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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-03-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 8 March 2010 Issue No: 3438


  • [01] Sarkozy pledges to stand by Greece
  • [02] Positive support for Greek measures from Merkel
  • [03] Alternate FM Droutsas' interview with Der Spiegel
  • [04] PM: we cannot allow Greece to go bankrupt
  • [05] Droutsas at EU FMs' informal meeting in Spain
  • [06] Samaras: ND at fault but PASOK was part of the problem
  • [07] Pangalos: Exceptionally tough measures, but no other choice
  • [08] Papariga: measures 'dangerous'
  • [09] Four opinion polls on measures, blame for economic situation
  • [10] More strikes on the way
  • [11] Attack on Glezos, GSEE leader
  • [12] Glezos discharged from hospital
  • [13] European Parliament to discuss crisis in Greece
  • [14] SAE call to Greek ex-pats to help Greece reduce its debt
  • [15] KKE critical of bill for giving migrants Greek nationality
  • [16] Katseli in Chania: Major changes needed for exit from economic impasse
  • [17] Greece, Qatar in natgas investment talks
  • [18] Deputy tourism minister speaks to Russian news agencies
  • [19] EIB holds conference on 'Energy in SE Europe'
  • [20] Ryanair to begin direct flights from Volos to Milan, Frankfurt
  • [21] Messages on International Women's Day
  • [22] Airbus develops engine failure mid-air, returns safely to Thessaloniki
  • [23] Armed robbers make off with money, jewelry in two incidents in Kifissia, Mandra
  • [24] Court work stoppages throughout coming week
  • [25] Foreign national arrested for smuggling Illegal migrants into Greece
  • [26] Police arrest hit-and-run driver
  • [27] Border police arrest 21 illegal migrants, two traffickers
  • [28] Man arrested for possession of child porn
  • [29] "Atlas of Nestos River Fish Fauna" drawn up by Greek and Bulgarian scientists
  • [30] Dodecanese union anniversary celebrated
  • [31] PAO widens lead in Superleague standings
  • [32] Rain, snow and high winds on Monday
  • [33] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance
  • [34] President: Court ruling cannot stop claims for rights of property owners
  • [35] European Court decision 'negative and wrong', says Government

  • [01] Sarkozy pledges to stand by Greece

    PARIS (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis)

    A meeting here between Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday ended with the French president's pledge for solidarity toward Greece and Sarkozy's call to Greece's European partners to show their support, stressing that this solidarity was precisely the reason why the Eurozone and the euro had been established in the first place.

    The French president stressed that France's support for Greece would not be political only and he agreed with the need to combat financial speculators, noting that they were now targeting Greece but could potentially target any other country in the future.

    Papandreou said he had found active support from France, which recognised and supported the efforts of the Greek people. Noting that resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was not Greece's preferred choice, Papandreou again stressed that Greece was not asking for financial assistance, only the opportunity to borrow at a similar rate as that available to other Eurozone countries.

    On his part, the French president made it clear that the Euro area countries would rise to the occasion. "There must be no doubt on this point," Sarkozy underlined after his one-hour meeting with the Greek premier, also attended on the French side by Economy Minister Christine Lagarde and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

    "The Greek government has taken the measures expected of it. The countries of the Eurozone must now be ready to take their own [measures]. France will therefore do what is necessary," Sarkozy added, while repeating that Greece did not currently need financing.

    Prior to his meeting with Papandreou, the French president held a 45-minute conversation over the phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had met Papandreou on Friday. He said the countries of the Eurozone were currently working on "a number of precise measures" designed to support Greece but declined to specify what these were.

    "Christine Lagarde, working in tandem with her colleagues in the Eurozone and in Europe, is working on a number of precise measures if Greece needs them," he stated.

    Among other things, the French president agreed that speculators were artificially raising the cost of borrowing for Greece and he underlined that they had to be tackled. He stressed that this was a problem that could potentially affect many countries, unless there was a "collective" reply to it.

    He cited "specific, precise means" for achieving this and clarified that "these will not be announced tonight" but that, when they were unveiled, would show that Greece was not supported just politically but in all aspects of any future requirements it might have.

    After the joint statements with Sarkozy, Papandreou held a discussion with reporters in the Greek delegation shortly before his departure for Washington, where he is to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

    After the results of his meetings in Berlin and Paris, the Greek prime minister appeared upbeat about his trip to the U.S., where he will arrive armed with messages of support from France and Germany and a decision by the Eurozone for coordinated action to control financial speculators. During his meeting with the U.S. president, he would ask Obama to support this European initiative, Papandroeu said.

    In the discussion with reporters, Papandreou referred to the initiatives he had taken during his visits to various countries, saying that these and the tough measures taken by the government had systematically built up an 'escape route' from the crisis.

    Noting that the "effort was beginning to yield results", the Greek premier said his talks with Sarkozy had taken European solidarity "one step further".

    The crux of Greece's effort was to dispel the view that it was itself the problem, Papandreou said.

    "The problem lies with the Eurozone, which now has to show that it can stand up to the speculators," he emphasised.

    Concerning Eurozone crisis-management mechanisms, Papandreou said that the currently existing mechanisms were good but unable to deal with the problems directly because they did not move at the same speed as markets.

    He noted that a discussion was currently underway regarding the mechanisms that needed to be established and did not rule out the possibility that significant progress will have been made in this direction by April, when Greece would need to borrow again.

    The Greek premier said that these issues had been at the centre of his talks with the French president and that Greece's EU partners had shown a desire to help. It was very important that Europeans had shown solidarity, Papandreou said, and he particularly emphasised Sarkozy's statements that Greece would not have only political support.

    He again made it clear, however, that Greece was not ruling out the option of borrowing from the IMF if no way to solve the problem within the EU could be found.

    In reply to questions, Papandreou said that the most optimistic scenario was that Greece would need no help at all. He said that this was a likely possibility, noting that the statements made by Merkel and especially Sarkozy had a psychological effect on markets.

    [02] Positive support for Greek measures from Merkel

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - V. Mourtis/P. Stangos)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he met strong support for the harsh austerity measures taken by Greece during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. The meeting ended with a joint press conference, a promise of greater bilateral cooperation but no offer of hard cash on Germany's part.

    During the joint press conference, Papandreou said Merkel had been very positive in her support of the measures taken by Greece to curb state spending and raise revenues, including public-sector wage cuts and a sharp rise in indirect taxation.

    Support for the measures and a decision for joint action by the two countries against speculators were the two main elements of the political support that Greece had sought and received from Germany, he stressed.

    A third element was a decision to expand bilateral cooperation in seven sectors, via a joint committee set up by the two countries.

    Papandreou said his meeting with Merkel was indicative of the good relations between Greece and Germany, while stressing that the measures taken by his government had been necessary, if painful, in order to emerge from the crisis.

    The Greek premier repeated that Greece had not asked for economic assistance, which was confirmed by the German chancellor, and that Greece was not seeking to shunt its responsibilities onto others.

    "We are responsible for our country, for solving its problems, but we need political and moral support, which we received from Germany," he stressed.

    Both Merkel and Papandreou criticised anti-Greek sentiments that had appeared in sections of the German media and also in the statements of some German politicians, with Merkel stressing that they did not reflect her own views or those of her government.

    Among points emphasised by the Greek prime minister was the need to protest the stability of the Eurozone through joint action and a joint approach to problems. According to sources, the Greek premier repeated in talks with Merkel that Greece had the option of seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), though the German Chancellor made no comment on this.

    During the press conference, however, she referred several times to the need for stability in the Eurozone and a solution of problems within the euro area.

    On the issue of action against speculators, Merkel said the two countries would together raise the issue with the European Commission, while Germany would also raise the issue at the next G-20 meeting and other organisations in which it is a member.

    According to the German chancellor, the issue was political and had to be addressed, in spite of any technical difficulties it posed. Governments had to look into ways of controlling speculators, who could not be given a free rein to exploit countries during difficult moments, as they were now doing with Greece, she said.

    The market response to the latest 10-year bond issue launched by Greece showed that they had confidence in Greece and that this would be restored even faster if there were structural reforms, she added.

    In terms of what Germany could do to help Greece, Merkel said that it could show its solidarity and "not allow feelings but actions" to take the upper hand.

    She also strongly supported Greece's presence in the Eurozone, stressing that the European prospect of Greece was the common prospect of all Europe.

    She underlined the need to avert the failure of measures taken by Eurozone countries and also that a discussion of how things might have been if Greece were not in the Eurozone was "pointless".

    "Participation in the Eurozone benefited Greece, it benefited Germany, it benefited everyone," she said.

    Effectively, the result of the meeting was a decision to set up a mixed Greek-Germany government committee to promote bilateral cooperation, especially in the area of 'green' development, and the issue of a joint communique by Papandreou and Merkel.

    Given that the issue of a joint communique after a working visit is considered highly unusual for German diplomacy, the decision to promote the decision for bilateral cooperation in this way is seen as a very positive signal of Berlin's confidence and political support for Athens and a strong message to markets.

    Some circles also see it as a joint effort to improve the climate in bilateral relations "poisoned" by negative press against Greece in sections of the German media, with several references in the joint communique to the "deep friendship" between the two countries and peoples, which opens with a declaration of the deep friendship linking Greece and Germany on a bilateral level and as partners and allies in NATO and the EU.

    This stresses the strong bonds linking the two countries, including the 300,000 Greeks living permanently in German and another 35,000 Germans permanently resident in Greece, as well as the fact that very large numbers of Germans that visit Greece as tourists every year, while one in 10 Greeks is estimated to have lived, studied or worked in Germany for lengthy periods of time.

    It announces the intention to "renew and expand" relations of partnership between the two countries and bilateral economic ties, espeically in supporting the competitiveness and innovation in enterprise and promoting sustainable development.

    It goes on to list seven areas of potential cooperation to be explored, including environmental policy (water quality and cleaning, desalination using renewable energy sources (RES), waste and sewage treatment), energy and climate policy (RES and energy efficiency, knowhow in marketing RES), civil protection (fire-fighting), dialogue between economic and business bodies in Greece and Germany, cooperation in research, immigration and asylum policy, and cultural exchanges.

    [03] Alternate FM Droutsas' interview with Der Spiegel

    Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas praised the "excellent Greek-German relations", in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, but he also stressed that the matter of war reparations from Germany remains open, although "in no instance do we like this with our efforts for streamlining the Greek public finances".

    Asked how tense the relations between Greece and Germany are, Droutsas attributed the tension in the past few days to the feeling that the pressure and criticism on the Greek people sometimes reach the limits of taunting and spite. "All these have caused exacerbations and misunderstandings," he added.

    To a question on whether there are still "open accounts", citing recent statements by Greek government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos on the nazi occupation forces in WWI, which took the money and gold of the Greeks, without ever returning them, and that Hitler had imposed a 3 billion dollars 'loan' and left Greece with an additional debt of approximately 5 billion euros after the nazi forces withdrew from Greece, Droutsas noted that Pangalos' statements reflected the fact that the Greek people felt truly annoyed, "but I am certain that this does not reflect the true relationship between the two countries".

    As for the "open accounts", and in response to a question whether the invocation of Germany's history is a disorientation manoeuver, Droutsas noted that "these issues continue to be open and up for discussion"..."and when a discussion is emotionally charged to such a degree, then these are used as tools".

    "But both sides will not allow themselves to be disoriented by such a discussion," he added.

    Droutsas further clarified that the Greek government has never asked for financial aid from its EU partners, nor does it intend to do so. "What Greece expects from the EU is that it will send a unanimous message that Greece, with the measures it has taken, is on the right path".

    "It is a matter of our credibility. We need the absolute solidarity of our partners so that the markets will calm down again," Droutsas added.

    [04] PM: we cannot allow Greece to go bankrupt

    Prime Minister George Papandreou underlined his determination to stop the country going bankrupt in an exclusive statement to the weekly financial newspaper "Kosmos tou Ependyti" appearing on Saturday.

    "We will not allow it to be said again 'unfortunately, we are bankrupt'. I will give, we will give our all in order to save the country," Papandreou said, referring to the historic and laconic phrase with which his predecessor Harilaos Trikoupis had announced to the Greek Parliament in 1893 that the Greek government was unable to service its debts.

    "We will fight passionately anyone that opposes the efforts of the government and our people to put the economy in order. Starting, first of all, with the speculators. It is not just unfair, it also undemocratic, at the same time that the government is making a superhuman effort, for some 'boys' in New York and elsewhere to be sitting in front of their computers undermining it," he said.

    The prime minister referred specifically to the way the speculators had orchestrated their attack on Greece and said that punishing those responsible "was an issue for all of Europe, not just ourselves". He also promised that in three years time, Greece will be a "different" country.

    He underlined that the sacrifices would yield results and that in three years time, the country's public finances will have been restored to health.

    "In three years time, perhaps sooner, Greece will be a country with credibility, prestige and a hopeful future for its citizens," he said.

    [05] Droutsas at EU FMs' informal meeting in Spain

    CORDOBA (ANA-MPA/D. Constantakopoulos)

    EU foreign ministers discussed the institutional changes required for the exercise of a European foreign policy, as well as international issues and EU enlargement matters at an informal meeting in Cordoba, Spain on Friday and Saturday, with alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas representing Greece.

    On the sidelines of the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers ('Gymnich' meeting), Droutsas had a private meeting with EU candidate country Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who had been invited to the ministers' meeting together with the foreign ministers of two other candidate countries, Croatia and FYROM.

    Droutsas also had a brief discussion with FYROM foreign minister Antonio Milososki, as well as a meeting with EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule.

    Speaking to reporters, Droutsas said that the informal FM meetings provide a more relaxed atmosphere for the discussion of timely issues of concern to the EU, adding that at the Cordoba meeting the EU foreign ministers backed the Israeli-Palestinian indirect negotiations, while they also discussed the European course of the Western Balkan countries.

    Greece's "2014 Agenda" initiative was at the center of the discussions, Droutsas noted, adding that the proposal has created the required political impetus for advancement of the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the EU.

    Droutsas said he briefed his EU colleagues on the Greek government's confrontation of the economic crisis and the struggle being given by the Greek people, who found themselves in the vortex of the crisis due to the faulty practices and choices of the preceding period, as well as their struggle against market speculation.

    Droutsas' meeting with Davutoglu was held in the context of an agreement between the two ministers to meet whenever both are present at international fora, and the discussion focused on a review of the work accomplished by the bilateral Steering Committee and the planning for the committee's next meeting, which is slated for March 9. The Steering Committee is due, at its upcoming meeting, to prepare Droutsas' planned meeting to Ankara, possibly sometime in March, which will be a prelude for a visit by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Athens.

    The Steering Committee was formed to monitor the implementation of existing bilateral agreements between Greece and Turkey and to investigate new areas for cooperation.

    [06] Samaras: ND at fault but PASOK was part of the problem

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras admitted that his party should have been "more decisive" when in power during an interview appearing in the newspaper "Imerisia" on Saturday. At the same time, he said the current ruling party had been "part of the problem".

    "New Democracy owes an apology for not having been more decisive when it was able. But PASOK was a party of this problem, this negligence. It was not part of the solution," he asserted.

    Samaras insisted that a series of Parliamentary probes launched by the government into the events of ND's governance would be damaging for the country during a time when it was taking such harsh measures in order to recover.

    Regarding the prospect of Greece resorting to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if no help was forthcoming from its EU partners, Samaras said that such as move would be "dangerous" and a "bad omen for Greece but also for Europe as a whole".

    "If we do not save ourselves, no one can save us. And if we decide to save ourselves, then it will be easier for Europe to help us and for markets to support us, so that we will not need help from the IMF," he underlined.

    Concerning the economic measures adopted by the government on Friday, Samaras claimed that the government had "miscalculated".

    "On paper it had cut 4 per cent of the deficit through the Stability and Growth Programme and then another 2 percent of the deficit with the measures announced on Wednesday, with the hope of achieving a reduction of the deficit not by 6 percent but by 4 percent."

    ND's leader also predicted that the austerity measures carried a high risk of social upheaval because "there are blatant injustices, gross injustices and these will cause justified rage".

    [07] Pangalos: Exceptionally tough measures, but no other choice

    The economic measures being taken by the government are exceptionally tough and are not pleasant for anyone, but we all must realise that there is no other choice, government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos said on Saturday night on the island of Rhodes.

    The government is obliged to reduce the state deficit because "if we don't do this, we will be faced with a liquidity shortage," Pangalos warned, defending the necessity for the measures.

    Pangalos admitted that he is not happy that such measures are necessary, adding that "I, as every politician, would like the money to exist for public investments, social justice, etc., but this is the reality", while he rejected a package of measures counter-proposed by main opposition New Democracy as superficial and lacking credibility.

    Asked to comment on reactions to the measures within the ruling party itself, Pangalos stressed there PASOK faces no risk of fragmentation or division.

    "The government, and I personally, have confidence in the average Greek citizen and know that he has perceived the reality and does not want facile solutions that lead to disaster," Pangalos said.

    Asked on the prospect of the '14th' salary being reduced in the private sector as well, Pangalos said there is no correlation with the measures announced by the government for the public sector. If such a move would boost competitiveness, then it would be an issue that the employers and employees must look into "although, personally, I don't believe that a reduction in remuneration will increase competitiveness".

    Later Saturday, Pangalos addressed a gathering of local PASOK supporters, while on Sunday he will represent the government at the 62nd anniversary of the union of the Dodecanese Islands with Greece.

    [08] Papariga: measures 'dangerous'

    The measures passed by the government were "clearly dangerous for the interests of the workers," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said at a rally organised by the KKE-affiliated trade union faction PAME on Friday.

    She said her party had walked out of the debate on the bill because "it was not worth the trouble to discuss such a draft bill".

    "Any kind of discussion on improving the bill would not just be a form of disorientation but also dangerous. At a stage when whatever comes to Parliament is tragic for the workforce, we are fighting before a draft bill comes to Parliament," Papariga said.

    According to KKE's leader, the measures were not just "repressive but a tragedy for the people" and she issued a general call for people to attend the rally on Monday, International Woman's Day, so that "Athens and other cities will truly drown [in people] and say: stop the measures, we will spoil your plans".

    [09] Four opinion polls on measures, blame for economic situation

    Although the majority of respondents in four opinion polls appearing in newspapers on Sunday acknowledge that the measures taken by the Greek government for fiscal streamlining are necessary, they nevertheless describe them as "unfair and tough" and believe they will chiefly impact the lower income brackets.

    According to a Kapa Research opinion poll appearing the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper, 69.1 percent of the respondents believe that the measures will be temporary, although finance minister George Papaconstantinou has stated that they will be permanent, while 59.1 percent say they have confidence in the effort being made by prime minister George Papandreou to bring the country out of the crisis.

    However, 95.1 percent stress that the measures, in order to succeed, must also be combined with a developmental policy.

    Further, 86.5 percent of the respondents say that the measures must not become harsher with the imposition of new taxes, while 75.9 percent oppose the measures' extension to the private sector as well.

    Also, half of the respondents believe that the reduction in their incomes creates new class differences and rifts in the country's social fabric, while 86.9 percent believe it highly likely that a social uprising will erupt, and only 45.6 percent see the mobilisations organised by the country's two largest umbrella federations, GSEE and ADEDY, as "positive".

    In an Alco opinion poll appearing Sunday in Proto Thema newspaper, 86. 2 percent of the respondents say the measures are "unfair" and 71.9 percent consider them "harsh".

    Despite the measures, 41.0 percent of the respondents continue to have a positive or improved impression of the government, although 64.0 percent believe the measures will prove inadequate for tackling the economic crisis.

    One a one-by-one assessment of the measures, the respondents disagree with five of the 12 measures, believing they impact the middle and low incomes. More specifically, the respondents consider as "very negative" the VAT increase (80.8 percent), the increase in fuel prices (80.3 percent), the freeze on pensions (75.4 percent), and the cuts in the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses (70.5 percent), while 54.7 percent consider the reduction in benefits in the public sector as "negative".

    According to a Public Issue opinion poll appearing in Sunday's edition of Kathimerini newspaper, 36 percent of the respondents attribute the biggest blame for the "fiscal collapse" to older governments: 28 percent to the preceding New Democracy (ND) governments of Costas Karamanlis from 2004 to 2009; 14 percent to the older PASOK governments of Andreas Papandreou in 1981-1989 and 1993-1996; and 12 percent to the PASOK governments of Costas Simitis in 1996-2004.

    The respondents also strongly disagree with the increase in tax on fuel (78 percent), the freeze on pensions (74 percent), the cutbacks in Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses (72 percent) and the increase in VAT (68 percent).

    In a Pulse RC opinion poll appearing in Sunday's issue of Eleftheros Typos newspaper, the overwhelming majority of the respondents (90 percent) attribute blame for the present state of the economy to older governments -- 81 percent to the Karamanlis governments and 76 percent to the Simitis governments -- while 46 percent put the blame on the delays by the current PASOK government of George Papandreou.

    The respondents further object to the measures, in declining order, for cutbacks in the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses and in remuneration, and the increases in VAT and the tax on fuel.

    However, with respect to voter intent (what party the respondent would vote for if general elections were to take place the following Sunday), the incumbent PASOK presents a 12 percentage point lead over main opposition ND.

    [10] More strikes on the way

    Greek trade unions will reply with more strikes and rallies to the austerity measures passed by the government in response to the crisis, holding the next 24-hour general strike on March 11.

    General strikes on that date have been declared by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union group for the private sector, and the civil servants' union ADEDY.

    Strikes were organised by GSEE and ADEDY and several smaller unions and federations on Friday, while the centre of Athens and Thessaloniki were essentially shut down by a series of large rallies and marches that included violent incidents, attacks on police and vandalism targeting banks and luxury cars.

    [11] Attack on Glezos, GSEE leader

    Attica police on Saturday announced the start of an investigation into the attack on trade union leader Yiannis Panagopoulos during Friday's large-scale rally outside Parliament, in protest against the measures announced by the government. They also issued an announcement concerning the incident in which the elderly leftist politician Manolis Glezos was sprayed in the face with tear gas by police.

    Panagopoulos, who is president of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector workforce, was attacked by unidentified individuals from within the crowd and had to be admitted to hospital.

    The announcement said the spraying of Glezos was an accident that occurred as the police guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were attempting to drive back a group that was attacking police, harrassing the Evzones guards stationed outside Parliament and causing damage.

    "Police rushing to the scene proceeded to arrest one individual that took part in the incidents and was holding a plank...when a group of individuals moved against police attempting to free the detainee, police forces made limited use of tear gas against those resisting the arrest, which caused Manolis Glezos to suffer respiratory discomfort and he was then taken to hospital."

    Twelve people were detained for incidents that took place during Friday's demonstration before Parliament, of which five were placed under arrest.

    Both Panagopoulos and Glezos are still in hospital but not considered any danger.

    Athens was the scene of several marches and rallies on Friday, as well as incidents of violence and vandalism that echoed the events of the previous December, while shops throughout the downtown section were closed.

    [12] Glezos discharged from hospital

    Veteran leftist politician Manolis Glezos was discharged from Evangelismos hospital in Athens on Sunday, having recovered from his injuries and the respiratory difficulties caused after he was sprayed in the face with tear gas by police at Friday's demonstration outside Parliament.

    The elderly politician, who is now in his late 80s, said he accepted the apology expressed by police representatives but called on police officers to henceforth report "any order that turns them against citizens in an illegal fashion. It is imperative that their actions have an exclusively defensive nature."

    He also asked to meet the specific police officer responsible for spraying him, saying he wanted to find out why he had done it, and expressed support for an article appearing in the Sunday Eleftherotypia calling for an immediate ban of the use of tear gas against the public.

    "These suffocating chemical weapons, which are banned in international conflicts, our permitted in our country against the enemy populace, and constitute a general exercise of blind violence. And if blind violence is condemnable, it is doubly so when exercise by organs of the state".

    [13] European Parliament to discuss crisis in Greece

    The European Parliament is to discuss the economic crisis in Greece during its session on Wednesday, March 10.

    On this day, the assembly will adopt a position on the resolution dealing with the results of the informal EU summit held last month in Brussels on the economic crisis. In this, EU leaders made a political promise to help Greece meet the crisis if this proved necessary and also discussed a new European strategy for growth and employment known as the EU 2020 strategy.

    [14] SAE call to Greek ex-pats to help Greece reduce its debt

    ALEXANDRIA (ANA-MPA - N. Katsikas)

    The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Sunday issued to call to all Greek expatriates, asking them to donate to its campaign 'Support Fund for Greece' that seeks to raise money to lower the country's high public debt.

    Stressing that the head of the campaign in President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, SAE said it was confident in the "immediate and positive response of all to this initiative, so that Greeks everywhere will stand at the side of Greece, proving that united we are stronger and proud to be Greek".

    The SAE has created a special bank account at the central branch of the Bank of Greece in which funds can be donated with the account number 24/26132462 "Solidarity Account for Paying the Public Debt", which has been accepting deposits since Friday at the central branch and other branches of the Bank of Greece, and the entire network of highstreet banks.

    The IBAN number of the above account in GR 04 010 0024 0000000026132462 and SWIFT/BIC BNGRGRAA. Further information is provided by the Public Organisations Department at the numbers 210 320 2716 210 320 3376.

    The fund also had one of its first contributors on Sunday in the face of an elderly Greek-Australian sociologist and activist Dorothy Buckland-Fuller, born in 1922, who announced that she had put her entire savings in a special account to help Greece, though she did not disclose the amount that these came to.

    [15] KKE critical of bill for giving migrants Greek nationality

    In a lengthy announcement issued on Sunday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) criticised the final form of a bill for granting foreign migrants Greek nationality and the right to vote in municipal elections, saying it was a way "to better manipulate and incorporate migrants in the bourgeois political system".

    The party's Political Bureau emphasised that the right to become a Greek citizen was made conditional on financial status - with ownership of property an indication of being integrated into Greek society - and political agreement with the "specific economic-social system of exploitation and capitalist barbarity".

    "We are returning to the times when political rights were dependent on property," it noted.

    The political rights given to migrants would also be used to create divisions between "old" and "new" migrants, "privileged" and "unprivileged" and "legal" versus "illegal", it said.

    The party disagreed with making the acquisition of nationality by the children of migrants dependent on their parents having five years legal and continuous residence in Greece that had to be proven via final residence permits, noting that thousands of migrants were currently unable to obtain or renew residence permits in spite of living and working in Greece for years.

    It also disagreed with the addition of having a clean criminal record for those seeking Greek citizenship as adults, noting that among offences that would bar a migrant from acquiring Greek nationality were included those of resisting authority, slander and active support of migrants lacking papers.

    KKE said its central position was the legalisation of migrants and refugees that live and work in Greece, giving them equal rights and facilitating their movement to other member-states of the EU, counter to the regulations and directives of the EU.

    It added that the children of migrants should be recorded in municipal registers and enjoy the same rights as other children, obtaining Greek nationality upon coming of age, if they desired.

    Financial News

    [16] Katseli in Chania: Major changes needed for exit from economic impasse

    The need for major changes in order for the country to exit from its economic impasse was stressed by Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping minister Louka Katseli in Chania, on the island of Crete, on Saturday night.

    "Today, major changes are necessary in order for our country to change direction," Katseli underlined, and "in order to face the great problems we inherited, the fiscal derailment, inability to borrow on the international markets at a reasonable cost, the recession on the market that is deepening, the crisis in competitiveness that is evident in our trade balance, in which we essentially import three times that which we export".

    Now is the time of the immense decisions, and that is what the Greek people elected the PASOK government to do, providing confidence in the government to make the deep changes necessary, she added.

    Katseli defended the tough measures taken by the government, and expressed optimism that fiscal streamlining will be achieved in 2010.

    "The latest measures announced are supplementary measures that were deemed necessary to send a clear-cut message to the markets that the fiscal streamlining will succeed, despite the difficulties, in 2010," the minister said.

    On the new taxation bill, which she said will be tabled in parliament in March, Katseli said that the situation is difficult and anticipated that it will become even more difficult in the coming months since there will be "a substantial reduction in buying power".

    "Development is not an 'aspirin', it is not something you take now and you have results tomorrow. It is something that requires persistence and lasting effort," she explained.

    Katseli stressed that the measures "should have been taken two years ago" so that the market would not be in a recession today, and consequently "now we are accelerating all the procedures, all the measures that we can take, in order to structure the market in 2010 and at the same time, from within the Public Investments Program and through the mobilisation of private investments, we can look forward to better days at the end of the year, towards 2011".

    On the prospect of reducing salaries in the public sector as well, the minister said this was an item of negotiation among the social partners, given that the state does not regulate such matters, and expressed the view that the developments will be influenced by what is being done in the public sector.

    "That is the way it has always been. The public sector and the incomes policy in the public sector put a mark on the incomes policy in the private sector," she continued.

    Katseli said that negotiations will take place among the social partners and "I believe that there will be a de-escalation in salary increases there (in the private sector) as well".

    [17] Greece, Qatar in natgas investment talks

    Greece and Qatar are in the process of negotiations for the development of natural gas projects in the Astakos Naval Industrial Zone (NAVIPE).

    Minister of State Haris Pamboukis had a telephone discussion with Qatar deputy prime minister and energy and industry minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah on the materialisation of a substantial investment in the Astakos industrial zone, as a follow-up to a visit to Qatar by Greece's deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis, according to an announcement on Sunday by the Information General Secretariat.

    During their telephone discussion, the two officials agreed on the two governments' mutual support in view of the commencement of the licencing process for the project, which will be overseen by environment, energy and climate change minister Tina Birbili, while the announcement also said that there will be a high-level exchange of visits in the near future.

    It was further ascertained that such a collaboration will be mutually beneficial, the announcement added, with a substantial economic, developmental benefit for Greece while Qatar, which is a very important producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) world-wide will secure a significant gateway in an EU country.

    The investment concerns the installation of an LNG terminal as well as a natgas-powered electricity production unit, with the parallel application of state-of-the-art technology in the collection and utilisation of the combustion gases for biomass production.

    The announcement also said that the materialisation of the investment will be of major importance to ensuring Greece's energy sufficiency through the creation of a significant energy hub in the country, with the parallel advancement of new "green" technology.

    [18] Deputy tourism minister speaks to Russian news agencies

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/T. Avgerinos)

    The Greek government is searching for ways to further facilitate the process of issuing visas to Russian visitors, despite the significant progress made by the Greek consulates, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou told the ITAR-TASS and RIA-Novosti news agencies in an interview on Sunday.

    Gerekou gave the interview ahead of her visit to tourism exhibitions in Moscow this coming week.

    "Of course we are part of the Schengen Treaty, but we are searching for ways so that Greece adopts, for Russian citizens, some kind of special approach, as regards the other European countries. We want to shape a process that will greatly facilitate the issuing of visas," Gerekou added.

    According to data given by the Greek minister, the Greek consulate in Moscow currently issues visas within 48 hours, while the consulate in St. Petersburg within 24 hours. "But there are still some complaints and we are prepared to handle the situation the soonest possible," she said.

    The Greek deputy minister also referred to an increased interest, on the part of Russian investors, for the Greek market, especially in the tourism sector.

    [19] EIB holds conference on 'Energy in SE Europe'

    Countries in southeastern Europe have a great potential in terms of using renewable energy sources (RES) according to experts speaking at a European Investment Bank conference held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Saturday on "Energy in SE Europe".

    They called for large-scale investments so that RES could become a tool for growth, and supported a different energy "mix" in the countries of the region, combined with investments for modernising and expanding power production capacity.

    [20] Ryanair to begin direct flights from Volos to Milan, Frankfurt

    The budget airline Ryanair will begin direct flights from the Greek coastal town of Volos and the Nea Aghialos airport to Frankfurt and Milan from May 20, with flights to Hahn airport in Frankfurt scheduled every Thursday and Sunday until October 28. The ticket price will range from 24.99 euros to 59.99 euros.

    Flights to Bergamo Airport in Milan will begin on May 27, again on Thursday and Sunday, and again run until October 28. Prices will start from 24.99 euros.

    General News

    [21] Messages on International Women's Day

    Deputy Justice Minister for transparency and human rights Apostolos Katsifaras and Equality Secretary General Maria Stratigaki on Sunday issued messages for International Women's Day, which is observed on March 8 this year.

    Katsifaras said that March 8 is a day dedicated to women and their struggles to consolidate their rights in the family, economic, social and political life, "a day on which we are given the opportunity to honor all women for their multi-faceted and precious contribution to supporting society, to assess the efforts that have been made to promote women's rights all over the world, and to send a strong message on every woman's right to equality".

    The woman's place and role in the socio-economic life of the globalised society, but also in Greece, has been steadily improving in recent years. However, the significant successes that have been achieved to date in the area of gender equality should not create complacency, Katsifaras added.

    He said that in cooperation with the Equality General Secretariat a national program is being drafted for substantive equality of the genders and ensuring the rights of women, utilising the accumulated international experience and good practices in the sector of gender equality, while at the same time joint actions and collaborations are being developed with other sectoral policies.

    The goal, he added, is to reinforce the actions on gender equality in the direction of boosting the woman's position in the social and public sectors through improvement of the quality and efficiency of equality policies.

    Stratigaki, in her own message, said that March 8 is an anniversary marking the women's struggle for better working conditions.

    This year's anniversary finds the working women in Greece in more adverse conditions, due to the economic crisis that limits their incomes and consequently increases the burden for caring for their children and dependents, Stratigaki said, adding that unemployment and financial difficulties intensify the exertion of violence against women in all its forms (spousal abuse, sexual harassment at work, forcing women into prostitution).

    She stressed that "we must not allow the women to disproportionately suffer the burdens of the crisis".

    Stratigaki said that achieving substantive gender equality promotes democracy, employment and prosperity and ensures the human rights of women.

    [22] Airbus develops engine failure mid-air, returns safely to Thessaloniki

    An Aegean Airlines Airbus 320 with 146 passengers aboard developed engine trouble mid-air en route from Thessaloniki to Athens on Sunday and was forced to return to Macedonia Airport, where it landed safely.

    Macedonia Airport chief Savvas Vassiliadis told ANA-MPA that the airbus took off from Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport at 15:32 and a few minutes later, at 15:46, developed engine trouble and made a forced return to Thessaloniki, where it landed safely at Macedonia Airport.

    He said all the passengers of the airbus, which was carrying 4,700 gallons in fuel, were well and safe and will be accommodated on other flights.

    [23] Armed robbers make off with money, jewelry in two incidents in Kifissia, Mandra

    Two armed robberies at the home of an elderly shipowner in Kifissia and a businessman in Mandra, Attica prefecture, took place in the early morning hours of Sunday, and the gunmen made off with a substantial amount of money and jewelry in both cases.

    In the first incident, four gunmen stormed into the home of an 85-year-old shipowner in Kifissia while he was away, and held the maid at gunpoint as they loaded a safe containing gold sovereigns, watches and jewelry of immense value into their jeep and fled.

    In the second incident, gunmen stormed into the home of a businessman in Mandra, who was also away, and held the maid at gunpoint before fleeing with a safe which, according to the owner, contained 200,000 euros in cash.

    [24] Court work stoppages throughout coming week

    Judicial officials on Sunday announced two-hour work stoppages between 10:00 and 12:00 on every day of the coming week, starting on Monday and ending on Friday, in protest against the fiscal austerity measures taken by the government.

    [25] Foreign national arrested for smuggling Illegal migrants into Greece

    A 51-year-old Romanian truck driver was arrested at the Promachonas border station in Serres on Saturday night after 26 illegal migrants, among them 12 children, were found hidden in cardboard boxes in his Romania-registered TIR truck, police said on Sunday.

    The border guards also seized the truck, a cell phone and 710 euros in cash found in the driver's possession.

    The driver is due to appear before a public prosecutor, while the Serres prosecutor stated that the migrants will not be prosecuted.

    [26] Police arrest hit-and-run driver

    Police in Thessaloniki had launched a manhunt on Friday afternoon in order to locate and arrest a hit-and-run driver that was involved in an accident with another vehicle and then fled the scene.

    The 34-year-old suspect was spotted shortly after the incident but ignored the police attempting to flag him down and slightly injured one of the officers in his attempt to escape. He was then located again in another area of Thessaloniki and this time successfully stopped, after he slammed into parked cars.

    The driver was arrested and will now be led before a public prosecutor.

    [27] Border police arrest 21 illegal migrants, two traffickers

    Border police in Ferres, northern Greece announced the arrest of 21 illegal immigrants and two migrant traffickers early on Saturday morning, just after midnight.

    The migrants had been loaded onto a private truck and, accompanied by a second trafficker in a private passenger vehicle, were heading in the direction of Alexandroupolis. Police stopped the truck and also managed to apprehend the driver of the private car, in spite of his attempt to escape.

    Further investigation showed that the truck had been stolen and its driver had no licence to drive it. Both vehicles were confiscated, along with three cell phones and two sets of Bulgarian vehicle license plates.

    Those arrested will be taken before an Alexandroupolis misdemeanours court prosecutor.

    [28] Man arrested for possession of child porn

    A 22-year-old man arrested in Thessaloniki for possession of child pornography has been referred to an examining magistrate, police said on Saturday. In a raid on his home, electronic crime squad officers found two hard disks containing files with child porn. They were investigating a complaint filed by a former girlfriend, who reported that the suspect had posted erotic photographs featuring herself on the Internet.

    [29] "Atlas of Nestos River Fish Fauna" drawn up by Greek and Bulgarian scientists

    The fish fauna of the Nestos River on the Greek-Bulgarian border is characterized by great biodiversity while the presence of many imported fish species (some of them from as far as Asia) on the Greek side of the river has negative consequences on local species and the region's overall ecological balance.

    The fish fauna of Nestos River was "mapped" by Greek and Bulgarian scientists and the common list formed has been included in a book titled "Atlas of River Nestos' Fish Fauna" translated into Greek, Bulgarian and English. The book launch took place on March 1, 2010 in Nea Peramos, near Kavala in northeast Greece.

    The joint list constitutes a useful tool in an effort to deal with the common problems faced by the fish populations on both sides of the river.

    River Nestos has undergone notable environmental changes as a result of human activities that have a negative effect on the fluvial ecosystem, degrade the habitats and alter qualitative and quantitatively characteristics of the fish fauna.

    Based on the study, a total of 20 fish species were recorded in the Greek side of the river, 11 of which are indigenous and the rest come from other ecosystems.

    Project coordinators were Dr. Panos Economidis, Emeritus Professor of Ichthyology in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) and Dr. Manos Koutrakis, Associate Researcher in N.AG.RE.F. - FRI from the Greek side as well as, Dr. Apostolos Apostolou and Dr. Millen Vassilev from the Institute of Zoology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Dr. Luchezar Pehlivanov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Central Laboratory of General Ecology.

    [30] Dodecanese union anniversary celebrated

    The 62nd anniversary of the Dodecanese Islands' union with Greece was celebrated on Sunday with parades and other events throughout the island complex.

    The main event took place on the island of Rhodes, at which the government was represented by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos, while MPs from main opposition New Democracy (ND) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, MPs from the Dodecanese and local and regional officials also attended.


    [31] PAO widens lead in Superleague standings

    Panathinaikos Athens widened its lead atop the Greek Superleague standings on Sunday by downing Levadiakos Livadia at home 3-0. Olympiacos Piraeus fell into third position after its defeat away by Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-0, while PAOK Thessaloniki enjoys second place after thumping Panthrakikos Komotini home on Saturday 3-0.

    In other action:

    Kavala - Aris Thessaloniki 1-1

    Larissa - AEK Athens 1-0

    Ergotelis Crete - Atromitos Athens 1-1

    Panionios Athens - Xanthi 3-0

    PAS Yannina - Asteras Tripolis 1-0

    The standings after the 24th week of play

    Panathinaikos 58

    PAOK 56

    Olympiakos 53

    AEK 42

    Aris 39

    Kavala 37

    Atromitos 32

    Panionios 31

    Iraklis 31

    Asteras Tripolis 30

    Ergotelis 30

    Larissa 27

    Xanthi 25

    Levadiakos 24

    PAS Yannina 24

    Panthrakikos 12

    Weather forecast

    [32] Rain, snow and high winds on Monday

    More wet weather and snow are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with the exception of Crete and the Dodecanese islands that will have scattered cloud. Winds mainly east northeasterly, ranging from 5-8 Beaufort on the mainland and rising up to gale force at sea. Temperatures will be between -1C and 23C. Wet in Attica, with temperatures from 8C to 11C. Snow and sleet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -1C to 3C.

    [33] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The economy, prime minister George Papandreou's meeting later in the day with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, labor action against the government's measures and opinion polls on the measures were the main front-page items in Athens' Sunday newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Those who illegally gained wealth must pay first - That is how will reduce 200 billion euros of the debt - (Main opposition New Democracy former MP Aristidis and former deputy economy minister from April 1990 to October 1003) Tsiplakos' proposal (in interview with the newspaper) for tackling the crisis".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Incorporations of properties into the city plans in the final stretch".

    AVGHI: "Waves of resistance".

    AVRIANI: "DEKO (public utilities and organisations), state-owned buildings and real estate for sale - Bold privatisations plan with simultaneous exploitation of state property".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "First 'yellow' card for George (prime minister Papandreou) - Grace period for the government ending, according to 'Pulse' opinion poll".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Quo vadis? - The big question on the country's course that now plagues all the Greeks".

    ETHNOS: "The euro-deal and the new painful package (of measures) to be drawn today - The rendezvous with Sarkozy clears up the landscape, with the IMF International Monetary Fund) still on the table".

    KATHIMERINI: "On the razor's edge - The cost of borrowing is the wager".

    LOGOS: "From Merkel (German Chancellor) to Obama (US President) via...Sarkozy (French President) The prime minister's effort ensures the widest possible support".

    NIKI: "George-Brussels 'bras de fer' (armwrestling) - Playing the 'IMF card' in light of the upcoming ECOFIN meeting on March 15".

    PARON: "George is not bluffing - IMF and NEW MEASURES".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Struggle for equality means struggle for popular power-economy - Papariga's (KKE-Communist Party of Greece leader) message for International Women's Day (celebrated this year on March 8)".

    TO VIMA: "The SDOE (special financial crimes squad) returns - List of doctors, lawyers, notaries - 'Raid' on shipowners, Football Club S.A.s and 65,000 businesses for VAT".

    VRADYNI: "Closed professions - All to open in 2010 - Dialogue to begin after Easter (celebrated on April 4 this year), new tumult anticipated".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [34] President: Court ruling cannot stop claims for rights of property owners


    President Demetris Christofias stressed here Sunday that a European Court of Human Rights ruling, on property issues, cannot stop the Greek Cypriot side to claim the right of the actual property owners to decide first on the future of their Turkish occupied properties.

    The president also said that it was wrong to have filed such a large number of applications to the Court, with regard to properties in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    The European Court of Human Rights recognised in its judgment on Friday the self-styled immovable property commission (IPC), in Turkish occupied Cyprus, and called on Greek Cypriots to address themselves to this commission if they want to claim their occupied properties.

    The European Court (ECHR), in Strasbourg, also said that the IPC is an effective domestic remedy as far as property claims are concerned, and that Greek Cypriots must first exhaust all domestic remedies before resorting to the ECHR, including the so-called high administrative court in the occupied areas.

    "We must deal with the Court judgment acting in concert, we must not create panic saying the game is lost. The decision is backtracking, we had predicted and often warned that mass applications to the Court could possibly, at the end of the day, lead to the recognition of the property commission in occupied Cyprus," the president said, commenting on the ruling.

    It was wrong to have filed so many applications to the Court, he acknowledged, adding at the same time that "now we have to look ahead, see how to deal with the situation, if possible collectively."

    Asked if the Court decision would have an impact on the ongoing peace talks he is engaged in with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, the president replied: "We are guided by positions of principle at the talks."

    "The Court judgment will not prevent us from defending principles and the right of the real owners of property to have the first choice as far as their property is concerned. I want to assure everybody of that," he stressed.

    On Ankara's remarks on the ruling, he said celebrations about it were rather excessive and possibly aimed at serving a specific purpose.

    "I do not underestimate the negative points in this judgment but we should not panic and say that the game has been lost," the president stressed.

    Asked if Talat might exploit this ruling to his advantage at the peace talks, he replied: "If Talat acts in this manner, then he would be wrong to do that", recalling that he did not attempt to exploit, at the negotiating table, an earlier judicial decision on a property case relating to occupied property owned by a Greek Cypriot.

    "I wish and hope that Talat will continue to talk with respect to his interlocutor, the process of negotiation and the rights of citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots," he added.

    [35] European Court decision 'negative and wrong', says Government

    The government on Saturday described as "wrong" the decision by the European Court of Human Rights which recognises the self-styled immovable property commission (IPC), in Turkish occupied Cyprus, and calls on Greek Cypriots to address themselves to this commission if they want to claim their occupied properties.

    The government stressed that the judgment will be "respected" but it believes that it is a "negative development", pointing out that the Court cannot refer property owners to means which are essentially the product of illegality, if they want to seek restitution of their right to their Turkish occupied property.

    Nicosia has also stressed that the Court refers to the continuing Turkish occupation of Cyprus' northern part and points out Ankara's responsibility to recognise the property rights of Greek Cypriots.

    "We should not give the impression, as some are doing, that political issues such the Cyprus problem can be resolved in the courts. Political issues are settled at the negotiating table and there we table our positions, having as a tool and a weapon international law, resolutions, conventions on human rights and court rulings," Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Saturday.

    The Court, Stephanou pointed out, makes it clear that Greek Cypriots have not lost their title deed on their occupied property and indirectly albeit clearly the Court rejects acts which have transferred such properties illegally to Turkey.

    "Unfortunately, the Court claims that after 35 years, it is not possible to effect restitution in all cases of Greek Cypriots, owners of property in occupied Cyprus, noting in an arbitrary manner the practical and legal difficulties which might arise and could create new injustice," the spokesman said.

    Turkey, he said, is the occupation power and violates the Republic's territorial integrity and international law. "One can consequently ask how the Court can refer Greek Cypriots to an illegal commission which is founded on Turkey's unlawful acts," Stephanou remarked.

    The spokesman acknowledged that a series of problems arise from this judgment, adding that the court ruling is also the result of the view of the Court that the volume of work it has to deal with can be eased if it is dealt with on a national level.

    "This cannot be considered a surprise, for years now the Court had indicated its orientation towards this direction. The huge number of applications filed by Greek Cypriots provided a pretext to the Court to describe the so-called commission as an effective domestic remedy," he added, recalling that Cyprus President Demetris Christofias had warned that mass applica-tions to the Court might run risks which should be avoided.

    Asked if the Court ruling could affect the ongoing peace talks for a political settlement, in particular the property issue, he said "this specific judgment obviously has its problems, repercussions and ramifications which we will evaluate very carefully to see how exactly to deal with them."

    "However, we stick to our positions of principle which we have tabled at the talks and which are based on international law and other court decisions. Irrespective of any problems that may arise, we shall continue to claim the rights of the Greek Cypriots and the rights of our people as a whole through the solution of the Cyprus question," Stephanou stressed.

    Replying to other questions, he said that in the past the government had recommended great caution with regard to mass applications to the ECHR, because this might have had various repercussions.

    Nonetheless, he stressed, "then and now nobody can obstruct any citizen, any refugee from claiming his rights, but we also have an obligation, from the political point of view, to point out what should be done collectively to help efforts for a solution."

    "We had called on people not to address themselves to this illegal commission and I believe everybody can understand why we did this. I want to reiterate that we shall continue our efforts to find a negotiated settlement and in the framework of a comprehensive political settlement to resolve the property issue as well," the spokesman added.

    Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. President Christofias is engaged in talks with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to find a political settlement.

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