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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PASOK leader adresses press conference
  • [02] Greece rejects FYROM's NATO bid

  • [01] PASOK leader adresses press conference

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday asked for the immediate withdrawal of a government bill on reforming the country's social security system.

    Speaking during a wide-range press conference, the PASOK leader said the reform promoted by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party created "enormous problems to workers, pansioners and the social security system itself."

    He also referred to "high prices exceeding a great deal current increases in oil prices", and to "a so-called free education which is very expensive" burdening working households.

    Papandreou said the ruling ND's course since it took office four years ago "is a continuous downhill course which drags the political system in its entirety to a crisis."

    According to Papandreou this crisis is at the origine of his party's poor performances in recent gallops.

    Referring to the upcoming congress of his party, the main opposition leader said that "with it the Movement enters a new phase," after a "painful crisis which created rifts and wounds."

    Replying to questions regarding the reforms in PASOK, Papandreou said that he has commited himself in order for the party to proceed in reforms, underling that changes will be made in PASOK. "And there will be a new strong unity," he said, while to a quation whether he properly handled his new mandate, he said "this is not for three months only".

    Referring to PASOK's steps to overcome the crisis, he said that "the main target is the shaping of a new self-confidence which will be constructed step by step and in a systematic manner."

    Asked on "pending issues" regarding transparency in PASOK, Papandreou said that "I am not a judge, I guarantee transparency and the values in PASOK" and criticised the government that "it is the one wnich refuses transparency and produces scandals."

    Regarding the new policy of unity, Papandreou said that "this requires for us to work all together," stressing that "in PASOK we do not distribute posts but work."

    The PASOK leader also added that he is "open to cooperation with progressive forces", while he said that Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary spokesman Alekos Alavanos will be invited to address the PASOK congress.

    To a question of a coalition government between PASOK and the New Democracy (ND) party, Papandreou replied that the ND could cooperate with PASOK on specific issues such as foreign policy, the combatting of corruption and the social security system.

    Asked about the Kosovo issue and the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he reiterated PASOK's position for rejecting a double name and for geographic determination of the name, while he assessed that Koso opens "Pandora's Box".

    [02] Greece rejects FYROM's NATO bid

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, addressing the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday, outlined the reasons why Greece is not in a position to be positive towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) bid for NATO accession.

    Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis said that she pointed out to the allies that "unfortunately, the policy that was followed by the government of our neighbouring country in its relations with Greece, on the one hand with intransigence, on the other with actions of nationalist and irredentist logic, unbreakably linked to the issue of the name" do not permit Greece to say "yes" to its accession to NATO. A "yes" which Greece has said in the cases of Croatia and Albania which have also requested to join Atlantic structures.

    "Persistent intransigence until yesterday (Wednesday) in the framework of the negtiations continuing for 15 years under the auspices of the UN, which is indeed being combined with actions, decisions and very often offensive statements, even with references to domestic Greek policy left us with no other policy," the foreign minister said.

    "We are not pleased with this" since "nobody likes vetos," the foreign minister went on to say in addressing her counterparts. In parallel, however, she expressed the hope that "there is still time for a mutually acceptable, practical and immediately applicable solution to be achieved before the Bucharest summit in the framework of the efforts by the personal envoy of the UN's Secretary General, Mr. (Matthew) Nimetz," which, as she stressed, Greece "supports and will continue to support."

    Greece will continue to work in a constructive spirit for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution, Bakoyannis further stressed, and mentioned that if necessary, the efforts could be continued even after the upcoming NATO summit.

    "However, for as long as there is no such solution, an insuperable obstacle will remain for the European and Euroatlantic ambition of FYROM," the foreign minister said.

    Bakoyannis called on the government of Skopje "to take the step which with responsibility, political courage, as well as with a political risk, the Greek government has already taken."

    If it does this, she added, then FYROM "will also approach the point of mutual acceptance" and "will gain the future. A European future, a future of stability, peace and economic development."

    The foreign minister also said that Greece "following 55 years of multiform and important participation in allied efforts" supports the policy of "open doors" that is being followed by NATO. In parallel, however, she noted that a policy of open doors does not also mean a "policy of sidestepping principles" and stressed that "an alliance must be exclusively an organisation of free, peaceful and democratic countries having strong bonds of solidarity and unity."

    Bakoyannis further said that the logic nucleus of every alliance contains two basic principles: the policy of relations of good neighbourliness that must be applied particularly between third countries, which appeal for accession and countries that are already its members and unanimity in processes of adopting joint decisions.

    Other statements

    On the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pointed directly to the alliance's emphasis on unanimity, stressing that Greece would always be right, as a member nation.

    "There's an ally, Greece, and a non ally, Macedonia ... NATO works by consensus," he said.

    "Even though we believe that the aspirants must sprint to the finish, there was a general view that they have made a lot of progress," according to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "We would hope that Greece and 'Macedonia' will be able to accept a way forward," she added.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

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