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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-05-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM cites significant progress within SEECP framework; Croatia assumes helm
  • [02] Papandreou slams gov'ts 'poor assessment'
  • [03] Greece, Bahrain sign shipping agreement
  • [04] Patriarch addresses NATO Med dialogue seminar

  • [01] FM cites significant progress within SEECP framework; Croatia assumes helm

    "Impressive progress was made within the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) framework while the ongoing summit constitutes a qualitative and quantitative leap," Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told a press conference after member-states' foreign ministers met in Thessaloniki on Wednesday.

    Athens' SEECP chairmanship was characterized as very positive, and in passing the chairmanship to Croatia, Bakoyannis said that during its six-month presidency the Greek government moved along two interdependent axes: the strengthening of good-neighborly relations and regional cooperation as well as the European prospect of the southeast European countries.

    Bakoyannis said a decision on the signing of a free trade agreement concerning the non-EU members was reached in the foreign ministers' meeting to replace a complex network of 31 bilateral free trade agreements.

    The foreign ministers also concluded that implementation of the "Thessaloniki Agenda", adopted in the EU Summit in Halkidiki in June 2003 on the European prospect of Western Balkans, should become more productive.

    Bakoyannis stressed that the institutional upgrading of the SEECP is necessary and underlined that the European Union and the European Commission should offer this opportunity to the SEECP, given the imminent changes in the Stability Pact for Southeast Europe. The establishment of a SEECP Secretariat is placed within this framework.

    According to the Declaration signed by the foreign ministers, a formal liaison is established between the SEECP and the EU, while the Croatian presidency will undertake to define its responsibilities.

    The foreign ministers also discussed the development of energy and road networks in southeast Europe, as member-states' transport ministers will sign an agreement on Thursday to upgrade rail networks.

    Caption: SEECP members' foreign ministers' pose for the customary 'family portrait' in Thessaloniki on Wednesday, May 3, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / P. Makridis.

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

    [02] Papandreou slams gov'ts 'poor assessment'

    Main opposition PASOK party president George Papandreou on Wednesday accused the government of being unable to assess correctly crucial developments at a domestic, regional or global level.

    Speaking at the party‚s Parliamentary Group Coordinators‚ meeting, Papandreou expressed concern over the outcome of a meeting between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Thessaloniki on Thursday and stressed that Greek-Turkish and EU-Turkey relations have deteriorated over the past two years.

    According to PASOK's leader, the prime minister and his government have missed two major historic opportunities to lay strong foundations for Turkey‚s European course. Within this framework, Papandreou added, Greece could have raised important national interest issues, such as the Cyprus issue and bilateral relations, in a correct and binding way.

    "We expected from this government and Karamanlis himself to continue our successful Helsinki policy. We had managed to turn these issues into European issues. Today, the government and Karamanlis managed to turn them into bilateral issues and recently brought back the United States in the role of the main mediator in our relations with Turkey," he said.

    Referring to the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme, the president of PASOK said that his party, since the days of its founder Andreas Papandreou, had adopted a clear position against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in favor of limiting the existing nuclear arsenal characterizing the spread of weapons of mass destruction as one of the major threats for states and peoples.

    "We support a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the problem through multilateral consultation based on international law", said Papandreou, adding that the issue is part of an ambient confrontational atmosphere existing between the West and Islam.

    Greece can play a very important role in this emerging conflict because of its age-long relations with the countries in the region and can build a bridge of understanding linking the West with the Arab and Muslim countries, he said.

    The PASOK leader also said that international events affect the everyday life of Greek citizens and stressed that everybody is currently watching their income shrink and becoming witnesses of unlawful profiteering.

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

    [03] Greece, Bahrain sign shipping agreement

    Greece and Bahrain on Wednesday signed a bilateral shipping agreement aimed to facilitate shipping between the two states.

    The agreement was signed by Greek Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Bahrain's National Economy and Finance Minister Sheikh Ahmad bin Muhammed Al Khalifa, in the presence of Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Bahrain Monarch Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

    The agreement envisions favoured state status, free access to international cargo, abolition of all obstacles to sea trade, along with easy access and docking of ships.

    The agreement also provides to facilitate entry and stay of merchant seamen in both countries, while offering national assistance in cases of maritime accidents in either country's territorial waters.

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

    [04] Patriarch addresses NATO Med dialogue seminar

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Wednesday welcomed the presence of more predominately Orthodox Christian countries in the NATO alliance, while addressing the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's 12th Mediterranean Dialogue Seminar, currently being held in Istanbul.

    "NATO has more Orthodox Christians in southeast Europe after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania," he said.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch also challenged the notion that a "clash of civilizations" was unavoidable: "We who live at a crossroads are living proof that different religions and cultures can co-exist in peace," he added.

    Bartholomew stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a special responsibility to help in the mutual understanding of East and West.

    "We also have a presence in both worlds. We have witnessed great pain on both sides, like in Baghdad today, but we have also witnessed some of the most extraordinary acts of tolerance, like the reception of the persecuted Jews in 1492 by a Muslim sultan."

    ANA-MPA file photo / D. Panagos.

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

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