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28 November, 1997
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos reiterated late Tuesday that the European Union should begin talks simultaneously with 11 countries seeking to join the 15-nation bloc.
"When the decision is taken on enlargement negotiations, it should concern all candidate countries, " Mr. Pangalos told the BBC in an interview.
The EU's executive Commission recommended in July that Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia, five of 10 eastern European candidates, could begin accession talks in April 1998 along with Cyprus. But it said the other five candidates - Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania - still had much ground to cover in the transition to a market economy and should await a second round of enlargement talks.
"Regardless of whether there are two speeds for accession, Greece believes that positive political messages should also be given to Bulgaria and Romania, that they, too, will become members," Mr. Pangalos said.
Difficulties could arise from enlargement, mainly stemming from the economic cost of accession, although the prospects would improve for trade and communications, he added.
Brushing off a question on a possible reduction of net benefits from EU funds due to enlargement, Mr. Pangalos said equality among member states was the primary issue, and all would continue to benefit from EU funds. Asked whether Greece would veto the membership of other candidates, such as Hungary, over hitches in Cyprus' accession, Mr. Pangalos said the EU had already set a date for the start of talks with Cyprus, which was ready to take part in economic and monetary union.
Source: Athens News Agency