NEWS

European Union summit text on US-Cyprus-Turkey

The main goals Athens has set for this week’s European Union summit in Thessaloniki include agreement on a timetable for the Intergovernmental Conference on the new European Constitution, obtaining a clear mandate for Prime Minister Costas Simitis to discuss Euro-Atlantic relations in depth with US President George W. Bush, and the formulation of a common policy on illegal immigration. At the same time, Simitis will try to get a reference included in the European Council’s conclusions that will encourage further negotiations on the Cyprus issue based on the plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as well as reconfirmation of the position that Turkey has to agree to specific principles and rules of international law if it wants to join the European family. According to the facts as they stand, the prime minister has already succeeded in having the draft constitutional treaty drawn up by the European Convention, headed by Valery Giscard D’Estaing, accepted as the basis of discussion for the new European Constitution. However, as it appears in the draft conclusions for the summit processed by Athens (of which Kathimerini has a copy), the 25 (old and new members of the enlarged EU) still have serious disagreements about the timetable for the Intergovernmental Conference. According to the draft conclusions, «the text of the Constitutional Treaty should be (either the basis, starting point or framework) for the Intergovernmental Conference.» However, it then adds that «the Intergovernmental Conference will convene officially on October 23 and should conclude its sessions and agree on a Constitutional Treaty (by the end of May 2004).» At the same time, the draft conclusions say that «Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey will take part in all discussions of the Intergovernmental Conference at preparatory and political level with observer status.» Euro-Atlantic relations One of Prime Minister Simitis’s goals for this week’s summit is to receive a mandate from the other EU leaders so that when he goes to Washington at the end of the month he is able to have a substantial discussion with US President George W. Bush on the future of Euro-Atlantic relations which were so sorely tried during the Iraq war. According to reliable reports, Simitis is to suggest that the agenda for his Washington talks include issues such as multilateral initiatives for restricting weapons of mass destruction, the coordination of efforts in the sector of developmental aid, cooperation on fighting terrorism and in dealing with threats on health and the environment. Barring unforeseen surprises, Athens will likely obtain conclusions on the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s future in Europe that are in line with Greece’s positions. The draft conclusions for the summit, as they stand, include the following proposals for Cyprus: «The accession of Cyprus to the European Union creates new, positive conditions for achieving a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem. Within that framework, the Union strongly supports a continuation of the mission of good offices of the UN Secretary-General, according to the relevant Security Council resolutions including 1475/2003. Although the recent relaxation of restrictions on contacts and communication between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots has shown that the two communities are in a position to live together on a reunited island within the Union, the Union does not consider that this present situation is a substitute for a comprehensive solution. The European Council suggests therefore that all the interested parties, particularly Turkey and the leaders of the Turkish Cypriots, should actively support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, and within that framework, it calls for a resumption of talks in the near future, based on the latter’s proposals.» There is also a paragraph in the draft conclusions that refers to Turkey: «The European Council welcomes the Turkish government’s commitment to promote the reform process so as to fulfill the necessary conditions to begin accession negotiations with the Union. In order to help Turkey achieve this goal, the Council recently adopted a revised Accession Cooperation which determines the priorities that Turkey should have, and which is supported by considerably increased financial assistance. The Accession Cooperation is the pillar for Euro-Turkish relations, particularly in the light of the resolution the European Council will be called upon to make in December 2004.» Immigration Finally, in reference to the issue of migration, the draft resolutions contain specific references to the question of visas, the management of external borders, the repatriation of illegal immigrants, cooperation with third countries and funds for fighting the phenomenon. Although this is of particular interest to Greece, which is a «reception» center on the EU’s external borders, no specific decisions appear likely before 2006.