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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-05-28

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis points to bolder reforms, quicker pace in speech commemorating Greece's 25 years in EU
  • [02] Papandreou addresses supporters in Arcadia prefecture
  • [03] Former president calls for change of tack in relations with Turkey

  • [01] Karamanlis points to bolder reforms, quicker pace in speech commemorating Greece's 25 years in EU

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday addressed a symbolism-laden event atop Pnyx Hill -- across from the Acropolis in central Athens -- celebrating the 25th anniversary of Greece's accession into the then European Economic Community (EEC), today's European Union.

    Karamanlis, the namesake and nephew of late statesman Constantine Karamanlis -- the man who spearheaded Athens' laborious effort to become the EEC's 10th member in 1981 -- stressed that the event honors "the leader that made the vision of modern Greece a reality, as well as all of the protagonists, public officials, diplomats and all those that worked to promote our grand and absolutely vindicated national goal."

    Karamanlis also praised the leaders and the European peoples that helped Greece in its accession course nearly three decades ago.

    "Today, practically all Greeks share the European orientation and the vision of European integration. This is the exact reason why this day belongs to all of the country's citizens. It is a celebration of all Greeks, one devoted to the greatest achievement of our country in its most modern history," the prime minister said.

    In referring to the two most notable achievements of his late uncle, the founder of ruling New Democracy (ND) party, namely, astute leadership as prime minister during the restoration of democracy following a seven-year (1967-74) military dictatorship and subsequent EEC accession, the premier said "democracy was a precondition for (European) accession; and accession was a guarantee for democracy".

    "This was Constantine Karamanlis' vision, which became a reality with him as the helm. Inclusion into European structures contributed to the reinforcement of the parliamentary form of government and political stability in our country. Our presence in the European family brought the country's political forces closer together, putting forth common targets, common visions for all Greeks," the prime minister said.

    Karamanlis listed off a handful of the most significant benefits of EU membership for Greece, including the Community Support Framework aid packages; the Common Agriculture Policy as well as participation in common European policy-making and strategies.

    In reference to the current government's policy, the prime minister said it is focused squarely on implementing necessary reforms "with social consensus".

    "Greece over the past two years has changed pace, we're moving faster, more boldly, with more determination; we've started and we're continuing, with society's support, towards courageous reforms," he said, citing the government's high-profile "mild economic adjustment" policy and a new development model based on better competitiveness and an outward-looking economy.

    Conversely, and in an indirect reference to previous governments, the prime minister and ND leader reminded that "in the years that have passed, we did not proceed with the rates (of growth) dictated by the European and international environment. Major delays occurred in terms of changes and reforms ... We decided with our citizens to put an end to this obstruction; to move ahead with a faster pace; with boldness and determination, but with social consensus as well. And this development is already in full swing."

    In a topical reference, Karamanlis also reiterated a message to neighbouring EU hopeful Turkey, noting that "we encourage the European orientation of our neighbours, however, absolute respect of International Law and international treaties is required of everyone, along with developing good-neighbourly relations and meeting the principles, values, criteria and prerequisites set forth by Europe".

    Barroso

    On his part, European Commission President Jos? Manuel Barroso noted that Greece has gained much from the European Union and also given much to the Union.

    He stressed that Greece today is a robust democracy and a force for stability in the wider region. Barroso emphasised that the east Mediterranean country of 11 million is a respected neighbour that opens the Union's path towards the south and east.

    The event was attended by practically all of Greece's top leadership, including former presidents Kostis Stephanopoulos and Christos Sartzetakis and ex-premiers Constantine Mitsotakis and Costas Simitis.

    [02] Papandreou addresses supporters in Arcadia prefecture

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou spoke to supporters in the central Peloponnese city of Tripoli, Arcadia prefecture, on Sunday evening, capping off various committee meetings and open discussions held earlier by visiting and local PASOK cadres in the municipality.

    Papandreou reiterated his standing criticism of the government, referring to "anti-popular measures", failure to meet pre-election promises and defeatism.

    Additionally, he criticised prime minister for what he called a "laid-back" reaction to the mid-air collision of Greek and Turkish warplanes over the Aegean this past week, while terming the government's foreign policy as "incorrect".

    Finally, he announced a nationwide PASOK conference on agriculture policy in a month's time.

    He continues his tour of the prefecture on Monday.

    [03] Former president calls for change of tack in relations with Turkey

    A change of tack in Greece's policy toward Turkey and the referral of all problems with Turkey to the International Court of Justice at The Hague was proposed by Greece's former president Kostis Stephanopoulos, in an article published by the newspaper "Kathimerini" on Sunday.

    According to Stephanopoulos, who served two highly successful terms as Greek president before Karolos Papoulias, taking matters to the international court was now the only way forward, since all attempts to find a solution had failed, either through the process of Turkey's EU accession negotiations or through bilateral talks and meetings like those carried out in accordance with the decisions at Helsinki.

    Among problems that Stephanopoulos believes should be taken to The Hague are the extent of Greek territorial waters, delineation of the Aegean continental shelf of the Greek islands and the two countries and demilitarisation of the islands.

    To this, he adds the entry to Turkish aircraft into the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans, provided this is not a matter to be settled by the ICAO.

    He said that referral to the International Court should be preceded by the signature of a mutual agreement by the two countries, since Turkey had not acceded to the founding protocol of the court.

    Stephanopoulos pointedly excluded Turkish claims to 'grey areas' from consideration by the court at The Hague, stressing that these exist only in Turkey's imagination and that this was proved by the Treaty of Lausanne.

    According to the former president, Greece's policy of recognising only one difference with Turkey - that of delineating the Aegean continental shelf - "lacked seriousness". He stressed that failure to seek a solution through the International Court will simply leave all outstanding issues still outstanding, perpetuating the present problems and the threat of a more heated incident.

    He also pointed out that referring the issue to the court at The Hague formed part of the Helsinki resolution, which had set a deadline for dialogue until the end of 2004, with referral to the court as the next step. This meant that Greece was essentially guaranteed the support of its EU partners if it proceeded in this direction, Stephanopoulos pointed out.


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