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21 March, 1997
Greece yesterday continued its recent diplomatic initiative in the Balkans with a visit to Romania by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Speaking on his arrival at Bucharest airport, Mr. Simitis said he was happy to visit Romania as "in the fragmented Balkans, we must find a common course."
After noting that Greek-Romanian relations are at an excellent level, the prime minister said his visit aims to aid this common course and contribute to the broadening of relations between the two countries, which is "the only manner in which to ensure stability and peace in the region."
The Greek premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Mr. Simitis was met by his Romanian counterpart, Viktor Corbea, who held an official dinner in the Greek prime minister's honor last night.
During his speech, Mr. Simitis underlined Greece's full support for Romania's efforts to become a full member of the European Union, saying Athens will provide all possible help for Romania to also enter NATO.
The prime minister also spoke of the "exceptional prospects" available for the expansion of bilateral economic and commercial relations, stressing that the aim for commercial transactions is to reach at least US $500 million.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mr. Simitis said "both Greece and Romania have chosen cooperation as a means of exercising foreign policy, they reject the use of or the threat of use of violence to solve international or bilateral differences and they do not accept the policy of faits accomplis."
On his part, Mr. Corbea expressed his country's gratitude for Greece's support of Romania's efforts to enter the EU and NATO.
He said bilateral cooperation in regional organizations is a start which could lead to the founding of a stable partnership between the two countries based on a joint strategy of cooperation and information, as well as on regular discussions on all levels.
The Romanian prime minister stressed the need for both countries to contribute to the creation of an area of stability and cooperation in southeastern Europe, which, he said, has been "a true powder keg" many times in history.
Delegations from the two countries, headed by their prime ministers, are due to meet this morning in order to discuss issues including the construction of a highway connecting St. Petersburg with Alexandroupolis through Bucharest and Balkan cooperation in view of the meeting of southeastern European countries' foreign ministers, due to be held in Thessaloniki in June.
After discussions today, Mr. Simitis and Mr. Corbea will hold a joint press conference.
Source: Athens News Agency