25 October, 2005
Greek diplomats had immediately swung into action to persuade Greece's neighbors to lift unilateral bans on imports of Greek poultry, after last week's bird flu scare was shown to be almost certainly a false alarm, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianides announced on Monday.
He said the foreign ministry had responded immediately after receiving a letter from Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Alexandros Kontos that asked the Greek diplomatic service to emphasize to the governments of Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria that no instances of bird flu have been detected in Greece, days after a single and much-publicized suspected case tested negative for the dangerous H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus.
Stylianides said that the network of Greek Economic and Trade Affairs Bureaus throughout the world had been instructed to "aggressively" highlight that Greek poultry products were of certified health and quality, at a time when this was a major comparative advantage in international markets.
The Greek bird flu scare erupted last week after a single bird was found to have symptoms compatible with the early stages of avian flu. Preliminary tests carried out on a sample sent to the EU veterinary laboratories in Weybridge, Surrey, however, were negative for the bird flu virus. The EU is awaiting the results of a virological test due in the next few days to confirm the earlier negative result and lift a temporary ban on movements of poultry within the island prefecture of Chios.
Source: Athens News Agency