30 September, 2003
Brussels, 30/09/2003 (ANA)
The European Union's 15 foreign ministers convened here on Monday and expressed concern over the tense situation prevailing in the Balkans, primarily in Kosovo, as well as over the state of the Middle East.
The ministers also warned Iran of stricter inspections and the need for closer cooperation with the international community regarding its nuclear program.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, referring to the initiative on rapprochement between the countries of the western Balkans during the Thessaloniki summit last June, stressed the need for promoting dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade which has entered its initial stages with an agreement in principle on the agenda of talks.
The ministers also called on Iran to countersign the Treaty's additional protocol on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with the International Atomic Energy Service headed by Mohammed El-Baradei, while warning Tehran that an evaluation of steps it has taken in this direction will take place in October with repercussions on the country's economic and trade transactions.
The Greek foreign minister said the EU's foreign ministers want Iran to commit itself on stricter inspections on its installations on atomic energy management and to abstain from activities capable of being used in producing materials for the making of nuclear weapons, stressing that such an attitude would strengthen prospects for political and economic dialogue, as well as cooperation.
Papandreou also focused on common initiatives and articles against weapons of mass destruction which he had promoted with recently assassinated Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh so as, as he said, ''to prevent the dilemma of war or peace in the way it was set in Iraq.''
The foreign ministers further examined the situation in the Middle East, terming as ''mistaken'', as Papandreou said, the logic of not discussing with Yasser Arafat and even more so of his being held hostage.
''The EU is awaiting the new Palestinian government and it will encourage it to go ahead with the implementation of the road map for the peaceful settlement of the crisis,'' he said.
On the question of Iraq, the ''15'' called on the EU's foreign policy representative Javier Solana to make proposals on a strengthened role for Europe in the country's reconstruction which will be discussed at the conference of donors in Madrid on October 23-24.
The Council, also attended by Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, preoccupied itself with preparations for the upcoming summit (October 16-17 in Brussels) where emphasis will be placed on developments in the European economy and on the EU's policy on asylum and immigration, as well as on the Intergovernmental Conference on the processing of the European constitution, due to begin its work on Saturday.
Source: Athens News Agency