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11 November, 2000
"Turkey will face many obstacles in its course toward EU accession," Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Friday in an interview appearing in the Turkish newspaper "Sabah", but pointed out that it would be amply rewarded for its effort in the long run.
Papandreou stressed that, as all EU candidate countries, Turkey's course would be strewn with sometimes painful difficulties, while adding that Greece had also faced many problems prior to joining the EU.
"But don't worry. The price of all of this will be returned in full, but it requires patience and persistence."
With regard to the EU-Turkey partnership agreement, Papandreou said that this should be considered a "road map" that indicated the path a candidate-country must follow to reach its goal as quickly as possible.
"I believe that Turkey has the necessary political will to follow the course outlined by the partnership agreement document," he added, while noting that the reforms that Turkey had to make also interested Greece.
With regard to the Cyprus issue, the Greek foreign minister underlined that Cyprus' entry into the EU was "the biggest guarantee that the mistakes of the past would be avoided." He stressed that its entry would benefit both the people of Cyprus and relations between Greece and Turkey.
Reactions within Turkey, however, were less equable, with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit saying to "Sabah" that the reference to the Cyprus issue in the EU-Turkey partnership agreement dissatisfied Ankara. The reference, he added, had been included to satisfy Greece and the text had been drawn up with full knowledge of Turkey's positions, which were unchanged.
He ruled out extreme measures such as cutting off diplomatic relations with the EU, however, saying that there was no reason to give too much emphasis to the issue. In 1997, Turkey had interrupted political relations with Europe after the Luxembourg summit, in protest to the resolutions made there.
This time, Ecevit claimed that the reference to the Cyprus issue in the EU-Turkey partnership agreement document should not affect the country's accession to Europe, and reiterated Ankara's position that the Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU accession should not be linked.
Objections to EU 'roadmap' indicate Turkey is not prepared to accept the European challenge, spokesman says:
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Friday that reactions in Turkey over the 'roadmap' to the neighboring country's EU membership recently approved by the European Commission indicated that Turkey was not prepared to accept the European challenge.
"The criticism forthcoming from the Turkish side indicates that Turkey is not prepared to accept the European wager," Reppas said in reply to press questions.
The EU "Accession Partnership Accord", approved earlier in the week by the Commission at a Brussels meeting, and which Turkey must unconditionally fulfill, calls for radical reforms in human rights, democracy and the economy, including abolition of child labor, the death penalty and torture, and abolition of laws curbing free speech.
The accord further demands that Turkey "support strongly" the UN-brokered efforts for a settlement of the Cyprus issue.
Expressing the belief that a European perspective was in the best interests of Turkey, Reppas said that the neighboring country must make efforts to comprehend that which the European Union considers a given fact.
And since Turkey chooses the European prospect, "than it cannot but also concern the Cyprus issue, which is an element that must be included in the partnership," Reppas said.
Source: Athens News Agency