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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-08-01

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Truck owners vote to end strike
  • [02] Focus on Kosovo's EU future

  • [01] Truck owners vote to end strike

    Greek truck owners on Sunday voted to end a strike that had starved the country of fuel and dealt a severe blow to tourist enterprises hoping to make up revenue losses from a lacklustre tourist season during the July-August peak.

    The vote was carried by a narrow majority during the truckers' general meeting and not before serious problems had been caused to the supply of goods to markets throughout Greece. Truck owners are now waiting for the government to end the civil mobilisation and warned that they will resume strike action if the government failed to honour its side of the bargain. If all goes well, they go back to work on Monday.

    The meeting had been preceded by a flurry of consultations the day before that also involved other professional groups, which mediated between truckers and the government with proposals that truck owners suspend their open-ended strike if the government stopped a civil mobilisation to force truck owners back to work and requisition their vehicles.

    The proposal was adopted by both striking truckers and Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, provided that the truckers pledged not to begin any new strike action while dialogue on a draft bill to open up the road freight sector was underway. The draft bill is due to be voted on at the end of September.

    The minister said that the dialogue will deal with proposals linked to tax and insurance issues relating to truck owners and ways to make them eligible for assistance under the development law. At the same time, he ruled out any discussion on extending the three-year transition period from the current licensing regime to the new system.

    According to the latest reports, meanwhile, private, armed forces and requisitioned fuel tanker trucks were making good progress restocking the market with fuel, with a large number of petrol stations in Attica and Thessaloniki now having adequate supplies.

    Truck owners began last Monday after the government unveiled a draft bill that opens up the road freight market that is currently only open to government-licensed "public use" vehicles. The last truck licences in the country were issued by the government in the 1970s and there has since developed an informal market in truck licences.

    [02] Focus on Kosovo's EU future

    Visiting the city of Pristina on Saturday night, Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas met Kosovo's leadership and emphasised Athens' position supporting the accession of the entire Western Balkan region to the European Union, as expressed by its 'Agenda 2014' initiative. During the visit he held talks with the Kosovo administration's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and its president Fatmir Sejdiu.

    "The important thing is that all the member-states of the Union - all 27 of them - agree on a very important point, that this region has clear European prospects and that the future of the entire region lies [within Europe]. We, as Greece, are proud that we belong to those countries that have promoted and continue to promote this idea of a European future for the region," he said in a joint press conference after meeting with Thaci.

    Droutsas also emphasised that Greece could play a special role in this direction as a country that was part of the region. He particularly highlighted the potential contribution of Prime Minister George Papandreou, saying that Papandreou's personal relations with Serb President Boris Tadic and Thaci could contribute to an open dialogue between the two sides.

    Asked whether Greece intended to recognise Kosovo as an independent state, following the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion in favour of Kosovo's independence, Droutsas said that this was a decision taken by each country by itself and again emphasised the need to look at the region's European future.


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