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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-14

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM briefed on transports, communications sector
  • [02] FM concludes Cyprus visit

  • [01] PM briefed on transports, communications sector

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Saturday with transport and communications minister Costis Hatzidakis for a review of urban transport and 'green' transport, as well as the telecoms sector and Olympic Airways.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards, Hatzidakis said that the target of the urban bus lines redeployment plan was to establish terminal points at metro and ISAP electric trains stations for the bus routes that set out from Western Athens so as to enable commuters to access the city center with the same bus ticket and eliminate 30 percent of the time required.

    He said they also discussed the procurement of new buses, including 200 natural gas-powered.

    Hatzidakis said that they discussion also included the procurement of electricity-powered buses in the future, as well as the establishment of bicycle lanes, and announced that two large bicycle lanes will be designated in Athens, while 15 million euros have been earmarked for such lanes in the municipalities of Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as the periphery.

    Karamanlis and Hatzidakis further discussed the ministry's program for new generation fiber optics networks.

    "In essence, this is the 'Egnatia Motorway' of telecommunications," Hatzidakis said, noting that the government was investng not only money, but also hopes, in this program, aiming to bring Greece at the front of Europe in telecoms matters.

    Regarding the ailing national carrier Olympic Airways, Hatzidakis said that negotiations were continuing with the European Commission, which he said were technical and extremely difficult, and thus were taking a long time.

    He noted that the government's timetable was well-known, adding that "we want to reach a solution by the end of the year, and insist on all that we have said".

    "We want to keep the company name and symbol, but we also want to get rid of the debts," Hatzigakis explained.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of prime minister Costas Karamanlis

    [02] FM concludes Cyprus visit

    Nicosia (ANA-MPA/A. Viketos) -- Resolution of the Cyprus issue remains a top priority in Greece's foreign policy, and thus Athens will conitnue to work intensively, in close cooperation with the Cypriot government, to take advantage of the opportunity arising to attain the goal for a fair, viable and functional solution based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis reaffirmed on Saturday, speaking at an event in Paphos municipality on "The European future of a reunified Cyprus" that she attended together with her Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou.

    "We find ourselves before a window of opportunity," Bakoyannis said, and welcomed Cyprus President Demetris Christofias' meetings with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as "steps in the right direction".

    Bakoyannis, who is on a working visit to Cyprus, voiced opposition to "the exercise of pressure and stifling timetables" because "it is a practice that does not give positive results", and stressed that the issue was to enhance the dynamic of the talks so as to lead to the preparation of a solution founded on the UN Security Council resolutions and the European ideals, a solution that could be accepted.

    Addressing herself to Ankara, Bakoyannis expressed hope that "Turkey will realise the benefits the Turkish Cypriots will have from a reunited Cyprus" and "help them carry out substantive and constructive talks", particularly at the present stage of the efforts to find common ground and commence comprehensive negotiations.

    The Greek foreign minister spoke with admiration of the creativity and progress of the Cypriot people "who succeeded in leaving behind the traumatic experiences of the (Turkish) invasion and occupation" and the drama of becoming refugees in their own homeland and "achieving an unprecedented economic growth".

    She further said that, with Cyprus' accession to the EU, the Cyprus issue acquired a "different substance", and stressed that every future solution effort must have the characteristics of a European solution, a solution that ensures protection of human rights and the fundemental freedoms.

    She also noted the contribution of the EU's "subtle strength" in building the security and integrity of a future "United Federal Republic of Cyprus", citing the name used by President Christofias, adding, however, that "the most powerful guarantee of security is the common volition of the two communities to formulate the terms so that the new federation will be functional and viable.

    "A reunited Cyprus will upgrade its strategic role in the wider region, acting as a bridge between the Middle East and the EU, and playing a stabilising and developmental role," she stressed.

    Bakoyannis made special note of the beneficial impact a resolution of the Cyprus issue would have on Turkey's relations with Greece, and with Europe, stressing that "on the one hand it will give new momentum to Greece-Turkey cooperation, since it is self-evident that full normalisation of the relations between the two countries is not possible without resolution of the Cyprus problem, and on the other hand a reunited Cyprus will actively support Turkey's course to the European institutions".

    Asked by the press to comment on the Irish citizens' rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in Thursday's referendum, Bakoyannis said that "the result saddened us, but I assure you that Europe will move forward".

    Reviewing her visit to Cyprus, her first since Christofias took over the presidency, Bakoyannis described it as "particularly important" because it provided the opportunity both to herself and to the Greek delegation to hold discussions with the entire political leadership of Cyprus on the major national issue, the prospects for its solution, and the steadfast cooperation between Greece and Cyprus for the best possible cooperation in handling the matter.

    Replying to another question, she said there was "identity of views" with the political leadership of Cyprus on the handling being made.

    Bakoyannis' visit was due to conclude Saturday night "with the great honor to be bestowed on me" by the Mayor of Paphos, in presenting her the Gold Key to the City during a special ceremony.

    "I wish to assure you that the struggle we are waging is difficult, but I believe that, with patience, determination and, above all, with our common vision, we will attain our common goal," she concluded.

    Caption: Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias during her visit to Cyprus. (ANA-MPA/K. Christodoulou)


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