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19 June, 1999
President Kostis Stephanopoulos returned to Greece yesterday after a three-day official visit to Romania, which he described as highly successful.
"The visit was highly successful. The Romanians have great affection for us and desire further economic cooperation," Mr. Stephanopoulos said, noting that Greece's presence in the Balkan country was already quite considerable.
During his visit, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, Mr. Stephanopoulos met with his counterpart Emil Constantinescu, the leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party Ion Iliescu, Patriarch Theoktistos and representatives of the ethnic Greek community.
Mr. Kranidiotis signed a health cooperation agreement and a group of Greek entrepreneurs accompanying the president attended a Greek-Romanian business forum. In addition, a national economy ministry delegation held meetings with Romanian government officials on the sidelines of Mr. Stephanopoulos' visit, during which Athens agreed to extend credits to Bucharest totaling 20 million US dollars.
Praising Mr. Constantinescu's qualities as a leader and friend of Greece, Mr. Stephanopoulos said "whatever one might have expected from this visit was achieved".
Echoing the Greek president's remarks, Mr. Kranidiotis noted that the visit had been "very useful" and had further strengthened relations between the two countries. He added that the views of Athens and Bucharest coincided on a wide range of issues, such as the enlargement of the European Union and the Kosovo peace process.
Mr. Kranidiotis stressed that Greece supported the efforts of both Romania and Bulgaria for the commencement of EU accession negotiations at the Helsinki summit.
He said the bids of the two Balkan countries would require "a fair amount of diplomatic effort by Greece also", given that not all the EU members were in favor.
Commenting on the Kosovo peace process, Mr. Kranidiotis said Greece and Romania agreed that the west must help the Balkans, "if the region is to maintain its stability" while the UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo must also be fully implemented.
This, he added, means that the Albanian rebels must be disarmed. The Kosovo peace process is expected to be further discussed at the meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Bucharest on June 30.
It is likely that these efforts will be hampered, however, by Albania's warning that it will not participate in the meeting if the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia participated.
Source: Athens News Agency