12 July, 2003
In an exclusive interview with the Athens News Agency on the sidelines of the 6th Symi Symposium on Friday, former U.S. secretary of state Richard Holbrooke underlined the importance of making Turkey part of Europe and stressed that a solution to the Cyprus problem would open the way for Turkey's accession to the European Union.
The 6th Symi Symposium is taking place on the Aegean island of Kos.
While avoiding the use of the word 'crisis,' Holbrooke noted that there was currently 'a big problem' in relations between the United States and Turkey. At the same time, he stressed that the fundamental interests of both Washington and Ankara demanded that the two countries maintain a powerful alliance, while Turkey's strategic position made it imperative that the country belong in Europe.
He pointed out, however, that the Cyprus problem remained an obstacle to Turkey's European prospects and that Greek-Turkish relations could never be fully cordial until it was resolved.
Holbrooke also noted that Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was not among those who saw the necessity for a solution to the Cyprus problem, describing him as an ''able, decisive man who only looked back'', while he urged Turkey's government to do more in order to persuade Denktash ''to at last do the right thing''.
Commenting on Greece, finally, he said it has evolved into a ''very mature member of the European structure'' that had just completed a successful European Union presidency and was a member of the eurozone - ''something that had seemed improbable a few years ago,'' he added.
He estimated that the country would also be politically strengthened by hosting the Olympic Games and by being more relaxed in its attitude toward Turkey.
''I believe that the leadership of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Andreas Papandreou finally made a difference in Greece's image, both in Europe and the rest of the world. For the first time, Greek foreign policy has vision,'' he said.
Source: Athens News Agency