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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)

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New era in Greek-Turkish relations

» High Level Cooperation

Premier George Papandreou and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed their will to take important steps towards the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations, as the Turkish leader wrapped up an official visit to Athens on Saturday.
This was sealed with the opening session of the Greece-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council and the signing of 21 agreements.
George Papandreou met with the chiefs of Turkish media, while Erdogan with the chiefs of the Greek newspapers.
The Greek premier told Turkish journalists that Erdogan’s visit heralds a new era in Greek-Turkish relations, further adding that the two sides had better overcome their differences. He also touched on economic cooperation between Athens and Ankara.

» “We have an agreement”

Twenty-one cooperation agreements in fields as diverse as technology and tourism were signed during the Turkey-Greece High Level Cooperation Council.
Ministers signed agreements boosting trade, investments and shipping and the two countries will hereby extend their cooperation in projects concerning infrastructure works and transnational transport networks.
Relations between the two countries in the field of immigration will be governed by a bilateral agreement which provides for readmission of illegal immigrant flows to Turkey and cooperation in the fight against organized crime, trafficking and civil protection.
Both sides agreed to improve tourism cooperation, aiming at increasing their market share in countries with economic potential such as China, as well as raising global awareness on matters of cultural heritage protection.

Special attention was given to education and synergies concerning research. Environment protection and joint ventures in energy projects including renewable energy sources and the existing Turkey- Greece-Italy gas pipeline were also sealed with respective deals.
In terms of strengthening bilateral ties,  a Joint Political Declaration on the establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council as well as a Protocol on regular political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries were signed.

» Signing the Olympic Truce

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan concluded on Saturday his landmark visit to Athens by signing the Olympic Truce initiative.

At a brief ceremony in front of the imposing Panathenaic Stadium, Erdogan referred to the “great honour in signing my name in this book; to put my signature for a world of peace.”
Papandreou said that Turkey’s support for the idea sends out a clear message “by Turkey and Greece to the world,” adding that Greece will actively support Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Greek foreign policy in 2010

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas outlined Greece’s foreign policy priorities for 2010 during a press conference held yesterday.

Together with Deputy Minister Spyros Kouvelis, Droutsas highlighted that protecting Greece’s sovereignty and putting an end to past inertia will constitute the ultimate objective for the country’s foreign policy.
Referring to issues of particular national interest, Droutsas stressed that Greece has conveyed a message of friendship and peace to Turkey and expects the latter to respond to it.
The alternate minister mentioned the possibility of a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister sometime in the near future.
On the Cyprus issue, underlined the government’s commitment to actively helping Cyprus with actions rather than words, pointing out that the first foreign visit carried out by Prime Minister George Papandreou had been to Cyprus.
As regards to the country’s relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the alternate minister reiterated that Greece enters negotiations with an open mind and keeps an edifying stance on the matter.
Droutsas pointed out that in the communiqué forwarded by the European Union in December, it was made clear that Greece’s support to FYROM’s European course depends on reaching a viable solution to the name issue.
Greek News Agenda:  Greek Foreign Policy- Challenges and Prospects

FM of Greece: “No Compliance a la Carte”

Bacoyannis(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis informed her counterparts during an EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) yesterday (July 27) on Turkey’s provocative policy of questioning Greek sovereign rights in recent weeks.  “This policy is unacceptable,” Bakoyannis said at a press-conference at the end of the meeting, noting that EU governments should have a clear picture of the situation in view of the EU Commission’s assessment report on  Turkey’s accession course, due to be publicised in December.  “Until now, Turkey has not respected her commitments,” Bakoyannis noted, underlying that EU accession negotiations were founded on principles that clearly define the obligation of respecting good neighbourly relations and the peaceful resolution of differences. “Compliance a la carte and selective implementation of what has been agreed upon cannot be accepted,” the minister said.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece – Turkey & Enlargement [Photo from previous statement]

Argonauts Revived

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A replica of the legendary ship “Argo” which, in ancient mythology carried Jason and his Argonauts in the quest of the Golden Fleece in Colchis, (now city of Poti, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast) reached Poti on June 19.  3,500 years after the first sail from ancient Iolkos (now city of Volos) -according to the myth-, the 50 modern Argonauts reached Georgia anew, this time not to recover the Golden Fleece but to convey messages of hope and peace in a region much troubled.  ‘Argo’ and the Greek delegation were received by President Mikheil Saakashvili.  The reception was followed by the inauguration of a new museum for the Argonaut expedition. An archaeological conference was also held in the city of Batumi.  The modern ‘Argo’ is a reconstruction of an ancient Greek ‘penteconter’ with a ram, a single tier of oarsmen, and a single sail made of half-cured wood cut from forest timber.  It belongs to the same family of Homer’s long ships and later ram-equipped warships of antiquity. The modern ‘Argo’ took over six years to complete, with the use of Bronze Age tools only.  

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.

Books about Greece: “Sea of Many Returns” & more

Ithaka and Odysseus’ journeys have inspired many writers. Arnold Zable’s new novel, “Sea of Many Returns,” charts more recent comings and goings from Ithaca, explores the sense of physical and emotional journeying, and continues the renowned author’s fascination with the migrant experience.  Xanthe is compelled to return to the birthplace of her father, Manoli, and her maternal grandfather, Mentor, prompted by family and literary associations. Xanthe is translating Mentor’s manuscript, an account of leaving Ithaca and his subsequent life in Australia. The book takes the reader to modern-day Ithaca, to its mountains, its villages and its harbours, and into the houses of its people.  Secretariat General of Information: Books – Living in Greece   Continue reading