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17 February, 1997
Two high-ranking government ministers and PASOK's party secretary on Saturday called for the European Union's "active support" of countries in the Balkans and creation of conditions of security for the entire region.
National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and ruling PASOK party secretary Costas Skandalidis called for the EU initiative while addressing a two-day Athens meeting of the European socialist parties which comprise the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos spoke of a "security vacuum" in the Balkans caused by the collapse of communism and the EU's inability to put together a common foreign policy.
"A new Marshall Plan is needed which would support democratization," he said, adding that EU nations themselves should find a different model of development for the 15-member union.
"An institutional adaptation is needed so that the peoples of Europe realize that Europe offers a new framework to their benefit," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.
He also urged the promotion of "democratic socialist solutions" in the countries of central and eastern Europe, describing as "inadequate" the up till now programs providing for cooperation between these countries and the more advanced states of the European Union.
Mr. Papandreou appealed for immediate financial assistance to Albania and Bulgaria, "which are in the throes of a deep economic crisis" and the charting of a long-term EU policy for the Balkans.
This policy, he added, should aim at ensuring respect for borders and minorities, economic and technical assistance, regional cooperation and the protection of human rights. On his part, Mr. Skandalidis said "Europe needs a strong Greece. We shall re main dedicated to the international rules of peaceful cooperation for a Europe stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic."
He also called for "a social Europe of equal nations and sovereign peoples" to stand up against "the omnipotence of bank and stock exchange capital".
Such a Europe, Mr. Skandalidis added, should combine financial integration with a common foreign policy, decentralization and the safeguarding of each country's sovereign rights.
Source: Athens News Agency