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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] Defence agreement signed by Greece and Serbia
  • [02] Slovakian FM Kubis in Athens
  • [03] Gov't eyes consultants for state-run OTE's privatisation
  • [04] Ruling ND maintains 4 point lead over PASOK

  • [01] Defence agreement signed by Greece and Serbia

    Bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia and the situation in the wider region - focusing particularly on the Kosovo - dominated talks held by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis in Belgrade on Thursday.

    Meimarakis was formally received by his Serb counterpart Zoran Stankovic at Topcider military base in Belgrade.

    Talks focused on bilateral defence cooperation while a new broader defense agreement was signed by the two sides.

    Meimarakis stressed in a press conference that the new agreement gives special emphasis to military training and cooperation between training centers for peace operations in Belgrade, Serbia and Kilkis, Greece, while he assured his Serb counterpart that the Greek government supports Serbia‚s Euro-Atlantic prospect.

    On his part, Stankovic thanked the Greek minister for the support and revealed that Greece will back Serbia‚s accession into the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative in the imminent NATO summit to take place in Riga, Latvia in late November.

    Kosovo was the dominant issue at the meeting Meimarakis had with Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who reiterated that his country cannot accept a solution that will not respect its sovereign rights in the region.

    The Greek minister pointed out the need for a mutually acceptable solution soon, stating that a likely extension of uncertainty would have a negative effect on stability in the wider region.

    Meimarakis wrapped up his contacts in Belgrade by meeting Serb Patriarch Pavle. The head of the Serb Orthodox Church referred to the historical ties shared by the two peoples and thanked the Greeks for their support to the Serbs.

    Before leaving the Serb capital, Meimarakis visited the newly built St. Sava Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Christian church in the Balkans.

    [02] Slovakian FM Kubis in Athens

    Boosting bilateral trade ties and the Kosovo issue dominated talks here on Thursday between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her visiting Slovakian counterpart Jan Kubis.

    Specifically, better promotion of Greek investments in the central European country and jumpstarting cooperation in the tourism sector were discussed, during a meeting that came a day after Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Slovakian Premier Robert Fico in Bratislava.

    In terms of Kosovo and ongoing discussions over the province's final status, Bakoyannis said both sides agreed over the need to avoid "hasty and forced" actions.

    On his part, Kubis referred to the excellent cooperation with Athens within the EU, NATO and the UN Security Council, while noting that only the trade sector remains to be improved.

    He also thanked Athens for opening up Greece's job market to Slovakian citizens following the country's accession into the European Union.

    Asked about a recent decision by Bratislava to remove its military forces from Iraq, he confirmed that the majority of troops will depart, save for a small contingent of officers assisting in various NATO duties and training exercises.

    Caption: Bakoyannis, right, greets Kubis on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the foreign ministry in Athens. ANA-MPA photo / M. Marogianni.

    [03] Gov't eyes consultants for state-run OTE's privatisation

    The government's inter-ministerial privatisation commission on Thursday announced a decision to hire three consultants in the privatisation of state-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting with Labour Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the privatisations special secretary would begin talks to select the three consultants over the next two weeks. The FinMin said two consultants would be foreign firms and one from the domestic market.

    The inter-ministerial commission for public enterprises and organisations, in a meeting before the privatisations commission including the same ministers, agreed to implement a new company charter for listed OTE after talks between employees' unions and management failed to reach a compromise. The new charter aims to make OTE more efficient within the framework of increasing competition in the telecommunications market. Alogoskoufis said the new charter would not affect employees hired by OTE up until May 25, 2005.

    [04] Ruling ND maintains 4 point lead over PASOK

    The ruling New Democracy party (ND) maintains a 4 percentage point lead over main opposition PASOK party, according to the results of a monthly political "barometer" opinion poll conducted by VPRC on behalf of SKAI private television and radio station which was released on Thursday.

    With respect to voter intent -- what party the respondent would vote for if general elections were held today -- ND amassed 42.5 percent of the respondents' preference, against 38.5 percent for PASOK, 8.0 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 4.5 percent for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), and 4.0 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally party (LAOS).

    To a question on which party emerged with gains from the recent local government (municipal/prefectural) elections, 40 percent believe that the government emerged the winner, 16 percent said PASOK, while 21 percent said "neither of the two mainstream parties".

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis also maintained a wide 25 percentage point lead over PASOK leader George Papandreou in a question on who was the most suitable for prime minister, with 47 percent of the respondents preferring Karamanlis against 22 percent for Papandreou.

    In October's monthly barometer by VPRC on behalf of SKAI, held in the final campaign week before the local government elections, ND posted a 4 percentage point lead over PASOK with respect to voter intent, with the ruling party amassing 42.5 percent of the respondents' preference, followed by PASOK with 38.5 percent, the KKE with 8.0 percent, SYN with 4.0 percent, and LAOS also with 4.0 percent.

    Regarding who was the most suitable for prime minister, Karamanlis posted a 30 percentage point lead over Papandreou, with 54 percent of the respondents' vote against 24 percent for Papandreou in the October opinion poll.

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