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02 March, 2002
Greece's stance vis-a-vis the complicated issues revolving around the European Union's common foreign and defense policy and related EU ties with the six NATO member-states that are not members of the bloc dominated a high-ranking meeting on Friday here chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Echoing Athens' standing position regarding EU-NATO ties and the regime governing the establishment and operation of a prospective "Euro-force", Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated that any EU agreement with the six NATO members should ensure that NATO-related problems aren't transferred to the European Union. He also cautioned that the "Euro-force" should not be transformed into a "NATO appendage", while the EU must retain its autonomy in foreign policy and defense sector decision-making based on the provisions agreed to in the Nice Treaty.
Papantoniou as well as Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who also participated in the meeting, denied that a phone conversation between Simitis and British PM Tony Blair was related to the "Euro-force" issue.
Source: Athens News Agency