|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 27 June 2009 Issue No: 3230
 Premier Karamanlis briefed by FM Bakoyannis, transport minister StyliandisPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday and was briefed on the G-8 meeting in Trieste and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) two-day ministerial summit that opens in Corfu on Saturday, as well as the NATO-Russia ministerial summit that will also take place on Corfu over the weekend.
The premier also met later with transport minister Evrypides Stylianidis, who briefed Karamanlis on the initiatives being taken by his ministry.
Bakoyannis told reporters after her meeting with the premier that the Summit is aimed at creating a different climate and relation between the West and Russia.
"The OSCE and the NATO-Russia Council will work on this prospect," Bakoyannis said, adding out that the European foreign ministers will also meet to discuss the issue of Iran.
Stylianidis said, after his own meeting with the premier, that his ministry has initiated a significant reform of the Hellenic Rail Organisation (OSE), and was determined to complete it in order to create the conditions for a modern Greek rail system and a social, ecological railway.
He explained that, through the OSE streamlining program, all the required measures would be taken and all the new possibilities would be utilised in order that the result of the faulty or insufficient management of the previous decades would not impact either the railway itself and its employees, or the society and the Greek economy.
"We are confident and determined that, as in the case of Olympic Airways (OA), we will be able to achieve in the case of OSE the best possible results," Stylianidis added.
 Corfu OSCE ministerial meetingTwo high-level meetings will be held on the Ionian island of Corfu on Saturday and Sunday with the participation of more than 50 foreign ministers, focusing on European security and the consolidation of trust between the east and the west.
The NATO-Russia Council (NRC) will convene on Saturday for the first time after the conflict in Georgia, while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) informal ministerial meeting will take place on Sunday with the participation of all 56 member-states, and chaired by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The Greek foreign minister will hold successive bilateral meetings with outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, US deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The bilateral agreements scheduled to be signed between the US and Greece are expected to clear the way for Greece's participation in the US visa waiver program and to establish closer cooperation in combating terrorism and organised crime.
As regards the major issue of European security, the Greek side seeks the launch of a new dialogue within the framework of which will be defined in the OSCE ministerial meeting in December that will mark the end of the Greek OSCE Chairmanship.
 Papandreou meets Albanian Socialist Party leaderTIRANA (ANA-MPA/G. Milionis)
Main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou was welcomed at Tirana airport on Friday by Albanian Socialist Party President and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, stressing that "we want free and fair elections to be held."
Papandreou and Rama addressed a rally of the Albanian Socialist Party, in view of Sunday's general elections in the country, while Rama referred to PASOK's victory in the Euroelections and noted that Papandreou "made changes in PASOK and gained the trust of young people," underlining the need for change and a new concept of governance.
On his part, Papandreou wished Rama and the Albanian Socialist Party a "great victory" in Sunday's elections, adding that "with socialist governments in Greece and Albania we shall proceed with a solution, among other things, to the problems of the Albanians in Greece as well and of the Greek minority in Albania."
The PASOK leader reiterated his position of "no to illegal immigration" and spoke of "organised immigration" and "the defence of the rights of immigrants in work, with equal salaries for the same work, social security and pensions," with the latter being arranged in a bilateral framework.
Papandreou also said that "as a government, PASOK will assist the incorporation of immigrants in Greece" and that "all Albanians desiring to invest in Albania will be assisted as well."
He reiterated his positions regarding "the immediate provision of Greek citizenship for all the children of immigrants being born in Greece" and the provision of Greek citizenship for children graduating from secondary education in Greece and continuing to remain in the country for three consecutive years.
Papandreou then met with Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios, with whom he held private talks, and expressed his appreciation for the Archbishop's work and his continuous efforts for the Orthodox Church in Albania.
The PASOK leader concluded his visit to the Albanian capital with a meeting with Union for Human Rights Party (PBDNJ) President Vangjel Dule, who reassured him that "everything will be okay (in the elections) unless 'incidents' take place."
On Saturday, Papandreou will be in Belgrade, where he is invited to attend a working luncheon hosted by Serbian President Boris Tadic, to be followed by a meeting with Socialist Party of Serbia President and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.
On Sunday, Papandreou will be in Montenegro to chair a Socialist International (SI) meeting focusing on the international economic crisis, climate change, illegal migration and regional crises.
 Papoulias continues Syria visitPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias visited the Syrian city of Aleppo on Friday, thus wrapping up his three-day formal visit to the Mideast country before departing for Athens on Saturday morning.
Speaking to the public television while exiting the Christian Orthodox church of Prophet Elijah, where he was received by Metropolitan Bishop Pavlos, he underlined that bilateral relations between Greece and Syria are an example of cooperation, friendship and solidarity.
"Greece is Syria's window to the European Union," Papoulias stated, and referring to the presence of Hellenism in the country, stressed that they constitute a proof of historical continuity by the two nations. He also said he invited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to visit Greece.
On Greece's role to the progress and the solution of the Middle East problem, Papoulias stated that "we have always appreciated its contribution to the efforts aimed at finding a permanent and fair solution to the Middle East issue."
He added that Israel should realise that the creation of a Palestinian state will serve its own interests, underlining, at the same time, we never discounted Israel's right to live peacefully and in cooperation with its Arab neighbors.
"The first step Israel can make is to withdraw from the Golan Heights as a goodwill gesture, thus contributing to a comprehensive peace," he added.
Papoulias will visit the St. Simeon Monastery outside Aleppo and the Bimaristan Hospital, which dates back to the 13th century.
 Gov't: Claims by Christoforakos' lawyers' ludicrous'Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, responding to a question on the apparent legal strategy former Siemens Hellas CEO Michalis Christoforakos' attorneys as well as claims that his life will be at risk if he is extradited to Greece, dubbed the allegations as "ludicrous".
"The Greek government has taken all necessary actions to shed light on this case," Antonaros stressed.
"The Greek justice system and the state have done and continue to do everything legally necessary to have the case investigated in depth," he stated.
 PASOK leader issues statement on International Day Against DrugsMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou issued a statement on the occasion of International Day Against Drugs on Friday, stressing that every day all -the state, parents and active citizens- must pay attention to the problem of drugs.
"In our country, the policy implemented from the early '80s produced considerable results. With priority on prevention, Prevention Centres operated which sensitised all the local societies. Programmes were created with respect for the right to a cure and the rehabilitation of addicted persons," he said, among other things.
"PASOK, for the handling of this major social problem, has submitted specific proposals that respect man and his rights, that are based on science and are being implemented with the participation of the society of citizens. Because in the face of repression and marginalisation, we select humanity, sensitivity and social responsibility," Papandreou also said.
 PASOK delegation visits the Thessaloniki CourthouseMain opposition PASOK MPs responsible for justice issues visited the Thessaloniki Courthouse on Friday and met with members of the judiciary, court employees and members of the Thessaloniki Bar Association.
In a press conference they gave afterwards they underlined that the problems they identified mainly concerned shortcomings in building infrastructure, personnel and computer technology.
 Papariga visits drug rehab clinicCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday accused the government of abandoning the special drug rehabilitation centres while planning to allow private physicians to issue prescriptions for narcotics substitutes. Papariga made the comment during her visit to a drug abuse prevention centre in central Athens.
 Outgoing NATO supreme commander Europe tours Acropolis MuseumThe NATO alliance's outgoing supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR), US Army Gen. John Craddock, on Friday was the latest international dignitary to visit the New Acropolis Museum of Athens.
Gen. Craddock is touring NATO member-states ahead of the completion of his term as SACEUR head.
He was later decorated at the defence ministry by Greek Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.
 Ecumenical Patriarch receives U.S. officialISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received here Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department with whom he held prolonged talks, the Phanar announced on Friday.
Slaughter is currently visiting Turkey in the framework of dialogue with her counterparts, while issues touched during her contacts were issues of regional security, the Middle East problem and the situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.
 Hellenic Petroleum buys BP's petrol station network for 359 mln eurosHellenic Petroleum on Friday announced the acquisition of BP's retail fuel station network in Greece for 359 million euros, including a debt totaling 40 million euros.
Under the agreement, Hellenic Petroleum will acquire BP's 1,200 petrol stations, storage facilities and the commercial and industrial customers' sector. The deal excludes aviation fuel, lubricants and solar power activities which remain under the ownership of BP. Hellenic Petroleum said around 240 BP's workers would continue working while the remaining staff will continue working in BP's activities in Greece.
Commenting on deal, E. Christodoulou, Hellenic Petroleum's chairman, said the agreement strengthened the group's position in the retail petrol market in Greece and would lead to significant synergies.
 Five Greek banks announce participation in Romania's ?Prima Casa? programmeBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/I.Radus)
Five Greek banks-- Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, EFG Eurobank (Bancpost), ATEbank, Emporiki Bank and National Bank of Greece (Banca Romaneasca) -- announced their participation in the "Prima Casa" programme promoted by the Romanian government, the Romanian ministry of finance announced.
The programme is aimed at helping young people purchase their first residence through low-interest housing loans and also aiding the construction sector to overcome the consequences of the economic crisis.
A total of 20 banks are participating in the "Prime Casa" programme effective June 30.
 Trade transactions between Greece and Croatia down in 2009Trade transactions between Greece and Croatia fell markedly in the first months of 2009, according to a report by Greece's Foreign Exchange ministry.
Greek exports to Croatia fell 34.30 pct in the first four months of the year, to 23.52 million US dollars, from 35.80 million in 2008, while Croatian exports to Greece dropped 43.7 pct to 6.43 million US dollars.
Greek exports to the Balkan country jumped 253.67 pct in 2008, compared with 2008, reflecting increased exports of oil products and ships. Croatia's imports fell 36.7 pct in first four months of 2009, while the bilateral trade left Greece with a trade surplus of 17.1 million US dollars.
Main Greek exports to Crotia include oil products, asphalt materials, oranges, copper pipes, packaged cosmetic goods, pharmaceuticals, foodstuff, virgin olive oil, T-shirts, olives, carton boxes, tomato cans and steel/iron products.
 National Bank says business plan outdatedNational Bank on Friday said its business plan for the three-year period 2007-2009 was no longer valid because of adverse global economic conditions and a continuing instability of markets.
In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, National Bank said provisions included in its business plan were outdated. The bank has announced a share capital increase scheme and will announce its six-month results in August.
 Names can be entered in Internet .eu domain in Greek languageThe European Commission amended rules regarding the .eu domain on Friday to enable Internet users to record names of the .eu domain with the use of various alphabets, such as the Greek and Cyrillic ones.
Until now, recorded domain names in the high level .eu domain could only contain the letters from "a" to "z", the figures "0" to "9" and "-". The citizens and businesses of the European Union will now be able to record domain names in non-Latin writing, which is of great significance for such languages as Greek and Bulgarian.
The new rules are expected to further improve the attractiveness of Europe's high level domain names. In order to record an .eu domain name, the users of the Global Web must be established in one of the EU's member-states.
 Elmec Sport extends maturity of existing short-term debtElmec Sport on Friday announced the completion of an agreement with EFG Eurobank Ergasias to integrate a 9.0-million-euro short-term credit facility line to an existing bond loan, worth 4.5 million euros and maturing in October 2015.
The integration of the two credit lines will result to a new bond loan, worth 13.5 million euros, maturing October 2015 with a grace period until October 2011. The agreement, without any additional guarantees to the bank, transforms Elmec Sport's short-term debt worth 9.0 million euros to long-term debt.
 AB Vasilopoulos expands branch networkAB Vasilopoulos on Friday announced the opening of four new units to its branch network in the second quarter of 2009. The company opened its first retail unit in Crete, a new supermarket unit in Menidi, Athens, a new AB Shop & Go unit on Andros island as well as an AB City unit on Lefkada island.
 Stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended moderately lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday. The composite index of the market eased 0.66 pct to end at 2,162.65 points, with turnover an improved 181.5 million euros, of which 5.3 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved downwards, with the Travel (6.30 pct), Health (2.97 pct) and Telecommunications (1.76 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Personal/Home Products (3.14 pct), Oil (2.78 pct) and Chemicals (2.07 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index eased 0.85 pct, the FTSE 40 index rose 0.76 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.41 pct higher. Broadly, advancers slightly led decliners by 114 to 112 with another 42 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.78%
Personal & Household: +3.14%
Raw Materials: +0.55%
Travel & Leisure: -6.30%
Food & Beverages: +0.15%
Financial Services: +1.32%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 7.25
Public Power Corp (PPC): 14.60
HBC Coca Cola: 13.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.28
National Bank of Greece: 18.50
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 6.75
Bank of Piraeus: 6.69
Titan Cement Company: 19.50
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.09 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 52.041 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,489 contracts worth 40.495 million euros, with 23,719 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,296 contracts worth 11.546 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2,392), followed by OTE (1,016), OPAP (1,003), Alpha Bank (1,353), Marfin Popular Bank (787), Cyprus Bank (1,24) and Piraeus Bank (571).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 870 million euros on Friday, of which 630 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 240 million were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 357 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 178 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.21 pct and the German Bund 3.43 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.51 pct, the six-month rate 1.33 pct, the three-month rate 1.12 pct and the one-month rate 0.78 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.420
Pound sterling 0.861
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 11.047
Japanese yen 135.58
Swiss franc 1.539
Norwegian kroner 9.112
Canadian dollar 1.629
Australian dollar 1.759
 Oldest human settlement in Aegean unearthed on Limnos islandThe ruins of the oldest human settlement in the Aegean found so far have been unearthed in archaeological excavations by a team of Greek, Italian and American archaeologists on the island of Limnos, headed by Thessaloniki Aristotle University (AUTH) professor of Prehistoric Archaeology Nikos Efstratiou.
The excavation began in early June and the finds brought to light so far, mainly stone tools of a high quality, are from the Epipaleolithic Period approximately 14,000 years ago. The finds indicate a settlement of hunters, food-collectors and fishermen of the 12th millennium BC.
Until now, it was believed that the oldest human presence in the Aegean had been located in the Archipelagos of the so-called Cyclops Cave on the rocky islet Yioura, north of the island of Alonissos, and at the Maroula site on Kythnos island, dating to circa 8,000 (8th millennium) BC.
The excavations are being conducted at the Ouriakos site on the Louri coast of Fyssini in Moudros municipality on Limnos, with the assistance of the municipality and funding by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP).
Linmos is considered to be a region with signficant prehistoric archaeological finds, such as the Poliochne settlement that was inhabited from the middle of the 5th millennium BC to the end of the 2nd millennium BC, and the Koukonesi islet settlement dating approximately to the same chronological period, from the Early to the Late Bronze Ages.
 Education minister addresses university deans 61st ConferenceEducation and Religious Affairs Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos addressed the 61st Conference of University Deans in Ioannina, northern Greece, on Friday and presented two proposals.
The first concerns the founding of a university criminal sciences and counter-criminal policy department, while the second regards the preparation of a study and pilot implementation of an electronic management system for the distribution of university books to all universities in the country.
Spiliotopoulos said that these proposals are being made while taking into consideration the situation shaped in the country and "the need to handle effectively, realistically and in the longterm, and not only through suppression but through prevention as well, social and institutional problems and the causes contributing to the development of crime and lawlessness into a crucial issue of social relations and social peace in Greece, is understandable."
 Minister receives Patriarch of AlexandriaTourism Development Minister Costas Markopoulos on Friday received the visiting Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II, followed by a meeting with Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chryssostomos.
According to reports, religious pilgrimages to the North African nation, which hosts significant Greek Orthodox sites, was discussed. A conference under the ministry's auspices, focusing on religious tourism, is set for Zakynthos in November 2009
 Fulbright Foundation in Greece presents 61st annual awardsU.S. Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard hosted the 61st annual awards ceremony for Greek and American students, professors and artists supported by the Fulbright Foundation on Tuesday, June 23, along with the Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, Ms. Artemis Zenetou, according to a U.S. Embassy press release.
Some 250 guests attended the event at the Ambassador's residence, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyiannis. A congratulatory message from Minister of Culture Antonis Samaras was also read during the event, in the presence of Mr. Ioannis Kofinis, President of the Greek National Tourism Organization, and a representative of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, the press release added.
 Kidnapped companion of shipowner released after ransom paidThe 73-year-old companion of a Greek shipowner, who had been abducted Friday morning near the couple's home in Paleo Faliro, was released late Thursday night after the shipowner paid a ransom to the abductors.
According to police, two unidentified men immobilised the woman's car, moved the woman and her driver into another car and sped off. The abductors later released the driver, while the telephoned the shipowner and demanded a ransom of five million euros in order to release the woman.
The ranson was negotiated to a much smaller sum, the amount of which was not made public, which the shipowner dropped off in the early hours of Thursday at a remote spot at the Schistos area of Korydallos, hear Piraeus, as per the instructions of the kidnappers.
The abductors picked up the ransom money and released the woman.
Security police were investigating the incident to locate and arrest the abductors.
 Cocaine arrest in ThessalonikiA Bulgarian national, who had swallowed 42 pellets of cocaine, weighing a total of roughly 400 grams, was arrested at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport following a tip-off.
Each of the pellets weighed 10.4 grams and was covered with wax to prevent it from being dissolved in his stomach.
The "drug mule" was traveling with a fellow Bulgarian and had picked up the drugs from Argentina, allegedly having Bulgaria as their final destination after stopovers in Italy and Greece, police said.
 Seats, tables removed in Gazi districtMuncipal employees on Thursday evening removed outdoor table and seating arrangements from the inner-city Gazi district, an emerging Soho-like neighbourhood in central Athens, following orders of Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.
The operation was part of the municipal government's strategy to free up public spaces and allow citizens unimpeded access to the city's roads, street pavements and squares, municipal officials said.
 Cloudy, rainy on SaturdayCloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northwesterly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 33C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceNew taxes announced by Economy Minister Yannis Papathanassiou, and the arrest of SIEMENS Hellas former CEO Michalis Christoforakos, a fugitive from justice, in Germany , dominated the headlines on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Number One man wanted in Siemens case was arrested in Germany- Will he be extradited to Greece?"
APOGEVMATINI: "It kills cancer - The new medicine OLAPARIB gives new hope to people suffering from cancer".
AVGHI: "Tax ....robbery - Government launches a tax 'storm'."
AVRIANI: "Who fear Christoforakos' return to Greece and why Siemens slush funds manager states that his life will be in danger if he returns to Greece - If he talks the whole political system will collapse".
ELEFTHEROS: "Tax bite for all incomes - Who are mostly affected by the new tax measures".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Black hole in our pocket - First additional tax package announced: Do not speak, do not move , the Tax Bureau is watching you".
ESTIA: "The new taxes are absurd - The economy is heading to suffocation".
ETHNOS: "Taxes on houses, cars and mobile phones - Savage raid against everyone for the collection of 1.9 billion euros in 2009".
KATHIMERINI: "Christoforakos' German lawyer states: A dozen Greek politicians do not want Christoforakos' testimony-confession".
LOGOS: "Merciless tax storm - Pleasure boats, luxury cars, gas and mobile phones targeted".
NIKI: "Tsunami of indirect taxes and government's tricks against pleasure boat owners".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The battle against drugs is closely connected with the restructure of the working class movement".
TA NEA: "FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's new dogma: Whatever moves will pay taxes".
TO VIMA: "Government announced on Thursday a 2.3 billion euros tax package".
VRADYNI: "Christoforakos in the hands of the German police - Who lost their peace after his arrest".
 The leaders agree to open Limnitis crossing pointNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President og the Republic Demetris Christofias, and T/c leader Mehmet Ali Talat, have reached an agreement for the opening of Limnitis crossing point and the access to and from Kokkina.
The decision was taken during Friday's 34th meeting between the two leaders, in the framework of the direct negotiation process aiming at finding a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.
In statements after the meeting and at the presence of the two leaders, UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus, Tayee Brook Zerihoun said that he had the pleasant duty to read the agreement reached on the opening of Limnitis and access to and from Kokkina.
"One, the two leaders decided to proceed with the opening of Limnitis crossing point under normal rules of existing crossings. Two, in the context of this agreement, the role of UNFICYP is underscored.
"Three, crossing of persons wishing to visit Kokkina will take place with the escort of UNFICYP. The visits will be made by minibuses on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The T/c side may request UNFICYP escort for one or two extra minibuses a week.
"Four, there will be transfer of reasonable quantities of food and water and other supplies of non-military nature with UNFICYP escort to Kokkina.
"Five, Kokkina will be connected to the nearest electricity grid before the opening of the crossing point.
"Six, humanitarian issues: Ambulances will be able to visit Kokkina to move sick persons. The rules governing the crossing of ambulances will apply. Reciprocally, G/c ambulances will cross in the opposite direction to hospitals in Nicosia. In case of fire, T/c fire engines and accompanying water tanks will be able to call at Kokkina.
"Seven, there will be reciprocal arrangements from time to time for specific events through this and other crossing points", Zerihoun concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
Ever since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Greek Cypriot residents in the area of Limnitis, located at the northeastern coast of Cyprus, have to travel to Paphos, on the western coast, and Limassol, on the south, in order to reach the capital Nicosia. Opening a crossing point at Limnitis would make this journey far shorter. In the recent past, several crossing points to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas have opened to facilitate the movement of people.
President Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008, with an aim to reunite the island.
President Christofias says it will take time to open Limnitis crossing point
President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias pointed out on Friday that some time would be needed to open the crossing point in Limnitis, since certain arrangements were necessary.
Speaking on his return to the Presidential Palace after his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the context of direct negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said their agreement to open the crossing point was announced after their meeting, and did not wish to go into further details.
Replying to questions, President Christofias said that ''for Limnitis to open there must be a checkpoint on either side and thus some time will be needed.''
Asked if the Turkish demand to transport fuel to Kokkina has been withdrawn, President Christofias said the problem has been solved with the provision of electricity.
To other questions, he said the crossing point would be open on a daily basis.
Commission President welcomes agreement on Limnitis
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has welcomed the agreement reached on Friday between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to open a crossing point in Limnitis.
''This is very good news and an excellent response to the call I made yesterday (Thursday) to both leaders to agree on confidence building measures and move forward in the negotiations to reunify the country,'' Barroso said.
He added that ''this agreement shows that where there is a will there is a way'' and that ''it is a promising step in the overall settlement process, which will soon enter its decisive phase.''
''The Commission fully supports the efforts of the two leaders, under the aegis of the United Nations, to reach a comprehensive settlement and to reunify the island. Indeed I believe that there is a unique chance this year to bring an end to this long-running conflict on European soil and this chance must be taken,'' he said.
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the agreement as a ''further important confidence building measure that will benefit the two communities'' in Cyprus.
''This will also make the daily life of many Cypriots easier and will help to build trust between the two communities. The Commission stands ready to financially contribute to the works,'' he added.
President of the European Parliament Hans Gert Poettering has also welcomed the agreement saying: ''I welcome this further step of the two communities in Cyprus and the efforts of the two leaders, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat,'' he said.
He added that ''it shows that the two negotiators are making a serious effort and they deserve every support from the international community and in particular from the European Commission, including the visit to Cyprus yesterday (Thursday) of President Jose Manuel Barroso, and the European Parliament.''
''I hope that it will lead to many other steps that will improve the daily life of the citizens of both communities and that it will finally lead to a comprehensive overall settlement making Cyprus an undivided member state,'' he said.
Furthermore, Poettering called on President Christofias and Talat to continue their efforts towards settling all outstanding questions.
 Enlargement Commissioner says Turkey must proceed with reformsBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA)
European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn pointed out on Friday that Turkey should proceed with its reforms so that new chapters could open in its EU accession negotiations.
Speaking after a meeting with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Davudoglu in Brussels, Rehn said the EU supports progress in Turkey's accession negotiations on the basis of the rules agreed on unanimously by the EU member states in October 2005, adding that more steps need to be taken in this direction within 2009.
He said Ankara should proceed with the implementation of political reforms, which constitute the steam engine of Turkey's accession course, especially regarding fundamental freedoms and the modernisation of the country.
Rehn noted that over the next few months and by the end of the year the Commission expects Turkey to make progress in meeting certain preconditions concerning the opening of new chapters, so that negotiations could begin on some of them, possibly regarding the chapter on social policy, competition or the environment.
Replying to questions, Rehn said ten chapters have opened so far and that next week the chapter on taxation would be opening, leaving 24.
Regarding the freezing of chapters due to the issue with Cyprus, Rehn said that if everyone did their job and reforms were made in Turkey, then these chapters would be unblocked.
Asked if there had been any discussion on possible dates for Turkey's accession to the EU, Rehn said it was EU policy not to give out specific dates until the final stage of the accession process.
Davudoglu said the EU has become the main strategic aim of Turkey's foreign policy, adding that efforts were being made towards implementing reforms.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, Davudoglu said Turkey supports direct negotiations for a settlement, noting that this strategic aim would benefit peace in the wider region and would be a positive development in all aspects.
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