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29 June, 1999
Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met with visiting former Swedish premier Carl Bildt, the EU's former Bosnia mediator, for a review of the situation in the Balkans and Kosovo in particular.
Mr. Papandreou will be one of the foreign ministers meeting at the UN in New York tomorrow to discuss civilian operations in Kosovo.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expanded the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting on civilian operations in Kosovo to include China, Greece, Turkey, Finland and the Netherlands as well as three international organizations. A spokesman for Mr. Annan referred to the meeting as "a group of friends for Kosovo".
Mr. Papandreou told reporters after his meeting with Mr. Bildt that they had discussed ways in which the international community could achieve the targets it has set for southeast Europe through the Stability Pact.
He said that Greece, although it had been present in developments even before the Kosovo crisis, was now accepting the secretary-general's invitation to participate in the talks to be held in New York, as it wanted to play a leading role in the Balkans and the future of the Balkans.
He also relayed to Mr. Bildt Greece's interest in Thessaloniki being the headquarters for services, yet to be established, for the reconstruction of the Balkans.
Mr. Bildt said his talks with the Greek foreign minister were aimed at preparing the ground for tomorrow's talks and the participation of countries "which can play a significant role and make an important contribution to the efforts for stability in Kosovo and the wider Balkans region".
He stressed that Greece was one of those countries and could play a "particularly constructive role in the efforts under way to improve the situation in Kosovo and the wider region."
Meeting with Karamanlis:
Mr. Bildt also met with main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis. "The cease-fire in Kosovo is not sufficient in itself," Mr. Karamanlis said after the meeting. "The big challenge is the stabilization and restructuring of the region".
Mr. Karamanlis warned that Greece and its northern capital Thessaloniki were being sidelined as the seat and springboard for Balkan reconstruction.
He said a more active and efficient foreign policy was necessary in order for Greece to play a leading role in the Balkans.
Source: Athens News Agency