|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-11-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 1 November 2008 Issue No: 3035
 PM Karamanlis: Global effort needed to exit crisisMeasures to fortify the real economy were announced on Friday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, during an off-the-agenda discussion in Parliament on the repercussions of the global financial crisis. He stressed that the government's priority was to guide the country through this difficult time with the least possible repercussions for ordinary people.
"Our primary goals is to minimise the impact of the crisis on Greek citizens as much as is humanly possible. Faced with the size of the challenge, our only concern is the country and we are indifferent to any political or party cost," the premier underlined.
"The international crisis has burdened and will continue to burden the Greek economy. It has slowed growth rates and escalated the high cost of living. We are among the first countries in the eurozone to have acted so quickly, and so promptly and so decisively. Our economy shows strong resilience," stressed Karamanlis.
The premier emphasised, however, that 28-billion-euro package announced by the government for supporting the banking system did not involve handing over tax-payers' money to the banks, while those claiming otherwise were lying and trying to mislead.
"Nothing is being 'given' to banks. Not one euro is being spent from the budget. There is no loss but gain for the public sector. Tax-payers are not paying but receiving," Karamanlis stressed.
The premier pointed out that households and businesses would benefit as a result of the plan, which would relieve the upward pressure on interest rates, protect deposits and the availability of loans and thus support economic activity and preserve jobs.
In addition, banks participating in the scheme would have to pay up to 500 million euros into state coffers each year and money that would then be be used to finance public investments and the social cohesion fund.
The premier stressed that international collaboration against the crisis was imperative, together with policies that will heighten people's sense of security, with the focus on the middle and low incomes. He underlined the need for cooperation in Europe also, noting that it should be possible to temporarily relax rules that prevented taking more effective measures in response to the problems.
"In this hour, each and every citizen's and family's interest is directly connected with the resilience and the adaptability of our economy. It's the hour of individual and collective responsibility," underlined Karamanlis.
He then turned his fire on the main opposition PASOK party, which he accused of failing to understand that the speed at which things were changing and of remaining locked in a petty political viewpoint of events that it understood only imperfectly.
"Having these views, can they take the responsible stance demanded by the occasion? The populists and demagogues are doing great damage to the economy. Yet again, they are proving themselves inferior to the occasion," he added.
Karamanlis slammed PASOK leader George Papandreou for what he called contradictory views on the issue of supporting banks; conceding the need to support the banking system, one the one hand, but at the same time accusing the government of giving away tax-payers' money.
"This shows total confusion and demonstrates a total political inadequacy in critical situations," the prime minister said.
He was also scathing about PASOK's pledges for more state hand-outs, noting that, even by conservative estimates, the measures announced would cost some five billion euros a year and were "completely unrealistic".
The prime minister gave assurances that there would be no new taxes and was critical of those attempting to use the financial crisis to "revive confused ideologies", as well as those resisting government reforms.
"It doesn't make sense for people to express hope for an increase in employment, on the one hand, and then incite reactions to every reform. To admit the need for changes and then support privileged groups so that nothing can change," Karamanlis stressed, adding that no one could go along with methods that sought to "blackmail" society.
At the same time, he sent a clear message to markets to self-regulate, stressing that "free economic activity must not submit to greed or a lack of restraint."
Speaking during his rejoinder, the prime minister closed by warning that the world was faced with a major crisis whose intensity and duration could not be predicted. The challenge that now lay before all political forces was to set aside their differences and draw up a strategy to deal with the oncoming recession, he emphasised.
 Papandreou says ND policies the same that led to int'l credit crisisMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday charged that the policies responsible for the current international credit and economic crisis are the same ones followed by the ruling New Democracy party.
Speaking at an off-the-agenda debate on the economy, Papandreou referred to "neo-liberal and neo-conservative" policies that allowed "vested interests, cartels, accumulated wealth, the power establishment and mass media to hide behind the ideology of the free market."
Papandreou pointed to derivatives and structured bonds as "toxic products" imported by the ND government, while at the same time blaming the economy and justice ministers for state-controlled pension funds' losses.
"We uncovered your policies and we stopped you. You accused us t hen and now as populists. Without our insistence, however, the funds would have collapsed. Beneficiaries would have lost their life's savings," Papandreou added.
The former foreign minister also charged that the government is allocating 28 billion euros in guarantees for banks' liquidity without transparency and rules, "and without anyone knowing the true extent of every bank's problem."
In making the statement, Papandreou reiterated that his party will vote against a relevant draft bill.
In a rejoinder, Papandreou accused the government of giving a "blank check" to the banks, while attempting to "shove its problems under the rug of the international financial crisis."
Responding to ND allegations that PASOK's proposals are incredibly costly and invest only in "populist practices and irresponsibility", Papandreou stated that "policy means prioritising".
Finally, he lashed out at the prime minister, accusing him of trying to hide the government's problems behind the international financial crisis.
 KKE condemns gov't measures, eco policiesCommunist Party of Greece's (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Friday, speaking at an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the financial crisis, called on the working classes as well as all low-income earners and pensioners to take "battle positions and counter-attack" the economic policy "operating against them."
The communist leader termed the announced government's measures for guarantee funds and anti-poverty benefits a "smoke screen", stressing that small businesses will not benefit from the 28 billion euros allocated as liquidity guarantees to combat the credit crisis' effects on the local money market.
Papariga criticised and condemned ruling party New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK proposals, citing pretexts in the name of the crisis "that will eventually entrap the workers and tabled her party law proposal for the protection of the lower incomes, the amelioration of indirect taxation in heating oil and popular products.
She also accused the prime minister of only describing the symptoms of the international credit crisis without explaining their origin.
"The crisis always arrives after major profits and stems from the manipulation of the working classes. This period has reached a dead end and cannot be repeated. It's the policy that consciously suspends state interventions, allowing themarket remain uncontrolled," Papariga said, who also criticised Papandreou.
Papariga condemned the government's decision to privatise national carrier Olympic Airways, stressing that her party's opposition has nothing to do whether OA is sold to Gulf State-based owner, but the fact that the company will be closed.
"Whichever measure you take is against the working class and benefits the businesses. Who will you control a market with strong monopolies? By emptying the workers' pockets" referring to the two major parties.
The difference between the two parties is that government proposes measures to assist the bank's profit while PASOK's measures are hot money via the industrialists. This is an illusion. When we refer to workers protection we refer to borrowers' protection with public housing programmes.
 Alavanos blames 'globalised capitalistic practices' for current credit crisisRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos, addressing Parliament on Friday in an off-the-agenda debate on the international financial crisis, blamed the situation on what he called "globalised capitalistic practices, uncontrolled free markets, privatisation and the deconstruction of the social state."
The leftist political leader opined that the ongoing crisis will be lengthy and pointed out that its full-fledged consequences have not been gauged yet, adding that "we are one day away from the storm that is on the way."
He stated that an immediate response is necessary and suggested that Greece's defence spending be cut in half, with the money used for social spending, while he also called for special social protection measures and the creation of 50,000 new job positions.
Alavanos also expressed complete opposition to the government plan adopted in support of the domestic banking system.
 LAOS' Karatzaferis on bank support planPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Friday criticised a government plan aimed to boost banking system liquidity, acknowledging however its "good intentions".
Speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the economy, Karatzaferis said the measures taken were "contradictory", while adding that it is irrational for "a debt-ridden country like Greece to earmark 28 billion euros to rescue banks, considering that their combined profits last year reached seven billion euros, while they have already announced that the profit-making trend will continue this year as well."
Karatzaferis maintained that only banks with problems should be supported and suggested the implementation of stricter controls on their management.
 Deputy FM Doukas to visit SerbiaDeputy Foreign Minister Petros Doukas will be making an official visit to Serbia between November 2-4, accompanied by over 80 Greek businessmen and investors in an effort to further strengthen bilateral economic and trade relations at a difficult time for the countries of southeastern Europe as well, due to the international monetary crisis.
According to a foreign ministry announcement on Friday, Doukas will be having a private meeting with the country's Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic as well as with cabinet members, such as the Energy and Mines, Trade and Services and Economy and Regional Development ministers.
The holding of the business Conference in Belgrade on November 3, which will be inaugurated by the Serb prime minister, is of great importance for bilateral economic relations between Greece and Serbia, while the Greek and Serb businessmen will be addressed by Doukas, the Serb Economy minister, the Serb deputy minister for International Economic Relations and the governor of Serbia's National Bank, the announcement added.
The deputy foreign minister will be concluding his visit to Belgrade on November 4 with a lecture at the private Megatrend University, with the participation of students, academics and think tank representatives.
 Education minister on religious education classesEducation Minister Evripides Stylianidis on Friday stressed that religious studies remained an integral part of the Greek school curriculum and were only optional for students belonging to faiths other than the Orthodox Church.
"The class is always a mandatory, integral part of the full programme. There is provision for exclusion on grounds of conscience that concerns the non-Orthodox, in other words people of other faiths or dogmas, who are for the most part foreigners. Roughly 11 percent of those currently in Greek mandatory education are foreigners and there must be provision and respect for them," the minister explained.
He made the statements after a visit to Fthiotida Metropolitan Nikolaos, in response to questions.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits Mesogaia MetropolitanEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Friday paid a visit to Mesogaia Metropolitan Nikolaos, whom he praised highly during which he gave a speech of the Agia Sophia church in Anthousa.
Bartholomew is currently visiting Athens in order to take part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) taking place in the city, organised by Transparency International.
The Patriarch then made his way to the Turkish Embassy in Athens, where a dinner was given in his honour, and left for a visit to the northern Greek city of Drama on Friday afternoon.
 Vatopedi Monastery Factfinding Committee prepares witnesses listThe Parliamentary Factfinding Committee probing the Vato-pedi Monastery issue has prepared the first list of witnesses who will be summoned to appear before it.
Witnesses who will be apprearing before the Committee on Monday include former Appeals Court judge Eleftherios Roidis (president of the first Advisory Council set up in connection with the ownership of land granted to the Vatopedi Monastery).
 Deadline for OA bids Friday nightInvestors interested in national air carrier Olympic Airlines (OA) will be announced next week, Transport and Commu-nication Minister Costis Hatzidakis said after meeting with a Europarliament transportation committee delegation.
The group was headed by European Parliament first vice-president Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, a Greek Euro-MP .
Hatzidakis clarified that the deadline for prospective bids ends on Friday evening. Bids will subsequently be evaluated by special investment advisers working for the government.
The meeting with the European Parliament delegation focused on transportation issues, with an emphasis on loss-making Hellenic Railways (OSE) and debt-ridden Olympic Airlines.
Hatzidakis briefed Euro-MPs on the OA privatisation plan and confirmed that OA domestic flights linking the mainland with numerous Greek islands will continue uninterrupted through subsidisation on unprofitable routes.
 GNTO president on '09 tourism prospectsThe president of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) on Friday cautioned that the worry for the upcoming tourist season is not a decline in arrivals but rather a decrease in the duration of holiday-makers vacations or decreased spending.
Speaking during the 24th Philoxenia tourism exhibition in Thessaloniki, GNTO president Athanassios Economou said northern Greece was expecting a robust season due to increasing arrivals from eastern European countries, whose economies were less affected by the international crisis.
 Tegopoulos Publications to return capital to shareholdersTegopoulos Publications SA on Friday said an extraordinary general shareholders' meeting approved a board plan for a share capital increase worth 50.72 million euros and the raising of the nominal value of each share by 0.93 euros through capitalisation of reserves.
The shareholders' meeting also approved a reduction of the company's equity capital by 50.72 euros, with a reduction of its nominal share value by 0.93 euros and the return of capital to shareholders.
 Macedonia-Thrace Minister meets delegation of Greece's Ski Centres UnionMacedonia-Thrace Minister Margaritis Tzimas on Friday met with a delegation of the Union of Ski Centres of Greece and discussed with them issues concerning economic support for the country's ski centres.
The Minister expressed his particular interest on the matter of the competitiveness of the services of the Ski Centres of Northern Greece.
He underlined the opportunities which are being opened through the utilisation of the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) 2007-2013, at the same time announcing his intention to contribute in the overall tourism projection of the Ski Centres of Northern Greece, as well as the promotion of specific and realistic proposals to the relevant ministries.
 ASE to launch two new indices on MondayThe Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, Nov. 3, will begin calculation of its new indices, FTSE/ASE Liquid Mid and FTSE/ASE-CSE Bank Index, with a starting price of 2,000 points.
The new indices will be calculated on line on a daily basis and will reviewed twice a year (April and October).
The FTSE/ASE Liquid Mid index will monitor the activity of the 20 more traded stocks in the FTSE 40 index, with the aim of introducing a series of derivatives products and ETFs.
The index will be comprised of AB Vassilopoulos, Alapis, Babis Vovos, GEK, Geniki Bank, Athens Water, Hellenic Exchanges, Intracom Holdings, Metka, Mechaniki, Jumbo, Thessaloniki Port, Sarantis, Sidenor, Sprider, Terna, Folli-Follie, Forthnet, Frigoglass and Fourlis.
The FTSE/ASE-CSE Bank index will monitor activity of banking stocks included in the FTSE 20 index, the FTSE 40 index and the FTSE/CySE 20 index, with the aim of introducing a series of derivatives products. The index will comprise of Alpha Bank, ATEbank, Geniki Bank, Hellenic Bank, National Bank, Eurobank, Marfin Popular Bank, Piraeus Bank, Proton Bank, Cyprus Bank and Hellenic Postbank.
 ASE extends ban on short selling until December 31Greece's Capital Markets Commission on Friday announced it was extending a ban on short selling in the Athens Stock Exchange until December 31, 2008. The Greek markets' watchdog also announced it was beginning accepted market practice procedures, allowing a company to use its own equity capital to pay for the purchase of other stocks, a practice already implemented in France and was currently promoted in Italy.
It also imposed a 300,000 euros fine to Iberdrola Renovables to breaching market regulation on public offerings.
 ASE up for third straight dayGreek stocks recovered more ground at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, remaining in a recovery course for the third consecutive session. The composite index rose 2.50 pct to end at 2,060.31 points, with turnover a moderate 251.3 million euros, of which 10.1 million euros were block trades.
All sectors moved higher with the exception of the Travel sector which fell 0.85 pct. Oils (10.02 pct), Raw Materials (6.64 pct), Food/Beverage (6.61 pct), Insurance (6.37 pct) and Commerce (6.09 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.81 pct, the FTSE 40 index was up 2.61 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 2.32 pct higher. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 193 to 52 with another 42 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +10.02%
Personal & Household: +0.35%
Raw Materials: +6.64%
Travel & Leisure: -0.85%
Food & Beverages: +6.61%
Financial Services: +5.09%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.38
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.64
HBC Coca Cola: 10.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.48
National Bank of Greece: 17.10
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.46
Bank of Piraeus: 9.90
Titan Cement Company: 13.30
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover a low 85.939 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 1.44 pct. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 13,629 contracts worth 72.607 million euros, with 27,266 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,673 contracts worth 12.411 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (3,052), followed by Marfin Investment Group (1,548), OTE (1,774), PPC (1,068), National Bank (1,992), Hellaktor (999) and Hellenic Postbank (1,055).
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.285
Pound sterling 0.793
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 9.985
Japanese yen 125.97
Swiss franc 1.480
Norwegian kroner 8.598
Canadian dollar 1.580
Australian dollar 1.940
 Tourism Minister meets Thessaloniki MayorTourism Development Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos on Friday met with Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, at the northern city's Town Hall.
Their discussion focused on the future of the city as a centre of attraction for tourists, mainly from Eastern Europe.
The minister appeared optimistic regarding tourism growth, stressing that in the summer of 2008, certain regions of Halkidiki, Northern Greece, increased tourist arrivals by 30%. Spiliotopoulos added that Thessaloniki, with the suitable projects, has the ability of becoming a conference venue.
 Greek journalists in ChinaThe Communication and Information general secretariat in collaboration with the All-China's Journalists' Association are organizing for the eleventh consecutive year the visit of a group of 11 Greek journalists, headed by the Athens Union of Journalists president Panos Sobolos, to China from 1 to 12 November.
The journalists will have the opportunity to be informed thoroughly on the developments taking place in China, the widening bilateral relations and the post-Olympic Games image of the country.
In the framework of mutual hosting of journalists from the two countries, the Greek Communication and Information general secretariat last May hosted 12 Chinese journalists.
 Foreign national gunned down in AthensThe mafia-style shooting death of a 29-year-old Georgian national in Paleo Faliro, Athens on Thursday night was most likely drug related, police said.
The victim was in Greece illegally and was leaving a coffee shop when an unidentified gunman opened fire at him fatally injuring him. The culprit fled the scene and the victim was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead.
The 29-year-old had a total of seven gunshot wounds and apparently his killer had hunted him down when he attempted to get away.
 Police destroyed large cannabis plantation in southern GreecePolice in Arcadia Prefecture in southern Greece acting on a tip-off discovered and destroyed a large cannabis plantation with a total of 532 mature plants up to 3 meters tall, near the village of Spaneika.
The plantation growers, who were monitoring the area from a makeshift observation post, fled when the police moves in the region came to their attention leaving behind them a hunting riffle and a number of personal belongings.
Authorities also found and seized a total of 5 kilos and 300 grams of semi-processed cannabis, 71 kilos and 580 grams of hashish in the drying process, 227 kilos and 600 grams of cannabis plant parts and a number of riffle cartridges.
 40.7 percent rise in road accident deathsThe road accidents recorded throughout Greece causing deaths or injuries rose to 1,342 in August 2008. More specifically, 204 people died, 218 were seriously injured and 1,484 suffered lighter injuries in traffic accidents in that month.
According to the figures released by the National Statistical Service of Greece (ESYE), road accident-related deaths in August 2008 increased by 40.7 percent, serious injuries marked a rise of 23.9 percent and lighter injuries also rose by 5.5 percent compared to August 2007.
In the eight-month period January-August 2008, 1,067 people were killed, 1,267 were seriously injured and 11,104 suffered lighter injuries in a total of 9,934 road accidents.
 Major heroin bust in ThessalonikiFour foreign nationals, aged from 31 to 50, were arrested on Friday in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on drug dealing and smuggling charges. A police raid in several residences uncovered approximately 7.5 kilos of heroin, 15.5 kilos of hashish as well as various forged documents (ID cards, passports, driver licences).
 Three Greek athletes up on doping chargeThree top Greek athletes and their coach were on Friday charged for using and administering banned substances by an Athens first-instance court prosecutor.
Those charged for doping included Olympic gold medallist Fani Halkia and her fellow athletes Tassos Goussis and Dimitris Regas, while coach Georgios Panagiotopoulos was charged with morally instigating the use of banned substances and administering banned substances.
The prosecutor proceeded to press misdemeanour charges after conducting a preliminary inquiry into the results of WADA doping tests, in which all three athletes tested positive.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy weather with variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 28C. Fair in Athens, with 2-3 beaufort variable winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 23C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's plans to ameliorate the impact of the global financial to be announced on Friday in parliament dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The relief measures for medium and small enterprises to be announced in parliament"
APOGEVMATINI: "(Former general director of the ompetition Committee Pangiotis) Adamopoulos, who was remanded in custody for involvement with the dairy companies cartel, was one of the organisers of a main opposition PASOK party event on the issue of the milk companies' cartel actions in Greece".
AVGHI: "Focus on economic policy - Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis supports FinMin George Alogoskoufis' policy line".
AVRIANI: "Half the Greek citizens are victims of loan sharks".
CHORA: "The government gives billions to the bankers while the people are suffering".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Miracle! In record time and without major obstacles ...the government re-established PASOK".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hidden tax on first homes - Extra burdens for parking spaces and storage areas".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: " 'Colpo grosso' in real estate taxes - The Economy and Finance Ministry deceives the tax payers".
ESTIA: "Catastrophic state intervention - The future of the economy is endangered".
ETHNOS: " There is a trap in the taxes on first homes".
KATHIMERINI: "Ministers take distances from FinMin's choices ".
LOGOS : "The duration of the economic crisis is unpredictable".
NIKI: "The crisis strangles the households".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Ruling party New Democracy and PASOK are feeding the crisis and burdening the people".
TA NEA "Tax- robbery on first homes - Sur-tax on mutually-owned properties".
TO VIMA: "The banks under supervision- They will be checked for the loans and the salaries".
VRADYNI: "The crisis devastated the medium and small enterprises".
 Russia ready to help Cyprus peace process, Ambassador saysNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias received Friday the credentials of the new Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Vyachesiav Shumskiy, who said that Moscow isready to contribute effectively to the ongoing negotiating process for a political settlement.
Presenting his credentials, the new Ambassador noted that he arrived in Nicosia at a crucial moment in the political life of Cyprus. ''The launch of the fully-fledged inter-communal negotiations under the UN aegis opens up a new prospect towards achieving comprehensive, lasting and viable settlement on the basis of the United Nations
Security Council resolutions for the benefit of all Cypriots-Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots''.
The fact that the negotiations have started at all is in itself a strong evidence of the political courage displayed by the leaders of the two communities, he added. ''We sincerely hope that the newly started dialogue will bring positive results and culminate in the final settlement of the long-drawn problem. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council Russia, together with our partners, is ready to contribute effectively to the ongoing negotiating process which belongs to the Cypriots themselves''.
Russia firmly believes that a just and functional solution can be achieved only without external interference, let alone pressure and imposed arbitration and asphyxiating timetables, he added.
Referring to the role of Cyprus as EU member state, Shumskiy said he believes that Cyprus is capable of making important contribution to maintaining peace and security in Europe. ''The existing security architecture of Europe, unfortunately, failed to stand the test of the recent events in the Caucasus."
Referring to the Russian President's provisions of concept for a new Treaty on European Security, the Ambassador said that this Treaty is meant to create a reliable collective system that would ensure equal security for all states, and in a legally binding form enshrine the basics of relations between its participants with a view to strengthening peace and ensuring stability, and finally-promote an integrated and manageable development across the vast Euro-Atlantic region.
Russia aims at further strengthening of its political relations with the Republic of Cyprus, he added. ''It is important that our bilateral cooperation has a solid legal basis, comprising numerous interstate and intergovernmental treaties and agreements''.
The forthcoming visit of President Christofias to Moscow in November will give an additional impetus to the already close ties and cooperation between our two countries, the Ambassador said, assuring at the same time that everything will be done to make this visit a success.
Accepting the credentials, President Christofias stressed that Russia is a most valuable friend of Cyprus and referred to the Russian community in Cyprus and the Cypriot investors in Russia.
 Spokesman: usurpation of Greek Cypriot occupied properties is illegalNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stressed here Friday that, according to European Court of Human Rights decisions and Cyprus' legislation, the usurpation of Turkish occupied Greek Cypriot properties is illegal.
Stephanou's remarks came in response to a statement by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat that foreigners who buy immovable property in Cyprus' occupied areas are not running any political risk.
The spokesman also said that while the process for a Cyprus settlement is going on, there should be statements to help and not to hinder the negotiations or create doubts as to any intentions.
"There are decisions of the ECHR which say that the legal owners of the occupied Greek Cypriot properties are the Greek Cypriots who own these properties and so the purchase and usurpation of Greek Cypriot properties and their sale is illegal," Stephanou said, recalling that according to Cypriot legislation the usurpation of property owned by others constitutes a criminal offence and the owners have the right to apply to the court to claim their rights.
Subsequently, he added, the purchase of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied areas is illegal and all those who buy or want to buy occupied properties must know this.
With regard to the ongoing process of direct negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Stephanou said that negotiations have not been blocked due to difficulties on governance and power sharing.
The spokesman said that this chapter has a lot of aspects, and that President Christofias and Talat have detailed discussions. At the same time, he noted that there are difficulties due to disagreements between the two communities.
Asked about the meetings between the aides of the two leaders, Stephanou said these take place with a view to help the process and the negotiations.
Christofias and Talat began peace talks in early September with a view to find a mutually agreed settlement that will reunite the country, under a bizonal bicommunal federation. Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops invaded in 1974.
 President Christofias will pay an official visit to RussiaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will pay a three-day official visit to the Russian Federation, beginning November 18, Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou announced here Friday.
"This visit will give a new impetus and enhance the already excellent relations between the two countries," the spokesman stressed.
Replying to questions, he said the visit is very important, taking into account the role of the Russian Federation on the international political scene.
He noted that Moscow is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a country which maintains long standing position of principles on the Cyprus question.
"Cyprus invests a lot in the firm, consistent and I would say just position of Russia regarding efforts to solve Cyprus problem," he added.
Besides the Cyprus problem, the two countries have very good political, economic, trade, tourist and cultural relations, the spokesman said.
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