The Greek Press Today
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19 September, 2006
Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday commenced a series of contacts on the sidelines of the UN's 61st General Assembly and in the framework of Greece's presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of September.
In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece wants Turkey to become a full member of the European Union, but stressed that Turkey was obliged to recognize EU member Cyprus if it wanted to join the 25 nation bloc.
Bakoyannis will also meet with the foreign ministers and representatives of several UN member countries during her stay in New York, before heading next week to Washington for talks with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and other US government officials, as well as members of the House of Representatives and Senate.
On Tuesday, Bakoyannis will attend a coordination meeting of the EU foreign ministers, before addressing the inauguration of an exhibition titled "Encomium to the Olive", which she will inaugurate together with UN secretary general Kofi Annan at the UN's headquarters, which will run for the entire month as part of a series of parallel events throughout Greece's presidency of the UN Security Council. The exhibition was first presented during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and is organized by the Athens Academy's Archive Centre for Folklore.
She will also attend receptions hosted by Annan and US president Bush for the heads of the foreign delegations to the UN General Assembly.
On Wednesday, Bakoyannis will chair a thematic meeting of the Security Council with regional organizations, being organized at the initiative of the Greek Security Council presidency, and will later host a luncheon for the Security Council members.
On Thursday, Bakoyannis will take part in a NATO foreign ministers' meeting, while afterwards she will address a World Leadership Forum luncheon in her honor organized by the Foreign Policy Association on the theme "Greek foreign policy at the beginning of the 21st century", while she will also attend a dinner hosted by the French foreign minister for the member countries of the International Francophony Organization.
On Tuesday, September 26, Bakoyannis will go to Washington for meetings with Rice, other US government officials, and members of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
"Greece wants Turkey to become a full member of the European Union, but Ankara is obliged to recognize Cyprus if it wishes to become an EU member," Bakoyannis said in an interview with the Associated Press, stressing that, as all the countries that look to acceding the 25-member EU, Turkey too must fulfill the accession conditions, which include respect of human rights and religious freedoms, good relations with neighboring countries, and unobstructed Customs Union.
Bakoyannis underlined that it had come as a surprise to a lot of people around the world that Greece's foreign policy was so clear-cut in its support of Turkey's European aspirations, adding "The truth is that, for Greece, it is of vital importance that it borders with a European Turkey, that it borders with a European democracy, and it is for this reason that we are clearly in favor of supporting Turkey's accession to the EU".
The Greek foreign minister warned, however, that this did not entail "unconditional support".
"What we truly desire is Turkey's conversion into a European democracy, which means that the conditions are in force as for any other European candidate country," she said, stressing that "these conditions, or criteria, were not invented for Turkey...they are European criteria that are in effect for every EU applicant country".
"I hope that Turkey understands this and will fulfill the specific obligations, which it has accepted," Bakoyannis added.
On the Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis said that political volition was required for resumption of the UN-brokered talks, aimed at the reunification of Cyprus.
Asked how such a political volition for the resumption of negotiations could be achieved, Bakoyannis said that both sides were looking to the future, and were aware that Nicosia could not remain divided, as it is today.
For the Turkish Cypriots, it was indeed very important that a solution be found and that they could live as citizens of the EU, Bakoyannis said. "And this is the goal. This is what we want. Naturally, Ankara must also agree, because you mustn't forget that Ankara maintains 40,000 soldiers on the island, and no solution can be viable so long as the occupation in Cyprus continues," she warned.
Source: Athens News Agency