© Copyright Embassy of Greece 1996-2005. All Rights Reserved.
19 December, 1997
European Socialist Party president and vice-president of Germany's Social Democrat Party Rudolf Scharping praised Greece as being the sole stabilizing force in the Balkans.
He was addressing an event of the Institute of Strategic and Development Studies (ISTAME) "Andreas Papandreou" yesterday on the state of central and southeastern European countries.
"Greece is the sole stabilizing force in the Balkans and stability and democracy in the region is a vital interest, both of its own and of Europe's," he said.
Addressing the same event, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed the need for strengthening the role of Greece and of central European countries to enable the consolidation of peace and development in the region.
Mr. Scharping said in his address that states abiding by the principles of European civilization can join the European Union, namely, a state of justice, a free market, enlightenment and democracy.
However, it is important that it should be understood that the EU is open to all the European countries on the above basis and is willing to contribute to the democratization process "from Croatia to Turkey" with great assistance so that "no one will feel excluded."
Replies given by Mr. Scharping to questions from the audience were of particular interest. He conceded that his country contributed to the creation of the crisis in former Yugoslavia with the "very hasty" recognition of the secessionist republics.
On his part, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the precondition for stabilizing the situation in the Balkans is, on the one hand, support for central European countries which join the EU and, on the other, strengthening the role of Greece as the sole member-state of the EU, the WEU and NATO in the region, taking into consideration Greek actions for the creation of a subregional security zone and a single market in the Balkans.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also stressed the need for focusing on Cyprus' accession effort, including it in the effort of promoting Euro-Mediterranean security and cooperation policies by the EU.
He said Europe must stop facing crises "passively and in retrospect" but should make preemptive political interventions.
Source: Athens News Agency