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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-09-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Hubner briefed on railway projects
  • [02] Support for Christofias in Athens

  • [01] Hubner briefed on railway projects

    Transport Minister Kostis Hatzidakis had a meeting on Tuesday with visiting European Commissioner for regional policy Danuta Hubner, informing her on the progress of work to modernise the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) and other transport infrastructure.

    In statements after the meeting, Hubner reiterated the European Commission's emphasis on developing railroads and expressed satisfaction with the measures taken by Greece to promote environmentally-friendly transport.

    Hatzidakis said he had briefed the Commissioner on the construction of a double electric rail line utilising telematics from Thessaloniki to Larisa that had already been completed, adding that two thirds of the Thessaloniki-Athens line will be essentially completed by November when the same line was extended up to Domokos.

    Construction on the Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens-Patras axis will also be completed on schedule in 2013 and 2014, respectively, he added.

    Plans for a restructuring programme for OSE that was recently announced by the government and which were directly linked with the progress of the infrastructure projects were discussed as well, the minister said.

    Finally, Hubner was briefed on urban transport modernisation in the capital, the introduction of cycle paths in Greek cities and measures taken to protect the environment.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of old train carriages belonging to the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE).

    [02] Support for Christofias in Athens

    Meeting her Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou in Athens on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis relayed the unanimous support of all Greece's leadership for the efforts of Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias to solve the Cyprus issue. The meeting was held just two days before the round of a new phase of negotiations between Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    In joint with Kyprianou after the meeting, Bakoyannis repeated the form that such a solution must take. She stressed that it should be achieved without artificial deadlines and arbitration, that it must be fair, viable and functional, be in accordance with the decision of the UN Security Council and with the values and principles of the European Union, in the framework of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that had a single sovereignty, single nationality, a single international personality and no occupation armies.

    Bakoyannis particularly underlined the Cyprus Republic's capacity as a member of the EU and the European dimension that any solution must have, stressing that this should ensure the safety and prosperity of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots without including "vague interventionist rights".

    The Greek minister also noted that Christofias had "calmly and with determination" reaffirmed the good will and constructive spirit for a happy outcome to the negotiations, expressing hope that the Turkish-Cypriot side would do the same with encouragement from Ankara in the right direction.

    Kyprianou expressed the gratitude of the Cypriot people and government for the support of Greece's leadership, adding that he had briefed the minister on the second and more substantive phase of the talks starting on September 11 between the two sides on the islands, adding that the present phase was a "crucial turning point".

    Kyprianou said that this was the time of "proof" when the views and positions that had been expressed would be tested at the negotiating table. Cyprus was entering the talks with "restrained optimism," he added, while he reiterated the positions expressed by Bakoyannis on the form that a possible solution must take.

    "A federal, bi-zonal, bi-communal solution is a huge concession on Cyprus' part," he stressed, noting that there had never been any geographic separation before the Turkish invasion of the island and that there was "no room for more concessions" regarding the form of the solution.

    Responding to a question on a Turkish-Cypriot proposal to begin new talks on a "zero basis", Bakoyannis made the following statement:

    "From the words I keep the essence and the essence is that Cyprus is a member of the United Nations and the EU and has acquired rights that no Cypriot wants to abrogate, neither Greek-Cypriot nor Turkish-Cypriot".

    She also denied that Athens' stance of support for Cyprus' decisions was an attempt by Greece to shed its responsibilities.

    "Greece, of course, supports, discusses but Cyprus as a sovereign state with an elected government is the one that makes decisions, except for that part of the guarantees that concerns Greek positions and decisions," she said.

    In a reply to another question, meanwhile, Kyprianou ruled out a solution modeled by the Caucasus example for Cyprus, saying that there was no comparison:

    "How ever many efforts Turkey may make to upgrade the pseudo-state, these will not meet any response," he stressed.

    The Greek minister also responded to questions on illegal immigration, describing this as a very serious problem that required an overall EU policy.

    "It is the number one problem in the EU and at the top of the agenda for the French presidency, which we hope will promote a solution," she said, adding that the issue had also been discussed with Turkey during meetings by herself and the prime minister.

    After the meeting, Bakoyannis and Kyprianou sat down to a dinner given by Bakoyannis in her counterpart's honour. The Cypriot minister had earlier been received by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Greek President Karolos Papoulias and will be meeting the heads of the Greek political parties later on Tuesday.

    Caption: Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (R) met Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou in Athens on Tuesday for talks focusing on the latest effort to solve the Cyprus issue. ANA-MPA - Orestis Panagiotou.

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