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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM addresses parliamentary debate
  • [02] PASOK leader bashes government
  • [03] Education minister in D.C.
  • [04] KKE leader on FYROM issue

  • [01] PM addresses parliamentary debate

    Greece wants relations of friendship and cooperation with FYROM, but will not toy with the region's stability and security, nor with the national issues, prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Thursday in parliament, speaking during an off-the-agenda discussion on the FYROM name issue at the initiative of Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis.

    "The opportunity is in Skopje's hands," Karamanlis said, after reiterating anew his public invitation to FYROM "to continue the discussion" in the framework of the UN.

    "We seek a solution that takes into consideration the sensitivies of all, and ensures relatons of good neighborhood," the premier said, noting that "we are neighbors and will live in the same region, one next to the other".

    "We want a realistic, practical, implementable solution to the benefit of regional stability and the bilateral relations between the two peoples," he added.

    Karamanlis continued that the northern neighbors "have the opportunity to open wide their country's course to the Euro-Atlantic institutions".

    "They have the opportunity to evaluate the real facts, to formulate constructive positions, abandon the past, and win the future," he said, adding that "the opportunity is in their hands, and they must not let this opportunity go to waste".

    "This is our message to the people of the neighboring country. And this message, a message of friendship and cooperation, is a clear, steadfast and frank message," he said.

    "We want relations of friendship and cooperation," the premier said, but warned, however that "we do not toy with the stability of the region, we do not toy with the security of our neighborhood, we do not toy with national issues".

    Referring to the backing of opposition parties in Greece to the Greek stance at the recent NATO summit in Bucharest, Karamanlis warned that this unanimity must not turn into faint-heartedness the morning after. "Political party competition must finally become competition in contribution to the country," he said, adding that "sterile opposition has no place in modern Greece, let's keep sterile disagreement away, at least from the national issues".

    Turning to the 'hard battle' waged in Bucharest, Karamanlis praised the climate of unanimity at home, noting that "all the political forces -- each one from its own viewpoint -- backed, and back, the national effort for achieving the best possible result".

    "We waged a hard battle and achieved an important development...We are not over-estimating, but neither are we underestimating, the outcome. We know that we have a substantial road ahead of us in order to reach the ultimate national goal, the permanent resolution of the issue," he said.

    Regarding FYROM's expectations from the Bucharest summit, Karamanlis said that "delusions and mirages" had prevailed in the neighboring country, and the "rationale of intransigence".

    "Even when some timid indications, some isolated thoughts of moving away from intransigence, arise, newer official statements follow that undermine them and, in the end, neutralise them," he said.

    "Our neighbors disregarded the principle that demands, of all who wish to participate in the international transpirings, absolute respect for the international rules. They disregarded the principles of good neighborhood. Nationalistic and historically ungrounded rationales prevailed. And that was -- and is -- the mistake of our neighbors that must be realised," Karamanlis said, adding that Greece was waiting for "perceptions that will lead FYROM to a European future" to prevail.

    As for the "scenarios" that Greece could have found itself 'isolated' at the Bucharest summit, Karamanlis stressed that, quite the opposite, "we found many, and good, supporters", underlining the backing of large European countries, adding that "this was not by chance, this happened because we put foward convicing arguments, and through hard work".

    Evaluating the communique from the NATO summit, Karamanlis said that it adopted the Greek position. "Our position that 'no solution means no invitation' in essence became the position of the Alliance. And this is an important development in the 17-year impasse," the prime minister concluded.

    LAOS leader George Karatzaferis, speaking in turn, accused the government of backing down and of a passive stance to the US pressures on the FYROM name issue, while also rejecting any composite name for the neighboring country, and reitering his demand for a referendum on the issue.

    "You marked a goal in Bucharest, but you did not bring back the victory. I insist on placing you on the penalty line," Karatzaferis said.

    The LAOS leader said that the government's stance in Bucharest had been the result of pressure put on it by the opposition parties.

    Regarding the possibility of a composite name, Karatzaferis said that "you should have been far-sighted in Bucharest and taken advantage of the anti-American climate. Europe cannot hold up the heavy dossier with the Ukraine, Georgia and Skopje. It was not agreeable. You were unable to see that American policy no longer takes precedence. You are a hostage of concessions".

    "You vetoed what? The name 'Macedonia' that you have arleady conceded? Why did you concede it, Mr. Prime Minister. And that talk taking place no only on the added name, on whether we'll call it Upper or Lower or New 'Macedonia'," he said.

    "You missed a golden opportunity in Bucharest to take advantage of the conjuncture and the 'no' that Europe wanted to say to Bush, and you backed down on the name. You should have obliged Skopje to make proposals, and not concede the name 'Macedonia' to them," he added, while at the same time accusing FYROM of irredentist and expansionary desires.

    "We are passively taking part in the Americans' game. When there's a dispute between a couple, we do not involve the mother-in-law. Settle the differences yourselves," Karatzaferis said, stressing that Greece has no need to be rushing for a solution. "The Americans and Skopje are in a hurry for a solution. Why are we? Let's wait for the 'interest' from the veto," he said.

    Karatzaferis further called on the Greek government to commit itself that no Greek soldier would go to Afghanistan and that Greece would disengage itself from contributing to the NATO forces in Kosovo. "Why are we there? Why are we serving the Americans' plans? Kosovo is a 'mafia' state. What will we serve?," Karatzaferis said, adding that, if a military force was needed in Kosovo, then it should be a European force, rather than an American one.

    [02] PASOK leader bashes government

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that the government had "done its duty" at the recent NATO summit in Bucharest, "having securited the backing of PASOK, which forged the 'red line' on the Skopje issue". But "the struggle has not ended, and the positive outcome of the Summit is not sufficient to hide the mistakes of the New Democracy governments", Papandreou said during an off-the-agenda discussion in Parliament on the FYROM name issue.

    Papandreou warned the government against trying to exploit the national success in Bucharest in order to cover up the domestic problems.

    He said that the government was moving forward without a plan, without a clear, structured and long-term strategy of alliances that would enable it to avoid pressures or the risk of isolation, and so that it would not be forced to canvass for support for its positions, by even conceding armaments contracts.

    For example, he said, "in Lucerne we could have had a better result for the Cyprus issue. We had two historic opportunities to put forward the issue of the (Aegean) continental shelf, the infrintements of the Athens FIR (Flight Information Region) and vilations of Greek national airspace (by Turkish fighter planes), with Turkey's accession to the EU".

    "Why did you put forward a veto (on FYROM's accession to NATO) in Bucharest, while on the issue of Turkey you conceded early?," Papandreou asked.

    He charged that, even on the Skopje issue, the government was displaying "double-speak and inconsistency", sending out "obscure messages as to what our 'red line' is in the negotiations", just as the ND government of prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis had done in the past, and that was why "we reached the point where every proposal brought by Mr. Nimetz (UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue) to the table is worse than the preceding one".

    Papandreou added that the last Nimetz proposal, "a clear example of a double name", was a "failure of the government's negotiations".

    "I fear that the government is once again accepting a US effort for mediation, by-passing the UN," Papandreou said, adding that he disagreed "with turning over the handling and fate of our national issues to mediators such as Daniel Fried (US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs), who spoke of a Macedonian 'language' and 'ethnicity' ".

    He further criticised the government of not taking a clear stance against unilateral recognition of Kosovo and of speaking with half-words on the NATO amti-missile zone "which has so perturbed Russia".

    "Have you, too, already agreed -- as it appears in the NATO summit communique -- to Greece's participation in that plan, or is it a contiuation of the personal policy of your foreign minister?" Papandreou asked Karamanlis.

    He also charged that Greece did not have a clear position on NATO's role and on a number of critical international issues, such as nuclear proliferation and Iran and, at a later date Turkey, acquiring nuclear technology, or on Afghanistan, etc.

    "Greece can, and has the ability, to take initiatives. That's why we feel discouraged when Greece does not have the proper presence," Papandreou concluded.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou

    [03] Education minister in D.C.

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, currently on a tour of the United States, had a number of contacts with US administration officials during his visit After meeting with US Deputy Secretary on Education Raymond Simon, he stated that they discussed bilateral education cooperation issues, the likelihood of a bilateral agreement, improving the living and working preconditions for educators transferred from Greece to the United States to teach at Greek-American community schools as well as the promotion of cooperation on tertiary education level. Stylianidis also stated that there are roughly 3,000 professors of Greek origin teaching in US universities who could form the strongest bridge of cooperation between the two countries if they were asked to. Following a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri, Stylianidis stressed that they examined the prospects for closer bilateral relations on education cooperation issues, adding that he referred to the request for a five-year work permit to teachers transferred from Greece. They also agreed to encourage university cooperation, promote scientific research and exchange know-how. "Building closer cooperation that will be mutually beneficial, and will allow the 3,000 Greek-Americans teaching in American universities to visit Greece and convey modern know-how to Greece's higher education institutions," he said.

    Caption: Greek Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Goli Ameri in Washington on Tuesday 8 April 2008.ANA-MPA/LOUIS GOMEZBECK

    [04] KKE leader on FYROM issue

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said her party agreed with setting in motion a resolution of the FYROM name issue based on the Bucharest outcome "as a thorn that must be gotten rid of", but at the same time disagreed with presentation of that issue as the sole topic of the NATO summit "in order to conceal the real problems in the Balkans".

    Addressing the parliamentary off-the-agenda discussion on the FYROM name issue on Thursday, Papariga said that the real characteristics of the NATO summit had been concealed, which were "the strong intentions against peoples", adding that the position of significant powers of convering the EU into an integrated regional power with its own NATO force, into a "European NATO", had been projected at the summit.

    Europe, she charged, was in line with the "American imperialism", citing the dissolution of Yugoslavia that Germany 'paved the way for' and everyone else joined in on, and the "war of the Balkans" conducted with the cooperation of Greece.

    Papariga warned that there could be no unanimity among the Greek people when the country's policy is founded on the EU.

    She put forward "another serious issue", that of the "EU's dangerous policy in the Balkans, particularly in central Europe, with impact on western Europe", which concerns "how the regime of self-determination of the peoples is used".

    Self-determination on a personal, individual basis is good, she said, but warned that "on a collective basis, under conditions of creation of protectorates, in the mouths of the imperialists, it is for the exploitation of minority issues".

    Papariga said that her party was "very worried", and "does not trust any Community policy", and said it was necessarty for the proletariats, workers and people to unite, otherwise no issue would be resolved, adding that insubordination to the demand for adaptation to globalisation was necessary.

    The KKE leader further called on the government to never recognise Kosovo independence.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Communist party leader Aleka Papariga

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