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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Barroso praises Greece for devotion to European ideal, integration; backs gov't over measures to meet stability pact target
  • [02] OECD Sec't-Gen. Johnston in Athens this week
  • [03] President Papoulias receives head of Armenian Church of Cilicia
  • [04] PM discusses immigration policy draft law with interior and public order ministers
  • [05] Three arrested, 416 kilos of cannabis seized during Thessaloniki drug bust

  • [01] Barroso praises Greece for devotion to European ideal, integration; backs gov't over measures to meet stability pact target

    EU Commission Jos? Manuel Barroso arrived in Athens on Monday for talks with Greek leadership some 24 hours before Greece's Parliament is expected to ratify the first-ever European Constitution. Barroso was greeted by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for an across-the-board discussion on a variety of issues affecting both the Union, as a whole, and Greece, in particular.

    In statements afterwards, the Portuguese Commission president said the expected ratification by Parliament on Tuesday demonstrates Greece's devotion to the European ideal, European principles and values as well as the east Mediterranean country's contribution to development, progress and European integration.

    Both major parties of the 300-MP Parliament, ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, have publicly expressed their support for the European Constitution, with the latter, however, also requesting a referendum. Conversely, Parliament's two smaller parties, the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) oppose the draft treaty and have demanded a referendum.

    "Greece has contributed to Europe just as Europe has contributed to Greece," Barroso underlined.

    Moreover, the Commission president praised Greece and the Karamanlis government for a series of recent cost-cutting and tax measures aimed at bringing the country back below the stability pact ceiling for budget deficits.

    Barroso nevertheless dismissed a press question hinting that only Greece must submit reports to the EU on finances, as he reminded that all EU members -- not just 'euro-zone' member-states -- must submit such reports, before again praising Athens' recent measures.

    On his part, Karamanlis said talks touched on the Union's fiscal prospects for the 2007-2013 period, as he reiterated that Greece will back a Commission proposal on allocation of CSF funds. Karamanlis called the proposal "balanced" and said it could successfully solve problems related to the different levels of development amongst member-states.

    Furthermore, the Greek premier reminded that Greece, Spain and Portugal are spearheading a common front of 17 member-states to back the proposal.

    Both leaders also commented on Turkey's closely watched European prospects, less than a week after Ankara's military caused another round of tension in the Aegean with repeated airspace violations by warplanes and even violation of Greek territorial waters near the sensitive Imia rock islets. One disquieting aspect of last week's incidents was the fact that they coincided with a working visit by the Greek foreign minister to Turkey for talks with the neighbouring country's top leadership.

    Karamanlis, in fact, stressed that "now is the time for Turkey to prove that it wants to comply with Europe's acquis communautaire and European values, and that it wants to meet criteria as set out at EU Summits."

    Asked about the recent provocations, Barroso repeated that the Union has burdened Turkey with clear-cut conditions on respect of European values and principles as well as the Union's acquis communautaire, which he said are prerequisites for that country's full membership in the European Union.

    Along those lines, he emphasised that "good-neighbourly" relations with EU member-states and candidate-states is one of those conditions.

    "We appreciate the stance shown by the Greek government," Barroso added, while noting that it was in the interests of both Greece and the wider region to have a democratic Turkey in the European family.

    Beyond Turkey, Karamanlis reiterated that Athens is in favor of all Balkan states' European prospects as long as they meet European criteria.

    He also told reporters that he personally briefed Barroso over a recent proposal by UN special representative Matthew Nimetz towards Athens and Skopje for resolving the thorny "name issue" still plaguing bilateral relations between the two Balkan neighbours.

    [02] OECD Sec't-Gen. Johnston in Athens this week

    OECD Secretary-General Donald J. Johnston will arrive in Athens on Tuesday for talks with Greek leadership, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    He is also scheduled to meet with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyanni, among others.

    Johnston's three-day visit to Greece comes after an official invitation by the economy minister.

    [03] President Papoulias receives head of Armenian Church of Cilicia

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I, head of the Catholicosate of Cilicia based in Lebanon.

    This is the fourth visit by the Armenian church leader to Athens, where he will take part in the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy taking place in Athens on the theme: "Nation, Religions and the new European Reality".

    Catholicos Aram I, who is also president of the World Council of Churches, celebrated his 10th anniversary as head of the Armenian Church of Cilicia in Athens last Saturday, as well as the 75th anniversary since the foundation of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon and serving the needs of the Armenian diaspora.

    [04] PM discusses immigration policy draft law with interior and public order ministers

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis discussed the draft law on immigration policy with Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis at the Maximos Mansion on Monday.

    The law will be examined during an inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

    Pavlopoulos said unanimity was reached between the two ministries jointly responsible for the issue.

    Earlier, Voulgarakis held a half-hour meeting with the prime minister, whom he briefed on results of his recent visit to the United States.

    The public order minister termed his visit good and very productive, adding that it will facilitate and upgrade Greece's role in the Balkans.

    Replying to a question on a possible government reshuffle and on whether he will be assuming the post of government spokesman, Voulgarakis said "there is no issue of a reshuffle."

    [05] Three arrested, 416 kilos of cannabis seized during Thessaloniki drug bust

    Police discovered 416 kilos of cannabis hidden in a tank in a Thessaloniki chemicals factory and arrested three suspected members of the drug-trafficking ring involved, it was announced on Monday. Another two suspected members of the ring are being sought.

    Authorities were led to the drug haul after arresting two foreign nationals, aged 22 and 24 respectively, who were caught carrying three packages of cannabis weighing 1,006 grammes and 2.4 grammes of heroin in their car.

    They confessed to picking up the drugs at the factory in Neohorouda from two other men, who managed to escape arrest and are now being sought.

    After a search, police found 416 kilos of cannabis divided up into 417 packages within a tank at the factory, while they have also arrested the owner and are investigating his possible involvement in the ring.

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