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16 March, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking at a press conference here on Friday on the sidelines of the European Union's informal summit, referred to Greek-Turkish cooperation on the building of a pipeline to convey natural gas from Iran to Alexandroupolis via Turkey.
''There is no technocratic cooperation of such a range which does not have a political dimension,'' Simitis said and recalled the history of the development.
''From the time I had been industry minister we had examined the possibility of our country's alternative (from Russia) procurement of natural gas,'' he said, adding that the idea had then been processed by Vasso Papandreou and Nikos Christodoulakis, discussed again by himself during his meeting with Iranian President Khatami last Wednesday and because ''this project cannot be implemented without Turkey's cooperation'', a visit to Turkey on this issue by Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has already been scheduled.
Replying to a questioner, Simitis said he had a brief and ''formal'' discussion with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to whom he pointed out that developments concerning the Cyprus issue and the continental shelf should forge ahead.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou also had a brief meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem in Barcelona. The results of the first exploratory communication between the delegations of the two foreign ministries were examined during the discussion, as well as Greek-Turkish cooperation for the piping of natural gas to Greece, which Papandreou termed to be of ''strategic importance.''
Facilitating the initiative on jointly organizing the 2008 European Soccer Championship (an issue for which Greek Soccer Federation President Vassilis Gagatsis recently met his Turkish counterpart) was also examined by Papandreou and Cem, while the need for active support for talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash by the two governments was also noted.
Papandreou also announced that a quadripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania will be convened in Athens on March 29 to support the two candidate countries for NATO membership.
In response to a relevant question, he said Cem briefed him on the objections, regarding Turkey's European orientation, raised by officials in Ankara.
Source: Athens News Agency