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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-09

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] FM calls for EU role in Kosovo

  • [01] FM calls for EU role in Kosovo

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis joined her Balkan counterparts in supporting greater involvement by the European Union in Kosovo, during a round-table discussion in Athens on Wednesday within the framework of an Economist conference. The Greek minister stressed that Kosovo was a great challenge for both the region and for Europe itself and stressed Athens' disagreement with unilateral recognition of Pristina's declaration of independence.

    "Greece has never liked unilateral declarations. It prefers and has chosen to support the legally established European presence in Kosovo and not that of a 'coalition of the willing', as some others may have thought," she underlined.

    Arguing that it was Europe that could and should guarantee a democratic, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Kosovo, the Greek minister voiced support for sending a European Security and Defence Policy mission for the rule of law area, within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 1244.

    The others participating in the round-table discussion included Bakoyannis' Bulgarian counterpart Ivaylo Kalfin, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, Albania's Lulzim Basha and Romania's Adrian Cioroianu, as well as the premier of the Republika Srpska entity within Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik.

    They also agreed on the need for greater EU involvement in Kosovo, though Jeremic stressed that any EU force deployed there should first be legalised by a decision of the UN Security Council.

    On the issue of Kosovo, Serbia's Jeremic stressed that Belgrade was not prepared to give up its sovereign rights and territorial integrity in exchange for rapprochement with the EU and said that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence set a "dangerous precedent".

    Opposition to Pristina's move was expressed by most of the other officials present, with the exception of Albania's Basha, who emphasised that Kosovo's independence was a "historic event" that would promote stability and could not be reversed.

    Furthermore, Bakoyannis voiced support for the signature of a Stability and Association Agreement between the EU and Serbia, expressing her conviction that "our friends the Serbs will confirm the desire for a European future of democracy and development at the upcoming elections". The Greek minister underlined that Athens had consistently supported the European prospects of its neighbours since the beginning of the 1990s, most recently with the "Five-point proposal" the previous November concerning the European prospects of the western Balkans.

    She stressed that at a time of great change, Greece had "invested in stability and extended a hand of friendship" and that it saw the economic development of its neighbours as a "valuable and necessary tool" for achieving political stability, which was being promoted through the investments of Greek business and developmental aid given by Greece through the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans.

    FYROM comments

    The Greek foreign minister also used the meeting as an opportunity to renew Athens' call to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to persevere with efforts to find a solution to the "name dispute" via the process underway at the United Nations.

    "The message that we are sending is clear. We want to continue immediately, with the same dedication, the same persistence, in negotiations within a UN framework, so that we arrive as soon as possible at a solution based on an essentially composite name with a geographic qualifier that will apply for all. We seek a solution that is comprehensive, viable, functional, a solution without winners and losers, a mutually-acceptable solution, that will allow us to build a future of friendship and cooperation with our neighbouring state, developing ties and alliance and close partnership," Bakoyannis underlined.

    Greece would be more than glad to welcome FYROM into the EuroAtlantic family once such a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue were found and this was also the position adopted by the NATO allies in Bucharest, she added.

    Support for the Greek position was voiced by Kalfin, who called on the two sides to resolve the problem in good faith and stressed that good neighbour relations were equally important as FYROM's future in the EU and NATO.

    Caption: Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (L) with Serbian FM Vuk Jeremic ( at an Economist conference in Athens on Wednesday, April 9, 2008. ANA-MPA / PANTELIS SAITAS.

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