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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: Greek foreign policy confident, responsible
  • [02] Papandreou raps gov't over foreign policy
  • [03] Greek bond market closing report
  • [04] SAE positive on expatriate vote

  • [01] PM: Greek foreign policy confident, responsible

    A steadfast course of responsibility and insight is necessary, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis reiterated on Thursday in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy, held at party leader level. Karamanlis added that there were inviolable 'red lines' that are unalterable and non-negotiable, while he reiterated his call for a rallying of all political forces to confront the impact of the global economic crisis.

    "We are in a period of serious global risks in energy sufficiency, the environment, poverty, but chiefly the global economic crisis. The international community finds itself in its most difficult position in post-war history, facing a crisis that is not showing any signs of letting up. In such an international environment, the only solution comes through global interventions," Karamanlis said.

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

    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 regarding the fYRoM "name issue" he reiterated that Athens has for some time completed its own share of the path towards a mutually acceptable solution.

    He stressed that Greece would not back down a single inch on what he called "inviolable red lines", noting inter-alia, 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 cited a "well-planned overture to Asia, with an emphasis on our relations with China, which has already produced tangible results".

    On enhancing Athens' bonds with Greeks abroad, the prime minister pointed directly to a draft bill for absentee voting by eligible Greek citizens abroad for national elections, and took the opportunity to call on the opposition parties to support the landmark legislation.

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

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

    Karamanlis warned that, with such practices, the former Yugoslav republic could not pass through door of the Euro-Atlantic family.

    This message, he said, a 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 neighbourhood 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," he said.

    Greece, the premier added, 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

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

    Reiterating that Greece "firmly maintains that full implementation also means full accession" for Turkey, Karamanlis noted that only increased compliance with its European obligations could deflect 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 normalisation 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 settlers 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 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.

    [02] Papandreou raps gov't over foreign policy

    ̀ain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday accused the government of having "exhausted" the Greek family and economy, and of "remaining true to the dogma of a small and powerless Greece", and abandoning the country's biggest success in the EU, namely the Helsinki decisions, speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy.

    During his address in Parliament, he also rejected what he called "the myth being cultivated by the right that there is convergence between the mainstream parties (ND and PASOK) on major issues of foreign policy".

    Papandreou said the government's foreign policy had led to distinct "diplomatic defeats".

    He said not only had VAT on farm products not been reduced, as the government had promised, but Greece now faced the prospect of EU excessive debt procedures for a second time, whereas Cyprus and Portugal had succeed in VAT reductions.

    Further, Papandreou said, the EU had shifted to a rationale of "petting Turkey with gifts at the expense of Greece and Cyprus", while the Balkans did not feel that Greece was on their side in their effort for EU accession. Moreover, he aired his view that the Muslim minority in Thrace had ceased to be seen as an internal issue and was now seen as a Greek-Turkish bilateral issue.

    PASOK, he said, believed in the "creative abilities" of the Greek people, whereas the government has adopted a credo of "a non-position is a position".

    "So long as Greece lacked an integrated national strategy, it would have no say in the Balkans, it would not open up new growth paths with green development, and so long as it was not at the forefront of disarmament, so would it be passed over "as the US government is passing us over", Papandreou warned, adding that this tactic had allowed Turkey room to consider itself necessary, while preference of Turkey "is a crime of our own strategy".

    [03] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market was a low 626 million euros on Thursday, of which 340 million were buy orders and the remaining 286 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security of the day with a turnover of 150 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 298 basis points with the Greek bond yielding 5.99 pct and the German Bund 3.01 pct.

    In interbank markets, interest rates ended lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.93 pct, the six-month rate 1.79 pct, the three-month rate 1.65 pct and the one-month rate 1.27 pct.

    [04] SAE positive on expatriate vote

    Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stephanos Tamvakis and the organisation's coordinators from the regions of the United States, Canada and Asia-Africa on Thursday expressed the SAE's approval, in principle, of a landmark draft law granting voting rights to eligible Greek citizens living permanently abroad for general elections in Greece.

    The opinion was expressed during a joint meeting held on Wednesday between the public administration, public order and justice and overseas Hellenism committees.

    "We are experiencing historic moments with the tabling of this bill," the SAE president said, adding that "the bill provides the possibility of exercising voting rights from our places of residence and for this reason we say that we accept the vote being given to us."

    He also called for the possibility of voting, apart from ballot boxes, by mail as well as for the immediate registering overseas Greeks in voting lists.

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