12 May, 2003
PRAGUE 12/05/2003 (ANA)
Prime minister and European Council President-in-office Costas Simitis on Saturday concluded his tour of seven newly acceding countries to the European Union, in light of the European Union Summit that will take place in June, in Thessaloniki.
Simitis visited Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic and held talks with the presidents and premiers of those states, appearing optimistic over the future of the enlarged European Union.
At the end of his talks with Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Simitis held a press conference, marking the end of the tour.
''They believe that Greece, a small country, managed to promote itself in the European Union and for that reason they look at its experience and for its aid,'' Simitis said, adding that they believe that the confrontation and resolution of the problems they face can be accomplished only within the European Union that can offer them stability and prosperity.
He stressed that talks focused mainly in the future institutional form of the European Union, fearing that changes may function to their disadvantage. ''In addition the memory of the Soviet past is very intense and for that reason they are concerned greatly about issues of security, issues of foreign policy, issues of defense,'' Simitis added.
''They want to have the certainty that in the future they will not relive that which existed in the past,'' Simitis stressed.
The issues of immigration and European security will top the agenda of the EU Summit in Thessaloniki, especially in light of the enlargement.
On his part, Spidla said that "we posed the questions and discussed different ideas on general lines and not on details."
The Czech premier added that he also voiced his country's stance that each EU member should have one European Commissioner, a position taken in light of the institutional changes of the EU.
Both men stressed that they did not discover any points of substantial disagreements between the two countries.
Prague was the last stop of Simitis' current tour.
Statements on Cyprus: At the end of the press conference, the Greek PM responded to questions on developments concerning Cyprus, Turkey and the European Union, stressing that the statements of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that the ''Cyprus problem can only be resolved if the two communities (Greek and Turkish Cypriot) discuss between them without the aid or without the framework of the United Nations,'' can not be followed, since ''I would like to stress, once more, that the Cyprus problem is not a problem between the two communities. It is a problem of occupation of a part of the island by the Turkish military''.
''The United Nations have made decisions, concerning the Cyprus problem, for example they imposed an embargo (on Turkey). For this reason the United Nations have submitted time and again Plans for the resolution of the problem,'' Simitis said.
''Thus our position is that the problem should be resolved, in accordance with the principles of International Law and within the framework of the United Nations at the initiative of the General Secretary,'' Simitis underlined.
''It is up to Turkey to decide to accept the Annan Plan, to state its readiness that it accepts it as the base for negotiations, which will then follow between the interested parties, so as to have a decision made by the two communities based on the Annan Plan and under the auspices of the United Nations.
Source: Athens News Agency