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15 December, 1998
German FM Joschka Fischer yesterday began in Athens a tour of the European Union capitals, ahead of Bonn's assumption of the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1, 1999.
Mr. Fischer held talks with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos on matters concerning European integration, enlargement, "Agenda 2000", the 15-nation bloc's institutional prospects and Greek bilateral relations with neighboring countries.
Alternate FM George Papandreou and secretary general for European affairs Stelios Perrakis also attended the working breakfast.
Mr. Pangalos and his new German counterpart had their first private meeting in Oslo earlier this month on the sidelines of the OSCE ministerial conference.
Mr. Pangalos described Mr. Fischer as an "outstanding personality of his country" with a proven and significant presence in European affairs.
He said they discussed European integration, enlargement, Agenda 2000, the European Union's institutional prospects and Greece's bilateral relations with neighboring countries.
Mr. Fischer, on his first stop in a tour of EU capitals, said the six-month EU presidency term under Germany would be particularly significant as financing matters as well as issues concerning the structure of the EU would be discussed.
He called Greece a "model" of the integration process, which the candidates for EU accession should carefully study, and expressed his government's satisfaction with what he called the "significant successes" made by the Greek economy in its effort to join EMU.
Mr. Fischer reiterated that Germany placed particular importance on the EU's next enlargement.
The German official further stressed the importance his country's new government placed on further advancing Greek-German bilateral relations, adding that he would be in Athens again soon at Mr. Pangalos' invitation.
Questioned on the situation in Kosovo, Mr. Fischer recalled that the problem was discussed in detail at the most recent EU foreign ministers' general affairs council, adding that the Contact Group would try over the next three years to find a political solution to the problem, with the backing of US ambassador in FYROM Christopher Hill.
Mr. Fischer warned that the situation would turn dangerous again in the spring if the necessary steps had not been taken for implementation of the Milosevic-Holbrooke agreement.
Source: Athens News Agency