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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-04

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

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

Friday, 4 November 2011 Issue No: 3924

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou calls for support for October 26 decisions
  • [02] ND leader demands PM's resignation for Greece to go to elections
  • [03] 'You do not have the right to ratify the loan contract' before the elections, KKE leader says
  • [04] 'Save Greece, save Greece, save Greece,' LAOS leader exhorts PM, Samaras
  • [05] LA.O.S leader addresses letter to Papoulias
  • [06] SYRIZA leader addresses parliament
  • [07] PM: 'Greece's euro membership the real issue at stake'
  • [08] Samaras: Transitional gov't, followed by elections
  • [09] Left-wing parties KKE, SYRIZA blast ND leader's position on EU loan agreement
  • [10] Cabinet invites ND to begin talks on transitional gov't, general elections
  • [11] PM makes phone call to main opposition leader Samaras
  • [12] Angry reaction from ND over leaks claiming negotiations for transition gov't
  • [13] PASOK ministers, MPs' reaction
  • [14] PASOK MP Vasso Papandreou insists government should resign
  • [15] Support for Papandreou from group within PASOK
  • [16] PASOK MP urges gov't with other parties, 'PM with no personal ambitions'
  • [17] Dem. Left MP urges cooperation gov't by main parties
  • [18] PM: Greeks 'wise and mature', can make correct decisions
  • [19] Loverdos backs Venizelos position
  • [20] ND: Papandreou must leave; misleading Euro leaders
  • [21] KKE: No to referendum, other government - Elections immediately
  • [22] LA.O.S leader: 'I told Papandreou to leave with dignity'
  • [23] 'We desire Greece's stay in euro', Barroso and Rompuy say
  • [24] EU Treaty has no provision for a country leaving the eurozone
  • [25] EU Commissioner Damanaki on latest developments
  • [26] Change of guard in armed forces' leadership
  • [27] Dutch migration minister visits Evros, NE Greece
  • [28] Greek officials in close contact with Eurogroup
  • [29] Inventions, innovation exhibition opens
  • [30] Business Briefs
  • [31] Stocks end 1.86 pct higher
  • [32] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [33] Police report rash of drug-related arrests
  • [34] Company executive arrested for massive debts to state
  • [35] Cloudy on Friday
  • [36] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [37] Cyprus and Israel to set up committee on Mediterranean peace vision Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou calls for support for October 26 decisions

    Prime Minister George Paspandreou, speaking in Parliament on Thursday evening during the ongoing three-day debate on a vote of confidence for his government, called for the support of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party for the decisions taken on October 26 to avert the eventuality of Greece's exit from the eurozone, and for the immediate starting of consultations for the creation of a government "that will serve the needs of the country."

    Papandreou reassured that he continues to express support for the institution of referendums and that his proposal also reflects his "faith in the people and immediate democracy."

    The question of the referendum would concern the loan contract and not the country's participation in the euro, he said. This latter issue, however, "has been an existing one unfortunately, for months. Read, unless we do not want to see the truths. And when we referred to this possibility, many accused us of extortion. No. We were absolutely sincere. If we, who are elected do not implement the decisions we took, we shall slip speedily to the exit from the euro."

    Papandreou further said that the present day proved that the political world's common course might be feasible. "Let all of us together take this step, to show our will and our determination. Are we prepared to suffer without waging the battle together?"

    The prime minister also said "after today's position by Mr. (ND leader Antonis) Samaras at noon, who said that he will vote in favour of the loan agreement, I said at the cabinet meeting that he must not reject in advance the other issues he raised."

    Lastly, referring to the results of the effort for the salvation of the Greek economy, from the creation of the European support mechanism to the recent decisions on the debt's haircut, Papandreou said "we struggled with teeth to achieve the agreement on October 26, we brought 240 billion euros to the country and the write off of a debt of another 100 billion and at a time when Greece would go bankrupt it was heard from many that we are, 'traitors', 'inadequate' and 'should leave'."

    Finmin: 'Call for elections jeopardises 6th tranche of bailout loans'

    Finance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos warned in his address to Parliament on Thursday night, during a debate leading up to a vote of confidence in the government on Friday, that main opposition New Democracy's call for immediate elections jeopardised the disbursement of the 6th tranche of bailout loans and the implementation of agreements for a 50 percent haircut of Greece's debt.

    Speaking immediately after ND leader Antonis Samaras and the main opposition's departure from Parliament, Venizelos accused Samaras of having changed his stance within the space of a few hours.

    "Samaras' afternoon statement and the immediate positive reaction of the prime minister were very warmly received abroad. European leaders and international institutions received the climate of emerging consensus in Greece as a sign of recovery. How long, however, did Samaras' mood for consensus last? Just a few hours," he said.

    He emphasised the importance of a vote of confidence in the government, stressing that the country could not be left ungoverned, unable to negotiate, sign for or receive money from the EU and IMF.

    Venizelos noted that Samaras' call for elections in six weeks, even with a transitional government, would place in jeopardy all agreeements for EU-IMF financial assistance to Greece, including the 6th tranche of bailout loans and the new 130-billion-euro bailout agreement.

    "A condition for all these to unfold normally is that every party - especially every party vying for a governmental role - commit to accepting the entire package of decisions of October 26, or else the country, the economy, pensions, wages are placed at risk," he added.

    The finance minister also stressed that the October 27 deal worked out by Eurozone leaders was not an "unavoidable evil" but in fact a great achievement that brought about a sensational improvement in the composition of Greece's debt burden.

    [02] ND leader demands PM's resignation for Greece to go to elections

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday evening asked from Prime Minister George Papandreou to resign and for early elections.

    "I requested the resignation of Mr. Papandreou for the country to go to elections under smooth conditions," Samaras said while addressing Parliament during the debate on the vote of confidence for the government.

    "I do not wish to rule jointly nor to share ministries. Mr. Papandreou is mistaken if he understoood this. He started fires everywhere and he wants to rule with our consensus," Samaras further said.

    Samaras went on to say that his proposal to Papandreou was for him to resign, a provisional transitional government to be created with persons of joint acceptance and within six weeks and after conditions of normalry are secured and the two paralytical, as he said, uncertainties are brushed aside, the voting of the loan contract, so that the 6th tranche will be unblocked, and the withdrawal of the proposal on a referendum, early elections to be proclaimed.

    The ND leader reminded of his disagreemnent from the beginning with the holding of a referendum, since "it was extremely dangerous" and accused Papandreou that with his own responsibility and with his insistence he nearly dissolved the country, Europe and the euro in order to extort the Greek people.

    "I told Mr. Papandreou that with his insistence on a referendum, that nobody wants but he himself, Greece is in danger of remaining outside the euro. It was proved that we were right," he said.

    "We disagreed from the initial memorandum with the mixture of the policy of this government. We reserve the right to convince our partners to strengthen the self-evident for there to be recovery in the economy and social cohesion to be maintained. This also took place with Ireland and Spain. We are also seeking these for Greece as well and with these we are replying to all who mention Ireland and Spain as an exmaple," he added.

    "Mr. Papandreou will not resign and calls for us to jointly shape new measures. Resign Mr. Papandreou and let the Greek people decide to give the strength to the new prime minister," Samaras noted.

    "I am calling for the opportunity to be given to the Greek people to decide now. ND did what it had to. It is a guarantee of democratic normalcy, the country's remaining in the euro and the recovery of the economy. I want the help of all. If some insist on the dead past, let them stick in the swamp alone. We shall forge ahead for the country's recovery," Samaras stressed.

    Concluding, Samaras announced his party's withdrawal from the debate in Parliament on the vote of confidence for the government, insisting on his demand for the prime minister's resignation and the proclamation of elections.

    "I told Mr. Papandreou to resign to facilitate developments, but he is not resigning," the ND leader said.

    An ND party spokesman clarified later that the main opposition party will attend Friday's vote, since this is carried out by the deputies present, and cast a "no" vote, .

    It is reminded that according to Parliament's Regulation, a majority of the present deputies is required for the renewal of confidence that can not be less than 120 positive votes.

    [03] 'You do not have the right to ratify the loan contract' before the elections, KKE leader says

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Thursday categorically rejected any proposal for a transitional government or a national salvation government and, appealing to the government and the main opposition New Democracy party, said "you have no right to ratify the loan contract first and then go to elections."

    Papariga said there must be a popular and labour majority with a common horizon, denouncing the fear of the euro-onewaypath being cullitvated for the people, an act that "constitutes the modern adulteration of the popular will and the modern terrorism."

    She called for a "caretaker government to go ahead with the holding of elections and nothing else."

    Papariga further said that the loan contract must be rejected, adding that "the time has neared, for the European capitalist forces to take countries out of the eurozone", but, as she stressed, "we must leave with our own will and the local wealth must pass into the hands of the people."

    [04] 'Save Greece, save Greece, save Greece,' LAOS leader exhorts PM, Samaras

    In a terse, laconic speech in Parliament late on Thursday night, during a debate leading up to a vote of confidence in the government on Friday, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis urged the leaders of ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy to "communicate with reason, support Greeks and give the people hope".

    "Save Greece, save Greece, save Greece. Opportunity doesn't knock twice," Karatzaferis exhorted Prime Minister George Papandreou and ND leader Antonis Samaras, saying that their behaviour on Thursday had made Greek people completely certain that they both "live and move within the constellation of paranoia".

    [05] LA.O.S leader addresses letter to Papoulias

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday addressed a letter to President Karolos Papoulias calling on him to undertake initiatives for a government of national unity.

    Karatzaferis underlined that in case this is not feasible then elections will be the only solution.

    "It is more than obvious that the country's and the people's interest lies with the sincere partnership of the political powers that will virtually lead the country out of its tragic impasses. It is also clear that the majority of the Greek citizens call for reason, prudence and constructive collaboration of the political leaderships without self-serving or second thoughts," Karatzaferis stressed.

    "If this is not possible then the only solution will be elections and you should pursue this option after seeing it as a last resort. An entire people and the prospects of a nation cannot be caught between a lesser evil (elections) and a greater evil (referendum). This tragedy will have to come to an end and your assistance should be decisive as the guarantor of the country's course," Karatzaferis pointed out.

    The LA.O.S president also stressed "rest assured that the referendum announced will soon be interpreted as unprecedented blackmail targeting the people," adding that "it will be seen as opportunistic in its nature and disastrous in terms of its results."

    Karatzaferis also underlined that "the irrational course drawn in recent years will have to be blocked."

    [06] SYRIZA leader addresses parliament

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras called on Greek citizens to give life to "a new coalition of power", while addressing a Parliamentary debate on a confidence vote to the government, on Thursday night.

    He also called on political forces which are opposing a new loan contract to Greece to join forces either before or after elections, terming as a "surrealistic low comedy that does not honour the political life and society" recent political developments.

    [07] PM: 'Greece's euro membership the real issue at stake'

    In a speech to ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group on Thursday evening, Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that his government was ready to drop plans for a referendum and begin talks with the main opposition on forming a transitional government. He stressed that the real issue at stake, with or without a referendum, was Greece's continued membership of the eurozone.

    "The main thing is that New Democracy has announced that it will vote for the loan agreement. And I would say, in view of the negotiations that we will have, that we ask again that they are co-negotiators in this effort," he said.

    At the end of his speech, at the prompting of Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, he made it clear that the government was not considering the option of a snap election.

    Papandreou emphasised that the issue of remaining in the euro was not one raised by the government but events in themselves, with the reactions of European leaders to his call for a referendum on Wednesday merely acting as confirmation of this point.

    "If we do not fulfill our commitments, the issue of the euro is of necessity laid on the table. We would have put the question precisely about the agreement of October 26. A beneficial package, with many positive points and, of course, obligations that accompany it," Papandreou said.

    Rejection of this package in any form would be interpreted by Greece's Eurozone partners as the start of Greece's exit from the euro, the prime minister stressed:

    "The final result of rejection of the October 26 package, either through a referendum, or through elections, or through Parliament or through an inability to implement this, would be the same: it would mean an exit from the euro."

    The prime minister particularly underlined that even a failure to implement the terms of the agreement would be tantamount to exiting the euro and that this had to be understood by all sides.

    Papandreou also noted that the call for a referendum had forced all sides to open their cards and shoulder their responsibilities, with those that had berated the government for failing to negotiate hard enough now begging it to vote for the loan agreement and not call a referendum.

    At the same time, he underlined that the referendum was not an end in itself and that there was no need to hold one now that ND had agreed to support the Eurozone loan agreement.

    Papandreou referred to the great pressure on PASOK MPs, especially when faced with people's extreme and angry reactions during the October 28 national holiday and the stance of the opposition parties.

    "We are carrying a cross and they are also throwing stones at us," he noted, adding that until now PASOK had been the only 'national salvation' government and had carried its cross alone.

    "I welcome ND's decision to vote for the new loan agreement," he said, urging the main opposition to "negotiate together on the new programme" and expressing hope that this marked the start of a new political culture and a change of stance by all political forces.

    He stressed that he had opted for a referendum instead of holding early elections as the less damaging of the government's options.

    "We had three choices: Elections that would have been disastrous for the country at the present phase, consensus that was nowhere in sight or a referendum," he said.

    Concerning the talks with ND, Papandreou stressed that each decision had to be based on agreement on very specific policies, with PASOK's Parliamentary group as a 'pillar of stability'.

    He emphasised the importance of Parliament's vote of confidence in the government on Friday, urging ruling PASOK MPs to remain united in order to support the government's efforts for unity and stressing that the outcome would determine the next steps for the implementation of decisions but also the negotiations with the other parties.

    The proposal for a referendum had provoked a "positive shock" in the country but the "real problem remains and is our ability to implement this programme," he added.

    "There must be stability in the Parliamentary group and the government throughout the course of the talks with the other parties, something that is a precondition for tomorrow," the prime minister emphasised.

    The salvation and change of the country was not an issue for one person but something that "we will do all together" he said in conclusion, ending by saying that "we have drawn a red line with the past".

    Cabinet decisions

    At the end of the prime minister's speech, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou asked Papandreou to make clear to the Parliamentary group that the framework agreed by the cabinet was "no elections, no referendum and immediate talks to form a 'national responsibility government' until the new loan agreement is voted on by the present Parliament".

    Papandreou agreed that this was the framework agreed by the cabinet and added: "A national responsibility government is our own".

    [08] Samaras: Transitional gov't, followed by elections

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday reiterated his party's support for the formation of a transitional, interim government with the single task of overseeing approval -- by the current Parliament -- of last week's Eurozone loan agreement for Greece.

    During a brief nationally televised address just after 2 p.m. local time, Samaras clarified that once the loan agreement was approved and the way had opened the way for the disbursement of the sixth (eight billion euros) tranche of bailout loans, this transitional government will immediately declare snap elections -- to be held as soon as possible.

    The ND leader explained that "the new loan agreement should stop being a "pending issue" for Greece and Europe and the sixth bailout installment should be unblocked as soon as possible for elections to be held under smooth conditions and the will of our people be expressed freely."

    Samaras underlined that "the demand for immediate elections is non negotiable on our part, as well as, the majority of the Greek people," adding that ND can "guarantee security, our place in Europe and the Eurozone and the free expression of the will of the people of Greece."

    Elaborating on his position, the ND leader stressed that "from the beginning we have demanded the cancellation of the referendum and we publicly call on Mr. Papandreou to withdraw it. The referendum started off as an attempt to blackmail the Greek people and ended up putting in doubt Greece's place in the Eurozone, while the sixth installment was also questioned. In light of these dramatic developments an all-out crisis of absent governance has ensued. Considering developments the new loan agreement has become inevitable and must be secured."

    Samaras also underlined that his objections to the policy measures remain and clarified that he does not disagree with the goals of the convergence but with the policy mix.

    ND sources clarified that the transitional and interim government suggested by its leader will finish its term as soon as the agreement is ratified and the sixth installment is ensured. Elections will be held soon after, even before Christmas, considering that Chancellor Angela Merkel has allegedly said that the pending issues with Greece will have to be settled by Dec.4.

    ND sources underlined that the proposal presented by ND leader Samaras does not constitute political party collaboration in government - is not a proposal for a typical all-party government - and that the decision on the composition of the new government falls under the authority of the President of the Republic.

    ND also denied information that Samaras has communicated with Papandreou on the telephone.

    [09] Left-wing parties KKE, SYRIZA blast ND leader's position on EU loan agreement

    The opposition parties of the Left, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), both attacked main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras for supporting the immediate signature of the Eurozone agreements for Greece and the new loan agreements in announcements issued on Thursday.

    "The masks have now fallen entirely," KKE stressed in its announcement, noting that everything KKE had claimed concerning ND's hypocritical opposition to the policies of PASOK and the EU memorandum was now fully vindicated.

    "The goal of ND is the same as that of the government, the same as that of Greek and European plutocracy: unobstructed implementation of the loan agreement, in other words the new road roller that will crush working-class families for the profits of monopolies," the announcement said.

    SYRIZA noted that Samaras' statements clearly revealed his role as co-guarantor of the memorandum policy and pointed out that ND's anti-memorandum rhetoric was instantly replaced by uncritical acceptance of an essentially unknown loan agreement that ND had previous slammed as directly undermining the country's national sovereignty.

    "Any government that arises from the present Parliament will be fully delegitimised by the people and will oppose their interests. The only solution is to resort to the popular mandate," SYRIZA's announcement said.

    [10] Cabinet invites ND to begin talks on transitional gov't, general elections

    After an emergency cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday, the Greek government said that he was ready to begin talks with main opposition New Democracy on forming a transitional government on Friday, after receiving Parliament's vote of confidence, and to agree a time for holding general elections.

    He said that there was no longer any reason for holding a referendum on the Eurozone loan agreements for Greece after ND's clear statement that it would vote in favour of the loan agreement.

    [11] PM makes phone call to main opposition leader Samaras

    Prime Minister George Papandreou called main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on the telephone late on Thursday, after chairing a meeting of the cabinet.

    According to sources, Papandreou informed Samaras of his intention to reach an understanding on the ND leader's proposal for a transition government and announced that the government had appointed Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas and the head of the prime minister's political office Nikos Athanassakis to negotiate on its behalf.

    Sources within ND, however, said that Samaras considers his proposal sufficiently specific and does not see any reason for negotiations, while he has ruled out the possibility of Papandreou remaining as prime minister.

    Papandreou informed Samaras that he would contact him again, the same sources said.

    [12] Angry reaction from ND over leaks claiming negotiations for transition gov't

    Main opposition New Democracy angrily denied reports emerging late on Thursday that representatives of the prime minister George Papandreou and ND leader Antonis were in talks on setting up a transitional government.

    ND officials attributed the leaks to sources within the prime minister's office but stressed that there neither had been nor would be any contact or communication, stressing that Samaras' proposal was clear and not open to misinterpretation.

    "Mr. Papandreou is history, he faces resignation and we have nothing to discuss with him. The country is in a state without governance. If our proposal is accepted then the institutional procedures will operate," ND sources said.

    [13] PASOK ministers, MPs' reaction

    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, a top ruling party deputy, on Thursday reiterated her support for Greece's continued Eurozone membership and ratification of the Oct. 27 Eurozone lending agreement, which she called highly successful.

    The announcement is an indirect criticism of the referendum proposal suddenly floated by PM George Papandreou on Monday.

    Moreover, she cited her past experience in European institutions, including as a serving European Commissioner, in saying she feels deeply "insulted" by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statements a day earlier in Cannes.

    Bakoyannis

    On her part, the head of the Democratic Alliance grouping, Dora Bakoyannis, called for a national consensus government to be formed "today", in order to fully implement the Oct. 27 agreement.

    Bakoyannis also noted that it is extremely necessary to understand that the "responsibilities for all are huge. Never before the country was so close to an "out-of-control bankruptcy".

    "We owe it to the Greek people and furthermore to the next generations, to put the country's interest above any personal or partisan interest."

    The head of the Democratic Left party, Fotis Kouvelis, noted that "the clearest solution at this hour for the country, in order not to turn the political crisis into a crisis of democracy, is an immediate recourse to elections. This option will offer to the Greek people the potential to express themselves on the creation of new political formations..."

    Additionally, he clarified that general elections could take place in 21 days.

    Kouvelis resigned from the leftist SYRIZA party last year to form another party in Parliament.

    Finally, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos merely noted that an "elected government and an elected prime minister exists (at present) and they will make their decisions."

    High-profile PASOK deputy and former minister Vasso Papandreou on Thursday reiterated her proposal for national salvation government, based upon an immediate initiative by the president of the republic, in order to insure last week's lending agreement, which is linked to a 50-percent 'haircut' of the Greek debt, as well as the simultaneous declaration of early elections.

    "The lies have finished. It's time for responsibility by all, by the government and by the opposition," she said, speaking before television cameras moments before entering Parliament in downtown Athens.

    Vasso Papandreou has no relation to PM George Papandreou.

    Independent MP Louka Katseli, who served as a minister in the current government, stated on Thursday that political party leaders should find a political solution without delay, "one which will secure implementation of last week's agreement and afterwards to proceed with snap elections."

    She also noted that responsibility is now needed from all in order to restore political normalcy and the confidence and cooperation with our European partners.

    PASOK deputy Eva Kaili, in a letter on Thursday addressed to George Papandreou and the Parliament president, stated that she will not give a vote of confidence to the Papandreou government during a vote at midnight on Friday.

    The vote of confidence in his PASOK government was called by Papandreou at the same time as his sudden announcement of a referendum.

    In her letter, which she uploaded on her Facebook and Twitter social network pages and her personal webpage, Kaili states that "I will not resign my post as an elected representative of my fellow-citizens and my generation, but in Friday's vote I will not give a vote of confidence to your government".

    Additionally, ruling PASOK state deputy Elena Panariti said she will not back a referendum called by Papandreou.

    It was unclear, however, on whether she would vote in favor of the government during a vote of confidence.

    "I will not consent to a referendum, which will take Greece out of Europe. I will not give a vote of confidence towards the destruction of my country," Panariti said.

    [14] PASOK MP Vasso Papandreou insists government should resign

    Ruling PASOK MP Vasso Papandreou, a former minister and European Commissioner, on Thursday insisted that the government should resign and stressed her disagreement with the solutions proposed by Prime Minister George Papandreou and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos to PASOK's Parliamentary group.

    In a message to the prime minister, she indicated that he seemed "out of touch with what was happening in Greek society".

    "I had proposed a national salvation government but your position is entirely different. Business as usual," she said, accusing the prime minister of embroiling the country and the party in "adventures".

    "I expected the resignation of the cabinet and for [President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias] to call a council of the political party leaders tomorrow to form a national salvation government. I am sorry," she said.

    [15] Support for Papandreou from group within PASOK

    A group of ruling PASOK MPs led by Parliament vice-presidents Grigoris Niotis and Rodoula Zissi on Thursday have apparently conveyed a proposal to Prime Minister George on Thursday that he remain as head of the PASOK's Parliamentary group and party leader in order to "guarantee developments".

    [16] PASOK MP urges gov't with other parties, 'PM with no personal ambitions'

    PASOK MP Leonidas Grigorakos on Thursday expressed conviction that there will "soon be a government in which other parties will participate with a prime minister that is accepted by all sides and has no personal ambitions".

    He stressed that these were very difficult times for Greece and that the gvoernment needed to take extremely rapid and wise decisions.

    [17] Dem. Left MP urges cooperation gov't by main parties

    Democratic Left MP Grigoris Psarianos called on Greece's two largest parties, ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy, to agree to form a temporary cooperation government with a life of a few months in order to protect the country's 'European course' and ensure democratic normalcy.

    [18] PM: Greeks 'wise and mature', can make correct decisions

    CANNES (AMNA/G. Milionis)

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou said that the Greek people have the "wisdom and maturity" to take the correct decisions, speaking in the first hours of Thursday in Cannes, where he held talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European officials on the sidelines of a G20 meeting and informed them of his decision to call a referendum.

    "I consider that the Greek people have the wisdom and knowledge to take the right decisions that will guarantee our country's steady participation in the eurozone," Papandreou said.

    "On October 26-27, in Brussels (eurozone summit), we took collective decisions, which are to the benefit of both our country and the eurozone, and which contribute to reduction of the debt, lightening the burden on the Greek people, the country's developmental course, and major structural changes," Papandreou said.

    "Those decisions will lead to a viable Greek economy and are decisive for the country's present and future. They need the support of the Greek people," Papandreou said.

    "We are members of the eurozone, and as members we have both rights and obligations. We (Greek government) proposed that the Greek people decide democratically, through a referendum, on the ratification of the agreement," Papandreou added.

    FinMin: Greece's place in euro a historic conquest of the Greek people that cannot be made dependent on a referendum

    Greek finance minister and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos stressed in the early hours of Thursday that Greece's position in the euro is a historic conquest of the country that no one can put into dispute and a conquest of the Greek people that cannot be made dependent on a referendum, in a statement upon his return to Athens at 4:45 a.m. from Cannes, where he and prime minister George Papandreou had talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a G20 meeting.

    In an apparent break from Papandreou's surprise announcement on Monday night that he intends to call a referendum on a second bailout loan agreed at the eurogroup summit, which has drawn increasing fire from his ruling PASOK party as well as all the opposition parties with calls for early elections or the creation of a national unity or national salvation government, Venizelos said: "Greece's position in the euro is a historic conquest of the country that no one can put into dispute. It is a conquest of the Greek people that cannot be made dependent on a referendum."

    "The country needs to feel secure and stable, and that is the first condition for it to be truly secure and stable. The Greek banks are totally secured, as an integral part of the European banking system. This was clearly concluded last night (Wednesday) from the discussion in Cannes," Venizelos said.

    "What comes first, without any diversion or delay, is the disbursement of the 6th tranche (for 8 billion euros of the 110 billion euros EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece), as decided at the eurogroup summit of October 26 after a 10-hour battle," Venizelos said, adding: "The next step is activation, before the end of the year, of the new support programme that gives Greece an additional 130 billion euros and lead to reduction of our state debt by approximately 100 billion euros (50 percent haircut. Completion of these procedures is a top national priority."

    Venizelos, who was rushed to hospital early Tuesday with abdominal pains, noted that "I left the hospital (on Wednesday) and went to Cannes because I consider that this was my national duty", adding that, "having a direct picture of the situation prevailing in Europe and internationally, it is my duty to tell the Greek people the full and simple truth: If we want to safeguard the country, we must implement the October 26 decision without delay and under conditions of national unity and political seriousness and consensus. Now. The speediest possible".

    In that direction, he said, the moves of the government and the parliamentary majority are not sufficient. Everything happening and being said at European and international equally concern the opposition, and particularly the main opposition party, which is the recipient of the same strong messages from Cannes and whose stance, if it were a positive one, would serve as a guarantee of the country's international credibility, whereas when it is negative it strongly harms this credibility, with a substantial cost to the Greek citizen, Venizelos added.

    "The issue (at hand) is not the political correlations inside the country and the future of individuals and parties, but the salvation and recovery of the country through the only feasible process that is contained in the October 26 decision," the finance minister concluded.

    [19] Loverdos backs Venizelos position

    Health and Social Solidarity minister Andreas Loverdos backed Venizelos' position, speaking on a private television station a few hours later.

    Loverdos, speaking on Alter TV, stressed the need for unity among the political forces since "the country is in exceptional circumstances and the crisis has exceeded al boundaries," adding that he agrees with Venizelos' intercession that the referendum not be held.

    "Mr. Venizelos' move is consistent with my beliefs," Loverdos said in reply to a question, noting that he voiced his opposition to a referendum the preceding day at both a Cabinet meeting and a discussion in parliament for a vote of confidence in the government called by Papandreou, which ends at midnight Friday with a roll-call vote.

    Loverdos further appealed to the opposition, and especially main opposition New Democracy (ND), to "contribute to unity" so that the full weight may be placed on the country's security.

    [20] ND: Papandreou must leave; misleading Euro leaders

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Thursday did not mince his words in calling Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou "dangerous", noting that after developments in Cannes a day earlier, on the sidelines of a G20 Summit, "it is clear that he must leave."

    Mihelakis directly charged that Papandreou, who doubles as president of the Socialist International (SI), is responsible for the "wretched misleading of Europeans (leaders), by portraying a 'so called' debate in Greece on whether the country should remain or not in the European Union and Eurozone."

    The spokesman expressed surprise over Papandreou's statement, after his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Cannes, as well as their separate statements, again charging that Papandreou created "out of thin air" such a dilemma "via this wretched misinformation".

    "The only prevailing problem is that Mr. Papandreou is still prime minister. A man that dares question the central national strategic decision of the country's European course and prospect, a course that was established and can be guaranteed only by New Democracy. Mr. Papandreou is dangerous and must leave," Mihelakis stressed.

    [21] KKE: No to referendum, other government - Elections immediately

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said Thursday it was opposed to either a referendum or the formation of a different government from the present parliament, and called for immediate general elections.

    A KKE announcement also urged "popular organisation everywhere, at every place of work and residence".

    The KKE called on the Greek people to not bow to the blackmail, and on the ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) "popular masses" to work together with the KKE for a counter-attack aimed at overturning the "power of the monopolies".

    It said that the people had only to lose from any changes made in PASOK or from the formation of a national salvation government.

    "Down with the government and the parties of the plutocracy. Their aspiration is to halt the people's emancipation and to ameliorate the people's indignation, to cultivate false hopes and, chiefly, to demolish the rising popular movement," the KKE said.

    [22] LA.O.S leader: 'I told Papandreou to leave with dignity'

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) president George Karatzaferis on Thursday reiterated his proposal for a government of "national salvation", adding that during his last meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou he told the latter "to leave now with dignity".

    "What matters now is not what Papandreou will say but what main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will say," he underlined, adding: "because it's his (Samaras) responsibility to form a national salvation government ... If Samaras says yes at noon then we will have a national salvation government at 12:15".

    Karatzaferis was scheduled to meet with President of Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday afternoon, a meeting that was postponed.

    [23] 'We desire Greece's stay in euro', Barroso and Rompuy say

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/V. Demiris)

    European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso underlined on Thursday the eurozone's readiness to support Greece, stressing that "we desire Greece's stay in the euro."

    In a written statement on the results of the G20's first day in Cannes, the two senior EU officials point out that the precondition for European solidarity is for Greece to remain adherred to the "agreed package" of October 27 and in particular to continue the implementation of the EU and IMF programme.

    Rompuy and Barroso also note that, taking into consideration the dramatic local political and social situation, national and political unity in Greece is of decisive importance, so that "the hope is given for a better future to the Greek people." "We have confidence in the feeling of responsibility" of the Greeks, they said characteristically.

    Lastly, the two EU officials stress that the "full implementation of the package of October 27 and the support by the G20 will enable us to overcome the present crisis."

    [24] EU Treaty has no provision for a country leaving the eurozone

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/Y. Aggelopoulos)

    The European Treaty, as it stands today, does not provide for a country to abandon the eurozone without leaving the European Union as well, a European Commission spokesman said on Thursday during a press conference, adding that this is the situation today.

    The Lisbon Treaty, which entered into effect in December 2009, introduced for the first time a provision for exodus from the EU but, on the contrary, there is no provision in the Treaty for leaving the single currency.

    "Greece's place is in the eurozone, and the facilities exist. The agreements were reached so that this will continue to be the reality," spokeswoman Karolina Kottova said.

    However, the discussions in Cannes are being conducted at the highest level, she noted, indirectly leaving open the possibility of the European leaders deciding otherwise.

    Commission spokesman for monetary and economic affairs Amadeu Altafaj, on his part, confirmed rumors that the disbursement of the 8 billion euros 6th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece will depend on Greece's fulfillment of all the commitments it has made at the latest European summit in Brussels.

    "There is a eurozone political decision on the conditions for the disbursement of the 6th tranche, which is linked with the fulfillment of all the commitments that Greece has signed," Altafaj said.

    "Clearly, this cannot occur without there being certainty on the intention of the Greek authorities to fulfill the commitments they undertook just a few days ago," Altafaj said, noting that Greek prime minister George Papandreou "is included among the leaders who signed the agreements of October 27" during the summit on supporting the euro and Greece.

    [25] EU Commissioner Damanaki on latest developments

    European Commissioner Maria Damanaki, in a written statement on Thursday, issued a plea to all the Greek political forces to reconsider their positions.

    "For the first time, the Eurozone is deciding for Greece without Greece. If we do not do something now, the beginning of the end has started ... as a Greek citizen and as a European Commissioner I have the duty to issue a plea to all the Greek political forces to reconsider their positions. They must find a coordinated constitutional course with consensus in order to safeguard Greece's membership in the Eurozone and implementation of the Oct. 27 agreements," her statement read.

    [26] Change of guard in armed forces' leadership

    Gen. Michael Kostarakos on Thursday took over as National Defence General Staff Chief replacing Gen. Ioannis Yiagkos in a special ceremony held at Dekelia Air Base.

    Lieut. Gen. Constantinos Ziazias is the new Army General Staff Chief replacing Gen. Frangoulis Frangos.

    The armed forces' leadership was appointed within the framework of scheduled armed forces' promotions and retirements that took place on Tuesday.

    The hand-over ceremonies were attended by the leadership of the ministry of defence and foreign delegations.

    [27] Dutch migration minister visits Evros, NE Greece

    Dutch minister of immigration and asylum affairs Gerd Leers on Thursday toured a reception centre for illegal migrants in Orestiada, in NE Greece's Evros prefecture.

    "We have come to see the region where many migrants arrive, and witness the way they are being received while, at the same time, consider how we can offer our assistance," Leers stated upon his arrival at Alexandroupolis' airport. He heads up a delegation visiting the region.

    The Dutch minister has already visited the Frontex headquarters and was briefed on its operation and actions undertaken in the region.

    Financial News

    [28] Greek officials in close contact with Eurogroup

    Greek finance ministry officials - headed by George Zanias, the president of the Economic Experts' Council - are in constant telephone contacts with Eurogroup technocrats, briefing them over political developments in the country, ministry sources told AMNA on Thursday.

    The sources said the group of technocrats working at the EuroWorking, a Eurogroup arm, were extremely concerned over how unpredictable developments in Greece could affect the Eurozone.

    They stressed that Eurogroup was preparing a "line of defense" in case developments in Greece sparked a domino of financial developments, working of ideas such as leveraging a European Financial Stability Fund's (EFSF) capital to more than 1.0 trillion euros. The technocrats were currently in a wait-and-see mode, while preparations continued in a Greek state bond swap programme (PSI) with the aim to completing the agreement.

    Eurozone officials reiterated that regardless of any political developments in Greece, ratifying the Oct. 27 agreement, was a precondition not only for release of the sixth tranche of a loan to Greece and for implementing a new lending program. Greece needs around 60 billion euros by March 2012 to cover the maturity of bonds worth 15 billion euros and for recapitalisation of banks and covering the country's borrowing needs.

    Finance ministry officials noted, however, that the situation would be difficult until December, when bonds worth 8.0 billion euros were maturing, while no one knows the result of Treasury bill issues expected to be auctioned in November and December.

    [29] Inventions, innovation exhibition opens

    An exhibition showcasing inventors and innovations opened on Thursday in the Peristeri, a west Athens municipality.

    Foreign and local exhibitors are scheduled to display innovative products and service to a projected 30,000 visitors, especially in the energy, electronics, informatics, robotics, pharmaceuticals, mechanical and food & beverage sectors.

    The exhibition, organised by the national union of Greek innovative products, aims to attract the local business community as well as the general public's interest.

    [30] Business Briefs

    -- Audiovisual SA on Thursday announced the completion of its equity participation in International Gaming and Entertainment (IGE SA) through a share capital increase scheme.

    [31] Stocks end 1.86 pct higher

    Stocks ended significantly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as the market positively viewed fluid political developments in the country in the aftermath of a meeting between the leaders of Greece, Germany and France in Cannes on Wednesday night.

    The market seemed to have considered that the Greek government would not proceed with a plan to hold a referendum over a new lending agreement, while at the same time betting on an immediate political solution.

    The composite index of the market rose 1.86 pct to end at 759.50 points, falling as much as 2.05 pct and rising 5.07 pct during the session. Turnover rose to 84.539 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 2.83 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.74 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.75 pct. Hellenic Postbank (16.87 pct), Eurobank (16.48 pct), Alpha Bank (15.18 pct), National Bank (11.11 pct) and Piraeus Bank (10.28 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OPAP (3.69 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (2.08 pct) and Ellaktor (1.47 pct) were top losers.

    Banks (8.68 pct), Technology (5.48 pct) and Health (4.99 pct) were top gainers, while Travel (3.47 pct), Food (1.95 pct) and Telecoms (0.59 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 112 to 49 with another 20 issues unchanged. VIS (29.89 pct), Ideal (29.58 pct) and Nakas (29.49 pct) were top gainers, while Teletypos (18.98 pct), Tzirakian (13.79 pct) and NEL (11.25 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +2.87%

    Industrials: +2.22%

    Commercial: +2.44%

    Construction: +3.76%

    Oil & Gas: +4.66%

    Personal & Household: +0.46%

    Raw Materials: +4.29%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.47%

    Technology: +5.48%

    Telecoms: -0.59%

    Banks: +8.68%

    Food & Beverages: -1.99%

    Health: +4.99%

    Utilities: +2.31%

    Chemicals: +2.28%

    Financial Services: +3.51%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.07

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.69

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.20

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.41

    National Bank of Greece: 1.80

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.73

    OPAP: 7.05

    OTE: 3.35

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.24

    Titan: 14.02

    [32] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.398

    Pound sterling 0.872

    Danish kroner 7.552

    Swedish kroner 9.162

    Japanese yen 108.94

    Swiss franc 1.233

    Norwegian kroner 7.836

    Canadian dollar 1.408

    Australian dollar 1.341

    General News

    [33] Police report rash of drug-related arrests

    Police on Thursday reported a rash of drug related arrests over the past week, including that of a 31-year-old Greek man that had converted two apartments in the Athens district of Korydallos into "drug supermarkets" selling all kinds of narcotics.

    In a raid on Wednesday by local Korydallos police, authorities found 48 kilos of cannabis, three kilos of hashish, 600 grammes of cocaine and more than a kilo of amphetamine.

    In a separate case, meanwhile, police arrested two Albanian nationals aged 27 and 35 years old, respectively, in Paleo Faliro after they were found in possession of more than a kilo of heroin. The arrest was made based on a tip-off that two foreign nationals were supplying central Athens pushers with heroin.

    During the arrest, police found and confiscated 1.028 grammes of heroin, a metal press, a mould, two metal strips used to package the heroin, money, mobile phones and two private cars.

    In a third arrest by the narcotics squad, a ring selling drugs in Acharnes was dismantled, leading to the arrest of a Greek man and a foreign national found in possession of one kilo of cannabis, 104 grammes of heroin, a small quantity of cocaine, 2,530 euro and an air pistol.

    Another five foreign nationals (four Nigerians and a Ghanian) were arrested in a separate raid in Kolonos where police found one kilo of cocaine, small quantities of cannabis and heroin. In the apartment police also found 53 mobile phones, five computers, 2,510 euro and a number of electronic appliances and goods obtained through the sale of drugs.

    Finally, a 23-year-old from Papua New Guinea was arrested with one kilo, 300 grammes of cannabis in the Athens district of Kypseli and two Albanian nationals with 100 grammes of cocaine were caught in the suburb of Paiania.

    All the suspects arrested were led before a public prosecutor to be charged.

    [34] Company executive arrested for massive debts to state

    The managing director of an Athens-based company was arrested on Wednesday by Economic Police Tax Policing Department officers for major debts to the state exceeding 7.9 million euros, it was announced on Thursday.

    The 62-year-old was arrested at noon at his office and on Friday will be led before a prosecutor.

    Weather Forecast

    [35] Cloudy on Friday

    Cloudy 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 3C and 22C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C.

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

    The freezing of the disbursement of the sixth tranche of the IMF-ECB-EC bailout loan to Greece until the conduction of the referendum announced by the prime minister, which will probably be held on December 4, dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras sternly attacks Prime Minister George Papandreou: Papandreou is an opportunist".

    AVGHI: "Blatant blackmail for co-governance with Memorandum".

    AVRIANI: "He (Papandreou) burned his country and now sets fire to the euro".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "He (Papandreou) is leading the country out of the eurozone!".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They (European leaders) annulled him (Papandreou) and demanded a "yes" .

    ESTIA: "He (Papandreou) follows his father's (the late former prime minister and PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou) recipe and governs by incessantly causing crises".

    ETHNOS: "Referendum for the euro on December 4".

    IMERISSIA: "Yes or no to the euro on December 4."

    KATHIMERINI: "Stern ultimatum to Greece".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Not a single euro of help before the agreement is adopted".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Demolish PASOK, ND's blackmail and the antisocial policy".

    TA NEA: "Rapid developments after the ultimatum".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [37] Cyprus and Israel to set up committee on Mediterranean peace vision

    NICOSIA (CNA/AMNA)

    Cyprus and Israel have decided to establish a joint committee on their Mediterranean vision for peace and for the relations between the European Union and all the states in the region.

    The decision was announced Thursday by President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, after the conclusion of a meeting he held with President of Israel Shimon Peres, who is currently in Cyprus on a state visit.

    ''Together with President Peres we have decided to establish a joint committee on our Mediterranean vision for peace and for the relations between the European Union and all the states in the region. This was a very creative proposal on behalf of President Peres and we have accepted it'', President Christofias said.

    He expressed hope that ''the realization of our vision will be completed before the Republic of Cyprus assumes the EU Presidency (in the second half of 2012) because this will be very helpful to our EU Presidency''.

    The two Presidents also discussed the latest developments in the energy map of the region.

    The Cypriot President underlined that the hydrocarbon reserves that have already been confirmed for Israel, and the confirmation of which is expected for the Republic Cyprus, should be utilised in the best possible way for the prosperity of the peoples of the two countries and for peace in the region.

    Moreover, he noted that this development opens up new areas for cooperation between the two states.

    Stressing that the decision of the Republic of Cyprus to commence drilling in Block 12 in its Exclusive Economic Zone was made in line with international law, he said that ''the reaction by Turkey was and still is outside the acceptable norms of behaviour and beyond any notion of international law''.

    Turkey's reaction, he said, is ''a provocative and aggressive attitude, which contradicts the statements by the Turkish leadership for the promotion of peace in the region and efforts to join the EU''.

    He urged the international community to continue to send a strong message to Turkey that it must respect international law and stop violating it through its actions.

    Referring to their tete-a-tete meeting and in the talks with the participation of both delegations, he said they discussed the Cyprus problem the Middle East issue, the economy and other issues of mutual concern.

    Regarding the Cyprus problem, he said he briefed President Peres on the results of last weekend's meeting in New York with the UN Secretary-General and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

    ''I reiterated that we do not accept artificial timeframes or arbitration in the framework of this procedure'', he said, adding that ''I stressed that despite the provocative behaviour of Turkey, the continuing occupation of 37% of our territory as well as the colonization, our side attends the negotiations with a constructive spirit and the will for substantive discussion''.

    President Christofias noted that ''our goal remains the achievement of a just, viable and functional solution that will reunify the country, its people, its institutions and economy, based on the principles of international law and under a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, as stated in the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council''.

    He reiterated that despite the difficulties, he intends to exhaust all possibilities, with the goal of reunifying Cyprus on the basis of a solution that will provide for a state with a single and indivisible sovereignty, international personality and citizenship, a state where all human rights are fully respected and its and legitimate citizens will prosper.

    Moreover, he said they exchanged views on the peace process in the Middle East, noting that the Republic of Cyprus supports the 23 September 2011 Quartet statement, and considers that it is the only way to resume and revive the peace process and achieve a solution in the Middle East.

    ''A solution'', he added, ''that must be based on United Nations resolutions, on the respect of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of states in the region, including, of course, the State of Israel, a solution that would create an independent Palestinian state, which can and must coexist peacefully with the State of Israel''.

    Furthermore, he reiterated the readiness of the Republic of Cyprus to contribute in the efforts for peace, taking advantage of its good relations with all parties involved.

    The two Presidents also discussed the course of the world economy.

    Referring to their bilateral relations, he expressed certainty that Peres' visit, the second official visit at the highest level between the two countries in 2011, ''is a proof of the deepening and broadening of relations between the two countries''.

    ''It is our shared view that, recently, our bilateral relations have been further strengthened'', he concluded.

    Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf. Drilling has already begun and is being carried out by Houston-based "Noble Energy", off Cyprus' south-eastern coast.

    The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey's moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.

    Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.

    Peres: Gas should be used for the right reasons

    Israeli President Shimon Peres pointed out on Thursday that the natural gas reserves would be used for the right reasons, in the context of international law, adding that the discoveries of Cyprus and Israel are for their people.

    Speaking after official talks in Nicosia with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Peres said ''we do not want to make an alliance based on military strengths but a cooperation based on goodwill,'' adding that ''we have to show the rest world how small countries can be great people.''

    Peres noted that ''we both recognised that the distance between Israel and Cyprus is so short, so why not make the short geographic distance a closeness of political relations,'' adding that he believed ''that is happening.''

    Referring to the agreements, Peres said that an agreement between the antiquities departments was signed because both Cyprus and Israel are

    ''old nations'', while the energy agreement was signed because ''you discovered something new and we discovered something new.''

    ''Cyprus is not a very large island and Israel is not a large land but in your small island and our small land, great events, spiritually and socially, took place,'' he said, adding that ''Cyprus, out of all the islands in the Middle East, is the first to become a full member of the EU and your are going to serve as president of the EU next year'' which is ''not bad for a small country.'' Peres noted that ''Israel is an associated member of the EU.''

    Referring to the region, Peres said he believed Cyprus ''can play a role in the peace process, not by mediating but by really offering the opportunities that exist in the united Europe.''

    Peres said the countries of the Middle East would like to join the global market and that the EU could provide opportunities, adding that Israel was very advanced in science and agriculture.

    ''The Middle East is facing a terrible challenge of poverty. There is no water and no food. We cannot enlarge the land and we cannot enrich the rivers but what we can do is to take the technology that makes better use of the land we have and better use of the water we have,'' he said.

    He added that ''by having a Mediterranean-European operation we can produce technology and science that would be helpful.''

    Peres noted that ''the Middle East today is full of fire and death, from Syria to Yemen,'' adding that he would like to see a change.

    ''I think it is a good occasion that Cyprus is becoming president of the EU and instead of the Europeans coming to us with proposals it is not bad for our two small countries to come with our own proposals,'' he said.

    Referring to the issue of natural gas, Peres said ''we are going to use the gas the way peaceful and democratic people should use it,'' adding that ''we are not going to waste it, we are not going to play with it, we are not going to use it for the wrong purposes.''

    ''We shall cooperate according to international law,'' he said, adding that ''we intend to follow the law''.

    He pointed out that ''our discoveries are not against anyone, our discoveries are for the people.''

    Peres said ''we look upon gas, not as a power, but as an occasion to better the life of the people,'' adding that ''we shall do it peacefully.''

    ''I think when it comes to Israel and Cyprus, where we can really cooperate is in the domain of agriculture, the domain of health and the domain of energy.''

    Peres said ''we do not want to make an alliance based on military strengths but a cooperation based on goodwill.''

    He added that ''we have to show the rest world how small countries can be great people.''

    Peres to Turkey: ''The world is not being run by military threats''

    Peres also urged Turkey to respect international law, saying that "the world is not being run by military threats, it is based on international law".

    To a question regarding explorations for natural gas and the Turkish presence in the area, and cooperation between Cyprus and Israel, Peres said ''the world is not being run by military threats,'' adding that ''we are based on international law.''

    Peres pointed out that Turkey should also respect international law and that ''this is the basis of political relations.'' ''We are not going to threaten anybody and we are not going to be afraid of threats,'' he added.

    Peres also noted the importance of maintaining friendly relationships with other countries.

    Replying to the same question, President Christofias said he agreed with his Israeli counterpart, noting that "I welcome the message of peace and friendship of President Peres to Turkey and I would like to send the same message too".

    "I would also like to stress (to Turkey) that relations are based on international law and that each country's actions must respect international law and order".

    He added that Turkey's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean against Cyprus' sovereign right to explore and exploit any hydrocarbon reserves it finds in its Exclusive Economic Zone, "are condemned in international fora".

    President Christofias recalled that he condemned Turkey's behavior at the UN General Assembly in September, adding that Cyprus has made representations to the UNSC and the EU, while the issue will be discussed at the December European Council.

    "Turkey must respect international law, not only as regards the hydrocarbon reserves, but as regards the Cyprus issue as well", he pointed out.

    Referring to Cyprus and Israel cooperation, he recalled that there is a defence cooperation agreement, noting that this does not mean that this is an agreement for a joint action to attack anyone or for combating an aggression.

    "We do not have such agreements. Our effort is to work for peace in our region", President Christofias noted.

    Hydrocarbons, he said, "are nature's gift to us and will be exploited by the two countries through a close cooperation to the benefit of both peoples and peace in the region".

    Meanwhile, to a question regarding Iran, Peres said ''Iran is a danger for the rest of the world'' due to, inter alia, its nuclear development with political aims, the threats against the existence of other states, and the fact that it is a centre of terror.

    Concluding, the President of Israel said that the world has to stop Iran from becoming more and more dangerous.

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