Prime Minister of Greece
My dear colleagues,
Greece has had intense experiences of the cold war, of insecurity and
fear in a world of violent conflicts. It suffered the economic setbacks
and poverty that were the result of the friction. Two generations of Greeks
were raised believing that in international relations there is only black
and white, only two great enemies and the danger of total destruction.
Greece became cut off from the world of the Balkans where for two centuries
Hellenism flourished. There were Greeks who worked from Trieste to Odessa
and from the shores of the Adriatic to the shores of the Caucasus. After
the end of World War II the economic cooperation and communication between
the peoples that had brought prosperity became impossible.
In 1989 the system of actually existing socialism collapsed. Once again
bridges of cooperation began to be built. From the very outset of the
realignments in Eastern Europe my country was in favour of close and fundamental
cooperation with Russia.
We believed then and we still believe now that without cooperation with
Russia there can be no lasting peace and stability in Europe.
Yet over ten years had to go by before we could say that not only has
an era come to an end but also that we have normalized relations and are
definitely entering a new era.
- Today marks the formal ending of the cold war.
- Today hope is reborn. The hope and conviction that we can go forward
That is why I salute the new relations that are being forged between
NATO and Russia.
I welcome President Putin in our midst.
We find ourselves facing new challenges. It is a realization that all
of us who sat at this table experienced in common following the tragic
events of 11 September. And it is in common that we must and can respond
to the challenge of terrorism. At the same time onerous legacies still
exist from the century that just ended.
This day must become a symbol and an example for such other regional
trouble spots that exist. It must become an example on how to overcome
problems that plague and beset us, on how history continues on new foundations.
But we must especially make every effort all of us together so that this
great fragile zone that begins from the Balkans and reaches to the Middle
East becomes a region of peace and stability.
- What is needed is the political will, the dedication to the principles
and the values of a modern world of mutual understanding that condemns
- What is needed is the vision of peace and friendship for the world
we want and to pass on this vision to the generations that will come
We, the Greek government, will work with consistency and persistence
towards this goal.