The European Union said on Saturday after a conference in Athens that it would back efforts by countries from southeastern Europe, including Greece, to develop effective plans to protect themselves from bird flu. Health ministers from 14 states, including Greece’s fellow EU member Cyprus, met in the southern suburb of Vouliagmeni on Saturday in an effort to develop a common system for alerting neighboring countries to an outbreak of bird flu and then monitoring the disease. Balkan and Black Sea countries are particularly at risk of being struck by the virus because they lie along the routes of migrating birds. The countries attending the conference, arranged after the bird flu scare on the eastern Aegean island of Oinouses last month, each presented its national plan for dealing with the virus. Officials accepted that there was still some ground to cover before all the countries had equally well-developed programs. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said that Brussels would back the states in their attempt to coordinate efforts.