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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-02-27
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Greek OSCE Chairmanship's PrioritiesOSCE President and Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stated that peace, respect to man and the principles of international law will be the priorities of the Greek Presidency. Ms Bakoyannis stressed that OSCE' role in managing crises and boosting cooperation with international bodes such as the UN should be boosted. Meanwhile, in her interview with the CNN, Ms Bakoyannis reported that the new US government wishes closer cooperation with Europe and a joint initiative for a new start in the cooperation between Greece and the USA.
Ms Bakoyannis referred to the incidents that took place in Caucasus in 2008, referring to the efforts made by Greece as OSCE President for the peace-keeping force to remain in Georgia and OSCE to have a more "complete presence". She also referred to the progress that had been made, as an agreement was made in Geneva last week, in relation to management mechanisms, stressing that "this is a first step of vital importance in building confidence and possible settling of the conflict.
Ms Bakoyannis spoke of various types of humanitarian aid in the region and OSCE's contribution towards this direction, even if the problems for the flow of natural gas are overcome. Then, she stressed that "the situation in Georgia is not the only challenge we are facing, referring to the situation in Kossovo and the restructuring of international presence that tops OSCE's agenda.
The Foreign minister hailed the adoption of UN Secretary General's report of 24 November 2008, adopted by the Security Council. The report stresses OSCE's important role for boosting efforts in Kossovo, allowing the peaceful coexistence of the communities. She also pointed out that the Greek presidence focuses on taking further action on the safety and policing of borders, adding that within this framework, Afghanistan will continue to be a priority for 2009. In parallel, she underlined the importance of precautionary diplomacy on crises in Central Asia.
Finally, she spoke of OSCE's role in combating terrorism, illegal migration, climate change and the boosting of struggle in support of Human Rights and State of Law, equality between sexes, religious freedom and the right for Education, stressing the need for further cooperation between the OSCE and the UN.
News item: 19509
 Crucial Conference on SecurityThe two-day 45th International Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is being held in Munich. Toping the agenda are Russia's relations with the West, NATO's expansion and Afghanistan. In his speech, US vice president Joe Biden underlined that the new US administration was determined to strike a new tone in its foreign policy. Greece is represented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in her capacity as OSCE president. On the sidelines of the conference, Mrs Bakoyannis met with US Deputy State Secretary James B. Steinberg and President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrook.
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Joe Biden Priority on Diplomacy
In his wide-ranging speech to international leaders and security experts in Munich, US deputy president Joe Biden underlined that the new US administration was determined to strike a new tone in its relations with the world but it also demanded greater efforts by its partners. His speech covered climate change and global economic crisis, underlining the necessity of cooperation between the US and its allies while he said that the US would give the good example and take actions to combat global warming. He also said that the US would close down Guantanamo prison but called all to assume their share of responsibility in the fight of terrorism and particularly in what regards some Guantanamo prisoners. Regarding Iran, the US was open to talks offering Iran a clear option between isolation if it adheres to its stand or significant counter-benefits if it chooses to change it. Obama administration is committed to dialogue, to listen and take advice from its world partners, he said. Mr. Biden stressed that the US plans to continue development of the anti-missile shield against Iran's threat taking into consideration its effectiveness, cost as well as Russia's and NATO allies agreement. Mr. Biden admitted a dangerous drift in NATO-Russia relations in recent years and called the West to press the reset button in its ties with Russia. He said Russia and the US can not possible agree on everything but they disagree and still cooperate where their interests coincide and they coincided in many places.
Regarding Afghanistan, Joe Biden said the US seeks "clear and feasible" targets covered in an overall strategy whose responsibility would be assumed by both the US and its allies. This strategy would coordinate US policies and military forces to avert Afghanistan from becoming a safe refuge for Islamist fighters and help Afghans to develop and build their future. Finally he stressed that no strategy can achieve in Afghanistan without the cooperation of the people and government of Pakistan and all should help to stabilize tribal zones and promote economic development and opportunities in all parts of the country. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said Germany hoped for a diplomatic solution of Iran's nuclear program, however, said Germany was ready to impose stricter sanctions if progress was not achieved. French President, Nikola Sarkozy said that there was no alternative but sanctions against Iran if it does not meet western demands adding that Russia should help in this direction.
In his speech, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said NATO and Russia had a long road to cover and the new strategic concept should take it under consideration. US new administration and Russia's willingness to have its views considered in some world security issues gives NATO a unique opportunity in 2009 to set out a new defence policy. Scheffer believes that it is important for both NATO and Europe to listen to Russia's demands but they must also make clear to Russian leaders what is acceptable.
Bakoyianni Contacts Ms Bakoyannis met with Messrs Holbrook and Steinberg with whom she discussed amongst others the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Furthermore, they discussed OSCE's role and mission in relation to the dialogue on Architecture of European Security, while short reference was made to the situation in the Balkans and the important role Greece is playing in the region. In reply to a question as to whether Mr Holbrook presented a specific request regarding Greece's presence in Afghanistan, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos replied negatively, pointing out that the discussion concerned a general exchange of views on Afghanistan, especially in view of the elections due to take place there in August. Ms Bakoyannis met with her Romanian counterpart Cristian Diaconescu, with whom she discussed the situation in the Balkan region, the prospects of a tripartite cooperation among Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the repercussions of the global financial crisis in Europe and especially in the Balkans. They also raised the issue of regional cooperation, so that problems related on energy security could be tackled in the best way. Today, the Greek Foreign minister will meet with the Bulgarian counterpart and preside a meeting on "NATO, Russia, oil, natural gas and the Middle East, the future of Europe's Security." Attending the meeting will be British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, US Republican Senator John McCain, and Russian Deputy PM Sergei Ivanof.
Sources: ÍÅÔ, ÍÅÔ 105.8, ÁNA-ÌPA
Relevant Article: 45th Conference on Security
News item: 18657