|Wednesday, 23 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 2, 2005
 Three top judicial officials to face firing in bribery-for-parole case
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The president of the Supreme Court on Tuesday referred the question of firing three top judicial officials to the high court's plenary session, as the trio is implicated in the ongoing and expanding investigation into a bribery-for-parole scam.
The three individuals were identified as assistant appeals court prosecutor N. Athanasopoulos, first instance judge Antonia Ilia and first instance judge Panayiota Tsevis.
The president of first instance court judges, L. Stathis, has already been referred for termination.
Supreme Court President George Kapos on Tuesday noted that the action "aims to get at the bottom of this case. Competent authorities will not face obstacles and will not be deterred. Heads will roll where the judicial authorities feel this is necessary. Justice does not need the protection of anyone, except for its own organs. It is not an institution under supervision…" he said.
Prosecutors' union approves of justice ministry's measures to fight corruption: The Prosecutors' Union of Greece overall approves of the 12 measures Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras announced on Monday as part of the fight against corruption in the justice system.
According to an announcement released by the union on Tuesday, "the majority of measures are deemed positive and appropriate in light of current needs." The union particularly applauds the "means and assets" measure for judicial officials, while prosecutors question the measure of establishing an appeals supervisor for examining magistrates for the larger courts in Athens and Thessaloniki. According to the union, this might create confusion in terms of jurisdiction and duties.
Finally, the prosecutors' union places emphasis on the implementation of the measures and is ready to contribute to the effort to strengthen transparency in the judicial system by submitting specific proposals.
 President Stephanopoulos visits Belgium for last official trip as Greek President
BRUSSELS 2/2/2005 (ANA - Ch. Poulidou)President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday embarked on his last official trip outside of Greece as its president by visiting Belgium, returning a visit to Greece by Belgium's King Albert II and Queen Paola.
Stephanopoulos was met on his arrival at Brussels airport on Tuesday by Belgium's Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
Immediately afterward, Stephanopoulos was accompanied to the Royal Palace where he was greeted with all due ceremony by the King and Queen.
There followed a trip to the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, where Stephanopoulos laid a wreath before returning to the palace to dine with the royal family.
President Stephanopoulos meets with Belgian political leaders: Visiting President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos met in Brussels on Tuesday with various political leaders.
Specifically, he visited Brussels City Hall in an event attended by King Albert II and Queen Paola. He then visited Belgian Parliament and met with the Parliament President and President of the Senate.
Asked about the Cyprus issue, Stephanopoulos said that "the Annan Plan could not be approved because it contained certain imbalances that need to be corrected....I hope that there will be a chance for this in the future, although there is no specific initiative under way at present."
Immediately after, Stephanopoulos met with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt.
The two leaders discussed the Cyprus issue as well as the ratification of the European Constitution.
In comments Stephanopoulos made to Greek reporters after the meeting, he said that Verhofstadt asked how an initiative resulting in the resolution to the Cyprus problem can start. Stephanopoulos replied that, "all initiatives are welcome." He said that Cypriots know what they wish to see changed in the Annan plan, but are worried that Turkey may prove inflexible in negotiations.
Verhofstadt said that after speaking with Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan twice on the phone, he understood that Turkey is anxious to solve the issue. "We too know that Mr. Erdogan is anxious for a solution to be found before October 3," Stephanopoulos said.
The Greek president also told Verhofstadt that "the Annan plan needs changes." According to Stephanopoulos, Verhofstadt agreed to this as well as to Stephanopoulos' suggestion that the EU needs to play a more important role in the matter.
As for the European Constitution, Stephanopoulos said that Belgium will soon begin the parliamentary procedure for its ratification, adding that Verhofstadt "is not concerned" about the outcome.
Asked about how he feels now that his second term as president is coming to an end, Stephanopoulos replied that 10 years in office were plenty and said he was "very happy" that he will be succeeded by Karolos Papoulias, who he described as "an exceptional politician, with skills and experience that will contribute to democracy."
Asked whether he would continue being involved in politics, Stephanopoulos replied that "a former president's involvement is probably annoying."
Stephanopoulos cites need to ratify Euro-constitution during official dinner: President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday referred here to the need for ratifying the first-ever European constitution, during his remarks at an official dinner hosted by Belgian King Albert II.
Stephanopoulos said failure to ratify the constitution would be a reversal of the European ideal, and a development that would increase so-called "Euro-skepticism".
Additionally, he said a prerequisite for dealing with whatever challenges entailed in a common foreign and defense policy is the bloc's investment "with its political weight on an international stage ... and therefore, what is primarily needed is to once again achieve the high rates of growth we had in the past".
In referring to Greece's non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council for the 2005-2006 period, Stephanopoulos said a national priority was an "acceptable, viable, fair and operational" solution to the long-standing Cyprus problem based on the Annan peace plan. He added that such a solution must come within the framework of the Union's acquis communautaire and its principles.
Finally, he referred to environmental protection, noting Belgium's success in the area.
 Deputy FM visits Washington
WASHINGTON 2/2/2005 (ANA/A.Ellis)Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis was due in Washington on Tuesday to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast.
During his three-day visit to the US capital, Skandalakis will be meeting with cabinet members of the Bush administration, members of Congress, as well as members of the Greek community.
The National Prayer Breakfast is held annually and is attended by the US President, cabinet members, members of Congress and political figures both from the US and abroad.
 European Commission calls on Turkey to sign protocol extending customs union with new member-states
BRUSSELS 2/2/2005 (ANA/B.Demiris)The European Commission called on Turkey on Tuesday to sign the protocol of the Ankara Treaty, which extends Turkey's Customs Union agreement with the EU to include the 10 new member-states, including Cyprus.
Jean Christophe Filori, member of the office of Olli Rehn, Commissioner for Enlargement, told Turkish reporters that if Turkey delays in its obligation to sign the protocol as a result of political resistance from Ankara, then this development will prove problematic in the course of Turkey's EU accession.
Specifically, Filori clarified that if Turkey does not sign the protocol by October 3, 2005, the date set by the European Council for Turkey's accession talks to begin, then there will be no negotiations.
 Gov't passes buck to unions over journalists with multiple state-sector jobs
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday stressed that it was up to journalists' unions to decide how they should deal with journalists holding more than one job in the state sector, in the framework of self-regulation.
He said the unions should cross-check the lists of journalists working for the state sector that had been provided by the government and uncover those cases that clashed with the profession's code of ethics before taking the next steps required.
"It is not up to the government to judge which combinations of jobs are condemnable," he added.
Commenting on a list of journalists presented by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos to the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) on Monday, the spokesman denied that journalists and their work were being 'criminalized' or persecuted or that the government had raised an issues of "black lists", noting that the government had only spoken of relations between journalists and the public sector.
Regarding ESHEA's decision to publish the list on the union's website, meanwhile, Antonaros said the government had taken a clear position that publishing the lists would be counter to the rules for the protection of personal data.
Asked why the list given to ESHEA was not complete, Antonaros said the list sent on Monday had been provided at the union's own request and included the journalists that, according to the statements given by the bodies involved, were working in the state sector in 2003. He said the Press Secretariat had already sent out letters to the remaining bodies in the wider public sector that are not included in the current lists, asking them to list the journalists in their employ.
He said the government will be able to provide a comprehensive list of journalists employed in the public sector in the years 2003-2004 by April 5.
IFJ supports ESHEA's decision regarding defense ministry: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Tuesday expressed its full support to the Athens Journalists' Union in its decision to omit photos and references by name to the Defense Ministry's political leadership, following the ministry's restriction on journalists' access to ministry building and officials without special permission and military police escort.
Specifically, IFJ General Secretary Aidan White wrote in his statement: "It is unacceptable for the Greek authorities to exclude journalists from access to information that is in the public interest...While we understand that national security is an important consideration, the wide-ranging and vague discretionary criteria being proposed are highly damaging to journalists' work and are inappropriate in a democratic state." In closing, he said: "We support the demands of Greek journalists for more transparency and we call on the authorities to end all forms of political manipulation."
 Archbishop Christodoulos promises clean up within the Church in press conference
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church, called an emergency press conference on Tuesday and pledged a major clean up within the folds of the Church.
The move follows a series of revelations in the media concerning corrupt clerics allegedly involved in judicial scandals, dealings with drug traffickers and the smuggling of antiquities.
Christodoulos said he had been closely following the news reports over the past few days concerning the Church, which he stressed was the support of the Greek people.
"We are obliged to protect it in a positive way. I have a single duty: to proceed with a clean up without any compromise, with a sense of justice, transparency, responsibility and decisiveness," he stressed.
A meeting of the Permanent Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece has been called for next Thursday to examine all the issues that have recently come to light in the press.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
Athens, 2/2/2005 (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 and in eight cases violated the national air space in the region of the central and northern Aegean as well as in the region east of Rhodes.
In all cases, the 22 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets, while in two instances the interception evolved into mock dog-fighting.
It was reported that three of the planes were armed.
 Meeting of Greek envoys to Balkan countries called for Thursday
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)A meeting of Greece's ambassadors to Balkan countries will be held at the foreign ministry on Thursday.
According to a foreign ministry press release on Tuesday, the meeting will examine recent developments in the Balkan region.
 Inner cabinet discusses Information Society initiative
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The implementation of the Finance Ministry's "Information Society" initiative, which aims at introducing computing and IT to Greek society, was the main topic of discussion of the inner cabinet, which met on Tuesday at Maximos Mansion and over which Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis presided.
"With this program, computing and IT is introduced in public administration, and is of great importance in terms of productivity and competitiveness," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said.
Alogoskoufis emphasized that when New Democracy came into office, the program was in a tragic state, with the absorption rate of funds standing at 11.8%. Today, that rate exceeds 19%, he said.
The finance minister said that the objective is for practically all contracts to be finalized during 2006 and for all funds and EU resources to be absorbed so that relations between state and taxpayers can change.
Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that Information Society SA, the company responsible for implementing part of the program should have been established in 2000, but that the former PASOK government created it in 2002.
Pavlopoulos said that there would be remarkable results achieved by the end of March, emphasizing that "all these factors constitute a response from the government to all those who ask what is happening with the absorption of EU funds."
 EU, Greece seek transparency in Third CSF programs
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias on Tuesday met in Brussels with EU regions general director Graham Medows and other EU officials to discuss ways to avoid the possibility of suspending payments in the framework of a Third Community Support Framework.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Folias said that the government's goal was not just to negotiate with EU agencies on the risk of suspending payments but also to focus on achieving growth targets of a Third Community Support Framework, a precondition to boost growth in Greek regions and improving the country's competitiveness.
The Greek minister briefed EU officials over progress of an action plan -a government sponsored program aimed to improve transparency in EU-funded projects in the country. Folias said that a European Commission delegation was expected to visit Greece, February 3-4, on further talks on the matter.
The meeting also exchanged views over the need for Greece to harmonize community directives on public works and other sectors related with competition, internal market and environment.
 Gov't to spend over 5.5 mln euros on publicity for farm products
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Tuesday approved spending of more than 5.5 million euros to publicize farm products, mainly abroad.
Details of the advertising drive, which is 70% funded by the government and European Union, are as follows:
 Ruling party calls for more cotton output checks
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The secretary of the ruling New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis, on Tuesday asked the government to step up cotton output inspections.
The government would ensure a 38-drachma rebate from European Union subsidies on completion of the inspections, Meimarakis told reporters.
He was speaking after a meeting with the prime minister.
 Gov't says main opposition leader out of touch with farmers
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Tuesday that the main opposition leader was out of touch with farmers and their problems.
Basiakos was commenting on statements by George Papandreou, head of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), concerning a recent rift between cotton farmers and the government over the legitimacy of output, which the minister said had been created by the previous PASOK government.
 EU Court's advocate general says Greece failed to repay aid granted to national carrier
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Greece has not taken all the measures necessary to secure repayment of the aid granted to Olympic Airways and deemed to be incompatible with the common market, the European Court of Justice's advocate general Leendert Geelhoed said in its conclusion in the case of European Commission versus Greece.
In his conclusion, Geeohoed said that the Greek law prevented recovery of the aid from the company which carried out the economic activities in respect of which the aid was paid.
The European Commission approved in 1998 the aid granted by Greece for the restructuring of the undertaking Olympic Airways (for the period 1998-2002). In 2002 it initiated a further procedure on the ground that the restructuring plan had been applied and that certain conditions envisaged in the decision approving the aid had not been met. As the information supplied by Greece was inadequate, the Commission then found that there had been an infringement, claiming, furthermore, that there was new operating aid. The Greek state was said to have tolerated non-payment of: social security contributions, VAT on aircraft fuel and spare parts, rent payable to airports, airport charges and passenger tax payable at all Greek airports. Consequently, the Commission ordered Greece to recover from the recipient company, without delay and with interest, the second installment of the restructuring aid and also the new operating aid.
The Advocate General, in his opinion, considers that the recent Greek law creates legal or economic obstacles to the effective implementation of the Commission decision. That decision has as its objective the recovery of the aid whereby the Greek state unlawfully supported the economic and business activities of Olympic Airways, thus distorting competition in the civil aviation sector.
The Advocate General emphasizes that the Greek government delayed recovery of the second installment of the aid (41 million euros) and that such inaction cannot be justified merely by a reference to the provisions and mechanisms put in place in the context of national law. On that point, the advocate general recalls that the Community interest in the proper implementation of decisions ordering the repayment also means that they are to be implemented promptly in order to avoid a permanent change of the competitive structure.
He also observed that, as regards repayment of the new operating aid, the Greek state delayed in taking action, and it was unable to justify its conduct by the existence of a case of absolute impossibility. However, the agreements on the settlement of debts concluded by Olympic Airways might have sufficed had a law not been enacted. On the other hand, the application of that law may have the consequence that the implementation of the settlement agreements becomes wholly or partly impossible in the absence of sufficient assets.
The Advocate General therefore proposed that the Court declared that Greece has failed to fulfill its obligations under community law.
The opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice. The judges of the Court are now beginning their deliberations in the case and a judgment will be given at a later date.
 PASOK's coordinating committee discusses market conditions
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The Panhellenic Socialist Movement's (PASOK) Coordinating Committee focused on prevailing market conditions during its meeting on Tuesday.
PASOK President George Papandreou, in comments he made after the meeting, said that all committee members agreed that the cost of living has spiraled upwards out of control, wages remain stagnant, households are overdebted and the market is 'dead' due to unprecedented low revenues.
"The economy has taken a turn for the worst in the past 11 months, with [Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis' New Democracy government being responsible [for this], thus creating a great sense of insecurity among Greek workers," Papandreou said.
PASOK's president also said that his party believes in small- and medium-sized businesses, in the need for entrepreneurship, but also in measures that will support SMEs.
On the issue of store hours, Papandreou said that changing store hours would not solve the problems brought on the Greek economy by the ND government. However, if store hours are changed, this should be done after all involved parties reach an agreement, with store hours being determined according to local habits and needs as well as in accordance with employees' rights.
 Greek investors' group urges tough stance against market violation cases
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The Union of Investors and Internet on Tuesday urged the government not to succumb to pressures and not to change the context of a draft bill envisaging austere penalties on market abuse cases.
In a letter sent to Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, the union stressed that pressures to the ministry and Greek capital market authorities aimed to reduce penalties on market abuse, manipulation of stocks, hiding data or misleading investors cases. The union said it supported all initiatives aimed to upgrade the Greek capital market and protect investors from illegal moves.
 Trade on Greek, Cypriot bourses to be linked
NICOSIA 2/2/2005 (ANA/G Leonidas)The Athens bourse and Cyprus Stock Exchange are to link their trading floors with work on the technicalities to begin immediately.
The head of the Cypriot exchange, Akis Cleanthous, said that the move would help bring investors to the island republic's market.
 SYN delegation meets with bank employees' union reps
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)A delegation from the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party met on Tuesday with bank employee union (OTOE) representatives, as the latter have called for strikes every Monday in February to protest any plans for pension reform on a bank-by-bank basis.
Unions are demanding a sector-wide reform and consolidation plan.
 Greek PMI stable in January
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Greek manufacturing sector was stable in January with the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) easing slightly to 51.4 points in the first month of 2005 from 51.8 in December.
Manufacturing production, however, grew at the fastest rate since August 2004, while the growth rate of new orders was moderate, employment eased slightly and outflow prices rose in January.
Production in the manufacturing sector rose for the 10th consecutive month in January, running at the fastest rate in the last five months. New orders continued growing, although slightly higher from December, while new export orders fell for the third time in the last four months.
Employment in the manufacturing sector shrank for the fifth consecutive session, although fractionally in January.
Supply inventories fell for the fifth consecutive month in January, with inventories of ready products fell for the seventh consecutive month.
The Purchasing Managers' Index measures business activity in the manufacturing sector.
 Greek stocks ease on Tuesday
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks eased further on Tuesday with the Athens Stock Exchange's composite index seemingly trying to find new balance levels above the 2,900-mark.
The index ended 0.24 percent lower at 2,912.87 points after falling as low as 2,903.75 points during the session.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.40 percent, reflecting profit taking in bank stocks, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.23 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.18 percent lower.
The majority of sector indices ended lower with the Base Metals, Publications and Textile sectors suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day (1.91 pct, 1.54 pct and 0.98 pct, respectively).
On the other hand, Holdings (1.92 pct), IT (0.90 pct) and Cement (0.49 pct) sectors scored the biggest gains of the day. Turnover was a strong 242.3 million euros.
In the broader market, decliners led advancers by 186 to 96 with another 71 issues unchanged.
 Rio-Antirrio suspension bridge reopens after cable fire
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)The Rio-Antirrio suspension bridge reopened at dawn Tuesday, but only in one lane, after remaining closed since last Thursday when one of the supporting cables suddenly caught fire and eventually snapped.
For a section covering approximately one kilometer, traffic is conducted with caution and a speed level of 40 kilometers per hour due to repair work being carried out in the other lane, which is expected to take approximately one month.
According to the French president and managing director of the Gefyra S.A. consortium, the bridge's builders and operators, "the Bridge is in excellent condition and has not suffered any other damage apart from the snapped cable".
Regarding the causes of the fire, consortium technicians have concluded that an electrical discharge was to blame, either due to lightning or the concentration of electricity.
The technicians did not rule out the possibility of the bridge's anti-lightning system being re-examined.
Final conclusions will be issued after an analytical examination of the cable was completed.
Also, Patras appeals court judges director Anastasios Kanellopoulos has ordered a preliminary investigation by the Fire Brigade into the causes of the fire.
 Athens Mayor on official visit to Vienna
VIENNA 2/2/2005 (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis will be departing for the Austrian capital on Wednesday afternoon, following the invitation of Vienna's Mayor Michael Haupl and Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
During her visit, Bakoyannis will meet with several Austrian political leaders and will attend the Ball at the Vienna's State Opera on Thursday evening.
The Athens mayor will return to Greece on Friday.
 Videotape footage used to ID 14 alleged hooligans
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)Police on Tuesday announced that 14 individuals have been identified from videotape footage of fan violence early last month during the Panionios Athens-Olympiakos Piraeus football match, which was suspended before game time.
All 14 were interviewed by authorities, with an indictment compiled and an appearance before a relevant prosecutor now pending, according to reports.
The clashes on the pitch of the Nea Smyrni stadium, in south Athens, and in the stands between fans and riot police eventually led to the first division championship game's suspension.
An initial decision handed down against the two pro teams called for a deduction of three points, the cancellation of the suspended match and four home games to be played before empty stands. On appeal, the first two reprimands -- and the ones affecting the standings -- were erased and the points returned.
The two clubs will make-up the match on Saturday without fans.
 Jazz concert to kick off events in Alexandria organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture
Athens, 2/2/2005 (ANA)A jazz concert featuring Greek artists Sakis Papadimitriou and Georgia Syllaiou will kick off the events program in February and March organized by the Alexandria branch of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture (HFC) on Wednesday.
Another 15 events organized by the HFC are scheduled to take place in Egypt over the next two months, including screenings of Greek films, a Euro Film Festival in collaboration with the Alexandrian Library, cultural forums, seminars, a tribute to cartoons and others.
Among these are a series of events dubbed "Cavafya" from March 9-11 organized by the HFC in collaboration with the Greek Embassy in Cairo and the Cairo Cultural Centre. These will include lectures, music and film screenings dedicated to Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis and Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz.
There will also be an art exhibition featuring paintings by Kyriakos Theophanous on the theme of Mount Sinai on March 17.
The program ends with a rock concert to be held at the HFC Alexandria branch on March 31 by the six-member band Nadim Group.
 Cyprus President: talks for solution must ensure fair chance of success
NICOSIA 2/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Any negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem must be well prepared to ensure a fair chance of success, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here on Tuesday, reiterating that a UN -proposed solution plan, as it stands, is not balanced nor can it be accepted and dismissed suggestions that there is a stalemate.
Speaking to foreign correspondents at a lunch, hosted by the Cyprus News Agency, he said a European Union regulation on intra-island trade (the Green Line regulation) cannot be implemented because of obstacles raised by Mehmet Ali Talat, Turkish Cypriot party leader, who insists on linking this regulation to another one relating to direct trade between the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus with the EU.
He expressed hope that amendments to the Green Line regulation, to be tabled in the next few days, would be approved by the EU and would facilitate trade for the Turkish Cypriots who will be able to export their goods from Cyprus' legal ports of entry, in the southern government controlled part of the island.
President Papadopoulos said his priority is to find a political settlement and not to see Ankara sign a protocol on its customs union agreement with the EU, noting however that such a signature would be a first significant step towards normalizing ties with Turkey.
He also said that the EU could play a more proactive role in the effort to find a negotiated settlement as it is going to be involved in a fresh effort by virtue of having three of its members (Cyprus, Greece and Britain) with an active interest in a solution and a candidate country (Turkey) directly involved in the problem.
He dismissed allegations that Cyprus is not doing enough to combat fraud and money laundering, pointing out that the Central Bank exercises daily checks on suspicious transactions the seven commercial banks operating in Cyprus report.
Responding to questions, Papadopoulos said the Green Line regulation was accepted last September but following some difficulties in implementing it, the government is proposing certain amendments to it which it has ''good reason to believe that the EU will accept.''
On direct trade, he said this concerns trade from the occupied areas directly to the EU under a preferential treatment regime for third states.
''We do not accept that the occupation regime is a third state, therefore we shall never accept that,'' he stressed, explaining that Turkish Cypriots are not set to benefit greatly from this regulation as their exports are worth 50 million euro a year, 25 m. of which go to countries outside the EU.
On prospects to operate Famagusta harbor, in occupied Cyprus, he said this cannot operate viably and economically for exports or imports for the Turkish Cypriots alone.
He reiterated his proposal to operate the port under an independent foundation and to open the fenced area of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants.
Questioned on Turkey's obligation to adapt the Ankara Agreement (extending it to Cyprus as well), he said ''this is Turkey's problem. The matter is simple, either they sign or they have no talks.''
''This is not an obligation of Turkey towards us only, it is mainly an obligation to EU by Turkey,'' he added, informing journalists that the Commission has sent to Turkey a new readapted protocol for signature on the basis of take it or leave.
''I do not know if Turkey will risk not commencing negotiations in 2005 when we do not know what would happen in some countries in 2006. I want to stress that the signing of the protocol is not our priority, this is not our main concern, of course it is important, our priority is the solution of the Cyprus problem,'' he said.
The signing of the protocol is a very important first step towards normalization of relations of Cyprus with Turkey but it is not our priority, he stressed.
On the EU role in efforts for a political settlement, he said that the EU accepts that the leading role must remain with the UN, and added ''Europe is involved in the Cyprus problem and the EU must take a more proactive role in the negotiations which to a great extent affect the acquis communautaire.''
On prospects for Cyprus joining the ERM II, he said ''we have good indications that we will be accepted in the ERM II within the established time schedule.''
Responding to questions on efforts to find a solution, he said he is ready to engage in talks under UN auspices and added ''all the information I have from the UN is that the SG is reluctant to start a new initiative unless he has evidence, reassurances, suggestions, and commitments that his plan will be accepted.''
Annan also points out that any changes to his plan must be limited so as to preserve ''the unique balance of the Annan plan'' as the SG says, Papadopoulos explained.
''We do not accept that the Annan plan is balanced, let alone being uniquely balanced,'' Papadopoulos stressed.
Responding to other questions, he said ''there is no stalemate, talks are always going on, talking with interested people and those involved in the decision making process hoping to create the right conditions for talks to become effective.''
''Any round of talks should be well prepared to ensure that the talks will have a fair chance of success,'' he stressed.
On Russia's position on Cyprus, he said Moscow's support is based on principles and there is no change, adding that there is a policy paper by Russia sent to all those who need to receive it outlining the Russian position.
On the US stance towards Cyprus, he said the US believes they are very helpful in the peace effort.
"We all know Turkey is a very important ally to the US, given the present situation in the Middle East and I do not know if the Cyprus issue comes anywhere into the equation of formulating US policy,'' he noted.
On Britain's position on Cyprus, he said ''their real policy on Cyprus is that if they cannot achieve acceptance of the Annan plan, their B plan is how to upgrade the regime in occupied areas to the highest possible level short of diplomatic recognition.''
New talks can take place under UN auspices, Spokesman says: Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos is ready to attend a new negotiating process to reach a Cyprus settlement once the framework of the procedure under the UN auspices is set, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has said, invited to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot self-styled prime minister Mehmet Ali Talat that he was ready to meet President Papadopoulos.
Chrysostomides said the government considers that contacts between political parties of both communities ''help to create a climate of cooperation and understanding and promote a settlement of the Cyprus problem.''
Invited to say if the government sees any expediency in Talat's statements, Chrysostomides said ''Talat is continuously trying to create impressions, without abandoning his goals for political upgrading, political recognition, direct trade, things that do not contribute to the effort, in good faith, for the resumption of the procedure and for promoting a settlement of the Cyprus problem.''
To a remark that Talat said that at a meeting with President Papadopoulos they could discuss issues other than those discussed during the negotiations, for example the opening of new crossing points along the ceasefire line, the spokesman said ''there is a framework through which deliberations on this issue take place.''
He recalled the government's proposals to open eight new crossing points, noting that ''our proposals are still on the table and we are expecting the response of the Turkish Cypriot side and the occupation force.''
Asked about efforts to open a crossing point in Zodia, the spokesman said ''our own proposal is the immediate opening of a crossing point
in Zodia, following the route of the old Nicosia-Morphou road,'' adding that this proposal was on the table.
He noted the difficulties created by the proposals of the pseudo state regarding this crossing point.
In November last year the government of Cyprus had revealed that the Turkish occupation forces were constructing a detour road in the Zodia - Astromeritis area which goes through a minefield, and at the same time were violating the property rights of Greek Cypriot owners in the area.
Chrysostomides recalled that the government has suggested and continues to support the opening of a crossing point down Ledra Street, the capital's renowned commercial street divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.