20 April, 2007
The 16th ministerial congress of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Pact (BSEC) ended on Thursday with the signing of two memorandums, one of which opens the way for the implementation of the Detour Motorway round the Black Sea, which was proposed and supported by Greece. Greece was represented at the conference by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
The signing of the memorandums, the other one of which concerns the linking of the Black Sea ports with the ports in the Aegean, "constitute specific steps in linking our region with the European continent," Bakoyannis said in her address, adding that Greece has a very important role to play for rapprochement between the BSEC and the European Union. "Our goal is for the BSEC to be treated by the EU as its main interlocutor in the region and, in parallel, the Europeanisation of the Black Sea countries to forge ahead."
"We hope that at the summit in Istanbul on June 25, at which our country will be represented by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the foreign minister, that the new institutional framework for a closer cooperation with the EU will be raised," Bakoyannis said.
Thursday's final ministerial conference of the Serb BSEC presidency, which Turkey will take over, was admittedly the conference with the highest representation in the 15-year history of the BSEC, on the sidelines of which intense diplomatic activity took placxe focusing on Kosovo.
The Greek foreign minister held a series of bilateral contacts with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Serb President Boris Tadic, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and the foreign ministers of Azerbaidjan, Armenia and Romania.
In the discussion that Bakoyannis had with Lavrov on Kosovo, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsa-kos, she conveyed the position of the Greek government that Greece supports the taking of a decision by the Security Council as a first step, as well as a unified European position on the issue.
As regards the time of taking the decision on the final status quo, the foreign minister, according to the spokesman, expressed support for adequate time that will be really necessary, and not an extended one as a pretext, to assist the acceptance of a solution by the sides involved.
Speaking during the press conference given by the troika at the end of the session, Lavrov said of the issue that Russia will never support a solution that will not be acceptable to all the sides involved.
The Greek foreign minister also discussed with Lavrov, who represents one of the countries of the quartet, the situation in the Middle East which, as she said, is a "boiling pot" and placed emphasis on efforts to solve the Palestinian issue, which is the nucleus of problems in the wider region.
Lastly, Bakoyannis gave her Russian counterpart a short briefing on Turkish activity in the Aegean in the recent past.
"The Greek proposals that had been adopted by the Komotini Treaty during the Greek presidency are being scheduled with the Serb presidency now. The Detour Motorway that Greece had proposed to be named "The Path of the Argonauts" will have a length of about 7,500 kilometres while, apart from self financing and development aid that will be given for some parts of the axis, international fiscal organisations have also shown interest," Stylianidis said on his part.
"The scheduling of these proposals vindicates Greece which not only played a leading role in the development of relations between the BSEC and the EU, but which is also playing a leading role in practical proposals that will open the Black Sea market, that will be the second important opening for our country after the one we made in the Balkans," the deputy foreign minister added.
Source: Athens News Agency