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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Bakoyannis meets Babacan
  • [02] Folias addresses Athens Summit
  • [03] Papoulias:You must be careful
  • [04] FinMin's letter to Financial Times
  • [05] Tourism Minister in Dubai

  • [01] Bakoyannis meets Babacan

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis held talks with her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan in Strasbourg on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the Council of Europe session, stressing that "the process on improving Greek-Turkish relations is a marathon race and not a 100-metres dash."

    The meeting, that took place at the Turkish minister's request, lasted for over half an hour in a friendly atmosphere.

    "You are aware that Greek-Turkish relations are developing very well, following the visit to Turkey by Prime Minister Mr. (Costas) Karamanlis and it was a great pleasure for me to meet Ali Babacan again," Bakoyannis said.

    The minister referred to the confidence-building measures that were adopted in December, "which are being implemented now and for which the two foreign ministers are working."

    She stated that the army chief will be repaying in May the visit, made by the chief of the Turkish army, to Turkey and underlined a "very good economic cooperation existing between the two countries that amounts to 2.3 billion euros."

    Wednesday's meeting is part of a series of meetings anticipated between the two foreign ministers, following a joint decision to utilise every opportunity in international fora, aimed at continuous mutual briefing on issues arising between the two countries, as the Greek minister explained.

    Replying to a question by the press on "whether, after so many friendly meetings, she discerns some change in attitude on the issue of the Aegean and the issue of the recognition of the Patriarchate," Bakoyannis said that she raised these issues, as she raises them every time, stressing that "but the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations is a long process, it is a marathon race and not a 100-metres dash."

    Also asked whether she sees any mobility in relation to the issue of Cyprus, and possibly some solution, the minister said "I believe that the agreement reached in March (between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat) was a very good agreement between the two leaders. I believe that there is a will and both leaders want progress to take place. Greece, just like Turkey as well, are encouraging the two sides in particular, so that we can have a just solution to the issue soon."

    In March 2008, Cyprus President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, during a meeting in the presence of the UN, agreed to set up working groups and technical committees to deal with various aspects of the Cyprus problem with a view to prepare the ground for substantive negotiations between the two leaders. Six working groups and seven technical committees were set up and are currently holding meetings in Nicosia.

    Referring to the issue of Cyprus as well, Babacan said "Turkey and Greece are supporting the two leaders in Cyprus to continue discussions and we are committed absolutely to this."

    Babacan also commented on the Greek prime minister's recent visit to Turkey, pointing out that "after 49 years, we were very happy to receive Prime Minister Mr. Karamanlis in Turkey. This visit signalled a new phase in our relations. I met with Mr. Karamanlis last December in Greece and, following the visit to Turkey by Mrs. Bakoyannis, we decided to meet frequently and to talk about issues of mutual interest, international issues" and adding that "we are very pleased that we shall be welcoming the chief of the army."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan

    [02] Folias addresses Athens Summit

    Development Minister Christos Folias addressed the Athens Summit 2008 conference on "Climatic change and energy security" on Wednesday, stressing that the climatic crisis constitutes the greatest challenge for mankind and its successful handling requires policies that will promote sustainable development and will guarantee a viable future for the generations to come.

    "Longterm development is only secured through a development policy that succeeds in incorporating the environmental dimension and the prosperity of societies will be all the more corresponding directly to the environmental responsibility that they show," the minister said.

    According to the minister, for issues related to climatic change and energy security, all (civilians, businesses, national governments, supranational organisations and non-governmental organisations) must cooperate with the aim of confronting the environmental crisis that is jeopardising the future.

    "Greece is being called on to provide its own dynamic and effective 'presence' in this struggle, since it is evident that development and environment are now two connecting circles," Folias said, adding that "in this direction, the Athens Summit is coming to offer fruitful ground for dialogue and for responsible reflection and I believe that it has contributed positively to the necessary public dialogue on climatic changes and energy security."

    Caption: Development Minister Christos Folias addresses the Athens Summit 2008 conference on Wednesday 7 May 2008. ANA-MPA/GOULIELMOS ANTONIOU

    [03] Papoulias:You must be careful

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday received the leaderships of the country's law enforcement agencies and fire brigade, who were accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Minister Panayiotis Hinofotis.

    "In terms of the police force, I don't have too many things to say, you'll be judged from the results. You must be careful, because incidents that may be termed as incidental are often over-generalised, something that isn't fair, because you are trying," Papoulias said, in reference to this week's shooting death of a bus driver in Thessaloniki by a man who escaped from police custody with an officer's service revolver.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias

    [04] FinMin's letter to Financial Times

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis has sent a letter to the Financial Times newspaper, stressing that a report on the Greek economy appearing in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper creates mistaken impressions that do not do justice to the Greek economy.

    "On the occasion of a report appearing today in your newspaper, that is signed by Mr. Ralph Atkins, I would like to make certain remarks, because mistaken impressions are being created that do not do justice to the Greek economy. Apart from the index on the current accounts balance, which is referred to in the report, there is a series of other indexes that register a positive course and optimistic prospects for the Greek economy. The growth rate reached 4 percent on average over the past three years and, despite the international economic turmoil, it is expected to be maintained at high levels in the years to come as well. Unemployment has decreased at a steady rate in past years and it is expected to continue its downward trend," the letter said.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis

    [05] Tourism Minister in Dubai

    The Greek government this week continued its concerted efforts to broaden and expand trade and economic ties with the booming Gulf economies, as visiting Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos citing expanded air links between UAE and Greece as a necessary prerequisite for increasing "high end" tourism to the east Mediterranean country.

    Spiliotopoulos was received on Wednesday in Dubai by Sheikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al - Maktoum, president of Dubai's civil aviation authority and managing director of Emirates Airlines, for talks on inaugurating the carrier's service to Greece. Along those lines, the high-profile Emirates executive announced that the company is in the process of establishing a new 200-plane subsidiary that will include Greece in its flight schedule.

    In response, Spiliotopoulos requested that the first Greek destinations be the holiday islands of Rhodes and Crete.

    Later, Spiliotopoulos met with the director of the Dubai information ministry, Sheikh Hasher Bin Jumaa Al Maktoum, for tourism-related talks. Al Maktoum referred to the good relations between the two countries, stressing that "we do not feel as foreigners in Greece".

    On Tuesday, the Greek minister toured a huge state-of-the-art luxury golf resort in the area.

    Caption: Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos and director of the Dubai information ministry, Sheikh Hasher Bin Jumaa Al Maktoum, in Dubai on Wednesday 7 May 2008. ANA-MPA/ PANAGIOTIS STOLIS

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