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29 November, 1999
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday reiterated Greece's desire to see Turkey in the European Union, but in line with the principles accepted and adhered to by all EU member-states.
"The participation of Turkey in the EU - under certain conditions - assists in building a space of peace and security, of consolidating peace and stability in our region," Mr. Simitis said at a rally in Crete during his weekend tour of the island. "This, however, means that we will not bring the existing problems to the EU," he added.
"The EU is a community of countries based on guidelines, principles of law, and with procedures, which must be acceptable to all in order to, achieve the goal of a common destiny," he said.
"A common destiny, yes, but one with such conditions where peace and cooperation can be permanent situations in the Aegean and in Greek-Turkish relations."
Earlier, the Prime Minister had underlined the positive climate created recently through the mutual aid and support between the two countries in the wake of the quakes that struck NW Turkey and the greater Athens area.
"The positive climate is the result of our initiatives to help in the quakes, and to approach issues such as financial cooperation," Mr. Simitis said.
"Greece has shown the way and I hope that Turkey will take similar initiatives, so that international law can be the framework of reference for the region and for there to be permanent stability and peaceful relationships."
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who returned on Friday from a trip to Cyprus where he held talks with the island republic's political leaders on Athens' stance vis-a-vis Turkey's bid for EU candidacy, stressed yesterday that Greece would protect both its own and Cyprus' interests at the upcoming Helsinki summit.
In an interview published in Sunday's edition of "Eleftherotypia", Mr. Papandreou said if Greece was forced to use its veto at Helsinki on the issue of EU Turkey's candidacy, the responsibility for this would lie with Greece's EU partners.
The outcome at Helsinki, he added, would have an effect on Greek-Turkish rapprochement presently under way but he said he hoped that talks over the next few days would bring results.
"I hope that the negotiations over the next few days will find partners ready to contribute to further strengthening of Greek-Turkish rapprochement, by guaranteeing Greek interests," he said.
Greece has said it supports Turkey's bid to join the EU but that it needs to see specific steps from the neighboring country, which indicate its commitment to conform to European norms.
It also wants the EU to disassociate the progress of Cyprus' bid to join the EU from the resolution of the political problem on the divided island. Greece has said repeatedly that Turkey, which maintains an occupation force on the island, can not hold Cyprus "hostage".
Recently, the EU Finnish presidency called on Greece and Sweden to take a final decision on the issue of Turkey's EU candidacy, indicating that the 13 EU member states had reached a consensus on the issue.
"We have not given our final consent and nor are we about to until we guarantee our vital interests and confirm that Turkey's European course is to the benefit of the EU, Greece, Cyprus and of course Turkey," Mr. Papandreou said.
"We have clearly set out our positions to our partners, they know our positions and, in the same way that they expect our response, we too expect their final response."
Mr. Papandreou began a visit to Stockholm yesterday, part of his round of contacts to brief EU member states on the Greek position ahead of the critical EU Helsinki summit in early December.
While in Cyprus on Friday, the Greek minister reiterated that Athens would weigh its interests and those of Cyprus in making its final decisions regarding the Helsinki summit.
Greece is the supporter of Cyprus' Hellenism, Mr. Papandreou said, adding "we will weigh all of our interests not only of Greece but of Cyprus as well and we will come up with our final decisions.
"We will continue the joint effort for a just and lasting solution; for a democratic and undivided Cyprus...Cypriot Hellenism knows that we are its supporters and that we will wage together this common struggle," he concluded.
On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis called for Ankara to commit to abiding by international law and treaties and to denounce all use of force if it wanted to acquire an EU candidate status.
"First, Turkey must commit itself to respecting international law and treaties. Second, to denounce every threat of the use of force, and third, the European Union should commit itself over the accession of Cyprus, regardless of a political solution to the problem plaguing the island," he said in the town of Nafplio yesterday.
Mr. Karamanlis stressed earlier that the decisions to be taken at the Helsinki summit will be very crucial, as the cohesion, consistency and effectiveness of the nation in foreign policy and in safeguarding national issues will be judged there.
Source: Athens News Agency