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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek beaches get thumbs up from EU
  • [02] Greece bids to host EU Galileo programme authority
  • [03] Bakoyannis-Gul meeting on Saturday

  • [01] Greek beaches get thumbs up from EU

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris) Greece's beaches once again passed European Union water quality tests with flying colours, according to the European Commission's annual report on bathing water standards released on Friday.

    The Commission found that 100% of the 2006 coastal areas sampled in Greece last year were suitable for swimming and complied with mandatory standards, while 98.1% complied with the EU's more stringent 'guide' values, an improvement over 97.6% compliance rates in 2004.

    Bathing water standards were even better on Cyprus, where 100% of beaches sampled complied with the stricter 'guide' values.

    Water quality values on a European-wide basis fell slightly from 96.7% in 2004 to 96.1% in 2005 for coastal areas. The drop was more significant for inland bathing sites, such as lakes and rivers, with just 85.6% meeting mandatory standards from 89.4% in 2004 and just 63.1% meeting non-binding guide values.

    According to the Commission, however, the drop in compliance was mainly due to insufficient sampling, particular in Hungary, Latvia, Malta and Poland that submitted figures for the first time, which significantly influenced non-compliance figures for the EU as a whole.

    European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas said that it was "very encouraging that the water continues to be clean for bathers at well over 95% of Europe's coastal waters".

    At the same time, he expressed concern over the worsening compliance rate at inland bathing sites and urged public authorities to step up required testing and clean-up efforts.

    [02] Greece bids to host EU Galileo programme authority

    Greece on Friday made an initial bid to host the headquarters of the GNSS supervisory authority for the European Union's satellite radio navigation programme Galileo, during a meeting of EU Transport and Communications ministers held in Luxembourg.

    Greek Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis outlined the role that peripheral countries can play in developing the market for the satellite system and presented arguments for basing the Galileo supervisory authority in Athens.

    During the meeting on Friday, EU ministers discussed the criteria for selecting a base for the Galileo programme's supervisory authority, while a final decision will be made at the end of the year, during Finland's EU presidency.

    The Galileo radionavigation system is envisioned as an alternative to the United States' GPS and the Russian Glonass systems but, unlike them, will be under civilian instead of military control. It is an initiative launched by the European Commission and the European Space Agency that seeks to ensure that Europe has reliable access and control over one of the most important advanced technologies that will revolutionise several sectors of the economy, particularly transport.

    During the meeting, Liapis also signed on behalf of Greece an agreement setting up a common European air market between the EU and southeast European countries, including Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and the temporary UN command in Kosovo, as well as Iceland and Norway.

    [03] Bakoyannis-Gul meeting on Saturday

    Turkey's European prospects and bilateral relations will be the focus of attention in talks between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Saturday, when they meet on the sidelines of a Greek-Turkish journalists' conference in Istanbul.

    Speaking in an interview with the Turkish news agency Anadolu, ahead of her departure for Turkey on Friday, the foreign minister said that her visit has a double target: discussing bilateral relations, particularly in the framework of the new European environment created after October 3, and Turkey's European prospects.

    "Greek-Turkish relations are not only within the framework of the borders of the two countries, but should be understood within the framework of the broader limits of the EU and within the framework of Turkey's relations with the EU," she said, adding that " a particularly important issue is, undoubtedly, the finding of a workable and permanent solution to the issue of Cyprus."

    Replying to a question on the International Court at The Hague, Bakoyannis said "resorting to the International Court at The Hague might be beneficial for the issue of determining the continental shelf in the Aegean between Turkey and Greece" but stressed that taking into consideration that Turkey does not accept the jurisdiction of the International Court, resorting to it must be prepared carefully.

    The foreign minister added that the sides must sign an understanding and, before anything, they must determine the issue of the problem clearly.

    Bakoyannis will attend and deliver an address at the opening session of the 4th Greek-Turkish Meeting of Media Representatives in Istanbul on Saturday morning, which will also be addressed by Gul, and the two will have an informal meeting immediately afterward

    Talks between the two ministers are expected to focus on confidence-building between the two sides, issues related to Turkey's EU accession efforts and cooperation between the two neighbouring countries on so-called 'low-policy' issues, such as energy, tourism and economic affairs.

    They are also expected to sign an agreement setting up a direct phone line between the NATO sub-headquarters based in Larissa, central Greece and a military base in Eskisehir, Turkey.

    On Friday, Bakoyannis will be received at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who will give a dinner in her honour on Friday night. She is also due to attend the Sunday morning mass at the Patriarchate before departing for Athens, where she will head on for Luxembourg after a brief stop in order to attend the EU General Affairs Council on Monday.

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