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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou calls for W.Balkans' EU entry by 2014
  • [02] Visit to Samos migrant centre

  • [01] Papandreou calls for W.Balkans' EU entry by 2014

    Greece's main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou on Monday called from Budva, Montenegro, on the European Union to accept in its rangs the countries of the western Balkans, namely Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM and Albania, by the year 2014, one hundred years after the start, in the Balkans, of WWI.

    Papandreou, who was addressing the opening session of a Socialist International (SI) council meeting, called on the EU to reinforce and guarantee the perspectives of peace, security and stability in the Balkan region.

    The SI president also referred to the current world economic crisis, terming it an economic and political crisis as well as a crisis of values.

    "Democracy is threatened and the threat emanates either from new type authoritarian regimes, or from the concentration, in the hands of few, of an immense economic, political and 'media' power," Papandreou noted.

    He added that socialist values "are today as timely as ever and can act as a catalyst for a better world, a world without poverty, without diseases, without corruption and illiteracy."

    Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting and referring to Greek internal issues, Papandreou did not exclude the possibility of early general elections, claiming that the government was "a hostage", especially after the "closure of Parliament and June's Euroelections".

    Accusing the government of "diffusing rumours on early elections", Papandreou said it would be better to let the Greek people decide through elections.

    The SI leader also held talks with Montenegrin Prime Minister and leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists Milo Djukanovic and Montegrin Parliament President and leader of the Social Democratic Party Ranko Krivokapi? on the sideline of the meeting.

    [02] Visit to Samos migrant centre

    European Commission Vice-president Jacques Barrot, responsible for justice, freedom and security, on Monday paid a visit to reception facilities for illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. In statements afterwards, he acknowledged that Greek authorities faced a difficult task but also stressed Greece's obligation to provide a refuge for immigrants arriving on its shores.

    "I understand the difficulty facing the Greek government, which finds itself having to deal with an ever increasing number of migrants, as well as the obligation for Community solidarity, but also that there is an obligation on the part of the Greek government to offer refuge to the foreigners that come here," Barrot said.

    The Commissioner, upon his arrival on the island, was given a tour of the French vessel belonging to the EU Frontex agency and visited the Migrant Reception Centre on the island, where he talked with immigrants detained there.

    In statements to reporters, he said that this was a more general problem that cost human lives and required cooperation with non-EU countries of origin or transit in order to be solved.

    Pavlopoulos declared himself satisfied with what he had seen at the Samos centre and what the Commissioner had witnessed regarding Greece's efforts to tackle a problem that concerned all of Europe.

    "It can be understood that Greece is currently receiving the greater number of illegal immigrants. It is making huge efforts to accelerate asylum processes but, as I explained to Mr. Barrot, and as he has himself acknowledged, this does not solve the more general problem that concerns illegal immigrants who are not seeking asylum," the minister said.

    According to Pavlopoulos, coping with the economic migrants required solidarity between EU nations.

    "We must carry out the agreement for migration and asylum, which means signing readmission treaties and putting pressure on countries such as Turkey to honour those agreements that exist. The solution, as Mr. Barrot will explain in Athens on Tuesday, is to look at the root of the problem, and this means that we must stamp out all this illegal trafficking of migrants that exploits human lives," he stressed.

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