President Stephanopoulos and Cretien discussed bilateral relations and the prospect of their development, as he said, in the political, economic and cultural sectors.
However, the issue of Canada selling nuclear technology to Turkey preoccupied the two leaders and Cretien said afterwards that the Greek president expressed Greece's concerns to him.
"Canada is committed on the possible establishment of the plant in a region which will be safe from a geological point of view. Namely from problems concerning the ground's seismic activity," Cretien said and added that he guarantees that international specifications will be strictly implemented for the establishment of such a plant.
Cretien told reporters that no major problems exist between Greece and Canada and that he looks forward to a development in their relations.
President Stephanopoulos said he was pleased to discuss issues of mutual concern with the Canadian Prime Minister in the framework of traditional friendship between the two countries and with the prospect of a further development of their relations.
Referring to the issue of Cyprus, Cretien said his country favors the solution of a federation, invoking the model of Canada's federal system, adding that his country's policy is for a political solution to be found to the Cyprus issue and for the two communities to live harmoniously with each other.
Cretien expressed satisfaction over the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations through meetings and rapprochement between the two countries' foreign ministers and, commenting on the question of Cyprus' demilitarization, said the two interested parties should resolve the issue.
President Stephanopoulos also visited Canada's Parliament where he was welcomed by Senate President Gildas Molgat and House President Jilbert Paren.
Earlier, President Stephanopoulos was received by Canada's General Governor Adrienne Clarkson who said in an address that Greece's influence is obvious in Canada, not only by the Greeks but also from the music, art and culture conveyed by overseas Greeks. She added that in past years cultural, academic and commercial relations have increased considerably, with the latter increasing 20 percent in 1999.
President Stephanopoulos said Greece feels deep respect for the Canadian people and that the Greek community regards Canada as its second motherland.
He went on to say that he considers this visit important as he looks forward to the strengthening of ties between the two countries and their development in all aspects.
Greeks in Ottawa, meanwhile, gave Stephanopoulos an enthusiastic welcome on Sunday, coming out in droves to attend a service at the city's Church of the Dormition of the Virgin, officiated by Orthodox Metropolitan of Canada Sotirios.
In his address to the assembled crowd, Stephanopoulos assured Canada's Greek community that the Greeks at home do not forget their countrymen living overseas, saying that his own affection and satisfaction over their achievements were echoed by the entire Greek nation.
"The news from Greece is good. Our country is getting ahead. Our country is progressing. Greeks are united. I would like Greeks everywhere to be united," the president said in an inspired departure from his prepared speech, adding that the closest bond between Greeks on any spot on earth, apart from their faith, is the Greek language that has survived for thousands of years.
Calling on the Greeks of Canada to "hold fast to this culture and heritage," especially their language, he acknowledged that this could be hard for those living abroad and studying in other languages.
A happy note was struck when it transpired that the Canadian Mountie assigned to guard Stephanopoulos was a Greek-Canadian also called Stephanopoulos, who hailed from the president's homeland of Achaia.
The Greek president was also greatly gratified when the Manitoba transport minister announced that Greece could count on Canadian support in its campaign to have the Parthenon Marbles returned to Athens. According to the minister, a Canadian committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently being held at the British Museum, had issued a proclamation declaring its unreserved support for Greek demands and its intention to fight until the marbles were returned to the Parthenon.
Stephanopoulos heard the news with obvious pleasure and described the campaign to restore the marbles to their rightful place a "national affair".
After the service, Stephanopoulos met with teachers at the Greek community school and later attended a dinner in his honor organized by Ottawa's Greek community.
Earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister will meet with Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Reppas said, while on Wednesday he will chair a meeting of a bi-ministerial committee to discuss preparations for the Athens Olympics in 2004, before a debate on the Olympics in Parliament that evening.
On Thursday, Simitis will leave Athens to attend an international 'third way' summit on June 2-3 in Berlin, called "Conference for Progressive Governance in the 21st century", that will be attended by 14 other heads of center-left governments, including Bill Clinton.
Each of the recipients will also be awarded a $250,000 cash prize.
A relevant ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 7 in Athens.
The Foundation opted against awarding prizes for 1999, citing the conflicts in the Balkans.
Onassis Foundation establishes new requirements for contests of theatrical works
Alexandros A. Onassis Foundation "Theater play awards" com-petition solicited 540 entries complying with the new regulations, set forth, while the "dance and music" awards competition solicited 46 works,
Foundation President Stelios Papadimitriou said on Monday.
He noted that requirements changed since the first competition for theatrical works as "the level of quality of entries was unfair to the Foundation," adding that this year the basic requirement was that at least one of the playwrights' works to have been on stage.
"The result was successful. The number of theatrical entries submitted last year for the competition was 540 compared to 1,400 the year before last," he said, adding that the awards will be given in 2001.
He also announced that beyond the dance and music awards the foundation would establish two more awards for the fine arts "so as to enrich the awards institution, as has been clearly stated by Onassis' last will and testament."
Papadimitriou also noted that the Foundation would build a new center for its cultural activities on a plot near central Athens' Syngrou Ave.
Simitis, who was speaking after talks with Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Vasso Papandreou on issues concerning public administration, referred to the need of better functioning for municipalities and prefectures since, as he said, most citizens appeal to them to have their problems resolved.
"We want public administration to be close to the citizen who should feel that the state cares about him," Simitis said, denying that the state of public administration is bad and invoking a report on the relationship between public administration and citizens according to which many state that there is a response and no problem exists.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate does not take a position on the controversial issue of IDs in Greece, because it considers it (the issue) an internal matter of the (Autocephalus Orthodox) Church of Greece," a statement issued by the secretariat of the Patriarchate's Holy Synod read.
Referring to the address by Vartholomeos over the weekend at the Halki Theological School, the statement added that the Patriarch was simply emphasizing the need for Turkish authorities to allow the reopening of the Orthodox seminary school on the small island of Halki, located off Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.
The Turkish government "will become aware that it is in the interest of all for this long-standing issue to be solved," Vartholomeos said on Halki, addressing high-ranking dignitaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from throughout the world.
Along these lines, he expressed a hope that Ankara will soon take the necessary steps for the reopening of the School, which was closed by the Turkish government in 1971.
Sources at the Patriarchate's Fanar headquarters said the Patriarch's speech was written before the controversy over the IDs surfaced.
The Greek government's intent to issue new identification cards that exclude religious affiliation in the predominately Orthodox country of 11 million has generated intense criticism from the Church's leadership, especially Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who has demanded that Greek citizens retain the right to voluntarily list their religious denomination.
Archbishopric statement: In response to the Patriarchate's announcement on Monday, the director of the Athens Archbishopric's press office agreed that Vartholomeos' statements referred exclusively to the Halki School's reopening.
"What was said by the Ecumenical Patriarch on Halki regarding the issue of the Theological School's reopening obviously deals with the Ecumenical Patriarchate's relations with the Turkish state... this is categorically verified by the official announcement on May 29 by the secretariat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Holy Synod."
The director of the office, H. Konidaris, also referred to the Church of Greece's support over the Halki issue, before focusing criticism on the Athens News Agency (ANA).
"...Furthermore, for all those non-ecclesiastical circles attempting to play dangerous and deceitful games with the supreme institutions of the nation and Orthodoxy, let us stress that the 'custodians are aware'. We recommend, especially to those of authority at the ANA (Athens News Agency), an official state information service, to carefully read in their entirety all texts, such as the speech by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
"Texts of such seriousness and substance must not, under any circumstance, be altered - particularly in such a crude manner - in order to promote other expediencies," Konidaris added.
ANA response: Following the issuance of the release by the Archbishopric's press office, ANA General Director A. Christodoulides said:
"It's with surprise that we read the statement by the director of the Athens Archbishopric's press office in reference to the dispatch by our correspondent in Istanbul, which dealt with yesterday's (Sunday) address by the Ecumenical Patriarch..."
"Coverage of the speech was given through three dispatches, and in none of those did our correspondent link the Patriarch's address with the issue of identification cards.
"The ANA bears no responsibility for the manner in which other mass media outlets handled the issue," Christodoulides said, adding:
"We would, at least, expect that the director of the Archbishopric's press office pay greater attention when he speaks of 'alteration for promoting expediencies'," he concluded.
Speaking to the press, following a meeting of the European Union Internal Affairs Council, Stathopoulos said that tensions did not rise because of his initial statements, "which did not include anything more than self-evident truths," but from reactions "of an emotional nature".
"Before they realized, in a coolheaded and sober manner that the Church and Orthodoxy is not in danger, that there is no intention of persecution of the Church, possibly because of the emotional tension, they understood the issue differently and there were those reactions," he added.
He stressed that the omission of religious persuasion from the new IDs was mandated by the relevant 1997 law protecting citizens' personal and by the Greek constitution, adding that "the EU agrees, it wants it and requests it, but this was not the reason" behind the decision for the omission.
Christodoulos attacks government: Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Christodoulos on Monday accused the government of deliberately opting to open the issue of the abolition of reference to one's religious persuasion on identity cards after the April 9 election, fearing unfavorable reactions by the electorate at the polls, reports said.
"This is why they decided that the timing for this coup d' etat was best one month after the election. For otherwise, the result of the election would have been different... The so-called reformists and Europeanists are hell-bent on imposing their will on us," he was quoted by a Church radio station as saying in private to a monastic community on the island of Aigina.
The radio station later referred inquiring reporters to the Athens Archbishopric, which, however, said it was not aware of Christodoulos' remarks.
The report also quoted the Archbishop as warning against the dangers of Greeks losing their national identity and their particular characteristics inside Europe.
"Europe may fill our pockets but it may also empty our souls, and this must not be allowed to happen," he was quoted as saying, also calling for unity and faith in the leadership of the Church to handle the issue successfully.
Church of Crete: An assembly of Cretan priests on Monday expressed support for the decision of the Holy Synod of their Semi-Autonomous Orthodox Church of Crete to call for the mandatory reference of religious beliefs on state IDs.
The Holy Synod of the Church of Crete comes directly under the authority of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and not under the Church of Greece.
The Cretan priests also expressed their concern over what they called "the systematic electronic filing" being prepared, of which the new identity cards were part.
They also called on the government to take seriously into consideration the feelings of the religious Greek people.
Others: Representatives of other religious creeds, meeting in Thessaloniki for a conference on peace in southeastern Europe on Monday, declared their opposition to the mandatory reference of religious beliefs on state IDs.
Mufti Mentso Jemali of Komotini, northern Greece, said that "even if it is written that I am a Muslim it means nothing if I do not live like one". Rabbi Isaac Asiel said "IDs are to show who we are and not what we believe".
The Roman Catholic representative said "Greece is the only country in Europe in which citizens declare their religion".
Speaking at the Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers' Council, Stathopoulos also said that any reference to the criteria for the re-admission of third country nationals in agreements with their governments should be preceded consensus at EU level.
The agenda of discussions included issues of developing a common asylum and immigration policy, the fight against pornography on the internet, mutual judicial assistance, and a draft regulation on the fight against fraud.
According to another draft regulation, judicial decisions regarding divorce in one member-state will be automatically recognized as valid in all other member-states until March 1, 2001 at the latest. The courts competent to decide will be those of the country where the couple resides.
"The Greek civilization proved a fertile ground for the seeds of the Bible, which flourished in a way that lifted the human spirit to high levels of thought and action," he said in his address, carried in a full page by Oservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper.
"Only a union based on moral and spiritual values is worthy of the great traditions and achievements of Europe, to which your country has contributed greatly," the Pope said.
The ambassador in his address said that Greece agreed that the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Church should continue in the spirit of the respect due to their long traditions and values, contributing to the unity of faith and solidarity among Christians.
submarine warfare exercises in parts of the Ionian Sea.
Air force units carried out air defense, combat, bombing, electronic warfare and tactical reconnaissance operations over parts of continental Greece, the southern Aegean and the Ionian. French, German, Greek, American, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish aircraft carried out 196 sorties.
In another development, the landing force and the Permanent Mediterranean Mine Warfare Force participating in the exercise are moving towards Kyparissia, in the Peloponnese, where a landing operation will be conducted on June 1.
The landing force is composed of two Greek tank carriers, three American landing craft, one Spanish landing craft and a Turkish tank carrier.
"The government does not withdraw its relevant request. A political settlement is been sought, one that will satisfy our reasonable demands while at the same time will not be creating problems in the very good relations between Greece and Germany," Papazoi said.
A recent decision by Greece's supreme court, Areios Pagos, mandated payment of reparations to the relatives of the Distomo, Boiotia prefecture massacre victims of 1944 by Nazi troops.
"Not only do we condemn and deplore them but we also express our rage, because this sort of behavior compromises [the reputation of] our country and offends us all when it's directed against our fellow citizens," he said.
Saying that this sort of vandalism "overstepped the limits of extremist behavior," Reppas made it clear that it would not go unpunished.
An investigation was currently underway, he clarified in response to questions, but no arrests had yet been made.
Coalition of the Left: The left-wing Coalition of the Left and Progress party, in a statement issued on Monday, condemned the attack on the Jewish graves, saying it "desecrated Greek society".
In its announcement, the opposition party stressed that such disturbing phenomena were on the rise and that "citizens and social forces" had to be alert against them, while it called on the government and all political parties to condemn "all such displays that endanger democracy."
Archbishop: On his part, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos condemned the desecration of Jewish graves as well as the acts of vandalism against the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Thessaloniki recently, expressing his sorrow and disgust, in a letter to the President of the Jewish Council Moses Konstantinis.
Christodoulos said he felt "shame for those Greeks who dared such a despicable, sacrilegious and vandal act ... on this land (Greece) the thorn of racism, intolerance or discrimination against people with different faith or language and education has never bloomed," Christodoulos said.
"The Greek civilization and our Christian ethics have enforced from the very beginnings the acceptance of others either as foreigners or as persons of other faiths," he concluded.
While the Imia crisis that Greek state radio network director Yiannis Tzannetakos was referring to now ranks as only a distinct reminder of how much Greek-Turkish relations have improved over the past year, it emphasized what many delegates cited as an innate weakness by mass media in both countries to often separate objective reporting from state propaganda.
The Greek-Turkish meeting of journalists on the sunny holiday island of Rhodes was the third such get-together over the past year, with previous meetings having taken place in Istanbul and Athens, the latter just last February.
"There are several instances when the principles of information-gathering aren't followed, these instances are the infamous 'national issues'... It's very interesting that in terms of commentary you can find practically every opinion. What's missing completely, though, is original and critical reporting,"
Takis Mihas, a columnist with the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" said, adding that western-style investigative journalism focusing on such "national issues" is painfully rare among the mass media of the two neighbors.
He also criticized what he called instances when the press "identifies itself as an organ of the state".
"...It's almost 50 years of remnants that we are dealing with here right now. So, it's not that easy to get over those psychological, political, economic, even legal obstacles, which we face. What we are doing right now is trying to better understand each other, to get to know each other. To try to understand each other's language of truth, of the heart," Oktay Eksi, the president of Turkey's Press Council and a noted columnist for the daily "Hurriyet" noted.
In his address, Nikitas Lionarakis, the director of Greek radio's first and second programs cautioned that unless tangible progress is made, for instance, over the Cyprus problem or the Balkan Stability Pact by next September, then recent steps at Greek-Turkish rapprochement will face an impasse.
In opening the meeting's sessions, entitled "Mass Media and Local Communities as Levers for Improving Relations Between the Greek and Turkish Peoples", Rhodes Mayor Giorgos Yiannopoulos welcomed some 70 participants by citing the growing cooperation that both sides of the Aegean, especially the Greek islands and the Turkish Asia Minor coast must develop in order to compete amid a more globalizes economy and world.
He also initially accepted an offer by the mayor of Marmaris, a Turkish town lying across from Rhodes, for the twinning of the two municipalities, adding however, that his island - the capital of the Dodecannese chain - wants "substantive and comprehensive cooperation on issues ranging from tourism to the environment, and not just an exchange every year of folk dance troupes."
The meeting was organized by the municipality of Rhodes and the Athens based Foreign Press Association.
The attacks leveled against him by the three journalists, he said, went beyond mere criticism. He described it as an attempt to "politically castrate and destroy the character of those standing up to the front of vested interests that today constitutes the most serious threat to the quality and essence of democracy in our country."
Bush and the members of his entourage went to a hotel where, speaking to reporters, expressed satisfaction over being in Crete for the third time, adding that on the previous occasions he had visited western Crete thanks to former Prime Minister Costas Mitsotakis.
Replying to questions from the press on whether the children of politicians do better than their parents, Bush said that both his son who is running for president and his younger son, who is governor of Florida, make his family proud since they are doing well in politics.
The bill aims at greater transparency on the Athens bourse, and at monitoring the supply of shares, Papantoniou said, adding that a second bill would be tabled in July.
Papantoniou said that, under the bill, listed companies would be obliged to provide specific data requested by the Capital Market Committee regarding their financial status and activities, while severe fines would be imposed on those that failed to do so.
Second, shareholders would have to give advance notice of the purchase or sale of substantial share packages.
Third, a Code of Ethics will be introduced for listed companies ensuring equal treatment and rights of the shareholders and transparency on the finances of the listed companies.
Fourth, the ability is given for a postponement of a maximum six months of approval of the informational prospectus or even the listing of shares from a share capital increase 'if necessary to ensure the smooth flow of supply of new titles on the stock market'. The same applies to approvals of public subscriptions for share capital increases.
Fifth, the Capital Market Committee is given the authority to set out conditions and obligations concerning the conduct of the companies, shareholders and board of directors' members following a share capital increase.
Sixth, specific qualifications and examinations are set out for staff of the Stock Orders Intermediary Companies (ELDE) and Investment Services Companies (EPEY).
Seventh, the ability is provided for temporary suspension of the operation of a stockbrokerage (AXE), EPEY or ELDE 'when it is ascertained that those companies have violated the legislation, rendering their operation detrimental to investors and the smooth function of the market'.
And eighth, 65 new organic staff positions are created on the Capital Market Committee to strengthen its supervisory role.
Papantoniou said the purpose of the eight measures was to increase the authorities of the Capital Market Committee in order to avoid instances of insider trading and to enable it to more effectively monitor the operation of brokerages.
The market will be the support mechanism for the operation of Regional Electricity Market, expected to be adopted as a priority at an energy meeting in Athens.
Christodoulakis said that government plans to liberalize the domestic electricity market envisaged: cutting electricity production costs, offering reliable and accessible electricity energy to consumers around the country, and achieving targets for renewable sources of energy, natural gas, environment, new technologies and supply security.
A energy projects' conference will be held in Greece, June 1 and 2, he said.
The conference will discuss ways to promote cooperation in energy issues between European Union, Black Sea and Mediterranean states.
Christodoulakis said that a tender for selecting a strategic investor in Attica's Gas Supply Company would be re-launched with the aim to be completed by fall 2000.
He also announced the formation of an Energy Regulatory Committee, to be headed by professor Pantelis Kapros, an independent authority envisaged by EU directives.
Christodoulakis said that a liberalization of energy markets should be promoted through structural measures to maximize benefits and efficiency.
The development ministry will hold a new round of talks with oil companies to discuss reducing their profit margins in fuels in view of an expected new rise in fuel oil prices to be announced on Wednesday.
The government struggles to contain the impact of rising oil prices on consumer price inflation in the country.
Karatzas, who heads the country's largest commercial bank, was speaking after a meeting with National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
Bank of Greece Governor Lucas Papademos has in the past indicated that a more rapid decline of central bank rates would occur in the second half of the year, leading to a drop in commercial bank rates.
The contract was signed in Athens by Deputy National Economy Minister Christos Pahtas and EIB Vice-President Panayotis Gennimatas.
The 20-year euro-denominated loan has an interest rate of 6.05 percent and seven-year grace period, the ministry said in a statement.
The Athens ring road comprises the Elefsina-Spata highway (60 kilometers), the Hymettus ring road (10 kilometers) and auxiliary works.
The EIB has estimated the project at 744.5 billion drachmas. Of the total, 435.4 billion drachmas is for work undertaken by the Attiki Odos SA consortium, and 309.1 billion drachmas for auxiliary works funded by the state.
The project was a top priority for the government, Pahtas said.
The foreign guests, mostly traders, are interested in Greek products suitable for the Kosovo market and in representing
Greek firms in the tenders of international organizations promoting the work of reconstruction.
According to business leaders, the Greek participation in the procurements of such organizations increased from two to 20 present since the January visit. The visit of Kosovar businessmen is the second one abroad after Germany last month.
The general index ended at 4,593.95 points, down 0.06 percent, but off the day's highs of 4,648.47 points. Analysts said that the 4,650 level was a short-term resistance level for the market.
Turnover was a low 132 billion drachmas. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.23 percent to 2,553.01 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index eased 0.25 percent to 664.82 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks ended at 958.65 points, up 0.29 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 197 to 134 with another 16 issues unchanged.
Macedonian Spinning, Informer, Lambrakis Press and Klonatex were the most heavily traded stocks.
Derivatives prices end mixed on ADEX: Derivatives prices ended mixed on the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday reflecting a similar close in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40.
Turnover was a low 6.2 billion drachmas in volume of 1,775 contracts.
A total of 696 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 3.5 billion drachmas. The June expiring contract ended at 2,541.50 points, the July at 2,541.50 and the August at 2,558 points.
A total of 1,079 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, with a turnover of 2.7 billion drachmas. The June expiring contract ended at 648.75 points and the July contract at 641.50 points.
Bonds edge down in light trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market ended lower in light trade on Monday, with players in New York and London out of the world market due to public holidays in their countries.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 6.09 percent from 6.109 percent in the previous session; and the yield on the equivalent German bund was 5.23 percent.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 86 basis points from 88 basis points a session earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 24 billion drachmas from 143 billion drachmas in the previous session. Sell orders accounted for the whole of turnover.
Drachma down vs. euro, up vs. dollar: The drachma on Monday fell against the euro and rose versus the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 337.150 drachmas from 337.070 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 363.950 drachmas from 369.400 drachmas a day earlier.
The central bank intervened at the fix, selling more than 100 million euros to meet robust demand for foreign currency, traders said.
Addressing an event on the island, in the presence of National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas and other officials, archaeology professor and director of the excavations Christos Doumas said:
"If we continue with the same pace (due to the lack of adequate funds) the restoration of the excellent murals, which came to light before 1975, will be completed in more than 40 years and run the risk of being destroyed in warehouses. On the contrary, however, with credits amounting to 50 million drachmas a year, with the existing infrastructure at excavation laboratories and with increased and skilled manpower which will work on a daily basis, the work will be completed in 10 years' time."
On his part, Karatzas said in a brief address "the economy should coincide with culture" and showed great interest in the course of work.
Pangalos, who was addressing a press conference, also referred to the issue of the Parthenon Marbles and their return to Athens from the British Museum, saying "I will not use the issue of the Marbles' return as a banner for my policy."
Pangalos presented his office's new director Rodolfo Meskie, who was a European Parliament employee who had worked for the cultural capital institution until now.
Over the weekend, he will be visiting the prefecture of Corinthia for an on-the-spot examination of the region's cultural and archaeological issues.
Speaking at a conference organized by his party, Constantopoulos said three years after Greece undertook to organize the 2004 Games a balance between persons and responsibilities was still sought.
He also said no proposals have been submitted to the government, adding that when such proposals are on the table, these will be seriously examined both by the government and the National Council, provided they do not contain any element for recognition of the illegal regime in the northern Turkish-occupied areas of the island.
Papapetrou told reporters that the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question, would convene before President Glafcos Clerides leaves for the Geneva July 5 talks and after foreign envoys on Cyprus visit the island.
The spokesman said efforts are "underway by various countries and mainly the UN to upgrade the talks".
He said if the Turkish side intends to hold proximity negotiations instead of talks, "this satisfies our side because our intention is not to exchange views or thoughts but to become involved in a substantial negotiation which will create the preconditions for a
solution to the Cyprus problem", he added.
Papapetrou reiterated that "when a proposal is submitted, it will be seriously considered both by the President of the Republic and the National Council", but clarified that there is "no question of recognizing in any way the illegal regime".
Commenting on President Clerides' remarks that he wants "to see progress made by autumn" and that the Greek Cypriot side is "not willing to cooperate with any effort of the Turkish side to waste more time", Papapetrou replied that "it was a political observation and not a warning".
The President of the Republic, Papapetrou added, "wants to point out that the time offered is vital for progress to be achieved by the autumn" and the government expects that by the autumn "the deadlock will be broken and the procedure will substantially advance".
He called on the international community and the Turkish side to undertake their responsibilities and to turn words into actions.
Since December last year, the UN led two rounds of proximity talks with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides with a view to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive solution.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
This is the first time the meeting is taking place outside the EU. It will be co-chaired by Cyprus and Portugal, the current rotating EU presidency, who hands over the chair to France in July.
Liikanen is expected to have some contacts with government officials during his brief stay here. He arrives on 21 June and leaves the following day, after he delivers his presentation on "New Euro-Mediterranean regional industrial cooperation approach."
Delegates from Mediterranean countries and the EU will review the conclusions of their previous meeting in Austria and hear views on the latest developments on Euro-Mediterranean industrial cooperation, on competitiveness and industrial restructuring and on Euro-Mediterranean as a free trade area.
Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis, Portuguese Minister of Economy and Finance Rina Moura and the Maltese Minister of Economic Services Bonici will address the opening.