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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-04-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Bakoyannis briefs Parl't committee on foreign policy
  • [02] EU demands return of illegal state aid to OA

  • [01] Bakoyannis briefs Parl't committee on foreign policy

    Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday outlined the strategic axes of the country's foreign policy, and called on Ankara to conform with its EU obligations, adding that Greece was not disposed to 'deductions', during a briefing of the parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs.

    Bakoyannis said the broad consensus that existed on the basic directions of foreign policy as a "significant advantage" of the present-day Greece, and urged everyone to preserve that climate because it was in the national interest of the country. She also paid tribute to the "particular contribution" of her predecessor in the foreign ministry, Petros Molyviatis, in that respect.

    The foreign minister also made specific reference to Greek-Turkish relations, stressing that "our country's policy towards Turkey is clear and friendly, and in favour of its European prospect, but with no disposition for deductions".

    "Ankara must know that inertia and stone-walling do not help. Unfortunately, however, it has not understood that maintaining a positive stance is also to its own benefit," she said.

    Commenting on recent statements by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, she said that they were mostly for domestic consumption.

    Bakoyannis placed particular emphasis on the Cyprus problem, stressing that it was an "immediate priority" of foreign policy for a just, functional and viable solution that would be in line with the European acquis communautaire.

    "The rejection of the last Annan Plan, with such a large majority, cannot possibly be disregarded, nor the fact that Cyprus is now a full member of the EU. Turkey has every interest in realising this," she said.

    She further remined that by the end of 2006 Ankara is obliged to implement the Customs Union protocol.

    Turning to her visit to Cyprus, where she was due to arrive later in the afternoon, Bakoyannis expressed conviction that the steps of the Greek and Cypriot leaderships would be even better coordinated.

    On the Balkans, Bakoyannis placed emphasis on the issue of Kosovo, stressing that "the solution must be the result of substantive negotiations, that will advance regional stability and security, negotiations in which the EU must have an essential role".

    On the FYROM name issue, Bakoyannis said that the positions held by the prime minister and herself were clear in every direction for a mutually acceptable solution, and noted that fore the first time the name issue was included in the political criteria for the neighbouring country's accession to the EU.

    "Our position is clear. The neighbouring country must realise that it is in its interests that there by stability in that state. Our only difference with Skopje is the name issue. And they must know that their policy will have the corresponding effects. I don't believe that there is a Greek government or parliament that would ratify FYROM's accession with its constitutional name," she said.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.

    [02] EU demands return of illegal state aid to OA

    The European Commission on Tuesday sent a reasoned opinion to the Greek authorities for failure to comply with the European Court of Justice judgement on the recovery of 161 million euros of state aid for Olympic Airways in the period from 1998 to 2002. If the Greek response proves unsatisfactory, the Commission will refer the case to the Court of Justice and request financial penalties.

    In December 2002 the Commission found that Greece had granted illegal restructuring aid to Olympic Airways between 1998 and 2002. On 12 May 2005 the EU Court of Justice confirmed that the Greek authorities had failed to recover 161 million euros of illegal aid from the airline. This concerns 41 million euros of illegal restructuring aid and another ‚¨120 million of operational aid, i.e. non-payment of various sums the company owes to the Greek state such as VAT on fuel and airport charges.

    It is useful to recall that the Commission took a positive decision in 1994 to authorise a first restructuring plan with two additional positive decisions allowing for amendments to that plan in 1998 and 2000. The implementation of that plan however did not respect the commitments taken by the Greek authorities, which led to the 2002 decision.

    The Greek authorities now have 2 months to react to today‚s decision.

    Commenting on the EU executive's decision, Greek government spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos said Olympic Airways would continue to operate in the summer.

    At the European Parliament in Strasbourg, meanwhile, a group of 150 OA employees staged a protest against the Commission's "unjust decision" that they said condemned the airline to closure while "suspiciously" favouring its private-sector Greek rival.

    Representatives of Greece's Civil Aviation Unions Federation (OSPA) lodged a resolution addressed to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Commission vice-president Jacques Barrot and European Parliament President Josep Borell Fontelles, while later they met with Borell Fontelles advisor on transport issues.

    The protestors outside the EuroParliament were also joined by several of Greece's MEPs.

    ANA-MPA Copyright © 2004-2005 All rights reserved.


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