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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-09-11

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Serbian FM in Athens

  • [01] Serbian FM in Athens

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis met Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic in Athens on Thursday for talks ahead of the upcoming UN General Assembly.

    Expectedly, talks focused on the major challenges facing the Balkan region, such as the status of Kosovo and Serbia's Euro-Atlantic course, while Bakoyannis also used the opportunity to repeat Greece's standing positions regarding the pesky "name dispute" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in view of a meeting taking place in New York City hours later.

    "The Greek side expresses neither optimism nor pessimism. We are coming to the talks with the standing Greek positions, which are the positions of all Greek parties in the country, and we are awaiting the reaction of the Skopje side," she stressed, in citing the scheduled meeting with negotiators of the two sides, called by UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz.

    She also expressed hope that FYROM's position will differ from the recent statements and posturing by the country's prime minister.

    Outlining Greece's positions with respect to Serbia, meanwhile, Bakoyannis said Athens was "proceeding with exceedingly cautious steps and would continue in this way."

    On Kosovo, in particular, she emphasised the need to improve the quality of daily life in the region, especially for minorities, and regardless of the governing regime. Eulex was an important factor in this direction, she added.

    "We believe that its presence will contribute to peace and security and that it must not be dependent on the regime in Kosovo," Bakoyannis underlined, adding that Greece's presence in Eulex did not imply recognition for any regime.

    Regarding Serbia's relations with the European Union, the minister said Greece was playing a key role in speeding up the strengthening of EU-Serbia ties, while she expressed satisfaction with the cooperation between Belgrade and the International War Tribunal, noting that the latest developments opened the way for greater rapprochement with the EU.

    "The next step will be for Serbia to apply for accession to the EU," she noted, adding that Belgrade would have Greece's full support for this step.

    During joint statements made by the two ministers, Jeremic said Belgrade intended to seek the arbitration of the International Court of Justice at The Hague regarding the legality of a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo, and that this would be at the centre of Serbia's diplomatic strategy regarding Kosovo.

    "We believe in peace. In the wake of the unilateral declaration of February we acted responsibly, without violence and counter-measures. But we want to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country at the United Nations and the International Court at The Hague," he stressed.

    Jeremic noted that joining the EU was a "strategic priority" for Serbia and thanked Athens for its support.

    Bakoyannis also referred to the very good bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia, especially in the area of developmental cooperation.

    She said Greece had so far disbursed 235 million euros from an overall budget of 550 million euros under the Greek Plan for the Reconstruction of the Balkans, with priority given to completing European (roadway) Corridor X linking Thessaloniki with Belgrade and central Europe.

    Caption: Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, foreground, speaks at a joint press conference in Athens on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008, with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis. ANA-MPA / ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU.

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