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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 13 May 2011 Issue No: 3785


  • [01] Samaras outlines plan to jumpstart Greek economy; pay debt
  • [02] Finmin sources criticise ND proposals
  • [03] Papandreou participates in Progressive Governance conference in Oslo
  • [04] Foreign minister to attend Oslo conference with PM
  • [05] Nationwide labor strike staged on Wednesday
  • [06] Demonstrator in serious condition after clashes with police in protest demonstration in Athens
  • [07] Twelve arrested for protest march violence to prosecutor
  • [08] Three policemen suspended in serious injury of protestor in Athens
  • [09] Troika representatives meet Parliamentary Economic Committee presidium
  • [10] DM addresses Greek-German Chamber of Commerce
  • [11] SYN-SYRIZA clash with government; Tsipras warns against 'blind violence'
  • [12] President receives PPC employees' presidium
  • [13] Greece opposes suspension of Schengen, minister stresses
  • [14] Gov't on local elections in Albania; Schengen pact
  • [15] PASOK party leading ND 3 pc, poll shows
  • [16] Amendment restricts scope of Votanikos sports complex project
  • [17] Greek Labour Minister Katseli in Cyprus
  • [18] University entrance exams open Thursday with essay
  • [19] Environment minister confers with visiting EU Climate Action commissioner
  • [20] Greek unemployment jumped to 15.9 pct in Feb
  • [21] Health ministry announces further spending cuts in 2011
  • [22] Measure of detention still in effect for debts between entrepreneurs
  • [23] BoG, banks discuss developments in financial system
  • [24] Greek banks' borrowing from ECB down in March
  • [25] Deutsche Telekom on OTE issue
  • [26] Business Briefs
  • [27] Stocks end sharply lower
  • [28] Greek bond market closing report
  • [29] ADEX closing report
  • [30] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [31] Yannis Moralis exhibition in National Gallery
  • [32] Population, residence census continues in Greece
  • [33] ANA-MPA unveils Facebook, Twitter accounts
  • [34] Free admission to all museums on May 18
  • [35] Institut Francais in Thessaloniki opens doors to local pupils
  • [36] Foreign national stabbed to death in Athens
  • [37] Protest by local residents at site of deadly inner city mugging
  • [38] Incidents break out outside 'Amalia' mansion
  • [39] Police hold 50 people for questioning after incidents during two rallies in Athens
  • [40] Fugitive ex-judge arrested in London
  • [41] London court to consider extradition of fugitive former judge
  • [42] Couple dies in fire
  • [43] Two injured in armed robberies
  • [44] One killed in crash between car, public bus
  • [45] Young girl found dead in Patras
  • [46] Fair on Friday
  • [47] Meeting with UNSG on July 4, says President
  • [48] Leaders discuss upcoming meeting with UNSG
  • [49] FM: Cyprus participated as an equal state in conferences in Turkey Politics

  • [01] Samaras outlines plan to jumpstart Greek economy; pay debt

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday outlined his party's programme to restart the ailing Greek economy, based what he said were seven basic steps:

    Samaras, a former ND minister who left the party in 1993 to establish his own political entity, only to return back and serve again as a ND deputy and minister, said the first goal is none other than to cut tax rates.

    He recommended introduction of a common 15 pct tax rate for all enterprises and a 15-pct tax on dividends (from 25 pct currently). The highest tax rate would fall to 40 pct, from 45 pct currently, and would not exceed 30 pct in a period of three years, he said.

    Value added tax (VAT) will be cut to 19 pct (from 23 pct); to 9.0 pct from 13 pct and for tourism-related enterprises the VAT rate would be set at a low 4.5 pct.

    Moreover, Samaras said his plans calls for the special fuel consumption tax to be abolished in two years. He also recommended cutting employers' social insurance contributions by 25 pct, along with imposing very strict sanctions for informal labour and gradually abolishing taxes for third parties.

    On another front, the ND leader emphasised what he called for the abolition of the obligation of reporting the financial means in the purchase of residences; a freeze on real estate objective value taxes and a re-examination of all property statements of office-holders who have served as ministers from 1974 onwards.

    More proposals include:

  • introducing a simplified and stable tax system, along with strict sanctions for tax-evaders

  • legalising all illegal buildings and strictly prohibiting any further illegal building activity

  • repayment of all state debt to individuals and enterprises

  • acquiring a pledge by domestic banks to distribute

    20-30 pct of state guarantees to the real economy. Greek banks have received 63 billion euros so far in guarantees and the government recently added another 30 billion euros in state support

    "I asked Mr. (Jean-Claude) Trichet to extend measures in support of banks' liquidity for next year," Samaras said.

    Additionally, Samaras cited the subsidization of first home purchases by two percentage points, with the aim to restart building activity, as well as improving a residential energy upgrading programme; raising absorption of Community funds and boosting the public investment programme.

    These measures would raise 8.0 billion euros in the first two years, he said.

    Samaras said action should be taken to overturn what he called the unfair treatment of low-pension earners and to restore financial support to families with more than three children.

    The New Democracy leader said the steps to restart the economy will cut the country's fiscal deficit by 2.0 pct, while he added that measures to cut public overspending should be taken, such as those generated by state hospital costs; freezing new hirings in the public sector for three years (to be followed by one hiring for five retirements), cutting benefits to higher income earners in public sector enterprises.

    Turning to the political side, he strongly criticised the ruling PASOK government for introducing a new cycle of overspending and of increasing the "party-affiliated state" as he called it, while he pledged that implementation of ND's programme would result in a decrease of the fiscal deficit to 1.0 pct of GDP in three years.

    Samaras said institutional measures will support this programme, with priority given to combating bureaucracy.

    Pointing to an issue related to foreign policy, Samaras made a special mention to declare the country's Exclusive Economic Zone, something he said PASOK was "afraid of doing".

    New Democracy has recommended making a better management of the state's real estate property and said that such a plan needed time to be implemented, Samaras said, adding that his party was not opposed to the sale of individual property, while he recommended the exploitation of the Church's real estate as well. "Exploiting the state's property means convincing investors. Without restarting the economy there cannot be an exploitation of the property, it will be a sell-off," he said.

    Referring again to the economic side, he reiterated his party's support for privatisations, but stressed that the current market value of all public sector enterprises was below 6.0 billion euros.

    "If the government begins selling equities it will further drop prices," he said, adding it was a mistake to sell a 17-pct share in the Public Power Corp.

    "We will proceed with a privatisation of PPC in a modern fashion by opening up the energy market first. Energy distribution and transport networks will remain under state control and we will seek a strategic investor for parts of PPC," he said.

    The state will seek strategic investors for other public sector enterprises as well, the ND leader said, while he opposed plans to sell OPAP, the state-run betting and lottery pools.

    Speaking before a packed hall of the party's highest ranking deputies and cadres, and with the address carried on several national television stations, Samaras also strongly criticised the role of labour unions in the country, particularly those representing employees in public sector enterprises.

    "We must change the terms of the memorandum," Samaras said in reference to the 110-billion-euros bailout, adding that some people were betting on our bankruptcy. "Greece cannot afford any more instability in a sensitive region," he said, while he reminded that Ireland and Portugal achieved better terms after negotiating with the troika, something that the Papandreou government failed to do.

    "I will negotiate the terms of restarting the economy," Samaras said and noted that he will negotiate any idea offering relief to the debt problem. Along these lines, he reiterated a proposal for a Eurobond and the possibility of buying state debt in the secondary bond market.

    "Any extension of the repayment period is not painless and any rescheduling of the debt needs a restart of the economy," he said.

    Furthermore, he accused that prime minister of lacking any plan. "The new memorandum is discussed because the first memorandum failed ... I took the risk of resisting to the memorandum when many were saying it was the only way, and I expressed our views abroad. Our criticism was justified and today we recommend a restart," the ND leader said, while he said it would be a "crime" to offer his consensus to a mistake.

    Finally, he said his party was ready for snap elections if the government was to decide such a move.

    Gov't reaction

    Shortly after, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis commented on the proposals unveiled by Samaras. The former clarified that many of the ND leader's proposals have already been implemented by the government while others are unrealistic or need further processing.

    Petalotis added that Samaras does not accept the memorandum - for which the ND policy is responsible, as he charged - as the country's only and necessary way out of the crisis.

    He issued again an invitation for consensus, stressing that it is a "standing invitation to ND which has its share of responsibility for the state the country is in".

    Petalotis called on the main opposition party to realise its responsibility and follow the example of Portugal where the opposition parties signed the memorandum.

    The government spokesman left open the likelihood for proposals made by Samaras to be studied and implemented.

    [02] Finmin sources criticise ND proposals

    Finance ministry sources responding, on Thursday afternoon, to main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras's programme to restart the ailing Greek economy, said the deficit would return in a year's time to 36.034 billion euros, at the levels of 2009, with the New Democracy government, if this programme was implemented.

    According to the same sources, in the event of the implementation of ND's measures, an extra 11.850 billion euros would be added to the 24.184 billion euros deficit at the end of 2010.

    According to the ministry officials,, who analysed the programme proposed by Samaras, the deficit would be burdened with 17.1 billion euros and would be relieved by 5.25 billion euros.

    [03] Papandreou participates in Progressive Governance conference in Oslo

    Prime Minister George Papandreou is in Norway as of Thursday to participate in a major Progressive Governance Conference themed "A post-crisis agenda for the centre -left: securing shared prosperity" that opens in Oslo on Thursday.

    The two-day conference is organised by Policy Network in partnership with the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the participation of the Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg.

    At 8:00 p.m., Papandreou will attend a working dinner hosted for the conference participants, while on Friday morning he will address a plenary discussion on the "Future jobs and growth: How can centre-left governments make a difference?".

    The prime ministers of Norway Jens Stoltenberg and Spain Jose Zapatero, the President of Serbia Boris Tadic, the deputy prime minister of Ireland Eamon Gilmore and the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Pascal Lamy will also take part in the debate.

    The participants will hold a press conference immediately after the end of the conference.

    The Greek premier will further have a bilateral meeting with his Norwegian counterpart and conference host Jens Stoltenberg.

    The conference brings together centre-left leaders from across Europe and other countries around the world, as well as over 200 leading academics, political thinkers and policymakers.

    According to the organisers, the timing of the conference is crucial: almost everywhere, the centre-left is either out of power or encountering difficulties in office. In Europe, social democratic parties are not just electorally weak, but also appear to have lost the ideological, intellectual and organisational vitality which enabled them to leave such a strong imprint on the 20th century.

    The objective of this political gathering is to imbue centre-left politics with a new and bold impetus for change. In setting out to outline priorities for a new political economy, the thematic focus will be on the state and its institutions, the social market economy and employment and the workplace, the organisers said.

    [04] Foreign minister to attend Oslo conference with PM

    Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas will be departing for Oslo on Thursday in order to accompany Prime Minister George Papandreou to a conference organised by the think-tank Policy Network, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras announced.

    Earlier on Thursday, Droutsas had a meeting with European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard that was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis.

    On Saturday, May 14, Droutsas will meet with the UN Secretary General's special envoy for Libya Abdel-Elah Al-Khatib when he visits Athens. The following Monday, the foreign minister will meet Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and on Tuesday they will both take part in the joint Greek-Russian Conference on European Security taking place at the Divani Caravel hotel in Athens.

    On Thursday next week, Droutsas will speak at the Economist conference at the Grand Resort Lagonissi on "Driving the foreign policy agenda in view of current developments in the region".

    [05] Nationwide labor strike staged on Wednesday

    Greeks took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the government's austerity measures during a 24-hour nationwide labor strike called by the country's two largest umbrella federations GSEE and ADEDY representing the private and public sector respectively.

    Although turnout for the main strike rally in Athens was relatively small, participation in the strike was extensive, reaching up to 100 percent at the countries refineries, shipyards and ships, 95 percent in ports, 90 percent in construction, 80 percent in banks, and 85 percent in public utilities and state organisations (DEKO), according to the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

    The main rally, organised jointly by GSEE and the federation of civil servants' unions ADEDY, was held at the Pedion tou Areos Park in downtown Athens, followed by a march to parliament where the GSEE and ADEDY presidiums handed a resolution to the parliament president and representatives of the political parties.

    The resolution stressed that the working people, pensioners and unemployed will continue their fight against the policies that bring recession, unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, and demanded that the tax "thieves" pay.

    Addressing the rally, GSEE leader Yannis Panagopoulos said a policy is needed that will remedy the injustices, reinforce salaried workers and place greater weight on addressing unemployment, and stimulating development through the creation of jobs "because that is the big problem of the Greek society", while another GSEE official warned that the economy has been plunged into the deepest recession in the post-war period, with unemployment at 18 percent and one million people living on an annual income of less than 6,000 euros and added that political volition was needed to stamp out contribution evasion and tax dodging.

    [06] Demonstrator in serious condition after clashes with police in protest demonstration in Athens

    A 31-year-old demonstrator who suffered head wounds in violence in the center of Athens during a 24-hour nationwide labor strike on Wednesday was reported in critical and stable condition on Thursday after undergoing emergency surgery.

    In a related development, a police officer was injured after being attacked by a group of approximately 50 people at Nikaia hospital on Thursday where went, together with two colleagues, for a preliminary investigation into the serious injury of the demonstrator.

    The police officers managed to escape the livid crowd in their patrol car.

    According to a hospital announcement signed by chief of surgery Stamatios Pinis and the injured demonstrator Ioannis Kafkas' attending surgeon Panayotis Papanicolaou, the patient was brought to the hospital by ambulance a few minutes before 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday after a reported beating, and the clinical examinations revealed external wounds to the head and bleeding from the right ear.

    The announcement said that the patient presented gradual loss of consciousness and slipped into a coma while being treated in the Emergency Room, and required urgent intubation.

    Further examinations revealed fractures to the skull and an extensive cranial hematoma and the patient was rushed to surgery later Wednesday for removal of the hematoma, relief of pressure on the brain and containment of haemorrhage.

    The operation was successful, and the patient was in the intensive care unit in a drug-induced coma and on a respirator. Despite the relative stabilisation of his condition, the patient remained in critical condition, the hospital announcement concluded.

    Kafkas was injured in clashes with police during a protest march against the government's austerity measures.

    [07] Twelve arrested for protest march violence to prosecutor

    The twelve arrested for disturbances during Wednesday's protest march and rally in central Athens were led before a public prosecutor on Thursday. Two were minors and were referred to a juvenile court prosecutor.

    Of the remaining 10, seven were referred to a regular examining magistrate for criminal offences. The charges against them range from disturbing the peace while having their face concealed to preparation and possession of explosives. The other three face charges for misdemeanours, such as attempt to cause grievous bodily harm, resisting arrest, possession of weapons and others.

    [08] Three policemen suspended in serious injury of protestor in Athens

    Three MAT riot police officers and their squad leader were placed on suspension at noon Thursday by Greek Police (ELAS) chief Lefteris Economou after video footage showed them using excessive force during clashes with protestors in downtown Athens during a labor strike, in which a 31-year-old protestor was critically injured.

    A police headquarters announcement said that the three officers appearing in video footage uploaded on the internet using excessive force, and in particular mercilessly beating a fallen protestor in the street, have been identified and were placed on suspension.

    The investigation into the incident was continuing, following orders from Citizens' Protection minister Christos Papoutsis, from Brussels, for immediate attribution of blame on all parties involved in the violence in Wednesday's incidents and to clarify the circumstances of the serious injury of 31-year-old protestor Yannis Kafkas, who was in critical condition at the Nikaia state hospital.

    [09] Troika representatives meet Parliamentary Economic Committee presidium

    The presidium of Parliament's Standing Economic Committee and the representatives of parties - ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy (ND) and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) - observed a largely unified stance towards the troika (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union) representatives in an incamera meeting they had in Parliament on Thursday afternoon, at the latter's initiative and in which the parties of the left refused to participate.

    According to reports, the Greek deputies raised with the troika's representatives the problematic aspect of the existing Memorandum's performance, stressing the need for its amendment, since "the recession is leading to a decrease in revenues and as a result of the burdening of society there is the danger of social explosions."

    The deputied also appealed for a milder procedure for the debt's repayment, so that funds can be directed to growth. The issue of European solidarity that must be displayed, was also discussed. On their part, the troika representatives observed that the reforms agreed have not proceeded to the extent agreed, and stressed the need for at least the two mainstream parties to show consensus for their implementation.

    [10] DM addresses Greek-German Chamber of Commerce

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, addressing a conference organised by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce at a downtown hotel on Thursday, expressed disagreement with the holding of elections and with coalition governments, but expressed support for the need for honourable cooperation between the governemnt and the opposition.

    "If we shape the internal political preconditions we shall be able to change the international preconditions as well," he said, adding that "securing unity and national rallying we shall be able to convince our partners that the commitments we have assumed for many years we have assumed as a nation and not as a government. We must realise that there is not even a minute to lose, there is no ground for internal negotiations."

    The Defence minister assessed that "the great majority of the people is experiencing the difficulties hoping to see light. We can find light, we shall find it if we move united with joint rallying, speaking of us and not with I."

    On his part, the German ambassador in Athens said that "we support Greece and we are expecting the government to carry out the missions that are described in the memorandum, to hear that the government will implement in the coming months the privatisations, the reorganising of the state now, when it is having decisive discussions with the troika."

    [11] SYN-SYRIZA clash with government; Tsipras warns against 'blind violence'

    An appeal to protesting citizens to avoid "answering government violence with violence" was made on Thursday by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras, in the wake of violent incidents during Wednesday's protests in Athens that sent one protestor to a hospital intensive care unit in a coma.

    Tsipras made the statements while touring the island of Kos and expressed fears that the crisis would become generalised.

    SYRIZA's leader called on citizens to demand the democratic right to demonstrate and protest but stressed that there were two paths: that of generalised social chaos and blind violence and the democratic path.

    He called on the government to provide a democratic way out of the crisis by resorting to the popular vote in order to determine whether citizens really agreed with its policies.

    In an earlier announcement, the main constituent party of the SYRIZA alliance, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), accused the government of being the instigator of the incidents during the anti-austerity demonstration.

    A SYN statement underlined that "the murderous attacks by riot police against the mass demonstration organized by the country's trade unions directly target the constitutionally guaranteed right of the citizens to demonstrate and are a threat to Democracy."

    A SYRIZA spokesman also strongly rejected criticism levelled against SYRIZA MPs by government spokesman George Petalotis, concerning their reactions to the injury of a 31-year-old protestor taken to Nikaia hospital in critical condition.

    In his statements, Petalotis had condemned the violence that led to the injury of the protestor but at the same time accused SYRIZA MPs Panagiotis Lafazanis and Iro Dioti of "vigilantism" through their actions at the hospital.

    [12] President receives PPC employees' presidium

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias called again for "nation-wide understanding" in order for the current difficult period to be overcome, in a meeting on Thursday with the board of the Public Power Corporation employees' federation GENOP-PPC.

    "It is a difficult time, a difficult period. There are no easy or painless solutions. A nation-wide effort -- I would add a nation-wide understanding -- is needed to overcome this crisis," the President said, adding that "in this struggle of the Greek people, everyone offers whatever they can, with frankness and respect".

    [13] Greece opposes suspension of Schengen, minister stresses

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Thursday stressed Athens' support for any proposal that strengthens the Schengen treaty but also its rejection of any "thoughts that reverse Community entitlements".

    Speaking at the EU justice and home affairs ministers' council held in Brussels, he urged his counterparts to look forward to deeper European integration and not "back to a pre-EU era".

    Papoutsis said it was positive that the problems caused by migration flows at the EU's external borders were recognised as a European and not just national problem, requiring "real solidarity between member-states". He called for ways to further enhance the practical implementation of the principle of solidarity and a just distribution of the burden between member-states, noting that any other approach could only lead to harmful and disintegrative phenomena that would act against the best interests of the EU and its citizens.

    He called for measures that would boost the efforts of member-states to guard the EU's external borders and promote better policing in order to deter illegal entry.

    The minister stressed that weight should be placed on strengthening control of external borders and tackling any shortfalls and not on 'punishing' member-states that were on the outskirts of the EU.

    Papoutsis also underlined that creating an area without internal borders and the free movement of European citizens within the Schengen area was one of the fundamental principles of the EU and the most basic pillar for European integration that had to be protected at all costs.

    He noted that proposals for mechanisms to suspend participation in specific sections and restore controls at internal borders essentially changed the entire structure of the Schengen entitlements and created issues of agreement with the EU Treaty itself and the fundamental principles that this envisages. Such a suspension mechanism might even be consider contrary to EU law, he warned.

    The Greek minister was in favour of expanding the powers of Frontex, both in terms of preventing the entry of illegal immigrants and ensuring their immediate repatriation.

    The Greek side further stressed the need for a solution to the issue of third-country nationals that were illegally resident in the EU but whose removal was currently not possible for technical or other reasons. Among these he suggested further strengthening community policy for voluntary and mandatory repatriation and ensuring implementation of re-admission agreements.

    Among the minister's suggestions was a common European policy for migration and asylum that would reduce the burden of increased migration flows for member-states on the external borders, one that would redistribute illegal migrants to member-states based on population, economic and geographic criteria.

    He stressed the need to revise current regulations in the Dublin II treaty that placed the burden of coping with migrant flows exclusively on the shoulders of member-states on the external borders of the EU, which were called on to shoulder the burden for the EU as a whole.

    [14] Gov't on local elections in Albania; Schengen pact

    ? foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday was queried over the weekend local elections in neighbouring Albania, as well as an upcoming European security conference in Athens and continuing discussions in the EU regarding the Schengen pact.

    Briefing diplomatic correspondents in Athens, spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras merely noted that "Greece is closely monitoring municipal and local community elections in Albania, particularly, in the regions with a large ethnic Greek minority ... In general, last Sunday's vote was held smoothly," he said, while nevertheless noting that "there were certain irregularities and violent incidents recorded".

    Referring to the ethnic Greek minority in southern Albania, Delavekouras underlined that this community's participation was increased, "proving that the ethnic Greeks of Albania preserve strong ties with their birthplace and care about its prosperity."

    Delavekouras also referred to a conference on European security, entitled "The Political-Military Dimension of European Security: Proposals and Perspectives", to take place in Athens on May 17, co-hosted with Russia. He underlined that its main goal is holding a broad discussion on the role played in European security by Greece and Russia.

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Alexander Grushko will deliver the opening addresses. Among the speakers will be politicians, diplomats, military personnel and researchers with extensive experience in European security issues, from Greece, Russia, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and Ukraine.

    Referring to the Schengen Pact discussion currently underway within the EU framework, Delavekouras stated that it can be improved, leading to a fairer distribution of the burden shouldered mostly by the countries on the external borders of the EU.

    He underlined that the free movement of citizens must be safeguarded, adding that the asylum granting agreement can be amended, leading to the reform of the Dublin II Regulation.

    [15] PASOK party leading ND 3 pc, poll shows

    The ruling PASOK party is leading the main opposition New Democracy party by 3 percent, according to an opinion poll carried out on behalf of "Skai" and "Kathimerini" and presented during the news bulletin of the "Skai" television channel.

    The electoral influence of parties, according to the monthly Political Barometer of the Public Issue company, is the following: PASOK 32 percent, ND 29, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 12, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 8, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) 6.5, Democratic Left 3.5, Ecologists-Greens 3.5, Democratic Alliance 1.5 and Golden Dawn 1.5, while the out-of-Parliament left garners 1 percent and the new Panhellenic Citizens Chariot party 0.5.

    As to the question of "suitability" for prime minister, 41 percent say "no one", Prime Minister and PASOK leader George Papandreou 33 and ND leader Antonis Samaras 22. Moreover, 69 percent of respondents do not want early elections.

    [16] Amendment restricts scope of Votanikos sports complex project

    An amendment that restricts the scope of a 'twin redevelopment' project to build a new sports complex for Athens' Panathinaikos club in Votanikos and a park at the site of the old stadium on Alexandras Avenue was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

    Under the amendment, plans to build a municipal multi-purpose building at the site of the old stadium are scrapped, as are plans for a Panathinaikos basketball stadium. There will also be a reduction of envisaged commercial uses of the new football stadium and commercial uses originally planned to be housed outside the shell of the stadium will now be housed within it.

    There will be a 50 percent increase in sports uses for the amateur Panathinaikos club while at the same time reducing ground coverage of the sports complex by roughly half.

    Also reduced are parking space for the new sports complex.

    Overall building coverage under the redevelopment project in Votanikos is expected to be reduced by roughly 6.6 hectares and any new buildings will be much smaller than before the ETMA factories were demolished.

    Open spaces and green spaces in the Votanikos area will increase by some 3.0 hectares and total public green spaces in both areas of the twin redevelopment project will now amount to nearly 10 hectares.

    The amendment also stipulates that in order for the sports facilities for the Panathinaikos amateur teams to be given a licence to operate in the Votanikos area, a demolition permit for the existing sports facilities on Alexandras Avenue must first be issued.

    [17] Greek Labour Minister Katseli in Cyprus

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    Greek Minister of Labour and Social Insurance Louka Katseli, currently on a two-day visit to Cyprus, attended an event, here on Thursday evening, organised by the Cyprus Federation of Business and Professional Women.

    On Friday she is expected to have a meeting with Cypriot Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Sotiroulla Charalampous, at 12pm. She will then meet Nicosia Mayor Eleni Mavrou at 1pm, whereas at 5pm she will be received by the Archbishop of Cyprus Chysostomos II.

    Katseli will depart for Athens on Sunday, 15th of May.

    [18] University entrance exams open Thursday with essay

    Annual university entrance exams opened in Greece on Thursday, with more than 110,000 candidates vying for approximately 75,000 seats in higher education institutions throughout the country.

    The first subject in which the candidates will be examined is essay.

    Education minister Anna Diamantopoulou, in a message, sent her wishes for every success to the students.

    Financial News

    [19] Environment minister confers with visiting EU Climate Action commissioner

    Energy conservation and renewable energy sources (RES) will help Greece emerge from the severe economic crisis it is facing, as they will bring new investments, new jobs and economic benefits to the people, Energy, Environment and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili said on Thursday after a meeting with visiting EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

    Hedegaard said it was an honor for her to be in Greece and that despite the difficult economic conjunction in the country opportunities existed that could be created from the sectors of environment and energy conservation.

    The two officials discussed climate change issues and ways in which the EU can secure resources through energy conservation, while they also endorsed a comprehensive and binding global pact.

    They also said it is imperative that the EU remain dedicated to the guidelines and targets of the 2050 Road Map, but also noted the difficulties anticipated in its implementation.

    Birbili briefed the Commissioner on the Greek government's initiatives to promote RES and energy conservation and outlined the parameters and actions of the Greek national roadmap and for reduction of greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions for 2020 and 2050.

    [20] Greek unemployment jumped to 15.9 pct in Feb

    Greek unemployment jumped to 15.9 pct in February this year, with the number of unemployed people totalling 787,229, up by 181,952 in 12 months, the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday. The statistics service, in a report, noted that unemployment soared among young people, with the unemployment rate in the category rising to 40.4 pct in February, up 8.5 percentage points from the same month last year.

    The unemployment rate jumped to 15.9 pct in February, from 12.1 pct in February 2010 and 15.1 pct in January 2011. The number of unemployed people rose by 181,952 in February from the same month in 2010 (an increase of 30.1 pct) and by 30,435 or 4.0 pct compared with January 2011. The number employed people totalled 4,178,312 in February, down 225,739 compared with February 2010 and by 89,272 compared with January 2011.

    The unemployment rate among people aged 15-24 was 40.4 pct (32 pct in February 2010), in the 25-34 age group rose to 19.9 pct from 15.2 pct in 2010 and in the 35-44 age group rose to 14.4 pct from 10.4 pct last year. Among women, the unemployment rate rose to 19 pct in February from 15.3 pct in the same month last year.

    Southern Aegean (32.7 pct from 21.3 pct), western Macedonia (23.9 pct from 16.6 pct), Ionian Islands (22.4 pct from 16.8 pct), western Greece (17.1 pct from 10.6 pct) and central Macedonia (16.3 pct from 12.6 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, while the unemployment rate in Attica jumped to 14.8 pct in February from 10.9 pct in February 2010.

    [21] Health ministry announces further spending cuts in 2011

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday announced that his ministry will strive to make further spending cuts in 2011, in cooperation with the finance ministry. After a meeting with EU-IMF inspectors, Loverdos said the ministry was considering three alternative plans for reducing spending to present to the finance ministry on Thursday night.

    The minister estimated that spending cuts of at least 100 million euro out of the 2.35 billion euro currently spent on health were feasible. The final size of the cuts or the total estimated cost of spending reduction will be announced on Friday.

    He reported that the ministry had so far achieved savings of 168 million euros on hospital spending for pharmaceuticals, hospital supplies and tests during the first trimester of 2011 relative to the same period in 2010.

    Loverdos said that the ministry's medium-term programme had seven specific targets and had been accepted by the EU-IMF troika experts. He admitted, however, that there had been a discussion about restructuring hospitals and that final decisions will be announced on July 1.

    The minister warned also that if the programme failed to meet its targets, the ministry would "put down the scalpel and take up axe," reducing hospital beds by up to 10,000.

    Among others, Loverdos also stated that all cabinet ministers will henceforth sign for updated versions of the Memorandum for the loans to Greece.

    [22] Measure of detention still in effect for debts between entrepreneurs

    The measure of imprisonment in case of debts between business owners is still in effect so long as the debtor has the economic means to pay off the debt but refuses to do so, according to a Supreme Court ruling (No. 33/2011) issued on Thursday.

    The Supreme Court judges underlined that the measure of detention is in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, under the condition that there is no financial weakness on behalf of the debtor.

    [23] BoG, banks discuss developments in financial system

    Greek banks are obliged until the end of May to submit with the Bank of Greece their programs of gradual independence from liquidity offered by the European Central Bank, under commitments taken through a memorandum signed with the troika.

    Progress on the issue was discussed during a scheduled meeting on Thursday between Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and the managements of the country's largest banks.

    Approval of these programs by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece was necessary for the release of a new state guarantee package worth 30 billion euros to Greek commercial banks.

    The central bank and the managements of Greek commercial banks also discussed developments in the market following a new downgrade of Greek banks by Standard & Poor's.

    [24] Greek banks' borrowing from ECB down in March

    Greek banks' dependence on borrowing from the European Central Bank (ECB) declined in March, according to figures released by the country's central Bank of Greece (BoG).

    According to the BoG, Greek banks' overall borrowing from the ECB fell to 87.9 billion euros in March from 90.4 billion euros in April.

    The liquidity forthcoming from the ECB to Greek banks has fallen by 9.8 billion euros since the beginning of the year, the central bank said, attributing the decline to the policy of reducing loan extension followed by the Greek banks.

    [25] Deutsche Telekom on OTE issue

    Deutsche Telekom will observe the agreement that it has signed with the Greek government on the buyoff of an additional percentage of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation OTE in the region of 10 percent if Athens decides this.

    This was stated by the General Director of Monetary issues of Deutsche Telekon Timotheous Hottgens, speaking during the company's General Assembly in the peresence of over 5,000 shareholders in Cologne.

    Replying to questions by shareholders, he reiterated that when the buyoff of 30 perfent of OTE shares took place, things were different and reiterated that the investment was a very good opportunity for Deutsche Telekom to strengthen its presence in the countries of Southeastern Europe. He also expressed optimism that as soon as the economic crisis in Greece is overcome there shall be dynamic growth. In parallel, he clarified that Deusche Telekom's aim is to strengthen its presence in the markets in which it is already active and not to proceed with new purchases.

    [26] Business Briefs

    -- Greek banks continued losing capital as savers withdrew more money in March, the Bank of Greece announced on Thursday.

    -- Real estate transactions fell 47 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared with the corresponding period in 2010, the Bank of Greece announced on Thursday.

    -- Greece's composite import price index in the industrial sector rose 8.6 pct in March this year, compared with the same month in 2010, after recording a 9.6-pct increase in March 2010, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    -- OPAP - Greece's state lottery monopoly - on Thursday announced a general shareholders' meeting decision of a board plan to pay an 1.54 euros per share dividend to shareholders.

    [27] Stocks end sharply lower

    Stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, quickly reversing a two-day advance which pushed the composite index 2.83 pct higher. The index fell 2.38 pct to end at 1,355.08 points, with turnover remaining a low 70.992 million euros.

    Bank shares came under strong selling pressure following a decision by S&P to downgrade the country's largest banks. The Big Cap index fell 2.48 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.14 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 1.26 pct. OPAP (0.69 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while Piraeus Bank (4.85 pct), National Bank (4.61 pct), Ellaktor (4.42 pct) and Viohalco (4.25 pct) were major losers.

    The Travel sector was the only one to end higher (0.61 pct), while Financial Services (3.70 pct), Banks (3.61 pct) and Food (3.42 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 98 to 42 with another 48 issues unchanged. Vovos (17.43 pct), Demetriou (11.11 pct) and Lambrakis Press (10.53 pct) were top gainers, while Tegopoulos (18.18 pct), Unibios (14.29 pct) and Hatzioannou (12.5 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.72%

    Industrials: -2.80%

    Commercial: -1.63%

    Construction: -1.19%

    Media: Unchanged

    Oil & Gas: -1.57%

    Personal & Household: -1.57%

    Raw Materials: -0.83%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.61%

    Technology: -2.62%

    Telecoms: -2.11%

    Banks: -3.61%

    Food & Beverages: -3.42%

    Health: -1.40%

    Utilities: -1.83%

    Chemicals: -0.66%

    Financial Services: -3.70%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.50

    ATEbank: 0.52

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.37

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.03

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.06

    National Bank of Greece: 4.76

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.32

    OPAP: 14.60

    OTE: 6.95

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.98

    Titan: 17.48

    [28] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 12.26 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 12.49 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 15.36 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 38 million euros, of which 18 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 20 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.13 pct, the six-month rate 1.69 pct, the three-month 1.42 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.

    [29] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.39 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a low 29.896 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7.734 contracts worth 23.452 million euros, with 34,658 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,642 contracts worth 6.444 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,526), followed by Eurobank (1,061), OTE (853), Piraeus Bank (560), Alpha Bank (1,631), Hellenic Postbank (483), ATEbank (1,569) and Motor Oil (270).

    [30] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.436

    Pound sterling 0.883

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.090

    Japanese yen 116.26

    Swiss franc 1.277

    Norwegian kroner 7.918

    Canadian dollar 1.388

    Australian dollar 1.353

    General News

    [31] Yannis Moralis exhibition in National Gallery

    A tribute exhibition of Greek painter Yannis Moralis opened on Thursday at the National Gallery in Athens. The exhibition, titled "Yannis Moralis: A classic of the 20th century" showcases 113 works by the painter that he personally donated in 1988 to the National Gallery.

    The exhibition's aim is to provide an overview of Moralis' entire artistic career as defined by the artist himself through the works he donated to the National Gallery.

    The exhibition is augmented by another 14 paintings dating from the artist's last creative period, today in private collections, as well as the large mural that decorated the Mont Parnes Hotel's central dining hall.

    Yannis Moralis is an emblematic figure of an artist who left a unique imprint on the identity of Modern Greek art through both his work and his teaching at the Athens School of Fine Arts.

    The exhibition dedicated to the artist mainly comprises the artist's substantial donation to the museum, including paintings, drawings and engravings. Six productive decades, from 1930 to the mid-1980s are represented in the art works in the National Gallery collections.

    Committed to figurative painting and a lover of moderation, Yannis Moralis assimilated in his own way the lessons of modernism, combining the exciting developments of modernism with a contemporary reading of tradition; the successor of the Generation of the Thirties, the artist is indeed a true 20th-century classic.

    Structured around the historic exhibitions by the artist, the display of Yannis Moralis' works is illustrated by their reception from the media in articles in the daily and periodical press, which outline the historical horizon of expectation of both the public and criticism, establishing a dialogue with the works at the time of their emergence.

    The exhibition, curated by Annie Malama, will run through August 29.

    [32] Population, residence census continues in Greece

    The population and residence census launched in Greece on May 10 continues without serious problems, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT) announced on Thursday.

    The procedure, aimed at putting together demographic, economic and social characteristics of the population necessary in decision-making and in planning the country's economic and social policy, will be completed on May 24.

    The census-takers display a distinctive EL.STAT badge with their name and the name and telephone number of their supervisors. For more information, the public can contact EL.STAT (phone numbers: 213 135 2138-40) or visit <>.

    [33] ANA-MPA unveils Facebook, Twitter accounts

    The ANA-MPA has joined the social media "revolution" by inaugurating a Facebook and Twitter account, as Greece's national news agency is now featured on -- where we hope readers will click "like".

    On Twitter, the Agency, established in 1905, can be found at -- with users pressing the field "follow" for news and developments from the ANA-MPA.

    [34] Free admission to all museums on May 18

    Admission to all Greek museums and archaeological sites will be free of charge on May 18, the anniversary of International Museum Day. The day will also be celebrated through numerous events and activities, such as exhibitions, seminars, lectures, tours, educational programmes in 46 museums and sites in Greece.

    International Museum Day was established by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977. This year's theme is "Museum and Memory" and highlights the role of museums in preserving mankind's collective and cultural memories.

    The central event celebrating the anniversary in Greece this year will be held at the Museum of Asia Minor Hellenism 'Filio Haidemenou' that is devoted to relics of the Greek refugees that came from Asia Minor during the exchange of populations in the early 1920s.

    [35] Institut Francais in Thessaloniki opens doors to local pupils

    Recent legal changes in the education sector have paved the way for the Institut Francais in Thessaloniki to accept all pupils, as the noted school until recently was open only to French nationals.

    Institut Francais director Julien Chiappone-Lucchesi told the ANA-MPA on Thursday that many parents have expressed an interest in enrolling their children.

    The French school is supervised by the French ministry of education and follows the French education system without losing touch with the corresponding Greek one.

    The Institut Francais de Thessalonique was founded in 1906 and is part of a network of 100 schools and 40,000 pupils worldwide.

    [36] Foreign national stabbed to death in Athens

    Unknown individuals stabbed to death a 21-year-old Bangladeshi half an hour after midnight in the Patissia district of Athens.

    According to information available so far, two men on a motorcycle chased the victim and when they reached him they stabbed him with knives and fled.

    The victim was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    Although the motives of the killing are not yet known, police are also investigating the possibility of a racist attack, given that according to some testimonies the perpetrators were speaking Greek.

    Attica security police are conducting an investigation.

    [37] Protest by local residents at site of deadly inner city mugging

    The stabbing death of a 44-year-old local man at dawn on Tuesday in downtown Athens continued to generate heated protests by residents in the inner city neighbourhood.

    Roughly 300 people rallied on Thursday afternoon near the spot where the victim was attacked while retrieving his car from a parking lot to take his pregnant wife to a maternity ward to give birth. The victim was attacked by three assailants, who stabbed him and stole his video camera. According to reports, grainy images of the attackers have been detected on CCTV footage in the area.

    A memorial service was held at the scene of the attack and demonstrators holding Greek flags chanted slogans against the presence of illegal migrants in the country.

    [38] Incidents break out outside 'Amalia' mansion

    Incidents occurred on Thursday evening at the intersection of Heyden and Aharnon streets in central Athens, at the "Amalia" mansion that has been taken over.

    According to the police, a large group of people who belong to the far-right sector and who had participated earlier in the protest march for the killing of the 44-year-old at the intersection of September 3 and Aharnon streets on Tuesday, attacked those who have taken over the "Amalia" mansion and clashes broke out.

    Riot police intervened, using teargas and stun grenades and people were taken for questioning, mainly from among those who had attacked.

    [39] Police hold 50 people for questioning after incidents during two rallies in Athens

    Fifty people have been held for questioning by police so far during the two rallies that took place in downtown Athens on Thursday, the one concerning the killing of the 44-year-old at the intersection of September 3 and Ipirou streets and the other in front of the Athens University buildings in protest at the violent stance of riot police and the injuring of 31-year-old Yiannis Kafkas during the rally organised by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).

    The 48 of them are mainly people belonging to the far-right sector from the region of Agios Panteleimonas where incidents occurred with people occupying the "Amalia" mansion at the intersection of Heyden and Aharnon streets.

    The other two were brought from Academias street shortly after the incident with two policemen in which the attackers disarmed one of them. The policeman's pistol was found at a short distance from the location where the incident took place.

    Later on Thursday evening, incidents occurred during the march that began from the University buildings, near the Grande Bretagne Hotel where demonstrators stoned riot police who in turn used teargas and dispersed them.

    [40] Fugitive ex-judge arrested in London

    Former Athens first instance judge Antonia Ilia was arrested on Thursday in London on an Interpol warrant.

    Ilia, a cashiered ex-judge that fled the country several years ago, is wanted on no less than five European warrants. Greek police reportedly provided a tip-off, leading to the fugitive's arrest. Procedures for Ilia's extradition are underway.

    Ilia stands accused of participating in a trial-fixing network masterminded by a high-ranking priest. She was first suspended from her judicial seat for not filing statements of means and income between 2001 and 2003.

    [41] London court to consider extradition of fugitive former judge

    LONDON (ANA-MPA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    A local court in Victoria, London will soon be considering Greece's request for the extradition of fugitive former judge Antonia Ilia, who was arrested in London based on an Interpol warrant on Thursday.

    Ilia is wanted on five European warrants after the cashiered ex-judge fled Greece several years ago in the wake of a judicial corruption scandal, when she was accused of participating in a trial-fixing network.

    [42] Couple dies in fire

    A Roma couple from Bulgaria died on Wednesday in a fire that broke out in an abandoned old warehouse near the railstation of Thebes that the couple was using s a temporary shelter.

    Firemen found the charred bodies of the couple after extinguishing the fire.

    The Fire Brigade is conducting an investigation.

    [43] Two injured in armed robberies

    Two armed robbers on Wednesday broke into a precious metals company in downtown Athens and shot the owner in the hand before fleeing with an unknown quantity of gold and silver. The victim was taken to hospital where he received first aid.

    Another armed robbery occurred early Thursday in Xylokeriza, Corinth prefecture. Three unknown individual broke a residence balcony door and, holding the house's residents at knife-point, took 380 euros in cash and other valuables. The perpetrators then shot one of the residents in the leg and escaped. The injured man was taken to Corinth hospital for first aid. Police are searching for the perpetrators of both incidents.

    [44] One killed in crash between car, public bus

    A young man was killed when the car he was driving had a head-on collision with a public transport bus in Thessaloniki on Thursday. The deadly accident occurred early on Thursday afternoon at Pekfa, Thessaloniki.

    The 20-year-old driver of the car had entered the opposite lane while attempting to overtake another vehicle and crashed head-on with the oncoming number 57 bus.

    None of the passengers on the bus were harmed.

    [45] Young girl found dead in Patras

    ? teenage girl was found dead by her mother in the yard of their home in Patras early Thursday morning.

    Police tentatively attributed the death to suicide, and are investigating the circumstances.

    Weather Forecast

    [46] Fair on Friday

    Fair 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 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 23C. Fair in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 22C.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [47] Meeting with UNSG on July 4, says President


    The meeting between the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus will take place on July 4 in Geneva.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, who met Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglou on Thursday, in the framework of direct negotiations on the Cyprus problem, said that during Thursday's meeting he submitted a proposal on the competencies of the federal police and the joint Investigation Authority and expects the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot side.

    He said he has asked to discuss issues concerning the Geneva meeting and its agenda "including the various rumors for give and take".

    "My wish is for each side to explain what give and take means. There can be no talks without give and take. But give and take on what issues. We have to clarify this," he noted.

    He noted that he also clarified the position of the Greek Cypriot side that any thoughts on an international conference "must ripen and be implemented only when we are close to an agreement on all other issues of internal governance."

    Christofias said that the conference must be multi-lateral, under the UN auspices, with the involvement of the UN Security Council permanent members, interested parties and the guarantor powers (Greece, Britain and Turkey).

    He noted that they will discuss the process before July 4, when the meeting takes place in Geneva.

    Asked if they discussed the agenda of the meeting, Christofias said that as interested parties "we have a say concerning the agenda" and "it is not only for the Secretary General who will decide about the agenda."

    Invited to say if Eroglu expressed his views on Christofias' positions concerning the international conference and the give and take process, the president said that it was confirmed once again that they have different views.

    The president also said that he will confer with political parties before he goes to Geneva.

    [48] Leaders discuss upcoming meeting with UNSG

    The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has said that the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, discussed on Thursday police matters and the upcoming meeting with the Secretary-General, in the framework of the UN-led direct negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after Thurday's meeting, which took place at the residence of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus in the UN-protected area of Nicosia Airport, Downer said the leaders met for around an hour and a half in a very constructive environment.

    "They continued, as they both agreed, in a positive manner on discussions on police matters. The leaders also had quite a long discussion about the upcoming meeting with the Secretary-General, and both sides agreed to exchange opinions with each other on the issue of the meeting with the Secretary-General with a view to making that meeting a really successful meeting", he said.

    Downer announced that the next meeting of the two leaders will be on June 1st and their representatives will meet on Friday, May 20.

    Replying to a question, Downer said that the leaders exchanged views on the meeting with the Secretary General. "I initiated this discussion, and I, obviously myself, want this to be a very useful and constructive and important meeting. And so the leaders today had some discussion about that, and they'll have further discussions about it with a view to making sure that the meeting is a really successful meeting", he added.

    Asked about a possible date for that meeting, Downer said that they have got "some penciled in dates, but we need to get the final clearance on those. Today is not quite the day to announce them. I think I might have said a couple of days ago that it will be in late June or early July, it might spill over into July for one reason or another, merely logistical reasons though", he concluded.

    UN-backed direct negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus problem began in September 2008. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [49] FM: Cyprus participated as an equal state in conferences in Turkey


    The Republic of Cyprus participated as an equal state in two international conferences in Turkey, Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou said Thursday, expressing his discontent with the fact that Turkey, the hosting country, failed to invite him at the banquet hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in honour of the delegates.

    "Apart from the issue with the banquet, all facilities and all services were offered to the Republic of Cyprus as to all other states", Kyprianou said, on his return to Cyprus.

    Kyprianou, who participated in the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC IV) and in the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe that took place during the week 9-13 May in Constantinople, said that Cyprus participated as an equal state in those two conferences.

    Referring to the banquet, he said it had been offered by the Turkish government and was not part of the UN program.

    "Despite that, we believe that Turkey, as a hosting country, should have invited all delegates and we have raised this issue to the UN", he noted.

    On the sidelines of the conferences, Kyprianou met with his counterparts as well as with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    He said that the UNSG expressed his content with the participation of Cyprus in the UN conference, "despite the problems regarding the initial invitation and the banquet".

    Kyprianou reiterated that during his meeting with Ban Ki-moon he stressed that the process of the UN backed Cyprus talks must not change, adding that the process has been agreed by the parties.

    Moreover, he told the UNSG that after the Turkish elections in June, Ankara should get the message that it has to follow a more positive and constructive stance at the Cyprus talks.

    He added that with the UNSG he had the opportunity to discuss about the developments in the wider region.

    Referring to the Council of Europe Conference, he said that main topics included the reforms of the Council, the enforcement of the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights and the drafting of a neighborhood policy of the Council of Europe, "an issue which interests Cyprus since it has to do with the countries in our region".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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