Greece joins Serbs, Turks for projects

Greek officials yesterday discussed major infrastructure projects with other Balkan countries. Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks in Belgrade while Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis discussed joint energy and transport projects in Turkey. Greek, Turkish and Italian officials are to meet soon with representatives of the European Investment Bank for talks on a broad range of issues. Christodoulakis also indicated interest in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) becoming involved in the Turkish market. Simitis discussed Greek financial backing for the construction of the E10 motorway with his Yugoslav hosts, although he also emphasized Yugoslavia’s important role in regional security and stability issues in all his meetings. Belgrade is counting on substantial help from Greece in completing this major road axis linking Belgrade with Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the Greek port of Thessaloniki in the south. The road is also to reach north toward Scandinavia. According to rumors on the sidelines of the talks, Belgrade might be entertaining hopes that Greece will assume the entire project to facilitate access from Central Europe to the 2004 Olympic Games. Simitis gave assurances of Greece’s assistance with a considerable portion of the 230 million euros provided for Yugoslavia in Greece’s Balkan Reconstruction Plan, but made it clear that it could not assume the entire financial burden of the road. The crucial section of the highway under discussion is the 116 kilometers from Lescovac to the FYROM border, now little more than a country road. Additional funds will have to be secured from international organizations. Simitis met with Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, whom he urged to abide by the recently signed agreement redefining Montenegro’s relations with Serbia. Djukanovic declared his optimism over prospects for the new state entity of «Serbia-Montenegro.» Simitis also met with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian Patriarch Pavle.