|Friday, 20 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-09-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 10 September 2009 Issue No: 3293
 PM Karamanlis addresses rally in EgaleoPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing an audience of young people in an indoor stadium in the Athens district of Egaleo on Wednesday evening, reiterated the dilemmas raised in the upcoming elections between "responsibility and bold decisions" and the "irresponsibility and the wellwishing of PASOK."
Karamanlis said that he took the decision for early elections with the criterion of the national interest, adding that he chose to start the election campaign by meeting young men and women first and called on them not to abstain from the October 4 elections.
The prime minister further said that he himself described the difficult situation to the citizens, far from beautifications and illusions, stressing that difficult years lie ahead and noted that for this reason he announced specific and difficult measures in Thessaloniki.
"Our policy is necessary. It is not pleasant. In difficult times, responsibility with necessary decisions must prevail. It is here that our difference from (the main opposition) PASOK lies," he said.
Karamanlis went on to say that PASOK "proposes pleasant measures only and gives promises. It has no economic policy. Irresponsibility and wellwishing do not constitute policy, it is demagoguery and lead only to deadlock."
The pime minister also referred to the economic crisis in Europe and to its repercussions in other countries and said that our country stands at better levels than other countries, stressing that the reformist strategy followed by his New Democracy (ND) party was in the right direction.
"We are obliged to curb expenditures, to win the war with tax evasion and to carry out structural changes," he said and reiterated that he aimed at exhausting the four-year tenure and implementing his programme, but a mild political and social climate was necessary and accused the opposition of showing barren opposition and superficial populism.
Karamanlis referred to the measures that he has taken for the crisis until now and said that the Greeks have both memory and judgement.
"We are not promising miracles for unemployment, but we know who are they who took it from 3 percent and led it to 11 percent. We achieved a decrease and stabilisation, we created thousands of jobs," the prime minister said and added that reforms are necessary to tackle unemployment, deep reforms, the opening of closed professions that are crucial for the economy, simplification in establishing businesses, etc.
Karamanlis underlined that easy and pleasant solutions to major problems have been found nowhere and that whoever is interested in the country's problems takes difficult decisions.
Appealing to those who abstained from the Euroelections or who cast a vote of discontent against the ND party, he called on them to think soberly and to choose on the basis of the national interest.
"I shall only give one promise. I am and shall be in the front line of the struggle to fight for your expectations, to struggle for our common visions," the prime minister concluded and urged young people to "show them how battles are waged and how they are won."
 Inner Cabinet focuses on election preparationsThe Inner Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, met on Wednesday and focused on the course of preparations for the Oct. 4 general elections .
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos underlined that all necessary preparations were launched immediately and there will be no delays in meeting the deadlines, according to government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.
Pavlopoulos stated that over 65 decisions, documents and circulars have already been issued, some 25 days ahead of the elections, while a large part of the state mechanism's preparatory work and coordination procedures have been completed in cooperation with the local administration authorities. He also stated that the Cross-Party Elections Committee convened on Tuesday for the first time to give its recommendations as regards the terms and preconditions concerning the broadcast time allocated to political parties and party coalitions with elected representatives in both private and state-run radio and television stations.
The interior minister also briefed the inner cabinet on the composition of the electorate, the number of first-time voters and the citizens who are registered in municipalities other than their place of residence.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said that ruling New Democracy was addressing the Greek people using the language of truth. He said the party had proposed specific measures that might be unpleasant but were absolutely necessary and a part of a comprehensive programme for dealing with the country's economic problems and launching a new period of growth.
Souflias stressed the need for main opposition PASOK to be similarly specific in its speech and avoid vague generalities and populism, so that political debate could become more effective.
In response to questions, meanwhile, he strenuously denied rumours of bickering within ND over the party's list of candidates for state deputy seats in Parliament.
 Gov't spokesman invites parties to discuss details of TV debateGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday contacted the representatives of the political parties' parliamentary groups and invited them to a meeting later in the day to discuss the details for the planned televised debate among the political party leaders.
 Papariga holds press conference at TIFBoth the government and the main opposition emerging from the elections of October 4 will be against the working classes, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary General Aleka Papariga stressed during a press conference held at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Wednesday.
Papariga said that both ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK would essentially follow the same policy, regardless of which party was in power, with the support of whichever was the main opposition.
She urged voters to cast their ballots so as to weaken the two main parties and strengthen KKE, which was the party that would stand up against their policies.
KKE's leader ruled out any possibility of post-election cooperation with either ND or PASOK, saying that this would tantamount to betraying the people. She also accused the left-wing Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) alliance of struggling to survive as a 'government partner' for tactical reasons.
The latest developments within SYRIZA were a confirmation that KKE had been right to refuse SYRIZA's appeal for unity in the Left, she added. "If we had made such a mistake at that time, it would have been the biggest crime in the modern history of the KKE," Papariga said.
KKE's leader visiting a Thessaloniki Metro work site and met the managements of Helexpo SA and TIF SA.
 SYN President meets with stockbreedersCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alexis Tsipras - head of the largest component member of the left-wing alliance Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) - underlined Wednesday that "society needs a change of policy and not a government change", pointing out that SYRIZA will be present and united in the election battle despite the difficulties.
As regards the ruling New Democracy (ND) party and main opposition PASOK he stated that they have an "almost identical agenda", adding that "the people want to see implemented notable changes and reforms that will change their lives and give them hope for a better future."
Tsipras met with members of the Stockbreeders Association and was briefed on their problems, stressing that they have the smallest income per capita and are treated as second-rate citizens. He underlined that impunity and profiteering in the market in combination with the meat and milk cartel are the crucial issues that need to be dealt with, pointing out that unless immediate measures are taken, farmers in Greece will be virtually obliterated.
 Former national intelligence chief to head LAOS state deputy ticketThe former commander of Greece's National Intelligence Service EYP, Ambassador Ioannis Korantis, has joined the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party and will head its list of candidates for the state MP seats in Parliament duirng the upcoming elections. This was announced by LAOS leader George Karatzaferis after a meeting with Korantis on Wednesday.
Karatzaferis warmly praised Ambassador Korantis' record in the Greek diplomatic corps and "the excellent services he offered the country in the five years that he was in command of EYP."
Korantis said that he had accepted the invitation extended by LAOS's leader to join the party, bringing with him 36 years experience as a career diplomat and former EYP commander and the aim to "serve the common values that we uphold for the country."
In Greece's election system, a certain number of seats in Parliament - the deputies of state - are not directly elected by voters but arise from a list of candidates chosen by the parties, who are elected to Parliament on the basis of the percentage each party receives in the elections nationwide. A position on the state deputy list, especially the top slot that is most likely to guarantee a seat in Parliament, is considered an honor and is often reserved for academics and other personalities that are not career politicians.
During the 2007 general elections and with 3.8 percent of the nationwide vote, LAOS failed to elect a state deputy to Parliament but its support among the electorate appears considerably strengthened in opinion polls and during the recent EuroParliament polls, where it forged ahead of left-wing SYRIZA to get 7.14 percent of the vote, up from 4.12 percent in the Euro polls of 2004.
 FM meets with 'The Elders' delegationForeign minister Dora Bakoyannis met on Tuesday with a delegation of "The Elders" initiative, which is visiting Athens with the focus on contributing to efforts for resolution of the Cyprus issue.
"It is significant that you are interested in a problem such as the Cyprus issue. It is important because the last remaining wall in Europe is in Cyprus, and it must fall," Bakoyannnis said, greeting the delegation, which includes Norwegian former prime minister Dr. Gro Brundtland and former UN Special Envoy and former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi, accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer of "The Elders", Mabel van Oranje.
Replying to questions after the meeting, Brundtland noted that the delegation also went to Ankara where it held talks with the Turkish government and NGOs, while on Wednesday night it would depart for Cyprus to meet with the leaders and NGOs of the two sides so as to "hear the views of all the sides".
The Elders members described as "very useful" their meeting with Bakoyannis, who conveyed to them the Greek sentiment on the course of the negotiations.
Brundtland noted that "the process does not seem to be moving quickly", but added that "we must tear down the last wall in Europe".
She added that the Elders delegation "is here to do all that we can to aid the solution process".
The delegation is also scheduled to meet later in the day with main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou.
The Elders is a humanitarian initiative led by South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African president Nelson Mandela, designed to bring the African "village elders" concept to the global village, in an effort to defuse flashpoint crisis situations and speed responsible policy-making. Its foundations are the basic principles of human rights and the experience and credibility of the group's emissaries.
The members are of influential international personalities who no longer hold public office and can therefore speak and act freely, with the purpose of resolving major international problems such as Cyprus and the Middle East.
 Papandreou meets 'Elders' delegation i n AthensMain opposition PASOK President George Papandreou met on Wedesday with a delegation of "The Elders" initiative, which is arrived in Athens from Ankara and is next due to visit Nicosia in a bid to assist efforts for a resolution of the Cyprus issue.
The Elders is an independent humanitarian initiative led by South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and begun by former South African president Nelson Mandela in July 2007, designed to bring the African "village elders" concept to the global village, in an effort to defuse flashpoint crisis situations and speed responsible policy-making. Its foundations are the basic principles of human rights and the experience and credibility of the group's emissaries.
The members are influential international personalities who no longer hold public office and can therefore speak and act freely, with the purpose of resolving major international problems such as Cyprus and the Middle East.
Apart from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, its members include former heads of state and government and Nobel Peace Prize holders such as Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Fernando Cardoso, Mary Robinson, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Lakhar Brahimi, Muhammad Yunus and Aung San Suu Kyi.
 Foreign Ministry European Affairs SG visits RomaniaBUCHAREST (ANA-MPA/I. Rantou)
Greek Foreign Ministry European Affairs Secretary General Dimitrios Katsoudas is on a visit to Romania on September 8-10.
Katsoudas met on September 9 with Romanian Foreign Ministry European Affairs Secretary Bogdan Mazuru and held talks on issues concerning the European Union and regional issues.
According to an announcement by the Romanian Foreign Ministry, Greece and Romania share common positions on foreign policy issues, such as EU enlargement.
 Parliament president receives delegation of Cypriot MPsParliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday received a delegation of deputies from the Cyprus House of Representatives who are visiting Athens in the context of cooperation between the Greek and Cypriot Parliaments.
 Italian ambassador visits CreteItaly's ambassador to Greece Gianpaolo Scarante is in Crete on a two-day visit on the occasion of the arrival of the Italian Navy's sailboat "Amerigo Vespucci" in the port of Heraklion.
One of the world's biggest and most impressive saiboats and the pride of the Italian Navy, the 'Amerigo Vespucci', is used as a training vessel by Italy's Navy Cadets Academy, sails annually around the world as an ambassador of the arts, cultue and maritime tradition of the neighboring country.
Heraklion, where the sailboat will remain until Wednesday, is the final foreign port of call of the Amerigo Vespucci's training journey this year.
The ambassador toured the "Amerigo Vespucci" on Tuesday, while on Wednesday he will make a series of courtesy calls on the local officials.
 Industrial production index down 9.2% in JulyGreece's industrial production index fell 9.2 pct in July, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday. The statistics agency, in a report, attributed the decline to a 9.0-pct fall in manufacturing production, a 14.3-pct decline in mining production, a 9.5-pct fall in electricity production and a 0.7-pct fall in water production.
The consumer goods production index dropped 18.5 pct, while the capital goods production index fell 16.1 pct in July. The production index was up 4.9 pct in July from June, while the average production index in the January-July 2009 period was down 9.4 pct compared with the corresponding period last year.
 Stocks end 0.91% higherGreek imports dropped 34 pct in July to 3.837 billion euros, from 5.819 billion euros in July 2008, the National Statistical Service said on Wednesday.
The statistics agency, in a report, said Greek exports fell 20.5 pct in the same month to 1.298 billion euros, from 1.633 billion euros last year.
Imports fell 19 pct in the 12-month period from August 2008 to July 2009, compared with the previous 12-month period, while exports fell 12.3 pct over the same period.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.65%
Personal & Household: +1.74%
Raw Materials: +1.82%
Travel & Leisure: +0.87%
Food & Beverages: +1.99%
Financial Services: -1.29%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 11.80
Public Power Corp (PPC): 15.83
HBC Coca Cola: 16.75
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.39
National Bank of Greece: 22.85
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 9.94
Bank of Piraeus: 11.21
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 49.318 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,241 contracts worth 34.865 million euros, with 24,561 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 19,363 contracts worth 14.453 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Intracom's contracts (3,407), followed by Eurobank (1,799), MIG (1,725), OTE (1,102), OPAP (1,425), Piraeus Bank (1,248), National Bank (2,175), Alpha Bank (1,279), GEK (1,248) and Marfin Popular Bank (776).
 Greek bond returns down in AugustGreek state bond returns fell in the long end of the yield curve, while the three-year benchmark bond's return rose slightly in August, the Bank of Greece said.
In a monthly report, the central bank said the 15-year and 30-year bond returns fell by 15 and 11 basis points respectively to 4.89 pct and 5.23 pct, while the 10-year benchmark bond return eased by nine basis points to 4.49 pct and the three-year bond rose by 2 basis points to 2.46 pct.
The yield spread between the 30-year and three-year bonds shrank to 276 basis points in August from 289 bps a month earlier, while the average monthly yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank significantly to 118 bps from 151 bps over the same period.
The 30-year bond price jumped to 90.45 in Aug. 31, from 88.94 a month earlier, while the 15-year and 10-year bond prices rose to 98.06 and 111.78 at the end of August from 96.59 and 111.11 at the end of July. The three-year bond price eased slightly to 104.47 from 104.66.
Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 30.76 billion euros in August, from 18.19 billion in July and 25.08 billion euros in August 2008.
Average daily turnover was 1.46 billion euros, up from 791 million euros in July. The seven- and 10-year benchmark bonds were the most heavily traded securities with a total turnover of 22.5 billion euros, 73 pct of total turnover in the market.
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market soared to 4.247 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 2.047 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 2.200 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.522 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 132 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.67 pct and the German Bund 3.34 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.26 pct, the six-month rate 1.05 pct, the three-month 0.78 pct and the one-month rate 0.46 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.463
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.503
Swedish kroner 10.312
Japanese yen 135.2
Swiss franc 1.529
Norwegian kroner 8.679
Canadian dollar 1.581
Australian dollar 1.697
 Action plan against novel influenza in schools unveiledThe action plan against any spread of novel influenza among schoolchildren was presented on Wednesday by Education Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos, ahead of Friday's commencement of the new school year.
"Everything is ready and will go as planned," Spiliotopoulos underlined.
The measures include the operation of the special hotline number 1550 through which the public will receive information by specialized personnel, access to information through the education ministry website, a two-week educational television programme with simplified guidelines for primary and secondary education school children and their parents and the reservation of more than 45,000 vaccines for teaching personnel.
Spiliotopoulos did not rule out the likelihood of closing schools in case the novel influenza spreads. A move that will be decided by the ministry's scientific committee. In such an eventuality, a special programme on educational television will be in operation for the children who will have to miss classes.
 Broken toys turn into works of artAn alternative and environmentally friendly proposal saves the broken children's toys and useless materials that can be found in most children's rooms from being tossed into the trash can.
Destroyed toy cars, broken dolls and trains can be part of a modern form of recycling and turned into works of art in an alternative workshop established within the framework of the 74th International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki (TIF).
Between September 11 and 13, children will transform their broken toys into brand-new ones, saving the planet from additional plastic waste, under the guidance of Miquel Angel Juan Oliver (Llonovoy), founder of "The Strange Museum of Lllonovoy" in Majorca, which houses a Broken Toys Collection and also runs a Travelling Exhibition of Original Toys made from broken toys.
This unique workshop is part of the "Kid & Fun" exhibition and is open to children between the ages of 7 and 12.
 Civil Protection for TurkeyThe Greek Interior Ministry, through the Civil Protection General Secretariat and in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, has notified the Turkish side through diplomatic channels that it is at its disposal for possible aid as a result of the great disaster caused by floods that have struck the neighbouring country in the past hours.
Turkey thanked Greece and said it will inform it if this aid is necessary.
 Authorities intercept paper plant waste used illegally as food packagingGreek authorities on Wednesday said they had intercepted a truck transporting industrial waste from a paper plant in Aspropyrgos to a firm in Thiva, where it would have been illegally used to make elements of food packaging, specifically trays for sweet pastries.
A team of environment inspectors from the environment ministry, assisted by a Greek Police team for Inspections and Prevention of Traffic Accidents, located an Athanassopoulos Bros truck carrying Biohartiki industrial waste to the firm Viotiki in Thiva to be made into trays.
The environment ministry noted that this used was illegal and unlicensed and posed a threat to public health and the environment.
The driver of the truck and the individual that ordered the illegal activity were immediately arrested and the necessary legal action initiated against them.
 Terror group claims responsibility for bomb attacksThe shadowy terrorist group "Revolutionary Struggle" (Epanastatikos Agonas) on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the car bomb attack outside the Athens Stock Exchange last week as well as the attack against a private bank branch last February.
The ultra-leftist terror band's proclamation was sent to a weekly tabloid ("Pontiki") in Athens.
 Ex-pro basketball player Misounov charged in weapons, car theft ringAuthorities in Thessaloniki have reportedly discovered a veritable arsenal found in the possession of a former pro basketball player, as the latter was arrested on a variety of weapons and grand theft auto charges on Wednesday.
Police on Tuesday arrested former Aris club player Michail Misunov, 45, seizing a rocket and two rocket-propelled grenade (RPG 8) launchers. An ongoing investigation is also focusing on whether notorious fugitive Vassilis Paleokostas was supplied his weapons by Misunov, alternately identified as a naturalised Greek citizen, hailing from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) or a Russian citizen.
In a press conference on Wednesday, meanwhile, police said a rocket launcher discovered in Paleokostas' hideout in Aug. 2008, following his arrest for the abduction of industrialist Georgios Mylonas, was Albanian-made as opposed to those found in the possession of Misunov, manufactured in Yugoslavia.
According to police, the weapons seized were destined for the criminal underground.
During questioning, Misunov maintained that he was given the weapons by an individual who died recently and was involved in the extortion of nightclubs in Thessaloniki. The same individual had also been sentenced for the murdering a bouncer in front of a nightclub in a Thessaloniki suburb.
Another two men, a 50-year-old and a 29-year-old, were also arrested in connection to the case. A police search in the residence of the 50-year-old revealed two pistols and a number of cartridges as well as 29 stamps that belonged to various state agencies, authorities and private companies, while a pistol purchased from Misunov and a number of cartridges were found in the house of the second detainee.
The suspects are also charged with several thefts of luxury cars after forging documents allowing them to proceed with transactions.
All suspects were led before a prosecutor and on Thursday they will testify before an examining magistrate.
 Child porn material leads to arrestsA 56-year-old man was arrested in the southern Athens district of Moschato on Wednesday in connection with a child porn investigation, while another two individuals, 39 and 42, also face charges.
Police's electronic crime squad acted after receiving information that the trio kept child pornography material in their PCs in the private company where they worked.
A flash memory stick with child porn material was allegedly found on the 56-year-old, while a search in his residence reportedly revealed three computer hard drives and 16 CDs with similar material.
 Foreigners arrested for pickpocketing near AcropolisFour Romanian nationals, aged 31, 35, 36 and 41, were arrested on Wednesday in downtown Athens, near the Acropolis, accused of pickpocketing the wallet of a 63-year-old Argentine tourist.
A police investigation revealed that the four allegedly worked as a team and "marked" their victims in crowded streets and stores.
A total of 16 wallets were found in a residence they shared as well as five purses, two valuable watches, women's jewelry, a camera and four mobile phones.
 Greece beats Israel in Eurobasket gameGreece's national basketball team beat Israel 106-80 in a Eurobasket Group A match played on Wednesday evening, achieving its third consecutive victory and coming first in the group and advancing to the second stage of the championship. The 10-minute intervals had the following results: 25-31, 42-56, 65-79 and 80-106.
 Rainy on ThursdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 25C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceParties' plans and campaigns ahead of general elections on October 4 mostly dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition PASOK preannounced a harsh tax policy".
APOGEVMATINI: "Sweeping changes in ruling New Democracy's MP candidates".
AVGHI: "All together with the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA)".
AVRIANI: "PASOK's secret plan on the economy foresees tax 'tempest' for enterprises, banks, property owners and professionals".
ELEFTHEROS: "ND proclaims war on Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis to deal with high profile cadres and nepotism".
ESTIA: "New elections on November 15, if no party achieves a self-sufficient majority".
ETHNOS: "Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' encounter with nepotism - His uncle Achilleas announced his decision to run for parliament".
KATHIMERINI: "ND and PASOK party officials investing in TV debate".
LOGOS: "Clash over Karamanlis-Papandreou debate".
NIKI: "Karamanlis a hostage of nepotism - Civil war in ND with Karamanlis as a simple spectator".
RIZOSPASTIS: "People united against either mainstream party's (ND and PASOK) election".
TA NEA: "Deceit with the measures against the flu in schools".
TO VIMA: "Parliament's renewal - New appearances in candidate lists".
VRADYNI: "The 'green' (PASOK's color) salad for the economy - Mess and confusion over the necessary measures".
 Christofias: Berlusconi ready to contribute to efforts for a Cyprus settlementROME (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has said that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berslusconi thinks that if Turkey really wants to get modernised and move on with its European course it must overcome the obstacle of the occupation of part of Cyprus by its troops and contribute to a settlement of the Cyprus problem that will be mutually accepted by both communities of the island.
Speaking after a working dinner he had here on Tuesday evening with Berlusconi, Christofias, who is paying an official visit to Italy, said that ''we will try to make use of the warm and very good relations that Prime Minister Berlusconi has with (Turkish Prime Minister) Mr. Erdogan and (Turkish President) Mr. Gul. This is his own promise as well and an expression of readiness on his part,'' he added, noting that Berlusconi as well as Italian President Giorgio Napolitano will soon have meetings with Turkish officials.
Christofias said that Cyprus and Italy will discuss more specifically how the Italian Prime Minister can help towards this direction and they will be in contact. He also expressed certainty that Berlusconi will do his outmost to help both Cyprus and Turkey ''because if Turkey extends its hand to contribute towards a settlement of the Cyprus problem this is for its own interest at the end of the day.''
Christofias noted that he was very much satisfied from the official part of his visit to Italy, after his meeting with Napolitano and his dinner with Berlusconi. He said that his dinner with the Italian prime minister lasted two hours and that this did not happen just like that but because '' the President of the Republic of Cyprus and the Italian Prime Minister Mr. Berlusconi are developing a very good friendly relationship.''
''He has welcomed us as friends. We of course discussed issues as the financial crisis and the measures which both our countries are taking to handle it in favour of the people, as well as issues regarding the functionality of the EU and of course we ended up in discussing the Cyprus question which took more time than all the rest,'' he noted.
As he noted, Berlusconi was interested to know about the course of the direct negotiations on the Cyprus question and he gave him the opportunity to make a detailed analysis and express his reserved optimism explaining what this means.
''Mr Berlusconi expressed clear positions. He pointed out that if Turkey really wants to get modernised and move on with its European course it must overcome the obstacle called Cyprus, the occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus, and extend its hand with a view to reach a settlement that will be mutually accepted by both communities,'' Christofias said.
He also noted that Italy has very good relations with Turkey but also wants to have excellent relations with Cyprus. He added that during his meetings with Napolitano on Tuesday morning and his dinner with Berlusconi, he underlined the cultural ties between Italy and Cyprus, noting that the continuation and the deepening of these relations will surely help the people of the two countries very much.
Christofias said that they also talked about issues regarding tourism and that Berlusconi expressed his readiness to help in this sector as well.
Responding to a question he said that ''we have agreed to be in constant contact'' and to ''review the situation again,'' noting that both Berlusconi and Napolitano will have meetings with Turkish leaders soon.
A press release issued after the dinner said that the working dinner took place in a very friendly and warm climate and the discussion between Christofias and Berlusconi covered a wide range of issues as the bilateral relations, the Cyprus question, the EU-Turkey relations and other issues of common interest.
It also said that during their discussion they reconfirmed the common will to further develop the relations between the Republic of Cyprus and Italy and decided the closer cooperation and coordination between the two countries in issues of common interest.
Christofias visited on Wednesday Perugia where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of communication systems in international relations by the University for Foreigners of Perugia.
Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to reach a settlement of the question of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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