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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM opens off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy issues

  • [01] PM opens off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy issues

    The political paradox of candidate EU member country Turkey refusing to recognise EU member-state Cyprus cannot continue indefinitely, prime minister Costas Karamanlis warned on Thursday, during an off-the-agenda debate in parliament on foreign policy issues, taking place at political party leaders' level, and addressed a message to Ankara that the rate and outcome of its European course depended entirely on Turkey.

    "The political paradox of non-recognition of a member state by a candidate country" cannot be perpetuated indefinitely, Karamanlis said, adding that "the rhythm, as well as the final outcome, of its European course depends entirely on Turkey itself".

    "Implementation of the Customs Union Protocol, for the opening up of the neighbouring country's ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft is an explicit contractual commitment on the part of Turkey towards the European Union and the entirety of the EU members," Karamanlis said, stressing that "this obligation is self-evident and cannot be linked with matters that concern the internal operation of the EU".

    The prime minister elaborated that the Trade Regulation between the EU and the Turkish Cypriot community was an internal matter of the EU, noting that Athens supported the ongoing effort by the Finnish EU presidency "supporting the Cyprus Republic's approach, for achievement of the best possible result".

    On Turkey's EU accession course, Karamanlis explained that although Europe had put in place "the tracks and the roadsigns leading to accession", however, "the train driver on its own course is Ankara itself", adding that "the rhythm and final outcome of its European course depends entirely on Ankara itself", and warning that "refusal of the necessary reforms is outside the spirit governing the operation of the EU, and consequently this refusal cannot continue in perpetuity".

    Referring to the question faced by the EU of whether Turkey, in the first stage of its accession process, was meeting the obligations it has undertaken towards the EU '25', Karamanlis said that certain reforms have indeed been made, but "Turkey's attitude so far falls short of its commitments".

    Noting second thoughts by some EU member countries of a special relationship between the EU and Turkey, the prime minister said that "the attempts to improve the situation, concerning the respect of religious freedoms and minority rights, have, unfortunately, remained merely attempts, while on the issues of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Halki Seminary, the foundations' properties and the minorities properties, its obligations still remain obligations".

    Karamanlis further warned that "the maintenance of the unacceptable anachronism of the 'casus belli' does not help" towards achieving firm relations of good neighborhood, while Turkey's "obligations to the EU member states, among them the Republic of Cyprus, cannot be ignored".

    He said the European track was the only route that would ensure for Turkey a steady European course. "It is the only track that guarantees that the train will not be derailed on its route to Europe", he said, adding that "we do not want such an eventuality".

    However, he stressed, it was up to Ankara to rule out that eventuality.

    "Europe has clearly placed, just as in every other case, both the tracks and the roadsigns that lead to accession. The train driver, however, on Turkey's course is Ankara itself. Both the rhythm and final outcome of its European course depends on Ankara. Refusal of the necessary reforms is outside the spirit governing the operation of the EU, and that is why this refusal cannot continue in perpetuity," the premier underlined.

    Turning to the FYROM name issue, Karamanlis said that "even at this date, the neighbouring country's leadership is obliged to assess the situation and respond to Greece's positive stance".

    "A mutually acceptable name is required on the road to the EU and NATO," Karamanlis said, stressing that "this is a condition for its accession to be ratified by the Hellenic Parliament".

    Assessing Greece's 2-year seat on the UN Security Council for the two-year period 2005-2006, and particularly its presidency of the Security Council during the month of September, Karamanlis said that "we proved in action our interest in a resolution of the Middle East problem".

    "Our efforts culminated with the holding of the extraordinary meeting of the Security Council, at foreign ministers' level -- the first to be held at that level in more than 20 years -- on the issue of restoring and consolidating peace in this strife-ridden region", the premier said.

    Greece, he continued, had made its own positive contribution in all the international issues faced by the international community during those two years, from the Iranian nuclear programme to the Middle East and to the Kosovo issue.

    Concluding his presentation, Karamanlis said that the experience of the past, the problems of the present, as well as the challenges of the future "indicate, to all of us, the need for joining forces behind commong goals".

    "They require understanding, collaboration, political responsibility. They require unity and unanimity on the major national issues, and not sterile disagreement. They require boldness and prudence that, above all else, we place and serve the collective, the social, the national interest, the premier said, stressing that "whenever we Greeks unite forces and follow a common national strategy, we achieve great goals".

    "This is our standing aspiration. This is the certain and secure path to a dynamic and proud Greece," Karamanlis concluded.

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