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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-06-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Solution for Iran crisis possible, Papandreou says
  • [02] PM confers with SEB chief Daskalopoulos
  • [03] 'Integrated' EU policy for the seas meeting

  • [01] Solution for Iran crisis possible, Papandreou says

    Failure to find a way out of the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme would "stupid and criminal", PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed on Friday. Papandreou, who is currently also president of the Socialist International, was speaking to foreign ambassadors in Athens at an event arranged by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) group in the European Parliament.

    Fresh back from a trip to Iran and Israel earlier the same week to promote Socialist International peace initiatives, Papandreou expressed conviction that a peaceful solution could be found and the conflict averted, provided all sides could break free from "chronic suspicion and emotionality".

    He also underlined his opposition to military intervention in Iran, saying that "we will not accept that Iran will become a new Iraq".

    Shortly before his arrival at Friday's event, PASOK's leader spoke on the phone with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei, who asked to be briefed on the results of his visit to Tehran, while in the past two days he had also been contacted by U.S. Undersecretary for political affairs Nicholas Burns and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

    Regarding the renewed crisis in the Middle East, which escalated to new heights just before his arrival in Jerusalem after the abduction of an Israeli soldier by armed Hamas supporters, Papandreou expressed grave concern and said that the problem could not be solved through military operations or abductions.

    The Israeli soldier had to be returned to his country unharmed, PASOK's leader stressed and reiterated proposals for a regional conference on solving the Mideast problem, noting that an initiative along those lines was being prepared by Socialist International.

    As well as more general comments on current world affairs, the Greek main opposition leader renewed calls for efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, stressing that it was an international issue of invasion and illegal occupation and that the effort to reunite the island must not be abandoned.

    He also referred to Greece's relations with Turkey, underlining his support for Turkey's European course and stressing that it should be able to look forward to becoming a full EU member-state. At the same time, he pointed out that Turkey must adopt EU values and rules and fulfil accession criteria and obligations, one of which was extending Customs Union to Cyprus and opening its ports and airports to Cyprus ships and airplanes.

    Papandreou also spoke at length about the progress of unification within Europe and on the role of the United States in the world, pointing out that views in the EU and the U.S. could not always coincide.

    He criticised the U.S. for "following the laws of the powerful rather than the power of the law" and thus creating fear and insecurity, and urged Washington to "support an international system of values".

    [02] PM confers with SEB chief Daskalopoulos

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday with the new president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), with whom he discussed the new leadership's targets and action plan.

    Daskalopoulos told reporters after the meeting that they discussed a series of topics concerning society, and also the role of the business world in the present and the future.

    Quesioned on the planned reforms in the social insurance sector, Daskalopoulos said that an "unprejudiced" dialogue would take place, adding that it was a good thing that the issue was put to the negotiations table, since this way the working people would not be worried about their pensions.

    Regarding the IKA state-run social insurance foundation, Daskalopoulos said that the foundation's funds needed better management and effectiveness.

    Concerning the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), the SEB chief said he was waiting for the new GSEE presidium to be finalised -- following the recent resignation of GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos to pursue a political career -- but the target was cooperation within the established mechanisms, given that the interests were common interests.

    Asked to comment on the planned reforms in Education and the reactions they have sparked among university students and professors, Daskalopoulos said that the upgrading of Education was a major national perspective.

    [03] 'Integrated' EU policy for the seas meeting

    Greek deputy foreign minister Yiannis Valinakis on Friday represented Greece at a meeting in Antibes, France, between the European affairs ministers of EU countries with Mediterranean shores, which aimed to establish an innovative "holistic" approach and an integrated EU policy for the seas.

    Heading up a Greek delegation, Valinakis stressed that the effort was key to Greek interests, given the country's extremely strong shipping sector, its massive coastline that equalled the shores of Africa in length and its 3,000 islands.

    He said that Greece had already submitted its own proposals that emphasised the shipping sector and the creation of a European coast guard to police the EU's sea borders.

    The minister and other officials attending the meeting stressed that this was the first time an attempt had been made to simultaneously examine all types of activity involving the sea on a European level, including shipping, maritime transport, sea tourism, development of coastal regions, sustainable development and environmental protection.

    Speakers at the meeting stressed the need to preserve Europe's current advantages in the maritime sector, such as its status as the largest shipping force, its shipbuilding industry, coastal tourism and the production of energy from the sea, including alternative energy sources.

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