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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM Karamanlis addresses EPP-Orthodox Churches 10th Dialogue in Bratislava
  • [02] DM Meimarakis meets Serb President Tadic

  • [01] PM Karamanlis addresses EPP-Orthodox Churches 10th Dialogue in Bratislava

    "Respect and full implementation of the criteria and requirements set out by the EU on the part of all countries wishing to accede the Union is non-negotiable," Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Thursday, delibering a keynote address at the opening session of the 10th Dialogue between the Orthodox Churches and the European People's Party (EPP-ED) grouping of the European Parliament taking place in the Slovakian city of Bratislava.

    In a message clearly directed at Turkey, Karamanlis added that "respect of International Law, the inviolability of national borders, the resolution of differences through peaceful means, regional cooperation, and good neighbourhood relations comprise principles of vital importance".

    "These principles comprise the very foundations of the EU, and full conformity with them is a condition for accession," he stressed.

    Regarding the EPP-Orthodox Church Dialogue, Karamanlis said that the political and religious leaders have a common goal to achieve, that of "advancing the peaceful co-existence and conciliation among cultures and religious convictions and, above all, to ensure peace and prosperity for our peoples".

    He explained that one of Greece's fundamental priorities in the effort for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in Southeastern Europe was its backing for the region's countries' accession to the EU.

    Greece, he said, was playing a protagonist role -- aiding all the countries of the region in their efforts to attain that goal -- both at bilateral level and through active participation in all the efforts of the international community. This, he added, was the "biggest strategic challenge": To ensure political and economic stability in our neighbourhood and irreversibly transform it.

    He recalled that the 2003 Thessaloniki Declaration had comprised an important step in that direction, but explained that the speed with which the relevant procedures will move ahead depended on each individual country of the region.

    Karamanlis further noted that, with the increase in the Orthodox population in the EU resulting from the Union's recent enlargement, the Dialoge was acquiring increasing significance given not only the imminent accession by Bulgaria and Romania, but also the future accession of other countries from SE Europe "since the inter-relationship between religion and politics, in this region, has historically been very intense".

    The Greek premier noted that when this initiative first commenced ten years ago, it was impossible for one to imagine how timely this Dialogue would prove to be today, adding that it was "a dialogue that advances understanding among different religions and doctrines, which gives us citizens the opportunity to lend an open ear to the religious communities on a series of timely issues facing our societies today".

    The 10th dialogue between the Orthodox Churches and the EPP-ED Group, which closes on Friday, will focus on the interaction between politics and religion in South-East Europe, the role which religious communities can play in bringing countries in the Western Balkans into the European Mosaic.

    The meeting is being chaired by Alojz Peterle MEP, EPP-ED Group Co-ordinator for Dialogue with the Orthodox Church, and was opened by Metropolitan Chrystof of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

    Other keynote addresses will be presented by Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica, Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader, and EPP-ED Group chairman Hans-Gert Poettering (MEP).

    The 10th dialogue is thematically divided into three sessions: a) Thessaloniki process: progress reports from Croatia and Serbia; b) Thessaloniki Process: Embracing the Peoples of the Western Balkans in the European Mosaic, and c) The lesser-known Europeans: Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine.

    Caption: Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis (L) with his Slovakian counterpart Robert Fico (R) in Bratislava. (ANA-MPA)

    [02] DM Meimarakis meets Serb President Tadic

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas) - Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, currently on a two-day official visit to Belgrade, met with Serb President Boris Tadic on Wednesday.

    The meeting, held in a very friendly climate, focused on the situation prevailing in the region of the Balkans, particularly in Kosovo.

    The Serb president briefed Meimarakis on current developments, underlining Serbia's steadfast position that his country will not accept a solution that will not respect Serbian sovereign rights in Kosovo.

    Meimarakis expressed support for a compromise solution, assessing that a possible extension of uncertainty on the issue of Kosovo will have a negative impact on stability in the wider region.

    The defence minister will be holding talks with his Serb counterpart Zoran Stankovic on Thursday morning. He will also be meeting Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and visiting the Patriarch of the Serb Orthodox Church Pavle.

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