24 April, 2007
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received his visiting Slovenian counterpart Janez Janša here for talks focusing, expectedly, on Greek-Slovenian relations, as Athens and Ljubljana used the occasion to sign another three bilateral agreements -- a continuation of already excellent relations between the two "euro zone" partners.
The agreements deal with cooperation within the framework of a multinational coordination centre for strategic maritime transports, cooperation between the two countries' oceano-graphy services and tourism cooperation.
In his round of contacts with Greek leaders, Janša also held talks with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
In terms of the bilateral pacts, Greek defence minister and the Slovenian foreign minister, Evangelos Meimarakis and Dimitrij Rupel, respectively, signed the first two agreements on behalf of the two governments, whereas the tourism deal was signed by Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Slovenia's Minister of Economic Affairs Andrej Vizjak.
Vizjak also met separately with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
In talks on all levels, both sides expressed volition to increase trade and economic ties.
Janša's official visit to Athens follows an invitation by Karamanlis, made during the latter's visit to Ljubljana last January for the ceremonies honoring Slovenia's much-coveted "euro zone" accession.
In brief statements, the Slovenian PM noted that his country assumes the EU's rotating presidency in the first half of 2008, while emphasising the need for greater trade and investments between the two countries. Along those lines, he said a "Slovenia Week" was underway this week in Athens, with two initial goals being to boost maritime transports via Piraeus and a direct Slovenia-Greece air link.
In response to press questions, Karamanlis was asked about Turkey's thorny European accession course, as he reiterated that the "door must remain open for all that want to join the European family."
He nevertheless repeated Athens' leitmotif of absolute adherence to conditions set out by the Union -- "full compliance (with the EU's conditions) means full accession", Karamanlis repeated, while adding: "when time allows."
He also again voiced his support for western Balkan states' European prospects.
On his part, Janša said his country favors an "open doors" policy, and in specifically referring to EU hopeful Turkey, he underlined that the EU has demonstrated its seriousness, although he observed that a latest "chill" in Ankara's accession course is due to its failure to meet pre-conditions
The Slovenian leader added that candidate-states themselves are responsible for meeting, or not meeting, their obligations vis-à-vis the Union.
Asked about the nagging Kosovo question, the Greek premier remarked that although major differences still separate the two sides -- even as negotiations have entered their final phase -- efforts to find a violable and functional solution should not end.
"Whatever solution must, at least, be acceptable by all," he said, adding that a deal will also require approval by the UN Security Council.
Janša said Kosovo remains an "open issue" that must be resolved as soon as possible via a solution acceptable by all sides, whereas the Ahtisaari proposals are "in the right direction".
Additionally, Karamanlis merely noted that Greece's positions over the "name issue" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) remain unchanged, as the target still remains a "mutually acceptable solution".
"We have taken the necessary steps, but we've only witnessed an intransigent stance by the other side; we're waiting for this (stance) to change," he said.
Source: Athens News Agency