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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM meets Czech counterpart; orders sports clean-up

  • [01] PM meets Czech counterpart; orders sports clean-up

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received visiting Czech premier Mirek Topolanek and held talks on issues concerning both countries, both in terms of their bilateral relations and as allies and partners in the EU and NATO. In statements afterwards, Karamanlis said they had discussed the Czech Republic's priorities when it takes over the EU presidency in January 2009, focusing particularly on EuroAtlantic ties, the Balkans and relations with neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe.

    "We consider consultation and mutual understanding of the positions of partners in the framework of the EU to be very important and we are ready to assist the Czech presidency in its work," Karamanlis added.

    Their talks had also ranged over issues like EU enlargement and developments in the Balkans, with emphasis on Serbia and Kosovo, with the two sides confirming that the region's security and stability remained a priority, the Greek premier said.

    In terms of developing and promoting bilateral relations, Karamanlis said they had examined these on all levels and also the prospects of further boosting ties in the economic sector, tourism, investments, research and technology.

    The Czech premier said that Athens was the first stop on a tour of European capitals before his country takes over the EU presidency, stressing the symbolic importance of the visit.

    During his statements, he indicated his government's priorities during its stint in the EU presidency and referred to energy policy, saying that the Czech Republic was in favour of a secure and single energy policy for Europe.

    He added that the Lisbon Treaty would go into effect during his country's presidency and that it would seek to strengthen EU foreign policy toward the western Balkans, saying that Prague's goal was a Europe without barriers and obstacles for European countries.

    PM orders immediate measures to clean up sport sector

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday gave instructions for the taking of immediate measures aimed at cleaning up the sector of sport, during a 90-minute meeting with culture minister Michalis Liapis and deputy culture minister for sports Yannis Ioannidis.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Liapis said that the prime minister was briefed on developments in the doping scandal in the national weightlifting team, adding that the premier gave instructions for immediate measures so that the ministry could proceed in a clean-up of the sport sector.

    "I am not one for big words, I am a man of action," Liapis said, announcing that in the next 10 days he would table in parliament an amendment to a bill already tabled on combatting violence in sports fields, which amendment would aim at cleaning up the sport sector.

    "We do not want medals at all cost," Liapis said, stressing that "the time has come to table an institutional weapons cache in order to have healthy sports, clean athletes and, above all, to protect our youth", and adding that "we want medals, but above all we want clean athletes".

    Ioannidis, in turn, said that he wanted "clean sport", and the country's youths "in the stadiums for their physical and mental health", and called on parents to not be afraid of their children becoming involved in sports.

    "Let's not confuse the medals with doping," he said, adding that there were also "clean medals, without doping", and cited the example of Emil Zatopek, who a few decades ago won three gold medals in Track and Field (1952 Olympics in Helsinki in the 5km and 10 km runs and the marathon, his first-ever) "which no one else has accomplished to this day, despite the advancement of scientific support", and the example of Bob Beamon, whose Long Jump world record (in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City) took more than two decades to be broken.

    Replying to questions during a press briefing later, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros referred to the statements by Liapis and Ioannidis after their meeting with the prime minister, and stressed that the present government has undertaken specific initiatives.

    "Don't forget under whose initiative the Doping Control Center was set up," Antonaros said,adding that the political volition of the government and prime minister was a "given fact, and beyond dispute".

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