21 December, 2004
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday stressed that the conclusions of the latest European Council in Brussels regarding Turkey improved on those of the Helsinki summit in 1999. He rejected criticism on the summit conclusions voiced by main opposition PASOK and reiterated his satisfaction with the results achieved in Brussels on Friday.
Speaking during a dinner for political and parliamentary reporters, Karamanlis also repeated his view that a fixed time schedule for resolving Greece's problems with neighboring Turkey was not helpful and would not lead anywhere, while noting that the implementation of the European road map by Turkey "remained a major question mark".
The premier underlined that supporting Turkey's European orientation was a strategic choice for Athens and that the government had not wanted to reach the point of a total break down.
"It's no little thing for Greece to support the neighboring country's European orientation," Karamanlis said.
He predicted that relations with Turkey would improve as it carried out the terms imposed by the EU but also noted that "a country's behavior does not change in a month".
Commenting on criticism from PASOK leader George Papandreou, meanwhile, the premier said that this did "not reflect the reality of what happened in Brussels".
He refused to comment on similarly critical comments made by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos regarding the EU's 'green light' to Turkey, expressing his support for the president.
According to Karamanlis, Turkey's progress toward the EU might yet be blocked if it failed to meet its obligations and the terms that had been set. He also stressed that these terms were unprecedented for any candidate-state so far.
At the same time, he praised the stance of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos as "responsible and resolute" and noted that the climate toward Cyprus was now greatly improved.
Karamanlis warned reporters not to link a solution to the Cyprus problem with the start of accession negotiations with Turkey, saying that he had not perceived any heightened activity surrounding the Cyprus problem in Brussels, while ruling out any further discussion on a solution that was based on the Annan plan in its present form.
Source: Athens News Agency