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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Karamanlis-Sarkozy talks
  • [02] Papandreou letter to French leader

  • [01] Karamanlis-Sarkozy talks

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday signed a joint declaration for cooperation in defence and security, following their wide-ranging talks at the premier's Maximos Mansion office in Athens.

    The talks came after Sarkozy's nationally-television address in Greece's Parliament hours earlier, in the presence of practically all the east Mediterranean country's political leadership.

    Karamanlis referred to the "powerful and historic" ties between the two EU and NATO partners, calling Sarkozy a "personal friend and a compatriot from Thessaloniki".

    "Greece and France share a common vision for Europe, and we attribute particular significance to European defence and security policy," Karamanlis said.

    On his part, the French president, who was enthusiastically received in the Greek capital, stressed that he agreed with everything in his talks with Karamanlis, including the creation of a European coast guard force, calling the prospect of a Greek-French naval task force to better guard the Union's maritime borders a "good idea".

    Regarding the timely issue of rising cost of living in Europe, Sarkozy said the European Council must immediately take up the issue, reminding of his proposal for reduced VAT rates and an Austrian proposal for higher capital taxes on profit margins.

    The Greek premier also said Athens was ready to support the French presidency in the defence and security sector, while referring to one of the priorities of the French presidency, namely, illegal immigration.

    He also reiterated Greece's proposal for the creation of a European coast guard force. Additionally, Karamanlis again expressed support for Paris' Mediterranean Union initiative, saying all potential members in such a bloc would benefit from new forms of cooperation.

    In terms of the same issue, Sarkozy emphatically said that Turkey would not be excluded from such a Med Union, while repeating that the neighbouring country's European prospects are not linked with the creation of the Med Union.

    In again touching on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) -- which re-emerged on Europe's agenda in early April after Skopje's failure to find a mutually acceptable solution with Greece regarding the "name issue" derailed its NATO bid -- Sarkozy expressed concerns over the way last Sunday's election was held in the neighbouring country.

    His comments regarding FYROM were later echoed by Karamanlis, who for the first time also publicly expressed concerns over the election process in the landlocked one-time Yugoslav republic on Greece's northern border.

    More tellingly, Karamanlis repeated that "no solution to the name issue" means that Greece will maintain the same stance, "where necessary".

    The Karamanlis-Sarkozy declaration came after other agreements were signed by the two countries' defence and foreign ministers as well, with the latter expanding already close cultural ties.

    Other issues discussed involved defence cooperation and armaments, with Karamanlis reiterating that talks will continue in this sector.

    Caption: Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (L) talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Athens on Friday, June 6, 2008. ANA-MPA

    [02] Papandreou letter to French leader

    Main opposition PASOK leader and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou conveyed a letter to visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday, in which he expresses his concerns over current developments in the western Balkans.

    Papandreou addressed his letter to the French president in view of France's assumption, next month, of the six-month European Union rotating presidency.

    The Greek political leader said, in his letter, that whatever solutions "are to be given to the region's problems they should not reproduce new tensions and nationalistic practices."

    Papandreou also notes in his letter that the "unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo and its recognition by some EU member-states in violation of the principles of International Law and UN Security Council's resolutions and without a previous decision by the EU's 27 member-states, does not contribute to the region's stability."

    Referring to the "name issue" of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou notes France's "support to UN principles and decisions and the European political acquis," underlining, however, that "this constitutes a basic responsibility and obligation on the part of France, as well as the expression of solidarity towards Greece.

    Regarding Turkey's EU course, the main opposition leader notes that the EU "must stay firm and consistent with its decisions and strategy which have been collectively decided upon while, in parallel, it should not allow the alteration of its decisions by Turkey, which must abide by all its commitments undertaken vis-?-vis the EU and its member-states."

    The stance in favour of Turkey's EU course "does not annul the neighbouring country's great responsibilities and obligations regarding the Cyprus issue," Papandreou also notes in his letter, before adding that "no expediency or interest can justify the ongoing occupation of Cyprus' territories by Turkish forces and the partition of an EU member-state."

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo.

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