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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-03-10

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM: country's image abroad has changed

  • [01] PM: country's image abroad has changed

    Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking to Greek reporters in Washington at the end of his working visit to the United States on Wednesday, said that the country's image abroad, at a political level, has changed completely as a result of his tour to Berlin, Paris and Washington.

    Papandreou said that the struggle is now being waged with the markets which, as he noted, might possibly have special interests to be facing Greece in the way that they are facing it.

    However, he added, the country "is continuing to wage its struggle, promoting big changes, in the tax system, in the pension scheme, creating the feeling of justice and that there is no impunity and, mainly, with the government's great effort and new big goal that is growth".

    Referring to the "struggle against profiteering", Papandreou said that "in the near future the four leaders of the initiative against profiteering (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Eurozone President Jean-Claude Juncker and Papandreou) will be sending a letter to the European Union's relevant bodies to enable the necessary actions to begin for the creation of reaction apparatuses. In essence, the communication of the letter to EU bodies also means a directive for the procedures to begin that might lead to legislative arrangements. The legislative initiative will be European and, in essence, it will compel other countries to follow as well. It is a positive fact that there was agreement on the part of US President Barack Obama that initiatives are necessary and that the Americans are ready to contribute with their own ideas, despite the fact that there is no agreement on all issues."

    The prime minister mentioned once again that the International Monetary Fund remains on the table, on the part of Greece, until at least the "day of judgement", as he termed it, meaning the day when it will be proved that Greece does not need the IMF. And this, as he added, also contributes to the mobilisation of Europe. The prime minister also said that Greece's possible resorting to the IMF, as it was ascertained during the discussions Greek Finance MInister George Papaconstantinou had with officials of his in Washington the day before yesterday, the fund would request from Greece to take the measures that the country has already taken. The difference, as he added, would be that the IMF would also provide the money with interest rates close to 1 percent, while the EU would not be able to give money.

    Commenting on the meeting that he had on Tuesday evening, local time, with Greek American businessmen, he said that he saw great interest and special sensitivity and patriotism in Hellenism abroad, also following the attacks that Greece is sustaining from the profiteers and declared that they are ready to contribute with investments during this difficult period.

    Foreign policy issues

    Greek-Turkish relations, the issue of Cyprus and the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were issues that the prime minister discussed during his visit to Washington with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    On the question of FYROM, Papandreou told reporters that the discussion focused on all that is being discussed in the framework of the UN and he himself determined Greece's national red line on a mutually acceptable name with a geographical qualifier for all uses. Papandreou ascertained that the Americans understand the Greek position and show that they are inclined to support the effort to solve the issue on the basis set for it by Greece.

    On the question of Cyprus, Papandreou let it be understood that he does not share the concern that the elections in occupied territory might complicate the situation. He said that the deepest problem in relation to Turkey is Turkey's stance on the issue of Cyprus and the lack of its will to proceed with the necessary steps for the solution to the problem exploiting the acquis communautaire. He brought this lack of will on the part of Turkey to the attention of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, while also expressing his full support for the efforts of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    Referring again to Turkey and replying to a relevant question, Papandreou stressed that he prefers the political and not the military leadership to have the upper hand in the neighbouring country. He added that this will also help Turkey itself in its European perspective.

    Replying to another question on the issue of the Aegean continental shelf, Papandreou said that he raised the issue in his discussions as being one of the issues in Greek-Turkish relations. He mentioned that he undertook an initiative for the warming of Greek-Turkish relations, inviting Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to Athens. On the question of the continental shelf, he spoke of exploratory contacts on its delineation, resorting to The Hague. He said that it is an opportunity to see this issue again after years.

    Papandreou also pointed out that the delineations of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone must walk side by side. He added that it is a question of will on the part of Turkey to respect Greek sovereign rights and to abandon the threat against the Greek islands, "to enable us to talk as good neighbours".

    CAPTION: Prime Minister George Papandreou speaking to Greek reporters in Washington on Wednesday. (Photo ANA-MPA)

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