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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-04-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Athens: Rice-Bakoyannis meeting 'extremely useful'
  • [02] Pasok urges Greek banks to protect consumers

  • [01] Athens: Rice-Bakoyannis meeting 'extremely useful'

    The meeting in Athens between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis was "extremely useful" and had given the Greek side an opportunity to present its positions to Washington in depth, the Greek foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

    Presenting Athens' assessment of Tuesday's meeting between Rice and Bakoyannis to reporters, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos particularly emphasised that the Greek side had been able to present its views just before the US Secretary of State began talks with Turkish officials in Ankara.

    He also played down any divergence of views between Athens and Washington speculated on by the Greek press, saying that these were a "symptom of health that in reality contributed to mutual understanding".

    The spokesman was questioned extensively on Greece's stance regarding Iran's nuclear programme, where he again emphasised that Athens wanted diplomatic means for overcoming the crisis to be exhausted first, as well as statements by Rice calling on Cyprus to facilitate Turkey's accession to the European Union that were seen as unfavourable to the Greek side by local media.

    He also noted that Athens had outlined its views concerning the Kosovo status talks and its opposition to "rushing" things through.

    Athens on Iran's nuclear programme

    Noting Athens' opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Koumoutsakos stressed that Iran's nuclear programme was a major issue of international security.

    At the same time, he underlined that Athens wants the UN Security Council to have a central role in handling the crisis and stressed the need to respect international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council.

    Asked to comment on rumours of a planned U.S. military attack on Iran and whether Athens would be prepared to provide facilities at the Souda naval base for an attack that was not sanctioned by the Security Council, the spokesman pointed out that the Souda base had not been used in the attack on Iraq. He also disputed that a military crisis was in any way imminent.

    Reiterating the need to exhaust diplomatic means to overcome the crisis, he said Athens wanted to align its position with that of the other EU member-states and underlined the importance of a single EU position on this issue.

    Koumoutsakos was also asked whether Athens - currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council - will support a chapter 7 resolution in the Security Council's mandate that could authorise the use of force. Pointing out that discussion on this will not begin before Friday, the spokesman also added that a chapter 7 resolution would not automatically mean military action.

    During her visit to Athens, Rice said that the United Nations would have to consider what measures to take next and that these should go beyond just statements.

    "I think that we are going to have to take a next step. It seems logical that we should consider a Chapter 7 resolution under the Security Council's mandate," she said, referring to a resolution that can allow for sanctions or even military action.

    Cyprus and Turkey's EU accession course

    Koumoutsakos contradicted the US official's statement that the Republic of Cyprus had joined the European Union as a still-divided island with the 'understanding' that it would not block Turkey's accession course, saying that he was "unaware of the existence of any such agreement".

    Referring to Turkey's continued refusal to allow Cyprus-flagged craft to dock at its ports and airports, as well as Ankara's continued non-recognition of the Cyprus Republic, Koumoutsakos underlined that Greece and Cyprus retained the option to exercise all the rights arising from their membership of the EU.

    He also stressed that the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations and Athens' support for this improvement did not mean a "blank cheque" policy where Turkey was concerned.

    The EU accession negotiations process is not targeted against Turkey and does not concern only that country, Koumoutsakos underlined.

    At the same time, the spokesman did not attach great importance to Rice's failure to mention the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, pointing out that a State Department statement on this issue had been made just one month ago, nor to a reference by Rice to 'northern Cyprus'.

    There was nothing in the statements made by the US Secretary of State that indicated recognition of two states on Cyprus, Koumoutsakos stressed in response to questions that also highlighted the lack of any response by the Greek foreign minister.

    Noting that foreign ministers "do not bicker in public", the spokesman stressed that the Greek side would be wronging itself if it overlooked Rice's invitation to Turkey to work hard to meet its obligations to the European Union.

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

    [02] Pasok urges Greek banks to protect consumers

    PASOK, the main opposition political party, on Wednesday urged Greek banks to change their policy and to support a framework that protected Greek consumers.

    PASOK deputy Anna Diamantopoulou told Takis Arapoglou, president of the Greek Banks Association and governor of National Bank, during a meeting, that an increase in consumer borrowing was a very serious problem directly linked with citizens' income and their lives. Diamantopoulou said consumer loans jumped around 70 percent in the last 25 months.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, PASOK's deputy said the meeting with Arapoglou was very interesting and stressed that the Greek Banks Association needed to change its ethics code.

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

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