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New OSCE PA President: Petros Efthymiou

Ruling PASOK party deputy Petros Efthymiou was elected as the new president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), during the forum’s 19th annual session.
Efthymiou, who was a Vice-President in the Assembly, was elected with 130 votes, against 64 of Senator Consiglio Di Nino (Canada).
Participants at the 19th session discussed a wide range of issues, amongst which the situation in Kyrgyzstan, the Parliamentary Assembly’s involvement in the Corfu process, the peace process in the Middle East, nuclear security, cyber-crime.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis will inaugurate the OSCE’s Forum for Security Co-operation with an address at the Organisation’s headquarters in Vienna today.
Greece assumes the rotating chairmanship for the first four months of 2010.
The Forum constitutes the OSCE’s autonomous political and military body, and deals with issues of the so-called “tough security”, with its own Presidency, that alternates in alphabetical order every four months, as well with its own “Troika,” which functions in a coordinating manner.

OSCE Meeting begins

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Forty-five foreign ministers and 57 high-level delegations from the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) participating states have gathered in Athens to discuss the future of European security as the organisation’s 17th Ministerial Council begins today (1.12).
Representing the Greek OSCE Chairmanship, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, told journalists yesterday – at a reception held at the New Acropolis Museum – that the meeting comes at a critical moment, and underlined the importance of a co-operative approach to address European security’s challenges.
A video of the opening and closing sessions as well as the concluding conference, can be viewed here.

Black Sea Business Forum / Thessaloniki, 12 & 13 November 2009

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is a significant project with geopolitical, economic and energy importance, Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis noted, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Black Sea Business Forum in Thessaloniki, on November 12. 
The 3rd Union of Black Sea and Caspian Confederation of Enterprises (UBCCE) business forum, entitled “Seizing New Investment and Trade Opportunities in the Black Sea and Caspian in the Post Crisis Era,” is being held in Thessaloniki on November 12-13.

It is hosted by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises and the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece.
Addressing the event, Kouvelis stressed Greece’s commitment to the enhancement of co-operation with the European Union, through the establishment of “Black Sea Partnerships” within the “Black Sea Synergy” process, as well as through the new “Eastern Partnership” EU initiative.
Greece, he said, will have the chance to advance this perspective during the Greek Chairmanship of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which commences on June 1, 2010.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization

Greek Prime Minister’s First Trip Abroad

» In Istanbul

On his first trip abroad to attend the informal meeting of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Istanbul, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou, held talks, on October 9, with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglou and discussed all issues concerning Greek-Turkish relations. Papandreou pointed out to Erdogan that, “we have proved that we want good relations with Turkey and we support its European course,” adding however, that “Turkey must also take the steps that Europe requires so that its accession course can move forward.” Earlier, in a message to the Turkish people, Papandreou had stressed that they “know that I am always honest with them. Honest and open in the positive prospects we have in cooperating, but also honest in talking about the real problems we still have between our two countries.” Regarding Cyprus, the prime minister said that a solution should be found -a just, European solution for a unified Cyprus, free of dependencies on its motherlands, free of occupation troops, divisions and walls that have no place in the European Union.

Regarding bilateral relations, the PM said that the two countries must respect borders and territorial integrity and this would be the basis of a durable and strong good neighbourly relationship. Papandreou made these statements during his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who, according to the premier with his wisdom and action has promoted Orthodoxy worldwide, championing objectives such as protection of the environment and ecology.

» OSCE CiO Welcomes Turkey-Armenia Accords

The Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Greece’s premier and foreign minister George Papandreou welcomed the signing of an agreement between Armenia and Turkey for the normalisation of their relations, which was signed on October 10, following months of Swiss-mediated talks.

» SEECP Meeting: A roadmap for Accession

Addressing the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) informal meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Istanbul, Prime Minister and FM George Papandreou stressed that the Southeastern Europe and the Balkans can contribute to a new dynamic in Europe.

“A new dynamic in enlarging the European Union […] and creating a socially just Europe […] with a greater role in the world.” Papandreou said that a revised version of the so-called Thessaloniki Agenda – the basis of the Greek Presidency in the EU in 2003 – and a roadmap for accession of the rest of the Western Balkans with a specific date can contribute to this process.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: PM and FM Papandreou’s speech at the informal meeting of FMs

Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to Washington Meets Obama

Obama---Kaskarelis1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic Vassilis Kaskarelis presented on July 20 his credentials to the President of the United States Barack Obama.  In his remarks, Ambassador Kaskarelis stressed that the two countries have often found themselves fighting shoulder-to-shoulder and waging concerted efforts for the common causeand, expressed his conviction that there exists ample room for further cementing our friendship and our strategic partnership.  US President Barack Obama said he was looking forward to working closely with the new ambassador to deepen the already close relations between the countries, and remarked that “Greece and the United States share a long history of friendship based on common values, common goals, and mutual commitment to democracy and freedom.”  The US President laid particular emphasis on Greece’s Chairmanship of the OSCE, remarking that “as a fellow member of the OSCE, we are grateful for Greece’s able leadership as OSCE 2009 Chairman-in Office.”  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Greece-USA

Greek FM Tours Caucasus

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Dora Bakoyannis began a tour of the Caucasus yesterday, specifically in Azerbaijan and Armenia. In statements after a number of meetings in Azerbaijan, the first stop of her tour, Bakoyannis said that her visit was aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations and contributing to a settlement of the long-lasting problem Nagorno-Karabakh problem, by intensifying efforts made for many years by OSCE.”  Bakoyannis said that they focused on energy cooperation and pipelines. “Our goal is to bring Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via the Turkey- Greece– Italy (TGI) pipeline,” the foreign minister stressed. Referring to the currently “frozen” Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has a direct impact on stability in southern Caucasus, Bakoyannis stressed that the Greek OSCE chairmanship is intensifying efforts that are underway for years for the solution of the thorny issue.Today the minister is in Armenia. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Statements of FM Bakoyannis following her meeting with her Azeri counterpart Mammadyarov (Baku, 2.7.09) & Statements following her meeting with her Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian (Yerevan, 3.7.2009); Bilateral Relations Greece-Azerbaijan& Greece-Armenia; Greek News Agenda: FM on Nagorno-Karabakh

Bakoyannis at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis visited Lithuania on June 30, on the occasion of the 18the annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.   Speaking before the Assembly, Bakoyannis focused on three issues: the need to take the OSCE forward in the economic and environmental dimension; the objective of building lasting stability and security in Georgia; the process of launching a new high-level dialogue on European security.  In Lithuania, Bakoyannis also held bilateral talks with the political leadership of the country (photo), who expressed support for the “Corfu Process” launched last weekend. The minister will visit two of the OSCE’s most important missions in Baku and Yerevan today.

International Meetings in Corfu

Corfu Process Launched
ministerialsummit1The informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers on the Greek island of Corfu concluded yesterday (28.6) with the launch of the “Corfu Process” to tackle European security challenges with concrete steps to restore confidence and prepare the ground for the ministers’ next meeting in Athens in December. “We have agreed on the need for an open, sustained, wide-ranging and inclusive dialogue on security and concurred that the OSCE is a natural forum to anchor this dialogue, because it is the only regional organization bringing together all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok on an equal basis,” said Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Dora Bakoyannis.
Karamanlis’ Address 
KaramanlisAddressing the informal ministerial meeting Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis noted that “[…] history teaches us that crises are often the springboards for improvement. The Chinese word for crisis is made of two characters: one means danger, the other means opportunity. We have to grasp the opportunity; we have to overcome the danger. As he stressed, Greece is convinced that a sincere, inclusive and open-ended dialogue is the first step in order to restore confidence and trust among the participating states and enhance the collective capacity to solve old problems and address new challenges. Karamanlis underlined the significance of the Corfu meetings, noting that it was a big success of Greece’s foreign policy.
NATO-Russia Council
nato-russia1(1)Twenty-nine foreign ministers of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) also gathered on Corfu on June 27 – the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the crisis in Georgia, last summer- to review the current state of relations and discuss the way forward for the Council. The ministers agreed to open the door for renewing military cooperation in the framework of the NRC.  The meeting was chaired by the outgoing NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer who said afterwards that “the NRC which has been in the neutral stand for almost a year, is now back in gear.”  There are still “fundamental differences” between the Alliance and Russia on the Caucasus issues, […], though they do not constitute a reason for discontinuation of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) talks on a broad range of security threats, he said. On his part, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called for a return to the founding principles of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and said that the Council convened after a long time, with positive results and a sincere exchange of views. On Russia’s decisions regarding the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Lavrov said that they were “irreversible,” but added that the meeting had been useful in averting new clashes.
Bilateral Meetings
HPA -GREECEOn the sidelines of the Corfu meetings, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.  They spoke of a “new air” in Greece-US relations and signed two accords: a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a cooperation agreement on tackling serious crime, which pave the way to Greece’s inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Programme. Karamanlis also had a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the sidelines of the NATO-Russia meeting, and the two leaders discussed illegal migration, the establishment of an EU coastguard, Greek-Italian cooperation in the energy sector, with the focus on the Turkey-Greece-Italy natural gas pipeline and the South Stream natural gas pipeline. Furthermore, Bakoyannis met for the first time with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece – USA & Greece – Italy

Greece / Corfu High-Level Meetings

oscehellas(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE is hosting an informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers on June 27 and June 28, on the Greek island of Corfu.  The Corfu ministerial meeting will bring together all 56 participating states to the same table for a dialogue related to security in Europe and OSCE’s role. Corfu will also play host to the NATO-Russia Council meeting -the first one since the crisis in Georgia last summer- scheduled to take place on June 27. The meeting will focus on revitalizing the Council with the objective of developing its activities and improving NATO-Russian relations.  Among those attending the meetings will be the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, Javier Solana, the EU Commissioner on External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Secretaries General of  NATO and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The US delegation will be headed by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and the Russian by FM Sergey Lavrov.

OSCE Greek Chairmanship

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The Greek OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Mission to Moldova held a two day seminar on “Confidence and Security-Building Measures” from June 21 until June 22 in Austria.  The seminar discussed a package of measures concerning the resolution of the Transdniestria conflict in Moldova with the participation of experts and political representatives from the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, the EU and the USA.  The participants engaged in a productive and useful dialogue and reached understanding on a number of issues, underlining the important role of the OSCE in this respect.

Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis at OSCE Forum

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Minister and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson in Office Dora Bakoyannis addressed the opening session of the 17th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum:  “Management of migration and its correlation and its linkages with economic, social and environmental policies dora171to the benefit of stability and security in the OSCE region,” which began yesterday.  In her keynote address, Bakoyannis underlined the need to adopt medium- and long-term policies aimed at dealing with the problems stemming from illegal migration on a global scale, and urged OSCE states to further increase co-operation on migration issues and develop comprehensive and effective policy frameworks.  “We have all witnessed the increasing trends of migration as an effect of globalisation. The recent developments of the financial and economic crisis complicate the problem and its multifaceted character calls for a more focused and co-ordinated approach by the international community,” she said.  The three-day meeting focuses on the development impact of migration and gender-sensitive approaches in migration related policy-making. The forum will also review OSCE commitments in the economic and environmental dimension focusing on migration, and identify possible follow-up OSCE activities in that field.   OSCE Press Release: Economic crisis sharpens need for effective migration management, say OSCE Forum participants (18.5)  

Greek FM on Nagorno – Karabakh

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking ahead of the 15th anniversary of the ceasefire agreement that ended one of the most violent conflicts in the area of the former Soviet Union, expressed hope that the parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would make further progress towards a peaceful settlement.  She also welcomed the constructive discussions between President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and President Serzh Sarksyan of Armenia in Prague on May 7. Bakoyannis further urged the two parties to implement fully the provisions of the ceasefire, including pulling back snipers from the front lines.  Related News: Visit of Deputy Foreign Minister Varvitsiotis to Azerbaijan heading a business delegation 

Greek Prime Minister: Let’s go for Energy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The 27 members of the European Union have agreed that the time is ripe for the EU to inaugurate a new framework of cooperation with its Eastern Partners, engaging in dialogue with 6 countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.   On May 7, the Czech presidency held the Prague Summit, which officially launched the “Eastern Partnership,” with the participation of EU’s 27 members and representatives from the 6 countries.   Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis addressed the inaugural session of the Eastern Partnership Summit, emphasising the importance of energy interdependence between the European Union and its partners in Eastern Europe, noting that energy security must be safeguarded at all times by all EU members, regardless of their level of dependence and that this constitutes a perception that needs to be endorsed widely by all Europeans.  Lastly, Karamanlis stressed that the importance of the EU’s strategy for the Eastern Partnership Summit lies in the possibilities that the strategy provides for strengthening regional stability. Greece supports the economic and social development of the 6 countries without this being associated to accession to the EU. In particular, Greece’s chairmanship at the OSCE is already in cooperation with all six EU’s Eastern Partners within the Organisation’s structure. Moreover, pledging to deliver tangible results in troubled region such as Georgia, the Greek chairmanship has assumed the responsibility to act as a broker to promote peaceful settlement of conflicts.

Greek Foreign Policy: Responsible & Confident

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Addressing an off-the-agenda parliamentary debate on the course of the country’s foreign affairs, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis summarised the government’s expectations, achievements and challenges for the Greek foreign policy. On matters of primary concern for Greece, Karamanlis reiterated the government’s volition to endorse its neighbours’ European perspective on condition that the latter meet their obligations as set by the European “acquis.”   The Prime Minister stressed Greece’s intention to consolidate its position in the international arena by being active in international peace missions, reinforcing its operations arm in economic diplomacy, reaching out to Asian countries and engaging Hellenism throughout the world.  Taking the stand, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis stated that “Greece is not a phobic state” adding that “it is a mature democracy that exercises policy within the EU  and via the EU, being present in the Balkans, in the Middle East – and today, through the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), in all the regions of the Caucasus and central Asia.” Athens News Agency: Greek Foreign Policy Confident, Responsible  Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): The Greek Chairmanship  Secretariat General for Information: About Brand Greece- Greek Foreign Policy: Challenges and opportunities in a changing geopolitical environment

Greek CiO at OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Chairperson-in-Office Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said modesty, consolidation and time were needed for a successful conclusion to the discussion on how to develop the European security architecture in a speech delivered at an OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Vienna yesterday. Noting that the issue had been discussed between the 56 Foreign Ministers participating in the December 2008 OSCE Ministerial Council in Helsinki, Bakoyannis said the debate so far had confirmed that the OSCE is the natural platform for pan-European discussion. She said three principles could help guide the discussions. “The first is modesty. We have come a long way since the Cold War. Walls have been torn down and families reunited. But the job is not done. Some participating States feel that we have not yet overcome all dividing lines in Europe. So let us take every invitation to dialogue seriously,” she said. The second principle was consolidation: “As we consider new initiatives, let us build on the ground that we have cleared already,” Bakoyannis said. The final principle was to proceed slowly, she noted, keeping in mind that the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which led to the creation of the OSCE, was preceded by lengthy discussions including 2,400 meetings and deliberations on 4,660 proposals. “We should take the time required to prepare a positive agenda, to consider all options and consult widely,” she said. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Opening Speech of Dora Bakoyannis at the Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and  Statements of FM Bakoyannis on the margins of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly 

OSCE Mandate in Georgia Extended

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The 56 participating states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), agreed yesterday in Vienna to extend the presence of the Organization’s unarmed military monitoring officers in Georgia until June 30. Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, welcomed the move, saying: “This decision to extend the mandate of the OSCE monitors shows that all states agree that the Organization is a critical part of international efforts to secure lasting stability in the region.  I am confident that we can build on this consensus to ensure that the OSCE will be able to continue its important work for all peoples in the region and help to address urgent humanitarian challenges.”

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Dora Bakoyannis in Albania

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Our neighbourhood must be a priority,” the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister of Greece Dora Bakoyannis said during an official visit to Albania on Monday, as part of an ongoing a tour of western Balkan states. Albania plays a constructive regional role, but it must continue on the reform path and focus on improving election processes to achieve its Euro-Atlantic integration goals, Bakoyannis said during a brief visit to the country.  Regarding bilateral relations, the two sides signed an agreement for the operation of two military cemeteries on Albanian soil for Greek servicemen killed during the Greek-Italian war (1940-41) in WWII.  Furthermore, Greece will soon ratify the protocol for Albania’s entry into NATO, while it has already ratified the EU-Albania Association and Stability Agreement. OSCE Press Releases: OSCE Chairperson lauds Albania for progress, notes challenges ahead

OSCE Chair at Munich Security Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis presided over a panel on “NATO, Russia, Oil, Gas and the Middle East: The future of European security,” at the main plenary session of the 45th Munich Security Conference, where she emphasized Greece’s willingness to move forward with the dialogue on European security issues. Europe faces common threats and security challenges, and the OSCE remains the forum for dialogue on security issues, she said. “There appears to be widespread consensus that, to say the least, we need to engage in a dialogue on security issues. It goes without saying that – provided that there is agreement by all 56 OSCE participating states – Greece stands ready to organise meetings at any level that could launch, or more generally facilitate, such a dialogue,” Bakoyannis noted. In her speech, she touched upon several points, including European security, common interests and common values – such as respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, observing territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or use of force – as well as the continuation of OSCE work in Georgia. Lastly, she underlined the considerable advantage of such meetings, namely that the participants have the possibility of “speaking far more openly than in ordinary forums.” Bakoyannis is in Tirana today as part of her Balkan countries’ tour, where she will be meeting with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and her counterpart Lulzim Basha. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of FM Dora Bakoyannis at the 45th Munich Security Conference

OSCE in Motion / Greek FM’s visit to Russia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)       Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is visiting Russia in her capacity as OSCE Chairperson. The visit to Moscow is the minister’s first visit abroad representing the OSCE. Yesterday, the Russian news agency Itar-Tass published an interview with the foreign minister. Bakoyannis took the opportunity to underscore Greece’s steadfast determination to facilitate the negotiation process for a new cooperation agreement between Russia and the European Union.  Referring to Greece’s bilateral relations with Russia, the Minister stressed that “undoubtedly, Greece’s strong ties with Russia which have endured throughout the years, are bearing fruit and recently, they benefit from a new impetus which is mirrored on the number of bilateral official visits and close cooperation in fields such as energy, constructions, high tech industry and tourism.” Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations   

Economic and Environmental Forum

As part of the OSCE Conferences, the 17th Economic and Environmental Forum (Part I) was held in Vienna, in January 19-20. The forum addressed the issue of migration and its ties to economic, social and environmental policies. Representing Greece, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation, Theodoros Skylakakis emphasised interstate cooperation in the migration management sector and the combating of human trafficking networks. Linking climate change to migration, he further reiterated the Greek chairmanship’s aim to highlight OSCE’s environmental prospective, pursuing the idea of a “greener OSCE.”