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12 February, 2000
Greece will join the European Union's efforts to push to the margin the "dark side" of Europe, manifested by the presence of extreme rightwing Joerg Haider's party in the Austrian government, Greek Labor and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said here on Friday.
Speaking at the informal European Union Social Affairs Ministers' Council, Papaioannou said that "the citizens of Europe have the right to express their concern and rightly so demand of their governments and the institutional bodies of the EU to undertake the necessary measures for the unhindered democratic and social integration of Europe.
"The measures are based on the application of the principles of democracy and stem from the binding reports of the EU," he added.
Labor Minister Elisabeth Sickel, who belongs to Haider's party, and has expressed xenophobic views, represented Austria at the Council.
Speaking on the same issue, Employment and Social Affairs European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said "the European Commission sympathizes with the concerns expressed by the 14 member-states," stressing that she agreed with those concerns.
Addressing the Council, Diamantopoulou spoke of combating racism and xenophobia, as well as of the battle against any kind of discrimination, adding that the Union is not just a common market or a monetary union but a political union of states, based on the principles of freedom and human rights.
On a different note, Papaioannou spoke of employment and social cohesion, a subject expected to dominate discussions during the extraordinary summit in Lisbon on Mar. 23 and 24.
He said that the Council and the Commission are responsible for the better coordination of active policies of employment with macroeconomic policies and restructuring, adding "the success of such coordination, should be a central theme during the next summit".
On her part, presenting the views of the Commission, Diamantopoulou said that the defense of the European social model demands modernization and adjustment to the new conditions.
Source: Athens News Agency