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23 October, 1998
The European Parliament yesterday adopted an amendment by the Budget Committee eliminating credits earmarked for Turkey from the EU's budget reserves, citing a lack of legal ground.
In the past, such credits to Turkey were "frozen", pending acceptance of terms and conditions set by the Union. Eurodeputies voted 365 for the amendment, 165 against, while 10 abstained.
PASOK Eurodeputy Yiannis Roubatis said that the vote proved that Euro-MPs were not willing to "overlook human rights violations, the oppression of the Kurdish people, the dissolving of every sense of democracy and the threatening attitude of Turkey to ward a member-state, in the name of expediency."
Main opposition New Democracy Eurodeputy Timos Christodoulou said that yesterday's vote should not lead us to joyful celebrations, since the Council of Ministers can create the legal grounds, thereby overturning the decision of the Euro-Parliament.
He added that what is important for Greece is to decide what policy it will follow within and outside the Union, so as not to provide arguments to the Commission, which yesterday approved a financial protocol towards Turkey, claiming that Greece accepted such decisions at the Cardiff summit.
On his part, Coalition for the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos said that EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek and the Commission as a whole yesterday received a strong political answer from the Europarliament in regards to Turkey's funding.
Mr. Alavanos added that he hoped the Europarliament will in the same way discard the "new regulations of the Commission".
Gov't reaction :
Greece reiterated yesterday that it would react strongly if the European Commission's decision to approve a 150-million-Ecu package of economic aid to Turkey was ratified by the EU Council of Ministers.
The Commission's plan, put forward by Mr. van den Broek and adopted on Wednesday, circumvents a standing Greek veto by introducing a new regulation terming Turkey a developing country, which requires only a special majority for approval by the Council of Ministers.
Greek objections to date have been successful in preventing disbursement, as the package was envisaged as aid to an associate member in preparation for membership, which requires unanimity.
The foreign ministry quickly responded on Wednesday with a statement saying Greece would refer the Commission to the European Court without delay.
Replying to reporters' questions yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas attributed the Commission's decision to "expediencies" and warned that Greece's reaction would be a strong one if the decision was approved by the Council of Ministers.
While saying that Greece's reaction would be without delay, the spokesman did not clarify whether it would be before the decision of the Council, which is due to meet in November.
Mr. Reppas said that EU member-states promoted their own interests in a manner which was on many occasions "forceful and extreme" and that Greece, having the same rights as its partners, intended to do exactly the same.
The Commission's decision, he continued, was not in line with the fixed rules and the principles underlying the operation of the EU.
He spoke of "contradictory and nebulous" arguments used by the Commission which created a different legal and political framework of operation for EU bodies.
Mr. Reppas stressed that the decision ran contrary to the decisions taken at the last two EU summits in Cardiff and Luxembourg and revealed contradictions in EU policy towards Turkey.
At this point, Mr. Reppas described the decision as one of expediency, which, he said, should not be allowed to prevail over the principles of the EU's operation.
The foreign ministry statement yesterday said: "Dealing with Turkey on the basis of two criteria, as an EU associated member (Legal Basis 235), and at the same time as a developing country (Legal Basis 130 W), constitutes, if nothing else, a curious and legally disputable option,".
The statement further stressed that far from facilitating the European vocation of certain countries, methods such as the one employed by the Commission placed obstacles in the way of their goals, diverting them from the correct course which would lead them to the European family.
Asked by reporters about the way in which Greece would react, Mr. Reppas declined to give details, but spoke in terms of making the most of the European Parliament which, he said, was already "on a different wavelength" than the Commission.
At the same time, he added, Greece will increase its bilateral contacts in order to promote the country's national interests in the most effective way.
Replying to another question, Mr. Reppas said Greece's isolation was temporary, while adding that Athens would not accept Turkey's attitude and behavior to be adopted by the EU.
"European Turkey is one thing but Turkish European Union quite another," he said.
The Greek spokesman reiterated that Greece was in favor of Turkey's European vocation but at the same time wanted fulfillment of the conditions laid down by European bodies.
At both Luxembourg and Cardiff, the EU told Ankara that the release of Community funds under the Fourth Financial Protocol would depend on whether it made any progress in its human rights record and stopped having an aggressive stance towards Greece.
On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said Greece is "in danger of being defeated once again," while touching on the issue of the Greek veto against the EU financial protocol for Turkey.
He added that the non-accession of Greece to the Economic Monetary Union (EMU) proves that Athens has been left alone and vulnerable.
Source: Athens News Agency