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10 December, 1999
European People's Party (EPP) president Wifried Martens reiterated here yesterday that Turkey must accept the Copenhagen criteria as well as conditions set by the European Union at the Luxembourg summit if it hopes to become an EU candidate state.
In response to subsequent press questions, the former Belgian premier also referred to Ankara's past criticism, namely, that the Union harbored religious and cultural prejudices against predominately Moslem Turkey. He stressed that the EPP has a standing policy citing only political criteria for Turkey's European orientation, "if these are fulfilled, they will be afforded the same treatment."
Meanwhile, senior main opposition New Democracy officials accompanying ND leader Costas Karamanlis to Helsinki for the EPP conference said they have ascertained a shortening of the distance between the current PASOK government's positions and those of ND over the past 10 days regarding the possible upgrading of relations between the Union and Turkey.
The crucial question is whether the government will insist or not on this policy, Mr. Karamanlis said, who believes that Turkey's proclamation as a European Union candidate country has no symbolic value nor does it constitute a goodwill gesture. "The risk is very big and nobody can accept slack positions or ambiguous formulations," Mr. Karamanlis said, reiterating his conditions for Greece to consent to an upgrading in relations between Europe and Turkey. He said the attitude shown by Turkey for years is "incompatible with its European vocation except under clear and self-evident preconditions: democratization, with absolute respect for human rights and the rights of minorities; respect for international law and international treaties; the abandonment o f the tactic of the threat or the use of force, and Cyprus' accession to the EU as soon as relevant processes are completed and regardless of whether or not the political problem is resolved."
Mr. Karamanlis insists that Turkey's possible upgrading to a candidate country constitutes in essence a "European passport" for Ankara since it will be participating in sensitive EU processes, such as the sectors of defense and foreign policy but without anything in exchange for Greece and Europe.
He also maintains that the possible linking of conditions to be set by the Helsinki summit with Turkey's full accession to the EU constitutes no "fig leaf", since Ankara is aware that if it becomes a full member it will be after 20 years or more.
Source: Athens News Agency