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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-26

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Economy and employment ministers discuss social security dialogue
  • [02] Valinakis expresses Greek satisfaction with common EU positions vis-a-vis Turkey
  • [03] U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs to visit Ankara, Athens and Nicosia

  • [01] Economy and employment ministers discuss social security dialogue

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos held their first meeting on Tuesday with the Economic and Social Committee's (OKE) Executive Committee on the question of dialogue on the social security issue.

    Speaking after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said OKE was called on to carry out this dialogue because it is the relevant agency enacted by the constitution. He added that the dialogue on the social security issue will have a long duration to enable this major issue to be addressed.

    The minister further said that separate meetings will take place later with labour unions, while the next meeting with OKE will take place at its offices.

    Alogoskoufis stressed that the government is not in a hurry to legislate and that a solution to the social security problem will be given beyond the four-year tenure and without tension.

    Panayiotopoulos said on his part that no working person and no insured person has anything to fear, adding that the government guarantees the smooth payment of pensions. He also said that pensioning age limits will not change, nor will the payable lumpsum.

    OKE President Nikos Analytis said the Committee considers it an obligation to have the issue discussed and that there is special sensitivity on the social security issue.

    The next meeting with OKE will take place after Easter and the dialogue will take place without government interventions, as Alogoskoufis said.

    During the meeting between the ministers and OKE at the economy ministry, representatives of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) affiliated labour group PAME held a protest gathering outside.

    [02] Valinakis expresses Greek satisfaction with common EU positions vis-a-vis Turkey

    LUXEMBOURG (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Tuesday expressed his satisfaction with a crucial document agreed upon by the Union's "25" and submitted to Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul during a same-day European Union-Turkey association council meeting here.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Valinakis reiterated Greece's strategic decision as far as EU-Turkey relations are concerned, namely, Athens' standing support for the neighbouring country's European prospects.

    Conversely, he said this support is directly related to Turkey's harmonisation with standing EU principles and values.

    The Greek deputy FM said the positions laid out on Tuesday by the European Union clearly outline the framework in which Turkey should maneuver, both on the domestic front and internationally, a reference to its behaviour vis-a-vis EU member-states Greece and the Republic of Cyprus.

    Valinakis also referred to a coordinated and constant effort by Greek diplomacy in the lead-up to the meeting.

    Among others, Turkey was urged to extend a customs union protocol with the EU's 10 member-states as soon as possible as well as to subsequently implement the pact. The Union said this move would be a step towards normalising Ankara's relations with the island republic of Cyprus.

    The EU also underlined that it expects Turkey to continue support for efforts at solving the Cyprus problem, adding that a solution must be based on UN resolutions and be in accord with EU principles.

    Moreover, the 25-nation bloc called on Turkey to change in policy and cease attempts at blocking Cyprus' participation in various international fora and organisations where the former retains a power of veto. Additionally, Turkey is requested to allow the transit and trade of Cypriot goods.

    Furthermore, Ankara is called on to increase civilian control of that country's dominant military establishment, noting that the formulation of Turkey's national strategy and its relations with neighbouring states must be determined via political decisions and not by decisions taken by its military leadership.

    Turkey is also urged to avoid any act that could negatively affect the peaceful resolution of differences with other countries, the first time any such reference was listed in an official Community document.

    The reopening of the Orthodox Seminary of Halki was also cited, whereas the Ankara government is called upon to stop creating problems for non-Muslim communities in the country, a first-ever official reference to the now tiny ethnic Greek communities on the northeast Aegean islands of Imvros and Tenedos.

    Finally, Turkey is urged to immediately begin negotiations with the EU towards signing an illegal migrant repatriation agreement, while fully implementing an existing protocol it signed with Greece in late 2001.

    Speaking after the same meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul emphasised the significance of a European course for his country, while promising that legislative changes to boost democratisation will be accelerated.

    Regarding Greek-Turkish relations, Gul cited what he called an improvement, although he again conjured up "grey zones" by citing a problem of sovereignty (in the Aegean) as far as international law is concerned.

    Asked about the problem of Turkish violations of Greek airspace, the top Turkish diplomat said rejected the notion that his country was the instigator of problems, saying "we have completed 2,500 flights in the Aegean and Greece 25,000 flights".

    However, Gul said he believes some quarters are bothered by the distinct improvement in Greek-Turkish relations, pointing to a recent incident near the Imia islets on the day that the Greek foreign ministry was on a working visit to Ankara.

    Along those lines, he called on the media to play a "productive role" in the ongoing rapprochement.

    As far as the Cyprus problem is concerned, Gul said the EU has still not approved of two trade regulations for the Turkish Cypriot community. He added that Ankara continues to want a solution to the Cyprus problem and the re-activation of the UN in the peace process.

    Finally, he said the extension of a customs protocol by Turkey is a commitment that it will meet.

    [03] U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs to visit Ankara, Athens and Nicosia

    WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) - Alternate U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli announced on Tuesday that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Laura Kennedy will be visiting Ankara, Athens and Nicosia, as well as other capitals affecting the issue of Cyprus.

    The spokesman avoided characterising Kennedy's tour as a new initiative, but described it as a "continuation of existing efforts."

    Replying to a relevant question, Ereli said that Kennedy, who is reponsible for the Cyprus issue, "will leave on May 1 to travel to Ankara, Athens, Nicosia, Brussels and London," adding that the purpose of her tour is to "consult with the sides on the way with which we shall proceed with regard to a solution to the issue of Cyprus, as well as on bilateral issues."

    Ereli reiterated the position of the U.S. that "the Annan plan provides the best method for a solution to the issue of Cyprus" and pointed out that the U.S. continues to encourage both sides to support the plan.


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