".... I will visit Greece very shortly" declares in a letter that sent the new Chairman of Bulgaria, Mr. Peter STOYANOV to the Chairman of the Greek Association for Atlantic & European Cooperation Mr. Theodosis Georgiou on the occasion the 6th International Conference that was organized by G.A.A.E.C. in the Zappeion Megaron on the 6 - 7 December 1996, and continues "I'm very sorry for not being today with you, but I want to stress that the relations of my country with neighboring Greece will have special interest at the duration of my Presidency, as also they will have priority on our relation with the NATO, the Western European and European Union...."
The subject of the 6th International Conference of G.A.A.E.C was: "Balkans and Mediterranean Associates in the Stability and Cooperation, the role of International Organisms, the role of Greece", participated the Vice-president of Committee of External Affairs of Bulgarian Parliament Mr. Agov from Bulgaria, as representative of the former Prime Minister and Governmental Associate Mr. Petros Roman and the Vice-president of his party and Chairman of Committee of Exterior Affairs Mr. Victor Bostinaru from Romania, the Undersecretary of National Defence Mr. Alfred Moisiu from Albania, the high executive of Ministry of Culture Mr. Z. Theodosievsky from F.Y.R.O.M., the Diplomatic Adviser of Chairman Mr. Zeljco Matic from Croatia and from the Mediterranean countries Ambassadors, professors of Universities and other experts.
Between the speakers was also, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Ambassador Mr. Vahit Halefoglou but also representatives from France, Belgium, Lithuania and Russia.
The Greek representation from the Government and the Political Parties was very high. The Undersecretary of National Defence, Mr. Dimitris Apostolakis and the Athens's Mayor Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos opened the Conference and welcomed the Participants in Athens.
The Undersecretary of National Economy, Mr. Christos Pahtas developed subjects concerning the Economy.
The Chairman of Democratic Social Movement Mr. Dimitris Tsovolas, the former Minister Mr Alexandros Papadogonas from the New Democracy and Mr. Stefanos Stefanopoulos from "Politiki Aniji" spoke about the opinions of their political parties of Greece.
Of special interest was the speech of the American Ambassador in Greece, Mr. Thomas Miles, who presented the American interest in the region, but also of the representative of the Russian Embassy Mr. Igor Morozov, that presented respectively the Russian opinions on these subjects. This special Meeting was coordinated and commented by the former Minister of Foreign Affaires, Mr. Mihalis Papakonstantinou.
Furthermore, there was a round table on the subject "Cultural bonds" chaired by the Academic Mr. Evangelos Moutsopoulos, who also presented his views.
"The role of International Organizations in the Balkans and the Mediterranean" was the subject of the representative of NATO Mr. Daniel George.
On the round table for the Trade and the International Collaboration presented their opinions the Chairman of Organism of Promotion of Exports Mr. Ioannis Tzen and Mr. Ioannis Liveris, Special Adviser of Group of INTRACOM.
The Conference ended with the speech of Minister of Press and Mass Media, Mr. Dimitris Reppas.
The objectives and the conclusions of the 6th International Conference were presented in the Opening and Closing day of the Conference respectively, from the Chairman of G.A.A.E.C., Mr. Theodosis Georgiou.
During the Conference, messages from the Chairman of Bulgaria Mr. Stoyanov were read, the Chairman of American Atlantic Council Mr. David Acheson, the Chairman of OSCE Swiss Minister of Foreign Affaires Mr. Flavio Cotti, the S.G. of ODES Mr. Aragova, the Alternate S.G. of WEO Mr. Holthoff, the SACEUR, General Joulwan the European Committee the Sir Martin Garrod expert envoy of EU in the Mostar and other personalities.
From the Greek side the Ministers Th. Pangalos and G. Papandreou and the Chairman of Coalition Mr. N. Konstantopoulos also offered their opinions.
During the 6th International Conference, representatives from 21 countries, as well as the Ambassadors of 38 countries to Greece and other political, military and Academic figures participated.
Proposals but also conclusions were presented at the end of the Conference by Panagiotis Tsakonas, Researcher of the Institute of International Relations of Panteion University.
Mr. Theodossis Georgiou to S. Passy
The Chairman of G.A.A.E.C. Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, in the inaugural speech , stressed to Mr. S. Passy the reasons for which G.A.A.E.C. examines, for the second time, the subject of the Balkans and the Union. Also, in collaboration with GeorgetownUniversity, the American Institution "Fund for American Studies" and the Rural Bank of Greece, Mr. Georgiou stressed that there will be an annual educational program entitled "International Institute Political and Economic Studies" with new scientists from the countries of Balkans and Mediterranean and with subjects that concern the region.
After Mr. Georgiou greeted the Participants at the conference, the Vice-president of Atlantic Treaty Association Mr. Salmon Passy delivered his greetings to the participants of the Conference and read messages from the Chairman of Bulgaria Mr. P. Stoyanov and Chairman of ATA Mr. X. Bayulken.
Mr. D. Avramopoulos
Then the Mayor of Athens, Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, welcomed the participants at the conference stressing that in the new setting of the after War era, new ideological economic situations are shaped, new forms of collaboration are developed - as is observed for example by the intensification of Organism for Safety and Collaboration in Europe (OSCE) and the growth of the Euromediteranean relations which were climaxed at the Conference of Barcelona in 1995 - and the so called International Intergovernmental and non Governmental Organizations in their ability to play new roles. In his speech Mr. Avramopoulos pointed out the imperative need of intensification of regional collaboration. Over this framework he referred on the proposal of the city of Athens for the constitution of a new regional body, the Conference of Cities of South-eastern Europe.
Mr. D. Apostolakis
Mr. D. Apostolakis, the Undersecretary of Defence, announced the beginning of the Conference work, while also stressing on the redefinition of collaboration and safety in Europe in the level of institutions as well as in the level of subjects. In the institutional level the changes concern the new objectives of NATO, and the adaptation of the Alliance in the new era (enlargement NATO, new relation with Russia, new structure of strategy, rearrangement of system of administration, growth of forces of rapid reaction, Program of Partnership for the Peace e.t.c.). In the epicenter of these developments, the undertaking of defensive arm of European Union from Western European Union (WEO), the focus of Organization of Safety and Collaboration in Europe (OASE) in the prevention of conflicts and the regulation of crises, as well as the activation of European Union on issues common foreign and security policy, are of most importance. On this subject it is of utmost importance of the emergence of new threats as the rise of nationalism, the increase of terrorism and the distribution of narcotics.
In regards to Greece Mr. Apostolakis underlined the principles of territorial integrity, the rules of International Law and the resolution of differences with peaceful means. He also described the contribution of Greece in the stability of Balkans as this is constituted from the attendance of Greek Armed Forces in programs of Partnership for the Peace, with the multinational force IFOR in Bosnia as well as in air transportation of humanitarian help in Bosnia.
Mr. Apostolakis concluded his speech with the ascertainment that South-Eastern Europe will cease to be considered as a "grey region" and that the countries of the region should progressively join International Organizations.
D.Tsovolas, Al. Papadogonas, St. Stefanopoulos
The representatives of political parties who spoke at the Conference did not have major differences in the notion of setting the regional safety in the Mediterranean and the Balkans. They all stressed that Greece has to become the bridge between the countries of the region and the International Organizations that are Members (EU, NATO), but also asked for an enhanced effort of the Country to this direction.
Architecture of Safety
All the speakers continued referring instability as the main characteristic of the post Cold War era or, as the Ambassador Mr. Petrounakos noted, "A fragile safety". The safety in Europe and the Mediterranean is indivisible, as it is proved e.g. by the interest and the entanglement of many States in the peace processes in Bosnia and the Middle East, by the interdependence of States and regions and by the globalization of problems.
Furthermore, the safety should not be depended on the notion of "zero sum" or on the logic of maintaining peace via preparation for war. The confrontation of problems in the post Cold War era allows us to think differently. At this point, of special interest was the proposal of the Ambassador of Israel, Mr. Harry Khey - Tal, who spoke about "cooperative security" giving particular importance to single codes of behavior and preventive meters for the resolution of conflicts.
In regard to the Mediterranean region, emphasis was given to the improved chances that are created nowadays through the use of the Euro-Mediterranean Collaboration and the possibilities of growth that exist with the good use of E.U. grants. Of course, as Vice-president of Atlantic Union of France, Mr. Francois Moreau de Balasy stressed, the European Union is lacking a complete Mediterranean policy. The challenge for the European Union is the creation and application of a Common European Policy that will ensure the stability and security in the region.
However the latest developments that have been undertaken in the post Cold War era support a retained optimism. For example Mr. Balasi, Israel's Ambassador Harry Khey-Tal and Palestinian Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah pointed out the importance of the Conference of Barcelona that was held on 27-28 November 1995 that placed new ways of collaboration between the 15 states-members of the European Union and 12 other states of Mediterranean. The Conference of Barcelona was the beginning of the creation of joint policies and the deepening of relations between European, Israelis and Άrabs, and residents of North Africa.
As far as the promotion of economic subjects in the Mediterranean, Greece can contribute accordingly. The Undersecretary of National Economy Mr. V. Pahtas, as well as the Chairman of Greek Organization of Foreign Trade Mr. Ioannis Tzen, focused on the initiatives that have been undertaken by the Greek Government for the development of the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.
Palestine - Israel
Ambassadors Harry Khey-Tal and Abdullah Abdullah discussed the Israel and Palestine conflict. Mr Khey-Tal stated that Israel is ready to negotiate with each one of its neighbors and he underlined the important steps that have been made with the Palestinians. For the resolution of conflicts and confrontation of misunderstandings the Israeli representative proposed the enactment of dialogue that could begin from the easily solved problems and that could develop progressively in more important subjects. On the other hand Ambassador Abdullah was much more critical and cautious on his ascertainments. As the Palestinian representative said, today in the Middle East instability and conflict prevail. Mr. Abdullah foresaw dangers of agreement violation that have been contracted by the previous Government, particularly on the subjects concerning immigrants and the arrangement of Jerusalem, and the fall back of military forces from Hebron. A second source of concern for the Palestinians is the nuclear force of Israel, which imposes mechanisms of inspection and verification.
In the Congress Greek-Turkish relations, which at the opinion of Ambassador of USA Mr Thomas Miles have been worsened in the post Cold War era, could not be discussed. The subjects in the Greek-Turkish relations are many and considerable, as a priority the resolution of the Cyprus problem. The main question that is placed, and the big challenge for the region is how the problem will resolve without affecting the vital national interests of Greece and Turkey. There were many opinions at the Congress about how much dialogue should exist. If it has to be opened or not in various terms, should it examine all the spectrum of problem or should it focus in individual-minor problems, should it be regarded "high policy" or "low policy"? Although, it was recognized that Greek and Turkish analysts should co-oparticipate at Congresses and should express openly and unambiguously their opinions regardless of the foreign policy of their Countries. The exchange of opinions is useful not because it leads to convergence but because dialogue creates a better understanding of the opposing policy from both sides of the Aegean.
In the Conference a wide spectrum of ideas was put forward from the characterization of a Greek-Turkish approach as unfeasible to the proposal for a step by step discussion on issues of low policy, up to the opinion that the economic collaboration between Greeks and Turks can create the conditions of overtaking the Greek-Turkish dead-end.
Mr. D. Reppas
The work of 6th Conference on the Stability and Collaboration in the Balkans and the Mediterranean was closed with the speech of the Minister of Press and Mass Media Mr. Dimitris Reppas. The Minister of Press pointed out that the crucial subject of European Safety was also discussed in the recent conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Lisbon and the European Union in Dublin. The problem of security for Greece is mainly in its Eastern neighboring countries where the Turkish threat is increasing.
Conclusion (Mr. Gianna)
Concluding, we can say that the uncertainty and the insecurity are the main characteristics of the Post Cold War era. Governments, International Organizations, Non-governmental Organizations efforts to try to adapt to the new environment. The security for Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean is identical and all the involved parts should try to agree to a frame of common principles (e.g. respect of international conditions) and regulations (not use of violence) in order to have constructive results, the resolution of conflicts and the promotion of collaboration......"
Mr. Panagiotis Tsakonas
The situation in the Balkans
The opinion of the Big Forces
The speakers that were invited focused and gave their proposals on the three thematic units that concern the Balkans.
The first thematic unit concerns the opinions and the policies of "Big Forces" for the future of Balkan States.
Undoubtedly, it is possible to observe several differences in policies between the last remaining superpower, that is to say USA and the policies of Russia. The difference of policies can be found in many aspects that concern the whole Balkan region, that their policies in the European Continent, the question of extension of the Atlantic Alliance to the east, the extended role of NATO in the Post Cold War era but also in more special questions that concern the Balkan countries, as for example the speed and the way of integration of the former communist states in the NATO etc.
The proposals of the U.S. Ambassador Mr. Thomas Miles, and the Russian Embassy representative Mr. Igor Morozov, had as common denominator, the enormous interest of both countries for the future of the Balkan Region but at the same time rendered absolutely explicit the deviating objectives of the two Forces in the region. Divergences that concerned the handling and the choices of each side at the period of the Yugoslavian crisis and the ways the stability in the Balkans after the Dayton Accord could succeed. The importance of the role that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should play from the Russian side, contrary to the role of NATO that promotes the American side, constitutes perhaps the more important divergence of opinions of the two sides with regard to the future of the region.
Moreover in his written intervention in the Conference the Chairman of American Atlantic Council Mr. David Acheson stressed the importance of the region for the US interests which correspond to the world security. He added that, despite the US support, the Governments and the populations of the countries that live in the Mediterranean region should independently find the suitable ways that will allow the safeguarding of stability and peace in the region.
The pessimistic picture
The second thematic unit concerns the elements that compose a rather problematic and pessimistic picture of reality. It concerns, in other words, those centrifugal forces that were released after the end of the Cold War which resulted in destabilizing the region.
The Undersecretary of Defence of Albania Mr. Alfred Moisiu noted such potential destabilizing forces in the region of Kossovo, mainly as result of the precarious and fragile peace that was imposed with the Agreement of Dayton. Similar arguments were made in regards to the deterioration of relations between Romania and Hungary because of nationalistic tendencies, which were made by the Vice-president of Democratic party of Romania and Chairman of Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Romanian Parliament Mr. Victor Bostinaru as well as the Secretary General of the Hungarian Atlantic Council Mr. Miklos Derer.
The optimistic prospect
However, all the above is only one point of view of the reality in the Balkans. Another view is constituted in the third thematic unit. The careful observer could realize a line of developments and tendencies that present the basis of an optimistic approach for the future of the Balkan Peninsula. In these developments are included the efforts of democratization and modernization of the economies of the former communistic Balkan States and further growth of the element of economic interdependence.
It is not therefore accidental that this was the common argument for the Greek Undersecretary of National Economy Mr. Virtuous Pahtas, the Vice-president of European Bank of Investments Mr. Panagiotis Gennimatas, the Chairman of Organism of promotion of Exports Mr. I. Tzen and Mr. Ioannis Liveris, Special adviser of INTRACOM. The ascertainment that an economic collaboration between the states of Balkan constitutes today the only conceivable strategy for the prevention of conflicts or the escalating conflict situations in various "flammable" regions of the world. Of course, as stressed in his speech Mr. P. Gennimatas, "the systematic routing of economic collaboration should affix itself in the epicenter of interest for the security, particularly in cases as this between Greece and Turkey". The former Ambassadors Mr. Vahit Halefoglou and Mr. Dimitris Petrounakos, presented fundamentally different interpretations in regard to the resolution of the Greek-Turkish conflict, however it is certain that also these two diplomats could include this way as a first step for the approach of the two countries.
The Chairman of the Panel Academic Mr. Evangelos Moutsopoulos, Ambassadors Dorin Matei from Romania and Mr. Zlatko Theodosievski from FYROM, and the historian Dr. I. Loukas stressed that history can constitute the mean of connection and the reason of coexistence for the populations of the region of Balkans. A region which constitutes the touchstone of the Europe of tomorrow.
Finally Mr. Mohamed Zaoui, Agent of Embassy of Morocco in Greece reminded us that "war and culture cannot coexist".
It should be underlined that the speakers from the Balkan states pointed out the need for a rapid integration of the States of the region in an extended and strengthened NATO. It was also common ascertainment for all of the speakers that the stability in the Balkan Peninsula is based on the interdependence and consequently the choices of the Balkan States do not constitute a "game of null sum" (zero-sum marriage) where the benefits and profits of a state are always the damage and loss of another state.
It should be pointed out that when you realize this common denominator for the Speakers, the observer of political life of the region of Balkans can gaze with optimism the future and have well-founded hopes that the States of region not only can cease living in the era of omnipotence of history but the possibility of experiencing a new season of harmonious coexistence and growth is feasible.....".