28 February, 2006
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis described as positive the decision reached by the European Union's General Affairs Council to financially support the development of the Turkish Cypriot community in comments she made to Greek journalists after the meeting held here on Monday.
The Council has approved €139 million for the community inhabiting the northern occupied part of Cyprus.
However, Bakoyannis, representing Greece at the Council, noted that within 2006 Turkey must fulfill its obligations towards Cyprus in terms of the customs union agreement which it must extend to the 10 new EU member states, Cyprus included.
Other items on the Council's agenda included developments in the West Balkans and the problems arising after the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed the Prophet.
Regarding the West Balkans, Bakoyannis briefed the Council on her upcoming visit to the region.
She told reporters that the EU is quite concerned about the situation but that she will have the opportunity at the upcoming informal ministerial summit to be held in Austria in March to brief her counterparts on the meetings she will have had in Belgrade, Pristina and Sarajevo.
As for the cartoons which have caused uproar around the world and have resulted in violent demonstrations by Muslims, Bakoyannis said that while Greece is in favor of a free press, the Greek people, having co-existed with Muslims, understand some of the latter's sensitivities.
She added that no association should be made between terrorism and Islam.
Bakoyannis also had the opportunity to meet with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn with whom she discussed Turkey's EU prospects. She said that these discussions will continue in the near future beginning with Rehn's upcoming visit to Athens on March 9.
Source: Athens News Agency