06 October, 2005
The EU's decision to begin accession negotiations with Turkey was a major development for Europe but also created a new framework for the course of Greek-Turkish relations and for Cyprus, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday.
He stressed that after long, extremely complex and grueling negotiations, the government had managed to include Greece's goals in legally binding EU documents and that the process now before Turkey demanded that it conform to a set of terms, rules and conditions.
The spokesman underlined that, for the first time, the EU was explicitly demanding that Turkey improve bilateral relations with Greece as an obligation and a condition.
"Also for the first time, conditions clearly being created for the de facto and the de jure recognition of the Cyprus Republic by Turkey, immediately after the start of accession negotiations," he added.
The spokesman noted that Turkey will therefore be under pressure to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus issue, while EU texts also referred to Turkey's obligation to deal with issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ethnic Greek minority that still remains on Turkey's shores.
Undisputed confirmation of the success of Greece's strategy and Athens' handling of the issues were the EU's counter-statement to Turkey on September 21 - in response to Turkey's statement that it did not recognize the Cyprus Republic despite its signature of an agreement extending customs union with the new EU member-states - and the framework for EU-Turkey accession negotiations, Roussopoulos said.
The spokesman further pointed out that Turkey will be monitored extremely closely by the 25 EU member-states, including Greece and Cyprus, throughout the negotiations for every one of the 35 chapters, which can only close by unanimous vote.
"This is the reality and a historic turning point, this is the starting point for a future of stability and peace, as the Greek people desire," Roussopoulos stressed.
Dismissing criticism concerning the last-minute addition of extra paragraphs to the text for the negotiations framework with Turkey, Roussopoulos stressed that the additions - which changed the crucial for Greek interests paragraph 5 into paragraph 7 - essentially changed nothing.
Concerning an accompanying statement by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of the British EU presidency, the spokesman pointed out that Straw had only stated the obvious - namely that every international organization had its own terms and rules and that no other international organization could interfere with these.
He also underlined that Straw's statement - that the contents of paragraph 7 did not concern and could not prevent the independence of international organization in taking decisions - was not "legally binding".
Asked if Turkey would continue to have the right to veto Cyprus' membership of NATO, the spokesman simply reiterated that "every international organization has its own rules".
Concerning the continued presence of Turkish occupation troops on Cyprus, Roussopoulos said that efforts had been made and were continuing to resolve this problem. "At no time did anyone lower the flag and I believe that the effort is continuing with the agreement of all the Greek parties, since the major goal is to resolve the problem," he added.
In response to other questions, Roussopoulos stressed that a reference in the text to Turkey's obligation to maintain good-neighborly relations was not a recommendation but a commitment, while pointing out that the negotiating framework placed an unprecedented number of conditions that must be met by Turkey in its accession course, including a clause concerning the relocation of Turkish nationals even after accession that was a departure from ordinary EU practice.
Assessing the impact of the Luxembourg agreement overall, meanwhile, the spokesman said that the start of EU accession negotiations with Turkey under the terms agreed was "a success of Greek foreign policy" and that "a better process than this could not have been achieved".
Source: Athens News Agency