|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Treaty of Nice serves Greek interests; premier says at end of EU summit
NICE, 12/12/2000 (ANA-M. Spinthourakis)The Treaty of Nice agreed by the heads of state and government of the 15 European Union member states in the French town served the Greek interests and paved the way for EU enlargement, Greek premier Costas Simitis said early Monday at the end of the protracted summit meeting.
The premier expressed satisfaction on the content of the compromise achieved in Nice, but did not conceal his concern over problems that could prospectively arise in certain areas of operation in the Union.
Regarding the "positive" aspects of the new Community Treaty, Simitis said that the road had been opened for the EU's enlargement, which "Greece desires because it includes Balkan countries". Enlargement would also "consolidate peace, create new prospects for economic growth, and upgrade Greece's role in the wider region".
Turning to the marathon consultations during the summit, Simitis said that, in relation to the initial proposals put forward by the French EU presidency, the final outcome was "positive for Greece" because "it was ensured that in the first stage -- in other words until the EU reaches 27 member states -- each country will have one Commissioner".
He said the issue would be discussed again after the EU rose to 27 members, and any decisions taken would be adopted "by unanimity and with respect of the equality of all the EU member states".
The premier further expressed satisfaction with the fact that the number of Greek Euro parliamentarians had been increased to 22 from the 19 proposed in the initial French presidency text.
Also satisfactory were the summit decisions on flexibility, enabling a limited number of member states to develop rein-forced cooperation on foreign policy matters, the premier said.
Satisfactory also was the agreement that EU decisions in the sector of marine transports would continue to be taken unanimously, which was a firm Greek desire, Simitis added.
On reforming the decision-adoption procedures, Simitis said that, in relation to the French EU presidency's initial proposal, the position of the smaller-population member states was improved in the final compromise, adding that the two-tier system adopted was "satisfactory". Under the new system, in order for a decision to be adopted, it must be approved by the majority of EU member states, which, however, must represent 74.5 percent of the qualified votes. Once a decision fulfils those conditions, it can be blocked only if a group of member states representing more than 38 percent of the total Community population (blocking minority) disagree with it.
Simitis said that although the system agreed on decision-adoption was "rather complex", the final compromise was "satisfactory for Greece given that the tow-tier majority system was Greece's choice from the outset".
The premier did not conceal his concern, however, over the efficiency of the new decision-adoption procedures, since the creation of tensions within the EU could not be ruled out, chiefly due to the unequal treatment of certain member states.
Asked whether, following the Nice summit, the EU was heading towards a federal or intergovernmental direction, Simitis replied, "it is heading in a federal direction, but with slow steps".
Europe, Simitis said, "has entered a new era with more member states and new democratic balances".
Greece satisfied by EU summit results, Hytiris says: Greece is satisfied with the results of the European Union summit in Nice, France, acting government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said on Monday, in response to opposition parties' statements.
During a news briefing, Hytiris said that "the result was positive for the Greek interests. You all know that there was a marathon (session) for the distribution of power in new Europe, which is being created with the enlargement over the next few years".
"The main point of the compromise is that there must be a double majority, a point proposed by Greece. That is a majority that is arrived at by two separate majorities. One ballot, where every country expresses itself with one vote and a second ballot were every country expresses itself with a number of votes related to the size of its population," Hytiris added.
ND leader Costas Karamanlis says outcome of EU Nice summit wretched: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday termed the outcome of the European Union's summit in Nice, France, "wretched."
Addressing his party's Parliamentary Group on the budget issue, Karamanlis said present-day Europe is not what one envisaged, adding that its leaderships have failed to deal with the circum-stances and that whatever decisions were taken do not serve Greek national interests.
Karamanlis strongly criticized the text on the partnership agreement between the EU and Turkey, saying that it is even more vague than the agreement reached at the EU Helsinki summit.
Referring to the Parliamentary Group's meeting, where social partner representatives were invited to express their views on the budget, he said it is an innovation showing that there can be dialogue without the need to agree with everything.
He also focused on the fact that all social partner representatives strongly criticized the government's economic policy and expressed disappointment that the budget "provides no prospects".
Karamanlis said the discussion on the budget is "a bogus procedure since there is no possibility for its control and there can be no amendments".
He said the government "is very tired", adding that structural changes have not gone ahead, there was a burdening of taxation and public administration should be renewed.
Karamanlis criticized government policy because, as he said, it does not decrease unemployment but, on the contrary, widens social inequalities.
He said that about "two million Greeks are on the verge of poverty and there is the danger of provincial and border areas emptying because the government is not following a development policy and has abandoned farmers".
Karamanlis said small and medium-size enterprises should be supported, adding that the government should be hammered during the discussion on the budget to make it provide answers on all crucial problems.
Addressing the meeting, the president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) said the budget is not different from those of past years and "is based, as was the case before, on the prediction of a great increase in tax revenues".
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said there is no fairer distribution of tax burdens, nor an upgrading in the income relation of working people and pensioners, while family budgets are called on to finance even more the demand for health, education and social insurance services.
Low income citizens will pay for the crisis, Communist Party of Greece claims: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday claimed that the developments at the European Union's summit in Nice expected, they were the expression and the result of the unequal development of countries in the capitalist system.
In its announcement KKE also said Greece is a recipient of the crisis plaguing the capitalist system and its consequences will be paid by the working and popular classes.
In a similar statement, Coalition of the Left and Progress Politburo member Nikos Chountis underlined the absence of the vision and political will for a unified Europe with a democratic and social content.
 Defense cooperation, events in southern Serbia dominate Greek-FYROM contacts
SKOPJE, 12/12/2000 (ANA - M. Vihou)The situation in strife-torn Kosovo and the latest worrying developments in southern Serbia were the focus of discussions here on Monday between visiting Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and FYROM's top leadership.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia (FYROM) Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski as well as the country's foreign minister, Sergan Kerim, received the Greek minister.
In statements afterwards, Tsohatzopoulos said FYROM's leaders expressed their concerns over developments in southern Serbia, following recent raids into that territory by ethnic Albanian bands operating from UN- and NATO-controlled Kosovo.
Additionally, he noted that both sides agreed over bilateral initiatives within the European Union, NATO and the KFOR to defuse tension in the specific area, adding:
"... We must guarantee implementation of (UN) resolution 1244 - the only realistic basis for a solution in Kosovo and for the region's stability," the Greek minister said before calling for political support towards the new Kostunica government in Belgrade.
In terms of bilateral relations, Tsohatzopoulos pointed to the need for closer defense ties between Athens and Skopje, citing among others, an agreement for cooperation in the armaments sector and the promotion of defense and security-related programs on the both the bilateral and European level.
In referring to his contacts with the FYROM foreign minister, Tsohatzopoulos said they discussed the landlocked Balkan country's EU and NATO accession prospects, efforts that Athens supports.
On Sunday, Tsohatzopoulos and his FYROM counterpart, Ljuben Paunovski, signed a memorandum of understanding and a cooperation agreement on border security issues. The two ministers also held lengthy talks on the situation prevailing in the Balkans and the situation in southern Serbia in particular.
The course of bilateral cooperation was also examined, while Paunovski termed Athens' aid and support for his country as very important.
Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that Athens supports FYROM's efforts for NATO accession and convergence with the European Union.
The agreement signed by the two ministers has three parts: the exchange of information on better border control, cooperation between the two countries' national defense staffs and the development of cooperation between their defense industries.
Washington Times sees Greece-US cooperation against terrorism WASHINGTON, 12/12/2000 (USA-T. Ellis)
A new climate of cooperation and cooperation has developed between Greece and the United States in the sensitive area of confronting terrorism, according to an upbeat article in the Washington Times on Greece's efforts to wipe out terrorism.
The article notes the hopes of the authoritative ministers that the recently singed memorandum of police cooperation between the two countries will lay to rest doubts in the American administration as to the political will in Greece to wipe out the phenomenon.
The article further noted that even before the signing of the memorandum, Greece had begun to take steps to improve the security level in sensitive areas, such as airports.
The article contains two lengthy interviews with Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou and public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis in which they analyze the Greek people's deep skepticism towards the US following the seven-year military dictatorship in Greece and on the determination with which the fight against terrorism is approached today.
Papandreou notes that the two countries have developed in the past decade, and following the end of the Cold War, a new relationship that is very different than in the past and, and without the lack of confidence of the past when Greece sought a more independent foreign policy while the US demanded total alignment with its own policy.
On terrorism, the foreign minister stressed that Greece desired more than anyone else to wipe out the "November 17" group, but the limited number of group members -- in contract with cases in N. Ireland, Germany and Italy -- rendered achievement of that goal very difficult.
Chrysohoidis said on his part that the US view that Greece lacked the necessary political will to wipe out terrorism "is not only wrong but it is also the crux of the problem".
"All the Greek governments wanted and have tried to tackle the issue," the public order minister said, adding that the public was not particularly concerned during the decade of the '70s because the group's victims included junta officials, while conversely today everyone condemned "November 17's" killing of the British defense attache, Brig. Stephen Saunders, six months ago.
The article gives an extensive account of the concern after Saunders' killing, which Chrysohoidis said "shocked us and made us realize that a single organization, 'November 17', is capable of harming our security and blemishing our image".
Chrysohoidis called the cooperation memorandum a "symbolic move" that "underlines the strong will of the present government to tackle an old problem such as terrorism".
"We have very good cooperation, which is founded on principles. The Americans respect our independence," Chrysohoidis said.
 Economic and social committee calls attention to Greece's demographic problem
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)The Economic and Social Committee of Greece (OKE), an advisory body to the government, on Monday proposed the establishment of a "Demographic Studies Institute" to focus on population changes and ways to deal with the decrease of births and the aging of the country's population.
During a meeting of the body's plenum, speakers noted that Greece has the lowest birth rates in Europe, and that this problem should be systematically studied, while the results should be submitted to the government and related bodies and agencies, so that the correct action may be taken.
 Greece and Germany discuss equality in employment
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Equality Secretary General Efi Bekou on Monday held talks with German minister responsible for family, elderly people, women and youth affairs and Social Democrat Presidium member Kristine Bergman.
Their talks focused mainly on policies regarding equality in employment and the harmonization of women's professional and family commitments.
Speaking at a press conference later, Bekou said the meeting was "a step towards more substantive Greek-German bilateral relations."
On her part, Bergman said problems in Greece concerning the promotion of equality among the genders do not deviate a great deal from those in Germany.
"Women cannot be employed in accordance with their qualifications," she said.
 Greece to import non-EU meat, in light of "mad cow" disease scare
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Greece will begin meat imports from non-European Union countries to meet demand in the market, as consumer confidence in EU meat imports dropped drastically, following the "mad cow" disease incidents in France and Britain and prices of domestic and non-EU meat rose drastically.
Agriculture Minister Giorgos Anomeritis on Monday met with Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and discussed possible solutions to the problem in light of the holidays.
Following the meeting Anomeritis said that EU measures regarding the "mad cow" decease would be implemented immediately, while Christodoulakis announced the imports of lamp, goat, turkey, pork and chicken meats from non-EU countries.
 IRS assistance to Greek economy ministry concluded
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)America's well-known Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday officially concluded a four-and-a-half-year cooperation with Greece's national economy ministry to introduce long-term structural changes and improvements in the country's tax system.
While initial projects focused on areas of auditing and revenue collection, efforts eventually grew to include improving service at local tax bureaus, conveying a clearer message to taxpayers, as well as implementing a modern management information system at the ministry, a US embassy press release noted.
"We were delighted to be of assistance when the Greek government asked us to work together in this area ... This is another example of the excellent cooperation between our two governments," US ambassador Nicholas Burns said on the occasion.
 OTE to bid in Bulgarian mobile phone tender
SOFIA, 12/12/2000 (ANA/B. Borisov)State Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, is to bid in a Bulgarian tender for the sale of a GSM-technology mobile phone license.
"We have come here to take part on competitive and equal terms in the tender for issue of a development and management license for the second GSM mobile phone network called by the Bulgarian government," OTE planning chief Athanasios Mihalochristas told Bulgaria's Standard newspaper in an interview published on Monday.
 Canadian firm expresses interest in Greece's deregulated power market
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Canada-based Northland Power Inc. on Monday announced its intention of developing joint ventures in Greece for the production of up to 2000 MW of electricity following deregulation of the country's energy sector.
Northland's Venture Partnership Program has also been implemented in other countries in cooperation with local entrepreneurs, Northland said in a statement.
The power producer expressed interest in collaborating with Greek industrial consumers and investors for the production of energy, the statement said.
Canada is the single largest electricity exporter in the world.
 Agricultural Bank of Greece seeks strategic investor
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)State-owned Agricultural Bank of Greece is seeking a strategic investor to acquire a major stake in its share capital and gradually take over management, its governor, Petros Lambrou, said on Monday.
Morgan Stanley, the international investment house, will undertake the search for an ally Lambrou told a news conference.
He said that Agricultural planned to set up the first purely shipping bank in Greece, holding a 44 percent stake. Nova Scotia Bank will take 4.0 percent and key ship owners the majority holding.
Agricultural will also reinforce its involvement in sectors including energy, telecoms, tourism and real estate management.
Earlier this month, the capital markets commission and the Athens bourse approved a prospectus from Agricultural Bank of Greece to hold an initial public offer (IPO) for entry into the bourse's main market.
The IPO will be held on December 18-21 with the issue of 13,496,500 common bearer shares, of which 11,496,500 are for sale to the public and 2,000,000 destined for private placement.
Agricultural's main underwriters in the share sale are Commercial Bank of Greece and Bank of Piraeus. The advisers are Alpha Finance and National Investment Bank for Industrial Development.
The bank posted profits of 113 billion drachmas in 1999 on turnover of 712 billion drachmas. Shareholders' equity totals 660 billion drachmas from 212 billion drachmas three years ago. Total assets are 5.164 trillion drachmas.
Agricultural Bank intends to use proceeds from the IPO to help complete its investment plan.
Among activities in the pipeline are the acquisition of major shareholdings in two companies and a research institute that the agriculture ministry has set up to develop the farm economy.
The units, announced by Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, are named Agrotourism SA, Agroexports SA and the Center for Research and Planning in the Agricultural Economy.
Agricultural Bank of Greece ranks amongst Europe's 100 largest banking groups and has 10 financial services subsidiaries.
It is the country's second largest bank in terms of branch network.
 Government's priority is to lower tax
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Monday that the government's main policy target was still to lower taxation.
The minister was speaking at an awards ceremony for staff of America's Internal Revenue Service, who worked with Greek tax authorities for four and a half years to improve the domestic tax system.
 Wholesale prices up 9.5 pct year on year
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)The wholesale price index rose by 9.5 percent in October year on year from the same month of 1999, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said on Monday.
The month-on-month rise from September was 0.6 percent, NSS said in a statement.
 Gov't signs contract for marinas consultant
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)The national economy ministry on Monday signed a contract with a consortium that will act as its financial consultant in a marina development project.
The group comprises EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Cantor Corporate Consultants SA, Triton Engineering Consultants and Sayias & Associates, a legal office.
The consortium will evaluate the financial viability of projects and attract private financing of 70 billion drachmas.
 Equities drop in light trade
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Equities on the Athens Stock Exchange finished down on Monday with traders saying they could see no reason for the sharp decline.
The general index finished 1.37 percent lower at 3,685.31 points, with turnover at 94.26 billion drachmas.
The market could rise again this week on anticipated rate cuts by the central bank, the traders said.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks closed 1.04 percent down, while the FTSE/ASE 40 index for medium capitalization shares fell by 1.90 percent.
Sector indices ended as follows: Banks: -0.52% Leasing: -1.24% Insurance: -2.90% Investment: -1.68% Construction: -2.85% Industrials: -2.43% Miscellaneous: -0.71 Holding: -0.89
The parallel market for smaller capitalization stocks ended 2.64 percent down.
Of 357 shares traded, 252 declined and 90 advanced with 15 remaining unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks were National Bank of Greece and Bank of Piraeus.
Main closing share prices (in drachmas): National Bank: 14,770 Alpha Bank: 13,600 Eurobank: 9,810 Lambrakis Press: 6,040 Hellenic Petroleum: 3,820 Commercial Bank: 18,555 Intracom: 9,670 Hellenic Telecoms: 6,005 Titan Cement (c): 14,510
Equity futures end down, tracking Athens bourse: Equity futures traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Monday, in line with the bourse indices on which they are based.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index closed 1.04 percent down, and the FTSE/ASE 40 ended 1.90 percent lower.
Turnover was 16.3 billion drachmas.
A total of 3,120 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 with turnover at 13.6 billion drachmas.
On the FTSE/ASE 40 index, 1,419 contracts changed hands on turnover of 2.6 billion drachmas.
Bond prices rise in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished higher in moderate to heavy trade.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.59 percent from 5.615 percent in the previous session.
The Greek paper's yield spread over German bunds was 63 basis points from 66 basis points a day earlier.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 212 billion drachmas from 198 billion drachmas in the session before.
Buy orders accounted for around two thirds of trade: Greek, foreign banks chosen as primary bond dealers for 2001
Fifteen Greek and foreign banks have been chosen to act as primary dealers in the bond market in 2001, buying or bidding for Greek securities directly from the finance ministry, the central bank said on Monday.
This year, the tender to find primary dealers was opened for the first time to foreign banks based outside Greece. Nine will trade from abroad using the market's on-line, real time system.
The Bank of Greece said in a statement that the following banks and investment houses would become primary dealers on January 1, 2001:
Alpha Bank, JP Morgan Securities Ltd, BNP-Paribas, Merrill Lynch International, Credit Suisse First Boston (Europe) Ltd, Morgan Stanley & Co International Ltd., Deutsche Bank AG, San-Paolo Imi Bank, National Bank of Greece SA, Salomon Smith Barney, Commercial Bank of Greece, Bank of Piraeus SA, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, UBS Warburg Ltd, Goldman Sachs International
Drachma ends down vs. euro, dollar: The drachma on Monday ended lower against the euro and the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 340.730 drachmas from 340.680 drachmas in the previous session.
Also at the fix, the dollar was set at 386.600 drachmas from 383.660 drachmas a trading day earlier.
 Greek premier calls for the protection of children in light of International Children's Day
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday called citizens and the state to provide for the protection and support of children making special mention of those youngsters that are exploited and isolated from society.
In light of the UNICEF International Children's Day, Simitis said "it is an important day which makes us feel...responsible, both as a state and as individual citizens, for their present and future".
"Life is not always like a fairy tail...for this reason we must focus on the children that live under difficult circumstances, those children that we pass by every day in the busy streets of the big city, while they try to sell their wares...the children that fall victims of exploitation and ill-treatment everyday," the premier said.
Meanwhile in Parliament, five deputies tabled a question regarding the state's provisions for "the traffic lights" children - as they came to be called for selling wares or begging from motorists in Athens' streets clogged with traffic.
According to a study conducted by UNICEF, more than 5,800 children between the ages of 2 and 15 years of age are begging in Athens' streets, yielding about a billion drachmas per month to their "employers", the deputies' question stressed.
The deputies called for emergency measures to protect children from violence and exploitation.
On its part, the consumer protection agency (INKA) called for the protection of children from products and services, which often cost their lives, such as unfit toys, accidents and food poisoning from not well preserved food.
 President Stephanopoulos attends National Gallery's 100th anniversary
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday night attended an inauguration ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Gallery of Athens. The event was held on the occasion of a new exhibition of the gallery's permanent collections, which had been stored at the Alexandros Soutsos Museum for many years.
The foundation's director Marina Lambraki-Plaka thanked the government and the culture minister for helping the completion of the gallery's new wing.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos referred to the success of the aesthetic result and to a series of initiatives by his ministry aimed at promoting national artistic policy.
A representative of the Archbishop of Athens, politicians, businessmen and members of the cultural world, also attended the event.
 Hope for the "best possible end" to Greek army officer's abduction in Georgia
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Greek government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris on Monday expressed the hope that the Greek infantry captain abducted by unknown persons on Sunday in Georgia, would soon be released.
During a press briefing, Hytiris said that the United Nations is handling the issue, while the Greek ambassador and the Greek military attache in Georgia, were monitoring the situation.
"We hope that this mishap will end in the best possible way, as it had happened in the past in a similar case," Hytiris said.
Unknown persons abducted Greek infantry Capt. Efstathios Kokkinidis and a Polish colonel, both UN observers, on Sunday while on a mission 50 kilometers southeast of Sukhumi, Georgia.
 Foreign ministry publishes book on Greek Jews
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Monday presented an anthology of recollections and archival material in the form of a book recounting the life of the Greek Jewish community since ancient times.
The "Greek Jews" anthology, which was created with the cooperation of the Athens University, was presented during a ceremony at the Old Parliament Building.
The book includes data derived from the official diplomatic and historical archives of the foreign ministry and is introduced with a written statement by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
It traces the parallel history of the two peoples from the time of Alexander the Great to the mass exodus from Spain to the Balkans during the 16th century and the abrupt end of large Jewish communities in the region during World War II.
Former Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos introduced with a written statement the English language edition, which was published earlier.
 Gov't spokesman calls for more and better Greek TV productions for children
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Press and Mass Media Deputy Minister Telemachos Hytiris on Monday called for more Greek television productions of children programs, criticizing both the state and private television stations for the use of foreign programming.
"We are not satisfied by public television, as the programs for children are mainly based on dubbed foreign productions," Hytiris said, addressing the opening of a one-day conference entitled "The future of Greek audio-visual productions for children", which was organized by the Audio-visual Media Institute under the auspices of the press and media ministry, in Athens.
He also called for more European productions, saying "only 20 per cent of the total production is European, while in America only one per cent of programming is not American".
 Government determined to "cure" ailments of Greek soccer, Hytiris says
Athens, 12/12/2000 (ANA)Government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris on Monday said the problems in Greek soccer league were chronic, adding that the government was determined to rectify problems in sports.
He said that the government's action would focus on the case of the Union of Professional Soccer Clubs (EPAE) President Victor Mitropoulos, who retained his post, while facing charges of alleged embezzlement, adding that conditions should change to enable transparency to prevail in the sector "at long last".
Mitropoulos almost lost his post when the Parliament approved a government bill mandating that there should be no convictions or cases pending in court against soccer officials, regarding economic crimes.
A sports magistrate, however, ruled that Mitropoulos should remain at his post until such a time that he might be convicted of a crime, barring him from the presidency.
Hytiris stressed that the government would appeal the ruling at the ASEAD, a higher court for settling sports disputes, adding that Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, will be chairing a meeting in his ministry on Tuesday to coordinate action on the Mitropoulos case.
The culture ministry handles sports affairs.
 Government welcomes conclusions of EU Nice summit
NICOSIA, 12/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)The government on Monday welcomed the conclusions of the European Union summit with regard to Cyprus, pointing out they maintain the question of Cyprus in the forefront of the EU and outline what it considers to be the framework of a settlement, namely UN resolutions.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou also welcomed as "very important" the EU backing for enlargement and the convergence of views on the matter, something that paves the way for future expansion.
The spokesman called on Europe to take seriously into account the reaction of the Turkish military to the Nice summit conclusions and to the partnership agreement the Union has concluded with Ankara, which outlines the country's obligations to Brussels at home and abroad, if it wishes to see its accession course proceed.
"The government is pleased with the reference to the solution of the Cyprus issue, in the summit conclusions, which not only keeps the matter alive in the list of priorities of EU interests but also defines what the 15 see as a framework for a solution," Papapetrou said, commenting on the final outcome of the four-day summit.
This framework, he added, is none other than the framework provided by UN resolutions on Cyprus.
The European Council has welcomed and expresses full support to the efforts of the UN Secretary General to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question consistent with the Security Council resolutions and a positive conclusion of the procedure which started in December 1999.
It appeals to all interested parties to contribute to the efforts made for this purpose.
The UN has conducted five rounds of proximity talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides and has invited both to a new round in late January.
The Turkish Cypriot side has said the proximity talks have served their purpose and are finished.
The spokesman said it was very important to see the EU reaffirming its adherence to enlargement and witness the 15 leaders reaching the necessary compromise agreement to render the Union functional.
"The result is that the road towards enlargement is open and it creates concrete prospects," he said.
Replying to questions about the reaction in Turkey to developments in Europe, the spokesman said the EU should take seriously into consideration the response of the Turkish military to Ankara's course towards accession.
"The contrast between the different trends within Turkey is becoming more evident and we continue to see that the military believes it is in a position to lambaste the decisions of the political leadership of the country," Papapetrou said.
This, he pointed out, is not in line with the vision of Europe, adding that the EU has shown Turkey the way ahead by outlining the candidate country's obligations towards Europe.
"I believe that the involvement and the influence of the Turkish military in the political affairs of the country is something for which the EU cannot display any flexibility," Papapetrou said.