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28 February, 2000
European conservative parties on Saturday reiterated their support for stable borders in SE Europe and the need for full implementation of the agreements on Bosnia and Kosovo.
The position is stated in the communique issued at the end of a two-day conference of members of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) and the European Democratic Union (EDU) on democracy, stability and cooperation in the region, organized by the main opposition New Democracy party.
Representatives of conservative Balkan parties also attended the conference.
In the communique, the EPP/EDU members call upon all sides involved to respect and work for the success of the Dayton and Kosovo agreements, and stress the significance of support for democratic parties, a selective lifting of the embargo against Yugoslavia and an intensification of efforts for the integration of the Serbian people in Europe.
The conference also endorsed a New Democracy party proposal for the setting up in Thessaloniki of a secretariat, which will assist in the consolidation of EPP/EDU activities regarding SE Europe.
"These activities," says the communique, "are related to the training of politicians and young cadres in issues of democracy, economic growth and political culture".
The participants urge the countries of the region to enter into bilateral free trade agreements and stress the importance of their prospects in the context of European integration.
Karamanlis promises action plan for Balkans:
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said Saturday in Thessaloniki that if his party came to power it would apply a comprehensive national action plan for the Balkans designed to tap business opportunities and boost Greece's influence in the region.
"The plan will aim to promote a leading role for Greece through initiatives and bilateral agreements strengthening political stability in SE Europe ... it will include a series of measures consolidating the presence of Greek enterprises in the region so that they may become a steam engine for growth in the area," he said in an address at the city's Chamber of Commerce.
He renewed a commitment to the setting up of a National Foreign Policy Council and said his party proposed the creation of a new department for international cooperation at the foreign ministry, based in Thessaloniki, which would be responsible for gathering data regarding Greek business activity in neighboring Balkan countries.
"This would assist the government in translating the Greek contribution into influence and gain diplomatic leverage," he said.
In short, New Democracy proposed the use of immigration policy as a foreign policy instrument and the government's active support to Greek businessmen with representations to foreign governments in favor of their interests.
"We propose international funding of carefully selected and agreed upon infrastructure projects, a special, internationally-managed fund for reconstruction, and the promotion of the appropriate business environment with institutional and taxation measures," Karamanlis added.
Regarding the Greek economy itself, he renewed a pledge for a full liberalization of the energy and telecommunications sectors, a broad privatization program and an institutional upgrading of the stock exchange.
More specifically, New Democracy will privatize Olympic Airways and the major banks of the public sector, National and Commercial, Karamanlis said.
Source: Athens News Agency