27 June, 2006
Turkey's obligations toward the European Union - including its refusal to open its ports and airports to Cyprus-flagged traffic - dominated talks held here on Monday between visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen.
Afterwards, Vanhanen urged Turkey to respect the principles and priorities of the EU if it wanted to make progress toward accession, including the implementation of an extended Customs Union Protocol with the Cyprus Republic.
He clarified, however, that if Turkey fulfilled these commitments then it must be able to become a full member of the EU.
Karamanlis, on his part, underlined Greece's support for Turkey's European prospects but stressed that the final outcome of its accession talks depended on its ability to fully comply with the criteria and requirements made by the EU, on its respect of European principles and values and on its commitment to good-neighborly relations.
While urging Turkey to accelerate domestic reforms, the Greek prime minister expressed support for Turkey's full EU accession, explaining that Turkey must have an incentive in order to meet the commitments it has undertaken.
"A European Turkey that respects European principles and values will benefit all," the Greek premier stressed.
Karamanlis said that he had briefed his Finnish counterpart on the latest developments concerning the Cyprus issue and announced that the United Nations was now examining if conditions existed for a resumption of efforts for a solution.
Talks between the two men additionally covered the European prospects of Balkan countries, with Karamanlis supporting their EU entry as the best way to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in this volatile region, as part of a lengthy and difficult process.
The two sides also discussed EU priorities during the period when Finland takes over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1. Karamanlis said that Greece attaches great importance to the goals set by the Finnish presidency, such as competitiveness, boosting innovation and research and the social dimensions of these policies.
The Greek prime minister stressed that the Finnish presidency had the task of keeping the European Constitutional Treaty in the forefront and implementing the measures already decided.
After the meeting, Karamanlis departed for Stockholm where he is due to meet Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson on Tuesday.
Source: Athens News Agency