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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-13

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis cites hope that Turkey's EU candidacy will improve regional cooperation
  • [02] Demirel: 'Road to better relations with Greece has opened'
  • [03] G. Papandreou calls EU candidate status for Turkey a `historic decision`
  • [04] Ecevit after EU summit refers to Ocalan death penalty, Greek-Turkish relations
  • [05] Highlights of EU statement on Turkey's candidacy
  • [06] Karamanlis: Helsinki cummit recognised unilateral Turkish claims
  • [07] Clerides again calls on T/C community to participate in EU accession talks

  • [01] Simitis cites hope that Turkey's EU candidacy will improve regional cooperation

    HELSINKI, 13/12/1999 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday welcomed Turkey's upgrading to European Union candidate status, during a press conference following the 15- nation bloc's summit here.

    Mr. Simitis expressed a hope that Turkey's candidacy will contribute to better cooperation in the region and mark the beginning of new relations between Turkey and the Union, as well as between Ankara and Athens.

    "Greece repeatedly has stressed that it aims for the friendship and cooperation with Turkey and its other neighbours," Mr. Simitis said.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit flew to Helsinki on Saturday following Ankara's acceptance of the EU offer - which incorporated Athens' conditions for designating Turkey as an EU candidate country.

    EU leaders on Friday accepted the three conditions set by Greece, namely, that a solution to the Cyprus problem be independent of any EU decision regarding the island republic's EU accession course; that Turkey's various territorial claims against Greece be referred to the International Court at The Hague within a specific timeframe if a resolution isn't found; and that the same conditions apply to Turkey as to the other candidate states, while emphasising the need for an enhanced dialogue on human rights with a view to Ankara meeting th e Copenhagen criteria on entry negotiations.

    Commenting on Mr. Ecevit's statements on the Union's invitation to Turkey, Mr. Simitis said he was not worried about the statements, adding that "the determining factor for Turkey's relations with the EU is the decision of the summit".

    "These decisions are clear and do not allow for misinterpretations of the type (included) in Mr. Ecevit's statements, which noted that they are not related to Cyprus," the Greek premier said.

    The arrival of Mr. Ecevit in Helsinki sealed "the acceptance of the candidacy by Turkey for entry to the processes of European unification," Mr. Simitis said.

    Regarding the issue of Turkey's claims in relation to seeking recourse to The Hague, Mr. Simitis reiterated that the only difference in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey is that of the sea's continental shelf.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Simitis said the Union's decision for the island republic is positive because "it limits the ability of (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash, at least in the immediate future, to walk out of the New York (proximity) talks".

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash are participating in UN- sponsored proximity talks at UN headquarters, as part of the latest effort to resolve the long-standing Cyprus problem.

    EU institutional reforms : In a departure from Greek-Turkish and EU-Turkish affairs, Mr. Simitis also discussed decisions by the Union's leaders regarding institutional reforms, which are scheduled to begin early next year and be completed by the end of 2000.

    The premier said there was agreement on the creation of an EU military force, which will be used in humanitarian missions and in crisis situations - based on UN decisions and within the framework of the UN Charter.

    He said Greece will participate in the Union's defence processes, noting however, that these processes were not as yet formulated.

    Regarding Turkey's participation in the Union's defence processes, Mr. Simitis said such a participation was prescribed by Ankara's relations with the Western European Union (WEU) and NATO.

    Concluding, the Greek premier also paid tribute to late Greek alternate foreign minister Yannos Kranidiotis.

    "He was one of the first to work on the conditions we tabled at the Helsinki summit, and the way we would forward them. By this opportunity, I want to again honour his memory and contribution," Mr. Simitis said.

    Lipponen : In a related development, Finnish PM and current chairman of the rotating EU presidency, Paavo Lipponen, praised Mr. Simitis' stance during the summit, noting that Friday's discussions on the issue of Turkey's candidacy were "difficult" and that the Greek premier played a "decisive role" in the drafting of the final conclusions.

    Mr. Lipponen told a press conference late Friday after a working dinner of EU leaders that the Greek premier had maintained an "exceptionally constructive" stance, adding that Turkey must appreciate Mr. Simitis' position and respond positively to the EU decision over its candidacy.

    Clinton congratulations : HELSINKI (ANA - V. Mourtis) - Finally, US President Bill Clinton over the weekend congratulated Mr. Simitis for over what he called his "responsible" stance in Helsinki.

    In a letter to Mr. Simitis, Mr. Clinton expressed "respect and appreciation" for the Greek PM's stance, adding that under Mr. Simitis' leadership, "your country can look forward to playing a leadership role in the region for the achievement of stability , prosperity and peace."

    Mr. Clinton also thanked the Greek premier for the hospitality shown to him during a visit to Athens last month.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Demirel: 'Road to better relations with Greece has opened'

    ANKARA, 13/12/1999 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    The road to better relations with Athens has opened, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel stressed here yesterday during a television interview.

    "...Turkey has committed itself to resolving whatever border differences with Greece by peaceful means," the Turkish president noted.

    Athens standing position in the face of various Turkish claims over the past 25 years has been that the only outstanding difference raised by Ankara of any substance is delineation of the Aegean's continental shelf.

    "Turkey, as a member of the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has committed itself that, if it has a border problem, it will resolve it by peaceful means," Mr. Demirel said.

    "If we do not resolve them by peaceful means, what will our position be in the civilised world? Today, there are no societies that can isolate themselves from the world," he added.

    "There was a marked rapprochement following the earthquakes, I want to thank everybody for that development. This positive climate should continue and will continue," he said, adding: "there should be greater trust between the two countries to eliminate the differences between them."

    Athens News Agency

    [03] G. Papandreou calls EU candidate status for Turkey a `historic decision`

    Athens, 13/12/1999 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Saturday called an EU summit decision to designate Turkey a candidate country with specific conditions as a "historic decision" that formulated a "framework of rules and principles within which we can live in a climate of security, cooperation and peace".

    Mr. Papandreou said the 15-nation bloc's decision on Friday "opens up very significant opportunities for the improvement of our bilateral relations, but also for a resolution of the Cyprus issue".

    He noted, however, that one could not expect immediate results but rather that the road ahead was a long one, "but it is a firm foundation on which we can build".

    Mr. Papandreou said the summit decision was also an opportunity for Turkey and expressed a hope that Ankara will have the goodwill to take the necessary steps for improving the climate in the region. " a candidate member now, it must demonstrate how much it wishes to progress towards Europe based on the European values," he said.

    Replying to questions, he said that "we hope that the repercussions for the Cyprus issue will be only positive ones, and that the status quo of the past 25 years will change".

    Finally, he added that the Turkish Cypriots must decide to take part in the process of joining the European family, "which means that they must proceed with substantive negotiations and, ultimately, a just settlement of the Cyprus issue".

    Reuters interview : Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with the Reuters news agency from Helsinki, the Greek minister praised Washington's role in providing assurances to both Greece and Turkey that nudged them toward better relations.

    He also said the EU expected Turkey would not execute Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, sentenced to death earlier this year, but would use the EU accession process to improve the situation of its Kurdish population.

    Mr. Papandreou said US President Bill Clinton's last-second call to Turkish PM Bulent Ecevit on Friday had been useful in helping sway Ankara to accept the EU's terms.

    "Maybe it was very important. They have tried to be very helpful," he said.

    The minister said the Helsinki decision committed both Greece and Turkey to deal with some very difficult issues, including solving the long-standing Cyprus issue.

    "We have reached the point where this has now been put down in black and white, and this will open up new avenues and possibilities for solving some of the problems," he said.

    Mr. Papandreou added that he believed the Turkish Cypriots, who have so far boycotted Cyprus' negotiations for EU membership, had a new incentive to get involved.

    "What we have now is a situation where Turkey is a candidate and therefore is part of the wider European family...Cyprus is on its way to membership, and this was enhanced yesterday also with the EU statement that whether or not there is a settlement, this is not a precondition for accession. So, I think the Turkish Cypriots will want to be aboard for the accession process, " Mr. Papandreou added.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Ecevit after EU summit refers to Ocalan death penalty, Greek-Turkish relations

    HELSINKI, 13/12/1999 (ANA - A. Podimata)

    Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit held a press conference on Saturday following his meetings with EU leaders.

    The Turkish PM discussed issues concerning Ankara's compliance with Union standards, including the death penalty.

    Mr. Ecevit said he "approaches the death penalty issue, not specifically in regards to (Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah) Ocalan or any other person, but as an issue of principle".

    Mr. Ecevit reminded that the Turkish government is a multi-party coalition and expressed a hope that all parties included in the coalition will take under consideration all stated parametres.

    Referring to Greek-Turkish affairs, he said "I always supported that the two allied and neighbouring countries should confront their problems via dialogue...The candidacy will make it almost obligatory for problems to be resolved through dialogue," Mr. Ecevit said.

    He also noted that he feels encouraged by the constructive dialogue, which has began between Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, noting however, that this dialogue has not yet entered directly into essential issues.

    Discussing the Cyprus issue, he reiterated that "there can be a resolution only if the existing reality on the island is recognised."

    "There are two separate states on Cyprus," Mr. Ecevit also claimed, adding: "...before we go to the Court at The Hague, we will attempt to confront the issues with dialogue and if we do not resolve them, then we will examine their tabling at The Hague."

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Highlights of EU statement on Turkey's candidacy

    Athens, 13/12/1999 (ANA)

    The European Union announced on Saturday the terms for Turkey's candidacy for EU membership.

    The following is the full text of the relevant paragraphs of the conclusions of the Helsinki EU summit:

    4. The European Council reaffirms the inclusive nature of the accession process, which now comprises 13 candidate states within a single framework. The candidate states are participating in the accession process on an equal footing. They must share the values and objectives of the European Union as set out in the treaties. In this respect the European Council stresses the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter and urges candidate states to make every effort to resolve any outstanding border disputes and other related issues. Failing this they should within a reasonable time bring the dispute to the International Court of Justice. The European Council will review the situation relating to any outstandin g disputes, in particular concerning the repercussions on the accession process and in order to promote their settlement through the International Court of Justice, at the latest by the end of 2004. Moreover, the European Council recalls that compliance with the political criteria laid down at the Copenhagen European Council is a prerequisite for the opening of accession negotiations and that compliance with all the Copenhagen criteria is the basis for accession to the Union. .... 9. (a) The European Council welcomes the launch of the talks aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on 3 December in New York and expresses its strong support for the U.N. Secretary-General's efforts to bring the process to a successf ul conclusion. (b) The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors. 12. The European Council welcomes recent positive developments in Turkey as noted in the Commission's progress report, as well as its intention to continue its reforms towards complying with the Copenhagen criteria. Turkey is a candidate state destined to join the Union on the basis of the same criteria as applied to the other candidate states. Building on the existing European strategy, Turkey, like other candidate states, will benefit from a pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms. This will include enhanced political dialogue, with emphasis on progressing towards fulfilling the political criteria for accession with particular reference to the issue of human rights, as well as on the issues referred to in paragraphs 4 and 9 (a). Turkey will also have the opportunity to participate in Community programmes and agencies and in meetings between candidate states and the Union in the context of the accession process. An accession partnership will be drawn up on the basis of previous Europe an Council conclusions while containing priorities on which accession preparations must concentrate in the light of the political and economic criteria and the obligations of a member state, combined with a national programme for the adoption of the ac quis. Appropriate monitoring mechanisms will be established. With a view to intensifying the harmonisation of Turkey's legislation and practice with the acquis, the Commission is invited to prepare a process of analytical examination of the acquis. The European Council asks the Commission to present a single framework for coordinating all sources of European Union financial assistance for pre-accession.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Karamanlis: Helsinki cummit recognised unilateral Turkish claims

    Athens, 13/12/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday criticised the government over the outcome of the EU summit in Helsinki, particularly over what he termed "recognition of unilateral Turkish claims as Greek-Turkish differences."

    He said that although the reference to Cyprus was positive, it lacked a "clear-cut and specific timetable" and expressed serious reservations on the arrangements concerning the Greek-Turkish issues, which he called "unpleasant".

    Addressing a gathering of ND women cadres, Mr. Karamanlis said results of the summit would for decades affect Greece's course in the European family vis-a-vis Turkey.

    He said it seemed that developments arising from the summit decision would especially benefit Turkey, as its road toward the EU was open and its participation was upgraded at important EU meetings regarding political cooperation and formulation of EU fo reign policy.

    And what did Greece get in exchange, he queried?

    Mr. Karamanlis said no mention was made of any prerequisites and conditions vis-a-vis Greek-Turkish relations.

    He also said stipulation should have been made that Turkey must respect international treaties and international law, as well as abandoning its territorial claims against Greece and rejecting the use or threat to use violence.

    Also, Mr. Karamanlis added, the final text of the summit refers to negotiations regarding national issues, which means a major turnabout in standing Greek positions. He stressed that the single issue of difference with Turkey regards the Aegean's contin ental shelf, saying however, that an endless list of claims on more than 150 islands in the eastern Aegean could now be decided by 15 foreign judges.

    "This is a huge concession from what Greece had secured two years ago at the Luxembourg summit, and entails dangers," Mr. Karamanlis warned.

    Skandalidis : On his part, ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said on Saturday that the EU decision and what he called the achievement of all targets set by Athens "verifies in practice our initial aspiration: Turkey's road to Europe passes definitely through Greece".

    Mr. Skandalidis said the Helsinki summit, as well as US President Bill Clinton's visit to Athens last month, confirmed the new reality, namely, that "Greece now has a strong voice and clout".

    KKE : Finally, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) voiced its opposition to the Helsinki decisions, adding that the government's "boasting is an effort to raise a smoke screen in order to hide the fact that an agreement was signed in Helsinki that comes at the expense of Greece's sovereign rights and the Cyprus issue".

    As for the Cyprus problem, the KKE statement noted that it was "clear that Cyprus was the big loser since the division of the island was being advanced with or without its accession to the EU."

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Clerides again calls on T/C community to participate in EU accession talks

    NEW YORK, 13/12/1999 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus will spare no effort to find an agreed, just, viable and workable solution to the island republic's political problem despite the fact that the European Council doesn't consider such a solution a precondition to Cyprus' EU accession.

    This was stated on Saturday in New York by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides who reiterated his invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the current delegation negotiating the island's accession to the EU.

    Mr. Clerides read to the press a written statement on the conclusions of the EU Summit in Helsinki just before meeting UN Secretary General's special adviser Alvaro de Soto, within the framework of on-going proximity talks between the sides.

    He said decisions taken in Helsinki "established the principle which will guide the decisions of the EU during the 21st century."

    With its decisions, he added, the European Council "makes absolutely clear that the solution of problems must be by peaceful means and that any candidate country including Turkey must demonstrate that they accept and implement human rights as well as they harmonise their laws and institutions with the acquis communautaire".

    "Despite the fact that it also provides that the solution of the Cyprus problem is not a precondition to the accession of Cyprus to the EU, I wish to emphasise that we will spare no effort to find an agreed, just, viable, and workable solution compatible with the acquis communautaire and the code of human rights," Mr. Clerides pointed out.

    He also reiterated that his "invitation to the Turkish Cypriot community to participate in the delegation negotiating Cyprus' accession to the EU is still open" and welcomed Turkey "in the ranks of the candidate countries".

    Mr. Clerides expressed his "thanks and appreciation" to the EU leaders for their decisions and, in particular, to Greek PM Costas Simitis for "all he has done for Cyprus".

    The Cypriot government started that substantive accession negotiations with the EU in November 1998.

    Denktash : On his part, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash attacked the European Council for its reference on Cyprus, claiming that if the EU accepts the island's full membership under the name of "Cyprus" it will shoulder the heavy responsibility of dividing the island permanently.

    Speaking to reporters after meeting Mr. de Soto, Mr. Denktash said he raised the conclusions of the Helsinki summit with the UN official and that he will return to the Turkish-occupied north tomorrow after meeting with UN chief Kofi Annan.

    In his statement under the heading of his illegal regime, recognised only by Ankara, Mr. Denktash claimed the "erroneous position taken by EU on the issue of Cyprus will necessitate the furtherance of our existing ties and relationship with our motherland and guarantor, Turkey".

    "We continue to strongly oppose, on the basis of law and international agreements, the process conducted by the EU with the Greek Cypriot side, under the title of 'Cyprus', which is only one of the two parties in the island," the T/C leader claimed.

    Athens News Agency

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