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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis, Prodi discuss Turkey's EU prospects, bilateral ties
  • [02] Athanassakis takes over as PASOK secretary

  • [01] Karamanlis, Prodi discuss Turkey's EU prospects, bilateral ties

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received visiting Italian premier Romano Prodi in Athens on Monday for talks dominated by the two countries' bilateral interactions in the energy sector, as well as Turkey's progress toward EU accession.

    In statements after the meeting, Karamanlis stressed that Turkey had not actively demonstrated its intention to adopt European principles and values.

    "Turkey must realise that its progress in the accession negotiations depends on its progress in fulfilling the criteria and conditions it has agreed with the EU," he stressed.

    Once again underlining Greece's support for Turkey's European prospects in general, the Greek premier said that Athens was in continuous consultation with its partners in the EU on how to establish the right framework for Turkey, given Ankara's non-fulfilment of its obligations.

    Prodi, on his part, said that the EU should "leave a door open" for Turkey while at the same time clarifying that the criteria for accession were the same as those applying to all the other candidate-countries.

    He backed Karamanlis' view, however, that the number of accession negotiation chapters that opened or closed were a technical issue to be decided by the European Commission.

    "I am not fighting for one or more chapters. Our priority is that there should be something balanced," Prodi said.

    The two premiers also discussed the situation in Kosovo, agreeing on the need to support Serbia's European orientation, while Prodi revealed that he had written to his EU counterparts on the issue.

    Karamanlis stressed that a solution for the future of status of Kosovo should be accepted by all the sides involved and that the European orientation of southeastern Europe was a factor of stability for the broader region.

    In addition, talks between the two men covered cooperation on energy issues and on a Mediterranean level.

    The Italian prime minister stressed the importance of a Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline, which he said made Greece an "important factor" and differentiated supply from the traditional suppliers, such as Russia and Algeria. He declared himself satisfied with the time schedules drawn up and referred to Greek-Italian cooperation to supply electricity.

    Karamanlis also stressed that the construction of the natgas pipeline was a supremely important project for the European Union.

    They said that bilateral cooperation between Greece and Italy on all levels was excellent, while the Italian premier focused on joint action in the energy and transport sectors in the Balkan area, as well as in tourism through a "Mediterranean package" that offered both holidays by the sea but also the closely linked history and culture of the two countries.

    Questioned about the departure of Italian troops from Iraq, Prodi said that this had been a pre-election pledge that was respected and accepted by the United States and Iraq's government, while noting that an "open and deep" dialogue was underway even within the United States on what the troops of other countries would do.

    In response to questions about the euro, Prodi said that the common European currency was strong and that the European Central Bank was making the appropriate decisions.

    [02] Athanassakis takes over as PASOK secretary

    The new secretary of main opposition PASOK's National Council, Nikos Athanassakis, officially took over from the previous incumbent Maria Xenoyiannakopoulou on Monday, during a ceremony held at the party's headquarters in central Athens.

    He stressed that his overriding goal was to build on the work done by his predecessor in order to ensure victory in the next general elections, whenever these might take place.

    Athanassakis was nominated for the post of party secretary last week by PASOK President George Papandreou, in the framework of a major reorganisation of the party structure, and was victorious as the sole candidate in a subsequent election.

    "We are facing a government that each day strikes blows against the many while supporting the few and favoured, each day leading the country further backwards," Athanassakis said in his remarks during the ceremony and underlined that it was the responsibility of all PASOK members to "wage a victorious struggle" against the ruling New Democracy party, regardless of their position.

    He said his immediate priority as party secretary would be to to obtain a full briefing so that he could "pick up the thread and take the work already done even further," while he thanked Xenoyiannakopoulou for her efforts in the critical period following the 2004 elections.

    Xenoyiannakopoulou underlined that the new party secretary would have the support of all party members for his efforts in his new position.

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