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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Karamanlis: Commission position vis-a-vis Turkey a 'basis for further talks'

  • [01] Karamanlis: Commission position vis-a-vis Turkey a 'basis for further talks'

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday stressed that the latest European Commission proposal amid Turkey‚s standing refusal to extend the all-important customs union with all EU member-states is a "basis for more talks". The Greek prime minister spoke at the conclusion of a NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, where he repeated Athens‚ leitmotif of supporting Turkey‚s European orientation under the condition that the EU candidate-state fully meet all its obligations. "Turkey must realise that its progress is linked with the fulfillment of criteria as set out by the EU. Any other stance has repercussions," he said, adding that Ankara must prove, in practice, that it will meet its commitments, "which after all, it has accepte". Moreover, he said Athens is in a constant dialogue with the Commission, its European partners, "and, of course, Cyprus, so that a proper framework is found".

    Meeting with Chirac

    Earlier, the Greek premier met with French President Jacques Chirac following the conclusion of the NATO summit, with the 40-minute meeting touching on bilateral issues as well as Turkey's European prospects before the former's statements at a press briefing.

    According to reports, both sides agreed that a corresponding message to EU hopeful Turkey should be linked to that country's accession progress.

    In the later press conference, Karamanlis told reporters that talks by NATO member-states' leaders focused on the situation in Afghanistan and the need to ensure the peacekeeping mission's success via the further stabilisation and reconstruction of the strife-plagued country, a prelude he said to an eventual handover of control for the entire country's security to Afghan forces. Karamanlis, however, underlined that Athens will not increase its military presence in the country. "Having fulfilled our commitments on the military level, Greece is able to actively contribute to efforts for social and economic reconstruction" he said.

    In reference to the NATO presence in Kosovo, Karamanlis said Greece wants to ensure stability in the region,"where developments affect us directly."

    "We believe that the KFOR presence will be necessary as a guarantee of security for the foreseeable future, if of course, the force's future and its mission are linked with the outcome of negotiations for a final status ... Negotiations (over Kosovo) must conclude with a viable and mutually acceptable solution," he added.

    In terms of NATO membership for Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Karamanlis underlined that the"process remains dependent on (candidate-states') track record, and, therefore, a separation of the three candidacies cannot be ruled out .."

    In a related development, he expressed Athens' satisfaction with the prospect of including Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia into NATO's Partnership for Peace initiative. "This decision falls parallels and vindicates standing Greek positions, while contributing to regional stability."

    Finally, asked the proposal for a NATO rapid reaction force, Karamanlis said it was a fundamental tool for the Alliance's military transformation, adding that Athens' contribution will be significant, something he said has already been recognised by the Alliance.

    Other topics up for discussion included the war on terror, a NATO ground surveillance programme, as well as progress in dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical warfare threats.

    On the sidelines of a working dinner on Tuesday evening, Karamanlis held brief talks with, among others, US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov.

    (ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis)


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