26 March, 2007
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday congratulated the German EU presidency for its high-profile efforts towards European integration, in statements ahead of a special summit session of the EU 27 member-states' heads of state and government, where the Declaration of Berlin was formally adopted during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Community's founding Treaty of Rome.
Karamanlis described the text of the Declaration of Berlin as "mature and balanced", expressing optimism on the prospects of the European Union and the reforms still outstanding.
Earlier in the day, Karamanlis had a private meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, while on Saturday night, he attended a dinner hosted by German President of the Republic Horst Koehler for the EU leaders, after which he visited the renowned Pergamon Museum, where he was given a tour of an exhibition of Byzantine icons from the Velimezis Collection, entitled "The Splendour of Heaven", organised in cooperation with Athens' Benaki Museum and the Greek Foundation of Culture.
Karamanlis and his entourage are due to return to Athens shortly after a luncheon hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during which the EU leaders will bid farewell to French President Jacques Chirac, given that this was his last participation in an EU summit as he has announced that he will not be standing for office in the imminent presidential elections in France.
The signing of the Declaration of Berlin -- which, although just short of three pages long, aspires to opening up a new chapter for the prospects of the venture called the European Union, and chiefly to help overcome the alienation between the existing structure and the citizens of the member states -- coincides with the 186th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, celebrating the start of the Greek revolution against tour Ottoman rule on March 25, 1821.
"Today is a double celebration for Hellenism. Together with the Annunciation of the Virgin, we also have the anniversary of the 1821 great struggle of the Greeks for freedom and national dignity. It is also, however, a very special day for Europe, too. For all of us who believe in the European Idea and the vision of European integration, this anniversary has a distinct symbolic meaning. In this half century, Europe, the European Union, has proved historically to be the most successful model of peace, cooperation and prosperity. Cooperation and consensus have taken the place of war as a method of resolving differences. The strength and size (of the member countries) is not so significant as the participation and devotion to the European principles and values, and, naturally, we must not forget that Europe is a protagonist in adopting and advancing pioneering policies directly concerning the citizens on crucial issues such as unemployment, education and climate change.
"I wish to congratulate the German presidency on the great effort it has made and for the Declaration of Berlin, which is a mature and balanced text, which is primarily addressed to the European citizens. It is true, and we all know, that the European Union today finds itself at a critical juncture in time, at a crucial turning point. It is equally a fact that, many times in the past as well, Europe had difficulties which it confronted and succes-sfully overcame. I want to believe, and I do believe that Europe has the strength and the political volition to move ahead with determination in the future".
PM calls for greater determination in promotion of European integration
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday called for greater determination to be displayed in promoting European integration and the handling of future problems.
Speaking shortly before a meeting of European Peoples Party (EPP) leaders in the German capital, Karamanlis said "the 50 years from the signing of the Treaty of Rome is a great European achievement. During this half a century, we have succeeded in making war inconceivable and mapping out together a course of peace, cooperation, growth and prosperity."
Referring to the EPP, the prime minister said "for the European Peoples Party, today is a celebration even more so. And this is so because the European concept, the promotion of European integration are great fundamental priorities that were served with consistency by leading personalities of our political family."
Source: Athens News Agency