30 March 2007

Karamanlis: Greece backs mutually acceptable solution for Kosovo


BELGRADE (ANA-MPA - A. Panagopoulos) Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined Athens' backing for a mutually acceptable solution in Kosovo that would define and promote its multi-ethnic character, following talks with Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in Belgrade on Tuesday.

Karamanlis stressed that Greece, as a country within the region, was fully aware of the need for such a solution for the security and stability of southeastern Europe.

Kostunica said that a solution must be based on compromise and must be in agreement with international law, while respecting the borders and the integrity of the country.

He said that Serbia would not accept any solution that did not respect international law and the United Nations charter, nor any solution that was imposed and did not arise through compromise.

The Serb premier also stressed that compromise could only be achieved through negotiations and voiced complaints about the lack of movement in UN-led negotiations over the past six months, though noting that UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari was expected to present his proposals on January 26, shortly after general elections taking place in Serbia on Sunday.

Karamanlis and Kostunica also discussed the construction of new roadways to enhance infrastructure in the area.

Earlier on Tuesday, after being received by Serb President Boris Tadic, Karamanlis had stressed that the solution for Kosovo must respect human and minority rights, while providing protection to the Serb Orthodox Church in the province.

The Greek prime minister underlined that all sides must avoid unilateral actions that attempt to pre-empt the results of the process now underway.

Tadic stressed that Belgrade could not accept any form of independence for Kosovo and said that this would lead to destabilisation, noting that the Serb position could be summed up as "full autonomy, not independence". He also underlined that Serb policy for Kosovo would not be affected by the upcoming elections.

In response to questions on possible independence for Kosovo, Karamanlis said that Greece had not shifted its position on this issue and was awaiting the UN envoy's proposals.

In addition to Kosovo, Tadic and Karamanlis held talks on bilateral relations, noting that these were excellent and that Greece steadily supported Serbia's EuroAtlantic and European orientation. The Serb president noted that EU membership was among Belgrade's goals.

They also discussed economic cooperation and the plan for Serbia's reconstruction, to which Greece will contribute significant funds.

Karamanlis pointed out that supporting Serbia's EU and EuroAtlantic prospects was a strategic choice for Greece.

The Greek prime minister expressed hope that Serb general elections on Sunday would be carried out in a way that demonstrated the country's democratic maturity to the international community, adding that a democratic government with a European orientation would accelerate the rate of progress toward the EU after the polls. He noted that the climate toward Serbia within the EU was more positive than in the past.