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A farewell to philosopher Axelos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Philosopher Kostas Axelos died on February 4, at the age of 85 in Paris where he had been living since 1945.

Axelos was born in Athens in 1924 and, at the end of 1945, with the help of then director of the French Institute in Athens Octave Merlier, he boarded the legendary ship Mataroa to Paris along with 200 other young Greeks who were thus saved from the ravages of the impending civil war.
He studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, and then taught there from 1962-1973. He was a columnist and later editor of the pioneering, at the time, magazine “Arguments” (1956-1962).
He also founded and, since 1960, directed, in tandem with “Arguments,” the philosophical series of the “Editions de Minuit,” which also published most of his own books.
Axelos wrote 24 books and a plethora of texts in French, Greek and German, which have been translated into 16 languages.
Axelos interview with Radical Philosophy (2005): Mondialisation without the world
Du côté de Desmos: www.desmos-grece.com  (in French)

Cultural ties with Georgia

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University has undertaken the initiative to compile the first Modern Greek-Georgian Dictionary, containing 50,000 words. The project was funded by the Kostas and Eleni Ourani Foundation

The Greek element has been present in Georgia since antiquity. The first trips had commercial purpose and within years, the first cultural enclaves were established.
The two early Georgian kingdoms of late antiquity were known to ancient Greeks as Iberia in the east and Colchis in the West.
The Western part was strongly influenced by Greek culture – as evidenced in Greek mythology and the story of Jason seeking the Golden Fleece in Colchis – and the eastern part by the Persians.
Greeks in Georgia established ties with the Byzantine Empire, building on a common religious background.
Until recently (1989), the Greek community in Georgia counted some 100,000 residents, but nowadays the population totals between 15,000- 20,000. 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greeks in Georgia; Photo: “The Argonauts”, a publication by the Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the Tbilisi State University.

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

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

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.

Greek Tourism Shows Resilence

• Minister Is Optimistic

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Figures on arrivals at Greek airports during the first five months of the year show an annual drop by 8.8%, much less than had originally been anticipated, Tourism Minister Kostas Markopoulos said during a press conference on June 16. Despite the dire economic climate globally, Markoupolos appeared optimistic that the drop in tourism for 2009 will not reach double digits and stressed that domestic tourism will also reach high levels. Kathimerini daily (17.6.2009): Tourism will not fall by over 10pct this year, gov’t says. Greek National Tourism Organisation: www.visitgreece.gr

• New Planes Take Off

Marfin Investment Group (MIG) which recently bought Olympic Airlines (OA) announced yesterday (June 17) that its subsidiary Olympic Air bought eight Q400 aircrafts from Bombardier for € 161,5 million with an option to acquire another 8. Meanwhile Aegean Airlines has announced that it is beginning daily flights to Istanbul from September 9, expanding its international routes. Kathimerini daily: MIG buys planes for Olympic Air

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

Egnatia Motorway in Greece: A Pioneer Project

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis inaugurated on May 30 the final section of Egnatia Motorway connecting Ioannina to Thessaloniki in a ceremony that took place on the Bridge of Venetiko River.  The Egnatia Motorway runs 670 km (416 miles) and stretches from Igoumenitsa in the Prefecture of Thesprotia to the Greek-Turkish border on the Evros River.  The ‘Egnatia motorway’ is a pioneer project that will facilitate the daily life of almost 36 percent of the country’s population and will impact positively on the country’s GNP.  During the ceremony, Karamanlis expressed his satisfaction as all the difficult sections of the state-of-the-art motorway were completed on time and standards respecting the environment were upheld.  A smaller section of the motorway connecting Ioannina with the Ionian port town of Igoumenitsa will be completed in July.  Egnatia Motorway: The Project Identity & Project Progress Map; Greek News Agenda: Egnatia Motorway: Greece is moving faster

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 PM at Economist Roundtable

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis addressed the 13th Economist Roundtable with the Greek Government conference on Tuesday evening, reiterating his intention to take whatever decisions are necessary, whatever the cost may be, to enable the country to exit from the present economic crisis with the fewest repercussions possible.
Karamanlis pointed out that while unemployment in Europe is registering record-high levels, it has been much lower in Greece since 2004, adding that small and medium-size enterprises that are active in tourism, commerce, and services are being boosted with €1.3 billion. He also referred to the need for backing the financially weaker classes and supporting employment.
In related news, the government approved the merger of hundreds of state bodies and organisations in an effort to cut spending in the public sector. Economy and Finance Minister Yannis Papathanassiou said the plan involves the merger of 255 state bodies – out of the 620 that were examined – over the next four months.  Kathimerini: Mergers to streamline state bodies & Ministry of Economy and Finance: News & Press Releases

Athens: International Broadband Convergence

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis opened a two-day international conference on “Broadband Convergence in Telecommunications and Media” yesterday, organised by the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT). The aim of the conference is to highlight the significance of convergence as a means for social, economic and cultural development. Addressing the conference, the PM outlined the government’s strategy for expanding the use of broadband, citing, among others, a major project for developing new generation optical fibres, budgeted at €2.1 billion, and hundreds of smaller projects currently in progress for the spread of broadband use. EETT: Programme of the 4th International Conference on Broadband

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 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.

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.

Greek PM at the EPP Congress

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis addressed the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) conference, ahead of the June Elections at the European Parliament, in Warsaw on Wednesday, stressing the need for shielding the European social model and maintaining the balance between the market and social responsibility. The conference was attended by most premiers of the European Union member-states, as well as a considerable number of party leaders, both from member-states and EU accession candidate countries. Referring to the crucial economic situation, Karamanlis underlined that the key word is “confidence” and that the EPP has always placed emphasis on the social dimension in safeguarding economic cohesion and social solidarity.

Greece in the International Arena

karkyp12(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Addressing the Cypriot Parliament during his official visit to Cyprus (April 23-24), Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stressed the need for a Cyprus settlement to be reached between the two communities on the island without any interventions, on the basis of the United Nations-mediated peace talks for the reunification of the divided island.”Respect for the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus has been the cornerstone of Greece’s stance in the Cyprus problem,” said Karamanlis. Greece has long supported the solution of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and political equality, as laid down in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, with a single international personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship.

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

Olympic Airlines Seals the Deal

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

The government has announced the successful conclusion of negotiations with Marfin Investment Group (MIG) for the sale of the national carrier Olympic Airlines (OA). Under the deal, clinched late on Friday, the state is set to receive the sum of €177.2 million for all OA assets, flight operations and technical maintenance. For the ground-handling division, since talks between MIG and Swissport are still in progress, negotiations have been extended for a week, Development Minister Kostas Hatzidakis announced.

In order for the agreement between the Greek state and the Marfin Investment Group (MIG) to be finalised, it must be approved by the European Commission, following which, the inter-ministerial privatisations committee must evaluate it.

Greek PM: Strengthening Innovation

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, addressing a conference titled “The contribution of Research Centers to research, technological development and innovation,” held on April 1 at the Athens Concert Hall, stressed the great importance of research and technology for the country’s economic growth and social progress. He said that a precise strategy on research and technology would help Greece overcome the global economic crisis more easily and called on Hellenic businesses to emphasize on innovation and new forms of production. Moreover, the premier noted that over €1 billion have been earmarked in the National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013 for boosting research and high technology investments at universities, research centres and technological institutes, while he emphasized the national energy policy and the importance of renewable energy sources on the country’s growth. The conference was organized by the Development ministry’s General Secretariat for Research and Technology. Ministry of Development: General Secretariat for Research and Technology; Foundation for Research & Technology – Hellas: www.forth.gr