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18 May, 1999
European Commission President-designate Romano Prodi met with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday to confer on the make-up of the new European Union executive.
Both men said they had found common ground on a number of issues and said they supported the concept of a strong European Commission spurring the European Union forward.
"The new Commission must be the coordinator of the Union's other institutional agencies," Mr. Simitis said.
On the agenda of their talks were portfolios for commissioners and the appointment procedures. No announcements are expected until after June 13, when elections for the European Parliament end.
Mr. Simitis noted that the EU had been slow to shape policy on the Balkans and said that this was a priority for the 15-nation bloc.
He said that the Union should acquire a complete policy for the restructuring of the Balkans.
Answering to a relevant question, the Greek premier said that "for us there is no issue of resorting to ground forces operations (in Kosovo)", noting that the war should end as soon as possible.
Both leaders agreed that diplomatic initiatives aiming at the peaceful resolution of the crisis should continue.
Mr. Simitis said such efforts "at this time are focused in Finland while relevant discussions will take place on Tuesday."
The Greek premier also noted that Foreign Minister George Papandreou will be in Finland today for contacts with diplomats who are already in that country.
The two men also discussed the issue of portfolios to be handed down to the new members of the European Commission, developments in the Union as well as in Kosovo.
Meeting with Karamanlis:
Mr. Prodi also met with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis who underlined the need for a joint foreign and security policy.
Mr. Karamanlis said that military operations in Yugoslavia had to end and a peaceful settlement arrived at because, he said, there was a danger of destabilization in the entire region.
He said he told Mr. Prodi of his party's proposal for a three-member committee to oversee a post-conflict agreement in Kosovo, the convening of an international conference on southeast Europe in Thessaloniki and the drafting of a plan to rebuild the Balkans.
He said he also found Mr. Prodi in agreement on the principle that the new commissioner from Greece should be a personality with wide acceptance, implying that they should not have close ties to the ruling party.
Source: Athens News Agency