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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Bakoyannis, Lithuanian FM hold talks
  • [02] Greece, Cyprus cooperation in culture sector

  • [01] Bakoyannis, Lithuanian FM hold talks

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday met her Lithuanian counterpart Petras Vaitiekunas in Athens and discussed bilateral cooperation in energy issues and security, as well as the European Council's decision for a "Reform Treaty" on European Union institutions.

    "We agreed to strengthen and upgrade our economic ties," Bakoyannis said, after greeting Vaitiekunas as a "partner and ally" following Lithuania's accession to both the EU and NATO.

    In joint statements after their meeting, Bakoyannis said that she had highlighted Greece's geopolitical position as a gateway to the Balkans and the Black Sea region, referred to the prospects for cooperation in tourism and energy and expressed Greece's very high level of interest in Lithuania's experience with alternative energy sources, particularly wind power.

    "We envisage a broad field of cooperation between Lithuania and the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources," she added.

    Regarding the "reform treaty" for the EU Constitution, Bakoyannis said she stressed Athens' positions that there should be no more delays in the Inter-Governmental Conference and in implementing the European Council's decisions for strengthening EU institutions, which must be carried out to the letter.

    "The philosophy behind the EU's operation is based on consensus and on compromises in views. Equally important is the principle of Community solidarity between the member-states," Bakoyannis underlined, while stressing that this had to go both ways.

    "When [solidarity] is reasonably expected, it must also reasonably be returned," she noted.

    The Lithuanian minister said their views on the decisions of the European Council essentially converged, stressing that the focus must now be on implementing the most important targets for European citizens.

    "We want a strong Europe whose basic principle is solidarity, so that it can deal with the challenges of globalisation," he said.

    Regarding EU relations with Russia in the field of energy cooperation, in particular, Vaitiekunas said that Lithuania favoured stronger cooperation with Russia and wanted the EU to be united in dialogue with Russia. He also noted the need to ensure a reliable supply of energy, based on the principles of mutuality, transparency and non-discrimination.

    In response to questions, Bakoyannis said they had not discussed a U.S. plan to install an anti-missile system in central Europe, noting that this might come up during a dinner with Vaitiekunas that will follow.

    The Lithuanian minister said that such as missile system would contribute to Europe's security and was not targeted against any neighbour of the EU.

    "It is not against Russia," he said specifically, adding that there must be dialogue on this issue within NATO.

    He also hailed the "extremely good" bilateral ties with Greece and, thanking Bakoyannis for their cooperation on Monday and during the EU Summit, invited her to visit Vilnius before the end of the year.

    Also to be discussed during a dinner given by Bakoyannis in his honour are developments in Kosovo and in the Middle East.


    Vaitiekunas later met with Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who holds the energy portfolio in the Karamanlis government, for discussions that focused on boosting bilateral trade, investments and energy cooperation.

    [02] Greece, Cyprus cooperation in culture sector

    Greece and Cyprus on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation in the sector of culture, covering the period 2007 to 2009, with culture ministers Evangelos Voulgarakis of Greece and Akis Kleanthous of Cyprus signing the memorandum after a lengthy meeting during which bilateral cultural issues were discussed, as well as the issue of protection of the cultural heritage on Cyprus.

    "We had a very productive meeting with my colleague, Mr. Kleanthous, during which we had the opportunity to examine the entire range of interest of the two ministries," Voulgarakis told reporters after the talks, adding that, in the same framework, the field of cooperation that has been achieved, as well as sectors in which there could be greater strengthening of relations and more efficiency in the cooperation between the two countries, were also discussed.

    "The reality is that there are very many fileds in which we can increase our cooperation and look into the collaborations that can take place. We had the opportunity to sign a protocol of cooperation and set out a series of more practical procedures, which will assist both countries," Voulgarakis said, announcing that in mid-November he and his cypriot counterpart would look at that cooperation in a more practical way and sign a more detailed programme of implementation, which will yield more benefits to both countries.

    The two ministers also discussed the issue of protection of cultural heritage, "a very vital matter of exceptional interest for both countries," Voulgarakis said, noting the prospect of signing a protocol of cooperation with Cyprus similar to that which Greece has sighed with other countries aimed at advancing the protection of cultural heritage.

    Voulgarakis further announced that he accepted an invitation by Kleanthous to visit Cyprus for a Cyprus culture ministry event, adding that it would be even better if he went to Cyprus at the head of a Greek delegation.

    Kleanthous also said the meeting with Voulgarakis had been "very productive".

    "We had a very good collaboration, because we need assistance in the development and highlighting of our cultural heritage," he said, adding that Cyprus was a country with a rich cultural heritage which, however, it was not taking advantage of.

    Kleanthous also said that modern culture was also an area in which the two countries could cooperate, given that both placed great importance on that.

    "But even more so, we place great importance on cultural diplomacy, which both countries greaty need, and the more so Cyprus, with the well-known national problem," the Cypriot minister said.

    "I believe that culture gives the reply in Europe and to the other countries, to the UN Secrity Council permament members. We must make our cultural heritage known, but also what the people of Cyprus and Greece stand for," he said, adding that "this can be achieved, with much better results, through cooperation with the culture ministries".

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