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Two Prime Ministers opening the NATO-Russia meeting

27 June 2009 / 12:06:18  GRReporter
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Maria Spassova

Stoil Topalov

Special GRReporter correspondents

The Italian and Greek Prime Ministers Silvio Berlusconi and Kostas Karamanlis opened the top-level NATO-Russia meeting on the Greek island Corfu. This is the first meeting between the countries from the North-Atlantic treaty and Kremlin after the war in Georgia during the summer of 2008. Present at the meeting were also the Secretary General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who right after his arrival said that he is optimistic when it comes to the results from the discussions. Before the opening of the forum, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had a meeting with the Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. Russia is represented at the meeting by the foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Europe is facing many challenges regarding security. Some of them are traditional are this is where we disagree with Moscow. Some others like global warming and terrorism, are not traditional and I do not see a reason why we cannot collaborate with Moscow, because our interests match,” said the British foreign minister David Miliband, who also participated in the forum. “We can no longer talk about a conflict between Iran and the West. The conflict is already inside Iran, which needs to resolve its own future,” added also the British diplomat.

Over 50 foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe gathered in Corfu for an unofficial meeting tomorrow. Among the participants are also Bulgaria and Turkey, represented by Ivaylo Kalfin and Ahmet Davutoğlu. The minister of foreign affairs of Macedonia Antonio Milošoski also arrived in Corfu. His arrival shook up the Greek media, because he was allowed to land in Greece on an airplane of the National Macedonian airline, which carries the symbols of the Macedonian republic – not recognized by Greece.

Both meetings – NATO-Russia and of the foreign ministers from OSCE will take place under top-level security. Over 1200 policemen are guarding the Corfu Imperial Hotel, where the officials are staying. Army cutters are guarding the sea region and helicopters are flying, in order to ensure better security. Two demonstrations took place in the center of Corfu. Before noon about 500 people, supporters of the Greek Communist Party, protested under the slogans “NATO out of Corfu.” Earlier anarchists put up a big poster on the Old Fortress, which read “We are all foreigners in this world” as a sign of protest against the immigration policy of the European Union. Later on in the afternoon another protest was organized by the Independent Corfu Movement.

After the end of the meeting, the Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyanni, who was also the host of the forum, gave an official dinner to all guests in the Achelleion palace, which is near Corfu. Tomorrow starts the meeting of the OSCE foreign ministers.


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