It is with great pleasure that I welcome the President of the Republic of Serbia, my friend Boris Tadic. Almost one year ago I visited Belgrade and I can remember the very warm Serbian hospitality. Dear Mr. President, I would like to assure you of the same deep feelings of friendship during your stay in this country.
The historic bonds between Greece and Serbia were forged through joint struggles to defend ideals and just causes, struggles for freedom, independence and national sovereignty.
This is, Mr. President, the soundest basis for the always excellent relations between our countries in every sector. Our close and constructive cooperation is a model for the stability and security of our wider region.
Greece actively supports your efforts for accession to the European Union. Your government is working hard and systematically to fulfill all the required criteria and make the necessary reforms. After the Thessaloniki agenda we, on our part, have proposed the year 2014 as a strategic objective for accession, a highly symbolical milestone date for the Balkans and for Europe. The abolition of entry visas is an important step which shows tangibly to the friendly people of Serbia that the doors of the European Union are open to them. We are now looking forward to a speedy start to the ratification of the Stability and Association Agreement by the national parliaments of the member states as well as to the timely examination of your accession application.
In relation to Kosovo, Greece remains a firm supporter of the principles of International Law. It is only on this basis that we can achieve a peaceful and viable solution to the problem.
The accession to the European Union is the safest way for our region to embark on the road to stability and prosperity and to leave behind, like the rest of Europe, century-old rivalries and conflicts. This is I believe our shared goal, a goal to which my country has been consistently committed ever since the difficult period of the 90’s. It is not by chance that all our European partners believe that regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are important and an inviolable condition for the accession of any state to the Union. This is exactly the framework of our policy towards FYROM, a policy of good will which has been shown in practice, aiming at doing away with obsolete and historically unfounded claims in a constructive spirit, with respect for the principles of International Law. I am certain, Mr. President, that the friendly country of Serbia fully shares these positions of principle since it is very well aware of the dangers that may arise when history is distorted in order to serve specific interests.
I know that you have recently paid a successful visit to Cyprus during which you confirmed your support for a mutually acceptable agreement on the Cyprus issue. Greece, on its part, will continue to actively support President Christofias’ efforts to achieve a viable and functional ‘Cypriot’ solution on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolutions, the principles and values of the EU, with full implementation of the community acquis. A solution which will bring the Turkish occupation and colonization to an end, which will bring down the last remaining dividing wall in a European capital and will guarantee security and prosperity to the people of Cyprus, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish –Cypriots alike.
I have already referred to the active presence of Greece in the region during the difficult period of the 90’s, when our businessmen took the risk of investing, thus contributing to the Serbian economy. Let me assure you that our economic presence will continue.
But we are not only brought together by politics and by the economy. We also have the deep, immutable bond of culture. You will remember that during my visit to Belgrade last year I had the great pleasure of inaugurating the Home of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture. We intend to make it the home of Greece in your capital. We would also like to further strengthen the cooperation between our Universities and our intellectuals.
I am certain that after this excellent meeting the cooperation between our two countries will become deeper and stronger in every sector.
With these words and with wishes for prosperity and growth to the friendly people of Serbia, let me raise my glass to wish you health and to welcome you and your delegation to Athens.-