|Saturday, 24 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-19
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM welcomes EU decision on illegal migrationBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis) -- Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday expressed his personal satisfaction with the decisions taken during a two-day EU Summit here -amongst others, on the increasingly troubling problem of illegal immigration into the Union as a whole, and particularly its repercussions on Greece.
Specifically, Karamanlis said an agreement by the Union's 27 member-states on dealing with illegal immigration marks the climax of a long-standing diplomatic initiative vigorously promoted by Athens, which included letters sent by Karamanlis towards other EU leaders as well as persistent activity by Greece's diplomatic staff and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
The Greek PM said a common stance by EU members was of particular significance given the different approaches and views that some of the member-states hold on the issue of illegal immigration, and given that the burden emanating from the increasing flow of illegal migrants adversely affects a specific group of countries in the Union more than others.
Greece and other countries in the Union's southern periphery -- Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus -- have recently been increasingly vocal in demanding EU support in coping with an ever-rising tide of illegal immigration from mostly Third World countries in the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Referring to decisions taken by EU leaders only hours earlier, Karamanlis cited an agreement on a more "equal" sharing of the burdens associated with illegal immigration between all member-states, pointing to stepped up guarding of the EU's external borders via the Frontex initiative as well as the commencement of jointly chartered flights by EU governments to repatriate illegal immigrants to their home countries.
In briefing Greek reporters here, Karamanlis confirmed that the EU aims to sign re-admission protocols with countries where a large number of illegal migrants originate, but also with countries that serve as transit points for illegal immigrants, an indirect reference to EU candidate-state Turkey.
Turning in particular to Turkey and Libya, both of which are mentioned in the summit's conclusions as "key countries" in dealing with the illegal immigration phenomenon, the Greek prime minister underlined that Turkey bears significant responsibility for the rising problem.
Along those lines, Karamanlis said the Union also unanimously backs the position that Turkey must fully implement bilateral agreements it has signed for the re-admission of third party nationals that illegally enter other countries from its territory. This point is a clear reference to a landmark 2001 re-admission protocol that Ankara signed with Athens, a pact that Ankara is reportedly failing to satisfactorily honor.
Karamanlis added, at this point, that Turkey's actions and behaviour on this specific matter should now be closely scrutinised.
Turning to another major issue that dominated talks here, Karamanlis said there are indications that the ongoing global economic crisis is abating, although a cautious stance is still necessary.
Amongst others, Karamanlis referred to an improvement in regulatory supervision of financial institutions in Europe and on the issue of member-states' fiscal stability.
He called Friday's decisions vis-?-vis supervision of financial institutions within the EU a significant step forward.
PM on decision to re-elect Barroso
Karamanlis expressed satisfaction at the European leaders' decision to appoint Jose Manuel Barroso to serve a second five-year term as president of the European Commission, pointing out that Barroso had given Greece valuable support on a number of issues affecting the country's interests.
According to the Greek premier, Barroso was also well acquainted with the problems faced by the European south, while he also pointed to the European Commission's strong solidarity with Greece during the crisis caused by the massive 2007 fires.
Karamanlis additionally stressed that the decision to reappoint Barroso was taken unanimously, with the support of the socialist leaders on the European Council.
On terrorism, domestic politics
Replying to questions on domestic issues, especially in light of the shooting in cold blood of a police officer by terrorists earlier this week, Karamanlis defended the response of the government and the police force.
"The destructive and nihilist criticism exercised by some does not help anything," he underlined, denying that the structure of the police anti-terrorism squad had been disrupted by the removal of high-ranking officers and pointing out that the majority had remained in the same positions.
"We need the police force to have a high morale," he added, stressing that those engaging in such criticism were sending out the wrong messages.
Once again ruling out the prospect of early elections, Karamanlis went on to also rule out the prospect of cooperation between ruling New Democracy and the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, stressing that the two were separated by "unbridgeable differences".
Regarding a decision to allow the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to land at a Greek airport in a plane bearing the FYROM national airline's logo, contrary to standard policy, Karamanlis stressed that Greece had recently made significant progress on the name dispute with FYROM. If the Greek side had refused to allow a FYROM plane to land in Corfu so that the FYROM minister could attend a OSCE foreign ministers' meeting taking place on the island, this would be construed as "pettiness, nervousness and insecurity," the Greek premier added.
Questioned about recent airspace violations in the Aegean by Turkish aircraft, Karamanlis said that intended to raise the issue with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in Athens on Saturday, in addition to the discussion that he had on the same issue with U.S. President Barack Obama two months ago.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis after the 2008 European Council meeting in Brussels.
 Gov't, Papandreou on farm policyAgriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis, responding to accusations by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday from Parliament's podium, charged that the latter "appears to be inadequately briefed as regards the farm sector and is being misled by his advisors into making ungraceful exaggerations."
Papandreou earlier charged that the government failed to successfully demand a continuation of EU support to farmers beyond 2013.
Speaking in Parliament's first summer session and during a discussion on a current question tabled by his party, Papandreou also accused the government of failing to redirect the farming sector toward more viable and competitive products, underlining that farmers feel helpless as a result of the economic crisis and defenseless in view of the EU Summit next fall, when the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) financial perspectives will be discussed.
On his part, Hatzigakis outlined the moves made by the government to boost the farmers' income, citing the measures concerning pesticides, pressures exerted to have fertilizer prices drop 30 pct and implementation of a fuel price management programme.
Hatzigakis also stated that 80 pct of the programmes included in the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) will be implemented in the country's provinces, stressing that the specific CSF reached 5.23 billion euros when initially launched and now exceeds the seven-billion-euro mark.
"In addition, 900 million euros are being dedicated to environmental protection projects, while roughly 1 billion euros will go to water management related projects," he stressed, pointing out that farming sector programmes of over 3 billion euros are being currently promoted.
 Activists urge return of Parthenon Marbles during 2012 OlympicsRepresentatives of national committees for the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures on Friday cited the 2012 Olympic Games in London as the best occasion for Britain and the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
They were speaking during a press conference given by 17 members of committees representing 15 countries, who are currently in Athens for the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum on Saturday.
The chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures David Hill also announced the start of efforts to establish a Parthenon Day every year in mid-June and the launch of a major campaign for their return based on the slogan "Why not?"
Apart from the above, the movement intends to conduct opinion polls and collect signatures in favour of the sculptures' return.
Hill was also dismissive about an offer from the British Museum to loan the sculptures to Greece for three months:
"The Marbles are like our children; it is though they were kidnapped and returned for three months," he said.
The members of the national committee for the return of the Parthenon sculptures that are in Athens for the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum represent the committees of Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, the United States, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
 Mild quake reported south of RhodesA mild earthquake -- a measure on the Richter scale is pending -- was reported at 5:05 p.m. (15:05 GMT) roughly 150 kilometres south of the holiday island of Rhodes and east of the island of Karpathos, in the SE Aegean.
No damages were reported. The quake follows a series of weak tremblers a day earlier in the same region.
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