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Statements of Foreign Minister Avramopoulos and E. Hoxhaj, the Foreign Minister of Kosovo, following their meeting

Friday, 08 March 2013

D. AVRAMOPOULOS: Today we had a truly useful and constructive meeting with Mr. Enver Hoxhaj, during which we looked at ways to strengthen our cooperation in important sectors, such as the economy, as well as at issues that have to do with developments in our neighbourhood, the course of the Belgrade-Pristina talks, of course, and the European perspective of our whole region.

It is well known that within the European Union there are differing views on the matter of Kosovo’s status. Greece’s stance is well known. But everyone agrees that the Western Balkan region has a clear European perspective. Mr. Hoxhaj and I had the opportunity to discuss these issues in our talks just now. And of course I would like to welcome him to Athens today.

Included in the European perspective I just mentioned is Kosovo, which needs to work, with Europe’s guidance, to meet the criteria and carry out the reforms required – requirements included in the Stabilization and Association Agreement evaluation framework – by the European Union.

Greece’s strategic goal is to create a space of peace, security, stability and development in the wider Southeast European region. This presupposes economic cooperation and the peaceful resolution of differences through diplomacy.

In order to strengthen the economic and trade relations between Athens and Pristina, we decided on the opening of a Kosovo Commercial Affairs Office in Greece. This decision does not impact Greece’s position on the status, but it sends a clear message that development is a key tool and catalyst, I would say, for peace. A tool that we are determined to use.

There is great potential for investment, trade and economic cooperation between us. A significant number of Greek enterprises already have a perceptible presence there, and Greek entrepreneurs are very interested.

Beyond that, it is important for us to focus our efforts on the ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. This dialogue has already produced significant results, and that is why I would like to take this opportunity today to express our congratulations, as well as our encouragement to the two sides to continue.

Mr. Hoxhaj briefed me in detail today on the course of the dialogue, and I reiterated the firm support of Athens for this process, as well as our availability and willingness to assist in any way we can. We hope that this dialogue brings results, has a positive outcome as soon as possible, so as to consolidate the European future of our whole region.

Dear Enver, I thank you sincerely for the constructive talks we have had so far and that we will continue shortly. I believe that we are turning a new page in our cooperation today. Once again, I welcome you, and I give you the floor.

E. HOXHAJ: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Minister, it is for me actually a great day to be today in Athens. I am very grateful to you for this meeting. I am not going to provide you with other long matters, but let me share with you some key messages.

My first message is that we are very grateful to the Greek people, to the Greek government, for supporting us massively in very crucial times. We are very grateful to many soldiers, to many civil servants, to many journalists, and to many people who supported us in the 1990s and afterwards in building our modern Kosovo.

I was actually a student at the Pristina University and then I remembered Dimitris Avramopoulos coming to Pristina, bringing humanitarian aid at a very crucial time for the people of Kosovo, and I am here to thank the people of Greece and everybody who supported us massively in a very crucial time.

Secondly, we discussed today how to have close cooperation between our two countries, and we decided in the near future to have our office in Athens, which will enhance this cooperation. We are very much interested in seeing more exchange in the field of economy, in the field of trade, in the field of education, in the field of culture and tourism.

There are, for the time being, 76 Greek companies which have invested in Kosovo, and we would like to see more investors coming from Greece. At the same time, we would like to see more exports of Greek goods in Kosovo.

That means it is not only important to have a good cooperation between the two governments, but it is very important to have a close relations between the two peoples, and this is nurtured very much by Kosovo. Of course, we would hope very much in the near future to see a positive position coming from Athens, but this is actually a position of a sovereign state.

My third point is, I informed Mr. Minister in detail about the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, which is a dialogue between two independent states.

Let me reiterate here that we are very much interested in closing the bad chapter in the history between the two countries, and we are very much interested in building a normal future, and we are very much interested in seeing both countries future members of the European Union.

And my last point is that I am very grateful to your Minister of Foreign Affairs for supporting Kosovo’s European integration agenda and supporting Kosovo’s… and supporting the intervention agenda for the whole region.

Kosovo is nothing else, just a European nation. In terms of history, in terms of geography, in terms of culture, we have always been Europeans and we are very grateful to you for supporting our future membership in Europe.

Dear Dimitris, thank you very much for inviting me to be in Athens today.

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