03 October, 2005
It would be an error if Turkey missed the opportunity for entry into the European Union, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said in an interview published on Sunday.
Speaking to the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, Molyviatis was commenting on anti-reactions in Ankara to doubts about Turkey's suitability to begin entry talks that have been expressed in the European Union.
"Respect for good neighborly relations must become a daily reality, which does not fit with military activity and acts of provocation in the Aegean," Molyviatis said.
"And neither with extension of this outmoded 'casus belli' between a candidate country and a member of the EU. At the same time there should be no illusions, as all this won't happen from one day to the next," he warned.
The minister rejected criticism by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of his foreign policy.
Noting that the government had sought a special parliamentary debate on foreign policy, he said that PASOK had made demands that it could not meet during its 20 years in power.
"The government has succeeded in what it wanted (concerning foreign policy), Molyviatis added.
Turning to a name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the minister noted that Greece had attained a powerful, constructive and trusted negotiating position through its diplomacy. In the past, the international community had placed Athens into the position of defendant.
Athens objects to the use by the neighboring Balkan country of the name "Macedonia", arguing that it conceals expansionist designs on Greece's northern province of the same name, which borders FYROM.
"In the name issue, a mutually acceptable solution must be found....We have accepted the latest proposals by (UN mediator) Matthew Nimetz as a basis for negotiation. This was a major decision, and nothing more should be expected from Greece. The responsibility is now on the other side, which must now make the next substantive goodwill gesture," Molyviatis said.
On ties between Greece and the US, he stated that the government's European policy was the backbone of overall foreign policy; and Athens maintained the best possible ties with Washington on all levels.
In a separate interview to NET state television, Molyviatis said he disagreed that a special status for Turkey with the EU would suit Greece. "When Turkey becomes a full member it will enjoy all rights, but also have obligations. A special relationship would not guarantee that Turkey also had obligations, as well as rights."
Asked if Athens could have a timescale imposed by the EU that would say, for example, that if Turkey failed to recognize Cyprus by 2006, entry negotiations would come to a halt, the minister said:
"First of all, no-one imposes anything on the EU. Neither have we declared a war against anyone or won a war to impose our decisions. The EU works through understanding, compromise and consensus. By means of these methods, we attained the maximum. And what is that? For the first time in a European document it is stated that Turkey is obliged to recognize the Cypriot Republic as soon as possible."
Source: Athens News Agency