Greek Foreign Minister Visits Armenia

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Signing of agreemen’s on consular and postal cooperation between Armenia and Greece kicked off a visit Wednesday by Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to Armenia.

During a briefing–Armenia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian stressed the importance of Pangalos’ visit to Armenia.

The Greek leader met with Prime Minister Robert Kocharian–where both leaders expressed support for continued expansion of Greek-Armenian relations.

Kocharian thanked Pangalos for his country’s humanitarian assistance efforts–especially a recent $10 million commodities credit provided to Armenia by Greece.

The meeting also focused on trade–banking and other areas of cooperation between the two countries. Both sides emphasized the importance of close cooperation between Greece–Armenia and Iran.

During the foreign ministers’ press briefing Pangalos expressed gratitude for the invitation to Armenia–adding that Armenia and Greece have been allies for a long time.

He commended the Armenian community of Greece and stated that the community–while maintaining the Armenian language–heritage and traditions–has had an immense contribution in Greece’s reality and has worked with the understanding of mutual respect.

Pangalos said–however–that Armeno-Greek relations should enter a new dimension with the introduction of more accelerated and expanded trade and other economic activities.

The visiting leader explained that his delegation was specifically chosen and included representatives of businesses interested in Armenia’s production capabilities–as well as broadcast media executives who have expressed interest in upgrading Armenia’s cable potential.

Pangalos also addressed the potential of cooperation in the fields of energy and finance–and stressed Greece’s commitment to Armenia’s participation in European circles and institutions.

"Armenia is a European country–as such its progress must be channeled in that direction," Pangalos noted.

In discussing cooperation between Armenia–Iran–Greece and Georgia–Pangalos stated that there were mutual interests and areas of concern for Greece–Armenia and Iran–cooperation among whom must be placed on a more firm footing.

Pangalos also discussed relations between Greece and Turkey as they relate to NATO expansion and the European Community. He mentioned the Cyprus question where he stressed Turkey’s illegal intervention in Cyprus and its insistence in continuing to work against the international current of norms–procedures and principles in its efforts to provoke unrest and not adhere to United Nations resolutions.

Pangalos added that Turkey’s threats against Greece pose a severe national security risk for the latter and have become a major concern for Greek politicians to resolve.

Pangalos emphasized that Turkey’s position and posturing was improper and that Turkey must realize that the Ottoman Empire has collapsed and will never exist again.

The visiting foreign minister stated that Greece supported a people’s right to self-determination be that cultural autonomy or full-fledged independence and believed that the Karabakh conflict should be resolved within the realm of that right.

He said that he would address the Karabakh question in a more in-depth manner during his trip to Baku Friday–but warned that Turkey would always intervene in Karabakh since it had interests in that region.

He urged a solution to the Karabakh conflict through dialogue and cooperation.

Pangalos also met with National Assembly Speaker Babken Ararktsian–His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s and Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

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