29 November, 2004
Cairo 29/11/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)
The priority at this stage was to maintain unity in the ranks of the Palestinian Authority and on the emergence of a responsible leadership through democratic procedures, Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis said Sunday after talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, adding that "everyone must contribute to a resumption of the (Middle East) peace process and to the full implementation of the road-map aimed at the speediest possible establishment of a Palestinian state that will co-exist peacefully with Israel.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a three-day official visit to Egypt, Karamanlis praised the positive and wise stance and moderation with which Egypt was working in that direction. He said Greece always firmly supported respect of the principles of international law and the UN resolutions.
With respect to developments in Iraq, he said that "there is no doubt that the stabilization, reconstruction and organization of this much-tried country will have a positive effect on the wider region", and noted that the recent international meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh placed great emphasis on the important and leading role that the UN must play, and at the same time on supporting the political process in which, he stressed, the greatest possible participation of all the Iraqi political forces was necessary.
Karamanlis told reporters that he had briefed Mubarak on the Cyprus issue, following his recent talks with Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos, and on the Republic of Cyprus' desire for a solution to be found that would ensure the unity and functionality of the state, based on the Annan plan.
The premier further briefed Mubarak on Turkey's European prospect, and also on the obligations that apply to all the candidate countries for EU membership.
Regarding Greek-Egyptian relations, Karamanlis said the close cooperation between the two countries was ascertained, as well as the two sides' volition for further strengthening and improving their bilateral relations.
Karamanlis, who departed for Athens shortly after his talks with Mubarak, had earlier visited the Pyramids and the Sphynx, while his wife Natasha visited the Greek hospital/old age home in Cairo.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Cairo early on Saturday morning for talks with the Egyptian government during the second day of an official visit to Egypt, the first by a Greek premier in over 12 years.
Karamanlis was met on his arrival in Cairo by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and the two men began talks shortly after noon, covering bilateral affairs, the situation emerging in the Middle East following the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and developments in Iraq.
After the meeting, Karamanlis referred to a "new page in Greek-Arab and bilateral relations" following his visit to Egypt and officially extended an invitation to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian premier Ahmed Nazif to visit Greece.
"[The Greek government's] meeting and contact with the Egyptian government acquires greater importance because of developments in this area, in which Egypt plays a major part as a significant regional factor. For our part, we particularly appreciate the moderate and stabilizing influence that Egypt has on the region," Karamanlis said.
Following the official talks, the two sides also signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and an agreement for cooperation in research and technology.
The Greek premier said that, among other issues, the meeting had discussed practical ways of further boosting the traditionally good bilateral ties between Greece and Egypt so as to increase the benefits for both countries, which meant promoting cooperation in the areas of economic activity, trade, science, technology and culture. The two governments also decided to step up the organization of business meetings and contacts between the ministries involved in trade affairs.
Karamanlis stressed the importance of cultural dialogue and promoting closeness between cultures in the current era and said it was necessary to upgrade mechanisms for political dialogue between the two countries in order to contribute to initiatives promoting regional dialogue and cooperation.
With regard to EuroMediterranean cooperation, in particular, he said this had not yet proved its reliability or met the goals for which it was established and he called for greater investment in the process. He said there should be a balance between the eastern and western Mediterranean and that Greece could act as a gateway for Egypt into the European Union, while Egypt might become a gateway for Greece into the surrounding region, where it played an important and stabilizing role.
Both the Greek and Egyptian premiers noted that the balance of trade between Greece and Egypt was relatively small and stressed that it could be increased. Nazif, in particular, said that business people could help in this direction through cooperation and investment in the tourism, energy, transport and agricultural markets.
Source: Athens News Agency