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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

November 28, 2006


  • [01] Athens on breakdown of Finnish EU-Turkey initiative; Finnish FM: 'Business as usual cannot continue'
  • [02] Deputy FM Valinakis holds talks with Cyprus FM
  • [03] President Papoulias visits United Arab Emirates
  • [04] PM to depart for NATO summit on Tuesday
  • [05] PM meets with interior minister on 4th CSF
  • [06] Papandreou tours IKA clinic in Athens
  • [07] Former SYN leader calls for legal framework regulating radio/television sector
  • [08] FM Bakoyannis and PASOK deputy Papoutsis refer to the Pope's visit to Turkey
  • [09] Public order minister skeptical over arrests by plainclothes policemen
  • [10] Greece, Bahrain sign Memorandum of Understanding
  • [11] GSEE to hold nationwide labor strike on December 13
  • [12] Central Macedonia Region head meets with US consul general
  • [13] Greek stocks end lower on Monday
  • [14] Probe reportedly focuses on local suspect in hunters' deaths
  • [15] Latest incident involving abduction of Pakistani national by compatriots reported
  • [16] Overseas Greek journalists hold 10th Meeting
  • [17] Illegal immigrants, drivers, arrested in Kavala
  • [18] Tampere failure due to Turkey not discussing Famagusta issue, says Cyprus president
  • [19] Rehn calls on EU Council to urge for resumption of Cyprus talks

  • [01] Athens on breakdown of Finnish EU-Turkey initiative; Finnish FM: 'Business as usual cannot continue'

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The Greek government on Monday reacted immediately to a same-day announcement by the Finnish presidency announcing that talks between the Union and EU hopeful Turkey to overcome obstacles to the latter's accession negotiations have broken down.

    Speaking at the conclusion of a national foreign policy and defense council meeting in Athens, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said it was "significant" that responsibilities were not placed by the Finnish presidency "towards the one or the other side".

    "The Finnish proposal was not met with success, therefore, we will proceed to a substantive discussion, with will culminate at the General Affairs Council on Dec. 11 over a fusion for the reaction," she added.

    Asked about the term "fusion", Bakoyannis reminded that in case Ankara fails to meets its commitments, then the "EU must have a specific answer, one befitting a candidate state that does not meet its obligations".

    On his part, the government spokesman merely reiterated that Athens backs the Finnish presidency's efforts and shares Cyprus' concerns.

    "The issue of Turkey's fulfillment of obligations and commitments it has assumed is still pending in order for it to follow its European course," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said during his normal press briefing.

    The Finnish EU presidency announcement was made by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Tempere, Finland, as the Union is now expected to give Ankara until Dec. 6 to open its ports and airports to Cypriot carriers.

    "An agreement could not be reached," Tuomioja flatly said after holding separate meetings with the Turkish and Cypriot foreign ministers, Abdullah Gul and George Lillikas, respectively.

    "There will be consequences ... Business as usual cannot continue," he stressed.

    Opposition statements: Meanwhile, speaking during the council meeting in Athens, main opposition PASOK deputy and former minister Christos Papoutsis called on the government to consider raising, within EU institutions and fora, the issue of a timetable for Turkey to meet obligations vis-à-vis issues strictly affecting Greece, i.e. the disavowal by Ankara of a standing "threat of war" (casus belli) issued by the Turkish assembly in case Athens legally extends its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and other unilateral claims by the Turkish side in the Aegean.

    Papoutsis, a former EU Commissioner, also cited Turkey's repeated declarations of "volition" to solve the longstanding Cyprus problem, saying Athens should, therefore, formally table the issue of the island republic's demilitarization and the withdrawal of Turkish-occupation troops from Cyprus as a "goodwill gesture".

    Asked if he favors a "time out" in EU-Turkey negotiations, Papoutsis noted that "we are in favor of a clear message towards Turkey, one which will repeat the decision by the 25 (member-states) to begin accession negotiations. On the other hand, the EU is obliged to safeguard its credibility and to mainly reinforce the operation of its institutional organs. A strict and clear position by the EU must be the same towards all candidate-countries," he concluded.

    Finally, former Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos expressed his party's concern over developments in the Middle East, citing a threat of civil war in Lebanon and what he called Palestinians' exclusion, whereas he said Israel should abandoned a policy that undermines every peace effort in the region, as he said.

    He also mostly echoed Greek leadership's positions over the absolute adherence by Ankara in meeting its commitments to the EU.

    [02] Deputy FM Valinakis holds talks with Cyprus FM

    TAMPERE, 28/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis met with Cyprus Foreign Minister George Lillikas on Monday, shortly before the latter's departure from Finland. Valinakis said that he and Lillikas held a mutual briefing and consultations in light of the European Union's Foreign Ministers' Council.

    Lillikas left Tampere following the Finnish EU Presidency's official announcement that it was ending its efforts to find a solution to relations between the EU and Turkey.

    Valinakis, who arrived here to represent Greece at the 8th Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers' Conference, told Greek reporters that "as it is known, the Finnish Presidency officially announced the end of its efforts to achieve an agreement with Turkey on the issue of the implementation of the Additional Protocol."

    Lastly, the deputy foreign minister said that "the response of the government of Cyprus to the initiative of the Presidency was positive and extremely constructive, indeed, on an issue which constitutes a clear commitment of Turkey, regardless of every other issue."

    [03] President Papoulias visits United Arab Emirates

    ABU DHABI, 28/11/2006 (ANA-MPA)

    President Karolos Papoulias arrived in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday for a two-day official visit with which he closes his "Arab" tour in the region, a tour which is incorporated in the strategic seeking of rekindling, on a political, economic and commercial level, Greece's relations with the Arab world.

    He held talks with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan which focused on bilateral relations in all sectors as well as on major international problems, with emphasis on the situation in the broader Middle East.

    Papoulias also addressed a forum of Greek and Arab entrepreneurs, which was held in Abu Dhabi by the city's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said of his visit that what is desired in the economic sector, is incorporated in a strategy of peace and stability in the region.

    "For my country, economic relations are incorporated in our strategy to send together with you (the UAE and the entrepreneurs) a strong message to the international community that these relations contribute to the creation of stability and peace, solidarity and quality development in a region which particularly needs it," said the Greek president.

    The UAE president cordially welcomed Papoulias and noted that his visit to the United Arab Emirates "will contribute to the enlargement of bilateral cooperation to the already existing sectors of cooperation and in the location of new ones," adding that "I want peace and prosperity in the region and my country has common interests with Greece."

    Papoulias noted that beyond the economic sector, bilateral relations must also deepen in the political sector, "relations which are excellent."

    He reiterated this later at the forum that "Greece can constitute a centre and gateway for the businesses of the UAE towards Europe and the Balkans."

    [04] PM to depart for NATO summit on Tuesday

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will depart on Tuesday afternoon for Riga to attend a NATO summit meeting, as he is expected to arrive in the Latvian capital just before 5 p.m. local time.

    In the evening, the Greek prime minister will attend an event at the National Opera House of Riga in honor of NATO member-states' leaders and a subsequent working dinner.

    The summit formally gets underway on Wednesday, with the premier returning to Athens later the same day. He will also appear at a press briefing in Riga.

    Before departing for the Latvian capital on Tuesday, Karamanlis will chair an Inner Cabinet meeting convened to focus on issues related to the interior and public administration ministry.

    [05] PM meets with interior minister on 4th CSF

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with interior, public administration and decentralization minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos with whom he discussed coordination and optimum preparation for the highest possible level of absorption of EU funds earmarked for Greece under the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) by the local government, as well as the premier's imminent meeting with the presidiums of KEDKE (central union of municipalities and communities of Greece) and ENAE (National Union of Prefectural Local Authorities).

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Pavlopoulos reiterated the importance of better preparation by the local governments in order to secure the 4th CSF funds, given that local administration will absorb some 80 percent of the CSF package for Greece.

    Pavlopoulos further noted the "not so good" situation inherited from the preceding PASOK government, with the absorbance rate at just 15.6 percent, adding that an immense effort has been made by the present government to improve that percentage.

    He said he also briefed the premier on matters of administrative reform, as well as issues concerning public administration.

    [06] Papandreou tours IKA clinic in Athens

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited a Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinic in the central Athens district of Neos Kosmos on Monday, where, among others, he expressed his party's opposition to any fees being placed on preventative examinations by the state-run fund's beneficiaries.

    He also called for more funding and staffing for IKA, the country's largest pension and primary healthcare fund.

    [07] Former SYN leader calls for legal framework regulating radio/television sector

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) MP and former leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who called for a legislative framework that would clarify the operation of the radio-television landscape.

    Constantopoulos told reporters after the meeting that he briefed the premier on the "phenomena of denigration of the public life, vulgarization of the political life, and trivialization of every-thing", adding that these phenomena were reaching the dimensions of an "operational plan" against the political system, the democratic institutions and the political forces of the country.

    The existing legal framework governing the field of radio/television was "inadequate", he said.

    The problem, he said, was not personal but a generalized one, adding that rules of ethics and self-regulation were necessary in order to stop these phenomena from multiplying the morbidity. "I will defend my own existence at any cost, but the problem is a political and ideological one and concerns us all," he explained.

    Constantopoulos said that "hundreds of citizens are tired of and fed up with this lawless meat grinder in which all the institutions, faces,, leaderships and values are censured daily", adding that it was necessary for the citizens to react and express their disagreement, and also to resist this entire sub-culture of trash and mudslinging at everyone and everything.

    Questioned on his own harsh criticism in the past against Andreas Papandreou and Constantine Mitsotakis, Constantopoulos said that "the field in which I function is the field of democratic institutions and the exercise of strong criticism. I will do this for as long as I exist, in defense of transparency".

    Asked whether he represented democracy, Constantopoulos replied that democracy is defended by the Greek people.

    [08] FM Bakoyannis and PASOK deputy Papoutsis refer to the Pope's visit to Turkey

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in statements after the convening on Monday of the National Council on Foreign Policy, said that the visit to Turkey on Tuesday by Pope Benedict XVI is very important, adding that "I hope it will be successful and that Turkey will show its hospitable face."

    The foreign minister expressed certainty that Turkey will do everything possible so as to condemn certain extreme elements and wished for the Pope's visit to the neighboring country to be successful, as well as his talks with Ecumenical Patriach Vartholomeos.

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) deputy and head of the party's Foreign Policy, Security and Defense Department, Christos Papoutsis, said during the National Council on Foreign Policy session that the Pope's visit to Turkey was important.

    He stressed in particular that "the recognition of the Ecumenical character of the Patriarchate constitutes an honor."

    [09] Public order minister skeptical over arrests by plainclothes policemen

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras on Monday expressed skepticism over arrests carried out by plainclothes policemen during incidents. He was speaking during a discussion held in Parliament on a relevant question tabled by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party Deputy Fotis Kouvelis.

    Speaking in the wake of action by plainclothes policemen during the recent Polytechnic anniversary events and the injuring of Cypriot student Avgoustinos Dimitriou in the city of Thessaloniki, Kouvelis said that "the crude assault by hooded assailants under the impassive gaze of their uniformed colleagues raises major questions and the state must not allow such attitudes."

    Polydoras said on his part that "I was also concerned with the plainclothes arrest. Personally, I did not like it. I discussed it and all operational officials told me that it is necessary because they gain an initial phase in this way. I am thinking about it and examining it. Personally, I do not like it. I do not want plainclothes arrests but it is necessary. I have not reached a conclusion yet. We might examine uniformed policemen being more."

    [10] Greece, Bahrain sign Memorandum of Understanding

    28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greece and Bahrain on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (cooperation), during a meeting in Manama between visiting Greek transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis and Bahrain deputy prime minister and transportation minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa.

    The Memorandum seeks to increase routes and passenger movement between the two countries, and to further develop and expand airline destinations and connections to Europe and the East, as well as access to the Gulf countries and the service of intermediate movement between the two countries.

    The signing of the Memorandum comes only a few months after Greece and Bahrain signed a Bilateral Aviation Agreement in Athens (march 23, 2006), indicating the very good relations between the two countries and their desire for the development of air transports aimed at economic development to the benefit of both sides.

    During his visit to Manama, Liapis also met with prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salmal al-Khalifa, Armed forces chief and heir Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa

    [11] GSEE to hold nationwide labor strike on December 13

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The board of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) on Monday announced that they will hold a nationwide labor strike on December 13.

    On the same day in Athens, the trade union organizations will hold a rally at noon at Pedio tou Areos Square to express their opposition to the state budget which they describe as "unjust and anti-social."

    GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos said that the trade unionists oppose visioned social security reforms.

    [12] Central Macedonia Region head meets with US consul general

    28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The general secretary of the Central Macedonia Region authority, George Tsiotras, on Monday met with Thessaloniki-based US consul general Hoyt B. Yee, with talks reportedly focusing on investment opportunities for US companies in northern Greece as well as creation of a so-called "innovation zone" in the area.

    Yee's courtesy visit to the official follows his arrival in the post last August.

    [13] Greek stocks end lower on Monday

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Greek stocks came under pressure at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday with the composite index losing 0.84 pct to end at 4,271.83 points. Turnover was a moderate 294.1 million euros.

    All sectors ended lower with the Media (1.81 pct), Utilities (1.62 pct), Industrial Products (1.20 pct) and Travel (1.20 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.90 percent, the Mid Cap ended 0.14 pct lower and the Small Cap index was unchanged from Friday's closing levels.

    Foreign Exchange Rates - Tuesday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.321

    Pound sterling 0.683

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.114

    Japanese yen 153.46

    Swiss franc 1.598

    Norwegian kroner 8.335

    Cyprus pound 0.582

    Canadian dollar 1.498

    Australian dollar 1.698

    [14] Probe reportedly focuses on local suspect in hunters' deaths

    28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    Tight-lipped authorities on Monday are reportedly close to announcing a suspect in the unprecedented murders of five hunters in western Greece on Saturday afternoon, with unconfirmed suspicions falling on an unnamed local man and an apparent dispute over trespassing.

    The bodies of five men, aged from 17 to 33, and all related to each other, were found in different locations along a rural road and in a field outside the village of Kalyvia, in the Aetoloakarnania prefecture of western Greece. All five victims sustained fatal shotgun injuries.

    Officially, 19 shotgun shells were retrieved from the crime scenes, 12 of which belong to an "unknown shotgun", authorities said in the nearby port city of Patras on Monday.

    Moreover, reports from the coroners' office in Patras cited "gaping" wounds on the victims indicative of shotgun shells used for bigger game, whereas the victims on Saturday were hunting for thrush, a smallish variety of birds. An official ballistics report will be issued in Athens.

    The time of death was placed at between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

    The victims were identified as the brothers Vassilis and Christos Nikolopoulos, 23 and 21, their cousins Lambros Andressas and Ilias Pipas, each 33, and Alexios Nikolopoulos, 17.

    The situation in the area was described as tense on Monday, as the funerals of the victims are scheduled for Tuesday.

    [15] Latest incident involving abduction of Pakistani national by compatriots reported

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A Pakistani national was abducted Sunday evening in the industrial district of Mandra, west of Athens proper, by up to 10 suspects, all reportedly compatriots.

    According to police, the 22-year-man, along with another four Pakistanis, were first robbed of their cell phones and travel documents, with the other three then locked in a room in the apartment they shared.

    The incident follows nearly a dozen or so officially reported cases of abductions between Pakistani nationals in Greece over the last three years. The incident also follows high-profile allegations by several Pakistani men over the past year claiming they were illegally detained and interrogated by local intelligence agents in the wake of the London underground bombings in July 2005.

    [16] Overseas Greek journalists hold 10th Meeting

    ATHENS, 28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    The 10th Meeting of journalists of Greek origin in foreign media opened in Athens on Monday -- the theme of which this year is "Image of Modern Greece" -- with an address by minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    "Your Greek origin is not only an inexhaustible fountain of wealth but also a useful tool in your work. We want to help you utilize this tool in the best way possible," Roussopoulos said in greeting the journalists, whom he urged to see the staff at the General Secretariat for Information as collaborators in their work and to submit their own proposals for a more efficient and effective cooperation.

    "You, better than anyone else, can convey Greece's voice to the world. That of the modern-day Greece that is developing and prospering, the Greece which, after many years, is formulating a new secure framework for foreign investments and business activity, the Greece that is working towards the goal of becoming once again the international centre of education and culture and which, in the international environment, demands only respect of the international law and treaties," he said.

    "The Greek state will continue to actively support the efforts of the Greeks all over the world," Roussopoulos added.

    The one-day event is being coordinated by Information Secretary General Panos Leivadas, who stressed the role of the Greek diaspora particularly in defending Greece's national interests from within the international mass media.

    On Greece's contemporary image, he stressed the country's role as a "gateway to Southeastern Europe due to its economic performance, comparative advantages and geostrategic position".

    Other speakers at the event include development minister Dimitris Sioufas, finance minister committee of experts chair-man Ploutarchos Sakellaris, transport and communications ministry representatives Panayotis Kontoyannis and Lefteris Andritsakis, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, culture ministry international relations director Alkistis Souloyanni, tourism development ministry special secretary Harris Kokkosis, and Athens Tourism and Economic Development Agency managing director Alexis Galinos.

    [17] Illegal immigrants, drivers, arrested in Kavala

    28/11/2006 (ANA/MPA)

    A total of 12 illegal immigrants were detained late Saturday by Kavala police at a road blockade along the Xanthi-Kavala stretch of the National Highway, police said on Monday.

    Acting on information from the Xanthi police directorate, the police arrested the 12 illegal immigrants as well as two of the four drivers carrying the immigrants in their vehicles, while the two other drivers were wanted, as well as a 35-year-old foreign resident of the wider Athens area who was to take charge of the immigrants.

    Police confiscated three of the four vehicles involved in the operation, while one of the wanted drivers escaped in the fourth vehicle, as well as two cell phones found in the arrested drivers' possession.

    [18] Tampere failure due to Turkey not discussing Famagusta issue, says Cyprus president

    NICOSIA, 28/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stated here Monday that the Turkish side has shown no positive response to the Finnish presidency's initiative to avert a crisis in the Euro-Turkish relations.

    The Cypriot president stressed that Turkey refused to discuss the return of Famagusta, a prerequisite set by the Cypriot government.

    "Unfortunately, the Turkish side has shown no positive response, just as Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said," the president said, adding that the Finnish Presidency has decided that it cannot continue "its initiative."

    President Papadopoulos said another meeting was underway at a different level. Asked what the subject of that meeting was, the president remarked that it was a related issue concerning the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied north.

    Answering questions, the President of the Republic said "Turkey mentioned that it would not discuss the issue of the return of Famagusta," adding that Finland raised the issue from the start.

    He also said that on 6th December the European Commission will submit its suggestions for possible sanctions which are expected to be imposed on Turkey.

    The Cypriot government has stressed that the precondition for the success of the Finnish EU presidency's initiative is the return of Famagusta to its legitimate inhabitants.

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, which provides for the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus.

    [19] Rehn calls on EU Council to urge for resumption of Cyprus talks

    NICOSIA, 28/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The December European Council should call for a resumption of the talks on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem under the UN auspices, said Monday in Helsinki Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, noting that this is the best way to solve the problems.

    In a lecture he gave at Helsinki University entitled "'Turkey's accession process to the EU", Rehn said it is in the EU's interest to see a reunification of the island.

    He also remarked that the Finnish formula to avert a crisis between the EU and Turkey was realistic and aimed at pro-viding a genuine win-win situation to the parties concerned.

    According to Reuters, Rehn was quoted as saying ''negotiations will not be stopped or frozen, they will continue more slowly.''

    Earlier in Tampere, Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja said that at this stage circumstances do not permit that an agreement could be reached during the Finnish Presidency of the EU on an effort to avert a crisis between the EU and Turkey.

    Referring to Cyprus, Rehn said "one of the conditions for the start of accession negotiations was the signature by Turkey of the Protocol extending the Association Agreement, including the EU-Turkey Customs Union, to the new EU Member States following the last enlargement of 2004."

    "Yet Turkey has kept its ports and airports closed to the transport of goods from the Republic of Cyprus. The EU expects Turkey to ensure full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Ankara Protocol and to remove these obstacles," Rehn stressed.

    He noted that "the Finnish Presidency has made major diplomatic efforts to ensure that Turkey meets its obligations under the Protocol. The Commission has fully supported these efforts to unblock the current stalemate. On a parallel track, the Presidency has aimed at solving another deadlock on the Commission proposal from July 2004 which would enable direct trade between the Turkish Cypriot Community and the rest of the EU," Rehn added.

    "Unfortunately, the Presidency however had to conclude earlier today that circumstances did not permit an agreement to be reached," he said and added that the "Commission is now working with the Presidency to manage the continuation of Turkey's EU accession negotiations. Our joint intention is that the General Affairs and External Relations Council on December 11 should decide on the matter. The Commission will make relevant recommendations ahead of that Council meeting."

    He stressed that "the efforts of the Finnish Presidency were by far not in vain, however. There is an old Finnish saying: ''Salmon is such a noble fish that it is worth fishing even if you don't finally catch one.''

    ''Seldom is this saying more valid than today. The Finnish formula was realistic and aimed at providing a genuine win-win situation to the parties concerned. Yet it did not fly in the end," the Commissioner remarked.

    Rehn said he has worked on the Cyprus issue now with five consecutive Presidencies, since 2004. In these two and half years, we have not been able to make progress either on the trade regulation or on the ports issue. One could say ''Sapienti sat'' - or ''enough for a wise man''. The essential conclusion we must draw is that a comprehensive settlement is the best way to solve the problems."

    To encourage serious movement, he added, "the December European Council should call for a resumption of the talks on a comprehensive settlement under the UN auspices. It is in the EU's interest to see a reunification of the island and the end of a conflict on European soil that is now more than 40 years old."

    Such division, Rehn remarked, "is unacceptable within our European Union, which is founded on the principles of peace, reconciliation and human rights. Recalling these basics is all the more justified as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome."

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