|Wednesday, 1 March 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 29 January 2008 Issue No: 2806
 Archbishop Christodoulos passes away, four-day mourning announcedA four-day period of mourning was announced on Monday following the death of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, who passed away at dawn at the age of 69 following a 7-month battle with cancer.
The Interior ministry announced that all public service buildings would fly flags at half-mast, while public services and schools would remain closed on the day of the late Archbishop's funeral.
The ministry further announced that the funeral would be held with full honors of Head of State at Athens' First Cemetery, and at State expenditure.
The body of the Archbishop will lie in state for three days at the Athens Cathedral's chapel.
Papoulias, Karamanlis, Papandreou
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, prime minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, and prefectural and municipal leaders early Monday expressed grief over the death of the Archbishop.
In a message, President Papoulias paid tribute to the late Archbishop as an "outstanding Hierarch with a rich and multi-faceted contribution, who, with his inexhaustible energy, struggled for a vibrant and fighting Church".
Papoulias said that the Archbishop "touched us deeply with his attitude on his illness and death, sending a unique message of courage and dignity".
Prime minister Costas Karamanlis expressed grief over the passing away of the Archbishop, "the enlightened Hierarch who, with his pastoral work, brought the Church closer to society and the modern-day problems, closer to the youth and their anxieties...The religious leader who strengthened the role of Orthodoxy in the world".
Karamanlis said that the late Archbishop's "candour, simplicity, tenacity and love for Greece constitute invaluable lessons for our Church's faithful", and "the courage and fortutude he displayed throughout the difficult hours of his personal battle touch the hearts of all of us".
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou expressed his deepest grief, paying tribute to the late Archbishop as "one of the most important figures of the Church of Greece, a spiritual leader with prestige, religious conviction, and rich social action.
"A fighter and a scholar, he left his own mark on the Church he served with devotion, deep passion and diligence," Papandreou said, adding that he was a charimatic man with whom one enjoyed discussing, even when they disagreed.
Papandreou said that even the ordeal with his health did not break him but, instead, he remained standing to the end, sending a powerful message of courage, bravery and dignity.
Prime minister pays respects to late Archbishop
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived at the chapel of the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral shortly after 14:00 on Monday, accompanied by his wife Natasha, to pay their respects to the late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, whose body has been laid out in state within.
Their example was followed by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and by a number of politicians and prominent figures of the arts and letters but mainly by crowds of ordinary Orthodox faithful that formed long queues outside the Church, defying the cold, for a chance to pay their respects to the body of the archbishop.
FM, KKE, SYRIZA, LAOS statements on Archbishop's death
Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, in Brussels for a meeting of the EU council of ministers-General Affairs, expressed her deepest grief over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, adding that the Church of Greece and all of Orthodoxy mourned for an undisputed Church leader and personality and a charismatic Hierarch who served the Church and his flock with devotion.
A generous, approachable and straightforward person, Christodoulos gave new breath to the Church of Greece, and during his tenure as Archbishop, me managed to bring the Church closer to society and the contemporary problems, and closer to the youth, while his work for the relife of those in geater need comprises an example of creative and effective action by a modern-day Church, Bakoyannis said in her statement.
She said the late Archbishop's courage, tranquility and dignity with which he faced his final and most difficult fight of his live, have touched the hearts of the Greeks and the Orthodox throughout the world, comprising for all a message of genuine Christian ethos and courage.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga sent a telegram of condolences to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, expressing her party's condolences over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary grouping also sent a message of condolences to the Holy Synod, saying that the death of the Archbishop, as that of every eminent personality, "reminds us of our common fate, regardless of religion, philosophical perceptions, political views".
It said that Christodoulos' courage and fortitude was a positive message for everyone, and addressed its genuine condolences to the Holy Synod and to all the faithful.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said that the late Archbishop has left behind him the legacy of his fighting spirit, gentle temperament and Jobean patience.
Karatzaferis expressed grief over the passing away of the Teacher, Shepherd, Confessor, Instructor, Spiritual Leader and Guide, who forgave even the most provocative of his slanderers, and left leaving behind unfinished dreams and visions, not at a ripe old age, but with full respect and appreciation.
Parliament expresses sorrow at Archbishop's passing
Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Monday issued a statement expressing the Greek Parliament's deep sorrow at the passing of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.
In the announcement, Sioufas stressed that the late Church leader was a great personality and that his contribution now belonged to history.
"The Nation is grateful for his contribution: the Church, the nation and the people loved him, followed him and keep in their memory his contribution and his legacies," he said.
The Greek Parliament will hold a special session in memory of the Archbishop on Monday afternoon and Thursday, the day of Christodoulos' funeral, will be a holiday for the Greek Parliament.
Parliament observes one minute of silence
Parliament on Monday observed one minute of silence in tribute of late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The parliament president, the education and religious affairs minister and the parliamentary representatives of all the political parties hailed Christodoulos' great personality and his great contribution to the nation.
"Parliament mourns along with the Church of Greece the loss of a great man, a great prelate and a great Greek. A charismatic and enlightened prelate who served with faith the Church, with dedication Greece, with warmth the nation and with love people," Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas said.
Education and Religious Affairs Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, on behalf of the government said that "Archbishop Christodoulos was the incarnation of the eminent ecclesiastical man who combined the uncompromising act with dynamism but also education and culture."
New Democracy (ND) party parliamentary spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos spoke of "a great void which Archbishop Christodoulos leaves behind him."
Main opposition PASOK representative Christos Papoutsis described Archbishop Christodoulos as "a prelate with high education and patriotic conscience."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) parliamentary spokesman Spyros Halvatzis referred to Christodoulos' "courage," noting that "he was the first Archbishop who passed through the entrance of the KKE's offices, overcoming the stereotypes which existed."
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Athanasios Leventis referred to "the strong personality of Archbishop Christodoulos" and said that he was "stoic and brave."
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) parliamentary spokesman Costas Aivaliotis underlined that "he brought the youth to the church, the people loved him. He was our Christodoulos and we tell him that we loved him very much and we shall miss him."
 Cyprus President's grief over death of Christodoulos, 'a fervent defender of Cyprus causeNICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)
Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos expressed deep grief on Monday over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, as well as his deep gratitude for the deceased's struggles for Cyprus.
In a written message released in Nicosia, Papadopoulos said that, on behalf of the government and the people of Cyprus, "I express deepest grief over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, who was an important figure of our Orthodox Church, a fervent defender of the just causes of Cyprus, and a radiant personality of modern Hellenism".
"I shall always keep alive the memory of our meetings, and the lasting emotion caused by his words and his passion for Cyprus and the vindication of its struggle. He honored me with his genuine friendship, and I pay tribute to him in expressing gratitude for all he said and did for Cyprus," Papadopoulos said.
 Condolences pour in for late Archbishop ChristodoulosThe Ecumenical Patriarchate on Monday immediately expressed its deep sorrow for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos, stressing that his life was dedicated to the Church and efforts to bring the faithful closer to Christian teachings.
"His brave stance during the course of his illness has set an example," a statement by Ecumenical Patriarchate read, concluding that with "God's help his successor will be a competent ecclesiastical leader."
A te deum service in memory of Christodoulos, officiated by Ecumenical Patriarchate Vartholomeos (Bartholemew I), was held later in the day at the Patriarchical Cathedral of Aghios Georgios (St. George), in the Golden Horn district of Fener, in Istanbul.
Condolences were also sent by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who underlined Christodoulos' contribution to interfaith dialogue in Europe.
Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, in condolences addressed to the Greek Church's Holy Synod, underlined the self-sacrifice, prudence, dedication and love displayed by Christodoulos during the past 10 years at the helm of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem extended its condolences for the death of Christodoulos, stressing that he was a leading ecclesiastical figure of the Church of Greece and the bearer of great expectations and hopes of the faithful.
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed deep sorrow and underlined the exemplary patience displayed by Archbishop Christodoulos during his illness. The statement also referred to the assistance and support offered by the Archbishop to the Patriarchate, expressing a wish that the successor to the Archbishop's throne will be equal to his duties.
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexius II, expressed his sincerest condolences over the loss, speaking for himself and the Russian Church. The Russian Patriarch's message was addressed to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and the acting head of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan of Karysteia (southern Evia) and Skyros Serafeim.
Alexius referred to the passing of Christodoulos as a "great loss that struck the Holy Greek Church, the blessed people of Greece and the entire Orthodox world", while he called the late Archbishop a "passionate speaker, patriot and enviable worker in Christ's meadow; a close friend of the Russian Orthodox Church That is how he will remain in our memory and our hearts," the Russian Patriarch said.
Romania's Patriarch Daniel expressed his and the Romanian Orthodox Church's condolences towards the "brotherly Greek Orthodox Church".
Daniel will also lead a Romanian Church delegation that will be present in Athens for the funeral.
From Cyprus, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus announced that Archbishop Chryssostomos II will attend Christodoulos' funeral in Athens, with the former also expressing his grief and condolences.
"The blessed Archbishop will live forever in the hearts of all the Greeks of Cyprus," Chryssostomos said.
News of Christodoulos' passing also touched the ethnic Greek communities of Australia.
Archbishop of Australia Stylianos, who in the past had criticised Christodoulos' rift with the Patriarchate, informed the clergy and Orthodox communities in Australia over the loss, calling for a minute of silence in respect to the Greek Church's leader.
Stylianos also announced that there will be held a memorial service for the late Archbishop at the main Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Sydney.
The Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Church of Crete expressed its condolences and announced that Archbishop Irineos will accompany the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the funereal procession.
 U.S. President Bush sends condelencesU.S. President George W. Bush and U.S. first lady Laura Bush expressed on Monday their condolences to the Church of Greece on the passing away of Archbishop Christodoulos.
"Laura and I personally express our condolences to the Greek people in this mournful day," a president's announcement said.
"The Archbishop was known as the representative of the Orthodox faith in the dialogue between Churches and for his work regarding the promotion of social programmes in support of the weaker," the announcement added.
 FYROM: Condolences by the Orthodox Church over Christodoulos' deathSKOPJE (ANA-MPA/N. Frangopoulos)
The Holy Synod of the so-called "Macedonian Orthodox Church", in a letter on Monday to the Church of Greece expressed its "deepest sorrow over the death of Archbishop Christodoulos."
"Archbishop Christodoulos over the past decade as prelate of the Church of Greece was charismatic and dedicated himself to the faithful. With his death, the Church of Greece and the whole of the Orthodox world lost an important personality," the letter said.
 Archbishop of America to attend Christodoulos' funeralNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Archbishop of America Demetrius departs from New York on Tuesday, as member of the delegation headed by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, to attend the funeral of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The Archbishop of America stated that "the Church loses an excellent and valuable prelate."
Informed of Christodoulos' death, Demetrius said, "we are deeply grieved by the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos because with his departure from this world, the Church loses an excellent and valuable prelate and a brilliant fighter in support of Orthodoxy and the world values of Greek cultural tradition. I had the particular honour to know him already from the period of his secondary school studies and afterwards to appreciate his dynamism, his kindness, his intelligence and his great contribution to the Church in basic sectors, such as liturgy, social care and inter-Christian relations."
 GovernmentEducation and Religious Affairs Minister Evripides Stylianidis expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. Stylianidis described the late Archbishop as a supreme example of a spiritual leader.
"All Greeks throughout the world mourn the loss of the late Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Christodoulos," Minister of State government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis expressed the organisation's sincere feelings of grief and sorrow for the death of the Archbishop.
The US embassy in Athens and the consulate general in Thessaloniki on Monday issued a press release expressing sincere condolences, on behalf of the American people, for the death of Archbishop Christodoulos.
Former Greek president ╩ostis Stephanopoulos referred to people's widespread support for Christodoulos during his long and painful illness.
Health and social solidarity minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the Archbishop had been an enlightened Hierarch, a social visionary, a Church leader, and a true patriot, with exceptional abilities and rare talents, who left an indelible mark on the history of the Church, Orthodoxy, and the memories and hearts of the Greek people.
In tribute to the memory of the Archbishop and his work, the new International Transplants Centre being established in Athens and Thessaloniki will bear his name.
Athens, Thessaloniki Prefects and Mayors
Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said that "today, a day of mourning and circumspection for our entire people, I wish to express by deepest grief for the passing away of our Archbishop who, up until the very last moments of his life, stood tall with incomparable spiritual fortitude, Orthodox spirituality and admirable dignity", and was "a leading Church figure and charismatic shepherd who served the Church with devotion and self-sacrifice".
Under his leadership, the Church bowed with great interest over the problems of the modern-day society, and particularly those of the young people, and projected with consistency the Orthodox tradition and attestation in the European and international fora, Kaklamanis said in his message.
"With respect for his memory, I express my deepest condolences, and those of the City Council, over the loss of Archbishop Christodoulos, a truly exceptional and eminent Man of the Cloth," he said.
Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos expressed deep grief over the death of the enlightened leader of the Greek Orthodox Church and the shepherd who, with his words and love, opened to the doors of the Church to all the people.
Throughout the 10 years at the helm of the Orthodox Church, the late Archbisop taught, with his radical word and way, love, freedom of thought, fighting spirit and the values of Hellenic culture.
Christodoulos, he added, loved the youth and the ailing, and to the end of his life stood tall and dignified, and was loved by the country's youth.
The Greek people have lost an enlightened spiritual leader, a shepherd who, with his word, honored the ecumenical spirit of Hellenic culture, peace and fraternisation of the peoples, Papageorgopoulos said, adding that he will remain alive in the memory of the Greek people, and his words will keep inspiring them for works of love and peace.
Athens-Piraeus supra-prefect Dina Bei expressed grief over the death of the Archbishop who, at a time when the country was "rocked by gray", constituted, up until the end of his life, a bright example of courage, fighting spirit and dignity.
Thessaloniki prefect Panayotis Psomiadis said that Greece today lost the Hierarch who, from his first day as Archbishop, gave the Church of Greece a voice of its own and "I, personally, have lost the Father and the friend who stood by my side in the difficult times and who, despite his own illness, urged me to hold my head high".
He said that the late Archbishop Christodoulos has gone down in history as the personality who led the Church into the heart of the society and who brought the youth to the Church, a man who was uncomprimising, maintained a free spirit in the face of the modern-day threats, and was always prepared for the big yesses and the big no's in the cause of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
Up until the very last hour, with his illness, he gave lessons of life, courage and dignity to all those who suffer, Psomiadis said.
Former Greek monarch expresses sorrow at Archbishop's death
The deposed former Greek monarch Constantine on Monday issued an announcement expressing his own and his family's sorrow at the passing of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, who died earlier that morning after a seven-long battle with cancer.
"His multifaceted contribution and the creative relation with society that he established as primus of the Greek Orthodox Church are marks of virtue, dedication and hope, the legacy of an excellent prelate and archbishop. May God rest his soul," the message said.
Holy Synod sets date for electing new archbishop
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece held an extensive meeting on Monday following the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos earlier that morning, during which they also set a date for electing a new archbishop.
The session, which ended late in the afternoon, discussed details of the four-day mourning period, during which the archbishop's body will lie in state at Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, and decided that the funeral that will be held on Thursday at 10:00.
Christodoulos will be buried at the Athens 1st cemetery immediately after the funeral procession, while the Holy Synod has begged those wanting to send a wreath to instead make a donation to some charitable cause or foundation.
Thessaloniki's metropolitan Anthimos announced that the election for the new head of the Greek Orthodox Church will be beld on February 7 at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral.
An outstanding prelate
Ailing Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos passed away on Monday at 5:15 a.m. (3:15 GMT) after battling cancer for the past seven months. Earlier, his attending physicians, close associates and numerous clerics hastily assembled at the Archbishop's official residence in the upscale Athens district of Paleo Psyhico, as Christodoulos had declined to leave his home for a hospital in his last days.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos was born in the northeastern city of Xanthi in 1939 and baptised as Christos Paraskevaidis. He studied law and theology, obtaining a doctorate in theology, in fact, along with degrees in French and English. A young Christodoulos was ordained as a deacon in 1961 and as a presbyter (senior priest) in 1965.
He served as a homilist (preacher) at an influential parish in southern Athens (Paleo Faliro) for nine years, before holding the important position of Holy Synod secretary for seven years.
At the age of 35 in 1974 Christodoulos was elected as the Metropolitan of Dimitriada, the bishopric based in the central Greece port city of Volos, where he served until his election, in 1998, as the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece. He was also the youngest ever primate of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Christodoulos was a prolific writer and columnist, penning numerous scholarly articles in both church publications and periodicals around Greece and abroad. His best-known works include "Hellenism Proselytised: The Passage from Antiquity to Christianity", "The Soul of Europe", and his opus "Historical and Canonical Consideration of the Old Calendarist Issue During its Emergence and Development in Greece", which was his doctoral dissertation. He also participated in missionary work overseas.
Christodoulos' presence in the predominately Greek Orthodox nation of 11 million was immediate, as his rhetorical skills and amiable personality were employed as potent communication tools to reinvigorate the Greek Church's venerated but often uninspiring role in the country, and especially its emphasis to reach out to younger generations.
The influential Christodoulos' call towards teenagers to "come as you are, even with your earring" and his frequent visits to schools caused his popularity to soar in his first years on the Archbishop's throne. Along with an emphasis on reaching out to younger people, Christodoulos was also credited with establishing and further strengthening Church-affiliated charities, including ones aiding people on society's fringes, such as drug addicts, unwed mothers and battered women. The culmination of heightened philanthropic efforts under Christodoulos' tenure came with the establishment of the Greek Church NGO "Allileggii" (Solidarity), which quickly engaged in humanitarian relief efforts on a global scale.
As the "cyber era" exploded throughout most of the world in the late 1990s, Christodoulos cast aside the Church's usual cautiousness vis-Ó-vis modernity to eagerly embrace new communication technologies, promoting the establishment of the Church's first-ever website, a digital library available in nine languages that includes art and music archives, as well as a portal for cultural news in Greek and English.
Heading towards the dawn of the new millennium, Christodoulos became even more outspoken in his views - whether from the pulpit or in statements at well-attended events -- regarding the Church and its relations with the state and society, with reactions ranging from jubilant enthusiasm, by the Orthodox faithful, to cries of obscurantism by his secular critics in the country.
Two major clashes punctuated Christodoulos' tenure as head of the Greek Church: his quarrel, often taking on a personal tone, with the Simitis government, shortly after the general election in 2000, over the issue of a religious affiliation listing on police-issued ID cards; and, in 2004, a "chill" in relations between the Autocephalous Church of Greece and its spiritual elder, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, the world's most ancient Orthodox Church. The latter dispute was ostensibly over canonical jurisdiction in a number of northern Greece bishoprics.
The socialist government more-or-less ignored heated Church protests and proceeded with the removal of the religious affiliation from ID cards and essentially ended the controversy, whereas a full rapprochement between the "sister Churches" of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate was achieved in late 2004, following mediation by the education and religious affairs minister at the time, Marietta Yiannakou.
A milestone in Christodoulos' tenure came with the unprecedented official visit of late Pope John Paul II to Athens in 2001, a visit that had appeared unthinkable decades before.
The Archbishop brushed aside heated protests from within the Church's more zealous quarters and lent his support for the pontifical visit, personally taking the podium at a Holy Synod session to win over the Greek Church's sceptical bishops.
With a gracious Christodoulos at his side, John Paul II expressed the Roman Catholic Church's historic apology for past wrongs, a defining moment in recent ecclesiastical history, and one that essentially allowed for a genuine thaw in 21st century relations between the Churches of East and West. Christodoulos reciprocated in 2006 with an official visit to the Vatican and an audience with new Pope Benedict XVI.
The Archbishop's life was forever changed on a sunny Saturday, the 9th of June, 2006. Christodoulos fell ill while preparing for a visit to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. Immediate medical tests revealed that he suffered from advanced cancer in the large intestine and an unrelated malignant growth in the liver.
A first operation to remove the intestinal cancer was deemed successful, while consultations amongst his attending physicians finally led to a decision to seek treatment in the United States, and specifically at an internationally acclaimed clinic in Miami, Florida.
Initial despair with the news of the cancer turned into guarded optimism after the first operation and quickly manifested into a strong conviction amongst the public opinion and Christodoulos' close associates that the Archbishop was on the road to a full recovery with a pending a liver transplant in America.
Christodoulos departed Greece on Aug. 18 aboard a state executive jet, headed for Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital, where Greek-American transplant specialist Andreas Jackis waited.
Fifty days later Christodoulos is quickly prepared for surgery when a donor match is found, only to be whisked from the operating theatre without the hoped-for procedure taking place - a dejected Jackis merely announces to waiting cameras that the liver cancer has spread, making the transplant impossible.
The inevitable occurs on the last Monday of January 2008, a chilly morning in the Greek capital and several months after the initial diagnosis.
 Bakoyannis strongly supports EU prospect for SerbiaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Greece argued strongly in favour of supporting Serbia's eventual prospects of European Union membership during the EU foreign ministers Council held here on Monday. Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed that it was exceptionally crucial that the EU send Serbia and the Serb people a message that it desires a 'European' Serbia.
All EU member-states except the Netherlands are in favour of signing a Stability and Association Agreement between Serbia and the EU. Despite the large majority in favour, a decision of this sort had to be fully unanimous and the Council was therefore seeking "alternative solutions that will allow us to send the message we all want," Bakoyannis added.
The minister said the Council was now examining the possibility of signing an interim agreement with Serbia that would substantially benefit the country, especially in economic terms, while Greece would at the same time promote the issue of liberalising visas.
On the sidelines of the Council, Bakoyannis met Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said he shared Greek positions regarding Serbia.
Other issues examined by the EU foreign ministers were the situation in the Gaza Strip and the action that could be taken by the EU in that area, with Bakoyannis underlining Athens' position that there must be passing points between Israel and Gaza that were under the control of the Palestinian Authority in order for events to move in the right direction.
According to the Greek minister, the problems faced by the Palestinian population effectively undermined the process agreed at Annapolis.
"The heightening of tension and violent, intense clashes with innocent citizens as victims can certainly not lead to a solution. From a humanitarian standpoint, we are on the brink of a disaster that must be stopped at all costs. The abject state and hatred of peoples is being prolonged and the warnings of the United Nations are not being heard," Bakoyannis said.
Regarding the situation in Lebanon, EU foreign ministers condemned all terrorist action and said that its ultimate target was the people of Lebanon, while calling for intensified contacts between the parties to find a solution.
Bakoyannis also expressed concern over the situation in the area, saying that it was not positive, and declared Greece's desire to assist efforts to maintain calm in the region.
 FM Bakoyannis hails EU agreement with SerbiaBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis hailed Monday's political agreement which the European Union reached on relations with Serbia.
Specifically, responding to questions by Serbian journalists shortly after the close of Monday's EU Foreign Ministers Council meeting, she underlined that "today is an important day for the European Union and for Serbia" and that "the agreement that the EU reached shows that United Europe wishes to see at some moment Serbia in its ranks."
The foreign minister said that Serbia is a European country and expressed her particular satisfaction over the fact that the Council adopted the five points of cooperation between the EU and Serbia, which the Greek government had proposed.
Bakoyannis underlined the particular importance which the economic and commercial aspect of the agreement has, as well as the procedure for the liberisation of the visa for Serbians, which will go into effect in the coming months.
 Cypriot interior minister meets with local government in ThessalonikiCypriot Interior Minister Christos Patsalides met on Monday with the prefect and the mayor of Thessaloniki within the framework of his visit to the northern Greek city. Their talks focused on local government issues and political developments in Greece and Cyprus.
Following his meetings with Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos, the visiting minister underlined his government's interest in local administration reform, stressing that relations between Greece and Cyprus are important and send out many messages.
 PM meets Cyprus party leader KasoulidesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with visiting Cypriot Republic presidential candidate Yannakis Kasoulides.
In statements he made afterwards, Kasoulides said that the meeting was cordial and the PM referred to his recent visit to Turkey. He added that he shared with him certain of his own ideas on the Cyprus issue which are being already outlined before the Cypriot people.
Responding to a question on the likelihood of a new initiative on Cyprus, Kasoulides stated that the best window of opportunity will be opened following the elections.
He added, however, that procedures will be launched only if there is political will on behalf of both sides to enter negotiations.
Kasoulides stressed that procedures should get underway with the July 8 agreement that will set the ground for full-fledged negotiations, pointing out that the Turkish side will be in a difficult position if it fails to adhere to what has been agreed upon.
 PASOK leader meets with Cyprus presidential candidate KassoulidesMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday in Athens with former Cyprus foreign minister Ioannis Kassoulides, a candidate in the Feb. 17 presidential election in the island republic.
"It's very pleasant for me to meet Mr. Papandreou, because we had worked together very hard during the period when we were both foreign ministers, and we had achieved Cyprus' accession to the European Union," Kassoulides told reporters after the meeting.
 Authorities to probe appearance of Zachopoulos DVD material on Net sitesThe head of Greece's electronic crimes unit on Monday announced that two criminal indictments have been filed following the appearance of videotaped material apparently taken from the infamous Zachopoulos DVD, the centre of a blackmailing case shaking the country's political foundations in the recent period.
Manolis Sfakianakis said he informed the head of the first instance courts prosecutor's office of the development, following the appearance of the 17-second material on the youtube site and another Internet site.
A chief prosecutor order a preliminary investigation into the Internet appearance of the X-rated material.
 Magistrate in Zachopoulos case requests Anastasiades phone dataThe second examining magistrate investigating allegations of blackmail again former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos on Monday asked for access to the phone records and data of journalist Themos Anastasiades, who has been implicated in the affair.
The magistrate has asked that confidentiality of the journalist's phone data be lifted for the longest period allowed under the law.
Meanwhile, the enquiry into the affair continued with the testimony before the magistrate of the chief editor of TV shows presented by investigative journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos, Sokratis Giolias.
Giolias was called to testify as a witness to the meeting and conversation between Triantafyllopoulos and New Democracy MP Kostas Koukodimos at the journalist's home, which he had earlier arranged.
Emerging from the magistrate's office, Giolias said that he had named the MP in question during his testimony because the MP had already identified himself in a letter sent to the magistrate.
Giolias told reporters that he had corroborated all assertions made by Triantafyllopoulos about the meeting, adding that there was an audio recording of their conversation that could confirm what happened.
 Lawyer Nikoloutsopoulos admitted to psychiatric clinicThe Aiginitio Hospital on Monday announced that the lawyer Christos Nikoloutsopoulos, whose name has become mixed up in a scandal surrounding former culture ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos via his client Evi Tsekou, was admitted to its psychiatric clinic the previous day on the recommendation of his personal doctor.
The hospital said that Nikoloutsopoulos voluntary admitted himself, acting on the advice of his doctor to seek help at a hospital on night duty. The hospital's announcement, signed by the doctors treating Nikoloutsopoulos, does not give any further clarifications regarding the state of the lawyer's mental health.
According to Nikoloutsopoulos' own lawyer Makis Tzifras, however, his client was suffering from suicidal tendencies when admitted.
An expert in labour law, Nikoloutsopoulos had accompanied Evi Tsekou on visits to TV channels and journalists when she tried to interest them a DVD containing compromising material related to her affair with Zachopoulos. The lawyer later resigned his post as a legal consultant within the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation, amid an outcry by trade unionists of various factions.
 PM Karamanlis, Gates inaugurate Microsoft CentreGreek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Microsoft Corp. founder and chairman Bill Gates, and Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday inaugurated the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Athens.
Karamanlis noted that "a society develops and progresses to the degree that it gives its members the opportunity, the tools and the liberty to open up new roads of progress themselves, in accordance with their own dreams, abilities and ambitions", and stressed that "this principle of a people-centered economy of knowledge and innovation is embodied and served by Bill Gates, with his business, as well as his multi-faceted humanistic activity".
Karamanlis said that the building housing the Centre would serve as the operational hub of an important institutional cooperation aimed at strengthening innovation in Greece through full exploitation of the abilities of new technology, and concerns the public sector, business both small and large, education and youth.
"The goal is, one the one hand the application of all the already available software tools in the economy and society, and on the other hand the development and production of new software applications," Karamanlis said.
The aim, he continued, is to ensure better services, boost competitiveness, and encourage the creativity, talent and innovative thought of the Greeks, as well as to provide the youth with a significant opportunity to try out their ideas in their own country, without having to move abroad, and to encourage new entrepreneurship and strengthen the branches of IT, communications -- the entrepreneurship that is linked with the internet and its applications -- as a percentage of GDP.
Karamanlis explained that the collaboration with Microsoft was an organic part of the government's strategy for the digital age, "a strategy that is already producing positive results, having made up much of the lost ground of the past".
The growth rates alone of the broadband penetration index were proof of the country's new orientation, he said, adding that in just a short time, Greece had moved from "laggard" to a dynamic entry into the group of pioneer countries with respect to the use of new technology and, day by day, with determination, was acquiring the infrastructure to strengthen its role in the production of new applications as well.
He said investment in information technology and communications technology was a prerequisite for the wider reform break from the past that the country so needed.
It was a condition so that Greece may play a leading role in the new globalisation of knowledge, as the natural manager of the immense legacy of Hellenism's historical and cultural heritage, but also as a hub of creation of new knowledge and new invaluable tools for the past and the common future of humanity.
Karamanlis explained that there were two approaches in life, politics and the economy: the first approach was to remain at the stage of pinpointing the problems, of ascertaining the imperfections that hindered us from moving ahead, "it is the stage of conservatism and pettiness". The second approach, he continued, was that of moving beyond pinpointing and ascertaining, it was a life stance that dares to tackle the problems and which, instead of waiting to see what the future would bring, dares to prepare the future, with targets and specific actions.
"We need this second approach, and with initiatives such as this being inaugurated today with Microsoft's founder, Mr. Bill Gates, with initiatives for innovation and creativity, we are laying the foundations so that this life stance will take root and prevail, for the benefit of the country and our society," Karamanlis concluded.
Alogoskoufis, in turn, said the centre was part of the Greek state's collaboration with Microsoft in the framework of the government's digital strategy.
He said the Centre would function as an "incubator" for new software applications which, if proved effective, could be disseminated throughout the world.
Referring to the digital strategy being followed by the government over the past four years, Alogoskoufis stressed that knowledge and technology, as well as utilisation of the human resources, was decisive factors for a country's prosperity.
 PM Karamanlis receives Microsoft's Bill GatesEarlier in the day, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Monday morning at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) in Athens.
The meeting with the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation, a worldwide leader in computer software, was also attended by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, and lasted roughly 45 minutes.
No statements were made afterwards.
 Bill Gates addresses Athens audience on digital eraBill Gates on Monday presented his vision over technology developments in the next decade and said that the world has entered a digital era. Addressing an even on "Innovation and enterpreunship in modern world", in Athens, Microsoft's chairman said that in the next 10 years reading will be made exclusively through computers. "We will abandon paper and move everything on to terminals," Gates said, stressing that television will be interactive while video-conference will be a daily function.
The American philanthropist analysed to an audience of business leaders and politiciants the opportunities arising from investing in innovating applications and adopting pioneering solutions based on advanced technology, the necessary preconditions to enhance growth and competitiveness. Gates said software technology will be even more important in the next decades, with microchips offering new possibilities in various sectors, such as photography, music, advertising, video, etc. He said he was satisfied with a meeting he held earlier with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and members of the Greek government on inaugurating Microsoft's Innovation Center in Athens.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Hellenic Industries, addressing the event, noted that both Bill Gates' and Microsoft's history -along with other initiatives and activities- were raw models for everyon. Daskalopoulos said there were lots of young businessmen in Greece eager to work hard using their imagination.
 PM meets marine and island policy ministerPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday had a meeting with Marine and Island Policy Minister George Voulgarakis to discuss reforms involving the part-privatisation of the country's ports and the progress of a tender for this purpose. They also discussed measures taken to secure the jobs of port employees, which Voulgarakis said fully ensured a very large framework of alternative choices, chiefly in terms of their work and rights.
According to the minister, he discussed in detail with Karamanlis the tenders inviting companies to submit offers for the concessions offered. He stressed that the measures envisaged were a major reform for Greece that would open up new pathways for Greek shipping but also the Greek economy and society as a whole.
The government's plan is to sell concessions granting private firms fixed-term exploitation rights to the lucrative container terminals of Greek ports, initially those of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
The minister also referred to the passing away of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece earlier that morning, saying that "it was a difficult day" and that the late Archbishop had "succeeded in establishing a constant communication between the Church and society and in many cases to create the conduits needed to bring new people to the Church".
"His is a very grave loss and Greece today mourns a great Greek, who has managed to open up important pathways for the Church but also for all of us that believe in its potential," he added.
 Development Minister Folias meets Romanian FinMinDevelopment Minister Christos Folias met on Monday with visiting Romanian Economy and Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian, with talks focusing on energy issues.
According to a development ministry announcement, power exchanges between the two countries are very good, with an emphasis on increasing cooperation in the coming years.
"There are very important Greek investments in Romania, which are increasing," Folias said after the meeting, adding that the possibility of increasing Romanian investments in Greece was discussed.
The creation of conditions for cooperation and joint ventures between small and medium enterprises of the two countries and a text for an energy cooperation agreement, due to be signed during Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Romania, were also discussed.
 Greek presence at Copenhagen tourism expoCOPENHAGEN (ANA-MPA)
An international tourism exhibition concluded here over the weekend, as the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) also participated in the "Ferie 2008" trade show held at the Danish capital's Bella Center.
This season's slogan by GNTO, "Greece: The True Experience", was prominently displayed at the Greek pavilion.
 Romtelecom unveils new business plan eyeing new services, lower workforceRomtelecom, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's subsidiary in Romania, on Monday unveiled its business plan for 2008, focusing on adopting an "aggressive business policy" with the introduction of new and competitive services aimed to raise its customer base, while at the same time cutting operating spending -- mainly with the reduction of the workforce.
The telecommunication company's board approved the business plan, which cites the promotion of broadband services and data, satellite TV and attracting more fixed-telephony customers.
Under the plan, Romtelecom will also cut 2,500 jobs during the year.
Romtelecom said the new business plan will ensure the strengthening of the company's position in the market this year, while it will result in higher profitability in 2009 and 2010. The company said 2007 was a landmark year, as it achieved a significant increase in its market share in broadband and digital TV services, while it stopped a decline in the number of its fixed telephony customers.
Romtelecom quadrupled sales of DSL lines in the five half of 2007 and tripled revenues from VPN services compared with 2006, Dolce, a digital TV platform, attracted 400,000 customers, or 8.0 percent of the Romanian cable TV market.
In fixed-telephony, Romtelecom maintained its leading position with a market share of around 70 percent, or around three million customers.
 Plaisio Computers: 2007 profits up 55.6%Plaisio Computers on Monday reported a 23.8-pct increase in consolidated turnover to more than 385 million euros last year, compared with 2006, while pre-tax profits jumped 36.2 pct to 13.68 million euros.
Pre-tax, interest and amortization earnings (EBITDA) rose 25.5 pct to 19.63 percent in 2007.
Consolidated after-tax and minorities earnings totaled 9.9 million euros last year, up 55.6 pct from 2006. Plaisio Computers said it planned to pay a 0.30-euro per share dividend to its shareholders, up from 0.27 euros in 2006.
The company managed to multiply sales by 12.8 times over the last nine years and to record an average annual growth rate of 32.8 percent.
 Greek stocks end 1.65 pct lowerGreek stocks came under renewed selling pressure on Monday, pushing the composite index at the Athens Stock Exchange 1.65 pct lower to end at 4,442.34 points. Turnover was a moderate 358.6 million euros, of which 50.45 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors ended lower with the Raw Materials (3.89 pct), Industrial Products (3.74 pct), Healthcare (3.22 pct), Financial Services (3.10 pct) and Technology (3.02 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (2.99 pct), Chemicals (1.92 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.01 pct) scored gains.
The Big Cap index dropped 2.21 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.63 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 1.75 pct. Allatini Ceramics (9.59 pct), Desmos (8.70 pct) and Lyberis Publications (8.33 pct) were top gainers, while Interfish (9.76 pct), Vell Group (9.18 pct) and Viosol (8.82 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 218 to 38 with another 34 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.81%
Personal & Household: -1.12%
Raw Materials: -3.89%
Travel & Leisure: unchanged
Food & Beverages: +1.01%
Financial Services: -3.10%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Bank of Piraeus and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 22.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 31.26
HBC Coca Cola: 28.40
Hellenic Petroleum: 10.12
National Bank of Greece: 41.26
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.20
Titan Cement Company: 31.00
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover easing to 166.927 million euros. The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.35 pct while the February contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.22 pct.
Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 11,194 contracts worth 130.771 million euros, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 230 contracts worth 5.964 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,788 contracts worth 14.343 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,359), followed by Marfin Investment Group (489), OTE (1,268), Alpha Bank (401), Intracom (537), Marfin Popular Bank (298), Mytilineos (459) and ATEbank (501).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 2.156 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.202 billion were buy orders and the remaining 957 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 830 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.41 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.31 pct and the German Bund 3.90 percent.
In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were mixed. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 4.06 pct from 4.02 pct on Friday, the two-day rate also rose to 4.06 pct from 4.02 pct, the one-month rate was 4.21 pct and the 12-month rate rose to 4.33 pct from 4.31 pct.
 Foreign Exchange Rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.487
Pound sterling 0.748
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.558
Japanese yen 158.93
Swiss franc 1.622
Norwegian kroner 8.13
Canadian dollar 1.496
Australian dollar 1.683
 Flights cancelled due to strong windsStrong winds reaching up to 10 Beaufort over the Aegean disrupted air transport throughout Greece on Monday, with several flights cancelled.
Olympic Airlines had to cancel several domestic flights to islands in the Aegean and one to Alexandropoulis, as well as flight 259 from Athens to London, while Aegean Airlines had to cancel flight A3374 to Mykonos.
 Metropolitan Nikiforos of Lefkada passes awayMetropolitan Nikiforos of Lefkada and Ithaki passed away on Monday at the age of 90, the Church of Greece announced.
The late Metropolitan was born in Kalamata in 1918, and graduated from the Athens University's School of Theology in 1941, and was ordained a deacon in 1947, and as a priest in 1948.
He became Metropolitan of Lefkada in 1968.
The late Metropolitan authored a number of books, as well as numerous articles in newspapers and periodicals.
His funeral will be held on Wednesday at the Evangelistrias Cathedral on Lefkada.
 Conference explores migration, integration issuesWays in which the state and society could work together to integrate immigrants were explored during the 4th Annual Conference on Migration organised in Athens on Monday by the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO) and the think tank Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
The conference was attended by experts from Greece and abroad and representatives of organisations, the Church, elected officials and analysts.
Among the speakers was Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos, who referred to the efforts made by the state on this issue by establishing rules for immigration and the legalisation of immigrants without residence permits, as well as securing borders without violating human rights.
Among these he listed the government programme 'Estia' and the provisions for action by local authorities in the new local government code.
 Nafplio twinning with Russia's KronstadtThe historic port city of Nafplio, on the eastern coast of the Peloponnese, announced over the weekend that will will proceed with a twinning agreement with the municipality of Kronstadt in northwest Russia, near Saint Petersburg.
An exchange of visits is pending along with the signature of relevant twinning protocols.
 Book Bazaar 2008 in downtown AthensA different kind of Book Bazaar will take place, for the 13th consecutive year, at Klafthmonos Square in downtown Athens, organised by the Association of Book Publishers, and under the aegis of the City of Athens' Cultural Organisation.
The bazaar, which opens Friday and will run through Sunday, February 10, will be housed in a large pavillion covering 1,000 square meters, with publishers offering thousands of books from their storerooms at discount prices, in a bid to familiarize the wider public with reading.
The Bazaar will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., with book prices starting at 1 euro.
 Cargo ship runs aground in Thermaikos BayA small cargo ship ran aground in shallow waters in the Thermaikos Bay early Monday as a result of the gale force northerly winds sweeping through northern Greece. No injuries were reported among its crewmembers.
The Thessaloniki Port Authority announced that the Panama-flagged ship had set sail from the Thessaloniki Port without cargo and ran aground in the sea region off Nea Michaniona in the Thermaikos Bay region.
The ship suffered no damages and there is no risk of pollution. Port authority vessels and a tugboat are already in the area to lead the ship back to port as soon as the weather conditions allow.
 Passenger ferries remain docked due to gale force windsAll passenger ferries were prohibited from leaving the Thessaloniki Port on Monday due to 9-10 Beaufort-strong gale force winds currently sweeping through the region.
The ban issued by the Thessaloniki Port Authority applies to passenger ships. Cargo ships may set sail at the captain's discretion.
 Two caught for illegal possession of antiquitiesTwo men aged 76 and 41, respectively, have been placed under arrest in Athens for illegal possession of antiquities.
A search in the home of the 76-year-old led to the discovery of an ancient amphora covered in sea-shells and other sea-life, as well another three ancient objects obviously found in the sea.
In the home of the second man, police found 61 ancient objects ranging from the Classical to the Byzantine eras that archaeologists believe to be of great archaeological value. These included artifacts of marble and pottery, jewellery and ecclesiastical objects.
In addition to the above, the 41-year-old also had in his home a working antique rifle that contravened laws on weapons possession.
Both suspects have been led before a public prosecutor.
 Drug arrests in Tripolis, southern GreeceA young couple was arrested Saturday in Tripolis, Peloponnesus, in southern Greece, on drug possession and trafficking, police announced on Monday.
The woman had hidden in her underwear roughly 25 grams of cocaine packaged in plastic wrap while 700 euros were found on her companion.
A police search in their apartment in Kalamata revealed 78 grams of heroin, 2 kilos of cannabis, a number of narcotic pills and a precision scale.
 Wed. football matches postponedThe Greek Football Association (EPO) on Monday afternoon announced that all the matches scheduled for Wednesday, including the Super League's 19th week of play, will be re-scheduled for another date due to the four-day mourning period declared on Monday for the death of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
 Sleet, gale force winds on TuesdaySleet with gale force northerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 9-10 beaufort. Snow in the mountainous regions. Temperatures will range between -6C and 11C. Partly cloudy with sleet in Athens, with northerly 8-9 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 2C to 7C. Partly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 5C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceDevelopments in the Zachopoulos affair and the sudden leak to the Internet of Zachopoulos DVD scenes by an anonymous person, and the in-fighting in main opposition PASOK between party leader George Papandreou and high ranking MP and former leadership candidate Evangelos Venizelos dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Papandreou-Venizelos conflict turns PASOK into a jungle".
APOGEVMATINI: "Zachopoulos affair is a labyrinth without a mite - Clearing up the case in the next days is doubtful"
AVRIANI: "The individuals who took money under the table in the Siemens case have lost their sleep - Politicians, Public organisation directors, cadres of the government and labour-fathers".
VRADYNI: "80,000 positions in the public sector".
ETHNOS: "Iniquitous DVD on the internet- The message of the anonymous individuals who released the scenes".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Papandreou prepares Venizelos' expulsion from the party before the latter defects, because he's had enough".
ELEFTHEROS: George: Evangelos I will take your scalp - I won't bargain and I won't tolerate in-party groups"
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Examining magistrate's race to complete the round of testimonies before the copies of the case file are given to the litigants".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: " In a cuckoo's nest- Government in turmoil awaits developments".
ESTIA: "Bipartisan agreement for public life's normalisation".
TA NEA: "Two contradictions burn Costas Koukodimos (New Democracy parliament member alleged to be involved in the PROTO THEMA newspaper co-publishers conflict) - The examining magistrate asks for explanations".
CHORA: "Zachopoulos DVD domino effect leading to (early) general elections - Karamanlis determined to clear up the landscape".
 Cypriot FM satisfied with EU-Turkey partnership textBRUSSELS (CNA)
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has expressed the satisfaction of the government for the content of the reviewed EU-Turkey partnership text, which was adopted on Monday by the EU General Affairs Council.
The text charts Ankara's obligations in detail regarding Cyprus, in the form of specific priorities with a two-year implementation timeframe.
Marcoullis said the order of the obligations towards Cyprus was satisfactory, as was the wording used to describe Cyprus-Turkey relations, and singled out the reference to efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
''We hope Turkey will respond positively to the clear calls of the EU 27 and will fulfill its obligations to the full, which are a criterion of progress in the accession course,'' Marcoullis pointed out.
On the Cyprus problem, Turkey is called upon to actively support efforts to implement the 8 July 2006 agreement, which will lead to a comprehensive and viable settlement in the UN framework, based on EU principles, including tangible steps towards such a solution.
Marcoullis said that after the December 2007 European Council conclusions, the EU 27 once again reaffirmed their dedication to the necessity to implement the 8 July 2006 procedure, and called on Turkey to actively support it as the only basis for the promotion of a comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In the text, the 8 July 2006 agreement is contained in a short-term priority, which should be implemented within two years, and is the best answer to all those in Turkey who believe it should be abandoned or that tight deadlines should be imposed.
Marcoullis noted that through the wording of the specific paragraph it is clear that Turkey is called upon to actively support the process and that the EU member states believe this process could lead to a comprehensive and viable settlement.
The text also sets out a series of other obligations for Turkey concerning Cyprus, such as the implementation of the protocol and the lifting of Turkish restrictions against Cypriot ships and airplanes, reminding that the EU has decided not to open eight chapters and not close any other chapter until Turkey complies.
Furthermore, Turkey is called upon once again to take steps towards normalising its relations with the Republic of Cyprus the soonest possible.
Another clear priority is the necessity for Turkey to comply with the provisions of the Human Rights Treaty, and Ankara is called upon to secure the full implementation of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
The EU27 also call upon Turkey to align its position at international organisations with that of the EU, and that it stops blocking Cyprus' participation in international organisations.
Furthermore, Turkey is obliged to draft an action plan, which will contain the measures it intends to take towards fulfilling all the priorities of the partnership.
On the sidelines of Monday's meeting, Marcoullis met with her Latvian counterpart Maris Riekstins, with whom she discussed the Cyprus problem, the issue of Kosovo and bilateral matters.
She was also due to meet on Monday with High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana. On Tuesday, she is scheduled to meet with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn and European Parliament group leaders.
Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on 8 July 2006, during a meeting in Nicosia in the presence of then UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, to begin a process of bicommunal discussions on issues that affect the day-to-day life of the people and concurrently those that concern substantive issues, both contributing to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
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