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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-03-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bakoyannis on meeting US Sec't of State
  • [02] PM meets Buckovski in Brussels
  • [03] Bakoyannis meets U.S. President at White House
  • [04] President at schools' Independence Day Parade

  • [01] Bakoyannis on meeting US Sec't of State

    WASHINGTON (ANA/MPA - A. Ellis) Clarifying points raised during her earlier meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday denied that the Annan plan was "history", saying that the U.N. Secretary-General's proposals should form part of new initiatives for Cyprus.

    "A new initiative for the Cyprus issue must be based on the ideas of the U.N. Secretary-General, on the European reality in which Cyprus has been living for the past two years and which has created an entirely different dynamic and, of course, the decisions of the United Nations over the past years," she told Greek journalists at a press conference held in the Greek Embassy.

    She was responding to questions that noted the lack of references to the Annan plan by either herself or Rice during their joint statements.

    In opening remarks to reporters, Bakoyannis said her U.S. visit was an opportunity to renew and update the "historic relationship" between Greece and the United States, while noting that a number of important developments had occurred since the last visit by her predecessor Petros Molyviatis, such as the start of talks on the future of Kosovo or EU decisions regarding the western Balkans.

    She said the talks had also covered more general world affairs, including Iran and Iraq and relations between Islam and the West, that were also of concern to Europe.

    The minister, as Rice had done in their earlier joint statements, pointed out that Greece has traditionally good relations with the Moslem world that were the oldest in Europe.

    On this issue, Bakoyannis refuted that references to Greece's relationship with the Moslem world during the meeting were linked to a future U.S. request to step up Greece's contribution to the forces in Afghanistan.

    "The issue was not put in this way....I told you earlier that Greece has traditionally good ties with the Arab world but also a deep understanding of the Arab world," Bakoyannis said.

    The minister pointed out that in a recent opinion poll concerning the Prophet Mohammed cartoons, Greece was the only European country where 75 per cent had said that press freedom must be combined with respect for the symbols of other religions, and that the country's strength lay in its ability to understand and talk to Islamic public opinion.

    "This is, if you like, our comparative advantage relative to other countries that have difficulty exactly understanding the way Moslem societies think," she said.

    Regarding the "strategic partnership" referred to by Rice and the areas where the views of Greece and the United States converged or disagreed, Bakoyannis said there were many points in common but also issues on which Athens and Washington did not agree.

    She spoke about a 'widespread concern' regarding the future of Kosovo and developments there, noting that Greece supported the talks being mediated by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

    "There are questions, however, regarding what prospects this will have for the Balkans overall, what influence this will have on Serbia and what situation is arising in the region. There is an open discussion, where we had the opportunity to present our views," Bakoyannis said, while she underscored that Greece was an important country in the area as the sole member of both the NATO and the EU in the region, as well as having significant economic interests.

    As an example of areas where the two countries did not agree, the Greek minister pointed to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which Washington had recognised with the name 'Macedonia' in spite of Greek objections.

    "As you can see, on this we disagree. From there on, in a mature relationship there are always issues that we see differently and matters on which we cooperate," she said.

    Asked if she had raised issues concerning Greece's relations with Turkey and Turkish hostility, Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece supported Turkey's European prospects, on condition that Turkey met its obligations as a candidate-member of the EU.

    "I don't think I am in a position to tell you the American position but our position is clear. Turkey's European prospects pass through the requirements and commitments it has undertaken toward the EU," the minister stressed.

    Bakoyannis said the issues of scrapping visa requirements for Greeks visiting the U.S. had also been raised, though she did not expect immediate results on this issue.

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

    [02] PM meets Buckovski in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA/MPA - A. Panagopoulos) Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Vlado Buckovski on Friday morning in Brussels, while in the city to attend the EU leaders' summit.

    The meeting was requested by Buckovski and lasted 20 minutes, covering bilateral relations and the difference between Athens and Skopje over FYROM's name.

    In statements afterwards, Buckovski said that this was the first friendly meeting between prime ministers of their two countries and that Greece was among the staunchest supporters of FYROM's efforts to become an EU candidate-member.

    "We will continue to promote our candidacy for NATO entry, so that we finally become a full member in 2008," he added.

    Buckovski also underlined his belief in the need for close political ties between Greece and FYROM.

    Referring to the dispute with Greece over the republic's adopted name of Macedonia - which Greece objects to as historically misleading and a potential lever for expansionist claims against its own northern province of the same name - Buckovski said the two countries would continue to build mutual understanding on the sole open difference between them.

    He also noted that "new challenges" in this direction would arise after the general elections held in Greece's tiny northern neighbour.

    According to diplomatic sources, Karamanlis underlined that Greece considers finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue to be one of the conditions for FYROM's prospects of joining the EU.

    The same sources said the talks between the two men covered the situation in Kosovo and Balkan affairs and that their positions on this issue are quite close. They also noted that Greece is FYROM's top partner for trade and foreign investments and wishes to continue improving relations between the two countries.

    Regarding the country's accession to NATO, there will be no problem if this is done with the name FYROM, diplomats said.

    In statements to reporters later on Friday, Karamanlis repeated Greece's support for FYROM's European prospects but said that this was inseparably linked with fulfilling specific criteria and prerequisites demanded by the EU, among them that of finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.

    The Greek prime minister said that Greece was unquestionably in favour of establishing the stability of security and prosperity in the Balkan region.

    He pointed out that bilateral relations with FYROM were already extremely close in the economic sector, that Greek investments in that country represented the most important group of foreign investments and that important opportunities for the future were emerging.

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

    [03] Bakoyannis meets U.S. President at White House

    WASHINGTON (ANA/MPA - A. Ellis) - In statements after a brief meeting with United States President George Bush on Friday, just before an event in honour of Greek Independence Day at the White House, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said the meeting wrapped up her visit to Washington and stressed the significance of the U.S. decision to honour the Greek holiday.

    "It is very important that America honours Greece and the Greek revolution, and through the Greek revolution honours the principles and values that this revolution served. This was also the content of my private talks with President Bush, the recognition of Greece as a symbol, as a country that honours democratic values and civilisation. It is, of course, the birthplace of democracy but it is also today an example of a modern European country that acts as a model for democracy for an entire region," Bakoyannis said.

    She said her trip to Washington had "gone exceptionally well" and had given her an opportunity to outline the full range of Greek positions and views to her U.S. counterparts, noting that she would continue her efforts in New York.

    A little earlier, Bakoyannis had a meeting at the White House with the president's Assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Fragos Townsend.

    Bakoyannis will represent the Greek government at the special White House ceremony for the Greek Independence Day holiday, also attended by U.S. President George Bush and will then depart for New York, where she is due to meet the U.N. mediator for the Macedonia issue Matthew Nimetz, Archbishop Demetrios and celebrate the March 25 Independence Day holiday with the Greek-American community over the weekend.

    On Monday she will take part in a Security Council debate on Haiti organised by Argentina and will then be received by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss issues concerning the UN.

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

    [04] President at schools' Independence Day Parade

    The schools' Independence Day parade to mark the March 25 national holiday was held in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday in Athens.

    This was the first time in the annals of the parade that it was attended by the president of the country, in a move seen to give powerful symbolism to the parade by Greece's young people.

    "We must surround youth with confidence and love and give strength to their vision to change the world," Papoulias said.

    The parade was also attended by Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou.

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


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