14 December, 2006
The foreign ministry considered the mechanism decided on by EU foreign ministers for monitoring Turkey's accession progress to be adequate, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Wednesday.
The spokesman noted that the review process decided on by the EU General Affairs Council on Monday did not allow a margin of several years in which the EU did not observe, examine and evaluate Turkey's stance with respect to its outstanding obligations.
"There is an evaluation mechanism that begins immediately in 2007 but which emphatically, in recognition of certain political facts during that year, increases its weight in 2008 and then in 2009, if this proves necessary. Therefore, an evaluation mechanism exists, providing for special reference to the reports of the European Commission on Protocol issues and is essentially the position of the Commission toward the Council; in other words the observations, notes and assessments of the Commission essentially act as a recommendation to the Council, which has the option, depending on what the Commission finds regarding Turkey's fulfillment of its obligations, to take new decisions if required," Koumoutsakos explained.
Greece judged this mechanism adequate, especially in light of the difficult climate during the negotiations, he added.
The spokesman emphasized that the reference to Turkey's accession progress called for both a follow-up of its progress but also expressly referred to a 'review" via the Commission's reports to the Council.
Koumoutsakos also pointed out that there was a majority and solid group of member-states that clearly and actively sought to ensure the minimum common denominator of sanctions against Turkey over its failure to implement the Customs Union Protocol and open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus.
He denied that the opening of new chapters in the accession talks with Turkey was a problem, saying that this part of the process foreseen and did not undermine the EU's message to Turkey.
"This is a message that the EU does not close the door against Turkey and, at the same time, that the progress of its accession talks will not be smooth if the neighboring country does not carry out its outstanding obligations and commitments," Koumoutsakos said.
He said the result was in accordance with Greece's objectives and strategic choices on Turkey's European course, which was that Turkey must fully meet all terms and obligations required by the EU.
The spokesman also commented on the failure of efforts so far to find a formula for an EU regulation that would allow direct trade between the EU and the Turkish-Cypriot community, predicting that the debate would probably continue in 2007 under the German presidency of the EU.
Commenting on the Finnish EU presidency's statements regarding a solution for the Cyprus issue, Koumoutsakos said that this essentially "stated the obvious" and was in agreement with Greece's desire for continuing the process in order to arrive at a just, viable and functional solution, while noting the need for careful preparation of the process. He denied seeing any attempt to link the Cyprus issue with Turkey's European progress.
Asked about a possible visit to Greece by Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul, Koumoutsakos said that Greece intended the visit to take place soon and would deal with the possibility after New Year.
Source: Athens News Agency