AS (2000) CR 8 . 28  january, 2000 page 19

    THE PRESIDENT. - Thank you. I now call the chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development, Mrs. Degn.

    (Lord Russell-Johnston, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr. Saakashvili.)

    Mrs DEGN (Denmark). - Mr President, ministers and colleagues, tragic events can create a new momentum. That is what happened when the people of Greece and the people of Turkey expressed their desire to assist each other immediately and unconditionally. As Deputy Minister Pahtas explained, expressions of peace and friendship among the two peoples have continued and strengthened. We warmly welcome them.

    The international community is relieved, and hopes that the momentum will be maintained and co-operation reinforced. We are all glad when the wishes of your two countries are realised and when you send your respective ministers to meet each other. The meeting between Mr Papandreou and the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs showed the international community that there is great hope for the future of Europe.

    Immediately after the earthquake in August, I suggested to the Committee that we should focus on that sad event to prepare and to organise the infrastructure of modem, efficient European countries so that we can share our experiences. I followed the public debate both in Greece and in Turkey, where I happened to stay during the Istanbul summit, and in both countries I have followed the comments and criticisms expressed in the press, which has done us a service by exposing inadequacies in the infrastructure.

    I hope that the lessons learned in both countries concerned and in the international community will lead to the establishment of a rapid reaction capability. The dual aims of establishing peace and a rapid reaction capability underlay the debate both in committee and in the Hemicycle.

    I thank the representatives of the governments of Greece and Turkey for being present today and for their contributions. I thank the rapporteurs and colleagues who shared their opinions with us. Many lessons were learned. I am grateful for the comments expressed by members of other committees, and particularly for the report from the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee.