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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-01-04

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek PM meets Serb president

  • [01] Greek PM meets Serb president

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking after his meeting with Serb President Boris Tadic in Belgrade on Monday, said that he had excellent talks with him, bilateral relations were excellent and expressed the wish that they will be deepened even further.

    The prime minister said that talks focused on the problems of Kosovo, Bosnia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as those of Greek-Turkish relations and of Cyprus, adding that Greece and Serbia have common aims on these issues.

    Papandreou noted that his presence in Belgrade is also a signal for the starting of an effort to enable the western Balkans to join the European Union in 2014.

    "Greece is in the front line of the initiative that constitutes a basic aim for peace, cooperation and stability in the region," Papandreou said.

    On his part, the Serb president termed Papandreou "one of the most important politicians" that he has met and said that "we talked about our bilateral relations, the economic state of our two countries that are being struck by the economic crisis" and expressed hope that solutions will be found.

    He added that they also discussed the problems of the region, such as that of Kosovo and thanked Papandreou and the Greek government "for support for the effort of Serbia to defend the territorial integrity of the region with diplomatic means."

    Tadic further said that Serbia's European course was discussed, stressed that his country will continue reforms and expressed hope that Serbia's cooperation with The Hague will be completed soon so that his country's effort for accession to the EU, as suggested by the '2014 agenda', that the Serb president termed important, can be continued.

    Speaking later to Greek reporters at the end of his talks in Belgrade, Papandreou said that the invitation to address the 3rd Congress of Serbia's Diplomatic Corps was "extremely honourable".

    The prime minister underlined the starting of the Greek initiative for the accession of the western Balkans to the European Union in 2014, saying that "we shall provide an impetus for this intiative of ours, this brings our country to the front line and, in any case, a momentum is always created by setting targets."

    Papandreou added that even if no decision is taken on the 2014 agenda, in every case a date will be provided for the accession of these countries.

    Referring to his talks in the country, Papandreou said that he discussed with the Serb leadership economic relations between the two countries and tourist development issues, stressing that as the Serb side informed him a poll held after the abolition of the visa for EU countries, 65 percent of Serbs said that they prefer Greece as their first option for travel.

    Papandreou added that also discussed were the issues of Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the question of Cyprus and issues concerning the wider region.

    On the question of the name of FYROM, the prime minister said that it is very crucial particularly for the states that comprised the former united Yugoslavia to know the Greek positions very well, "because they know each other very well and they can also take initiatives". He added that in any case, the message for FYROM "is that we are here to help".

    Asked, lastly, whether pressures are being exerted for a solution to the issue of Cyprus and if the solution is close or far, Papandreou said that he did not wish to make predictions on such a composite issue, adding that "we are requesting from the international community and the EU to contribute with diplomatic pressures towards Turkey" and pointed out that a solution to the problem is very important for our relation with Turkey and for the neighbouring country's European course.

    CAPTION: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (L), shaking hands with Serb President Boris Tadic (R) in Belgrade on Monday. (Photo EPA/ANA-MPA)

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