NEWS

Balkan FMs stress need for cooperation

The foreign ministers of Balkan countries met in Sofia yesterday for talks on the international situation following the terrorist attacks of September 11, NATO enlargement and other issues. Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said it was an important meeting in light of the war against terrorism and he called for a solution to regional problems. Papandreou said that his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, will visit Athens on November 8, as part of the regular meetings that the two men have been holding. Yesterday Papandreou also held talks with his counterparts Solomon Pasi of Bulgaria, Ilenka Mitreva of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Arta Dante of Albania. All of them stressed the need for cooperation in the Balkans. On a bilateral level with Mrs. Mitreva, of course, we spoke of the processes in her country in the light of the need to stabilize the situation. We exchanged opinions on bilateral relations as well. The name issue remains outstanding. The Greek troops taking part in NATO’s now-completed operation to collect weapons from the ethnic Albanian rebels in FYROM began returning home to Kilkis yesterday. The pullout is expected to be completed by tomorrow, Sunday. The foreign ministers of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey agreed to meet again soon, with the next meeting in Turkey followed by one in Greece, Papandreou said. We created an organizing committee which will examine a number of issues: Trade and economic cooperation, cross-border cooperation, environmental protection and also the fight against organized crime, he said.