28 November, 2005
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis again outlined Athens' standing policy vis-à-vis neighboring Turkey's closely watched European prospects in an interview with a Spanish mass daily, as the premier arrived in the Iberian peninsula to attend a Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona.
"If Turkey truly wants to approach the European Union it must respect European principles and values, as well as meeting proposals by the ‘25'," Karamanlis is quoted as saying by the paper "ABC", which published the interview under the headline "Combating terrorism should not violate the UN Charter".
In other statements, the Greek prime minister reminded that Greece - the only EU and NATO member-state in the wider east Mediterranean region -- supports the European prospects of other countries in SE Europe, given that regional states will fully implement European principles and values, while adding that human rights will also be absolutely respected.
"That is why we support Turkey's European course, one that is headed towards Europe, one that gradually adopts Europe's acquis communautaire and operates on the basis of these principles," the Greek PM said, adding that respect of such principles, values and International Law by Ankara will be clearly demonstrated in the latter's behavior vis-à-vis its neighbors.
Asked about candidate-state Turkey's refusal to recognize EU member-state Cyprus at the very moment when Turkish military forces occupy roughly one-third of the island republic's territory, Karamanlis noted that "relevant EU decisions specify a clear European framework as well as establishing a specific procedure for Turkey; these decisions that cannot possibly be ignored or become an object of negotiations."
Finally, Karamanlis said Athens is waiting for Ankara to demonstrate its political volition towards achieving progress in its course towards Europe.
Referring to Athens' prospects for greater Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, the premier said Greece and other EU members in the Mediterranean basin consider the initiative as very significant, noting that Greece and Spain, among others, are excellent "bridges" for communication and cooperation between the Union and third countries of the Mediterranean. Along those lines, he pointed to cooperation between Athens and Madrid in establishing a European coast guard force able to achieve coordinated action in the Mediterranean against migrant smuggling.
Regarding efforts to combat international terrorism, Karamanlis said it was a significant priority for Mediterranean countries. He added that Greece, "which has long suffered from the scourge of terrorism, is actively participating in efforts to fight it."
Along those lines, he noted that Athens has ratified 12 inter-national treaties aimed at combating terrorism and is implementing UN Resolutions 1373 and 1566, while at the same time, however, stressing that anti-terrorism activities should not violate the United Nations' charter and International Law.
Finally, asked about the situation in the Middle East, the Greek prime minister underlined that Athens enjoys good relations with all countries in that region; relations that are based on traditional ties and which offer opportunities for future cooperation. This prospect, he said, translates into Athens' interest for stability in the wider region.
"... We support political, economic and social reforms that are necessary for the development of countries in the region, but we believe this should be the result of internal developments ... We also support efforts for a resolution of the Mideast problem based on recognition of a Palestinian state in tandem with a guarantee of security for Israel. We believe, however, that a continuing and viable peace in the Middle East demands rapprochement amongst all neighboring countries," he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency