Greece doesn’t want to see war in Iraq

One day before the European Council of Ministers’ crucial meeting on the question of Iraq which he was to chair, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in a wide-ranging interview with Kathimerini, said the UN inspectors’ task, as the only prospect for a peaceful solution to the crisis, must have the support of all. But Papandreou noted that the council had a responsibility «not to disappoint EU citizens» and to formulate a common position, in spite of their divergent views. He hastened to add, however, that tomorrow’s meeting «is not the end of the process» and of Athens’s initiatives to prevent war, rejecting the claim that developments in Iraq have put a stop to the work of the Greek presidency of the EU. Commenting on the Cyprus issue, the minister acknowledged that Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s stance allows little leeway for negotiations by February 28, and described the fears cultivated by Denktash as «untimely and groundless.» At the same time, Papandreou responded to criticism of himself and Prime Minister Costas Simitis for playing a leading role in backing Turkey’s European prospects. «By supporting a date for Turkey,» he said, «we were supporting the fastest solution to the Cyprus question and bilateral issues,» adding that «our policy toward Turkey will not change because it is determined by our principles and interests.» As for the current political situation, the minister believes that before the next election, the government should focus its energies on the domestic front, which includes supporting the most economically deprived, stamping out corruption and tackling administrative problems.

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