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27 November, 2001
The Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Monday denied as "groundless" and "quaint" charges by the Italian deputy interior minister Alfredo Mantovano of a "deficient policy" in Greece with respect to fighting organized crime.
Commenting on charges by the Italian deputy minister of responsibilities on the part of Greece and Cyprus with regard to policy on combatting smuggling and organized crime, foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis described them as "quaint statements", adding that the Italian government and the Italian deputy minister should be "especially cautious" given there was an organized cooperation framework between Greece and Italy in that sector.
Beglitis said that the statement was made by "a politician who likes to refer frequently to this issue", and in response to press questions added that the visit by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to Italy was unrelated to this issue. The visit, he explained, was at working level and was outside the policy of the EU foreign ministries.
Cyprus' EU membership prospects will be discussed in Athens on Tuesday afternoon between foreign minister George Papandreou and visiting Austrian foreign minister Benita-Maria Ferrero-Waldner, who begins an official visit to Athens on Tuesday.
Ferrero-Waldner's talks with Papandreou will also include bilateral relations, developments in the Balkans and Afghanistan, EU enlargement, and EU-Turkey relations.
Source: Athens News Agency