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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greece, US sign accords
  • [02] NATO chief: 'Back to work'
  • [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

  • [01] Greece, US sign accords

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg spoke of a "new air" in Greece-US relations after a bilateral meeting during which two accords were signed on the sidelines of a NATO-Russia ministerial meeting and an OSCE informal ministerial meeting on the Greek island of Corfu over the weekend.

    Greece and the US signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a cooperation agreement on tackling serious crime, which pave the way to Greece's inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program.

    "There are just a few steps left, and some administrative actions, to complete this process," Steinberg said in joint statements with Bakoyannis after their meeting, adding that he expected completion of the process before the end of the year.

    Based on reciprocity, the services of the Greek foreign ministry and the US state department drafted two texts that adopt high-level criteria and guarantees for the protection of personal data and adherence of legal procedures, Bakoyannis said, noting that the two accords comprised an essential step towards strengthening bilateral relations, particularly at the level of the Society of the Citizens.

    She added that Greece and the US would work at a fast pace for completion of the process, and look forward to the positive effect that Greece's participation in the visa waiver program will have on economic cooperation between the two countries, tourism and contact between the two peoples.

    On recent high-level exchanges of visits with the US, Bakoyannis said that they were proof of the "new air" blowing in Greek-US relations.

    On Sunday's OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) meeting at foreign minister level, which is hosted by Greece as the 2009 chairman of the Organisation, Bakoyannis, who is the OSCE's Chairperson-in-Office, said that Corfu Process "marks a new beginning for the role of the OSCE, dialogue and European security".

    "I see that there is a will to change page. The OSCE is the appropriate forum to continue the dialogue in the spirit of Helsinki. The informal Corfu meeting provides an excellent opportunity for this dialogue to be placed on solid foundations. Today, our partners manifested their confidence in the Greek Chairmanship and support of the Corfu Process. This gives us optimism for achieving a step forward for European security. United, we can ensure peace for Europe," Bakoyannis said.

    Turning to Steinberg, who is taking part in the conference in place of US secretary of state Hilary Clinton due to illness, Bakoyannis wished Clinton a speedy recovery and added that "we are expecting her in December at the OSCE conference marking the end of the Greek Chairmanship, in order to continue what we began here today on Corfu".

    Steinberg, in turn, spoke of a 'deepening of relations' between the two countries and placed the signing of the two accords in that conference, noting that the strategic cooperation between the two countries was being advanced.

    He also commended the Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE and Bakoyannis' efforts on the issue of Georgia, adding that the OSCE was the appropriate forum for facing the modern-day challenges of terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons, as a practical step for the security and prosperity of the European citizens.

    Steinberg noted that the meaning of the OSCE was encapsulated in collectivity, "that we all sit together at the same table", and that it embodied the vision of a united and free Europe.

    The two sides discussed other bilateral issues, including finding ways for peace in the Balkans, how to help in achieving an agreement on Cyprus, and energy security in Europe, according to Steinberg.

    Caption: Foreign miniser Dora Bakoyannis (R) and US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg signing a Memorandum of Cooperation on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting on Corfu. (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

    [02] NATO chief: 'Back to work'

    Outgoing NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer encapsulated the outcome of Saturday's meeting of NATO-Russia foreign ministers on the Greek island of Corfu in the phrase 'Back to Work'.

    Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the crisis in the Caucasus, Scheffer said that there were still "fundamental differences" between the Alliance and Russia on the Caucasus issues, such as the territorial integrity of Georgia, but nevertheless an important development emerging from the Corfu meeting was agreement by the two sides that those differences were not a reason for discontinuation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) talks on a broad range of security threats.

    The two sides decided at the Corfu meeting to resume relations at political level, and agreed also to restart military contacts, which have been frozen since last August.

    "There are still fundamental differences on Georgia, they have not evaporated...but NATO needs Russia and Russia needs NATO," the alliance chief said, adding that "we have restarted our relations at a political level, we have also agreed to restart the military to military contacts".

    Replying to a press question, Scheffer noted that the list of matters for cooperation was "long", and stressed that Russian is an important factor in the region.

    He also thanked Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis for her personal efforts for the success of the meeting.

    Caption: NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer addressing the NATO-Russia ministerial meeting on Corfu. (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

    [03] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The state of the economy and the Siemens bribes scandal dominated the front-page headlines in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "This is how they loot IKA (state social security foundation) - Document: 2 billion euros loss from 14 sources - Revelations in confidential study on tax evasion".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Foreign 'executioner' in Revolutionaries Sect (urban terrorist group) - Links with common crime under the ELAS (Greek Police) microscope".

    AVGHI: "Orwellian state - Cameras everywhere and DNA testing for petty reasons".

    AVRIANI: "8 top PASOK (main opposition) and 2 top ND (ruling party) officals 'burned' - Christoforakos (fugitive Siemens Hellas former CEO who was recently arrested in Germany) opens the burning dossiers and gives names and accounts that received the kickbacks".

    CHORA: "Tapes that burn - Representative of the Munich prosecutor's office speaks to Chora".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Letters from Germany".

    ETHNOS: "1.9 billion euros 'aspirin' for the fiscal black hole but...coup de grace for the market with the tax-collecting measures".

    KATHIMERINI: "Ankara: We refuse to become refugee camp - Turkish minister to Kathimerini: We will not apply the readmission protocol".

    LOGOS: "Karamanlis' political options are drying up after the new economic measures".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Counter-attack against the anti-migration policy of ND, PASOK, LAOS, EU - Shared class cause of the Greek and foreign workers".

    TO VIMA: "Karamanlis' quandaries and plans".

    VRADYNI: "IKA: 20 percent discount on contributions - Payment of debts in 60 instalments".

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