|Sunday, 20 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 20, 2006
 PM reiterates policy for public administration reforms
Athens 20/5/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday reiterated his government's volition to implement reforms and restructuring of Greece's often cavernous public administration, one of ruling New Democracy (ND) primary pre-election campaign planks.
"Reforms launched since the first day ND came to power will continue firmly and with more rapid and decisive steps in order to make the re-establishment of the state and public administration deeper; to promote decentralization and to further strengthen local government," the premier stressed in a brief message to delegates at a conference on local government held at the Delphi archaeological site in south-central Greece.
The conference is co-organised by former PASOK minister Gerassimos Arsenis' Institute for Research and Strategic Policy, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), the Local Government Institute and the European Cultural Centre of Delphi.
Karamanlis pointed out that reforms are necessary given the growing international trend for change and reforms, whereas the focus now revolves around the citizen and his active participation in decision making.
In a direct reference and criticism of the preceding PASOK government's funding of local governments, he said municipalities and communities have now been relieved of excessive borrowing, while prefectural governments enjoy stable funding -- three times higher compared to 2004, he said.
Moreover, Karamanlis said a new five-year program, "Theseus", provides a total of 3.5 billion euros for municipalities and communities, twice as high as compared to the past seven years.
Additionally, he referred to a newly drafted code for local governments, saying the development was a substantial step towards upgrading the role and prestige of municipalities and prefectures.
Afterwards, the prime minister toured the exhibition "In Praise of the Olive" at the institute's museum.
 Bakoyannis backs Juncker report at CoE ministers' session
STRASBOURG 20/5/2006 (ANA-MPA - O. Tsipira)The report prepared by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker on relations between the European Union and the Council of Europe (CoE) could become a source of inspiration and a reference point for human rights in Europe, leading to operational reforms, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told her counterparts from CoE countries on Friday.
Addressing the CoE committee of foreign ministers held in Strasbourg, Bakoyannis stressed that Greece placed great emphasis on strengthening the system for the protection of human rights and on a "reforms package" that aimed to efficiently implement the European Treaty on Human Rights on a national and European level.
The Greek minister also expressed Greece's support for the accession of the EU to the Treaty as a separate entity.
According to Bakoyannis, the CoE was now in the midst of a critical period, in which it sought to redefine its role within the total European architecture.
"The biggest challenge we face is to adapt the vision and interests of 46 sovereign states into a cohesive and dynamic whole," she said.
Another aspect emphasized by the Greek minister was the prompt ratification of Protocol 14, providing for reforms to European Court of Human Rights, which she said was of crucial importance.
"We hope that the remaining eight member-states will do their utmost for the ratification of the Protocol, so that it can go into effect as soon as possible," Bakoyannis stressed.
She also emphasized that CoE member-states should ensure that compliance with ECHR decisions was not negotiable, adopting on a domestic level the necessary legislative measures that would be compatible with bringing this about.
The minister additionally emphasized the CoE's potential role in inter-cultural dialogue between Europe and surrounding regions, and in regional cooperation.
"Greece has always considered intercultural dialogue as one of the best means to promote tolerance and understanding between cultures. It is a way in which tension and crises can be anticipated," Bakoyannis said.
She noted Athens' appreciation for CoE initiatives in south-eastern Europe, and the attempts to promote 'cultural routes' that linked cultural heritage with economic development and tourism, stressing that Greece was inseparably linked with the economic and political development of its surrounding region and an active supporter of its European prospects.
The 116th session of the CoE foreign ministers' committee met on Thursday and Friday in Strasbourg to discuss EU-CoE cooperation and also consolidation of the CoE system for the protection of human rights.
The meeting marked the handover of the CoE presidency from Romania to the Russian Federation and was also an opportunity for a an informal meeting with Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations special envoy for the future status of Kosovo.
 Rehn presses Turkey over customs union, Cyprus
BRUSSELS 20/5/2006 (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn on Friday pressed Turkey to fully implement a customs union agreement with the EU, opening its ports and airports to Cyprus traffic, and warned that Turkey's EU accession negotiations would run into trouble over the slow pace of reforms.
After talks on Friday with Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan, the country's chief negotiator with the EU, Rehn stressed that extending customs union to the 10 new member-states of the Community, including Cyprus, was an obligation that Turkey had undertaken to fulfill at the start of its EU entry talks.
In response to questions, meanwhile, Rehn said that Turkey's obligation to implement the extended customs union agreement, known as the Ankara Protocol, was not linked to either a trade and aid package designed to end the economic isolation of Turkish-Cypriots in occupied northern Cyprus or efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.
The commissioner said that there were two important aspects to EU-Turkey relations: the Cyprus issue and the pace of reforms to enhance human rights and democracy in Turkey.
"There is a sense of urgency and it is now the time more clearly to regain the momentum of reforms that enhance the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms," Rehn stressed.
He also pointed to the EU's commitment to work for a solution to the Cyprus problem under the auspices of the United Nations.
According to Babacan, the European Commission and the Turkish government had "different views" on how the Ankara Protocol should be interpreted and what was required.
On Thursday, the Greek and Cyprus governments rejected attempts by Turkey to link the opening of its ports to Cyprus craft with the end of a ban on direct trade with Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Nicosia opposes a lifting of the embargo, fearing that it would grant de facto recognition to the illegal regime set up in the occupied north, which is recognized only by Turkey.
Speaking to the European Policy Centre earlier on Friday, Rehn urged the international community to more actively seek a solution to the Cyprus problem in the near future, stressing that the coming months were particularly crucial and would provide a "window of opportunity" for finding a solution.
He also stressed that the European Commission was anxious to unblock measures to aid the Turkish-Cypriots and hoped that progress might be made after the general elections on Cyprus.
"I trust that after the parliamentary elections in Cyprus, we could soon start serious work to get the remaining part of the trade and aid package...namely the trade regulation with certain accompanying measures, soon adopted in the (EU) Council," Rehn said.
 Polydoras, Alavanos clash in Parliament over alleged terror-linked abductions
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)The controversy surrounding the alleged abduction and interrogation of nearly a score of Pakistani migrants in Athens last summer -- in the wake of the deadly London bombings -- continued to generate local political skirmishes on Friday, this time in Parliament.
On his part, Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras again fully backed his predecessor, current Culture Minister George Voulgarakis -- who held the portfolio during the alleged abductions -- in responding to a tabled question by Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos.
The political sparring between Polydoras and Alavanos erupted after the former cited exactly 15 reported instances between 2003 and the present where Pakistani nationals were kidnapped by compatriots.
"No party has the right to theorize over such a thankless issue. You are simply exposing yourself when you dispute the facts, and you are mudslinging," Polydoras said from Parliament's podium. He also reiterated that Greece's intelligence services have no connection to any abductions and illegal holding of Pakistanis.
Alavanos, whose party has been one of the chief proponents that the abductions actually took place and that Voulgarakis should resign from the Cabinet, charged that the government had a "racist view" vis-a-vis the matter and was "trying to cover-up an international para-state", as he said. "The government, with its stance, not only is covering up but also participated in this case," Alavanos claimed.
He again called for the establishment of a Parliamentary committee of inquiry into the matter, while requesting that the minister respond on whether the issue was discussed by the Greek and British governments at the foreign ministers' level.
"We're not in conflict with the justice system, which we trust. A judicial investigation (on the matter) refers to the committal of a crime, but exonerates six EYP (Greek intelligence agency) cadres allegedly cited as those responsible (for the alleged abductions)," Polydoras said, adding that a committee of inquiry would be redundant while a judicial investigation was underway.
Finally, in response to a query by Alavanos on whether Athens and London have cooperated on the specific issue, he stressed: "I do not know, and even if I did know, I would not tell you..."
Finally, MPs from the main opposition PASOK parties criticized the fact that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis himself was not present to answer the tabled question.
That position was also echoed by PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, who charged that the premier is shying away from Parliamentary oversight.
He also charged that Polydoras' comments were racist, and that the latter's answers in Parliament were unacceptable and feeble, saying that an effort to blame the kidnappings on rival Pakistani groups is reprehensible and deserves nary a serious consideration.
 Gov't on FYROM president's comment
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Athens on Friday laconically responded to the most recent quip by the president of the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- a landlocked state directly to Greece's north that emerged from the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s -- referring to so-called "representatives of the Macedonia people" in Greece.
"In Greece there is only one minority, the Muslim minority (in the Thrace region)," alternate government spokesman Evan-gelos Antonaros said, adding that claims to the contrary lack any historical basis.
 Gov't on supra-prefecture candidate's comments regarding mufti
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)The government on Friday was called on to comment on a recent statement by main opposition PASOK's candidate for the Kavala-Drama-Xanthi supra-prefecture regarding the position of the Muslim mufti - a quasi-religious, quasi-judicial rank -- in the extreme northeastern Thrace province, which hosts Greece's only recognized Muslim minority.
On a broader front, the candidacy of young Xanthi attorney Gulbeyaz Karahasan, 27, continues to generate increased political attention in the country ahead of October's local government elections, given the latter's distinction of being a young female Muslim attorney and an ethnic Pomak.
Responding to a question citing Karahasan's positive statements vis-à-vis the prospect of electing a mufti for the Muslim minority, in place of the current system of appointment by the state, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reminded that a mufti holds certain judicial powers, "and judges in Greece are not elected".
"There is a law in our country that regulates the issue of muftis for the Muslim minority," he added.
 PASOK party leader addresses supporters on island of Naxos
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing an indoor rally of party supporters on the island of Naxos on Friday, strongly criticized the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, particularly on foreign policy issues.
Referring to the candidacy of Gul Karahasan, who will run for PASOK for the Xanthi-Drama-Kavala supraprefecture, Papandreou said that "I wish to denounce the New Democracy party because it is linking her candidacy with Turkey", adding that "as far as we are concerned, the Greek state must protect the Greek citizen regardless of religion and ideology."
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, the PASOK leader accused the government of abandoning the framework created by the PASOK governments and stressed that the result of ND's policy is that the Turkish prime minister is making continuous demands.
Papandreou also criticized the government for being completely absent from the international stage and referred to Iran as an example, saying that the voice of Greece is heard nowhere although it holds a member's seat at the UN Security Council.
 EU Council of Education Ministers convenes in Brussels
BRUSSELS 20/5/2006 (ANA-MPA)European Union education ministers convened here on Friday and examined the EU's new integrated program for lifelong education and issues concerning environmental training for young people. Greece was represented at the Council by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou.
Addressing the Council, Yiannakou reiterated Greece's commitment for the implementation of targets concerning lifelong education at national level, while also stressing the need for an improvement in the use of available EU funds.
The education minister also pointed out that the best possible coordination of relevant institutional frameworks, both at national and European level, is necessary since education is being called on to secure the necessary knowledge to achieve sustainable development.
 Deputy culture minister responsible for sport receives French ambassador
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sport George Orfanos received French Ambassador to Athens Bruno Delaye on Friday for talks on cooperation between the two countries, in the framework of Francophony, in the sector of sport and the promotion of program exchanges for young people.
Speaking after the meeting, Orfanos said "our meeting today comes to confirm that Greece and France share the desire for the development of youth exchanges, not only of a cultural character but in the framework of sports practice and recreation."
He added that "relations of friendship between Greece and France are being confirmed in all international institutions and meetings. They are moving in the direction of a common cultural orbit with our initiatives for the future of our children."
The French ambassador referred to the youth exchange plan between the two countries, saying that "in June France will welcome 200 young Greeks and Greece an equal number of French aged between 11-14. Our target, until next summer, is for the number of children to reach 1,000 from each country."
Ambassador Delaye also referred to the philosophy of this plan, noting that the best possible way for the reconstruction of Europe must be based on young people.
Deputy FM Kassimis to visit Patriarchate
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis will travel to Istanbul over the weekend to attend ecclesiastical services at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the feast day of St Constantine and St. Helen on Sunday, which in the Orthodox calendar also celebrates the memory of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchs.
Kassimis will also be received by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and travel to the Sea of Marmara island of Halki.
 Investments transactions in Greek real estate market expected to increase until 2008
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)A continuous increase in the bulk of investments transactions in the Greek real estate market, with international investors playing a leading role, is predicted for the period until 2008 by the managing director of Cushman and Wakefield Hellas, Niki Symboura, who said that our country is included in the regions of "particular interest for businessmen in the sector.
She also said that the interest of institutional investors is expected to focus in 2006 on the purchase of shopping centers, with a parallel decrease in transactions concerning homes.
Symboura, who was speaking at an event organised by EFG Eurobank Ergasias in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday night further said that more transactions by private investors in offices and shops in central markets are expected in 2006, as well as an increase in investments in industrial locations.
Focusing on future opportunities in the Greek market, she referred to the arrival of new chain stores with the opening of shopping centers (Fnac, Sfera, Foot Locker, Promod, Gerry Weber and Kotton), as well as to new prospects stemming from the implementation of the public sector's real estate development plan.
 Finmin briefs Synaspismos leader on Finansbank acquisition
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday received the leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Alekos Alavanos and briefed him on the acquisition of Turkey's Finansbank by the National Bank of Greece (NBG), Greece's largest and formerly state-run bank, in which the government remains a major shareholder.
After the meeting, Alavanos said that Synaspismos had lodged a public complaint in view of NBG's general shareholders' meeting on May 23. He said the party was concerned about the buyout and the concomitant increase in NBG's share capital, which would reduce the state's percentage share of NBG's stock.
Alavanos also pointed out that the increase in share capital will reduce the position of the bank's employee insurance funds and said that he had asked the finance minister to either support NBG's insurance funds or that the unsold stock be bought by the state.
On his part, Alogoskoufis stressed that the government had no additional information to that already available and that NBG now operated in the same way as all other private-sector banks, while noting that the deal was part of the bank's strategy of expansion in southeast Europe.
 Lampsa in acquisition talks
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Athens-quoted Lampsa Hellenic Hotels S.A. announced on Friday that it was in the final stage of negotiations for the purchase of 51% of share capital in Beogradsko Mesovito Preduzece A.D. Beograd, the holding company of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Belgrade.
The above hotel has 308 rooms and suites and also operates additional service areas - two restaurants, three bars , functions areas, and a sports center, Lampsa's management said in a statement.
"The hotel lays in a nodal point of the new part of the city of Beograd. The hotel Hyatt Regency in Beograd is the only five star luxury hotel of the city and operates with high occupancy and profitability. Hyatt International will remain the operator of the hotel for the forthcoming 23 years," the statement said.
Foreign Exchange Rates
Reference buying rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.286
 Ten qualify for the 51st Eurovision song contest Finals, in semi-finals held in Athens late Thursday night
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)First-time contestant Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, FYROM, Ireland, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine are the 10 countries that qualified in the early hours of Friday for the 51st Eurovision song contest Final on Saturday night, following viewer voting late Thursday among the 23 contestants at the spectacular semi-final held in the indoor basketball venue at Athens' OAKA main Olympic complex.
The 23 countries taking part in Thursday night's semi-final were: Armenia (which is taking part for the first time in the history of the competition), Bulgaria, Slovenia, Andora, Belarus, Albania, Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus, Monaco, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Portugal, Sweden, Estonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland.
The ten best semi-finalists elected late Thursday night will now compete in Saturday's final with the 14 top songs of last year's Eurovision song contest: Switzerland, Moldova, Israel, Latvia, Norway, Malta, Denmark, Romania, Croatia (which was the first runner up and took the slot following the withdrawal of Serbia-Montenegro), the four major countries which traditionally participate in the competition -- Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom -- and 2006 host country Greece, which won the Eurovision song contest in 2005 with "My Number One" performed by Elena Paparizou.
Thursday night's qualifiers were Armenia, with "Without your Love" performed by Andre; Bosnia-Herzegovina, with "Lejla" performed by Hari Mata Hari and his band; Finland, with "Hard Rock Hallelujah" performed by the heavy metal band Lordi; FYROM, with "Ninanajna" performed by Elena Rusteska; Ireland, with the ballad "Every song is a cry for love" performed by Brian Kennedy; Lithuania, with "We are the Winners (of Eurovision)" performed by LT United; Russia, with "Never let you go" performed by Dima; Sweden, with "Invicible" performed by Carola; Turkey, with "Superstar" performed by Sibel Tuzun; and Ukraine, with "Show me your Love" performed by Tina Karol.
The event was hosted by Greece's Eurovision 2004 third-place winner and pop heartthrob Sakis Rouvas ("Shake It") and Greek-American model, reporter and actress Maria Menounos, who will also host the Final on Saturday night.
 Works by major Greek painters and rare maps to be auctioned in Thessaloniki
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Works by internationally acclaimed Greek artists Lytras, Chalepas, Gykas, Steris, Bouzianis, Spiropoulos, Tsoklis and other major Greek painters of the 19th and 20th centuries will be auctioned in Thessaloniki on May 24 within the framework of the second international auction by HELLENIC AUCTIONS featuring rare objects and works of art.
Important old maps will also be auctioned, the centerpiece being a 12-centimeters-small map of Greece dating back to 1553, regarded as one of the first maps printed in the 16th century when cartography was “rediscovered” in Europe.
Particularly distinguished for being rare and important are the exceptional works by Emmanuel Zepos and Diamantis Diamantopoulos.
The quality and uniqueness of the works to be presented in the auction have already attracted the strong interest of art lovers and collectors.
 President Karolos Papoulias gives diplomas to National Security School graduates
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)President Karolos Papoulias on Friday gave diplomas to the graduates of the National Security School during a ceremony held at the school's headquarters at Aharnes.
The ceremony was attended by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, Greek Police chief Anastasios Dimoschakis, senior police officers and representatives of the armed forces and of political parties.
 Journalist Stamatopoulos dies at 38
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Private Greek tv station "Channel 9" editor-in-chief, journalist Panayotis Stamatopoulos, died late Thursday at the age of 38, from a cerebral haemorrhage, it was announced on Friday.
A announcement by the Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA) said that Stamatopoulos began his career in journalism in 1991, when he joined the news team of New Channel private tv station, while the following year he moved to Mega private tv station, on its morning news show.
From 1993 to mid-1996, he was a news reporter for the then SKAI (now Alpha) private tv station, and took part in several of the most important dispatches of correspondents in recent years, including the uprising in Albania, the war in Yugoslavia, and the Ocalan case in Kenya.
During the past year, he was editor-in-chief of Channel 9.
 Memorial service for the victims of the Pontian Genocide
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)A memorial service for the victims of the Pontian (Black Sea Greeks) Genocide was held on Friday, May 19 -Pontian Genocide Memorial Day- at the Genocide Monument in Thessaloniki in the presence of local authorities.
The ceremony was held at the initiative of the Pontian Associations Federation, and its president Christos Papadopoulos called on Turkey to recognize the genocide, stressing that the Greek government should promote its international recognition.
Armed robbery targeting an armored car
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)Twenty thousand euros was the booty of an armed robbery targeting a Wachenhut security company armored car at the Carrefour supermarket in Kolonos, Athens on Friday.
Two individuals threatened with a handgun the armored car security guard when he was filling up a supermarket cash machine, snatched a money bag and fled on a motorcycle.
 Chania - Procession of rare Battle of Crete vehicles
Athens 20/5/2006(ANA)People in Chania, Crete in southern Aegean had the opportunity Friday to see up close one of the vehicles that took part in the Invasion of Normandy, only one of the three armored vehicles of this type that can be found in the world, as well as military jeeps and WWII motorcycles.
The Association for the Preservation of Historical Vehicles is participating in the events marking the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Crete with 6 vehicles and 12 motorcycles from that era.
Among the vehicles participating in the events commemorating the Battle of Crete is a Canadian-made turret armored vehicle, among the three that can be found in the world even though a total of 1,400 were built in the 1940s. Also, a six-wheel military vehicle with anti-aircraft equipment and wireless transmitter/receiver, a number of jeeps used by the Americans, the Germans and the British as well as all several types of WWII motorcycles.
The association has 80 members and a total of 65 vehicles and motorcycles.
Those rare war relics paraded through the city of Chania in procession and reached the Firka Fort where the formal flag hoisting ceremony was held in the presence of many Battle of Crete veterans, representatives of ambassadors of the allied countries and local authorities. Very emotional was the moment when the Battle of Crete veterans sang the national anthems of their countries.
 Cypriots go to the polls to elect MPs on Sunday
NICOSIA 20/5/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriots go to the polls on Sunday to elect the five-year-term Members of the new House of Representatives, the ninth since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
Speaking at a press conference, Chief Returning Officer Lazaros Savvides said that the final results of the elections are expected to be announced by 2030 local time, regarding the voting percentages of every political combination or independent candidates, as well as the number of seats per electoral district allocated in the first distribution of seats.
The counting of votes from the elections, carried out in the proportional representation system, has three distribution rounds.
According to Savvides, a total of 500,606 people will vote in Sunday's elections, namely 182,810 for Nicosia Electoral District, 182,810 for Limassol, 102,715 for Famagusta, 101,095 for Larnaca,
49,456 for Paphos and 37,889 for Kyrenia. Nicosia elects 21 MPs, Limassol 12, Famagusta 11, Larnaca 5, Paphos 4 and Kyrenia 3.
A total of 1,216 polling stations will be set up throughout the government controlled areas, 469 for Nicosia district, 272 for Limassol, 53 for Famagusta, 193 for Larnaca and 128 for Paphos.
Savvides added that a further two separate stations will be set up for the enclaved persons and 16 for the election of the Representatives of Latins, Armenians and Maronites religious groups.
A total of 373 enclaved persons are entitled to vote, 112 in Kyrenia district and 261 in Famagusta.
According to the 1960 Constitution, the Greek Cypriot community, comprising Greek Cypriots, Latins, Armenians and Maronites, elects its own representatives to the House and the Turkish Cypriot community its own deputies. The Turkish Cypriots withdrew unilaterally from the parliament in 1964 as part of their rebellion against the government.
However, Savvides noted that the Sunday's elections ''are of particular significance, since Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will vote together, despite the small number of Turkish Cypriots''
who have applied for voting books. A total of 270 Turkish Cypriots have been registered to vote in Sunday's elections.
The polls will open at 07:00 local time and will close at 17:00 with a one-hour interval from 12:00 to 13:00. The 2006 parliamentary elections feature gathering and counting of the ballots at the
regional electoral centers, something which is expected to speed up the process, while they will also feature the largest ballot ever with 10 political parties or movements and a total of 487 candidates.
 Cypriot Spokesman insists Turkey should meet EU obligations
NICOSIA 20/5/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas said here on Friday that Cyprus insists on the implementation of Turkey's European Union commitments, adding that Turkey cannot be subject to positive discrimination regarding its assessment by the European Union.
Turkey has yet to implement the Ankara Protocol amending its Customs Union with the EU, to cover the EU ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. The EU Commission is expected to present its report on Turkey's EU bid in October.
Replying to a question about Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos' interview in Austrian newspaper ''Der Standard'', Lillikas for the Cypriot government the EU counter-declaration to Turkey's unilateral statement on non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus is still valid.
''We insist on the implementation of these EU commitments. The Cypriot government is monitoring the developments,'' the Spokesman said, adding that ''we are in touch with other EU partners and we have both the means and the ways to defend our national interests in the framework of the EU.''
Lillikas also said that whether Turkey will proceed or not with its EU course is up to Ankara and not the rest of the EU countries, adding that ''Turkey cannot be subject to positive discrimination in its EU assessment.''
He also recalled the latest statements by EU Enlargement Commissioner Oli Rhen and by the Finnish Prime Minister, whose country will assume EU Presidency for the second half of 2006, who insist that Turkey should meet its obligations towards the EU and its 25 member states.
According to Lillikas, Turkey's commitments ''create a good framework with good preconditions for progress towards a positive direction on the Cyprus problem and towards that direction we will devote our powers.''
''What the Cyprus government is interested in is to create the conditions for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, in the framework and the new political environment shaped by Turkey's EU course and the commitments Turkey undertook towards the EU,'' Lillikas noted.
Replying to a question whether a ''hot summer'' is expected, Lillikas said ''we are interested in a productive summer and we work for a productive Turkish European course.''
Invited to comment on a statement made by so-called ''prime minister'' of the Turkish Cypriot occupying regime Ferdi Sabit Soyer that the Turkish Cypriots are ready to set up the technical
committees to prepare the ground for talks on the Cyprus problem, Lillikas said he wishes that this statement is sincere.
''I hope (Soyer) is implying that the Turkish Cypriot side is ready to proceed with the implementation of that which was agreed between President Papadopoulos and the UN Secretary General in Paris, that is the preparation of the talks on a technical level and in parallel but in connection with the discussion of other day-to-day problems,'' he added.
He also recalled that the Turkish Cypriot side expressed from the beginning its willingness to support all the efforts of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus to implement the Paris Agreement.
''However, so far we have had a negative attitude by the other side and that is why I expressed hope that Soyer's statement is sincere,'' Lillikas added, noting that ''on our side we are ready but Soyer's sincerity remains to be proved.''