|Thursday, 5 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 26, 2005
 Athens and Nicosia adopt common strategy on Cyprus, PM Karamanlis says
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, after his meeting with visiting President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos at Maximos Mansion on Tuesday evening, emphasized that Athens and Nicosia adopt a common strategy regarding the Cyprus issue. Specifically, Karamanlis said that the objective is to "reach an agreed upon, operational and viable solution to the Cyprus problem that will be based on the Annan plan and on the positions recently adopted by Cyprus."
Karamanlis also stressed the importance of Cyprus' EU accession, thus noting that the solution to the Cyprus problem "must be in compliance with the fundamental values and principles on which the Union is founded."
The prime minister also said that he and Papadopoulos exchanged views on upcoming developments within the context of the UN and the EU, but also within the context of Ankara's obligations in matters of foreign policy following the decisions taken during the December 17 EU Summit.
"We confirmed once again our excellent cooperation on all levels," Karamanlis stated, adding that both sides will continue working in this direction.
Asked whether he agrees with Papadopoulos' view that changes to the Annan plan must be substantial and not decorative, Karamanlis explained that the main topic of discussion during Tuesday's meeting was "which parts of the Annan plan we would like to see amended." The prime minister said that both sides were working very closely on this point.
Asked whether he believes Turkey will sign the Ankara Treaty to include the 10 new, EU member-states, Karamanlis replied that what is important is not what he believes but the obligations that each country has undertaken. "During December's EU Summit, Turkey took on specific obligations on this matter," he said.
On his part, Papadopoulos said he was satisfied with the discussion he had with Karamanlis, with whom he has an ongoing cooperation.
"Despite this we deemed this meeting useful in order to better coordinate the two governments and to exchange views on all issues pertaining to the Cyprus problem," the Cypriot president said.
On Wednesday, Papadopoulos will be meeting with Kostis Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, and with Greek political leaders: George Papandreou, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President; Aleka Papariga, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE); and a delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party.
Finally, Nicos Anastassiades, President of the Cypriot Democratic Rally party will be meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis.
 Gov't remains firm in face of farmers' threatened mobilizations
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The government on Tuesday emphasized that it will not violate the law by handing out extra subsidies to mostly cotton growers dissatisfied with this year's crop prices, as the specter of farmers' roadblocks continues to hang over many national highways.
In statements during his regular daily press briefing, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reminded that Agriculture Minister Evangelos Basiakos is the competent government official negotiating with farmers' groups -- in reply to farm unionists' demand that the premier himself deal with the issue. He also noted that Basiakos is continuing negotiations with farm groups and leaders
However, Antonaros again stressed that "demands by the few should not damage the majority of honest farmers ... the government cannot violate the law because they (protesting cotton growers) have lined up their tractors (along the national roadway)..."
In statements hours later, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who will visit Larissa over the weekend, severely criticized the government's actions in the farm sector. He said farmers are today in a "tragic situation", one exacerbated by a drop in crop prices, a huge loss in farm income and enormous profits reaped by middlemen.
He also charged that the government is delaying the absorption of 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF) funds for the agriculture sector and the provinces.
Meanwhile, farmers in the eastern Macedonia prefecture of Serres continued to periodically block a local highway and a customs post on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier.
Other isolated and sporadic roadblocks were set up by farmers in western Macedonia and outside Thessaloniki
Cotton farmers seek meeting with PM in bid to mend rift: Cotton farmers from the agricultural Larissa area on Tuesday sought a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, saying that talks with the agricultural development minister had reached a deadlock.
The farmers, who have positioned their tractors at key roads but refrained from carrying blockades as in the past, have said they will give the government leeway of one more day, and take a decision on further action on Thursday.
 FM, party reps discuss foreign policy issues
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Participants at a national foreign policy council session on Tuesday focused on a variety of external issues, including results from last month's EU Summit, the Cyprus issue and prospects for a solution, as well as neighboring Turkey's highly topical European prospects.
Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis chaired the session, with other participants hailing from Parliament-represented political parties -- sans the Communist party -- foreign policy experts and ministry officials.
According to Molyviatis, other issues discussed included Greek-Turkish relations, developments in the Balkans and the country's humanitarian aid to tsunami-stricken Southeast Asia.
 Gov't says 'primary shareholder' law compatible with EU law
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The government on Tuesday reiterated that the recently passed "primary shareholder" law, aimed at curbing the influence of public sector suppliers and contractors in the local broadcast industry, is entirely compatible with Community law.
The statements, by alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, come days after EU Commission Viviane Reding told reporters in Athens that European law supersedes national constitutions, whereas national laws must be compatible with EU law.
Asked about reports that recourse against the high-profile law -- part of ruling New Democracy party's pre-election promises -- has been made with the Union, Antonaros said he does not have any information to verify such reports.
 Main opposition PASOK presents new statute
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party presented its new statute at an event held at a central Athens hotel on Tuesday evening.
While several points of the draft presented were debated, the statute's overall philosophy was accepted by the party.
President of the General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) Christos Polyzogopoulos took the opportunity to deny news reports that he would be PASOK's new Secretary. He said that he was not interested in the position, but expressed his views on the prerequisites a Secretary must fulfill. According to Polyzogopoulos, the party's secretary should be a member of the political council, which will be elected during the national congress.
 New US envoy Ries pays courtesy call on Education minister Yiannakou
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The new US ambassador to Greece, Charles Ries, paid a courtesy call Tuesday on Education minister Marietta Yiannakou.
The one-hour meeting was held in a friendly climate, as Yiannakou has known Ries since his term as deputy assistant secretary of state, responsible for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. The two officials discussed issues concerning the educational and cultural activities in which they have decided to cooperate.
 Public order minister receives Russian envoy in Athens
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday received the Russian Ambassador in Athens Andrei Vdovin, who congratulated him on the safe and successful Olympic Games held in Athens last summer.
During the visit, the two men also discussed bilateral issues, such as cooperation in dealing with organized crime, and exchanged views on issues pertaining to personnel training, in light of Greece's recent experiences during the Olympics.
Vdovin also extended an invitation to the minister to visit Russia.
Public order minister meets with Algerian ambassador: Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday received Algeria's ambassador to Athens, Abdelhamid Benyamena.
The meeting was described as a courtesy visit by the Algerian envoy, with discussions focusing on matters of bilateral interest.
Benyamena also invited Voulgarakis to officially visit the North African nation.
 Archbishop Patrick Coveney appointed as the Vatican's new Apostolic Nuncio in Greece
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Archbishop Patrick Coveney, formerly the Apostolic Nuncio in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, has been appointed as the Vatican's new Apostolic Nuncio in Greece, it was announced on Tuesday.
Born in Cork, Ireland on July 29, 1934, Archbishop Coveney is a professor in law, has studied diplomacy at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and speaks five languages: English, Italian, French, German and Spanish.
He replaces Archbishop Paul Fouad Tabet, who was Apostolic Nuncio in Greece since 1996 and retired this year.
 Deputy Foreign Minister meets with SAE President
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis met with Andrew Athens, President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Tuesday and discussed the problems and issues that concern the Council as well as the building of a Medical Centre in Russia's Stavropol.
Skandalakis said that the government supports SAE and its work and provides guidance for the realization of infrastructure projects in countries where Greeks live. He also said that the government is committed to building the Stavropol Medical Centre, a project which the government aims to complete over the next four years, which will solve many problems Greeks in the region face.
The deputy minister also said that the government's agenda includes plans in various sectors on the basis of promoting the Greek language and culture. "Greeks living abroad know that today they have the support of the government, which assists them in their efforts to solve their problems. Greeks living abroad connect Hellenism with points beyond the country's geographic boundaries and it is our duty to support them so that they can further develop activities and initiatives aimed at preserving the national conscience and their cultural legacy," Skandalakis said.
 Mahmud Abbas thanks Synaspismos party for its support
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)New Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday sent a letter to Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos, in which he expressed his admiration for what he called the "historic stance of solidarity" Synaspismos has followed vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
"With this opportunity, we would like to express our pride for the friendly relations that link us with your party, and also, the high admiration we hold for the historic stance of solidarity that you follow in favor of our people in their unending effort towards achieving a fair and strategic peace in our region..." the letter read.
 Minister of State meets with President Stephanopoulos
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Minister of State Theodore Roussopoulos paid a courtesy visit to Kostis Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic on Tuesday.
In comments made after the meeting, Roussopoulos said that he's known Stephanopoulos for some time, dating back to when the former was a journalist. Roussopoulos asked to meet with Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion in order to wish him well for the new year and on occasion of the president's term in office which will end in March.
 France honors 34 Greek officers for their service in KFOR
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)France awarded medals to 34 Greek officers who served in the French section of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Mitrovica, the NATO-led international force responsible for maintaining security in Kosovo. The officers received their medals from the French Ambassador to Greece Bruno Delaye on Tuesday evening.
"On behalf of the French government, I express our gratitude for the assistance Greece provided in our area of responsibility, an area that is particularly sensitive and difficult," Delaye said.
The French ambassador also emphasized the excellent "operational cooperation" that has developed between France and Greece in the Balkans.
According to Delaye, 2005 will be a "crucial year" for Kosovo, since its form of government will be determined.
The Greek officers received the French medal of National Defense and a French commemorative medal. The rest of the military personnel serving as part of the Greek branch will receive their medals in a separate event.
Officials of the Greek Defense Ministry were present at Tuesday's event.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Turkish Air Force on Tuesday again violated Greece's national air space over the Aegean.
According to press reports, eight formations of Turkish warplanes entered the Aegean without submitting a flight plan and in eight cases violated the national air space in the region of the central and northern Aegean.
In all cases, the 18 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets.
It was reported that two of the planes were armed and another two aircraft were photographic "Phantoms".
 Agriculture minister says gov't determined to instill transparency in cotton sector
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Tuesday announced a total of 17,500 cases of irregularities in the cotton growing sector, after completion of a series of intensified inspections made by ministry agencies over the last few weeks.
In an announcement to the press, Basiakos said irregularities covered unregistered fields, or fields that have registered for more than one cultivation, excessive cotton production, etc. Basiakos said the return of money to eligible cotton growers would total 11 cents (38 drachmas) per kilo. The Greek minister also said payment of returned subsidies would be accelerated, while he reiterated the ministry's determination for transparency in the cotton management system and payment of EU subsidies to growers.
Meanwhile, groups of local farmers are expected to decide on Tuesday whether they will start mobilizations. Hundreds of tractors have line up along national roads in Thessaly and Macedonia, causing only minor traffic problems so far.
 Gov't approves draft bill on licensing system
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)A new licensing system draft bill, approved by the Greek inner cabinet on Tuesday, envisages a drastic reduction in bureaucracy, cutting necessary paperwork to eight from 20, and the time period to 10-30 days from one-to-two years at present, in approving licenses for manufacturing enterprises.
The draft bill, presented by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, aims to boost business activity, attract foreign investments, strengthen economic productivity and competitiveness and increase employment.
Sioufas said new legislation was an essential step towards the re-invention of the state and creating trust between the state and citizens. Under the new bill, thousands of small enterprises will no longer have to acquire installation and operating licenses by raising the power generator limit to 22 KW from 12 KW at present.
The bill also abolishes the need for double health licensing from municipal and prefecture authorities, and reissuing of installation and operating licenses in cases of transfer. The bill also provides for companies without operating licenses to acquire a legitimate license, raising the validity time of operating licenses in Attica to eight years (from six) and creating development directorates in Prefecture authorities.
The bill on licensing of manufacturing companies is the first step taken by the development ministry towards simplifying procedures, reducing bureaucracy and encouraging investments in the country.
Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou announced that the ministry would soon announce similar measures for commerce enterprises and new procedures in founding of societe anonyme firms and limited companies.
 Eurostat releases figures on highest, lowest GDP areas in EU's '25'
BRUSSELS 26/1/2005 (ANA)Eurostat announced on Tuesday that GDP per capita 2002, as expressed in terms of purchasing power standards, for the 254 NUTS-2 regions of the Union's "25" member-states ranged from 32 percent of the EU25 average -- Lubelskie in Poland -- to 315 percent of the average in Inner London in.
The three leading regions in the ranking of regional GDP per capita in 2002 were Inner London (315 percent of the average), Bruxelles-Capitale in Belgium (234 percent) and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (213 percent).
Among the 37 regions exceeding the 125 percent level, seven were in the United Kingdom, six each in Germany and Italy, four each in the Netherlands and Austria, two each in Belgium and Finland, one region each in the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Ireland and Sweden, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The only region amongst the new member-states was Prague in the Czech Republic (153 percent).
Eurostat also noted that in some regions the GDP per capita figures could be significantly influenced by commuter flows. Net commuter arrivals in these regions push up production to a level that could not be achieved by the resident active population on its own. The result is that GDP per capita can be overestimated in these regions (e.g. Inner London) and underestimated in the regions where the commuters live (e.g. Outer London, Kent and Essex). In other cases, a high proportion of pensioners in a region can lead to lower regional GDP per capita.
The five lowest regions in the ranking were all in Poland: Lubelskie (32 percent of the average), Podkarpackie (33 percent), WarmiDsko-Mazurskie (34 percent), Podlaskie (35 percent) and Zwitokrzyskie (36 percent).
Among the 59 regions below the 75 percent level, sixteen were in Poland, seven in the Czech Republic, six each in Hungary and Germany, five in Greece - the Ionian islands (67,9 percent), Thessaly (64,9 percent), Epirus (62,1 percent), eastern Macedonia and Thrace (59,2 percent) and western Greece (58,4 percent) -- four each in Italy and Portugal, three in Slovakia, two in Spain, one region each in Belgium and the United Kingdom, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.
The lowest ranked region amongst the old Member States was, in fact, western Greece (58 percent).
The complete text can be found at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/press_room/index_en.htm
 Greek trade deficit up 15.5 pct in Jan-Oct, yr/yr
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Greek trade deficit increased by 15.5 percent in the first 10 months of 2004, compared with the same period in 2003, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
NSS, in its monthly report on the country's trade balance, said that the trade shortfall totalled 23.463 billion euros in the January-October period from 20.316 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2003.
The higher deficit reflected a 9.9 percent increase in the value of total imports-arrivals to 33.295 billion euros in the January-October period and a 1.4 percent decline in the value of total exports-arrivals to 9.832 billion euros over the same period.
 Bank of Piraeus purchases Eurobank's Bulgarian operations
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Bank of Piraeus on Tuesday announced the signing of an agreement with Petrol Holding AD for the purchase of 99.7 percent in Eurobank Bulgaria as part of a bank's plan to further expand its activities in Southeastern Europe and strengthen its international business.
Eurobank operates a network of 48 branches in Bulgaria during its presence in the last 10 years in the country. Eurobank's assets total 220 million euros, loans total 120 million euros and savings deposits total 165 million euros. The bank employs 600 people in the country.
A Bank of Piraeus announcement said Eurobank's branch network would operate in addition to its existing network in Bulgaria, raising its total network to 61 branches in 28 cities. Savings deposits total 225 million euros and loans 310 million euros. Bank of Piraeus will hold a share of more than 4.2 percent in Bulgarian banking sector.
The bank expects its net profits to reach 9.0 million euros this year.
The Bank of Piraeus said its expansion in Bulgaria was of strategic importance since the country's banking sector was rapidly growing (loans grew an annual 37 percent in 2004) and offered significant growth prospects.
The Greek bank has also expanded activities in Romania and Albania. Its branch network in all three Balkan states total 98 units, with assets of 1.0 billion euros and loans of 580 million euros.
 Finmin Alogoskoufis discusses pension issues with journalists' delegation
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)National economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis met Tuesday with a delegation from the Union of Athens Journalists (ESIEA), headed by ESIEA president Manolis Mathioudakis.
Mathioudakis said after the meeting that they had discussed pension issues concerning journalists.
 Greek Banking Institute presents new educational program
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Greek Banking Institute (ETI), the Greek Banks' Union education arm, on Tuesday presented its new educational program for the period January-June 2005.
Presenting the program, ETI's president Christos Gortsos, stressed that the Institute's program over the last 15 years have added the value of high specialization to Greek banks' educational activity. Gortsos noted that ETI has expanded, since 2004, its services with new certified programs, such as MBA in Banking (in cooperation with ALBA) and the European Diploma of Basic Banking Studies.
ETI is also expanding its educational programs in the Balkans and is gradually changing its distance learning programs to e-learning programs.
 Gas station owners welcome gov't freeze on new outlets
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Federation of Gas Station Owners of Greece on Tuesday welcomed a decision by the government to freeze the issue of operating licenses to new petrol stations for six months until a presidential decree on new terms for the sector is ready.
"We will back any measure that aims at revitalization of the petroleum products market and the resolution of sector demands. At the same time, we will oppose all who seek to further private interests and divide gas station owners," the trade group said in a statement.
On Monday, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said a circular had been sent to prefectures ordering the halt until enforcement of the decree that would set safety rules for the location of gas stations. Existing operating licenses will not be suspended.
In addition, prefectures will be asked to record the number of gas stations in order to obtain a nationwide total for the first time.
 Sea transport to be discussed by BSEC
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The issue of sea transport and connecting Black Sea ports with ports of the Aegean and the Mediterranean will be discussed for the first time by transport ministers of the BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation) member-states on January 28 in Thessaloniki.
Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis will be presiding over the meeting, in which Transport Minister Michalis Liapis along with 10 other transport ministers and three deputy ministers will also be participating. It is expected that a joint statement will be adopted after the meeting regarding connecting Black Sea countries' transport systems with European networks.
Additionally, a meeting of the BSEC transport working group will be held prior to the Thessaloniki meeting on January 26 and 27.
On Thursday morning, Stylianidis will be meeting with the Acting President of the Black Sea and Trade Development Bank (BSTDB) Valentina Siclovan in Thessaloniki.
 Stocks rise, fuelled by institutionals abroad
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher for the fifth straight session in across-the-board buying fuelled by institutional investors abroad, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,944.33 points, posting a rise of 1.09%. Turnover was 212.8 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.79% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.57% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.32% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 230 to 73 with 53 remaining unchanged.
 Culture ministry to focus on modern Greek culture
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said that the ministry will be placing special emphasis on the country's modern culture during a meeting he had in Athens on Tuesday with Eleftherios Economou, Director of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Berlin, E. Komb, Curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna (MUMOK) and art collector Dakis Ioannou.
The four met on occasion of the upcoming exhibit of the Kostakis Collection in Vienna which will open February 17. Additionally, it was also decided that during 2007 - a year Austria has dedicated to Greek culture - events and activities promoting classical and modern Greek culture will be held. Part of Ioannou's collection will be exhibited at MUMOK in 2007.
 Finmin and culture minister discuss measures for film, audiovisual sector
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Measures for developing the Greek film and audiovisual media industry were the focus of a meeting on Tuesday between Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis at the finance ministry.
After the meeting, Tatoulis said they had discussed the entire range of measures that need to be taken in this direction.
Responding to questions about the restoration of the Athens Acropolis, meanwhile, Tatoulis said the necessary funds had been secured and that when problems arose with areas of spending that were "non-selectable", these would be covered by the Public Investments Program.
 Hellenic Broadcasting raises nearly half million euros in auction for tsunami victims
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation succeeded in raising more than ¬ 400,000 in a televised auction on Monday evening as part of a continued effort to help the victims of the tsunamis that hit Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Forty-six items, donated by Greek celebrities and including works of art, were auctioned.
On Wednesday evening, a concert will be held at the Athens Olympic Sports Complex with the participation of 50 Greek performers. Proceeds from ticket sales and CD sales (the concert will be recorded) will be donated as part of a relief effort for the tsunami victims.
 Thessaloniki prefecture to hold benefit concert for tsunami victims
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The Thessaloniki prefecture has organized a benefit concert to take place at 21:00 on Monday at the I.Vellidis conference centre at the Thessaloniki International Fair. All funds raised by the concert will be donated to Southeast Asian countries that fell victim to the killer earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Twenty-seven performers have pledged to take part without a fee, while light and sound technicians will also offer their services free of charge. Tickets cost 15 euros and are available in advance at the Ianos Bookshops and central record stores in Thessaloniki.
Booksellers to contribute to fund-raising drive for SE Asia tsunami victims: The National Book Centre and the Association of Athens Publishers and Booksellers on Tuesday said they would take an active part in nationwide fund-raising efforts for the victims of the SE Asia tsunami and earthquake, giving book lovers an opportunity to help the victims of this huge catastrophe that smote the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, leaving devastation in its wake.
According to an announcement, collection boxes will be placed in 50 central bookshops and other areas in Athens, as well as in arts and cultural venues in the city, for the two-week period from January 31 until February 12.
The money collected will be delivered to Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who will ensure it reaches the tsunami-devastated areas via the United Nations.
 New director of Civil Aviation Authority sworn-in
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)The new director of the state-run Civil Aviation Authority (YPA), Dimitris Stamatis, was sworn-in on Tuesday at the transport ministry.
Stamatis, previously the deputy YPA director for northern Greece, takes over from Panayiotis Manoussos, who resigned earlier this month.
The new civil aviation director is an attorney by training and was elected as a Parliament deputy with the New Democracy party in 1985-1993.
 Athens mayor hosts diplomatic corps
Athens, 26/1/2005 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis hosted members of the diplomatic corps serving in Athens, on Tuesday evening.
Attending the reception were many ambassadors to Greece from Europe, the Americas and Asia, who were greeted by the mayor, the deputy mayors and the main opposition's municipal councilor.
Honorary President of New Democracy, Constantine Mitsotakis, was also in attendance.
 Cyprus President: we are ready and willing to engage in talks
LARNACA 26/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos reiterated here on Tuesday his readiness to engage in negotiations that would lead to a ''right and viable'' settlement in Cyprus.
Speaking on departure for Athens, for talks with the Greek government and the political leadership, he said he hoped to secure a more active involvement by the European Union in any such effort.
''The key word is not to find a solution, the key word is to find a correct and viable solution. We continue to be ready and willing for a resumption of talks, always under UN auspices, and we seek more active engagement and contribution by the EU and we hope we can secure this,'' he said.
He explained that if the term ''European solution'' means the solution complies with the acquis communautaire, particularly with regard to human rights, then the government does want such a solution.
Responding to questions on an EU regulation on trade, Papadopoulos said the Green Line regulation as it has come to be known allows the Turkish Cypriots to trade with the government controlled part of the island as well as with EU members.
He noted that application of this specific regulation poses some bureaucratic problems but primarily problems that are contrary to EU rules and regulations.
''We hope to submit new proposals on this regulation by the end of February and we will do all we can to reach agreement on this,'' he added.
He referred to a financial protocol, agreed some time ago, but not implemented yet as some circles have linked the allocation of the funds amounting to 259 million euro to the so-called elections in Turkish occupied Cyprus.
''As for the regulation on direct trade between the occupied areas and the EU, we do not accept it, nor do we intend to accept it as it is contrary to the acquis communautaire, its legal basis is wrong, and its sole goal is to facilitate the Turkish Cypriot illegal regime to upgrade its status giving it all the characteristics of a state barring international recognition,'' Papadopoulos stressed.
Papadopoulos dismissed Turkish press reports that the Israeli government has given the green light to businessmen to invest and do business in occupied Cyprus, saying that he has assurances to the contrary.
Responding to questions about ties between the Turkish premier and Turkish Cypriot political parties, he said such encounters are normal and can only be expected to take place since, as he explained, ''decisions on developments in Cyprus are taken in Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot parties conform.''
''We too are in constant consultation and coordination with the Greek government. We have daily contact in various ways and we often meet to coordinate and examine anticipated developments and possibilities,'' he said.
On next month's visit to Ankara by the main opposition leader, Papadopoulos said it would not be ''reasonable to have Mr Anastassiades communicate our official positions'', noting that he would gladly talk to him before going to Turkey.
''I would consider such a conversation with him very useful. Mr Anastassiades is not an official envoy of the government,'' he concluded.
Nicos Anastassiades, leader of the Democratic Rally, heading a party delegation leaves for Ankara in early February following an invitation from the Justice and Development party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 Kofi Annan set to undertake new initiative, says Solana
BRUSSELS 26/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is set to undertake a new initiative on Cyprus when there is chance to reach an agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, Javier Solana, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy with the European Union, has said.
Responding to questions by Cypriot MP Nicos Anastassiades, leader of the rightwing Democratic Rally party, at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Solana said he had discussed this issue with Annan, who had informed him of his intentions with regard to a fresh initiative on Cyprus.
Asked by another Cypriot parliamentarian Yiannakis Omirou, leader of the Socialdemocrats EDEK, if the EU would give the UN its active support, should a new initiative get underway, Solana said the EU had done all it could to support Annan's effort to solve the question of Cyprus.
He noted that particular effort had failed and expressed regret over the outcome of the latest UN effort. Annan's proposed solution
plan was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots but approved by 65 per cent of the Turkish Cypriots, in a referendum last April. Annan had said the plan would be null and void if it is not approved by both communities.
Solana expressed hope that conditions will allow for a fresh initiative to unfold so that the EU does not have a border in its present form in Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004 as a divided island with the acquis communautaire only applying in the southern government controlled part of the country. The EU has said that the entire territory of the Republic is part of the Union, even though the legal government is prevented by the Turkish occupation from exercising its jurisdiction over the whole of its territory.
Solana briefed the presidents of defense and foreign affairs committees of national parliaments of EU members attending the meeting about matters relating to his portfolio.