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13 October, 2000
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Thursday expressed Moscow's satisfaction with the European Union's decision this week to lift several sanctions leveled against Yugoslavia by the 15-country bloc.
Ivanov, who arrived in Greece one day after originally scheduled in order to continue efforts at mediation in the West Bank, held talks on developments in Yugoslavia, the long-standing Cyprus problem and the situation in the Middle East with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Papandreou, Ivanov stressed that he carried no conditions from his government to either new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica or deposed strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the pivotal hours prior to the bloodless transition of power in Belgrade.
On his part, Papandreou reiterated that the Kostunica government must now be supported in order for democratization and reconstruction of Yugoslavia to proceed, saying a "smooth democratic transition" is the priority.
Before meeting with Papandreou, Ivanov ascended to the top of the Acropolis for a brief but solemn flag-raising ceremony amid a blue Mediterranean sky to mark the 56th anniversary of the liberation of Athens from Nazi occupation.
Terming Greek-Russian relations excellent, Ivanov said only a date remains to be fixed for an official visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Greece.
Cyprus, Mideast situation:
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Ivanov noted that Russia remains in favor of bicommunal talks leading to a viable solution based on UN resolutions, whereas Papandreou thanked the Russian FM for Moscow's stance on the issue and called for a continuation of Russia's "productive" involvement towards a Cyprus solution.
Referring to the situation in the Middle East, Ivanov said the developments were "surely, not the best", while expressing his support for a restart of the peace process based on UN Security Council Resolutions.
Papandreou warned that instances of religious fanaticism have never helped solve problems, whereas Greece - as a country in the wider region influenced by such developments - is ready to assist in any way it can.
Ivanov was scheduled to meet with main opposition leader Costas Karamanlis and Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis in the afternoon.
Kaklamanis and Ivanov discuss Cyprus, Yugoslavia and the Middle East:
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov ascertained the common positions of Greece and Russia on major international issues, such as Cyprus and the situation in Yugoslavia and the Middle East, in talks on Thursday.
Kaklamanis thanked Ivanov for Russia's steadfast support on the Cyprus issue, saying "the solution to the Cyprus issue is a necessary condition for stability and peace in the wider region."
He said the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions is a necessary precondition for a viable solution to be found, which is being impeded by the occupation regime, with the support of Turkey, and the inconsistent position of the US, as well as of certain European governments.
Ivanov said full support enjoyed by the two governments from their countries' legislative bodies constitutes a guarantee for the steadfast and dynamic development of relations between Greece and Russia.
Confirming the identity of positions on issues of principle, he underlined the common conception on resolving international problems, such as the issue of Cyprus, the Middle East question and the situation in the Balkans.
"We are closely coordinating our cooperation on the international scene," Ivanov said, adding that "I think this meets the sentiments and interests of our peoples regarding security and stability."
Ivanov meets Karamanlis in Athens:
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met the leader of main opposition New Democracy Costas Karamanlis on Thursday, prior to his departure from Athens.
During the meeting, Karamanlis and Ivanov discussed foreign policy issues, particularly developments in Yugoslavia, Cyprus and the Middle East.
In statements after the meeting, Karamanlis asked for sanctions against Yugoslavia to be fully lifted and for its relations with the European Union to be fully restored.
He also expressed concern over the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, asking for a resolution to the problem based on peace, cooperation and the inviolability of borders, while he stressed the need for all international problems to be solved on the basis of UN resolutions.
Finally, he stressed the historic ties of friendship linking the Greek and Russian peoples.
During the meeting, Karamanlis was accompanied by top ND cadres Dora Bakoyianni, Yiannis Valinakis and Petros Molyviatis.
Source: Athens News Agency