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23 May, 1998
Foreign Deputy Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday reiterated that the European Union must defend decisions adopted at last December's Luxembourg summit regarding the principles and criteria for an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.
Speaking after a meeting in Athens with the British presidency's special envoy for Cyprus, Sir David Hannay, Mr. Kranidiotis also stressed that EU member-states should in the future refrain from sending out the wrong messages to Ankara by isolating Greece, such as a recent decision to convene the Union's Association Council with Turkey. "The strengthening of Turkey's European orientation is its (Turkey's) own responsibility, which that country is being called upon to assume itself," the Greek minister s aid.
The two men exchanged views on Cyprus' EU accession course, which Sir David said was developing smoothly. He also briefed Mr. Kranidiotis on the results of British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's recent trip to Ankara, as well as on Turkey's decision not to participate in the Association Council and on positions of the British presidency in view of the upcoming Cardiff summit.
Sources said the British official stressed to the Greek side that although his government was not prepared to endorse a revision of Luxembourg summit decisions, it considered that there was perhaps need to discuss certain "clarifications" in Cardiff, but without changing the substance of issues.
Responding to questions after a meeting with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou afterwards, the British diplomat declined to be drawn on whether Euro-Turkish differences could be bridged.
"I've been working in the European Union for about 30 years now and the one thing I've known is not to anticipate what our heads of government are going to do when they meet," he said.
He added that he would be visiting a number of European capitals to discuss the relevant issues, and then brief Prime Minister Blair ahead of the summit.
Finally, he described his visit to Greece and discussions with Greek officials as "extremely important". "Greece is a country which has a great deal of interest in this matter, so it's right to come here and to talk these things through in detail," he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency