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Greece: Migration in the Spotlight

» Karamanlis in Talks with Spanish PM Zapatero

karzap1(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Tackling illegal migration is a priority for Europe and Greece has been working closely with its EU partners and on a bilateral level with other Mediterranean countries in order to come up with solutions, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said Monday july, 13 after meeting his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in Madrid.  Resolving the problem, Karamanlis said, would require a three-level approach: adopting common policies on a European level, on a national level and finally, efforts to financially support the migrants’ countries of origin. Karamanlis also referred to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, saying that this has been acting as a “bridge” for bringing non-EU countries of the Mediterranean closer to the EU to discuss ways to tackle illegal migration.  On his part, Zapatero said that reinforcing Frontex and ensuring that EU migration policy is accompanied by close cooperation with the migrants’ countries origin and transit will be among the priorities of the Spanish EU presidency, from January 2010.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greek Mediterranean Partnership

» Greek  FM on Refugees and Migration

unhcr1278Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed Monday, july 13, the necessity of finding a balance between the need to protect Greece’s borders and that of protecting the rights of asylum seekers forced to abandon their homes.   Addressing an event to raise public awareness on refugee issues, organised by the Greek office of the UN High Commission for Refugees with the support of the Greek foreign ministry, Bakoyannis stressed the need for “European solidarity in practice and not just in words” to countries like Greece, which has been facing a surge in illegal migration.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs –Dora Bakoyannis’ Speech at the presentation of public awareness campaign on refugees  Greek News Agenda: Diplomacy on Migration

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.

Greece on Illegal Migration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece received support from many countries, both from the Mediterranean region and from central and northern Europe, for its position that the issue of illegal migration and its handling requires European solidarity that must be shown in practice.  This is what Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said following an EU General Affairs Council held in Luxembourg yesterday, ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on June 18-19.  According to the minister, this display of European solidarity could be shown through upgrading Frontex to manage the external borders of the EU – which in the case of Greece would mean greater presence of patrol boats in the Aegean – and the financial support to deal with the plight of illegal migrants.  Bakoyannis stressed  that immigrants are people with rights, desperate and lacking financially, who place all their hopes on a boat.  Bakoyannis also stressed that Greece’s intention is for specific references to be made in the final communiqué of the EU summit regarding the repatriation conditions, with the agreements that the EU must sign with the countries of origin. 

British Foreign Minister on official visit to Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, currently on official visit to Greece, held talks on Tuesday (26.5)  with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and leader of the opposition George Papandreou.  In statements after their meeting, Bakoyannis and Miliband said that the discussion covered a wide range of subjects, including the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s and the Western Balkans’ European perspective, as well as developments in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and climate change. Miliband stressed the need for a solution to the Cyprus issue “by Cypriots and for Cypriots” adding that achieving the desired solution would require courage and flexibility. He also praised Greece’s stance over the past 10 years with respect to European Union enlargement to Turkey and the western Balkans, describing it as “strong, clear and brave.” Kathimerini daily: British FM backs pact ‘by Cypriots

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)  

Greece – USA Relations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis had a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on May 15.  During a long meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, the latter briefed Steinberg on a series of regional issues, including matters related to the Aegean, the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations, Cyprus and the FYROM “name issue.”  On his part, Steinberg cited Greece’s pivotal role as a United States partner in Southeastern Europe and in international affairs, stressing Greece’s contribution in Afghanistan and in the efforts to deal with many global challenges, ranging from piracy to non proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Finally, Steinberg was pleased to announce that the visa waiver programme is being reviewed, bringing the existing bilateral relations one step forward.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-USA bilateral relations

Greek PM Meets with Outgoing NATO Secretary General

karamsceff(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Thursday (May 14) in Athens with the outgoing NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.  Pointing out that during Scheffer’s term the alliance was enlarged twice, while in the field of operations NATO was called to meet very demanding challenges, Karamanlis praised the efforts to promote the Alliance’s relations with Russia as well as the progress made in relation to Ukraine and Georgia and the countries of the ‘Partnership for Peace’, the ‘Mediterranean Dialogue’ and the ‘Istanbul Initiative.’  On his part, the NATO SecGen stressed that “Greece’s participation in NATO’s operations and missions was and still is very important.” He also referred to energy and internet security issues as well as to the participation of Greek Navy frigates in the efforts to combat sea piracy.  De Hoop Scheffer also met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.

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 Foreign Minister: A Change of Priorities

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Ministry Dora Bakoyannis addressed the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce on May 5 on “The impact of the economic crisis on the international stage: The position of Greece.”    At the dawn of this new era, Greece needs to find new development potential firmly founded on its true capabilities and prospects. The triptych “structural changes and development initiatives, financial stability and tangible solidarity with those in greater need” form the basis for the structured plan implemented by the government in order to get the country safely out of the current crisis. In the long run, these are also the main pillars on which our country’s future development course is based. For this course, the minister elaborates on a change of priorities, consisting of three main points: innovation, externalisation, and the need to invest in creative forces.   In related news, at a joint press conference on May 6, representatives of the Hellenic-American, Hellenic-British, Hellenic-French, Hellenic-German and Hellenic-Italian chambers of commerce said they consider the measures undertaken by the government in order to overcome the crisis as being on the right path and called for greater emphasis to be placed on structural changes.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Dora Bakoyannis’ speech to the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce 

Adriatic – Ionian Initiative

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The meeting of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII) members’ Parliament Speakers took place on May 4, within the framework of the Hellenic Chairmanship of the AII. Greece assumed the AII’s one-year Chairmanship on June 1, 2008.  Addressing the event, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said that only one clear conclusion comes out of discussions on how to find a way out of this crisis: global problems call for global solutions. “Though there are no magic recipes, any collective international effort is valuable,” said the minister.  She emphasized that strengthening relations between countries and enhanced international cooperation between significant players – such as the academic community and local authorities- constitute valuable contributions to mutual understanding in order to address common challenges. Adriatic – Ionian Initiative: Hellenic Chairmanship ; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: International Conference for an Adriatic–Ionian Development Strategy (Corfu, 13.2.2009)

Greek FM’s Call to Turkey

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Diplomats discussed the state of Greek-Turkish relations after Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis telephoned her Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan on Thursday (April 30) to complain about an increase in transgressions of Greek air space in the Aegean. After a sharp rise in violations by Turkish fighter jets, Bakoyannis called Babacan and expressed Greek concerns. It is believed that Ankara’s belligerence is a reaction to Greece signing a bilateral treaty with Albania for the delineation of the continental shelf in the Ionian Sea. Kathimerini daily: FM calls Turks over violations Greek News Agenda: Greece- Albania Sign Pact; United Nations: Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf

First Foreign Woman Enters French Academy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  

doraspeechForeign Minister Dora Bakoyannis became the first foreign woman to be elected as an associate member of France’s prestigious Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques yesterday. Bakoyannis stressed that her election was a great honour, not only for herself but for Greece as well. On this occasion, she also met the French Prime Minister Francois Fillon yesterday in Paris to discuss issues regarding the reinforcement of solidarity among Eurozone countries, based on the proposal already put forward by France. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Statement of Dora Bakoyannis following her meeting with French Prime Minister François Fillon

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.”

Greek Foreign Minister on Images of Nations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis outlined the factors that impact a country’s international image, addressing a two-day Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) international conference in Athens on the theme “Images of Nations: Strategic Communication, Soft Power and the Media,” which examines images of nations in an internationalised environment with the focus on possibilities and prospects for Greece. Referring to mass media, the foreign minister noted that the rapid technological developments of the past two centuries have “contributed to amazing changes, from newspapers to radio, television and Internet communication.”  Bakoyannis referred to the case of Athens, comparing the city’s international image during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with that presented during last December’s incidents. As a result of the public image of the Olympic Games, tourism to Athens rose. “Tourists were going not only to the islands, but also to Athens … the city that was presented with and had the image that we desired, the result positive. December 2008. Athens in flames and the banner on the Acropolis… I had said in parliament at the time that the people who raised the banner on the Acropolis should have thought of the magnitude of the damage they were causing to the country. No matter how much one invests in and fights for the country’s public image, such a banner can destroy your entire effort.”  The issues under examination at the conference, which is under the aegis of the foreign ministry, include: Internet as a tool of public diplomacy and foreign policy; soft power as a part of the high-level strategy of states, and the institutional dimensions of shaping policies regarding a state’s image. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: FM Dora Bakoyannis’ speech at the international conference on “Images of nations: Strategic communication, soft power and the media” 

OSCE: Dora Bakoyannis in Kosovo

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis visited Kosovo on Tuesday (3.2.09), on the second day of her western Balkans tour. After holding meetings in Pristina with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci Bakoyannis noted that she was there “as a friend, as a neighbour and as chairperson of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),” with the intention of helping the people of Kosovo, regardless of race or religion, to have a better future within the European family. The foreign minister underlined the importance that the Greek OSCE Chair attaches to the promotion of peace and stability in the western Balkans as well as Greece’s desire to boost relations with the people of Kosovo and expand economic ties, revealing plans for a business forum that will examine investment opportunities in the region. During a press conference, Bakoyannis was also asked about the dispute with FYROM over the name issue and why her tour did not include a visit to Skopje, which will be holding presidential elections in March. Bakoyannis did not rule out the possibility of a visit to Greece’s northern neighbour during 2009, as part of a series of visits she intends to carry out to the OSCE’ s 19 missions. She nevertheless urged the government in Skopje to carry out free and fair elections, noting that these would be monitored by a delegation of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and by the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly. Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Greece’s position on Kosovo’s independence and Op-ed by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis published in Kosovo 

Greek FM Bakoyiannis meets with Iraqi Counterpart

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her visiting Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari held talks in Athens yesterday and agreed on: the establishment of a Greek Economic and Commercial Affairs Office in Iraq, Greece’s assistance in the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage, and the building of a statue of Alexander the Great in Gaugamela.  Speaking to the press after the meeting, Bakoyannis said the discussions included a review on international developments, particularly the Middle East. She also stressed Greece’s steadfast stance in favour of the unity, independence and territorial integrity of Iraq. Bakoyannis further noted that Greece was “participating in the financing of Iraq’s developmental effort” with emphasis on the improvement of infrastructures.   Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Statements of Foreign Minister and her counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, following their meeting (27.01.2009) & Bilateral Relations: Greece-Iraq 

Greece: News from Moscow

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met in Moscow on Wednesday and held talks. The greater part of the meting was devoted to Greece’s proposal for finding a compromise solution that would allow OSCE observers to remain in Georgia and South Ossetia. “The proposals of the (Greek) presidency are realistic both de facto and de jure and we are ready to help promote them,” said Lavrov later during a joint press conference.  Following their meeting, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement saying that “Russia hails the priorities of the Greek presidency of the OSCE in 2009.”The Russian side evaluated positively the priorities set by Greece for the OSCE’s activities in 2009 and hailed the intention of the Greek presidency to organise a special ministerial meeting to continue discussion on the security problems in the and ways of resolving them,” the statement adds. The two ministers continued their talks over lunch, during which they tackled issues of bilateral interest, such as cooperation in the energy, tourism and trade sectors. Chairmanship of Greece at the OSCE: www.osce.org/cio; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Russia Bilateral Relations

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.”

Greece Assisting Injured Children from Gaza

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Injured children from Gaza will be hospitalised in Greece following an initiative by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and in coordination with the Ministries of Health and Defence. Both public and private hospitals have offered beds to this end in their special Paediatrics’ Wards. The Ministry of National Defence will be responsible for the children’s transport aboard special planes and the Church of Greece will provide the children’s escorts with accommodation. A delegation of Foreign and Health Ministry officials will depart for Egypt today in order to prepare the mission, which is being implemented as part of a joint EU member states initiative. The mission will be coordinated by the Foreign Ministry and its competent agency, Hellenic Aid, and by the Ministry of Health through the National Health Operations Centre. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Injured children from Gaza are to be hospitalised in Greece