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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-07-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 23 July 2010 Issue No: 3548


  • [01] PM meets Netanyahu, promises peace initiatives
  • [02] Greek PM Papandreou meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas
  • [03] PM has telephone conversations with Russian, Bulgarian counterparts
  • [04] Rakintzis testifies before Supreme Court deputy prosecutor
  • [05] Greek diaspora organisations SAE and WHIPA discuss closer cooperation
  • [06] Greek FinMin optimistic over economic developments
  • [07] Privatisations committee to meet Friday
  • [08] Greece raises another 450 mln euros from 13-week T-bill issue
  • [09] Foreign direct investments to Greece down 25 pct in 2009, UNCTAD
  • [10] Greece tops customs seizures of counterfeit goods in 2009
  • [11] Greek stocks jumped 2.66 pct on Thursday
  • [12] ADEX closing report
  • [13] Greek bond market closing report
  • [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [15] Three killed in tourist bus-truck collision in N. Greece
  • [16] Holargos metro station to open on Friday
  • [17] Three major fires currently underway in Greece
  • [18] Consumer group urges motorists to refuse toll payments on sub-standard roads
  • [19] Hot, sunny weather on Friday
  • [20] The Thursday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance
  • [21] Leaders discuss property issue
  • [22] Cyprus: ICJ argumentation differentiates Cyprus issue from Kosovo

  • [01] PM meets Netanyahu, promises peace initiatives


    Prime Minister George Papandreou held a joint press conference here on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after a meeting between the two prime ministers in Tel Aviv. Papandreou is carrying out the first visit to Israel by a Greek prime minister since the country was formally recognised by Greece in 1993.

    The Israeli premier joked about this to reporters, in fact, saying that they were still trying to decide whether this was the first official visit or not.

    Papandreou, on his part, thanked Netanyahu for his willingness to support the actions of the Greek government to emerge from the economic crisis and referred to the strong bonds and close relations that have developed between the two countries over the course of time.

    The Greek premier also referred to a further development of cooperation in tourism, agriculture, trade and technology.

    Concerning the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Papandreou praised the Israeli government's decision to relax the blockade but stressed that a series of measures would now be necessary for a final solution to the problems.

    He also expressed hope and conviction that indirect talks on the Palestinian problem would lead to direct talks in the near future.

    The Greek premier indirectly replied to articles in the Israeli and foreign press concerning the timing of his visit, saying that the strengthening of relations was a standing policy for Athens and underlining his intention for more initiatives to promote the peace process.

    "We are neighbours, we live in the same region, we desire peace and we do not take advantage of conflicts in the area. We are taking and I will take further initiatives, including with Turkey, for a peaceful dialogue in order to proceed with building a peaceful neighbourhood for the benefit of all," he stressed.

    The Greek prime minister invited his Israeli counterpart to visit Greece, an invitation that Netanyahu accepted, promising to carry out the visit in the near future.

    On his part the Israeli premier stressed the many things that Greece and Israel shared in common, which he said arose from a shared set of values and principles.

    He said that their talks had focused primarily on the peace process negotiations, establishing peace in the region and peace with neighbours, adding that this "could not be different".

    "We exchanged views on how this could be achieved. We had a constructive dialogue that came to supplement all that we had first discussed during our chance meeting some time ago in a restaurant in Moscow," Netanyahu said.

    He said the two sides had also explored ways of extending existing economic ties in the fields of technology, know-how, trade and agriculture.

    The Israeli premier went on to express concern at the Iranian government's desire to develop a nuclear programme and praised the stance adopted by U.S. President Barack Obama on this issue. He also asked Papandreou, who was due to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a few hours, to convey the Israeli side's sincere desire to both negotiate and come to an agreement.

    "Both sides know how to and desire to reach a compromise," he stressed.

    The Greek premier, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and government spokesman George Petalotis, on Thursday met Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Israel's main opposition party leader Tzipi Livny.

    After meeting Israeli officials, Papandreou was to meet the family of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

    Papandreou is the first Greek prime minister to pay an official visit to Israel since Greece's recognition of the country in 1993. It is also Papandreou's first visit to the country in his capacity of prime minister.

    The Greek premier, who arrived in Israel on Wednesday accompanied by alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and minister of state and government spokesman George Petalotis, began the second day of his visit by laying a wreath at the monument on Mt. Herzl followed by a visit to the Holocaust Museum.

    [02] Greek PM Papandreou meets Palestinian Authority President Abbas

    RAMALLAH (ANA-MPA/P.Haritos)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said here on Thursday that Greece "more than ever before supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state."

    Speaking after talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Papandreou reiterated his position in favour of the peace process and expressed his belief that all sides involved should help towards the start of a sustantial dialogue.

    During a joint press conference following a two hour-long meeting, the Palestinian president welcomed the Greek premier saying: "It is well known that the relations between our countries are historic. Greece has stood by the side of the Palestinian people in its struggle, and we thank you for that."

    "However, Abbas continued, "in the current conjuncture and in order to push forward the peace process, the acceptance, by Israel, of the June 4 1967 borders is needed and also that the capital of Palestine is East Jerusalem, after which we can advance in the peace process."

    Expressing his concern over Israel's stance and actions over a number of issues, the Palestinian leader said that a direct or indirect dialogue should be based on international legality and the existing agreements.

    "There is the need for immediate negotiations...This will happen. But when we reach this point it will be the result of direct preparatory contacts between Israelis and Palestinians and not the result of mediation or pressure by any other side," Abbas noted.

    Expressing Greece's support to President Abbas and the Palestinian people, Papandreou said: "We support the creation of an independent Palestinian state. An independent Palestinian state, next to a safe Israel, is the only solution to the Palestinian problem."

    "All sides must accelerate the process for having the two sides on the negotiating table," Papandreou said.

    Regarding the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Greek premier expressed his concern. "I express from here as well my concern over Gaza. We want to see the blockade lifted. It must be understood that this is in the benefit of the people of Gaza but it will also de-escalate intra-Palestinian tensions."

    Earlier, Papandreou, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, met with his Palestinian counterpart Salam Fayadh.

    [03] PM has telephone conversations with Russian, Bulgarian counterparts

    Prime minister George Papandreou had a late night telephone discussion on Wednesday with Russian premier Vladimir Putin, during which they decided to plan a personal meeting.

    According to Putin's press office, beyond the trade and economic relations between their two countries, the prime ministers also discussed in detail the bilateral and multilateral dimensions of their cooperation in the materialisation of energy plans in the region.

    As for the Papandreou-Putin meeting, the date and place will be decided through diplomatic channels, the press office added.

    Papandreou, who is in Tel Aviv on a two-day visit to Israel and Palestine on Wednesday and Thursday, also had a telephone discussion with Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov on the Russia-Bulgaria energy cooperation.

    According to sources close to the prime minister, Papandreou's conversation with Putin took place at the Greek premier's initiative.

    They said that the two leaders discussed the South Stream and Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipelines and agreed that emphasis will be placed on environmental protection at all stages of their construction.

    Papandreou also briefed Putin on the content of his talks with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on Wednesday at Larnaca airport where the Greek premier had a brief stopover en route to Israel and Palestine.

    [04] Rakintzis testifies before Supreme Court deputy prosecutor

    General Inspector for Public Administration Leandros Rakintzis was summoned before Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Roussos Papadakis on Thursday, in order to further clarify his statements concerning delays and double standards in the justice system.

    While addressing Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee, Rakintzis had referred to great delays in processing cases by the courts, while suggesting that the country's elite and celebrities were never convicted, in spite of scores of complaints made against them.

    [05] Greek diaspora organisations SAE and WHIPA discuss closer cooperation

    The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIPA) on Thursday announced plans for closer cooperation and coordination between the two organisations in order to more effectively promote issues relating to Greece and the Greek diaspora around the world.

    SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis and the WHIPA Presidency met at the SAE offices in Athens, with both sides stressing that cooperation can be further developed in order to boost Greece's image abroad and to highlight issues of concern to Greeks living abroad, which can be addressed in country's where Greek MPs are elected.

    Financial News

    [06] Greek FinMin optimistic over economic developments

    Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Thursday expressed his optimism over economic developments in the country.

    Addressing a ceremony at the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) - during which the new board officially took office - Papaconstantinou said that Greece was cutting its fical deficit and restoring its credibility through the operation of the new statistical authority, leaving no doubts over the quality of its statistics provided to international organisations.

    The government's inter-ministerial privatisations commission will meet on Friday to discuss the privatizations program in general and not only the appointment of advisors to evaluate the state's equity participations in the Greek banking system and particularly in Hellenic Postbank and ATEbank, a finance ministry official said on Thursday.

    The official told ANA-MPA that finance ministry agencies will begin intensive efforts to collect all fines imposed on illegal buildings and rejected talks that the government was drafting a new legislation to legalize illegal buildings in the country.

    He said that around 30 pct of a number of large tax debtors to the state, owners of large real estate property, have already begun paying their debt, while he reiterated that for all other taxpayers with large tax debts ministry agencies will take all legal procedures, including auctions.

    [07] Privatisations committee to meet Friday

    The government's privatisations committee is to convene at the finance ministry on Friday to discuss the overall privatisations programme and especially the options available in the banking system following Piraeus Bank's offer for the acquisition of ATEBank and Hellenic Post Bank.

    A finance ministry announcement said that the issues on the agenda will be the choice of financial and legal advisors to explore the state's strategic options in the banking system, a review of the progress made in the privatisation programme, modernising and extending the legal framework governing privatisations and use of public assets and creating a working group with the participation of the appropriate ministries for a study evaluating the real estate property of the State.

    Taking part in the government committee are Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Minister of State Haris Pamboukis.

    [08] Greece raises another 450 mln euros from 13-week T-bill issue

    Greece on Thursday raised an additional 450 million euros from non-competitive bids in a 13-week Treasury bills auction, held on Tuesday, 20 July. The Public Debt Management Organisation, in an announcement said the state had already raised 1.95 billion euros from competitive and non-competitive bids at an interest rate of 4.05 pct.

    [09] Foreign direct investments to Greece down 25 pct in 2009, UNCTAD

    Foreign Direct Investments to Greece fell by around 25 pct last year compared with 2008, to 3.355 billion US dollars, from 4.499 billion euros, over the two years, respectively, UNCTAD said in a report on Thursday.

    Presenting the World Investment Report 2010, Marina Papanastasiou, a professor in Deree and the Copenhagen Business School, representing UNCTAD in Greece, said Greek investments abroad also fell by around 58 pct to 7.611 billion dollars in 2009, from 18.148 billion in 2008.

    Merger and acquisition activity in the country was also subdued with sales totaling 477 million dollars and purchases totaling 386 million dollars. Greece ranked 115 in the global list on its performance as a Foreign Direct Investment country, from 118 in 2008, in a total of 141 countries. Based on the index of attractiveness, Greece ranked 46 in 2008, down from 43 in 2007.

    The report highlighted Greek banks' strong investment presence in neighboring countries, underlining their positive role in the development of these countries, although it also noted that an economic crisis in Greece rekindled worries that a strong presence of foreign banks could create systemic risk in the wider region. Greek banks' share in southeastern Europe totaled 20 pct.

    Global FDI flows fell drastically in 2009. Following a decline of 16 pct in 2008, global FDI flows fell by 37 pct to 1.1 trillion US dollars, while FDI outflows fell 43 pct to 1.1 trillion dollars.

    [10] Greece tops customs seizures of counterfeit goods in 2009

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Greek customs have confiscated the highest number of counterfeit goods among EU countries over the past year, according to the annual report issued on Thursday by the European Commission on customs actions to enforce intellectual property rights at the EU's external borders.

    Specifically, fake or pirate goods seized by Greek customs jumped sharply from 3.6 million in 2008 to 21.9 million in 2009.

    In the 27 EU countries as a whole, customs seized 118 million counterfeit products in 2009, down from 178.9 million in 2008.

    After Greece, the largest number of counterfeit goods seized was in the Netherlands (17.9 million items), Italy (12.9 million items) and Bulgaria (11.3 million items).

    The report shows that the main categories of goods seized for violating intellectual property rights included cigarettes, clothes and designer label goods. There was also a significant rise in the number of counterfeit goods bought for daily consumption, such as shampoos, toothpastes, toys, medication and household appliances, with the accompanying higher risks to health.

    China continues to be a major source of counterfeit products, producing 64 percent of these, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in specific classes of goods.

    [11] Greek stocks jumped 2.66 pct on Thursday

    Greek stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with investors discounting a positive performance by Greek banks in a European stress test procedure. The composite index of the market jumped 2.66 pct to end at 1,612.38 points, with turnover at 103.210 million euros.

    The Big Cap index soared 3.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.14 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.87 pct. Banks (5.06 pct) and Personal Products (3.74 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (0.59 pct) and Oils (0.14 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 120 to 53 with another 46 issues unchanged. Neorio (10 pct), Progressive (9.09 pct) and Pasal (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while CPI (10 pct), General Trading (9.68 pct) and Technical Publications (9.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +2.26%

    Commercial: +1.26%

    Construction: +2.26%

    Media: -0.59%

    Oil & Gas: -0.14%

    Personal & Household: +3.74%

    Raw Materials: +3.13%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.72%

    Technology: +1.50%

    Telecoms: +2.14%

    Banks: +5.06%

    Food & Beverages: +0.08%

    Health: +0.20%

    Utilities: +1.15%

    Chemicals: +1.05%

    Financial Services: +1.54%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.22

    ATEbank: 1.06

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.63

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.71

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.04

    National Bank of Greece: 11.10

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.49

    OPAP: 11.08

    OTE: 6.20

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.53

    Titan: 17.10

    [12] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.67 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover at 55.945 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 11,642 contracts worth 45.482 million euros, with 19,667 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,462 contracts worth 10.463 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,933), followed by Eurobank (1,864), Piraeus Bank (1,443), Alpha Bank (2,873), Marfin Popular Bank (786), Mytilineos (318), Hellenic Postbank (1,025) and ATEbank (615).

    [13] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was 83 million euros on Thursday, of which 57 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 26 million were sell orders. The three-month Treasury bill was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 20 million euros. The 10-year Greek benchmark bond yielded 10.41 pct, down from 10.51 pct on Wednesday.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.40 pct, the six-month was 1.13 pct, the three-month 0.88 pct and the one-month rate 0.63 pct.

    [14] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.295

    Pound sterling 0.849

    Danish kroner 7.511

    Swedish kroner 9.525

    Japanese yen 112.46

    Swiss franc 1.352

    Norwegian kroner 8.038

    Canadian dollar 1.349

    Australian dollar 1.459

    General News

    [15] Three killed in tourist bus-truck collision in N. Greece

    Three people were killed and more than 10 were injured in a head-on collision between a tourist bus and a truck along the Veria-Thessaloniki old national highway.

    According to police reports, the accident occurred at 45th kilometer of the highway shortly after the Alexandria (Imathia prefecture) juncture, in torrential rain and conditions of limited visibility.

    The Kilkis-based tourist bus was bound for Thessaloniki, carrying children and escorts from a summer camp on a day-excursion, when the oncoming truck swerved off course and rammed head-on into the bus.

    The drivers of the bus and a priest accompanying the children on the bus were killed, while the driver of the truck died later in hospital.

    The accident occured outside the main entrance of the Air Force Helicopter Division (TEAS) at Alexandria, and Airforce officers and rushed to assistance, disengaging injured children and escorts from the bus, which was carrying 41 people. The injured were taken inside to the division's infirmatory for first aid.

    Several of the injured suffered bone fractures, but most had only bruises.

    Traffic in both lanes of the highway was being diverted, and traffic police experts were on the spot investigating the circumstances of the accident.

    [16] Holargos metro station to open on Friday

    The new metro station at Holargos will be turned over for use by the public on Friday. The new station on metro line three is expected to serve some 20,000 passengers a day, chiefly from the municipalities of Holargos and Halandri but also from Neo Psychiko. Those taking the train at Holargos will now be able to travel to Syntagma Square in the centre of Athens in just nine minutes.

    Also due to open for use on the same day is the underground parking lot at Nomismatokopio station, where there is also a bus depot that has been operating since the start of the year that allows passengers to transfer directly from their local bus line to the metro and vice-versa.

    The three-level underground parking facility will have 630 parking spaces and an underground link to the metro station.

    [17] Three major fires currently underway in Greece

    Three major wild fires were underway on Thursday, in the prefectures of Viotia, Arcadia and southern Evia.

    The first fire near the village Pera in Livadia started at noon and was burning forest, while no inhabited areas were threatened. A force of 32 firemen with 14 fire engines and 17 people on foot were battling the blaze on the ground, assisted by four water-bombing aircraft and two helicopters from the air.

    The fire in Derveni, Arcadia broke out a short while later in a stretch of brush and trees and was again far from any inhabited areas. A total of 30 fire-men, 10 fire-engines and two units on foot were deployed to contain the flames, assisted by two helicopters from the air.

    The third fire broke out at around 14:00 in the afternoon at Lala near Karystos, in a region of brush quite near the settlement. Two helicopters, 18 firemen with six fire-engines are currently engaged in the fire-fighting effort.

    According to maps issued by the civil protection general secretariat, meanwhile, there is a high risk of fires breaking out in several regions in Greece on Friday, including Attica, Evia, the Cyclades islands, Lesvos, Samos, Chios and all of Crete. All relevant services have therefore been placed on standby and the public has been asked to carefully avoid any kind of activity likely to accidentally cause a fire.

    [18] Consumer group urges motorists to refuse toll payments on sub-standard roads

    The consumer group EKPOIZO on Thursday urged motorists to refuse to pay road tolls for roads that were substandard and dangerous, as well as those forced to pay tolls for small trips in the areas where they lived or worked. According to EKPOIZO, traffic police had no right to intervene when drivers refused to pay tolls and the Greek State did not provide for either a penal nor administrative penalty for those that refused to pay.

    The consumer group, which said that it had joined a movement against the arbitrary imposition of road tolls, also informed drivers that they were not obliged to identify themselves to toll post employees except by giving their vehicle registration number, and if toll post employees refused to let them pass and pressured them to pay, they had a right to simply raise the bar and drive through.

    According to EKPOIZO, the only redress for the company collecting the tolls was to go through the courts in order demand payment.

    EKPOIZO also pointed out that the increase in road toll fees in the last two years ranged from 35 percent to 50 percent while hundreds of thousands of kilometres of the national roads that people were paying to drive on were actually lethally dangerous.

    Further, several highways had failed to provide an alternate routes for local residents, who were then forced to pay road tolls for each trip they made during their daily round within their own areas.

    Weather forecast

    [19] Hot, sunny weather on Friday

    Sunny and hot weather is forecast throughout the country on Friday, with rising temperatures especially in the west. Winds variable, ranging from 3-6 Beaufort, up to 7 Beaufort at sea. Temperatures to range from 17C to 38C. Sunny in Attica, with temperatures between 24C and 37C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 23C and 35C.

    [20] The Thursday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    The economy and developments in the banking sector were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greece at the mercy of crime -- Account of the first half of 2010".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Window for legalisation of unlicensed structures".

    AVGHI: "Memorandum a gravestone for the collective labor agreements".

    AVRIANI: "Vatopedi scandal 'touches' Karamanlis".

    CHORA: "Everyone seeking a gun - After the latest hit, confusion and uncertainty prevails".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "They're pushing the Czar (finance minister Papaconstantinou) out of the government - Crossfire from Pangalos (government vice-president), Katseli (economy minister), Reppas (infrastructure, transport and networks minister), Xynidis (ruling PASOK party secretary)".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Transfers/thorns in local government - 30,000 local government employees will find the 'marching orders' in their offices after the summer holidays".

    ESTIA: "The Memorandum is realistic - What arises from the data for the first half of the year".

    ETHNOS: "Unrest in (main opposition New Democracy) ND over Angelou (close aide of former prime minister Karamanlis, who was prohibited from leaving the country and released on a 400,000 euros bond after testifying before the public prosecutor on the Vatopedi case) - Karamanlis on alert after the restrictive measures imposed on his 'confidante'."

    IMERISSIA: "Countries with high deficits without right of vote".

    KATHIMERINI: "Transfers and OSE (Hellenic Railways) are thorns - Brussels demands layoffs (in OSE)".

    LOGOS: "Loverdos (employment minister) insists on cutting the (salary) increases - Storm of reactions".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Fragile balances in view of the (banks') stress tests".

    NIKI: "Who is governing this country?".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Government's policy on the continental shelf is dangerous - What are they 'cooking up' in the Aegean?"

    TA NEA: "Angelou's testimony on Vatopedi affair".

    TO VIMA: "Matchmaking among Greek banks - What 'couples' the foreign firms 'see'."

    VRADYNI: "Tougher than the...troika - Opposition fire against Loverdos".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [21] Leaders discuss property issue


    Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General Alexander Downer said that the leaders of the two communities had a long meeting Thursday while they focused on the issue of property.

    In statements following Thursday's meeting, he said that the discussion would be continued on Monday by the representatives of the two leaders in his presence, adding that "after the representatives meeting, the leaders will get together next Wednesday to talk some more about the issue of property".

    Asked to comment on statements made by the two sides during the 36th anniversary of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus and whether these statements had a negative impact on the ongoing talks, he said that "this is for all Cypriots whether they are Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriots a difficult time", adding that "it is a time when people focus on history and focus on the past".

    He noted that "the important thing is that the leaders are working towards the future, they are not working towards the past, you can't revisit the past. You can only live in the presence and the future, and the leaders are working towards the future, and we in the United Nations are very encouraged by that".

    He also stressed that "the leaders are working towards the future and towards building a better future for Cyprus", adding that "the important thing is to think about what lessons can be learned from the past and what a great future can be built for Cyprus".

    "That's what the leaders are working on, and we are encouraged by this", he said.

    In addition, Downer said that "they had a long and a good meeting today (Thursday) in the sense that they were able to talk very frankly with each other about issues that they have, and differences that they have, and convergences that they are confident they can build. So, this is what the talks are for".

    He added that after the illegal elections in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, "the United Nations wanted to make sure that the process would resume, that it would have good momentum", expressing the opinion that "the process has good momentum".

    "I think from our point of view if we look at it as the United Nations and make an assessment of what's happening, and we don't make value judgments on the individual positions of the different parties, that's not our job, but if we make an overall evaluation, then the leaders are showing a lot of commitment to meeting, to talking through issues", as he said.

    Moreover, he said that "the summer holidays are coming up in August, but the leaders have agreed to three meetings through the summer holiday month of August".

    "I would say that's a pretty good sign of the level of their commitment. The fact that they are looking to the future, looking to try to achieve further outcomes", he concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    Peace talks began in September 2008 between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Dervis Eroglu, who replaced Talat in April this year.

    [22] Cyprus: ICJ argumentation differentiates Cyprus issue from Kosovo


    The Republic of Cyprus has said that the argumentation used by the International Court of Justice on its advisory opinion as regards the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, differentiates the issue of Cyprus from that of Kosovo.

    In a statement issued on Thursday by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is stated that Cyprus' position on the matter is a position of principles and reaffirms its unwavering position of respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which includes the Kosovo and Metohija province.

    The Cyprus Republic calls upon both parties, the Republic of Serbia and "Kosovo under UNSC Resolution 1244/99" to relaunch dialogue for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of Kosovo, enabling thus stability and peace to prevail in the region.

    The statement says that the Republic of Cyprus notes Thursday's announcement by the International Court of Justice of its advisory opinion on the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo, which was requested by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 63/3 of 8 October 2008.

    ''We consider this long legal process to have been a very challenging exercise in international law in which Cyprus has taken part'' it is added.

    It is also stated that the advisory opinion is currently being thoroughly studied by the Legal Service of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the Foreign Ministry.

    ''The Republic of Cyprus preliminary notes that the argumentation used by the Court differentiates the issue of Cyprus from that of Kosovo'' the statement concludes.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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