24 June, 2004
Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis briefed the Greek Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday on the basic principles of foreign policy regarding Greek-Turkish relations, the European prospects of the Balkans and the issue of Cyprus.
Replying to a barrage of questions, particularly from the main opposition PASOK party, Molyviatis defended the government's position to date, but avoided clarifying if the government will support Turkey's bid to secure a date for the beginning of accession negotiations with the European Union with specific actions on the part of the neighboring country, on how it expects the Cyprus issue to be raised in the framework of the EU following the Greek Cypriot "no" in the referendum and who Greece will support for the European Commission presidency.
On the question of Cyprus, Molyviatis said developments on the issue had been characterized almost exclusively by the agreement reached in New York which anticipated tight deadlines and negotiating margins.
"We devoted all our strength for a concerted solution. This did not become feasible. Greece did not have the possibility, nor the intention or desire, to impose its views on the government of Cyprus. The prime minister had very close contacts with Messrs (UN SG Kofi) Annan and (EU Commissioner on enlargement Guenther) Verheugen and repeated telephone conversations with U.S. President George Bush and others. The Turkish side had no reasons to make substantive negotiating and concessions, because it was aware that in the event of failure the text would have been implemented as it stood, something which was in its interests," he said.
The foreign minister further said Greece's presence led to a "considerable improvement in the direction of the acquis communautaire", but the effort to improve security guarantees failed to produce results because "the Turkish side showed absolute inflexibility."
The climate towards the Republic of Cyprus which followed the referenda "has certain consequences which we are all aware of and realize. However, they do not stay forever," Molyviatis said.
As regards Greek-Turkish relations and the question of whether Greece has disassociated their improvement from developments over the issue of Cyprus and negotiating on issues concerning the Aegean, the foreign minister reiterated that Greece supports Turkey's European orientation but "does not disassociate anything."
Lastly, referring to the Balkans, Molyviatis said "the catalyst changing everything in the Balkans is the path to Europe. Accession to Europe is the only path to stop the Balkans from being the powder keg of Europe."
Source: Athens News Agency