The Greek Press Today
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17 February, 2006
Greece's newly-appointed foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, the first woman to ever hold the office in Greece, on Thursday gave her first interview in her new post to the Greek service of the Deutsche Welle and its director Spyros Moscovou in Berlin.
Bakoyannis arrived in Berlin on Wednesday, the same day that she was sworn-in as minister, accompanying Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on an official visit to Germany.
During the interview, the new foreign minister stressed that Greece's foreign policy had both consistency and continuity.
"It is government policy. I will offer my abilities to reinforce this policy and the effort Greece is making to be present, to defend matters of Greek interest in the best possible way and to be an active player in the European Union at a time when, as you see, there are common problems and concerns," she said.
Listing a series of issues such as bird flu, Europe's future course and the situation that had arisen after the Euro-Constitution was put on hold, Bakoyannis noted that these concerns were shared by both Germany and Greece, as well as the rest of Europe.
Concerning Turkey's prospects of EU accession, in the light of Ankara's continued refusal to recognize EU member-state Cyprus, Bakoyannis underlined that Greece's support was conditional on Turkey's acceptance of EU rules and its fulfillment of all commitments.
"First of all, we must say that a European prospect for Turkey has been a standing position for Greece in the past years. Turkey, however, must itself wish to become a member of the EU, accepting and implementing all the agreements it has signed.
In other words, the commitments that Turkey has made to the EU must be kept.
"For this reason, the paradox to which you refer [Turkey's refusal to recognize an EU member-state] - which is paradox of both institutions and essence - is not something that can continue. I believe that during [the accession negotiations], during which the EU will monitor the implementation of Turkish commitments, we will be able to draw final conclusions on whether Turkey truly desires to become a member of the united European family," Bakoyannis said.
Questioned about the other thorny issue in Greek foreign policy - the dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the republic's adopted name of 'Macedonia' - and how Greece's stance was viewed by other European countries, the Greek foreign minister pointed out that the EU had agreed that accession negotiations with Skopje should begin using the name FYROM.
"This shows that there is complete sensitivity and under-standing for the problem, for which negotiations to find a solution of the name issue are underway at the United Nations. I believe that the rest of our European partners understand that Greece has shown its good will in various instances and on several occasions," she said.
Greece was now waiting for the negotiations to yield a result that showed a corresponding good will on FYROM's part, she added.
The Greek foreign minister also underlined Athens' positive stance to the accession prospects of its Balkan neighbors Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, stressing that the benefits would outweigh any problems caused by their relative economic weaknesses.
"We believe that this entire region (southeast Europe) should have as a goal its eventual accession to the EU. Economically they are not countries that will cause the EU a problem, they are small countries. But for the wider region and for stability, which we are striving for, this prospect is very important. We support it and I hope that other types of thoughts and concerns within the EU will not influence the other countries in the direction of refusal," she stressed.
At the same time, she underlined that the criteria set by the EU for candidate-countries must be fulfilled and that this applied to all countries.
Regarding Greece's stance on the future of Kosovo and whether it could help in reconciling the widely different positions of the two sides in the negotiations, Bakoyannis reiterated that any solution regarding Kosovo's status should be the product of real negotiations and not one imposed from above.
Noting that Greece was a "strong presence" in the region, she stressed that Athens' goal was peace and stability, which were a self-evident precondition for achieving any kind of solution, and that it would support the process that was due to begin.
Finally, regarding the results of the visit to Berlin by Karamanlis and herself, Greece's foreign minister described the meeting between Karamanlis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as "exceptionally useful, with was an honest and substantial exchange of information and very good chemistry".
She said that Greek and German views coincided on several issues, including the need to revive the Euro-Constitution, while pointing out that Germany was Greece's strongest trading partner.
Concerning her own impressions of Chancellor Merkel as another woman in politics, Bakoyannis said that she knew Merkel from earlier on and noted that the press always showed particular interest in women because there were so few in politics, both worldwide and in Europe.
"Notwithstanding, the first 87 days [since Merkel became Chancellor] have shown, I believe, that she has both the sensitivity and the ability to reconcile difficult or even outwardly irreconcilable issues. Let us wish her good luck, for the good of the German people but also of Europe, in which Germany is a pillar of European stability," she said.
Source: Athens News Agency