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Illegal Migration Action Plan on track

The Ministry of Citizen Protection, in a press release issued on March 9, reiterated that Greece with the assistance of the European Commission and European funding is making immense efforts to implement the Greek National Action Plan on mixed migration flows, despite the disproportionate burden that is being placed on the country as a result of the influx of a large number of irregular migrants.
The Ministry announced the new actions that are currently being implemented, stressing Greece’s commitment to deal with the problem as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

Greece: Attracting Tourism Development

Greece ranked 29th among a total of 139 countries in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) regarding competitiveness for the tourism sector.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report is issued annually and grades countries on a total of 60 indicators, including policy regulations, resources, safety, prices and environmental protection. According to the survey, Greece benefits from its rich cultural resources (ranked 25th), excellent health and hygiene (20th), and a top-notch tourism infrastructure (5th). Further on, the report refers to the country’s strong national affinity for tourism (compared with many other European countries), including a generally open and positive attitude toward tourists (26th). The report ranks Greece 21st among European countries.
World Economic Forum: 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

Blue Flags 2010

Greece was awarded Blue Flags for 421 Beaches and 9 Marinas by the International Blue Flag Jury, winning second place among 41 countries. 
The prefectures of Lasithi (on Crete), and Halkidiki (northern Greece), as well as the islands of Corfu and Rhodes were awarded the highest number of Blue Flags.
The Blue Flag is an internationally recognized standard for quality, develporewarding sustainable development at beaches and marinas, relying on strict criteria, such as water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety.
Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature: Greek Beachs awarded the Blue Flag for 2010
Greek News Agenda: 425 Blue Flags for Greece

Greece assumes BSEC chairmanship

Greece has assumed, the rotating chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation, at a special ceremony, during the 22nd meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs , held in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 28.
“It is our objective to establish the Greek Chairmanship-in-Office of the BSEC as a turning point for the entire region towards Green Development.
Its central theme will be Black Sea turns Green,” Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis stressed in his address to the meeting upon the assumption of the chairmanship.
He also noted that the emphasis on “green development” will highlight the comparative advantages of the Black Sea region in terms of environmental protection, culture, tourism, alternative energy sources and new technologies. 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

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)

Environmental Protection Comes… “NATURA”lly

NATURA(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias announced yesterday (June 20) the launch of a new environmental project.   It refers to the purchase of fire protection equipment in order to be used in the regions of Greece protected by the “NATURA 2000” Network.  The programme which is funded in the framework of the National Strategic Reference Framework for the environment and sustainable development reaches an overall budget of € 24,540,000.  The NATURA 2000 Networking Programme is targeting at environmental protection and wise use of habitat types and plant and animal species of special value.

Prespa Lake Conservation Project Gets EU Award

Prespa(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Conservation of priority bird species in Lake Mikri Prespa in northern Greece – a project developed by the Society for the Protection of Prespa and WWF Hellas has been named one of the top five environmental projects carried out in the EU during 2007-2008, winning a  ‘Best LIFE-Nature’ Projects award.  The Best LIFE-Nature Projects is a new award that aims to identify some of the best LIFE Nature projects that were completed during the reference period 2007-2008. All projects completed within the reference period were initially technically assessed by the LIFE Unit’s External Assistance Team to produce a first list of Best Projects.   The principal aim of the ‘Prespa Lake project’ was to improve the conservation status of the Dalmatian Pelican and the Pygmy Cormorant, but activities have also benefited directly at least 18 other species covered by the Birds Directive.   Secretariat General of Information: About Brand Greece- Greek Environmental Strategic Policies & Hellenic Ornithological Society: www.ornithologiki.gr

New Onassis Prize: Environment Protection

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    The President of the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Antonis Papadimitriou and Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust announced in the German city’s Town Hall on Thursday (28.5) the establishment of a new International Onassis Prize which would bear the name “Aristotle Onassis Prize for the Protection of the Environment.”   The Prize will be awarded every two years for “outstanding contributions towards protecting and improving the environment, including the long-term economical use of energy.”  The first award will be handed out in autumn 2010 in Hamburg and will be accompanied by a cash prize amounting to €250,000.

425 “Blue Flags” for Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature -coordinator of the international “Blue Flag” programme in Greece- announced yesterday (May 27) the awarded beaches and marinas for 2009.  Greece was awarded flags for 425 beaches and 8 marinas by the international non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), conquering the second place among 39 countries worldwide.  The Blue Flag is an internationally recognised standard for quality, rewarding sustainable development at beaches and marinas, relying on strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety.  Greek News Agenda: Blue Flags; Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature: Greek Beaches and Marinas awarded the Blue Flag for 2009

Rhodes: HQ of Intercultural Euromediterranean Centre

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The city of Rhodes – capital of the southeastern Aegean island – will be the seat of UNESCO’s Intercultural Euromediterranean Centre and the founding act will be signed today in a special ceremony to be attended by prominent figures from Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Israel, Romania, France, Belgium, the United States and Turkey. The centre will be temporarily housed at the Medieval City of Rhodes until the Rhodes Mansion is completely restored as its permanent headquarters. The Intercultural Euromediterranean Centre will undertake the organisation of European and international meetings and conventions on cultural heritage, cultural relations, and environmental protection. City of Rhodes: Press Releases   

Boosting Employment in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Palli Petralia on Thursday unveiled a package of measures, budgeted at €3.2 billion, aimed at supporting employment and dealing with the consequences of the economic crisis in the labour market. Presenting the plan, the minister said the money for the programme would be covered by both national and EU funds, and stressed that the package would cover more than 1.3 million workers and unemployed people, offering vocational training, supporting vulnerable social groups and subsidizing work.Secretariat General for Information: About Greece- Labour Market Flexibility/ Industrial Relations

Athens is Going Green

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A pilot project in Athens offering citizens redeemable coupons for recycling their trash is to be extended across the capital. Under the programme “Compensatory Recycling,” citizens who recycle plastic, metal, paper and other waste are given a coupon, whose value depends on the volume of trash recycled. The coupons can either be donated to the municipality’s recycling fund or used for discounts at supermarkets. The scheme is being funded by packaging producers and so costs are not passed on to consumers. Apart from its standard blue recycling bins, Athens already has 25 special compensatory recycling kiosks with slots for different types of trash. The aim is for another 75 to be set up across Athens next year and dozens more in other cities. City of Athens: Cleanliness & Environment – Recycling; Secretariat General of Information – About Greece: Environmental Protection  

Greek President at the International Association of Hydrogeologists

ceb3ceb9cf89cf81ceb3cebfcf83-cf83cf84cebfcf85cf81cebdceb1cf81ceb1cf83(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Geology professor at Athens University Giorgos Stournaras has been appointed president of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH). IAH is an international organisation for researches and professionals working in the field of groundwater resource planning, management and protection. Founded in 1956, the association now numbers more than 3,500 members in more than 135 countries. Giorgos Stournaras is a professor at the Faculty of Geology & Geoenvironment at Athens University and President of the Hellenic Committee of Hydrogeology.