17 February, 2006
Greece's new Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis expressed her full satisfaction late Wednesday night with the climate as well as the content of Premier Costas Karamanlis' talks here earlier in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Moreover, she also gave assurances of continuity in Greece's foreign policy, following Tuesday's government reshuffle.
Bakoyannis, who was sworn-in as foreign minister hours before accompanying Karamanlis on the first leg of visits to Berlin and Dublin, told reporters that the talks between the Greek prime minister and his German counterpart had been "talks of substance and depth", focusing on a review of and strategy on the course and future of the European Union, and international developments, with the main thrust on the matters of particular interest to Greece, such as the Cyprus issue and developments in the Balkans ahead of the commencement of the process for the determination of the future status of Kosovo.
Bakoyannis and deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros briefed reporters on the Greek-German talks late Wednesday, following a lengthy 2 1/2 hours working dinner.
No specific reference was made to the differences in Athens' and Berlin's approaches on issues such as Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's recent proposals on the Cyprus problem -- which Athens and Nicosia have rejected as a rehashing of earlier, unacceptable positions, and which Berlin has not publicly rejected but has said it is 'studying' -- or to the FYROM name issue. Both Bakoyannis and Antonaros, however, said talks provided an opportunity for an “extensive and in-depth analysis” of the Greek government’s position, which they said was "very important".
Replying to questions prompted by articles appearing in certain Greek and Cypriot newspapers speculating on a change of policy over the Cyprus issue following Bakoyannis' assumption of ministry, the former Athens mayor stressed that Greece's "foreign policy has continuity" and was "a cause of the collective government"
She also emphasized that "the first and last word belongs to the prime minister".
Bakoyannis further stressed that she could never use her capacity as prime minister to exercise personal policy.
Regarding her own meeting with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bakoyannis said their discussion centered mainly on developments in the Middle East and on the issue of Iran.
She also denied reports that she would be going to the United States on March 11 for a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"I have not yet replied to the invitation," Bakoyannis clarified, referring to a comment on Tuesday by a State Department spokesman regarding the change at the helm of the Greek foreign ministry and a statement that Rice looked forward to meeting with her new Greek counterpart.
Regarding a question over Greek-German cooperation in the field of armaments, Bakoyannis confirmed that the German side had put forward anew the issue of a possible procurement by Greece of Eurofighter jetfighters. The Eurofighter Typhoon (previously called the Eurofighter 2000) is a multinational effort by European nations to produce a cutting-edge 21st century fighter aircraft, co-produced by the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy.
"The armaments issue and the Eurofighter will be examined by summer, and under the prism of the fact that the European defense policy comprises a fundamental axis of the EU's prospect," Bakoyannis explained, adding however, that this was not the only prism under which the matter will be mulled.
Karamanlis and the Greek delegation left Thursday morning for Dublin, where they were scheduled to hold talks and have a working luncheon with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
Source: Athens News Agency