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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-12-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 22 December 2009 Issue No: 3380


  • [01] Plan for fighting rising crime levels unveiled
  • [02] Samaras slams government for inertia, procrastination
  • [03] Sifounakis attended EU telecoms ministers' council
  • [04] Court rules one-off levy on high incomes unconstitutional
  • [05] Representatives of Balkan Communist and Labour parties meet in Thessaloniki
  • [06] SYN leader Tsipras meets with culture sector trade union representatives
  • [07] New deputy interior minister appointed
  • [08] Katseli meets with GSEVEE representatives
  • [09] Civil servant umbrella union warns of mobilizations
  • [10] Third experts meeting on social insurance reform on Tuesday
  • [11] SEB president on economy
  • [12] UK Hellenic Bankers Association elects new Board
  • [13] Industry turnover index down 22.7 pct in October
  • [14] Stocks plunge 2.30 pct lower on Monday
  • [15] ADEX closing report
  • [16] Greek bond market closing report
  • [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [18] Media publisher Lambrakis dies
  • [19] Parliament president on death of Moralis
  • [20] Greece still lagging in broadband use but climbing fast
  • [21] Restoration of Acropolis Propylaea completed, scaffolding removed
  • [22] Helios IIB satellite launched
  • [23] Austrian ambassador to Greece visits Kalambaka
  • [24] Police injured in shootout with bank robbers
  • [25] Worker critically injured in explosion, fire at oil plant on Crete
  • [26] Foreign national arrested for drug possession
  • [27] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] President 'determined' to reach a settlement
  • [29] Leaders hope 2010 will be the year of a Cyprus settlement
  • [30] Military capability unchanged, as Turkish occupation continues, says Garoyian Politics

  • [01] Plan for fighting rising crime levels unveiled

    Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Monday said that his ministry was working on a new plan for dealing with rising crime levels, which in certain key areas was around 50 percent or more.

    Speaking during a press conference, the minister said that the Greek Police intended to come to grips with crime and respond to the public's demand for greater security.

    Chrysohoidis cited statistical figures collected by security services, according to which there was a sharp increase in serious crimes. As examples, he pointed to a 62 percent rise in sexual exploitation crimes, a 60 percent rise in crimes of extortion, a 50 percent increase in super market robberies and a 43 percent rise in bank and other kinds of robberies.

    The minister also made a link between terrorism and organised crime, saying that this entire range of criminal activity would be tackled by creating a central service for fighting organised crime. This large central service will then be sub-divided into smaller sections for separate categories of organised crime, such as fraud, electronic crime, drugs, mafia-style operations, trading in "imitation" goods and terrorism.

    Chrysohoidis revealed that, according to information collected by the police, there existed a sort of "revolutionary fund" into which money from robberies and kidnappings was collected. This was then used by terrorists in order to buy guns, rockets and other weaponry.

    "There will soon be answers on these issues from the police and the answers will be judged by justice," he added.

    On the issue of violence linked to sports, the minister said that the police were cooperating with the state in order to deal with this phenomenon and with the head of the Greek Football Federation Sophocles Pilavios to stamp out illegal betting.

    "Experts from UEFA will soon be arriving to train the Greek police in tackling this form of crime," Chrysohoidis told reporters.

    He also announced plans to write letters to the other ministers involved in dealing with the problems of illegal drug users and the drug rehabilitation service OKANA.

    "We must put a stop to the running of crime from within prisons," Chrysohoidis stressed, emphasising the serious problems that Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis had to deal with.

    [02] Samaras slams government for inertia, procrastination

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras attacked the government's economic policies on Monday, after a meeting with Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos.

    Samaras accused the government of inertia and inactivity and stressed that "every day that passes by with procrastination and wrong messages is at the expense of the economy and the country."

    "What is required is a realistic programme with specific and cost-assessed proposals for dealing with the economic crisis," he emphasised.

    ND's leader said that he had been fully briefed on all issues relating to the economy during his first meeting with Provopoulos and he stressed that he would agree with government policy when this was necessary but would criticise those things he disagreed with.

    [03] Sifounakis attended EU telecoms ministers' council

    Deputy Infrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Nikos Sifounakis, speaking at the EU telecoms ministers' council meeting in Brussels, underlined the need to upgrade and strengthen the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) based in Heraklio, Crete.

    The EU ministers also discussed the European Union digital strategy after 2010 and Sifounakis pointed out that initiatives for "smarter" infrastructures should be undertaken namely, energy networks, as well as systems for environmental information, transports and healthcare.

    Sifounakis also outlined the key-points for the development of a nationwide broadband fiber optic network in Greece.

    [04] Court rules one-off levy on high incomes unconstitutional

    An Administrative First Instance Court in Athens ruled Monday that a one-off levy imposed by the previous government on high incomes was unconstitutional. The levy was imposed through a 2009 law seeking to plug holes in a gaping budget deficit and was taken from those that had declared an annual income greater than 60,000 euros in their last tax statement. The Greek State is expected to appeal the decision and a definitive ruling will be issued by the Council of State, the country's supreme administrative court.

    According to the court decision No 18440/2009, the one-off levy is retrospective in nature because it was calculated based on the income gained in 2007, before Jan. 1, 2008. Therefore, the court found that this made the levy illegal because it was in conflict with article 87 paragraph 2 of the Constitution.

    The court also ordered that the plaintiff that brought the case, who had paid the sum of 10,000 euros to a tax office in Psychiko Athens, be refunded.

    [05] Representatives of Balkan Communist and Labour parties meet in Thessaloniki

    The situation in the Balkans in light of the current economic crisis was discussed Monday in a meeting of representatives of Communist and Labour parties from Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Romania, Serbia and Turkey hosted by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in Thessaloniki.

    The meeting focused on the strengthening of relations between the Communist and Labour parties in the Balkan region.

    [06] SYN leader Tsipras meets with culture sector trade union representatives

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Progress (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras met with culture sector trade union representatives on Monday and expressed his support for the participation of the trade unionist movement in all decision-making bodies that focus on quality and artistic creation.

    Tsipras also referred to the necessity for a broad-based dialogue aimed at the adoption of new legislation regulating cinema, the audiovisual sector and qualitative-quantitative artistic development.

    [07] New deputy interior minister appointed

    George Dolios, deputy for Evros, was on Monday appointed deputy interior minister by decision of Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    Dolios is replacing Dinos Rovlias who resigned ten days ago.

    Financial News

    [08] Katseli meets with GSEVEE representatives

    The measures aimed at increasing market liquidity will begin in early February and their beneficial results will be apparent by June, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli stated Monday in a meeting with representatives of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE).

    Responding to a question by a reporter on whether interest rates will increase as a result of the draft law on market liquidity, the minister stated that "none of the bankers expressed such intent in the dialogue held in parliament."

    Katseli stated that the dialogue with the representatives of the production sector concerns the adoption of measures against black market practices and the utilization of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds in support of small and medium size businesses.

    [09] Civil servant umbrella union warns of mobilizations

    The civil servants' union ADEDY notified the parliament president, the political parties and the Civil Servants' Welfare Fund management on Monday that its mobilizations, including strike action, will continue until its demands are met ensuring that "wage earners will not pay for the crisis".

    According to the union's statement, ADEDY demands a fair taxation system and social justice, is opposed to the implementation of equal retirement age for men and women and calls for the abolition of anti-social insurance legislation and of laws promoting flexible labour relations.

    The ADEDY statement also referred to the downgraded healthcare system and the pharmacist associations' mobilization scheduled for Feb. 1, 2010 demanding that they be paid by the state for medicines prescribed to social insurance recipients.

    [10] Third experts meeting on social insurance reform on Tuesday

    The committee of experts discussing social insurance reform is to have its third meeting on Tuesday morning at the labour ministry, with the participation of the ministry leadership.

    [11] SEB president on economy

    Federation of Greek Enterprises and Industies (SEB) President Dimitris Daskalopoulos said on Monday that 2010 "is the most crucial year in Greece's history since the re-establishment of Democracy in 1974, as in the next six months will be decided whether the Greek economy and society will be definitely downgraded or the foundations for an upgraded national future will be laid down."

    Daskalopoulos, who was addressing reporters, added that the crucial test for the present PASOK government "will be the Growth and Stabilisation Programme and its consistent implementation."

    The SEB president also appealed to the country's social partners to participate and contribute towards "a national dialogue that puts all of us in front of our responsibilities."

    Referring to the 2010 state budget currently being discussed and expected to be voted in Parliament on Wednesday, Daskalopoulos said that "in itself it shows the way to exit from the crisis, but it does not guarantee it."

    Regarding the tax system, he said that it should target the "rich who do not declare their incomes and not the rich that pay".

    [12] UK Hellenic Bankers Association elects new Board

    LONDON (ANA-MPA/L. Tsirigotakis)

    The newly-elected Executive Committee of the Hellenic Bankers Association of the UK (HBA-UK) voted its new board on the weekend, for the two-year term 2009-2011.

    The new board is as follows: Chairman, Christos Megalou (Credit Suisse); Vice Chairman, Notis Mitarachi (Fidelity International); Treasurer, Stratos Hatziyannis (National Bank of Greece); General Secretary, Effie Geraki (Barclays Bank); and members Elena Mavrogonatou, Louis Loizou, Michalis Zekkos, Dimitris Trikardos and Yorgos Ercan.

    The HBA-UK was formed in 1994 in order to promote a closer co-operation among Bankers and Financial Professionals, of Hellenic origin, based in the United Kingdom. Today it numbers approximately 350 members who are executives in the international banking network in the City of London.

    [13] Industry turnover index down 22.7 pct in October

    Turnover in industry in Greece (both domestic and non-domestic market) fell by 22.7 percent in October 20009 against October 2008, according to provisional figures released Monday by the national statistics service (ESYE). A year earlier, the annual rate of change was -0.8%.

    The average Turnover Index in Industry for the 12-month period November 2008 - October 2009, as compared to the 12-month period November 2007 - October 2008, fell by 24.5%. A year earlier, the corresponding average rate of change was 12.1%.

    Also, the revised New Orders Index in Industry (both domestic and non-domestic market) fell by 27.5 percent in October 2009 against October 2008, according to provisional figures. A year earlier, the annual rate of change was -7.0%.

    The average New Orders Index in Industry for the 12-month period November 2008 - October 2009, as compared to the 12-month period November 2007 - October 2008, fell by 29.2%. A year earlier, the corresponding average rate of change was -0.1%.

    [14] Stocks plunge 2.30 pct lower on Monday

    Stocks plunged 2.30 percent at close of trade on the Athens bourse on Monday, with the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange sliding to 2,118.60 points and turnover a low 113.9 million euros, of which 3.2 million euros were block trades.

    All sectors moved downward, with the biggest losses posted by stocks in Health (-7.34 pct), Travel and Recreation (-5.51 pct), Public Utilities (-3.72 pct), Insurance (-3.09 percent) and Technology (-2.75 percent).

    The FTSE 20 index dropped by 2.21 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell by a hefty 3.53 pct and the FTSE 80 index ended 1.60 pct lower. Decliners led advancers by 142 to 45, while another 45 issues were unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -3.09%

    Industrials: -2.17%

    Commercial: -1.32%

    Construction: -2.00%

    Media: -0.98%

    Oil & Gas: -1.65%

    Personal & Household: -2.69%

    Raw Materials: -2.16%

    Travel & Leisure: -5.51%

    Technology: -2.75%

    Telecoms: -0.19%

    Banks: -2.15%

    Food & Beverages: -0.03%

    Health: -7.34%

    Utilities: -3.72%

    Chemicals: -1.95%

    Financial Services: -1.74%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and Alapis.

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.10

    ATEbank: 1.92

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.12

    HBC Coca Cola: 15.80

    Hellenic Petroleum: 8.03

    National Bank of Greece: 16.90

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.35

    Intralot: 3.87

    OPAP: 14.22

    OTE: 10.34

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.70

    Titan: 19.80

    [15] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.33 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to 32.436 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,776 contracts, worth 25.920 million euros, with 19,213 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,133 contracts worth 6.516 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OPAP's contracts (1,285) followed by Atebank (1,191), National Bank (1,089), Alpha Bank (950) and Eurobank (507).

    [16] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds increased to 278 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 5.96 pct and the German Bund 3.18 pct. Turnover was 237 billion euros, of which 75 million were buy orders and the remaining 162 million euros were sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates remained mostly unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.24 pct, the six-month rate 0.99 pct, the three-month 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.

    [17] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.448

    Pound sterling 0.898

    Danish kroner 7.501

    Swedish kroner 10.486

    Japanese yen 131.14

    Swiss franc 1.505

    Norwegian kroner 8.418

    Canadian dollar 1.528

    Australian dollar 1.634

    General News

    [18] Media publisher Lambrakis dies

    Veteran journalist and media publisher Christos Lambrakis, owner of the Athens-listed Lambrakis Press Group (DOL) and president of the private MEGA television station, died on Monday morning at the age of 75 at the Onassis Cardiosurgery Center in Athens.

    Born in 1934 in Athens, Lambrakis studied in England and Switzerland, served in the Greek Navy, and worked as a journalist at the 'To Vima' newspaper and as editor of the weekly magazine Tachydromos, taking over the management of the Lambrakis Press organisation's newspapers and magazines in 1957 after the sudden death of his father.

    In 1970, when the Lambrakis Press Group became a limited company, he became chairman of the board of DOL S.A.

    Lambrakis founded Greece's first music center built to international specifications in Athens, the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall, an ambitious project of the Friends of Music society he also founded.

    In 1989, DOL, in collaboration with Pegasus S.A., the General Publishing-Messimvrini S.A., Tegopoulos S.A. and Kathimerini S.A., founded Tiletypos S.A., owner of private MEGA television channel.

    In 1997, Lambrakis was the first publisher in Greece to put his publications into an electronic format, and two years later created the country's biggest news and information portal (

    He was also president of the Lambrakis Research Foundation.

    Lambrakis had been suffering from a heart ailment, and died of complications at the Onassis Center, where he was hospitalised.

    According to a statement issued later by the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center (OCSC), Lambrakis was admitted on Nov. 24, 2009 with irreversible cardiac failure and coexisting health problems affecting multiple organs. On Nov. 30, 2009, he underwent heart surgery for the mechanical assistance of his left ventricle and since then he was hospitalized in the Heart Surgery Ward ICU where he passed away as a result of pre-existing multi-organ failure, the OCSC statement concluded.


    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias in a message of condolences to the family of the deceased referred to Lambrakis' long and creative activities in the sector of the media and his passion for culture, underlining that Greece was left with a priceless legacy, namely Athens' "Megaron" Concert Hall, a project inspired by Lambrakis.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined in his message that Lambrakis was a great public figure and has left his mark on the course of journalism, mass media and culture in the country. His contribution to culture was "immeasurable and his loss leaves a great void, signalling the end of an era."

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras referred to the major role Lambrakis has played in the sectors of media and culture, as well as in education, the arts, environmental protection and the utilization of modern technology.

    Condolences were also extended on behalf of the Greek Parliament by Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, who in a statement hailed Lambrakis as "a personality that set its seal on journalism and the media" and noted his inspired contribution to the arts and culture.

    His passing was also called "the end of an era" by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, who said that in him Greece had lost "a tireless worker for freedom of opinion and free speech, a visionary of journalism and patron the arts that is no longer with us".

    Lambrakis' funeral will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 13:00 in Athens' First Cemetery.

    [19] Parliament president on death of Moralis

    Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos on Monday expressed condolences on behalf of the Greek Parliament for the death of Greek painter Yiannis Moralis, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 93.

    "Yiannis Moralis set his seal on Greek painting of the 20th century and decisively influenced post-war aesthetics in all expressions of Greek art," Petsalnikos said, describing the painter's work as a "legacy for Greek culture".

    Moralis was considered one of the greatest Greek painters of the so-called "Generation of the '30s" and had many distinctions both at home and abroad.

    [20] Greece still lagging in broadband use but climbing fast

    Greece showed the fourth-highest rate of increase in broadband connections per resident within the European Union from June 30, 2008 until June 30, 2009. In spite of this, with a broadband penetration of just 15.94 percent of the population, the country continues to lag behind its EU partners, where it ranks 23rd out of the 27 EU member-states.

    This was found in a survey released by Cocom on Monday on the use of broadband connections in Europe in the first six months of 2009.

    The country with the highest degree of broadband penetration, according to the survey, is Denmark with over 37 percent, while rates above 30 percent are also found in the Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg and Finland.

    The Community average for broadband penetration is 23.8 percent, while countries lagging behind Greece include Slovakia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

    If broadband connections continue to grow at the same rate, Greece may well have climbed to 18th or 20th place in the overall rankings by the middle of 2010, overtaking countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

    In terms of 3G mobile broadband, the number of active subscribers that used such services in the last three months came to 1,277,783 in September 2009, representing a penetration of 11.35 percent of the population. These lines are not included in calculations of overall broadband penetration.

    [21] Restoration of Acropolis Propylaea completed, scaffolding removed

    All scaffolding and cranes were fully removed from the Propylaea of the Acropolis, the monumental entrance, or gateway, to the Acropolis, on the weekend following completion of the restoration work on the central building of the structure.

    The Propylaea was built under the direction of Athenian leader Pericles, but the building itself was designed by the architect Mnesicles, while construction began in 437 BCE and was terminated in 432 BCE, while the building was still unfinished.

    The Propylaea is constructed of white Pentelic marble and gray Eleusian marble or limestone, used for accentuation.

    The structure comprises a central building and two adjoining wings on the west, or outer, side and on the south side.

    The core of the structure is the central building built with a standard six-column Doric facade on the west of the entrance to the Acropolis, and reflects the proportions, although not the size, of the columns of the Parthenon.

    The central building contains the gate wall, about two-thirds of the way through it, while there are five gates in the wall: one for the central passageway, which was not paved and lay along the natural level of the ground, and two on either side at the level of the building's eastern porch, five steps up from the level of the western porch. The central passageway was the culmination of the Sacred Way, which led to the Acropolis from Eleusis.

    [22] Helios IIB satellite launched

    The Greek National Defense Ministry announced on Monday the successful launching, Friday 18:26 hours Greek time, of the Ariane 5GS from Kourou, French Guiana, carrying the Helios IIB satellite which was put into orbit after 59 minutes and 20 seconds.

    Helios IIB is the second satellite in the second-generation spaceborne observation system for security and defense applications, conducted by France in conjunction with Belgium, Spain, Italy and Greece.

    The program manager is French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction Générale pour l'Armement), part of the French Ministry of Defense, which has assigned contracting authority for the space segment to CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales), the French Space Agency.

    Greece is also participating with the same group of countries in the planning, development and construction of the satellite system MUSIS (MUltinational Space-based Imaging System).

    [23] Austrian ambassador to Greece visits Kalambaka

    The Austrian ambassador in Athens Dr. Michael Linhart on Monday paid a visit to the town of Kalambaka in central Greece, below the picturesque Meteora district and its famous monasteries, and spoke with local officials on the prospect of developing closer ties in tourism, economic activity and culture.

    Ambassador Linhart stressed that one of his concerns was to further develop relations with rural areas of central and northern Greece.

    The ambassador concluded his first visit to Kalambaka by visiting the monasteries in Meteora, which are visited by thousands of Austrian tourists each year and are included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites and monuments.

    [24] Police injured in shootout with bank robbers

    Two policemen were shot and injured on Monday by a pair of bank robbers that had just hit a branch of the National Bank of Greece on the island of Salamina and were trying to get away. The incident occurred at 15:10 on Monday afternoon.

    The two police officers were the crew of a Salamina police patrol car that had responded to a call that a robbery was underway at the bank. One was shot in the leg and the second was injured in the head.

    The two injured police officers were transported to a hospital in Piraeus and police have launched a manhunt to locate and arrest the bank robbers.

    [25] Worker critically injured in explosion, fire at oil plant on Crete

    A worker was critically injured late Sunday night in an explosion and ensuing fire at a kernel oil plant in Heraklion, Crete.

    The 40-year-old man is reported to be in extremely critical condition and intubated in the Herklion University Hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).

    A powerful explosion rocked the Androulakis kernel oil plant in Kastelliana, Heraklion, late Sunday, and was followed by a series of smaller explosions, resulting in a massive fire that took firefighters battling the blaze all night to extinguish.

    A second worker suffered lighter injuries, while the 40-year-old will be transferred to a Burn Unit in an Athens hospital.

    Six workers were in the plant at the time of the explosion, and an ad hoc team of experts is examining the circumstances of the accident.

    [26] Foreign national arrested for drug possession

    A 26-year-old foreign national was arrested on Monday at the Promachonas border station on the Greek-Bulgarian border in Serres, northern Greece, after a search in his car revealed over a kilo of heroin.

    The drugs were carefully hidden in the suspect's car and were traced by a specially trained sniffer dog.

    [27] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The ongoing debate in parliament on the 2010 State Budget and the economy dominated the front-page headlines of Athens' newspapers on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The needs in 380 municipalities for 30,000 employees...will be covered with transfers".

    APOGEVMATINI: "The Greek economy and the Greeks of Istanbul being 'crucified'."

    AVRIANI: "Foul scenarios of bankruptcy".

    CHORA: "The new harsh measures bringing political instability - Metron Analysis opinion poll: Two in three citizens refuse to pay for the graft and the scandals".

    ELEFTHEROS: "George (prime minister Papandreou): They're hurting us because we're not beggars - Attack against the foreign credit rating firms".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Retroactive tax for civil servants on benefits received in 2009".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Front against the credit rating firms - Analysts: The European Central Bank (ECB) has become their hostage".

    ESTIA: "Heavy responsibilities for the deficits - The political system destroyed the economy".

    ETHNOS: "Extra tax for pensions, social security Funds - GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) proposal to the dialogue on social insurance".

    IMERISSIA: "Tax-free income (up to 10,500 euros ceiling) only with presentation of corresponding receipts (of purchase) in income tax statements".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Tough measures to increase the state revenues".

    TA NEA: "Banks threaten 'burning' interest rates - The measures for the borrowers have sparked a war".

    VRADYNI: "The 'family silver' (prime state holdings such as banks, public utilities and organisations) up for auction - The plan for collecting 2.5 billion euros in 2010 is over-optimistic".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] President 'determined' to reach a settlement


    President Demetris Christofias has stressed he is determined to move towards a political settlement in Cyprus, if the Turkish Cypriot side shows good will and does not violate fundamental principles of a solution.

    In statements after returning to the Presidential Palace from his meeting Monday with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of direct negotiations on the Cyprus problem, Christofias said that he will defend fundamental principles.

    "I want to declare before the people of Cyprus that I am determined - if the Turkish Cypriot sides shows the corresponding good will and if the fundamental principles of a solution are not violated - to proceed. That is crystal clear," the president stressed.

    On his meeting with Talat, Christofias said that they discussed issues relating to the intensified negotiations, to be held on 11,12,13 and 18,19,20 January 2010 at the residence of the UN Special Representative in the UN Protected Area.

    He explained that between the first and the second three-day session of talks, the National Council, the top advisory body to the president, will convene.

    He said that they aim at more convergences on Governance and Power-Sharing, the Economy and EU Matters and they also will continue their discussion on the property issue and reiterated the two leaders' wish that 2010 will be the year of the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Asked if they will focus on issues of territory, settlers and security, he said that they have also discussed these matters but have agreed to discuss the issue of territory at the end.

    He also noted that there is no goal for a Cyprus settlement before the so-called elections in the northern Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus and that talks will continue after the "elections" with whoever is the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    Christofias rejected any notion of an interim settlement, noting that there is no such issue.

    Responding to a question, he said that Turkey violates international law, UN principles and human rights conventions.

    He also said that "we demanded of the Secretary General that the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem be solved by the Cypriots themselves", adding that Cypriots have learnt their lesson from past experience.

    Replying to other questions, the president called for unity on the home front and urged everybody to cooperate within the National Council.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008, with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

    [29] Leaders hope 2010 will be the year of a Cyprus settlement

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat expressed Monday their strong hope that 2010 will be the year of solution of the Cyprus problem.

    In a joint statement after their last meeting in 2009, in the framework of direct negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus problem, the two leaders also announced the dates of their intensified talks to be held in January 2010.

    The meetings will take place on 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 of January at the residence of the UN Special Representative in the UN Protected Area. According to their statement ''in these meetings, the Leaders will aim at more convergences on Governance and Power-Sharing, the Economy and EU Matters. They also will continue their discussion on the Property issue.''

    Coordinator of Good Offices Mission Yasser Sabra said after Monday's meeting that the Leaders had a tete-a-tete session which was attended by the representatives and which lasted two-and-a-half hours and that among other things they drafted the joint statement.

    The joint statement read out by Sabra said:

    ''The leaders reconfirmed their earlier decision to intensify their efforts by meeting on 11, 12, 13 and 18, 19, 20 of January 2010.

    In these meetings, the Leaders will aim at more convergences on Governance and Power-Sharing, the Economy and EU Matters. They also will continue their discussion on the Property issue.

    The Leaders have decided to avail themselves of the invitation of the UN Special Adviser to hold these meetings at the residence of the UN Special Representative in the UN Protected Area.

    On the occasion of their last meeting of the year, the two Leaders extend to all Greek and Turkish Cypriots their best wishes for the New Year and express their strong hope that 2010 will be the year of solution of the Cyprus problem''.

    Sabra added that the next meeting of Leaders will take place on January 4th at 4 pm and they will discuss EU matters.

    In the meantime, the Representatives will meet on 28 December at 10 am to discuss further the agenda of the meetings in January, he concluded.

    Christofias and Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to reunify Cyprus, divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

    [30] Military capability unchanged, as Turkish occupation continues, says Garoyian


    The capability of the Republic's armed forces, the National Guard, will not diminish as long as part of the country remains under Turkish occupation, House President Marios Garoyian stressed here Monday.

    ''It is our obligation to maintain this policy. We will not allow the National Guard's defence capabilities to be reduced as long as the Cyprus problem remains unresolved,'' Garoyian said speaking to soldiers during a visit to a National Guard camp in view of the Christmas holidays.

    Garoyian said that while the Cyprus problem remains unresolved ''we have a duty and an obligation to strengthen, modernize and restructure the National Guard in order to render it more effective.''

    He added that the present period is difficult for Cyprus ''because we have in front of us the arrogance, the intransigence and the neo-ottoman Turkish attitude.''

    ''The Greek Cypriot side is ready for a compromise which cannot be either imbalanced or unfair. This compromise should safeguard our own prospects, our development and prosperity,'' he added.

    National Guard Chief, Lieutenant General Petros Tsalikides said the National Guard maintains a high level of readiness ''to act as a deterrent and a lever at the disposal of the government to apply its national policy in the best possible way.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 27 per cent of its territory. It is estimated that there are 40,000 occupation troops in the island's northern occupied areas.

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