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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 22 October 2010 Issue No: 3625

CONTENTS

  • [01] NATO chief meets PM, foreign minister
  • [02] DM holds talks with NATO sg
  • [03] Athens cites need for 'close coordination' on anti-missile shield
  • [04] FM on Turkey, Aegean
  • [05] Foreign ministry denies report of 'secret talks' with Turkey
  • [06] Turkish PM Erdogan arrives in Athens
  • [07] FM spokesman on the Initiative for the Climate Change in the Mediterranean
  • [08] Athens open to Gruevski-Papandreou meeting, foreign ministry says
  • [09] FM spokesman on Droutsas' tour of the Middle East
  • [10] PM Papandreou addresses rally in Peristeri
  • [11] PM to give televised interview on Monday
  • [12] ND leader tours Volos, urges 'end to downward slide'
  • [13] ND leader addresses supporters in Volos
  • [14] Death of Piraeus mayoral candidate Legakis
  • [15] Ecologists Greens present their candidates for local elections
  • [16] Droutsas addresses school pupils at Model UN Programme
  • [17] Austrian UN rapporteur on refugees in Greece
  • [18] Minister announces changes to draft 'fast track' bill
  • [19] Magriotis in Poland for 'Via Carpatia'
  • [20] EU decision in January on Olympic/Aegean merger plan
  • [21] Greek enterprises reject call for lower prices
  • [22] President Papoulias to inaugurate 'Defensys 2010' on Oct. 28
  • [23] Dutch plan investment on Karpathos island
  • [24] Opening interbank market a top priority for National Bank
  • [25] Ryannair intends to significantly increase flights to Greece
  • [26] Foreign visitors down 5.4 pct in H1
  • [27] Private clinic sector hit by economic crisis, report
  • [28] OSE employees to hold four 24-hour strikes next week
  • [29] Kiosks begin 3-day strike on Friday
  • [30] Stocks end 0.19%down
  • [31] Greek bond market closing report
  • [32] ADEX closing report
  • [33] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [34] Events for Battle of Marathon 2,500-year anniversary presented
  • [35] Ultramarathon veteran Jurgen Mennel marks 2,500th anniversary of Battle of Marathon with 30-day run to Athens
  • [36] Mitropoulos 50th anniversary tribute at Athens Concert Hall
  • [37] Photo-journalism Festival at M55 Gallery and French Institute in Athens
  • [38] Open debate on Internet media issues launched
  • [39] Exhibition at Greek General Consulate in Moscow
  • [40] Folk museum in Oraiokastro, Thessaloniki
  • [41] New premises for City of Athens gallery on October 27
  • [42] Tram journeys to be shortened by 'green wave' system
  • [43] Cloudy on Friday
  • [44] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [45] President urges EU Commission to withdraw direct trade regulation Politics

  • [01] NATO chief meets PM, foreign minister

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, currently on a visit to Athens, on Thursday had separate meetings with Prime Minister George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos within the framework of preparations for the alliance's Summit Meeting in Lisbon on Nov. 19-20.

    The upcoming Summit will adopt the alliance's so-called New Strategic Concept and reach important decisions on future NATO actions in Afghanistan, the new command structure, the reform of the alliance's structures, the so-called NATO partnership relations, missile defence and NATO's cooperation with Russia and the EU.

    After the meeting with the NATO head, Droutsas commented that the New Strategic Concept focuses on the modernization of the alliance to be able to fully meet current security challenges."

    He stated that "in general the plan meets our country's demands mainly as regards the collective defence and the unanimity rule in decision making'.

    "We strongly believe in a creative cooperation between NATO and the EU through joint actions and without the exclusion of members, within a framework that will consolidate autonomy in decision-making for each of the organizations mentioned. We support NATO's firm cooperation with Russia and look forward to the NATO-Russia Council Summit within the framework of the alliance's Summit meeting in Lisbon. A viable security architecture should include Russia and a major effort to meet the specific target has been made through the Corfu process," he said.

    He also stressed that NATO actions should be compatible with the UN Charter and International Law.

    On his part, the NATO head expressed appreciation for the dedication to the alliance, the contribution to its operations and the excellent cooperation with Athens, characterizing his meeting with Droutsas as very constructive.

    He underlined the progress made in Afghanistan and expressed the hope that in Lisbon it will be announced that security control will be transferred to the Afghan forces in 2011. He added that everything will depend on the situation in the region, pointing out that both the army and the police will have to be trained. "Our training mission in Afghanistan is very important and I call on all allies to contribute," he said, adding that it is very important that Greece has increased its training mission."

    He referred to NATO's New Strategic Concept that will shape the alliance's future considering that "the main mission is the protection of territorial integrity, the people and our countries." He added that "to be able to improve our defence we should be in the position to handle the new security challenges such as, terrorism, cyber attacks, missile attacks," expressing "the hope that in Lisbon a decision will be made on a security system that will be based in NATO with the cooperation of Russia."

    As regards NATO-EU relations, he expressed "satisfaction because there is total agreement on the fact that all obstacles should be removed for a complete NATO-EU cooperation. In regions and fields, where NATO and the EU co-exist, we should be in the position to help each other. Where common forces can be deployed we should cooperate to save the taxpayers' money".

    Asked if it is reasonable to promote relations with a country that vetoes the accession of an EU member state in other international organizations, he said that this is a goal that needs to be handled in a balanced way, adding that both sides have a "participation problem".

    He pointed out that "until now the EU was unable to give its approval to Turkey's cooperation with the European defense organization or reach a security agreement with Turkey. At the same time, Turkey has not exactly accepted that the EU comprises 27 member-states."

    He said that this is the problem of "participation we have from both sides", urging the EU to proceed with this agreement with Turkey while on its part, Ankara should realize that the EU cooperation with NATO should take place with all 27 member states.

    The NATO head repeated the alliance's clear position as regards the accession talks with fYRoM, stressing that talks can be launched with Skopje after a mutually acceptable solution is reached on the name issue.

    "The decision is clear," he said, adding that "all NATO decisions demand unanimity. I urge all parties involved to do their best to find a solution as soon as possible."

    On his part, FM Droutsas repeated that Athens is ready for a solution to the name issue and called on Skopje to sit at the UN negotiating table in a constructive spirit.

    [02] DM holds talks with NATO sg

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday discussed the new structure of NATO forces, the alliance's operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Horn of Africa (Somalia) and financial problems facing all of NATO's defence ministries, as well as special issues of the region (Greek-Turkish relations).

    Speaking afterwards, Venizelos said "we want to believe that the new structure of the forces of NATO will help in averting crises and tensions in our region, technical or artificial, for the consolidation of the climate of security and stability in the southeastern Mediterranean."

    Rasmussen thanked Greece for its assistance for the alliance's peacekeeping operations, while stating that he realises the financial problems facing the defence ministries of NATO member-states.

    On the question of NATO's force in Afghanistan, he reiterated the need for its strengthening so that the feeling of security can be consolidated in the country.

    At the same time, according to reports, Greece will strengthen the force of its trainers, sending another 6-7 ground trainers to the country.

    [03] Athens cites need for 'close coordination' on anti-missile shield

    Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras on Thursday said in response to questions that Athens believed in the need for very close coordination between NATO countries concerning the issue of the anti-missile shield, as well as with third countries that had an important role to play.

    He noted that one such country was Russia and stressed the need for constant dialogue, adding that an institutional framework existed through the NATO-Russia Council.

    [04] FM on Turkey, Aegean

    Foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday reiterated that the Greek government is acting strictly within the framework of International Law and "fully consolidating Greece's sovereign rights and territorial integrity", speaking on state television in response to a newspaper article claiming that Turkey attempted to "open up" a "secret channel of dialogue on the Aegean" in June.

    Replying to a relevant question, Droutsas said that Greece's positions are crystal-clear, and that the Greek government "is acting strictly within the framework of International Law", and "fully consolidating our sovereign rights and our territorial integrity".

    "That is the framework and, if you wish, the absolute red line," the foreign minister stressed, adding: "Not a scratch with respect to our sovereign rights".

    From there on, however, the government is open to finding ways of cooperation, and even to approaching difficult issues, Droutsas said, adding that "it is in our interests, in the interests of Greece, to take the next step, but the framework is absolutely clear".

    [05] Foreign ministry denies report of 'secret talks' with Turkey

    The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday strongly denied a report appearing in the Greek newspaper "Ta Nea" concerning secret talks between the Greek foreign ministry's general secretary Yiannis Zepos and a Turkish deputy minister on aeronautical issues. The paper had published a classified telegram leaked from the foreign ministry that appeared to refer to such talks.

    "No secret negotiation is taking place," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told reporters. "I am clear: these things do not exist, they do not reflect reality," he stressed.

    The spokesman refused to comment on the telegram published by the newspaper on the grounds that it was classified and called its publication "an unacceptable leak" that would be investigated through a formal internal inquiry at the foreign ministry.

    Concerning meetings between the ministry general secretary and Turkish officials, Delavekouras said that these were taking place in the framework of the agreements signed by the Greece-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council for intensified talks on the level of ministry general secretaries.

    He noted that several such meetings discussing many issues had taken place, adding that contact between the Greek and Turkish sides was the starting point for improving bilateral relations between them.

    "We are prepared to discuss anything on the basis of international law. If something lies outside international law then obviously there is no discussion. Turkey's positions are well known. We hold onto one message from the Turkish side: the desire to improve relations. But you cannot desire an improvement of relations and at the same time violate international law," he said.

    He also stressed that any Turkish action contravening international law would meet with a diplomatic or operational reaction from Greece.

    In this context, the spokesman drew a distinction between discussion and negotiation, stressing that Greece was not negotiating its sovereignty but stating its positions in a clear way. "These positions are strong and based on international law," he added.

    Delavekouras warned reporters against converting Turkey's communications policy into Greece's 'applied' policy:

    "The fact that the Turkish prime minister or any other Turkish official chooses to make statements or references or to raise issues does not mean that Greece accepts, that Greece is backing down from its positions or that Greece does not defend its interests as these are set out by international law," he emphasised.

    Likewise, the fact that Turkey outlined its position in a statement, an interview or a document does not mean that this position is then a point of negotiation, Delavekouras added.

    "Turkey is responsible through its unlawful behaviour for the tension in the Aegean and as long as this behaviour exists there cannot be normalisation of bilateral relations, while this behaviour will also have an impact on Turkey's EU accession progress," he concluded.

    [06] Turkish PM Erdogan arrives in Athens

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Athens on Thursday evening and is due to participate in an international conference on Climate Change in the Mediterranean that begins on Friday.

    Erdogan and the Turkish delegation were welcomed at the airport bu Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    The Turkish premier joined Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in a private dinner on Thursday night.

    The two premiers are also due to hold talks on Friday morning, on the sidelines of the conference, for a review of bilateral relations.

    In the Conference's panel on Climate Change, apart from the Turkish premier, Papandreou will be also joined by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi of Malta, Prime Minister Salam Fayad of the Palestinian Authority, Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank and other dignitaries. The panel will be hosted by Columbia University Professor and Director of the Earth Institute, Jeffrey Sachs. The day will also feature a roundtable discussion with ministerial level officials responsible for environmental policy from more than nine countries.

    [07] FM spokesman on the Initiative for the Climate Change in the Mediterranean

    "The first message the Initiative for Climate Change in the Mediterranean aspires to send out, in view of the UN Climate Chance Conference in Cancun in December, is that the countries in the region despite their different policies and cultural origin can jointly handle issues that are of great importance for the entire planet," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stressed on Thursday.

    He said that the text to be signed will reflect these positions and establish a process allowing the coordination of the countries.

    "The participation of regional leaders is of great significance," he said, adding that "we want to promote cooperation between the public and private sectors for the creation of a new model of viable development that will allow the Mediterranean - among the threatened regions on the planet - to reach a new model of development."

    [08] Athens open to Gruevski-Papandreou meeting, foreign ministry says

    The Greek side is ready for a meeting between Prime Minister George Papandreou and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) premier Nikola Gruevski, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras indicated on Thursday.

    "Our position is that it is good for the prime ministers of Greece and FYROM to meet at every opportunity. This is why we were disappointed when we saw that Nikola Gruevski did not come finally to New York. We hoped that it would be an opportunity for the two leaders to have another meeting, for a better climate in order to reach a solution via cooperation with the UN," Delavekouras said.

    The spokesman was replying to questions about Gruevski's recent statement that he desired to meet Papandreou before the NATO summit.

    Asked whether the subject was raised in talks between Greece's leadership and visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the spokesman underlined that NATO had taken a clear and unanimous position on the issue of the name dispute in Bucharest, which was that FYROM's NATO entry would depend on achieving a mutually acceptable solution.

    He also noted the Greek side's desire for progress and said that Athens had "put its positions on the table in an absolutely clear way. We believe that a name containing a geographic determinant for all uses is a fair solution and we are waiting for the leadership of the neighbouring country to participate constructively in the negotiating process," he underlined.

    [09] FM spokesman on Droutsas' tour of the Middle East

    "Greece can and will seek a stronger presence in the Middle East on regional level," foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated on Thursday, referring to the tour of Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas in the Middle East.

    "The appointment of a special envoy responsible for the entire region, to handle the regional dimension, all aspects of the Middle East issue, is among the foreign minister's intentions," he said.

    Delavekouras stated that Droutsas wishes to strengthen institutional cooperation between Greece and the Arab League as discussed with the organization's secretary general.

    "Greece, due to its position as an EU member and as a country of the region, can understand the sensitivities of the specific area in the world and convey them to the EU, so that the common EU positions on the Middle East issue can be more effective and thus allow the EU a greater role in the Middle East," the foreign ministry spokesman added.

    [10] PM Papandreou addresses rally in Peristeri

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking in the Athens district of Peristeri on Thursday evening, announced special financial support for 500,000 low pension earners.

    Papandreou stressed that this support constitutes a "minimum tribute" to the low pensioners who lifted a great weight, adding that this support is "what we can do today" and that in the coming days the decision will also be announced on medical and pharmaceutical coverage for all the unemployed.

    On the question of support for low pension earners, the prime minister said that the amount and the preconditions for it will be announced by the relevant ministers.

    "Only our conscience imposes these measures on us," Papandreou pointed out, linking these decisions with the "first positive steps that have been taken (in the course of the economy)" and calling for "even bigger steps."

    Papandreou referred to all that has been done from the beginning of the country's governance by PASOK and said that despite the fact that "we found ourselves on the verge of the cliff, we remained standing thanks to the effort of all."

    He committed himself that there will be no additional burden for salary earners and pensioners and no burdening of tax rates.

    "Our consistency is the best reply to those who are making games with fire with the elections now," the prime minister said and added that "we are making the biggest deficit decrease," while noting that in the November 7 elections the citizens will decide clearly where the country will go.

    [11] PM to give televised interview on Monday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou is planning to give an all-channel conference on Monday. According to reports, the decision was taken on Thursday and nationwide television channels were informed by a senior government member to appoint their journalist representatives who will participate in the interview.

    Papandreou's interview comes as a continuation of statements he made on the economy on Wednesday and that measures will not be taken against salary earners and pensioners also in light of the deficit's revising and the arrival of the troika on the day after the second round of the local administration elections.

    [12] ND leader tours Volos, urges 'end to downward slide'

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday visited the coastal town of Volos during a three-day tour of Thessaly beginning in the prefecture of Magnesia. From Volos he appealed to the government "to stop the country's downward slide".

    After touring the market in nearby Almiros and shopping streets in Volos, he stressed that ND was the party of growth.

    "I am not promising that I will give jobs to citizens but I will give confidence to business people in order for them to give jobs to people," he said.

    He said that ND would take measures to support ordinary citizens and growth in order to put an end to the current image of the country that was leading Greeks to depression.

    The ND leader also visited the campaign centre of ND's candidate for regional chief Kostas Agorastos and the ND-backed candidate for Volos mayor Zeta Makri. He also met the ND-backed candidate for mayor of Almiros Christos Voulgaris.

    On Thursday evening, the ND leader will speak at an open event at the Xenia Hotel in Volos.

    [13] ND leader addresses supporters in Volos

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras,speaking in the city of Volos, central Greece, on Thursday in the framework of a three-day tour he began in Thessaly, said that "we imposed the real dilemma of these elections: the contrast between the policy of (ruling) PASOK, the policy of deadlocks and of desperation on the one hand, and the prospect of recovery and growth, the prospect of hope that we are offering on the other."

    "On the night of the electgions, the government must feel 'scalded'. Not pleased. Not even relieved. Send them your message. Clear and frank. Hit the target," Samaras further said, adding that "there is a different prospect. Their is a breakthrough, with the plan of New Democracy."

    The ND leader said that the PASOK party's policy "has gone bankrupt and has lost the support of the people and for this reason it is doing three things: deceit, concealment, intimidation."

    Samaras also claimed that new measures "are coming that will be implemented as of the day after the elections and which the government has already signed since May", enumerating, among other things, an increase in heating prices, a new VAT increase, a new increase in Public Power Corporation (DEH) rates and in objective values.

    [14] Death of Piraeus mayoral candidate Legakis

    Piraeus mayoral candidate Nikos Legakis, who headed the SYRIZA-backed "Alliance for Piraeus" ticket, died early Thursday in a hospital in London.

    Legakis, whose ticket is backed by the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance, the Ecologists-Greens party and the Democratic Left party, had left for London on Monday to undergo vascular surgery.

    A surgeon himself, Legakis was a professor at the Athens University School of Medicine, and practiced medicine at the Hippocration Hospital in Athens, the Attikon hospital and the State General Hospital of Nikaia, where he also served as director of the hospital's University Surgery Clinic.

    [15] Ecologists Greens present their candidates for local elections

    The Ecologists Greens party on Thursday presented the candidates that will head the party's election tickets for the 13 regional authorities in the country at an Athens arts centre. There followed an address by candidate for Athens mayor George Kaminis.

    In brief speeches, the EcoGreen candidates stressed that local government ranked high on their agenda and emphasised their central slogan "think globally, act locally".

    [16] Droutsas addresses school pupils at Model UN Programme

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas addressed an international training session on Thursday open to school students taking part in a United Nations simulation programme practicing the use of UN General Assembly rules of procedure.

    A total of 600 students from 43 schools representing 12 countries attended an event at Athens' Deutsche Schule within the framework of the 12th session of the Model United Nations programme.

    Droutsas underlined that the "substance of diplomacy" is "dialogue," which constitutes the only way to settle differences and ease tensions.

    Referring to his recent participation in the UN General Assembly, Droutsas underlined that the "UN's role is irreplaceable" being "a collective management body" that keeps alive the "respect of fundamental values, human rights and ecumenical principles".

    He pointed out that the peculiarities of the other side are being understood through the UN processes and stressed that for all these reasons "Greece firmly supports both the UN role and the office of the secretary-general".

    Concluding his speech, the foreign minister urged his young audience to be "inventive, creative and develop their thoughts beyond stereotypes and taboos, daring to express ideas never heard before".

    [17] Austrian UN rapporteur on refugees in Greece

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The UN's special rapporteur on Human Rights, Austrian Manfred Nowak requested in an interview with the First Programme of the Austrian public Radio on Thursday that Greece must not be the only one to lift the weight of refugees in Europe and their reforwarding to Greece on the basis of the so-called "Dublin-2" must be discontinued immediately.

    Nowak, who visited Greece on the order of the UN and examined the situation of refugees and relevant services there, said that despite all the efforts of the Greek government, the conditions for the refugees are disastrous since the Greek services are overloaded.

    He said that while in 2008, 50 per cent of all arrests of illegal immigrants in Europe had been recorded in Greece, this percentage in the first eight months in 2010 reached 90 percent.

    Financial News

    [18] Minister announces changes to draft 'fast track' bill

    Minister of State Haris Pamboukis on Thursday announced a number of significant changes to the draft bill for 'fast track' strategic investments in Greece.

    Speaking to Parliament's Production and Trade Committee, Pamboukis said he intended to remove article 4 of the bill that allowed the Ministerial Committee for Strategic Investments to include investment proposals in the 'fast track' process even when these had not been submitted to the regular procedure for approval as strategic investments via the company 'Invest in Greece'.

    In article 5, meanwhile, Invest in Greece is given the powers to check on how implementation of strategic investments is progressing after the ministerial committee makes a decision to that effect.

    Another modification allows the immediate staffing needs of Invest in Greece to be covered through transfers of personnel already employed in other bodies within the broader public sector.

    A modification to article 1, paragraph 3 allows permanent seasonal jobs that serve steadily repeated seasonal needs to be taken account in order to reach the desired number of jobs that an investment must create in order to qualify for the fast track process.

    It also allows project contracts for a strategic investment to be awarded without an open tender following international agreements between states, provided this does not contravene Community legislation.

    For all public works contracts, whether these are awarded through open tender or international agreement, the ministerial committee is obliged to set out the details in its decision and has an obligation to keep Parliament informed on the process. Parliament also has the right to ratify the contracts "if the law demands this".

    A final modification to the draft bill removes the differentiation in the taxation of dividends from the incentives to attract strategic investments.

    Business proposals that qualify for the fast track procedure as strategic investments, rather than the normal time-consuming process, are investments whose total budget is greater than 200 million euros or, alternatively, 75 million euros that create at least 200 new jobs or invest a minimum of three million euros at three year intervals in high-tech works or innovation.

    Also included in the above category are investments that sustainably secure at least 250 new work positions or promote Greece's environmental protection or create added value in education, research and technology.

    [19] Magriotis in Poland for 'Via Carpatia'

    Deputy Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Yannis Magriotis on Thursday began a two-day visit to Poland to participate in an international meeting on the signing of a joint statement for the construction of the VIA CARPATIA international motorway that will link the northern with the southern country members of the European Union along its eastern borders.

    "Via Carpatia" will start from Lithuania and will pass across Poland and Slovakia and end in Hungary, from where it will connect with the Inter-European Road Axis 7 which will pass through Romania and Bulgaria and end at Thessaloniki, from where it will hook up with the Greek highway network.

    The joint statement will be signed by Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. The latter countries' aim is for financing of the construction of the Via Carpatia by the EU structural funds.

    [20] EU decision in January on Olympic/Aegean merger plan

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V.Demiris)

    Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia on Thursday said that the European Commission will announce its decision on a proposed merger between Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines in January. The European Commission has began an in-depth review on the proposed merger between the two Greek carriers.

    In a speech to a competition event held by the EU presidency, Almunia said "the big difficulty with this merger was that the two carriers controlled almost all the domestic market," and he noted that his predecessor had rejected a proposed merger between Air Lingus and Ryannair on the same grounds. The EU Commissioner stressed that the EU's executive will ensure that consolidation in the airline sector will not happen to the detriment of consumers and businesses in Europe.

    [21] Greek enterprises reject call for lower prices

    The head of Greek employers' largest union on Thursday rejected a government call to businesses to cut prices by 30 pct. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises said a company cannot affod to cut its prices by 30 pct when profits were 5.0 pct.

    Daskalopoulos said it was necessary to examine a consumer's total spending and not just a part of them and stressed most of these spending were currently determined, directly or indirectly- by the state with higher taxes and the continuation of closed-professions in the market. He noted that the country needed strong enterprises which were meeting their obligations and paying salaries, taxes and extra tax charges.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the crisis was not only closing down enterprises but also opened windows of opportunities to exit the crisis faster and stressed it as imperative that the Federation of Hellenic Enterprises participated -along with other business groups- in an effort to reverse a negative climate in the market.

    The meeting discussed a new development legislation, currently drafted by the ministry, with the Federation expressing its agreement with a government plan to replace subsidies with tax breaks. The agenda also covered efforts to simplify licensing procedures for enterprises. The government is expected to present a draft bill on the issue by the of the year. The Federation is working together with the government in drafting a report on the biggest hurdles faced by enterprises in the country, as envisaged by a memorandum signed with the IMF/EU and the ECB.

    Daskalopoulos said the country will definitely escape bankruptcy only if it created growth conditions and stressed that the Federation was a natural ally in this effort.

    [22] President Papoulias to inaugurate 'Defensys 2010' on Oct. 28

    Republic President Karolos Papoulias will inaugurate "Defensys 2010", the 1st international defence and security exhibition on Oct. 28 at Thessaloniki's "Ioannis Vellidis" Convention Centre in the presence of the political and military leadership of the ministry of defence.

    The event will run until Oct. 31, organised by TIF SA, HELEXPO, and the Inter-Balkan and Black Sea Business Centre (DIPEK) under the aegis of the ministry of defence and defence industries associations SEKPY and EELEA.

    A total of 140 exhibitors from 21 countries will participate in the exhibition as well as 10 state participations (Armenia, France, Greece, USA, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Bosnia-Herzegovina). Forty nine state delegations will attend the event, 23 of which will be represented at ministerial level. International security organizations such as NAMSA, NATO, EU/CSDP will also be represented in the exhibition.

    [23] Dutch plan investment on Karpathos island

    A group of Dutch enterpreneurs met with Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis and informed him of their desire to construct a golf course and tourist accomodations on the island of Karpathos (southeastern Aegean Sea), an investment totalling 150 million euros.

    The investors asked the minister for the required government guarantees for such an investment to be carried out. On his part, Nikitiadis asked for all the project's details (banks, investors, e.t.c.) for review.

    [24] Opening interbank market a top priority for National Bank

    Creating new bank schemes is not among National Bank's priorities, Apostolos Tamvakakis, the bank's chief executive said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters, in the sidelines of a joint news conference with Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili, the Greek banker stressed that the opening up of the interbank market, following National Bank's successful share capital increase plan, was a top priority for the bank and the Greek banking system in general. He expressed optimism that the interbank market would open gradually for National Bank by the end of the year with significant credit lines of several billion euros. Commenting on the domestic banking system, he said that slowly each bank will gain access to international markets, according to its powers.

    Tamvakakis said National Bank will begin procedures in the first week of November to sell up to 20 pct in its subsidiary Finansbank, with the hiring of consultants for the sale. The sale is part of a capital boosting plan announced by National Bank, which hopes it will raise around 1.0 billion euros in this way. Tamvakakis said around 500 million euros of the new money would remain at the Turkish bank to boost its capital adequacy in a four-year period. He said that a bond loan worth 500 million US dollars, announced by Finansbank, was a first test for the success of National Bank's plan.

    [25] Ryannair intends to significantly increase flights to Greece

    Ryannair on Thursday announced its intention to increase its flights to Greece by 1.5 million passengers annually, based on existing figures on demand. Ken O'Toole, the carrier's representative made the announcement during a meeting between low-cost airlines, Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis, regional authorities and tourism industry officials in Athens.

    Airline representatives welcomed an initiative by Nikitiadis to boost low-cost carriers' activity in Greece and expressed strong interest in the idea, which was supported by regional authorities and hotel executives. The Greek minister called everyone present in the meeting to cooperate more closely, offering reassurances that the government will support this effort.

    Andreas Andreadis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers, welcomed the initiative of the ministry and stressed there was full awareness of the opportunities arising for Greek tourism after the crisis.

    [26] Foreign visitors down 5.4 pct in H1

    Foreign visitors arrivals in Greece fell 5.4 pct in the first half of 2010, compared with the same period last year, highlighting the problems faced by Greek tourism early in the year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said arrivals from Europe -accounting for 87.5 pct of the country's tourist market- fell 7.4 pct, while visitors from EU countries fell 6.0 pct in the January-June period. Latvia (73.8 pct), Cyprus (48.9 pct), Finland (31.9 pct), Poland (26.2 pct), Luxembourg (12.2 pct), Czech Republic (1.9 pct) and Austria (1.8 pct) recorded increases in tourist arrivals in EU level, while Russia (67.3 pct), Albania (14.3 pct) and Serbia (10.4 pct) also recorded higher visitors' arrivals from the rest of Europe. The UK (11 pct), France (8.9 pct) and Germany (5.5 pct) recorded moderate declines. Germany (14.2 pct) and the UK (11 pct) accounted for the biggest part of visitors, followed by Bulgaria (6.9 pct) and France (5.7 pct).

    Not even one citizen from Iceland visited Greece in the first half of 2010, as a result of the country's bankruptcy, after 1,283 visitors recorded in the corresponding period in 2009.

    Visitors from US fell 15.1 pct and from Oceania 12.7 pct, while visitors from Asia and Africa jumped 73.7 pct and 31.1 pct, respectively. China (542.4 pct), South Korea (223.8 pct) and Japan (172.4 pct) recorded the biggest percentage increases from Asia.

    Only sea transport grew in the first half of 2010 (13.3 pct), with railway transport down 25.3 pct, road transport falling 15.8 pct and air travel down 2.9 pct in the January-June period. The Athens international airport (26.3 pct), Heraclion airport (11.3 pct) and Rhodes (7.8 pct) were the most busiest airports.

    [27] Private clinic sector hit by economic crisis, report

    The impact of an economic recession has hit the private clinic sector as well, a report by Hellastat said on Thursday. The report said that the turnover of the four Greek-listed clinic groups in the first half of 2010 fell 8.5 pct, compared with the corresponding period in 2009, at a period when admissions in public hospitals were up 20-30 pct. This negative environment has changed the strategic orientation of private hospital groups, which are currently adopting a defensive tactic aimed at protecting market shares.

    The report said the private sector healthcare market has been affected by an adverse economic climate, a climate likely to be continued, with the market recording a significant decline this year. Several units are facing liquidity problems as a result of delays in payments by public funds, with small- and medium-sized clinics facing the biggest problems.

    Hellastat said growth in Balkan countries continued offering significant prospects, as public health services were at very low level, while population numbers were bigger. However, Greek companies remain cautious awaiting for the economic climate to improve first.

    The report said companies in the sector shoud focus more on modernization and offering of specialized services, while a top priority should be cutting operating expenses.

    [28] OSE employees to hold four 24-hour strikes next week

    Hellenic Rail (OSE) and Athens' Proastiakos suburban railway trains will not be running on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday next week due to 24-hour rolling strikes called by OSE employees in protest over am Infrastructures, Transport and Networks ministry bill on the reorganisation and development of OSE.

    The strike also affects Athens metro service from Doukissis Plakentias station to Athens International Airport, as that section of the rail line infrastructure belongs to OSE.

    The Panhellenic Federation of Rail Workers (POS) leadership, in an extraordinary press conference on Thursday, "dynamic moblisations" will continue even after the passing of the bill, which goes before the parliament plenary on Monday for debate and vote.

    Apart from the four strike days, POS also intends to decide additional action at a new meeting.

    POS accused the government, and the ministry in particular, of slandering OSE employees by presenting excessive wages, which the leadership said are not true, with the aim of downgrading OSE so as to facilitate the process of its concession to private concerns, adding that it has come to their attention that interest in OSE has been forthcoming from French, Russian and Chinese investors.

    According to the POS leadership, the excessive debt and deficits presented by OSE, reaching 10.8 billion euros, have no relation to the employees' salaries but are due to the fact that the organisation was forced to take out loans to complete its projects which, they said, should have been covered by the state.

    The OSE employees' representatives also said that staff positions have been reduced by approximately 800 over the past year, from 6,500 to 5,780, while the average regular incomes were between 1,400 and 2,500 euros, including contributions.

    POS charged that the aim of the bill is to privatise OSE, serve the interests of the train's competitors and cover up for all those who "looted" OSE over many years. The bill, it added, will result in more expensive ticket prices, at approximately the inter-city bus prices, and lower quality services.

    POS also said that the OSE employees are not demanding "secondary" revenues, and assessed that if more personnel is hired, the money currently being paid for overtime for the running of the rail service will be drastically reduced.

    POS further said that it will take recourse in the Greek courts over the "unconstitutionality of the law", particularly with respect to labor relations, as well as recourse in the European courts and authoritative European organisations.

    [29] Kiosks begin 3-day strike on Friday

    Kiosks and small wares shops embark on a three-day strike on Friday, demanding an increase in their profit percentage.

    The kiosk owners' federation is demanding of the finance ministry that it raise the profit percentage to 8.2 percent, through legislation, from the current average of 3 percent, stressing that it is a "matter of survival" for such businesses.

    The federation said that more than 1,200 kiosks and small wares shops throughout the country have gone out of business.

    Meanwhile, 40 kiosk owners have announced that they will begin an indefinite hunger strike outside the ministry on Friday.

    [30] Stocks end 0.19%down

    Greek stocks eased on Thursday as investors took some profits after a four-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market fell 0.19 pct to 1,586.11 points, with turnover a low 105.797 million euros. National Bank (2.84 pct), Cyprus Bank (1.47 pct) and Titan (1.30 pct) recorded the biggest percentage losses among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (4.46 pct), Motor Oil (1.97 pct) and Mytilineos (1.54 pct) scored gains.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.64 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.99 pct and the Small Cap index rose 0.36 pct. The Commerce (1.84 pct) and Raw Materials (1.77 pct) indexes scored gains and the Banks (1.35 pct) and Media (1.12 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 100 to 70 with another 46 issues unchanged. Viokarpet (19.72 pct), Revoil (10.13 pct) and Cyclon (10 pct) were top gainers, while Edrasi (15.38 pct), Varvaressos (13.33 pct) and Ikona-Ihos (12.5 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +0.82%

    Industrials: +1.19%

    Commercial: +1.84%

    Construction: +0.04%

    Media: -1.12%

    Oil & Gas: +0.63%

    Personal & Household: +0.82%

    Raw Materials: +1.77%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.21%

    Technology: +0.07%

    Telecoms: +0.18%

    Banks: -1.35%

    Food & Beverages: +0.88%

    Health: +0.45%

    Utilities: +0.14%

    Chemicals: +2.03%

    Financial Services: +0.67%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 5.27

    ATEbank: 0.92

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.43

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.08

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.77

    National Bank of Greece: 8.20

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.12

    OPAP: 12.26

    OTE: 5.61

    Bank of Piraeus: 4.03

    Titan: 15.89

    [31] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 684 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, up from 659 bps on Wednesday, reflecting a negative climate which prevailed in bond markets following a limited response by investors to a state bond auction in Spain. The Greek bond yielded 9.30 pct and the German Bund 2.46 pct. Turnover was a low 51 million euros, of which 33 million were sell orders and the remaining 18 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 10 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved higher. The 12-month rate was 1.51 pct, the six-month rate 1.24 pct, the three-month 1.025 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.

    [32] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.16 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover a low 36.647 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,248 contracts worth 27.937 million euros, with 28,341 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,058 contracts worth 8.710 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,975), followed by Eurobank (1,250), OTE (454), OPAP (403), Piraeus Bank (914), Alpha Bank (1,290), Ellaktor (1,019), Mytilineos (465), Cyprus Bank (768), Motor Oil (356) and Hellenic Postbank (776).

    [33] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.412

    Pound sterling 0.897

    Danish kroner 7.518

    Swedish kroner 9.341

    Japanese yen 114.56

    Swiss franc 1.360

    Norwegian kroner 8.203

    Canadian dollar 1.441

    Australian dollar 1.432

    General News

    [34] Events for Battle of Marathon 2,500-year anniversary presented

    Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Thursday announced a series of events to mark the 2,500th anniversary since the Battle of Marathon - a battle whose outcome is regarded as having changed the course of European history and the western world.

    The events will culminate with the 28th Athens Classic Marathon on October 31, in which more than 20,000 athletes from every part of the world are expected to take part.

    "The 2,500-year anniversary of the Battle of Marathon is a great opportunity to highlight the country's comparative strengths, the values that we represent across time, the great potential that we have. It is a great opportunity to help Athens become an international destination due to this athletic event of global impact that this year also acquires and cultural and tourism side," Geroulanos said.

    Events leading up to the Marathon will include the opening of an exhibition entitled "Democracy and the Battle of Marathon" at the Zappion Hall from October 3 until November 1 that compares the Greek and Persian cultures, the "Callimachus's Nike" exhibition at the Acropolis Museum on October 26 and the opera "Marathon-Salamis" at the National Opera for four nights on October 29-31 and November 2.

    Another event is 'The Marathon Marathon Project' that will take place in Athens at the Acropolis Museum on October 31, 2010 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

    The project takes as its point of departure the impressive international array of marathon-format events which are rooted in the concept of superhuman endeavor, in the seemingly impossible but historically real feat of the Battle of Marathon. A particular point of reference was the international event entitled "The Marathon Project," which has been held annually since 2005 as part of the Serpentine Gallery art program in London. Through a marathon series of talks and presentations this project generates an important, unprecedented archive made up of the intricate "path" of thought and expression taken by artists and intellectuals as they explore a central issue or topic (e.g. The Poetry Marathon, the Manifesto Marathon, the Marathon of Maps). In doing so the project has questioned the established ways of presenting art and re-negotiated the concepts of public dialogue and cultural goods.

    The apparent tautology in the title of the Athens event comes from the fact that marathonproject-the "Marathon of the Marathon"-is being held as part of the celebrations of the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon and the organization this year of the Golden Marathon.

    The reason for putting this project together was the need for a different reading of the anniversary, through the artists' and intellectuals' point of view and , in terms of both the act of commemoration (why we celebrate the anniversary) and the content of what is being commemorated (what it means). This meta-Marathon-the discourse about the Marathon-provides an opportunity to creatively re-link the message of the Marathon not only to its place of origin but also to the numerous places around the world where this message was relayed and multiplied.

    [35] Ultramarathon veteran Jurgen Mennel marks 2,500th anniversary of Battle of Marathon with 30-day run to Athens

    German ultramarathon veteran Jurgen Mennel arrived at the ancient Kallimarmaro (Panathenian) Stadium in Athens, venue of the first Modern Olympic Games, on Thursday after running 2,200 kilometers from Strasbourg in 30 days in his own personal tribute to the 2,500th anniversary of the historic 490 BC Battle of Marathon, covering more than 70 kilometers per day.

    The 50-year-old long distance runner, a social worker from Heibronn, was a member of the German national ultramarathon team that won the silver medal at the World Championships in 1990 in the 100 kilometers category.

    Mennel, who set off from Strasbourg on September 22, was greeted on arrival at the Kallimarmaro by Greece's Culture and Tourism Minister in a special ceremony.

    This year marks the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, and the 28th annual Athens Classic Marathon slated to take place on October 31 with a record number of runners.

    Indeed, a record 12,500 runners, more than double the previous record in 2008, have signed up for the 2010 Classical Marathon, which has been called "the race of the century" by Association of International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) executive board member Horst Milde, while another 8,000 runners have registered for the parallel 10-kilometer (4,500 entrants) and 5-kilometer road races (3,500 entrants).

    The 42-kilometer Classic Marathon is based on the legendary run carried out by the ancient hoplite Pheidippides who ran all the way from the battlefield of Marathon to the ancient city of Athens to bring news of the Greek victory over the Persians and traces the actual route he is believed to have taken. Pheidippides' effort inspired the modern Marathon event, which covers roughly the same distance as that between Marathon and central Athens and was created for the first-ever modern Olympic Games of 1896.

    [36] Mitropoulos 50th anniversary tribute at Athens Concert Hall

    The Athens Concert Hall is planning a series of events dedicated to Greek composer Dimitri Mitropoulos in order to mark the 50th anniversary since his death.

    The events are part of the Greek Music Cycle and include a recital and lecture by pianist Haris Dimaras on October 25, the international Dimitri Mitropoulos competition for orchestra conductors in collaboration with the Orchestra of Colours on November 3, the Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) 50 Years Later Conference, organised in collaboration with the Lilian Voudouri library of music and the magazines 'Mousikologia' and 'Polyphonia', on November 12-13, and performances by the Ionian University's string quartet, choir and instrumental ensemble.

    [37] Photo-journalism Festival at M55 Gallery and French Institute in Athens

    Perpignan-Visa pour L'Image, the premier International Festival of Photojournalism held every September in Perpignan, France, will be presented in Athens in the context of the annual FotoFestival 2010.

    The exhibition and related events, which will be held at the M55 Gallery and the French Institute in Athens, comprise exhibitions, video projections and the opportunity for photographers to meet with media professionals.

    The exhibition opens on Friday, with the presentation of photographic material of noted photographers Munem Wasif and Stephanie Sinclair.

    Wasif focuses on the problems and prejudices that have arose for Islam after 9/11.

    Sinclair, prompted by the scandal that broke out in April 2008 over one of the US's most secretive Mormon sects, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), renowned for practicing polygamy, delves into the issue of polygamy in America.

    The exhibition will run through November 10.

    [38] Open debate on Internet media issues launched

    The Greek interior ministry and the culture and tourism ministry on Thursday announced the start of an open public debate on issues concerning the development capability, needs and challenges faced by Internet information and communication media in Greece. Participation is open to all interested parties, whether private individuals or organisations, with the ministries asking that all proposals be sent for the organisation of the debate to http://www.opengov.gr/ypes

    [39] Exhibition at Greek General Consulate in Moscow

    MOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)

    The visual arts combined technique exhibition on the theme "Greek series", by the Russian artist Aleksandr Tnzikia that will last until December 24, was inaugurated at the Greek General Consulate in Moscow on Thursday evening.

    Stella Art Foundation was responsible for supervising the exhibition, which is increasingly active in joint, with Greek agencies, activities in past years.

    Inaugurating the exhibition, General Consul Ioannis Plotas termed it a "fortunate conjuncture, that highlights the historic and cultural ties of the two countries."

    [40] Folk museum in Oraiokastro, Thessaloniki

    Traditional costumes, embroideries, hand-woven goods, farming tools, home implements, old photographs and administrative documents are a few of the exhibits that will be on display at the Historic Folk Museum of the municipality of Oraiokastro, Halkidiki, in Thessaloniki prefecture, which will be inaugurated on Sunday.

    The museum was created by local residents who, embracing an initiative of the municipality, donated hundreds of personal and family items.

    The aim of the effort, according to Oraiokastro mayor Nikolaos Batos, is to record, showcase and preserve the area's rich folk tradition and cultural heritage.

    [41] New premises for City of Athens gallery on October 27

    The City of Athens municipal gallery is to acquire new premises as of October 27, in one of the city's oldest neoclassical style buildings in the district of Metaxourgio. The new gallery will be on Leonidou and Myllerou streets and the transfer of the gallery's 160 paintings will begin next week, with the official opening taking place on Wednesday by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis.

    The paintings are mostly from the modern Greek period and include those of painters like Hatzikyriakos-Ghikas, Parthenis or more modern artists like Opy Zouni, Alekos Fasianos and others. Several of the paintings in the collection will go on display for the first time, including a completely unknown work by Sofia Laskaridou, the first woman to break the taboo against women and attend the Athens School of Fine Arts.

    The building that will house the gallery was given to the City of Athens as a bequest in 1993 and restoration work began in 2007.

    [42] Tram journeys to be shortened by 'green wave' system

    Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Spyros Vougias on Thursday presented the 'Green Wave' system designed to speed up journey times for the Athens tram system by ensuring that trams were given a green light at some 80 traffic lights along their route.

    Vougias said that trams would be given priority at all junctions with traffic lights as of October 30, with the final touches to the system due to be completed by the end of November when a special system check team will be set up.

    The plan is to make the tram system, now considered by many passengers as very slow, a more attractive and competitive means of transport. The system is expected to shear some 10 to 12 minutes off current journey times from one terminus to the other.

    Weather Forecast

    [43] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy and rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 25C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 17C.

    [44] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The cancellation of Qatar's investment in Astakos and Prime Minister's reassurance that pensioners and salary earners will not be further burdened, mostly dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou insists that no new measures will be imposed".

    APOGEVMATINI: The newspaper celebrates its 58 years of operation.

    AVGHI: "Fast track a 'bubble'."

    AVRIANI: "Scandal-mongering and chaos in government send away the investors".

    ELEFTHEROS: "The cancellation of Qatar's investment in Astakos punished Papandreou".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Qatar's bubble burst in George's (prime minister Papandreou) hands".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "George (Papandreou) appeared reassuring on salaries and pensions".

    ESTIA: "We are sending away the investments - Government's policy is inconsistent".

    ETHNOS: "Discounts on illegally constructed buildings' fines".

    IMERISSIA: "Demarche to Troika for support of Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE)".

    KATHIMERINI: "Economy's extrovert sectors are doing well".

    LOGOS: "Clash over the cancellation of Astakos deal".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "IMF sounds the warning bell for growth and employment".

    NIKI: "IMF'S experiment in Greece failed".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga: Radical measures to safeguard the unemployed".

    TA NEA: "George to Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund): Enough! No more sacrifices!".

    TO VIMA: "Nepotism in Universities targeted".

    VRADYNI: "Cry of agony".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [45] President urges EU Commission to withdraw direct trade regulation

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias sent on Wednesday a letter to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, calling on the Commission to change its position and withdraw a regulation on direct trade between the EU and Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has announced.

    In statements to the press here Thursday, Stephanou said that in view of the opinion of the European Parliament Legal Service, which reached similar conclusions to those of the Council Legal Service, and the decision of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, President Christofias has called on the European Commission to revise its position on the regulation and to withdraw the proposed regulation.

    The call came in the wake of a decision by the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee which questioned the legal basis on which the Commission had proposed direct trade between the EU and Cyprus' occupied areas. The decision vindicated the position of the Cyprus government that the northern occupied areas of the country - EU territory since the Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004 - cannot be regarded as a third country with which EU members can trade. Turkey, which aspires to join the EU, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to meet its EU commitments relating to Cyprus.

    In the letter to Barroso, Christofias notes that the proposed regulation puts at risk the prospects of reaching a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus soon. He also points out that the withdrawal of the proposal will allow the island's two communities to continue their efforts, through the direct negotiations, to reach a solution.

    Stephanou said the letter to Barroso is the continuation of a previous letter the President had sent to the EU official with regard to the regulation on direct trade. In that letter, President Christofias had underlined that the Republic of Cyprus will defend its legal interests with all available, political and legal means.

    Called to comment on statements by Turkey's Prime Minister on the decision of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, Stephanou stressed that Turkey should fulfill its obligations to the EU, as the EU has called on Turkey to do it several times.

    Tayip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey will not fulfill the Ankara Protocol if the ports in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas do not open for direct trade with the EU.

    It is beyond reason for Turkey to introduce new conditions in order to meet its own obligations, Stephanou pointed out, adding that Ankara should implement those obligations, one of which is to open its ports and airports to the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the EU.

    Replying to another question whether the government expects Turkey to make a good will gesture by December, such as opening one of its ports, Stephanou said that in the past such information had proven to be false.

    "If Turkey wishes to make a good will gesture, which in fact will not be a gesture but the implementation of its obligation towards the EU, it could fulfill its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus. Something that Turkey has not done so far", he added.

    It is not enough Turkey to state that it wishes a solution to the Cyprus problem by the end of the year. It should prove its good will, and unfortunately, Turkey's actions do not justify its statements, Stephanou stressed.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third territory. Cyprus UN-led talks are underway between the leaders of the two communities of Cyprus, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

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