|Friday, 16 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 9, 2006
 Strong 6.9R earthquake jolts most of Greece, epicenter between Crete and Kythira islands - Seismologists reassuring
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)A strong earthquake registering 6.9 on the Richter scale struck between the islands of Crete and Kythira in the early afternoon on Sunday, jolting most of the country, causing some damage to Kythira airport and the collapse of several decrepit houses on Kythira, according to reports. The earthquake, which was felt as far off as Kastoria, also caused some panic, but no injuries, according to reports so far.
The magnitude of the earthquake was initially put at between 6.5 and 6.9 on the Richter scale by various earthquake monitoring facilities. The Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute put the magnitude at 6.5 on the Richter scale, but later concurred with the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Seismology Laboratory and the Patras seismic monitoring station readings of a 6.9R magnitude. The US Geological Service put the magnitude at 6.7 on the open-ended Richter scale. In the hour following the initial quake, four more tremblers were recorded with magnitudes ranging from 5.0 to 5.5 Richter.
According to the Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute, the earthquake was recorded at 1:34 p.m. Sunday, at a distance of 200 kilometers southwest of Athens, in the sea between Kythira and Chania, Crete, some 30 kilometers east of Kythira, and at a large epicentral depth of 30 kilometers. The epicenter is situated in the southwest section of the "Greek arch".
The area is considered highly-seismic, producing many large earthquakes, the largest known trembler being the 8.3 Richter quake in 365 AD.
Seismologists said the earthquake was most likely the main quake, adding that intense post-quake activity was anticipated.
Patras University seismologist Akis Tselentis said the deviation in magnitudes reported by the various seismology centers was normal in cases of very large earthquakes, and anticipated intense post-seismic activity.
Damage has been reported at Kythira airport, while several abandoned decrepit houses collapsed in the village of Mitaton on Kythira, the village church and its bell-tower were damaged, and damage -- mainly cracks and damage to roofs -- was also reported in tens of houses in the villages of Mitata, Aghia Pelagia and Potamos. The local residents had vacated their homes and were out on the streets, the Mitata community president told ANA, adding that there were also problems with land telephone lines.
Minor damages, mainly to old houses, were also reported in Chania, Crete: The quake was strongly felt in the prefectures of Achaia, Aetoloakarnania and Ileia, and the islands in the Ionian Sea, but no damage has been reported. No damage has been reported in Heraklion, Crete, where the quake was also strongly felt, nor in the western port city of Patras, where the trembler initially caused residents to run out onto the streets, but most have been reported to have returned to their homes.
Fire Department and EMAK emergency services were on alert.
Tselentis told ANA that intense seismic activity would follow, and post-quakes of up to 6R magnitude could be expected. He also said the earthquake might not have been the main quake, adding it was fortunate that the epicenter was in the sea, with a large epicentral depth. He further did not rule out the possibility of a "domino effect", explaining that a 7R magnitude quake could activate other faults in the wider area.
Aristotelion university seismologist Vassilis Papazachos concurred in the prediction of many strong aftershocks, adding it was still early to determine whether the earthquake had been the main quake.
Papazachos noted that the area has in the past produced the biggest earthquakes in Greece, reaching magnitudes of even 8 Richter, while in 1906 it had produced a 7.2R quake. He agreed with Tselentis that it was fortunate that the epicenter had been in the sea.
Athens Geodynamic Institute director George Stavrakakis said the initial quake was almost certainly (99 percent) the main quake, with intense post-seismic activity anticipated, adding that in approximately an hour following the initial trembler four more quakes measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale had been recorded.
Stavrakakis, too, said that the large epicentral depth was the reason such a large magnitude quake did not cause extensive damage.
Stavrakakis explained that the epicenter was in the so-called "southern arch" that had produced an earthquake of similar magnitude in 1908.
"We are not surprised by the earthquake, nor by its magnitude," he said. Stavrakakis also disagreed with the prospect of the quake causing a domino effect.
Asked if he expected a larger quake from the same epicenter, Stavrakakis replied: "I am not worried about such an eventuality at this time".
Questioned why the Geodynamic Institute had originally put the quake at 6.5R, Stavrakakis explained that "it was a very large earthquake that jolted all of Greece, and we had to announce the magnitude within five minutes".
Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said all relevant state services were immediately mobilized after the initial quake, and according to the services of the Interior, Defense and Public Order ministries "there has been no major damage or victims".
OTE says its telecommunications network was not disrupted from earthquake: The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) in an announcement on Sunday evening said that no problems were caused to its telecommunications network from the strong earthquake which occurred in the sea region south of the island of Kythira earlier in the day.
The OTE announcement read:" Neither were nor are any problems to the telecommunications network from today's earthquake. Some temporary and isolated cases of overloading of the network in Sparta, Kalamata and Hania were due to an excessive increase of use."
 No damage caused to monuments and antiquities by strong earthquake
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)No damage was caused to monuments, museums nor to antiquities housed in exhibition areas or at other Culture Ministry installations, following the strong earthquake which occurred early afternoon on Sunday in the sea region between the island of Kythira and Crete, a Culture Ministry announcement said in the evening.
Only some stones collapsed from a mosque's minaret in Rethymno and at Neoria of Hania in Crete, according to initial reports received by the ministry.
In the event of any problems to monuments of the region caused by aftershocks, the ministry's Antiquities and Cultural Heritage General Department, in an urgent announcement, called on all services to brief it in writing, by Monday, even about minor damage.
 Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos leads Epiphany Day service in Tarpon Springs, Florida
6/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos led the Epiphany Day service in Tarpon Springs in Florida on Friday.
The morning service was held in the presence of Archbishop of America Demetrius and many clerics at Aghios Nikolaos Church which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary since its founding.
Present at the Blessing of the Waters ritual which followed were clerics, officials of the municipal, state and federal authorities, hundreds of children from Greek-American schools and who were dressed in traditional Greek costumes and members of Greek-American organizations.
The ceremony was due to be followed by a traditional Greek feast, with Greek music and food, along the coastal highway of Tarpon Springs.
Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis is representing the Greek government at the festivities in Tarpon Springs.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, accompanied by Archbishop of America Demetrius and Deputy Foreign Minister Skandalakis, will visit New Orleans on Saturday.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits hurricane-devastated Luisiana
8/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Saturday visited New Orleans, where he was deeply moved by the devastation caused by the destructive Hurricane Katrina which was still evident four months later.
Vartholomeos, accompanied by Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, visited the hurricane-devastated city of Luisiana, where he stopped at one of the city's main dams, which collapsed on the morning of August 30 from the force of the hurricane.
Vartholomeos and his entourage were greeted by the local Catholic Bishop, city officials, and Greece's consul in Atlanta Lambros Kakissis.
In statements to the American media, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his support for the devastated people of New Orleans, and stressed the importance of protection of the environment with "specific and gold" measures.
"We must all develop a spirit of social justice and solidarity," he added.
The Ecumenical Patriarch then visited the Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity) Church, the first and oldest Greek Orthodox parish in the US, which was seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and where he held a te deum for the victims of the hurricane, which was attended by the governor of Luisiana, the mayor of New Orleans, and Senators and Congressmen from the area.
Vartholomeos was due to return to Florida on Sunday to attend a concert by young Greek tenor Marios Fragoulis, accompanied by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of America's Youth Choir. The concert will be staged in honor of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the 10,000-seat Sun Dome stadium in Tampa.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday concluded his five-day visit to Florida and Luisiana and was due to depart back to Istanbul in the evening.
The Patriarch on Sunday led the service celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Aghios Nikolaos Church in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
 PM inaugurates new natgas refueling station, says replacement of urban fleet with EU funding being mulledATHENS, 9/1/2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday that the government was mulling the utilization of EU funding for replacement of the urban buses fleet with natural-gas powered buses, as he inaugurated a natural gas refueling station for ETHEL public transport buses in Anthoussa, the second in the Attica prefecture. The first such station is located in the Ano Liosia suburb of Athens.
The station, built and operated by DEPA, the Public Gas Corporation, is the largest of its kind in Europe and environment friendly, as its high-tech facilities ensure zero hydro-carbon emissions.
The project, which cost 4.9 million euros, was funded 25% by the European Regional Development Fund, another 25% through the Development Ministry's 'Competitiveness' operational program, and 50% by DEPA.
The station has a capacity of refueling up to 36 buses per hour, and a delivery capacity of 5,000 cubic meters of natural gas per hour.
Some 500 buses will be using the refueling station at Anthoussa, while 415 will be refueling at the Ano Liosia station.
Karamanlis said that, under the plan being examined, the replacement of the urban bus fleet would begin in the greater Athens are and Thessaloniki, and gradually spread to other cities throughout the country.
Also addressing the inauguration ceremony, development minister Dimitris Sioufas said that a study for extension of natural gas use to private cars would be completed by summer, while the prospect of purchasing natural gas-powered garbage pick-up trucks was also being examined.
Transport minister Michalis Liapis presented the program for extension of the mass transport networks for 2006.
Karamanlis: In his address, premier Karamanlis said that his New Democracy government has paved the way for the deep-rooted changes and reforms required by modern-day Greece in the sectors of the economy, the State, health, and education.
He said the focal point was the new energy policy introduced by the government, which contains infrastructure works, liberalization of the markets, and emphasis on more environmentally-friendly energy sources.
Karamanlis noted that long-pending issues concerning the construction of projects that would render Greece an energy hub -- such as the Burgas-Alexandropoulos oil pipeline, the Greece-Turkey and Greece-Italy natural gas pipelines, and the SE Europe energy community -- have been resolved in recent months.
Also, the institutional framework has been completed for the liberalization of the electricity and natural gas markets, while an open tender was being prepared, with guarantees of full transparency, for the production of electricity by private concerns, he said.
The prime minister explained that opportunities for large-scale investments by Greek and foreign investments were being created, with the basic target being to reduce the country's oil dependence, the conservation of energy, and the adoption of more environmentally-friendly forms of energy.
He added that the framework for biofuel has already been instituted, while soon a new framework would be introduced aimed at boosting investments in renewable energy sources.
Regarding natural gas, Karamanlis said the process has commenced of upgrading DEPA's liquefied natural gas station in Revythousa, which would ensure the country's safe supply with natural gas, while the natural gas network was also being extended to 13 more prefectures.
Karamanlis also commended work in that area accomplished by the preceding governments, stressing that his government acknowledges all the positive work carried out in previous years.
Sioufas: Development minister Sioufas said that the bus refueling station at Anthousa was an important infrastructure for the spread of use of natural gas in Greece, particularly in the critical sector of transports.
He said that natural gas consumption increased by 17 percent in 2005 against 2003, while an even greater increase was anticipated this year, with the operation of the ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) electricity production unit in Thessaloniki and the DEH (Public Power Corporation) unit in Lavrion. He added that tenders would be also issued and completed this year for the establishment of three new natural gas supply companies in Thrace, Macedonia and the Sterea region of Greece.
Sioufas noted that the protagonist of the entry of natural gas in Greece was former industry and energy minister Anastasios Peponis, who was also present at the inauguration ceremony.
Liapis: Transport minister Liapis noted that the procurement of 416 natural-gas powered urban buses by ETHEL was completed in 2005, while procedures were underway for the procurement of another 520 new buses that would be powered by diesel oil and would be fully equipped with cutting-edge anti-pollution technology that would ensure fewer pollutants than natural gas.
At the same time, he said, studies were being carried out for the use of biofuel, as well as clean hydrogen by buses.
According to figures he unveiled, 2.7 million commuters used public transport daily, accounting for 41 percent of total commuters as against 33 percent in 2004, while the target for the end of the four-year term was to bring this proportion up to 50 percent.
Liapis explained that the figures indicated that Greeks were shedding the prejudice that public transport was looked down upon and that commuting by car was the fastest means.
The minister further said that the tram network would be extended to the seaside suburb of Voula this year, while its extension to Piraeus would also commence, while the Athens Metro would inaugurate new stops at Kantza, Koropi and Pallini, and the urban railway would be also be extended to Piraeus.
Liapis said that the government's policy aimed at discouraging the use of cars in the city centre, adding that "we have opened up a dialogue in order to find the best solution, and the best solution will be found through consensus and good sense".
 DEPA president, managing directorATHENS, 9/1/2006
DEPA president Raphael Moisis described the link-up of Greece's and Turkey's natural gas grids as being of strategic importance, adding that the necessity of such a move was confirmed by the events of last week. He was referring to the crisis that arose between Russia and Ukraine over natgas prices last Sunday that resulted in a temporary disruption of Russian natural gas supply by the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom to Ukraine, which in turn disrupted supply to a number of other European countries as Gazprom sends 80 percent of its European export volume through Ukraine.
DEPA managing director Asimakis Papageorgiou said that the use of natural gas as a fuel for vehicles was a steadily developing sector throughout all of Europe, given that natural gas was not only substantially cheaper but also contributed to reducing pollution.
 PASOK cadres criticize gov't policy
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)Former parliament president and current MP of the main opposition PASOK party Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a newspaper interview appearing on Sunday, said that the New Democracy (ND) government would not go down in history as simply a "right-wing interval" but as "one of the worst memories in the more recent political history of our country" if it carried on as it was doing now, while PASOK state MP Anna Diamantopoulou said the ND government would leave behind serious developmental and social deficits.
In an interview with Eleftherotypia appearing in the news-paper's Sunday edition, Kaklamanis accused the government of arrogance.
Questioned on the reform of the constitution proposed by the government, Kaklamanis said he believed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was hoping to cover his government's failures and ensure a pretext for early general elections by citing the requirement of electing a revisionary parliament to carry out the constitutional revision. He anticipated that early general elections would be called in the spring or autumn of 2006.
On foreign policy, he said that the government had unfortunately accepted for Greece the role of a 'bit actor' and 'good kid'.
More particularly on the Cyprus issue, Kaklamanis anticipated mobility, but "for the worse", such as "the recognition by the EU Council of Ministers the right of veto by Turkey to Cyprus' accession to international organizations" and the "recent decision of the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights, which recognizes a regulatory role to Turkey on the Greek Cypriots' properties in the occupied sector of Cyprus".
In an interview with Ethnos appearing in the newspaper's Sunday edition, Diamantopoulou said ND would leave behind serious developmental and social deficits, while its economic policy would be of a 'collecting' nature in 2007 as well.
Diamantopoulou, who is responsible for developmental issues in PASOK's Political Council, said that constitutional revision which a supreme parliamentary process 'that cannot be treated as public relations fireworks".
She conceded, however, that in the previous revision certain substantial problems were not touched on, while other issues proved to be problematic despite the wide consensus.
On the prospect of early general elections, she said such a move would be a risk for the government, adding that she did not believe Karamanlis would take such a risk.
 Implementation of reforms adopted in 2005 top priority for new year, FinMin says
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)The government's first priority for 2006 is the implementation and yield of the reforms adopted last year, and chiefly the reforms concerning the collaborations between the public and private sector, national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis said in an interview with Apogevmatini newspaper appearing in the paper's Sunday edition.
He announced that within the next two weeks the three inter-ministerial committees that have been set up -- on denationalizations, on public-private sector collaboration, and on the DEKO public utilities, noting that the denationalizations program needed to be advanced, chiefly with respect to the banks, while a strategy needed to be set out with respect to the collaborations, and a streamlining program needed to be drafted by the loss-making DEKO.
Alogoskoufis said incomes policy in the public sector should perhaps be uniform, explaining that, in enterprises that belonged 100 percent to the state and were not listed on the Athens bourse, and mainly in those that were loss-making, "it is clear that the salary increases cannot be higher than those given in the public sector", which he said would be around the inflation rate.
"In other words, the incomes policy in the public sector should possibly be uniform," Alogoskoufis said.
He further proposed that court rulings on salaries and pensions should not have retroactive application -- vis-a-vis the dialogue on the planned revision of the constitution -- stressing the need to protect fiscal management from court decisions.
Alogoskoufis further proposes new constitutional rules so that provisions concerning protection of the environment would not act as disincentives for investments.
Regarding the election of President of the Republic, he proposes a simple majority (in the 300-member parliament), and that failure by the House to elect a new president (under the existing procedures) should not result in early general elections.
Under Article 32 Paragraph 3 of the Greek constitution, the candidate receiving two-thirds of the vote from the 300-member House (200 votes) in a roll-call vote is elected President of the Republic for the new four-year term. In the event a two-thirds majority is not achieved in the first round, the vote is repeated five days later. If a two-thirds majority is not achieved in the second round, the vote is repeated five days later, and the candidate amassing three-fifths of the vote (180 votes from the 300 MPs). If parliament fails to elect a new President in the third round, then the House is dissolved within 10 days of the third round of voting, and early general elections are called.
Under Paragraph 4 of the same Article, the new parliament arising from the early general elections is mandated to elect the new President of the Republic immediately after it is formed. Paragraph 4 also provides for three rounds of voting. A majority of three-fifths (180 votes) is required in the first round, but in the event of failure, the vote is repeated five days later and the candidate who receives the absolute majority (150+1 votes) is declared President of the Republic. In the event of failure to elect a President in the second round, a third round, or run-off, is held five days later between the two candidates who amassed the most votes in the second round, and the candidate amassing the relative majority (largest number of votes) is declared President of the Republic.
 Pilots launch info events on OA's future
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)The Union of Civil Aviation Pilots on Saturday launched a series of informational events for passengers, to brief them on the Union's positions regarding the future of national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA).
Union members on Saturday presented passengers transiting through Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA), together with their New Year wishes, informational pamphlets in which the civil aviation pilots stressed the need for OA to remain the same airline it is today, and for the company to develop even further, while they also present their positions on issues concerning the airline's fleet and its destinations schedule.
The pilots placed special emphasis on the preservation of destinations to cities with large Greek communities, stressing that the national carrier was an important link between the Greeks Abroad and the motherland.
The pamphlet further said that the pilots were not opposed to the securitization of the company, as provided in a bill proposed by the government, so that new capital may enter the company, provided, however, that "the mistakes of the past are avoided" and that the company operates under a strong management with purely private economy criteria.
The pilots further stress their determination to contribute so that the company may maintain its high position and continue its flights.
The informational events are slated to last for at least a week.
 Evros River water exceeds red alert level of 5.70 meters
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)The Evros River water surpassed the danger level of 5.70 meters on Sunday evening, reaching 5.80 meters, following the high volume of water entering from Bulgaria.
The services of the Evros Prefecture and of the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region and of the nearby municipalities are on red alert while since Sunday morning, the Coordinating Prefectural Agency started operating on a round-the-clock basis for the full implementation of emergency measures.
Over the past 24 hours, The Evros Prefecture Civil Protection Department has also intensified its measures and called on the inhabitants of the danger zone not to approach the river and distance from the area their animals and agricultural machinery.
Nearly 400 acres of cultivated expanse was flooded in the region of Didimotiho. According to Evros Prefect Nikos Zompounidis, 11,000 acres were flooded in the whole of Evros prefecture.
Farmland flooded as swelling Evros River overflows: Some 1,500 stremma of cultivated farmland were flooded on Saturday in Didimotiho, when a small section of embankment collapsed due to overflow of the Evros River.
According to Civil Protection director for the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace region Lazaros Tsakmakidis, the collapse of the embankment in the Psathades area resulted from the increased quantity of water flowing into the Evros River from the Erythropotamos tributary, following several days of heavy rainfall in the area.
Tsakmakidis said a 40 meter rift occurred in the embankment, at a distance of about 500 meters from anti-flooding works carried out during last year's winter season, adding that because of last year's works, the rift caused on Saturday was small, thus containing the damage to a minimum in comparison with previous years.
He said the Region's technical services were working overtime to create outlets for the swelling waters of the Evros river.
 Veteran journalist Karapanayotis dies
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)Veteran journalist Leon Karapanayotis died on Sunday at the age of 74, a hear after suffering a stroke. Messages of condolences were issued by the country's political leadership.
Karapanayotis, who was born in Athens in 1931 and studied political sciences in France and Switzerland, worked at the Lambrakis Publishing Organization (DOL) since 1953, where he had served as editor-in-chief of the To Vima newspaper, and later as editor-in-chief and publisher of Ta NEA newspaper.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed deep grief over the death of Karapanayotis who, he said, with his high morals, respect for journalistic ethics, and critical views worked for the projection of his principles and visions, making a priceless contribution to journalism and tendering it into a true function.
Papoulias conveyed his condolences to the deceased's family and the entire journalistic family.
Minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that Karapanayotis' death would be felt not only in TA NEA newspaper, for which the deceased's personal seal had been decisive, but to the entire world of the printed press.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said Karapanayotis had served journalism in an exemplary manner for more than half a century, and had been a restless intellectual, a man of deep knowledge and views on the political and social issues, and a conscientious democratic citizen with his own personal contribution to the struggles for democracy and progress.
Papandreou said that the deceased had been a family friend, and a personal friend of his father -- the late PASOK founder and former Prime Minister Andrea Papandreou -- adding that Karapanayotis' advice in many critical and historic moments had been priceless.
Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki also expressed deep grief, personally and on behalf of parliament, over the death of Karapanayotis, who was chairman of the ethics committee of parliament's television station. She said the deceased had for half a century faithfully served the free information of the citizens, while his seemly and creative career in the press, his respect of the journalistic ethics and his intellectual cultivation comprised an important legacy in today's difficult times.
In a message of condolences, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Progress (SYN) leader Alekos Alavanos expressed his own and his party's condolences to the deceased's family and the journalistic family, noting Karapanayotis had been firmly devoted all his life to journalism as a function, and his dedication to democracy and his contribution to public dialogue were universally acknowledged.
 ESIEA holds New Year party for journalists' children
ATHENS, 9/1/2006 (ANA)The Union of Athens Journalists (ESIEA) on Saturday held its annual Christmas/New Year party for the members' children.
Athens' journalists took time off from their busy schedules to party with their children and colleagues at the Faliro Olympic Complex's Tae-kwon-do facility.
Jugglers, clowns and magicians entertained young and old alike, filling the hall with shouts and laughter.
The highlight of the party was a guest appearance by Greece's winner of the 2005 Eurovision song contest Elena Paparizou, and singer George Christou.
"It was the best party ever held for the journalists' children," ESIEA president Panos Sombolos said.
Also attending the event was deputy culture minister Fani Palli-Petralia, herself an ESIEA member.
Results of Greek First Division soccer matches played over the weekend:
Panionios Athens - Egaleo Athens 0-1
Panathinaikos Athens - Larissa 3-0
Atromitos Athens - Akratitos Athens 2-0
Kallithea Athens - Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-0
Levadiakos - OFI Crete 1-0
Xanthi - AEK Athens 0-0
Ionikos Piraeus - Olympiakos Piraeus 0-1
Apollon Kalamaria - PAOK Thessaloniki
(Match to be played on Monday January 9)
The standings after the 15th week of play:
Olympiakos 39 points
PAOK 23 (14 matches played)
Apollon Kalamaria 15 (14 matches played)
 Acting President seeks respect of Republic during Straw's visit
NICOSIA, 9/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)Acting President of the Republic and House President Demetris Christofias has said that the Republic and its sovereignty must be respected during a proposed visit to the island by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
"We would like to see Britain behaving the way it did when Britain's Deputy PM John Prescott visited Cyprus," he said on Saturday.
Prescott, who had contacts on both sides of the divide in late October last year, met with self-styled Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer at the offices of the British High
Commission in Turkish occupied Cyprus.
The government of Cyprus does not object to meetings between visiting officials with representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community but disagrees with visits to so-called official venues and with the promotion of symbols representing the illegal regime in the occupied areas.
Any such moves, the government believes, are contrary to UN Security Council resolutions that call on all states not to facilitate in any way the secessionist Turkish Cypriot entity which no state, except Turkey, recognizes. The resolutions also stipulate that no other state but the Republic of Cyprus is recognized on the island.
"This is our firm position and we hope that it will be respected," Christofias said.
Straw has expressed his intention to visit the island, possibly towards the end of January.
 Belgian FM to visit Cyprus
NICOSIA, 9/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister of Belgium Karel De Gucht will be in Cyprus Monday for talks with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou.
De Gucht and Iacovou, heading their respective delegations, will confer during a working lunch at the Foreign Ministry, after which they will make statements to the press.
The Belgian FM will then be received by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
De Gucht leaves later on Monday afternoon.