07 February, 2007
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis visited four minority villages in the mountain region of Xanthi as part of her ongoing tour of Thrace, in northern Greece.
Bakoyannis, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Evri-pidis Stylianidis, Deputy Agricultural Development Mini-ster Alexandros Kontos, ruling New Democracy party Deputy Filippos Tsalidis, regional governor Mihalis Angelopoulos and other officials, went to Smynthi, Glafki, Pachni and Ehinos, where she held meetings with mayors and community presi-dents and visited schools and talked to minority women in their homes.
During her visit to the school complex in Glafki, where five hundred elementary, junior and senior high school pupils are housed from 20 settlements in the mountain region of Xanthi, the principal outlined the adverse conditions under which pupils come to school and attend lessons.
In discussions she had in villages, the minister stressed that "the children of the minority must have the education they deserve" and reassured that the government is determined to provide decisive help in this effort.
Bakoyannis visited moslem women in their homes in Pachni and Ehinos for talks on problems facing their local societies. Speaking on this issue at a gathering in Ehinos, the minister said that "the women of the minority must join the production process and the development effort that is underway in Thrace."
Earlier, addressing the community president during a luncheon in Pachni, she said that "the policy of equality before the law started by the New Democracy government in 1991 in Thrace and continued by the PASOK governments, will be completed and will also provide answers to the last weaknesses of the minority."
Bakoyannis visited the prefectural office and the town hall in the afternoon and in the evening she spoke to social partner representatives at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Xanthi.
Analysing government policy in the region, she said that it delineates the future of Thrace and determines its development prospects.
"It is a policy that creates the preconditions, lays the foundations and provides opportunities for the evolution of Thrace from a border region of Greece to a development centre of southeastern Europe," she said.
Bakoyannis also held meetings with the Metropolitan and mufti of Xanthi later in the evening.
Her tour of the region will be concluded on Wednesday with visits to villages located in the prefecture's plains.
Source: Athens News Agency