The Greek Press Today
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25 October, 2007
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday had an opportunity to outline Greece's positions on a number of major foreign policy issues during a meeting with visiting Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt.
Their talks focused chiefly on the Balkans, with emphasis on Kosovo, Turkey's European prospects and developments in southeast Turkey. They also discussed the Cyprus issue, the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter's name and EU issues, particularly the progress of the Reform Treaty.
Greece's foreign minister repeated Athens' position for Kosovo, calling for a solution that was viable and promoted stability, while she emphasised the need to fully exhaust the margins for negotiation, ensure a unified European stance without unilateral actions and the maximum possible international legitimacy, such as that given by resolutions of the UN Security Council.
She also reiterated the Greek position that, for Turkey, full compliance with EU criteria should lead to full EU accession. Commenting on developments in SE Turkey, meanwhile, Bakoyannis condemned "all forms of terrorism" and advised "self-restraint and respect for international law", while she also urged respect for the territorial integrity and independence of Iraq.
On the Cyprus issue, the minister called for "in-depth preparation based on the Agreement of July 8, 2006, followed by the intensification of efforts - always within the set and official framework of the United Nations - for achieving a just, viable and functional solution to a problem that was created by a foreign military occupation and the unilateral declaration of independence of a pseudo-state".
She also repeated calls for achieving a mutually acceptable solution in the dispute over FYROM's name that could act as the basis for building relations of alliance and solidarity within the framework of NATO and the EU.
Replying to questions regarding an agreement signed between Turkey and the United Kingdom that contains a reference to the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, which is not recognised by any country apart from Turkey), Bakoyannis said the Greek foreign ministry was considering the issue and "would lodge the necessary demarches as necessary".
Bildt noted the "excellent" bilateral relations currently enjoyed by Greece and Sweden and his satisfaction at the agreement over the Reform Treaty, adding that its ratification would enhance the EU’s ability to become an important player in world affairs.
The Swedish minister also noted his concern over developments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and stressed that the situation in the Balkans required an overall approach that included Bosnia but also the future of Kosovo and FYROM's name.
"It is clear that Serbia is the key for stability in the entire region. We need a mutual and as far as possible acceptable solution to the issue of Kosovo. Problems in the Balkans cannot be solved unilaterally. Some form of consensus is necessary, some form of agreement and Kosovo is not an exception to this rule," Bildt told reporters, while also hailing the launch of a new initiative to resolve the FYROM name issue at the UN.
Pointing out that "one way or another, all Balkan issues were now on the table," Bildt said it was important to work for their solution in the coming months and that the EU should focus its attention on this area at this time.
Commenting on the Cyprus issue, the Swedish minister said that action on this had to be timed correctly and carefully and be within a UN framework.
Questioned about a Swedish initiative to arrange an informal meeting on the Cyprus issue in New York without Greece or the Cyprus Republic attending, Bildt clarified that this "was not some kind of council".
"We want to have a strong and clear EU policy on everything concerning security, external affairs and some forms of defence and this is being developed step by step. The EU has a very important role to play on a large number of issues. We know that there are issues that are still in the framework of the UN Security Council and we respect this, of course, but we must do all that we can in order to further support this framework,” he said.
According to Bildt, the issue of FYROM’s name was another possible area where an EU initiative might be useful in order to find a mutually agreed solution quickly, even though he added that this was “to a great extent a bilateral issue”.
In response to other questions, Bildt denied that he might be a candidate for the post of EU foreign minister but stressed that the current stage within the EU would have been inconceivable 10 years earlier. He said the European citizens were demanding a strong international role for the EU and that the Reform Treaty offered the member-states new and important tools.
Visiting Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt addressed an event organised by ELIAMEP on Wednesday, on the meaning of the European Union's "mild power" and the momentum of "dynamic change" that it entails.
Focusing on the issue of Kosovo in particular, Bildt said that "Kosovo cannot remain uder the auspices of the UN forever" and stressed that the prospect of independence for Kosovo is not a panacea.
"It must be accompanied by a package of external and internal arrangements," he pointed out and added that it must be realised by all that the proposal by the Troika is "a new approach. To be more specific, it is an approach to a process for a solution to the problem."
Bildt also expressed hope that "Russia will see itself as part of the effort for stabilisation in the region," noting that vetoes are not compatible with this goal.
However, the speaker conceded at the same time that the role of Serbia is important in the region, stressing that "a stable Serbia produces stability in the wider environment."
With the prospect of Croatia's accession to the EU, a speedy rapprochement between Serbia and the EU, a solution to the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) name based on a mutually acceptable solution by Athens and Skopje, the EU's "mild power" will facilitate the region's transformation.
He added that in his view this is crucial for Europe, among other things, because "if southeastern Europe is separated from the EU, it will be like the EU being separated from its history."
Commenting on a possible invasion of Iraq by Turkey, the speaker noted that for Europe "the Middle East, Iraq and Iran are our direct neighbours, since our Europe extends to the Middle East," while noting that for the United States the people living in this region are unknown, while for Europe they are familiar, since all countries (Sweden in particular) receive refugees and immigrants from there.
"Europe, that is experiencing its most peaceful and prosperous period, has considerable know-how on issues concerning the peaceful settlement of crises and in consolidating Confidence Building Measures, while it plays a very important role on international issues of climatological changes, nuclear disarmament and energy," he said.
Source: Athens News Agency