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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-11
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Greek and Bulgarian presidents meet in Thessaloniki, reaffirm good bilateral relationsGreek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov on Monday reaffirmed the good bilateral relations between Greece and Bulgaria during a meeting in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
Noting the desire of the Greek and Bulgarian leadership to continually develop bilateral relations for the benefit of both countries, they also hailed the signature of an agreement for the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline that is due to take place in Sofia on Tuesday.
Apart from bilateral relations, the two men also discussed the situation in the surrounding regions, with Papoulias stressing the importance friendship, as a basis for growth, cooperation and peaceful coexistence, for all nations in the Balkans.
Parvanov thanked Papoulias for the assistance Greece had offered Bulgaria in its bid to join NATO and the EU, describing Greece as a key economic partner and investor in his country. He expressed hope that bilateral efforts to open two new border crossings on the Greek-Bulgarian border will soon yield results.
Parvanov also extended an invitation to the Greek president to attend a Balkan cultural forum that will take place in the Bulgarian city of Varna in May, which Papoulias accepted.
After their talks, the two presidents sat down to dinner and are due to depart for Athens and Sofia, respectively, at 15:30.
Parvanov had been in Thessaloniki since Sunday night and visited the city's Byzantine and war museums prior to the meeting.
 Athens warns against failure to solve 'name issue'The Greek foreign ministry on Monday again noted that failure to resolve the "name issue" still plaguing Athens and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) would in the future make it "impossible for any Greek Parliament to ratify international documents containing a name we do not accept..."
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos made the statement in answer to press questions focusing on the most recent diplomatic flurry to resolve the "name issue" vis-a-vis the neighboring state's European prospects.
A high-profile proposal to resolve the difference, presented by UN special media Matthew Nimetz to both Athens and Skopje late last week, dominated local news coverage over the weekend, generating reactions by political leaders and analysts.
Nimetz proposed, among others, the name of "Republika Makedonija - Skopje" as the official name of the neighboring state, an idea that Athens said was a "good basis for negotiations" and one that Koumoutsakos added "contains points that need clarification and modification."
"An extension of this outstanding issue, following a possible refusal by one side to negotiate, creates certain conditions and a specific political reality," Koumoutsakos said in qualifying his statement about Greek Parliament's future reaction.
In a related development, he stressed that the government did not conceal any portions of the Nimetz proposal.
"The foreign minister, with his initiative, briefed political leaders on the Greek government's basic position regarding the core of one proposal, namely, the issue of the name -- and as part of a wider political thinking that involves national consensus," the foreign ministry spokesman said.
Asked repeatedly about a Sunday newspaper article ("Vima") claiming that the proposal contains a provision preventing any country or region from using the term "Macedonia" or "Makedonija" internationally, the spokesman said "any discussion regarding excerpts (of the Nimetz proposal) that were publicised would mean acceptance of portion of a text that cannot be publicised without the consent of the letter's author".
Moreover, he again denied that the foreign ministry concealed any portion of the proposal during political party leaders' briefings. "The text was a proposal by Mr. Nimetz, it was not the final text of a negotiation (process), one which the country acquiesces to and one in which the consensus of political party leaders was sought?" he said.
He added that Skopje's official response is expected after today's (Monday) meeting between Nimetz and FYROM diplomat Nikola Dimitrov.
"Therefore, we're at the beginning of a negotiation," he said, clarifying that this was the reason why Molyviatis did not ask for support from opposition parties.
Regarding Athens' position in the coming period, Koumoutsakos said the government's policy "will be decided at that time -- just as the stance of other partners will be decided -- within a specific environment, with specific assessments and evaluations."
Finally, when queried about the previous government's and former foreign minister (and current main opposition leader) George Papandreou's actions regarding the long-standing "name issue", the spokesman merely noted that the ministry is called upon to "negotiate issues of foreign policy within a framework created over a period of time?"
 Greek FinMin urges for consensus in economic reformsGreek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday urged for the creation of an inter-party commission with the task to promoting the necessary reforms.
Addressing a business conference in Athens, Alogoskoufis said the reforms would have a 10- or 20-year horizon. "We steadily seek consensus and dialogue to enhance promotion of necessary solutions," the Greek minister said adding that the government was taking several measures aimed to improve business activity in the country.
The measures include reforming direct taxation, a new development law, promoting a new generation of privatisations, speedier procedures to implement Third Community Support Framework programmes, a more efficient use of state real estate assets and restructuring Information Society's programmes.
The Greek minister said the government also upgraded the role of External Trade Organisation (OPE), while the Economy, Development and Law ministries were drafting a new bankruptcy legislation in the country. Alogoskoufis said the Development ministry also promoted significant reforms, such as a new regulatory framework for business licensing and strengthening the role of a Competition Commission, while the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry promoted a new legislation over the use of land.
The Greek minister said the government's plan to revive the economy and to make it more competitive, productive and dynamic was clear and predicted that results would be seen in the period 2006-2007.
 Gov't expects rise in tourism from 2005Tourism is expected to rise in coming years starting from 2005, reversing the trend of forecasts for other southern European countries in the European Union, Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday.
The increase, which is also expected to include a quality aspect, will lead to greater foreign exchange inflows from tourism and a resulting boost for state coffers, Avramopoulos told a closed assembly meeting of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.
The government has placed special emphasis on creation of an improved investment environment for tourism, stemming from a new development law, the minister said.
He added that recruitment would begin in coming days for 25 people to staff upgraded bureaus abroad of the Greek National Tourism Organisation.
In a visit to India that ended at the weekend, Avramopoulos informed Indian executives and officials of investment opportunities in Greece.
Forums are to be held in Athens and New Delhi to pave the way for closer cooperation in the sector, with special emphasis on investment.
The minister was in New Delhi as a guest of an ITTC world tourism council summit meeting.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the HATTA trade group of travel agents and its Indian counterpart signed a cooperation agreement in a ceremony attended by Avramopoulos.
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