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04 May, 1999
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who predicted that the Yugoslav crisis was "nearing its end", yesterday called on Greek businesses to maintain the country's presence in the Balkans.
He also told the representatives of 57 businesses invited to a meeting on helping to rebuild Yugoslavia that Greece would seek compensation from the European Union for losses suffered by the economy due to the war.
The two sides agreed to set up a working group to coordinate the participation of Greek enterprises in the reconstruction of Serbia, and then in development of the broader region.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Iason Stratos told the meeting that the working group needed technical backing.
Theodoros Karatzas of the Union of Greek Banks called for simplification of the institutional framework in Balkan states, particularly those directly harmed by the Kosovo crisis, in order to eliminate obstacles met by Greek investors.
A ministry official told the Athens News Agency that reform of the institutional framework could be aided by accelerating the harmonization of national laws in Balkan countries with the EU, a matter that could also be brought up before the EU's economics ministers.
Mr. Papantoniou said that a mini "Marshall Plan" for reconstruction of the Balkans would cost 10-20 billion US dollars.
He added the plan would affect next year's budget but that the government would try to seek funds from the EU's Third Community Support Framework.
Source: Athens News Agency