The Greek Press Today
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01 August, 2006
Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue, as well as Greece's position on the crisis in the Middle East and the "utmost importance" of economic diplomacy, were the focus of Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis' address on Monday to a conference of Greek ambassadors abroad, inaugurating what she said would be established as an "annual institution" that would enable better coordination between the policy centre and the embassies, aiming at the greater efficiency of Greek diplomacy.
On policy concerning Turkey, Bakoyannis said that the priority was to take advantage of the abilities offered by the European mechanism for Turkey's adaptation, while at the same time advancing Greece's issues at other levels as well, utilizing every opportunity arising for that.
Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece supported Turkey's European prospect, stressing, however, that "we do not give cartes blanches" but "we are working on an alternative position in the undesirable event of inability of progress in the Turkish (EU) candidacy for reasons independent of our own desire and policy".
"We are not complacent, nor are we ceasing to work on solutions for every possible development. Thus must be clear to everyone," she added.
On the Cyprus issue, she said that Greece remained "devoted to the search for a just and viable solution on the basis of a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, which must be founded on the UN resolutions, the work accomplished thus far by the UN Secretary General, and the new reality of Cyprus' accession to the EU".
Bakoyannis said that the recent agreement between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat under the aegis of UN Under-Secretary-General for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari constituted a "positive and encouraging development" in the direction of implementation of what was agreed in Paris between Papadopoulos and UN secretary general Kofi Annan.
Referring to the so-called "direct commerce" regulation, she said that Greece believes that the Famagusta proposal was a good, strong basis, adding that such a solution would lead to substantial improvement of the climate and bring the two communities closer together.
Bakoyannis further said that, in the present crisis in Lebanon, Cyprus has emerged as "an oasis of tranquility, stability and effectiveness in the SE Mediterranean region", adding that "the recent events add another weapon to Greece-Cyprus armour for a speedy, definitive and just solution to the problem".
On Greece's position regarding the flare-up in the Middle East, Bakoyannis reminded that Greece was among the first countries to call for an immediate ceasefire and the first to send assistance to evacuate Greek and foreign nationals caught in the war zone, as well as humanitarian aid, and assured that "we shall remain at the front lines of the countries that want to and can actively contribute to confronting the situation and to the creation of a peaceful Middle East in the future".
Regarding the region of the Middle East, she said that the government was reactivating itself politically and financially in the region after many years of inertia, noting that the most tangible result of that policy was the jump in Greek exports to the area.
On relations with Turkey, Bakoyannis said that Greece looked to a "principle of mutuality" to the mutual benefit of both countries, adding that these relations were founded on three axes:
1) On Greece's strategy for utilization of Turkey's EU course. "We support its European prospect, but without discounts on the principles that are in force for all the candidate countries. There are no cartes blanches in this choice we have made. Autumn will be a critical period in which Turkey will be assessed by the EU regarding the fulfillment of the obligations it has undertaken. An important obligation is the full implementation of the Ankara Protocol. We hope that, even at the last minute, Turkey will take the required actions and allow Europe to continue its negotiations with it. We are in contact both with the government of Cyprus and with our (EU) partners for the best possible handling of the developments," she said.
2) On the overall development of economic, energy, cultural and social relations. "This policy has wrongly been described by many as low-key. In the past two years, we have had impressive progress concerning the energy networks and the increase of exports and acquisitions," Bakoyannis explained.
3) On the creation of conditions of calm and avoiding provocations, and chiefly on preparation for resolving the problems between the two countries.
"Just as Turkey looks out for its interests, so does Greece," Bakoyannis stressed, adding that "for Greece, the interests are justice, respect of borders and all sovereign rights, respect of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its full freedom to exercise its duties, respect of the Greek Orthodox minority and its property rights".
Bakoyannis further stressed the need for avoiding provocations and abolition of the casus belli, as well as a constructive contribution towards resolving the Cyprus issue.
The foreign minister further highlighted Greece's dynamic economic and political presence in the Balkans, noting that the goal was the accession of the Balkan states in the Euro-Atlantic structures, and expressing hope that the new government in FYROM will submit proposals for a mutually acceptable solution to the name problem.
She further expressed hope for a balanced solution for Kosovo and its future status, adding that Greece was closely monitoring the relevant negotiations.
Bakoyannis also stressed the "utmost importance" placed by Greek foreign policy on economic diplomacy, which she said would comprise the "basic assessment criterion of all", but also on "cultural diplomacy", through utilization of the overseas Greeks, adding that the Orthodox Church and the Greek embassies abroad should become meeting places for intellectuals and artists.
The foreign ministry, in order to meet the new challenges, was also reorganizing itself internally she said, adding that the plan that was being discussed, which provided for the establishment of new institutions and better utilization of existing institutions, was part of that effort.
She said the ministry planned to digitalize its archives, and was seeking funding under the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) for that project. The minister said the aim was to combine the ministry's excellent personnel with the organization of a modern foreign ministry, with the goal of "safeguarding and maximizing the national interests and the country's prestige".
Source: Athens News Agency