The Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation (GAAEC) organized its 11th Annual International Symposium at the Zappeion Conference Hall on November 30 and December 1, 2001.
Several dignitaries participated at the Symposium including Ambassadors, MPs, Former Ministers, Army Officers and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Defence. In addition, young students from the Balkans, Eastern, Central and Western Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East also attended the Symposium as participants at the 2nd Academic Seminar, which was organized by GAAEC parallel to the Symposium.
Mr. Theodossis Georgiou, President of GAAEC and former President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), and Mr. Alan Lee Williams, President of ATA, made the opening remarks. Mr. Georgiou in particular, after welcoming the participants at the Symposium, referred to the very important role NGOs are playing in the current international setting in promoting stability and cooperation. Mr. Williams referred to the common efforts carried out by Mr. Georgiou and Amb. Bayulken (President of the Turkish Atlantic Association) to bring about a closer relationship between Greece and Turkey. He mentioned that this is an example of how a non-governmental organization can be helpful for their governments and sometimes being three moves ahead of official thinking. With regard to NATO, he mentioned that "...today is the most challenging situation for the Atlantic Alliance, which has undergone fundamental changes. NATO is both, a collective defence organisation, as well as the collective security organisation. They are not the same thing, but they are not incompatible. Peacekeeping and peace enforcing, on behalf of the UN is now an indispensable role for NATO. Including a counter international terrorist strategy as we have witnessed with evoking of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty...."
He then went on to point out that security as a concept has become even more complex and in an anarchic and decentralized environment, it can never be absolute and subjective, but it appears relative, with global dimensions, and suggeted that constructive diplomacy should be the policy, however difficult this may be, and NATO has a central role to play in this environment as an enforcer of security.
The opening address was delivered by H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Mr. George Papandreou and H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and Honorary President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, Mr. Solomon Passy, who was the guest of honor of the Greek Association.
Mr. Papandreou began his speech by pointing out that NGOs have "an important role in developing democratic sensitivities, participatory institutions, the ability to bring up a new leadership around the Balkans, a new leadership which is today giving a new hope to the wider region". With regard to the role of NGOs in the Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Papandreou added that: "...Certainly, in the recent Greek-Turkish rapprochement, Non-Governmental Organizations have been playing and still are playing a very important role and will continue to do so. The people's diplomacy, as we call it, has been crucial in creating a very different climate and I could say in developing a sense that there is a mandate from below for our governments, for the governments of the two countries, to continue on the path of cooperation and our attempt to solve very difficult problems..."
He then went on to stress the importance for common security of the Balkan countries in a wider Euro-Atlantic context through the enlargement of NATO, especially towards Bulgaria and Romania. NATO enlargement to include the Balkans, he said, would be the key to stabilizing the region in general and continuing its ambitious progress to join European Institutions. "We talk about common security in NATO today but without the Balkan states we cannot also argue of a common security for Europe".
He also explained that the kind of problems and threats presented today, such as terrorism, are very different compared to those of the past, creating new challenges that call for revising relations between countries and overcoming past rivalries. The enlargement of the EU, generates hope for building a new kind of international community with a common vision and the participation of all.
In this context, he concluded, issues such as the Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem, will be dealt with in a completely different way, the signs of which are already apparent.
Dr. Solomon Passy stressed the importance for Bulgaria to join NATO, saying that it is a prospect that now seems more realistic and is backed by the majority of politicians in his country.
"There are no more borders in the global village" and added that the fight against terrorism requires a global force and that NATO's enlargement is the best way for achieving this goal. Dr. Passy also stressed that there are several positive developments in the Balkans and the goal is now a peaceful undivided Europe, which many countries now recognize as a means of making the transition to a market economy.
After his speech, Mr. Georgiou presented GAAEC's mark of distinction to Dr. Solomon Passy for his longstanding dedication to the Euro-Atlantic ideals.
Then followed the "Ambassador's Forum" with the participation of the Ambassador of the United States in Greece, Mr. Thomas Miller, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Greece, Mr. Mikhail Botcharnikov, and the Ambassador of France in Greece, Mr. Jean Maurice Ripert.
Ambassador Miller said that terrorism is both a threat and a challenge for reinventing alliances and relations, while he pointed to previously unthinkable new alliances between the US and Russia, China, Iran and Syria. The overriding concern at this time is the national interest, which in the case of Greece and the US coincides. He went on emphasizing that despite the war in Afghanistan, issues such as the Middle East crisis, the Aegean, Cyprus and the Balkans continue to attract America's attention.
The Russian Ambassador to Greece said that the new key word for Russia is "wider security", in the context of which Russia is ready to completely restore its relations with NATO and accept innovative mechanisms for Russia's participation in the Atlantic Alliance. "We are talking about finding a new mechanism within the format of 20, in participating in the adoption of major decisions and in sharing responsibility, in the fields of common interest that have to be agreed upon".
He added that Russia could play an important role in preserving peace in Europe. Concerning the Balkans, he mentioned that security and stability in this region depend on Europe.
The French Ambassador in Greece indicated that the terrorist attacks of September 11 hurt the consciousness of the whole global population. He added that these attacks also prove that the assumption that democracy and human rights have finally prevailed after the end of the cold war is wrong. "In the combat against fanatism and terrorist violence, the international community must engage with solidarity and resolution. It is not a conflict between civilizations and religions. Nevertheless, the combat must end with an immense effort for peace, development and eradication out of inequalities". He also referred to a constructive conclusion of the conflicts in the Middle East with the eventual creation of a Palestinian State and the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Mr. Ripert characterized the decision of NATO to activate Article 5 as historical adding that this action shows exactly why the Alliance is still considered as the corner stone of our collective defence. Nevertheless, it also reinforces the American argument for "burden sharing" which can only be achieved through the development of a European Security and Defence Policy, a goal to which France is fully committed.
Following the three Ambassadors, the Head of the Liaison Office of FYROM in Greece, Ambassador Ljupco Arsovski, read a statement, representing the Ambassadors in Greece of the countries of the Vilnius Group (the ten European countries aspiring for NATO membership). In this statement, the Ambassadors had put in plain words this aspiration, by making clear that unless NATO's enlargement takes place in order to include all interested states, we will never be able to speak of a Europe full and free and he repeated the statement made at Vilnius, at the first meeting that: "...the ten countries are ready to take responsibility and burden sharing of NATO membership and are already coordinating their defence structure and policy with those of the Alliance. They are contributing de facto in the most efficient way to the political and military activities of NATO. They are dedicated to make practical and political efforts in order to advance specific qualifications of the states, including the full implementation of the Membership Action Plan. Each and every country has to be judged by its own merits although they believe that accession of all states, means also success for all Europe and NATO."
The first round table of the Symposium was dedicated to the issue of NATO's Enlargement. The President of the Atlantic Treaty Association, Mr. Alain Lee Williams, chaired the session.
The first speaker was Mr. Francois Moreau de Balasy, Honorary President of the French Atlantic Association and Vice-President of ATA. Mr. Balasy recollected the years just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He recalled a mission headed by him that payed visits to several countries of the former Warsaw Pact, trying to establish Atlantic Associations in those countries. From the meetings he held he made 5 observations which are still relevant today: a) that the Atlantic Alliance was considered as the winner of a war not made, b) that it was expected that NATO would extend its military protection to those countries from one day to the other, c) that the history of the Alliance, its birth, its historical context, the elaboration, the functioning were of no big interest, especially the democratic process and the solving out of difficulties, not to mention the idea they carried on the equation NATO=USA, ignoring the European perspective d) that there existed a consensus that global security was not doubted anymore, because of the stability, the predominance of good intentions and the military power of the west. They were not thinking about their contribution, their reciprocal actions. Instead the countries of Central and Eastern Europe expressed e) the certainty that the economic prosperity of the west would quickly cover all of them.
Dr. Lyubomir Ivanov, Acting President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria, presented a qualitative and quantitative model, which can produce an indicator for measurement of the readiness of a candidate state to join NATO. In this model, seven sets of criteria have been chosen which after elaboration can be assigned a numerical value. The criteria chosen were: political, economic, regional, military capabilities, defence reform tempo, civil-military relations and contribution to NATO essential tasks. In this way the added value of each candidate country's accession to NATO could be estimated with an objective tool beyond the political considerations, which according to Dr. Ivanov form the base of any decision on enlargement.
Amb. Tihomir Ilievski, State Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of FYROM, began by proposing that the events that happened in our Region in the course of the last 10 years have undoubtedly proven that the security of Europe is intrinsically linked with the security and stability of its Southeastern part. He then noted that the developments that are expected to follow will further impose the need for concerted engagements of all relevant factors of the international community.
Concerning the indeed difficult year that FYROM has been through he commented that they have made huge efforts to overcome the crisis by cooperating with International Community but also by changing the constitution of the country. He did mention however his fears that the recent elections in Kosovo have shown that the Yugoslav province is sliding towards independence, which is totally opposite to the standpoint of non-alteration of existing borders. This and other pending issues in the region make it imperative that South Eastern Europe is not left aside in the process of enlargement of the Euro-Atlantic zone, which in turn would contribute to the consolidation of democracy, prosperity and stability. Responding to the big question of what to expect in November 2002 in relation to NATO's enlargement, he said that it is now safe to foresee that there will an enlargement after all. "The recent tragic events of September 11 will further shift the strategic focus of NATO southward, making the integration of South Eastern Europe not only a political but also a strategic imperative. FYROM in this respect having passed the difficult test of maturity again with success has proven that it is a stability producer and it deserves an invitation for membership".
Mr. Peteris k. Elferts, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia gave the Northern perspective. He repeated that NATO's enlargement couldn't be addressed without addressing issues generated with the attack of September 11. He added that we can stand against terrorism and face all other new kind of threats only by uniting the powers of our democracies and by defending our common values and only in cooperation. Concerning Latvia and the other candidate members, Mr. Elferts disagreed with the common view that they will only be consumers of security. He did state a number of arguments which show that they will also act as security providers. Finally, he presented the cooperation of his country with the rest Baltic States, with Russia and presented the vision of Latvia which is a Europe without dividing lines.
Mr. Gabriel Kopecky, Director General at the Section of Defence Planning and Management of Resources at the Ministry of Defence of Slovakia began his speech by stating that Slovakia is actively seeking NATO and EU membership. By participating in NATO-led operation and PfP programs Slovakia further contributes to the stability in Europe. In this respect, Slovakia has set forward a major Reform attempt for its army which will on the one hand cover the security concerns of the state and on the other hand reflect the need for modernization according to NATO standards, focused on mobility, flexibility, new technology, communications, information management, intelligence, and sustainability.
Dr. Konstantinos Ifantis, Ass. Professor at the University of Athens was the commentator of the first round table. Dr. Ifantis compared the first to the second wave of the post-cold war enlargement of NATO. He said that the first wave of 1999, focused on three issues: first, the geostrategic importance of the new members, second the really fast democratization processes that took place in the three new members and third on the ability and the prospects of the ability of the new members to develop contributive capabilities to the Alliance mission, which has as a major mission the issue of collective defence.
The case for the second potential wave is more problematic and there exists less enthusiasm and consent. Dr. Ifantis however made clear that the Alliance must move on with an enlargement because NATO has committed itself to that. It is a matter of credibility and added that there is nothing more important for an Alliance than its credibility. He did however mention ten "must" that have to be fulfilled with the second wave of enlargement: a) it must promote the strategic capability of NATO, b) it must under no circumstance create further feeling of exclusion for Russia and Ukraine, c) it must not undermine the military capabilities of NATO, d) it must not bring about a more inelastic decision making process of the Alliance, e) it must not create uncertainties on security guarantees that new members are expecting to enjoy, f) it must not undermine the continuation of securing Balkan stability, g) it must take place only after the problems created with the first wave are absorbed, h) it must take place within an agreement on how to minimize the military gap between the US and Europe and i) it must in any case secure the high quality of the integrated administrative structure of the Alliance. Dr. Ifantis ended his presentation by stressing that only if the above are fulfilled will we have the biggest political success.
The second round table was on terrorism in general and on terrorism as an out-of-area issue for NATO. Dr. Bernandino Gomes, President of the Portuguese Atlantic Commission, and former President of ATA chaired the table. Mr. Gomes prepared the discussion by putting forward 6 questions and issues which according to him are important. The first one concentrated on whether, after the developments following September 11, states will prefer going on their own instead of finding an institutional backing. The second question concerns NATO, which has in fact been used to legitimize international response but which actually does not have a specific role in the fight against terrorism. Therefore, Dr. Gomes wondered what will be the role of NATO in the future, when it will be enlarged and unanimity will be much more difficult to achieve. Then he posed the same question for the EU, which is practically absent from the scene. He went on to question whether the globalization model will continue to function in the same way as it has done until now and moved to the next issue which is the clash of civilization. A concept so widely used but the fact is that most of those using it have never read the book. Mr. Gomes asked: "Is there a standardized model that can be applied everywhere? Do we have the right to intervene in the name of a civilization?". He ended his opening remarks with a very crucial question that will certainly trouble us seriously in the future: "Is security a justification for the restriction of human rights?"
With that, he gave the floor to Mr. Loic Bouvard, French M.P. and former President of the North Atlantic Assembly. Mr. Bouvard concentrated on the institutionalized dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean, which proves that the West is not trying to impose but instead to discuss. According to Mr. Bouvard the tragic incidents of September 11 may have raised suspicion and fear but did have positive traits too: the strengthening of solidarity between the supposed enemies of West and Islam, the reinforcement of the will of the EU to move further into new areas of integration and the rapprochement of Russia to the West and vice versa. Concerning the future he did mention that we must take into consideration two important issues: the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the demographic and economic developments at the two shores of Mediterranean.
Dr. Magda Shahin, Ambassador of Egypt in Greece, associated the issue of terrorism with the situation in the Middle East: "...I would like to share with you why Egypt felt so adamantly that the world solidarity gathered against terrorism should be instrumental in bringing about at last a just and durable solution to the Middle East problem..." She then went on to explain that terrorism is not a new phenomenon. She commented on the simplistic equation that exists in the West: Islam-Fundamentalism-Terrorism, three concepts being used interchangeably as synonyms. "...Terrorism exists in every society, but why terrorism committed by a Muslim is always being linked directly to his faith while for other non-Muslim we are content to call them simply terrorists without classifying them according to their religion and faith?...".
Egypt, Mrs. Shahin continued, "firmly believes in the idea of an International Conference which will address the issue. Such a view is further strengthened by what we witness today as a possible fragile coalition led by an individual country action. Terrorism remains a complex phenomenon triggered by a mix of factors and motivations. We have to deal with the root causes.It is also a product of poverty, illiteracy and unfair economic and social inequalities within and between states. Today's terrorism is a global phenomenon that needs concerted global actions".
Amb. Ioannis Bourlogiannis-Tsaggaridis, former Permanent Representative of Greece to NATO, said that after September 11 the word terrorism has invaded our daily life. The fight against this scourge has been transferred at a global level in which the UN must play a leading role. Concerning NATO, he mentioned that the new strategic perception of the Alliance did include terrorism as a potential threat. In the case of the activation of article 5 and the need for out-of-area operations, he supported that there does not exist any controversy issue since we are not talking about a particular state with borders and soil but for an international group.
Mr. Φzgόr άnlόhisarcikli, Secretary general of AAYPL (Atlantic Association for Young Political Leaders) and representative of Ari Movement from Turkey, closed the session. Mr. άnlόhisarcikli concentrated on the threats of the new security environment, taking as starting point the experience of his own country. He had cited that terrorism as a global threat may be a new phenomenon but it is not novel for his own country, which has for long given a fight against terrorism. Furthermore, he suggested that the clash of civilization exists only as a theory and as such can only potentially become a threat, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of his speech, he recommended Turkey as a model for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and for the actual attainment of democracy and secularism in a Muslim country.
Commentator of this round table was Dr. Alexandros Koutsis, Ass. Professor at Panteion University. Dr. Koutsis claimed that we should not hide behind our finger in what concerns our current perceptions on Islam. Nevertheless, the statements that Islam is not the enemy, our perceptions and the coverage by the media of the issue shows the opposite, that Islamic fundamentalism is considered as the enemy and Huntington laid the groundwork for this with his famous concept. He then raised the question whether Islam is a source of terrorism? He answered the question by stating that nowhere in the philosophy and the practice of Islam there is a clue which justifies and supports terrorism. Concerning NATO and its involvement he suggested that they should rather concentrate on the social psychological pressures of terrorism and on trying to define and understand the different perceptions of national security and threats to security that exist within the Islam countries. Finally, he raised the issue of civil liberties and claimed that under no circumstance should we accept any suspension or limitation.
On Saturday, December 1, 2001, the third table took place under the title: "Current Developments in the Balkans". Mr. Theodossis Georgiou presided over this table. Mr. Luan Hagdaraga, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, took the floor first. Mr. Hagdaradga stated that the Balkans is going through vigorous developments: "...laboriously and in a joint effort with the international community, it is getting rid of conflict situations rooted in ethnic problems, violence and genocide against ethnic minorities and the division of populations into those of the first category and the second category..." and continued by mentioning that despite the troubles, a mosaic of new democratic states is taking roots in the region. All these states are now focusing on what brings them together rather on what divides them.
Keeping pace with these developments Albania has fully committed to a regional policy of good neighborliness with all Balkan countries. That, according to the Minister, has been obvious in both crises in Kosovo and FYROM. Finally, he stated that integration into NATO is a strategic objective for the Albanian government.
Mr. Ovidiu Dranga, Deputy Head of the Euro-Atlantic Integration and Defence Policy Directory at the Ministry of Defence of Romania, followed. Mr. Dranga started his speech by mentioning that the incident of September 11 and its consequences on security as a concept, which has since undergone structural changes, gave birth to a new security architecture that requires a different approach. In this framework, according to Mr. Dranga, South Eastern Europe cannot be left out of the picture. "Today's historic opportunity is to reshape our interlinked destiny and to create a zone of security and stability in a region that has known little of either in the last decade". Then Mr. Dranga put a very crucial question concerning the region: "...we cannot help but wonder how will the security equation be solved? For how long the people in the area will have to rely on international support in order to keep themselves from killing each other? and for how long will this international support be available?". He went on by answering this question by stating that: "...bringing peace and stability in the region requires more than an end to the conflict, emergency refugee assistance and rebuilding destroyed infrastructure. It is time for us to change the perception that we are one of the most volatile parts of Europe. But first we need to change the mentality that someone is always going to take care of our problems". Concerning his country, he mentioned that Romania has proved that it is a reliable partner of the international community in its efforts towards the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in S.E.E. and other conflict-torn regions. Romania's integration in NATO and the EU is an opportunity to confirm and develop these capabilities and to act as a security provider in the region.
Mr. Nano Ruzin, Permanent Representative of FYROM to NATO, gave a significant title to his speech that reflects the dangerous situation that his country has been though during the last year: "FYROM, the indispensable link of security in the Balkans". Mr. Ruzin made a short narrative of the situation created in his country which ended up with the signing of the Peace Agreement of Ohrid on August, its ratification by the parliament and the amendments to the constitution. Mr. Ruzin suggested that the response of his country has been so mature up to the moment but he warned that if extremism and terrorism continue, FYROM would have to deal with the problem as if it was a problem of Albanian terrorism with all the consequences entailed in such a response.
Mr. Dusan Batakovic, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Greece provided an insight of the current situation in Yugoslavia and the role that this country is playing in the regional and in the Euro-Atlantic setting after the democratic revolution of October 5, 2000. He emphasized that the FRY had gradually become a new element of stability in the Balkans. "...The irreversible process of re-integration within the European family of democratic states has been followed through firm commitment to civil society, political democracy, market economy and the full protection of human rights....". Admittance to the Partnership for Peace will have a great impact on regional security, he added. Finally, concerning regional stability, Mr. Batakovic stated that: "...the FRY is committed to regional processes that would reaffirm the territorial integrity and inviolability of state-borders in the S.E.E.... this process should provide greater security to minority communities and narrow the window of opportunity for all kinds of extremism...".
Amb. Edouard Braine, Secretary General of the French Association for the Atlantic Community, concentrated mainly on the hesitant reaction of the EU and NATO during the first phases of the Balkan chained explosion and the lessons drawn there after. He did remind that nationalism is not something that can disappear from one day to the other, while he was reminiscent of the Franco-German relations after two world wars, where there was a need for a mechanism of solidarity so that ethnic nationalism could give its place to cooperation. In this respect, both NATO and the EU can today provide this mechanism to the Balkans.
Dr. Athanassios Dokos, Director of Studies at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, presented the conclusions to be drawn from the 11th Symposium of GAAEC. He started by wondering how different is the world after September 11. How has the international system and the balance of power system really changed? He then went on by summarizing in 10 points the issues raised during the Symposium and their implication for the future. First, he stated that every open society is inclined to such threats as terrorism. Second, he declared that we all agree that the absolute majority of Muslims is not fanatic or terrorist. Third, he referred to a major issue of the present and the future to come: immigration, which is a high priority issue to be addressed in an international and regional context. Fourth, he referred to the situation in the Middle East, where two conditions must be fulfilled in order that peace comes about: resolution of the Palestinian problem, in a way that secures the interests and the security of both sides and second, the need for political, economic and social reforms in the Muslim countries, not necessarily under the western model but certainly in a peculiar way but which will respect the fundamental and eternal values of humanity. Fifth, in what concerns Islam, he stated that it is certain that we do not understand this religion in the west. Nevertheless, there is a need for internal dialogue so that it is not being used as a disguise for phenomena of extremism and fanatism. Sixth, he maintained that the recent experience of Afghanistan proves that the International Community must seriously deal with failing or failed states. Seventh, Dr. Dokos examined then the behavior and the reaction of the US in face of the new evolutions. He predicted that this reaction will then determine the structure and the behavior of the International System. Eighth, he wondered about the role of the united Europe. He argued that recent developments suggest that the policy of the European Big Powers is getting renationalized. Ninth, he passed subsequently on the issue of the relations between North and South, in which there exists a huge gap in terms of development and understanding. Finally, Dr. Dokos provided an analysis of the so-called new world after September 11. This new world is characterized by instability, uncertainty, and unpredictability. Supranational problems and asymmetric relations dominate this world. In this context, there is only one-way forward: international cooperation with a sharing burden in favor of the developed world.
GAAEC also organized a discussion among politicians from different Greek political parties on the issue of "Greek Public Opinion relating to NATO and the EU" coordinated by the journalist, Mr. George Kapopoulos. Mr. Vassilios Kontogiannopoulos (M.P., Former Minister), Mr. Aris Spiliotopoulos (M.P.) and Mr. Petros Kounalakis (former M.P.) participated in this discussion. Mr. Kapopoulos in his introduction said that the issue under discussion is provocative enough but it also functions as an issue of taboo, since there doesn't exist any dialogue or discussion on this issue in Greece.
The three politicians, although from different political spectrums, agreed that Greek public opinion towards NATO and the US is dominated by reservation at the best and negation. The reasons behind this stance are multifold: historical, political, cultural, societal, which in turn have created deep-rooted wounds in the collective memory of the Greek people. Some side effect comments made by the representatives of the two major political parties concentrated further on the communication deficit that exists in informing the public opinion on the benefits from the participation in an international organization as well as on the obligations that derive from this participation, the latter especially being neglected.
However, all three participants agreed that Greek public opinion is positive towards the EU.
The Symposium concluded with a closing remark by the deputy Minister of National Defence, Mr. Loukas Apostolidis. Mr. Apostolidis quoted the challenges and dangers that the new era reserves for the state authorities that are responsible for the defence of a country. He talked about new roles and duties which are not solely military in nature and usually are not directed against a definite opponent. The recent terrorist knock against the US has demonstrated in every respect the complexity of the constituencies of the concept of security and the difficulty of dealing with this kind of threats, known as "asymmetrical threats", which are not of military nature.
Regarding Greece and its role in the wider region, Mr. Apostolidis after picturing this wider environment as a triangle of instability, consisting of volatile regions (the Balkans, Middle East and the Caucasus), he referred to Greece as a status quo country, which supports the maintenance of the existing borders and contributes actively in the collective efforts for stability and development in the region. Furthermore, he repeated the firm position of Greece concerning NATO's enlargement, according to which Greece accepts and supports the candidacy of the Balkan states for full membership.