The Greek Press Today
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05 December, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received visiting Italian premier Romano Prodi in Athens on Monday for talks dominated by the two countries' bilateral interactions in the energy sector, as well as Turkey's progress toward EU accession.
In statements after the meeting, Karamanlis stressed that Turkey had not actively demonstrated its intention to adopt European principles and values.
"Turkey must realize that its progress in the accession negotiations depends on its progress in fulfilling the criteria and conditions it has agreed with the EU," he stressed.
Once again underlining Greece's support for Turkey's European prospects in general, the Greek premier said that Athens was in continuous consultation with its partners in the EU on how to establish the right framework for Turkey, given Ankara's non-fulfillment of its obligations.
Prodi, on his part, said that the EU should "leave a door open" for Turkey while at the same time clarifying that the criteria for accession were the same as those applying to all the other candidate-countries.
He backed Karamanlis' view, however, that the number of accession negotiation chapters that opened or closed were a technical issue to be decided by the European Commission.
"I am not fighting for one or more chapters. Our priority is that there should be something balanced," Prodi said.
The two premiers also discussed the situation in Kosovo, agreeing on the need to support Serbia's European orientation, while Prodi revealed that he had written to his EU counterparts on the issue.
Karamanlis stressed that a solution for the future of status of Kosovo should be accepted by all the sides involved and that the European orientation of southeastern Europe was a factor of stability for the broader region.
In addition, talks between the two men covered cooperation on energy issues and on a Mediterranean level.
The Italian prime minister stressed the importance of a Greek-Italian natural gas pipeline, which he said made Greece an "important factor" and differentiated supply from the traditional suppliers, such as Russia and Algeria. He declared himself satisfied with the time schedules drawn up and referred to Greek-Italian cooperation to supply electricity.
Karamanlis also stressed that the construction of the natgas pipeline was a supremely important project for the European Union.
They said that bilateral cooperation between Greece and Italy on all levels was excellent, while the Italian premier focused on joint action in the energy and transport sectors in the Balkan area, as well as in tourism through a "Mediterranean package" that offered both holidays by the sea but also the closely linked history and culture of the two countries.
Questioned about the departure of Italian troops from Iraq, Prodi said that this had been a pre-election pledge that was respected and accepted by the United States and Iraq's government, while noting that an "open and deep" dialogue was underway even within the United States on what the troops of other countries would do.
In response to questions about the euro, Prodi said that the common European currency was strong and that the European Central Bank was making the appropriate decisions.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
The meeting, which took place at the Presidential Mansion, lasted more than half-an-hour.
President Karolos Papoulias and Italian Prime Minister Roma-no Prodi jointly sent a message of peace, progress and humanity from the "Casa d'Italia" on the occasion of the inauguration of the Italian exhibition's second part focusing on the Mediterranean on Monday.
Prodi received, together with the director of Casa d'Italia Melita Palestini, President Papoulias at the entrance of the Italian Cultural Institute, while members of the Italian community applauded enthusiastically.
Following a tour of the Institute's exhibition premises, Prodi thanked President Papoulias for honoring the Italian community with his presence at the Italians' home of culture in Athens. He also thanked the Italian community for the excellent cultural relations existing between the two countries.
"We have a duty, being countries of the northern Mediterranean, to build bridges of friendship and dialogue with the southern part of the Mediterranean," Prodi said.
President Papoulias in turn thanked Prodi and said he was pleased to be at the home of Italian culture.
"Being a Greek, I do not feel like a foreigner but like being at home. Everything here underlines our common historical roots," President Papoulias pointed out, adding that "the duty of Greece and Italy, as Mr. Prodi also said, is to set up bridges of peace, progress and humanity. In any case, these were the elements of our culture that always focused on man and remains so."
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and main opposition PASOK party leader and Socialist International President George Papandreou ascertained, as they said, an identity of views on issues concerning the Western Balkans, relations between Europe and Turkey and the Middle East in talks they held in Athens on Monday.
Prodi expressed concern over the situation in the Middle East, while with regard to the Western Balkans, and Serbia and Kosovo in particular, he stressed the need for the region to come closer to Europe.
Referring to relations between the European Union and Turkey, Papandreou said that "time has run out and commitments must be fulfilled."
On the question of Kosovo, the PASOK party leader also expressed the need for the linking of the Western Balkans and of solutions to the region's problems with the European course and, with regard to the Middle East, he referred to Italy's initiatives and noted that joint initiatives will also be undertaken in the framework of the Socialist International.
Source: Athens News Agency