|Monday, 19 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-07-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 17 July 2009 Issue No: 3247
 Papandreou: Greece can assume major role"Greece can assume a very important role in the Balkans, Europe, Mediterranean and the Middle East," main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed in statements to reporters on Thursday, during a press conference marking the end of the 12th Symi Symposium on the Aegean island of Skiathos, which ended at noon.
The same conclusion was reached by delegates attending the Symposium, the conclusions of which will be formally presented later in the evening by Papandreou, 2001 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics Joseph E. Stiglitz, and Segolene Royal.
Papandreou underlined that Greece can also play an important role in Europe-Russia relations and in relations between Europe and Turkey, with which it can enter into cooperation on energy issues. He also underlined the need for innovative steps in the utilization of Renewable Energy Sources (RES).
A reference was made to Greece's potential with regard "green development" and democracy issues.
Turning to Greece's foreign policy, Papandreou stated that the government was "suffering a strategy crisis as regards the major national issues." He made the comment in reference to relations with Turkey, in light of a recent statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Papandreou pointed out that "Greece is not adequately prepared," expressing opposition to a visit to Turkey by the Greek foreign minister.
He accused the government of dealing with Greek-Turkish relations issues in a "contradictory manner," using as an example the continental shelf issue and the "abandonment" on behalf of the government of its reference to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
He clarified that for the country and for his party, the issue of the Muslim minority in Thrace, northeast Greece, "is an exclusively Greek issue and is not an issue up for discussion with anyone." As regards the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he stressed that "Greece is concerned about its fate but it is not a bilateral issue between Greece and Turkey. It is an obligation on behalf of Turkey toward the European Union."
Referring to the way the country is governed by the ruling party of New Democracy (ND), he underlined that the "crime rate, corruption, lawlessness and whitewash practices are unprecedented."
 President briefed by foreign ministerPresident of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday received Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who briefed him on developments in key foreign policy issues.
Afterwards, Bakoyannis said the meeting was carried out in the framework of regular foreign ministry briefings for the president. She said they had discussed the results of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers' meeting on the Ionian island of Corfu, ongoing negotiations to settle the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and recent violations of Greece's airspace and flight information region by Turkish aircraft above the Aegean, over the islands of Agathonissi and Farmakonissi.
Asked to comment on a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry that disputed Greek territorial rights in the Aegean, the minister stressed that Greece and Turkey were only discussing the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf.
"It is also known that the basis for any discussion is international law and the agreements that have been signed," she added.
"We will never tire of repeating that the most important thing is for Ankara to realise that it has obligations that it must honour," the minister stressed.
 Gov't on EU home affairs ministers' meetingGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday stated that Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will take part in the first informal meeting by EU justice and home affairs ministers in Stockholm, including a discussion on the crucial issue of illegal migration that is on the agenda.
The spokesman pointed out that the discussion reflected the positions of the southern European countries, which were included in the final conclusions of the last EU summit. Antonaros reminded reporters that Italy and Spain, where Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis carried out visits last week, were among this group.
"With the countries of southern Europe and especially Italy, which faces similar problems to our own in terms of the volume of migrants and in terms of their reception, we have almost identical views. It was agreed, also, that Greek and Italy intend to continue to coordinate their policy in the future," he said.
Asked whether Greece intended to emulate Italy's example in terms of its security law, the spokesman placed emphasis on joint European Union initiatives, such as forming a common European coast guard or reinforcing Frontex, while stressing that the problem of illegal immigration was not just a problem for the countries these immigrants were trying to enter but all European countries.
He again stressed Greece's position concerning the need for countries to honour bilateral re-admission agreements.
 Justice minister chairs meeting of prison directorsJustice minister Nikos Dendias chaired a meeting of the directors of the country's prisons at the justice ministry on Thursday, during which Dendias called for strict adherence to the correctional code and especially a new regulation prohibiting the use of cell phones by inmates.
Dendias further instructed the prison directors to fully respect the inmates' rights.
The minister announced that the director of the Agias rural prison in Chania, Crete, Michalis Kyriakakis, and the chief warden of the Alikarmassos prison, Emmanuel Kougioumtzakis, have been placed on suspension following sworn administrative inquiries (EDE).
Dendias on Friday had ordered an EDE on Kougioumtzakis following media reports alleging that he had made arrangements with an inmate at Trikala prison to ensure his transfer to the Alikarnassos prison.
Two days earlier, Dendias had ordered an EDE on Kyriakakis after the the prison governor suddenly resigned from his post and a senior prison policy official reported that Kyriakakis had shown great interest in the transfer of the prisoner Panagiotis Vlastos from Trikala prisons to the Nea Alikarnassos prisons. The transfer was never carried out but Vlastos was later discovered to have masterminded the January kidnapping of shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos from within Trikala prison.
The minister also said that he would put before the Disciplinary Council a recommendation for the dismissal of the two prison officials.
Further, Dendias announced the tabling in parliament of an amendment enabling prison inspectors to use trained dogs to locate narcotic substances inside the prisons, as well as the creation of an Internal Affairs division in the country's jails that would be headed by a correctional employee and would comprise police officers and correctional employees.
 Petralia inaugurates pre-Mediterranean Games periodEmployment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli-Petralia inaugurated the "pre-Mediterranean Games Period" with her visit Thursday to Larissa and Volos in Thessaly, central Greece, the two host-cities of the 2013 Mediterranean Games.
Petralia stated that the construction of the "Mediterranean Villages" and the infrastructure needed for the games will contribute to the further development of Thessaly.
She reminded that she was the Executive Committee President in the Mediterranean Games of 1991 that served as a model for subsequent games adding that the goal set for the games in 2013 is to be even better.
As regards the "Mediterranean Villages", she stated that the goal is to create model facilities that will constitute new generation housing projects for workers after the games are over. Furthermore, she underlined that the construction of the "villages" will boost economic activities and the local market at a difficult economic conjuncture.
Also, the minister met in Larissa with unemployed in the clothing industry sector, following recent shutdowns of local businesses, and assured them that everything possible will be done to have their problems solved, announcing that they will be included in EU-funded ministry of employment paid training programmes.
 SYN leader meets with 'Network for Children's Rights' NGOCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alexis Tsipras met on Thursday with the "Network for Chldren's Rights" non-governmental organisation president and main opposition PASOK former Eurodeputy Myrsini Zorba, after which he said that SYRIZA fully endorses the proposals set out in an open letter sent by the NGO to the political parties and to the President of the Republic and also called on the Greek state to also adopt its contents.
"We consider it of great importance to have initiatives and actions by social organisations that attempt to give a different, sensible orientation to facing the major social issue of migration and the refugees, particularly with respect to the rights of child refugees who come from faraway countries and have the right to life," Tsipras said.
The SYN leader said that a "lasting social and political alliance needs to be created with the wider progressive forces", a "front of logic and social sensitivity against the conservative political word that is prevalent today in the mass media".
Regarding PASOK, which he said has "recently adopted slogans such as 'zero tolerance to illegal migration', which were the prevailing slogans of the Right and ultra-Right'," Tsipras called on the main opposition party to "consider its big responsibility for this transposition of the center of balance of political life towards the Right". He added his belief that there will be an "immediate response" by PASOK members and cadres, "if not from its leadership".
Tsipras further said that SYN will have open contact with the Network and with other NGOs aimed at putting foward solutions and proposals and at raising social awareness.
 EU Commission: Greece slow to incorporate EU directivesBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Greece and Poland are the worst performing of the 27 European Union countries in terms of incorporating EU directives for the internal market into domestic law, according to figures released by the European Commission on Thursday.
By May 11, Greece and Poland had missed deadlines for incorporating 2.1 percent of Community directives into national legislation, with Greece having failed to incorporate 34 directives out of 1,606 and Poland having delayed for 33 directives.
The best performing countries were Denmark with a 'deficit' of 0.2 percent (3 directives) and Bulgaria and Malta with 0.3 percent (5 directives).
The Commission also noted that by May 1, Greece had 88 unresolved cases for violating rules for the EU internal market. The EU countries with the highest number were Italy (110 cases) and Spain (96 cases), while those with the best were Romania (11 cases) and Cyprus (15 cases).
 Parliament committee approves Greek-Albanian agreement for WWII fallenParliament's Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a draft bill that ratifies a Greek-Albanian agreement for the construction of a cemetery for Greek soldiers that fell in battle on the Albanian front during World War II.
Originally signed in Tirana on February 9, the agreement calls for seeking out, exhuming, identifying and religious burial of Greek soldiers that fell during the war in cemeteries constructed in Albania.
 Gov't seeks opening up of closed markets, professionsThe Greek government will soon table a new draft legislation aimed at integrating a European Union directive on deregulation of services into Greek law.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting of the Inter-ministerial Commission on the Economy -chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis-, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said "it was the first step to be followed -after study and dialogue- by changes in closed markets and professions not included in the directive".
The minister said this was a very significant reform which would contribute in reducing prices for consumers, boosting economic competitiveness and growth and supporting employment.
 Development minister: market function a top priorityDevelopment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stressed on Thursday that the smooth functioning of markets was the government's top priority and that he would continue to combat instances of unreasonable and unfair pricing policy. He was speaking in Parliament during a debate on a draft bill for restructuring the Competition Commission.
"The government will not come to terms with extreme phenomena, will continue inspections to tackle unfair pricing policies and name the companies responsible," he stressed, while also listing the measures already taken in this direction and pointing out that they had already brought results in terms of small price reductions in basic goods.
PASOK Parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis strongly criticised the government, however, accusing them of "a nonexistent policy for market function and healthy competition" and claiming that Greece was "a paradise for profiteers and a nightmare for low and middle incomes".
 Transport minister at consultation for Athens public transportTransport Minister Evripidis Stylianidis underlined Thursday the importance of urban transport system reforms aimed at improving people's daily lives and providing faster, easier, reliable, affordable and environmentally-friendly transport services.
Addressing the 2nd Consultation conducted by Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) on public transport in the greater Athens region with the participation of all responsible authorities, Stylianidis reiterated that the ministry focus is on combined transportation means with an emphasis on rail.
Referring to the consultation underway, he stated that it is the final step before the completion of a comprehensive urban transport plan for the Greek capital based on studies launched back in 2006, which is expected to be ready in September.
According to the plan, a study group will be established within the framework of OASA that will monitor the evolution of transport networks, prepare forecasts and present alternative proposals, thus formulating a concrete public transport policy for the greater Athens region.
 Greek prices close to EU average in 2008BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)
Consumer prices in Greece in 2008 were just below the European Union average at 94 percent, based on a study released by Eurostat on Thursday.
The study explored the spread in consumer prices across 37 European countries in 2008, which were then compared with the average 2008 price levels for 'Household Final Consumption Expenditure' in the 27 EU member-states (given a value of 100 percent).
Among the countries included in the report, apart from the 27 EU member-states, were the EU candidate-countries (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Croatia and Turkey), three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and four western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia).
The report noted a wide spread in consumer prices across Europe, which ranged from 53 percent lower that the average in FYROM to 41 percent higher in Denmark.
Broken down by individual sector, prices in Greece were higher than the EU average in clothing (113 percent) and footwear (118 percent), electronic goods (112 percent), telecommunications services (111 percent), furniture (106 percent) and household appliances (106 percent). They were closer to the EU average for foods and non-alcoholic beverages (101 percent) and below the EU average for electricity and heating (73 percent), transport (76 percent), alcoholic beverages and cigarettes (89 percent), cars (93 percent) and hotels (96 percent).
The closest to the EU average in prices was the United Kingdom (99 percent), Spain (96 percent), the Netherlands (103 percent) and Germany (104 percent). Italy and Austria were both at 105 percent of the average while Cyprus was at 90 percent.
The EU countries with the highest consumer prices were Denmark (141 percent), Ireland (127 percent) and Finland (125 percent), while those with the lowest were Bulgaria (51 percent), Romania (62 percent), Lithuania (67 percent) and Poland (69 percent).
On the non-EU countries, prices were lowest in FYROM at 47 percent of the EU average, followed by Albania (53 percent), Bosnia-Herzegovina (56 percent), Serbia (58 percent), Montenegro (62 percent), Turkey (73 percent), Croatia (75 percent), Iceland (117 percent), Switzerland (130 percent) and Norway (139 percent).
 Greek exports to Libya up 94.3 pct in Q1Greek exports to Libya jumped by 94.3 pct in the first quarter of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, official figures from the Greek embassy in Tripoli said on Thursday.
An embassy report said that Greek exports to Libya totaled 14.2 million euros in the January-March period, from 7.3 million in the same period in 20080, while imports totaled 79.3 million euros, down 83.5 pct from the same period in 2008 reflecting lower oil prices.
The trade balance between the two countries showed a deficit of 65 million euros in the three-month period, down 86.2 pct from the corresponding period last year.
 ATE Insurance says premium production up 11.6 pct in H1ATE Insurance on Thursday announced that premium production rose 11.6 pct in the first half of 2009, to 111.3 million euros, from 99.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year.
More analytically, general insurance recorded a 19.2 pct increase in premium production, while in life insurance production was down 3.2 pct, reflecting the maturing of contracts. ATE Insurance said its investment portfolio was beginning to improve and was expected to spectacularly affect the company's net position in the first half of the year.
 Greek stocks end 1.28 pct higherGreek stocks moved higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 2,200 level again. The index rose 1.28 pct to end at 2,213.49 points, with turnover at 189.1 million euros, of which 12.7 million were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Telecoms (5.35 pct), Industrial Products (3.43 pct) and Personal/Home Products (2.67 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Chemicals (0.98 pct), Food/Beverage (0.84 pct) and Insurance (0.67 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.45 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.30 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.95 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 125 to 79 with another 59 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.92%
Personal & Household: +2.67%
Raw Materials: +1.54%
Travel & Leisure: -0.51%
Food & Beverages: -0.84%
Financial Services: +1.83%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.59
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.15
HBC Coca Cola: 14.61
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.20
National Bank of Greece: 18.46
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.18
Bank of Piraeus: .74
Titan Cement Company: 18.40
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market remained at a strong 1.222 billion euros on Thursday, of which 832 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 390 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 580 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds shrank to 155 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.92 pct and the German Bund 3.37 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates ended lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.40 pct, the six-month rate 1.21 pct, the three-month rate 0.96 pct and the one-month rate 0.59 pct.
 ADEX cloing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a reduced discount (-0.38 pct) in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 55.029 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,268 contracts worth 40.671 million euros, with 26,520 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,316 contracts worth 14.358 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (2,317), followed by Eurobank (976), OTE (1,059), OPAP (1,781), GEK (456), National Bank (2,221), Alpha Bank (1,573), Marfin Popular Bank (451) and Bank of Cyprus (812).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.424
Pound sterling 0.865
Danish kroner 7.505
Swedish kroner 11.101
Japanese yen 133.69
Swiss franc 1.527
Norwegian kroner 9.073
Canadian dollar 1.591
Australian dollar 1.772
 Event on children traffickingForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed on Thursday an event on the impact of the world economic crisis on children and child trafficking, jointly organised by her ministry and Unicef.
"Three days ago we presented an awareness campaign on refugee crises, together with the UN's High Commission in Greece. Today, this thorny issue is no less important: it is the trafficking of children," Bakoyannis said, noting "we should not allow the economic crisis to become a crisis of values."
On his part, Unicef's Greek section president Lambros Kanellopoulos said that the international organisation worked jointly with the Greek foreigm ministry, on a local, regional and national levels to increase awareness and sensitise people to the problem.
 ND office, OTE building, targeted by arsonistsTwo unrelated incidents of arson attacks were recorded in Thessaloniki at dawn on Thursday and on Wednesday evening.
Unidentified individuals used a homemade incendiary device in an attempt to torch the ruling New Democracy (ND) party offices in the district of Papafi at 2 am on Thursday. The explosion and subsequent fire caused only minor damage to a glass façade.
In a separate incident earlier on Wednesday night, unidentified individuals had placed an incendiary device made of propane canisters outside the main building of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE S.A.) in the center of the city.
Police bomb disposal experts arrived on the scene following a telephone call warning of the attack and safely removed the device, which did not go off.
 Fire in Aridea, northern Greece, is recedingA 'creeping' fire that broke out late on Wednesday in a remote wooded region in the district of Loutraki, Aridea Municipality, in Pella Prefecture northern Greece, is showing signs of abating after firefighting efforts that continued overnight.
Three fire engines, 6 firemen, and two water-bombing aircraft participated in the daylight efforts on Wednesday and Thursday to extinguish the fire that threatened no residential areas.
 Drugs haul in EvrosThe Kipoi customs post at Evros, in the extreme northeast of Greece, on Thursday reported yet another major drug haul, the fourth this month. An announcement said that two people travelling on a bus from Istanbul to Thessaloniki and Athens had been arrested on drugs charges and 14 kilos of heroin confiscated.
The drugs were located by the sniffer-dog Gina, hidden in the luggage of two young men, one from Bulgaria and the other from Romania.
The 20-year-old Bulgarian was hiding 6.9 kilos of heroin in his suitcase, while the 24-year-old Romanian was carrying 7.1 kilos of heroin in his luggage. The drugs were hidden in false bottoms and linings of the suitcases, surrounding by pepper and cinnamon in an attempt to throw the dogs off the scent.
On the Turkish side of the border, meanwhile, Turkish customs officials reported the arrest at dawn on Thursday of a 25-year-old Estonian man carrying four kilos of heroin, who was also travelling on the same bus line.
 Police arrest two for a series of robberies in AtticaAuthorities on Thursday announced the arrest of two men aged 33 and 30 years old, respectively, on charges of purse snatching and armed robbery.
They were arrested by police in Pefki, Attica Prefecture, on Tuesday night and following a police investigation it was established that they had formed a criminal gang a year ago to commit armed robberies.
They are accused of 8 robberies in supermarkets, in four of which they had opened fire, injuring a client and a supermarket manager in two separate incidents. They are also facing charges for holding up a gas station and snatching the bags of 18 women.
Police found in their possession two motorcycles used in their illegal activities and air gun.
 Sunny on FridaySunny weather is forecast throughout Greece on Friday, with possible showers later in the day. Winds from mainly northerly directions, light to moderate, up to 7 Beaufort in the Aegean. Temperatures will range between 18C and 37C. Sunny and hot in Athens, with temperatures between 22C and 37C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 21C and 35C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe new measures for protection from the new fllu pandemic announced on Wednesday, including the innoculation of high-risk population groups, planned measures against terrorism, and the economy were the main front-page items in Thursday's dailies.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "ESY (National Health Systemt) collapsing due to debts? Debt was 5.22 billion euros at end-2008, and is anticipated to increase by an additional 2 billion euros in 2009".
APOGEVMATINI: "Federation of Home Owners' clarifications on Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry regulations".
AVGHI: "Bounced checks exceeded 1.8 billion euros in first-half 2009, while post-dated checks circulating on the market are estimated at 380 billion euros".
AVRIANI: "Financial Crimes Squad raid on all technical firms relying solely on public sector and municipal public works projects".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "European Commission abolishing visa requirement for FYROM citizens for travel to the EU member countries, thus enabling them to travel with 'Republic of Macedonia' passports".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Civil war in EYP (National Information Service) in political power play".
ESTIA: "Now is the opportunity for the government to dare to go ahead with a taxation revolution".
ETHNOS: "The market drying up of cash" despite immense discounts in the summer sales that commenced on Wednesday.
KATHIMERINI: "The cash flow problem on the market becoming more intense - Dizzying increase in bounced checks".
LOGOS: "Vaccination of vulnerable groups in September - New package of measures (against the new flu A/H1N1 virus)" announced by health minister Avramopoulos.
NIKI: "Internal civil wars breaking New Democracy".
RIZOSPASTIS: "The popular movement and shielding of the political system is the target - Exclusive funding of the political parties by the state".
TA NEA: "Government setting up police state".
TO VIMA: "The government has gone on holiday - The prime minister in Italy (for talks with his Italian counterpart), and the ministers take to the beaches".
VRADYNI: "Subsidies of up to 60 percent for SMEs, 3 new programs announced by development minister Hatzidakis".
 Spokesman: Solution possible if Turkey changes its stanceNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has said that a solution to the Cyprus problem is feasible by the end of the year, provided that Turkey, which occupies one third of Cyrpus' territory, changes its stance.
Invited Thursday to comment on statements made by the spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry that a solution is possible by the end of 2009, Stephanou pointed out that an agreement is possible by December, adding: "but many things must change in order to achieve that".
"The first thing that needs to change is Turkey's stance", he said, noting that if Turkey adopts a constructive stance, progress and convergence could be achieved which could create a momentum to reach a solution.
Invited to comment on press information that Britain has asked the UN Secretary General to invite the leaders of the two Cypriot communities in September to New York, Stephanou clarified that Cypriot President Demetris Christofias has not been invited to participate in such a meeting.
He said that in September, President Christofias would attend and address the UN General Assembly as head of state, just like every year.
The spokesman was also invited to comment on information that EU and UN officials speak of an ''international timeframe'' expiring in December regarding prospects to solve the Cyprus problem.
President Christofias expressed Wednesday ''anger and regret'' at any suggestion that EU leading personalities or UN officials might be talking about timeframes.
Clarifying that the agreement reached regarding the Cyprus process does not include any strict timeframes or arbitration, Stephanou said that the solution of the Cyprus problem would be a product of an agreement between the two communities, "meaning it would be a mutually acceptable solution which will be put to separate and simultaneous referenda".
Stephanou said that any statements which suggest that December is a timeframe for the solution of the Cyprus problem, or imply strict timeframes or question the agreed procedure of the Cyprus talks, create a bad climate, a reaction and even anger.
"It is for this reason that yesterday (Wednesday), President Christofias clarified once again that we have an agreed procedure which everyone must respect", he concluded.
President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in UN-led talks since September 2008, with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
 British MPs express full support to Greek Cypriot stance in Cyprus talksLONDON (CNA/ANA-MPA)
British MPs, who participated in a meeting in London on the Cyprus problem, expressed their full support to the stance of the Greek Cypriot side in talks for a Cyprus settlement.
They also deplored Turkey's stance, noting that the key to a solution lies with Ankara and that Britain and the US can and must help towards achieving a settlement.
Opening the discussion in a parliament hall, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom Peter Droussiotis, who presided over the meeting, said ''Turkey has created an illegal regime and is trying to change the demography of the occupied areas and destroy its cultural heritage.''
''This by a country knocking at the door of Europe. A Europeanised Turkey which fulfils a positive role, a democratic Turkey, is a strategic imperative even more so for a small island like Cyprus whose existence and survival depends not on military might but on international law. Turkey has a unique opportunity with the direct negotiations to demonstrate that it can change. The UK, a close ally of Turkey, with historic responsibilities to Cyprus, must exert real pressure on the Turkish government to support in deeds the true unity of the island,'' he added.
Labour MP Eddie O'Hara paid tribute to President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias for his integrity, consistency and indefatigability in conducting the talks, adding that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has not a free hand, Ankara has it, and Turkey cannot be allowed to enter the EU without the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Conservative MP Roger Gale said he has a huge admiration for President Christofias for his tenacity and determination in the talks but Talat cannot deliver, since ''the solution lies with Turkey and beyond, I believe it lies with the USA.''
Labour MP Rudi Vis said that the EU should stop entry negotiations with Turkey until it solves the Cyprus problem and its internal problems.
Conservative MP Nigel Waterson said that he is pleased with the small progress made at the talks although he realises that Turkey is a limiting factor.
Labour MP Joan Ryan, who served as Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Cyprus, praised President Christofias for insisting on the talks because it is the only way for reaching a solution, noting that whenever a British Minister meets a Turkish counterpart the Cyprus issue is on the agenda.
She expressed certainty that the new Minister for Europe Glynis Kinnock will show strong support for Cyprus as the previous Ministers did.
Labour MP David Lepper said that Turkey thinks the world will forget about Cyprus by showing signs of modernising and by presenting itself as a player on the international stage, noting that persistence and dedication will make sure this will not happen.
Conservative MP and Shadow Secretary for Transport Theresa Villiers said that the international community and the British governments have failed Cyprus, adding that the issue will continue to be a priority for her and that she supports President Christofias' stand on the talks.
Labour MP Andrew Love said he is a 100% supporter of President Christofias and his government, noting that every effort should be made in exercising all possible influence on Turkey and that the window of opportunity that exists now may not be there forever.
Conservative MP and Shadow Minister for Justice David Barrowes said that the National Federation should try and lobby all candidates for the next general election.
Ex Labour MP Tom Cox said that both Labour governments have failed Cyprus, which deserves better.
The gathering was also attended by Labour MPs Jimmy Wright and Jimmy Sheridan, who did not take the floor, as well as Cyprus' General Consul Evangelos Savva.
Before the gathering, an event was held outside the parliament for the missing persons, with the distribution of leaflets and a live presentation.
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