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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-08-01
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM chairs cabinet meeting on agriculture, meets FinminAgricultural policy issues were discussed in the inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos underlined that they examined all aspects of the government‚s agricultural policy programme and that apart from subsidies and compensations to be received soon by those eligible they also discussed issues concerning the promotion of farm products.
Basiakos referred to the support given to organic farming using "reasonable amounts" of fertilizers to protect both the consumer and the environment. He added that the government programme is being observed, stressing that the overall picture in rural regions is positive.
Basiakos referred to the studies made on the comprehensive management of water resources, pointing out that cotton has a specific cultivation framework.
Responding to a question concerning profiteering practices affecting farm products, he said that farmers want good prices for their products adding that what takes place in the market and the prices of goods when they reach the supermarket shelves are a totally different thing.
Basiakos added that new cultivations are being promoted based on quality and competitiveness.
Announcement on Emporiki Bank sale this evening
Karamanlis later had a meeting with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who afterward told reporters that an official announcement concerning the sale of Emporiki Bank will be made on Tuesday evening.
 Ambassadors urged to stress economic diplomacyEconomic diplomacy and developmental cooperation were key tools in advancing foreign relations and should be given equal weight to traditional diplomacy, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said in his address to the first conference of Greek ambassadors that continued in Athens for a second day on Tuesday.
"From the 20 countries in which we operated in the last 28 months, the Greek economy gained ‚¨3.5 billion from exports alone, while the benefits from repatriated capital from the Balkans comes to ‚¨2.0 billion. This is the contribution made by the foreign ministry," Stylianidis stressed, pointing out that the aim was to earn more income for the national economy.
He encouraged ambassadors to view economic diplomacy and developmental cooperation as a inseparable part of their work, to carefully monitor projects involving Greek funds and to ensure that Greece's role in projects it assisted abroad was properly publicised and promoted.
"It is the obligation of the non-governmental organisations who undertake to carry out projects to keep you informed, to consult with you and to bear the logo of Hellenic Aid [the Greek foreign ministry development aid service] on all the projects they undertake. You must be present when a project starts and when it ends. It is, above all, a work of Greece," he said.
Regarding future trends in Greece's immediate neighbourhood, Stylianidis referred to an an apparent shift of Greek businesses in the Balkans, where Greece was among the top investors, toward the service sector, while noting that an emphasis on energy diplomacy in Black Sea countries had increased Greece's potential role as an energy junction and Athens was now seeking to promote the idea of a single economic area in the region.
He also pointed to the good results of Greece's overtures to Russia, China, Japan and Turkey, that had led to an increase in exports.
For Turkey, in particular, exports increased by a spectacular 50.8% according to Greek figures and 58% according to Turkish figures, greatly improving the balance of trade deficit for Greece.
The government's next goal was an opening toward Latin America in 2007, to be followed by India, Australia, South Africa and - ultimately - the United States.
"The aim is to promote Greece's image, the Greek economy and foreign policy," the minister concluded.
Valinakis stresses Ankara's obligations to EU
Turkey has an obligation to implement the additional protocol in the Ankara Agreement without bargaining and seeking 'offset' benefits, deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told Greek envoys earlier on Tuesday, stressing that from now on EU enlargements will be different from the previous ones and will include ?political prerequisites? as well.
The peculiarities of the candidate states and the evolution of the EU itself during the past few years made the process even more political.
There are not only the known Copenhagen criteria, as candidate-states are also being evaluated on their ability to meet specific requirements of a political nature.
Referring to Turkey‚s European prospects, he stressed that Ankara did not enjoy blind or unconditional support and that Greece was a demanding, strict and fair judge.
Valinakis underlined the importance of the European Commission's progress report on Turkey expected in the autumn, noting that the progress reports and the October 2005 Negotiating Framework and Partnership Relation are the cornerstones of Turkey's EU accession hopes.
For Greece, Turkey‚s tangible commitment to observing good neighborly relations‚ and refraining from threats of violence constitute the most crucial measure for Ankara‚s evaluation, he said.
Referring to the Additional Protocol in the Ankara Agreement, Valinakis emphasised that Turkey must open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft and that this was definitely not negotiable.
The EU made it clear with its statement in September 21, 2005, that Turkey‚s non-implementation of the Protocol will have repercussions on the negotiating process, the deputy minister added.
 PASOK slams government farming policyDeclining farm incomes were stressed by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Tuesday, with PASOK agriculture sector coordinator Mihalis Chrysohoidis accusing the government of leading farmers into a dead end.
Responding to statements made earlier by Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos after a meeting of the inner cabinet, Chrysohoidis said Basiakos was trying to provide an answer to their problems by bringing up issue of organic farming before the inner cabinet.
But the real issue for the Greek farmers was the 5 percent drop in their income in the past two years when, based on a European Commission Agriculture Directorate study, farming revenues were expected to rise by 3.2 percent a year on average through implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy, CAP.
In Greece, on the contrary, implementation of the new CAP has turned from a reform venture to a bureaucratic and tax-collecting nightmare for the farmers, stressed Chrisochoidis.
Organic farming and mainly stockbreeding is indeed a strategic development goal for the Greek farm production and it should be supported by the state with clear and target-based policies and total utilization of relevant community programmes, he said.
However, an unfair, incompetent and ineffective government, like the ND government, can only use organic farming as a pretext to avoid any substantive discussion on the major and grave problems it has caused to the Greek farmers, added Chrisochoidis.
 Israeli attack on Lebanon must stop, Alavanos stressesCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party president Alekos Alavanos on Tuesday repeated demands for an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the crisis in the Middle East, following a meeting with the Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis to discuss the ombudsman's annual report.
Humanitarian aid to Lebanon was important but the most important humanitarian aid would be an immediate stop to Israel's military incursion, he stressed.
"At the end of the day, it ends up being ridiculous to have the Americans destroy, the British consent, the Israelis destroy and for the international community to confine itself only to issues of humanitarian support - though these are hugely important when we see the events in Qana," Alavanos said.
SYN's leader also criticised the European Union's decision to freeze all funding to the Palestinian government because the Palestinians had elected Hamas - noting that this was "politically completely incorrect and unjustified" - while pointing out that the EU was at the same time doing nothing regarding EU agreements with Israel.
Alavanos also called for a response from Socialist International and its president, Greek main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, given that Israel's defence minister Amir Peretz, who ordered the attack on Qana with its heavy civilian casualties, was the head of the Israeli labour party and belonged to Socialist International.
Regarding the Ombudsman's report, Alavanos referred to the "chaotic situation" regarding the new passports issued by police and demanded an ombudsman's office for Thessaloniki.
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