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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Prime Minister opens inaugural IGF conference in Athens
  • [02] Greece to assume Med Forum presidency

  • [01] Prime Minister opens inaugural IGF conference in Athens

    The inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) opened in Athens on Monday, with International Telecommunications Union (UTI) Secretary General Yoshio Utsumi calling Greece a fitting venue as the "birthplace of democracy" for the complex issues involving governance of the Net.

    In opening the UN-sponsored forum, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said the four-day sessions aim to inaugurate a process to "meet one of the main challenges of our time: the future form of the Internet and its capacity to provide increasing opportunities for an inclusive global community".

    "In this first IGF meeting, we expect to set the scene and establish a solid and comprehensive framework and network to focus on issues such as affordability and availability of the Internet; interconnection costs and security; management of critical resources and technology transfer; multilingualism and local development of software; capacity building and participation of multi-stakeholders from developing countries," he said.

    On his part, Greek transport and communications minister Mihalis Liapis, whose ministry co-organised the inaugural IGF, greeted more than 1,200 delegates representing national governments, corporate executives, academics and IT experts from around the world by highlighting the fact that the east Mediterranean country that hosts the Forum has drastically jumpstarted efforts over the past two-and-a-half years to expand broadband access in Greece to catch up with its EU partners, with the rate of expansion amongst the highest in the world today .

    "We are proud that this, first important effort to govern the Internet and render it more accessible, takes place here, in Greece. It is indeed an effort for the benefit of all mankind," Karamanlis concluded.

    European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding, used the term ?digital divide? - which also featured prominently in Karamanlisā address - to describe separation of the ?wired world? of roughly one billion people and the five billion inhabitants of the earth without any access or Net knowledge.

    ?This digital divide must be bridged ? That is why the EU continues to work to bridge this divide as the biggest contributor. Weāre not just talking about screens and cables,? Reding said, stressing that multiculturalism on the Net is of vital importance, ?thatās why multilingualism is so important.?

    The birth of the IGF was one of the most significant outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that took place in Tunis in November 2005, which was the culmination of a series of UN-sponsored WSIS conferences over the two-year-period 2004-2005.

    The IGF Greece 2006 conference structure consists of eight main sessions. The Greek Minister of Transport and Communications Michalis Liapis will chair the opening and closing sessions, whereas the other sessions of the Forum will be chaired by a high level panel of speakers from all around the world.

    The roles and functions of the Forum are set out in paragraphs 72-79 of the ?Tunis Agenda for the Information Society?. Briefly, its main purpose will be to discuss a wide range of issues related to Internet Governance, and, where appropriate, to make recommendations to the international community. The working and function of the Forum will be multilateral, multi-stakeholder democratic and transparent.

    Recently, UN Secretary General . Kofi Annan extended invitations to all stakeholders and relevant parties to participate at the inaugural meeting of the IGF. By making use of the World Wide Web he invited all stakeholders: governments, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities, to attend the first meeting of the IGF in Athens. The overall theme of the meeting is "Internet Governance for Development". The agenda is structured along the following broad themes.

    Openness - Freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge

    Security - Creating trust and confidence through collaboration

    Diversity - Promoting multilingualism and local content

    Access - Internet Connectivity: Policy and Cost

    The conference will conclude on November 2.

    [02] Greece to assume Med Forum presidency

    Alicante, Spain (ANA-MPA) -- Greece was tapped to assume the presidency of the Med forum following the unanimous approval of a Spanish presidency proposal on Saturday giving Athens the chair of the informal grouping.

    The development occurred at the Med Forum being held in Alicante, in southern Spain, at the foreign ministers' level, with cooperation amongst all of the basin's countries was high on the agenda.

    The forum's sessions focused on the situation in the Middle East and prospects for the Mideast wider region; increasing bilateral cooperation between Mediterranean countries and electing a new presidency.

    On her part, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis noted that Greece's election to the one-year post is a nod by friends and partners for Athens to promote issues affecting the entire Mediterranean.

    "This forum aims to deal with the problems of the Middle East, where our country has a significant presence, particularly after Greece's chairmanship of the UNSC. Our goal is for Mediterranean issues to come to the forefront of the EU's attention," she said.

    The Med Forum is an informal gathering of foreign ministers of Mediterranean countries - Malta, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey.

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