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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-04-23

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

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

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 Issue No: 2876

CONTENTS

  • [01] Inner Cabinet meeting on social security reform
  • [02] Culture minister on new anti-doping draft law
  • [03] PASOK spokesman on FYROM name issue
  • [04] PASOK on OTE sale issue
  • [05] PASOK spokesman on Kyoto Protocol
  • [06] SYRIZA attacks government over Kyoto suspension, OTE
  • [07] SYRIZA to vote against EU Reform Treaty
  • [08] Exclusive interview with Defense Minister Meimarakis
  • [09] PASOK leader George Papandreou to spend Easter at home, party spokesman says
  • [10] Public works ministry on National Town Planning Framework
  • [11] Austrian FM Plassnik holds talks with Ecumenical Patriarch
  • [12] Bank of Greece cuts economic growth forecast to below 3.7 pct in 2008
  • [13] PASOK reaction to Garganas report
  • [14] SYN comments on central bank report
  • [15] Bank of Greece to pay 3.20 euros per share dividend to shareholders
  • [16] Development Minister Folias addresses Int' energy forum
  • [17] PASOK 'shadow' minister calls for action over high prices
  • [18] ATEbank to cut equity participation in ATE Insurance
  • [19] PPC approves memorandum of cooperation with RWE
  • [20] Greek stocks end 0.74 pct higher
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday
  • [24] Missing helicopter located
  • [25] Armed robberies in Athens and Thessaloniki
  • [26] TEO to waive road tolls over Easter break
  • [27] ECHR orders Turkey to pay compensations in Demades vs Turkey case
  • [28] Working groups and technical committees begin their work
  • [29] Cyprus FM Kyprianou speaks to ANA-MPA Politics

  • [01] Inner Cabinet meeting on social security reform

    The timetable for the implementation of the social security reform was discussed and approved at an Inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told reporters afterwards that certain pension funds will be incorporated into IKA, (the state-run Social Security Foundation, Greece's largest social security organization) after June 1, and mergers of the remaining pension funds will follow beginning August 1.

    Referring to proposals for limited wage increases submitted by the governor of the Bank of Greece, and by an experts' committee for raising the layoffs ceiling, she said that committees prepare reports and submit recommendations, but labor policy is planned by the government and the competent minister.

    [02] Culture minister on new anti-doping draft law

    "It's better to foresee than cure," Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said on Tuesday, outlining the purpose of the measures that will be contained in a new draft law against doping, which will be tabled in Parliament in early May.

    Liapis and Deputy Culture Minister for Sports Yannis Ioannidis stressed at a press conference the State's determination to eradicate the doping plague from sports. Among the measures contained in the new bill is the abolition of mostof the benefits currently enjoyed by athletic champions, including their free entry to the higher education institutions.

    [03] PASOK spokesman on FYROM name issue

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papacon-stantinou said on Tuesday that "public bargaining over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) must stop," adding that "logics of arbitrary timetables for a solution to the issue must also stop", including the recent proposal by NATO's secretary general.

    Papaconstantinou further said that "games" concerning the geographical qualifier must also stop and, replying to a relevant question, stressed that "New" next to "Macedonia" "is not a geographical qualifier and is not referred to in this way in any dictionary."

    The spokesman referred to the red line that PASOK has defined and reminded of what PASOK leader George Papandreou had requested from UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, that is "objectiveness on the part of the UN and full respect for Greek positions in the framework set by the red line".

    [04] PASOK on OTE sale issue

    The main opposition PASOK party raised new questions on Tuesday concerning the sale of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), through the party's spokesman George Papaconstantinou.

    The first question raised by Papaconstantinou concerns what "precisely is the government negotiating" and asked if it is negotiating the Organisation's public control, investments, mobile values, excess value in the Balkans or the future of the employees.

    The second question regards what the government's strategic plan is for communications, as well as "why should control of the country's communications pass into the hands of a foreign competitor."

    Lastly, the third question concerns what the repercussions of the aforesaid will be for the Greek consumer.

    [05] PASOK spokesman on Kyoto Protocol

    PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said that Tuesday was a "red card day", referring to the decision taken by the UN to dismiss Greece from the flexible apparatuses of the Kyoto Protocol, since it does not fulfill criteria, and to the reservations of EUROSTAT concerning the country's deficit.

    Papaconstantinou said that once again the country has a negative top position and this time it remains outside the management system of air pollution emission rights.

    Focusing on the "second red card", as he termed EUROSTAT's reservations, Papaconstantinou said that the country's deficit exceeds 3 percent and accused the government of distorting and giving false data.

    [06] SYRIZA attacks government over Kyoto suspension, OTE

    The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday attacked the government over the country's suspension from the UN carbon-emissions trading scheme under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as its handling of issues concerning the state-run phone utility, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE). He was speaking during a press conference with SYRIZA MP Yiannis Banias.

    Regarding Greece's expulsion from Kyoto carbon-trading mechanisms, he said the government deserved to get into the Guinness Book of Records because Greece was the first country in the world that succeeded in getting itself kicked out.

    According to a statement issued by the UN Climate Change Secretariat, a group of legal experts brought to ensure enforcement of the Treaty had declared Greece to be in non-compliance with the Kyoto Protocol for failing to maintain a proper national system for recording greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first such ruling since the Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2005.

    [07] SYRIZA to vote against EU Reform Treaty

    The head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday said the party would vote against the EU Reform Treaty and called for a national referendum to decide whether this should be ratified.

    During a joint press conference with Yiannis Banias, Alavanos said the party will also take action to present its positions on the social state, environmental policy and labour relations.

    According to Alavanos, the EU had drafted the treaty without democratic guarantees and without the participation of Europe's citizens.

    In a more detailed analysis of the main aspects of the Reform Treaty, Banias described it as a "very powerful mix of militarism and neoliberalism".

    As well as the reform treaty, Alavanos additionally commented on the criticism levelled against the new leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alexis Tsipras over an interview to a magazine targeting young people, saying that criticism of SYN had in recent matters focused more on issues of dress, manners and appearance than the party's positions.

    [08] Exclusive interview with Defense Minister Meimarakis

    Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis stressed that Greece wants all its neighbors to become members of NATO, pointing out that Athens is expecting goodwill gestures from Skopje concerning the FYROM name issue. In an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, he also underlined that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is contributing to the region's peace and stability by accepting a composite name with a geographic qualifier for FYROM.

    Meimarakis stated that he is optimistic that a solution will be found to the problem, stressing, however, that he does not know when this will occur considering that FYROM is in a pre-election period.

    Referring to NATO and its enlargement, he pointed out that Greece wants all neighboring countries to become members, adding that the alliance is now a political organization, rather than a military one, interested in stability and peace and operating under the UN umbrella. NATO will not decide to launch a military operation without an earlier political decision and the UN's consent, he said.

    The NATO Summit in Bucharest was of historical importance because a decision was reached defining the alliance's new role, he stated, adding that a committee has been formed to hold high level discussions on the NATO-Russia relations and the prospect of being further strengthened.

    Regarding FYROM, he said that the country is Greece's neighbor, and forging good relations is necessary, stressing that this can only happen if existing problems are resolved.

    Premier Karamanlis is a Macedon himself, said Meimarakis, and the fact that he accepts a composite name with a geographic qualifier for FYROM is an immense contribution to the region's stability and peace, which should not be regarded as a concession.

    [09] PASOK leader George Papandreou to spend Easter at home, party spokesman says

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou said on Tuesday that the health of the party's leader, George Papandreou, is developing smoothly, adding that he will be spending Easter at home.

    Papandreou was injured slightly while riding his bicycle last Sunday and was taken to the KAT hospital in the Athens suburb of Kifisia for treatment.

    [10] Public works ministry on National Town Planning Framework

    The environment, town planning and public works ministry, responding on Tuesday to an announcement by the Bar Associations Plenum on the demand for an Environmental Assessment Strategy on National Town Planning, stressed that this is not required by European Union legislation.

    "The National Town Planning and Sustainable Development Framework does not have to be accompanied by an Environmental Repercussions Study Strategy, nor is such a thing required by European Union legislation, as some are claiming, desiring to create an issue where it does not exist," the ministry said.

    It added that the same practice was also followed on the ESPA issue (4th Programming Period for 2007-2013), in agreement with the European Commission.

    Lastly, it was stressed that "how can it be possible, therefore, for the observance of the Environmental Assessment Strategy procedure not to be required for a seven-year funding Plan (2007-2013) with which the implementation of specific projects is anticipated, and such a thing to be required for the 'National Town Planning', which is in itself a policy direction proposal."

    [11] Austrian FM Plassnik holds talks with Ecumenical Patriarch

    ISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A.Kourkoulas)

    Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik expessed her "gratitude" to Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos for his efforts towards protecting the environment.

    Speaking to the press after holding talks with Vartholomeos at the Fanar on Tuesday, Plassnik praised the Orthodox prelate for his "indefatigable contribution towards inter-religious dialogue, mutual understanding between human beings, the creation of a world where peoples will live without fear, where they can live with their own religion, their own faith or even live without faith at all if they want to."

    "This is the meaning of religious freedom," Plassnik noted, adding that this meaning of freedom "is one of the foundations of the European system of values. And this is an issue we are negotiating on with states that wish to become European Union members."

    During the one-hour meeting, the Austrian foreign minister discussed with the Patriarch issues relating to the Patriarch and the Greek community.

    Financial News

    [12] Bank of Greece cuts economic growth forecast to below 3.7 pct in 2008

    The Bank of Greece on Tuesday cut its forecasts over economic growth this year but raised its forecasts over the inflation rate. In its annual report, the central bank said economic growth would fall below 3.7 pct this year, after 4.0 pct in 2007, while the inflation rate was expected to reach 4.0 pct, from 3.0 pct in 2007.

    Presenting the report, Bank of Greece governor, Nikos Garganas stressed that sustaining high growth rates in the long-term would need stronger efforts in economic policy, social consensus on fiscal consolidation, low wage increases, improving productivity rates and structural reforms in a wide range of economic activities.

    Garganas warned that maintaining high growth rates in the long-term needed radical changes in the development model of the last 12 years, which was based on boosting domestic demand, mainly consumption. A new economic policy should encourage private savings, along with a continuation of fiscal consolidation effort.

    The central banker urged for a transformation of the Greek economy, to be based on investments and exports. This transformation would need correction of macro-economic imbalances and improving productivity and international competitiveness of the economy, he noted.

    Garganas said Greek per capita GDP was 11.6 pct lower compared with the EU-15 average level, reflecting lower productivity levels in the Greece, while he noted that unemployment and poverty levels were above EU average levels.

    Commenting on a fiscal consolidation effort in the period 2005-2007, Garganas said that despite a marked improvement, fiscal imbalances remaining as reflected in a public debt of 94.5 pct of GDP, while he predicted that fiscal consolidation efforts would not be enough to cut the country's public debt to below 60 pct of GDP by 2015.

    Garganas said the Greek banking system was stable despite a continuing international credit turmoil, although he called for alertness over second round effects.

    [13] PASOK reaction to Garganas report

    The report by Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas confirmed that the Greek economy was taking a turn for the worse, said main opposition PASOK's 'shadow' minister for economic affairs Louka Katseli on Tuesday.

    "A few days after the figures of the budget were called into doubt by Eurostat, today it is the turn of the governor of the Bank of Greece to confirm the serious deterioration of the Greek economy," Katseli said in comments on the annual report released by the central bank the same day.

    She pointed to a slowdown of economic activity, inflationary pressures that were rising dangerously, the failure of government measures to dampen price increases, serious macroeconomic imbalances and structural weaknesses that had caused public debt to sky-rocket, even as competitiveness had steadily declined.

    "It is clear that ND's policy is a dead end and is taking the Greek economy and businesses down a dangerous road," Katseli underlined, adding that PASOK has submitted a comprehensive alternative economic proposal for getting the country out of the economic impasse it had now entered.

    [14] SYN comments on central bank report

    The central bank's annual report released on Tuesday by Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas was slammed as "paradoxical" by the head of economic and social policy for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, MP Panagiotis Lafazanis, who said that it could be summed up in the phrase "Neoliberalism has failed! Hurray for neoliberal policies".

    "At the same time as the governor of the Bank of Greece notes the slowdown in growth, a reduction in the yield of the Greek economy, the intensified inflationary pressures and the strengthening of social inequalities - all things that in practice show the miserable failure of the government's neoliberal policies that he so warmly supported - he also suggests in his report the further escalation of the neoliberal deregulation being implemented consensually since the start of the '90s".

    The MP criticised Garganas for justifying the excessive profit-making of banks and providing full coverage for their unfair practices that abused of their position, while at the same time proposing harsh austerity measures for wage earners and pensioners and further weakening of labour laws.

    [15] Bank of Greece to pay 3.20 euros per share dividend to shareholders

    A Bank of Greece's annual general shareholders' meeting on Tuesday approved a board plan to pay a 3.20 euros per share dividend to its shareholders. The central bank's shares will be traded ex-dividend from April 30, 2008.

    The shareholders' meeting also approved a share capital increase plan, worth 22,248,671 euros, to be covered with the issuing of 3,972,977 new shares of a nominal value of 5.6 euros per share to be granted to shareholders at a ratio of one for four. Following completion of the plan, the Bank of Greece's capital will total 111,243,361 euros, or 19,864,886 shares, with a nominal value of 5.60 euros per share.

    [16] Development Minister Folias addresses Int' energy forum

    ROME (ANA-MPA)

    Promotion of renewable energy is among the priorities of the Greek government, Development Minister Christos Folias stressed in Rome, addressing the 11th International Energy Forum on Tuesday.

    "Using renewable sources of energy to meet up to 20.1 percent of the country's energy needs by 2010 and up to 29 percent by 2020 has become a national goal," he added.

    Folias said viable development is being promoted through specific policies, strategies and action plans with an emphasis on the replacement of oil by natural gas.

    [17] PASOK 'shadow' minister calls for action over high prices

    Main opposition PASOK's 'shadow' minister for development Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Tuesday stressed the need for action to combat high prices, saying that this was becoming a political priority. He stressed that Greece had become an expensive country as a result of 'cartels' and business groups that the government was tolerating and which set the prices of products and services with secret deals and harmonised pricing policy.

    "For PASOK, the constant care that the state is currently obliged to show for the protection of consumers from high prices has become on of our most important political actions and coincides with the need to cultivate and highlight new models of consumerism as a country; consumption that makes financial sense, is of safe quality and environmentally responsible," he said.

    He contrasted the reduction of inflation under PASOK governments from 15 percent to 3 percent with the government's record on this issue, saying that this consisted of 41 measures that have not been enforced, or actually benefited profiteering.

    According to PASOK's representative, the living costs of the average four-member family now exceeded 3,000 euros a month from 2015 euros in 2004, so that the average family had a monthly income shortfall of 350 euros that was covered either through borrowing or by cutting back on essential goods and services.

    [18] ATEbank to cut equity participation in ATE Insurance

    ATE Insurance, a member of ATEbank Group, on Tuesday announced that its pre-tax profits totalled 16.3 million euros last year, up 19.6 pct from 2006, while after tax profits rose 14.4 pct to 14 million euros, cutting accumulated losses totalling 96 million euros in 2004.

    Net premium production 182 million euros in 2007, up 10 pct from the previous year, while operating expenses fell by 6.0 pct to 40.3 million euros. Commenting on the results, ATEbank's chairman, Dimitris Miliakos, said the management's policy in the last four years resulted to the return of the company to profitability, with results above expectations. Addressing an annual general shareholders' meeting, Miliakos said ATE Insurance managed to increase its portfolio to improve its composition and to boost its profitability. The Greek banker, however, noted that ATEbank Group was currently in negotiations with a consultant group to seek ways of reducing its equity participation in ATE Insurance.

    [19] PPC approves memorandum of cooperation with RWE

    State-run Public Power Corp. (PPC) on Tuesday approved a memorandum of cooperation reached with German multinational energy group RWE.

    Under the memorandum, PPC and RWE will work together in a project to build a coal-burning electricity power station -- with a power of 500-800 MW -- in Albania. RWE will hold 51 pct of the project, PPC 39 pct and Titan Group the remaining 10 pct.

    Also the memorandum envisaged the cooperation between the two companies in developing natural gas services in Greece and renewable energy sources.

    [20] Greek stocks end 0.74 pct higher

    Greek stocks ended moderately higher in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.74 pct to end at 4,055.59 points. Turnover was a moderate 306.89 million euros, of which 33.3 million euros were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Telecommunications (3.06 pct), Technology (1.87 pct), Media (1.45 pct), Insurance (1.38 pct) and Utilities (1.27 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Raw Materials (1.30 pct), Constructions (1.0 pct) and Personal/Home Products (0.86 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 0.71 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.12 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.08 pct.

    Crown Hellas Can (15.25 pct), AEGEK (12.0 pct) and Viosol (10.71 pct) were top gainers, while Elbisco (8.41 pct), Allatini (6.25 pct) and Ippotour (6.0 pct) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 121 to 100 with another 68 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.38%

    Industrials: +0.53%

    Commercial: -0.25%

    Construction: -1.00%

    Media: +1.45%

    Oil & Gas: +0.60%

    Personal & Household: -0.86%

    Raw Materials: -1.30%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.53%

    Technology: +1.87%

    Telecoms: +3.06%

    Banks: +0.62%

    Food & Beverages: +0.52%

    Health: +0.72%

    Utilities: +1.27%

    Chemicals: +0.37%

    Financial Services: +0.37%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 20.78

    ATEbank: 2.71

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 27.40

    HBC Coca Cola: 29.00

    Hellenic Petroleum: 9.38

    National Bank of Greece: 32.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 19.12

    Intralot: 12.16

    OPAP: 24.22

    OTE: 18.86

    Titan Cement Company: 27.42

    Marfin Popular Bank: 5.26

    [21] ADEX closing report

    Futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover shrinking to 74.181 million euros. The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 2.68 pct, while the May contract on the FTSE 40 index at a discount of 1.33 pct.

    Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 4,842 contracts worth 49.714 million euros, with 29,189 open positions in the market, while on the Mid Cap index volume was 29 contracts worth 707,757 euros with 237 open positions.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,548 contracts worth 20.948 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (6,825), followed by Marfin Investment Group (297), National Bank (1,148), Alpha Bank (213), Intracom (622), Marfin Popular Bank (270), Hellenic Postbank (592) and ATEbank (1,489).

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 745 million euros on Tuesday, of which 400 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 345 million were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond (March 20, 2011) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 255 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 0.49 pct with the Greek bond yielding 4.66 pct and the German Bund 4.17 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates moved higher. National Bank's overnight rate rose to 3.95 pct from 3.80 pct on Monday, the two-day rate was 4.0 pct, the one-month rate was 4.39 pct and the 12-month rate 4.85 pct.

    [23] Foreign Exchange Rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.605

    Pound sterling 0.806

    Danish kroner 7.521

    Swedish kroner 9.435

    Japanese yen 165.75

    Swiss franc 1.619

    Norwegian kroner 7.986

    Canadian dollar 1.616

    Australian dollar 1.698

    General News

    [24] Missing helicopter located

    A missing helicopter that went missing on Tuesday afternoon north of Athens was located hours later just south of the township of Malakasa, with all three individuals aboard reported as unharmed.

    The privately owned helicopter had vanished from radar screens at 2:43 p.m. (local time) while flying some 40 kilometres north of Athens.

    According to initial but unconfirmed media reports, a well-known local singer taking a training flight with the helicopter.

    [25] Armed robberies in Athens and Thessaloniki

    Three armed robbers snatched a bag with an undetermined sum of money, while it was being loaded Tuesday morning onto an armored car by "Pyrsos" private security company personnel in Athens.

    Two of the robbers fled on a motorcycle and the third on foot. Police have launched a manhunt for their arrest.

    In a separate incident in downtown Thessaloniki, two armed men robbed a Piraeus Bank branch on Tuesday morning and fled with an undetermined amount of money.

    [26] TEO to waive road tolls over Easter break

    All vehicles will be allowed to pass free of charge at national highway toll posts still operated by the National Road-building Fund (TEO) and not conceded to contractors between the hours of 20:00 on Easter Saturday until 6:00 on Easter Monday.

    The toll posts in question are those at Elefsina, the Isthmus, Zevgolatio, Rio, Aktion and Malgara.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [27] ECHR orders Turkey to pay compensations in Demades vs Turkey case

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Tuesday Turkey to pay within three months 835.000 euro to Greek Cypriot refugee Ioannis Demades for the loss of use of his property in the northern coastal town of Kyrenia, occupied by Turkish troops since the Turkish invasion in 1974.

    The Fourth Section of the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay the applicant in the case Demades vs Turkey within three months from now the following comprehensive sums: 785.000 euro in respect of pecuniary damage, 45.000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and 5.000 in respect of costs and expenses.

    The Court recalled that in its principle judgment it found Turkey guilty of continuous violations of the European Convention of Human Rights by reason of complete denial of the rights of the applicant with respect to his home and the peaceful enjoyment of his property in Kyrenia.

    It added that its finding of a violation of the applicant's rights with respect to his home and the peaceful enjoyment of his property was based on the fact that as a consequence of being continuously denied access to his land since 1974 the applicant had effectively lost all access and control as well as all possibilities to use and enjoy his property.

    ''He is therefore entitled to a measure of compensation in respect of losses directly related to this violation of his rights as from the date of deposit of Turkey's declaration recognizing the right of individual petition, namely January 1987 until the present time'', the decision says.

    The Court stresses that the applicant can not be deemed to have lost title to his property.

    Displaced Greek Cypriots like the applicant cannot be deemed to have lost title to their property and compensation to be awarded by this Court in such cases is confined to losses emanating from the denial of access and loss of control, use and enjoyment of his property, the decision adds.

    John Demades, who passed away in 2006, submitted his application against Turkey in 1990. His heirs pursued later on the application.

    The decision was held by six votes to one. The Turkish Cypriot judge, representing Turkey, voted against the decision.

    Greek Cypriot lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, described the Court's decision as very important, saying that the decision reaffirms that the Greek Cypriots are the sole owners of their properties in the Turkish occupied areas.

    He added that the Court's decision is important since it gives an estimation of the cost of occupation of the Greek Cypriot properties in Kyrenia.

    Demetriades noted that in case Turkey does not pay the compensation in three months, it will be charged with an additional 8% interest per year.

    Demades' home, a two storage house with garden near the sea, is now occupied by a Turkish high ranking army person. The whole area around the house is a Turkish military zone.

    The Greek Cypriot lawyer expressed the view that the Demades case signals the end of the first round of cases and explained:

    "By this I mean that the Demades case is the third successful case dealing with compensations from Turkey in matters of property rights. The first case was the Loizidou case when the right of property was secured, the second was the Xenidi-Aresti case when the cost of occupation in the fenced off city of Famagusta was determined and the third is the Demades case which determined the cost of occupation in Kyrenia".

    Thirty-two petitions of Greek Cypriot refugees against Turkey have been accepted by the Court and will be examined soon.

    Eight more applications will follow, which, according to Demetriades, are considered as pilot cases which may determine the future of the so called compensation committee, set up in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus and seeking to be considered as an effective domestic remedy to which Greek Cypriots must apply first with regard to claims on their property.

    Apart from the above cases, 1.500 additional petitions are pending before the ECHR. The Court decided to freeze them in view of the decisions to be taken regarding the eight pilot cases, Demetriades said.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [28] Working groups and technical committees begin their work

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working groups and technical committees set up to deal with various aspects of the Cyprus problem began their work on Tuesday.

    Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou told CNA that things went well. "This was the first meeting for all the committees and groups. The impression is that things will go on rather quickly," Iacovou noted, adding that "(the committees and groups) began to discuss the issues, reviewed them and expressed their positions." He also said that United Nations representatives are present in all meetings of the working groups and technical committees.

    Iacovou also said that the technical committees and working groups will meet again on Thursday and after that on April 29, after the Orthodox Easter, 27 April.

    Asked if all technical committees and working groups will convene on the same days, Iacovou said that "they themselves will determine their course."

    The thirteen working groups and technical committees meet at the United Nations Protected Area in the capital Nicosia.

    On March 21st, the two leaders agreed also to meet again in three months to review the work of the working groups and technical committees, the results of which will be used to start negotiations under UN auspices for a solution.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [29] Cyprus FM Kyprianou speaks to ANA-MPA

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos)

    Direct negotiations between Republic of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, preceded by working teams and expert committees from both sides, will be initiated with differences regarding the thorny issues still pending, Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said Tuesday.

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, FM Kyprianou underlined that the position, according to which "the new Cypriot state that will result from a solution should be a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus" constitutes a "red line" for the Greek Cypriot side, one that cannot be crossed. The idea of "parthenogenesis" is categorically rejected, Kyprianou underlined, warning that an effort to reintroduce the Annan Plan will be a setback for negotiations.

    According to the Cypriot FM, the difficult issues in the negotiation are territorial, security guarantees, property, certain points in the constitution, settlers and a return of refugees to their homes.

    Kyprianou declined to comment on whether the Cyprus government will accept a solution guaranteed by Turkey and whether the return of Greek Cypriots to the closed-off area of Famagusta will be a priority issue in negotiations.

    However, he stated that it is "unacceptable for an EU member-state to need guarantees from third countries", adding that the position according to which "the issue of Famagusta can be resolved before a comprehensive solution is reached in the Cyprus issue" still stands.

    The Cypriot FM also explained that in the March 21 agreement between Christofias and Talat no reference was made to a solution on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation because the agreement text was aimed at opening the negotiation process, pointing out that the content of negotiations will be shaped in the process, whereas, "our position on the form of the solution is very clear".

    Kyprianou stressed that the March 21 agreement is a follow-up to the July 8 agreement, adding that the Cypriot position is that the basis of a solution has to be a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation guaranteeing political equality as defined by the UN resolutions.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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