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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-09-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference opens in Athens
  • [02] Interior minister says new law represents Greece's first modern immigration strategy
  • [03] Greek Parliament president addresses 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers

  • [01] 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference opens in Athens

    "It does not suffice that you are feared, you must also be loved," Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, speaking on the image a country must have in the modern-day international environment, while delivering the opening address of a two-day conference on "Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy" that is being held under the aegis of foreign minister Petros Molyviatis. Also addressing the opening session of the conference, Molyviatis described "public diplomacy" as "the entirety of coordinated actions aimed at projecting the personality of the country and the building of firm relations of cooperation and communication among the states and peoples".

    The foreign minister presented the European Union as an example of the successful excercise of public diplomacy among the member countries, based on solidarity, acceptance and respect.

    "The EU works, and produces results on the basis of consensus, and this is one of the reasons that many countries wish to become a member," Molyviatis said, noting that this meant that they must be "prepared for this", namely, to function on the basis of consensus.

    Taking the podium in turn, minister of state and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos underscored that "public diplomacy is clearly distinguished from propaganda", adding that the target was for the political word to be "convincing, reliable and honest", noting that everything comes out into the open in our age, and that "the damage will be much greater if something remains hidden and is learnt later".

    Regarding Greece's international image, he said that the goal of the present government was to send a uniform, powerful message with each and every action, and outlined the successful actions that have sent out a strong message on Greece's international image during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greece's participation as a member of the UN Security Council, and the country's presidency of the Security Council in the month of July.

    The words 'public' and 'diplomacy' used to be diametrically-opposed concepts, British Ambassador to Greece Simon Gass said during his speech.

    There was a lack of transparency, but now public diplomacy is at the core of foreign policy, he added.

    After the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001 it became obvious that there was a gap between the West's and muslim countries' values, Gass said.

    In order to bridge that gap, the British ambassador explained that the British foreign ministry has established a new department of Arab-speaking diplomats who are sent to muslim countries to explain Britain's foreign policy initiatives.

    The conference will also broach the theme "Public Diplomacy: Determining its content, role and possibilities as a foreign policy tool".

    Other speakers during Thursday's session included diplomatic representatives from the Netherlands and Norway.

    The round table discussions will be coordinated by journalists Alexis Papachelas, Kyra Adam, and George Kapopoulos.

    [02] Interior minister says new law represents Greece's first modern immigration strategy

    Greece will for the first time acquire a modern strategy for immigration policy that seeks to allow immigrants to live in the country with dignity, through the law passed by Parliament on August 23, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told reporters on Thursday. He said the bill looked to the future and sought ways to incorporate immigrants into the job market while fully respecting their rights, as well as trying to correct past problems with immigrants whose residence permits had expired or who had never obtained a residence permit. Pavlopoulos announced that these last two groups, provided that they were resident in Greece up until December 31, 2004, will be given one more chance to become legally resident, provided they apply before the end of the year.

    Those who had never received a residence permit could submit an application and supporting documents from October 1 until December 31, while those whose residence permits had not been renewed could apply from October 31 until December 31.

    Applicants must supply photocopies of all pages of their passport bearing a visa stamp, proof that they had applied for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds or that this application has been rejected, proof that they have paid social insurance contributions; photocopies of any decision rejecting their application for asylum and proof that they had asked for a tax registry number.

    Pavlopoulos said that the form that applicants would be asked to fill out would be the same for everyone and that it contained information necessary to Eurostat, while he stressed that there would be great emphasis on full information for everyone, with instructions and leaflets in several languages.

    The minister also noted that residence permits would no longer be easy to forge, since they will be printed on paper with a watermark, while there will be different coloured permits for those who have supplied fully information and those who have submitted incomplete information.

    He said he expected the problem to be fully resolved by June 2006.

    [03] Greek Parliament president addresses 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers

    NEW YORK (ANA - P. Panagiotou) - Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, addressing the 2nd World Conference of Parliament Speakers on Thursday, said "curbing the problems facing citizens in their daily lives constitutes a main target of Parliamentary action." The conference, which got under way on Wednesday and will end on Friday, is taking place at the UN's headquarters.

    Psarouda-Benaki, who had a brief meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan together with many of her counterparts, said that "social inequalities, immigration and demographic pressure, viable growth, the management of water resources, the defence of the rights of youth and of women, dialogue between cultures and religions, terrorism, the avoidance of threats and conflicts, the peaceful solution of differences, respect for territorial integrity and borders, the strengthening of democracy and of political institutions and the consolidation of human rights are issues whose handling also preoccupies us as representatives of Parliaments and not the United Nations Organisation alone."

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