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ATHENS RETALIATES ON AZERI FLIGHTS TO TRNC

The New Anatolian / Athens TNA, 25 July 2005. Athens decided on Thursday to open offices of a Greek telecommunications company in both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in retaliation for Azerbaijan’s recent decision to begin direct flights to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Athens announced that Intracom, one of the largest telecommunications company operating in Greece, will open offices in Armenia (a state with which Turkey has no official diplomatic relations) and in Nagorno-Karabakh (an Azerbaijani region occupied by Armenia).

Intracom will establish a joint venture with the Armenian telecommunications company Vivacell in an agreement expected to be signed next Tuesday. Intracom will invest 22.8 million euros in Vivacell. The Greek company is expected to open its office in Yerevan before September and is expected to open the office in Nagorno-Karabakh before October.

This is considered to be a retaliatory response to Azerbaijan’s decision to begin direct flights to the TRNC at the end of this month, in a first step towards ending the isolation of the TRNC.

Test flight set for next week

Azerbaijan announced last week that it will begin direct flights between its capital Baku and Nicosia in the TRNC on July 31, and a test flight is set for next Wednesday, July 27.

Added to the start of direct flights between Baku and Nicosia, as part of Azerbaijan’s efforts to help to end the TRNC’s isolation, an eight-member Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation arrived in the TRNC to participate in the Peace and Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday. An Azerbaijani business delegation was scheduled to arrive in the TRNC on Friday to explore avenues of cooperation, especially in the trade, tourism and industry sectors.

Greek Cypriots protest direct flights

The Greek Cypriots expressed their concerns about the start of direct flights to the TRNC during a European Union Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) meeting last week, claiming that such flights are a violation of the sovereignty of an EU member state.

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