Speaking at a press conference at the end of the European Conference in Athens, the President of the European Council, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined the will of the enlarged European Union to refuse to accept new dividing lines and to promote cooperation with its neighbours.
“From Iceland to Russia,” Simitis said, “all the countries of Europe were present and there was a common view regarding the further promotion of this cooperation. Athens has served as the basis for this step forward, with respect to what we can do to make Europe – despite the various differences – a single entity which acts in a coordinated manner and works with the international community for more peace.”
Simitis also referred to the joint text that emerged from the Conference, as well as to the Declaration of the Presidency on Iraq, noting that it was the result of intensive negotiations among the 15.
The President-in-Office of the EU Council of Ministers, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, said that the presence in Athens of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted the importance of the UN and its role in efforts for the reconstruction of Iraq. Papandreou also outlined the initiatives to be taken to provide humanitarian assistance – with the organisation of an airlift – as well as the protection of cultural heritage in Iraq.