|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 13, 2005
 FM Molyviatis addresses UN Security Council on its role in humanitarian crises
NEW YORK 13/07/2005 (ANA/P. Panayiotou)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan, said "humanitarian crises, apart from constituting a threat for peace and security, cause desperation and grief for fellow men of ours all over the world. For this reason they constitute a provocation for our collective conscience, as well as for the principles and values on which the United Nations have been established."
The foreign minister focused on the issue proposed by the Security Council's Greek Presidency for the month of July: «The role of the Security Council in humanitarian crises: challenges, experiences and prospects."
Molyviatis presented the members of the Security Council with specific proposals on preventing the repetition of humanitarian crises and the threat of new conflicts, stressing that "the following three issues must be handled with success: a) Strengthening the state of law, b) Disarming, discharging and rehabilitating fighters, c) Reforms in the security sector."
He continued by saying "allow me to begin the discussion with a statement in my national capacity. Out of all the crises which have affected peace and stability in our globalized world since the beginning of the '90s, it is the humanitarian crises which touch our hearts and minds most. Nobody can forget Somalia, Rwanda or the Balkans, for me to mention only three of them as an example."
Molyviatis pointed out that it is a fact of great importance that the discussion is coinciding in time with the process of reforming the UN, meaning that it is coming at a time when efforts are being made to achieve more effective international action.
"Issues raised before the Security Council as threats for peace and security have been widened substantively in past years. The Security Council reacted sometimes to avert humanitarian crises. On other occasions it did not," he said.
"Of course, the responsibility and obligation of protecting non-combatants continues to belong to the countries concerned. However, in cases of mass human violations and atrocities the international community has an obligation towards the victims of such violent acts. The United Nations and the Security Council in particular, must take effective action to alleviate the grief of non-combatants and to prevent humanitarian disasters," the foreign minister added.
Molyviatis further said he was pleased by the fact that the Security Council has made considerable efforts in past years to tackle this challenge, guided by the spherical concept of human security.
"This concept includes such issues as: Human rights, the protection of non-combatants in armed conflicts, and of women and children in particular, those displaced internally and of refugees and combatting the illegal trade of small and light arms," he pointed out.
"Humanitarian crises are surely not identical. Each one has its own characteristics," the foreign minister said, adding that "the managing of crises must be collective. However, operational action must be adjusted to the particularities and needs of each stage."
Molyviatis also said "I believe that the prevention of future humanitarian crises requires the timely handling of these issues and coordinated action by the Security Council, as well as by the other bodies and organizations of the system of the United Nations and of regional Organizations. Cooperation among member-states is very important."
The foreign minister concluded by saying that "the effective and timely handling of humanitarian crises by the Security Council is of vital importance. The peoples we represent, international public opinion, will accept nothing less than success."
Humanitarian crises 'a challenge to our collective conscience", FM says: Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Tuesday described humanitarian crises as "a challenge to our collective con-science" in statements he made to reporters following the meeting of the United Nations' Security Council, whose presidency Greece has assumed for the month of July, in New York on Tuesday.
"Today, I have the great honor and joy of presiding over a special session of the Security Council, which was convened following a Greek initiative in order to discuss, in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the crucial issue of addressing humanitarian crises," he said.
Molyviatis said that these crises are a serious cause of instability and a serious threat to peace.
He warned that unless humanitarian crises are dealt with promptly and effectively, they can destroy cohesion within societies and can lead to the collapse of state structures.
The Greek minister referred to the Balkans as a past example of such crises and to Africa as a present example.
He said that the UN's and the Security Council's timely and preventive measures are vital in dealing with humanitarian crises, but he also called on the international community and societies everywhere to lend their support and consensus to this cause.
"I would like to believe that the Security Council's open session which is being conducted today following Greece's initiative as president [of the council] at a time when the UN is seeking ways to strengthen its efficacy, will prove a substantial contribution to the Council's efforts in successfully addressing humanitarian crises," Molyviatis concluded.
 FM Molyviatis interviewed on PBS ahead of presentation at UN Security Council
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Greece's foreign minister stressed that confrontation of international terrorism required international solidarity and cooperation, in an interview on PBS public television in the US that was aired Monday night, on the occasion of the foreign minister's visit to New York.
The show's anchorman, Charlie Rose, in presenting Molyviatis, noted that Greece was chairing the UN Security Council for the month of July.
Replying to a question on the issue of terrorism, prompted by the lethal terrorist attacks in London earlier in the week, Molyviatis stressed the unity of all the European countries, as well as their cooperation with the US in confronting the phenomenon.
He also referred to 'Greece's experience' with terrorism, explaining that it had been of a different form and adding that the problem has been overcome and the guilty parties were today in prison.
Molyviatis further noted that the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens had taken place in a secure environment.
To a question on the EU's Constitutional Treaty, Molyviatis opined that the rejection of the Treaty by the French and Dutch people in relevant referenda in their countries did not mean rejection of the proposed Constitution, given that the French and Dutch voted with "other issues" of a domestic nature (i.e. immigration, unemployment, etc.) in mind.
To a comment by Rose that Greece warmly supports Turkey's accession to the EU, Molyviatis stressed that Greece would continue to do so because Athens desired the EU accession of "our entire neighborhood" in the Balkan region, including Turkey.
He also underlined the need for the smooth continuation of Turkey's European course with the commencement of accession negotiations on October 3.
Questioned on the planned reform of the UN, Molyviatis voiced support for the proposals for amendment of "key provisions of the UN Charter" that concern even the composition of the UN Security Council. Namely, the establishment of a special committee for the restructuring of countries following conflicts, the creation of a politically strong Council of Human Rights, the reform of the Economic and Social Council, and the "determination of the conditions for assumption of armed action by the Security Council, the international responsibility for (action in the case of) mass violations of human rights, and the obligation for development of cooperation".
To questions on Iraq, the Greek foreign minister noted that the elections, sovereignty, constitution and security needed to proceed at a rapid pace so that that country would be able to stand on its feet again. On its part, Greece, he said, was contributing with economic assistance and the training of Iraqis.
On the confrontation of the general problem of terrorism, Molyviatis said that the "causes and reasons" needed to be sought.
Greece, as current president of the UN Security Council, was scheduled on Tuesday to present the theme "The role of the Security Council in Humanitarian Crises". The presentation will be made by Molyviatis, who will also preside over an open discussion that will follow the presentation.
Also on Molyviatis' agenda during his NY visit is a working lunch later Tuesday with representatives of the Security Council member countries, and a meeting on Wednesday with UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Greece also holds the presidency of two UN Security Council sanctions committees on Sudan and the Ivory Coast, as well as the vice-presidency of the corresponding committees on Rwanda, Somalia and Al Qaeda. It further holds the vice-presidency of the Counter-Terrorism Committee.
 Sources put PM Karamanlis' visit to Turkey on August 22-23
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Sources in the Greek capital on Tuesday noted that the government has reportedly requested that an official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Turkey take place between Aug. 22 and 23, while stating that a preliminary itinerary does not foreseen a further extension of the visit.
The issue reportedly arose after statements by a spokesman for the Turkish prime minister's office.
 No need for extra security, minister says after gov't discusses EU text on terror threat
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)There was no need for Greece to step up security measures against terrorism; Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said on Tuesday, stressing that Greece was a safe country and a safe destination.
Voulgarakis made the statements after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Tuesday to discuss a text on the European-wide terrorist threat that has been proposed for adoption by all EU member-states, which will be discussed during a meeting of EU ministers on Wednesday.
He said the government examined the proposed text in light of existing security levels and the assessed threat from terrorism, while he reiterated that Greece was a safe country and that this was confirmed by day-to-day experience.
"We stand by the European Union and the countries that feel that they are more under threat but we have our own standards, nevertheless," the minister stressed.
Papaligouras, on his part, in response to questions on whether civil liberties and freedoms might be curtailed, urged reporters to wait until after Wednesday's meeting in Brussels, where the proposals will be examined and a position adopted.
"Europe must give a joint answer to the terrorist strike in London, as though it had happened in every country," he said.
 Education Minister pays respects at site of Kings Cross blast in London
LONDON, 13/07/2005 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou visited Kings Cross Station in London on Tuesday to pay her respects to the victims of the deadly blast that ripped through the station on July 7 - the most lethal of the four terrorist strikes against London's transport system the same day, leaving 52 dead and 700 injured some of them critically.
Outside Kings Cross, an area has been set aside where members of the public can lay flowers in memory of the victims.
Yiannakou, who is in London to attend an EU education ministers' meeting, deposited a bouquet of flowers and wrote a message in the condolences book, saying she had conveyed both the friendly feelings and condolences toward the British people but also the readiness of Greek authorities to support actions for policies both to prevent and contain terrorism.
She said her presence at Kings Cross was a mark of respect for the people that lost their lives and their families, as well as the entire British people, and a message to underline the political will against terrorism.
"I believed that, at this time, all those who think democratically throughout the world have the same definition for terrorism and can all work together politically, also. And this is an important aspect that may bring results in the long term," she said.
The minister also pointed out terrorism was a form of violence that might affect anyone and that no one was entitled to say that terrorism did not concern them.
"The public's agreement and a sense of the reality is needed. The international community cannot wait until the sum total of political problems in the world is solved in order for terrorism to stop. We must do something now," she said.
The minister also underlined her personal concern on the day of the bombing, pointing out that there were a number of Greek schools operating in London.
Referring to the EU Council meeting in London, Yiannakou said that education was currently a priority issue in Europe, with an emphasis on life-long education, in order to promote growth and the labor market, and on multilingualism.
 Parliament President Benaki-Psarouda visits British embassy, condemns terrorist attacks in London
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda visited the British embassy on Tuesday and expressed her strong condemnation of the tragic terrorist attacks which occurred in London last week.
"I express the warm condolences of the Greek Parliament and of myself personally for the tragedy which struck the people of Great Britain, as well as our support for the combatting of terrorism," she wrote in the book of condolences opened at the embassy and wished "every consolation for the families of the victims."
Asked by reporters of the possibility of individual rights being restricted in European Union countries to enable terrorism to be tackled, Benaki-Psarouda said "Greece has always observed a very wise stance on these issues and I believe that it will do the same now. In other words, we shall examine, as a state, proposals to be submitted very carefully and we shall take a position accordingly, in line with all that is anticipated by our Constitution, as well as by the need for the effective protection of all European citizens."
Coalition party delegation visits British embassy, signs book of condolences on London terrorist attacks: A delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party visited the British embassy on Tuesday and signed the book of condolences opened on last week's terrorist attacks in London.
"Our solidarity for the innocent victims, their families and the British people is undivided. Our condemnation of the terrorist attacks is unequivocal. Our resolve is greater to struggle to break the vicious circles of violence and blood. For peaceful and democratic solutions to international problems based on the principles of the UN and of international law. Europe must follow this path," the delegation wrote in the book of condolences.
 Greek driver of London bus hit by terrorists honored in Blackpool
LONDON, 13/07/2005 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)The Greek driver of a London bus hit by terrorist on July 7, George Psaradakis, and his family were guests of honor at a Public Transport Staff conference held in Blackpool that was also attended by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.
During the conference on Monday, Brown also had a conversation in private with Psaradakis, while in statements to the media he praised the bus driver for his words after the attack, saying they had given many people strength to face the past few days, in the aftermath of the four terror strikes.
In a statement to the press describing the attack on the bus, Psaradakis said that he would not let himself be intimidated by terrorists and intended to go back to work for the London Stagecoach.
 Gov't on proposals for mobile phone surveillance
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday noted that the provisions of the Constitution must be respected, when asked to comment on the EU presidency's proposal for the surveillance of mobile phones as a counter-terrorist measure.
"It is clear that in such issues, those principles provided for under the Constitution must be observed, while there is always the operation of the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data," Roussopoulos said, referring further questions to the public order ministry.
 Alternate Culture Minister continues successful visit to China
BEIJING, 13/07/2005 (ANA/S.Aravopoulou)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia continued her visit to China on Tuesday, described as a 'major success' by China's Vice President Chen Zhili, with an official dinner held in her honor.
"Although you have been in Beijing for only a few days you achieved a major success - to make Greece the 'guest of honor' during the 2008 Beijing Olympics," Zhili said, referring to the relevant memorandum of cooperation Petralia and China's Culture Minister Sun Jiazheng signed on Monday.
"As a result of your visit, our Olympic Games preparations will proceed further," Zhili said.
On her part, Petralia said: "There is an impression that we politicians talk a lot and do little, but we proved that in just a few days we achieved a lot."
She also conveyed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' positive feedback on current developments. Karamanlis, who has accepted the Chinese government's invitation, will be visiting China by the end of the year.
Earlier on Tuesday, Petralia shared Greece's Olympic experience with Chinese and Asian viewers with interviews she gave CCTV and BEIJIN TV.
She said that the 2008 Olympic Games would be an excellent opportunity for China to show its dynamic presence and explained how important it is to have citizens involved in preparations and the staging of the Games, through volunteerism for example.
Furthermore, Petralia stressed the need for hard work right to the end, with particular emphasis needed on issues such as security, hospitality, organization, transportation and coordination.
Finally, Petralia also visited China's National Archaeological Museum, which will host an exhibit in 2008 dedicated to the history of the Olympic Games.
The museum's curator Pan Zhenzhou gave Petralia a guided tour.
 Gov't again details procedure for re-entry into Greece of residence, work permit holders
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The public order ministry on Tuesday again announced that non-EU citizens who have officially filed for the renewal of a residence or work permit and wish to travel outside the country will be allowed to return to Greece between July 15, 2005 and Aug. 31, 2005.
According to the ministry, such individuals are considered as legal residents pending a decision by relevant authorities of their renewal applications.
The measure also covers foreign nationals that have legally entered the country and have applied for a first residence permit that cites family reunion, work or study in the country as the reasons for their entry and stay.
Eligible individuals whose residence permit has expired must have the following documents in order: a valid passport; an expired residence permit; proof of submission of documentation for the issuance of a new work or residence permit prior to its expiration date for the various categories detailed by Law 2910/01.
Non-EU foreign nationals applying for their first residence permit must have the following documents in order: a valid passport; an expired validation of entry into the country on the grounds of family reunion, work or study; proof that documentation for the issuance of a first residence permit has been submitted.
Changes to draft law benefit immigrants: The Interior Ministry's draft law on immigration policy was finalized by the responsible Parliamentary committee on Tuesday following a series of changes that will benefit immigrants in Greece.
Specifically, with the changes adopted by Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos, all immigrants living in Greece up until December 31, 2004 can obtain legal status, as opposed to the previous version of the bill, which required immigrants to have lived at least one year in the country.
Additionally, regarding establishing residency in the country, immigrants will be able to use, aside from their passports, entry applications they submitted due to humanitarian reasons, applications submitted to insurance organizations, as well as rejected requests for political asylum.
Finally, Pavlopoulos eliminated the requirement for children under the age of 14 to pay stamp duty, provided their families are legal residents of Greece and deleted the clause which called for the extradition of a juvenile in the event that he/she is convicted by a court.
 Gov't goals in health sector achieved 80% by 2006, health minister says
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The majority of the government's goals in the health sector as announced during New Democracy's election campaign, will be achieved by 2006, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said during his visit in Larissa on Tuesday.
He announced the government's decision to require insurance funds to contribute funds to medical centers to enable provision of health care services to the insured at these sites.
Kaklamanis also made a series of announcements regarding Larissa's health care sector, during a press conference.
He announced the construction of a new wing, and the refurbishment of the old wing of Larissa's General Hospital with a total cost of roughly ¬ 6.3 million; the operation of two new clinics at Larissa's University Hospital in the fall and the purchase of a new CT scanner and magnetic resonance tomography which the hospital does not currently have; and the creation of 29 new job openings for specialist doctors at Larissa's Regional Hospital.
Kaklamanis' two-day visit to Larissa, which began on Monday, coincided with the inauguration of the Citizens' Information Centre (KEP) at the Thessaly Health Administration Agency.
 Deputy FM inaugurates work on Common Institutions building in Sarajevo
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, responsible for International Development Cooperation and Aid and Economic Diplomacy, on Tuesday inaugurated the reconstruction and refurbishment of the Common Institutions building in Sarajevo.
Reconstruction of the building, which will house Bosnia & Herzegovina's government agencies, is funded 80.4% (¬ 13.5 million) by the Greek government within the context of the Greek Plan for Economic Reconstruction in the Balkans.
The building will be renamed to the "Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina Friendship Building."
UN High Representative Lord Paddy Ashdown thanked Grece for its significant role in the west Balkans in terms of bringing about stability and helping development, and congratulated the Greek government on beginning reconstruction work on the building.
 President Papoulias meets with MPs, Ombudsman
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received MP Vassilis Magginas, who chairs the standing parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense, and later with former finance minister Nikos Christodoulakis.
The President later received Ombudsman George Kaminis, who presented him with the annual report on the activities of the independent authority.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos holds talks with European Commission and European Parliament presidents
BRUSSELS, 13/07/2005 (ANA/V. Demiris)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos held talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Joseph Borrel and other senior European Union dignitaries here on Tuesday.
Reports said that the purpose of the talks was safeguarding the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in light of the beginning of accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey on October 3.
Issues discussed with Barroso and Borrel, according to the reports, included the property of minority foundations and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while the arrangement concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate's legal status was also examined, as was the question of the reopening of the Halki School of Theology as an ecclesiastical institution, as it was before its operation was forbidden.
The timing of the Ecumenical Patriarch's visit to the Belgian capital is considered important, considering that the discussion on the legal framework which shall govern accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey has begun at the Council of Ministers.
 Accreditation process for Greek ambassador in U.S. followed normally, foreign ministry spokesman says
NEW YORK, 13/07/2005 (ANA/P. Panayiotou)Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, commenting on Tuesday on reports of a delay in the accreditation of Greek Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias by the U.S. government, said the accreditation process is being followed normally.
"The accreditation process for ambassador Mr. Mallias, the ambassador of Greece in the United States, is being followed normally. The time required in such cases, due to the process, is great. And in this specific case, there has been no exceeding of logical time limits. Consequently, I would like to stress that the comments which have been heard, as well as the impressions which are trying to be formed are unjustified. Indeed, they are more unjustified because they are being manifested today that our country, at a historic moment, is presiding over the UN's Security Council," the spokesman said.
 Deposed Jerusalem patriarch sues deputy FM
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)A lawyer representing deposed Patriarch of Jerusalem Eirineos (Irineos) has reportedly filed a lawsuit with Parliament against Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis, charging that the latter's actions during an unprecedented crisis at the Patriarchate over the first half of the year encouraged efforts to oust his client from the Orthodox ecclesiastical throne in the Holy Land.
The tabling of a lawsuit with the legislature is mandatory for serving MPs, as they enjoy Parliamentary immunity during their term.
 Gov't adamant over measures to liberalise labor market, extend shop hours
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The government appeared adamant on Tuesday over its closely watched initiative to liberalise the labor regime in tandem with unifying shop hours around the country, measures that have met with strong opposition by trade unions' leaderships.
"The government has proceeded with a series of structural changes; it has announced them, discussed them with social partners and it will move ahead because it's for the country's good; for the good of the economy and for employment," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters during a regular press briefing.
Moreover, he again echoed other top government officials' statements in emphasizing that there is absolutely no intent to abolish the eight-hour work day over the course of the year. Instead, he said a more elastic labor regime will allow tourism-related businesses, for instance, to work longer hours when required, while chopping off work hours for staff during the off season.
Asked about opposition from the ruling New Democracy-affiliated DAKE labor grouping, Roussopoulos underlined that the "labor movement during a ND government is not manipulated, in contrast with other parties, who from Parliament's podium threatened strikes, thus manipulating the labor movement."
In referring to a "decriminalization" of the labor market, Roussopoulos added:
"There are certain areas of the country where opening a store on Saturday is prohibited ... if a professional, one who is just beginning his career, opened his business on Saturday then he would find himself before the prosecutor. Today the government allowed someone who wanted to keep his business open for an extra hour each day to do so ... What previously took place was absurd," the spokesman stressed.
Minister calls on trade unions to participate in dialogue for labor market changes: The labor ministry's leadership on Tuesday again called on the country's largest trade union, GSEE, to participate in a dialogue over proposed changes in the labor market, changes aimed at liberalizing the sector.
Speaking during a press conference a day after a failed attempt to bridge differences with GSEE's leadership, Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos reiterated that a relevant law will definitely be tabled in Parliament this summer. To press his point, he added that the ministry's decisions for the specific sector were based on direct orders from Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Moreover, he reiterated that liberalization of the labor market and the unification of shop hours around the country primarily aims at increasing employment over the next six months.
Finally, he called GSEE's stance counter-productive.
 Greek SMEs postpone protest mobilizations for next week
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)GSEBEE, the association of craft, small- and medium-sized enterprises, on Tuesday announced its was postponing its protest mobilizations against a government plan for extended shopping hours around the country for next week, Tuesday, 19 July. The association had initially planned mobilizations for Wednesday, 13 July, including the closing of shops in the island of Crete, and symbolic blockade of national roads in Tempi, Central Greece, Rio-Antirrio and the Korinth Canal.
GSEBEE said the decision to postpone its protest mobilizations for next week was taken to offer its members more time for preparation.
Meanwhile, the European Association of Craft, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), in a letter to GSEBEE on the issue, stressed that Greece already has one of the largest real shopping hours numbers in the EU, currently ranking fourth with 58 hours weekly, above an EU average of 56 hours.
UEAPME stressed that economic reports showed that longer shopping hours would not need to more consumption and economic growth, while at the same time put more burdens to businessmen, either by hiring more staff and raising operating costs, or work longer themselves. UEAPME's report was presented by GSEBEE to the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday.
GSEBEE also submitted a report on its position on a dialogue over labor relations to Labor and Social Protection Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos. The association stressed that overtime cost should not be prohibitive, urged for less bureaucracy and improving framework on annual working hours.
 PM unveils policy priorities for farm sector
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)"Farmers know that they are not alone. The government stands beside them," Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos to discuss farm policy, Karamanlis presented the government's policy priorities for the sector, including the creation of local farm development centers in each prefecture, strengthening the role of an farm product promotion agency, creation of farm consultants, setting up an independent agency with the role of inspecting imported farm products, and drafting of a total of 13 surveys to study the impact on introducing a new Common Agricultural Policy.
"It is a common view that the farm sector is facing chronic and serious problems. All citizens, and farmers most of all, know that in March 7, 2004 our government took over a farm sector at the brink of collapse despite the fact that the country has received huge sums from the EU in the past. The government immediately implemented a new farm policy aimed to achieve a restructuring of the sector, improving its competitiveness and adjusting farm production to changing conditions of a global market and consumer demands," the Greek PM said.
Karamanlis stressed that the government has done a significant job so far, but added "much more need to be done" and urged for a change in attitude, for a new vision to face the challenges of a new era.
Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos, speaking to reporters, said the ministry's policy priorities were to promote investments and to achieve higher EU fund inflows.
Basiakos, on Monday, announced a significant increase in exports of Greek farm products in the first quarter of 2005. Exports totalled 659 million euros in the January-March period, up 25 percent from the same period last year, accounting for 21.9 percent of total Greek exports during that period.
PASOK says it deserves credit for agricultural policy, not gov't: Main opposition PASOK's Agricultural Development Division criticized Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for his statement on Tuesday that the New Democracy government has "turned a new page" in the agricultural sector.
According to PASOK's Agricultural Development Division, 'that page' had been turned in 2003 by the then PASOK government which had said that reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was both inevitable and beneficial to the Greek farming sector.
"We were the ones securing the inclusion of Mediterranean products in the new CAP, annual subsidies reaching ¬ 2.6 billion through 2013 and a minimum guaranteed income for farmers," PASOK's division said.
Communist Party criticizes arrangements announced by PM for farmers: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday criticized arrangements announced by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for farmers.
"The new arrangements announced by the prime minister constitute measures which implement the anti-popular policy against the farmers belonging to low and medium income brackets with the aim of gathering land and production in a few hands," the announcement said.
KKE made the announcement on the occasion of the prime minister's visit to the Agricultural Development ministry and noted that the government "disengaging subsidies in their entirety from production aims at buying out the consciences of farmers for them to accept their annihilation."
 Greece, EIB sign pact on financing for Greek seaports
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Greece and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding on financing for major international and national port facilities in Greece.
Signing in Luxembourg were Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and EIB Vice-President Gerlando Genuardi following consultations over recent months, the European Union's financing arm said in a statement.
The merchant marine ministry announced that the loan has a value of up to three billion euros for a six-billion-euro project to upgrade ports around the country. The 25-year arrangement has a grace period of seven years and a low rate of interest, without requiring state guarantees.
"The agreement underlines the EIB's interest in supporting through the eventual financing of individual projects a high-priority investment program under the state's port development strategy, covering the period 2005-2015," the EIB said.
Greece considers improving its seaports of vital importance for the national and EU economies; and as part of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TENs) based on inter-modal transport the expansion and development of hinterland infrastructure connections with the Greek ports will enhance their crucial role as transshipment nodes, connecting the Middle East, North Africa and Black Sea with Central and Northern Europe, according to the EIB.
The bank's contribution to financing the port development program will meet its objective of financing key EU transport infrastructure, also bringing value added by accelerating implementation of the program and facilitating private sector participation in line with the European policy for developing sea routes through investment in ports and inter-modal terminals.
Projects to be supported under the pact will be subject to the bank's normal review for compliance with eligibility and technical, environmental, economic and financial viability criteria, the EIB added.
Two Greeks named for EIB posts: The European Investment Bank (EIB) on Tuesday announced two new appointments at the European Union's long-term financing institution, both from Greece.
Konstantin Andreopoulos has been appointed as chief compliance officer of the EIB Group
"In order to enhance the EIB Group's compliance objectives and in conformity with the Basel guidelines, in November 2004 the EIB's Management Committee decided to regroup existing services into a separate entity to assist the EIB Group in the promotion of sound supervisory standards," the bank said in a statement.
"Mr Andreopoulos will give opinions, issue rulings and recommendations on intended actions every time that compliance issues arise and will rule, where necessary, on the compliance of the individuals' actions with the EIB Group's rules and code of conduct," the statement said.
Andreas Verykios was named deputy director general for lending operations in Europe of the European Investment Bank.
The EIB's management committee said that Verykios would serve as a further reinforcement of the EIB's lending team in Europe, where financing in 2004 exceeded 40 billion euros.
 Main opposition blasts government industry leaflet
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Tuesday sharply criticized a leaflet published by the development ministry outlining action for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said in a statement that the leaflet's 15 points on the sector were erroneous.
Among the inaccuracies was a statement that for the first time, 55% of smaller firms were receiving subsidies, although the plan was devised by the previous PASOK government, Athanasakis said.
In addition, not one euro had been disbursed under the development law in the government's 16 months in office, resulting in a decline in investments by 31% in one year, he claimed.
 Coalition (SYN) party opposed to public-private partnership bill:
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party expressed its adamant opposition to the government's draft law regarding public-private partnerships.
"[This bill] represents an extreme neo-liberal model which drastically and fundamentally changes the relation between public and private interests, benefiting the latter and at the expense of workers," SYN said in a statement it released on Tuesday.
According to SYN, its criticism is justified given that the bill allows:
• The transfer of practically all state infrastructure and services to private interests, with a set of conditions that will further fuel corruption;
• Privatisation of the Public Investment Program virtually in its entirety;
• Marginalisation of public administration;
• 'Fiscal forgery', since indirect state borrowing will not be recorded as public debt;
• A new, indirect tax regime which will burden citizens, since they will have to pay for services that were previously provided for free by the state.
SYN has demanded that the bill be repealed.
 Industrial production dropped 2.3 percent in May, yr/yr
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Greece's industrial production composite index dropped 2.3 percent in May compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
NSS, in its monthly report, said the mining production index fell 7.4 percent, reflecting lower production of coal, crude oil and natural gas, the manufacturing production index eased 3.2 percent, while the electricity-natural gas-water production index rose 4.6 percent, reflecting higher production of electricity and natural gas.
The industrial production composite index fell 2.0 percent in the five month period from January to May 2005, compared with the same period in 2004. The mining production index dropped 10.7 percent, the manufacturing index eased 2.2 percent and the electricity-natural gas-water index rose 2.0 percent.
 Gov't on economic measures to fight deficit
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The government on Tuesday reiterated that recent economic measures aim to overcome problems -- namely, budget deficits inherited from the previous government -- by the end of 2006.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the comment in reference to recent observations by EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia and Greek Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis.
"Necessary measures to reform the economy were not taken over many years," he said, adding that investments worth several hundred million euros were recently funneled into the economy after being previously delayed.
 Greek fiscal data to EU in October, finmin repeats
BRUSSELS, 13/07/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis repeated on Tuesday that the government will submit Greek fiscal data to the European Union's executive Commission in October.
After that, the Commission and EU finance ministers will make a public statement after studying the data and the government's preliminary draft for the 2006 budget, Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting in the Belgian capital with the bloc's monetary affairs commissioner, Joaquín Almunia.
The two officials were speaking on the sidelines of meetings of EU and eurozone finance ministers.
Alogoskoufis also reported that EU ministers had received a Commission report on problems stemming from the differences among economies in connection with the bloc's economic expansion in which growth differentials among member states were viewed as natural, but could only be overcome by means of a concerted implementation of structural changes within the bloc.
It was the finance ministers' final meeting before the summer break.
 EU Commission to publish forecast on Greek economy in November
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The European Commission will base its forecast on the Greek economy, due in November, on a progress report expected to be submitted by the Greek government by the end of October along with a report on its fiscal condition and the Commission's autumn economic forecasts, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting of Eurozone Finance ministers, Almunia stressed the Commission would publicly acknowledge if it reached a positive forecast on the Greek economy and noted that the EU's executive would continue to monitor fiscal developments in the country. The EU Commissioner added that if the forecast was negative the Commission would have to proceed with the necessary proceedings.
 Greece named partner country at Berlin's ITB 2006 tourism convention
BERLIN, 13/07/2005 (ANA/P Stangos)Greece on Tuesday was named partner country at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) sector trade fair and convention in Berlin on 8-12 March 2006.
The decision was announced by Martin Buck, Director of Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin's Competence Center, and Panagiotis Skordas, Director of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).
"Greece very successfully organized the 2004 Summer Olympics and is also hosting next year's Eurovision Song Contest, so we are especially glad for this country to be our partner at the International Tourism Exchange ITB Berlin 2006. Greece is well known to many Germans as a tourism destination," Buck said.
"Well over 2 million German tourists travel to Greece each year. We are already looking forward to very special opening ceremonies at the ITB Berlin 2006, with our partner country Greece as the main theme," he added.
Skordas noted that among GNTO's worldwide activities promoting Greece as a tourism destination, the ITB Berlin was an annual highlight.
"This collaboration as the official partner country at the ITB Berlin 2006 gives us an opportunity to be at the forefront of presentations for tourism experts from around the world," he added.
As partner country, Greece will be organizing part of the event's opening ceremonies.
 Tourism ministry partners with Athens Concert Hall
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)The Ministry of Tourism Development will be closely cooperating with the Athens Concert Hall in an effort to promote conference and cultural tourism.
Part of the collaboration entails a series of concerts that will be held at the Hall with the support of the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT).
Famous Greek singers and musicians will be participating in 10 concerts that will run from August 30 through September 14.
According to Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos this particular initiative will prove particularly productive and he stressed that similar pilot projects will be implemented throughout the country.
"The objective is for tourists' visit to our country to be combined, among other things, with their involvement in cultural events. To this end, and in cooperation with travel agents and hoteliers, foreign visitors will be informed about these concerts," he said.
 Emporiki Bank back in the black in Q1
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank on Tuesday reported net earnings before tax of 37.2 million euros in the first quarter of 2005, while net earnings after tax and minorities totalled 24.5 million euros, bringing the state bank back into the black.
Reversed were losses of 9.9 million euros in the corresponding period of 2004, management said in a statement.
"The first release of the Group's financial statements under International Financial Reporting Standards coincides with the strong improvement of the Group's operating performance as a result of our structured and systematic efforts in the context of the Group's restructuring program," George Provopoulos, chairman and managing director said in a statement.
"The reported progress underpins the optimism of the management that the resolution of the pension issue will add further impetus to the efforts undertaken towards the improvement of the Group's efficiency," Provopoulos said.
He noted that resolution of the bank's outstanding pension issue that had burdened the bank's operations created a positive outlook and eliminated uncertainty.
"The solution to this critical issue alleviates Emporiki's competitive disadvantage, stemming from the requirement for comparably higher social security contributions. The impact on shareholders' equity will be dealt with through a series of measures aiming at strengthening the Bank's capital base," the chairman said.
Net income in first-quarter 2005 reached ¬ 24.5 million under IFRS from ¬ 9.9 million losses a year earlier, underpinned by a 16.6% rise in operating income and a modest increase in operating expenses.
Central bank supports mergers, acquisitions: The central bank supports mergers and acquisitions among credit institutions in Greece, both domestic and from abroad, its head, Nikolaos Garganas, said on Tuesday.
"Competition in a small economy comes from abroad," Garganas, governor of the Bank of Greece, told a news conference.
The domestic banking sector has taken major steps towards growth over recent years, benefiting the economy, he added.
 Greece unveils digital strategy for 2006-2013
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Greece's Information Society on Tuesday unveiled the country's digital strategy for the period 2006-2013, one aimed to improve productivity and quality of living by 2013.
Presenting the strategy, Information Society's special secretary, professor Vasilis Asimakopoulos, said the plan signaled also the beginning of consultations before a final proposal was submitted to the government by the end of the year with the aim for the program to begin in early 2006.
Greece's digital strategy is divided into two phases, the first by 2008 and the second by 2013. The strategy includes more than 65 actions. The first phase will focus on developing electronic procurement, broadband, automated transactions with the public state and establishing e-signature in the country.
The second phase includes the creation of one-stop electronic shops for enterprises, restructuring the public sector and integrating new technologies in the country's educational system.
Vasilis Andronopoulos, an Interior ministry official, speaking to reporters said the government was promoting three very significant projects to support the country's digital transformation, aiming to cut transactions between enterprises and the public sector and improving living quality.
 Athens airport passenger traffic up 7.5% in H1
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Passenger traffic at Athens International Airport (AIA) in the first half of 2005 increased by 7.5% year-on-year to total 6.6 million passengers.
According to preliminary figures released on Tuesday by AIA, overall growth was spurred by a 12% rise in international passenger traffic in comparison with the first half of 2004. Domestic passenger traffic maintained high levels achieved during 2004, when Athens hosted the Olympic Games, posting a 0.5% increase.
Low-cost carriers also maintained steady growth, posting a 19% passenger traffic increase. Charter international passenger traffic gained 18%.
The Middle East and Eastern/Central Europe remained the fastest growing regions, posting increases of 22% and 21% growth respectively. In long-haul regions, the North American market rose by 11%.
The rise of passenger traffic in the first half of 2005 was marked by the highest ever load factors for Athens International Airport. Indicatively, for the month of June 2005, international load factors reached 78% on average (65% last year), while domestic load factors reached 72% (65% in 2004). Load factors exceeded 80% for 23 airlines in June, while load factors for 7 airlines surpassed 90%.
Finally, international tourists traveling through Athens International Airport showed a major rise. According to preliminary year-on-year figures, the number of international transit tourists moving from AIA to other Greek destinations increased by 36%. Athens visitors increased by 36%, AIA said.
 Greek concrete market to stabilize in 2005, report
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Greece's concrete market is expected to witness a regrouping of activities in 2005, a report by ICAP said on Tuesday.
ICAP's report said that private building activity, and public works, were the main factors to determining demand for concrete. Around 600 enterprises participated in the domestic market, largely very small with one or two production units. The report stressed that enterprises were either cement group subsidiaries or independent companies.
The Attica region attracted the biggest concrete production in the country, with the market growing an annual average rate of 12 percent in the period 1994-2003, although concrete production fell 20 percent last year after completion of Olympic projects. The Thessaloniki region recorded an average annual growth rate of 6.0 percent over the same period, while the rest of the country a growth rate of 1.0 percent. Attica accounted for 39 percent of total domestic production in 2004, Thessaloniki for 12 percent and the rest of the country 49 percent.
Demand for concrete is directly linked with the general economic climate in the country. The report said 2005 would see the sector regrouping amidst a decline in building activity. However, concrete production companies have a comparative advantage -experience and know-how- that could support them in the future, while continued EU funds' inflows could also support the sector by 2008.
Real estate analysts said they expected building activity to recover in 2005 ahead of the introduction of VAT on new houses from 2006, with the Attica region maintaining its leading position in the market.
 Section of Egnatia motorway to be opened to traffic on Wednesday
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Contractors will be installed at all the remaining sections of the Egnatia motorway (in northern Greece) within the year to enable the eastern part of the motorway to be completed in 2007 and the entire part lying in the region of Epirus to be opened to traffic in 2008.
This was stressed by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias during the inauguration of the Asprovalta-Strymonas section of the Egnatia motorway which will be opened to traffic on Wednesday.
Construction of the section inaugurated on Tuesday began in 1999 and it has a length of 20.5 kilometers, but it reaches a length of 22 kilometers together with access roads. The section also includes six big bridges and five tunnels. The cost of construction amounted to 150 million euros.
 Hellenic Railways employees will not strike
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Employees of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) will not strike from July 13-15, as previously announced, thus train routes will operate uninterrupted.
The decision not to strike was made after leading officials of the Panhellenic Rail Workers Federation met with OSE's management and reached an initial agreement regarding employee demands.
Employees' main demands concern salaries and the signing of a new collective labor agreement.
 Stocks flat in bid to consolidate
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished flat in a bid to consolidate, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,115.70 points, marking a rise of 0.01%. Turnover was 184.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.21% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.70% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.21% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 175 to 99 with 60 remaining unchanged.
 Egyptian authorities step up efforts to block transport of illegals into Greece
CAIRO, 13/07/2005 (ANA - N. Katsikas)The latest instance of local authorities here breaking up a migrant-smuggling ring attempting to funnel illegals into Greece was reported this week, with all eight crewmembers of a fishing trawler arrested in a harbor near Alexandria.
Egyptian officials said the fishing trawler would have been used to ferry some 90 would-be migrants onto Greek territory.
Meanwhile, another 42 illegals, all Egyptian nationals, were intercepted prior to their transport aboard a fishing trawler in the coastal Kafr Al-Shiek governorate.
Combating illegal immigration had been on the agenda of talks during an official visit to Egypt last November by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Afghan illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Twenty-six Afghan illegal immigrants who alighted at Kouroundere on Samos at dawn on Tuesday were shortly afterward picked up by the Samos police.
The immigrants arrived from the Turkish coast opposite on two unidentified vessels, while the immigrant-smugglers that brought them over escaped arrest.
Also among the illegal immigrants were two women and a child. All of them were found to be in good health during a medical check-up, and they were led to a reception centre for immigrants on the island.
 Suspect charged with keeping cache of ammunition in safe deposit box
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)One of two men charged with a variety of felonies linked to a couple of recent attacks by self-styled anarchist gangs against riot police in central Athens allegedly kept a container with up to 100 rounds at a bank's safe deposit box.
Authorities reportedly uncovered the cache of ammunition after first acquiring a search warrant to open the deposit box, located at a National Bank of Greece branch in the central district of Kypseli.
The suspect, Georgios Kalaitzidis, 26, along with the second man, Petros Karasaridis, 40, were arrested by police last week after attempting to throw away pieces of two severed flexi-glass shields stolen from riot police during a skirmish last May.
According to reports, the individual who leased the safe deposit box is also being sought by authorities.
Self-styled anarchists had even posed with stolen riot police gear in a photograph circulated on the Internet last month.
 Interior minister presents report on violence in the family
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)A report prepared by a work group at the interior ministry with the purpose of investigating and studying the phenomenon of violence in the family, to enable the processing of a modern legislative framework to handle it, ascertained the existence of a legislative vacuum in this respect.
The report proposes rape in marriage to be punished as an offence, as well as the institution of judicial mediation between perpetrator and victim provided that both sides agree to this.
The report was presented by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Equality Secretary General Evgenia Tsoumani during a press conference.
Pavlopoulos said that violence in the family constitutes a "blot for our culture, society and legal order" and pointed to the lack of an organized institutional framework in the country.
 Christodoulos presents UNICEF with donation for polio vaccinations in Africa
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Tuesday toured the Greek national representation of UNICEF in Athens, where he met with the group's officials before presenting them with a check of 55,000 euros for the purchase of 300,000 polio vaccinations for children in Africa.
 Lesvos man dies in fistfight over parking space
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)A 54-year-old man from the island of Lesvos died on Monday night as the result of a fight over a parking space.
According to eye witnesses, an argument over a parking space between the dead man Kyriakos Hatzipavlidis and his 35-year-old neighbor Kostas Psanis on Monday night degenerated into a brutal fist-fight, during which Psanis punched Hatzipavlidis hard in the face.
The injured man was rushed to a nearby health centre, where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
According to an autopsy carried out by a surgeon at Mytilene Hospital (the hospital has no coroner), Hatzipavlidis' death was the result of a heart attack and not a lethal blow inflicted by Psanis.
 Serbs seek Greek advice on security issues for major sport event
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Serbia has requested Greece's help on security-related issues as it prepares for the 34th Eurobasket Championship that will be held in Belgrade in September 2005.
Serbian police officials met with Public Order ministry officials and the Greek police force on Tuesday, during a two-day visit to Athens, to share the experience and know-how Greek police gained as a result of the 2004 Olympic Games.
Lt. General Vassilios Konstantinidis, head of the public ministry's Security Studies Centre, briefed Serbian officials on the center's operation, crisis management, and design and coordination of Olympic security.
Serbian officials also visited the operational centers of the Greek police force, police headquarters, the Athens Olympic Stadium Complex, Athens International Airport, and the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Markopoulo.
 Deputy Sports Minister congratulates Nikolaou on election as IOC vice-president
Athens, 13/07/2005 (ANA)Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos on Tuesday sent Lambis Nikolaou a telegram congratulating him on his election as one of the four vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"I am certain that, from this high position that honors our country, you will continue to offer important services to the International Olympic Movement and especially to Greek sport and Greek athletes," he said in the telegram.
 Cyprus says Turkey delaying to sign EU protocol
NICOSIA, 13/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides pointed out on Tuesday that Turkey was using ''delaying tactics'' in signing the protocol extending its customs union to the ten new EU member states, including Cyprus.
He noted that internal repercussions from signing the protocol could neither be used as an excuse nor reflect Turkey's stance towards the EU, if Turkey really wanted to begin accession negotiations on October 3.
Asked if the government had any information that Turkey would try any maneuvers regarding the protocol, Chrysostomides said that ''the EU sent a letter to Turkey on June 15, asking it to sign the protocol,'' adding that everything has been discussed and the only thing left is for Ankara to meet its obligations towards the EU.
Replying to questions, Chrysostomides said the British presidency of the EU was obliged to be impartial during its presidency and, ''as long as this objectivity is shown, Turkey's obligations are there and must be met before the opening of accession negotiations.''
 Spokesman says Talat confirms substance of Brussels meeting
NICOSIA, 13/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Tuesday that the substance of what was said at the recent meeting in Brussels on EU regulations to strengthen the Turkish Cypriots and the issue of the fenced-off area of Varosha, was confirmed by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.
Chrysostomides said that at the meeting the Turkish Cypriot side requested the opening of ports and airports, and participation in cultural and sports activities internationally, and only then would it discuss the issue of Varosha, under the precondition that 95% of the area belonged to EVKAF, a Turkish Moslem religious trust, adding that ''this must be brought before a court.''
The spokesman said Talat's remarks, published Tuesday in the Turkish Cypriot press, proved previous government statements about what was said in the Brussels meeting.
He added that ''Talat confirms what we had said, saying that they asked for everything apart from recognition'' of the puppet regime in the Turkish occupied areas, that is ''the opening of the ports and airports, and participation in cultural and sports events worldwide.''
Regarding Varosha, Chrysostomides referred to Talat's statement that ''95% now belongs to EVKAF and Turkey knew this but did not concede to the discussion of this issue.''
''This proves what we had said in the past about what was said there and the fact that the Turkish occupation administration is under the total control of the occupying power, that is Turkey,'' the spokesman concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Straw: Britain is committed to help solve the Cyprus issue
BRUSSELS, 13/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)British Foreign Minister Jack Straw, whose country holds the current EU rotating presidency, underlined on Tuesday Britain's commitment to contribute to the efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
Straw, who was presenting the program of the British EU presidency at the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that his country, being a guarantor power of Cyprus, has a role to play and is committed to contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Answering questions by MEP's Straw said that Turkey's EU accession course would prove to be helpful in the efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
Replying to a comment made by Cypriot MEP Marios Matsakis that the acquis communautaire is not implemented by Britain at its Bases in Cyprus, Straw said that the acquis is implemented in some areas, whereas in some others it is not, adding that Britain and Cyprus have a good cooperation on the issue.
Straw added that the Bases are very important, since they contribute to the Union's defense, and noted that the system under which the Bases operate, is complex.
About Turkey, Straw said that there should not be any discrimination regarding its EU course, stressing though, that Turkey should fulfill all Copenhagen criteria.
On the Union's enlargement, Straw expressed the opinion that the process should continue, and he emphasized on the future accession of all former Yugoslavian countries.
Referring to Bulgaria and Romania, Straw said that they could join the EU on January 1st, 2007, provided that they fulfill the commitments they undertook regarding the acquis communautaire.