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JOINT STATEMENT
BY THE HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT
OF COUNTRIES OF SOUTH EASTERN EUROPE

We, the Heads of State and Government of countries of South Eastern Europe President Kiro Gligorov, President Slobodan Mlilosevic. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ismail Cem, Mr. Blagoj Handziski, Mrs. Nadezhda Mihaylova, Mr. Paskal Milo, Mr. Milan Milutinovic, Mr. Theodoros Pangalos, Mr. Adrian Sevenir and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Mihovil Malbasic, participating as an Observer,

representing the freely elected governments of the South - Eastern Europe peoples met for the first time in our history in Crete and agreed on the following:

We shall work together to create in our region conditions for the prosperity of our nations in a framework of peace, security, good-neighbourliness and stability.

We are determined to pursue the South Eastern Europe cooperation, on a mutual and equal basis, in the firm belief that each of us has much to learn from the other.

We shall promote to State of Law, the protection, of human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, including interethnic dialogue, individual freedoms and a market economy that will allow the individual enterprises to flourish and generate employment and opportunities for all and especially for the youth.

We affirm our commitment to the UN Charter, the Paris Charter for a new Europe and the Helsinki Final Act including all ten principles referred therein, namely sovereign equality, respect for rights inherent in sovereignty, refraining from the threat of use of force, inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of States, peaceful settlement of disputes, non - intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of through, conscience, religion or belief, equal rights and self - determination of peoples, cooperation among States, fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law.

We consider that the European orientation of our countries is an integral part of their political, economic and social development.

We aspire to transform our region in an area of cooperation and economic prosperity and, to that effect, we decided to promote good neighbourly relations and respect for International Law.

We believe that Europe can not be complete without our countries and our peoples representing civilisations and historical traditions which are essential to the establishment of a contemporary European identity.

European and Euro-atlantic integration are essential in promoting the aforementioned objectives.

We shall encourage the cooperation of the genuine representatives of our peoples in our national Parliaments, as well as their common intention to create a forum of undesrtanding and friendly relations.

We reconfirmed our support for already existing regional initiatives sharing the same ideals with us such as Royaumont, SECI, BSEC, CEI.

We shall promote the scientific, educational, cultural and sport relations as a means for strengthening our mutual understanding and friendship.

We shall cooperate with each other in the field of justice, the combat against organized crime, the halting of illicit druj and arms trafficking and the elimination of all forms of terrorism and take joint action against illegal and irregular migration.

Our cultural and religious diversity cannot be seen as a threat to our cooperation and security. On the contrary we believe it is a powerful source of inspiration, creativity and dynamism.

We shall intensify our efforts for the increase of our economic cooperation, the improvement of infrastructure for transport, telecommunications and energy as well as for the establishment of favourable conditions for investments. We invite the competent Ministers to meet at least once a year to assess progress.

We shall promote the cross border cooperation and to that effect we invite officials to meet regularly and Ministers of Economy or Finance, or other Ministers responsible for it, to meet at least once a year to review the progress achieved.

We took into consideration different valuable proposals for the establishment of institutes and centres for the promotion of multilateral cooperation in various fields. .

We call upon Ministers of Foreign Affairs to meet at least once a year to conduct political consulations and to promote cooperation on issues of regional stability and security. Political Directors will meet every three months for consulations and report to Ministers.

In order to ensure continuity between the countries undertaking the organisation of Summit or Ministerial Meetings as well as of various technical groups, the idea of establishing a joint Secretariat will be discussed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

The Heads of State and Government of countries of South Eastern Europe expressed their warm thanks for the hospitality of Greece for hosting the Crete Summit Meeting. They decided to hold their next Summit Meeting in Turkey in 1998.

Heracleion, Crete, 4 November 1997

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