Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking during a debate in Vienna on "The fight for the euro and the future of the European Union", referred to the great structural reforms that the Greek government has promoted and "which, with many sacrifices by the Greek people, have already produced initial positive results meeting with great international recognition."

The Greek foreign minister's interlocutors, in the presence of many representatives of Austria's public life and a large congregation, were European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding, Austrian vice-Chancellor and finance minister Josef Proll and well-known Professor Dennis J. Snower, president of the Institute for the Global Economy in Kiel and a professor of theoretical economics at Kiel University, while Slovakia's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova was absent due to illness.

Droutsas stressed that the government will implement its programme with the structural changes "which are necessary despite the crisis, to enable the country to be competitive, while the mistakes of the past must be remedied and this is linked to sacrifices by the citizens who are doing their best but are saddened by unfair criticism by the media abroad."

He reassured that the loan Greece is receiving will be returned "up to the very last Euro" as he said characteristically, adding that the crisis constitutes an opportunity for change, for the building of a different Greece.

Referring to the issue of the event, the foreign minister stressed that the Euro can, must and will continue to live and it is important that the Eurozone's political will exists for its support and strengthening. "The Euro constitutes enrichment of the policy for Europe", he added.

As Droutsas said, the EU's relevant message so far to the international monetary markets was not convincing enough, for this reason it is necessary for a clear message to be sent to them as soon as possible that there has been a serious and adequate discussion so that the Permanent Support Apparatus can be decided at the European Council on March 24 and 25.

As regards competitiveness, he stressed the need for investments in knowledge and quality, he backed the coordination of economic institutions and a gradual transition to Economic Governance, as being a great opportunity for Europe and its citizens and he rejected as being incorrect isolated actions and as counterproductive sanction policies, such as the denial of a vote for countries, as this had been proposed by the German side months ago.

Droutsas's interlocutors, who hailed the great efforts by Greece and its citizens to tackling the crisis, supported in their addresses the need for supporting and strengthening the Euro, as well as the Support Apparatus.

The Greek Foreign minister left Vienna for Brussels in the afternoon.

UN spokesman on meeting between FM Droutsas, UN SG

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, referring to Friday's meeting between Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas with the Secretary General at the international organisation's headquarters, said "they discussed the continuing negotiations in Cyprus and exchanged views on the continuing negotiations under the auspices of the UN, between Athens and Skopje (FYROM), on solving the issue of the name."

Droutsas, apart from the meeting with the UN Secretary General that had been attended by officials from "both sides", also held a 15-minute private meeting with the UN's chief without the presence of any of their associates.

FM Droutsas gives interview to CNN

Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, speaking in an interview with CNN International, referred to Greece's desire to contribute constructively to the process of the Arab World's democratisa-tion and outlined the idea of the creation in Greece of a "Democracy Centre" that could provide training and know-how to young politicians emerging in the Arab countries.

The idea, that had been presented in the past by Prime Minister George Papandreou, will be discussed by the Foreign minister on Sunday night with his counterparts from the European Union in the frameweork of the Council being convened in Brussels by the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton on developments in the wider region of the Middle East. Droutsas told the international television network "all our partners are welcome to cooperate in this effort."

The Foreign minister will have the opportunity during Sunday's dinner to brief his counterparts on the results of the recent, on February 16 and 17, contacts held in Egypt by the Foreign ministry's secretary general ambassador I.-A. Zepos.

The situation in the Middle East will also be preoccupying on February 21 the EU's Foreign ministers in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council in which Droutsas and Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou will be participating.

The General Affairs Council's agenda includes the preparation for the European Council on March 24 and 25 and the discussion on the Future of Cohesion Policy.