NEWS

Need for unified EU defense system, the issue of Cyprus, and elections

In effect, you saw into the heart of the US leadership. What can you do with what you are taking to Europe? I will be going to Paris and Berlin on April 15 to talk about precisely these issues. I will be briefing my counterparts on the climate in the US and the views I heard in Washington on all these issues. Can this meeting serve as a bridge between the US and Europe? Of course, particularly if there is agreement on the role of the UN after the war. This could prove to be the springboard for improved relations and the foundation of a framework for joint action in dealing with various threats. Rumsfeld was very negative about France. What about Rice? Ms Rice sees the need for close cooperation between the US and the EU, and favors the establishment of a Euro army. She realizes the need for it. The point of my visit to Paris and Berlin is to find out if Europeans are willing to talk to the US in order to find a common basis. If the best-case scenario of convergence between Europe and the US does not come about, and if we see our region become a dividing line between US and EU interests, what should Greece do? Greece’s place is in Europe. There is no way Greece will diverge from its European course. The question is whether Europe will find the will to move forward toward political and defense unification, a course that is littered with political and economic obstacles, as European defense calls for very large resources. Have the Europeans realized that? Yes they have. This will be one of the main items on the agenda in Paris and Berlin. Yes, we are moving toward defense unity. Do we have the will and the money do so? This is what the Greek presidency’s initiatives are aimed at. European defense will never take shape without a strong European defense industry. We took a step in that direction by having our proposals accepted at the European Council, but there is still a long way to go. Cyprus is key What about Cyprus? Naturally, there is much disappointment in the Annan proposal among all those involved, but the question is whether the Erdogan government will find the courage to get around the intransigence of (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash. Is Turkey ready to go in a direction in line with international law? Indications to date are not positive. Would you visit Ankara, particularly during the EU presidency? Not at the moment. If, however, I had tangible indications of the beginning of a change in Turkish policy – for example a cessation of violations of our national air space, or a return to the negotiating table on the Cyprus issue based on the Annan proposal – it is something I could discuss. Do you believe that the Americans will soon forget what has happened regarding Turkey during the Iraq war? I do not believe that relations will be harmed in the long term, but I have the impression that there is a problem of trust which will take a long time to overcome. The US government’s next moves regarding Turkey will be seriously considered and, of course, that counts indirectly in Greece’s favor regarding issues that concern us. Is an escalation of Turkish hostility possible in the near future? I don’t rule it out, as long as the Erdogan government’s position is not stabilized. Elections One last political question. Some polls show PASOK closing the gap. Will you win an election? Of course we will. The difference is not considerable. There are still 13 months to go. The Greek people believe we are better rulers than New Democracy. If you lose, what will be the cause? And don’t tell me you rule that out. I don’t like to give answers to hypothetical questions, but in a democracy, you can’t rule anything out. However, we are fighting to win.