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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-03-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM speaks in parliament on foreign policy
  • [02] Athens Stock Exchange : Decline

  • [01] PM speaks in parliament on foreign policy

    A steadfast course of responsibility and insight was necessary, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Thursday, adding that there were inviolable 'red lines' that were unalterable and non-negotiable, and reiterated his call for rallying of all the political forces to confront the impact of the global financial crisis.

    Speaking in parliament during an off-the-agenda discussion on foreign policy, held at party leader level, Karamanlis stressed that his government would not back down a single step, adding that it was conducting foreign policy with outwardness and national confidence.

    The government was acting prudently and boldly on the country's just demands, the premier said, adding that the fundamental principles of its foreign policy were international understanding and cooperation.

    "We are in a period of serious global risks in energy sufficiency, the environment, poverty, but chiefly the global financial crisis. The international community is at its most difficult point in post-war history, facing a crisis that is not showing any signs of letting up. In that international environment, the only outlet is through global interventions," Karamanlis said.

    He said that his government was "dedicated to goals that are common for all the Greeks, to principles that have served and continue to serve the national interests", and stressed that "we are present in the international peace missions but also in the international efforts to combat piracy...we developed the guidelines of economic diplomacy, including major investments in China, while we also placed exceptional emphasis on the ecumenical Hellenism and subsidize actions of the Greeks abroad on all five continents".

    Karamanlis reiterated his call for the rallying of all the political forces to confront the effects of the global financial crisis.

    The prime minister also called on everyone interested in a resolution of the Cyprus issue to use their influence on the (Turkish) occupation force, while on the FYROM name issue he reiterated that Athens has for some time completed its own share of the path to a mutually acceptable solution.

    He stressed that Greece would not back down a single step on the "inviolable red lines", noting inter-alias that the government placed priority on the country's energy security and was applying a policy of two-way diversification of energy sources and routes: "A tangible result was the fact that we were able to face the recent complication in the flow of natural gas without the problems faced by other countries".

    On the development of Greece's foreign relations, Karamanlis stressed the "well-planned overture to Asia, with emphasis on our relations with China, which has already produced tangible results".

    On enhancing Athens' bonds with the Greeks abroad, the prime minister noted the bill for absentee voting in national elections, and took the opportunity to call on the opposition parties to vote in favor of the legislation.

    The prime minister further noted Athens' backing of its neighboring countries' Euro-Atlantic courses.

    He made specific mention of the substantial Greek economic activity in FYROM, which he said "confirms a strong volition for cooperation and friendship", but added that "unfortunately" the name issue, the "historically ungrounded and provocative stance of the FYROM leadership towards an EU and NATO member", the "ethnicism cultivated internally in FYROM" and the "serious problems and dysfunctions in fundamental areas of state activity such as justice, the just state and the institutions" still remained unresolved and continued to block FYROM's path to the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

    Karamanlis warned that, with such practices, the neighboring country could not enter the door of the Euro-Atlantic family.

    This message, he said, the message from the entire Alliance, was made crystal clear last April following the NATO summit in Bucharest: An invitation to FYROM for accession to the Euro-Atlantic family presupposes a solution to the name issue. Good neighborhood relations are of fundamental importance in every alliance, in every community of states. Consequently, Skopje is obliged to make the necessary steps for a mutually acceptable solution to be found on the basis of a composite name with a geographical qualification for all purposes and uses.

    Greece, the premier stressed, remains steadfast on the UN-brokered negotiation, but has for some time completed its own part of the road to a mutually acceptable solution.

    On Turkey's EU course, Karamanlis said that some reforms have been made in the neighboring country, "but fundamental and necessary steps dictated by its oblations to the EU have not been made to date", specifically citing Ankara's "unwillingness to cooperate constructive in the problem of illegal migration", adding that this did not concern only Greece but Europe as a whole, and impacted its accession negotiations with the EU.

    Reiterating that Greece "firmly maintains that full adaptation also means full accession" for Turkey, Karamanlis noted that only a more positive compliance with its European obligations could stem the views already being voiced throughout Europe for a 'special relationship' between the EU and Turkey rather than the latter's accession to the Union.

    Conversely, he warned, a continuation of the current situation would serve as an advocate for a special relationship, and noted that time was working against Turkey's European prospect.

    The prime minister further underlined that Turkey's path to Europe as well as to the full normalization of relations with Greece presupposed a solution of the Cyprus issue, adding that everyone who honestly cared about a solution was obliged to look at the real dimension of the problem and address their recommendations to the occupation force, "in other words, to the predators, not the victims". He stressed that occupation forces and colonists could not remain on European territory, while the outdated rationale of 'guarantees' and 'intervention rights' had no room against an equal EU member (Cyprus), warning that any attempt to bring back the Annan plan, "a plan that belongs in the past", would simply indicate that some quarters have not learned from history.

    Noting that he would visit Cyprus at a later date, Karamanlis said that Greece, without second thoughts, encouraged continuation of the inter-communal dialogue under the auspices of the UN, without stifling timetables and arbitration, so that a permanent solution could be reached by the Cypriots themselves.

    To that effect, the prime minister said, the government was in constant contact and cooperation with the Cyprus president and political leadership and supported the people of Cyprus.

    Turning to the "unprecedented crisis", he said it was everyone's duty to focus on the effort to limit its impact, warning that there were many difficulties, but expressing confidence that the country could succeed in transforming the global crisis into a national opportunity, with Greece and the Greek society emerging stronger and more powerful from the crisis.

    [02] Athens Stock Exchange : Decline

    Equity prices were declining on Thursday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 0.69 percent, standing at 1,527.54 points at 14:15 p.m., and turnover at 43.2 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly downward, with the biggest losses in Banks, down 2.82 percent; Raw Materials, down 2.73 percent; and Industrial Products, down 1.79 percent.

    The biggest gains were in Public Utilities, up 1.70 percent; and Travel and Recreation, up 1.63 percent; and Oil and Gas, up 0.83 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 0.96 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was down 1.22 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was down 0.91 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 55 were up, 123 were down, and 49 were unchanged.

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