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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-04

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 GFMD
  • [02] PM meets UN Sec-Gen, discusses migration, climate change
  • [03] 11th Greek ICT Forum opens - Message from PM

  • [01] Papandreou addresses GFMD

    The Greek government's policy on migrants will be a drastic advancement of measures for their integration and social participation, aimed at achieving a socially cohesive and just Greece, prime minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday, addressing the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) which is being held in Athens. "Our goal is to combat inequality and fear in society," he stressed.

    The 3rd GFMD, taking place at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall and attended by 250 representatives of international organisations, is also being attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who addressed the Forum, and a number of government ministers.

    Papandreou said that it was a "happy coincidence" with "great symbolism" that this year's Forum is taking place in Greece, "a country that well knows what migration means and how it could work for everyone's benefit.

    "We need to open up new ways of thought and policy on regulating this phenomenon that will allow us to avert extreme problems that we frequently encounter, such as racism, human trafficking, barbarous exploitation of women and children," the prime minister urged.

    Noting that migration was not just a present-day phenomenon, given that it has existed throughout history "not as a regional phenomenon, but a crucial one for the development of our world, of civilisation, of the way we perceive our societies, but also for us ourselves", the Greek premier spoke of the relationship between migration and development.

    "Development and migration are communicating vessels and provide the ability for us to realise also the beneficial possibilities of a regulated migration, because development reduces migration to the countries of origin, but migration in turn also increases growth," Papandreou said.

    Papandreou added that migration has, in the countries of destination, contributed to filling empty work positions and the creation of additional jobs for the native population, to improvement of the demographic indexes, to boosting the social security systems, to reduction of the production costs, to containment of inflationary pressures, and to improvement of the competitiveness of the economies.

    "Ancient Greek civilisation would not have been a point of reference for the Mediterranean Basin had the Greeks not migrated to and settled in what are today's southern Italy, France, Egypt and the Middle East," Papandreou underlined.

    The premier further noted that in the last 20 years Greece has undergone a fundamental transformation, with the consolidation of democracy and economic growth having transformed Greece from a country of origin (of migrants) to a country of destination of migrants, "of people who came to our country in search of a better destiny".

    "It is all those who supported and support with their presence, the crucial sectors of our economy, in agriculture, in construction, in tourism, in shipping. The migrants, too, have left their own, indelible mark on our country in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, through their work in the construction of the infrastructures," the premier continued.

    Development, he stressed, "is not just an economic matter, but one of values, knowledge, democracy for both the countries of origin and destination, and also for the migrants themselves".

    Turning to his government's commitments, Papandreou described them as "a series of distinct but also mutually supplementary axes of action", which include the consolidation and ensurance of the legality of residency and gradual passage into a regime of long-term residency for the permanent migrants, intensive promotion of social integration so as to lift exclusion to access to fundamental social goods and services that are necessary for the development of each individual's personality and participation in the country's social life.

    Further, he stressed that his government has committed itself to boosting the participation of migrants in the country's civil life, through the ability to acquire Greek nationality "chiefly for the so-called second generation", the institution of dialogue with the migrant organisations and related NGOs, but also with the participation of the long-residing migrants in local government elections which, the premier noted, is also an EU policy.

    "Our aim is to confront illegal migration on the criterion of consolidating our integration policies as well as respect of the fundamental human rights, through more efficient guarding of the borders, fuller utilisation of the institutional abilities for return to the country of destination, and through revision of the policy on granting political asylum, which currently does not meet our obligations," Papandreou stressed.

    Another element is the new, active negotiation on the distribution of the burden of illegal migrants and asylum-seekers within the EU "since, in reality, all of Europe is in the same transitional period as Greece, whereas our country is one of the main destinations of migrants headed to the entire EU," he continued.

    Papandreou also stressed the need to re-determine relations with the countries of origin in order to create fair and mutually beneficial relations, and also the need to "take the control of the movement of people between our countries into our own hands".

    "Our wager is to create legitimate and safe routes for migration," he added.

    Turning to climate change, Papandreou stressed that it does not concern only the environment, but it also poses immense challenges with respect to the forced movement of populations due to its effects.

    Caption : Prime Minister George Papandreou addresses the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in Athens on Wednesday 4 November 2009. ANA-MPA/ SYMELA PANTZARTZI

    [02] PM meets UN Sec-Gen, discusses migration, climate change

    The repercussions of climate change on modern migration movements were the main focus of talks on Wednesday between Prime Minister George Papandreou and visiting United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who is carrying out the first visit by a UN Secretary General to Greece.

    "Greece attaches great importance to the United Nations, of which it is a founding member, while there is a tradition of long-term and multilateral cooperation and dedication to the principles of international law," said the prime minister, stressing the UN's decisive mission for global peace and cooperation.

    Their meeting also covered issues of Greek interest, such as the Cyprus problem and the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and matters such as the UN peacekeeping forces and the Millenium targets.

    Papandreou said that climate change would probably emerge as the foremost problem of the planet and that dialogue on this issue would reach a peak in Copenhagen in December. The Greek premier announced that he would be attending the climate change summit himself and expressed hope that "we can reach a binding agreement".

    According to the premier, he had emphasised the Greek government's dedication to this goal in his talks with the UN Secretary General, in addition to the initiatives recently undertaken by the EU and his attempt to redirect the Greek economy toward green development.

    "The Secretary General will find us to be supportive of his efforts," he stressed.

    Concerning modern migration movements and Greece's chairmanship of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Papandreou said that he had emphasised in talks with Ban Ki Moon the need for development in both the countries of origin and the countries that received immigrants so that, when migrants returned to their countries they would transfer know-how, experience and capital to these.

    Papandreou also emphasised the need to protect workers and the poorer sections of society from the impact of the global economic crisis.

    "I informed the UN Secretary General on my latest initiatives to create a momentum on both the Cyprus issue and the name issue with FYROM," the Greek premier said, expressing satisfaction that his views and the UN Secretary General's largely coincided and promising close cooperation.

    Ban Ki Moon welcomed the Greek premier's promise to help Cypriots arrive at an agreement for a solution to the Cyprus problem, saying that the international community had "high hopes" for the negotiations now underway and that these must continue, adding that UN special envoy Alexander Downer would continue to work with the leaders of the two communities.

    Regarding the name dispute with FYROM, the UN Secretary General said that special mediator Matthew Nimetz was ready to repeat talks whenever the two sides were ready, welcoming Greece's readiness to begin talks and Athens' assurance that it would fully support the role of the UN special envoy on this issue.

    On the issue of migration, he noted that the Greek economy had benefited from the presence of migrants while referring to concerns about conditions of hospitality in Greece.

    "I hope that Greece, as a destination country, will continue to defend and promote the rights of migrants," Ban Ki Moon said, urging Greece to respect the processes for asylum applications.

    The UN Secretary General also praised Greece's contribution to the "concepts of democracy, human rights and a state of law," and the Greek prime minister's role at the EU, adding that he would address the Greek Parliament on behalf of the UN on Thursday.

    [03] 11th Greek ICT Forum opens - Message from PM

    The 11th annual Greek Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Forum opened in Athens on Wednesday in a central hotel.

    A message from prime minister George Papandreou was read out to the opening session of the two-day conference, outlining four "decisive interventions" planned by his government that will set in motion "catalytic and long-term changes" in the sectors of Information Technology, Telecoms and Digital Communications.

    The interventions aim at broadening the right and ability of access of all the citizens, agencies and enterprises to high-speed digital communication networks from wherever they are situated, the availability of all public information to the social whole through digital infrastructures, the integrated computerisation and digitilisation of the public sector and the introduction of Open Software, especially in education, and the transition from public sector software supply to the provision of integrated services.

    In his message, the premier outlined a visionary framework of policy principles which he said will impact the development of information technologies and digital communications over the coming years.

    The specialisation of the four interventions into specific tactical moves is eagerly awaited by the enterprises in the sector, given that the government has not directly linked the utilisation of ICT technologies with EU funding, but has drafted a long-term developmental framework of its own.

    The Forum will discuss six thematic subjects covering the most important areas of growth of digital services to the public, to enterprises, agencies and civil services, with more than 100 speakers presenting the developments that will influence the course of the information technology, telecoms and broadband services markets, according to the organisers.


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