Statement by Greece - CCW GGE 22-26 August 2011
Greece has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of the
negotiation process of a legally binding instrument for cluster munitions
within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). We have all
along supported the view that this process should be carried out in the
institutional framework of the CCW and not outside the scope of the UN in
order, on the one hand, to ensure that all major users and producers of
these weapons are included in the process and, on the other hand, to
reinforce the credibility of any future CCW initiatives dealing with other
conventional weapons, given that the CCW encompasses more than just
cluster munitions. In addition, we believe that the adoption of a new
Protocol could significantly contribute to addressing the uncontested
humanitarian impact of cluster munitions, while striking a balance between
humanitarian and military requirements.
In this regard, we welcome the positive momentum which transpired from the February and April GGE sessions. The current text, while of course open to further improvements and despite its inclusion of some elements which cause concern to us, constitutes, in our view, a good basis for a future Protocol. The sheer number of weapons that would be prohibited under the present text is a testimony to its significance. It has often been argued, rather misleadingly in our view, that the current Chair’s text will not make a significant impact on the countries concerned. The argument runs along the lines that we can all sign this Protocol because it does not ask of us to make any concessions. In the case of Greece this could not be further from the truth. The Draft Protocol would have an impact on Greece’s Defence Planning and given the present economic crisis, it would, similarly, be a considerable financial challenge to withdraw a large amount of cluster munitions.
have now reached a critical juncture in the negotiating process, where
compromise and understanding of the sensitivities of all states is of
paramount importance. No single member state or group of states have the
exclusivity when it comes to safeguarding the moral high ground. After
all, we all share the humanitarian concerns which the use of cluster
munitions can create. However, the “deal-breaker” or the key to our
success, will ultimately amount to striking a careful and well calibrated
balance between military utility and humanitarian concerns. In this
respect, we underline the need to concentrate on the text in hand and to
avoid taking belated initiatives which do not contribute to bridging
existing differences, but rather exacerbate them. At the end of the day,
it is in the interest of the international community as a whole to arrive
at a consensual agreement that will safeguard in the long- run the
humanitarian interests of all.
Therefore, in conclusion, we reiterate our readiness to work on the current draft and to contribute to the further convergence of different views, in order to reach an agreement on a new Protocol. Our delegation stands ready to lend its support and assist you in any way it can in this respect.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Arrival of Greek humanitarian mission to Haiti and Deputy FM’s meetings with the country’s political leadership
The Greek humanitarian aid mission for Haiti’s earthquake victims arrived yesterday morning in Port-au-Prince.
The mission, carrying 50 tons of pharmaceutical and food supplies and NGO members as reinforcement for the Greek teams already active in the country, departed from Athens on the evening of Sunday, 7 February.
The mission is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Spyros Kouvelis who, on his arrival to Port-au-Prince, met with representatives of Greek NGOs present in Haiti following the earthquake, and was briefed regarding the current situation.
During the plane’s three-hour stay in Port-au-Prince airport, Mr. Kouvelis visited the temporary premises of the Haitian government and had successive meetings with the country's political leadership.
Mr. Kouvelis had a half-hour meeting with Haiti’s Prime Minister, Mr. Jean-Max Bellerive, and handed him a letter by the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. George Papandreou. He explained Greece’s aid initiatives from the outset through the disbursement of funds for food aid and the mobilisation of Greece’s NGOs and Orthodox Church.
Mr. Bellerive warmly thanked Mr. Kouvelis for the aid provided, which he said is particularly important at this crucial stage of relief efforts, gave him an overview of the current situation in Haiti and explained the government's priorities for the next phases of reconstruction, namely, accommodation to the 3 million homeless, medical care and basic irrigation, drainage and electricity infrastructure, but also the provision of fundamental social services in terms of healthcare and education. Mr. Bellerive also pointed out the age-old relations between Greece and Haiti.
Mr. Kouvelis met afterwards with the opposition party leader, Mr. Victor Benoit, who is also Socialist International’s Vice-President. He conveyed greetings on behalf of Socialist International’s President, Prime Minister George Papandreou, and discussed the immediate needs of Haiti and the most appropriate channels for providing development aid in the near future.
Finally, Mr. Kouvelis also had a ten-minute discussion with the President of the Republic of Haiti, Mr. Rene Preval, who was accompanied by Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Ms. Marie Michelle Rey. Mr. Preval expressed his warm and sincere thanks on behalf of the Haitian people for Greece’s assistance, whilst Ms. Rey and Mr. Kouvelis made joint statements to local, Greek and international media.
The Greek mission departs for Athens today following a mandatory stop in the Dominican Republic, pursuant to ICAO rules. A Greek citizen who was a permanent resident in Haiti over the past years will be repatriated to Greece.
During his stay in the Dominican Republic, Mr. Kouvelis also had the opportunity to meet with Greece’s Honorary Consul, Mr. Eduardo Mejia, and give him two boxes containing books, audiovisual material and replicas of Greek museum exhibits to be used in the Hellenic Museum of the Dominican Republic. It should be reminded that Mr. Kouvelis had visited the museum during his last visit to the country in December 2009 and had committed to sending material in proof of the government's support for the whole effort.
Foreign Ministry announcement on the latest developments in Haiti and the Greek humanitarian aid mission
Responding to the need for immediate aid for the people of Haiti, the Foreign Ministry will send to Haiti a special team of doctors and rescue workers, along with pharmaceutical supplies on board a special direct flight by Boeing 747. On its return trip, the aircraft will repatriate 400 European citizens from Haiti.
Immediately after the earthquake, Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Spyros Kouvelis managed to find – following tireless efforts – a sponsor air carrier: Hellenic Imperial Airways will cover more than 50% of the transfer costs.
The Prime Minister was briefed from the very first moment on the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to provide assistance on behalf of the Greek government. He asked the co-competent ministries to coordinate their efforts in order for our country to be able to deliver substantial and timely aid to Haiti.
The mission includes 25 healthcare professionals, nurses, rescuers as well as Hellenic Aid officials, and will deliver significant quantities of medicinal supplies needed in the first days following the devastating earthquake.
The volunteers will remain in the country for 10-15 days – depending on needs – and will then be followed by a second mission, on board the same aircraft, carrying food aid adapted to the local conditions and pharmaceutical supplies for the earthquake victims. On its return journey, it will also carry to Athens European citizens who need to be repatriated.
Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis stated: ”From the outset, Greece – considering its historical relations and obligation to Haiti – hastened to provide €200,000 in financial assistance, as part of immediate relief measures for the people of Haiti by international organizations, and has been pursuing a very significant initiative to dispatch humanitarian aid directly".
The Citizen Protection and Rural Development Ministries have been working together with the Foreign Ministry to help the joint effort to deliver immediate and effective aid.
Those agencies interested in contributing should contact the Ministry by phone at +302103683570. They can also be informed about the pharmaceutical products and other supplies that will need to be dispatched on the second flight.
Humanitarian aid donations can be made by bank transfer to the following account number: Bank of Greece account number: 2341131478 or at any other bank to IBAN GR8701000230000002341131478.
Speech of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Papandreou, to the 1st Plenary Session of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council
Heads of Delegation,
Directors of OSCE Institutions,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure as Chairman-in-Office to welcome you all to the 17th Ministerial Council of the OSCE.
I am pleased that so many Ministers of Foreign Affairs have come to Athens, and believe there could be no more appropriate place to reinvigorate an Organization that has done so much to strengthen democratic governance across our region.
I know that you have travelled here sharing our common conviction, that we can achieve great things over the next two days.
I hope that we can all return home having done our utmost to advance the cause of common, comprehensive and indivisible security for all of the peoples of the OSCE area.
As 2009 draws to a close, we find ourselves approaching the end of the Greek Chairmanship.
Much has happened this year to remind us that security in our region remains a work in progress.
The global economic crisis has affected all our countries.
We have worked hard to contain the aftermath of armed conflict in Georgia. Instability in Afghanistan continues to pose multi-faceted challenges for the security of our region.
These are all potent reminders that we have still a lot of unfinished business ahead of us.
Despite often contrary winds, we have arrived in a safe port in Athens.
But the year is not over.
We have to agree on important decisions in the next two days to strengthen co-operative security across the OSCE area, to shape the work of our Organization, and to build a strong foundation for Kazakhstan to build upon as it assumes the OSCE Chairmanship on January 1st.
I hope that a constructive spirit will prevail in our deliberations, and we will part tomorrow with concrete results.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Greek Chairmanship has been guided by a single principle this year – the determination to serve as an “honest broker” to facilitate a renewed dialogue between the participating States in order to restore trust and build new common purpose.
This principle underpinned our decision to host the first informal ministerial meeting of the OSCE on Corfu in late June.
The meeting in Corfu provided a ray of hope in a stormy year.
It was the first attempt for an informal, frank and open dialogue at the Ministers’ level on the current state and the future prospects of European security.
We found broad acknowledgement of the fact that the OSCE, with its unique concept of comprehensive, co-operative and indivisible security and inclusive composition, provides an irreplaceable framework for restoring confidence and trust and for enhancing co-operation.
On this basis, and with your unanimous valuable support, the Greek Chairmanship has launched the Corfu Process.
The discussions that followed in Vienna at the Ambassadors’ level, aimed to identify the main elements pertaining to the foundations for security in the Euro-Atlantic area, the challenges arising across the three OSCE dimensions, and obstacles to the implementation of commitments undertaken by the participating States.
Now, we must take our efforts a step further.
We should decide on how we will move this process forward; how to determine concrete objectives, themes, modalities and benchmarks.
These should be spelled out in clear, strong language.
We must find the courage to move from dialogue to action.
This will be our key strategic task today and tomorrow.
We must end 2009 with strong foundations of clarity and resolve, in order to usher in the New Year – and the upcoming Chairmanship of Kazakhstan – with new direction and purpose.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The new dialogue on European Security can be meaningful only in so far as it is tied to concrete progress on key security challenges.
Over the course of the past year, we have seen some positive movement in settling longstanding obstacles to co-operative security in our region.
The bold political decisions taken by Turkey and Armenia have not been easy, but they are very important.
We must now bring this same spirit of reconciliation to the unresolved conflicts that persist in the OSCE area.
Through the unwavering efforts of the Greek Chairmanship, as it has also been the case in previous years, there has been no lack of valiant attempts to resolve these conflicts.
Even last week, the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Munich, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Also last month, an informal meeting was held in Vienna, of the “5+2” negotiating format aimed at resolving the Transnistrian conflict.
The OSCE, together with the UN and the EU, has co-chaired eight rounds of discussions held in Geneva on security and stability in Georgia following the August 2008 conflict, and we have seen some movement to stabilise cease-fire lines and to restore emergency channels of communication.
These are important steps, for which I would like to thank my Special Representatives, Ambassador Christopoulos and Ambassador Kasprzyk.
Their dedication to creating the conditions for the peaceful settlement of conflicts has been remarkable and recognized by all.
Yet hard work remains ahead in resolving these conflicts –not just for the negotiators designated by the Chairmanship to act on our behalf, but also for us, the participating States of the OSCE, in summoning the required political will to move ahead.
We must take qualitative steps forward to stabilize the situation in Georgia.
Let us make no mistake – this effort suffered a setback this year with the closure of the OSCE Mission to Georgia.
I am convinced that the need for the OSCE presence, in the conflict zones and throughout Georgia, is greater today that ever before – the Organization has unparalleled experience and unique tools to support efforts to promote peace, stability, democracy and the rule of law.
It is time for the participating States to make the leap necessary to agree to a new OSCE presence on the ground.
The Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group have worked tirelessly to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they approach the time to take difficult decisions aimed at resolving their differences.
Here in Athens, we must leave no doubt that this process enjoys the solid support of the entire OSCE community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One month from today, Greece’s Chairmanship marathon will come to an end, and we will pass the torch to Kazakhstan.
We have high hopes for the contribution the incoming Chairmanship can make in promoting conflict settlement and crisis management next year.
Rest assured that Greece will provide full support to these efforts through its presence in the OSCE Troika.
We also welcome the heightened attention the incoming Kazakh Chairmanship will bring to bringing in the forefront of our attention the pressing priorities on security in Central Asia and in Afghanistan.
Two years ago in Madrid, the OSCE Foreign Ministers agreed that our Organization has a role to play in helping to promote security and stability in and around Afghanistan.
Since then, the focus of OSCE work has fallen on strengthening border security and management on Afghanistan’s northern border with its Central Asian neighbours, enhancing both national and regional law enforcement capacities as well as cross-border co-operation.
These efforts deserve our praise. But clearly, there is scope for the OSCE to do more, including through limited project activity on Afghan territory.
Long-term security and stability in Afghanistan can only be built on the basis of stronger regional co-operation with and around the country, including the constructive involvement of the country’s Central Asian neighbours. Regional teamwork should be promoted by all key international actors and organizations that are active in the region, including the OSCE.
We are convinced that Kazakhstan, as Chair of the OSCE in 2010, can make a decisive difference in this regard, with the support of all of us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Economic and Environmental Dimension has been at the heart of the Greek Chairmanship’s priorities.
This is only natural given the importance for our common security of challenges that arise in this field.
The 17th Economic and Environmental Forum saw productive discussions on the cross-dimensional aspects of migration.
The scope and complexity of international migration has increased in the last years across the OSCE area.
Stronger inter-state co-operation at the bilateral, regional and global levels is essential to elaborating and implementing sustainable policy solutions.
As we close a year that opened with the most severe gas crisis in recent memory, I hope that we can find agreement on a targeted role for the OSCE in promoting an inclusive, goal-oriented dialogue on aspects of energy security.
We agreed to this in principle in Maastricht in 2003. Let’s take the next step for a more enhanced engagement.
A week before the opening of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, our deliberations on the security implications of climate change are also highly relevant.
These issues matter to people in the street.
The OSCE can and should have something to contribute.
This year, Greece has worked tirelessly to take forward the OSCE acquis in the Human Dimension, and to support the implementation by all of the commitments we have undertaken.
Respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were important guiding themes that underpinned all of our efforts in 2009.
This goes to the essence of the OSCE concept of security.
Since 1975, our common endeavour has been driven by the idea that security begins with the ‘inherent dignity of the individual.’
We have agreed that genuine security can only be comprehensive, including politico-military cooperation, healthy economic governance and the rule of law.
We have also agreed that the security of states is impossible without the security of societies and individuals.
This concept is demanding of states and societies.
It is a project that requires permanent engagement by all, in working to achieve the implementation of commitments and in refining them to meet new needs.
Throughout 2009, Greece has sought to support its partners in taking this concept forward in practice.
One area in which this effort has been particularly visible has been election observation, which remains a flagship activity of the Organization.
This year saw key elections in the OSCE area.
OSCE election observation methodology remains a gold standard the world over, and a justifiable source of pride.
I wish to commend the ODIHR as well as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly for their complementary and fruitful co-operation in observing elections and in promoting the further improvement of electoral systems throughout our region. I would also like to thank the ODIHR and the Secretariat for their efforts in organizing and executing a challenging Election Support Team in Afghanistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If I have been less laconic than I would have liked, it is because I wanted to share with you an overview of the main themes in our full agenda for the next two days.
I look forward to working with you to make this meeting a success.
In finishing, I wish to thank once again the previous Finnish Chairmanship for the strong legacy we inherited last January – Dear Alexander Stubb, your hospitality and your efficient management of the 2008 Ministerial Council decisions set high standards for the Greek Chairmanship. We also wish every success to the incoming Kazakh Chairmanship.
Dear Kanat Saudabayev, chairing the OSCE is always challenging but also always interesting; you can count on our full support throughout 2010.
I wish also to take this opportunity to express the sincere gratitude of the Chairmanship to our Secretary General, Ambassador Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, to the OSCE Secretariat, to the OSCE Institutions and to the OSCE Field Missions for all their invaluable support, hard work and dedication throughout this year.
I am fully convinced that the decisions that we will adopt over the next 48 hours will further strengthen our Organization and bring us closer to achieving our common objectives, and I am fully committed to work with all of you to this end.
Message of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis on World Humanitarian Day
A few months ago, the UN General Assembly designated the 19th of August as World Humanitarian Day. On this particular day, in 2003, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 United Nations staff members were killed in a bomb blast at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. In this way, the international community paid tribute to all those who lost their lives whilst offering humanitarian aid.
But just one day does not suffice if we consider the global humanitarian needs of a billion people living in destitution and hunger. We only need recall how many times in recent years the international community has had to answer the call of various states – particularly developing countries – who found themselves in the midst of humanitarian crises resulting from natural disasters or armed conflicts.
Our country has been present in these crises, providing emergency assistance to cover immediate needs and also assisting in more long-term crises, providing for basic day-to-day needs with the aim of protecting and improving the quality of life in every corner of the earth.
The Greek government mobilized its aid-provision mechanisms promptly, sending first aid and food aid, as well as medical teams, natural disaster-response and rescue teams to affected areas, providing shelter and transport for the injured, depending on given needs and in accordance with Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles.
Greece lent its assistance in Lebanon, Myanmar, China and Georgia, and more recently in Palestine and Zimbabwe, and will continue to be present in times and circumstances of need. The response to humanitarian crises concerns all of us, and World Humanitarian Day is a reminder that we have to show our solidarity and generosity and work towards this goal.
Development Cooperation Assistance of Greece in Africa
Greece concentrates its development policy towards Africa on specific sectors relevant to the M.D.G.’s, in order to most effectively attain the results of the development assistance. Basic education, infrastructure, health and climate change adaptation constitute priority sectors for our county’s development projects. In this framework, we signed last September in New York a Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the African Union, concerning the funding of projects on climate change adaptation reaching the total amount of 17,3 million U.S. Dollars for a period of four years, starting by contributing the first 4,33 million U.S. Dollars on 2008. Furthermore, we contribute to the African Capacity Building Foundation the amount of 1 million U.S. Dollars (200.000 U.S. Dollars each year for a period of 5 years). In the health sector, we will include in our 2009 development cooperation plan a comprehensive project of combating HIV/AIDS in a very specific area of sub-Saharan Africa.
We also expand our policy to sectors such as rural development, water resources management and training of young men and women either on the spot in developing countries, or through special projects in Greece, in cooperation with other public authorities and N.G.O.’s.
As far as humanitarian assistance is concerned, during 2008 we financed actions reaching the total amount of 10,09 million U.S. Dollars.
Greece has increased its bilateral development assistance to the African countries from 1,79 million U.S. dollars in 1997 to 29,68 million in 2007. Out future target is to reach a steady annual increase of our development assistance towards this geographical region.
Statement of Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr. G. Koumoutsakos regarding the Report of the Independent UN Expert on minority issues
“Greece will present its positions in detail on Tuesday, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, regarding the Report of the Independent UN Expert on minority issues.
Our positions are crystal clear and founded on absolute respect for human rights, a principle that applies to minorities and constitutes an accomplishment of the modern Greek Republic.
In our country, every Greek citizen has the inalienable individual right to self determination, while the State’s active concern with the strengthening and the protection of human rights is continuous and effective.
This policy is founded on our firm conviction that the mechanisms for protection and strengthening of human rights should ultimately contribute to the harmonic coexistence of a country’s citizens.
Therefore these mechanisms should not be transformed, directly or indirectly, into an opportunity or alibi for some that consciously attempt to exploit them for their own purposes on the level of interstate relations. Also, they should not become a tool in the hands of some who, for their own ends, seek the cultivation of division and a climate of tension within a society”.
New Greek aid transported to Gaza
Continuing its support to the Palestinian people, our country has sent six containers with new Greek humanitarian aid from the Piraeus port to the Gaza Strip.
The 105-110 of tons aid contains mainly food (flour, olive oil, pulses) bought by the foreign ministry, as well as medicine and medical supplies that were collected by the Church of Greece in collaboration with local authorities, private companies and associations. Transportation has been undertaken and paid for by the foreign ministry's Hellenic Aid organization and it will be delivered to the appropriate United Nations bodies so that it can be taken into Gaza and distributed.
The following NGO’s cooperated and assisted in the collection of food, medicine and the pharmaceutical materials: “Pharmacists of the World”, “Doctors of the Heart”, the company Lavipharm, the Hania Pharmacists association , the prefectures of Kozani, Chios and East Attica, as well as the Association of Journalists of Macedonia-Thrace Daily Newspapers and a number of local authorities.
Second Greek humanitarian aid shipment to the Gaza Strip
A second shipment of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza departed this morning, at 11:30, aboard a Hellenic Air Force C-130 aircraft for Tel Aviv international airport. The shipment has a total volume of 13 tons of medical supplies collected by the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Hellenic Parliament and non-governmental organisations and it will be delivered to Gaza through the World Health Organization’s services in the region.
On an initiative of Foreign Minister Ms. Bakoyannis, Greece was the first European country to send emergency aid to the Gaza Strip, on 1 January 2009, and will maintain this sea bridge of humanitarian aid in the next week. The Foreign Ministry’s competent agency, Hellenic Aid, which is responsible for coordinating Greek humanitarian aid, is thus collecting food and other supplies from NGOs, municipalities, prefectures, and the Church of Greece. Hellenic Aid will also offer 400,000 euros for foodstuffs that will be dispatched with the third aid shipment.
Greek humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip
Following an initiative by Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis within the framework of the humanitarian mission “Bridge of hope”, a Hellenic Air Force aircraft will depart tomorrow, 8 January 2009, for Tel Aviv international airport carrying humanitarian relief for the Gaza population consisting of medical assistance collected by the Foreign Ministry in association with the Hellenic Parliament
The shipment’s total volume is about 13 tons and includes medicines, serum and medical supplies.
Greece’s humanitarian aid shipment – also comprising assistance provided by the City of Athens – will be accompanied by Foreign Ministry officials.
€ 500,000 in emergency humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe
Greece has send 250.000 euros to the WFP, through the Greek Embassy in Rome, for Food and Aid to Zimbabwe in view of the Humanitarian crises in this country.
Also Greece has contributed the sum of 250.000 euros as Humanitarian Aid to WHO, through the Greek Permanent Mission in Geneva, for the response to the Cholera epidemic in the country.
Deputy FM Mr. T. Kassimis – Celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Theodore Kassimis has attended in Geneva the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on 10 December 1948 by the United Nations and stipulates that human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever their race, religion, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or age. Freedom, peace and justice are founded on these rights. Amnesty International’s vision is for all humans to enjoy the same human rights that have been safeguarded by the UN Universal Declaration.
Greece donates one million dollars for refugees
Greece has donated one million US dollars as a contribution to the work carried out by the UN's High Commission on Refugees.
This was announced Tuesday by Greece's permanent representative at the UN, Amb. Franciscos Verros, while addressing a special conference of donors to the High Commission.
Ambassador Verros also underlined Greece's "particular sensitivity regarding the drama of refugees" expressing at the same time the country's full support to their relief and rehabilitation.
$500,000 in emergency humanitarian aid to Congo
On the initiative of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis, and in response to calls to confront the extensive humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo resulting from the recent armed clashes, Greece has proceeded to the provision of $500,000 through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
This emergency humanitarian aid is being sent for the relief of those affected by the hostilities that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
Additionally Greece is planning to contribute the amount of 200.000 € to the DR of Congo through the relevant programs of WFP.
Greek contribution for Food Aid in 2008
Greece, for 2008, has provided Food Aid of a total amount of 3.550.000 euros from which 3.000.000 has been channeled through WFP, the remaining 550.000 euros has been channeled bilaterally through NGOs.
From the above amount 1.000.000 has been earmarked for North East Africa (the Horn of Africa).
Greece calls for UNHCR action on illegal migration
Greece’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, on Wednesday appealed to the UN High Commission for Refugees Executive Committee for cooperation with the transit countries for illegal migration. The Greek representative also called on those countries to take action aimed at tackling the problem of illegal migration and human-trafficking affecting the Mediterranean and Greece.
Speaking during the UNHCR’s 59th Executive Committee session being held in Geneva from October 6-10 to review and approve the agency’s programmes and budgets and to advise on protection matters, Ambassador Verros referred to the measures taken by Greece and pointed out that it actively supports the French initiative for the creation of a Common European Asylum System (CEAS).
He also noted Greece's offer to host the European Asylum Support Bureau when this was founded.
The ambassador also pointed out that Greece, due to its extensive coastline, was receiving an ever-increasing number of illegal immigrants over the past five years. He reported that the entry of 112,000 illegal migrants into Greece was recorded in 2007 alone, while asylum requests increased 461 percent between 2004 and 2007.
Greece sends humanitarian aid to people affected by the hostilities in the Caucasus
In response to appeals for providing relief to people affected by the recent hostilities in the Caucasus, Greece dispatched a C-130 aircraft carrying a 14-tonne humanitarian aid shipment to Georgia comprising tents, blankets, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, serum, water purification tablets, etc. These provisions were collected by the Foreign Ministry in association with other co-competent state agencies (National Defense Ministry. Health and Human Solidarity Ministry, Secretariat General of Civil Protection) as well as NGOs (Greek Red Cross and World Pharmacists). Our country also made an extraordinary financial contribution worth € 100,000 through the UNHCR for providing relief to those who fled from South Ossetia to North.
Provision of Greek aid to China to confront the consequences of the catastrophic earthquake
Representatives of the Foreign Affairs and Health Ministries delivered twelve tons of humanitarian aid to China to confront the consequences of the catastrophic earthquake that struck many provinces of the country on May 12.
The aid includes 100 tents, water purification tablets, medicine and pharmaceutical supplies – according to the specifications of the Chinese side – provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity to people stricken by the earthquake.
The first shipment of this humanitarian aid will be transported by Air China on 16 June.
Arrival of the first shipment of Greek humanitarian aid in Myanmar/Burma
On the morning of Sunday, 11 May 2008, the first Greek C-130 carrying humanitarian aid arrived at Yangon (Rangoon) airport and has been delivered for the relief of the people of Myanmar/Burma.
A second C-130 is en route, already having reached Kolkata, India, while Foreign Ministry officials have remained in Yangon to optimise coordination of the operation.
Aid to Myanmar by the government of Greece
Following the announcement of Foreign Minister Ms. Dora Bakoyannis for an immediate contribution of $200,000 in food assistance to the people of Burma / Myanmar through the UN World Food Program.
Following the flight permission granted on May 8th at 14:00, the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Hellenic Ministry of Defence sent a C-130 aircraft to Myanmar with aid by the Greek Red Cross and other Greek NGOs. The aircraft that left Elefsina airport at 20:00 local time with destination the international airport in Yangoon, contains tents, blankets and medicines.
A second flight will probably follow on Saturday May 10th.
The Greek Foreign Ministry has appealed to Greek foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals companies to provide more aid in food and medicines. The Foreign Ministry’s Agency “Hellenic Aid” carries the general responsibility for the allocation of the assistance, under the coordination of Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Mr. T. Skylakakis, who is in constant contact with the UN World Food Program and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Due to the great extent of the disaster, Greek Foreign Ministry has appealed to Greek nationals who wish to contribute to relief efforts in support of the victims of the deadly cyclone in Burma / Myanmar, to demonstrate their compassion and solidarity, by depositing their donations on a Foreign Ministry’s special bank account (FOREIGN MINISTRY / Provision of Humanitarian Aid to Third Countries / Special Bank Account number:2341065503 (IBAN : GR 070 1000 230 0000023 41065503 / Bank of Greece).
For more information visit the Foreign Ministry's website: www.ypex.gov.gr
Informative event on 6th International Alliance Forum of Cities against Poverty
A working luncheon was held at the UN's building here, with the participation of over 20 correspondents accredited to the UN, for a briefing concerning the 6th Forum of the International Alliance of Cities against Poverty, which is organised by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Athens Municipality.
This three-day conference will be held in Athens on March 26-28 on the theme "The role of local democratic governance in eradicating poverty and achieving the development targets of the Millennium".
Greece's Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, focused in a brief address on the importance of the event in question, given the goals and challenges set at international level on improving living conditions and decreasing social problems.
Acknowledging the noble goals and the positive approach on finding solutions to specific issues, the Greek government will be supporting this event with the presence of the President of the Republic, the prime minister, the foreign minister and government officials.
Greek presidency of Human Security Network holds meeting on climate change
The Greek Chairmanship of the Human Security Network, together with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) held a meeting on Tuesday February 19th, on the theme “Repercussions of climate change in migration".
The meeting was held in Geneva at the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) premises, under the presidency of the Greek Foreign Ministry's International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Secretary General, Theodoros Skylakakis and the Director General of the International Organization on Migration, Brunson McKinley.
Taking part were hundreds of representatives of Geneva’s diplomatic community and officials from international organizations and international environmental groups.
Among the speakers were the Director General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary General Michel Jarraud and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang.
The decision of the Greek presidency to choose as its main theme climate change, which constitutes one of the major international challenges of our era, was warmly welcomed.
Greece's permanent UN Mission joint press briefing with IOM for Geneva conference on climate change
Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva gave a joint press conference with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) to promote a one-day conference on Feb. 19 focusing on global climate change and its impact to immigrants.
The conference will take place at the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) headquarters in Geneva.
On this occasion, Greece's Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Geneva, Amb. Franciscos Verros, outlined the priorities of the Human Security Network's Greek chairmanship, stressing that climate change, and the environment's downgrading, in general, are the most important challenges of our time.
Addressing the Impact on Human Security of Environment and Migration Issues
Ensuring human security in a world challenged by the three pressing issues of the day - climate change, environmental degradation and migration - will be the focus of an international conference in Geneva on 19 February.
Jointly organized by Greece under its chairmanship of the Human Security Network and IOM, the conference will examine both the impact of environmental degradation and climate change on human security and migration as well as the impact of migration on the environment and how interaction on these two phenomena can lead to potential conflict.
While there has been increasing international focus on climate change, environmental degradation and migration as separate subjects, the impact of both on human security and the potential for conflict, has not received the same level of attention from policy makers and researchers.
Although data on the number of existing environmental migrants - those "persons or groups of persons who, for compelling reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad" - and projections on future numbers are unclear with the latter varying enormously from an estimated 25 million to one billion by 2050, people across the world are having to leave their homes or countries because of rising sea levels, scarcity of water, inability to farm sustainably as well as vulnerability to an increasing number of weather phenomena that destroy lives and livelihoods.
Human displacement caused by natural disasters both sudden and slow on-set, in addition to political conflicts, also play a critical role in environmental degradation and tensions over decreasing resources especially water and land.
The conference, which will have keynote presentations by Theodoros Skylakakis, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation at the Greek Foreign Ministry, IOM Director General Brunson McKinley, the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Michel Jarraud and Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights will not only identify key issues surrounding climate, environmental degradation, migration and human security, but will also explore ways of mitigating the impact of migration on the environment as well as using migration strategies to help limit environmental damage and potential human crises.
Panellists include E. Angus Friday, Grenada's Ambassador to the UN in New York with Grenada chairing the Alliance of Small Island States, as well as prominent representatives of the academic and NGO community.
"Early planning and action on this complex and multi-dimensional issue can go a long way in lessening the impact of climate change, environmental degradation and migration on human security. We have an opportunity here of taking a step forward in addressing this issue," says Brunson McKinley.
"Greece, presiding now the Human Security Network felt that people's migration due to worsening climate and environment constitutes a challenge for human security. Geneva, where many of those who understand this serious and complex issue work and live, seems the right place to tackle this issue," says Greece's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Franciscos Verros.
The Human Security Network is a group of 13 countries from various regions of the world which maintains dialogue at Foreign Ministers level on questions pertaining to human security and as an informal, flexible mechanism, identifies concrete areas for collective action.
The conference, which is being held at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in Geneva, is open to the media.
Greek - UN aid to African countries
Ambassador Franciscos Verros, the Greek Permanent Representative to the UN, met on Friday with the Secretary General of UNCTAD (UN Conference for Trade and Development).
After the meeting M. Verros announced Greece’s decision for a financial contribution to the efforts in support, through trade, of the developing countries for the year 2008.
More precisely, Ambassador Verros said that Greece would finance a Central African Workshop for co-operation in port’s management and would contribute to the financing of the UNCTAD Ministerial Conference to be held in Accra, Ghana next April.
Greece donates 200,000 euros to IMO for Lebanon
In the context of its broader effort to support the people and restoration of the state of Lebanon, the Permanent Representation of Greece in Geneva has granted the sum of 200,000 euros to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which offers psychological and social support to the Lebanese and to the other population of the country which has suffered from the clashes of July 2006 in southern Lebanon.
Greece also responded immediately to the appeal by the UNRWA during the start of the crisis in the refugee settlement Nahr el Bared in June 2007, donating the sum of 500,000 euros in aid of the Palestinian refugees which live in the settlement.
Organisation of the 3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development in Greece
The Permanent Mission of Greece announced that the “3rd Global Forum on Migration and Development” will take place in Greece in 2009. During the last meeting of the «Friends of the Forum» (Geneva, 17/12/07), the Deputy Permanent Representative, Mr. Michael Diamessis, made public Greece’s offer to assume the Presidency of the Forum, after the Philippines and to organize the 3rd Global Forum in Athens.
The offer was very favourably accepted by the participants of the meeting.
Greece’s two-way experience, as a migrants’ origin country till mid 70’s, and as a host country during the last 15 years, can bring an added value to this state-lead dialogue on the role of migration to development, to poverty reduction and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Global Forum on Migration and Development was instituted by U.N. resolution in 2006. Eight hundred (800) participants from 156 countries attended the 1st Global Forum Organised in Brussels in July. The Philippines, the current Presidency, will organise the 2nd GFMD in Manila in October 2008.
Greece’s ambassador to the UN at Geneva on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Greece’s adherence to the protection of human rights and its firm viewpoint that they should be respected by everybody and under all circumstances was stressed by Greece’s Permanent Representative at the UN Headquarters in Geneva ambassador Franciscos Verros, addressing a UN Human Rights Council special session on the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ambassador Verros underlined that the Universal Declaration constitutes a milestone in the history of Human Rights establishing a balance between the civil-political and economic rights. The declaration was not simply a reflection of the then need for equilibrium between East and West. It established a balance between two distinct philosophical and historical approaches, the Greco-Roman that defends freedom and ownership rights and the Christian and Eastern approach that has as a priority the solidarity among people and states and helping the weak, the Greek ambassador concluded.
Greek intervention at International Red Cross conference
Greece's Permanent Representative at International Organisations, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, addressing the 30th International Red Cross and Red Crescent conference on Wednesday, that is currently taking place here, said that Greece embraces the principles of humanitarian law absolutely and is working systematically for its respect by countries and for its dissemination.
Verros recalled considerable international action by Greece, such as the timely providing of humanitarian aid to Lebanon and stressed that Greece, which is exercising the Presidency of the Human Security Network this year, is organising a series of high-level meetings in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Athens to promote the sensitisation of international public opinion on the state of human rights in the more sensitive groups of the population, such as children and women.
Conventional Disarmament Conference ends in Geneva
The seven-day Conventional Disarmament Conference, chaired by Greece's Permanent Representative at International Organizations Franciscos Verros, came to an end in Geneva on Wednesday.
The Conference's final text includes the adoption of a compliance control system for 110 member-states with the terms of the Conventional Disarmament Treaty and anticipates the convening of an international conference on tackling the repercussions of the use of ammunition derivatives.
Speaking at the end of the session, the Greek Permanent Representative hailed the favorable conclusion of sessions and stressed the humanitarian dimension of controlling the use of ammunition derivatives, that caused great destruction and losses of non-combatants in Lebanon recently.
Conference on Philhellenism held in Geneva
A conference on the issue of "Considerations on Philhellenism" was held with great success in Geneva with the aim of promoting the development of the spirit of philhellenism in Europe and its decisive role in promoting and supporting Hellenism.
The Permanent Greek Mission at the UN, the Greek Consulate General in Geneva and the Society of Swiss Philhellenes "Jean-Gabriel Eynard" organized this cultural event as a joint effort.
The main speakers at the event were Paul Schubert, a language and Greek literature professor at the Geneva University, Michelle Bouvier-Bron, a historian, Stella Ghervas, a historian, as well as George Prevelakis, a professor of geopolitics at the Sorbonne University.
Greece's Consul General in Geneva, Teresa Angelatou said that philhellenism is a European movement and has been characterized by political, cultural and humanitarian ideas. It was a cultural movement that developed in the framework of the Greek Revolution and developed into a political one, a struggle for liberation from the Ottoman Empire.
The Permanent Representative of Greece, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, summing up the conclusions reached during the conference, focused on the importance of the movement that amazed Europe in the early 19th century and constituted an element of unity for people of an extremely different political ideology and social origin.
He also pointed out that the philhellenism movement of that period supported the revival of Greece in many ways, despite the unfavorable political climate prevailing at the time, is an example of governments being persuaded by public opinion and, ultimately, of state interests bowing to the mandates of ethics and ideology.
Greek UN ambassador calls for end to human rights violations in Myanmar
Greece's permanent representative at the United Nations Organization, Ambassador Franciscos Verros, called for an immediate end to human rights violations in Myanmar during a special session of the Human Rights Council here on Tuesday.
Verros said that the explicit condemnation of the infringement of democratic freedoms and the rights of the people of this country constitutes an obligation for all.
He also called for the immediate starting of a dialogue between the country's military regime and the leadership of the opposition with the aim of restoring democracy in the country as soon as possible.
Presentation of the programme of the Greek Presidency of the Human Security Network (HSN) in Geneva
The Greek Permanent Representative in Geneva presented the priorities of the Hellenic HSN Presidency to the Ambassadors of countries members of the Human Security Network, on June 19,2007.
Ambassador Verros, speaking at a working lunch organized by the actual Presidency, Slovenia, underlined that the main theme of the Greek presidency will be: “the effects of climate changes on vulnerable groups of the population”.
The protection of these groups - including women, children and refugees - against deterioration of the environment is a major challenge of today.
The Permanent Representative of Greece announced that the Network’s yearly presidency intends to organize High Level meetings in Greece, New York and Geneva. The ministerial forum, its top event, will take place in Greece in spring 2008.
The Human Security Network is a group of like-minded countries of all regions of the world which maintains a dialogue at a foreign ministries level on questions related to human security.
The Network includes Austria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Switzerland, Slovenia, Thailand and South Africa (as an observer). Formally launched in a ministerial meeting in 1999, the Network aims at the adoption of policies for the prevention or ending of conflicts and at the promotion of peace and development.