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02 November, 1999
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met visiting Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and discussed a wide range of political and economic issues.
Earlier in the day, the two countries signed two partnership agreements aimed to promote bilateral relations in the economic, science, cattle-breeding and technical sectors, and a protocol of cooperation between the two countries' foreign ministries.
Mr. Simitis said that Greece supported the European Union's expansion through a gradual admittance of all European countries, including Moldova.
He discussed with Moldovan president issues referring to regional countries, east Mediterranean relations, the Cyprus problem and issues relating to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact.
Mr. Simitis referred to the very successful presence of Greek businesses in Moldova and noted that the only foreign bank in the country was Greek-owned.
The Prime Minister said that the government aimed to promote speedier and closer cooperation between bilateral commerce chambers. He stressed that there were prospects for further cooperation, particularly in the cultural sector.
Mr. Simitis said that Greece was seeking to strengthen its presence in eastern Europe and the Moldovan president's visit promoted this goal.
Answering to a Moldovan journalist's question on Greece's stance towards a demand to withdraw all Russian weapons from Moldova's territory, Mr. Simitis said: "We support an EU approach for the withdrawal of weapons and we believe that foreign troops should not be stationed in another country without its consent".
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi praised the Greek stance on his country's demand for closer relations with the EU and noted that Greece was the only EU member-state to closely cooperate with Black Sea region states.
Mr. Lucinschi said that following Moldova's independence in 1991, Greek businesses were the first to enter the country. A total of 41 joint ventures and one Greek-owned bank operate today in Moldova.
Mr. Lucinschi invited the Greek premier to visit Moldova and said that Mr. Simitis replied that he would do so after next year's general elections.
President Lucinschi arrived in Athens yesterday on a two-day state visit and talks with the Greek government leadership.
Mr. Lucinschi, who is heading a delegation of Moldovan businessmen, kicked off talks here with a meeting in the morning with President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
After Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Lusinschi's meeting, Greece and Moldova signed a protocol of cooperation between the two countries' foreign ministries as well as to cooperation agreements in the agricultural sector, involving economic, technical and technological cooperation in the foodstuffs and animal feed sectors.
Taking part in the talks were the ministers of telecommunications and transport, labor, agriculture and the deputy ministers of foreign affairs, environment and national economy.
Mr. Lucinschi invited Greek businesses to become more actively involved in his country and said the Greek presence in the Moldovan market could be strengthened.
President Stephanopoulos, underlining that Moldova and Greece had no political differences, said that Athens would support the country in its efforts to join European bodies.
There was agreement on a range of European issues, Mr. Lucinschi said after his talks with the Greek president.
Mr. Lucinschi called on Greek businessmen to invest in Moldova, during an address at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA).
He said that the economy of his country has already begun to recover, adding that the country's turn toward a free market system through privatization and deregulation on price controls was a proof of Moldova's course in line with international economic models.
Mr. Lucinschi said that the sectors of technology, tourism, agriculture, telecommunications, transport, construction, pharmaceuticals and banking present opportunities to businessmen wanting to enter the Moldovan economy.
On their part, EBEA officials said that the 1998 trade between Greece and Moldova totalled 17 million dollars, adding that despite the fact that this amount was considerable for the size of that country, there was still room for growth.
Later in the day Mr. Lucinschi met with Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas and discussed bilateral relations.
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos referred, among others, to Greek-Turkish relations and the situation in the Balkans in an address to his Moldovan counterpart Mr. Lucinschi, during a dinner he gave in his honor yesterday.
Commenting on the war in Kosovo, Mr. Stephanopoulos said it was a "particularly harsh moment for all countries in the region, it cost all of us materially and morally injured our convictions which should be consolidated again on stable foundations. However, at the same time it promoted feelings, abilities and possibilities which, through the crisis, I believe strengthened the role of Greece in the region."
Mr. Stephanopoulos thanked Mr. Lucinschi for his understanding and his position regarding the Cyprus issue and reiterated that Athens desires sincere relations of friendship and good neighborliness with Ankara with the "immediate, mass and substantial aid" Greece offered to Turkey after the killer earthquake which struck the neighboring country being an irrefutable witness. He also said Greece attributes particular importance on respect for the human rights of the Greek minority in Albania and added t hat "we look forward to an improvement in our relations with the Republic of Skopje, without this meaning that we are prepared to accept the distortion of our history and the questioning of our cultural heritage."
Source: Athens News Agency