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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] Opinion poll indicates voters want bolder PM
  • [02] Russian foreign minister on NRC
  • [03] US deputy secretary Steinberg
  • [04] FMs on European security

  • [01] Opinion poll indicates voters want bolder PM

    Nearly 67 percent of respondents want the prime minister to be bolder in the exercise of his duties, according to an oppinion poll conducted by RASS, the results of which appeared in the weekly newspaper "To Paron" on Sunday.

    More specifically, 66.8 percent of the respondents said that they considered prime minister Costas Karamanlis to be lacking in daring in the governance of the country, against 28.7 percent that consider him daring.

    Also, 55.3 percent of the respondents want the government to exhaust its four-year term in office, while 41.1 percent want early general elections.

    To a question on what was to blame for the ruling New Democracy party's second-place showing in the recent European Parliament elections, 33.2 percent blamed it on lack of effectiveness by the government, 26.4 percent on the scandal talk, 26.4 percent on the attitude of the government's officials, and just 7.7 percent put the blame on the prime minister.

    Further, Karamanlis continues to be the most suited for prime minister, with the preference of 45.4 percent of the respondents, against 36.4 percent who considered main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou as the most suited.

    The opinion poll was conducted on a sampling of 2,001 households from June 22 to 26.

    [02] Russian foreign minister on NRC

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called for a return to the founding principals of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), in a press conference after the NATO-Russia ministerial meeting held Saturday afternoon on the island of Corfu, the first such high-level meeting since the crisis in the Caucasus.

    He said that the NATO-Russia Council convened (at foreign minister level) after a long time, with positive results and a sincere exchange of views.

    "We need to return to the founding principles of the NATO-Russia Council, especially on the indivisibility of European security," Lavrov said, adding that his views on the issue "coincide" with those of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (who also attended the Corfu meeting), who he called "one of the fathers of the NATO-Russia cooperation".

    On Russia's decisions regarding recogition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Lavrov said that they were "irreversible", but added that the meeting had been useful in averting new clashes.

    [03] US deputy secretary Steinberg

    US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg said that Saturday's NATO-Russia meeting and Sunday's OSCE ministerial meeting on Corfu provided a significant opportunity for dialogue on the major challenges faced by Europe, such as regional security, arms proliferation, terrorism, and economic matters, in an interview on Greek state television station NET.

    He also noted the joint desire of Greece and the US for deepening relations between the two countries.

    Steinberg said that the NATO and OSCE meetings on Corfu were an opportunity for advancing cooperation.

    US President Barack Obama considers Greece a very important a very important partner of the US, with which the US has common interests and shares common values, for cooperation in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and proof of that desire was the resolution of current matters, such as completion of the process for Greece's inclusion in the US visa waiver program.

    To a question on the increase in illegal migration, Steinberg said that he understands Greece's concerns both on the impact on security issues and on the human dimension of the problem. He said ways need to be found to tackle the problem at the source.

    On Turkish overflights in the Aegean, he expressed concern over the escalation of tension, and said dialogue was necessary, adding that the efforts being made by the Greek side for a commitment on the party of Turkey to jointly find solutions were important.

    On the Cyprus issue, he expressed satisfaction with the recent opening of the Limnitis crossing, calling it a very positive indication.

    Regarding the FYROM name issue, he said that a resolution of the problem would be to everyone's benefit, adding that it would be in Greece's interest to see FYROM in NATO and the EU and become a prospering country.

    On terrorism, Steinberg said that there was cooperation with Greece in that area, adding that such cooperation was necessary because terrorist was a threat for all citizens.

    At a press conference after the conclusion of Saturday's informal NRC meeting, at foreign ministers level on Corfu, Steinberg spoke of a "rejuvenation" of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), a forum to which "we can discuss even the differences", in a press conference

    He said that discussions included Afghanistan, terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and Georgia, but not Iran, while he added that emphasis must be placed on multilateral diplomacy.

    Steinberg noted that the differences concerned the issue of Georgia and NATO enlargement, adding that the NATO message to Russia was that Georgia's territorial integrity must be respected, and that stability in Georgia was also in the interests of Russia.

    Caption: US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg (L) with US ambassador to Greece Daniel Speckhard. (ANA-MPA/O. Panagiotou)

    [04] FMs on European security

    Finnish foreign minister Alexander Stubb said he firmly supported the Greek OSCE Chairmanship's approach that new structures are not necessary in the field of security and that the existing ones are sufficient but need to be renewed, and on the principles on which our commitment must be reaffirmed.

    Replying to questions during a press conference regarding Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's proposal for the establishment of a Europe-wide security pact, Stubb noted that the OSCE had been founded due to the Cold War and that it is the authoritative organisation for security issues encompassing all three aspects: relations among the member countries on the basis of specific principals, economic and environmental cooperation, and linking security with human rights.

    Stubb further spoke of a three-stage road map for the OSCE that began in Helsinki and continued on Corfu, while the next step will be in Athens (at the OSCE meeting marking the end of the Greek Chairmanship).

    French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, in his own press conference, said that "we are too many to be able, through a discussion, to move forward".

    He added, however, that there had been "ice" up to now due to the issue of Georgia, but "now we are discussing the issue".

    "Mr. Lavrov (Russian foreign minister) is amongst us, and this is positive. The main idea is to continue working, so that in Athens we will move an inch forward," Kouchner said.

    Cyprus foreign minister Markos Kyprianou called for reinforcement of the European security system, in statements to the press on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting.

    Turning to the case of Cyprus, he said that "we, as a country, have suffered from the violation of our security", adding that "at this time a matter of has arisen of enhancing the existing institutions, which were created many years ago and have not been modernised".

    Replying to questions, he said that "from the declaration of principals last year in Helsinki and the brainstorming taking place at this stage, we need to pass on to a stage of specific proposals".

    Caption: French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner at the OSCE meeting on Corful. (ANA-MPA/S. Pantzartzi)

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