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EU Cooperation on Immigration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the EU and the Netherlands,” said the Netherlands’ Deputy Justice Minister, responsible for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday (May 27) after visiting an illegal immigrants’ reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.  “Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states,” added the Dutch official who earlier this week had talks in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

Greece: 30 Years in EU

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    May 28, 1979 was an historic day for Greece, as it was the day Greece’s accession treaty to the European Union was signed.  30 years have elapsed since, and to commemorate the landmark date, a ceremony took place yesterday at the Zappeion Hall, the same venue where the inaugural treaty was signed.    To honour the event, a special guest who had attended the historic signing, attended the celebration yesterday: Former French President and European Convention on the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard D’Estaing (see photo, on the left) was an ardent supporter of the European vision and a close friend of then Prime Minister Konstantinos  Karamanlis, who also shared his vision of a united EuropeDuring these thirty years of Greek-European relations, adherence to the European institutions has been unequivocally endorsed by both the political elite and the people.  Despite conflicting interests among member states, Greece enters the European dialogue with a clear pro-European, pro-integrationist frame of mind.  It has already backed cooperation within the EU and has expressed its support for the Lisbon Treaty, a closer cooperation in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and future enlargement towards the Balkans.

Baghdad-Athens Flight Take-0ff Soon

iraqi_air3( www.minpress.grGreek and Iraqi transport authorities signed a pact that could open the way for direct flights between Baghdad and the European Union.  The accord gives Iraqi Airways the option of opening a route between Baghdad and Athens, which would be the first European Union destination for flights from Iraq’s capital. 
No date was announced to begin the flights. Read more…

9 May: Europe Day

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Europe Day is celebrated annually on May 9, and this year’s events will take place in Thessaloniki, beginning today until May 10. The theme is “A Social Europe at its Citizens’ Service.” European Parliament – Office for Greece: www.europarl.gr (in Greek)

 

EU Heads in Athens

» International Biodiversity Conference

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was welcomed  in Athens in order to attend a two-day international conference on “Biodiversity Protection Beyond 2010” hosted by Greece (April 27-28). Some 230 representatives of EU member states, NGOs, European enterprises and UN agencies discussed EU policy on biodiversity, as 2010 will be a major milestone for biodiversity policy both in the EU and globally. Addressing the event, Barroso underlined the significance of protecting biodiversity, shifting from “business as usual,” to a new model, hopefully shaped by this new “message emitting from Athens.” 

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis praised Greece for its high quality biodiversity amongst Mediterranean and European countries, but stressed that environmental protection ought to know no geographic boundaries. Taking the floor, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas warned that the world cannot turn its back on climate change and on any pressing matters of environmental protection. European Commission: Follow the Conference on-line & Dimas on biodiversity

» Remarks on Greek Economy

Meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Barroso welcomed Greece’s plans to tackle microeconomic imbalances and deliver on structural reforms. The Greek government has pledged to rein in the country’s deficit by 2010 (a fall to less than 3% of GDP), in keeping with EU’s proposed measures on fiscal policy.

» Honours Bestowed

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso received  (April 27) distinction from the Hellenic Parliament and the City of Athens. Hellenic Parliament Speaker Dimitris Sioufas decorated Barroso with the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament, while Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis awarded Barroso the Medal of Honour and Benefaction of the City of Athens.

Greece: Migration, a Top Priority

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Being a border region of Europe, Greece has being experiencing a migration influx from both land and sea. The figures speak for themselves: 150,000 immigrants were arrested in Greece in 2008, while arrests of traffickers in illegal immigration increased by more than 40% within the last two years. Faced with the intricacy of the situation and in accordance with its 2009 national programme on migration, Greece first accelerates absorption rates of EU funds earmarked for relevant purposes. In addition, red tape on residence permits is cut down, while in 2008, some 9,000 individuals were granted Greek nationality. Moreover, through a special programme (“Aeneas”), Greece creates comprehensive partnerships with the countries of origin and of transit to ensure the return of the illegal immigrants and progressively establish synergies between migration and development.

» Collaborating with the EU

The guidelines for all the above actions are provided by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum, to which Greece adheres fully. Asylum tops the list of issues to be considered. A European legislative framework of reference is imperative. Greece abides by international law and secures the right of every foreign immigrant individually to apply for asylum. (Some 25,000 applied in 2007). Creating a favourable environment for those granted access is equally important, always in measure of each country’s reception capacity. However, before facing the necessity to deal with immigration, it is in every member state’s interest to contain the phenomenon altogether. External boarders should be policed at all times and trafficking cracked down. Countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Malta and Cyprus should be endowed with supplementary resources. The European Union must intensify its cooperation with non EU transit countries implicated and prove more decisive when the latter do not cooperate despite the subsidy received with EU funds.

FRONTEX Guards the EU Borders

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras recently signed a declaration for the supply of equipment with the European agency  Frontex – an EU body created to coordinate the operational cooperation between member-states in the field of border security – to curb illegal immigration into Europe. The effective handling of illegal migration is a particular concern to the EU and, of course, to Greece, whose national borders are also Schengen area borders in their entirety and EU external limits for the most part. The need for action becomes more urging since, lately, increased illegal migrant flows have been observed at the country’s eastern – land and maritime – borders. Greece participates actively in shaping a common European Surveillance System (EUROSUR) for all external land and maritime borders, in building the European Patrol Network, as well as in promoting the creation of a European Coast Guard, which was a Greek initiative. Frontex executive director Ikka Laitinen said that Greece was doing what it should but was faced with an exceptionally difficult task that had to be carried out in a difficult area and a difficult environment. Athens News Agency: Greece signs deal with Frontex; Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: www.imepo.gr & Statistical Data on Immigrants in Greece; Migrants in Greece: www.migrantsingreece.org; European Commission: Towards a Common Immigration Policy & A maritime Policy for the EU 

Karamanlis Chair at Fletcher School

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Alexandros Yannis, is from September 2008, the new Constantine Karamanlis Associate Professor at the Fletcher School in Boston. Professor Alexandros Yannis has extensive experience in multilateral diplomacy with the European Union and the United Nations; including working with the European Union Special Envoy to Somalia (1994-1997), the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Kosovo (1999-2000) and in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva (2001).  The Constantine Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is committed to promoting Hellenic and Southeast European Studies in the US while honoring a towering figure of Greece’s recent past. The Karamanlis Chair brings academic scholars to The Fletcher School and the Tufts University community, encouraging a renewed focus on modern Greece, Southeastern Europe, the Mediterranean and the European Union and the crucial role these regions play in world politics. The Chair’s endowment provides a basis for scholars to teach the lessons of Greece and Southeastern Europe through history and culture as well as economics and politics. Karamanlis Chair @ Fletcher: Working Papers in Hellenic & European Studies

Greece at the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM Summit) held in Beijing (October 24-25) concluded its proceedings. Greece was represented at the summit by Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis. Following the conclusion of the proceedings, Valinakis stressed that the 7th ASEM Summit mostly dealt with the need for national reservations to be put aside in order for the global financial crisis to be addressed, via international cooperation, and that introversion and protectionism can only have negative consequences. The minister also mentioned the Global Financial Crisis Summit to be held in Washington on November 15, where the European Union is expected to suggest rules on the free market’s smoother operation. “We believe in the market economy, but it has its limits and we have to define these limits.”  The meeting also touched upon the environment and climate change. Greece’s position is that there will have to be steps forward on these issues, including steps to make optimum use of renewable sources of energy.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Conclusion of 7th ASEM Summit (Beijing);  See also: Secretariat General of Information: About Greece – Environmental Protection & About Brand Greece – Environmental Strategic Policies 

Official Visit of Greek Prime Minister to the United Kingdom

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis concluded an official visit to the United Kingdom yesterday (October 20-21). The premier was accompanied by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. Within the two-day visit, the Greek leadership met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband.  Speaking to the press, Karamanlis announced that the financial crisis topped the agenda in the discussions he held with his counterpart. He highlighted Brown’s fruitful contribution to the amendment of the situation at a European level, however, he clarified that Greece will first seek to protect the most vulnerable social strata against the repercussions of the turmoil.  Other topics included the future of the European Union, mainly the Lisbon Treaty, but also the bilateral relations of the two countries with particular emphasis on the situation in the Balkans and Cyprus. With regard to bilateral relations, Karamanlis reiterated Greece’s claim of the Parthenon marbles and their return to the New Acropolis Museum.  Yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Karamanlis held talks with main opposition’s conservative party leader, David Cameron.  Athens News Agency: Karamanlis discusses global crisis with Brown; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-United Kingdom bilateral relations 

Greek PM: Growth Secured

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Attending the extraordinary summit of Euro zone leaders yesterday in Paris, called by EU’s French presidency, Karamanlis hailed the EU leaders’ decision to give full support over a coordinated response to the economic slowdown. Speaking to the press, Karamanlis reaffirmed Greece’s immediate response to the financial turmoil which managed to “exhibit reflexes that were much better than many other countries around the world.” Moreover, Karamanlis appeared reassuring, noting that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to foresee growth in Greece at 2%, when zero growth is projected for the rest of the Euro zone countries. At the World Bank Group and IMF’s annual meeting, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis is expected to address the organisation’s plenary session. Alogoskoufis has already met during the weekend with World Bank officials as well as senior executives of international financial institutions. Athens News Agency: FinMin in Washington & PM satisfied with Eurozone summit European Commission: Economic & Monetary Union & Stability and Growth Pact; International Monetary Fund: IMF Welcomes Euro Zone Plan to Combat Crisis & World Economic Outlook, (October 2008); Ministry of Economy and Finance: The Greek Economy at a Glance (October 2008); Greek News Agenda: Bank of Greece: Banking System Safe

Europarliament TV

(GREEK NEW AGENDA)  The European Parliament now has its own web television station – called EuroparlTV – with programming in over 20 languages. The station was inaugurated yesterday by European Parliament President, Hans-Gert Pottering and Vice-President Alejo Vidal-Quadras, as well as Katerina Batzeli, MEP, Chairwoman of the Committee on Culture and Education at the European Parliament. The station broadcasts via the site www.europarltv.europa.eu, and offers four channels: Your Parliament, Your Voice, Young Europe, and Parliament Live.

European Commissioner Danuta Hubner in Ahtens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner arrived in Greece on September 7 on an official visit to some of the country’s regions. Speaking to the press, Hubner commented on Greece’s performance on matters of regional policy. The Commissioner stated that she was pleased with Greece’s EU funds absorption rate for the 3th Community Support Framework (CSF) and announced that the following CSF must fund competitiveness, innovation, environmental protection and transport infrastructure. Danuta Hubner: Hübner to see state-of-art impacts of EU investment in Greece; Secretariat General of Information: Spatial Planning and Regional Development of Greece & Community Support Framework (CSF) 2000-2006

Greece supports Cyprus

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Meeting her Cypriot counterpart Markos Kyprianou in Athens on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis relayed Greece’s support for Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias’ efforts to solve the Cyprus issue. The meeting was held just two days before the round of a new phase of negotiations between Christofias and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Bakoyannis particularly emphasised Cyprus’ capacity as a member of the EU and the European dimension the solution must have, stressing that this should ensure the safety and prosperity of Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots without including “vague interventionist rights.”  Athens News Agency: Support for Christofias in Athens; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Cyprus – The Parameters of the Problem and the Solution; Statements of FM DoraBakoyannis and her Cypriot counterpart, Markos Kyprianou, following their meeting

Αrtykuł MSZ Grecji i Polski w Gazecie „Le Figaro” (28/7)

Gazeta „Le Figaro” opublikowała pod tytułem „Na rzecz silniejszej transatlantyckiej relacji” wspólny artykuł Minister Spraw Zagranicznych Grecji, Pani Dory Bakoyiannis oraz Ministra Spraw Zagranicznych RP Pana Radosława Sikorskiego.

MSZ Grecji i Polski odrzucają dylemat „niekompatybilności rozwoju europejskiej obrony z zachowaniem transatlantyckiej relacji oraz NATO” oraz utrzymują, że „silniejsza Europa oznacza silniejsze NATO, silniejsza Europa oznacza, że ciężar pomiędzy nią a USA rozkłada się bardziej efektywnie i równomiernie, silniejsza Europa oznacza silniejsze transatlantyckie partnerstwo”.  „Relacja transatlantycka opiera się na trwałych historycznych i kulturowych związkach … i głównie z wyboru stanowi konieczność”, podkreślają Ministrowie obu państw. Kończąc wyrażają przekonanie, że prezydencja francuska nada nowy impuls w tym kierunku.

Greece’s Television and Radio Frequency Charts

On July 24 2008, Greek Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and Transport and Communications Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, held a press confrence for the presentation of the frequency chart for digital television tranmission and the frequency chart for analoque radio broadcasting in Greece. The digital broadcast trial period will be launched on November 1, 2008 with digital integration completed by 2015 at the latest, Roussopoulos said, adding that the EU is urging members to adopt digital technology by 2012. The digital frequencies chart is a serious attempt to put the broadcast sector in order, Roussopouloos said, stressing that consultations will be held with all interested parties before any joint ministerial decisions are issued setting the necessary preconditions.  Read the transcript of the press conference in english   Continue reading

Citizen Service Centres (KEP) Network in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    The Ministry of Interior is sparing no effort in reinforcing and enhancing the Citizen Service Centres (KEP) network. According to Deputy Minister Christos Zois, the aim is to make the centres a virtual one-stop-shop, while providing valuable assistance to citizens and reducing the “red tape” of public administration. The service is appreciated by citizens and successive opinion polls bear witness to this effect. Approximately 60,000 citizens visit KEPs daily, which offer advanced multi-channel systems, helping citizens carry out their affairs with the various departments in the public domain through this seamless suite of integrated channels. Non Greek-speaking foreign nationals who live in Greece may call the multi-lingual call centre 24/7 at “1564,” or visit www.kep.gov.gr to obtain specific information pertaining to their case. Last year, KEPs received the “Good Practice Label 2007” at the EU eGovernment Conference in Lisbon, www.epractice.eu/cases/csckep

GALILEO – EU’s Compass Shows the Way

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The prospect of the European Satellite Navigation System “GALILEO in Europe – especially in Greece – is the topic of a presentation currently taking place in Thessaloniki (May 16), with the participation of the Minister of Transport and Communications Kostas Hadjidakis. Galileo constitutes European Space Agency’s answer to modern space industry’s needs in terms of navigation. It is considered a worldwide competitor of the current American Global Positioning System (GPS). Minister Hadjidakis highlighted the opportunities for the Greek enterprises in the field of transport, telecommunications, information technology and energy, given the fact that Galileo is expected to create 10,000 new jobs around Europe and fill the market with an estimated €10 billion from services generated by the programme.  Galileo Hellas: www.galileo.gr; European Commission: Green Paper on Satellite Navigation Applications; Secretariat General for Information: About Greece, Telecommunications

European Council in Brussels, March 13 / 14th 2008

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The spring European Council concluded its proceedings in Brussels, Friday 14th, where Greece was represented by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Minister of Economy and Finance George Alogoskoufis, Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, and Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Valinakis. Continue reading

An Ecosystem Where Innovation Can Flourish

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Corallia – Hellenic Technology Clusters Initiative (www.corallia.org) is a novel cluster initiative that facilitates innovation clusters capable of competing at an international level to be formed in a way that can help Greece become a “value-added services” market player. Corallia supports the development of highly-specialized clusters in knowledge-intensive thematic areas that can drive and sustain economic growth. It brings together people, companies and technologies in order to create an ecosystem where innovation can flourish. Continue reading