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Speech by the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary General Ambassador Zepos at the SEECP Summit
Mr. Prime Minister,
It is indeed a pleasure to participate in this 15th SEECP Summit, here in Belgrade, concluding a successful Serbian Chairmanship-in-Office (C-i-O). I would like to thank our Serbian friends for their hard and fruitful work during their Presidency.
SEECP constitutes the unique institutionalized political forum for regional cooperation in South East Europe (SEE). SEECP Participating States have fully committed themselves to promoting their European and Euro-Atlantic integration Agenda. It is essential that the integrity and the credibility of the SEE enlargement process be maintained and reinforced. The spirit of rapprochement and reconciliation among SEECP Participating States has gained ground.
Being a strong supporter of EU enlargement, Greece is actively engaged and has played a leading role in shaping the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries. Our strong belief is that the EU should not shift its attention away from South East Europe. Greece has put a great deal of effort and energy, including the initiation and advancement of the ‘Agenda 2014’, to avert such an eventuality and maintain the EU focus on our region.
During the past year, there have been positive developments in the SEECP countries’ European integration course. Serbia was granted the status of an EU candidate country. Croatia has signed the Accession Treaty and is expected to become the 28th EU member state on 1 July 2013. Montenegro is hoping to start accession negotiations with the EU in 2012. We congratulate them for their progress but we believe that we need to maintain and build up on this momentum and further advance the region’s EU integration Agenda.
In order for the countries of the region to advance towards full EU membership, all criteria, conditions and requirements already set by the Union should be fulfilled. Good neighbourly relations constitute a key precondition and prerequisite of the EU enlargement and integration process.
I wish to underline that external challenges and domestic developments will not affect Greece’s foreign policy. My country has proven its commitment to the consolidation and promotion of the regional cooperation process and the South East European enlargement Agenda.
I would like to praise the outgoing Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Mr. Biscevic, for his hard work during his term. At the same time I would like to wish success to the endeavours of the new Secretary General of the RCC Mr. Goran Svilanovic.
I wish to express our appreciation and praise to the Serbian Chairmanship for its term in office for organizing this meeting in an excellent manner and for extending us such a warm hospitality.
I would also like to use this opportunity to extend our congratulations for the election of the Serbian Foreign Minister as President of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Finally, I want to congratulate the incoming Chairmanship-in-Office for the year 2012-2013 and wish them success in their endeavours. Undoubtedly, the year ahead will be a challenging one. I want to assure them of Greece’s full support and assistance in their work.