May 5, 2009

Greek & Finnish presidents discuss Elgin Marbles

Posted at 12:27 pm in Elgin Marbles

Greece’s President is visiting Finland & met his counterpart over there. When questioned, he stated that he supports the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

Athens News Agency

Papoulias meets Finnish President

Helsinki (ANA-MPA / N. Megadoukas) — Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday had a cordial meeting with his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen here, within the framework of his four-day state visit to Finland.

Presidents Papoulias and Halonen, old acquaintances and friends since their terms as foreign ministers, discussed the global economic crisis, bilateral, international and European issues and according to Papoulias they “shared the same positions”.

The Finnish President commented that the two peoples are close, referring to the large number of Greek and Finnish tourists visiting the two countries, and underlined that the “business communities in Greece and Finland should do more for bilateral relations.”

Both Papoulias and Halonen referred to issues concerning the Baltic and the greater Mediterranean region, with Halonen stating that “both countries have very interesting neighbours,” stressing the need for a solution to the Cyprus issue.

She pointed out that it is “unacceptable for a European capital like Nicosia to be under the occupation of another country like Turkey that wishes to be part of the European family,” adding that “we should make every effort to find a solution to the specific problem.”

President Halonen added that Finland is in favor of a process within the framework of the UN “to see how the Cyprus issue will be solved”.

She backed Turkey’s accession into the European Union, adding that if Turkey works hard it can meet the necessary criteria for membership. “We know that some of the pending issues concern Cyprus but the country has a lot of work to do as regards its domestic issues, as well,” Halonen said, referring to Turkey.

Halonen expressed hope that she and President Papoulias will witness the solution of the Cyprus problem, pointing out that “this will not happen in one day and the solution will not come from the EU. It is in the hands of the UN. However, the EU can clearly do something and help toward reaching a solution.”

Responding to relevant questions, Halonen backed the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and the return to their countries of origin of all antiquities that are being kept in third countries. On his part, President Papoulias invited his Finnish counterpart to formally visit Greece and thanked both Finland and the Finnish Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles for their efforts. The Greek President will address a special event on Wednesday hosted by the committee.

The Greek President also visited the Helsinki Town Hall and was awarded the city’s Medal of Honour before laying a wreath at the Heroes Monument. Later in the evening, he will attend a formal dinner hosted in his honor by the Finnish President.

Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, who accompanied the President, will meet in the afternoon with the foreign trade and development minister while on Wednesday he will address a Greece-Finland Business Forum held in the Finnish capital in the presence of President Papoulias.

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