NEWS

Hope for Mediterranean

An agreement reached in Barcelona yesterday between European Union member states and Mediterranean-rim countries on key issues such as immigration and terrorism was hailed as being of «special significance» for Greece by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The 25 EU countries, including Greece, agreed to a code of conduct on fighting terrorism and vowed to reduce illegal immigration with 10 Mediterranean states, including Turkey, Egypt and Israel. Deals on education, cultural exchanges and sustainable development were also struck. «This initiative has special significance for our country, since Greece is a Mediterranean country which is directly affected by these developments,» said Karamanlis after the EuroMed summit. «We are particularly interested in peace, stability and the fight against terrorism in the area but also in the opportunities that will be created by development and prosperity.» Although an agreement on combating terrorism was reached, the two-day summit was marked by differences among the participants. The EU’s insistence that self-determination could not justify terrorism was omitted from the deal. So was the demand from Arab states for a distinction between terrorism and the right to resist foreign occupation. The 35 countries did agree, though, that they were «united» in the struggle against terrorism and would exchange intelligence while looking to cut off funding to terrorists. They also vowed to tackle the causes of terrorism. Immigration was the other main subject discussed, with the participants agreeing upon a five-year plan which includes closer political cooperation and social and educational exchanges. «We agreed that it is essential that there be a common and serious effort to confront the problem of illegal immigration,» said Karamanlis. Tens of thousands of migrants arrive in Greece illegally every year. The 35 countries agreed to significantly reduce the levels of illegal immigration and human trafficking while providing opportunities for migrants to enter member states legally to find jobs.