FM addresses int'l conference in Sofia; focus on Mideast

Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Friday addressed an international forum here and underlined the importance of analysing the "dynamic developments" in North Africa and the Middle East. Speaking at the Sofia Platform Forum on the subject of “Bridging Europe and the Middle East: Central and Eastern Europe’s Experience and Change in North Africa and the Middle East”, Droutsas pointed out that “developments in North Africa and the Middle East are still on-going and nobody can foretell the final outcome,” expressing regret because the dramatic “developments in Libya are now short of overshadowing developments in Egypt and Tunisia.” 

In reference to the EU, he cited what he called “enlargement fatigue” and underlined that the “Agenda 2014” initiative undertaken by Greece over a year ago is aimed at giving a new political momentum to the EU accession course of the western Balkan states.

The foreign minister underlined that misinterpretations and unsubstantiated comments alleging that the EU is attempting to “dictate or impose” solutions on the Arab countries should be avoided.
Droutsas stressed that “economic growth in the Arab countries should be encouraged because it could translate into economic growth for the EU itself”. He also added that EU activation in this direction could serve as substantive precautionary measure that could limit and discourage alarming trends and phenomena, such as the increase flow of North African migrants into Europe.

Droutsas later met with his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Mladenov on the sidelines of the international conference and discussed developments in the region.

"Greece as well as Bulgaria have constructive thoughts, ideas and proposals, they are taking initiatives in this direction ... we exchanged views on developments in the region as well, the Balkans where we are sharing the common goal of seeing as soon as possible all their countries becoming member-states of the EU. We have developed close cooperation with Bulgaria on the Greek initiative also, known as Agenda 2014.

"Lastly, we also discussed our bilateral relations that have reached a level, where there are no problems whatever, for which we shall be discussing any more, but to mainly discuss how to develop our cooperation even more, how to make it even closer. I think that a considerable step in this direction was the creation of the joint Ministerial Council between Greece and Bulgaria. We discussed the preparation of the second session of this joint ministerial council and we reached an understanding that this second meeting will take place in Greece, probably in early September," he said.

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