The Greek Press Today
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28 September, 2006
Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking in the US Congress, on Tuesday warned Turkey that it's attitude was not helping its European orientation, stressing that although Greece wanted relations of friendship and cooperation with Turkey based on respect of international law and the rules of good neighborhood and supported Turkey's EU prospects, Turkey nevertheless must prove intentions to comply with the EU's institutional, political and economic acquis and fulfill its criteria and obligations for membership like all the other candidate countries.
Addressing an audience of 44 Senate and House of Representatives members in the House of Representatives International Relations Committee Hall, Bakoyannis outlined the problems faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Phanar and Turkey's refusal to apply the Ankara Protocol extending its Custons Union agreement with the EU to all the EU member countries to EU member Cyprus, which she said were thorns in Turkey's relations not only with Greece but also with the EU.
Bakoyannis warned that Turkey's attitude was not helping its European prospect, stressing that recognition of the ecumenical nature of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Ankara and the reopening of the Halki Seminary School would work to Turkey's benefit, as they would render it a country that respects religious freedoms.
Greece, she explained, was interested in relations of friendship and cooperation with Turkey on the basis of respect of international law and the rules of good neighborhood, and also supported Turkey's European prospect. However, she added, Turkey in turn must show that it intended to comply with the EU's institutional, political and economic acquis and fulfill its criteria and obligations for EU accession just as all the other candidate countries.
She further noted the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations in recent years, but pointed out that Turkey's military activities in the Aegean hindered the policy of rapprochement.
Addressing a dinner in her honor hosted by the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, and referring to the Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis reiterated Greece's commitment to finding a lasting and functional solution for the reunification of the island republic, which would take into consideration the work already carried out by the UN, as well as international law, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the acquis communautaire.
She explained that every initiative aimed at consolidating the division of the island through upgrading the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus clashed with the efforts for reunification of the island on the basis of a solution mutually acceptable to the two sides.
Introducing the foreign minister, Greek ambassador in Washington Alexandros Mallias noted that Bakoyannis' father Constantine Mitsotakis (who later became prime minister of Greece) had in December 1969, during the military dictatorship in Greece, testified before the US Congress in the very same Hall, advocating freedom and democracy in Greece.
Among the Congresspersons who delivered greetings at the dinner were Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland), and House of Representatives members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), House Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Shelley Berkley (D. Nevada), Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), who is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues (together with fellow House of Representatives member Michael Bilirakis, R-Florida).
The speakers praised Bakoyannis' work as foreign minister, but also in her previous post of Athens Mayor during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, as well as her contribution to the fight against terrorism and her activities during Greece's UN Security Council presidency for the month of September, particularly the special Security Council meeting at foreign ministers' level on the Middle East convened recently by the Greek presidency.
After referring to the symbolism of the House International Relations Committee Hall, where voices in support of freedom and democracy had been heard during the military junta in Greece, Bakoyannis spoke of the cooperation between Greece and the US, as well as the constructive role Greece was playing in SE Europe and more broadly.
She thanked the Congress and its members in the Hellenic Caucus on their stance in favor of Cyprus, stability in the Aegean, and the protection of human rights and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.
On the Middle East, Bakoyannis advocated the vision for the spread of democracy, freedom and human rights, the right of the Israelis and the Palestinians to live in two separate states with secure borders, and stressed the importance of the extraordinary Security Council meeting, at foreign ministers' level, held at the initiative of the Greek Security Council presidency.
She further outlined the strategic role Greece was developing in the Balkans, creating the preconditions for stability, the creation of functional democratic institutions, Inter-Balkan cooperation, the region's growth and its incorporation into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.
On Kosovo in particular, she stressed the desire for finding a lasting and viable solution that would have the support of both Belgrade and Pristina.
Concluding her address, Bakoyannis outlined Greece's efforts in confronting both domestic and international terrorism, rendering the country a credible ally.
She further called for Greece's inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program which currently allows citizens of 27 countries to visit the US without the requirement of an entrance visa, thus facilitating business contacts and tourism between the two countries.
Bakoyannis also replied to questions from the attending Congress members on such issues as the Middle East, EU-Turkey relations, protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Cyprus issue.
Source: Athens News Agency