24 September, 2005
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised here that the European Union cannot now change its mind and negotiate a "special relationship" with Turkey, but must proceed on the course already laid out.
In an interview published on Friday by the mass circulation Paris daily "Le Figaro", Karamanlis reminds that the Union recognised Turkey as a candidate state in 1999 without citing such prospects, i.e. a "special relationship".
"If we consider that negotiations with the EU are for Turkey a motivation to accept EU principles, then it is not reasonable to now make this path doubtful. This would have no other result than to seriously weaken Turkey's incentive. Furthermore, no one knows what the conclusion of negotiations will be, as negotiations are expected to be long and difficult," Karamanlis clarified.
"The EU must retain its credibility," the Greek premier is quoted as saying, while adding that Turkey's extension of a customs union with the EU's 10 new members was nevertheless accompanied by an "unacceptable" statement reaffirming its (Turkey) lack of recognition for EU member-state Cyprus.
"We expect Turkey to implement its commitments and recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Under such conditions, negotiations can begin on Oct. 3," he said, while again stressing that the neighboring EU hopeful must allow Cypriot-flagged vessels and Cypriot airliners in its ports and airports.
Additionally, Karamanlis expressed his concern over a possible delay in the accessions of Bulgaria and Romania into the EU.
"These countries made significant efforts to fulfill their obligations amid very difficult conditions. Europe should not send a sad message to countries whose stability is linked to the choices they made in favor of Europe," he said, adding: "We told Bulgaria and Romania that they could join in 2007, we should adhere to this. We cannot tell them that we are experiencing difficulties, and therefore, they should wait in the basement."
Source: Athens News Agency