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18 July, 1997
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday hailed the European Union's position that negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the Community should begin, as originally agreed, six months after the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty.
At the same time, he welcomed statements by European Commission President Jacques Santer and Commissioner Hans van den Broek, according to which Cyprus cannot be held "hostage" as a result of Turkey's stance.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Papandreou said also that Greece was in favor of accession negotiations beginning simultaneously for all eleven prospective member states.
As far as the EU's relationship with Turkey is concerned, Mr. Papandreou said, this will be examined in detail during the discussion of the Commission's "Agenda 2000" report on enlargement, noting that a special report had been drawn up on the further development of the Community's relations with Turkey.
Within the framework of this discussion, Mr. Papandreou continued, it will be examined whether Turkey will have a "special" relationship with the EU, or whether this relationship will constitute an advanced form of Customs Union. The Commission's report on EU-Turkish relations contains references to the need for a relationship of good-neighborliness (on the part of Turkey) with Greece, as well as for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and respect by Ankara for human rights and democratic institutions.
Mr. Papandreou noted meanwhile that the opinion expressed by the European Commission regarding Cyprus' accession is "very good" and that Cyprus fulfilled all the criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty.
A ministerial meeting will be held in Athens next week to discuss the entire issue of EU enlargement, including policies pertaining to Community finances.
The "Agenda 2000" is expected to be given the final seal of approval at the EU summit in December.
Source: Athens News Agency