26 April, 2006
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave an interview to the Athens News Agency (ANA) and four Athens newspapers on Tuesday, focusing on the ongoing crisis with Iran and Greece's role as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, the energy issue, developments in the Balkans, the Cyprus question and Turkey's European course.
Referring to the crisis with Iran, Rice reassured that "the time of diplomacy has certainly not finished", placing emphasis on discussions in the framework of the Security Council and the role of Greece which "being a non-permanent member of the Council during this period will have an extremely important voice at this stage."
The U.S. secretary of state also stressed that the international community is prepared to accept the possibility of Iran to have conventional nuclear energy, but she was categorical in that "we shall not allow Iran to obtain the technology required for making nuclear weapons."
She appeared reservedly optimistic over the possibilities of a unified position being adopted by the Security Council, making it clear that if this is not possible all countries wishing this must send a strict message to Iran in the framework of an "Alliance of the Willing."
Rice added that an "Alliance of the Willing does not mean an alliance for us to undertake military action. It means if we do not succeed in agreeing on certain logical steps at the Security Council to increase pressure on Iran certain countries wanting this will be able to do it."
Asked about Greece's role in the management of this crisis, she referred repeatedly to the significance of Greece's participation in the Security Council "that we will be taking decisions on this issue very soon."
Commenting on whether the possibility of military action can be ruled out, the secretary of state referred to a recent statement by President George W. Bush according to which all options are on the table.
In parallel, she reiterated in many cases that what is underway is a diplomatic process, pointing out that "Iran is not like North Korea, or like Iraq."
According to Rice, Iran is a country familiarized with diplomacy, which has diplomatic and economic relations with many countries which, in her view, the Iranian regime is placing in great danger with the stance it is following, leading the country to international isolation.
Questioned about Greece's role in the Balkans, the secretary of state said that Greece "has certainly played a constructive role", underlining that if we compare the present situation in the Balkans with that prevailing 15 years ago we shall see that it is "day and night", without this meaning that certain open issues do not still exist.
In her view, what is of decisive significance for the future of the Balkans is the continuation of the democratization process, as well as the European prospects of countries in the region in which, as she said, Greece has a very important role to play.
Asked whether Ankara can continue its European course without opening its ports and airports to the Republic of Cyprus, Rice said that "I would like to examine both here and in Turkey whether indeed there is a basis, and if yes what it is composed of, for a new effort to settle the issue of Cyprus. We must indeed see whether there is a basis. I do not think that we want to enter a process again of a coordinated and intensive international effort which will be led (again) to failure."
Rice also expressed the hope that the Greek Cypriots "who are, in any case, full members of the EU will use this participation of theirs to help in smoothing the accession of Turkey and not to block it. And this is so because a basic concern, when Cyprus was accepted at the European Union as a divided island, was that it would try to use this 'platform' to make Turkish accession difficult. Cyprus had always said that this was not the policy it would follow and, therefore, it must act today in precisely this direction."
Source: Athens News Agency