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22 May, 2001
The Greek Parliament will not ratify any European Union enlargement, if the Republic of Cyprus is barred from the enlargement, Greek main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Dora Bakoyianni told Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Monday.
Bakoyianni, who is responsible for ND's foreign affairs policies, met with Cem on the sidelines of the Spring conference of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly, which took place here.
"I had the opportunity to explain to him (Cem) that there is no chance that the Greek Parliament will give its approval for any other country to enter the EU during the enlargement of the Union, if Cyprus is not part of the enlargement," Bakoyianni said after her 45 minute meeting with Cem.
"We had the opportunity to exchange views on many issues and especially on the Cyprus issue, for which I had the opportunity to develop the Greek positions," she said, adding that a "just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue within the framework of the UN decisions" should be found.
"The course of Cyprus to the EU continues (and this course I believe) is becoming apparent to the Turkish side," she noted.
On his part, and while addressing the conference, Cem described the Cyprus issue as the most difficult problem in Turkey's foreign policy.
"The Cyprus issue is the most difficult problem that Turkey's foreign policy is confronted with," Cem said.
He said he was pessimistic over the development of the Cyprus problem in the event Cyprus becomes a member of the European Union, saying that Turkey would be "obliged to react" if Cyprus becomes a member of the EU before the Cyprus issues is resolved.
Ankara has worked toward Cyprus' barring from EU's enlargement process, arguing that the Cyprus problem has to be resolved before the island republic is admitted to the EU, effectively making Cyprus a diplomatic "hostage" of Turkey.
Responding to questions poised by European parliamentarians, Cem said that "there are no ethnic minorities in Turkey", calling on the Ottoman experience and tradition, which, as he said, recognized only religious minorities.
He did, however, admit that Turkey lags behind in regards to the protection of human rights and stressed that Ankara is expending efforts to cover that void.
He also said that the responsibility of EU-Turkish relations, following the acceptance of Turkey's candidacy to the EU, now rests with Turkey.
Source: Athens News Agency