Updated: 03-Jul-2002 NATO Speeches

28 May 2002


by Costas Simitis,
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 together.

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 violence.
  • 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 after us.

We, the Greek government, will work with consistency and persistence towards this goal.

Thank you.

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