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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 Issue No: 3221


  • [01] PM briefed on New Acropolis Museum opening
  • [02] KYSEA meets on Tuesday; PM holds telephone communication with Czech counterpart
  • [03] Illegal immigration issue requires European solidarity, FM Bakoyannis says
  • [04] Gov't on illegal migrants
  • [05] Interior minister addresses Greece-Russia Social Forum in St. Petersburg
  • [06] Gov't eyes changes to law on indicting ministers
  • [07] Gov't on Roussopoulos' statements; likelihood of new political party
  • [08] Employment minister signs decision on border business funding programme
  • [09] IKA-ETAM measure for settling outstanding debts
  • [10] The market is suffocating, PASOK spokesman says
  • [11] Greek pharmaceuticals sector robust in 2008, Stat Bank reports
  • [12] Fourlis Holdings approves 0.36 euros dividend
  • [13] Loulis Mills pays no dividend for 2008
  • [14] Stocks down 0.46%
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [17] Greece ready for novel flu outbreak, experts say
  • [18] Man arrested after high-speed chase in Patissia
  • [19] Armed robbers take 20,000-plus in bank heist
  • [20] Police dismantle ATM credit card scam
  • [21] First major wildfires reported
  • [22] Samos beaches given 'Blue Flags'
  • [23] Bicycle course 26.6 kilometres long to be created in Athens
  • [24] Byzantium in Vilnius
  • [25] MPs propose transfer of Greek students from L'Aquila
  • [26] Fair on Tuesday
  • [27] Leaders continue discussion on Limnitis and territory issue
  • [28] President Christofias meets with Commissioner Verheugen
  • [29] Reunification will be beneficial for both communities, says Verheugen Politics

  • [01] PM briefed on New Acropolis Museum opening

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday had a meeting with Culture Minister Antonis Samaras and the head of the organisation for construction of the New Acropolis Museum, Prof. Dimitris Pandermalis, who briefed him on the progress of preparations for the official opening of the New Acropolis Museum on Saturday.

    "We have carried out all the preparations required and we briefed the prime minister and I am sure that everything will go well on Saturday," Samaras told reporters as he emerged from the premier's offices in Maximos Mansion.

    Samaras stressed that the New Acropolis Museum will be a unique cultural centre for the entire world and pointed to the very positive reports already appearing in international media focusing on Greece, the Athens Acropolis and the masterpieces housed in the Museum.

    [02] KYSEA meets on Tuesday; PM holds telephone communication with Czech counterpart

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced that the government council for foreign affairs and defense (KYSEA) will meet Tuesday focusing on national defense ministry issues.

    Asked to comment if KYSEA will make any decisions on illegal migration, Antonaros responded negatively.

    Antonaros also stated that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had a 15-minute telephone communication with new Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer on Monday morning, focusing on issues of mutual interest in view of the EU Summit meeting.

    During the phone conversation, which was initiated by the Czech prime minister, Karamanlis also raised issues of Greek interest.

    [03] Illegal immigration issue requires European solidarity, FM Bakoyannis says


    The European Union's General Affairs Council was held here on Monday and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a statement that Greece found great support from many countries, from the Mediterranean region and from central and northern Europe, which agreed with its main position that the issue of illegal immigration and its handling requires "European solidarity that must be shown in practice."

    One of the Council's main tasks was to prepare the EU's summit, which will take place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, and that will be examining the issue of illegal imigration, among other issues.

    According to the Greek foreign minister, this display of European solidarity must take place in principle with the upgrading of the European Frontex organisation for managing the external borders of EU member-states, meaning with a greater presence of ships in the Aegean, as well as with financial participation in the management of immigrants who, as she said, are people with rights, who are desperate and lacking financially who place all their hopes in a boat.

    Bakoyannis said that for these reasons the handling of these people must also be humane, something that, as she pointed out, Greece will be doing with the reception centres that it is setting up.

    On the question of references existing in the draft text of the EU summit's final conclusions on handling illegal immigration, Bakoyannis said that the text does not cover Greece's aims at this stage.

    She stressed that Greece's desire is for specific references to be made on repatriation conditions, with the agreements that the EU must sign with the countries of origin.

    Bakoyannis also added that, as Greece believes, emphasis must be placed on the need for financial support for handling the problem in Greek territory.

    [04] Gov't on illegal migrants

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated on Monday that last week Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had addressed a letter on the illegal migration problem to the prime minister of the Czech Republic, currently holding the EU Presidency, insisting that a special chapter on the issue be included in the next European Council meeting.

    Antonaros stated that "the PM intends to stress the growing pressures faced by Greece," as the European Union's southeastern "gatekeeper" from the constantly increasing numbers of illegal migrants crossing its borders at a scheduled EU summit in Brussels.

    He underlined that the adoption of immediate measures is necessary as mentioned in the prime minister's letter and pointed out that moves have been made to this end since June 2004 both by the prime minister and by the ministries of foreign affairs and interior aimed at making clear the essence of the problem faced by the country.

    "In recent months the problem is becoming apparent in countries that are far away and its special characteristics are hard to explain to them," he added.

    On the criticism made as regards alleged "concentration camps" and the reaction of local communities to the presence of illegal migrants, Antonaros spoke of incorrectly used expressions.

    "The country's economy and society have reached their limits," he said, adding that "like many other countries it is only natural to have illegal migrant reception centers set up." He reminded that two and a half years ago Greece was being criticized by foreign agencies for not having such reception centers.

    [05] Interior minister addresses Greece-Russia Social Forum in St. Petersburg

    Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted the constructive dialogue between Greece and Russia and the need to establish a field of regular communication among representatives of the political, social and economic branches of the two countries, in his greeting on Monday at the opening of the 2nd Greece-Russia Social Forum in St. Petersburg.

    Pavlopoulos stressed that the opportunity provided by the Forum to the state, social and scientific organisations and business communities of the two countries responds to the need for cooperation among them but also comprises an exceptional opportunity for regular communication and discussion of the timely probles of vital interest in the modern-day world, such as the problems of globalisation and its impact, including today's global financial crisis.

    The Greek minister further expressed pleasure over the fact that most of the speakers are renowned scientists, and also because the historical aspects of Russian-Greek relations are also being underlined, regarding the history of the development of their bilateral political, economic, cultural and religious ties. He also noted the parallel courses of the two peoples from antiquity to the present.

    Pavlopoulos stressed also that the Orthodos faith has acted to the benefit of the creative co-existence of the populations and contributed to the conslidation of a solid relationship of mutuality between Greeks and Russians.

    [06] Gov't eyes changes to law on indicting ministers

    The government on Monday requested that Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee be urgently convened to discuss proposals for changing current laws governing the prosecution of ministers. The request was made in a letter sent to Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Justice Minister Nikos Dendias.

    They stressed that the committee could play a very useful role in arriving at an overall proposal for changing the laws on ministerial responsibility, based on ideas put forward by the head of the Coalition of the Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos or the main Parliamentary spokesman for main opposition PASOK Evangelos Venizelos, "always within the boundaries created by the articles of the Constitution and Parliament rules".

    "It is self-evident that we place ourselves immediately at the Committee's disposal, so that we can submit the government's views but also to facilitate its overall work while it is occupied with this subject," the two ministers add.

    In an announcement, Sioufas said that he had forwarded the letter to the chairman of the committee, Apostolos Stavrou, and its members, asking that they convene immediately.

    Replying to questions on this issue and whether it would be raised in Parliament this week, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros pointed out that the prime minister had promised to take all necessary action, both toward the Parliament president and the interior and justice ministries, asking them to examine the possibility of changes in this direction.

    "The provisions of the Constitution are known, as is the fact that we will take all the proposals that have been submitted from time to time into account," he added.


    On his part, high-profile PASOK MP and former minister Evangelos Venizelos merely noted that "better late than never", after first sharply criticising the government for what he called the write-off of several scandals in the previous period.

    [07] Gov't on Roussopoulos' statements; likelihood of new political party

    Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stated that the government respected a decision by ruling New Democracy MP Theodoros Roussopoulos not to run as an ND candidate in the next general elections.

    "The decision, as you know, is respected. All such decisions are respected," he added, in response to reporters' questions.

    Former government spokesman and media minister Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday, June 12 sent a letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, informing the premier that he does not intend to run for re-election on ruling New Democracy's (ND) ticket during the next general elections.

    On the likelihood of the establishment of a new center-right party, Antonaros wondered why this question is being posed to him and added that ND exists as a party since 1974 successfully defending the interests of all Greek citizens.

    Financial News

    [08] Employment minister signs decision on border business funding programme

    Employment and Social Solidarity Minister Fani Palli-Petralia has signed a decision by which the Manpower Employment Organisation's (OAED) programme for backing businesses in border regions will be financed with 10 million euros.

    Another decision taken by the minister anticipates that a project amounting to 6.5 million euros, on funding a special programme for former employees of the "Viomichania Thrakis" company in the Evros prefecture, will be included in the Public Investments Programme. The programme will be implemented by the municipalities in the region.

    [09] IKA-ETAM measure for settling outstanding debts

    The Social Insurance Institute (IKA-ETAM) on Monday announced measures allowing employers to settle outstanding debts with IKA-ETAM, with discounts of up to 80 percent if they come forward to pay or reschedule debts by the end of June.

    Specifically, for those paying outstanding contributions in full there will be an 80 percent discount on the levies and fines added on the original sums for late payment, while those opting for payment with up to 96 monthly installments will have a 50 percent discount on fines and other sums, provided they pay 3 percent of the total capitalised debt in advance. In addition, the amount of the monthly installments cannot be less than 100 euros.

    The discounts only apply for a limited period, after which the normal fines and additional levies will apply, while those wishing to take advantage of the discount must apply to their local IKA-ETAM office by the end of June.

    [10] The market is suffocating, PASOK spokesman says

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Monday, invoking data on an increase in bouncing cheques by 228 percent, compared to May 2008, and the existence of bouncing cheques amounting to 1.3 billion euros during the first five months in 2009, that "the market is suffocating and there is no government response."

    Papaconstantinou also invoked data provided by Eurostat, according to which the greatest retreat in employment in eurozone countries is taking place in Spain, Slovakia and Greece.

    The spokesman also commented on the letter addressed by the prime minister to European counterparts and to the Czech European Union President and to the two paragraphs on illegal immigration contained in the EU summit's draft conclusions plan, saying that "either our European counterparts did not take into consideration what the prime minister said or the Greek government is doing something 'incorrrectly'."

    Papaconstantinou pointed out that "in neither of the two paragraphs are the words Greece and Turkey mentioned, while nothing more is mentioned than that European handling of the issue is required and a greater effort by Frontex."

    Asked what PASOK leader George Papandreou means when he speaks of zero tolerance for illegal immigration and how he will achieve this, Papaconstantinou said "he means a policy that aims at incorporating legal immigrants in Greek society, while on handling illegal immigration he means the guarding of borders, the existence of reception centres, the activation of existing bilateral agreements and the assumption of European initiatives on this issue."

    [11] Greek pharmaceuticals sector robust in 2008, Stat Bank reports

    Greek pharmaceutical firms proved themselves strongly resilient to the global economic crisis in 2008, according to a nationwide survey carried out by Stat Bank and released on Monday.

    The survey was based on the end-of-year reports published by 170 firms reporting the sector's highest sales by June 9, 2009.

    The survey concluded that total sales increased from 8.49 billion euros in 2007 to 9.35 billion euros in 2008, an increase of 10.15 percent. Pre-tax profits for the above companies declined 2.6 percent, from 511.95 million euros in 2007 to 498.68 million euros in 2008.

    Greek pharmaceutical companies have become increasingly outgoing, exporting to more than 60 countries and nearly all countries in the European Union. There are also plans for four new production plans that will create 1,000 new jobs.

    Based on their reported results, the top three pharmaceutical firms in Greece were Pfizer, Sanofi Aventis and Novartis Hellas.

    [12] Fourlis Holdings approves 0.36 euros dividend

    A general shareholders' meeting for Fourlis Holdings SA on Monday approved dividend payments of 0.36 euros per share for 2008, which after the deduction of 10 percent tax payable on dividends will amount to 0.324 euros per share. The dividend is payable to all shareholders that are listed on the Hellenic Exchanges electronic securities system by June 24 and will be distributed by Piraeus Bank.

    [13] Loulis Mills pays no dividend for 2008

    Loulis Mills SA has decided not to pay out any dividends for 2008, during the annual shareholders' meeting on Monday, which also approved the end-of-year report presented by the company's board for the period Jan. 1, 2008 until 31 Dec. 2008.

    [14] Stocks down 0.46%

    Greek stocks opened marginally lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 2,400 level. The index fell 0.46 pct to end at 2,390.45 points, with turnover a moderate 176.1 million euros, of which 1.4 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved lower, with Financial Services (2.24 pct), Raw Materials (2.23 pct) and Utilities (2.22 pct) posting the biggest percentage losses of the day, while Chemicals (3.65 pct), Travel-Recreation (1.67 pct) and Trade (1.65 pct) posting the biggest gains.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.58 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.41 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.37 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 118 to 96 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.78%

    Industrials: -1.92%

    Commercial: +1.65%

    Construction: -1.31%

    Media: unchanged

    Oil & Gas: -0.68%

    Personal & Household: -0.98%

    Raw Materials: -2.23%

    Travel & Leisure: +1.67%

    Technology: +1.08%

    Telecoms: -0.34%

    Banks: -0.62%

    Food & Beverages: +1.09%

    Health: +0.36%

    Utilities: -2.22%

    Chemicals: +3.65%

    Financial Services: -2.24%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and Bank of Cyprus.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 9.25

    ATEbank: 1.70

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.69

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.97

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.62

    National Bank of Greece: 20.49

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.70

    Intralot: 4.85

    OPAP: 20.74

    OTE: 11.84

    Bank of Piraeus: 8.00

    Titan Cement Company: 20.82

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at its fair price in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 103.364 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,635 contracts worth 82.681 million euros, with 26,429 open positions in the market.

    Volume on futures contracts on equities totaled 31,102 contracts worth 20.683 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Bank of Cyprus' contracts (3,873), followed by National Bank (3,095), Piraeus Bank (2,861), Marfin Popular Bank (2,669), Alpha Bank (2,577), Intracom (2,221), Hellenic Telecoms (1,637) and GEK (1,063).

    [16] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.396

    Pound sterling 0.853

    Danish kroner 7.506

    Swedish kroner 10.921

    Japanese yen 137.17

    Swiss franc 1.523

    Norwegian kroner 8.976

    Canadian dollar 1.581

    Australian dollar 1.742

    General News

    [17] Greece ready for novel flu outbreak, experts say

    The National Influenza Pandemic Committee on Monday confirmed the country's readiness to cope with the novel H1N1 influenza after its meeting in the presence of Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    The experts recommended use of pneumonia vaccines for those aged over 65 and other high-risk sections of the population, based on recent evidence that pneumonia was the main complication of the new flu that results in deaths.

    In addition, they recommended ordinary flu vaccines for all high-risk groups from September onward and advised that the same groups should then also be vaccinated against the novel influenza once that vaccine is ready and has been imported into Greece, where it is expected to arrive in two batches.

    The health ministry said that it was examining the recommendations of the Committee, especially those con-cerning vaccination against pneumonia infections.

    Listing the other precautionary measures that have been taken, Avramopoulos stressed that Greece was a safe country and that there is no cause for concern. He said authorities had already decided on a series of measures beginning in September, at the start of the autumn flu season.

    There have been 20 confirmed cases of the novel influenza in Greece so far, though the Greek centre for epidemiological surveillance is considering a redefinition of novel influenza incidents and intends to recommend much stricter criteria for the use of anti-viral medication, to ensure that these are only taken by those that really need them and prevent the development of resistant viral strains.

    Avramopoulos stressed that Greece was adopting measures corresponding to a level 6 pandemic alert, even though there had only been imported cases of H1N1 in the country so far. Referring to the waves of tourists expected to arrive in the country during the summer, he clarified that all possible precautions had been taken and that hotels will be asked to contact their local hospitals and health centres whenever any of their guests developed suspicious symptoms.

    Speaking on behalf of hoteliers, the head of the hotel-owners union Gerassimos Fokas rejected a proposal for creating a special room in each large hotel where anyone with showing early signs of the new influenza could, stressing that hotels were not hospitals. At the same time, hotel owners stressed their willingness to cooperate with the health ministry in order to impede the spread of novel influenza within Greece.

    [18] Man arrested after high-speed chase in Patissia

    A high-speed chase with the exchange of gunfire between a police pursuit and two suspects on a motorbike took place in the Athens district of Patissia at 12:35 on Monday.

    The two men on the motorbike had been flagged down by a police patrol car and asked to stop for an inspection but the driver had instead picked up speed, while his passenger opened fire on the police car without hitting anyone.

    The police car gave chase and the officers returned fire, while at the junction of Halkidos and Olinthou street the motorbike crashed into the patrol car when it tried to block the road. One of the two men on the motorbike was lightly injured by the fall and arrested, while the second managed to escape on foot.

    The man arrested is a Georgian national, who has been taken to Attica police headquarters for questioning, while a search has been launched to locate and arrest the second man that escaped.

    [19] Armed robbers take 20,000-plus in bank heist

    Armed robbers got away with upward of 20,000 euros on Monday after holding up an Emporiki Bank branch in Meliki, in the prefecture of Imathia.

    The robbery took place shortly before noon, when two armed men wearing hoods over their heads entered the bank and fired four or five shots into the air, using a sub-machine gun and some sort of handgun.

    They then grabbed the money in the till and jumped onto a motorbike, shooting twice in the air before they disappeared.

    Police have launched an investigation to find and arrest them.

    [20] Police dismantle ATM credit card scam

    Police from Serres have succeeded in dismantling a gang involved in obtaining credit card data from ATM machines, that had been active in northern Greece for a long time.

    The five Bulgarian nationals in the gang used special devices at ATM machines that copied data from credit cards used by unsuspecting bank clients and then they had corresponding forged credit cards made in Bulgaria. In this way they used to "empty" deposit accounts of both Greeks and of foreigners who had come to the country for holidays.

    Four of the members of the gang were arrested on Sunday in Nea Fokea, in the prefecture of Halkidiki while they were attempting to place a special credit card copying device and the remaining member was then arrested in Blagoevgrad, in Bulgaria, that was the gang members' home town.

    [21] First major wildfires reported

    A total of four wildfires were reported throughout Monday in the greater Athens area and on adjacent Evia island.

    The first blaze, in the hills above the upscale Ano Glyfada district of southern coastal Athens, generated an urgent preliminary inquiry by a prosecutor into the cause of the wildfire, especially on whether arson is the cause.

    The fire was reported at noon on Monday in open land covered with brush and other low-growing vegetation. Ano Glyfada is replete with pricey apartment houses and two-storey villas.

    Another wildfire broke out after 6:30 p.m. at the Vrana site in the Marathon district, where a portion of a pine tree forest was burning, while the other two wildfires were reported in the Marmari district of southern Evia and at Inoi, north of Athens.

    [22] Samos beaches given 'Blue Flags'

    Four beaches on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, all in the greater region of the municipality of Pythagorio, have been awarded the "Blue Flag" distinction this year, the Greek Society for the Protection of Nature announced on Monday.

    The awarding of a Blue Flag is based on compliance with 29 criteria, namely, compliance with the requirements and standards for excellent bathing water quality, and confirmed with regular tests conducted twice a month during the summer season.

    The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded to more than 3,200 beaches and marinas in 37 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Canada and the Caribbean.

    The Blue Flag Programme is owned and operated by the independent non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

    [23] Bicycle course 26.6 kilometres long to be created in Athens

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias publicised a plan on Monday concerning the construction of a bicycle course stretching over a distance of 26.6 kilometres from the northern Athens suburb of Kifisia to coastal Faliro and which will pass through archaeological sites.

    "It is a political option of the government to facilitate the use of bicycles in the Metropolitan Region of Athens as much as possible," Souflias said in a statement.

    [24] Byzantium in Vilnius

    An international meeting entitled "EU and the Cultural Heritage of Byzantium: History and Prospects" will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania from June 19 to 25 under the auspices of Lithuania's Parliament.

    Attending scholars, artists and educators are expected to focus on the Byzantine civilisation's influence in eastern Europe.

    [25] MPs propose transfer of Greek students from L'Aquila

    Six main opposition PASOK MPs tabled an amendment to a tourism development ministry-sponsored draft law allowing Greek students studying at the L'Aquila University in central Italy the ability to transfer to Greek universities without exams.

    The MPs cited what they called the situation in L'Aquila following a recent catastrophic earthquake (April 6, 2009).

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 36C. Fair in Athens, with northeasterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 34C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 33C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [27] Leaders continue discussion on Limnitis and territory issue


    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, continued on Monday in the framework of direct negotiations for a

    Cyprus solution their discussion on the territorial issue as well as on the opening of the crossing point of Limnitis, which will facilitate movement to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

    As UNSG Special Representative in Cyprus, Tayee Brook Zerihoun, told journalists after the 33rd meeting between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the two leaders held a long tete-a-tete meeting for three hours during which they continued discussion on the Limnitis issue and the territorial issue.

    "Today (Monday), they exchanged papers with their replies to each other's initial introductory remarks", Zerihoun said.

    He also said that the two leaders will continue the discussion on these issues next week on Friday 26th and that their representatives will meet sometime this week.

    "They have agreed to meet again a week from this Friday, on the 26th. But in the interim, the representatives -- Mr. (Ozdil) Nami and Mr.(George) Iacovou -- will meet to continue discussions on Limnitis in the UN's presence, and also to discuss the territory issue", Zerihoun told reporters.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in UN-led direct negotiations since September 2008 to reunite the island.

    [28] President Christofias meets with Commissioner Verheugen


    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Gunter Verheugen, have discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, the ongoing direct talks between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the international financial crisis' effects.

    Briefing the journalists regarding the meeting, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said that President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso is planning to visit Cyprus.

    The EU and the European Commission can play an important role in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, Stephanou noted adding that President Christofias is working towards that direction, in the sense the EU to exert pressure on Turkey to change its attitude. Taking into consideration Turkey's EU accession course, "the EU can exert pressure on Ankara to fulfill its obligations towards EU and Cyprus and to cooperate for a solution of the Cyprus problem that will be based on principles and on the UN relevant resolutions", he said.

    Saying that this has been President Christofias' main request to the European Union, Stephanou said that this policy has already yielded results, and mentioned in this context the establishment by Baroso of a group to follow up developments in the Cyprus issue.

    In view of the evaluation of Turkey's accession course to take place next December the government is working intensively to create preconditions that will assist efforts for a solution of the Cyprus problem, Stephanou said.

    Replying to a question regarding Barroso's visit to Cyprus, Stephanou said the government is trying to utilize such kind of visits for highlighting several aspects of the Cyprus problem as well as the role EU can play towards the direction of the solution.

    Asked about the group that Barroso has established to monitor development in the Cyprus issue, Stephanou said that it comprises two Commissioners, Vice President and Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, Margot Wallstrom, and Commissioner for the Enlargement Olli Rehn, and other officials.

    As regards the meeting between Christofias and Verheugen, the spokesman said that it was a friendly meeting. The two men have met again on the sidelines of past European Councils. In Monday's meeting, President Christofias briefed Verheugen on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, and they discussed the issue of international economic crisis, which will be the main issue of the EU Summit to be held in Brussels on 18-19 June.

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since early September last year, aiming at reunifying Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

    [29] Reunification will be beneficial for both communities, says Verheugen


    ‘he reunification of Cyprus will be extremely beneficial for both sides on the island, said here Monday Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Enterprise and Industry Gunter Verheugen, noting that the island can also play an important role as a service provider, which will be very important for the EU.

    In his remarks after a meeting with Commerce, Tourism and Industry Minister Antonis Pashalides, Verheugen said that the two had a very long and constructive meeting during which they discussed the economic situation in the EU and the crisis response so far. He expressed his gratitude to the government of Cyprus and the minister for the firm support he has received for all the projects that his directorate has launched, particularly for the Small and Medium Enterprises, the policy for better regulation and the policy for the competitiveness of the European industries.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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