas. The best preserved of the six statues was taken by Lord Elgin in the 18th century and is now held at the British Museum, while the remaining five originals have been on display at the Acropolis Museum.

    [13] Interior ministry leadership visits Crete

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, accompanied by Deputy Interior Minister Panagiotis Hinofotis who is in charge of the public order portfolio and Crete regional general secretary Serafeim Tsokas, on Saturday paid a visit to Crete, including the prefecture of Rethymno in the afternoon.

    He was briefed on the prefecture's problems by Rethymno Prefect George Papadakis and then inaugurated a new Town Hall at Arkadio and chaired a meeting of the local municipalities union, stressing that the central concern of the ministry was to upgrade the quality of services provided to the public by both local authorities and central government.

    [14] Interior minister visits injured special guard in Iraklio

    Earlier that morning, Pavlopoulos had paid a visit to special guard Efstathios Lazaridis in Iraklio University Hospital, where the guard is gradually recovering from gun shot injuries inflicted in a shootout with drug dealers on the island of Crete.

    The minister was again accompanied by Hinofotis and Tsokas, as well as the head of the Greek Police Anastasios Dimoschakis.

    Pavlopoulos later praised doctors and the management at the hospital for their "superhuman efforts" to restore the special guard to health and stressed that the State was prepared to support Lazaridis and his family for as long as was necessary.

    He also issued a stern warning that law-breakers, whoever they might be and wherever they might go, would be found, arrested and made an example of.

    A police announcement, meanwhile, said that machine guns, military rifles, swords, knives and ammunition were just some of the items found during raids by police in the region of Zoniana on Saturday.

    The arms included four Kalashnikov rifles, one equipped with a bayonet, a Zastawa machine gun with a full clip, three pistols, five japanese swords, two Mauzer rifles, six Cretan knives, cartridges and other ammunition, a bullet-proof vest and a set of electronic precision scales. They were found in abandoned houses on the outskirts of the village.

    [15] Escaped convict from Albanian prison arrested in Athens

    An Albanian escaped convict and former police officer, who has been wanted by the Albanian authorities on an international arrest warrant since January 2002, was arrested by Athens security police on Saturday.

    The 34-year-old ex-policeman had escaped from Tirana prison, where he was serving a 15-year sentence imposed by a Sarande court for attempted abduction, causing grave bodily harm and carrying a weapon. The crimes were committed in July 1997, together with an Albanian accomplice.

    The detainee was taken before a public prosecutor, and procedures will be set in motion for his extradition to Albania.

    [16] Aegean Airlines plane lands safely in spite of minor problem

    An Aegean Airlines plane managed to land safely at the scheduled time of arrival at Athens International Airport on Saturday, in spite of minor technical problems reported earlier by its pilot.

    The Boeing 737-300 carrying 27 passengers had taken off from Milan at 11:33 and was carrying out flight 661 to Athens.

    When it reached Athens and started its descent, the pilot contacted the Athens control tower to report a problem with the flaps and circled the airport once to find out what was wrong. He turned down the control tower's offer to initiate procedures for an emergency landing, saying that the problem appeared to have resolved and landed normally, at the scheduled time of 15:13.

    [17] Pakistani community stages anti-racism rally

    The Pakistani community of Greece on Sunday organized an anti-racism rally in the Egaleo working suburb of Athens, prompted by incidents of violence against Pakistanis in Athens' western neighborhoods.

    Representatives of political parties, the mayor of Egaleo, local school techers and members of the "Stop the War" Alliance attended the rally.

    Pakistani community president Jawed Aslam said that "we are peaceful people, we are not in Greece to cause problems...we work and support ourselves, without bothering anyone".

    However, he added, he had received a telephone call a few days ago, threatening that the incidents of vioence against Pakistanis would continue, adding that the Pakistani community sought the protection of the Greek state.

    Soccer

    [18] AEK win over Kalamaria keeps club in first place

    AEK Athens got an easy 4-0 home win against Apollon Kalamaria (Thessaloniki) on Sunday evening to retain its lead over rivals Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens by three points.

    In other action:

    PAOK Thessaloniki - Veria 2-0

    Olympiakos Piraeus - Levadiakos Livadia 4-0

    Ergotelis Crete - Atromitos Athens 0-0

    Xanthi - OFI Crete 1-0

    Larissa - Aris Thessaloniki 1-0

    Asteras Tripoli - Panionios Athens 1-0

    Iraklis Thessaloniki - Panathinaikos Athens 0-1

    Standings after 11 weeks of play:

    AEK 27 points

    Olympiakos 24

    Panathinaikos 24

    Asteras 21

    Atromitos 17

    Aris 16

    PAOK 16

    Panionios 15

    Iraklis 14

    Xanthi 12

    Larissa 12

    Apollon 11

    Levadiakos 10

    OFI 8

    Veria 7

    Ergotelis 7

    Weather Forecast

    [19] Rainy, windy on Monday

    Rain and wind are forecast throughout most of Greece on Monday, with local storms in the western Greece and the islands of the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese, and wind velocity reaching up to 8 beaufort in the Aegean.

    Cloudy in Athens, with chance of local showers, and westerly-northwesterly winds between 4 and beaufort. Temperatures will range from 8 C to 17 C. the same in Thessaloniki, with some snowfall on high ground, and temperatures ranging between 7 C and 13 C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [20] Russian FM rejects imposition of deadlines for solving international problems

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed here Sunday his opposition to the imposition of deadlines by third parties for the settlement of international problems such as the Cyprus question and the question of Kosovo.

    In statements to the press after the official talks he had here with his Cypriot counterpart, Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, Lavrov also said, speaking through an interpreter, that Russia fervently supports Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos' initiative to ask with a letter he sent in October to UN Secretary General for a new impetus to the process aiming to reach a Cyprus settlement, through the implementation of the 8 July Agreement.

    Replying to a question, Lavrov said that the UN Secretary General is not allowed to determine the timeframe for the completion of any talks, and that decisions are not part of the UNSG's reports but of the UN Security Council resolutions, adding that such a resolution is now being drafted on Cyprus and it will not provide for any deadlines.

    "The parties concerned are the ones that can determine the timeframes," Lavrov added, noting that in the case of Cyprus there are certain agreements reached by the leaders of the two communities which have the support of the UN and all other parties must support the implementation of these agreements and not put any obstacles towards this direction.

    Lavrov also reiterated his country's position that a Cyprus settlement must be based on the UN Security Council resolutions and expressed Russia's concern for the delaying in efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement and the non-progress in the implementation of the 8 July Agreement.

    Replying to a question, Lavrov said that "in order to be successful we must not look for who has the blame" for the non-implementation of the Agreement but "we must urge all parties to find a mutually accepted settlement."

    The Russian Foreign Minister also said that he also discussed with Marcoullis other international problems as the Middle East and Kosovo, adding that Russia and Cyprus have common positions on these issues.

    On her part, Marcoullis said he briefed Lavrov on developments in the Cyprus question and expressed the gratitude of the Cyprus government and people for the unreserved support of Russia and the Russian people for a Cyprus settlement based on the international law, the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions.

    Replying to a question, she reiterated the political will and readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to respond to UN initiatives and efforts for a Cyprus settlement on the basis of UN resolutions and by implementing the 8 July Agreement.

    She said the Greek Cypriot side is ready to proceed with the immediate implementation of the Agreement but "the Turkish Cypriot side has not responded using the presidential elections (to be held in February 2008 in Cyprus) as a pretext."

    Both ministers also underlined the excellent, traditional relations between the two countries and their bilateral cooperation in all fields. Lavrov noted that Cyprus ranks second world-wide in the list of countries which are making investments to the Russian market, and added that on their part Russians also invest in Cyprus.

    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.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [21] UN: Assisting Turkish Cypriots' secession is contrary to SC resolutions

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Michele Montas, over the weekend reiterated the UNSG's regret that the ongoing debate on lifting the Turkish Cypriots‘ ''isolation'' has become a debate on recognition, noting that recognition, or assisting secession, would be contrary to Security Council resolutions.

    Speaking during her daily briefing, Montas said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Cyprus, Michael MÔller, briefed Council members on the Secretary-General's latest report on Cyprus, which said that, over the last six months, there has been no progress on implementing the Agreement of 8 July 2006, noting that ''in that context, all parties need to show greater flexibility and political courage.''

    ''The Secretary-General adds that it is regrettable that the ongoing debate on lifting the Turkish Cypriots' isolation has become a debate on recognition. Recognition, or assisting secession, would be contrary to Security Council resolutions, he says. He also says that, given the lack of a comprehensive settlement, the UN Mission's mandate should be extended by a further 6 months,'' Montas said.

    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.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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