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08 June, 2002
Greece wanted to further enhance bilateral ties with Australia but also ties between Australia and the European Union when it took over the EU rotating presidency in the first half of 2003, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis said during a press conference for the Greek-Australian press on Friday.
At the same time as the EU presidency, Greece would also undertake the diplomatic representation of Denmark in Australia, Magriotis added.
During the Greek EU presidency, Athens intended to organize a meeting of EU and Australian foreign ministers to discuss establishing closer EU-Australian relations, Magriotis announced. Bilateral issues between Greece and Australia, as well as initiatives to further improve economic and other relations would also be discussed in the framework of this meeting, he added.
He underlined the mutual benefits of such closer economic ties, saying that Greece could be Australia's gateway into Europe, while Australia could be a gateway for Greece to Southeast Asia.
Magriotis, who has the foreign ministry's expatriate affairs portfolio, then turned to relations between Greece and Australia's expatriate community.
He noted that Greece had made significant efforts to reach out to the Diaspora in recent years, culminating in the creation of the World Council of Overseas Hellenes (SAE). While admitting that the SAE left much to be desired in certain parts of the world, including Australia, he stressed that this would improve after a series of structural and operational changes that had been begun.
Finally, he said he would work toward a reconciliation of expatriate communities that were divided due to religious differences.
Source: Athens News Agency