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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-05

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis and Fradkov discuss natgas exports, oil pipeline
  • [02] EU Competition Commissioner meets with FM, FinMin
  • [03] Alavanos meets mayor of Lebanon's Qana

  • [01] Karamanlis and Fradkov discuss natgas exports, oil pipeline

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and visiting Russian Premier Mikhail Fradkov reaffirmed their common desire to conclude an agreement for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline between Greece, Russia and Bulgaria within 2006, during a meeting in Athens on Thursday.

    Among other details, the three sides have to specify the percentage holdings of the company that will manage the pipeline, they said.

    Other topics discussed by Karamanlis and Fradkov included renewing an agreement with Russia for the supply of natural gas after 2016.

    In statements about the oil pipeline, Fradkov stressed that it was important for European energy security, as well as for the three countries directly involved. He pointed out that the pipeline would complement existing fuel routes, give additional capacity and supplementary opportunities to both oil suppliers and European consumers.

    Karamanlis said the project was of foremost importance for all of Europe and expressed hope that it would be carried out as quickly as possible.

    The meeting between the two men also provided an opportunity to review international affairs, such as the situation in the Balkans and Caucasus, while Karamanlis noted Russia's positive response to initiatives for closer cooperation between the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisations and the EU, as well as a Greek proposal for a road circling the Black Sea.

    After the talks, the two premiers signed an agreement for cooperation in tourism and for the settlement of the Russian Federation's outstanding debts toward Greece, while they also examined the prospects of an agreement for the export of Greek wines to Russia.

    Karamanlis and Fradkov both noted the traditionally good ties between the Greek and Russian people, while Karamanlis again referred to Greek-Russian ties as a "strategic relationship" and pointed out that Athens and Moscow have common or similar views on the majority of international issues, as well as close bilateral cooperation that could be even further developed.

    Meeting with Papoulias

    Before his meeting with Karamanlis, Fradkov was also received by President Karolos Papoulias, who emphasised the importance of the pipeline project and expressed a hope that the process would be completed before the end of the year.

    Papoulias, in fact, referred to Greek-Russian relations as ?being of strategic importance to the international balance, particularly in the Balkans and Mediterranean?.

    The Greek president also underlined that in less than two months Russia‚s top leadership - President Vladimir Putin and the country‚s premier - had visited Greece.

    ?This emphasises the point that relations between our two countries are excellent, they are not recent, but have long and historical roots; and this relationship is developing,? said Papoulias, who as a foreign minister in the mid 1990s promoted the initial idea of a Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    Later on Thursday, Fradkov is scheduled to meet Greece's main opposition leader, PASOK President George Papandreou.

    Tourism cooperation

    In a related development, Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Thursday met with the director of Russia‚s Federal Tourism Agency, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, as talks revolved around prospects for bilateral cooperation in the lucrative sector.

    According to one figure cited at the meeting, the number of Russian tourist arrivals to Greece this year rose by 50 percent.

    Meanwhile, Petralia is scheduled to inaugurate a Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) bureau in Russia at the end of the month.

    On his part, Strzhalkovsky called on Greek tourism sector entrepreneurs to invest in Russia.

    Figures quoted by Greek deputy foreign minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Wednesday said that Russian tourism had increased by 41.8 percent in the first half of 2006 and were estimated to reach up to 100 percent after the summer season.

    Stylianidis was speaking after a meeting with Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksey Gordeyev and a large Russian delegation with Greek ministry officials and wine-makers, after which the two sides announced an major initiative to promote quality Greek wines in Russia, saying that they would be next in a line of Greek products that have broken into Russian export markets and boosted Greek exports to Russia by 24 percent in the first half of 2006.

    [02] EU Competition Commissioner meets with FM, FinMin

    Visiting European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes on Thursday met separately with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, for talks on a wide range of competition-related issues.

    During her meeting with Bakoyannis, Kroes reviewed all issues of concern to the European Union, with an emphasis on EU enlargement and the future of Europe with respect to the European constitutional treaty.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    Earlier, Kroes met with Alogoskoufis, with whom she discussed issues related to competition and cartels.

    Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that they had discussed a number of items concerning competition, which, he stressed, was the key to growth of the economy and prosperity of the citizens.

    "We have a very good cooperation with the European Commission to tackle certain problems of the past," Alogoskoufis said, adding that "all the major decisions have elements of competition".

    Kroes, in turn, said that the discussion had included the bank employees' social insurance, and more general items related to competition.

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo of Kroes.

    [03] Alavanos meets mayor of Lebanon's Qana

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos expressed his party‚s solidarity to the people of the town of Qana in Lebanon in a meeting he had on Thursday with its mayor Salah Salame.

    Alavanos stated that he was shaken up after the meeting he had with the town mayor stressing that everybody knows about the region from the stories taught in elementary school referring to the Wedding Feast at Canaan and the miracle performed by Jesus when he turned water into wine. ?There is no water in Qana today?, he said. He added that nobody can perform a miracle and bring back to life all the martyrs and the children that lost their lives and restore the destroyed infrastructure.

    The Synaspismos leader pointed out that solidarity to the people of Lebanon and the people of Qana in particular, who suffered the barbaric Israeli airstrike, should continue in an active manner. He also stressed that Greece‚s position in the UN Security Council and the EU Council should be used to exert pressures for the solution of the Palestinian problem, stressing that it is the key-problem for peace in the Middle East.

    (ANA-MPA file photo of Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synasismos) leader Alekos Alavanos)


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