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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Athens on breakdown of Finnish EU-Turkey initiative
  • [02] PM to depart for NATO summit on Tues.
  • [03] Police reportedly eye suspect in hunters' murders
  • [04] Greece, Bahrain sign MoU

  • [01] Athens on breakdown of Finnish EU-Turkey initiative

    The Greek government on Monday reacted immediately to a same-day announcement by the Finnish presidency announcing that talks between the Union and EU hopeful Turkey to overcome obstacles to the latter's accession negotiations have broken down.

    Speaking at the conclusion of a national foreign policy and defence council meeting in Athens, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said it was "significant" that responsibilities were not placed by the Finnish presidency "towards the one or the other side".

    "The Finnish proposal was not met with success, therefore, we will proceed to a substantive discussion, with will culminate at the General Affairs Council on Dec. 11 over a fusion for the reaction," she added.

    Asked about the term "fusion", Bakoyannis reminded that in case Ankara fails to meets its commitments, then the "EU must have a specific answer, one befitting a candidate state that does not meet its obligations".

    On his part, the government spokesman merely reiterated that Athens backs the Finnish presidency's efforts and shares Cyprus' concerns.

    "The issue of Turkey's fulfilment of obligations and commitments it has assumed is still pending in order for it to follow its European course," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said during his normal press briefing.

    The Finnish EU presidency announcement was made by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Tempere, Finland, as the Union is now expected to give Ankara until Dec. 6 to open its ports and airports to Cypriot carriers.

    "An agreement could not be reached," Tuomioja flatly said after holding separate meetings with the Turkish and Cypriot foreign ministers, Abdullah Gul and George Lillikas, respectively.

    "There will be consequences ... Business as usual cannot continue," he stressed.

    Opposition statements

    Meanwhile, speaking during the council meeting in Athens, main opposition PASOK deputy and former minister Christos Papoutsis called on the government to consider raising, within EU institutions and fora, the issue of a timetable for Turkey to meet obligations vis-?-vis issues strictly affecting Greece, i.e. the disavowal by Ankara of a standing "threat of war" (casus belli) issued by the Turkish assembly in case Athens legally extends its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and other unilateral claims by the Turkish side in the Aegean.

    Papoutsis, a former EU Commissioner, also cited Turkey's repeated declarations of "volition" to solve the longstanding Cyprus problem, saying Athens should, therefore, formally table the issue of the island republic's demilitarisation and the withdrawal of Turkish-occupation troops from Cyprus as a "goodwill gesture".

    Asked if he favours a "time out" in EU-Turkey negotiations, Papoutsis noted that "we are in favour of a clear message towards Turkey, one which will repeat the decision by the 25 (member-states) to begin accession negotiations. On the other hand, the EU is obliged to safeguard its credibility and to mainly reinforce the operation of its institutional organs. A strict and clear position by the EU must be the same towards all candidate-countries," he concluded.

    Finally, former Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos expressed his party's concern over developments in the Middle East, citing a threat of civil war in Lebanon and what he called Palestinians' exclusion, whereas he said Israel should abandoned a policy that undermines every peace effort in the region, as he said.

    He also mostly echoed Greek leadership's positions over the absolute adherence by Ankara in meeting its commitments to the EU.

    Caption: FM Bakoyannis, centre, chairs a national foreign policy and defence council meeting in Athens on Monday, Nov. 27, 2006. PASOK MP Christos Papoutsis, left, and Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis, right, also attended. ANA-MPA photo / P. Saitas.

    [02] PM to depart for NATO summit on Tues.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will depart on Tuesday afternoon for Riga to attend a NATO summit meeting, as he is expected to arrive in the Latvian capital just before 5 p.m. local time.

    In the evening, the Greek prime minister will attend an event at the National Opera House of Riga in honor of NATO member-states' leaders and a subsequent working dinner.

    The summit formally gets underway on Wednesday, with the premier returning to Athens later the same day. He will also appear at a press briefing in Riga.

    Before departing for the Latvian capital on Tuesday, Karamanlis will chair an Inner Cabinet meeting convened to focus on issues related to the interior and public administration ministry.

    [03] Police reportedly eye suspect in hunters' murders

    Tight-lipped authorities on Monday are reportedly close to announcing a suspect in the unprecedented murders of five hunters in western Greece on Saturday afternoon, with unconfirmed suspicions falling on an unnamed local man and an apparent dispute over trespassing.

    The bodies of five men, aged from 17 to 33, and all related to each other, were found in different locations along a rural road and in a field outside the village of Kalyvia, in the Aetoloakarnania prefecture of western Greece. All five victims sustained fatal shotgun injuries.

    Officially, 19 shotgun shells were retrieved from the crime scenes, 12 of which belong to an "unknown shotgun", authorities said in the nearby port city of Patras on Monday.

    Moreover, reports from the coroners' office in Patras cited "gaping" wounds on the victims indicative of shotgun shells used for bigger game, whereas three of the victims were also shot at close range in the head. The victims were reportedly hunting for thrush, a smallish variety of birds. An official ballistics report will be issued in Athens.

    The time of death was placed at between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

    The victims were identified as the brothers Vassilis and Christos Nikolopoulos, 23 and 21, their cousins Lambros Andressas and Ilias Pipas, each 33, and Alexios Nikolopoulos, 17.

    The situation in the area was described as tense on Monday, as the funerals of the victims are scheduled for Tuesday.

    Caption: Authorities at the scene where one of five bodies of a same number of hunters was found on Saturday in western Greece. ANA-MPA photo / D. Dimitriou.

    [04] Greece, Bahrain sign MoU

    Greece and Bahrain on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a meeting in Manama between visiting Greek transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis and Bahrain deputy prime minister and transportation minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa al-Khalifa.

    The Memorandum seeks to increase routes and pasenger movement between the two countries, and to further develop and expand airline destinations and connections to Europe and the East, as well as access to the Gulf countries and the service of intermediate movement between the two countries.

    The signing of the Memorandum comes only af few months after Greece and Bahrain signed a Bilateral Aviation Agreement in Athens (march 23, 2006), indicating the very good relations between the two countries and their desire for the development of air transports aimed at economic development to the benefit of both sides.

    During his visit to Manama, Liapis also met with prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salmal al-Khalifa, Armed forces chief and heir Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

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