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05 October, 2002
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen, head of the EU presidency, met in Athens on Friday to discuss the agenda of an EU summit in Brussels later this month where vital decisions regarding European enlargement will be made.
Rasmussen is currently touring EU member-state capitals to prepare for the October 24-25 summit, during which the 15 EU leaders are due to name the countries set to complete enlargement talks in December in Copenhagen.
In statements after the meeting, Simitis said that another topic that would dominate the Brussels meeting would probably be Kalinigrad and EU-Russia relations, and any new developments concerning Iraq.
Noting that EU leaders at the Brussels summit would be called to assess the efforts of the 13 candidate-countries to meet the Copenhagen criteria, based on reports prepared by the European Commission, Simitis once again underlined the importance that Greece attaches to enlargement.
He also said that Athens was in favor of discussing the progress of all candidate-countries at Brussels, including Turkey, so that final decisions might be made at the EU summit in Copenhagen in December.
According to the premier, Cyprus was among the 10 candidate-countries that had made enough progress in talks and accession negotiations, decisions for Bulgaria and Romania had been postponed until later and a date for starting accession negotiations with Turkey was yet to be decided.
He also stressed that the Greek side was in favor of decisions and measures that would allow the EU to cooperate ever more closely with Turkey and vice-versa.
The Danish premier was much more categorical in ruling out any date for Turkey at the Brussels meeting, saying that it did not fulfill the political criteria decided at Copenhagen.
While recognizing that Turkey had recently made significant progress, especially in legislative reforms, Rasmussen stressed that all the candidate countries would be judged by the same criteria and Turkey would only receive a date for the start of accession negotiations when it met these criteria.
Regarding the Brussels meeting, Rasmussen described this as a major milestone in EU plans to complete accession negotiations with the first wave of 10 candidate-countries in December.
The Brussels meeting would have to reach an agreement on tough outstanding issues that were linked to the time frame for the December enlargement, he said.
Among these he named the agricultural and structural funds packages and the Cyprus issue, once again expressing hope that a solution would be found that would allow the island to join united.
If this could not be achieved, the Helsinki summit decisions made a solution to the political problem desirable but not a necessary condition for the island republic's accession to the Community, he added.
The Danish EU presidency considered that all the parties involved had to make every possible effort to find a solution, Rasmussen concluded.
He also pointed out that a third major issue that EU leaders might need to discuss in October was the result of a second referendum on the Nice Treaty in Ireland, stressing that a second 'nay' vote to this by the Irish would create an unprecedented crisis for the EU.
Source: Athens News Agency