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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] OECD-DAC chairman briefed on Greek aid programme
  • [02] PM, transport minister discuss OA
  • [03] FM Bakoyannis calls for 'cautious targets'
  • [04] Greek, Bulgarian DMs meet in Sofia

  • [01] OECD-DAC chairman briefed on Greek aid programme

    The chair of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Richard Manning visited the Greek foreign ministry in Athens on Monday for a mutual briefing on developmental aid programmes being carried out by Greece and the DAC. Meeting Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, Manning noted that Greece had notable developmental activity in its immediate neighbourhood, the Balkans and the Black Sea that is viewed positively by the DAC. Stylianidis said that Greece has granted developmental aid to 46 countries, with the associated spending approaching 0.23 percent of GDP - which was the European rate - or 464 million per year. "The meeting with Mr. Manning gave us the opportunity to present the Greek contribution and plan new initiatives with the DAC, which will allow us to express our humanity to countries in need," Stylianidis later told reporters.

    After meeting Stylianidis, Manning had a meeting with ministry staff and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The meeting was also attended by the foreign ministry's newly appointed General Secretary for International Economic Relations and Developmental Cooperation Theodoros Skylakakis, who made his first official appearance in his new post.

    Manning, on his part, stressed the need for effective management of international developmental aid, stressing the special role that can be played by the local institutions within the aid-receiving country and calling for best possible coordination between aid donors and receivers.

    Monday's briefing was part of a procedure to monitor Greece's implementation of the commitments it undertook in the developmental aid sector leading up to November, when Greece will be subjected to a Peer Review in 2004 and 2005 in Paris, which this year will be carried out by New Zealand and Luxembourg. This is the second Peer Review for Greece since it joined the DAC.

    (Caption: Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis (L) meets OECD-DAC chairman Richard Manning (R) in Athens on Monday.)

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

    [02] PM, transport minister discuss OA

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis at his office for talks focusing directly on the issue of debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) and implementation of recent legislation aimed at reforming several state-run utilities and enterprises (DEKO) under the transport ministry's jurisdiction.

    Afterwards, Liapis told reporters that the government is again considering the creation of a new company for beleaguered OA, a new company able to operate under private sector criteria and management. He added that a draft proposal will soon be tabled with the European Commission.

    The European Court of Justice in February 2005 ruled that Greece had not taken all measures necessary to secure repayment of aid granted to Olympic Airways over several years in the 1990s, while also noting that such aid was incompatible with the common market -- a ruling that concluded a case brought by the European Commission against Athens. The ruling subsequently added urgency to efforts by the new Karamanlis government to end years of loss-making performances by the bloated national carrier.

    The case stemmed from a European Commission decision in 1998 approving aid granted by a PASOK government under Costas Simitis for OA's restructuring between 1998-2002.

    In 2002 the Commission initiated a further procedure on grounds that the restructuring plan had been applied and that certain conditions envisaged in the decision approving the aid had not been met. As the information supplied by Greece was judged as inadequate, the Commission then pointed to an infringement, claiming, furthermore, that more aid being pumped into the state-run airline company.

    Regarding the DEKO law, Liapis said the government will soon begin talks with relevant employees' unions in order to begin reforms, while he stressed that whatever changes aren't aimed chipping away at employees' rights or benefits but at improving conditions and especially state-run companies' often dire finances.

    Finally, he said a report by an ad hoc committee of university professors regarding telecoms security will be released this week.

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

    [03] FM Bakoyannis calls for 'cautious targets'

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in Brussels on Monday said that EU leaders should be cautious in setting targets for implementing the Lisbon Strategy when they meet for the EU summit later this week. Bakoyannis is currently in Brussels to represent Greece at the EU Council of Foreign Ministers.

    Specifically, Bakoyannis said that it would be better not to set "quantitative targets" which might be difficult to implement immediately.

    She also noted that there was currently no agreement between EU member-states on this issue, while expressing hope that a "golden mean" for achieving agreement might be found at the Summit.

    Regarding the European prospects of the western Balkans, which were discussed by EU foreign ministers on Monday, Bakoyannis stressed that the message sent by the EU must be clear:

    "Serbia needs the support of the EU, so that positive messages for the future will be written in the new page that is now turning," the Greek minister told the Council, while underlining that there could be no stability in the Balkans if Serbia was unstable.

    Regarding the situation in Kosovo, Bakoyannis stressed the need for a policy that provided protection for minorities.

    She also noted Greece's support for the liberalisation of EU visa policies for western Balkan countries that is supported by EU enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

    Stressing that this was more a political than technical issue, Bakoyannis said that the EU should open avenues of communication with the people of western Balkan states.

    On the sidelines of the ministers' council, Bakoyannis held meetings with EU Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas and the Commissioner for Administrative Affairs, Audit and Anti-Fraud Siim Kallas, in order to discuss the promotion of Greek candidates to the higher echelons of Community hierarchy.

    "The Greek presence in the EU is excellent from the point of view of quality," Bakoyannis noted, while stressing that the Greek foreign ministry will do its utmost to support the chances of able Greeks to take over higher positions within the EU.

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

    [04] Greek, Bulgarian DMs meet in Sofia

    Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, speaking at a joint press conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Vesselin Bliznakov at the end of their talks in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Monday, said the creation of the Regular Combat Formation is a very important issue and that, apart from its operational dimension, this European Union formation also has great political significance.

    The Bulgarian minister stressed the importance given by his country in participating in the European formation. Bliznakov said it is a new considerable direction in traditional defence cooperation between the two countries which has been continuing successfully for 20 years.

    Bliznakov also expressed his country's appreciation for Greece's steadfast support for Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union, pointing out that Greece was among the first member-states to ratify the Accession Treaty of Bulgaria and Romania.

    Meimarakis said he was pleased with the very good level of bilateral relations and with dynamic defence cooperation, adding that the bilateral programme being carried out by the two ministries this year is the widest that Greece is implementing with another country.

    Replying to a question on the plan to purchase 30 new combat aircraft, Meimarakis said the government will be examining both the defence and economic parametres before taking its final decision.

    "According to the laws of our country and serving our defence potential and after we examine all parametres and following the proposal by the air force general staff, we will hold discussions at the collective government bodies and take the final decision. Always with national interest as the criterion, as every country does," Meimarakis said.

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


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