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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM Bakoyannis meets with Serbian leaders during Balkan tour
  • [02] Govt unveils 210-mln-euro plan for SMEs
  • [03] Gov't says it told all on phone-tap controversy

  • [01] FM Bakoyannis meets with Serbian leaders during Balkan tour

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with Serbian President Boris Tandic and her counterpart Vuk Draskovic in Belgrade on Thursday, the second stop on her Balkan tour. Earlier in the day she held talks in Sarajevo with Bosnian leaders.

    During their meeting, Tandic expressed his country's willingness to cooperate with the International Criminal Court regarding the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia.

    Regarding Kosovo, he reiterated Serbia's opposition to the region's fragmentation. Instead, Serbia is in favour of preserving the territorial inegrity, protecting the rights of the Serbian minority and Serbian monuments, he said.

    Tandic also commented on the newly-elected President of Kosovo, Agim Ceku, former leader of UCK, saying that while there is no reason to have so many generals in politics, nonetheless Serbia does not judge Albania's choices and is willing to negotiate.

    However, he did say that for negotiations to proceed Serbia wishes to negotiate directly with the Albanian side.

    Referring to the upcoming referendum regarding the fate of Serbia-Montenegro, Tandic requested that the Organisatioon for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) be present to ensure that the democratic process is followed and that all political forces will respect the outcome regardless what it is.

    On her part, Bakoyannis expressed Greece's support for Serbia-Montenegro's EU prospects.

    As for Kosovo, she said that Athens views it within the context of trying to maintain peace and security in the region.

    She also stressed the need for a solution agreed upon by both sides, adding that "history has proven that imposed solutions are not viable."

    Furthermore, Bakoyannis said she disagreed with the tight deadlines imposed for finding a solution and said that protection of minority rights should go without saying.

    The Greek minister hailed the agreement for Montenegro's referendum stressing the need for the democratic process to be safeguarded and that it should be conducted under the EU's supervision so that the outcome is not disputed.

    She also underscored the fact that Greece can contribute effectively to security and stability in the region.

    During her meeting with Draskovic, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece's support for the country's EU aspirations, adding that an EU future means stability and economic prosperity for the peoples of the West Balkans.

    On his part, Draskovic said that his country needs to work towards overcoming the obstacles as it tries to join the EU and reiterated the need for the legal rights of the Serbian minority in Kosovo to be safeguarded.

    While in Belgrade, Bakoyannis also met with President of Serbia-Montenegro Svetozar Marovic and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

    The Greek minister will be visiting Kosovo on Friday.

    Earlier in the day, Bakoyiannis began her Balkan tour from Sarajevo, saying that the situation in the Balkans and the European rapprochement of countries in the region is extremely important for Greece.

    "It is not by chance that I chose that my first official bilateral contacts take place in the region," she said after meeting the Foreign Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mladen Ivanic, adding that many possibilities exist for widening bilateral economic cooperation.

    Bakoyiannis also referred to the Greek programme for supporting Bosnia-Herzegovina, amounting to 35 million euros over the next two years.

    Regarding the issue of visas, she said that unimpeded contact between students, academics and businessmen in the region is important.

    Ivanic expressed his satisfaction over support offered to his country by Greece and spoke warmly about the decision taken by the European Council in Thessaloniki on the European course of the western Balkans.

    "Greece has offered a great deal to Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the greatest contrubution being the paving of the way to the European Union during the Greek Presidency," Ivanic said.

    The two foreign ministers further spoke of prospects of developing economic cooperation and, referring to the economic forum to be organised in Sarajevo shortly with the participation of Greek businessmen, they expressed the hope that possibilities of new investments will be ascertained.

    Later on, the foreign minister held successive meetings with the President of the Ministerial Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina Adnan Terzic and with the representative of the EU Cristian Schwarz-Schilling, while also visiting the building of "common institutions" which is being renovated with development aid funds of the Greek foreign ministry.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] Govt unveils 210-mln-euro plan for SMEs

    The Greek government on Thursday announced a programme, worth 210 million euros, to offer financial support to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the sectors of manufacturing and tourism. Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis presented the plan.

    The programme, to be covered by both national and community funds, will offer subsidies ranging from 43-50 percent to investment plans, with SMEs having to cover at least 25 percent of the money needed.

    The announcement covers both old and new enterprises and all investment plans covering equipment supply, facilities' improvement and improving product quality.

    Presenting the plan, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the government's main priority was to support small- and medium-sized enterprises through subsidies, a new development law and a tax reform programme.

    Under the programme, Greek banks will have full responsibility to evaluate, approve and handout money to SMEs, with the Greek state supervising the procedures.

    Alogoskoufis said the new programme ensured speedier services to enterprises.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [03] Gov't says it told all on phone-tap controversy

    The government on Thursday insisted that it had "revealed all" concerning the illegal phone-tap affair, in the face of press reports suggesting U.S. involvement and a cover-up on the part of the government.

    "The Greek government said all it has to say about the phone-taps to justice and then made all the evidence at its disposal public," Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed.

    The spokesman was replying to questions about an article in the Greek daily "Eleftherotypia" - which in turn cited an article written by former U.S. diplomat John Brady Kiesling in the American political review "The Nation". According to Kiesling, the illegal phone-taps have all the hallmarks of a CIA operation, while he surmises that U.S. Ambassador to Greece Tom Miller was forced to go along with what was presented as a covert operation to prevent terrorism.

    At another point, Kiesling also suggests that the Greek government knows who was responsible but is not anxious to trigger an open rift with Washington.

    The government spokesman, on his part, said that there was no need for the Greek government to take a position concerning Kiesling's article, given that "the American diplomat in question was not an employee of the Greek government."

    Kiesling was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Greece when he retired in 2003, in protest over the U.S. war on Iraq.

    "The investigation is ongoing and is being carried out in depth," the spokesman noted in response to other questions.

    "There is no doubt that the target of the phone taps was the prime minister and top members of the government. This is indisputable. And the government has done what is required by the Constitution, the laws and its duty," Antonaros stressed.

    In early February, the Greek government had revealed that some 100 mobile phones, including those of the prime minister and five members of cabinet, as well as top echelons of the police and armed forces, had been illegally tapped for nearly a year before the surveillance was discovered and that a subsequent 11-month investigation had failed to trace the culprits responsible.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

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