28 November, 2006
The Greek government on Monday reacted immediately to a same-day announcement by the Finnish presidency that talks between the Union and EU hopeful Turkey to overcome obstacles to the latter's accession negotiations have broken down.
Speaking at the conclusion of a national foreign policy and defense council meeting in Athens, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said it was "significant" that responsibilities were not placed by the Finnish presidency "towards the one or the other side".
"The Finnish proposal was not met with success, therefore, we will proceed to a substantive discussion, with will culminate at the General Affairs Council on Dec. 11 over a fusion for the reaction," she added.
Asked about the term "fusion", Bakoyannis reminded that in case Ankara fails to meets its commitments, then the "EU must have a specific answer, one befitting a candidate state that does not meet its obligations".
On his part, the government spokesman merely reiterated that Athens backs the Finnish presidency's efforts and shares Cyprus' concerns.
"The issue of Turkey's fulfillment of obligations and commitments it has assumed is still pending in order for it to follow its European course," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said during his normal press briefing.
The Finnish EU presidency announcement was made by Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja in Tempere, Finland, as the Union is now expected to give Ankara until Dec. 6 to open its ports and airports to Cypriot carriers.
"An agreement could not be reached," Tuomioja flatly said after holding separate meetings with the Turkish and Cypriot foreign ministers, Abdullah Gul and George Lillikas, respectively.
"There will be consequences ... Business as usual cannot continue," he stressed.
Meanwhile, speaking during the council meeting in Athens, main opposition PASOK deputy and former minister Christos Papoutsis called on the government to consider raising, within EU institutions and fora, the issue of a timetable for Turkey to meet obligations vis-à-vis issues strictly affecting Greece, i.e. the disavowal by Ankara of a standing "threat of war" (casus belli) issued by the Turkish assembly in case Athens legally extends its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and other unilateral claims by the Turkish side in the Aegean.
Papoutsis, a former EU Commissioner, also cited Turkey's repeated declarations of "volition" to solve the longstanding Cyprus problem, saying Athens should, therefore, formally table the issue of the island republic's demilitarization and the withdrawal of Turkish-occupation troops from Cyprus as a "goodwill gesture".
Asked if he favors a "time out" in EU-Turkey negotiations, Papoutsis noted that "we are in favor of a clear message towards Turkey, one which will repeat the decision by the 25 (member-states) to begin accession negotiations. On the other hand, the EU is obliged to safeguard its credibility and to mainly reinforce the operation of its institutional organs. A strict and clear position by the EU must be the same towards all candidate-countries," he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency