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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-11-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece prepares for assumption of OSCE presidency in '09
  • [02] Top Israeli diplomat Gal ends 2-day visit in Athens

  • [01] Greece prepares for assumption of OSCE presidency in '09

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met on Wednesday with Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, in the framework of preparations for Greece's assumption of the organisation's presidency next January.

    The assumption by Greece of the OSCE presidency in the present international situation is a "challenge" for the foreign ministry, which "we are determined to meet," Bakoyannis told reporters after the meeting.

    The Greek foreign minister added that she looked forward to cooperating with all 56 OSCE member-states and the organisation's secretariat, and it was in this spirit she held talks with her European Union (EU) counterparts, while on Wednesday she had a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    Contacts with the Russian foreign minister are of particular importance in view of the upcoming EU-Russia summit on Nov. 14 in Nice, France, and given the fact that Russia is involved in the Georgia crisis, which will be at the top of the agenda of the Greek OSCE presidency.

    de Brichambaut referred, on his part, to the open issues OSCE is facing, such as Georgia, SE Europe, the situation in Afghanistan and European security.

    The assumption of the one-year OSCE presidency implies "a great political responsibility", de Brichambaut said, promising the greatest of support in organisational issues.

    "We believe in the OSCE's role and mission, which in any case forms the solid base that will guide the presidency's actions," the Greek foreign minister said.

    Bakoyannis will be the main speaker at an 'Ambassadors Forum' event organised by the ministry on Thursday, focusing on the issue of "Priorities and Challenges of the OSCE Greek Presidency".

    Earlier in the day the head of the press department at the OSCE, Martin Nesirki, briefing reporters, said that the priorities are decided exclusively by the organisation's presidency.

    Bakoyannis later briefed Greek deputies who are participating in the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE.

    [02] Top Israeli diplomat Gal ends 2-day visit in Athens

    The Israeli foreign ministry's director general of political affairs, Yossi Gal, concluded a two-day visit to Athens on Wednesday following contacts with high-ranking Greek diplomats and officials, and in the wake of his meetings in Washington and Paris.

    In a press briefing at the Israeli embassy in Athens, Gal said talks focused on a continued emphasis on upgrading already close EU-Israeli relations, bilateral ties between Greece and Israel as well as mutual exchanges on regional issues.

    Gal emphasised that Israel and Greece are "practically two neighbouring countries", echoing Israeli leadership's standing volition to increase and deepen bilateral economic ties and trade, which he put at 570 million US dollars.

    Expectedly, the high-ranking Israeli diplomat said he outlined the Jewish state's positions on the Mideast problem, Iran's nuclear programme, relations with Syria and Lebanon as well as Israel's standing vilification of Hamas in Gaza.

    Gal said he also discussed the issue of manifestations of anti-Semitism around the world with his Greek interlocutors, later noting, in response to a press question, that the "Greek government has done a number of things in the judicial sector and in the area of education".

    Asked about the situation in densely populated Gaza, Gal said the Israeli side does not want to punish the Palestinian people but Hamas' leadership, adding that the militant movement continues to hold an Israeli soldier captive since June 2006.

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