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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-14

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Serbia-Montenegro FM says Belgrade will recognise name emanating from Greece-FYROM negotiations
  • [02] FM Molyviatis briefs prime minister on Ankara talks, comments on Imia incident
  • [03] Turkish warplanes violate national air space
  • [04] Finmin sees shipowners eyeing tourism investment

  • [01] Serbia-Montenegro FM says Belgrade will recognise name emanating from Greece-FYROM negotiations

    The foreign minister of Serbia-Montenegro on Thursday echoed official statements by Europe and Washington by stressing that Belgrade will recognise any name derived from negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter's name.

    SCG FM Vuk Draskovic arrived in Athens on Thursday for talks with Greek leadership, including President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his counterpart, Petros Molyviatis.

    His visit comes less than a week after a UN special mediator presented a high-profile proposal to settle the 15-year-old "name issue" still separating Athens and Skopje, with "Republika Makedonija - Skopje" (without translation) serving as the primary feature of the proposal.

    "What's needed is courage and determination to change what we can and must change; patience for things we cannot change and the wisdom to distinguish between the two," Draskovic said in paraphrasing a popular saying, and following consecutive meetings with Greek leadership.

    In reference to the thorny Kosovo issue -- which again appeared on the international diplomatic scene over the past month or so -- repeated Belgrade's policy of "something more than autonomy and less than independence".

    Nevertheless, he underlined that there is no chance of returning to the "extremist positions of 1999".

    Draskovic called for guarantees to ensure the safe return of 200,000 Serbian refugees to the currently UN-administered province, European standards of democracy and protection of churches and monasteries -- as the latter have been repeatedly targeted in recent years by Albanian separatists in the region.

    As far as Belgrade's EU prospects are concerned, Draskovic welcomed the recent positive report by the European Commission, adding that Serbia-Montenegro now has absolutely "no reason for delay or failure" in its course towards Europe. He also thanked Athens for its support on the issue.

    On his part, Greek Foreign Minister Molyviatis reiterated Athens' readiness and sincere volition to negotiate a settlement to the "name issue" on the basis of a proposal set out by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.

    He also expressed a conviction that a mutually acceptable solution will have beneficial effects for the entire region.

    Regarding Kosovo, Molyviatis reiterated that Greece supports the position that Serbia-Montenegro must have the opportunity to chart a stable course towards Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    "Such a course would positively influence developments in Kosovo. What is of supreme importance is the ever-growing response to criteria for democratic and effective governance, as well as to respect for minority rights, ones that have been set as conditions by the international community," the Greek minister said.

    [02] FM Molyviatis briefs prime minister on Ankara talks, comments on Imia incident

    Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday briefed prime minister Costas Karamanlis on the outcome of his visit to Ankara earlier this week, noting that the visit had been 'good and productive'.

    Replying to press questions after the meeting, criticising him for not walking out of the talks on Tuesday with Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul due to the incident at Imia islets, Molyviatis said that: "If I had left, there would have ensued a rapid deterioration in Greek-Turkish relations, and we would have had a serious crisis, whereas, with our handling, a potential incident was defused, and there is calm".

    Molyviatis, who returned to Athens on Wednesday from his working visit to Ankara, said that all the proper steps/handling had been taken, and that a demarche was also lodged with the Turkish side.

    A Turkish coast guard patrol boat violated Greek territorial waters and approached the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean early on Tuesday, and a Greek fisherman also informed the Greek coast guard that the captain of the Turkish vessel requested that he leave the sea region. The Turkish vessel was shadowed by a Greek coast guard patrol boat and, further away, by a Hellenic Navy vessel.

    The incident coincided with Molyviatis' arrival in Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership.

    Shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, a second Turkish coast guard vessel violated Greek territorial waters and approached the Imia islets, replacing the first Turkish vessel, which left the region after sailing around Imia for 12 hours, as the Greek coastguard and Navy boats continued to monitor the situation.

    The second Turkish patrol boat remained near Imia, inside Greek territorial waters, overnight, before leaving the area at roughly 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

    The rocky outcrops near the "sponge divers' " island of Kalymnos -- identified on international maritime maps as the Imia islets -- brought Greek-Turkish relations to a nadir in January 1996 when the government of then Turkish premier Tansu Ciller disputed Athens' sovereignty over the islets and the surrounding sea region.

    To questions on the FYROM name issue, Molyviatis said he was in favour of the commencement of negotiations on the basis of a recent proposal put forward by UN special mediator on the issue, Matthew Nimetz. He said that everyone had the right to put forward his criticism, but stressed that the government's handling of the matter was correct.

    He further stressed that Greece had succeeded in reversing the adverse climate against Greece, for the first time, adding that "we are not responsible for the failure in finding a solution".

    [03] Turkish warplanes violate national air space

    Turkish waplanes violated national air space and flew over the islets of Kalogiri and past the Andros firing range on Thursday, continuing illegal activities over the Aegean.

    According to National Defence General Staff sources, 32 Turkish warplanes flew over the Aegean without submitting flight plans (13 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight information Region were recorded) and in 21 cases they violated national air space in the northern and central Aegean.

    The sources said that formations of Turkish aircraft flew over the islets of Kalogiri at altitudes of 500, 1,000 and 14,000 feet in the morning as well as in the afternoon.

    They added that six formations passed from the south of the Andros firing range. The firing range has been activated due to the navy's exercise codenamed "Kategis", but at the time there was no activity by the fleet's ships.

    In all cases the Turkish warplanes were recognised and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in two cases the interception process developed into mock dogfights.

    It was revealed that three of the Turkish aircraft were armed.

    [04] Finmin sees shipowners eyeing tourism investment

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday that he believed shipowners were interested in investing part of their capital outside the sector, including tourism.

    "Many Greek shipowners wish to invest a large part of their capital in other forms of business, outside their traditional field. Their main orientation is towards investments in tourism, where they face major problems due to a lack of clarity in the legislation, delays in decision-making, excessive bureaucracy etc," Alogoskoufis told a meeting of the Piraeus Marine Club.

    "These are problems that a ministerial committee have been looking at in order to find a solution," he said.

    The finance and merchant marine ministers are to meet on Friday to discuss shipping.

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