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PM George Papandreou`s intervention at the plenary session of the Eastern Partnership Summit (Warsaw, 30/9/2011)

By virtue of its location, Greece is uniquely positioned as a bridge linking the Eastern and the Mediterranean dimensions of Europe’s Neighborhood Policy and has promoted the development of both since the ENP’s inception. Therefore, we are very supportive of the strengthening of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) envisaged in the new Neighborhood Policy, based on our shared principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The re-launching and re-energizing of the Eastern Partnership, and of the European Neighborhood Policy as a whole, was long overdue. It was necessary in order to better respond to serious common challenges – political, economic, geostrategic, environmental or pertaining to security and energy – but also in order to better prepare for the future.
Structural reforms, internal political tensions, gas routes, energy supply, ecological risks, economic development, illegal immigration and organized crime, are only some of the challenges we are faced with in the framework of the Eastern Neighborhood Policy. Our engagement in the Eastern Neighbourhood is also a matter of consistency and credibility for the EU. Our strategic goal is and will remain the creation of a wider area of stability and prosperity, both in the South as well as in the East. This could only be done by boosting mutually beneficial institutional cooperation and by converging on a set of common values and standards, modeled on the EU positive paradigm and experience. Continue reading

Συνέντευξη ΥΠΕΞ Δ. Δρούτσα στην πολωνική εφημερίδα Rzeczpospolita (22.1.2011)

Η εφημερίδα Rzeczpospolita δημοσίευσε στην έκδοση του Σαββατοκύριακου (22-23/1/2011) συνέντευξη του Υπουργού Εξωτερικών Δημήτρη Δρούτσα, η οποία παραχωρήθηκε στη δημοσιογράφο Katarzyna Zuchowicz κατά τη διάρκεια της επίσημης επίσκεψης του υπουργού στη Βαρσοβία στις 19 Ιανουαρίου και διευθετήθηκε κατόπιν ενεργειών του Γραφείου Τύπου.
Πληρέστερη μορφή της συνέντευξης έχει αναρτηθεί στην ηλεκτρονική σελίδα της εφημερίδας (http://www.rp.pl/artykul/598043.html). 
Με τίτλο «Οι Έλληνες έχουν δικαίωμα να διαμαρτύρονται» και υπότιτλο «Συνομιλία / “Αποφύγαμε το χείριστο, δηλαδή την πτώχευση»” διαβεβαιώνει ο επικεφαλής του Ελληνικού Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών, Δημήτρης Δρούτσας», η δημοσιογράφος αναφέρει εισαγωγικά τα εξής:
«Νέες διαδηλώσεις κατά των κυβερνητικών σχεδίων εξοικονόμησης συγκλονίζουν την Ελλάδα. Τις τελευταίες ημέρες απεργούσαν γιατροί, φαρμακοποιοί, δικηγόροι, υπάλληλοι των σιδηροδρόμων, οδηγοί λεωφορείων στην Αθήνα, υπάλληλοι αρμόδιοι για την καθαριότητα του δήμου στη Θεσσαλονίκη. Την Πέμπτη στους δρόμους ξεχύθηκαν μερικές χιλιάδες άτομα. Στις αρχές Φεβρουαρίου θα πραγματοποιηθεί απεργία στον δημόσιο τομέα».
Ακολουθεί το πλήρες κείμενο της συνέντευξης:

 ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Μέχρι πρότινος η Ελλάδα φαινόταν σαν είναι στο χείλος της χρεωκοπίας. Ορισμένοι άφηναν να εννοηθεί ότι προκειμένου να σωθεί, θα πρέπει να πουλήσει τα νησιά της ή ακόμη και την Ακρόπολη. Πως παρουσιάζεται η κατάσταση σήμερα;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Η Ελλάδα έπρεπε να αντιμετωπίσει μια μεγάλη οικονομική πρόκληση. Και εξακολουθεί να την αντιμετωπίζει, δεν υπάρχει γι` αυτό καμία αμφιβολία. Η παρούσα κυβέρνηση, η οποία ανέλαβε την ευθύνη της χώρας πριν από 13 μήνες, από την αρχή ασχολήθηκε πολύ έντονα με την αναδιάρθρωση της οικονομίας. Και αμέσως προέβη σε οδυνηρές, αν και απαραίτητες ενέργειες. Μείωσε τους μισθούς, μεταρρύθμισε το σύστημα της κρατικής διοίκησης. Μείωσε τον αριθμό των περιφερειών από 50 σε 13. Μέχρι πρότινος είχαμε περισσότερους από 2.000 δήμους. Τώρα έχουμε 350. Χάρη σε αυτό ήμασταν σε θέση να περιορίσουμε τη γραφειοκρατία και κατά συνέπεια τις δαπάνες του κράτους. Δεν θα διστάσω να πω ότι χάρη σε αυτό μπορούμε να καταπολεμήσουμε και τη διαφθορά. Μετά από τόσο δύσκολους μήνες εργασίας έχουμε πλέον σημαντικά αποτελέσματα. Το 2010 μειώσαμε το έλλειμμα κατά 6%. Σε χρόνο ρεκόρ, σε διάστημα μόλις ενός έτους! Είναι άνευ προηγουμένου, όχι μόνο στην περίπτωση της Ελλάδας, αλλά και σε ολόκληρη την Ευρώπη.

ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Η Ακρόπολη είναι ασφαλής;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Είναι μια ιδέα που είναι κάτι παραπάνω από παράλογη. Ποτέ δεν απαντούσαμε σε αυτές τις προτάσεις των ΜΜΕ, διότι δεν τις αντιμετωπίζουμε σοβαρά. Αλλά και διότι ο ελληνικός λαός πραγματικά περνά από μια πάρα πολύ δύσκολη περίοδο. Πρέπει να κάνουμε πάρα πολλές θυσίες. Όμως παρόλα αυτά ξεκίνησε τη μάχη για το μέλλον της Ελλάδας. Οι Έλληνες χρειάζονται σήμερα εκφράσεις αναγνώρισης γι` αυτό που κάνουν. Και αλληλεγγύη. Και σίγουρα όχι τόσο ανόητες προτάσεις, όπως η πώληση της Ακρόπολης.

ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ: Μπορούμε λοιπόν να πούμε ήδη ότι η Ελλάδα βγαίνει στην ευθεία και η κρίση οδεύει προς το τέλος;

ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΣ: Πράξαμε πολλά, αλλά μας αναμένει ακόμη πολλή εργασία. Είμαστε έτοιμοι – και η κυβέρνηση και ο λαός, αν και η αποδοχή όλων των περικοπών και των αλλαγών δεν είναι εύκολη, διότι αυτές χωρίς εξαίρεση θίγουν τον κάθε πολίτη της Ελλάδας. Η πλειοψηφία των Ελλήνων γνωρίζει όμως ότι αυτές οι αλλαγές είναι αναγκαίες και τις στηρίζει. Πρέπει να θυμόμαστε ότι αποφύγαμε το χειρότερο σενάριο, δηλαδή την πτώχευση. Σήμερα είναι σημαντικό ότι οι Έλληνες βλέπουν φως στο τούνελ και αυτό το φως είναι ευδιάκριτο. Γνωρίζουμε ότι εάν συνεχίσουμε να ακολουθούμε αυτόν τον δρόμο μας αναμένει ένα φωτεινό μέλλον. Continue reading

Προβολή του ελληνικού τουρισμού στο πολωνικό περιοδικό “Przeglad”

Cefalonia-Myrtos

Το περιοδικό Przegląd (τεύχος 29/25.07) με τίτλο «Η Ελλάδα πιο κοντά στον ήλιο» και υπότιτλο «Στα μέρη όπου ξεκουράζονται οι τουρίστες, επικρατεί ηρεμία και δεν φαίνεται η κρίση», δημοσιεύει τρισέλιδο άρθρο του Bronisław Tumiłowicz, όπου η Ελλάδα προβάλλεται ως δημοφιλής και ασφαλής τουριστικός προορισμός.
Στην εισαγωγή επισημαίνεται ότι την Ελλάδα κοιτίδα της δημοκρατίας, της επιστήμης και των καλών τεχνών, επισκέπτονται ετησίως 18 εκατομμύρια τουρίστες από διάφορα μέρη του κόσμου, καθώς η χώρα προσφέρει ιδανικές συνθήκες για διάφορες μορφές τουρισμού και μεγάλη ποικιλία τουριστικών μνημείων.
Στην ενότητα «Ζεστά, ηλιόλουστα και … φθηνά», σημειώνεται ότι «το τελευταίο διάστημα, αυτή η ειδυλλιακή και άνευ προβλημάτων εικόνα της Ελλάδας επλήγη από τις αναφορές που σχετίζονταν με την οικονομική κρίση και το υψηλό χρέος της χώρας. Όταν έφθασε η τουριστική περίοδος, οι τουρίστες άρχισαν να αναρωτιούνται εάν σε αυτή την όμορφη χώρα, όπου το κλίμα εγγυάται πάνω από 300 ηλιόλουστες ημέρες τον χρόνο, θα αντιμετώπιζαν κάποια δυσάρεστα επεισόδια ή περιορισμούς, εάν πράγματι λειτουργεί άψογα η τουριστική υποδομή […] Ορισμένοι τουρίστες άρχισαν να αναζητούν άλλα μέρη για να περάσουν τις διακοπές τους.
Την στιγμή που οι γεμάτες θέλγητρα τοποθεσίες, που βρίσκονται μακριά από την Αθήνα, και τα απομονωμένα από την ηπειρωτική χώρα καταπληκτικά νησιά, ζουν με το δικό τους ρυθμό. Εξαιτίας κάποιων δυσκολιών οι τιμές αυξήθηκαν, όμως δεν επηρεάζουν τις τουριστικές υπηρεσίες που παρέχονται. Επιπρόσθετα, τα τουριστικά γραφεία έχουν συνάψει συμφωνίες για τις τιμές των ξενοδοχείων από το 2009, γεγονός που συνεπάγεται την σταθερότητα των τιμών των υπηρεσιών. Όσοι επέστρεψαν από τις φετινές διακοπές στα ελληνικά νησιά, επιβεβαιώνουν αυτές τις πληροφορίες . Ήταν υπέροχα – ζεστά, ήρεμα και … φθηνά. Ο τουριστικός τομέας αντέδρασε όπως επιβάλλει η οικονομία της αγοράς».

Naxos island-Chora

Στο δημοσίευμα προβάλλονται δηλώσεις της Γραμματέως Επικοινωνίας του ΓΤΕ Βαρσοβίας, Μαρίας Μονδέλου, όπου σημειώνεται ότι «τα ξενοδοχεία αναμένεται να μειώσουν τις τιμές κατά 10%, συμπεριλαμβανομένων και των τελευταίων αυξήσεων του Φ.Π.Α. Θα καταργηθούν τα τέλη προσγείωσης των αεροπλάνων στα αεροδρόμια, με εξαίρεση μόνο τις πτήσεις εσωτερικού στο διεθνές αεροδρόμιο της Αθήνας». «Όπως διαβεβαιώνει η κυρία Μονδέλου, η κυβέρνηση θα συνεργαστεί και με τους ξενοδόχους και με τους τοπικούς τουριστικούς φορείς για να καλύψει το επιπρόσθετο της παραμονής των τουριστών που θα πρέπει να παρατείνουν τις διακοπές τους στην Ελλάδα, για παράδειγμα λόγω διαδήλωσης ή φυσικής καταστροφής».
Στην ενότητα «Νησιά ηρεμίας», επισημαίνεται ότι τα πολωνικά τουριστικά γραφεία ή οι εκπρόσωποι μεγάλων διεθνών ταξιδιωτικών γραφείων που δραστηριοποιούνται στην Πολωνία και εξειδικεύονται στη διοργάνωση διακοπών στην Ελλάδα, διαβεβαιώνουν ότι η οικονομική κατάσταση της Ελλάδας δεν επηρεάζει άμεσα τους τουρίστες που παραθερίζουν στη χώρα. Οι διαδηλώσεις πραγματοποιούνται στην Αθήνα, ενώ οι Πολωνοί πελάτες παραθερίζουν κυρίως στην Κρήτη, την Κω, την Κέρκυρα, τη Ρόδο, τη Ζάκυνθο ή την Ολυμπιακή Ριβιέρα και επομένως, δεν νιώθουν οποιεσδήποτε ανησυχίες, ούτε διαπιστώνουν οποιεσδήποτε αλλαγές προς το χειρότερο. Εξάλλου τα τουριστικά γραφεία παρακολουθούν την κατάσταση επί τόπου και προβαίνουν στις ανάλογες ενέργειες».
Στο δημοσίευμα, αφού παρουσιάζονται προσφορές τουριστικών γραφείων, σημειώνεται ότι «οι κάτοικοι της Ελλάδας διαβεβαιώνουν ότι οι απεργίες ή οι διαδηλώσεις δεν θα απειλήσουν την ξεκούραση των τουριστών, μάλιστα δηλώνουν έκπληξη όταν πληροφορούνται ότι τα Μ.Μ.Ε. στην Πολωνία ενημερώνουν για γεγονότα που αγνοούνται ακόμη και από τις ελληνικές εφημερίδες και τους τηλεοπτικούς σταθμούς».

Magnesia region

Στην τελευταία ενότητα «Ασφαλής χώρα» υπογραμμίζεται ότι σε σύγκριση με άλλες δημοφιλείς στην Πολωνία χώρες, όπως η Τουρκία ή η Αίγυπτος,  η Ελλάδα είναι «η ασφαλέστερη χώρα που προσφέρει ύψιστο επίπεδο ξεκούρασης. Δεν σημειώθηκαν επιθέσεις ή απόπειρες κατά τουριστών. Οι εσωτερικές τριβές των πολιτικών δυνάμεων δεν έχουν καμία επίπτωση στους τουρίστες.
Διαφορετικά παρουσιάζεται η κατάσταση στην Αίγυπτο ή την Τουρκία. Πολύ σημαντική σε αυτή την περίπτωση είναι η στάση των κατοίκων της Ελλάδας – έχουν συνείδηση της δύσκολης οικονομικής κατάστασης, διότι αυτή επηρεάζει τα νοικοκυριά τους και ο κάθε Έλληνας ανησυχεί για το μέλλον του. Όμως ταυτόχρονα οι Έλληνες έχουν επίγνωση ότι από την τουριστική κίνηση στη χώρα τους εξαρτώνται πολλά. Τα έσοδα από τον τουρισμό ανταποκρίνονται στο ένα πέμπτο της εγχώριας παραγωγής».
Καταληκτικά ο Bronisław Tumiłowicz υπογραμμίζει ότι «περπατώντας στους γραφικούς δρόμους των παραθαλάσσιων τουριστικών περιοχών, μπορεί να εντυπωσιαστεί κανείς με την ηρεμία και την παράδοση που χαρακτηρίζει αυτά τα μέρη. Παρά την ελληνική κρίση, οι καφετέριες και τα εστιατόρια εξακολουθούν να είναι γεμάτα ανθρώπους που μπορούν να περνούν εκεί μερικές ώρες, διότι οι Έλληνες – όπως οι ίδιοι παραδέχονται – ξέρουν να αντλούν από τη ζωή τόσα όσο κανένας άλλος λαός. Και γι` αυτό αξίζει να τους επισκεφθεί κανείς».

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)

“You in Greece” campaign – Facts about Greece

  Facts about Greece

· Greece is a safe country

Supportive data: According to Legatum Prosperity Index, Greece faces comparatively few security challenges. Domestic security is favorable. Moreover, according to Eurostat, Greece is a country with a relatively low rate of criminality. The feeling of security is well established in society.
· Greece is an attractive destination.
This comes not only due to its physical beauty but mostly due to the “value for money” relationship in the provided services.
Supportive data: According to a poll, conducted in a population of 1200 people,52% of the sample believes that the quality of travel services offered in Greece are of very good standard and 42% believes that the travel services offered in Greece rival those offered in other touristdeveloped tourist markets.

· Greece is a western democracy and the majority of Greek society supports government policy.
Supportive data: A recent research conducted by Kapa Focus research company on behalf of the weekly Newspaper ‘To Vima’, shows that 55,2% of Greeks support the austerity measures imposed by the Greek Government.
·  Demonstrations are strictly local and limited events/occurrences. They take place mostly in the center of Athens, in a specific and controlled area. The mainland regions and the islands of the Greek Archipelago, where the vast majority of tourists go, are not affected at all.
Supportive data: According to Eurostat, Greece is a favourite destination. Especially, in South Aegean and Ionian Islands, it appears that 48.168 stays and 33.304 per 1000 citizens took place, a proof of satisfaction for the Greek touristic product.
· Greece is a tourist country and Greeks know the importance of hospitality.
Supportive data: Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods, according to the Greek Mythology, named as Xenios (the one who offers hospitality) Zeus.
·  The overall number of demonstrations in Greece is lower than the E.U average.
Supportive data:All demonstrations occurred in Athens, in specific and isolated areas. In their vast majority they were peaceful.

· The picture that global media paint is, to say the least, in many cases exaggerating. In many occasions, library images were re-broadcasted as live feeds.
Supportive data: Greece is a pluralist, democratic western European country. Media freedom is protected and encouraged. During the last two weeks Greece hosted more than 300 foreign journalists.
(Greek National Tourism Organisation)

Government announced austerity plan

» PM: “Sacrifices will Bear Fruits”

The government announced yesterday an additional set of measures bound to slash the double-digit public deficit.
Speaking yesterday at a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Papandreou said that the emphasis is now shifting to what the European Union will do. 
The new measures aim at bringing into public coffers some €4.8 billion, amount which corresponds to 2% of the country’s GDP.  

» Pay Cuts

In particular, the new measures include a 30% pay cut of public sector’s supplements allocated annually, and a 12% across the board cut of public servants’ benefits. Moreover, subsidies to public entities and their social security funds will be reduced by 10%.
Any additional remuneration in the public sector will be trimmed by 50%, and compensation for overtime work will shrink by 30%.

Executive bonuses in the public sector will be abolished and the Public Investment Budget will be curtailed by 5% (€500 million). As of 2011, the ratio for public sector hirings will be one for every five retirees.

» Taxation

VAT is expected to rise at all cases by an average 1% to 2% and an extra levy on fuel, cigarettes, liqueur and luxury products will be imposed.
A one-off tax of 1% on personal incomes above €100.000 will also be introduced, together with a 15% rise in taxation of offshore companies’ real estate property.
Kathimerini daily: Further Cuts and Tax Hikes Announced
(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)

New impetus for Greek-Turkish relations

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) A new impetus for Greek-Turkish relations was given yesterday following a letter by Prime Minister George Papandreou addressed to his Turkish counterpart, responding to prior correspondence between the two leaders.

The Greek side proposes the launch of a series of talks on the issue of the continental shelf, within a specific time limit and the option for both sides to resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in case of a dead-end.
Papandreou deems the Turkish proposal of establishing a High-level Council of Cooperation important and invites Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pay an official visit to Greece, sometime before summer, in order to set a time framework.
Moreover, the Greek Premier highlights the need for de-escalating tension over the Aegean Sea and stresses that military activity in the area must be avoided since it jeopardizes security and fuels tension. Referring to the pressure exercised on bilateral relations due to immigration flows’ movement, Papandreou reiterates the necessity for Turkey to abide by the Greek-Turkish Readmission Protocol (2001).
The premier concludes by expressing Greece’s support for Turkey’s European perspective, provided that the latter honours its obligations towards the Greek minority in Turkey and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greece-Turkey Bilateral Relations & Greek-Turkish Rapprochement
[Photo from Papandreou’s visit to Istanbul, Turkey, October, 2009]

OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis will inaugurate the OSCE’s Forum for Security Co-operation with an address at the Organisation’s headquarters in Vienna today.
Greece assumes the rotating chairmanship for the first four months of 2010.
The Forum constitutes the OSCE’s autonomous political and military body, and deals with issues of the so-called “tough security”, with its own Presidency, that alternates in alphabetical order every four months, as well with its own “Troika,” which functions in a coordinating manner.

The OSCE on a new path

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Political Declaration Adopted

Foreign ministers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 56 participating states charted the way ahead for the OSCE-anchored debate on the future of European security known as the Corfu Process in a decision and a Ministerial Declaration adopted yesterday after a two-day Ministerial Council held in Athens (December 1-2).
“The Corfu Process will be taken forward by our Permanent Representatives to the OSCE in Vienna, in accordance with the decision we are adopting today.
We remain committed to provide strong political impetus to the Corfu Process, and we are looking forward to reassessing its progress in 2010, in the format and level that we will deem appropriate, taking into consideration the results we achieve,” it is stated in the Declaration, which is the first to be adopted since 2002.
Athens Ministerial Council (dedicated webpage)

» Turning a New Page

Commenting on the Ministerial Council at a press conference, held at the end of the meeting, Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office George Papandreou referred to a new page in the Organisation’s history.
“We have committed ourselves in a joint document on how to face common challenges,” he said noting that, Kazakhstan’s task -which is assuming the Presidency of the OSCE for the next year-, is difficult.
But as the Greek premier stressed, “we proved today that if we want we can. The process can revive political dialogue and the tangible result was consensus.”

ON THE SIDELINES

» Meeting with Russian FM

The strategic nature of Greek-Russian relations and their excellent level was reaffirmed during a meeting in Athens on Wednesday between Prime Minister George Papandreou and visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, held on the sidelines of the OSCE Council in Athens.Papandreou accepted a formal invitation to visit Moscow in early 2010.

Papandreou and Lavrov discussed bilateral relations in all sectors, ranging from energy to culture and from regional cooperation to relations with the EU and NATO, and signed a 2010-2012 joint action plan to be renewed every two years.

» Meeting with Turkish FM

Prime Minister George Papandreou also met with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, with both sides citing closer cooperation in all levels.
The potential for the adoption of practical measures to boost cooperation of the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey in 2010 was also discussed at the meeting. Davutoglu spoke positively of Greece’s target for the EU integration of the western Balkans in 2014, and he confirmed Turkey’s intent for closer bilateral cooperation.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece- Turkey

OSCE Ministerial Council in Athens

» Papoulias Inaugurates OSCE Meeting

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias inaugurated yesterday the 17th Ministerial Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), taking place in Athens (1-2/12).
Papoulias welcomed delegates from the OSCE’ s 56 member states and described the international meeting as “an important political event and an opportunity to strengthen peaceful cooperation and promote the common goals of the member states, in order to reach tangible and substantive conclusions.”

» Papandreou’ s Address

The Corfu Process needs to be taken a step further in order to meet the challenges to European security in the 21st century, OSCE chairman-in-office, Greece’s Prime minister and Foreign minister George Papandreou stressed, addressing the first plenary session of the organisation’s 17th ministerial council.
“We have to agree on important decisions in the next two days to strengthen co-operative security across the OSCE area, to shape the work of our organization, and to create a strong foundation for Kazakhstan to build upon as it assumes the OSCE Chairmanship on January 1,” Papandreou said.
He also expressed his hope that a constructive spirit will prevail during the two-day deliberations of the meeting.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece Papandreou, to the 1st Plenary session of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council
See also Project Syndicate: Renewing Europe’s Security Dialogue by George Papandreou

» Sideline Meetings

On the sidelines of the OSCE ministerial council, Papandreou met with the foreign ministers of Finland, Alexander Stubb and Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev, who together form the current OSCE “troika.”
Alternate foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas had a meeting with FYROM’s FM Antonio Milososki while the premier is scheduled to meet today with the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey, Sergei Lavrov and Ahmet Davutoglou respectively.
At the end of the first day of meetings, the Greek OSCE chairmanship hosted a formal reception for the visiting diplomatic delegations at the Acropolis Museum.

OSCE Meeting begins

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Forty-five foreign ministers and 57 high-level delegations from the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) participating states have gathered in Athens to discuss the future of European security as the organisation’s 17th Ministerial Council begins today (1.12).
Representing the Greek OSCE Chairmanship, Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, told journalists yesterday – at a reception held at the New Acropolis Museum – that the meeting comes at a critical moment, and underlined the importance of a co-operative approach to address European security’s challenges.
A video of the opening and closing sessions as well as the concluding conference, can be viewed here.

Greek-Russian Talks ahead of OSCE Meet

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Titov

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Thursday had a working lunch with Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Vladimir Titov (right), who is visiting Athens.
The two men earlier discussed matters of bilateral cooperation within the field of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Droutsas is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the works of the OSCE ministerial meeting that will take place in Athens at the beginning of December.
According to the Greek foreign ministry, the role of Greece in European energy security will receive special attention in the forthcoming Greek-Russian talks of December.

Greek FM Tours Caucasus

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Dora Bakoyannis began a tour of the Caucasus yesterday, specifically in Azerbaijan and Armenia. In statements after a number of meetings in Azerbaijan, the first stop of her tour, Bakoyannis said that her visit was aimed at “strengthening bilateral relations and contributing to a settlement of the long-lasting problem Nagorno-Karabakh problem, by intensifying efforts made for many years by OSCE.”  Bakoyannis said that they focused on energy cooperation and pipelines. “Our goal is to bring Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via the Turkey- Greece– Italy (TGI) pipeline,” the foreign minister stressed. Referring to the currently “frozen” Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has a direct impact on stability in southern Caucasus, Bakoyannis stressed that the Greek OSCE chairmanship is intensifying efforts that are underway for years for the solution of the thorny issue.Today the minister is in Armenia. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Statements of FM Bakoyannis following her meeting with her Azeri counterpart Mammadyarov (Baku, 2.7.09) & Statements following her meeting with her Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian (Yerevan, 3.7.2009); Bilateral Relations Greece-Azerbaijan& Greece-Armenia; Greek News Agenda: FM on Nagorno-Karabakh

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.

The Athens Summit 2009

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The two-day international Athens Summit 2009 conference on “The road to Copenhagen” opened yesterday with speakers focusing on managing the security of energy supply, providing energy security in Europe and beyond, and assessing the role of the countries of Southeastern Europe as a gateway to energy security and diversification.  Senior governmental officials, corporate leaders, financiers, and experts participate in the summit to discuss how the twin goals of energy security and managing climate change can be achieved to the benefit of all people. 

Papoulias’ Address

The inaugural speech was delivered by the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The President called for the collaboration of social forces beyond political parties for an economic and social vision to ensure viable development and protection of the environment, despite possible confrontation with vested interests. 

Papandreou’s Green Diplomacy

For his part, main opposition PASOK and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou stressed that Greece should take all necessary measures to increase “green” investments.  He called for a “turn toward quality products and the use of new technologies in all sectors (transport, health, tourism),” underlining the importance of investing in human resources through education.  He also noted that “Greece can play an important role as regards cooperation with the SE European countries and the Mediterranean region through ‘green’ diplomacy,” he stated.

OSCE Mandate in Georgia Extended

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   The 56 participating states in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), agreed yesterday in Vienna to extend the presence of the Organization’s unarmed military monitoring officers in Georgia until June 30. Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, welcomed the move, saying: “This decision to extend the mandate of the OSCE monitors shows that all states agree that the Organization is a critical part of international efforts to secure lasting stability in the region.  I am confident that we can build on this consensus to ensure that the OSCE will be able to continue its important work for all peoples in the region and help to address urgent humanitarian challenges.”

OSCE Chair at Munich Security Conference

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis presided over a panel on “NATO, Russia, Oil, Gas and the Middle East: The future of European security,” at the main plenary session of the 45th Munich Security Conference, where she emphasized Greece’s willingness to move forward with the dialogue on European security issues. Europe faces common threats and security challenges, and the OSCE remains the forum for dialogue on security issues, she said. “There appears to be widespread consensus that, to say the least, we need to engage in a dialogue on security issues. It goes without saying that – provided that there is agreement by all 56 OSCE participating states – Greece stands ready to organise meetings at any level that could launch, or more generally facilitate, such a dialogue,” Bakoyannis noted. In her speech, she touched upon several points, including European security, common interests and common values – such as respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law, observing territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or use of force – as well as the continuation of OSCE work in Georgia. Lastly, she underlined the considerable advantage of such meetings, namely that the participants have the possibility of “speaking far more openly than in ordinary forums.” Bakoyannis is in Tirana today as part of her Balkan countries’ tour, where she will be meeting with Albanian President Bamir Topi, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and her counterpart Lulzim Basha. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Speech of FM Dora Bakoyannis at the 45th Munich Security Conference

Hellas 2009 OSCE Chairmanship

osce-pe3(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   On 1 January 2009, Greece is assuming the Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for the coming year and is called upon to respond to the multi-faceted challenges of a particularly unstable environment influenced by the global financial crisis, recent developments in the Caucasus and the discussion on the new European security structure. The extent of the responsibility and the challenge, which the OSCE Chairmanship represents, is great given the dimensions of the OSCE’s field of action, which extends from Vancouver to Vladivostok, and also the dimensions of its activities, covering regional politico-military issues, economic-environmental challenges, as well as protection of human rights.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Greek Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2009; Greek News Agenda: OSCE Greek chairmanship gears up for interesting times

Greek Foreign Minister: Strengthen European Defence Policy

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Speaking shortly after the European Union’s General Affairs and External Affairs Council (GAERC) (December 8-9) in Brussels on Monday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed the need for strengthening the European Security and Defence Policy, as well as respect for the EU’s autonomy regarding the adoption of decisions. “The continuous strengthening of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), both political and operational, has always been Greece’s steadfast option and pursuit.” the minister said. She added that the fundamental principle of autonomy in the EU’s decision-making, on which it can and must boost its cooperation with the Atlantic Alliance, must be respected. Asked about Greece’s participation in operations against pirates in Somalia, Bakoyannis said that being a big maritime force it was impossible for Greece not to be a part of an effort by the international community to combat piracy. Topping the agenda of the meeting were the handling of the economic and monetary crisis and achieving an agreement on energy and climate, the main points of which were examined by the GAERC. Other issues included the EULEX in Kosovo, being launched today, developments on the interim agreement between the EU and Serbia as well as the situation in the Middle East and in Congo. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: European Policies- ESPD; Council of the European Union: The European Security and Defence Policy (ESPD)

The Challenge of the Greek OSCE Chairmanship

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)     In the light of Greece’s annual chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) starting this January, the Institute of International Relations, a Greek think tank affiliated with Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens, is hosting a round table discussion on December 9 titled “The Greek OSCE Presidency – 2009: Challenges and Perspectives.”  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bakoyannis’ opening speech: “OSCE – The 2009 Greek Chairmanship-in-Office: Challenges and Priorities” (November 13, 2008) & Greece at OSCE