The Greek Press Today
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30 September, 2005
Greece's position on Turkey's European course is summed up in a few words: "Full compliance with the criteria, full membership in the EU", foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday.
He was replying to questions, during a regular press briefing, regarding the negotiations mandate setting out the framework within which the Turkey-EU accession talks -- which are slated to begin on Monday -- would be conducted. Koumoutsakos added that its content, with respect to Greece and Cyprus, was considered "locked-in".
Koumoutsakos explained that the fact that the committee of permanent representatives (COREPER) of the 25 EU member countries had yet to reach agreement (on the negotiations mandate) was due to the desire of a specific member country for the text to explicitly state that the end of the negotiation must lead to a 'Privileged Partnership' (as an alternative to membership). He was referring to Austria's demand that Turkey be offered an explicit alternative to full membership.
The draft negotiations mandate acknowledges that the shared objective was Turkish entry into the EU, but states that the negotiations are an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand.
The draft EU political declaration, or negotiations mandate, is due to be presented by the EU's British presidency to Turkey on October 3 (Monday), at the formal commencement of the Turkey-EU accession talks.
Koumoutsakos said that this was the basic point of disagreement, adding that, in the event COREPER failed to reach agreement, the British presidency has tentatively called an emergency meeting of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers-General Affairs for Sunday night in Luxembourg.
For the Greek side, he said, the target remains that, provided Turkey proves -- during the course of negotiations -- that it fulfills all the criteria, it should become a full member.
Koumoutsakos warned, however, that the process could not continue if all the 'chapters' of the negotiations were not closed along the course of negotiations. Under EU regulations, membership negotiations are divided into 35 sections or policy areas, known as chapters, which Turkey must implement into national law before it is considered ready for membership. Each of the chapters requires unanimity from all 25 member states to be declared 'closed' (fulfilled).
Replying to other questions, Koumoutsakos said that Paragraph 8 of the draft negotiations mandate explicitly stated that Turkey, as a candidate country for EU membership, must align itself with the acquis communautaire, and clarified that under sub-paragraph 5 of the same text, it is stated that this provision included everything concerning the acquis communautaire, in other words, the common actions, resolutions and the statements that have been adopted by the EU.
Asked to comment on the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday, Koumoutsakos said it was a decision taken by the majority of Eurodeputies and comprised an indication of how the EU's institutional organ approached the EU-Turkey relations.
The Europarliament adopted a non-binding resolution on Wednesday demanding that Turkey recognise the killing of Armenians in 1915 before it can join the EU, and also postponed a vote that had been due on Wednesday to approve the Ankara Protocol -- Turkey's extended customs union with the EU to include the 10 new members, including Cyprus -- in a bid to pressure Ankara to open its ports and airports to ships and planes from EU member Cyprus.
On July 29, Ankara signed the Association Agreement Protocol, by virtue of which Turkey extended its Customs Union agreement with the EU to the 10 new member states, including Cyprus. In tandem, Ankara also submitted a separate, unilateral declaration stating that it refused to recognize the Cyprus Republic and that its ports and airports would remain closed to Cypriot ships and planes.
In its resolution Wednesday, the European Parliament demanded a commitment that when the Turkish parliament ratifies the protocol extending the customs union to new EU member states, it would not attach the Ankara government declaration refusing to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
The European Parliament resolution endorsed the start of accession negotiations on Monday as scheduled, but included a series of criticisms of Turkey's record on human rights, religious freedom, and minorities, reflecting skeptical public opinion in Europe.
Koumoutsakos declined comment on press information that Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul would possibly not attend the October 3 session. The topics on the agenda for the Council of Ministers meeting included the situation in Iran, the western Balkans, EU-Russia relations, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. The EU-Turkey accession dialogue would officially commence either during the Council's luncheon or dinner, both of which will be working sessions.
According to the program, the EU presidency was due to make the formal commencement statement, followed by a statement by the Turkish foreign minister.
Koumoutsakos also said that foreign minister Petros Molyviatis will brief President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on current affairs on Friday morning, followed by a meeting with US ambassador in Athens Charles Ries.
Molyviatis is scheduled to leave Saturday for Tunis, to take part in the Euro-Med Forum.
Source: Athens News Agency