21 December, 2005
Greece supports Serbia's European Union aspirations both politically and economically, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianides said on Tuesday in an interview with Belgrade daily Politika.
Stylianides said that Serbia is Greece's strategic ally in the Balkans.
He explained that since the administration of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis took office, it reviewed its foreign policy and placed emphasis on economic diplomacy and international cooperation and aid as key components of its strategy.
Referring to economics and trade, Stylianides underscored the fact that 3,500 Greek businesses are active in the Balkans, creating 200,000 jobs and investing more than €8 billion in the region.
The deputy minister accused the previous PASOK government of Costas Simitis for a three-year delay in implementing the Hellenic Plan for the Economic
Reconstruction of the Balkans (HIPERB) and said that Karamanlis, upon taking office in 2004, decided to implement it considering it of great importance to Greece.
Looking ahead, Stylianides said that in 2006 the priority will be the construction of Axis 10 and announced that Greece, after securing funds from the European Investment Bank, will be co-funding the project by 50%. The remaining 50% will be funded by HIPERB.
Asked to comment on the Kosovo issue, the deputy minister reiterated Greece's position that all involved parties must participate in the negotiation process and stressed that the final solution must be acceptable to all and founded on European principles and respectful of minority rights and the region's cultural wealth.
Regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and its EU candidacy, Stylianidis said that the only pending issue is the name dispute, stressing that the basic principle during talks between the EU and Skopje should be the avoidance of confusing the geographic term "Macedonia" with the historical and cultural sense of the word "Macedonia."
Source: Athens News Agency