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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] US concern over 'name issue'
  • [02] Sanitation workers end strike
  • [03] Bakoyannis meets Jeremic

  • [01] US concern over 'name issue'

    Washington (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis) -- US president George Bush was concerned over the FYROM name issue, but believes that it can and must te solved, White House press secretary Dana Perino said during a regular press briefing, in reply to questions.

    "Sure," Perino said, when asked whether Bush was concerned over the unresolved name issue between Greece and FYROM, adding that the US president "is hoping that they will come to an agreement before we get to the NATO summit (in Bucharest at the beginning of April), because he thinks that this is an issue that is solvable, and something that they should get done before we head out there (Bucharest) at the end of the month".

    Asked whether Bush intended to take any last-minute initiative, Perino said that "the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has been talking with them", adding that she was sure that the upcoming NATO summit would also be discussed at Rice's imminent meeting with the US president to brief him on her Russia trip.

    [02] Sanitation workers end strike

    Collection of garbage that has been piling up for more than a week in the streets of Athens will begin at midnight Thursday, following a decision taken Wednesday by the general council of the Federation of Municipal Santitation Workers (POE-OTA) to end their strike.

    The sanitation workers announced that they will take part in a protest demonstration called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Thursday outside the parliament building, where the debate on the employment ministry's social security reforms bill is due to end with a vote on Thursday night.

    [03] Bakoyannis meets Jeremic

    Greek, Serbian FMs for West.Balkans

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis met on Wednesday with her Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, who was on a working visit to Athens, for an in-depth discussion on regional issues.

    In joint statements after the meeting, Bakoyannis expressed great pleasure in receiving Jeremic, "an old and good friend", in Athens once again, adding that they had "a long and very useful in-depth discussion on all the serious issues our region is facing".

    Bakoyannis said she briefed Jeremic on the recent talks at the latest EU Council of Ministers' meeting on General Affairs and External Relations, and "passed on to him once again the view of all the members of the Council -- that is, of all of Europe and its governments -- regarding their will to have close, constructive and useful relations with Serbia".

    "Neither the European Union, nor, of course Greece -- which plays a leading role in the stance -- can imagine the stability required for the development of the whole Balkan region without the participation of Serbia in Europe", she said.

    She said she reaffirmed to Jermic that Greece "will not stop leading the effort towards full and substantial relations between the EU and Serbia", adding that "the future in the Balkans is one future, a common future and a European future for all of us".

    Bakoyannis said that Jeremic had briefed her in detail on his country's positions and concerns over the Kosovo issue, and that they naturally discussed "the recent, very unpleasant incidents in Mitrovica", which "Greece, like all the members of the EU, condemns, calling for self-restraint".

    "Our region is currently at a difficult turning point. Great composure, seriousness, responsibility and close cooperation among all of the countries will be needed in order for us to confront the problems, our own goal being stability and prosperity in the region," Bakoyannis said.

    She explained that this was the strategic pursuit of Greece's policy, and the reason "we do everything we can to support the European and Euro-Atlantic perspectives of all of the countries of the Western Balkans".

    Bakoyannis said that she further briefed Jeremic on the course of the efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM name issue. "As it has done so far, Greece will continue to participate in the UN-mediated negotiation process with clear positions, in a constructive spirit, and in good faith," she stressed.

    "We would like to hope that -- even at this late date -- the other side will be able to extricate itself from the intransigence that unfortunately characterises its stance," the Greek foreign minister continued.

    "And I would like to hope that yesterday's (Tuesday's) statements by the Skopje political leadership were made in view of the upcoming elections, because otherwise they of great concern all those -- friends and allies -- who want to see this problem resolved. And this is a problem that will, in its turn, impact the stability and good neighborly relations of our fragile region," she added.

    Bakoyannis further assured Jeremic that "Greece is a good and firm friend of Serbia".

    Speaking in turn, Jeremic expressed great pleasure in being in Athens: "I feel -- I knew it and now I feel it -- that Serbia has always hada sincere friend in these difficult moments".

    "This really is a difficult time for us. This is a major historical turning point for Serbia, and that's why the decisions that have to be taken regarding the future -- our future and that of the coming generations -- are of such great importantance," he said.

    "For me, there is only one path: one path that leads towards peace, towards stability, towards the country's accession to the European Union. That is why I was so happy to hear from Ms. Bakoyannis that Greece is doing everything in its power to open the way to the European Union for my country," Jeremic continued.

    He said that "we also talked about strategy, we talked about the path, we talked about the prospects of the coming months -- I would say the coming weeks -- abut tactics and steps we will take towards integration into the European Union".

    "We have a common goal, we have common positions: the accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union. But before that we will definitely have to resolve the issue of establishing security in the Balkan peninsula," he said.

    "And of course when we talk about this, there is the principal, burning issue of Kosovo which, along with all of the other problems, will have to be resolved. What is very incriminating evidence is the fact that recently we had precisely Kosovo's self-declaration of independence, which creates major problems in the region," Jeremic continued, and charged that "violating all international norms, all the international rules, the current government in Pristina cancelled out UN Security Council Resolution 1244 in a single stroke; it rendered void the Helsinki Final Act and established a state arbitrarily".

    He said that Serbia "does not, and will never, accept the illegal abrogation of its ownership and territorial integrity and sovereignty. And Serbia will fight by all means -- legal, political, diplomatic -- for there not to be legal recognition of this stae internationally and by international organisations", adding that the last thing one could want right now is for "recognition to come at this time from the international community for a state that declared its independence in this manner".

    This was why Serbia appreciates the stance of Greece "which has not recognised Kosovo as a state and will not do so in the coming time, fighting instead -- with all means -- for justice to prevail generally in our region," he said.

    Jeremic noted that Serbia was making efforts towards a compromise solution for the future status of Kosovo. "Under the UN flag, with the help of our European friends, we are prepared for this compromise solution -- we are prepared to find such a compromise solution".

    He said this was not iimpossible, but added that there was only one obstacle: "If a major wave of countries recognises the existence of this state -- as some countries have done -- then an effort will not be made to create a new reality. it will be a state of affairs that is incompatible with international law; a state of afffairs that will not reflect the real situation in the region".

    "Serbia will fight against the creation of such a state of affaris and to find a solution that will help stability and the development of good neighborly relations to prevail in the region," Jeremic said.

    He said that the May 11 parliamentary elections in Serbia will be historic not only for the country, but for the entire region, and noted that there were large differences of opinion in the country on many issues, such as the the economic problems, and on social issues, as well as a "great chasm between those who believe that Serbia should find its way with the European Union and those who believe that we will find our way through isolation".

    "On May 11, the citizens of Serbia will decide whether they want to take the pat to European integration. But whoever wins, there is one thing that will not change: Serbia's policy on Kosovo and Metohija. Whoever wins on May 11 will continue to implement the policy on Kosovo and Metohija as it stands now. And of course, this is an unyeilding struggle to maintain the territorial integrity and sovereignty of our country. This was a priority for this government. It will be a priority of the future government, whoever wins the elections," Jeremic stressed.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic

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