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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-05-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis: Turkey must revise its stance, behaviour
  • [02] FM meets with China's Wu Bangguo

  • [01] Karamanlis: Turkey must revise its stance, behaviour

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday reinforced a more-or-less hardened stance by Athens this week vis-à-vis neighbouring Turkey, following an unprecedented mid-air collision on Tuesday in the southeast Aegean between Greek and Turkish warplanes.

    While both governments quickly and effectively defused any potential tension arising from the incident -- which left a Greek F-16 pilot missing and presumed dead and his Turkish F-16 counterpart picked up after an ejection -- the fact that two Turkish F-16s fighter planes were accompanying an RF-4 aerial reconnaissance &quot;Phantom&quot; on a west-by-southwest course headed straight for the large island of Crete brought to the forefront Athens' displeasure with continuing Turkish military activities and demands in the wider Aegean Sea region -- activities Greece has long criticised as anything but good-neighbourly.

    &quot;Turkey must contribute to a full normalisation of bilateral relations. Only (with this policy) can it continue on its path towards the European Union; this is absolutely clear,&quot; Karamanlis told Parliament during a debate on higher education.

    Regarding what he called a &quot;precarious situation&quot; following the incident, Karamanlis referred to speedy crisis management &quot;along with fully ensuring our rights and exclusive responsibilities in the Aegean&quot; -- the latter a direct reference to Greece's search and rescue privileges and capabilities in the wider Aegean area.

    Additionally, the Greek premier repeated a statement he made this week from Paris, namely, that the incident should be taken under serious consideration by the neighbouring country's leadership, and, moreover, lead to a change in behaviour &quot;that is not conducive to good-neighbourly relations&quot;.

    The mid-air collision occurred 35 kilometres southeast of Greece's Dodecanese island of Karpathos and roughly 175 kilometres from the nearest Turkish coastline, or, 97 kilometres from the shores of eastern Crete.

    &quot;Such practices cannot continue ... Ankara must demonstrate that it is adapting to the principles and values of the European Union; it must demonstrate, in practise, that it wants to be a good neighbour, as we Greeks are proving; it must demonstrate the necessary respect for International Law and international treaties; meeting its obligations towards Europe, as clearly defined in European texts with which it (Turkey) began its course towards European harmonisation, in other words, the negotiating framework, the statement of last September and in the Commission's progress reports,&quot; the prime minister emphasised.

    Greece has recently served as one of Ankara's most active supporters in its course towards the EU, although Athens has persistently reminded that a successful accession path absolutely necessitates the fulfilment, by the neighbouring country, of all the criteria prescribed by the 25-nation bloc.

    [02] FM meets with China's Wu Bangguo

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with visiting high-ranking Chinese official Wu Bangguo on Crete late Thursday, as the chairman of the Far East nation's National People's Congress Standing Committee continued an official visit to Greece after first meeting with Greek leadership in Athens.

    Addressing the large Chinese delegation during a formal reception, Bakoyannis stressed that a high level of cultural awareness brings the Greek and the Chinese peoples closer in forging bilateral relations based on a mutual respect for each other's lengthy history.

    She also stressed that Greece, due to its geographical position and stable economic and political situation, can become an excellent entry point for Chinese products headed to Europe, the Black Sea region and the Balkans.

    Bakoyannis welcomed Chinese investments towards upgrading Greek ports, stressing that the goal is to transform major ports -- Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos and Irakleio -- into world-class transit hubs.

    She also stated that the number of Chinese tourists visiting the east Mediterranean country can further rise, given that Greece is a holiday destination where Chinese nationals can feel at ease.

    In terms of political issues, Bakoyannis referred to Beijing's standing interest in a solution of the Cyprus problem, while conveying Athens' wishes for the best of luck to the hosts of the 2008 Olympic Games.

    On his part, Wu Bangguo cited his attraction towards Greece and wished that the future of Crete always resemble its weather, "bright and alluring".

    He also thanked Bakoyannis for her warm words and for the fact that, in spite of her heavy schedule, she traveled to Crete, and specifically to Hersonissos, to meet him and host the formal reception.

    Caption: The chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee,Wu Bangguo, addresses a reception in Irakleio, Crete, on Thursday evening, May 25, 2006. ANA-MPA photo / S. Rapanis

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