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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-08-25

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with Russian ambassador ahead of Putin visit
  • [02] Mideast truce hanging by a thread

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with Russian ambassador ahead of Putin visit

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Friday morning with Russian ambassador to Greece Andrei Vdovin.

    Russian president Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in Athens on September 4 for a trilateral meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov, at Putin's initiative, for talks mainly focussing on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    The agenda of the meeting iss energy issues, with the main thrust on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline.

    Greece, Bulgaria and Russia signed a political agreement for the cross-border pipeline, budgeted at approximately 700 million euros, on April 13, 2005 in Thessaloniki. The 285-kilometre pipeline to carry Russian oil from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupolis in northern Greece has an estimated investment cost of 750-800 million US dollars with an annual capacity of 35 million tonnes of oil. It will supplement a sea route through the Bosphorus for transportation of the product in the region. It is anticipated that the pipeline will forge a new outlet for Russian oil and for oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe and America.

    An estimated 35-50 million tons of crude oil would flow through Alexandroupolis in end-2008, while Greece will profit between 30 and 50 million dollars annually from the transportation of oil via the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, according to 2005 estimates.

    [02] Mideast truce hanging by a thread

    Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis was expected to tell her EU counterparts at an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday afternoon that the recently-agreed Middle East truce was hanging by a threat, and consequently the international community must do everything in its power for the speedy implementation of UN Security Council resolution 3701 and the deployment of the UN peacekeeping force to Lebanon.

    "Two weeks have already elapsed since the Security Council resolution was decided. The (peacekeeping) force must go to Lebanon as soon as possible, so as to ensure that the government of Lebanon will have the ability to impose order with the Lebanese army and have sovereignty throughout the entire country," Bakoyannis said in a statement at Tel Aviv airport on Friday morning, before departing for Brussels, following the completion of her four-day Middle East tour.

    "UNSCR 701 may possibly not be perfect, it is, however, an advancing step in the process of seeking a vialbe peace, and its success presupposes its immediate implementation," Bakoyannis, who arrived in Israel on Thursday afternoon from Jordan, told reporters at the airport, following talks in Tel Aviv with her Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, as well as defence minister Amir Peretz, and deputy prime minister Shimon Peres.

    Bakoyannis' Middle East tour, ahead of Greece's assumption of the rotating UN Security Council monthly presidency on September 1, commenced in Cyprus on Tuesday afternoon and also took her to Beirut, Amman and Tel Aviv, for talks with Lebanese, Jordanian and Israeli government officials, respectively, as well as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, who was also visiting Jordan at the time.

    The emergency EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels is slated to begin at 4:00 p.m., Greek time, to discuss the crisis in Lebanon, and will also be attended by UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

    Talks in Israel

    Israeli political leaders expressed their concerns, worries and reservations to Bakoyannis in their talks with the Greek foreign minister on Thursday evening, while Bakoyannis reiterated the firm stance Greece has taken from the outset for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

    Arriving in Tel Aviv from Amman on Thursday afternoon, Bakoyannis met separately with defence minister Amir Peretz, Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem, Israeli deputy prime minister Shimon Peres, and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who, speaking to reporters before her meeting with her Greek counterpart, spoke of a "need for the disarmament of Hezbollah" and, referring to the UN Security Council Resolution, said that Israel would not withdraw from Lebaonon unless the multinational peacekeeping force was deployed in cooperation with the Lebanese army.

    According to diplomatic sources, the Israeli leadership sets the deployment of the multinational peacekeeping force as a condition for the lifting of the isolation of Lebanon, while it also brings back the condition of release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in mid-July.

    The same sources said that the Israeli leadership considers that "it has no interlocutor in Lebanon", since it is sceptical over Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora's ability to control the situation, and particularly Hezbollah's influence.

    Israel also has similar reservations over the cohesion of Palestinian political expression, given that a section of the Isreali leadership acknowledges the need for supporting Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, but at the sime time recalls Hamas' refusal to recognise the existence of the State of Israel.

    The Israeli leadership further stresssed to Bakoyannis the pressure it has been under from the Israeli society over the fact that the government agreed to give land (in Lebanon, and Gaza) in exchange for peace, noting: "The government is being criticised because we gave land, and despite that the attacks continued".

    According to the Israeli leadership, the immediate deployment of the peacekeeping force is necessary, while it is also particularly concerned over the isue of Iran's influence, and particularly the prospect of Iran's nuclear programme.


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