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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-12-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Mass exodus continues for Christmas holiday
  • [02] Greece, Bulgaria, Romania on Balkan stability
  • [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Mass exodus continues for Christmas holiday

    Mostly fair weather is forecast for the Christmas holiday in Greece, with a mass exodus of city-dwellers recorded over the weekend for the provinces. Greek President Karolos Papoulias will celebrate the holiday in Cologne, Germany, with his family, while Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his family will be in the northern mountainous district of Grevena. On his part, the head of the main opposition, George Papandreou, will spend the holidays in Athens with his family. More than 160,000 cars departed from the Greek capital over the weekend, while the exodus is expected to culminate on Monday.

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo dated Dec. 6, 2000 shows the Christmas decorations and lighting in Syntagma, Athens' main square across from Parliament.

    [02] Greece, Bulgaria, Romania on Balkan stability

    "Greece, Bulgaria and Romania have increased resonsibilities for stability and growth on the Balkan region, and we intend to shoulder these responsibilities," Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Saturday, following a tripartite meeting in Athens, at Greece's initiative, with her Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts Ivaylo Kalfin and Adrian Cioroianu, respectively.

    The three foreign ministers, who represent the NATO and EU member countries in SE Europe, agreed to boost their cooperation in view of the critical developments in Kosovo and the difficult situation in Serbia, and also reaffirmed their devotion to the European perspective of the western Balkans, which was rejuvenated by the recent Greek initiative '5 proposals with a timetable' while, on a regional level, they stressed the importance of cooperation in the framework of the Black Sea Cooperation Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and and the new EU neighbourhood in the Black Sea.

    Stressing the need for "the region's issues to be confronted by the region itself", the three ministers decided to hold a follow-up meeting of the Greece, Bulgaria, Romania Tripartite Cooperation in the first half of 2008 in Bucharest, which will prepare for a summit meeting among the priime ministers of the three countries later in 2008, in Sofia.

    Saturday's meeting focused mainly on Kosovo.

    Bakoyannis told a joint press conference after the meeting, speaking on behalf of the Tripartite, that "the channels of communication between Belgrade and Pristina must remain open, regardless of what the 'following day' is", stressing "how important this is for us who are countries of the region".

    "We share the same concerns, the same worries, but also the same vision for stability, peace and prosperity to the benefit of all the peoples," Bakoyannis added.

    On the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which "serves as a powerful catalyst in the achievement of the above goals", Bakoyanni said that no state can be excluded from the process, including Serbia. "This rapprochement must not be linked to issues other than the European prerequisites. Any attempt at linking Serbia's European perspective with the developments in Kosovo would be erroneous and counter-productive," the Greek foreign minister said categorically. This position was endorsed by her Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts, and was recorded in a joint communique issued after the Tripartite meeting.

    To a question on whether this would eliminate an incentive to Serbia for finding a solution to the Kosovo issue, Bakoyannis replied: "We don't want to place Serbia before a dilemma. No one wishes to put forward the dilemma of the European perspective with Kosovo as the counterbalance."

    "I make this clear," Bakoyannis said, while Cioroianu added that "that would be unfair".

    She stressed, however, that the European perspective of the Balkan neighbours must be founded on firm foundations such as respect of International Law, the International Treaties, good neighbour relations, peaceful resolution of differences, and seeking mutually acceptable solutions to outstanding issues.

    Regarding the future status of Kosovo, Bakoyannis said that "we must act with lucidity, without haste, because it is a complex and complicated problem, and we must give diplomacy the opportunity to achieve a viable solution that will contribute to regional stability".

    "We also believe that an international and a European presence are necessary, in accordance with the recent decisions of the European Union and NATO," Bakoyannis said, stressing the need that the international presence should be founded on the broadest and strongest possible basis of legitimisation.

    In their joint communique, the three foreign ministers stress the need for the signing of an Association and Stability Pact with Serbia as soon as possible, and for the encouragement of the other countries of the region to also submit accession requests to the EU, while they also express the hope that the European Council (summit) of December 2008 will grant canddiate status to every applicant.

    The ministers further endorse the Greek initiative that rekindled the European perspective of the Western Balkans, which is expected to be a subject of deliberations in the EU in the first half of 2008.

    Finally, the three ministers reaffirm that the BSEC comprises the main forum for regional cooperation in the region and for the rapprochement of the countries of the region with the EU.

    Saturday's discussions also focused on strengthening cooperation on and confrontation of natural disasters, which plagued the countries of SE Europe this past summer, a subject that has already been put forward in the EU as well by the Greek government.

    Before the Tripartite meeting, Bakoyannis had separate meetings with her Bulgarian and Romanian counterparts, respectively.

    After the Tripartite, the three ministers strolled through the festively-decorated centre of Athens, followed by lunch at a downtown restaurant.

    [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    An alleged case of blackmail involving the ex-personal secretary of the recently resigned culture ministry general secretary, who was seriously injured in a fall from his fourth-floor apartment earlier in the week, mostly dominated an otherwise "slow" day-before-Christmas "news hole".

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Woman involved in (Christos) Zachopoulos scandal nearing jailhouse door"

    APOGEVMATINI: "Distinguished physician in Pyrgos, western Greece, committed suicide after evening newscast"

    AVRIANI: "Many (government cadres) will lose their posts. PM Costas Karamanlis to put all government, party cadres under scrutiny"

    CHORA: "Government re-examining funds' mergers

    ETHNOS: "Everyone (within government) claims innocence, as (Zachopoulos) affair being summarily dubbed a sex scandal"

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Archaeologist's unbridled ambition took her from the socialist party (PASOK) into the arms of 'conservatism' "

    ELEFTHEROS: "Truths and lies about Christos Zachopoulos. A Christmas season bestseller with spicy revelations, intrigue, economic and political power"

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tough questions regarding the Zachopoulos thriller"

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "They're trying to summarily portray (Zachopoulos) affair as sex scandal"

    ESTIA: "Christmas in 1900 today's inset"

    TA NEA: "Burning testimony. Bombshell by Zachopoulos friend"

    VRADYNI: "Express inclusions of thousands of acres of land into town planning codes"

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo


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