Greek shock over Djindjic assassination

Greek officials and the EU presidency, which Greece holds, expressed shock at the «atrocious» and «barbaric» assassination of Serb Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic yesterday. Officials also feared that the murder could lead to renewed instability in the Balkans. «The presidency, deeply shocked by the assassination of the prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic, strongly condemns this atrocious act of violence, which is incompatible with a sound democratic system,» a Foreign Ministry statement said. The assassination, it said, «coincides with an important and crucial period for the future of the new State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, especially as far as its European perspective is concerned. The presidency calls on the political leadership in both republics to take all the necessary measures so that the democratic principles and stability in the country may prevail in these testing times.» Foreign Minister George Papandreou, speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, said, «This tragic incident today not only shocked us but it reminds us that we, the European Union, must remain devoted to the effort for stability, for peace and progress in this part of Europe.» In a statement issued in Athens, Papandreou said: «I feel truly shocked… and I condemn in the most absolute and categorical way this barbaric and hateful act. Zoran Djindjic played a decisive role in Serbia’s move toward democracy and contributed decisively to the normalization of political life,» he said. «He remained devoted to the further development of bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia and I had the opportunity several times to determine the friendly feelings he had for Greece and the Greek people,» he said. «His tragic death leaves a great political vacuum in our friend and neighbor Serbia.» Government spokesman Christos Protopappas added, «We hope Djindjic’s reform program will continue, to the benefit of the Serb Republic and the stability of the region and we express our condolences to his family and the Serb people.» Opposition leader Costas Karamanlis expressed his sorrow and condemnation of the act. (Editorial Page 2)

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