The Greek Press Today
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22 September, 2006
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis outlined the goals and visions of Greek foreign policy at the Foreign Policy Association here on Thursday, underlining the historic, geographical, cultural, political and economic factors that affect and determine the philosophy of her ministry and of the Greek government in general.
Bakoyannis said that Greece's mild strength is based on three axes:
"First of all, the history, culture and the name of the country always exert radiance in east and west. Both the east and west maintain relations with Greece, each for its own reasons.
"Secondly, the political and economic significance of Greece for its neighboring countries. Our country is the oldest modern democracy in the region, while its GDP is twice as large as that of the six other southeastern European countries that it borders on. In addition, Greek economic influence, particularly in the Balkans and the Black Sea countries, is dominant: 3,500 Greek businesses are present there, having invested over 12 billion euros.
Greek business presence has created tens of thousands of new jobs, strengthening local economies considerably and also helping in this way the political stability of our neighboring countries.
"Thirdly, I shall refer to two more factors that strengthen the country's international position: Greek shipping and overseas Greeks. The capacity of the Greek merchant fleet is more than 50 percent of the entire capacity of the 25 European Union member-states. It handles almost 30 percent of the world's sea trade. Its presence promotes world trade and can help and diversify, in periods of crisis, the supplying of the West with energy from various sources. Lastly, overseas Greeks, the Greeks all over the world contribute actively to the societies to which they belong, they are law-abiding citizens of their new homelands but, at the same time, they never forget the country of their origin."
Referring to the Balkans, Bakoyannis said that "we shall struggle to bring the rest of the Balkan countries into the European family as well. We shall continue to participate in missions for maintaining peace, particularly in Kosovo, until the region is fully stabilized."
She further said that "in addition, we are investing in the economies of our region, including Turkey. We are playing a leading role at European level for the creation of special programs that are aimed at the modernization of both the economy and infrastructures of our Balkan neighbors. In addition, we are also implementing a national development program for the Balkans, amounting to 550 million euros, for upgrading the institutions and infrastructures of these countries."
Referring to the western Balkans in particular, the foreign minister said that "the EU requires from Serbia to cooperate more effectively with the ICTY before resuming negotiations between them, while on the accession of Bosnia-Herzegovina, although progress has been achieved since the time of the Dayton Agreements, the country still has ground to cover before acquiring the capacity of a candidate member-state.
"Montenegro is at the stage of its establishment as a nation and, lastly, we are expecting a successful outcome to negotiations taking place on the future status of Kosovo, that will secure stability in the entire region.
"A great deal more must be done. We shall struggle to bring the rest of the Balkan countries into the European family."
In regard to the issue of Cyprus, she said that "the Turkish occupation army, almost 40,000 men, is remaining there, 32 years later (after the 1974 invasion). The repeated calls by the UN for its withdrawal have been ignored. Cyprus is, since 2004, a full member of the European Union. This means that Turkey is in the difficult position today of having occupied territory of the EU and, at the same time, it is a candidate country for accession. Nicosia is the last divided European capital.
"It is not necessary for us to say that no solution can be imposed, we learned this in 2004 when the majority of the Greek Cypriots were not convinced and did not support the Annan plan.
"The will of the people, of the same people who will have to live together on the basis of some solution plan will determine the fate of whatever solution will be proposed.
"The principles that shall lead us to a just, viable and workable solution are: the full appreciation for all the work being done by the UN, international law and all the relevant Security Council resolutions.
"Lastly, in no way can the acquis communautaire be ignored. We can no longer ignore the fact that Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and that the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots will live on European territory. Cyprus must, at last and as soon as possible, become a unified EU country in practice.
"While the seeking of a solution to the Cyprus problem is continuing, Turkey has assumed the commitment of implementing the customs union agreement with the EU and permit free access to Turkish ports and airports for all the ships and aircraft of the 10 new EU member-states."
Focusing on Turkey's commitments towards the European Union, Bakoyannis stressed that "there are limits. Limits that neither Europe nor Greece, of course, can overcome. Turkey cannot join the EU with a la carte methods. The European Union, and Greece of course being a member-state, cannot accept anything less than Turkey's compliance with the rules and models of the EU."
"These include the unimpeded functioning of democracy, justice and the society of citizens, the respect of all minorities and religions as well as the right to free expression for all Turkish citizens. Furthermore, Turkey must respect international law, abstain from actions that lead to tension, maintain friendly relations with all its neighbors and implement the protocol for the free access of ships and airplanes of all EU member states, including those of Cyprus, to its ports and airports," she added.
According to the foreign minister, the three basic pursuits of Greek foreign policy are the maximization of national security and the achievement of the best relations possible with all neighboring countries in the wider region, Greece remaining a force of stability and development in the Balkans, the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean and Greece playing an active and constructive role in the framework of the European Union and the Atlantic alliance.
The foreign minister's theme was "Not an ordinary case: Greek foreign policy at the dawn of a new century."
Source: Athens News Agency