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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-12-01
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Meeting the challenges to European securityThe Corfu Process needs to be taken a step further in order to meet the challenges to European security in the 21st century, OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) chairman-in-office, Greece's prime minister and foreign minister, stressed on Tuesday at the OSCE's two-day 17th ministerial conference that opened in Athens earlier in the day.
The Corfu Process, which was launched by the Greek OSCE chairmanship during an informal meeting of the Organisation's foreign ministers on the island of Corfu in June, "gave hope during a stormy year", Papandreou said, adding that it had been the commencement of a political dialogue on the future of European security.
Addressing some 45 OSCE foreign ministers and 57 international delegations, Papandreou said that the Greek chairmanship of the organisation had from the outset been guided by the principle of an "honest mediator" for achieving consensus on and promoting all three aspects of security, namely the politico-military, the economic-environmental and the human dimensions.
Outlining the international environment, with emphasis on the global financial and environmental crises and the crisis in Afghanistan, Papandreou stressed that the OSCE can play an important role in all those issues, and called on the member countries to display the political will to advance those issues.
"Much has happened this year to remind us that security in our region remains a work in progress. The global economic crisis has affected all our countries. We have worked hard to contain the aftermath of armed conflict in Georgia. Instability in Afghanistan continues to pose multi-faceted challenges for the security of our region," Papandreou said.
He also expressed hope that a spirit of cooperation will prevail at the conference and that specific decisions will be taken, and urged OSCE states to reinforce their commitment to seek solutions through the Corfu Process.
"We have to agree on important decisions in the next two days to strengthen co-operative security across the OSCE area," he stressed.
"We need to move from words to action. The new dialogue on European security can be meaningful only in so far as it is tied to concrete progress on key security challenges," said Papandreou, who passes on the 12-month OSCE chairmanship to Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Papandreou noted that Kazakhstan is the first country of the former Soviet Union to take the OSCE helm "and this gives a new prospect to the Organisation", adding that with the help of all the OSCE members, Kazakhstan can play an important role in enhancing security in Afghanistan through a reinforcement of regional cooperation. "Kazakhstan can make the difference," he stressed.
On Georgia, Papandreou called the closure of the OSCE mission "a negative development", stressing that the OSCE's presence there is today more necessary than ever "and this can be done only if we display collective will".
Papandreou further said that the economic and environmental dimensions of security were also at the crux of the Greek chairmanship, as reflected by the forum on migration held in Athens.
Placing emphasis on the migration issue, Papandreou said that the problem has taken on serious dimensions in the last few years, and credible answers must be given at bilateral, regional and international level, and naturally in the framework of the OSCE as well.
Turning to the "positive moves" made in long-standing disputes in the wider region, Papandreou cited the Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, while he also noted the efforts being made between Armenia and Azerbaijan, such as the last week's meeting between their two presidents in Munich under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the talks on the Transnistrian conflict.
Caption: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (R) welcomes Bernard Kouchner (L), Minister of Foreign Affairs of France prior to the opening of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council in Athens on 1 December 2009.EPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU EPA/ANA-MPA/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU
 ND leader Samaras receives BakoyannisNewly-elected main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras met on Tuesday with fellow candidate for the leadership, former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, at the party's headquarters in Athens.
The meeting was held at the initiative of Samaras, who wanted to underline his intention to restore the party's unity following the conclusion of the election process.
After the 40-minute meeting, Bakoyannis stressed to reporters: "We had a first political discussion on New Democracy's policy positions and our common aim, which is a modern, major centre-right party. We will work together".
To a question on whether Samaras proposed to her a specific position in the party, Bakoyannis said: "No, no proposal. I have been a soldier of the party for many years, and I will remain so".
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of newly elected main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras(R) and Dora Bakoyannis (L)
 Greek tanker thwarts piracy attempt with hoses, flaresA Greek-flag tanker thwarted a piracy attempt when its 24-member crew hosed down and threw flares at armed pirates in a speedboat that opened fire on them as the tanker was sailing 550 nautical miles southeast of Oman, it was made known on Tuesday.
The Piraeus-registered "Sikinos" was en route from Sudan to China when it was approached at dawn Tuesday by the speedboat carrying the armed pirates, who opened fire against the tanker.
The Greek captain of the Sikinos, which belongs to the Piraeus-based Cyclades Maritime shipping company, was prepared for the attack and had arrayed the crew members on deck with water hoses and flares, thus repelling the pirates and forcing them to abandon the attack and retreat.
According to the Greek Harbor Corps, the tanker was continuing its journey, while its 8 Greek and 16 foreign crew members were all safe and well.
 Draft law on upgrading, independence of statistical service unveiledThe draft law that will render the national statistics service ESYE an independent body was released for public debate on Tuesday, with the deliberation slated to conclude on December 8.
According to the bill, ESYE will be upgraded from a general secretariat to a Public Law Legal Entity, with additional institutional guarantees for its independent operation, under the name Greek Statistics Authority (ESTA), which will have a president and a nine-member board of directors serving a four-year term.
The board of directors will be designated by the finance minister, and will also comprise the chairman of the ministry's Financial Experts Corps, a representative of the personnel and five representatives from the Bank of Greece, the Economic and Social Committee, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece's (GSEE) Labor Institute, the Economic and Industrial Research Foundation (IOBE), and the National Center for Social Studies.
According to finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the aim of the draft law, which he said materialised a pre-electoral pledge by the government, is the institutional upgrading of the system of production of statistical data so as to meet the dual target of scientific impartiality and thoroughness, and administrative efficiency.
 Pierre Cardin charity fashion show held in Athens for HIV orphansA fashion show by French designer Pierre Cardin was held on Monday evening at the French Embassy in Athens on the occasion of the International Day against AIDS. The charity event which was organised under the auspices of the French Embassy in Greece and the Athens Municipality in coordination with the organisation "Greek Action for Africa" and the consulate of Ivory Coast, aimed to collect money for the acquisition of medicine for HIV orhpans in Africa.
French envoy Christophe Farnaud in his opening speech called the event "a night of the constellation of beauty and love" adding who important it was for him to contribute in a charity event and to host in the embassy's premises the fashion show of such a great maitre of the haute couture and also of such an important person.
Pierre Cardin who was due to be present at the show felt unwell while waiting in Paris airport to get on board the plane for Athens and was represented by his firm public relations responsible Jean -Pascal Hesse and his assistant Maryse Gaspard.
Hesse conveyed Pierre Cardin's wishes for the event's success and referred to Cardin's passion for charity and creation and said that Cardin promised to come to Athens next year for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of his fashion firm.
According to a study unveiled by scientists at the health ministry's Disease Control and Monitoring Centre, there has been a significant rise in new HIV cases diagnosed in Greece during the last year.
The figures showed 462 new HIV cases diagnosed in the first 10 months of 2009, the vast majority of which concerned men (83.3 percent) infected via homosexual and heterosexual contact. The greatest number of cases concern people aged 25 to 44 years old, while the new diagnoses are mainly among men aged 30 to 34 years old and women aged 25 to 29 years old.
On a more encouraging note, the number of new HIV cases taking intravenous drugs was low.
In addition to a rise in HIV infections, scientists are also seeing an increase in other STDs considered a thing of the past, such as syphilis.
The figures were released in view of World AIDS Day on Tuesday.
 Gov't on climate changeEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said that the government will take an initiative against the consequences of climate change in Eastern Europe after the Copenhagen Summit, during her address on Tuesday to the 20th annual American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce's (AHCC) "The Greek Economy Conference" at a central Athens Hotel.
Birbili noted that the Mediterranean region and Greece will be affected the most by the consequences of climate change, adding that the exit from the economic crisis will be accomplished only through green growth.
The Minister outlined the targets of the government's energy policy which, she said, include backing of viable economic development confronting climate change, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent, exploitation of existing lignite reserves but with optimum practices and the least possible carbon dioxide emissions, new long-term energy planning with the emphasis on the decentralisation of energy production, and raising public awareness on the consequences of their choices to the environment.
"We are working for the gradual restructure of the energy sector with correct management of the existing conventional fuels and the integration of Renewable Energy Sources (RES)," stressed Birbili.
"We are starting off with a delay, but we can cover the lost ground because we have a substantial RES and manpower potential. In a few weeks the draft bill on Renewable Energy Sources will be ready," she added.
Birbili expressed hope that a legally binding treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be achieved at this month's UN international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
Caption: Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili addresses the 20th annual American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday 1 December 2009. ANA-MPA/PANTELIS SAITAS
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