|Wednesday, 23 January 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-05-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 18 May 2010 Issue No: 3495
 PM addresses financial Diaspora officialsPrime Minister George Papandreou stressed on Monday that his government is determined to put Greece in a different developmental orbit, by making use of all the prospects that are currently obstructed by bureaucracy, lack of transparency and the educational system, and will also utilise every effort for investments and growth.
Addressing a meeting of financial officials of the Greek Diaspora at a central Athens hotel, Papandreou thanked the Diaspora for being prepared to contribute to a different course for Greece.
Today, he added, "we had the honor of meeting with personalities of the Diaspora, who committed themselves, with love for and dedication to Greece, to mobilise the Diaspora everywhere for investments but also knowhow so that Greece could embark on a different path."
He stressed that his government is determined to put Greece in a different developmental orbit, by making use of all the prospects that are currently obstructed by bureaucracy, lack of transparency and the educational system, and will also utilise every effort for investments and growth.
Papandreou thanked his interlocutors, since as he said "all recognised the effort being made by Greece for big changes, and desired to contribute not only to the mobilisation of Diaspora Hellenism for investments in our country, but also conveying their know-how from their sectors as well, the necessary knowledge for the changes that we must do to attract investments to Greece."
Referring to Greece's comparative advantages, the prime minister included the agricultural sector, the entire food sector in association with tourism, the Renewable Energy Sources with the aim of Greece consuming in 2020 20 percent of its energy from them, as well as high technology issues, informatics, the creation of services in investments, the banking and monetary system and communications and transport.
 PM message on 69th anniversary of Battle of CretePrime minister George Papandreou referred to the economic crisis that Greece and many more countries are facing and also the timelessness of the message of the Battle of Crete, in a message issued on Monday for the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Crete on May 20.
"We pay tribute today, 69 years after the monumental act of resistance, to all those who fought and gave their blood in the Battle of Crete," Papandreou said in his message, adding that "we keep alive in our memories this sacrifice, which has gone down as one of the most glorious pages in the modern history of Hellenism, which was written with the active contribution of people from many parts of the world, people bound by common values and their dedication to freedom and dignity."
"Especially today, when Greece but also many other countries in Europe and the entire world are facing an economic crisis without precedent, the struggle of the Greeks and our Allies on Crete is the biggest proof that when the peoples unite their forces they can achieve even the unachievable," he said.
"This legacy is a source of inspiration and hope, an indisputable message of optimism but, chiefly, a compass for common action in the face of the difficulties we face today, together with all the peoples suffering from the appetites of uncontrollable forces that week to manipulate the lives and future of people," Papandreou added.
He said that the "proud Cretans taught us that, with self-sacrifice, combativeness and, above all, solidarity and camaraderie, nothing is impossible, the even the most difficult goal can be achieved when we are united, determined and have a common purpose".
"The fighters who sacrificed themselves on the altar of liberty in the Battle of Crete will always be in are hearts, will forever dignify the proud history of Greece, and show us the only path befitting of free peoples, that of dignity," the premier's message concluded.
The historic Battle of Crete, which occurred in the early years of WWII, began on the morning of May 20, 1941 when German forces launched an unprecedented airborne invasion of Crete, code-named "Merkur". The operation was successful in that it wrested control of the island from Allied forces, although the victory was so costly in terms of paratrooper casualties that the Wehrmacht never again attempted a major airborne operation. The stiff resistance by the allied troops and local Cretans is also credited, by many historians, with delaying the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
 Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Gerekou resignsGovernment spokesman George Petalotis announced on Monday evening that "Prime Minister George Papandreou accepted the resignation of Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou," adding that "Angela Gerekou submitted her resignation for reasons of sensitivity and decency and so that there shall not be the slightest cause for the Government to be harmed, despite the fact that, as she informed the prime minister, she has no involvement in her husband's pending tax issues."
Gerekou is the wife of noted singer Tolis Voskopoulos. She reisgned following press reports according to which, her husband owes 5.5 million euros to the tax bureau.
 Gov't on press report regarding singer's back taxes"Our message is clearly a message of lawfulness. This is evident in all our actions, moves and thoughts," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said Monday responding to a question on the government's position following press reports according to which, the noted singer husband of a deputy minister owes 5.5 million euros to the tax bureau.
Petalotis said the press report concerns a private individual, is vague and does not present the real dimensions of the case. He pointed out, however, that "if further evidence comes to the surface the government will take a stand and naturally, will continue to defend transparency and the rule of law, while ensuring that its members set a good example."
 Gov't on PM's visits abroadIn addition to implementing its economic programme, the government was also striving to strengthen Greece's position abroad, government spokesman George Petalotis told reporters on Monday concerning a trip by Prime Minister George Papandreou to Madrid for the EU-Latin America summit.
He said this effort had begun on Friday with the visit by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and continued in Madrid, where the discussion would be on development and energy.
Concerning Papandreou's stopover in Milan on his way between Madrid and a visit to Beirut, Petalotis said that an announcement will be made.
Asked about a meeting on Monday between the prime minister, cabinet ministers and Greek expatriate business people based abroad, Petalotis said that Greeks abroad would be able to provide knowhow, ways of thinking and assistance in examining Greece's development.
The spokesman pointed out that the prime minister had also participated in a working dinner with some 25 Greek-American business people during his visit to the United States.
Petalotis also repeated that the government had been obliged to make the wage and pension cuts it decided in order to avoid an immediate borrowing problem.
"When we took these tough decisions we knew very well what they meant fiscally but also the repercussion they would have on citizens' living standards," he said, commenting on a call by former premier Costas Simitis for the return of withdrawn pensions and further cuts to non-payroll spending in ministries.
"None of us wanted to cut benefits or part of the 13th and 14th salaries but it was necessary - and the wager for us is to reorder the economy so that Greek citizens can once more breathe freely," he added.
 Gov't on last week's Erdogan visit"We are following the legitimate and international route to protest against the violations of our airspace and bring the issue to the attention of the international bodies to which we participate," government spokesman George Petalotis said on Monday.
He made the comment in response to a press question on whether NATO recognises Greek airspace, following a statement made by Turkish PM Erdogan that NATO does not record such violations.
Called to comment on Erdogan's statement that the casus belli issue does not concern Turkey unilaterally, Petalotis said the issue is objective and that the casus belli does not contribute to the good neighborly relations between the two countries.
He pointed out that there are issues to be negotiated, such as the continental shelf, on which the Greek government has a specific and standing stance, adding that "Greece is making all necessary steps to live in peace with the neighboring country and the neighboring people."
"It is up to Turkey to make the steps leading to democracy and the EU accession. Therefore, the ball is in Turkey's court," he said.
"Agreements can be reached when possible but the problems between the two peoples are big," he said, maintaining that it is very important for both peoples to build confidence between them.
Called to comment the Turkish prime minister's critique of how some Greek journalists report the airspace violations issue, Petalotis said there are "different views on how the press should operate ... this a matter of democracy".
 ND leader exchanges views with KKE sec.gen.Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Monday that everyone must participate in a national understanding, speaking to reporters after a nearly one-hour meeting with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga in parliament.
"Understanding does not necessarily mean agreement, but disagreement, on the other hand, does not mean alienation among the political parties," he elucidated, stressing that every party has its own view on Greece's future.
ND, he added, has "substantial differences" in viewpoint with the KKE, such as, for example, on the issue of demonstrations. "But this does not mean that we don't want all of the Greek political parties to remain standing in this difficult hour".
He described his talks with Papariga as "useful and constructive".
Papariga, in turn, said that she presented her party's views to Samaras on the course of the economy, and expressed worry, anticipating that new, heavier measures will be implemented, and this was why the KKE was organising a wide-spread information campaign to brief the people "who must be the protagonists of the developments".
Stressing that popular intervention is an element of democracy, Papariga accused the government of identifying protest rallies with violence.
She also stressed that political argumentation is needed among the political parties based on their positions, and not through undemocratic means and slander, "because slander is undemocratic".
 Gov't on consensus, Samaras meetings with left leaders"Now is the time for hard work, done with consistency and a measure of responsibility, to pull the country out of the crisis. Past practices that put the future of the country and people at risk have no place now particularly in this conjuncture," government spokesman George Petalotis said on Monday.
Petalotis pointed out that the government has invited all political powers to join in this struggle and stressed that consensus is built with actions.
Commenting on recent public opinion polls showing that the overwhelming majority of the people have turned their backs to politicians, Petalotis said that the government understands the people's disappointment.
He also referred to the leaders of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), who refused to participate in the recent meeting of the political party leaders, held under the president of the Republic, and preferred to meet with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, characterizing their move as a "paradox". "They should explain their stance to the Greek people," he said.
 ND leader Samaras addresses party eventMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, addressing an event of party local administration officials on Monday, announced the creation of an evaluation committee for those desiring to be ND candidates in the next elections.
Samaras said that ND is being built from the start with strong foundations, with new ideas and new people and its human potential, the political staff of all levels is being renewed.
He stressed that the committee in question will be comprised of distinguished party members who will evaluate all the candidacies.
"All, but all will be evaluated and they will be judged on the basis of their political and personal course. The party has wealth. Those who have caused pain to it, those who have harmed the party will have no role in the new New Democracy," Samaras pointed out.
He mentioned that he had proposed, among other things, the change in the law regarding the responsibility of ministers, the generalisation of sources of income for public functionaries, incompatibility between the capacity of party member and the head of a public organisation and the need for a revisory Parliament that will proceed with reforms for the shielding of public interest.
Samaras underlined "we are experiencing extraordinary situations that require extraordinary solutions" and pointed out that initiatives must be undertaken which pave the way for bold reforms with the greatest possible agreement of the political world on the governance system and the economy.
 LAOS leader to present evidence on false Eurostat figuresPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) President George Karatzaferis will deliver evidence to the 8th justice court judge in Athens on Tuesday in support of a petition he submitted alleging that state officials had committed punishable acts as regards the false figures presented by the Greek state to Eurostat.
A statement issued by LA.OS stressed that Karatzaferis will present the evidence after having repeatedly brought up the issue in parliament and having discussed it with Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis.
 Birbili on Renewable Energy SourcesEnvironment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili on Monday evening presented the government's initiatives to promote Renewable Energy Sources and the main arrangements contained in the relevant bill, at the preliminary session of the 3rd annual Mediterranean Sustainable Energy Summit.
The meeting which is taking place at an Athens hotel will begin officially on Tuesday.
The minister referred to the national targets that have been set so that by the year 2020 the participation of Renewable Energy Sources in covering the final energy consumption will reach 20 percent, as well as to the arrangements to facilitate investors for the incorporation of Renewable Energy Sources in electric power production.
She also placed emphasis on the arrangements that improve licensing and pricing procedures and underlined the impetus that the development of Renewable Energy Sources will provide for the country's economy, with the creation of new jobs, the reduction of energy dependence and the corresponding strengthening of energy self-sufficiency.
 Scientific community expresses concernGreece's scientific community, in an announcement on Monday, expresses its grave concern over "its daily degradation regarding its handling both with its selected targeting emanating by the mass media and the auditing mechanisms in general, as well as with the chaotic legislative framework that is being shaped."
In parallel, the scientific community requests a meeting with the prime minister to present the problems facing it.
The Scientific Community is composed of the Plenum of Presidents of Bar Associations of Greece, the Technical Chamber of Greece, the Panhellenic Medical Society, the Pharmaceutical Society of Athens, the Greek Dentistry Federation, the Notary Public Society of Athens and the Federation of Judicial Supervisors.
 Commission to investigate role of CDS trades in Greek crisisBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
European Commissioner for regulating financial markets Michel Barnier on Monday announced that the European Commission is currently investigating whether and to what extent there had been suspicious speculative trading of Credit Default Swaps (CDS) driving the Greek debt crisis.
The Commissioner announced that he intends to propose controls that will curb speculative trading in CDS with the aim of increasing transparency and ensuring greater responsibility by those operating in this market. Barnier said the measures will require that there be a record of all operators in the CDS market "in order to shed light on a sector that until now preferred the darkness."
He also underlined the need to change the way that credit rating agencies operate, pointing out that problems arose because they were both few in number and the repercussions of their assessments were automatic and very significant.
The Commissioner announced a new legal framework in this area by December, stressing the need to ensure transparency and especially in relation with open access by any interested party to the figures on which the credit rating agency reports were based.
 Greece moves up 6 places in global competitiveness reportGreece moved up six places in this year's global competiti-veness list of the Institute for Management Development (IMD), despite the government's decision to resort to an EU/IMF support mechanism to avoid bankruptcy.
The Greek "paradox" is related on the one hand with the significant decline of other countries (such as Slovenia which fell 20 places) and on the other hand to more positive forecasts by business executives over the management of Greece's public finances in the next two years. Presenting the annual report of IMD, Nikolaos Pentzos, president of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE), said Greece ranked 46th among 58 countries (up from 52nd in 2009), recording improvement in three sectors: economic efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.
On the other hand, Greece lost one place in government efficiency.
Country rankings is the result of a combination of macro-economic data (2/3) and opinion survey (1/3). Pentzos said efforts to cut the public sector and establish a climate of transparency also positive contributed in the country's improved ranking.
SBBE's president said a decision to resort to an EU/IMF support mechanism was inevitable but stressed that the new measures will widen imbalanaces in the country and stressed that a second package of measures would be a big mistake, since enterprises and workers cannot afford more sacrifices.
 One-third of Greek enterprises report losses in 2009, IcapOne in three Greek enterprises reported losses last year, a report by Icap said on Monday.
The report, based on the analysis of around 4,100 balance sheets - around 10 pct of total societe anonymes and limited companies publishing annual balance sheets -- showed that 26.44 pct of enterprises reported EBITDA losses, another 36.15 pct were loss making in pre-tax earnings, a 54.05 pct reported negative change in EBITDA and 53.71 pct negative change in pre-tax profits.
Icap said from the sample of 4,098 balance sheets did not include Public Power Corp. and Hellenic Petroleum because of extreme price volatility recorded in their balance sheets.
Consolidated results showed that sales fell 10.3 pct last year, for revenue loss of 7.2 billion euros, while gross earnings fell 7.3 pct. Financial spending fell 25.8 pct, or 454 million euros, with operating results falling 8.8 pct, or 377.7 million euros in 2009. Pre-tax profits dropped 24.1 pct, while EBITDA fell 7.0 pct to 7.08 billion euros.
The report showed that total capital recorded a 0.1 pct change, equity capital fell 1.5 pct, while medium-term borrowing fell 0.9 pct and short-term borrowing rose 3.3 pct in the year.
The manufacturing sector was more affected by a negative climate, compared with other sectors. The 884 manufacturing companies included in the report, recorded an 18.7 pct decline in sales, or 4.2 billion euros, pre-tax earnings dropped 40 pct and EBITDA fell 11.5 pct to 1.5 billion euros in 2009.
The commerce sector suffered an 8.5 pct decline in sales last year. Profitability of the sector (1,126 enterprises) fell 37.4 pct, pre-tax profits shrank by 296 million euros and EBITDA fell 11.5 pct.
The construction sector reported a 10.9 pct decline in sales last year. A total of 262 companies in the report, recorded negative operating results in 2009 (-33.1 million euros), with EBITDA down 27.8 pct and losses more than double compared with 2008 to 35.4 million euros.
The tourism sector (419 enterprises) recorded a 5.2 pct loss in revenue, with gross earnings down 19.4 pct last year. Operating results fell 74.9 pct, with losses of 2.3 million euros. EBITDA fell 16.5 pct in the year.
 Credit conditions worsen in AprilCredit conditions worsened in April as an economic recession created conditions of credit squeeze in Greek markets, official figures showed on Monday.
A monthly report by Teresias SA, credit market's watchdog, showed that bounced checks rose 4.79 pct in volume and fell 7.94 pct in value in April, to 15,719 and 138.8 million euros, respectively, compared with March, but fell 43.3 pct in volume and 48.8 pct in value compared with the same month last year. In the four-month period from January to April, bounced checks totaled 52,423 units, worth 504.8 million euros.
The number of unpaid bills in April totaled 10,145 worth 15.6 million euros, down 19.74 pct and 22 pct, respectively, compared with March, while in comparison with the same month last year, volume fell 3.18 pct and value was down 0.44 pct. In the four-month period from January to April, volume totaled 41,729 worth 71.1 million euros.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.70%
Personal & Household: +0.05%
Raw Materials: +1.52%
Travel & Leisure: -1.97
Food & Beverages: -2.65%
Financial Services: -2.78%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.85
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.82
HBC Coca Cola: 18.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.15
National Bank of Greece: 10.53
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.80
Bank of Piraeus: 4.90
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 95 million euros on Monday, of which 43 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 52 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (June 16, 2020) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 40 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 520 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 8.06 pct and the German Bund 2.85 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.95 pct, the three-month 0.64 pct and the one-month rate 0.40 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.244
Pound sterling 0.862
Danish kroner 7.5
Swedish kroner 9.680
Japanese yen 115.08
Swiss franc 1.412
Norwegian kroner 7.783
Canadian dollar 1.289
Australian dollar 1.415
 Stocks end 1.43% downStocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday. The composite index of the market fell 1.43 percent to 1,634.61 points, after falling as much as 3.20 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 155.109 million euros.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.59 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.17 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index fell 1.59 pct. The Health (5.25 pct) and Utilities (1.59 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (4.43 pct) and Constructions (3.60 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 129 to 44 with another 54 issues unchanged. Paperpack (10 pct), Autohellas (9.04 pct), Elfico (8.77 pct) and Tzirakian (8.11 pct) were top gainers, while Neorio (19.64 pct), Compucon (11.11 pct) and Technical Publications (9.30 pct) were top losers.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.56 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 55.675 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,311 contracts worth 39.898 million euros, with 26,503 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,620 contracts, worth 15.777 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (9,085), followed by Eurobank (877), MIG (845), OTE (2,308), Piraeus Bank (639), National Bank (4,773), Alpha Bank (1,756) and Cyprus Bank (771).
 Children flock to City of Athens Street EventsMore than 5,000 children turned out on Sunday for a new Street Event organised by the City of Athens aiming to transform the city center into a sports field for youngsters.
The children flocked to downtown Panepistimiou street where tennis, soccer, basketball and hockey fields were set up by the organisers.
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, City of Athens Youth and Sport Organisation (ONA) chairman Vassilis Kikilias and a bevy of prominent soccer, basketball and tennis stars were also on hand throughout the day
The street events were organised under the auspices of the Education and Life-Long Learning Ministry.
The event was part of a series of three sports happenings titled "Athens City Games 2010" aiming to present a different side of Athens and showcase a more outgoing, healthy and positive way of life for the residents and the city, according to the organisers.
The City Games kicked off on Sunday, April 25, with the city's classic sporting event, the Athens Fun Run, the motto of which was "This year, I'm running for me!". The Fun Run is Athens' oldest and largest participatory sport event.
The third event of the series will take place on Sunday, October 10, is the popular Athens Cycle Tour, which showcases an alternative mode of transport in the modern metropolis and offers an opportunity for all to be familiarised with this commuter medium.
 Thessaloniki courthouse to close for repairs after bomb attackThe justice ministry on Monday announced that all services housed in the Thessaloniki courthouse will be suspended until damage caused by last Friday's bomb attack has been restored.
The committee for the administration and running of the courthouse will convene at 11:00 on Tuesday to seek a way to conduct court business considered particularly urgent, such as cases linked directly with prison sentences, magistrate courts, interrogations, cases where the statute of limitations is about to expire or have reached the 18-month limit for detention on remand.
The committee will examine the possibility of transferring some of these services to chambers not affected by the blast.
The courthouse remained closed on Monday, with access given only to police officers transferring prisoners.
An assessment of the damage will be carried out by town planning department engineers, who will check if the building is still safe.
The bomb caused extensive damage in the basement and ground floor, while it also damaged electrical wiring and plumbing.
Counter-terrorism squad officers said that a battery, a watch and some cables have been retrieved at the site of the blast and this evidence will be examined to determine how the bomb was set up and the type of explosive used.
 Jewish Holocaust Monument vandalised in RhodesThe Jewish Holocaust Monument in the city of Rhodes was vandalised by unidentified persons during the past days.
The vandals destroyed the Star of David and cracked one side of the granite Monument. The monument had been desecrated about two years ago as well and the perpetrators had placed a video of the incident in the internet.
The Central Jewish Council issued a protest announcement on the vandalisim, while the perpetrators are being sought by the local police authorities.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 25C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northwesterly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 24C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 20C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe increase in the number of European countries tending to follow the 'Greek model' of imposing austerity measures, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Greece and talks with the government, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Orgy of bogus university and high school degrees - Thousands of illegal appointments in public sector".
APOGEVMATINI: "Loans to cover debts - Banks offer liquidity 'aspirins'."
AVRIANI: "Ministers and MPs hiding from the people - They fear society's outrage".
ELEFTHEROS: "Erdogan's eight ultimatums to Papandreou - He saw lack of governance in Greece and went beyond the limits".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Double slap from IMF chief Dominique Strauss- Kahn and ECB president Jean Claude Trichet - New revelations uncover government's political scam'.
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Doctors implicated in bribery will face felony charges".
ESTIA: "International media articles on Greece - We are humiliating our country".
ETHNOS: "Erdogan's message for....self-censorship - He recommended that we close our eyes to the Turkish aircraft violations in the Aegean".
IMERISSIA: "Measures to shield the euro - Severe market surveillance regulations".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Crucial decisions on the eurozone's future".
TA NEA: "Alarm over the euro - Extraordinary measures in order to avert new attacks".
VRADYNI: "George (Papandreou, prime minister) you are late - ECB president Jean Claude Trichet accuses government of delay".
 Christophides: President replies to Eroglu's invitationNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has not declined an invitation to dinner from the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Dervis Eroglu, Undersecretary to the President and Acting Government Spokesman Titos Christophides has said in a written statement.
''It is a fact that Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Dervis Eroglu has sent a letter to President of the Republic Mr. Demetris Christofias, inviting him to dinner before the commencement of talks on May 26,'' the statement, issued here Monday, said.
''The President of the Republic, in a letter of reply, did not decline the proposal but suggested instead that this social meeting takes place in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Mr. Alexander Downer, either at the residence of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cyprus or at a specific restaurant within the demilitarised zone, which has been used on previous occasions,'' he notes.
Christophides says that ''in his letter, the President of the Republic leaves open the possibility of similar social meetings in due time.''
The written statement was issued after reports in the local press that President Christofias had declined the invitation.
President Christofias and the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in talks since September 2008 with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. In April‘s ’elections÷ in northern Turkish occupied Cyprus, Talat was replaced by Eroglu. Peace talks are scheduled to resume on May 26.
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