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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-01

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

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

August 1, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM announces new measures to settle municipality debts
  • [02] Premier announces basic points of PASOK's farm policy
  • [03] Par'l rejects ND proposal for retroactive scrutiny of politicians' assets
  • [04] Gov't: PM's transparency initiative on track in spite of internal PASOK reaction
  • [05] Main opposition slams gov't record on economy, corruption
  • [06] PASOK deputy criticizes party leadership for excluding MPs from decision-making
  • [07] Annan: real and genuine will needed to proceed with Cyprus
  • [08] Fuel tanker trucks suspend strike, N. Greece union disagrees, continues action
  • [09] Banks call off syndicated loan for Seafarm Ionian
  • [10] Eurostat: Greece ranks third in the EU in ''cash family benefits'' increases
  • [11] Greek tourism organization to host international sector conference
  • [12] Stocks rise, fuelled by selective buying
  • [13] 43rd Olympic Academy int'l conference opens in Athens
  • [14] Culture minister announces ''Prespes 2003'' festival program
  • [15] Culture minister inaugurates Museum of Mycenae
  • [16] Tzortzatos admits to marginal role in November 17
  • [17] Weak earthquake recorded in Halkidiki
  • [18] ECHR finds Turkey guilty of violation of European Convention of Human Rights
  • [19] Spokesman reiterates readiness for talks
  • [20] Spokesman: Turkey's EU course depends on EU and Cyprus problem
  • [21] National Council discusses measures for Turkish Cypriots
  • [22] Germany ready to assist Cyprus reunification

  • [01] PM announces new measures to settle municipality debts

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday announced plans for wide-ranging changes to the operation of debt-ridden local authorities, following a meeting of the cabinet.

    He said these would include settling the debts of municipalities through loans, with favorable terms for those municipalities with the most serious problems, a new operating framework for municipal enterprises and a new Local Government Code, as well as mandatory inspections of local authority finances.

    The meeting also discussed the creation of 'metropolitan' administrations in Athens and Thessaloniki.

    Simitis said the new code for local government, to be tabled as a bill in Parliament in autumn after the conclusion of talks with the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), will allow municipalities to meet the demands of the upgraded role accorded to them in the Constitution and in European Union policies.

    "The mayor-centric system that exists today has reached its limits so we are going to reform the internal structure of municipalities," Simitis said.

    He also stressed the need for transparency in local government and mandatory financial inspections of local authorities to control waste and mismanagement.

    He said municipalities will in the future be required to operate on the basis of a four-year operational program, which will include programs for local development, services, economic planning and modernization.

    Simitis also pledged funds from central government for new municipal services, such as municipal police, information centers and the 'Help at Home' program.

    [02] Premier announces basic points of PASOK's farm policy

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday announced the basic axis of ruling PASOK's agricultural policy, during a one-day conference entitled ''Greek Agriculture and the reform of the Agricultural policy''.

    Simitis outlined the basic policies, which he said are the support of the farmers' income, the improvement of the sector's competitiveness, the sustainable development of the rural regions and social protection.

    He called the success of the Greek government in the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of huge importance and criticized main opposition New Democracy (ND) of announcing non-specific items in its own program.

    The premier also called on PASOK's officials to undertake action and leave for the rural areas to promote the government's work.

    PASOK party Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis, in his address to the conference noted PASOK's course as a government since 1981 and the changes that took place over the past 22 years in the social and economic landscape of the Greek rural regions.

    He underlined that it is a central focus of PASOK's policy for agriculture to continue being the force and backbone of the economic and social cohesion of the rural regions, adding that in order to achieve a smooth adjustment to the new conditions there must be a satisfactory compensation for the farmer and his facilitation by the state and other institutions, as well as the se-curing of the prospect and certainty for the future of his activities.

    Chrysohoidis also criticized ND calling its proposals out of date.

    [03] Par'l rejects ND proposal for retroactive scrutiny of politicians' assets

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    A majority of Parliament members on Thursday voted down a proposed main opposition New Democracy (ND) party amendment that would have allowed for the retroactive scrutiny of politicians' ''statements of means'', going back as far as 1974.

    Of the 96 deputies present in Parliament's first summer session of the year, 52 (ruling PASOK) voted against the ND amendment, while 44 MPs (from the opposition) voted in favor.

    The ND proposal was tabled in Parliament a few days after the government announced its intention to proceed with an official probe into all property assets acquired since 1990 by current and former ruling PASOK cabinet ministers and deputies. The government's initiative would also revise legislation related to ''statements of means'' and review all stock market transactions by top government officials and PASOK deputies from 1997 to 2002.

    [04] Gov't: PM's transparency initiative on track in spite of internal PASOK reaction

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday said it will steadfastly pursue an initiative begun earlier in the month by Prime Minister Costas Simitis for an official probe into all assets and property acquired since 1990 by current and former ruling PASOK cabinet members and parliamentary deputies, including a review of all stock market transactions by top government officials and PASOK MPs from 1997 to 2000.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that in spite of a statement signed by 22 PASOK deputies taking issue with Simitis' initiative, ''the prime minister's statements and the decisions he made in his capacity as the president of the party's parliamentary group fully apply.''

    Twenty two PASOK deputies earlier in the day submitted a statement to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis in which they said that ''the burden of public life should not be misleadingly and exclusively shifted to the scrutiny of deputies'', while a number of them declared they would not submit any statements regarding their stock market transactions as requested by Simitis.

    They claimed that there were competent bodies within the Parliament who were authorized to review the accuracy of their 'statements of means'.

    ''The initiative for the submittal of 'statements of means' will be carried out and the declarations will be forwarded to the secretary of the party's Central Committee'', Protopapas said.

    Asked whether PASOK would take any action against the deputies who had signed the statement, Protopapas said ''we do not face such question at this moment; when the time comes, everyone will follow the prime minister's lead and will submit their declarations.''

    ''Caesar's wife should be honest and look honest'', he concluded.

    The statement of the ''22'' drew a variety of comments from deputies of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, who criticized the prime minister for ''initiatives proved void of contents'' and for ''empty proposals''.

    [05] Main opposition slams gov't record on economy, corruption

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy on Thursday said the government was incapable of handling the economic and social problems of Greek society while its failure to address widespread corruption in the public sector and the black economy had cost the country 10.3 billion euros.

    Speaking after a meeting of ND's 'shadow cabinet' focusing on the economy, ND economic affairs coordinator George Alogoskoufis accused the government of indulging in irresponsible de-laying tactics and promising things it could not deliver to further the party's communications and pre-electoral goals.

    Noting that the government's tactics amounted to ''selling off the family silver'' and passing on the problems to the next government, Alogoskoufis said ND's demand for early elections was absolutely justified so that economic problems could be immediately dealt with and the dangers inherent in the government's policy averted.

    He also stressed the findings of a European Central Bank report, which said Greece had the highest levels of corruption and black economy among 23 developed countries.

    Greece was given a rating for three out of 10 for corruption in the report, where 10 was low and 1 high, while the average among the 23 developed countries was 6.7. The report's estimate of the Greek black economy was 28.7 per cent of GDP, with the average rate for the 23 countries being 16.7 per cent.

    It also showed Greek state services had an efficiency rating of 0.65 compared with an EU average of 0.78.

    Had the twin scourges of corruption and black economy been more efficiently dealt with, the state would be able to offer 35 per cent better quality services to the public, Alogoskoufis claimed.

    [06] PASOK deputy criticizes party leadership for excluding MPs from decision-making

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    A ruling PASOK deputy on Thursday called for the immediate convention of the party's parliamentary group to discuss what he called a ''decline in democratic functions and the exclusion of MPs from important political decision-making''.

    In an open letter addressed to fellow party deputies, PASOK MP for Hania Sifis Valyrakis said that ''while current discussions focus on politicians' honesty, problems with the loss of independence in politics and allegiance to big economic interests are downplayed.''

    The letter went on to say that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had been voted PASOK chairman and Greece's premier because he had supported the ''collective function of institutional bodies for political decision making'', but in spite of that, Valyrakis said, ''we are witnessing phenomena that point to 'one-man rule' in the sense of one person personally managing all powers.''

    Finally, Valyrakis noted that PASOK deputies ''are left uninformed-med and shut out of the party's planning and choices'', adding that ''a strategy for election victory is not feasible with a down-graded parliamentary group, a divided party and a number of cadres on the margins, without any adjustments to policies for which public opinion polls evidence a steady demand of the broader base for changes.''

    [07] Annan: real and genuine will needed to proceed with Cyprus

    UNITED NATIONS (P.Panagiotou/CNA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has indicated that he is not willing to undertake a new initiative on Cyprus unless the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides show ''real and genuine'' political will to move forward.

    ''My position is still the same. I will be prepared to step back in and help once theres a real and genuine political will on the part of both parties,'' he said, when asked if he intends to assume a new initiative this Fall.

    He said that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had recently made some proposals about moving forward with confidence building measures and noted that the reaction of the other party had been that there is a prudent plan, a proposal on the table which needs to be worked at in order to move on that basis.

    Annan has put forward a very detailed proposal on a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, which Denktash has rejected and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said it needs to be adjusted to fit in with the acquis communautaire, following the signing of the Accession Treaty by the Republic of Cyprus.

    Speaking at a press conference at the UN seat on Wednesday, the Secretary General referred to the so-called elections in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus in December.

    ''I dont know what that brings and what changes that holds for us. But my position is, if the parties are genuinely interested we will assess but until then I dont think it would be worthwhile,'' he added.

    UN efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement came to a halt in mid March when Denktash refused to hold a referendum on the Annan plan.

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

    [08] Fuel tanker trucks suspend strike, N. Greece union disagrees, continues action

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Liquid fuel tanker truck owners early Thursday suspended a surprise indefinite strike begun earlier in the week after marathon talks with

    officials from the development, finance and transport ministries, just as gas stations in Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities throughout Greece were depleting their fuel reserves, but the owners' umbrella Federation appeared split over the decision and the Northern Greece union continued the strike action.

    Refueling of gas stations throughout Greece, with the exception of Northern Greece, commenced at 4:00 a.m. after the liquid fuel tanker truck owners' Federation reached agreement with the ministries shortly before midnight.

    The Federation launched an indefinite strike at midnight Mon-day, without previous warning, demanding implementation by petrol companies of an agreement reached earlier in the month to raise fuel transportation fees.

    Northern Greece liquid fuel tanker truck owners' union president Yannis Yavridis told ANA that the union disagreed with the decision reached between the Federation and the ministries that the transportation fee increase enter into effect as of January 1, 2004 and demanded that the increase take effect on August 1, 2003 as had been originally agreed.

    He said the union further disagreed with the size of the increase-se, although he did not clarify what sum would be satisfactory for the Northern Greece owners.

    Yavridis also said that the Northern Greece tanker truck owners wanted a meeting with representatives of the three involved ministries to negotiate their demands, provided, however, that they were invited for such talks by the ministries themselves, adding that they did not recognize the Federation, which he said no longer expressed them since it proceeded to an agreement that was not approved by the Federation general assembly.

    Gas stations in Thessaloniki had run dry by Thursday morning, while there was a shortage in gas stations in the periphery.

    Chairman of the association of gas stations of Thessaloniki Dimos Vassiliadis told ANA that there was very little chance of fuel reaching the gas stations in Thessaloniki and the rest of Northern Greece on Thursday, adding that the problem was expected to become more acute as tanker truck owners were obstructing the loading of fuel on petrol company-owned tanker trucks at the companies' loading docks since Wednesday.

    [09] Banks call off syndicated loan for Seafarm Ionian

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Seafarm Ionian SA said on Thursday that creditor banks had halted a five-year syndicated loan of 15 million euros that had been arranged in February 2002 to help finance the company's investment plan and restructure short-term borrowing.

    The lead manager of the loan to Athens-quoted Seafarm was Piraeus Bank. Also taking part were Commercial Bank of Greece, National Bank of Greece, General Bank of Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Investment Bank of Greece, Agricultural Bank of Greece, Hellenic Bank and Attica Bank.

    Seafarm informed the Athens Stock Exchange in a statement that efforts to seek a solution to the firm's financial problems were continuing, and that there was no immediate pressure for repayment.

    [10] Eurostat: Greece ranks third in the EU in ''cash family benefits'' increases

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    A Eurostat report published on Thursday said that over the past decade, cash family benefits in real terms went up by 36 per cent across the European Union, in spite of the birth rate dropping over the same period.

    The report said that cash family benefits in the past ten years were increased in all EU members with the exception of the Netherlands (14 per cent decrease), while the largest increases were noted in Luxembourg (156 per cent), Germany (81 per cent), Greece (67 per cent) and Ireland (66 per cent).

    The upward trend was largely the result of revaluations of the scales for family benefits, particularly pronounced in Luxembourg, or of system reform, such as in Germany, or be-cause new benefits have been introduced, according to the report.

    Cash family benefits in terms of GDP also varied widely between member-states, ranging from 2.6 per cent in Luxembourg to 0.2 per cent in Spain. Greece shared 15th place with Sweden for cash family benefits as a percentage of GDP with 1 per cent, followed by The Netherlands and Iceland with 0.8 per cent, Italy and Portugal with 0.5 per cent and Spain with 0.2 per cent.

    Per capita spending in terms of the Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) in Greece was among the sixth lowest in the EU at 694, with the highest in Luxembourg (4, 687) and the lowest in Spain (160). The EU average was 1,361 per capita PPS.

    [11] Greek tourism organization to host international sector conference

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    The Greek National Tourism Organization is to host an international conference of the Association of International Scientific Experts in Tourism (AIEST) in Athens on September 7-11.

    The meeting will focus on sports and tourism.

    [12] Stocks rise, fuelled by selective buying

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished higher on Thursday fuelled by selective buying in stocks including Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Hellenic Petroleum, Football Pools Organization and Cosmote, traders said.

    The general share index gained 0.55 percent to end at 2,158.64 points. Turnover was 262.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.04 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 2.30 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with gains of 1.61 percent.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 208 to 119 with 43 issues remaining unchanged.

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Thursday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.30 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 14 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (875 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.9 bln euros

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover

    at 111.8 mln euros Thursday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.04% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +2.30 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (1,513)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 111.8 mln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of July 31 2003

    Parities in euro

    Banknotes

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,140 1,114

    [13] 43rd Olympic Academy int'l conference opens in Athens

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    The 43rd International Conference of the International Olympic Academy for new participants began on Thursday on the Pnyx Hill, with the participation of Sports Deputy Minister George Lianis and the President of the Greek Olympic Committee Lambis Nikolaou.

    The President of the International Olympic Academy Nikos Filaretos and Prof. Stephen Miller were also among the many personalities present for the event of the Academy, which aims at promoting the Olympic Spirit and the Olympic Ideals.

    Lianis, in his address stated that today around the world the message for morality and spiritual harmony and democracy is promoted.

    On his part, Nikolaou underlined that the message of this 43rd conference will be ''Education through sports'', since, as he said, ancient Greeks adored sports understanding its huge importance.

    The program of the conference includes some 14 lectures in ancient Olympia and will be attended by youths from allover the world.

    [14] Culture minister announces ''Prespes 2003'' festival program

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday, along with Sports Deputy Minister George Lianis and composer Helen Karaindrou presented the program of the ''Prespes 2003'' festival, which will begin on Aug. 22 on the small lake island of Agios Achilleios.

    The opening night will feature Karaindrou's work preformed by singers Maria Farantouri and Dimitra Galani.

    Lianis underlined that this event that began some 14 years ago is now a Balkan and an European institution.

    Venizelos announced that the ''Prespes 2003'' festival will be included in the ''New Balkans'' program of the Cultural Olympiad, adding that the Olympic Torch relay will pass by the festival, where an Olympic rowing competition will take place.

    [15] Culture minister inaugurates Museum of Mycenae

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday inaugurated the Museum of Mycenae, which will showcase some 28,000 pieces of antiquities from the latest finds of the region dating back to the ancient Mycenaean Civilization.

    The Museum takes the visitor back to the Second Millennium B.C.

    The Archaeological Museum of Athens gave 40 pieces of its collection that were found in the Mycenaean Palace.

    [16] Tzortzatos admits to marginal role in November 17

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    In his address to the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court trying the ''November 17'' terrorism case, the defendant Vassilis Tzortzatos on Thursday admitted marginal involvement in the group's activities but denied taking part in any acts of violence it had perpetrated.

    He said he had quit the urban guerrilla band in 1992 over political disagreements with the other members, feeling that they had made a mistaken assessment of the conditions in Greek society after the return of democracy, which would not allow a popular movement to emerge.

    He said N17's goals were to reveal the real truth about political life in the country and to pit the power of the people against the ''ruthless power of politicians''.

    ''[N17] wanted to act as the trigger of a popular movement but not as a surrogate for its action,'' Tzortzatos said, giving his own assessment of the reasons for the terror group's creation.

    He also claimed that none of the members of N17 were well-off and that none of them had selfish motives for taking part, pointing out that their ''operational capacity would have allowed them to all become extremely wealthy''.

    He asserted that the organization had engaged in ''serious political action and had a serious political result that was reflected by the group's acceptance in Greek society''.

    His own role was limited to stealing cars for the organizations use, he claimed, while he was not in contact with any of the group after his withdrawal.

    Among his fellow defendants, Tzortzatos said he knew Christodoulos Xiros through a now-deceased former member of N17 and Theo logos Psaradellis, whom he met after he had quit N17 in Evia. During his years within N17, he said he had been in contact with two of the group's members, whom he refused to name.

    The defendant also claimed to have been subjected to torture and threats by police after his arrest last summer in order to confess to taking part in specific N17 actions.

    At the start of Thursday's session, the court read out the statements and depositions given by Christodoulos Xiros before the Examining Magistrate and during the preliminary interrogation.

    [17] Weak earthquake recorded in Halkidiki

    Athens 1/08/03 (ANA)

    A weak earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale was recorded at midnight in the Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece.

    According to the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geo-physics Laboratory, the earthquake was recorded in the sea region west of Cassandra, at a distance of 80 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki and 15 kilometers west of Cape Poseidi.

    [18] ECHR finds Turkey guilty of violation of European Convention of Human Rights

    NICOSIA 1/08/03 (CNA/ANA)

    European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found on Thursday Turkey guilty of violation of the European Convention of Human Rights in two cases of Greek Cypriots against Turkey.

    The applicants in the Demades vs Turkey and the Eugenia Michaelidou Developments Ltd and Micahel Tymvios vs Turkey cases, have accused Turkish armed forces on the island for pre-venting them to have access to and from using and enjoying possession of their property in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and since then occupies one third of the island's territory.

    Both Court's judgments were held by six votes in favor and one against, being the one of the Turkish judge.

    Moreover the Court rejected all Turkish government's preliminary objections.

    ''The Court saw no reason to depart from the conclusions it had reached in the Loizidou vs Turkey and Cyprus vs Turkey cases'', the press release by the Registrar of the Court says.

    ECHR ruled in December 1996 that Turkey is guilty of continuous violation of the human rights of Greek Cypriot Loizidou to peacefully enjoy her property in Turkish occupied Cyprus and ordered Ankara to pay compensation and allow Loizidou access to her property.

    In the decision Cyprus vs Turkey, the latter was held guilty for 14 violations of the European Convention of Human Rights and was considered responsible for the actions of the illegal regime in the occupied areas.

    ''The applicants were denied access to and control, use and enjoyment of their property and had not been compensated for the interference with their property rights'' the press release says.

    It adds that ''the Court decided that the complete denial of Greek Cypriot displaced persons to respect of their homes in the northern Cyprus amounted to a continuing violation of Article 8 of the Convention''.

    The Court held in both cases that the question of the application of Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention concerning pecuniary and non pecuniary damage was not ready for decision.

    Speaking to CNA, Demades' attorney, Achilleas Demetriades said that the judgment is of great importance because it signifies that the Court will continue to examine individual applications against Turkey.

    Another important element in the Court ruling is that it excludes consideration of the so-called law of the Denktash regime in the northern occupied part of Cyprus, for cases which have already been declared admissible by the Court and will be examined.

    The Court is expected to issue its verdict on whether the so-called courts in occupied Cyprus are considered domestic remedy early next year.

    Turkey has to pay Demades within three months from the date on which the judgment on the merits becomes final EUR 2,875 in respect of costs and expenses plus any tax that may be chargeable, to be converted into Cypriot pounds at the rate applicable on the date of settlement.

    The Court invites Turkey and the applicant to notify it of any agreement that they may reach and ''reserves the further procedure and delegates to the President of the Chamber the power to fix the same if need be'', the judgment says.

    Attorney of the second case Eugenia Michaelidou Developments Ltd and Michael Tymvios vs Turkey the Court, Christos Klerides, stressed that the Courts judgment is very important, since it is the beginning of unbearable pressure on Turkey to comply with the European legal order.

    Turkey is to pay Tymvios 8,480 Euros for costs and expenses.

    [19] Spokesman reiterates readiness for talks

    NICOSIA 1/08/03 (CNA/ANA)

    The Greek Cypriot side continues to be willing to resume negotiations on the basis of a UN peace proposal, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Thursday, when invited to comment on remarks by Kofi Annan that he does not intend to undertake any new initiative unless the two sides in Cyprus display ''real and genuine'' political will to move forward.

    The spokesman also said that Annan's position on the resumption of talks has not changed.

    ''The position of the Greek Cypriot side remains the same, we are ready at any moment and whenever the Secretary General invites the parties to resume the talks on the substance of the Cyprus question and to negotiate on the basis of the Annan plan with a view at finding a solution,'' the Cypriot official said.

    Annan had told a press conference in New York that he is prepared to help once there is real and genuine political will on the part of both parties in Cyprus.

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

    [20] Spokesman: Turkey's EU course depends on EU and Cyprus problem

    NICOSIA 1/08/03 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey's European course fully depends on the EU and its legislative instruments and the Cyprus problem is an obstacle to promoting Turkey's course to the EU, said here Thursday Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.

    The spokesman was commenting on statements made by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey's ac-cession to the EU would help towards a rapid solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Invited to comment on Erdogan's remark that the Cyprus government does not want a solution to the Cyprus problem when the government prohibits Greek Cypriots to take goods to the free areas from the occupied north, the spokesman said, ''this is an unfounded position and surely does not respond to the reality''.

    The spokesman said Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's efforts to appear that they are making gestures to-wards confidence building measures is obvious, adding that in the case of demining

    Denktash tried after two to three years to take advantage of the fact and claim that the suggestion was his, despite the fact that the Greek Cypriot side had made the suggestion when the international convention to ban all anti-personnel landmines was signed.

    Chrysostomides said the government submitted the proposal again within the framework of its policy to help Turkish Cypriots and called for demining throughout the buffer zone.

    Invited to comment on Erdogan's statement that Turkey's ac-cession to the EU would rapidly help towards a solution of the Cyprus problem, Chrysostomides said ''if he is talking about a solution to the Cyprus problem soon, this does not agree with the time necessary for Turkey's accession, which is not estimated to be anytime soon''.

    ''Therefore, there is a logical contradiction to Erdogan's view'', he added.

    The Cyprus government, he said, ''believes that Turkey's ac-cession to the EU and its future course depends fully on the EU and its legislative institutions and the Cyprus problem remains an obstacle in promoting Turkey's course to the EU'', he said.

    ''Turkey must take measures to promote a solution to the Cyprus problem so that its EU course becomes easier'', the spokesman concluded.

    [21] National Council discusses measures for Turkish Cypriots

    NICOSIA 1/08/03 (CNA/ANA)

    The National Council (advisory body to the President on the Cyprus problem) examined here Thursday the government's measures to support Turkish Cypriots, their implementation and the obstacles faced.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said after the meeting, which was chaired by President Tassos Papadopoulos, that political leaders expressed their views and exchanged ideas and suggestions regarding the implementation of the measures.

    Asked if the issue of the demining of the Nicosia area was raised during the meeting, the spokesman said ''yes, surely the demining issue is part of the measures proposed by the government on 30th April''.

    The spokesman said there was no specific proposal at present to announce any further measures.

    ''There is a discussion on their implementation and the obstacles faced, as well as ways to overcome these obstacles'', he added.

    Invited to comment on the strong reaction by Greek Cypriot farmers' organisations to the decision for the purchase of 1,500 tones of grain from Turkish Cypriot farmers, Chrysostomides said the ''purchase was made by the Grains' Commission''.

    He stated it was an indication of the good will of the Greek Cypriot side towards the Turkish Cypriots, noting that the issue will be discussed at the level of farmers' organisations and government officials.

    The spokesman added there are still problems regarding the movement of goods from the occupied areas. He said there are issues, which need to be addressed to such as internal legislation of the Republic of Cyprus, for instance the VAT issue.

    ''There are still many difficulties. The government's effort is to find solutions so that it will be able to promote trade transactions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots'', the spokesman said.

    The European Union, he added, positively views the governments measures for the Turkish Cypriots and is aware of the obstacles.

    He also said the Justice and Public Order Ministry periodically submits a report on the measures to the government, and based on this report the discussion was held Thursday at the National Council.

    The measures aim at providing those Turkish Cypriots who live in the occupied areas the ability to enjoy the rights and benefits, which the Republic of Cyprus grants to its citizens without discrimination.

    [22] Germany ready to assist Cyprus reunification

    NICOSIA 1/08/03 (CNA/ANA)

    Germany is willing to help Cyprus tackle problems, economic or other, which may arise from the reunification of the island, German Minister of Finance Hans Eichel has said, and announced that he has invited to Berlin Cypriot experts for an exchange of views on the matter.

    He said Cyprus and other countries to join the EU could help Brussels formulate its policy on the Middle East and said Germany will back Cyprus in its effort to adjust to its member-ship of the EMU (European Monetary Union).

    The German minister made these statements during a joint press conference here on Thursday with his Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou, with whom he had official talks.

    Earlier in the morning Eichel was received by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos. He had also meetings with Cyprus Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou and the House Standing Committee on Financial Affairs.

    Eichel told the press that he would encourage Germans not only to visit but also to invest in Cyprus, whose economic performance he praised.

    Speaking through an interpreter, Eichel said the entry of the new members will give the EU a new dimension and the EU will have a common border with Russia and will move much closer to the Middle East.

    ''These countries which are closest to the region can help us better understand developments in the Middle East and they are best placed to help us formulate these policies and this is a big asset for the EU,'' he added.

    He said Germany and Cyprus have suffered from separation and it was agreed to have a meeting between German and Cypriot ex-perts to discuss how to prepare for reunification, what to learn from the German lesson, noting however that conditions may be different but there are also common issues.

    The German minister said there will be exchange of views, questions will be answered and the visit can take place as soon as possible.

    He said the Green Line (that divides the capital Nicosia into the northern Turkish-occupied part from the southern government- controlled area) which he has visited reminded him of the division of his own country.

    ''We also talked about EMU and economic issues after Cyprus' accession, an early entry of Cyprus into the EMU would not cause major problems, Cyprus has to reflect on the loss of flexibility from accession and how much additional flexibility it will gain through measures relating to the labor market, price setting mechanisms, etc,'' he said.

    The minister said if Cyprus wants to join the EMU early and pursue a pragmatic approach, ''I think it will be able to avoid such problems and will have the support of Germany on this.''

    He said Cyprus may be a net contributor as of 2007.

    Replying to questions, he said once the situation in the Middle East stabilizes more, opportunities will open on the island and in the region for German investors.

    In his remarks, Cyprus Finance Minister Kyprianou said they discussed EU issues, EMU, EU budgetary concerns, and matters relating to the Stability and Development Pact.

    He said his German counterpart was briefed about the economic realities in Cyprus and further enhancement of bilateral ties.

    ''Europe will come closer to the Eastern Mediterranean once we join the Union and we believe we can contribute to a new EU policy in the region,'' Kyprianou said.

    The German minister was due to leave later Thursday.


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