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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-18

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

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

November 18, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek economy not under surveillance, FinMin says
  • [02] Foreign Minister discusses Turkey's EU prospects with Bott, Asselborn
  • [03] Michaloliakos concludes two-day visit to Belgrade
  • [04] Demonstrators march to U.S. embassy on anniversary of Polytechnic student uprising
  • [05] Parliament unanimously ratifies House budget for 2005
  • [06] Defense Minister completes two-day official visit to Britain
  • [07] European Parliament agrees to financial support for Turkish-Cypriots
  • [08] FinMin Alogoskoufis says doom-sayers were belied by outcome of ECOFIN meeting
  • [09] Standard & Poor's lowers long-term ratings on Greece
  • [10] Budget for 2005 to parliament on Thursday
  • [11] Greek Economic Climate Index rose in October
  • [12] Annual inflation in October was 3.3 per cent in Greece, Eurostat reports
  • [13] High deficit the main obstacle to a heating benefit, deputy finmin tells NET
  • [14] Appeals Justices' Council rejects appeal against dismissal of bourse-related case
  • [15] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [16] Case file on TV crew's alleged disrespect for Ehinos mosque to public prosecutor
  • [17] Samaranch praises Athens Olympics at "Sport Cultura" conference in Barcelona
  • [18] Cyprus President says Turkey obliged to recognize Cyprus Republic
  • [19] British Minister says Annan plan is "dead"
  • [20] American Airlines decides not to launch direct flights to occupied Cyprus

  • [01] Greek economy not under surveillance, FinMin says

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greece is not under the surveillance of the EU on the economy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday adding that "there is a specific community procedure to deal with cases such as Greece and other EU member-states".

    The Greek minister also stressed that there was no issue of the EU imposing sanctions against the country.

    Alogoskoufis said that an ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday discussed developments in the oil market, the EU's economy and plans to revise a Stability and Growth Pact. "Greece believes that the Stability Pact was being implemented in an excessively rigid way," the Greek minister said. He added that the EU needed new rules but that the Greek government was not sure if the right mixture of credibility and efficiency existed. Alogoskoufis also urged for a strengthening of relations between the Council of Ministers and the European Commission.

    Alogoskoufis said that a revision of the Stability Pact should not include changing of its provisions for a fiscal deficit of 3.0 percent of GDP and public debt of 60 percent of GDP. He stressed that a more flexible implementation of the pact would have to focus on the adjustment period for a member-state. The Greek minister added that Greece would adopt a mild adjustment policy in its effort to bring its fiscal situation in line with Stability Pact's provisions and reiterated the government's goal to reduce its fiscal deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2005 from 5.3 percent in 2004.

    "The issue is closing," Alogoskoufis said commenting on differences between the government and the main opposition party on the country's fiscal condition. "The country's entry in EMU is a fact and the government places great significance on vindicating this policy. The previous government is highly responsible for failing to present credible data," he stressed.

    Alogoskoufis dismissed the possibility of the EU imposing sanctions against Greece since the Stability Pact has no retro-active powers.

    [02] Foreign Minister discusses Turkey's EU prospects with Bott, Asselborn

    LUXEMBOURG 18/11/2004 (ANA / D. Konstantakopoulos)

    The European Council's conclusions regarding Turkey's EU accession dominated the discussions Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis had with his Dutch counterpart Bernhard Bot and with Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister on Wednesday at The Hague and in Luxembourg. On Tuesday, Molyviatis had met with French counterpart Michel Barnier.

    Molyviatis reiterated that Athens supports Turkey's European prospects, but emphasized that whether they materialize or not depends on Turkey.

    According to news sources, the emphasis during Molyviatis' discussions was placed on the Council's statements in December, which deal with Greek-Turkish relations. According to certain sources, Athens is reviewing various alternative "scenarios" regarding statements to be made in December, taking into consideration Europe's attitude towards Turkey and the latter's behavior.

    Molyviatis also discussed the name issue regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with Barnier, Bot and Asselborn and was reassured that all three support the European position, which is a solution that is acceptable to Athens and Skopje.

    [03] Michaloliakos concludes two-day visit to Belgrade

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos concluded his two-day visit to Belgrade on Wednesday, during which he met with the country's political leadership and religious hierarchy.

    During the meetings Michaloliakos had with the President of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Parliament Vice President, both sides reiterated the need for closer cooperation between the parliaments of both countries.

    Apart from meeting with various ministers on Tuesday, Michaloliakos met with Serbia's Patriarch Pavle and Montenegro Metropolitan Amfiloho Radovic on Wednesday and discussed the issue of Kosovo's monuments.

    Both sides agreed that the international community and UNESCO did not fulfill their obligations regarding protection of the monuments in Kosovo which are part of the world's cultural legacy. More than 100 churches, most of which date back to the Byzantine era, have been destroyed.

    Michaloliakos and the Greek delegation are scheduled to return to Athens on Wednesday evening.

    [04] Demonstrators march to U.S. embassy on anniversary of Polytechnic student uprising

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Three-day celebrations marking the anniversary of the student uprising against the military junta on November 17, 1973 heightened on Wednesday afternoon with a march to the U.S. embassy in Athens, where the demonstrators sang the Greek national anthem and began to disperse, shouting slogans against the Americans and the leaders of the U.S. and Israel.

    During the march, demonstrators observed a minute's silence in downtown Athens where two demonstrators had been killed during a similar march in 1980.

    Police were discreetly present in side streets, while creating a cordon around the U.S. embassy.

    People participating in the march were reportedly fewer than in past years and the crowds were not dense.

    Disturbances occurred on a limited scale at about 6 p.m. at the end of the march when anarchists hurled bottles and stones at riot police in Vassilisis Sofias avenue. The police did not react and the incident fizzled out.

    Other anarchists threw stones, bottles, sticks and other items at the "block" of the main opposition PASOK party near the U.S. embassy and then dispersed in side streets.

    Shortly afterwards, youths stoned riot police near Mavili Square, close to the U.S. embassy. The youths were dispersed with a limited use of tear gas.

    A little after six o'clock, a group of about 15 youths who were not connected to the march threw a cocktail Molotov bomb at a bank branch in Patission avenue. The fire was put out quickly by the fire brigade with limited damage being caused to the premises.

    Gov't spokesman says November 17 anniversary is a time for 'memory and reflection': The anniversary of the polytechnic uprising on November 17, 1973 was a time for memory and reflection, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Wednesday, noting that the people that had fought to bring down the dictatorship of that time had "waged the timeless battle for freedom, democracy, human rights and social justice".

    "All of us and each of us individually is called to reassess what it means to be a citizen and our obligation to actively contribute to bolstering democracy, human dignity and the extension of social rights," he added.

    He stressed that the government participated in the anniversary moderately and with respect. He also underlined the need to protect the message of the anniversary for "possible incidents", saying that discreet measures to protect and safeguard property will be taken.

    [05] Parliament unanimously ratifies House budget for 2005

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Parliament early Wednesday unanimously ratified the House budget for 2005, in a plenary session, as all wings in the unicameral parliament agreed that it was characterized by "transparency" and a spirit of "austerity" and "tidiness".

    Tuesday's debate on the parliamentary budget, which ran past midnight, provided the opportunity, however, for MPs to voice their financial complaints.

    Former parliament president and main opposition PASOK deputy Apostolos Kaklamanis criticized the "state within the state" of the television media, and praised the role played by parliament's television station, stressing the need for its broadcasts to reach "even the remotest village". He was also critical of the "phenomenon of mutual support" on the part of the MPs in instances where the lifting of a deputy's parliamentary immunity was sought, citing the recent case of deputy foreign minister and ruling New Democracy (ND) MP Evrypides Stylianidis for a Traffic Code violation, which parliament did not approve.

    Other MPs presented their financial demands, calling for an increase in the MPs' remuneration, while Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Nikos Gatzis countered that it was a "provocation" to seek further increases in the parliamentarians' remuneration when the working people had received very low pay rises of 2.2 percent.

    [06] Defense Minister completes two-day official visit to Britain

    LONDON 18/11/2004 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos completed his two-day official visit to Britain on Wednesday with talks with his British counterpart Geoffrey Hoon, with whom he had a working dinner on Tuesday evening, and with Alternate Defense Minister Lord Bach who is responsible for armaments programs.

    Referring to his talks with Hoon, Spiliotopoulos said "I had very good cooperation with the defense minister of Britain. We discussed bilateral issues, as well as issues of military, defense and technical cooperation, as well as issues of general regional security. We agreed that ground for cooperation is even greater and with a political agreement between us we are assigning the military and technocrats to process even more programs in two directions: primarily regarding cooperation in joint training and military exercises and, of course, cooperation in the technical sector through the European Defense Agency. It was a very good and positive meeting and, of course, we are leaving London with the best of impressions."

    Also discussed were defense policy issues concerning NATO and the European Union, as well as the participation of Greece and Britain in peacekeeping operations.

    Commenting on his talks with Lord Bach, Spiliotopoulos said "our discussion focused primarily on the Eurofighter and on weapons of the new generation and of high technology. The issue of the Eurofighter is being addressed by the Greek government, but no decision has been taken yet."

    As regards cooperation between Britain and Greece in peacekeeping operations, Spiliotopoulos clarified that "the discussion taking place in the European Union lately on the battle groups will reach joint cooperation between defense ministers and foreign ministers in Brussels next Monday. Decisions will be taken there, of course, and countries will be declaring their participation there."

    Referring, finally, to whether weaponry purchases from Britain were discussed, Spiliotopoulos said "cooperation in this sector is already very good. Issues concerning new programs were not raised. However, the future lies ahead of us."

    The minister was also briefed on the operation of the Crisis Management Centre and of the Permanent Joint Operations Headquarters.

    [07] European Parliament agrees to financial support for Turkish-Cypriots

    STRASBOURG 18/11/2004 (ANA/O.Tsipira)

    The majority of the European Parliament's Plenary Session on Wednesday voted in favor of providing 259 million in financial support to the Turkish-Cypriot community over a two-year period, 2004-2006. Specifically, 618 voted for, 39 against, and 24 abstained, from the proposal made by German Eurodeputy Mechtild Rothe.

    The proposal was amended so that no reference is made as to which category of the budget will serve as a source for the financial aid. That is to be decided jointly by the Council and Parliament, when an amended budget is adopted.

    The Eurodeputies also emphasized that regarding the Cyprus issue, negotiations will have to be held with Parliament for all decisions pertaining to the regulation.

    As for the issue of commercial relations, the Eurodeputies stressed that the Council must make an "honest and fair" decision as soon as possible, and that each project subsidized on the basis of the regulation will have to be examined "in order to ensure that no ownership rights of any EU citizen are violated."

    According to the Committee's explanatory report, the purpose of this financial support is to facilitate the reuniting of Cyprus, by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish-Cypriot community, with special emphasis on the island's economic integration and improved relations between the two communities and with the EU.

    [08] FinMin Alogoskoufis says doom-sayers were belied by outcome of ECOFIN meeting

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said Wednesday that all the "Cassandras" (doom-sayers) have been belied, referring to the outcome of Tuesday's meeting of the EU economy and finance (Ecofin) ministers, with respect to the fiscal audit of the Greek economy.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, which was also attended by chairman of the Association of Greek Banks Yannis Kostopoulos, Alogoskoufis said that the credibility of the Greek government had been "fully affirmed".

    During the meeting, Kostopoulos briefed the premier and minister on current matters concerning the domestic banking system, including the social insurance sector.

    Alogoskoufis said that the banks' social insurance was a matter between the bank employees and banks' administrations.

    He also said that the social insurance system issue would not be reopened.

    [09] Standard & Poor's lowers long-term ratings on Greece

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Wednesday that it had lowered its long-term sovereign credit ratings on the Greece to 'A' from 'A+'.

    The downgrade reflected the lack of a resolute strategy to achieve rapid and lasting improvements to the general government primary balance, and to initiate a significant and sustained decrease of the public debt ratio, the international ratings company said in a statement.

    At the same time, the 'A-1' short-term ratings on Greece were affirmed; and the outlook is stable.

    "General government debt is forecast to be at 112.0% of GDP by the end of 2004, little changed from 114.0% on the eve of Greece's EMU entry in 2000," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Trevor Cullinan. "The general government deficit is expected to reach 5.5% of GDP this year, with the cyclically adjusted balance at almost 6.0% of GDP."

    Standard & Poor's had assigned a negative outlook to the rating on Sept. 13, 2004, a day after substantial revisions to Greek fiscal data were made public.

    At that time, Standard & Poor's stated that failure to address the increased fiscal imbalances with lasting structural measures would lead to a lowering of the ratings.

    The 2005 draft state budget, submitted to parliament on Oct. 4, 2004, does not contain these structural reforms, and no significant fiscal policy measures are in the pipeline, the statement said.

    "The pressure on Greek public finances will remain, but we project that the public debt ratio will post marginal declines in the medium term," said Cullinan.

    "The government intends to reduce its deficit to less than 3% of GDP in 2005, but this will be difficult to attain without additional measures or increased recourse to one-off transactions," he added.

    The ratings could be raised if structural budgetary improvements were to lead to a clearly discernible trend toward the primary surpluses of the late-1990s (about 6% of GDP) and the public debt ratio was to embark on a speedy and sustained decline. Conversely, an increase in the general government debt ratio would bring the ratings on Greece under renewed downward pressure, S&P's said.

    Gov't again vows fiscal discipline, responding to S&P downgrade: The government remains committed to restoring fiscal discipline and transparency, the finance ministry said in a statement on Wednesday after Standard & Poor's lowered its long-term credit ratings on Greece.

    "Poor practices in the past (by the previous government) that have resulted in S&P's announcement today are being corrected by the current government, which is restoring fiscal equilibrium in a trustworthy fashion," the statement said.

    It also quoted S&P's as saying that a deterioration in Greece's fiscal image was due to slackness before national elections on March 7; underestimating the cost of hosting the Athens 2004 Olympics; and to pre-election concessions incorporated in law by the previous government.

    Finally, the international ratings company had acknowledged the government's intention of forging alliances with the private sector for joint investments, and of creating a more user-friendly tax system, the ministry added.

    Main opposition blames gov't for S&P downgrade: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday blamed the government after Standard & Poor's lowered its long-term credit ratings on Greece.

    "This is a new blow to the economy's credibility that is accompanied by obvious side-effects," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in a statement.

    "This will mean higher interest rates for Greece and higher debt-servicing costs, and therefore a higher cost for the Greek public," the statement added.

    [10] Budget for 2005 to parliament on Thursday

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    The government is to send the budget for 2005 to parliament on Thursday.

    In the form of a parliamentary bill, the budget targets a reduction of the fiscal deficit to 2.8% of gross domestic product next year from about 5.3% anticipated for 2004; and growth in 2005 is forecast at 3.9%.

    The bill differs little from a draft budget the government released last month.

    Gov't: Greece ends "lack of frankness" about state finances Defense Minister

    Greece has ended "a lack of frankness" in managing state finances, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Wednesday.

    "Those who cooked the books in (former ruling) PASOK are still making out that they don't understand, even though they left behind major problems. However, Greeks are aware of the fact, and the country's partners in the European Union, who have now ascertained that the Greek economy is starting from a favorable position," the spokesman said.

    [11] Greek Economic Climate Index rose in October

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's Economic Climate Index improved in October to 94.9 from 93.7 in September, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Wednesday.

    IOBE attributed the improvement largely to a review of early negative forecasts and expectations over the prospects of the construction sector after the Olympic Games.

    Business expectations in the construction sector remained negative in October, but to a lesser degree compared with the previous month, while the climate remained unchanged or slightly worsened in the other sectors of the Greek economy. The fall was more felt in the retail sector, with the Business Expectations Index losing 4.4 percentage points in October, while the consumer confidence index was almost unchanged in the month.

    The Business Expectations Index in the manufacturing sector eased slightly to 97.5 in October from 97.9 in September, with 80 percent of businesses expecting employment to remain unchanged, while only 9.0 percent of businesses expect employment to fall further in the country.

    Business expectations in October, IOBE said, were leading to the conclusion that the manufacturing sector was facing more difficult demand conditions, with 33 percent saying that inadequate demand holding back production in October, up from 27 percent in July.

    Business expectations in the construction sector recovered slightly in October, after a large fall in the previous month, although 54 percent of businesses expected a further fall in the number of employed in the sector.

    The Economic Climate Index rose by 0.6 percentage points in the EU-25 in October to 104.5 points, recovering after a fall to 103.9 in September. The index rose to 101.3 in October from 101 in September in the Eurozone.

    [12] Annual inflation in October was 3.3 per cent in Greece, Eurostat reports

    BRUSSELS 18/11/2004 (ANA - A. Simatos)

    Annual inflation in Greece in October was 3.3 per cent year-on-year, up from 2.9 per cent in September, the European statistics service Eurostat reported on Wednesday.

    According to Eurostat figures, annual inflation rose in October relative to the previous month throughout the EU and the Eurozone.

    Average inflation for the 25 EU member-states went up from 2.1 per cent in September to 2.3 per cent in October, while average inflation in the Eurozone went up from 2.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent during the same periods.

    The EU member-states with the lowest rate of inflation were Finland (0.6 per cent), the United Kingdom (1.2 per cent), Sweden (1.4 per cent) and the Netherlands (1.5 per cent). Inflation was highest in Latvia (7.2 per cent), Hungary (6.4 per cent), Slovakia (6.3 per cent) and Poland (4.6 per cent).

    [13] High deficit the main obstacle to a heating benefit, deputy finmin tells NET

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    In statements to the state TV channel NET on Wednesday, Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas said the current drive to reduce public-sector spending was the main obstacle to handing out benefits for heating, a measure estimated to cost between 170-200 million euros.

    "It's something we are monitoring and looking into on a permanent basis," the minister said, noting that the government was not against such a benefit in principle.

    The minister also ruled out the possibility of changes to the draft budget presented by the government in order to improve fiscal discipline.

    "We will proceed on the basis of the figures we have presented in Parliament," he stressed. At the same time, he underlined that the government intended to adhere strictly to the draft budget so as to reduce the public deficit to 2.8 per cent by 2005, instead of waiting for two years in order to exhaust the deadline for reducing the deficit given by the EU.

    "In 2005, people can expect what is written in the budget. In other words, pay rises just above inflation and certain tax reductions that are already being discussed in Parliament. They should not, therefore, have to endure worse days. But we have considerably cut spending on defense and the operational costs of most ministries, except the ministries of welfare and education and the interior ministry spending on local authorities," he said.

    Doukas also stressed that the EU had already agreed with the draft budget presented by Greece and had not asked for any additional measures.

    "We are placing ourselves under supervision for our own good. We need to tidy things up in order to present a good image for the Greek economy, in order to appear more attractive for investment and for thousands of other reasons," he added.

    [14] Appeals Justices' Council rejects appeal against dismissal of bourse-related case

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    The Council of Appeals Court Justices on Wednesday rejected an appeal lodged by an Appeals Court vice-prosecutor against a decision to dismiss charges of breach of duty against former board members of the Capital Markets Commission.

    In its decision, the Council said the decision taken by the Council of Misdemeanors Court Justices, who decided that charges against the accused related to the activities of the ALTEC company on the Athens Stock Exchange should be dropped, was fully justified on the basis of the evidence.

    In its ruling on Wednesday, the Council decided that the particular aspect of the case should be filed for both the former board members of the Athens Stock Exchange and the owners of the company involved.

    [15] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher in blue-chip buying after rising throughout the session, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,644.43 points, showing a rise of 1.26 percent. Turnover was 276.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.38 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.82 percent up; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.03 percent higher.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 206 to 81 with 71 remaining unchanged.

    [16] Case file on TV crew's alleged disrespect for Ehinos mosque to public prosecutor

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Police in Xanthi on Wednesday sent the evidence file concerning incidents involving a television crew in Ehinos to the Xanthi public prosecutor, who will decide whether and what charges are to be pressed.

    The TV crew and actors, in the area to shoot scenes for a series on behalf of one of the larger private TV channels, were accused by Moslem residents of showing disrespect for their religion after women members entered the local mosque in what was considered inappropriate attire.

    The event caused angry reactions from Moslems living in the area. About 100 people gathered outside the mosque and verbally accosted the TV crew, prompting the village police to intervene and escort the TV crew to the local police station for their protection. As the crowd continued to gather and protests continued, however, it was decided to escort the TV crew members to Xanthi under a heavy police guard.

    According to the Xanthi prosecutor, should the case goes to trial after the examining magistrate's investigation, he intends to ask that the hearing be held away from the Xanthi area in order to avoid further incidents during the proceedings.

    Commenting on the affair on Wednesday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said it was an isolated incident "on the occasion of which the government underlines that absolute respect for the sanctity of the places of worship of all religions must be observed".

    Antonaros also stressed that the incident had not tested Greek-Turkish relations and that both the Greek and Turkish media had handled it responsibly.

    [17] Samaranch praises Athens Olympics at "Sport Cultura" conference in Barcelona

    Athens, 18/11/2004 (ANA)

    Former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch said he was extremely pleased with the staging of the 2004 Athens Olympics, during a speech he gave at the Sport Cultura conference in Barcelona on Wednesday. Samaranch is Honorary President of the Sport Cultura Organization.

    "Within a few years, Greece drastically changed for the better through teamwork and methodical effort. Athens staged fantastic, incredible Olympic Games, which promoted not only Athens, but Greece as well, as did the Barcelona Games [for Barcelona and Spain]", he said.

    Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Executive Director Marton Simitsek presented the experience of the 2004 Athens Games.

    [18] Cyprus President says Turkey obliged to recognize Cyprus Republic

    NICOSIA 18/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Wednesday that the government wants Turkey to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, noting this is ''one of its obligations,'' and adding that the effort of the Greek Cypriot side was ''to open the way for the resumption of talks to solve the Cyprus problem.''

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport on departure for Rome, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and government officials,

    at the invitation of the Italian government, Papadopoulos said ''our main position is that the Cyprus problem must remain under the auspices of the UN and all actions should start with the UN as a central point of reference.''

    Asked if another UN solution plan by Secretary General Kofi Annan could pave the way for a viable settlement, Papadopoulos said this would depend on its content. ''This could be done with a plan that would do away with the weaknesses of the fifth Annan plan, would meet the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the Greek Cypriots and would make sure that the solution would be viable, implemented and accepted by both sides on the island,'' he said.

    Referring to Turkey's European aspirations, the president reiterated that the Cypriot government would take its decisions in December on

    the final stance it will maintain at the December 17 European Council, from which Turkey expects a date to commence EU accession negotiations.

    The decision, he pointed out, will be ''based on all developments and trends, and as long as the solution of the Cyprus problem is promoted, which must remain our main objective."

    ''Our effort is to pave the way for the resumption of talks to solve the Cyprus problem,'' he stressed.

    Replying to questions, Papadopoulos said ''it would be an oxymoron for Turkey to carry out accession negotiations with the EU and each country, and to refuse to recognize one of the countries that is part of this negotiation." On his trip to Italy, the president said he would discuss various issues concerning bilateral relations and developments in the region and the EU, including those that will be discussed at the December summit.

    He said that bilateral ties are very good, there is cooperation in many issues, such as illegal immigration and asylum matters. Commenting on reports that American Airlines is planning to commence direct flights to an illegal airport in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic, Papadopoulos said ''our position is that international relations are based on international agreements and legal principles'' and noted that ''direct flights are contrary to many international agreements.''

    [19] British Minister says Annan plan is "dead"

    LONDON 18/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Britain's Minister for Europe Denis MacShane has said that the Annan plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem is ''dead'', since the Greek Cypriot community has rejected it. ''What could be done'', he said, ''is what the UN Secretary General himself stated that he could return to the subject if there was convincing evidence that both sides are willing for a solution''.

    ''I have not seen such willingness,'' said MacShane, while giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry on Cyprus. The British minister expressed the view that if Turkey is given a date for accession negotiations with the EU and while these talks continue there will be ''openings'' on the Cyprus issue.

    Committee Chairman Donald Anderson and members of the Committee put forward the idea for replacement of the Turkish forces, occupying Cyprus' northern third since 1974, with EU or NATO or other forces. Committee member Fabian Hamilton said that ''it would be inconceivable for a country (Turkey) acceding to the EU while keeping occupying forces in another country member of the Union''.

    The British minister said if both parties in Cyprus came out supporting such an idea ''it would be an interesting development''.

    Responding to questions on why measures for ending the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots are, as it was said, stalled and whether that was due to the Cyprus government, the British official said ''although there is not enough cooperation and support from the Cyprus government, the real reason is the way the EU functions aiming at getting general agreement''. He said although the UK government is for direct trade and flights

    with the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, he explained that it is difficult to have direct flights because of the International Convention, which provides for the sovereign right of a country to decide which airports in its territory can be registered for international use.

    Nevertheless, the British government is pushing for direct flights engaging the best lawyers and other experts on the subject, he added. The US, MacShane said, gives a different interpretation to the International Convention and is trying to have direct flights through bilateral agreements with Turkey.

    Earlier today it was reported from Washington that American Airlines will not launch any direct flights to the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus. The American Airlines' President sent a letter to Turkish Airlines' President, informing him that American Airlines cannot perform direct flights to the occupied part of Cyprus due to economic reasons. Reports had suggested that American Airlines were planning to launch as from January 2005 direct flights from New York to the illegal airport "Ercan" at Tymbou, situated in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, via Istanbul.

    The Cyprus government has strongly protested to the US administration over plans for the start of direct flights to the occupied areas. All ports and airports in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974 have been declared illegal ports of entry by the internationally recognized government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    [20] American Airlines decides not to launch direct flights to occupied Cyprus

    NEW YORK 18/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    American Airlines will not launch any direct flights to the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus.

    The American Airlines' President sent a letter to Turkish Airlines' President, informing him that the American Airlines cannot perform direct flights to the occupied part of Cyprus due to economic reasons.

    Members of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure headed by Congressmen Robert

    Menendez and Mario Diaz-Balart had warned the company not to go ahead with these flights. Reports had suggested that American Airlines were planning to launch as from January 2005 direct flights from New York to the illegal airport "Ercan" at Tymbou, situated in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, via Istanbul.

    The Cyprus government has strongly protested to the US administration over plans for the start of direct flights to the occupied areas. All ports and airports in the areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974 have been declared illegal ports of entry by the internationally recognized government of the Republic of Cyprus.


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