Neighbors praise new army focus

The defense ministers of Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia yesterday hailed Greece’s decision to redeploy its active army units away from the northern borders toward the Turkish frontier. In a joint meeting with Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in the northwestern town of Kastoria, Pandeli Majko of Albania and Vlado Buckovski of FYROM also agreed to boost trilateral cooperation against illegal immigration and organized crime. Majko also said Albania’s secret service and armed forces would be at Greece’s disposal for «any assistance» on matters concerning security for the 2004 Olympics. «My government appreciates last week’s decision… to trim military formations at our border,» he said. Buckovski said the decision was «an indication of the new, nascent spirit of friendship.» Papantoniou promised support in training Albania and FYROM’s military, and said the three countries were considering joint military exercises. He said he had no information on the German Der Spiegel magazine’s claim that Albanians were planning terrorist acts in Greece.