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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-05-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Gov't on Erdogan statement, relations with Turkey
  • [02] Gov't: Surge in joint public-private sector projects
  • [03] Valinakis, Colonna discuss EU expansion

  • [01] Gov't on Erdogan statement, relations with Turkey

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday stressed that Turkey's behaviour was being closely monitored by the European Union and that it had to fulfil specific obligations and commitments toward the Community.

    He was commenting on reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during statements to reporters in Finland, had said that Ankara would not implement an extension of the EU-Turkey Customs Union agreement to Cyprus until "the isolation of Turkish-Cypriots is lifted".

    Other reports claimed that Erdogan was seeking to postpone implementation of the Ankara Agreement, with which it agreed to extend customs union to the 10 new member-states of the EU, for one year.

    On the same issue, meanwhile, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos rejected Erdogan's statement that it was a "mistake" to think that Turkey would be monitored on its implementation of the extended customs union protocol in 2006.

    "I do not think that the view of the entire European Union, its agencies and its member-states is mistaken," Koumoutsakos underlined.

    In response to other questions, meanwhile, Koumoutsakos said that any change in the EU's counter-statement to Turkey, when Ankara had first declared its defiance of EU requirements to extend customs union to Cyprus, would have to be unanimous, given that the original EU statement had been unanimous.

    Regarding the positions expressed by Nicosia on this issue on Wednesday, the spokesman underlined that both Greece and Cyprus were working to ensure that the EU's decisions were respected and Turkey's European course was not adversely affected.

    "The goal for all sides at this stage - which is particularly delicate since there is a visible shortage of time for fulfillment of the specific obligation by Turkey - is to all work in such a way so that the decision of the European Union is respected and, as a result, Turkey does not have to face the negative repercussions of not fulfilling the obligations it has undertaken," he stressed.

    Regarding Turkey's relations with Greece, meanwhile, the spokesman said that Athens was carefully watching Ankara's recent behaviour:

    "Recently, we have certainly been seeing various positions expressed and various actions undertaken by the Turkish side. There is an impression that possibly Turkey's policy on a series of issues is being served in this way. These are the object of constant and very careful study on the Greek side but, at the same time, Greece is confidently pursuing its choices and calmly following the policy that you all know," Koumoutsakos said.

    Greece's policy of supporting Turkey's European course and working steadily to improve bilateral relations was clear and in no way gave Turkey any "blank cheques", he stressed.

    Photo: ANA-MPA file photo of Antonaros

    [02] Gov't: Surge in joint public-private sector projects

    Investment plans, worth 548 million euros, have been submitted to a special secretariat for joint ventures between the public and private sectors in the few months since ratification of a relevant law, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said he expected the submission of new investment plans -- budgetted at 300 million euros -- this month, covering projects for building state agencies' facilities, tourism and environmental infrastructure, healthcare and justice ministry-affiliated projects.

    Alogoskoufis sounded optimistic, saying joint projects would play a decisive role in the development of the Greek economy and society over the next few years.

    "By attracting funds, know-how and the dynamism of the private sector we ensure better quality, lower costs and the speedier completion of projects," he emphasised.

    ANA-MPA file photo

    [03] Valinakis, Colonna discuss EU expansion

    European and bilateral issues, especially European Union expansion in SE Europe, dominated talks here between Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and visiting French Minister Delegate for European Affairs Catherine Colonna.

    Earlier, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis received Colonna.

    During a joint press conference, Valinakis reiterated Athens' standing position vis-a-vis the European prospects of the entire SE Europe region, "for us it is a necessary condition for transforming the area into one of security, peace and cooperation. This is occurring with Bulgaria and Romania. I believe developments will proceed normally and that these two countries will enter the European Union on the set timetable."

    Moreover, he said specific procedures and fulfilment of conditions exist for other candidates in the region.

    On her part, Colonna said Paris backs the accession of Sofia and Bucharest into the EU as soon as possible, while calling on both countries to intensify their efforts so that a report out in the fall approves their accession for 2007.

    Asked about the possibility of an extension being given to Turkey for signing the Ankara Protocol, Colonna said:

    "Things are clear. Turkey has assumed obligations that must be met before the foreign ministers' council meeting in the fall ... we must not confuse obligations with negotiations the specific country is holding with member-states."

    Valinakis echoed the statement, noting that "at every turn candidate-countries are evaluated, we are not providing carte blanche to anyone; obligations cannot be linked with other issues".

    Regarding Greek-French relations, Colonna said they were "excellent" and characterised by "mutual trust", adding that Paris considers Athens a significant European partner.

    Caption: Valinakis, right, meets with French Minister Colonna in Athens on Thursday, May 18, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / P. Saitas.

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