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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-10-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou addresses European Socialist leaders
  • [02] Stern warning to Skopje from Parvanov over 'minority' claim
  • [03] Praise for 'green' Patriarch

  • [01] Papandreou addresses European Socialist leaders

    European socialists want Europe to have cohesion and make citizens its top priority, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Thursday in Brussels. Papandreou was addressing a meeting held by Party of European Socialists (PES) leaders of state and government, shortly before the start of the European Union summit.

    Papandreou stressed that the aims of European socialists were to support policies that created jobs for all, supported smaller businesses and created a people-centred society.

    Another issue underlined by Greece's premier was that of promoting green development, noting that this and the major decisions that must be taken during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would act as a lever and an opportunity for socialists to take important intiatives and decisions.

    Such decisions would concern the future of growth and create jobs, as well as social cohesion and a more humane and social Europe, he added.

    The PES leaders' summit was held to coordinate the policy of Europe's socialist leaders in terms of the priorities to be raised at the EU summit. The main issues discussed were European policies for employment during the economic crisis, priorities for the reforms to international financial institutions and the Lisbon Treaty.

    Shortly after the PES meeting, Papandreou is scheduled to have a brief, informal first meeting with the premier of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Nikola Gruevski.

    The Greek prime minister will then participate in the European Council meeting and then join other European leaders at a working dinner. The EU leaders' summit is scheduled to end by Friday afternoon.

    [02] Stern warning to Skopje from Parvanov over 'minority' claim

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA - B. Borisov) Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov on Thursday warned the government in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to retract statements regarding the existence of an ethnic 'Macedonian' minority in Bulgaria's Pirin region or jeopardise the country's prospects of joining the EU.

    An announcement released by the Bulgarian presidency's press office on Thursday quotes Parvanov's stern reaction to a statement made by FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski - who referred to "Macedonians of Vardar, the Aegean and Pirin" - and his warning that Sofia's support for FYROM's EU accession was not "unconditional".

    "I am bewildered by the position that has been expressed by the Prime Minister of neighbouring [FYROM]. I see it as unacceptable, as an expression of territorial claims. It is all the more unacceptable as [FYROM] aspires to become a member of the EU, Parvanov said on Thursday, during an official visit to Australia.

    Bulgaria's president stressed that Sofia's support for its neighbour's EU entry was largely dependent on that country's behaviour and he urged Skopje to immediately withdraw similar claims.

    Parvanov also underlined that Skopje must fulfill the criteria for EU membership, which included that of cultivating good relations with its members.

    Bulgaria's Deputy Foreign Minister Marin Raykov, who accompanied Parvanov on the trip to Australia, noted that FYROM would receive a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU as soon as as it resolved the problems with its neighbours.

    Skopje's government claims the existence of ethnic 'Macedonian' minorities in northern Greece and southwest Bulgaria; claims disputed by the governments in both those countries. It is also in a dispute with Greece over the use of the name 'Macedonia', which Athens construes as an attempt to make territorial claims against a northern Greek province with the same name.

    According to the Greek argument, the name Macedonia actually describes a much broader geographic area, which spans parts of Greece, Bulgaria and also FYROM itself.

    [03] Praise for 'green' Patriarch

    Washington (ANA-MPA / A. Ellis) -- The personality and global role played by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew were praised by the US House of Representatives with a resolution adopted on the occasion of his formal visit to the United States launched on Oct. 20, and his imminent visit to the US capital on Nov. 2-5.

    The resolution adopted with 424 votes in favour and none against (the US House has 435 members) recognized the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarch's role in the efforts for peace, religious issues and the environment, and encouraged United States foreign policy makers to continue to urge Turkey to grant religious freedom and property rights to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    The resolution was put together by Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, and was signed by other 50 US House Reps before being submitted for approval.

    The US House welcomes to the United States "the spiritual leader of nearly 300,000,000 Orthodox Christians around the world and millions of Orthodox Christians in the United States," the "convener of an ecumenical meeting which produced the first condemnation by Muslim leaders of the 9/11 attack on the United States as an anti-religious act". It is also stressed that that the "Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual home of the world's oldest and second largest Christian church in the world".

    It is pointed out that "Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received on his first official visit to the United States in 1997, a gold medal, presented by the United States on behalf of the Congress in recognition of his outstanding and enduring contributions to religious understanding and peace". It is pointed out that he was "a recipient of the Congressional gold medal, the highest Congressional honor given to individuals like George Washington, Pope John Paul IV, and Winston Churchill, among others".

    The resolution also points out that the Ecumenical Patriarch is "recognized in the United States and abroad as a leader in the quest for world peace, greater religious understanding, and respect for the Earth's environment," underlining that his efforts earned him the title 'the Green Patriarch'.


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