16 February, 2005
The Inner Cabinet convened on Tuesday, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, to discuss ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty.
Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis told reporters after the meeting that the European Constitution would be tabled soon in parliament for ratification by Greece's 300-member House, adding that a 70-member committee comprising members of all the political parties represented in parliament would be set up to discuss the new Constitutional Treaty in 4-5 sessions, which would be followed by a debate by the parliament plenary, which would also take place in 4-5 sessions.
Molyviatis said that the European Constitution was a very important step towards the unification of Europe, and noted that it was the product of compromise, as were all the issues concerning the EU, "in accordance with the democratic operation of Europe". He said that the country's full participation in the EU was a prime strategic choice of the ruling New Democracy party and its founder, the late Constantine Karamanlis, adding that ND and the government sere serving that choice with consistency.
"We are pleased that almost all the other political forces agreed, along the course, with this strategic choice, and we are proceeding in the EU with consensus," Molyviatis noted.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Tuesday evening explained the government's decision to be among the first EU member states that ratify the European Constitution, while addressing a special event organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and the Hellenic Centre for European Studies under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.
"Our position is crystal-clear: Greece at the centre of Europe; Greece at the heart of European developments. This is the only way we will be able to guarantee Greek citizens that their interests will be safeguarded, that the opportunities of the 21st century will be capitalized upon," Valinakis said.
He explained that being "at the heart of European developments" means that Greece will participate in all new European institutions involving closer political and other cooperation.
"For all of the above reasons, the Greek government decided that Greece should be among the first countries that ratify the Treaty. We have the political will, the determination, so that Greece is among Europe's protagonists," he added.
In closing, Valinakis said: "Every step forward the Union takes is a step from which Greece benefits. Greece benefits with the European Constitution."
Source: Athens News Agency