The Greek Press Today
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01 November, 2006
Visiting European Parliament President Josep Borrell on Tuesday strongly urged Turkey to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft and to honor and observe the Copenhagen criteria in the framework of its negotiations for its European Union accession.
Borrell made his reference to Turkey during his address to the Greek Parliament's European and Foreign Affairs Committees. "The European Parliament will make no discounts regarding respect for the criteria, the values and the basic principles, part of which are relations of good neigborliness and respect for international law.
We cannot possibly accept the accession of a country that will not observe these preconditions and this has been made clear to Turkey," Borrell said. "The European Parliament is vigilant and has a very critical stance towards Turkey, to which it has been repeatedly pointed out that it must comply and respond to the preconditions and principles of the European Union," he added.
Referring to the issue of Cyprus in particular, the European Parliament president said that the European Parliament demands that Turkish ports and airports be opened, reminding that although Turkey has assumed the commitment to extend customs union to the 10 new member-states, however, it is continuing to refuse to extend it to Cyprus as well.
"Maybe an overall solution that will also include the withdrawal of Turkish troops is not feasible today, however, negotiations are under way under the auspices of the Finnish Presidency to achieve a partial agreement, such as the strengthening of trade transactions between Cyprus and Turkey and the northern part of the island and the rest of the EU," Borrell said.
He further said that "only the leaders of the two Cypriot communities, with the assistance of the UN, will be able to solve the issue of Cyprus. The EU cannot be an effective mediator, with one part of the Cypriot community in the EU and the other outside it. The European Parliament wants a reunited Cyprus. We cannot have in the EU the only 'wall' remaining in Europe", and expressing the hope that "the current negotiations, that we strongly support, will allow the disentanglement of this problem."
Lastly, replying to remarks made by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Deputy Orestis Kolozov, who spoke of dangerous phenomena of violation of the principles of democracy and of freedom of expression, the European Parliament president said that he shared his concerns and added that "indeed, there is great concern over a resurgence of the far-right and of movements that have racist trends and xenophobia."
European Parliament President Josep Borrell in a press conference he gave in Athens on Tuesday said that "Europe must demand the fulfillment of the obligations which Turkey has undertaken towards it, in order for this country to become a member of the European family."
Borrell's comment was made following reporters' questions regarding Turkey's prospects of accession to the European Union and given the fact that the European Commission is expected to issue its report on November 8 on the progress of Turkey's accession talks, but also when the European Parliament will deal with this matter on November 11.
The European Parliament president noted that Turkey is already a candidate country, "but it is much too early for us to examine whether it will become an EU member, as it has not covered the necessary distance so as to approach European specifications and European levels."
"The reforms required must be made by Turkey itself. The Europeans are simply trying to prompt this country to proceed towards this direction and they will judge on the basis of the progress Turkey has made," Borrell added.
Borrell noted: The Turkish accession is not something which will occur tomorrow as we will have to await it after ten to 15 years. Tomorrow's Turkey will join the EU."
European Parliament President's contacts in Athens: European Parliament President Josep Borrell had separate meetings in Athens on Tuesday with Hellenic Republic President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister Costas Kara-manlis, Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Coalition of the Left President Alekos Alavanos. Later in the afternoon he will meet with main opposition PASOK party president George Papandreou.
A statement issued by the Greek Parliament mentions that Benaki and Borrell confirmed their strong interest in the future of Europe and their skepticism about developments concerning the Constitutional Treaty and Turkey’s EU accession course.
The Greek Parliament President stated that Greece has ratified the European Constitutional Treaty long ago, calling on the other European countries to take this historic step as well. She also stated that Greece supports EU expansion to the Western Balkans to help this part of the world become a region of peace, prosperity and true democracy.
Benaki-Psarouda stressed that Greece wants Turkey’s integration into the European structures on condition that it will fully comply with the European acquis and meet the obligations set by the European Union and the Customs Union Protocol.
Borrell stated that the European Parliament shares Greece’s concerns both over the Constitutional Treaty and the issue of Turkey’s EU accession and pointed out that the inter-parliamentary meeting on December 4 and 5, when the national parliaments will hold a joint session with the European Parliament, will be a very good opportunity to discuss all those issues and possibly offer a new momentum to lift the impasse.
He also wished success to the Finnish EU Presidency efforts concerning relations with Turkey and Cyprus in order to avert an abrupt interruption of negotiations which would be a negative development for all.
Borrell referred to the need to speed up institutional reforms promoting the European prospect of the Balkans and pointed out the positive prospects opened with the assumption of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly presidency by the Greek Parliament President next March, particularly in efforts aimed at solving the Middle East problems.
The European Parliament President was honored with the gold medal of the Hellenic Parliament issued on the occasion of the 150 anniversary of the Greek constitution.
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou on Tuesday met with visiting European Parliament President Josep Borrell with whom he discussed the challenges faced by Europe, the efforts to formulate a common foreign policy and EU-Turkey relations.
"We exchanged thoughts and views on the European Union's stagnation regarding the European Constitution but also its weakness to have a specific identity in today's world reality," said Papandreou, adding that "we stressed and I promised that I will also help as President of Socialist International, the need for us to form a vision of the socialists for the EU's future."
Papandreou said that the second issue he discussed with Borrell was "the prolonged weakness which the EU is showing lately in formulating a common foreign policy and a stance in major issues of humanity but also in the broader region such as in the Middle East."
Regarding EU-Turkey relations, which he termed as "a great matter for us in Greece," Papandreou stressed that "we agreed that there should be a clear message, clear talks with Turkey, that we have all said and want it to have a European course, but it (Turkey) also has obligations and this is a clear message which the European Union must pass to the Turkish side."
Source: Athens News Agency