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13 November, 2000
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou was quoted in an interview as saying that a "reverse countdown" begins for Turkey with the signing of the partnership text between the neighboring country and the European Union. Papandreou said Ankara and its leadership must now show that the country can follow its European course, review its bilateral relations with Greece and reconsider its stance over the long-standing Cyprus problem.
In an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia", Papandreou insists on the policy of rapprochement with Turkey and for support for its European vocation, while saying he is undertaking a personal risk concerning the possibility of this option not being vindicated.
Papandreou also gives Turkey ample time to respond to Greece's position, saying that "time will start to count when we shall achieve the partnership relationship and then we will have evidence that we can assess."
It is not the first time Papandreou says that Turkey's European course will benefit both countries. However, in his interview he said it has now been understood that Greece is not obstructing the neighboring country's course to Europe and that its possible interruption will be Turkey's fault exclusively.
Papandreou said that in such a case Turkey "will have lost an important prospect and the two countries will return to periods of certain crises and increased tension, but not because of Greece's fault."
"We, however, have consolidated the accession course of Cyprus (regarding the EU) and this fact changes all factors radically," Papandreou added.
On the question of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean, on which he and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem have agreed to start discussing, he said, "we have not committed ourselves to adopt them. If they do not increase confidence, they will not be adopted."
"We are giving a prospect to our relations at a multipartite level, while we are proceeding slower than in the past on the bilateral relationship," he said.
Source: Athens News Agency