Greece: Snap Elections for October 4

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  karaekloges1Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Wednesday called an early general election. In a televised address Karamanlis underlined the need for immediate structural reforms and measures to deal with the repercussions of the international economic crisis and what he called decades-old problems of the domestic economy and public sector. He said that strict fiscal discipline, a “war” on tax evasion and long-due structural reforms are imperative. However, as he pointed out, reforms necessitate a fresh mandate which will secure a stable political environment. Leader of the main opposition party, George Papandreou greeted the PM’s decision, calling for a “new beginning” and pointing out that the country’s economic problems where the fault of the government and could not be attributed to the global financial crisis. Secretariat General of Information – About Greece: Political System and Elections in Greece

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Karamanlis – Berlusconi Focus on Energy & Migration

karamberlouskoni(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Illegal migration was the focus of discussions Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis held in Rome with his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi. In brief statements after the meeting Karamanlis said that the EU should act for the solution of the problem, in particular towards the signing of repatriation agreements with the migrants’ countries of origin and transit and the strengthening the EU’s border agency Frontex. Berlusconi struck a similar note, calling on all member states to contribute to efforts to tackle the problem.  The two Prime Ministers also discussed energy issues, especially the progress made in the two major projects currently underway, the South Stream and the Turkish-Greek-Italian (ITGI) natural gas pipelines.  “The agreement signed just Wednesday, July 15, between Greece and Bulgaria for an offshoot of ITGI gives this project even greater importance,” said the Greek PM.

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

Diplomacy on Migration

Greek PM: Address at EPP Group Study
STUDY-DAYS(1)(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) 
The government’s priorities are to accelerate reforms and tackle illegal immigration, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said on June 29, in his opening address to the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) Group Study Days taking place in Athens.  The premier also referred to the worsening problem of illegal migration, pointing out that Greece was currently shouldering a large portion of the burden that is actually shared by all of Europe, since illegal migrants eventually make their way into other EU countries. “Active solidarity and a fair distribution of the burden are needed,” he stressed, adding that the issue was a top priority for Athens. He also pointed to the progress made in setting up a European coast guard, adding that joint European exercises had taken place in the framework of EU’s FRONTEX agency.
Visit to Migrant Centres
oast1European Commission Vice-president Jacques Barrot, responsible for justice, freedom and security, who is in Athens to attend the EPP meeting, paid a visit on June 29 to reception facilities for illegal migrants on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, accompanied by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos. In statements afterwards, he acknowledged that Greek  authorities faced a difficult task but also stressed Greece’s obligation to provide refuge for migrants arriving on its shores.  Barrot accompanied by Pavlopoulos also visited the migrant centre in Evros, north-eastern Greece, near the Greek-Turkish border.  The Commissioner called for a strong stance to be adopted by Europe vis-a-vis migrant traffickers, adding that all countries of Europe should demonstrate their solidarity to countries which are more exposed to illegal immigration, such as Greece. Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: Statistical Data on Immigrants in Greece; European Commission: Towards a Common Immigration Policy  ELIAMEP- Clandestino: Stocks of Irregular Migrants: Estimates for Greece

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

Illegal Immigration: A Commmon EU Issue

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stressed the need for immediate joint action by European countries to combat illegal immigration as he emerged from a European People’s Party (EPP) summit held in Brussels on Thursday: “It is an issue of European dimensions, which doesn’t concern only those countries that are directly affected and are now having to shoulder the greatest burden,” he emphasised. The two-day works of the European Council meeting under Czech Presidency in Brussels (18 – 19 June), attended by Prime Minister Karamanlis, center on Barroso’s second term as President of the European Commission, the global financial crisis, global warming and illegal immigration. The European Council has agreed to examine illegal immigration following the requests of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. According to the last outcome of the European Council , the 27 leaders have underlined that an effective European response based on solidarity and distribution of responsibilities are necessary to combat illegal immigration.

Climate Change Conference in Athens

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The impact of climate change as a challenge for the future generations with particular emphasis on the sensitive and vulnerable population groups of the Mediterranean countries, especially sick children, is the topic of the two-day international conference on “Climate Change and Challenges for the Future Generations.” The event opened Tuesday 2 june at the Athens Concert Hall and was organised under the patronage of UNESCO and in collaboration with the World Sustainable Development Forum. Speaking at the opening session, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis called for international effort, political intervention and coordinated action forward in order to save the planet’s environment. Karamanlis warned that if we do not act immediately, environmental degradation could become irreversible. Investment in a new economy, with respect for the environment, he stressed, was necessary. UN Intergovernmental Committee on Climatic Change (IPCC) President, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rajendra Pachauri -one of the keynote speakers at the conference- said that “climate change is a challenge for the present and future generations” and referred to the decrease in water reserves, big droughts, heat waves, the risk of wildfires and the reduction of farm crops as its repercussions in the Mediterranean region. Other keynote speakers include UN Secretary General Envoy on Climatic Change and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, and cardiac surgery professor at the Imperial College in London, Sir Maghdi Yacoub. See also: Programme of the Conference