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08 June, 2002
Greece would actively assist in upgrading military ties between NATO and the Ukraine through the bilateral agreements it had already signed with the Ukraine, Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Friday.
The Greek minister was speaking after a NATO defense ministers meeting that decided to upgrade NATO-Ukraine relations by promoting greater military cooperation.
Papantoniou said the NATO member-states had agreed to play a more active role in restructuring the Ukrainian armed forces, providing know-how and training Ukrainian officers.
Commenting on the recently-signed accord between NATO and Russia and Thursday's historic first session in which Russia participated on the NATO Council on an equal basis with NATO member-states for the first time, Papantoniou said that Greece was among the countries that had always been in favor of Russia's effective membership of NATO, while noting that dividing lines created tensions that undermined European safety.
He added that Greece supported the NATO entry of all states in the Balkans and in central and eastern Europe, so as to create a single defense area without dividing lines and gaps.
On the sidelines of the Council, Papantoniou met his Armenian counterpart Serzhik Sarkisyan, with whom he discussed further boosting ties between Greece and Armenia in the defense sector.
The Greek minister said that defense cooperation between Greece and Armenia was very highly developed - much more than with any other Black Sea country - due to the strong ties of friendship between the Greek and Armenian peoples and their common historical roots.
Asked to comment on an issue whipped up by Turkey regarding the renaming of the Bosphorus Straits, Papantoniou denied that this was being discussed within NATO's military arm, which was monitored by his ministry.
''There is no such issue and all aspects of this are being dealt with by the foreign ministry,'' he said.
Source: Athens News Agency