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[ALBSA-Info] Balkan defense meeting: Kathimerini

Gazhebo at Gazhebo at
Tue Jun 5 13:56:15 EDT 2001

Balkan defense meeting
Region's ministers and US defense secretary convene in Thessaloniki

Defense ministers of southeastern European countries gather today in Thessaloniki for an informal meeting that will focus on ways to deal with the ethnic Albanian insurgency in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the future of Kosovo and the general situation in the Balkans.

Defense Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos is to hold separate meetings with several of his counterparts today and tomorrow, including Turkey's Sabahattin Cakmakoglu. Tomorrow Tsochadzopoulos will meet with US Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, on the second day of his most extensive overseas trip since the Bush administration was sworn in in January. Other ministers and delegations are expected from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Romania, Italy, Ukraine and Slovenia. It will be the first time the Ukrainian defense minister, Olexander Kuzmuk, will be taking part in such a meeting. Also participating will be officials from NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the Balkan Stability Pact.

In their last meeting, in Skopje, the region's defense ministers had agreed on a joint statement condemning extremist actions and supporting the territorial integrity of countries. They had also agreed on stronger measures to prevent ethnic Albanian guerrillas from infiltrating FYROM from Kosovo. 

In Skopje they had disagreed over whether a newly-established brigade made up of troops from the region's countries should help patrol the Kosovo-FYROM border. The subject was postponed until Thessaloniki's session.

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