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Athens News Agency: News in English, 03-06-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Three EU summit aims achieved, Simitis says
  • [02] Simitis: Iraq crisis the worst faced by Union during his tenure
  • [03] EU Council: Commissioner Patten on EU-Western Balkans ties
  • [04] DM Papantoniou to pay official visit to Russia next week

  • [01] Three EU summit aims achieved, Simitis says

    20/06/2003 23:50:08

    The three aims set for the European Union Thessaloniki summit were achieved, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday, following the conclusion of the meetings of the second and final day of the summit.

    He stressed that the work of the Convention for the future of Europe was completed, as the European draft Constitution was presented, despite the fact that only days ago several officials expressed their reservations over the possibility of success concerning the issue.

    Simitis stressed that the success in accomplishing this task was due exclusively to the work of the Greek presidency, adding that in addition to achieving the goal a timetable for the further processes was decided.

    The second aim which was achieved, he said, was the formulation of a common policy on immigration and asylum for refugees, noting that the problem was the funding for this policy and the forms of cooperation with third countries, so that they may implement the agreements. He added that the 15 also decided on the best possible coordination between member-states in efforts to combat the phenomenon of illegal immigration.

    Simitis also referred to the third aim of the summit, which was the formulation of a European common position on issues of defense and security on the basis of a proposal drafted by EU high representative for defense Javier Solana.

    He noted that Solana presented the text, but underlined that discussions on this issue will continue until December, when, during the Italian EU presidency a more extensive and detailed text might be presented.

    Evaluating the Greek EU presidency, Simitis said that the past six months were rather difficult, since the presidency was marked by the Iraq crisis, adding that no other presidency had to deal with such a crisis.

    [02] Simitis: Iraq crisis the worst faced by Union during his tenure

    20/06/2003 23:49:58

    Greek Prime Minister and outgoing EU president-in-office Costas Simitis on Friday referred to ''a good day for the European Union'' near the conclusion of the Thessaloniki Summit, citing agreement over a draft plan for a nascent European constitution as well as substantive deliberations over the all-important immigration issue.

    His third reference was over the Solana plan outlining a common foreign policy and defence strategy for the expanded European Union.

    Simitis, with European Commission President Romano Prodi and High Commissioner Javier Solana at his side, also stressed that the Iraq crisis was the worst the Union has faced during the eight years he has been the prime minister of Greece.

    [03] EU Council: Commissioner Patten on EU-Western Balkans ties

    20/06/2003 23:48:45

    European Union External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten on Friday stressed here that ''the destiny of the people of southeast Europe is membership with the EU'', one day before a EU-Western Balkans Summit is set to follow the ongoing Thessaloniki EU Council.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the EU Council, Patten emphasized that the sessions held at the Porto Carras resort will demonstrate to the Western Balkan leaderships that the stabilization and association agreements that achieved long-sought-after EU accession for central and eastern European states are ''exactly the same'' for them.

    ''Of course, they have to make changes on their part and should continue the economic and political reform on which they embarked. But we wish to be more hands-on in helping them with that process; and we proposed that we should turn the annual assessments on the progress they make on economic and political reform into partnerships,'' Patten said during a press conference.

    Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are currently considered candidate-states, while once strife-plagued western Balkan countries, particularly Croatia, have recently pushed for a firm path towards eventual EU accession.

    [04] DM Papantoniou to pay official visit to Russia next week

    20/06/2003 23:47:28

    Greece's defence minister Yannos Papantoniou will pay an official visit to Russia next week, that national defence ministry announced on Friday.

    Papantoniou, who leaves Sunday for Moscow on a six-day visit to Russia, will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Ivanov and with the chairman of the Russian Federation's defence committee Nikolaev, for talks focussing on bilateral defence and military cooperation, EU-Russia relations, and NATO-Russia relations.

    Papantoniou will further meet with the chairman of the Russian Duma, Selezniov, as well as with the Russian president's representative V. Matvienko in St. Petersburg, where he will also attend the inauguration of an international shipping exhibition.

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