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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-08-03

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Mouzalas denies he told Bild 'Europe needs a Plan B' if Turkey pulls out of migrant deal
  • [02] ANEL vote against building of mosque in Votanikos
  • [03] Exports of Greek agro-food up 30 pct since 2012

  • [01] Mouzalas denies he told Bild 'Europe needs a Plan B' if Turkey pulls out of migrant deal

    Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas denied on Wednesday that he said Europe "definitely needs a 'Plan B' for the refugee and migration issue" during an interview with German newspaper "Bild".

    In a press release sent by the ministry, when asked by the paper whether Europe needs to come up with a "Plan B" in case Turkey backs down from the EU-Turkey deal on the refugee crisis, following similar statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Mouzalas answered:

    "Greece is focused on the EU – Turkey Agreement, an agreement which is dependent upon the European support on the one side, and the obligation of Turkey to abide by what has been agreed on the other. Up to now the agreement has been kept. We have a refugee flow, which cannot be an indication of non-compliance. More precisely, the number of refugees arriving on the islands, some days is zero, some days is close to one-hundred. It is a number of people upon which we keep an eye one way or another."

    And continued: "But, as an example, I have to mention that the percentage of people (arriving) in relation to the same period last year is 95-97 percent reduced. Of course, we are following (the events) closely, of course we are worried, but up to now, I repeat, the number of people arriving on our islands is not an indication of non-compliance towards whatever has been agreed. The Greek government has informed in time all the European institutions about the dangers which are simmering after the recent developments in Turkey. The refugee issue, as the EU has officially accepted during this period of time, is a European problem and its solution is a European responsibility."

    Mouzalas also said the main issue is to put an end to the war. "From that point on, we, as the European Union, must support these countries which are close to those facing the problem. We have to contribute so that Jordan, Lebanon and other neighboring countries find themselves in a position to welcome and host refugees on their territories always in respect of human rights," he said.

    Apart from this, refugees coming from Turkey should be distributed in EU countries based on their population and other criteria, the minister told the paper. "The same should be applied for Greece, so that they are distributed in the EU countries proportionally."

    The sentence "we need in any case a Plan B" was not included in Mouzalas' response, the ministry noted.

    [02] ANEL vote against building of mosque in Votanikos

    Independent Greeks (ANEL), the junior coalition partner, voted against a provision that will speed up the construction of a mosque in Votanikos, an area outside Athens, during a debate in the relevant parliamentary committees on Wednesday.

    The provision is included in a draft bill on supporting renewable energy. In his address to MPs, ANEL lawmaker Giorgos Lazaridis said his party is voting against the provision. On the other hand, SYRIZA, New Democracy, the Democratic Coalition, the Communist Party and Potami voted in favour. The Centrists' Union reserved their decision for Thursday's debate in the plenum while Golden Dawn voted against it.

    The article, along with the bill on renewables, will be voted through a fast-track procedure.

    [03] Exports of Greek agro-food up 30 pct since 2012

    Exports of agro-food products grew around 30 pct since 2012, despite a deep recession in the country, offering evidence that the sector remains one of the most significant and most dynamic export sectors of the Greek economy, Dr Kyriakos Loufakis, president of the Federation of Northern Greece Exporters (SEVE) said on Wednesday.

    Commenting on the monthly export report of the Federation, Loufakis said that despite this increase, the trade balance of the sector remained negative.

    The EU market accounted for around 70 pct of Greek exports of agro-food products, mostly in Italy (22 pct market share), Germany (11.0 pct), Bulgaria (5.0 pct), UK (5.0 pct), Cyprus (4.0 pct) and Holland (4.0 pct), while the US accounted for another 5.0 pct.

    "It is a fact that due to a prolonged crisis in recent years, consumption of fresh agricultural produce has been drastically reduced in central and eastern Europe, once important markets. For this reason, SEVE has repeatedly noted the need for a focused promotion of Greek farm products to countries with rising growth rates and large populations, such as China and India, which must become alternative markets for our products," Loufakis said. He added that Asian markets could become export targets for grapes and kiwi, following the examples of other community Mediterranean markets such as Italy, Spain and France.

    Dr. Loufakis noted that the agricultural sector in Greece faced serious structural problems, such as small farm sizes, ageing agricultural population, high production costs, low productivity and competitiveness. At the same time, he added, there were some remarkable and unique positive elements which, if supported by the necessary action, could contribute to resolving these domestic problems and help kickstart the Greek economy.

    "According to researchers from the universities of Harvard and MIT, the wealth of nations is created by knowledge and skills. This means that a comparative advantage of a country is built on raising skills in its economy", Loufakis said, adding that this could be done by attracting foreign investments. Mediterranean food is a comparative advantage, whose reputation we must exploit, he said.


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